UPDATE 10 am Israel time Sunday:
More than 100 Palestinians armed with axes and sticks attacked the Judean Jewish community of Esh Kodesh last night while yelling “Allahu Akbar” and “Itbah al Yahud” (Kill the Jews). The community was defended by its members and by IDF soldiers who arrived on the scene. Three members were injured.
In an interview with the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency yesterday, Hamas official spokesman Mahmoud Zahar crowed about:
*Gaza’s freedom: “Gaza is free of occupation.”
*Gaza’s prosperity: “People in Gaza receive full salaries”and are “self-dependent”.
*Gaza’s interaction with the world: “Visitors from all over the world visit Gaza.”
The funny thing is of course that Mahmoud Zahar has been saying this for the last year (see my blog of January 5, 2012)–it’s just that nobody listens. So-called “human rights” activists depend on a narrative of starving and suffering in Gaza to give them a raison d’etre. People like U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who spent the better part of a presentation in Geneva last week blasting Israel for its “siege of Gaza” need for the world to believe there is a siege so that they will have a job.
All of Israel is in a festive mood today getting ready for the coming of Rosh Hashana 5773 at sundown this evening.
There are flower vendors on every corner, the smells of exotic foods being cooked are wafting down every street (our street has a mix of Israelis with Moroccan, Georgian, Algerian, Polish, Tunisian, Bukharan, Russian, and American backgrounds), and every bakery has an abundance of honey cakes and apple pastries.
With all the turmoil happening throughout the Middle East this morning, it seems like a good time to take stock of Israel by the numbers as revealed by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics earlier this week:
*Total Population of Israel: 7,933,200
Of this number, 5,978,600 (Jews); 1,636,600 (Arabs); 318,000 (others)
To put it a different way, 20.6% of the Israeli population consists of Israeli-Arabs. This number has ticked slightly upward from 20.5% last year, but will almost certainly begin to drop in the near future because of the birthrate.
*Birthrate per woman:
Jews: 2.98 (2.97 last year); Muslims: 3.51 (3.75 last year); Christians: 2.19 (same)
The rapidly declining Muslim birthrate is dramatic (believe it or not, the Israeli Arab Muslim birthrate was 9.23 in 1964). Expect the Jewish birthrate to dramatically rise as the number of orthodox women of childbearing age dramatically rises. The birthrate among orthodox and ultraorthodox women has climbed past 6.5 children per mother.
*Immigration to Israel: 16,892
Russia (3678), Ethiopia (2666), USA (2363), Ukraine (2051), France (1775)
As immigration from Russia slows, immigration from Ethiopia grows with almost 5000 more Ethiopians waiting to come.
*Life expectancy: 83.6 years for women, 80.0 years for men
Why do women always live longer than men?
*Average gross national salary: 9447 shekels ($2422) per month
Israel’s minimum wage is just over 3800 shekels ($975) per month.
*Gross domestic product per capita: 127,920 shekels ($32,800)
This ranks Israel at around 30th in the world.
To all of you Israel supporters around the world who are worried about this country, thank you, and know that Israel enters 5773 confident that, with your help, it can face the challenges that lie ahead.
Shana Tovah from Ashdod!
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