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Israel

Israel is a country in the Levant region of the Middle East, in Western Asia by the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, Egypt to the south and the Mediterranean to the west. Israel was established as a state in 1948, becoming the first and only predominantly Jewish state in the modern era. Israel has a population of nearly 9 million (2018). Of these 9 million, approximately 75% are Jewish, 20% are Arab, and 5% belong to other ethnic minorities. The most widely spoken languages in the country are Hebrew and Arabic, though Russian, French, and English are widely spoken as well. Israel is quite small geographically - its territory covers about 21,000 square kilometers (8,100 square miles). Despite its size, its topography is varied, ranging from a dry desert climate to mountains and forests. Israel has four distinct geographic regions: the Negev Desert, the Great Rift Valley, the Mediterranean coastal valley, and the mountainous regions in the north. The Dead Sea, the lowest dry-land point on Earth, is on the border between Israel and Jordan. Jerusalem, Israel’s declared though internationally-disputed capital, houses the country’s government buildings. Israel is a democratic republic with a 120-seat parliament (called the Knesset), a prime minister who is head of government and a president whose job is largely ceremonial. Upon its establishment Israel declared itself both Jewish and Democratic. Israel was established in order to be a “safe haven” for the Jewish people. In the years subsequent to its establishment it received an influx of Jewish immigrants and refugees from war-torn Europe and various countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Though originally established as a state with socialist values, the right-winged Likud party has now been in power for over forty years, since former prime minister Menahem Begin took office in 1977. The judicial system in Israel is three-tiered, with the Supreme Court being the top-standing authority on most cases. Religious courts have complete jurisdiction over annulment of marriages. Israel started off as an isolated entity in the predominantly Arab-Muslim Middle East. In 1979, Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt, and in 1994 it signed one with Jordan. Though ties between Israel and much of the Arab world remain hostile, its relationships with countries such as Saudi Arabia have been improving in recent years as the common Iranian threat improves cooperation between the countries. The United States is Israel’s strongest ally. Relations between the two countries have remained relatively constant since Israel’s establishment, with both countries prioritizing the relationship regardless of which administrations are in office. Israel has been in an ongoing conflict with its Palestinian neighbors for decades. It spends a large proportion of its budget on security and defense, and the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) is the largest and strongest military in the Middle East. Israel has a mandatory military draft for most 18-year-old Israeli men and women. Israel has earned itself the nickname “Startup nation” due to the multitude of high-tech companies and scientific startups within its borders.`

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 The logo for the Democratic National Convention is displayed on the scoreboard at the United Center during a media walkthrough in Chicago, Jan. 18, 2024.

Democratic platform boosts Israel funding, blames Hamas for war

By RON KAMPEAS/JTA
 MK LIMOR Son Har-Melech speaks during a protest outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, earlier this year. She has proposed an amendment to the Negev Development Law that would enable Kiryat Arba to receive the same benefits as the Gaza border communities.

Religious Zionists against the Land of Israel

By SHLOMO FISCHER
The late Alon Shamriz

To prove Alon was not killed in vain: impeach all responsible for the failure of Oct. 7

By Yonatan Shamriz
Ze'ev Elkin is seen speaking at the Environmental Protection Ministry in Jerusalem, on May 18, 2020.

Knesset votes against the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan river

 IT’S HARD to believe that we still need to have a discussion about smoking tobacco, the writer laments.

Tobacco company advertises products differently in Israel, depending on demographic

The July 18 issue of the Shas newspaper Haderech.

Shas spiritual leaders encourage haredim to refuse draft orders

The suspect Sigal Yanna Itzkovitch with her son.

Tel Aviv Magistrate Court extends arrest of murder suspect of 6-year-old child

By ALON HACHMON , YUVAL BAGNO , MATAN WASSERMAN
Israeli farmer Elad Katzir walks in his field near the border with the southern Gaza Strip, in Nir Oz, Israel January 11, 2018.

IFCJ and HaShomer HaChadash launch $2 million food security initiative to support Israeli farmers

Macro close up of a yellow fever mosquito sucking blood on skin.

Effective strategies for eradicating West Nile Virus in Israel and beyond

 Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' political chief in Gaza, speaks during a rally organised by the representatives of prominent families (mokhtar) in support of "the Palestinian resistence" in Gaza City, on June 20, 2021.

Hamas leader Sinwar under internal pressure to accept hostage deal, CIA director says

By SHAKED SADEH
 Prime Minister Netanyahu while Israel committee approves EU import reform

New reform that would allow Israel to import products marketed in EU passes

Levi Sterling, a 17-year-old pitcher and shortstop out of Notre Dame High School in California, was selected 37th by the Pittsburgh Pirates in this week’s MLB Draft.

Levi Sterling first Jewish ballplayer to be picked, by Pirates, in ’24 MLB Draft

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
 MACCABI TEL AVIV celebrates on the pitch at Bloomfield Stadium this week after beating Maccabi Petah Tikva 2-0 in the Super Cup season opener.

Maccabi TA tops Mac Petah Tikva for Super Cup title

By JOSHUA HALICKMAN
 Police at the scene in Herzliya of what it termed a suspected murder. July 16, 2024.

Police find body of six-year-old boy in Herzliya apartment, suspected murder

 Ultra-Orthodox Jews block a road during a protest outside the city of Bnei Brak, March 3, 2024

Ultra-Orthodox extremists hurl bottles at IDF senior commanders in Bnei Brak, call them 'murderers'

 NORTH KOREAN LEADER Kim Jong Un attends the 10th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang, North Korea, earlier this month. The emerging Axis of Evil - Russia, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, and North Korea should alarm us all, states the write.

The world cannot ignore the evil network of Russia, Iran, Hamas, and North Korea

By YEVGEN KORNICHUK
 A view of the sun behind a cross on top of a church in Lisbon, Portugal, earlier this year. The writer argues that fundamentalist Christian missionaries are as dangerous to Jewish continuity in the Land of Israel as Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

Radical Islam, fundamentalist Christianity pose a threat to Judaism

By Donald Zev Uslan
 Haifa Auditorium, 26 April 2008.

Israel philharmonic orchestra delivers memorable season finale in Haifa

By SARAH HERSHENSON