The Education Ministry will recognize Israeli high schools combining religious and non-religious (secular) students and studies for the first time.

In addition to general studies, these K-12 schools will provide students with additional hours of Jewish studies.

Each school will also hire an administrator to oversee religious and non-religious activities. The administrator will have to develop activities for students who opt out of daily prayer.

Throughout Israel’s history, the religious and non-religious populations have generally remained separated both in terms of where they live and where they study. In recent years, Israeli Jews have been identifying more with the religion.

IN SETTLEMENT NEWS, Knesset Member Benny Begin (L) said the recent settlement construction announcement didn’t actually go far enough.

Begin — who doesn’t believe in the establishment of an independent Palestinian state — wants to see further settlement expansion in what’s known as “Gav HaHar,” a region that includes the arid hills east of Jerusalem that undulate on down to the Jordan River basin.

IT APPEARS Western smoking culture (or rather, anti-culture) is slowly making its way into puff-puff-friendly Israel. The Health Ministry is considering new regulations aimed at curbing smoking, which last I knew was a habit enjoyed by about 30 percent of Israelis.

These measures will include banning smoking in public places a-la ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a blanket ban on cigarette advertising, and leveling taxes on electronic cigarettes.

When I left Israel in 2014, electronic cigarettes a) weren’t a thing and b) didn’t seem to be readily available (people were buying them through Israeli Craigslist facsimiles and private dealers), but apparently this has changed.

ISRAEL’S SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAM is aiming to lift all senior citizens receiving income support up from under the poverty line, Welfare Minister Haim Katz announced.

The national pension fund plans to do this through a one-time 700 million shekel injection throughout the entire program.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU struck back at the Opposition over a recent scandal involving, inter alia, a deal between the prime minister and the owner of Israeli media outlet Yediot Aharonoth.

“There should be an investigation of the 43 parliamentarians who backed the law to shut down Israel Hayom and got flattering coverage from [Yediot Aharonoth Owner] Noni [Mozes] in return,” the prime minster spat.

“You’re not really implying that I’m the first to meet with publishers, news editors, or other influential media players?” he asked, probably rhetorically, and probably with that adorably mischievous grin he has perfected over the years (and scandals).

The A-G’s office has been investigating Netanyahu over gifts (Ie graft) he apparently received from various powerful individuals in Israel, the US, and elsewhere.

One of those individuals may have been Noni Mozes — long considered one of Bibi’s biggest Israeli rivals and the owner of a veritable media empire — who was apparently caught on tape discussing a mutually beneficial deal with the prime minister.

Bibi has long been backed by newspaper Israel Hayom, funded largely by US casino magnate and fist-pumping right-winger Sheldon Adelson. Israel Hayom has produced considerable copy denigrating, delegitimizing, and dismissing Yedioth Aharonoth. So this whole scandal is really a big deal, in the Israeli media world at least.


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