Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Weekly roundup of world briefs

 

February 1, 2019



Israel takes 5th place in Bloomberg ranking of world’s most innovative nations

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Israel moved up to fifth place in the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, an annual ranking of the world’s 60 most innovative countries.

The index, unveiled Tuesday, reviews dozens of criteria using seven metrics, including research and development spending, manufacturing capability and concentration of high-tech public companies.

Israel was ranked 10th in 2018. The United States finished eighth after being 11th last year.

South Korea led the index, followed by Germany, Finland and Switzerland.

Israel was ranked first in the R&D intensity category and fell to second place from first last year in research concentration.

Etgar Keret wins Israel’s most prestigious literary prize

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA)—Etgar Keret is the winner of the Sapir Prize, Israel’s most prestigious literary award.

The award for 2018, presented on Tuesday, is for Keret’s collection of 24 short stories titled “A Glitch at the Edge of the Galaxy.”

Keret said he was “very surprised,” according to a statement from Ben-Gurion University, where he is a lecturer.

“It’s the happiest thing in the world, but like love or gifts, it’s not something you can strive for. It just happens,” he also said, according to the statement.

The prize includes a more than $40,000 cash prize and support for the book’s translation into two languages: Arabic and a language of the author’s choice.

Keret, who won the 2016 Charles Bronfman Prize for humanitarians under 50, has written several collections of short stories, as well as movie scripts, poetry, plays and comics.

His work has been translated into English, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, Norwegian and Swedish.

Israel’s prime minister: ‘We are determined to prevent Iran’ in Syria

(JNS)—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Gen. Qasem Soleimani on Wednesday about the activities of his army and proxies in Syria.

“Instead of interfering in the elections, Soleimani would do well to check the state of the Iranian bases that he is trying to establish in Syria,” said Netanyahu. “Our policy is clear, and it will not change: We are determined to prevent Iran from militarily entrenching itself in Syria against the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu was apparently replying to an unverified Kuwaiti news report that Soleimani told Iranian leaders that attacks against Israel could lead to his defeat in the April 9 elections.

This development comes just days after Israeli warplanes launched a massive attack on numerous Iranian targets in Syria in response to Iranian fighter jets firing a surface-to-surface missile towards the Golan Heights on Sunday.

Syria’s ambassador warns of bombing Ben-Gurion Airport if Israeli airstrikes continue

(JNS)—Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Tuesday that if Israel does not stop attacking military sites in his country, Syria would target Ben-Gurion International Airport.

“Syria would practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport,” warned Bashar Jaafari at the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.

The comments came after Israel officially acknowledged air-bombing several Iranian military targets in Syria, including one just outside the Damascus International Airport that caused significant damage. At least 21 people were killed in the operation, primarily Iranian and Syrian military operatives.

The Israeli airstrike came after a medium-range missile was launched from Syrian soil over the Hermon mountains and into the airspace above the Golan Heights before being neutralized by the Iron Dome missile-defense system.

Jaafari called on the United Nations “to stop the Israeli repeated aggressions on the Syrian Arab republic territories,” and said Israel would be unable to attack Syria without the support of the United States, the United Kingdom and France in the Security Council.

Israeli doctor saved Abbas’s life this summer, says report

(JNS)—A report in Israeli news revealed that when Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas was close to death this summer, Israel sent a specialist to Ramallah who helped save his life.

According to Ynet, doctors feared Abbas would suffer complete systems failure when he was admitted to Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah with pneumonia on May 20, 2018, his second hospitalization in just 24 hours.

When Israel learned of Abbas’s condition, it offered to admit him to an Israeli hospital, a gesture that was declined.

When it became clear that Abbas was on the brink of death, Israel sent a top specialist to Ramallah, who joined a team of doctors from around the world who were treating the P.A. leader. Just two days later, Abbas’s condition began to improve, and he was discharged from the hospital a week later.

Since then, Abbas has returned to work, though he has reportedly quit smoking. He has also reportedly suffered a severe reduction in energy and developed problems with memory loss.

The Times of Israel reported that it questioned P.A. officials as to the veracity of the information, and they denied the involvement of any Israeli medical professionals in Abbas’s recovery.

Pompeo: Peace plan to be released after Israeli elections

(JNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the highly anticipated Trump administration’s peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians—commonly referred to as the “deal of the century”—is expected to be released after the April 9 Israeli elections.

