Posts by Rebecca Glanzer

Israel Updates 10/20

Posted by Rebecca Glanzer on October 20, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

Shas Undergoes Reforms, Broadening Support Base

Minister Aryeh Deri – leader of the orthodox Shas party– has announced a series of reforms that will broaden Shas’ support base and unify factions within the party, transforming Shas into a “moderate social party.” Deri hopes to harness the mass display of mourning that has arisen over the passing of Shas’ spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, into electoral support. Reforms would appeal to younger and more moderate voters–a constituency that is key to securing Shas’ place in the next government coalition.

Obama to Ease Economic Constraints on Iran

After the well-received Geneva talks this week between Iran and six world powers, the Obama administration plans to alleviate some financial pressure on Iran by steadily unfreezing Iran’s overseas assets “without rescinding the sanctions.” The administration hopes this relaxation in economic pressure will allow more room for negotiations. However, the proposal runs in contrast to those by many Members of Congress, who hope instead to ratchet up sanctions against Iran in a bid to halt its nuclear enrichment program.

Israeli Startups: Following Waze’s Success

Many Israeli startups are now following in the footsteps of Waze–the Israeli tech company snatched up by Google for $1 billion this summer–.and are netting huge investment increases for the second quarter in a row. Collectively, Israeli startups have garnered $660 million in funding from investors. Funding is coming in waves from big companies such as IBM, Qualcomm, and even Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli.

Israel Ships Artists to US Colleges

Ten Israeli artists are teaching classes at American colleges through the Schusterman Visiting Israeli Artist Program as a means of spreading awareness about genuine Israeli culture in the United States. One such artist is the famous novelist Dror Burstein, who will be teaching a Hebrew literature class at Clark University. The group is diverse, with participating artists ranging from filmmakers to writers to dancers. The executive director of the Israel Institute, Ariel Roth, spoke deeply of the program, saying “these artists provide a window into the heart of Israel.”


Israel Updates 10/13

Posted by Rebecca Glanzer on October 13, 2013 @ 9:30 am

After West Bank Attacks, Opposition to Peace Talks Intensifies

Thursday’s fatal terrorist attack on Sariya Ofer, a retired IDF colonel, in the West Bank moshav Shadmot Meholaand, and last week’s attack on a 9-year old girl in Psagot have intensified opposition among Likud and Bayit Yehudi members to Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. “This murder requires a diplomatic response that includes the suspension of talks [with the Palestinians], halting the release of terrorists and [changing] attitudes toward settlements”. – Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi).


Israelis Concerned as US Freezes Aid to Egypt

Israeli officials have expressed concern regarding the US’ decision to suspend military aid to Egypt in response to the Egyptian military’s bloody crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters last weekend. The US will continue supporting Egypt’s counterterrorism efforts in the Sinai – critical to Israel’s security – but it is suspending $260 million in monetary aid to the government, and is delaying delivery of advanced helicopters and jets to the Egyptian military.

The US has provided $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt to reinforce the Camp David Accords that set the basis for the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979. Israel views the aid as crucial to maintaining peace with Egypt; according to former Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, US’s suspension of aid poses great “consequences for relations with Israel.”


Shas Party Weakened after Ovadiah Yosef’s Death

The recent passing of Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, founder and spiritual leader of the Sephardic Shas party, has raised doubt among Israeli politicians regarding whether Shas can reinvigorate its ranks without its leader’s guidance, and not fall prey to fragmentation and loss of influence in the Israeli Knesset.



Foreigners Play First in Israel, then the NBA

Last year, Florida Gulf Coast University ruined many March Madness fans’ brackets with their upset over Georgetown. After not being picked in the draft, star player Sherwood Brown decided to take his talents to Israel– a “great place for a young player to kick off his European Career.” Over the course of the last decade, with the emergence of many phenomenal Israeli teams, including the famed Maccabi Tel Aviv program which won back to back Euroleague titles in 2004 and 2005, Israeli basketball has become a breeding ground for European League Stars.


African Jams Find their Way to Israeli Music Festival

The band “Black Guru” is bringing beats from Africa to its set in this year’s InDnegev music festival. The founders of the band–Ayalon and Yair–returned from their trip to Senegal with a love for the country’s musical heritage. They were determined to incorporate new musical elements, such as vibrant percussionist beats, into their own work.

Check out Black Guru this week at InDnegev!


Israel’s Brain Drain

Despite the announcements about Israeli Nobel Prize winners this year, a new study has demonstrated that Israel has the worst brain drain of any Western country. For every 100 Israeli faculty members living in Israel, there are 29 working in America. While the government’s Council for Higher Education committee has begun earmarking increased funds to universities and offering high salaries to top professors to deter them from leaving, it has yet to take on the comprehensive reform needed to plug the drain.



Israel Updates 10/6

Posted by Rebecca Glanzer on October 9, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

No More Prisoners-Release, say Likud MKs

An October 6 terrorist attack on a 9-year old girl in the West Bank settlement of Psagot sparked a wave of opposition from Likud and right-wing Ministers of Knesset against Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, sustained since their July 2013 launch. The Israeli government agreed to release 104 Palestinian Authority prisoners, many of whom were confirmed terrorists, as a precondition for resumed negotiations. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon summarized the position of the opposition, arguing “anyone that backs terrorists cannot be called a negotiating partner.” Ministers have called for an end to prisoner releases, which will continue in three additional stages over the coming months.



Livni Delivers J Street Address

Justice Minister and Chief Peace Negotiator, Tzipi Livni, gave the keynote speech at the annual J Street Conference in Washington. Many Ministers of Knesset were also in attendance, an indication of the growing voice of the 5-year old organization in the United States and Israel.



Declassified: Dayan pushed Meir to use Nuclear Weapons

“I thought that since the situation is very bad, it would be worthwhile…that we prepare to show the nuclear option” – Dayan, 1973. According to an interview made public Thursday, Oct. 3, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan requested PM Golda Meir to consider using nuclear weapons against Israel’s attackers in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Meir promptly rejected this suggestion.



Nuclear Negotiations Limit Israel’s Options

A Time article has argued Israel has found itself backed into a corner as a result of Obama’s decision to open negotiations with Iranian President Rouhani. As long as the United States continues to pursue nuclear negotiations with Iran, Israel will be unable to use military action to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon without severely damaging the relationship between Israel its strongest ally, the United States.”



Natalie Portman Announces New Film

Natalie Portman is now directing and starring in an adaptation of Amos Oz’s novel A Tale of Love and Darkness, which will begin filming this January in Jerusalem. The Israeli born Oscar winner has decided the film will be in Hebrew.



Tel-Aviv’s Florentine to be Revamped with Community Center

The Tel-Aviv based architecture firm, L2, has won a competition for designing a new community center in Ha’aliyah Market. The new center in the up and coming Florentine neighborhood will include necessities such as swimming and sports centers.




New Baby Elephant!

On Wednesday October 2, Asian Elephant La Petite gave birth to a Baby Elephant at the Ramat Gan Safari. The baby joins a paddock of that now includes six elephants, including another baby born two months ago.