Israel Briefs: Record Number of Muslim Tourists Visit Israel in 2018 and More

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Record Number of Muslim Tourists Visit Israel in 2018

More than 72,000 Muslim tourists visited Israel in 2018 — a record number and a 15 percent increase from the previous year, according to data from Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, JNS.org reported.

That included 54,799 visitors from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, Malaysia, Algeria, Indonesia, Oman, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates — countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. A majority of them (37,555) came from Indonesia.

In addition, 4,947 Egyptians and 12,363 Jordanians visited Israel.

More than $5M Provided for Beresheet 2

The next effort to land an Israeli spacecraft on the moon got a boost May 4 when the Israel Space Agency announced it would contribute about $5.6 million toward the effort, JTA reported.

The contribution to Beresheet 2 doubles the amount the agency, which is under the Ministry of Science’s auspices, gave to the first attempt. Beresheet crashed onto the moon on April 11. That mission, which cost nearly $100 million, was largely funded through donations.

“The Beresheet project fascinated and united all Israeli citizens in anticipation of a successful landing on the moon,” Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis said. “The enormous public interest, along with breakthrough technological achievements, sharpened the need to increase the tremendous mobilization for the success of the project.”

The space agency also has asked NASA for increased assistance. During the initial attempt, NASA provided laser communication technology to SpaceIL, the private foundation behind the effort.

Identities Sought for Israeli Soldiers in Historic Photos

The National Library of Israel launched a Naming the Soldiers project to honor the 71st anniversary of the nation’s birth, JTA reported.

The library is collaborating with Facebook Israel in an effort to have Israelis identify and tag family members and friends depicted in historic photos.

The photographs in question are being digitized from decaying negatives into high-resolution images.

The library has a collection of more than 2.5 million photos and is considered to the largest collection in the world of photos of Israel; some of the photos are 150 years old.

Report: Three of Every Four Male Israeli Haredi College Students Drop Out

Just 24 of every 100 male students who start at haredi colleges in Israel graduate, according to a state comptroller report examining 2011-’18, The Times of Israel reported.

The dropout rate for women is about 50 percent.

Starting in 2011, the Israeli government invested about $153 million and earmarked twice that amount more through 2022 to develop academic programs for the Orthodox. The idea was to help integrate the haredi into the workforce.

There were about 6,000 haredi college students in Israel prior to the initiative, but there were 11,465 students by the 2016-’17 academic year.

The comptroller said the high dropouts rates can be attributed, in part, to educational gaps among haredi men, who don’t learn English or math after middle school; difficulties in adjusting to academic demands, including testing; and the fact that many haredi students are married with children when they enroll.

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Andy Gotlieb is the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent. He holds 31 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. Prior newspaper stops include the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Tampa Tribune and the Philadelphia Business Journal. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various times, business, politics, crime and government, among other beats. The final 2.5 years in that stretch was an editor at the Philadelphia Business Journal, where my responsibilities included complete control over a weekly section and working with both staff writers and freelancers. In late 2005, I switched gears and began working in public relations for the next decade. I learned the ins and outs of public relations -- including being on the other side of the media-PR equation -- and made numerous contacts. I rejoined the ranks of journalism in March 2016, starting as the managing editor of the Jewish Exponent.

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