Israel Matters! – November 2021

No Need to Whine About Israeli Wine
Recently, archeologists in Yavne, Israel, announced the discovery of a huge, ancient wine factory dating back around 1500 years ago. The factory – the largest of its kind from that time period – could make an estimated 530,000 gallons of wine per year and was operational for about 200 years. Clearly, Israel is not new to winemaking. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – October 2021

From Citrus to Cyberspace

When was the last time you had a Jaffa Orange? As children we gushed with pride and boasted that the very best oranges in the supermarket were from Israel! The Jaffa Orange was a tangible (and tasty!) reminder of the miracle of Israel. The ability to irrigate and re-engineer agriculture produced results (and produce!) Out of the desert … oranges! Israel produced as much as 1.8 million tons of caitrus in the 1980’s. I’m telling you, that fruit has appeal! But times have changed. Annual Israeli citrus production has dropped about 75% since those years. More broadly as shown in the chart below, while agriculture was responsible for over 40% of the value of Israel’s exports in the late 1950’s, these days agriculture only amounts to about 2% of the value of everything Israel sends to the world. What happened? (more…)

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Israel Matters! – September 2021

Israel and the Delta Variant: Lessons for US

In the July/August issue of Israel Matters, you were promised in-person reporting from Israel. Well, as you might have guessed, Covid had other plans in the form of an Israeli Delta Variant outbreak. So, in place of an in-person story, here is a one-person-removed accounting of what is going on in Israel.
To set the context, recall that in October 2020, all of us were isolated from each other and sad at the situation into which the pandemic had forced us. I decided to do something that always makes me happy and booked a trip to Israel, convincing my NYC friend Shari to join me. We made reservations for July 2021, at which time we assumed this mess would be over.
Obviously, we were wrong. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – July/August 2021

There Are Judges In Jerusalem

A lot has happened in Israel since we took you on a river ride down the Hetzbani river last month. Hamas indiscriminately fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilians, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system prevented the vast majority of those rockets capable of causing civilian casualties from landing, and Israel’s air force punished Hamas with civilian-casualty-minimizing strikes that degraded Hamas’s rocket and tunnel infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – June 2021

Israeli Freshwater Fun

When asked to associate “water” with “Israel,” most people respond instantly with “the beach!” And indeed, there are beautiful beaches up and down the Mediterranean coast with prominent stops in Ashkelon, Tel Aviv, Herzliya, Netanya, Michmoret, Haifa, and Nahariya. Eilat on the Red Sea is another hot spot for beach lovers, while those in search of spa-style revitalization know that the best choice is not Med, not Red, but Dead as in the Dead Sea. Then there is Lake Kinneret, also known as the Sea of Galilee, from which the Jordan River flows south. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – May 2021

The 2021 Israeli Election: Too Much Democracy?

The 2021 Israeli Knesset (parliament) election took place on March 23, yet as of the date of this correspondence, we still do not know who won. Well, actually we do know how many candidates from each of the contesting parties were elected to the Knesset, but we do not know who the next Prime Minister will be, or even if a government can be formed at all. How can this be? To understand the current political stalemate in Israel first requires understanding how Israeli elections are conducted. As we will see, a fair argument could be made that in Israel, voting is too democratic! Alternatively, one could argue that the election results are just an accurate reflection of Israel’s divided society. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – April 2021

The View From Dalyat El Carmel

Israel is of course best known as the Jewish state, but there are also many non-Jewish citizens of Israel. Of singular stature and importance to Israel are the Druze. To help our readers better understand Druze history and culture, Israel Matters (IM) interviewed Dr. Hussein Naseraldin (HN), the Head of the M. Sc. Program in Industrial Engineering and Management at ORT Braude College in Karmiel, and a lifelong resident of Dalyat El Carmel, the largest Druze village on Mount Carmel. (more…)

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Israel Matters! – March 2021 – More Than News

The Abraham Accords

The last quarter of 2020 witnessed a remarkable Middle East peace offensive with the launch of the Abraham Accords, a series of agreements between Israel and several Arab countries. Signing the first declaration on September 15 were the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. This was followed by Sudan on October 23, and one month later with Morocco on December 22. So, what are the Abraham Accords about, and why are they so significant? (more…)

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IM Issue 150 – January 2021 – End of an Era

Editorial – Closing the door . . .

With this, the 150th edition of Israel Matters!, your editor has decided that now is the appropriate time to suspend publication. It has not been an easy decision to make. At an average of 11 issues per year (July/August is a single edition of the Bulletin), not including special and website only editions, simple arithmetic means I have been the primary editor of the publication for more than 13 years. To put that number into perspective, a child born when I started would likely be having her/his Bat/Bar Mitzvah this year. (more…)

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IM Issue 149 – December 2020

Iran, Israel, and More: What to Watch in Joe Biden’s Presidency

Joe Biden has vowed to reverse policies put in place by President Donald Trump on his first day in office. But on many issues important to American Jews, change may come slower, or not at all. When it comes to where the U.S. Embassy in Israel is located, for example, Biden has indicated that he has no intention to turn back the clock. On other Israel issues, change is likely but exactly what a Biden administration will try to do is not yet clear. Here’s a look at what might happen after Biden becomes president on Jan. 20, 2021. (more…)

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