Disappointment and Hope: Netanyahu’s New Government

Disappointment and Hope: Netanyahu’s New Government
Disappointment and Hope: Netanyahu’s New Government

Israeli experts weigh in on Netanyahu's new coalition, and say it's narrow majority doesn't have to mean fragility, if the prime minister plays his cards right...

The full article appears in the June 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Standing Against Abortion in Israel

Standing Against Abortion in Israel
Standing Against Abortion in Israel

"As I spoke on the program, my thoughts were that God had called me to be a voice for these innocent ones," Sandy Shoshani tells Israel Today.

The full article appears in the June 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Netanyahu Ready to Create Palestinian State

Netanyahu Ready to Create Palestinian State
Netanyahu Ready to Create Palestinian State

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday stated clearly that he supports the creation of a Palestinian Arab state as the outcome of a bilateral agreement to end the present conflict.

“I don’t support a one-state solution – I don’t believe that’s a solution at all,” said the Israeli leader. “I support the vision of two states for two peoples – a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

The prime minister made the remarks just prior to meeting with visiting European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini (pictured), with whom Netanyahu said he was “look[ing] forward to discussing with how we can advance that vision forth in a practical, secure, and responsible way.”

Following the recent Israeli national elections, European and American leaders loudly voiced concerns over Netanyahu’s campaign rhetoric, which suggested the Israeli leader saw little justification for permitting the creation of a Palestinian state.

On Thursday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin also met with Mogherini and noted that “the whole world heard” Netanyahu commit himself to the two-state solution, and suggested that as such there should be no more question about Israel’s commitment to peace.

The official coalition guidelines for Netanyahu’s new government in fact call for the advancement of peace efforts with the Palestinians and all Israel’s neighbors, while safeguarding the Jewish state’s security and historical rights.

The danger is that Western powers will now, once again, try to railroad the process while ignoring ongoing Palestinian intransigence and violations, thus leading either to yet another breakdown in talks, or, more worryingly, a final status agreement that imperils Israel’s future.

Indeed, French media reported this week that Paris would soon present a new proposal for the peace process with an 18-month deadline, after which France threatened to unilaterally recognize a “State of Palestine” if no agreement had been reached.

 

What is the True Face of Israel?

What is the True Face of Israel?
What is the True Face of Israel?

Israel Today spoke to the Israeli Foreign Ministry about ongoing hostility toward the Jewish state, even as she bends over backwards to help those in need, even enemies.

The full article appears in the June 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

When catastrophe strikes the IDF is there to help

When catastrophe strikes the IDF is there to help
When catastrophe strikes the IDF is there to help

When countries have been struck by natural disasters, the IDF regularly lends a helping a hand and has sent delegations of medical and rescue staff to those places. The delegations consist mostly of specially trained reserve soldiers from the IDF’s Search and Rescue Unit.

In total, 24 delegations have been sent to 22 countries that have been struck by disasters in the last 30 years. This has happened twice already in the Philippines. When typhoon Haiyan devastated large parts of the Islands, Israel sent an IDF delegation consisting of 147 soldiers including medics and logistic personnel as well as search and rescue forces. They treated over 2,600 patients in their field hospital of which 848 were children. 60 surgeries were performed and the IDF Gynecological team was involved in around 36 births. Four years prior the IDF already sent a delegation after tropical storm Ketsana struck the Philippines. When an earth quake struck Turkey in 2011, Israel offered help. Initially the offer was refused but Ankara eventually agreed to allow the Israeli troops to support the Turkish teams in search and rescue efforts.

Other examples of Israeli support were in the aftermath of the tsunami in Japan (2011), the earth quake in Haiti (2010) the floods in Burkina Faso (2009) and in the Balkan region (2014).

The latest humanitarian aid mission was to Nepal when the country was struck by an earth quake measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale. Israel deployed the second largest delegation to Nepal. The 260-member team included 40 medical personnel. According to Colonel Yoram Larado, head of the IDF humanitarian delegation to Nepal, the delegation wanted to achieve three main goals: To deploy major search and rescue operations, treat patients in their field hospitals and to help the Nepalese people.

When the IDF left Nepal in mid-May, they had treated 1,600 patients, performed 85 life-saving surgeries and delivered 8 babies. The medical team brought high quality technical equipment like x-rays machines, operating rooms and laboratories. A new system for the administration of the patients was put in place. A picture of each patient was taken and a unique barcode was given to each patient who arrived at the field hospital. The barcode was then scanned at every station the patient went through. By doing so, an internal digital medical file was created for every patient. Thus, the doctors had easy access to all medical information and treatments of each patient.

Medical clowns were also part of the team. These clowns are Israeli artists that have been trained to deal with hospital patients. For several moments, they helped to relieve the mental and psychological suffering of the patients through the power of laughter when they infected young and old with their natural joviality.

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New Netanyahu Gov't Wants Peace With Arabs

New Netanyahu Gov't Wants Peace With Arabs
New Netanyahu Gov't Wants Peace With Arabs

The official guidelines of the new Netanyahu government as presented to the Knesset last week stress a desire for peace with the Palestinians and other Arab neighbors, while safeguarding Israel’s security and national interests.

“The Jewish people have the indisputable right to a sovereign state in the Land of Israel, its national and historic homeland,” the document read. “The government will advance the diplomatic process and strive to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians and all our neighbors, while maintaining Israel’s security, historical and national interests.”

Netanyahu vowed that any agreement reached during his time in office will before being signed be submitted to the entire Knesset for approval.

Late last week, Netanyahu appointed Likud veteran Silvan Shalom to head up talks with the Palestinians, and reiterated his hope for a renewal of peace negotiations in the very near future.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio quoted Palestinian Authority officials as saying they had already determined that Netanyahu himself is not interested in peace, and so will not even bother to meet with Silvan Shalom.

The Palestinian leadership continues to demand a number of preconditions be met before it will even entertain returning to the negotiating table.

