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The 10 Best Online Israel News Sources in English

There’s no shortage of Israel news in English online these days, but finding the best ones that you can trust is a bit more challenging. At IsraelAM we get the Israel news for our daily email newsletter from a wide variety of reputable Hebrew and English Israeli and American news sources. In this blog post we’re going to let you in on the English Israel news sources we use.

If you have the time and the desire, these Israel news sources in English are definitely worth checking out on a daily basis. Some of them are more to the left and some to the right, so you need to read a bunch of them from all sides to get a balanced view of the Israel news.

We haven’t rated them or listed them in any particular order. But we have tried to give you some insight into their political leanings, writing style and ease of use.

1. Haaretz

Haaretz Israel News

Haaretz.com is the English language site of Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. The Hebrew newspaper was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in print and online.

Haaretz’s political orientation leans left. You’ll find their articles to be critical of Israeli policies relating to the West Bank (which they consider to be occupied territory) and injustices directed against the Palestinians living there. The paper is also critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right leaning government, especially the right wing parties within it. Charedim and Orthodox Judaism don’t feel the love from Haaretz columnists either.

But even if you can’t stand their politics, Haaretz is worth reading for their thorough and accurate news reporting and interesting feature stories. You’ll just have to filter out their biases.

Most of the articles on Haaretz.com are translations of stories appearing on their Hebrew site www.haaretz.co.il. Those translations aren’t always 100% accurate or don’t fully capture the meaning of the original Hebrew. This most likely happens because the translators are sometimes just trying to translate word for word, which doesn’t always work from language to language.

Some of the stories on the English language site are different than on the Hebrew site, especially if the stories relate to domestic issues which the editors feel non-Israelis will not be interested in. So if you’re interested and are a Hebrew reader, you should click on the link at the top of their homepage to check out the Hebrew site and see what the top stories are for the natives.

The website doesn’t have nearly as many ads or annoying popups as some of the other Israel news sites, so getting the articles to load is relatively painless and won’t crash your computer. You probably will have to close a couple of ads to maintain your sanity, but I guess that’s par for the course.

Warning
While most of the headline news articles are free, many of the features and articles that contain analysis require a premium subscription. It comes out to about $9 per month, but you really have to be a fan of the paper to pay, with so many other free options available.

2. Jpost

jpost israel news website

Jpost.com is the website for The Jerusalem Post, which was founded in 1932 as The Palestine Post. The Jerusalem Post is an English language newspaper with no Hebrew edition. Therefore, the articles don’t have the same problem of mistranslation from Hebrew like some of the other English language Israel news sites.

Jpost’s political leanings are supposed to be centrist, but they tend to pull to the right. The paper/site has interesting features and analysis, some for free and some for paid subscribers only.

The main problem with the website is that it has way too many ads and super annoying popups that significantly impact the site’s loading speed and make it almost unusable. I’ve repeatedly tried to use the site as a news source for our israelAM daily email, but I always find myself waiting ages for pages to load and my browser tends to slow down, which is totally unacceptable to me. So I end up just closing the pages and moving on. Maybe it’s just me or my computer, so you should try it for yourself and see how it goes for you. It’s worth a shot.

3. Ynetnews

ynet israel news

Ynetnews.com is the online English-language Israeli news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most-read newspaper, and the Hebrew news portal, Ynet. The Hebrew print edition is considered to be the newspaper of record in Israel and its reporting is fairly balanced.

The stories on the English language website are often about half a day behind the Hebrew website, so if you really want to stay current, you better brush up on your Hebrew. Since it’s a translation, the Ynetnews stories are sometimes lacking in grammar and completeness relative to the Hebrew versions, but you’ll still get the basic news from an Israeli perspective.

The site is totally free, but chock full of adds and popups that slow it down. But it’s not nearly as bad as jpost.com.

4. Israel Hayom

Israel Hayom news

Israel HaYom (Hebrew: ישראל היום‎, lit. “Israel Today”) is an Israeli Hebrew-language free daily newspaper, first published in 2007. Israel HaYom has the largest daily circulation in the country.

The newspaper is owned by US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who is a big supporter of Prime Minister Netanyahu. Therefore, the paper is clearly biased in favor of Netanyahu and chooses to play down events that don’t help to promote a positive image for Netanyahu, while on the other hand, touting and inflating events that help promote him and the Likud.

The English language website is basically a newsletter with the news that appeared in the Hebrew language version the day before. So you’re basically getting day old news. But you’ll still find interesting stories and analysis which you won’t find elsewhere, so it’s worth a look.

The site is totally free. If you want to be brave, you can also read the digital version of the Hebrew print addition online, which is really pretty cool.

5. Al Monitor

Al Monitor Israel News

Al-Monitor (media site) features reporting and analysis by journalists and experts from the Middle East, with special focus sections (that Al-Monitor terms “pulses”) on Egypt, the Persian Gulf, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.

The Israel section of Al Monitor is heavily left leaning and pro-Palestinian. If you want the extreme left version of events, this is a good place to get it.

6. Arutz 7

Arutz Sheva Israel news

Arutz 7 literally means channel seven, which was the call signal for the independent, pro-settlement radio station. The actual station no longer is active, but Arutz 7 has a Hebrew and English news site.

The English one is a www.israelnationalnews.com. It’s right wing, pro-settlement and a bit reactionary, but if that’s your cup of tea, it’s a great site to get your Israel news from. If you’re looking for the Jewish perspective of a recent incident on the Temple Mount or an attack on Jewish settlers, you’ll find it here (and possible nowhere else in English).

The actual website has lots of ads and can get slow. But it’s manageable.

