In Israel: A roundup of the last two weeks

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin delivers an emotional eulogy on December 31 for Amos Oz.

Wreaths are laid at a memorial service for Amos Oz in Tel Aviv, December 31st, 2018 (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
Wreaths are laid at a memorial service for Amos Oz in Tel Aviv, December 31st, 2018
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin delivers an emotional eulogy on December 31 for his friend, Amos Oz, the celebrated Israeli writer and peace activist who died three days earlier of cancer at the age of 79. “Precisely because your writing was humanistic and universal no less than it was personal and intimate, you told our story far beyond the boundaries of our own small Israel,“ Rivlin said, offering condolences to Oz’s wife, Nili, and his children, Fania, Galia and Daniel. The Jerusalem-born Oz, a winner of the Israel Prize and a range of prestigious international awards for literature, was buried on Kibbutz Hulda, where he had written some of his 40 books, which included “My Michael,” “A Tale of Love and Darkness” and “Judas.”
MOSHE ARENS Former defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the US Moshe (Misha) Arens died at his home in Savyon on January 8 at the age of 93. Born in Lithuania, he made aliyah from the US in 1948, joined the Likud and began his Knesset career in 1973. The author of eight books, he was most recently a regular columnist for Haaretz, publishing his last column 10 days before his death in memory of Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighter Simcha Rotem. He was honored with the Nefesh B’Nefesh Bonei Zion Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2016. “There was no greater patriot than he,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
TZVIKA LEVY Known as “the father of Israel’s lone soldiers,” Tzvika Levy died on December 29 at the age of 70, two years after being diagnosed with ALS. He received the Israel Prize for Life Achievement in 2017 for his work on behalf of lone soldiers from abroad and the families of IDF soldiers lost in combat. Levy was “full of kindness and love of mankind,” according to a joint statement by outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and incoming Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi. “For decades, Tzvika fought for the lone soldiers, encouraged their aliyah to Israel and organized homes and adoptive families for them.”
AMONA VIOLENCE More than 20 border police officers and dozens of Israeli protesters were injured on January 3 during clashes that erupted in an early-morning evacuation of two mobile homes that had been recently been set up on the site of the former Amona outpost on the outskirts of Ofra. Settlers said they placed two homes there after purchasing the property from its Palestinian owners. According to Israel Police, the evacation of the two illegal structures was ordered by the Jerusalem District Court and border police who were sent to the scene encountered violent resistance.
ALIYAH UP Almost 30,000 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2018, 5% up from the previous year, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel. The largest number, some 10,500, came from Russia, a 45% increase from the previous year. More than 3,500 immigrants came from the US and Canada, 2,600 from France, 500 from the UK, 350 from South Africa and 330 from Argentina. “I welcome the increase in the number of immigrants to Israel,” said Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog. “Every Jew who immigrates and establishes his or her home completes another piece of the amazing mosaic of the people of Israel in its historical homeland.” According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, more than half of the immigrants – 17,700 – were not halachically Jewish.
TOURISM RECORD 2018’s four millionth tourist landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on December 30, helping Israel to set a new record of 4.1 million for incoming tourism, the Tourism Ministry announced. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin was at the airport to greet the flight with the record-breaking tourists. The biggest number came from the US (900,000), while almost 350,000 arrived from France, more than 300,000 from Russia, 260,000 from Germany, and 220,000 from the UK.