The Palestinians are also upset by Netanyahu’s declaration on Jerusalem Day earlier this week that the ancient city will never again be divided. The Palestinian Authority insists that it will never sign a peace agreement that doesn’t include control over the eastern half of Jerusalem.

 

Aramean Christians and Jews are Israel’s Indigenous Population

Aramean Christians and Jews are Israel’s Indigenous Population
Aramean Christians and Jews are Israel’s Indigenous Population

The holy places are all living symbols of the sister faiths of Judaism and Christianity that wholly invalidate the claims of those who would turn “Palestine” into an Arab country.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

In Google, There is No Israel

In Google, There is No Israel
In Google, There is No Israel

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and American actress Natalie Portman were, according to Google, born in Palestine, not Israel.

Rivlin was born on September 9, 1939 in Jerusalem, in the State of Palestine. That’s what visitors to Google are told when entering Rivlin’s name into the search engine in the Latin alphabet.

This happens with nearly all Israeli personalities that online surfers might want to learn about. Google either says they were born in Palestine, or simply lists the towns in which they were born (and for some died) without specifying a country.

For instance, according to Google, Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, was born in 1886 in Plonsk, Poland, and died in 1973 in Ramat Gan. The State of Israel is not mentioned.

The same is true for legendary Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who is said to have simply died in “Tel Aviv,” President Chaim Weizmann who Google says passed away in Rehovot, and Benjamin Netanyahu, whose birthplace is listed only as Tel Aviv.

What’s frustrating for Israelis is that this policy by Google seems to only apply to searches about Israeli personalities. For those who were born or died in any other country, Google clearly identifies said country.

President Rivlin has stated that he will file an official complaint with Google over this matter.

 

Israelis Mark Jerusalem's Reunification

Israelis Mark Jerusalem's Reunification
Israelis Mark Jerusalem's Reunification

Israel today celebrated the 48th anniversary of the reunification of its ancient capital, Jerusalem, during the Six Day War in 1967.

In its more than 3,000-year history, only once has Jerusalem been divided, and that was between 1948–1967, when Jordan ruled its eastern side.

This joyous occasion is marked with a well-attended march through the city, as celebrants wave Israeli flags and dance through the streets of their beloved Jerusalem. At the Western Wall, thousands showed up to thank the Almighty for His grace in again returning Jerusalem to the Jewish nation, and the Jewish nation to Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority and the Muslim world at large continue to vow that they will not rest until Jerusalem is “liberated” from the Zionists. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly stated that Jerusalem belongs to Islam, and that the Jews have no right to it. Despite such belligerent rhetoric, Pope Francis on Saturday received Abbas at the Vatican and labeled the Palestinian leader an “angel of peace.”

Among Israeli politicians, Jerusalem is one of the few topics on which they can agree, with lawmakers from left-to-right adamant that the city will never again be divided. Indeed, no Israeli government could possibly survive surrendering the Temple Mount.

As such, the international community has a fundamental problem, because a two-state solution is no longer realistic. For virtually all of Israel, Jerusalem is not up for negotiation, while the Palestinians won’t sign a deal that doesn’t include control of the city’s eastern half. How can such a “peace process” ever hope to succeed?

 

Calling Out Breaking the Silence

Calling Out Breaking the Silence
Calling Out Breaking the Silence

Exposing a pustule on Israel's body is sometimes a necessary step towards a cure. It's not what you might think. I am not pointing at the "Occupation." I am referring to organizations like "Breaking the Silence" that exploit the occupation as a means of transforming Israel into a Sweden-style liberal state. 

Until recently, Breaking the Silence was a relatively marginal, albeit damaging, organization. Though its stated purpose is to "expose the Israeli public to the reality of everyday life in the Occupied Territories," its involvement in the fabrication of the Goldstone Report that investigated alleged Israeli war crimes in the wake of the 2009 military operation against Gaza clearly demonstrated that "occupied territories" is the red herring used to deflect attention from the group's subversive activity that is ultimately aimed at turning Israel to a bastion of human rights that has no particular interest in remaining a Jewish state (peep through Haoketz if you like).

The outcome of the last election with its landslide victory for Netanyahu did nothing to stop organizations like Breaking the Silence. On the contrary, it invigorated them to double their efforts. 

Most troubling is the fact that Breaking the Silence was able to persuade a political party, Meretz, to jump on board its filthy bandwagon. Last week, Meretz lawmakers stepped to the Knesset podium to read selected reports produced by Breaking the Silence indicting IDF conduct during the latest military campaign against Gaza. If these reports were at least accurate, their exposure could be forgiven, since Israelis abhor unnecessary cruelty, even when done in the heat of battle.

But when Meretz MK Ilan Gilon read in somber tone a report telling how an Israeli tank ran over a concrete fence surrounding a house instead of opening the gate, one quickly realizes how ludicrous the indictments are. 

It is clear that the reports produced by Breaking the Silence, and now backed by an entire Knesset faction, are not designed to purge the IDF of unlawful military conduct. They seek to defame the IDF, and in so doing limit its effectiveness in the future. In a way, what Meretz did was a positive thing since it actually revealed how radical this leftist party is. After backing up Breaking the Silence, they can no longer hide behind the Zionism they claim to uphold.

And there was another positive effect to the reading of Breaking the Silence reports at the Knesset. Israelis by their thousands began reacting to this clearly anti-Israel stunt, especially on social media. 

Avihai Shorshan was the first to pick up the towel by creating a Facebook page called "My Truth," in which soldiers write testimonies of how they have put their lives at risk to avoid civilian casualties and unnecessary damage to livestock and property. "Despite danger from tunnels," read one testimony, "my soldiers took upon themselves another mission – feeding the animals people left behind. We saved from our own drinking water for the goats, sheep, roosters and rabbits." Another recalled sparing a Hamas militant' life, and so on. 

In contrast, Breaking the Silence brought as evidence of alleged war crimes incidents like that of a soldier who shot at a suspicious object that turned out to be a horse.