7. JTA

JTA Israel news

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) is an international news agency and wire service serving Jewish community newspapers and media around the world. It’s not-for-profit, with no political or philosophical leanings.

JTA.org has Jewish news from all over the world, but if you just want Israel news you can get it by clicking on the “Israel” link on the homepage. It’s a great source for unbiased and concise reporting. And there are no ads or popups, so the site loads quickly and painlessly.

8. Globes

Globes.com is the English language version of one of the premier Israeli business news publications. It’s a bit behind its Hebrew language version, but it’s still the best source for everything business and economy related in Israel. There are sections on real estate, technology and startups, just to name a few. Want to know which Israeli company just got purchased by Google or Microsoft? You’ll find the answer in Globes.

The site is fast, for the most part, with few ads.

9. Associated Press

One of the two major world newswire service, you can’t go without heading to the site and searching for Israel news. Many of the Israeli papers get stories from here, so you might as well read it in the original.

10. Reuters

The other major world newswire service. Check out what we just wrote for the Associated Press.

Of course there are other general news sites like CNN, Fox News, NYTimes, The Wall Street Journal and many more that will contain some news about Israel, depending on the day and events. But if you want your daily dose of Israel news in English, on a regular basis, the 10 sites we listed are good bets to check out.

Of course, if you don’t have time to spend reading all of those articles, you can subscribe to our israelAM daily email newsletter and get the Israel news you need to know directly in your inbox every morning.

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Israel News for April 21, 2017

Mattis in Israel
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Israel last night on his first official visit since taking office. Mattis met with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman this morning. In a press conference following the meeting he said, “I’m honored to return to Israel once again to show my respect for this country and for the Israeli people. I am keenly aware that we stand together this morning, just a week before the Holocaust Remembrance Day, and we share a common determination to never allow such horrific event to reoccur.”

He added, “Cooperation between the countries continues. I came from Saudi Arabia and other visits in the region. In the meeting with Lieberman, we promised to establish the strong connection between Israel and the United States.”

Mattis also warned Syria against using chemical weapons and reiterated the need to confront Iran. Meanwhile, President Trump accused Iran of violating the spirit of the nuclear agreement.

Mattis also met with PM Netanyahu and President Rivlin.

Prior to his Israel visit, Mattis visited Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He will also visit Qatar and Djibouti.

For further reading click here.

Russian Conference
The Russians will be sponsoring an International Security Conference in Moscow next week. Countries set to attend include Iran, Iraq, UAE, Jordan, Indonesia, Cuba, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Brazil…and Israel. You heard right, Defense Minister Lieberman will attend the conference where he will meet privately with the Russian Foreign Minister. The US is expected to boycott the event.

For further reading click here.

Hezbollah Press Tour
Hezbollah’s information department gave journalists a tour of the border with Israel yesterday, highlighting new IDF fortifications, antennas, armored vehicles and watchtowers—defensive positions that Hezbollah guides claim will be overrun so that “resistance forces will penetrate their settlements.”

IDF engineering units have been constructing obstacles and fortifications along the northern border to prevent or impeded Hezbollah incursions. The IDF said that the press tour served as conclusive evidence that Hezbollah is violating Security Council Resolution 1701 by being deployed and armed south of the Litani River.

For further reading and to view images click here.

Sinai Reopens
The Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt’s Sinai will re-open to Israelis that would like to travel to Egypt’s Sinai. The announcement was made today by Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister’s Arab media spokesman. However, Gendelman also tweeted that the terror threat remains and Israelis currently vacationing in the area should return.

The Taba border crossing was closed to Israelis before Passover.

For further reading click here.

Music and Peace
When musician Yoni Sharon, a resident of Kfar Eldad in Gush Etzion, heard music emanating from the nearby Arab village of Al-Fureidis, he drove his car into the village to investigate. He ended up taking patron an Arab wedding.

To watch the video click here.

Jewish Cemetery
Government officials in Vilna (Lithuania) have approved plans for the construction of a new National Convention Center on the site of the ancient Jewish cemetery in the city. The cemetery dates from the 15th century and contains thousands of bodies including many great sages.

To sign a petition to stop the proposed construction and desecration, click here.

israel news settlements

Israel News for February 7, 2017

Regulation Bill Passes
Despite requests by the PM to postpone the vote, the Regulation Bill was passed by the Knesset by a vote of 60-52 yesterday. The vote was pushed through by Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett. The bill confiscates privately owned Palestinian land on which settlements are built, and offers the owners financial compensation or alternate land plots. The bill is expected to be challenged in the Supreme Court and struck down as contrary to international law.

PM Netanyahu denied trying to postpone the vote and claimed that he had updated the US administration about it to avoid surprising them.

For further reading click here.

UK Meeting
PM Netanyahu and British PM Theresa May met in London yesterday. Prior to the meeting May said, “Britain remains a very strong, close friend of Israel, with lots of areas in which we already work together, such as science and trade, but also other areas like security.” She also said, “We remain committed to a two-state solution. It’s the best way of building stability, peace and prosperity in the future.”

While confirming Israel’s desire for peace, Netanyahu turned to the Iranian threat saying, “Iran seeks to annihilate Israel, it seeks to conquer the Middle East, it threatens Europe, it threatens the West, it threatens the world, and it offers provocation after provocation. That’s why I welcome President Trump’s insistence of new sanctions against Iran. I think other nations should follow suit, certainly responsible nations.”

For further reading click here.

IDF Strikes
IDF tanks and aircraft destroyed a total of six Hamas positions throughout the day Monday, after a rocket was fired toward the Hof Ashkelon area in the morning and Hamas forces opened fire on an IDF force working near the Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza Strip in the evening.

