News Digest — 12/30/22

Report: Israel’s Population Nears 10 Million as 2022 Comes To A Close

Israel’s population reached 9,656,000, said a report published Thursday (29th) by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) ahead of the new year.

According to the CBS, 7,106,000 residents of the state are Jews (73.6% of the population), 2,037,000 are Arabs (21.1%) and 513,000 (5.3%) are defined as other – Christians who are not Arabs, different religions, and people without religious classification in the Interior Ministry.

Figures show that during 2022 the population of Israel increased by 2.2%, divided into 62% of newborns, and 38% of people who immigrated to the state.

The population growth rate rose, compared to 2021 (at the time the growth-rate was 1.8%), mainly due to the high number of immigrants, as opposed to the previous year.

In 2022, some 178,000 babies were born in Israel (74.8 to Jewish mothers, 23.8% to Arabs and 1.4% to others) and 73,000 people made Aliyah.

The main countries from which immigrants arrived this year were: Russia (58.1%), Ukraine (21.3%), the United States (4.1%), and France (3.2%).  In comparison, in 2021, only about 25,000 people made Aliyah.

In 2022, about 51,000 people died.  The number of deceased was said to be similar to the number in 2021 and higher than in 2020 (48,000) the year of the Covid-19 pandemic. The CBS emphasized that the numbers do not include deaths of Israelis abroad.

In addition, the CBS found that the rate of the deceased, relative to the population, rose from 5.1 per 1,000 in 2019 to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2022.  According to the Health Ministry, by mid-December 2022, 3,670 people succumbed to the coronavirus, and since the beginning of the pandemic, some 12,030 Israelis died from complications of the virus.



Netanyahu: We will Take Israel To New Heights

The 37th Government of Israel held its first Cabinet meeting Thursday evening (29th) after being sworn in earlier in the day.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out his goals for the new government in remarks at the start of the meeting.

“I am very moved to open the first Cabinet meeting of the 37th Government.  This really is a festive day,” Netanyahu said.

He continued: “On the way here from the Knesset, I managed to meet many citizens.  They were smiling and happy.  They were happy, first of all, that we came back and formed a government, and that we restored stability, and they are very happy because they are certain that we will work together for all citizens of Israel.”

“This is the sixth time that I have formed a Government of Israel.  I can tell you that I am starting my 16th year as Prime Minister of Israel.  My friends, you can assume here that we are already accustomed to it but I am not used to it, I am excited this time too.  I am excited, first of all, due to the great trust that the people of Israel have given us.  I am excited by the responsibility that lies before us.  I am excited because I know that we have an excellent team, with outstanding people imbued with a sense of mission who will work for all citizens of Israel.”

He said that the new government will have four main goals: “First of all to block Iran.  This is an existential question.  First of all, we will see to our existence and security.  Second, to restore the security and governance within the State of Israel.  Third, to deal with the cost of living and the housing problem.  Fourth, and I believe that this is within reach, to dramatically expand the circle of peace.”

“I am certain that we will do this because we are a united government.  I can tell you this is different: Without peer, without alternatives, without any of the previous limitations.  We are a united government that also has a unified vision and goal.”

“We have already brought to Israel the ‘Golden Age’ – the best years in its history.  Now we will take Israel to new heights and we will do so as a responsible and dedicated government that will fulfill its term.  I wanted to say that the ceremony has ended, but I cannot tell you that because from here we are going to the ceremony at the President’s residence.  I can already say this ceremony has ended.  Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and get to work,” Netanyahu concluded.



Iranians Mourn Murdered Protesters – Chant ‘Death To Khamenei’

On Thursday (24th), crowds of Iranian demonstrators gathered at the graves of protesters murdered by Iranian security forces during the anti-government protests that continue to sweep Iran, to mark 40 days since their murder.

A large crowd of protesters gathered at the grave of Hamidreza Rouhi at the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery in Tehran to mark the 40th day since his death.  The protesters chanted “Death to the IRGC” and “Death to the entire system.”  

Rouhi was shot to death by Iranian security forces during anti-government protests in November.

Video reportedly from the scene showed Iranian security forces firing tear gas at the protesters who blocked a nearby road.  The protesters reportedly managed to chase away the security forces, with video showing demonstrators running towards security forces as tear gas was fired.  A person allegedly attempted to attack the protesters with a knife as well.

A large crowd of protesters also gathered at the grave of Ali Abbasi in Semirom, chanting “Death to Khamenei!” and other anti-government slogans.

Demonstrations also were held at the grave of Atefeh Naami, an Ahwazi Arab activist who was found dead in her apartment in November.  Her family members have accused Iranian security forces of killing her and then staging the murder as a suicide.

Protesters gathered at the graves of Mohsen NIazi, Reza Shariati, Milad Saeedianjoo, Sephehr Maqsoodi, Arman Emadi and Javad Mousavi, also on Thursday (29th).

Additionally on Thursday (29th), an Iranian writer and painter named Mehdi Bahman was reportedly sentenced to death for taking part in the protests, according to BBC Persian. 

Iranian activists have reportedly called for further protests at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar to be held on Saturday (31st).

Despite a violent crackdown on protests by Iranian authorities, the wave of protests against the Islamic regime has continued for over 100 days since Mahsa Amini was murdered by Tehran ‘morality police.”  The protesters have called for the fall of the regime.

The Human Rights Activists in Iran organization reported on Thursday (29th) that at least 508 protesters have been killed by Iranian forces since the protests began in September, including 69 children.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni condemned Iran’s suppression of the protests on Thursday (29th), stating “What is happening today in Iran is unacceptable for us – Italy can no longer tolerate it,” according to Reuters.



“Imam Of Peace” Fights Islamist Extremism – David Isaac

Imam Mohammad Yawhidi, an Islamic scholar and thinker, has dedicated his life to fighting Islamic extremism.  Tawhidi, who describes himself as the “Imam of Peace” has said, “Palestine is Jewish land.” He has criticized Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as “absolute frauds and Islamists” who “promote hatred against the Jewish people.”

He is “a passionate defender” of the Jews and in 2019, he visited Auschwitz “to take a stand against anti-Semitism.”  Tawhidi has more than 800,000 followers on Twitter alone.

Tawhidi was born in Iran, where he “was completely radicalized, and willing to kill anyone who spoke a single word against (Supreme Leader) Ali Khamenei, whom he saw as a link between himself and God.  However, he became aware of the Islamic regime’s corruption and eventually switched sides ideologically.

He says, “The Islam of the regime in Iran is 100% anti-semitic in its core ideology.”  But “If you look at the UAE and other Abraham Accord countries, it’s not like that.  The UAE embraced Israel, embraced the Jewish communities”….”Befriending Jews is not against my God.  It is definitely what God wants.”



Young Americans Must Oppose Anti-Semitism And Support Modern Israel – Donald Sweeting

There are more and more reports that American universities have become the new breeding ground for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias. Young evangelical Christians should never forget the Jewish roots of their faith.  Most of our Bible is the Hebrew Scriptures.  Without the Jews we would have no Old Testament.  Through the Jews, God gave the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments.  We share the same hymnbook – the Psalms.  Without the Jews, we have no Mary, no Joseph, no Jesus.

Israel is a guardian of worldwide Jewry today.  After the Holocaust, when other nations would not guarantee a secure refuge, the UN saw fit to approve a separate homeland for the Jews.  Israel has now become not only America’s best ally in the Middle East but also a democratic beacon in a tumultuous region.

(The writer serves as chancellor of Colorado Christian University)