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Israel Today

Wrong and devious terminology

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil. (Isaiah 5:20)

The vile person shall no more be called: liberal. (Isaiah 32:5)

As someone once said, an undue mixture of ethics and statistics prevails in our day – and more often the statistics influence ethical standards rather than the other way around. What it means is that no objective standard exists with which to measure moral or ethical values. For ethical norms to be changed to call what was evil and wrong in the past acceptable and good today, all that is needed is for enough people to call evil good.

Thus statistics rule today’s ethics, to the detriment and ruin of all mankind. And so we see the absurd moral or ethical standards which today object to a tiny operation being performed on a baby for the purpose of religious observance (circumcision) – the rationale being that the child should be old enough to participate in the decision making process concerning whether or not he is willing to submit himself to this religious rite. But before that child – or any other child for that matter – is born he or she, even when already alive and breathing, can have his or her life cruelly terminated without being allowed any say in the matter. This is foolishly called a ‘pro-choice’ decision that gives the mother alone the choice of having her own child – carried in what was supposed to be the safest place in her body – killed and subsequently disposed of.

What a world we live in!

The people of Israel can rightly claim that they liberated territories – Judea and Samaria – which were part of their own historic land. And their case is […]

Overview of Israel’s Ethnic Minorities

By Jewish Virtual Library

More than one million people, comprising 18.8 percent of Israel’s population, are non-Jews. Although defined collectively as Arab citizens of Israel, they include a number of different, primarily Arabic-speaking, groups, each with distinct characteristics.

Muslim Arabs, numbering some 780,000, most of whom are Sunni, constitute 76 percent of the non-Jewish population. They reside mainly in small towns and villages, over half of them in the north of the country.

Bedouin Arabs, comprising nearly 10 percent of the Muslim population, belong to some 30 tribes, most of them scattered over a wide area in the south. Formerly nomadic shepherds, the Bedouins are currently in transition from a tribal social framework to a permanently settled society and are gradually entering Israel’s labor force.

Christian Arabs, who constitute Israel’s second largest minority group of some 150,000, live mainly in urban areas, including Nazareth, Shfar’am and Haifa. Although many denominations are nominally represented, the majority are affiliated with the Greek Catholic (42 percent), Greek Orthodox (32 percent) and Roman Catholic (16 percent) churches.

The Druze, some 80,000 Arabic-speakers living in 22 villages in northern Israel, constitute a separate cultural, social and religious community. While the Druze religion is not accessible to outsiders, one known aspect of its philosophy is the concept of taqiyya, which calls for complete loyalty by its adherents to the government of the country in which they reside.

The Circassians, comprising some 3,000 people concentrated in two northern villages, are Sunni Muslims, although they share neither the Arab origin nor the cultural background of the larger Islamic community. While maintaining a distinct ethnic identity, they participate in Israel’s economic and national affairs without assimilating either into Jewish society or into the general Muslim community.

Arab community life

Arab migrations […]

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The Forgotten – Christian Communities in the Holy Land

By Jewish Virtual Library

The Christian communities in the Holy Land can be divided into two main groups, those living in the State of Israel, and those living under the control of the Palestinian Authority. United by a common history and religion, the conditions under which these two groups currently live is vastly different.

Christians in Israel have a well-established history of participation in the development of a pluralistic society. They enjoy the same rights common to all of the population, such as freedom of worship, movement, legal protection from persecution, equal opportunities to jobs, and religious autonomy.

Israel’s Christian population is generally middle class and highly educated. Most own their homes, comparable to all sectors of the Israeli population, and are employed in a wide variety of professions ranging from academic and entrepreneurial to technical and judicial. Approximately half are high-school graduates. And the recently-accredited Mar Elias University is the first Christian university to open in the Middle East for decades. Located in the Galilee, one of the University’s missions is to provide “an innovative model of academic excellence and research combined with pluralistic living, in which acknowledgement and respect for difference builds upon the resources and richness of diversity”.

Israel’s Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for meeting the ritual needs of the Christian communities. The Ministry’s Department for Christian Communities offers a liaison to turn to for problems and requests. The Ministry also serves as a neutral arbitrator in ensuring the preservation of the established status quo in those holy places where more than one Christian community has rights and privileges. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, 137,000 people, or just over two percent, are Christian. The majority is affiliated with the Greek Catholic […]

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Ethnic Minorities

Israel is the Jewish homeland, and its identity as such is both a biblical mandate (Genesis 48:3-4) and a present-day reality which must not and, we believe will not, be changed. At the same time, the country is home to a number of groups of non-Jews.