PM Netanyahu commented on the incident saying, “I have instructed in no uncertain terms that we will respond to all shooting with heavy fire. That has been my policy over the last two years, since Protective Edge…Our policy is consistent and determined in our response.”

There were no reports of injuries or deaths from Hamas.

For further reading click here.

Mail Terror
The police and Shin Bet have confiscated hundreds of postal packages that were bound for the West Bank and Gaza. The packages contained accessories that could be used either to create weapons or as devices in terror attacks. The items included drones, micro engines, concealed cameras, micro cameras, laser pointers, laser sights and other weapon parts. Most of the items were ordered from the internet, many from Ebay.

For further reading click here.

Rabbinic Courts
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted on Sunday to approve a bill that would allow state run Rabbinical courts to rule in monetary cases. The Rabbinical courts currently only have jurisdiction over issues of Jewish identity and conversion, marriage and divorce, including financial settlement, and kashrut. The bill still needs to pass through several reading in the Knesset, but the committee approval means that it will have the support of the coalition.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau praised the ministerial committee’s decision saying, “The proposed legislation that was approved today by the Committee for Legislation is right and proper. Many Jews want to have a judgment based on Torah and it doesn’t make sense that it is withheld from them.”

For further reading click here.

Israel News for December 2, 2016

Trump Appoints General
President elect Trump has announced that he will nominate 66 year old retired Marine General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Mattis, nicknamed Mad Dog, retired as chief of U.S. Central Command in 2013 after service over 40 years in the Marine Corps.

Even though Central Command does not encompass Israel, Mattis made a point of visiting Israel on many occasions to discuss military matters.

However, Mattis has made statements in favor of a two-state solution, calling the alternative “apartheid”. He also indicated that US support for Israel has hurt it in dealings with the Arab world and made military operations in the Middle East more complicated.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a Right leaning organization, has called Mattis’s remarks, “hostile to Israel, and revealed a lack of appreciation for and understanding of the extraordinary value to American security resulting from a strong American-Israeli alliance and a secure Israel.”

While Mattis has taken a tough stance against Iran, which he has called the biggest threat to stability and peace in the Middle East, he has also said that “absent a clear and present violation,” he did not see how the US could back out of the Iran deal, since reinstating sanctions would not have the intended effect if the other signatories to the agreement would not reimpose their sanctions. While Trump has promised to scrap the Iran deal, it’s unclear whether he will actually do that as president.

Mattis will require a special waiver from Congress to be able to serve as Secretary of Defense, since the current law states that the office must be held by a civilian who has not been in uniform for at least 7 years prior to taking the job. Mattis retired from service just under 4 years ago.

For further reading click here.

Lieberman in NY
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman addressed a group of UN ambassadors hosted by Israel’s ambassador to the UN Danny Danon. The ambassadors were from Canada, Russia, India, Italy, Senegal, Singapore, Rwanda, Greece, Cyprus, Holland, Bulgaria and Argentina. The DM briefed the ambassadors on the security threats in the Middle East and warned that the UN and other international agencies have no real power to stop them. Instead, they spend their time passing anti Israel resolutions. He said, “All this proves that the United Nations, including the Security Council, do not perform their duties and are not relevant to the rest of the world.”

Ambassador Danon explained the purpose of the meeting saying, “We are strengthening our ties and cooperation with many countries and there is a clear understanding among our allies that Israel is an island of stability in a turbulent Middle East.”

For further reading click here.

Rabbi Takes Post
Brig. Gen. Rabbi Eyal Karim officially took his position as Chief Rabbi of the IDF last night at a ceremony attended by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.

Eisenkot remarked, “The appointment of chief rabbi of the IDF is an extremely significant event in the army. Unfortunately, the ceremony took place a week late. I was convinced months ago that we are choosing Rabbi Eyal Karim for the job. He is the most fitting and appropriate choice for command and rabbinic authority in the IDF. I had no doubts.”

Eisenkot was referring to the controversy that surrounded Karim’s appointment as a result of statements the rabbi made that were understood by some as being anti-women and anti-gay. The Supreme Court even got involved by ordering Karim to clarify his statements, which he did.

Rabbi Karim spoke at the ceremony saying, “The military rabbinate needs to be a force for unity. We will only have one army, an army of the people, that all soldiers can find their place in. The military rabbinate, by its very nature, is firmly rooted in Jewish law, values, morals and thought.”

One controversial issue that the new IDF Chief Rabbi will have to face is the proposal by the IDF to assign women to serve in tanks alongside men. The proposal has already garnered harsh reactions from senior rabbinic figures including the Chief Rabbis of Israel.

For further reading click here.

More Rain
Heavy rains, with strong winds, are expected to continue throughout Israel over the weekend. The first snowfall hit the Hermon this morning dropping close to 8 inches of snow. Snow is expected to continue throughout the day. Good news for the Mount Hermon Ski Resort.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for November 11, 2016

Terrorists Arrested
The Shin Bet, IDF and Israel Police arrested eight terror suspects in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The men are suspected of planning to manufacture and use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against IDF forces. Laboratory equipment and raw materials used to manufacture the explosives were also discovered.

For further reading click here.

Court Sends Message
The Jerusalem District Court sent a message to juveniles who carry out terror attacks that they will be severely punished for their actions. Earlier this week, Judge Yoram Noam sentenced a 14 year old who carried out a stabbing attack in Pisgat Ze’ev last October to 12 years in prison. He also sentenced a 14 and 15 year old to 11 years each for carrying out a stabbing attack at Damascus Gate in the Old City in January.