Another popular Israeli Facebook simply mocks the Breaking the Silence reports. A post titled "Feet Up!" (see photo) facetiously reports on one "crime against humanity": "We were in an ambush when suddenly we saw a terrorist running toward us with only one shoe on his foot. Hezi immediately gave him the sandals his sister Mazal gave him after finishing boot camp and forced him to be photographed for peace in the typical posture of a left-wing activist."

Amusing as it is, organizations like Breaking the Silence are causing considerable damage to Israel. When the group's most recent reports began surfacing, Hamas quickly seized the opportunity to call upon the international community to investigate Israeli war crimes (for killing a horse?). Hamas also congratulated European Union leftists that, acting on Breaking the Silence reports, called for freezing financial activities in Israel. 

Nevertheless, though Jews have been forewarned that "your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you" (Isaiah 49:17), they have also been told that "Israel is not forsaken" (Jeremiah 51:5).

 

American Policy Blunders in the Mideast

American Policy Blunders in the Mideast
American Policy Blunders in the Mideast

Ignoring the lessons of the past, President Obama is courting Iran at the expense of traditional US allies, and this is not lost on Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Israeli Teens Rammed by Palestinian Terrorist

Israeli Teens Rammed by Palestinian Terrorist
Israeli Teens Rammed by Palestinian Terrorist

Four Israeli Jewish teenagers were wounded, one seriously, on Thursday after being rammed by a Palestinian motorist in what police preliminarily determined to be an act of terrorism.

The attack occurred at a hitchhiking station outside the community of Alon Shvut in the Etzion Bloc of Jewish settlements south of Bethlehem.

At the same location back in November of last year, a Palestinian driver ran down and lightly wounded a Jewish woman before leaping from his vehicle and finishing her off with a knife.

The perpetrator of Thursday’s attack fled the scene, but was found and arrested a short time later.

PHOTO: Palestinians have used social media to celebrate the use of vehicular terrorism against Israeli civilians.

 

'Demographic War With the Jews'

'Demographic War With the Jews'
'Demographic War With the Jews'

Some 6.1 million Palestinian Arabs live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, 100,000 less than the number of Jews who live in the same area. That according to figures published this week by the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics in honor of “Nakba Day” - the commemoration of the “disaster” of Israel’s rebirth on May 14, 1948.

For years various Israeli experts, like Prof. Arnon Sofer, have warned that the Palestinian population is growing more rapidly than the Jewish, while others say this demographic threat is a myth facilitated by the ludicrous reliance on statistics provided by the Palestinian Authority.

Whatever the case, the demographic issue is taken seriously, and is therefore having an impact on the way Israel conducts the peace process, and the Palestinian leadership knows it.

According to the figures published by Ramallah, there are some 12.1 million Palestinians worldwide, 2.8 million of whom live in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) with another 1.8 million residing in Gaza. By comparison, the global Jewish population is 14.3 million with 6.2 million of them living in Israel.

If these numbers are accurate (and there is reason to take them with a grain of salt), Palestinian women indeed are giving birth to more children than their Jewish counterparts.

The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics optimistically estimates that the number of Palestinian Arabs in the region will grow by a full one million by 2020, thereby easily outnumbering Jews west of the Jordan River. A similar report published three years ago reported one million less Palestinians than today. In other words, according to the Palestinian leadership, the Palestinian population west of the Jordan River grows by at least one million people every three-to-five years.

For years, both sides have considered natural growth by the other to be a demographic threat. For this reason, the Palestinians are opposed to Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel, which at times has drastically increased Jewish population.

Should they succeed in establishing an independent state, many Palestinian politicians have expressed a desire to emulate the Jewish model and bring as many “Palestinians” from abroad inside their borders. And while many of these Arabs living abroad have no interest in joining a Palestinian state, if even one million answered the call, it would be enough to significantly impact the situation.

Years ago Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniya stated that his people are engaged in a demographic war with the Jews, and expressed confidence that on this front “we will defeat the Zionists.”

 

Is Israel Stealing 'Palestinian' Water?

Is Israel Stealing 'Palestinian' Water?
Is Israel Stealing 'Palestinian' Water?

Water is one of the hottest topics in the region, and as with most things, Israel is accused of cheating the Palestinians. Read our list of myths and facts regarding 'Palestinian' water.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

King of the Gypsies Visits Israel

King of the Gypsies Visits Israel
King of the Gypsies Visits Israel

“To put on kippa next to the Western Wall and place a note [in it] is one of my childhood dreams. And it is a dream come true,” said Dorin Cioba, self-proclaimed “King of the Roma,” last week ahead of his first visit to the Holy Land.

The Roma, or Romani people, are more commonly known by outsiders as “Gypsies.”

“There is a special relationship between Gypsies and Jews - two people who have suffered persecution. I grew up on the Old and New Testaments and am a man of faith. For me, the Jews are a role model,” Cioba continued.

Cioba, who lives in Sibiu, in the region of Transylvania, is the leader of around three million Roma spread throughout Europe, but with a strong concentration in Romania. The “king” arrived in Israel to take part in the opening of a new exhibition by Israeli photographer Roni Ben-Ari, who spent the past year photographing the Roma way of life in Eastern Europe. The exhibit is currently open at the Museum of Israeli Art in Ramat Gan.

Despite his position of importance, as indicated by the small entourage that accompanied him, Cioba was briefly detained by immigration officials at Ben Gurion Airport, but was sent on his way following intervention by Ben-Ari.

While in the country, Cioba toured Jerusalem’s Old City and the numerous local Christian holy sites there. Cioba and his men were reportedly moved to tears while praying at the Western Wall. “I keep breathing the air of Jerusalem and I can feel it all over. I breathe the history. It is so exciting to me,” he said.

The Roma delegation and their leader also paid a solemn visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. As many as 1.5 million Gypsies were exterminated alongside the Jews in the Nazi Holocaust.

Though hailed as many as a “king” and often seen wearing a golden crown, Cioba does not live in a palace, but is relatively well off considering the poverty that characterizes so much of the Roma population in Eastern Europe.

