Israel Briefs: US Embassy Hosts First July Fourth Celebration in Jerusalem and More


Israel Defense Prize Awarded to Four Key Security Projects

This year’s Israel Defense Prize was awarded to the soldiers who exposed and neutralized tunnels Hezbollah had dug under Israel’s northern border; Mossad personnel involved in the Iranian nuclear archive operation in Tehran; the developers of the Spice 1000 weapons system; and the developers of a cyberproject for Israel’s Shin Bet security agency that has prevented numerous terrorist attacks, reported.

The prize, named for Haganah commander Eliyahu Golomb, is awarded for projects and actions that make a special contribution to the defense of the nation and to protecting its advantages on the battlefield.

Arab Israeli Is First to Chair Major Israeli Bank

Bank Leumi, Israel’s largest bank, announced the appointment of Samer Haj-Yehia, 50, last week, JTA reported.

Haj-Yehia has been a lecturer in economics at MIT, Harvard, the Hebrew University and the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. He has served as vice president of financial engineering at Fidelity Investments, is on the board of directors of Strauss Group Ltd. and is chairman of the Audit Committee of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. He is a member of the Council for Higher Education of Israel.

“Samer is very talented. He broke the glass ceiling and will serve as a model for young people in Arab society,” Knesset lawmaker Ahmed Tibi, also an Arab Israeli, told Haaretz. “He is the right person in the right place.”

sunset over Jerusalem
Jerusalem (RudyBalasko / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

US Embassy Hosts First July Fourth Celebration in Jerusalem

The U.S. Embassy hosted its annual Fourth of July party in Jerusalem for the first time, JTA reported.

Prior to this year’s celebration at the Jerusalem International Convention Center, the U.S. Independence Day party was held at the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya. Last year, after the embassy’s move to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the party was at Airport City, a business park near Ben Gurion Airport outside Tel Aviv.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the Trump administration for its support of Israel.

“Well, we’re back, and we’re back standing for the truth, for our history, for our rights, and it’s wonderful to have the greatest power on earth not opposing the Jewish state but supporting the Jewish state. What a twist,” Netanyahu said.

Prominent Rabbi Says ‘Politics Is Not for Women’

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, the head of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem, was one of several rabbis who signed a letter objecting to the appointment of a woman to lead the Jewish Home Party and the Union of Right-Wing Parties, JTA reported, because “politics is not for women.”

The letter read, “The composition of the party list is a statement that expresses our priorities, and this statement has far-reaching implications for us as a public and for the educational message that we convey to our children.”

Though no particular woman is named in the letter, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is in contention for the role.

Aviner subsequently defended the letter, which was initially revealed by the Walla! Hebrew news website.

“We think that a religious party is needed because this country is not just about its economy or security, it’s also about faith,” Aviner said in an interview with Kan. “That’s why we need to have people who dedicate their entire lives to the Torah, who can lead these struggles for the benefit of the nation.”

Of Shaked, he said, “Every person has their own place. It’s not right, the complex world of politics is no place for the female role.”


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