The sentences for minors are considered unprecedented in their seriousness. The judge explained, “In today’s harsh reality, stricter punishment is inevitable. Under these circumstances, the need to keep terrorists behind bars is growing, and real weight must be given to the principles of deterring the many and the individual are real considerations for the strictness of the penalties.”

He also said, “Recently we have seen that even young children aged 14 to 16 are taking an active part in acts of terrorism. However, being a minor doesn’t grant impunity from appropriate punishment when committing a serious crime. The punishment needs to express society’s dislike of these acts intended to kill a person for nationalistic reasons…and lightening the sentence could send the wrong message to the public.”

For further reading click here.

Israel and Russia
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a joint press conference in Jerusalem with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday during which they both agreed to cooperate in the fight against terror.

Medvedev said, “First and foremost it is terrorism that threatens the entire globe but here, in your area, it is felt particularly harshly. The Russian Federation also suffers from terror and it is part and parcel of the same thing. In light of this fact,” he said, “we have to fight terror together and that relates to security cooperation. With joint efforts we need to destroy the seed of terror which lies in the hands of ISIS.”

He also described Israel as the “biggest partner in the region for economic affairs” and stressed the importance of joint economic and commercial activity.

Netanyahu said, “We are determined to do two things: to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and preventing Iran from establishing a military presence in Syria.” He also thanked Medvedev for Russia’s efforts in trying to facilitate the return of the bodies of IDF soldier’s held in Gaza by Hamas.

For further reading click here.

No Girls Allowed
Education Minister Naftali Bennet has come under fire from a group of prominent rabbis for what they consider to be his role in encouraging young religious women to enlist in the IDF. Religious women have traditionally chosen to volunteer for National Service instead of army services, following an official ruling by the Chief Rabbinate directing them to do just that.

The Education Ministry under Bennet has begun funding organizations that assist religious women who want to enlist in the IDF, and the rabbis consider that to be contrary to religious law. Dozens of rabbis signed a petition expressing their opposition and demanding that the ministry cease encouraging the women. The ministry denies that it is trying to encourage the women to enlist.

For further reading click here.

Museum Opening
For all you museum goers, there’s a new one that just opened which you might want to check out: the Yasser Arafat Museum. You heard right. The museum honoring the former PLO terror-in-chief and chairman of the Palestinian Authority cost $7 million and is located in Arafat’s compound in Ramallah, just behind his grave. So you can also pay tribute to the arch terrorist after viewing the exhibits on display including his rifle, one of his famous keffiyehs, the sunglasses that he wore in his 1974 UN address, the eyeglasses that he used for his last decade alive and, of course, his Nobel Peace Prize. Pictures of the Arafat with various world leaders hang in the hallways.

To view photos of the museum click here.

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Israel News for August 29, 2016

Solidarity Visit
The six year old boy who was the sole survivor of the Duma arson attack, in which Jewish extremists were accused of causing the deaths of his parents and sibling, was taken by his grandfather to pay a “solidarity visit” to the demolished home of a Hamas terrorist in Hebron who killed three Jews, including American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz.

For further reading click here.

Swedish Rally
Hundreds attended a pro-Israel rally in the Swedish capital of Stockholm yesterday. The rally was held in a square named after Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Hungary during World War II.

Yesh Atid Chairman Tair Lapid spoke at the rally and referred to Wallenberg in his remarks saying, “Wallenberg saved my father from being murdered by the Nazis. He had the courage to love and protect the Nation of Israel. Your government, especially your foreign minister, stand on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of morality.”

Referring to past comments made by Sweden’s Foreign Ministry accusing Israel as being the cause of Islamic extremism, Lapid said, “if the Swedish foreign minister is concerned about human rights in the Middle East, she needs to talk about the use of children as terrorists or human shields, about the discrimination against the LGBT community in the Palestinian Authority, about the incitement going on there against Jews, about the exploitation of Women in Gaza, and about the human rights situation in Iran.”

Also attending the rally were Swedish government officials and members of parliament, as well as Jewish communal leaders.

For further reading click here.

Teacher Shortage
With the beginning of the new school year just days away, many principals are frantically seeking more teachers to fill thousands of empty positions. The shortage is for teachers in core subjects such as math, English, Bible, physics, chemistry and biology.

As an example of the results of the shortage, one Tel Aviv high school has closed its physics, chemistry and biology departments. Students must now be transported to a different school to take those subjects.

In order to fill the gap, administrators have begun hiring teachers without proper training or certification. Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and head of the Parents Caucus, MK Meir Cohen, warned of the serious damage to the younger generation, saying “There is a massive shortage that has sadly gone unnoticed by the Ministry of Education and it is leading to a compromise in the quality of teachers at the expense of the students. The fact that administrators are willing to accept full-time teachers without proper certification, is the most difficult part of the reality affecting classrooms.”

Why is there a shortage of teachers in Israel? Mainly because the salaries are so low and the profession is looked down upon in Israeli society, at least among the younger generations. The severely overcrowded classrooms in Israeli schools make the job even more difficult and less attractive.

For further reading click here.

Hasidic Arms Dealer
For the past 25 years, Eli Cohen, a 66 year old Hasid (of the Premishlan sect) has been purchasing surplus military equipment in the US, bringing it to Israel for repair and refurbishing, and then selling it to Iran via Greece. That’s illegal according to American law, which outlaws arms sales to Iran.

Cohen has been indicted in the US and an extradition request has been made to the Israeli government. Yesterday Israel’s Supreme Court ruled to permit the extradition.

For further reading click here.