Those known as Gypsies were traditionally nomadic, but in more recent decades have undergone a settling process. Cioba’s father, Florin Cioba, played a large role in that when he urged the Roma to stop wandering and begging and to make education a higher priority.

The Roma community continues to hold out hope of eventual independence, and sees Israel as a role model of a people who lived in exile only to reunite and become a nation again.

 

Hidden Important Change to Temple Mount Ban

Hidden Important Change to Temple Mount Ban
Hidden Important Change to Temple Mount Ban

“We are witnessing a revolution,” said Rabbi Yehuda Glick, an activist who promotes Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount. “We have moved forward another millimeter."

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israel Initiates Christian Mission

Israel Initiates Christian Mission
Israel Initiates Christian Mission

Israel has initiated a mission intended to raise up a generation of Christian leaders who will support Israel. “It is critical to bring the next generation of leaders in the Christian community to Israel,” declared Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer at the annual Christian Solidarity Event at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC.

The new program, titled “Covenant Journey,” is modeled in part after the highly successful Birthright project that has brought over 500,000 young Jewish Americans to Israel. Already this summer the Covenant Journey program is bringing hundreds of Christians student leaders to Israel. Organizers are now in the planning stages to bring thousands more young Christians over the next few years in order to begin building bridges with Israel and Israelis.

“There's one thing better than standing with Israel, and that's standing in Israel. If they walk in the places where the patriarchs and the prophets and the kings and that young Rabbi from the Galilee walked, then they will stand with Israel here and they will strengthen their Christian identity,” said Dermer.

Students will be able to join the Covenant Journey for only $500 thanks to subsidization by Christian donors, including Museum of the Bible and the Philos Project.

“Visiting the Holy Land—where Abraham journeyed and gave birth to the nation of Israel, David conquered Goliath, and the Prophets and Apostles wrote and lived—and walking where Jesus gave his ministry, is without question, a life-changing experience. As young adults experience Israel firsthand, their faith is strengthened, their knowledge of the Bible is increased and their understanding of the connection between the Bible and the Land of Israel is put on solid ground. It will create a foundational platform from which they can become goodwill ambassadors for Israel and the Jewish people, and the Covenant Journey participants will never be the same,” said Steve Green, chairman of the board for Museum of the Bible and a keynote speaker at the Israeli Embassy event.

The other keynote speaker, Paul Singer, added that "by enabling Christian students to visit the land of Israel and see it firsthand, Covenant Journey is raising up a generation that will not only be stronger in their faith, but will also be introduced to the real-life people who live there. The students will discover ancient Israel and modern Israel at the same time. And for me, as Jew, that’s huge. At this point, Covenant Journey has become part of my journey, and I’m proud to say that I support everything that it stands for. I truly believe that Jews, Christians and all of Western civilization will be reaping the fruit of this project for years to come."

Covenant Journey will be choosing students based on their recognized Christian leadership roles on campus as well as their desire to become advocates for Israel. Students participating in the 11-day mission will learn about biblical history and experience the reality of everyday life in modern-day Israel. Participants will then be able to serve as ambassadors of goodwill for Israel by sharing what they have experienced and learned in Israel on their campuses, in churches and in their future leadership roles.

PHOTO: Pro-Israel Christian student activist Chloe Valdary caused a stir last year when accused pro-Palestinian propagandists of misappropriating the rhetoric of the black civil rights movement in America.

 

Arab Leaders Rebuff Obama Invitation to Talk About Iran

Arab Leaders Rebuff Obama Invitation to Talk About Iran
Arab Leaders Rebuff Obama Invitation to Talk About Iran

The Obama Administration was left somewhat red-faced when all but two Gulf State leaders turned down his invitation to visit Camp David this Thursday and discuss the nuclear deal being negotiated between Iran and America.

Washington had hoped to use the gathering to assuage mounting Arab concerns that the US and its Western allies were being duped into giving Iran exactly what it wants, while failing to adequately ensure the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is halted.

It was a prestigious invitation that nevertheless met with what some commentators are calling a subtle, but scornful rebuff. Only the emirs of Kuwait and Qatar will be in attendance, while other states, including regional power Saudi Arabia, will instead send deputies to meet the American president.

The message was clear for those paying attention over the past several months: the Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia don’t trust the American agenda or ability to effectively negotiate vis-a-vis Iran.

So disillusioned are many in the Arab world that leading voices went so far as to openly support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech before the US Congress in protest over the intended Iran nuclear deal.

 

Nuns Shamed by Anti-Semitism, Warn More Coming

Nuns Shamed by Anti-Semitism, Warn More Coming
Nuns Shamed by Anti-Semitism, Warn More Coming

"The tragedy of anti-Semitism is not just something in the past. It is flaring up again. And in the not-too-distant future we Christians will all be challenged about our relationship to Israel."

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
CLICK HERE to read it all

 

Israel Saves the Life of Syrian Terrorist

Israel Saves the Life of Syrian Terrorist
Israel Saves the Life of Syrian Terrorist

Israel’s commitment to human life knows no bounds. When soldiers guarding the northern border with Syria last week were asked to permit entry to a seriously wounded Syrian man, they did not hesitate, despite the fact that the patient was a member of the Al-Nusra Front, an offshoot of Al Qaeda.

Israeli military doctors received the wounded man at the border, and after a security check to make sure he was not wired with explosives, transported the patient to Ziv Medical Center in the Galilee town of Tsefat (Safed).

A day earlier, the Israeli army had been asked by contacts on the Syrian side to open the gates to a pregnant woman in need of a caesarean section. Israel agreed, and sent army doctors and paramedics to await the woman at the border. But the woman ended up giving birth to a healthy baby on her way to meet the Israelis.

These are but a few of the more recent examples of Israel’s readiness to aid the the victims of Syria’s ongoing civil war, be they friend or foe.

