Israel in the News Jul/Aug 2015
Google Ditches Israel
Reuven Rivlin was born on September 9, 1939, in Jerusalem. However, according to the Google search engine, Israel’s 10th president was born in “Palestine.”
The Mayor of Ra’anana, Ze’ev Bielski, made the shocking discovery while working on a speech. “I typed his name into Google in English, and then we were amazed to see that [it] says he was born in Jerusalem—in the Palestinian state,” Bielski told Yediot Aharonot.
“At first I did not believe it,” he said. “But as we continued, we found that even when writing my name in, Google says that I was born in Palestine, as stated as well regarding the famous actress Natalie Portman—although she was [also] born in Jerusalem.”
Bielski also found that if you type the names of prominent Israelis in English, Google’s search engine will sometimes say they were born in the “state of Palestine.”
This is not the first time Google has labeled Israel as “Palestine.” When using Google Maps in Israeli cities in Judea-Samaria, for example, certain addresses will be provided in Arabic, despite the fact that several cities have few, or no, Arab residents.
Israel has pledged to fully rebuild an entire village in Nepal following the devastating earthquakes there, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced recently.
“We decided to adopt a village in Nepal, to assist with its reconstruction and to do our utmost to help people who have really found themselves in a difficult situation,” Lieberman said in a briefing reported by The Times of Israel. The foreign ministry will work with the Nepalese government to select a village and help clear the area and rebuild the infrastructure and houses there.
Israel Buys Four German Warships
Israel has reached an agreement with Germany to purchase four warships for $480 million.
Germany will provide four advanced Sa’ar-class corvettes to the Israeli navy over the next five years and will subsidize approximately one-third of the cost. Once the ships arrive, Israeli defense firms will outfit them with their own technology and weapons systems. The deal is similar to the delivery of German-made Dolphin-class submarines to Israel in recent years.
“Israel is our biggest friend in the Middle East. We have 70 projects with you and there is not a country in the world we have such expansive security relations with like we do with Israel, both bilaterally and in cooperation between the militaries,” German official Ursula von der Leyen said, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
On the day the deal was announced, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin arrived in Germany for a three-day visit.
Churches Aid Anti-Israelis
A fringe, Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO) hopes this year will be the last for the Jewish state. Zochrot, a tiny radical anti-Zionist group, with an agenda equivalent to calling for the abolishment of Israel, operates only through generous funding from foreign Christian-aid organizations.
The group’s founder, Eitan Bronstein, advocates for Jews to abandon Israel en masse. In April, with Palestinian NGO BADIL, Zochrot embarked on a speaking tour across the U.S.
Foreign funding for 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 totals about $740,000. Of that, about 93 percent comes from the following Christian charities: Bischoefliches Misereor (Germany), Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Christian Aid (UK), Finn Church Aid (Finland), HEKS-EPER (Switzerland), ICCO (Netherlands), Trócaire (Ireland), the Mennonite Central Committee (Canada), and the United Church of Canada (Canada).
Canada Wants BDS to be Hate Crime
The Canadian government wants to use hate-crime laws against organizations that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
This could affect religious organizations such as the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers, as well as campus groups, civil society organizations, labor unions, and others. However, prosecution would need approval from a provincial attorney general, and civil liberty groups say the move would be challenged.
In January, former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird signed a memorandum of understanding with Israeli authorities that committed to fight BDS, which it called “the new face of anti-Semitism.”
Canadian officials have indicated they are taking a “zero tolerance” approach to BDS.
Vatican Recognizes ‘Palestine’
The Vatican officially recognized Palestine in May, and the pope called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas an “angel of peace.” Pope Francis angered many Israelis who believe Abbas has links to terrorism.
A number of European parliaments, including those of the European Union, the UK, Spain, and France, have recently passed resolutions calling for Palestinian statehood recognition. Sweden has gone further by formally recognizing a Palestinian state.
Israel and Ontario, Canada, have extended a 10-year collaboration for another five years, bringing the value of the program to $18 million, of which each side contributed half.
The companies generated by the program have gone on to raise an estimated $1 billion in revenue.
The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com)
Dorms in the Hills
About three years ago, Tirael Cohen posted a ﬂyer at Ariel University seeking students to create a student village in Samaria. More than 150 students expressed interest—and it was all she needed to get started.
Today Cohen is the director of Kedma, which runs student villages in Judea and Samaria. On May 19 in Jerusalem, she accepted the “Spirit of Zion” Moskowitz Prize for making her Zionist idea a reality.
At only 22, Cohen, a journalism student at Tel Aviv University, has developed a new model for Jewish settlement. Wearing jeans and boots, she does not appear visibly Orthodox, although she observes Shabbat and kosher dietary laws. She grew up in Nof Ayalon near Modi’in, beyond the Green Line (1949 armistice line), in a family of French immigrants.
“We’re a very social project at its core,” Cohen told JNS.org in the lounge at the student village in Ma’ale Efraim. Ma’ale Efraim had hoped to become the capital of the Jordan Valley, much like Ariel has become the capital of Samaria: the hub of an area considered vital to Israel’s security. But after violence consumed Israel during the second intifada in the early 2000s, residents of Ma’ale Efraim started moving out. Educational and industrial facilities were left empty.
One such facility was the Jordan Valley Field School, where Cohen and about 25 other students live. Kedma operates about ﬁve student villages housing a total of 150 students. Local councils work with the young idealists to locate and reoutfit caravans or neglected structures for student living. Students pay about $116 a month in rent and volunteer six hours a week in neighboring communities, where they tutor children, run cultural and social activities, and assist seniors.
Today about 400 families live in Ma’ale Efraim, including many new immigrants who are social-welfare cases. “I believe in hityashvut (settling the land),” Cohen said. “There are people here. There are communities here. That’s a fact. They have needs here. That’s a fact. And their needs and demands are not getting met.”
The students come from diverse backgrounds—religious and secular—united by an alternate vision for student life, one that combines social action, community living, and a sense of mission.
by Orit Arfa/JNS.org