Israelis Leaving
Over a million and a half Israelis will have left Israel for vacations abroad by the end of this summer season. A third of those travelers have used El Al, whose profits have doubled this quarter. Partially due to the recent terror wave in Western Europe, Israelis have been favoring the Greek Islands, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria. Price probably also plays a big role in those choices. On the flip said, travel to Eilat has dropped between 10% and 15%.

For further reading click here.

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Israel News for February 29, 2016

Ax Terrorist Arrested
Israeli security forces yesterday arrested Saadi Ali Abu Hammed for attacking Tzvika Cohen, a 48 year old security guard, in the Maaleh Adumim mall on Friday. Cohen a father of four, is fighting for his life at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The terror attack was the first to occur in Maaleh Adumim. Judea and Samaria police have banned Palestinian workers from entering the city until Thursday, but they will be allowed to go to work at the adjacent Mishor Adumim Industrial Park.

WARNING: To watch an extremely graphic security video of the ax attack against the security guard, click here.

Army Beards
The IDF is cracking down on beards, and religious soldiers are not happy. According to new orders set to take effect this week, a soldier who wishes to grow or keep his beard for religious reasons will need to receive official approval from the IDF Chief Rabbinate, his unit commander and his adjutant commanding officer. Until now the IDF’s Chief Rabbinate alone granted permission.

The Association of Hesder Yeshivas (a program that combines army service with study in a Yeshiva) said that in recent days it has received hundreds of complaints from religious soldiers who say that their requests were denied or unanswered, meaning that they will have to shave their beard by Tuesday. It said that in once case a battalion commander instructed his entire battalion, including two platoons of Hesder soldiers, that they could not have a beard.

The head of the association said, “The security problems of the State of Israel and the challenges facing the IDF are so great and significant that the decision to trouble soldiers who grow beards is an inappropriate and unacceptable step. There are hundreds of soldiers from the Hesder yeshivas, religious pre-military academies and others who see significant service in combat roles in the IDF as a religious commandment, and the order to remove beards does not sit well with the IDF being the army of the state of the Jewish people.”

Numerous rabbis, including Rabbi Shlomo Aviner (Ateret Kohanim) and Rabbi Zalman Melamed (Bet El), have called on soldiers to protest the anti-beard regulation even if it means going to jail. Hundreds of soldiers have warned that they will go to jail if forbidden from growing beards.

Bayit Yehudi MKs have called on Defense Minister Yaalon to rescind the new order and make it legal for soldiers to grow beards for religious reasons. He might be sympathetic to the request, considering that Yaalon himself, who is secular, had a full beard when he served in the IDF (as seen in a this photo – http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/208646#.VtN8j8fSNcY).

The roots of the new regulation stem from a ruling by the High Court in response to a group of secular soldiers who petitioned for the right to grow beards, which had been a right granted only to religious soldiers. In order to make the playing field level for everyone the army decided to require soldiers to get permission from their commanders in addition to the rabbinate, to include the non religious soldiers.

An IDF spokesman stated that, “there is no intention to harm the sensitivities of any soldier. A religious soldiers who wishes to grow a beard will turn to his commanders (for permission), as will soldiers who are not religious who wish to grow beards for other reasons.”

Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Shas) said yesterday that the IDF would review the new regulation.

For further reading click here.

Iran Must Pay
In a landmark decision, a court in San Diego, California, has ruled that victims who were wounded in a 1997 terrorist attack on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem must be compensated by Iran.

The terrorist attack in question took place on September 4, 1997, when three Hamas suicide bombers simultaneously blew themselves up on the pedestrian mall, killing five Israelis.

The court ruling, which was handed down on Friday after 15 years of litigation, says the victims who have dual Israeli-American citizenship will be given $9.4 million using Iranian assets that were frozen and confiscated by the United States.

In addition, the judge ruled that even if Iran appeals to the Supreme Court over the ruling, he will not delay the transfer of the compensation to the victims’ families.

Nice job, Your Honor.

For further reading click here.

Right Wing Rapper
Popular right wing rapper Yoav Eliasi, aka Hatzel, has received a slew of death threats against himself and his family, but he claims that the police is denying him a permit to carry a weapon. In addition to the threats, Eliasi’s car has been vandalized on several occasions and his tires slashed multiple times. On his Facebook Hatzel wrote, “If, one day, I or one of the members of my family are hurt, the police will not be able to say they did not know.”

MK Issawi Freij (Meretz) announced last week that he intends to file a complaint against Hatzel, for incitement to violence.

To watch a music video by Hatzel, click here.

Chinese Jews Return
Five Chinese women, descended from the medieval Jewish community of Kaifeng, are set to arrive in Israel on Monday. The women will study at Midreshet Nishmat – The Jeanie Schottenstein Center for Advanced Torah Study for Women, where they will prepare for their official conversion to Judaism under the auspices of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate.

Kaifeng’s Jewish community is believed to have been founded by Iraqi or Persian Jewish merchants in the eighth or ninth century. A synagogue was erected there in 1163 that still stands today. According to estimates, the community consisted of up to 5,000 Jews during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) but decreased to 500-1000 due to wide-scale assimilation and intermarriage.

According to Michael Freund, chairman of the Shavei Israel organization responsible for bringing the women to Israel, the Kaifeng community was similar to other Jewish communities except that it did not suffer anti-Semitism.

 
“As a result, beginning perhaps in the 18th century, a process of assimilation and intermarriage began to settle in. Then, the last rabbi of Kaifeng passed away 200 years ago, and the synagogue was rendered unfit for use when a series of floods struck the city in the 19th century,” Freund told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

 
Freund said that close to 1,000 remain who are identifiable as descendants of the Jewish community and who have shown increasing interest in learning about Judaism and their heritage. Such interest has enabled Freund’s organization to bring many Chinese to Israel, the last group of seven men arriving in October 2009.