A year ago, Israel Today interviewed Prof. Rafi Be’er, director of Rambam Hospital in Haifa, who said that at his hospital “we treat anyone who comes through the door. We check neither his nationality nor his religion. We have an obligation to save lives and to heal the sick.”

Later, Israel Today received permission from the army to speak to four Syrian terrorists being treated in Tsefat. In speaking to us, they had nothing but praise for the way they had been treated in Israel. When asked if Israelis would receive the same care in Syria, all four agreed: “That would be impossible. Muslims have no mercy, enemies remain enemies!”

 

Messianic Ethiopians Address Israel Riots

Messianic Ethiopians Address Israel Riots
Messianic Ethiopians Address Israel Riots

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews took to the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over the past week in protest of what they said is the “racism and humiliation” they experience daily in Israeli society. The protests were sparked by security camera footage showing two Israeli police officers beating up an Ethiopian IDF soldier.

“The fact that the police beat up an Ethiopian soldier is very painful for us,” said Shmuel Belay, a young leader in the growing Ethiopian Messianic community in Israel. “We are soldiers, we are Israelis and we should be equal. The police would never beat up on a soldier like that if he was white."

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin agrees that there is a problem in Israel society. “The Ethiopian protesters in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv uncovered an open and raw wound at the heart of Israeli society,” he said. “The pain is of a community crying out over a sense of discrimination, racism, and lack of response. We have erred. We did not look, and we did not listen enough. Among the protesters on the streets are some of our finest sons and daughters: outstanding students, soldiers who served in the army. We owe them answers.”

When the protests themselves turned violent, the police turned out in full force and quickly restored order with water cannons, tear gas and dozens of arrests. Many criticized the protests because of the violence and disruptions to public order, but the Messianic Ethiopian leadership in Israel asked for understanding.

“I ask for prayer regarding the current situation among the Ethiopian-Israeli community in the Land in light of the recent incidents of racism and violence that are happening on a daily basis in this Holy Land,” Avishalom Teklehaimanot, a Messianic Ethiopian pastor from Haifa, told Israel Today. “I am concerned that the rift and discrimination is growing towards the Ethiopian-Israeli community. If you should have the opportunity to help and advocate for those on the receiving end and stand against this racism, please do so,” he pleaded.

According to a new survey published in recent days, more than a third (37%) of parents younger than 29-years-old would not allow their children to be in the same school as Ethiopian children.

“I am appalled by the results of this survey concerning racism towards the Ethiopians in Israel. I am ashamed of this nation and of the people who live here,” complained one Messianic leader from Tel Aviv. “I am beginning to understand that they had to use some force during the protests. I am sorry to say that only by force does the Israeli public begin to pay attention.”

Belay says that his people the Ethiopians also need to do more. “During the protests no one was talking about the fact that we are part of this nation. They only talk about racism and inequality. My people must show everyone that we love Israel, we are part of the Jewish nation and we are proud to be here,” he said.

The young Ethiopian believer continued: “Messianic Ethiopians tend to stay together in their own groups and do not integrate with the rest of the country. That’s a problem we need to correct. My sister and I organized a day of Ethiopian culture for Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. We sang our songs in Amharic, showed Ethiopian art, saw a movie about Ethiopian immigration and told stories of our return to Zion. This is something that the Ministry of Education should do to help integrate our children into Israeli society."

More than 135,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, having immigrated in two waves in 1984 and 1991. But they have struggled to integrate into Israeli society amidst lingering accusations of institutional discrimination.

 

Netanyahu Barely Scrapes Together Majority Coalition

Netanyahu Barely Scrapes Together Majority Coalition
Netanyahu Barely Scrapes Together Majority Coalition

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night took coalition negotiations down to the wire, presenting his new proposed government to President Reuven Rivlin with just 90 minutes to go before the deadline to do so.

Netanyahu and his Likud party scored an impressive victory in the national elections that took place six weeks ago. But that’s how long it took the incumbent leader to maneuver the bickering over ministerial appointments and narrow political concerns and bring together enough of the fractious Knesset to form a majority coalition.

In the end, Netanyahu managed to pull together a coalition of just 61 out of 120 Knesset seats, the narrowest possible majority.

The parties in his coalition are his own Likud, the centrist Kulanu, right-wing Jewish Home, and the two ultra-Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism.

It is a decidedly right-wing government in regards to national security and the peace process, but there are deep differences over economic and social issues. For one, both Kulanu and Jewish Home are unhappy with the massive government payouts to the ultra-Orthodox, most of whom don’t serve in the army. But those payouts were part of the coalition agreements Netanyahu signed with Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Whether or not those issues will ultimately lead to another early election remains to be seen, but one thing is certain - Netanyahu’s new coalition is far less stable than many had hoped.

That is particularly disappointing given the strong right-wing showing in the most recent elections. With at least 67 Knesset seats filled by either right-wing or center-right lawmakers, voters were expecting a far broader coalition.

 

IDF Begins Integrating Robots Into Ground Forces

IDF Begins Integrating Robots Into Ground Forces
IDF Begins Integrating Robots Into Ground Forces

Israel is already a world leader in the research, production and military integration of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Now, it is successfully integrating robots into its ground forces, as well.

At the International Ground Forces Conference held this week in Tel Aviv, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Eyal Ben Reuven revealed that just the week prior the IDF’s 7th Armored Brigade had become one of, if not the first ground force in history to train side-by-side with “advanced ground robotics.”

The general cautioned against getting too excited about robot armies taking the battlefield. “At this stage, robotics will not replace the human factor. …We see robotics as a supporting factor,” he said. “I do not expect to see battalions of military robots within a year. It will take time.”

At this point, the robots in question are referred to as an “advance guard,” and will be used to open corridors for attack in enemy lines. This is especially crucial in urban warfare, where booby-traps and hidden combatants have claimed the lives of many Israeli soldiers in the past.

 

From Shortage to Surplus - Abundant Water

From Shortage to Surplus - Abundant Water
From Shortage to Surplus - Abundant Water

The message is to conserve water, from turning faucets on and off while washing dishes to taking a “Zionist Shower”...

