Israel in the News Sep/Oct 2017
New Israeli School Curriculum Sparks Bible Revival
A new, high-tech Bible curriculum has ignited a Bible revival in Israel’s public high schools. Developed by the Museum of the Bible, headquartered in Washington, DC, in partnership with the Israel-based technology company Compedia, the interactive curriculum uses augmented reality to teach the Bible to today’s smartphone generation.
“What we are seeing in Israel is a Bible revival as a result of this curriculum,” Compedia CEO Gil Ilutowich said. Until the launch of the curriculum, Bible—a required subject for all Israeli public school students—had remained largely unpopular. Now it has become many students’ favorite class.
The curriculum’s pilot program, spearheaded by Ramat Gan’s Mayor Yisrael Zinger, began in 2015 among 1,500 ninth-grade students in the Ramat Gan school district. The following year, more than 6,000 students participated. Today, the curriculum is officially approved for use throughout Israel. Around 100,000 students use it.
The curriculum’s augmented-reality app connects the textbook to the tablet. It allows students to take pictures of textbook pages with their tablets, which then load digital, interactive learning material. For example, when learning about the Exodus, students can access GPS mapping of the ancient region and explore why the Israelites used certain routes over others.
“What we are doing is what we call blended learning. It’s books with iPads, with technology, with PowerPoint presentations, with songs. So every five or six minutes, there’s something new,” Ilutowich said. Students can flip through the pages of an ancient text, interact with Bible characters, view ancient artifacts in 3D, interact with Bible maps, take gamified quizzes, and listen to music clips. It especially appeals to visual learners and students with limited attention spans.
Such interaction with the text has made Bible learning more exciting, reported Ramat Gan teachers. “[The curriculum has] made Bible study more interesting, more relevant. The combination of ancient texts with modern technology has created a new learning experience that our students relate to,” said Ramat Gan high-school teacher Nadavi Noked.
The Museum of the Bible’s full curriculum consists of four volumes: Genesis to Ruth, Samuel through the Prophets, the Gospels, and Acts through Revelation. Israel uses the first two volumes, which teach the Hebrew Scriptures.
Each volume presents the Bible’s narrative, history, and impact. Narrative chapters teach the Bible’s major events, places, and people. History chapters include ancient biblical artifacts, ancient documents from surrounding cultures, and the history of the Bible’s transmission and translation. Impact chapters show the Bible’s influence on societies and cultures.
As the curriculum continues to expand in Israel, Museum of the Bible President Cary Summers hopes it becomes equally as popular beyond Israel’s borders. “Just as many centuries ago God’s Word emanated from ancient Israel, modern Israel now seems poised to play a major role in producing and spreading the high-tech version throughout the Holy Land, and then far beyond,” Summers wrote.
To learn how you can access the Museum of the Bible curriculum for personal use, private school, or homeschool use, visit curriculum.museumofthebible.org.
From news reports
Is Abbas Dragging Israel Into War with Hamas?
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas plans to halt all financial payments to Gaza, thus dragging Israel into war with Hamas, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said recently. “I have no intention of initiating any military activity, not in the summer and not in the fall, not in the south and not in the north. Our objective is to prevent war,” Lieberman said.
He blamed Abbas for creating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, forcing 2 million residents to live on less than four hours of electricity a day. At Abbas’s request, Israel has reduced by 40 percent the amount of electricity it provides to Gaza after Abbas refused to pay 40 percent of the bill to the Israel Electricity Company, Gaza’s main electricity provider. Abbas is trying to weaken Hamas and regain control of the Gaza Strip.
Abbas has also stopped sending medicine to Gaza and has cut payments to government employees there. Lieberman said Abbas will continue to reduce payments for electricity and medicine until they cease altogether. He said Abbas took this step without consulting Israel, Egypt, or Jordan and is crippling Hamas in the hope that “he will drag Hamas into a conflict with Israel.”
UNESCO Declares Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian”
UNESCO has once again denied Israel’s Jewish history in its recent ruling declaring the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron an “endangered Palestinian heritage site.” UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee passed the resolution 12–3, with six abstentions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the vote as another “delirious” act by UNESCO. “Not a Jewish site? After all, who is buried there? Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, our patriarchs and matriarchs,” Netanyahu said. Abraham legally purchased the ancient site from Ephron the Hittite as a burial plot (Gen. 50:13).
Terroists Paid $1.12 Billion
The Palestinian Authority (PA) paid $1.12 billion to Arab terrorists and their families over the past four years, according to Yossi Kuperwasser, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.
The longer a terrorist remains in an Israeli jail, “the higher the salary,” Kuperwasser said. “Anyone who has sat in prison for more than 30 years gets NIS 12,000 ($3,378) per month. When they’re released, they get a grant and are promised a job at the Palestinian Authority. They get a military rank that’s determined according to the number of years they’ve served in jail.”
The Trump administration has requested the PA cease paying terrorists. However, Haaretz has reported that Issa Qaraqe, head of prisoner affairs for the PA, said in June he knows “the allowances were paid this month, and they will be next month too.”
from news reports
PA Demands a Jew-Free Palestine
Although Arabs represent 20 percent of Israel’s population and enjoy equal rights with Jewish citizens, Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh reaffirmed recently that a future Palestinian state must be free of Jews. “The Palestinian people…are determined to establish their independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital that will be empty of settlers,” Rudeineh said.
His statement echoes that of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who told reporters in Cairo in 2013, “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli—civilian or soldier—on our lands.” Even now, the PA forbids Jewish people to live inside PA-controlled territory, and the sale of land to Jews is punishable by death.
Sears Stops Selling Anti-Israel Clothes
Due to negative feedback, the Sears website will no longer sell clothes featuring the slogan “Free Palestine.” Spreadshirt Collection, a third-party seller, had marketed the anti-Israel items on Sears.com since October 26, 2016.
The clothing line featured clothing bearing a variety of pro-Palestinian designs, one of which labeled all of Israel as “Palestine” and called for its “liberation.”
Porsche Invests in Israel
German automaker Porsche has announced plans to invest tens of millions of euros in Israeli automotive start-ups, following a trend set by U.S. automakers like Ford and high-tech firms like Intel, which are investing in Israel’s emerging self-driving car market.
“Israel is a top market for IT experts and engineers. Per capita there are more start-ups there than in any other country in the world,” said Lutz Meschke, CEO of Porsche. The company plans to open a permanent office in Israel.
Israel is “one of the [world’s] major contributors to driverless automated car technology,” said Israeli Prof. Yoram Shiftan, head of transportation research at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
‘Smart’ Hiking Trail to Open
A mobile app that integrates today’s landscape with historic sites to help hikers see Israel during the second Temple period will be a key feature of an innovative, 43.5-mile-long “smart” trail set to open in the spring. The new Sanhedrin Trail will span the Lower Galilee between Tiberias and Beit She’arim National Park. It is being built by the Israel Antiquities Authority and Israel’s National Religious Education Administration.