 
Freund further explained that around 25 years ago, Jews were given the option of registering either as regular Han Chinese or, for unknown reasons, as Muslims. “Many opted to register as Muslims since this enabled them to have more than one child, but they are still identifiable as descendants of Jews even if some of them have nothing to do with Judaism.”

“And your children shall return to their own border. 

And there is hope for your future.” — Jeremiah 31:16

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Israel News for October 2, 2015

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Terror in Samaria
A husband and wife, both in their early 30’s, were killed last night from shots fired at their car as they were driving on a road between the towns of Elon Moreh and Itamar near the Palestinian town of Furik, east of Nablus, in Samaria (West Bank). The victims were Rabbi Eitam Henkin and Naama Henkin, residents of the community of Neria. Their four children sitting in the back seat, aged 9, 7, 4 and 4 months were not wounded. The IDF is searching for the killers.

Rabbi Eitam Henkin was the son of Rebbetzin Chana Henkin, the founder of the Nishmat women’s seminary. Naam Henkin was the daughter of a veteran of the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal who took part in the operation to rescue kidnapped soldier Nachshon Wachsman.

A Hamas spokesman praised the murder as a legitimate reaction to the Israeli occupation and called for more terror attacks.

Several Bayit Yehudi ministers and Knesset Members including deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely, education minister Naftali Bennet, agriculture minister Uri Ariel, MK Bazalel Smotrich along with culture minister Miri Regev of Likud all blamed and condemned PA President Abbas for inciting the terror attack.

In response to the attack, groups of settlers stoned Arab cars near several junctions in Samaria. Arabs also stoned Jewish cars. Security forces have closed the junctions.

In other unrelated incidents two other women and a child were injured by stones thrown by Palestinians at Israeli vehicles in the West Bank.

Abbas at UN
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had an eventful time at the UN this week.

On Wednesday Abbas raised the Palestinian flag for the first time at the UN, after a resolution permitting non member states to do so was recently passed by a landslide majority of the UN general assembly. The US didn’t send a representative to the event, but other Western nations including France did. Abbas promised that the flag will soon be raised in Jerusalem, “the capital of our Palestinian state.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday a day of “pride” and “hope” for Palestinians around the world. He urged the Palestinians to pursue their long-held dream for their own state by first uniting Gaza and the West Bank, and he urged Israel and the Palestinians to revive negotiations that collapsed last year and conclude “a successful peace process that will lead to the unfurling of the Palestinian flag in its proper place – among the family of nations as a sovereign member state of the United Nations,” Ban said.

But wait…there’s more.

In his official address to the UN general assembly on Wednesday, Abbas stated that he is no longer bound by agreements, including the Oslo Accords, that have defined relations with Israel for the past two decades and are meant to form the basis for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

Abbas demanded that Israel “assume all of its responsibilities as an occupying power.” He stopped short of suspending security cooperation with Israel.

PM Netanyahu’s office issued a statement in response, saying that Abbas had delivered a “speech of lies that encourages incitement and unrest in the Middle East.”

Netanyahu called on Abbas to “act responsibly” and answer his proposal for direct negotiations with Israel without any preconditions. “The fact that time after time he (Abbas) does not respond is the best proof that he has no intention of reaching a peace agreement,” he said.

Upshot
Will Abbas’s speech lead to any practical change on the ground, other than the potential of inciting terror attacks? According to Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri in Ramallah, Abbas was just trying to attract attention and pressure Israel. “This is a threat not a plan. Abbas has no plan, otherwise he could have spelled it out in his speech.” Nevertheless, his move will definitely not result in anything positive for Israel. Things could get much worse for both sides.

For further reading click here.

Netanyahu Silenced
PM Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly yesterday and was silenced — by choice. The PM spoke of the dangers of an embargo free Iran on the world but especially on Israel, which Iran has openly sworn to destroy.

“If Iran’s rulers were working to destroy your countries, perhaps you’d be somewhat less enthusiastic about the deal,” the PM said. “If Iran’s terror proxies were firing thousands of rockets at your cities, perhaps you’d be more measured in your praise. And yet the response from every one of you here, utter silence. Deafening silence.”

After those remarks, he stood at the podium and glared at the delegates around the room for about one minute.

Upshot
As dramatic as the PM’s words and silence might have seemed, they’re very unlikely to make any difference at the UN. Based on the video, the room seemed pretty empty, so many of the folks who the message was directed at weren’t even there. That left Netanyahu staring down and scowling at diplomats who probably already fundamentally agree with him. That seems uncomfortably awkward, at least on the video.

For further reading click here.

Hotovely Lets Loose
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely seems to have lost her cool at a UN meeting that was supposed to highlight positive developments in Israeli-Palestinian relations in the West Bank.

Hotovely took her turn at delivering a prepared address. She began by explaining the significance of the Sukkot holiday as a time when Jews historically made pilgrimages to the Temple (aka Temple Mount). She criticized PA President Abbas for inciting violence when he said that Israelis were defiling the Al Aqsa Mosque with their boots, and blasted the Palestinians for raising their children to aspire to become engineers so that they can build bombs for terror attacks. Then she pointed out Israeli economic initiatives to help the Palestinians, including the granting of work permits.

