Israel Briefs: Golan Heights Town to Be Named After Trump and More


400 Lone Soldiers Have Seder With Israeli President

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin joined with 400 lone soldiers on April 19 in a Passover seder, JTA reported.

“Our ancestors celebrated the first Passover as they were leaving Egypt for Israel, and it marked their move from slavery to freedom. Today, Passover is a holiday where families gather for the seder meal. We are your family and you are our family. You are part of us, and we are part of you,” Rivlin told soldiers from 35 countries.

Also joining the seder — held at the Yahad-United for Israel’s Soldiers nonprofit facility in the Givat Olga neighborhood of Hadera in northern Israel — was Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi.

Facebook Creates A.I. Team in Israel

Social media giant Facebook announced April 23 that it formed an artificial intelligence team called Data.AI in Tel Aviv, reported.

The 10-person team will develop machine-learning “algorithms that can improve the company’s internal interface and create new tools for data analysis,” Calcalist reported. The initiative was started to improve the company’s platform, access data more quickly, help engineers resolve issues that arise and project future issues and events.

Facebook said it already employs more than 200 people at its research and development center in Tel Aviv.

Golan Heights Town to Be Named After Trump

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said April 23 that his next government will name a Golan Heights town after President Donald Trump, The Times of Israel reported.

Netanyahu said that decision was made to honor Trump in light of his decision to recognize Israel’s sovereignty in the northern territory.

“I will bring [the proposal] before the cabinet [for a vote] soon,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu is negotiating to form a new government after April’s general election.

In a March 21 tweet, Trump first said he would recognize Israel’s control of the Golan Heights; he signed a formal proclamation four days later during a visit by Netanyahu to the White House.

This isn’t the first time Trump has been honored in Israel. A train station near the Western Wall was named for Trump in December 2017 after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And when Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, then-Mayor Nir Barkat said he would name a square after Trump.

Court: Supermodel Owes Millions in Back Taxes

Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli may find her bank account a bit lighter soon, as an Israeli court has ordered her to pay millions in back taxes from 2009 and 2010, JTA reported.

Rafaeli has said during those two years her main residence was in the United States — where she lived with actor Leonardo DiCaprio — so she doesn’t owe as much in Israeli taxes. She said she didn’t move back to Israel until 2013.

But Israel’s Tax Authority said otherwise, presenting records showing her spending 185 days in Israel in 2009 and 131 days the following year, Globes reported.

Rafaeli said she plans to appeal the ruling.


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