Addressing via video conference the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pompeo assured that there is a way forward for Israelis and Palestinians to finally make amends.

This is in spite of a collapse in relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a year ago, in addition to making moves such as relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.

Pompeo said peace talks will not be “driven” by the United States, but by Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Nonetheless, he referenced a U.S.-led timeline after Israelis vote.

Israeli media speculated recently what the peace plan would look like, though they were refuted by White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt, who called the reporting “inaccurate,” saying that “speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it.”

Additionally, Pompeo reiterated his claim that the Islamic State is “defeated” in Iraq and Syria, despite attacks from ISIS against American forces last week and on Monday.

Georgia State University student government rejects campus demands for BDS

(JNS)—The student government association at Georgia State University (SGA) has rejected demands from student groups to enact BDS on campus, including issuing an apology for participation in an organized free trip to Israel over winter break.

Protesters, some representing chartered groups such as Faces for Feminism and Panthers for Black Feminism, gave a wish list allaying their opposition to four SGA members for going on a complimentary trip organized by Maccabee Task Force, which combats BDS efforts on college campuses.

Other demands included the passage of a pro-BDS bill that “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians,” in addition to the resignation of the SGA executive board.

Rejecting these requests, the SGA cited Georgia Senate Bill 327 as a reason why a BDS bill cannot be passed. The law, which took effect in July 2016, prohibits the state from entering into contracts with firms that boycott or plan to boycott Israel.

As a state school, the university is subject to the measure.

“The decision in regard to actionable BDS legislation either supporting or disagreeing will be determined by to the Board of Regents and our state legislators,” stated a press release from office of the SGA president.

T-shirt with ‘At Least I’m Not Jewish’ taken off website

(JNS)—A shirt reading “At Least I’m Not Jewish” has been pulled from the personalized online gift company Zazzle.com in response to complaints.

“Zazzle provides an open marketplace where designers can create and upload wide variety of products,” said the company. “When a product is brought to our attention that violates our terms of service, we take swift action to have the product removed.”

The shirt was designed by a third-party seller named “The Slesk Bazaar.” As of Monday, the user no longer had any items for sale on Zazzle. A cached Google search showed that the designer had also been selling a shirt with the words “At least I’m not Christian.”

Twitter users, including the accounts @No2BDS and writer Ashlee Marie Preston, complained on Sunday about the product. Zazzle promptly responded and removed the controversial shirt.

A search on Zazzle for “The Slesk Bazaar” did not show any items from that user.

Reversing course, Israel approves $15 million transfer from Qatar to Hamas

(JNS)—Israel’s Security Cabinet reversed its decision earlier this week not to allow a $15 million transfer from Qatar to Gaza to help struggling Palestinians there.

On Tuesday, Israel halted a previously approved $15 million transfer to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip from Qatar amid renewed Palestinian rioting and violence along the Gaza-Israel border.

An Israeli officer was hurt by sniper fire, with a Hamas terrorist killed in a counterattack by Israel. The Israeli military shut down areas near the border to civilian traffic, fearing more an escalation.

Qatari envoy Mohammed El-Amadi was in Jerusalem on Wednesday to resolve the dilemma and convince Israel to permit the transfer.

El-Amadi then traveled to Gaza to hold discussions with Hamas leaders. One of his assistants refused to provide further details to Israeli media.

The $15 million from Qatar is the third installment approved by Israel’s government in what officials see as a way to ease tensions and avoid a potential humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Pew study shows Israelis prefer skilled immigrants eligible for citizenship

(JNS)—In a survey of economically advanced countries conducted by the Pew Research Center, Israel was one of just three countries in which the majority of respondents did not support the immigration of highly trained foreigners who would not be entitled to citizenship.

According to the study, 51 percent of Israelis oppose the immigration of highly skilled or highly educated foreigners who would not be eligible to live in Israel according to the Law of Return, meaning that they have at least one Jewish grandparent.

Italy and the Netherlands were the only other countries that gave similar results.

In contrast, 78 percent of Americans and 85 percent of British citizens supported skilled immigration, as did more than three-quarters of adults in Canada, Germany, Sweden and Australia.

Among the surveyed countries, Israel has the highest percentage of immigrants with higher education—almost half of foreign-born adults making aliyah to Israel have a graduate degree.