Next in line to speak was Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, who trashed his prepared speech in favor of ad-libbing against Hotovely’s remarks. Ignoring the protocol of the session, where each person is allowed to present a speech, Hotovely turned it into a good old fashion Middle Eastern brawl by interrupting Judeh several times to argue with his points. She was called to order by the chairman of the meeting twice, but that didn’t stop Hotovely from getting her say.

Hotovely’s style stunned the gathering of diplomats. Those of us who know and love Jewish women would have been shocked if she had kept quiet.

For further reading click here.

Am Yisrael Chai
Activist and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir was arrested on Wednesday while visiting the Temple Mount when he responded to Muslim extremists’ shouts of “Allahu Akbar” by calling out “Am Yisrael chai!”.

In court yesterday, Judge Menachem Hacohen of the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem ruled that Ben-Gvir’s saying “Am Yisrael chai!” does not constitute a breach of public order and likewise isn’t a prayer. He ordered Ben-Gvir’s immediate release.

So here’s the rule: you cannot utter a prayer on the Temple Mount, but you can shout pro Israel slogans. The Waqf is not going to be happy when they hear about this. Please don’t tell them, just yet.

For further reading click here.

New Sheriff in Town
The new candidate to head up the Israel National Police is Roni Alsheich, the deputy head of the Shin Bet. Alsheich is 52 and married with seven children. He wears a kippah and lived in a settlement near Ramallah for many years until moving to a religious community in the center of the country several years ago. He also served as a Paratrooper brigade commander.

Upshot
The police needs to clean up the corruption within its ranks and regain the respect of the public. Can Alsheich get the job done? It’s worth a shot.

For further reading click here.

Israel News for September 22, 2015

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Traitorous Politics?
PM Netanyahu recently appointed Dani Dayan as Israel’s new ambassador to Brazil. The Left is in an uproar, because Dayan served as Chairman of the Yesha Council – the umbrella organization of Jewish settlement municipal councils in the West Bank – from 2007 to 2013.

In announcing Dayan’s appointment, Netanyahu said that “Latin America is one of Israel’s key destinations as part of the efforts to develop new markets that will contribute to increased economic growth in Israel. I am convinced that Dani Dayan will bring his vast experience to the position and will deepen the relations between Israel and Brazil.”

Protest
Several former ambassadors and left-wing activists met with the Brazilian ambassadors to Israel and the Palestinian Authority to convey the message that acceptance of Dani Dayan’s appointment would be tantamount to granting international legitimacy to settlements. If a host country doesn’t accept the appointment of a new ambassador, then the appointment cannot go through.

So basically, these Israelis are trying to foil their own government by appealing directly to a foreign government because they disagree with their government’s decision. Doesn’t sound too kosher.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon blasted them on his Facebook page for slandering Israel and called their attempt “shameful, dangerous and despicable.” He added that, “Someone who has a political dispute with someone else ought to keep the argument about it at home, and not act in malicious ways that end up hurting Israel and its citizens first and foremost.”

Ministers from the Left and Right strongly criticized the unprecedented move by the activists. The only defense that the accused could offer was that they had no choice, since they have no power within the Israeli government.

So much for democracy.

Further reading – http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.669781

Israel and Russia
PM Netanyahu met with Russian President Putin yesterday in Moscow to discuss Russia’s recent military buildup in Syria and how it might affect Israel. After the meeting the PM said that the two sides agreed to establish a coordination mechanism to prevent misunderstandings and unintended confrontations between the Israeli military and Russian forces deployed in Syria.

Netanyahu added that the bulk of the conversation with Putin, which lasted two and a half hours, was dedicated to the security situation on Israel’s northern border. He noted that he made it clear to the Russian president that Israel will continue to take action to prevent the transfer of lethal weapons from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah and to thwart Iranian attempts to carry out terror attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights.

The PM said that Putin made clear that he will “ensure that whatever intentions Russia has in Syria, it will not be a partner to Iranian aggression” against Israel.

Putin said, “We never forget that in the State of Israel reside many former Soviet citizens, and that has a special implication on the relationship between our two states. Every Russian action in the area has always been very responsible. We are aware of the artillery against Israel and we condemn it.”

Upshot
The PM said that he briefed the U.S. administration on the details of his trip to Russia and the issues that were discussed with Putin. But with the Iran deal in place, making friends with Russia to make sure they don’t join up with the Iranian’s is the prudent thing to do. If you can trust Russia.

Further reading – http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.677027

Palestinian Poll
The Israeli right might not be the only ones against a two state solution.

A recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, a leading research group in the Palestinian territories, found that 51 percent of Palestinians oppose the two-state solution while 48 percent support it. That’s down from 51% pro and 48% against three months ago.

If new elections were held in the Palestinian territories, 35 percent said they would vote for Hamas and 35 percent for Fatah.

Asked what the most effective way of establishing an independent Palestinian state next to Israel would be, 42 percent said armed action and 29 percent said negotiation. Three months ago only 36 percent said armed action.

Finally, 78 percent of Palestinians think the chances of getting their own state in the next five years are “slim to non-existent”.

Upshot
The statistics don’t bode well for a peaceful solution to the conflict anytime soon. It just looks like the Palestinians are becoming more radicalized and viewing violence as their only solution.

Further reading – http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/21/us-palestinians-israel-survey-idUSKCN0RL1DF20150921

Supermodel’s Charedi Chupah
Supermodel Bar Rafaeli’s upcoming wedding to businessman Adi Ezra this coming Thursday is causing quite a stir in the charedi community. Why you ask? Because Rabbi Dovid Grossman, the Chief Rabbi of Migdal Ha’emek and the founder of the Migdal Or organization, will be officiating at the ceremony.

