Israel Matters! – June 2023

Just before Israel marked seventy-five years of independence, it lost two literary giants who defined in their work and in their lives the best of modern Zionism.  Meir Shalev and YehonatanGeffen, both born in the legendary cooperative village (moshav shitufi – מושב שיתופי) of Nahalal shortly before Ben-Gurion declared the founding of a Jewish state in Palestine, exemplified the hopes and the distresses of their generation of “new” Jews.  Secular, socialist, and critics of the rise of messianic Zionism, their death in the days in which democratic Zionism is fighting back, reminds us that the values of the founding generation of Israel are alive and kicking. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – May 2023

Israel has been in world news headlines for several months
now, but not for reasons involving conflict with neighbors.
Instead, the world has witnessed four consecutive months
where Israelis have participated in massive anti-government
demonstrations, as well as a smaller number of gatherings
in support of the current government. What is happening
on the streets of Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities?
Understanding Israel’s Political System. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – April 2023

Matzo Madness! Celebrating Passover in Israel

It’s that time of year again! Jews everywhere have cleaned out their pantries and refrigerators and cooked up a storm for Pesach. As you might guess, the ‘concepts’ are the same no matter where in the world you celebrate: Clean out the chametz, have a Seder and tell the story of Pesach, eat a lot of special foods, eat even more of those special foods, drink 4 cups of wine, pour some for Elijah, celebrate with friends and family. However, there are some things that we’ve discovered that are unique to Israel during Pesach. IM is happy to share some of these with our readers! (more…)

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Israel Matters! – March 2023


The title of this month’s column is not a typo – with artificial intelligence (aka AI) at the top of the news these days, we decided to take the heralded large language model ChatGPT for an Israel-oriented spin. That is to say, we typed in queries to and received answers from a computer program! The interview below reports verbatim our Israel Matters questions (IM) and the computer program’s responses (BOT). Fasten your seat belts for an amazing AI ride! (more…)

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Israel Matters! – February 2023

Israel by the Numbers (not Genesis or Exodus) 😉

In last month’s Israel Matters!, we shared that Israel is ranked as the 5th safest country to visit in comparison with the world’s most popular tourist destinations. That’s certainly not what many people think! Besides being the 5th safest, there are a lot of other numbers that you may find surprising, interesting and/or impressive about Israel. We’ve included some of them here. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – January 2023

Israel – One of the Safest Places to Visit in the World!

This month we revisit a stubborn topic that always seems to surface whenever one talks about visiting Israel: how safe is it to go there? Many friends, family, and colleagues remain under the impression that Israel is just a dangerous place due to the constant risk of terrorism. So we are pleased to present a just-published comparative study of the risks posed to visitors across many popular travel destinations. The analysis was conducted by The Swiftest, a San Francisco-based start-up created by experts from the insurance and travel industry to better compare and purchase insurance. These folks focus their data analytics expertise on important societal and environmental issues, and have developed proprietary risk analysis tools to better understand the messages in the data they study. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – December 2022

The Israeli Election: Aftermath

Well, the Israeli election of 2022 is in the books, and here we are at Israel Matters to address the aftermath. It is fair to say that among many American (and European and everywhere-elsean and even some Israeli) commentators, the results have been reported as a seismic shift of Israeli voters to the right with the return of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud, his ultra-orthodox supporters, and the extreme right-wing parties Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) with their former Kahanist leader Itamar Ben Gvir and the Religious Zionism party led by Bezalel Smotrich. There is no question that many of the policy positions taken by these latter parties, ranging from bringing the judicial system under Knesset control to anti-LGBT measures to anti-Reform Judaism measures all the way to annexation of the West Bank and possible deportation of Arab citizens deemed anti-Israel, fly in the face of what one should expect from a liberal democracy. BUT, hold on. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – November 2022

Know Your Israeli Sports Teams!

Sports are a very big deal in Israel, and Israeli sports fans are very passionate supporters of their favorite clubs. The top sport in Israel without question is soccer (or kadoor regel in Hebrew, which literally is foot ball), but basketball (kadoor sal in Hebrew, literally basket ball) is a close second. Both soccer and basketball are played professionally in Israeli leagues which themselves follow the familiar European model of organized competition with a top flight league followed by secondary leagues with promotion and relegation taking place at the end of each season to keep the competition tight. There are also volleyball, handball, and even baseball, hockey, and American football leagues, though these are not close to the scale or skill level of the soccer and basketball competitions. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – October 2022

Split Decision – The 2022 Israeli Election

If it seems like you’ve seen an Israeli election column before in Israel Matters, there’s a reason for that: the May 2021 issue covered last year’s Israeli Knesset election. That election, which took place on March 23, 2021, took almost three months to resolve as the new government was not established and sworn in until June 13. Uh, that was June 13th of last year; the government lasted just over a year until the Knesset was dissolved on June 20 of this year. So, once again Israelis get to experience the highs and lows of their nearly-impossible-to-comprehend electoral system where parties (and party leaders) come and go amidst the horse trading that takes place as one or the other “bloc” attempts to secure enough seats to establish a majority in the 120 seat Knesset. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – September 2022

Ma Yesh b’Telivisia? (Which of course means “what’s on TV?”)

TV programming might seem a stretch for an issue of Israel Matters, but of course, here we are talking about what’s on Israeli TV. There was a time when there was only a single channel in Israel, and it was multipurpose – news followed by entertainment at night, kid shows in the morning, game shows and special features in the afternoon followed by an hour of Arabic and all of ten minutes of news in English, along with religious programming very early in the morning and late at night. But those days are gone, and Israelis have countless channels of their own to surf, not to mention international channels from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, as well as some American channels and lots of Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. (more…)

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