Israel’s immigration package also provides large subsidies for bachelor’s, master’s and technical degrees for those eligible for aliyah under the law of return.

Israel reopens Hermon ski resort after Iranian missile soars over Golan Heights

(JNS)—The popular Hermon ski resort in the northern Golan Heights will open again for visitors after being closed due to the launch of an Iranian rocket over the area and Israel’s subsequent military response.

The Israel Defense Forces shuttered the snowy site amid concerns for public safety in case of a possible military escalation.

“Given the situation, it has been decided that the Hermon site will not open to visitors Monday,” the army said in a statement early on Monday morning, which was publicized on the Hermon ski website.

On Sunday, a medium-range Iranian surface-to-surface missile was launched over the Hermon mountain area before it was intercepted by an Iron Dome missile-defense system. Reports on Monday indicated that the Iranian-made missile carried a 440 pound to half-ton warhead and had a range of 155 miles.

Israel responded by hitting numerous Iranian targets in Syria, including a site just outside the Damascus International Airport.

At 6,500 feet, Mount Hermon is Israel’s largest mountain, and is an attraction for skiers and families who come to play in the rare snow.

Nature group attempts to halt JNF building plan to save desert mammals and reptiles

(JNS)— The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) has submitted an official objection to a plan by the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemeth LeYisrael) to turn 200 acres of natural land into farmland and greenhouses in a bid to protect endangered small mammals and reptiles.

SPNI filed its objection to the local district planning and building committee against a plan to allow the changes to be made on the sand dunes of Netiv HaAsara in the Hof Ashkelon Regional Council, according to Ynet. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority is also in favor of stopping the plan.

SPNI is asking local officials to relocate the plans to empty greenhouses west and north of Netiv HaAsara in order to protect small mammals such as the Greater Egyptian gerbil, Greater Egyptian jerboa and the Anderson’s gerbil, as well as reptiles such as the Desert monitor and Wedge-snouted skink, two indigenous lizards.

“The coastal plain’s ecosystem is in a serious extinction danger. Most of the area’s sand dunes have already been used for housing and agriculture or are threatened by illegal mining,” the SPNI said. “Only 12.5 percent of the coastal plain’s sand dunes are recognized as a nature reserve or a national park. The plan in question suggests transforming 40 percent of this habitat into agricultural land.”

According to Ynet, JNF responded that “the plan was formulated in coordination with local authorities, the Agriculture Ministry, the Israel Land Administration and all the relevant planning establishments and only after the JNF had conducted a comprehensive ecological survey in the area.

Pompeo: Peace plan to be released after Israeli elections

(JNS)—U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Tuesday that the highly anticipated Trump administration’s peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians—commonly referred to as the “deal of the century”—is expected to be released after the April 9 Israeli elections.

Addressing via video conference the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Pompeo assured that there is a way forward for Israelis and Palestinians to finally make amends.

This is in spite of a collapse in relations between the United States and the Palestinian Authority since U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a year ago, in addition to making moves such as relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and closing the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in Washington.

Pompeo said peace talks will not be “driven” by the United States, but by Israelis and Palestinians themselves. Nonetheless, he referenced a U.S.-led timeline after Israelis vote.

Israeli media speculated recently what the peace plan would look like, though they were refuted by White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt, who called the reporting “inaccurate,” saying that “speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it.”

Additionally, Pompeo reiterated his claim that the Islamic State is “defeated” in Iraq and Syria, despite attacks from ISIS against American forces last week and on Monday.

PA releases Palestinian American sentenced to life for selling land to Jews

By Jackson Richman

(JNS) A Palestinian-American who was sentenced to life last month by the Palestinian Authority for selling land to Israelis was released to U.S. authorities, two senior Palestinian officials told Reuters.

“Issam Akel holds an American passport, and he was handed over to the U.S. authorities upon their request,” one senior security official, who asked not to be named, told the outlet on Sunday.

A U.S. State Department official told JNS, “The Department of State takes its obligation to assist U.S. citizens abroad seriously.”

Akel, 55, was prosecuted for selling an Arab-owned home in Jerusalem to the Ateret Cohanim organization, a yeshivah group that has bought properties in the Muslim quarter of the Old City and in strategic places around the Holy Basin area of Jerusalem.

 

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