Israel News for May 13, 2016

Hezbollah Leader Killed
One of Hezbollah’s highest ranking commanders, Mustafa Badreddine, has been killed in an attack in Syria. Badreddine was responsible for all of Hezbollahs military operations in Syria, where it is fighting along with Iranian and Russian forces to protect the Assad government.

Hezbollah said Badreddine had been killed in a big explosion targeting one of its bases near Damascus airport, and an investigation was underway into whether it was caused by an air strike, a missile attack, or artillery bombardment. Several other Hezbollah men have reportedly been wounded in the explosion.

Hezbollah leaders accused Israel for the attack. Israel declined to comment.

Thanks to however pulled the trigger.

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Herzog Confirms Talks
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog confirmed for the first time last night that there have been talks about his party joining a unity government. He wrote on his Facebook page, “Over the past year, I’ve received daily requests to join the government. I answered all of them by saying that I was not interested in sitting in the government without ‘taking the wheel.'”

Herzog added that if he received the mandate to “stop the next round of funerals, block the threat of international boycott, bring the US and Europe closer again as allies, launch a negotiation with countries in the region, and separate from the Palestinians to stop the continuous terror attacks – then I’ll know my hands were on the wheel.”

Likud officials said that as far as Netanyahu is concerned, the negotiations have ended. “The ball is now in Bougie’s court,” Netanyahu reportedly told them, using Herzog’s nickname. The PM, they said, has set a deadline for Herzog, who will have to make a decision on whether or not to join the government by the middle of next week.

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Sneaker Scam
Last week reports about a special edition sneaker made by Reebok to commemorate Israel’s 68th birthday stirred excitement on social media and the press. Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel websites and social media pages launched furious attacks against the company, accusing Reebok of supporting the oppression of the Palestinians.

It turns out that Reebok really had nothing to do with the commemorative sneaker, which apparently was just a single pair of specially made sneakers privately designed in order to raise money for charity.

In an official statement Reebok said, “Reebok would like to distance itself from the shoe. The shoe was a one-off initiative from one of our partners. We do not support this initiative. Our partner has withdrawn its plans to auction off this shoe. Reebok believes in the unifying power of sport. Our main focus and priority is to inspire people everywhere to be their absolute best—physically, mentally and socially.”

The CEO of Reebok Israel, Moshe Sinai, explained, “On Reebok’s website, there’s the option to design a Reebok shoe, color it in the way you want, and add writing. An Israeli guy designed the shoe for Independence Day intending to sell the shoe in an auction and donate the proceeds to charity. Our public relations thought that it would be a good idea to promote this. They made a mistake. Now the whole world is angry with us on both sides of the argument. On one hand, why are we getting into politics; on the other hand, I’m getting requests from all over the world to buy the shoe. We’re apolitical. We treat everybody equally, and from our standpoint, we encourage athletes from all over the world.”

One Russian news site pointed out that while Reebok claims “that it doesn’t allow the politicization of its sportswear and refrains from tying their products to national emblems or countries,” it does have American and British flags on many of its sneakers.

So why not let subsidiaries in other countries put their own flags on their sneakers? It seems like it’s great for business.

For further reading click here.

Aliyah Cities
The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption has released data that shows how new immigrants are dispersed throughout the country, and which cities attract olim from specific countries.

According to the data, Jerusalem is in first place, with 34,000 new olim settling there since 2001. About half of them came from the US and France. Tel Aviv was in second place with 27,000 immigrants, of which 8,800 came from former Soviet Union, 5,200 from France, and 4,400 from the US.

Netanya came in third with around 20,000, evenly split between France and the former USSR.

Haifa, Ashdod, Bat Yam, Petah Tikvah, Be’er Sheva, Ashkelon, and Rishon LeZion all have high percentages of immigrants from the former USSR. There has also been a sharp increase in new olim from France going to Ashdod, almost 1,000 Argentines moving to Be’er Sheva, and a large number of Ethiopians moving to Petah Tikvah and Rishon LeZion.

Raanana is, of course, popular with Americans, French and South Africans. Surprisingly, Eilat has absorbed around 3,200 olim, most of whom are from France. There’s also a sizable population of people from Argentina and North America who live in the city.

So, where are you moving to?

For further reading click here.

Top Veggie
In honor of Israel’s 68th birthday, the Volcan Agricultural Research Center took a poll to see what vegetable is most popular with Israelis. The winner: the tomato. And of course, most people like to eat them in Israeli salads. Can you guess what the favorite fruit of Israelis is?

For further reading click here.

Israel On Air
If you want to view some amazing photos taken from a helicopter by award winning photographer Israel Bardugo, check out the Israelonair Facebook page by clicking here.

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