Hardly anyone in the charedi community ever probably heard of Bar Rafaeli. But now that one of the most prominent and beloved charedi rabbis is going to be doing the honors, everyone’s interested in stirring up some controversy.

Some charedi commentators are decrying the fact that R. Grossman will be denigrating himself by officiating at the wedding of a woman who doesn’t exemplify the qualities of modest dress and lifestyle that they believe is incumbent upon all respectable Jewish women.

Other charedi pundits say that R. Grossman is just fulfilling his rabbinic duty by performing a Jewish wedding, regardless of who the bride and groom are. In fact, rabbis in Israel perform weddings every day without discriminating against the lifestyles of the couples they are marrying.

R. Grossman, famous for his outreach to the non-observant community, doesn’t seem very worried. In a recent interview on a charedi radio station he said that Bar told him that during her time under the chupah (wedding canopy) she would like to feel close to God and distance herself from her “Bohemian” lifestyle”. How can he deny her that?

Further reading – http://news.walla.co.il/item/2891902

Jews Flock to Kotel
The recent tense security situation on the Temple Mount and East Jerusalem didn’t keep Jews from asking God for forgiveness on the eve of Yom Kippur. Tens of thousands of Jewish men and women gathered at the Kotel to say selichot (prayers for forgiveness). The prayers were led by Chief Rabbis of Israel David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef, Chief Rabbi of the Kotel Shmuel Rabinovitz and other senior rabbis and laymen.

The worshippers included religious and non religious, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, charedi and secular. It was a beautiful display of the unity of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel.
May we all merit blessings and forgiveness for this Yom Kippur, and a new year filled with health, happiness and peace.

Further reading – http://news.walla.co.il/item/2891949

Israel News for September 11, 2015

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Iran and Russia
According to Israeli defense officials, hundreds of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have arrived in Syria over the last few days to help the Assad regime fight rebel forces. They’ll most likely deploy near the Lebanese border to assist Hezbollah fighters there. Russia already has military advisors and security forces operating in Syria, and is planning to bring in combat aircraft and helicopters.

Israel believes that the commander of the Revolutionary Guards met with Russian President Vladimir Putin last month in Moscow to coordinate military activities in Syria.

Upshot
Has Russia found, in Iran, its ideal partner to counter US influence in the Middle East? The possibilities are frightening. On the bright side, they’re both bent on destroying ISIS, and they’re the only ones who are willing to use ground troops to do so.

Discriminatory Labeling
The European Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Union to issue labels for products imported to Europe from areas occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, including East Jerusalem, the Golan and the West Bank settlements.

The European Parliament motion also encouraged the EU to step up its role in promoting a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, and emphasized that “only non-violent means and respect for human rights and humanitarian law can achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the EU motion was “discriminatory with a sharp smell of boycott,” and added that “under the guise of a technical step, this is an attempt to force a diplomatic solution instead of encouraging the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Europe is acting with hypocritical sanctimoniousness toward Israel when it does not consider proposing similar solutions to northern Cyprus or Western Sahara.”

PM Netanyahu has tried to block the implementation of the motion in private meetings with several European leaders including British Prime Minister David Cameron. In a statement the PM said, “The European Parliament decision is unjustified, it is just a perversion of justice and a distortion of reason, and I think that it also harms peace, it doesn’t advance it. The roots of the conflict are not territories and the roots of the conflict are not the settlements. We already have a historical memory as to what happened when Europe marked products of Jews.”

France Wants Jews
Last year 7,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel. Another 8,000 are expected to leave this year. But the French want their Jews back.

According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, the French government is concerned that the large number of educated and professional Jews leaving the country is causing a brain drain. They’ve sent their economic minister, Emmanuel Macron, to Israel to try and convince French immigrants to return.

While anti-semitism is assumed to be the main reason for increased Aliyah, the weak French economy seems to be playing a significant role too. In any case, France’s loss is Israel’s gain.

Israeli Wealth
Forbes Magazine has released its list of the top 100 wealthiest people in Israel. Every one of them is a billionaire, in shekels ($1 = close to 4 Shekels). The aggregate wealth of the top 100 equals 500 billion shekels.

The top position on the list went to Patrick Drahi at 60 billion shekels. A distant second went to Eyal Ofer with 34.3 billion. It’s doubtful that anyone who made the list is complaining. Well, in Israel, you never know.

Mission Impossible Accomplished
A married woman left her abusive husband and fled to Israel. She wanted a divorce. But there was a problem: the woman fled from a Muslim country that has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The husband was still there.

It took five years, but due to the incredible efforts of a special unit of the Bet Din (rabbinical court) in Israel that deals with obtaining divorce documents in difficult situations, she has finally received her Get (divorce).

After long and difficult secret negotiations through intermediaries in a third country, the Bet Din sent in three undercover rabbinic emissaries to the Muslim country who obtained a signed document from the husband directing them to write and deliver the divorce document. They made it back to Israel, and the woman is now free to remarry.

Drivers Don’t Pray
The Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the Ponevich Yeshiva in Bnei Brak, one of the most prestigious in the world, has ruled that students in the yeshiva who have a driver’s license will not be allocated a seat in the yeshiva for Rosh Hashanah prayers. In the past every student got a seat in the Yeshiva without exception.

The affected students received phone calls from the administration over the last few days informing them of their predicament. Most of them happen to be 25 yrs. or older, and they aren’t taking this sitting down (literally). They claim that it’s really not the Rosh Yeshiva but the gabbai (facilities manager, sort of) who is responsible for the ruling, because he needs more available seats. The students plan to ignore the order and come to services anyway. Should be a fun service.