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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What Will Israelis be Celebrating Tonight?

What Will Israelis be Celebrating Tonight?
What Will Israelis be Celebrating Tonight?

The grave of Talmudic sage Shimon Bar Yochai will tonight (Wednesday) be the venue for one of the more festive holidays in Israel - Lag B’Omer.

Lag B’Omer is celebrated on the 33rd day of the Count of the Omer, which begins on the second day of Passover and ends on Shavuot, as commanded in the Bible (Leviticus 23:15–16).

Lag B’Omer is itself an extra-biblical holiday the origin of which remains something of a mystery. There are numerous myths, such as the story of Rabbi Akiva, a first century CE religious leader whose disciples were dying by the thousands to a mysterious plague, only to have the plague disappear under equally mysterious circumstances on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer.

Another tale is that Lag B’Omer marks the passing of Bar Yochai, Rabbi Akiva’s greatest disciple and the supposed author of the Zohar, the chief work of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism.

For Orthodox Jews, the main event takes place in the small Galilee community of Meron, where Bar Yochai’s grave is located. Given the large number of people who usually show up, over 1,000 police and several helicopters are deployed at Meron to prevent forest fires.

Elsewhere across the country, Israelis will gather to light bonfires, creating a fun family atmosphere for most. Israeli children begin collecting scrap wood already weeks in advance in anticipation of Lag B’Omer.

Within the Messianic community, Lag B’Omer is a subject of some controversy. Many Jewish believers take part in the celebrations as it is a time of warm fellowship with a patriotic Jewish theme. But many feel it is wrong to mark the holiday due to the anti-Messianic side story that accompanies Rabbi Akiva’s activities in the Holy Land two thousand years ago.

Rabbi Akiva was the primary backer of the Bar Kochva Revolt against Rome, going so far as to declare the uprising’s leader, Simon Bar Kochva, to be the promised Messiah.

Obviously, Jewish believers in Yeshua at the time had a major problem with this, even if they wanted to support the revolt. When Yeshua’s followers refused to follow another “messiah,” Rabbi Akiva and the majority of the Jews who looked to him for leadership are said to have labeled the Jewish believers in Yeshua as traitors.

 

Making Sense of the Middle East Conundrum

Making Sense of the Middle East Conundrum
Making Sense of the Middle East Conundrum

The Shiite side has far greater cohesiveness, which explains Iran’s success in effectively extending its influence over the region...

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Surprises in Netanyahu Coalition Talks

Surprises in Netanyahu Coalition Talks
Surprises in Netanyahu Coalition Talks

Time is quickly running out for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to conclude coalition talks. His new government must be presented to President Reuven Rivlin by Thursday morning.

But it is proving difficult to meet the deadline.

As the situation stood on Tuesday afternoon, there was a very real possible that in addition to serving as prime minister, Netanyahu would also fill the post of foreign minister. This after former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (pictured) officially announced he and his Israel Beiteinu party (six seats) would join the opposition.

For years Lieberman has been one of Netanyahu’s staunchest allies in the Knesset. But he leveled harsh criticism at the prime minister for his seemingly hesitant approach to last year’s Gaza war.

Said Lieberman following his decision:

“Our dilemma was principles, not seats. We had no problem with the ministerial positions, and we did indeed receive the Foreign Ministry in full during negotiations… This coalition does not reflect the positions of the Zionist camp, and it is not to our taste, to say the least.”

It remained possible that Lieberman’s move was a last-minute negotiating tactic to squeeze even concessions, but even if, it left Netanyahu with very few choices.

With just 48 hours till the deadline, Netanyahu had signed agreements only with the centrist Kulanu Party and the ultra-Orthodox factions Shas and United Torah Judaism, giving him a minority coalition of just 53 seats.

The hope going into the home stretch was that Netanyahu could conclude a deal with Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party, giving the coalition the slimmest of majorities with 61 seats. But by press time, Bennett had cut off all contacts with Likud after being denied the Foreign Ministry for himself.

The problem is that even with Bennett and his eight seats, Netanyahu’s government will be considered too narrow to effectively govern, and would almost certainly lead to early elections, yet again.

 

Why Even Abbas Doesn’t Want Gaza

Why Even Abbas Doesn’t Want Gaza
Why Even Abbas Doesn’t Want Gaza

"If we take to the streets protesting against Hamas policies, they will spray us with bullets,” lamented a local Gazan in remarks to Israel Today.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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WATCH: IDF Trains for the Challenges Ahead

WATCH: IDF Trains for the Challenges Ahead
WATCH: IDF Trains for the Challenges Ahead

Israel desires peace, both for itself and its neighbors. Sadly, since her rebirth 67 years ago, Israel has been forced to repeatedly defend herself against an incessant campaign to harm and destroy the Jewish state.

That being the case, the Israel Defense Forces must remain on the cutting edge, and must constantly be ready to exert force far beyond this nation's meager size and resources.

The video below is a powerful compilation of Israel's forces training for the challenges ahead:


 

Arab Youth Turn to Social Media to Bless Israel

Arab Youth Turn to Social Media to Bless Israel
Arab Youth Turn to Social Media to Bless Israel

Young people from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen and many other Arab countries are turning to social media to tell the world that they love Israel.

The trend began, according to Al-Monitor, a popular pan-Mideast media outlet, when an Israeli Arab Muslim who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) wanted to convince other Israeli Arabs that the (IDF) are not an “army of evil” and that its soldiers are not as bloodthirsty as they tend to be portrayed in Arab propaganda films.

But instead of messages from the Israeli Arab audience he was targeting, he began receiving messages of peace and love from young Arabs all across the region.

M., who told his story to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, noticed that the Arab-Israeli political parties were putting up billboards protesting against recruiting Israeli Arabs into the IDF. “I saw the signs that were hung in Arab villages being run by activists of Balad and the other Arab parties under the banner 'The IDF isn’t worth it'. It infuriated me,” he said.