As a state, Israel has laws and structures in place to ensure protection of the equal rights and dignity of all its citizens, Jew and non-Jew. Fundamental to Jewish law as given by God is the unequivocal command to the people of Israel to treat the “stranger in your midst” with equality and justice: Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 24:17

The Jewish people remember well how they were treated as second-class minorities in other countries, and their leaders are committed to ensuring that the minorities in Israel are not prejudiced against in the same way.

Providing a place of freedom and equality for all ethnic groups proves challenging at times, as some of Israel’s minorities openly oppose their government. The country’s minorities all belong to religions other than Judaism, and in the Middle East religion reigns supreme. As difficult as it is, the democratic Jewish state remains committed to this task.

Despite the difficulties, it is Israel’s minorities that give the nation much of its cultural diversity and flare. More than any other, these groups maintain the nation’s Middle Eastern atmosphere.

Join us for a closer look at these communities, their histories, backgrounds and cultures. Increased knowledge of who they are will provide a better understanding of the way they view having to live as minorities in the Jewish homeland.

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Farming & Agriculture

Farming and agricultural production in Israel, which is an industrial country, accounts for about 2 to 3 percent of the GNP. Major produce includes vegetables, cotton, beef, poultry and dairy products, and citrus and other fruits. Citrus fruits are the country’s main export crops. Israel’s soil and climate give the fruit an appearance and flavor that commands a high price on the world market.

Israel’s total exports for 1999, in US dollars, was over $25 billion. Exports went to the following regions:
North America (including the USA, Canada and Mexico) $9.4 billion (36.8%)
Latin America $648 million (2.5%)
Africa $468 million (1.8%)
Oceania $329 million (0.3%)
EFTA $405 million (4.6%)
EU $7.6 billion (29.7%)
Central & Eastern Europe $1.2 billion (4.7%)
Asia $4.1 billion (16%)
Unclassified $1.4 billion (5.5%)

The agricultural workforce in Israel is small: only 2.5% of the population is engaged in agriculture, compared with 20% some 25 years ago. Farming in Israel is highly sophisticated, capital intensive, and based on a high level of technology. One-third of the agricultural production is for export, while two-thirds of the production is for the local market.

The State of Israel covers an area of approximately 20,000 sq. km. (approximately 12,000 sq. miles) but only 20% of it is arable land. Sixty percent of Israel is desert and just 10% of the population lives there. The remaining 40% of the country is semi-arid land. It is densely populated, containing 90% of the population.

Field Crops

In Israel, around 215,000 hectares (531,000 acres) of land are devoted to field crops, 156,000 of which are winter crops such as wheat for grain and silage, hay, legumes for seeds, and safflower for oil.

60,000 hectares (148,000 acres) are planted with summer crops such as cotton, sunflowers, chickpeas, green peas, beans, corn, groundnuts and […]

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Commerce & Industry

Israel has managed, in a mere 50 years, to build a robust, prosperous economy full of future potential. Israel’s industrial sector is diverse and full of talent. Israeli industries have grown at a steady pace for over 50 years and in many areas have become market leaders.

The primary branches of industry in Israel are:

Agriculture

Israeli agriculture is a story of great success against impossible odds. When the Jews began to immigrate back to Israel over 100 years ago, they found an arid wasteland. Conditions in Israel were extremely adverse to any type of agriculture, but these pioneers knew that if the nation was to be reborn and survive, it must be able to provide for itself.

After over 100 years of struggling against these adverse conditions, including a great lack of water, Israel’s agricultural sector now provides the majority of the nation’s needs through domestic production. What is not provided by domestic production is imported, with the costs of import more than covered by agricultural export revenues.

Israel’s agricultural success is not due to hard work and the pioneer spirit alone, but is closely linked to the sheer brilliance of Israel’s agricultural scientists. Agricultural methods developed by Israeli scientists are now being taught around the world. Due to this highly sophisticated level of agriculture as well as the climate of the region, Israel is able to produce various agricultural products year-round. As a result, when European agriculture is “closed down” for the winter, Israel becomes Europe’s primary source of agricultural produce.

Industry

Israel’s industrial sector is always on the rise, even when the rest of the world is on a downslide. In most developed countries during the 1990′s their economies and industrial sectors either remained stable or diminished. However, […]

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Higher education in Israel

By Jewish Virtual Library

Higher education plays a pivotal role in the economic and social development of the country. Almost a quarter of a century before the state came into being, the Technion ? Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa was opened (1924) to train engineers and architects needed for the rebuilding of the country, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was founded (1925) as a center of higher learning for youth in the Land of Israel and to attract Jewish students and scholars from abroad.

