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Cloud Nine, One and Done, Fresh Start

Israel’s Population Near Nine Million on Eve of 70th Independence Anniversary

Ofer Aderet, Haaretz, April 16th 2018


Israel's population hits 8.7 million on the eve of its 70th Independence Day. The population consists of 6,589,000 Jews, 1,849,000 Arabs and 404,000 non-Arab Christians.

The Context:

  • The Israeli population grew by 163,000 since last year’s Independence Day. Jerusalem is Israel’s largest city, boasting a population of 882,700. Neveh Zohar is its smallest, claiming only 70 residents [1]. This year, Israel welcomed more than 3.8 million tourists – a record for the country [2].

  • Israel’s population increased more than tenfold since its founding in 1948 [3] and its population is expected to reach 15.2 million in 2048 when it turns 100.

  • On Tuesday night, Israel marked its Memorial Day, honoring thousands of fallen soldiers and terror victims. The country comes to a halt during the wailing of two sirens.

  • This week, the High Court ordered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to grant entry permits to 90 Palestinians who were slated to attend an Israeli-Palestinian memorial service in Tel Aviv. It is the thirteenth the memorial service held, and Palestinians from the West Bank have attended nearly every event [4].

Conversation Points:

  • What will Israel look like on the eve of its 100th anniversary? Will it still boast a Jewish majority? Will the nation lean secular or religious? Will the government lean secular or religious?

  • Does the presence of Palestinians at a memorial event send a positive message of reconciliation or a negative message of insensitivity?

Netanyahu: Israel ‘Fully Supports’ US-Led Strikes in Syria After Chemical Attack

Times of Israel, April 14th 2018


Israel “fully supports” the US airstrikes on Syrian military targets in response to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons earlier this month.

The Context:

  • Since the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011 over 500,000 people have been killed and 5 million people displaced [5].

  • On April 7th, the Assad regime killed more than 40 people using chemical weapons. “The evil and despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children thrashing in pain, gasping for air. These are not the actions of a man. They are crimes of a monster,” said US President Donald Trump. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called the strikes a “one-time shot” with no additional military action planned for now. Israeli officials questioned the merit of such a strategy saying, “if there was another objective—such as paralyzing the ability to launch chemical weapons or deterring Assad from using [them] again—it's doubtful [it was] met [6]”.

  • The Assad regime used chemical weapons against its population at least six times in the past year and is believed to have used chemical weapons in 100 other instances. The Mossad estimates that Assad retained 5-10% of his chemical weapons after signing an agreement to disarm in September 2013 [7]. Assad denies ever using chemical weapons and defiantly vowed that “aggression will only make Syria more determined to keep crushing terrorism in every inch of the country.”

  • Israel continues to combat the Iranian presence in Syria. Last week, Israel killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force members operating drones east of Homs. Iran responded that “Tel Aviv will be punished for its aggressive action [8].”

Conversation Points:

  • Does the one and done nature of the attacks represent only a symbolic punishment for Assad?

  • Are world powers concerned for the fate of Syrian civilians considering the limited nature of the strikes?

  • Why does it make a difference to Israel whether or not America’s objectives were fully met?

Police to Wipe Clean 339,000 Records in 70th Independence Day Gesture

Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, April 17th 2018


Israel will erase hundreds of thousands of police records in a goodwill gesture to mark the country’s 70th Independence Day. “Even regular citizens commit offenses and break the law, but that doesn’t mean we should label them as criminals,” said Commissioner Roni Alsheich.

The Context:

  • Under the initiative, 339,000 closed files relating to 300,000 Israeli citizens, regional citizens, foreigners, and tourists, will be deleted.

  • The program, titled “A New Chance,” will only apply to closed cases involving misdemeanors committed five years ago or criminal offenses committed seven years ago. Cases that involve loss of life, serious violence, sex offenses, or security offenses are not included in the plan.

  • Last month President Reuven Rivlin and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also announced a broader pardons initiative for prisoners to mark the independence celebrations.

Conversation Points:

  • Should “A New Chance” apply to Palestinians and BDS activists as well?



  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Court overturns move to bar Palestinians from Memorial Day service, Times of Israel, April 17th 2018

  5. Israeli-Arab party split over US strike on Syria, Shlomi Eldar, AI Monitor, April 16th 2018

  6. Israeli intelligence: Objectives of Western strike in Syria not achieved, Ronen Bergman, Ynet News, April 17th

  7. Israeli intelligence: Objectives of Western strike in Syria not achieved, Ronen Bergman, Ynet News, April 17th

  8. Iran: Israel Will Pay for Strike on Drone Base in Syria, Jack Khoury, Haaretz, Apr 16th 2018

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