Who Really ‘Won’ and ‘Lost’ the Israeli Election

The ballots have been cast and there is no clear winner in the Israeli elections. Neither major party—Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud or the Blue and White party led by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz—has a clear majority in the 120-member Knesset (Israeli Parliament). The final makeup of the next …

Arab Village Electrician Uncovers Ancient Artifacts, Helps Israel Preserve Them

Arabs can face opposition from their own people for helping Israel, but one Arab villager recently chose to do the right thing in spite of critique and in the process helped Israel preserve history. The resident of the village of Araba in northern Israel, Ahmed Nassar Yassin, is an electrician …

Israel Condemns Turkish Offensive in Syria, US Imposes Sanctions

As Turkey invades neighboring Syria to battle alleged terrorists among the Kurdish minority there, Israel has warned of the potential for “ethnic cleansing” and the United States on Monday issued sanctions against the Turks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also offered humanitarian support to the Kurdish people. “Israel strongly condemns …

Israeli, German Leadership Agree More Needed to Battle Anti-Semitism

Following the horrific shooting attack at a synagogue in Halle, Germany on Yom Kippur, Israeli leadership spoke with their Germany counterparts on Thursday to discuss doing more to address anti-Semitism. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “expressed his appreciation for her vigorous …

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2018 Sets Record for Tourism to Israel as More than 4 Million Visit

January 6, 2019 Special Feature

Jerusalem tourism information center. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock

It took Israel 69 years to reach 3 million tourists visiting in one year. It took just one year to reach 4 million tourists in a year. 2018 set a record for the number of tourists to visit Israel in one year, with more than 4.1 million arriving in the Holy Land. “This is the second consecutive record-breaking year in incoming tourism to Israel and this year we have crossed the threshold of 4 million tourists in a year,” Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said in a Sunday press release from the Tourism Ministry. “…What was considered a fantasy a few years ago is today a reality: Israel is a preferred tourist destination among tourism destinations around the world.”

In 2017, around 3.6 million tourists visited Israel, which was itself a record at the time according to a prior press release from the Tourism Ministry. Sunday’s press release noted that it took 30 years—from 1948 to 1978—for Israel to finally have 1 million tourists in one year. 40 years later and the United States alone sent almost a million tourists to Israel, with 897,100 Americans visiting in 2018. France and Russia were next on the list with more than 300,000 visitors each. … Continue Reading

US Secretary of State: Withdrawal from Syria ‘in No Way Changes’ Work with Israel

January 1, 2019 Peace and Conflict

PM Netanyahu and US Secy. of State Mike Pompeo. Photo courtesy of Avi Ohayon (Israeli GPO)

While the United States is poised to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria, that does not signal a shift in the Americans’ support for the defense of Israel or the US determination to oppose Iranian aggression in the Middle East. That was the message from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

“The decision the President made on Syria in no way changes anything that this administration is working on alongside Israel,” said Pompeo in comments published by the State Department. “The counter-ISIS campaign continues, our efforts to counter Iranian aggression continue, and our commitment to Middle East stability and the protection of Israel continues in the same way it did before that decision was made.”

Pompeo, meeting with Netanyahu in Brazil around the inauguration of the new president in that country, also went out of his way to commend Israel’s military operation to destroy the Hezbollah terror tunnels that were discovered stretching from Lebanon to Israel. Both Hezbollah and Syria are proxies of Iran and are part of Iran’s plans to attack Israel indirectly. … Continue Reading

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

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