When Israel attained independence in (1948), enrollment at the two universities totaled about 1,600. Today about 149,000 students attend the country’s institutions of higher learning. Of these 97,000 attend universities and 28,000 are enrolled in colleges, while some 24,000 participate in courses through the Open University.

Accorded full academic and administrative freedom, Israel’s institutions of higher education are open to all those who meet their academic standards. New immigrants and students lacking the necessary qualifications may attend a special preparatory program, which upon successful completion enables them to apply for admission.

Council for Higher Education

Institutions of higher education operate under the authority of the Council for Higher Education, which is headed by the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport and includes academics, community representatives and a student representative. It grants accreditation, authorizes the awarding of academic degrees and advises the government on the development and financing of higher education and scientific research.

The Planning and Grants Committee, composed of four senior academics from different fields and two public figures from the business or industrial sectors, is the intermediary body between the government and the institutions of higher education regarding financial matters, submitting budget proposals to both bodies and allocating the approved budget. Public […]

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Preschool, primary & secondary education

By Jewish Virtual Library

Preschool

Education in Israel begins at a very young age in order to provide children with an augmented ‘head start,’ particularly in terms of socialization and language development.

Many two?year?olds and almost all three and four?year?olds attend some kind of preschool framework. Most programs are sponsored by local authorities, some within day?care centers operated by women’s organizations; others are privately owned. The Ministry of Education allocates special resources for preschool education in disadvantaged areas.

Kindergarten for five?year?olds is free and compulsory. The curriculum aims to teach fundamental skills, including language and numerical concepts, to foster cognitive and creative capacities and to promote social abilities. The curricula of all preschools are guided and supervised by the Ministry of Education to ensure a solid and well?rounded foundation for future learning.

Primary and secondary

School attendance is mandatory from age 6 to 16 and free to age 18. Formal education starts in primary school (grades 1?6) and continues with intermediate school (grades 7?9) and secondary school (grades 10?12). About 9 percent of the school population aged 13?18 attends boarding schools.

The multicultural nature of Israel’s society is accommodated within the framework of the education system. Accordingly, schools are divided into four groups: state schools, attended by the majority of pupils; state religious schools, which emphasize Jewish studies, tradition and observance; Arab and Druze schools, with instruction in Arabic and special focus on Arab and Druze history, religion and culture and private schools, which operate under various religious and international auspices.

In recent years, with the growing concern of parents over the orientation of their children’s education, some new schools have been founded, which reflect the philosophies and beliefs of specific groups of parents and educators.

Curriculum

Most hours of the school day are […]

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Education in Israel – An Introduction

By Jewish Virtual Library

The very world rests on the breath of a child in the schoolhouse. (Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat, 119b)

Education in Israel is a precious legacy. Following the tradition of past generations, education continues to be a fundamental value in Israel’s society and is recognized as the key to its future. The educational system aims to prepare children to become responsible members of a democratic, pluralistic society in which people from different ethnic, religious, cultural and political backgrounds coexist. It is based on Jewish values, love of the land and the principles of liberty and tolerance. It seeks to impart a high level of knowledge, with an emphasis on scientific and technological skills essential for the country’s continued development.

Challenges

When the State of Israel was founded (1948), a fully functioning education system already existed, developed and maintained by the prestate Jewish community, with Hebrew, which had been revived for daily speech at the end of the 19th century, the main language of instruction.

However, since shortly after the establishment of the state, the education system has faced the enormous challenge of integrating large numbers of immigrant children from more than 70 countries some coming with their parents, others alone, thereby fulfilling Israel’s raison d’etre as the historic homeland of the Jewish people. The mass immigration of the 1950s, mainly from postwar Europe and Arab countries, was succeeded in the 1960s by a large influx of Jews from North Africa.

In the 1970s, the first sizable immigration of Soviet Jews arrived, followed intermittently by smaller groups. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1989, well over half a million Russian Jews have made their home in Israel, with tens of thousands more still arriving each year. In […]

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Schools & Universities

Israel has a wide variety to offer in the field of education through its numerous universities, colleges and schools. This is largely due to the country’s highly-educated immigrant population, which has “come up” to Israel from all areas of the world, and out of all spheres of learning.

The other contributing factor in this equation is Israel’s high standard of education. Israeli students are required to pass rigorous and comprehensive batteries of tests in order to advance to higher education and enter the work force.

Israel also plays host to thousands of foreign students every year who come to the country to take advantage of and learn from Israel’s top-quality training and instruction in the fields of technology, archeology, history, etc.

The articles and directories in this feature have been selected to provide a better feel for Israel’s educational system and the opportunities available here. Perhaps Israel is the place where you can advance your education?

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