“I decided to respond to them on Facebook, so I made a page called 'The IDF is worth it', but instead of getting responses from the young Israeli Arabs to whom I was directing my personal campaign, I started to get photos and texts from young people around the Arab world. My jaw dropped,” M. told the website.

One young woman from Saudi Arabia posted a video holding a green Saudi passport against a street scene in Jeddah, saying in the background: “Good evening. I am a young woman from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. I am a member of one of the better-known tribes of the Hijaz, and I am showing you Darajeh Square, a famous landmark in Jeddah. I’d like to send a message of peace and love to Israel and its dear citizens. I know it is surprising that a Saudi Arabian citizen sends a message to the people of Israel, but it is a basic principle of democracy that everyone is free to voice an opinion. I hope the Arabs will be sensible like me and recognize the fact that Israel also has rights to the lands of Palestine.”

A young man from Iraq posted a picture of his passport along the Tigris River. “I want to send a message of peace and love to the dear Israeli people,” he said. “I decided to shoot this video and tell you, ‘True, we are two countries that do not have friendly relations, but that doesn’t matter. I believe that the number of people who support Israel here will grow consistently.’”

Other young people send M. photos of their passports with handwritten messages in Hebrew, Arabic and English. It is always the same: “We love Israel.”

M. also engages the senders in private conversations. “After I got a video from Baghdad, I asked the person who sent me the clip what it was that caused him to express support for Israel.” The Iraqi man responded, "You’d be surprised. I’m not the only one. There are a lot of young people here who think like me. Everything that is happening to us here in Iraq — the killings, the terrorism, the veritable bloodbath — showed us that Israel has nothing to do with it. There are many young people... they are fed up with the religious wars between Sunnis and Shiites.”

Of course, there is also a growing pro-Israel sentiment among young Israeli Arabs, especially Christians. Ehab Ashkar, an Arab believer from Nazareth, had this to say when Israel Today asked him about the phenomenon:

"As an Arab who lives in Israel, it is a great honor for me to live side by side with my brothers the Jews. I bless them and love them and it is a privilege to tell them about my faith in their book, the Bible. There is a real way that we can live together in love, unity and peace, Arabs and Jews - through our prince of peace, Jesus Christ."

 

Israeli Arabs Don't Buy Joint List Promises

Israeli Arabs Don't Buy Joint List Promises
Israeli Arabs Don't Buy Joint List Promises

Israel Today speaks to the powerful new Joint Arab List, the Knesset's third largest faction. But many Arabs told us they don't trust their self-styled representatives.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Jerusalem Gets Shabbat Bus Service

Jerusalem Gets Shabbat Bus Service
Jerusalem Gets Shabbat Bus Service

Non-religious residents of Jerusalem have for years been demanding some sort of public transportation on Shabbat, and now it would seem they have it. Sort of…

A service called “Shabus” began operating this weekend to enable residents of more remote neighborhoods to reach Jerusalem’s city center on the weekly day of rest.

A public Internet petition managed to raise just shy of $30,000 for the launch of the service. Those interesting in receiving rides must register online and pay and annual fee of about $13.

So as to not upset Jerusalem’s large religious population any more than necessary, all Shabus drivers will be non-Jews.

So far, a reported 500 people have signed up for the service.

 

UN Approves Israeli Plan for War on Drugs

UN Approves Israeli Plan for War on Drugs
UN Approves Israeli Plan for War on Drugs

UNCommission on Narcotic Drugs unanimously adopts Israel's "constructive agenda in regards to the treatment and care for children and youth dealing with substance abuse disorders."

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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What Israeli Rescuers Found in Nepal

What Israeli Rescuers Found in Nepal
What Israeli Rescuers Found in Nepal

A 20-person delegation comprised of volunteers from Israel’s leading rescue organizations already has set up a field hospital and begun reaching out to earthquake victims in Nepal. Coordinated by IsraeLife and including representatives from United Hatzalah, Zaka and F.I.R.S.T., the rescue mission arrived on Monday and split up into two camps – one stationed in Kathmandu and the other in smaller villages in the periphery.

Dov Maisel, a member of joint delegation and United Hatzalah volunteer, explains conditions on the field. “Many communities have been utterly destroyed... their hospital or medical center is gone - they have nothing.” So far, the Israeli rescue team is treating injuries, pulling people out of rubble, rescuing victims from remote locations and consoling those facing grave tragedy.

"It is very difficult. After this kind of incident you have many wounded people who have nowhere to go - and they have fractures, an infected cut - all sorts of wounds... and they have no one treating them. Our mission is to help as many people as possible,” he said.

Eli Pollak, CEO of IsraeLife, said, “We decided to enlist the cooperation of the prominent Israeli emergency agencies in order to maximize the capabilities of the delegation, which is made up of experts in serving the needs of the disaster area. We are preparing for a long stay that will provide solutions to the Israelis living in Nepal and local residents.”

 

Israel and Egypt Unite against Hamas

Israel and Egypt Unite against Hamas
Israel and Egypt Unite against Hamas

Israel Today speaks to a Cairo-based Middle East expert about growing Israel-Egypt cooperation against Hamas and other Islamists.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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VIDEO: Israel's Amazing Qumran Caves

VIDEO: Israel's Amazing Qumran Caves
VIDEO: Israel's Amazing Qumran Caves

In 1946, a Bedouin shepherd went looking for a lost goat and instead found a series of ancient caves that ended up shedding a tremendous amount of light on the early Jewish communities living in the area.

The Qumran Caves and nearby settlement, since partially uncovered in excavations, tell the story of the Essene sect of religious Jews, and contained some of the oldest copies of the Scriptures ever found.

The entire area is today open to visitors and is a popular hiking spot for Israelis. For those who can’t make it in person, local film producer Amir Aloni has provided the following drone’s eye view of Qumran.

Qumran Caves from Amir Aloni on Vimeo.

