US Ambassador Slams Iran for Religious Rights Abuses against Christians, Other Minorities

The Islamic Republic of Iran is not known for being open to religious minorities, and United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback highlighted some of the egregious Iranian offenses in a recent speech. Christians, Baha’is and even Sunni Muslims have faced religious persecution from Iranian authorities. …

Israel—An Ancient King of Making Glass

Centuries before the Land of Israel was a hub for the high-tech industry, the region was among the world leaders in another profession involving science, skill, and specialized knowledge: glass making. The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) announced in a press release on Monday that they have discovered 1,600-year-old kilns used …

Iran Will Exceed Fuel Limits in Nuclear Deal Later This Month

Following the Iranian decision to withdraw from some of the limitations under their nuclear deal with world powers, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear fuel supply has increased to the point that they will exceed the limits on nuclear fuel storage under the atomic agreement on June 27. Iran’s Fars News Agency …

Israel Approves Town of ‘Trump Heights’ in Golan in Honor of US President

United States President Donald Trump made history earlier this year by recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the strategic Golan Heights region at Israel’s northern border, and on Sunday, Israel made history in return by naming a town for a US President for the first time in 70 years. Ramat Trump, or …

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Israeli Civilian Discovers Ancient Roman Busts While Just Taking a Walk

December 30, 2018 Special Feature

The uncovered Roman busts. Photo courtesy of Eitan Klein, Israel Antiquities Authority

It’s not every day that the average person finds 1,700-year-old sculptures, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen during an everyday activity in Israel. A local resident recently discovered two “impressive” Roman busts near the city of Beit She’an in northern Israel while just taking a walk, according to a press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The top of one of the two sculptures was poking out of the ground and seen by the woman, who along with her husband contacted the IAA Theft Prevention Unit. Inspectors sent to the site were able to find the antiquities, which are believed to be from the Late Roman period (3rd–4th centuries CE).

Nir Distelfeld, IAA Theft Prevention Unit inspector, said in the press release, “It seems that the busts were exposed following the recent heavy rainfall in the area. These are very important finds, which tell us a great deal about the inhabitants of the Beth She’an area in antiquity. We thank the Beit She’an resident for her alertness and good citizenship and she will receive a certificate of appreciation.” … Continue Reading

Brazil President Tells Netanyahu ‘Not Question of If, Just When’ on Jerusalem Embassy Move

December 30, 2018 News

PM Netanyahu and Brazilian President-elect Bolsonaro. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (Israeli GPO)

The list of nations with embassies in Jerusalem is looking to grow yet again, as Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro informed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the latter’s visit to the country that Brazil is going to move their country’s embassy to Israel’s capital as well. “Mr. Bolsonaro also said this: ‘I will move the embassy to Jerusalem. It’s not a question of if, just a question of when,’” said Netanyahu. “[United States] President [Donald] Trump said the same thing. He moved the embassy. And President Bolsonaro will move the embassy as well.”

While Netanyahu didn’t give a date, President-elect Bolsonaro is set to take power on January 1.

In comments on Sunday released by his office, Netanyahu said Bolsonaro also accepted an invitation to visit Israel with plans to come by March 2019. Said Netanyahu, “I look forward to receiving him with the same spirit and the same brotherhood that he received me and that you are receiving us.” … Continue Reading

Israeli Parliament Votes to Move Elections Up to April—will Netanyahu Win Again?

December 27, 2018 Special Feature

Israeli Knesset Building. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock.

The Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, voted on Wednesday to dissolve its current rendition and move elections up to April. A press release on the Knesset website said the vote passed overwhelmingly by a 102-2 margin. Just over four years since the last round of elections were held in March 2015, Israelis will be going to the polls again to determine if Benjamin Netanyahu will be able secure his fourth consecutive term as the leader of the Jewish State.

So far, it looks likely. According to a poll earlier this week originally published by the Maariv Hebrew newspaper and reposted in English by The Times of Israel, Netanyahu’s Likud party would win more than double the number of Knesset seats as the runner up party—earning 30 seats compared to 13 for what was then a hypothetical new party to be created by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz. The Knesset is comprised of 120 seats, making 61 the threshold for holding a majority.

Generally, that is accomplished by multiple parties joining forces in a coalition. The poll, conducted by Panels Politics, found that Netanyahu could narrowly cobble together a government coalition of right-leaning and religious political parties similar to the current government. … Continue Reading

Israel Says US Troop Removal from Syria Won’t Change Policy against Iran

December 25, 2018 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu & the Security Cabinet in the north. Photo courtesy of Haim Zach (Israeli GPO).

The removal of 2,000 United States soldiers from Syria may withdraw a key Israeli ally from the territory of their northern neighbor, but it won’t impact the Jewish State’s determination to prevent Iran from using Syria as a base to attack Israel. In fact, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Sunday that Israel might even increase its anti-Iran efforts.

“The decision to withdraw 2,000 US troops from Syria will not change our consistent policy: We will continue to act against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria, and to the extent necessary, we will even expand our actions there,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office.

However, he indicated that while the Americans and Israel may take different practical approaches to Syria—the US withdrawing and Israel escalating—the two nations will still work together. “I would like to reassure those who are concerned. Our cooperation with the US will continue in full and finds expression in many areas: Operations, intelligence and many other security spheres,” said Netanyahu. … Continue Reading

Christian Population of Israel Succeeding in School, Work Per New Report

December 25, 2018 News

Israeli flags. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

The Christian population in the State of Israel grew 50% faster in 2017 than the year before—increasing by 2.2% versus 1.4%—and now numbers approximately 175,000 people, according to the latest numbers published by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). While accounting for just 2% of the Israeli population, the success of Christians underscores the egalitarian nature of Israel. Christians on average are doing well from an employment perspective—roughly two-thirds of all Christians in the country aged 15-years-old or older were employed, compared to 65.1% of Jews per CBS numbers from 2015.

Educationally, 78.5% of Christian 12th grade students in Arab education were entitled to receive a matriculation certificate in the 2016/2017 school year, just 0.2% behind the students receiving a Hebrew education. Over 77% of all Christians in Israel are Arab, but they have had more success than their Muslim counterparts: just 59.5% of Arab Muslims were entitled to graduate from 12th grade in the 2016/2017 school year.

In addition, when compared with Arab Muslim students, there are a higher number of Arab Christians in Israel studying engineering, law, architecture, and medicine. … Continue Reading

Israel Warns Hezbollah, ‘Sees Lebanese Government as Responsible for Everything’

December 17, 2018 Peace and Conflict

President Rivlin with GOC IDF Northern Command at northern border. Photo Courtesy of Mark Neiman (Israel GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin had a stern warning to not just the Hezbollah terrorist group, but to the Lebanese government that tolerates them, against the backdrop of Hezbollah’s terror tunnels into Israel. “Hezbollah’s offensive tunnels into Israeli territory are a clear violation of Israeli sovereignty. Hezbollah, which pretends to be the ‘shield of Lebanon’ will, in the end, lead to its destruction,” said Rivlin in comments to soldiers in the north on Sunday and published in an Israeli press release.

“We see the Lebanese government as responsible for everything that happens in the country and we warn Hezbollah not to subordinate Lebanon to Iran’s agenda, or to use Lebanon as a base for attacking Israel.”

While the president of Israel is more of a ceremonial position with little legal power in the country, the role nonetheless acts as an important voice on behalf of the country. Rivlin, in addition to his current place as president, previously served as the speaker of the Israeli Knesset, or parliament. … Continue Reading

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