European Jewish Congress
Israel Press Review of 30/01/2017
Israeli Press Review
Israel Press Review of 30/01/2017

Major Headlines
  • Ministers back welfare and education plan to eradicate polygamy

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday gave its backing to a plan to provide welfare, health, and social services to women and children in polygamous marriages in Israel, incorporate anti-bigamy education in the Israeli school system, and create outreach programmes in a bid to raise awareness of the phenomenon, the Times of Israel reports.

“I am confident that by combining all of our forces in this war, we will take another step toward eradicating this phenomenon and within a year from today we will see results,” said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as the proposal received the cabinet’s approval.

The proposal gives the Education Ministry and Health Ministry a four-month deadline to build educational curricula on polygamy and design special health services for women and children in polygamous families. It also tasks the Welfare Ministry with creating a programme to integrate these women in the workforce, as well as offering other social services for these families.

Polygamy has been illegal in Israel since 1977, carrying a five-year jail sentence and a fine. However, the law is rarely enforced as many of the marriages are not registered by Israel’s population authorities. The police has also displayed reluctance to intervene in what is perceived as a deep-rooted cultural and religious practice, primarily found among Israel’s Bedouin communities in the south. A Bedouin member of Knesset, Taleb Abu Arar, is openly married to two wives.

According to figures presented in the cabinet proposal, a third of Bedouin men in Israel are thought to be bigamists and most of the women taken as second or third wives are Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip residing in Israel illegally.

The cabinet proposal also linked polygamy to domestic violence and a number of psychological disorders.

“Its primary victims are women and children living in polygamous families. The professional literature indicates that women in these families suffer from, among other things, physical and emotional violence, psychological crisis, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, a lack of satisfaction from marital life, diminished family functioning, and economic straits,” it said.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

  • After Mexico fury Netanyahu backs down over praise for Trump’s border wall

A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry stressed on Saturday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not commenting on US-Mexican relations when the Israeli leader said earlier that US President Donald Trump was “right” in pushing for a wall along the US-Mexico border to block illegal immigration, the Times of Israel reports.

The backtracking came after Mexican officials phoned Jerusalem and angrily demanded a clarification.

Earlier on Saturday, Netanyahu had welcomed praise from Trump for Israel’s security barrier. Referring to the recently built fence along Israel’s border with Egypt, the prime minister said the measure had been a “great success” in keeping out migrants, who mainly came from African nations.

“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea,” Netanyahu wrote in English on Twitter, Trump’s preferred method of communication.

“[Netanyahu] referred to our specific security experience which we are willing to share,” spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon wrote on Twitter.

“We do not express a position on US-Mexico relations.”

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a communiqué that it had expressed its “profound surprise, rejection and disappointment in the prime minister’s message on Twitter” to Israel’s ambassador. “Mexico is Israel’s friend and should be treated as such.”

The barrier along Israel’s Egyptian border is not a concrete wall as Trump is planning to build on the US-Mexico border, but rather a system of wire fencing and sensors.

Click here to read the full article in Times of Israel

  • Israel and China deepen economic and cultural ties

Twenty-five years ago, when Israel and China established diplomatic relations, the trade volume between the two countries was $50 million. Today it is over $11 billion, meaning it has increased more than 200 times in the last 25 years, Yediot Aharonot reports.

There is increasing Chinese investment in Israel, and more Israeli companies are opening offices in China.

“Our two economies are highly complementary, which means a great potential of deeper and wider cooperation,” Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin said at an event marking the anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations held at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “Israel is a nation well known for innovation and advanced technology. China has a huge and open market as well as exceptional manufacturing capabilities. Our cooperation will greatly benefit both countries.”

Ambassador Yongxin said that about 80,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel last year, and more are on the way.

“There is an increasing interest in coming here as tourists,” Orna Naftali, a professor of anthropology in the department of Asian Studies at Hebrew University, told The Media Line. “There is now an interest among middle class Chinese who have already been around the world and now have a taste for somewhere that’s different. If there is a stereotype it is that Jews and Israelis are very smart and we have a lot to learn from them.”

This admiration is especially welcome in Israel which is often criticised in the international community for its policies in the West Bank. As European countries become more critical of Israel, with calls for boycotts of Israeli products manufactured in the West Bank, more Israelis are turning to Asia.  

The Chinese government has established a generous scholarship programme that funds Israeli students to study in China, and hundreds of Chinese students are currently studying in Israel.  

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


  • Space: Israel is getting close to the moon

SpaceIL, the Israeli representative in the international competition to land a space shuttle on the moon held by Google, has qualified for the finals, Yediot Aharonot reports.

In addition to the Israeli company—companies from Japan, United States, India and the international company Synergy Moon qualified as well. Israel is now closer than ever to joining an elite club of three world powers who have landed on the moon: the US, Russia and China.

Kfir Damari, the founder of SpaceIL, told Ynet in an interview about the competition, stating that "this is an international competition, a competition in which Google is in fact donating the prize—landing an unmanned space shuttle on the moon. This will be the first time that the space shuttle will be privately owned instead of governmentally owned." 

Damari added that the launch is expected at the end of the year. "We have a launch window of six months," he said.

Originally, 33 groups from all over the world signed up for the competition, which opened in 2007. The competition is in fact a modern international race between private companies to land an unmanned space shuttle on the moon. Within a few years, most competitors dropped out when they realised how challenging and complex the mission actually is, and only 16 groups stayed in the race. As the year ended, only five groups actually signed launching contracts, which automatically eliminated the others, with the Israeli team being the first to climb on board.  

The first place is set to win $20 million, and the second place, $5 million. 

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


Monday, January 30, 2017
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