 

Messianic Jews Respond to Netanyahu's Reelection

Messianic Jews Respond to Netanyahu's Reelection
Messianic Jews Respond to Netanyahu's Reelection

Israel Today spoke to a number of Israeli Messianic leaders to get their take on Netanyahu's stunning upset victory in the recent elections. Some of the responses may surprise you.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Israeli Jewish Teens to Promote Arabic in Jerusalem

Israeli Jewish Teens to Promote Arabic in Jerusalem
Israeli Jewish Teens to Promote Arabic in Jerusalem

Next week a group of 150 Jewish high school students will ride Jerusalem’s light rail while conversing only in Arabic. It is a noble initiative that has been poorly presented by some organizers and journalists giving the impression of overbearing racism in the Jewish state.

The event has been organized by the movement known as Tag Meir, established to combat those hate crimes perpetrated by Jews, primarily against Arabs. Over the past several years, there have been numerous occurrences of anti-Arab graffiti, and more recently a handful of violent attacks by Jews against Arabs and Druze have made headlines.

“We’ve decided to give Arabic speakers in Jerusalem visibility and even pride,” organizer Merav Livneh-Dill told The Times of Israel. “The goal is to allow Arabic to exist in the public sphere and legitimize those who want to speak it but are afraid to do so.”

After reaching the light rail’s final station at Mt. Herzl, the students will be joined by Education Ministry officials for a ceremony conducted in both Hebrew and Arabic.

While the initiative is itself positive and demonstrates, once again, that Israel is in fact not an apartheid state, it also runs the risk of misrepresenting the issue.

It is not as though Arabs in general are afraid to and refrain from speaking their language in Jewish-dominated areas.

The main Jerusalem shopping mall near my home is regularly filled with Arab shoppers speaking Arabic, and no one seems to mind.

Arab children playing and conversing in Arabic can be found at public parks across the city any given weekend, and no one seems to mind.

Just last week, a man sitting near me on the bus ride to my Jewish neighborhood was speaking Arabic loudly into his phone. He was clearly not fearful of doing so, and, again, none of the Jews round about us seemed to mind.

Initiatives like the above are a good thing, but should not be presented out of context. The majority of Israelis already have no problem with Arabs speaking Arabic in their midst, and the few extremists who do won’t be deterred by this demonstration, anyway.

PHOTO: Jews and Arabs ride Jerusalem's light rail together.

 

What Israeli Christians Want From Netanyahu

What Israeli Christians Want From Netanyahu
What Israeli Christians Want From Netanyahu

The reelection of Benjamin Netanyahu gives hope to the newly-recognized Israeli Aramaic Christian community that relations with our Jewish brothers will continue to strengthen.

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Law Experts: Israel Doesn't Commit War Crimes

Law Experts: Israel Doesn't Commit War Crimes
Law Experts: Israel Doesn't Commit War Crimes

Two of the world’s leading experts on the laws of armed conflict have, in the wake of last year’s Gaza war, conducted a thorough survey of the Israel Defense Force’s targeting policies and concluded that the Israeli army does not as a matter of policy commit war crimes.

Traditionally, the IDF has been closed regarding its operational procedures for fear that Israel’s antagonists could exploit that information in their ongoing quest to smear the Jewish state.

But the immense condemnation following the Summer 2014 conflict prompted the IDF to invite American military legal experts Michael Schmitt and John Merriam to investigate whether or not the accusations of wrong-doing were valid.

Both Schmitt and Merriam lecture on the law of armed conflict at the US Naval War College, and Schmitt also advises on the topic at NATO, Harvard and Exeter.

Given the high positions both men hold and the high regard in which they are held, the conclusions of their survey, a summary of which was posted to the blog Just Security, are expected to influence legal proceedings against Israel at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

And that is likely to play in Israel’s favor.

The survey took a sympathetic, if not uncritical, look at Israel’s “siege mentality” and the various other factors that create the “specific operational and strategic environment in which the IDF must fight.”

And while Israel’s aggressiveness in some scenarios and the resulting collateral damage might be viewed by some as excessive and contentious, the authors determined that Israeli military policy and practice fell within legally acceptable boundaries.

“While there are certainly Israeli legal positions that may be contentious, we found that their approach to targeting is consistent with the law and, in many cases, worthy of emulation,” read the summary’s concluding sentence.

 

Israeli Expert: Iran Nuke Deal is a Smokescreen

Israeli Expert: Iran Nuke Deal is a Smokescreen
Israeli Expert: Iran Nuke Deal is a Smokescreen

"The US and Iran have, in fact, not reached any nuclear agreement," reveals Israeli expert. Obama's "fact sheet" was "a ploy of incredible deception."

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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Israel Dispatches Massive Aid Team to Nepal

Israel Dispatches Massive Aid Team to Nepal
Israel Dispatches Massive Aid Team to Nepal

Israel on Sunday dispatched some 240 IDF soldiers to take part in search and rescue efforts in Nepal, which on Saturday suffered a 7.9 earthquake that left at least 2,000 people dead and many more unaccounted for.

Medical, logistics and rescue officers with Israel’s Home Front Command were among the delegation, which will establish a field hospital in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu.

In addition to aiding the local population, the IDF team will be tasked with finding and assisting an estimated 250 Israelis in Nepal who by Sunday afternoon had failed to make contact with family for friends back home.

Nepal, like many Asian countries, is extremely popular with Israeli backpackers.

Also in need of rescue are 24 Israeli babies born to surrogate mothers in recent days. The babies and their biological parents are to be flown out of Nepal via helicopters organized by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Immediately following the disaster, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said: “Our hearts and thoughts are with the nation of Nepal who are dealing with a terrible disaster, and with our loved ones who are in danger and distress.”

 

What's Next for Netanyahu?

What's Next for Netanyahu?
What's Next for Netanyahu?

After an impressive electoral victory, Netanyahu faces a dilemma: Does he satisfy the public which voted for the right, or does he appease the global community?

The full article appears in the May 2015 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
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