Related to the wars
1948 Arab-Israeli War “The Independence War” (see also: 1949 Armistice Agreements) מלחמת העצמאות (גם מלחמת הקוממיות או מלחמת השחרור) י 1956 Suez War “Operation Kadesh” מבצע קדש או מלחמת סיני 1967 Six Day War מלחמת ששת הימים 1970 War of Attrition מלחמת ההתשה 1973 Yom Kippur War מלחמת יום כיפור 1982 Lebanon War “Operation Peace For Galilee” מבצע שלום הגליל 1990/1 Gulf War מלחמת המפרץ First Intifada אינתיפדה al-Aqsa Intifada אינתיפדת אל-אקצא The Israeli Defense Forces codenamed it “אירועי גיאות ושפל” (“Ebb and Tide events”) but it is unofficially referred to as the Oslo War in some Israeli circles. Politics and law Main articles: Politics of Israel and List of political parties in Israel. The Knesset is the Israeli parliament, located in JerusalemIsrael is a parliamentary democracy based on universal suffrage and proportional representation. Israel’s legislative branch is a 120-member parliament known as the Knesset. Membership in the Knesset is allocated to parties based on their proportion of the vote. Elections to the Knesset are normally held every four years, but the Knesset can decide to dissolve itself ahead of time by a simple majority. The President of Israel is head of state, serving as a largely ceremonial figurehead. The President selects the leader of the majority party or ruling coalition in the Knesset as the Prime Minister, who serves as head of government.2 Judiciary The Judiciary branch of Israel is made of a three-tier system of courts: at the lowest level are the Magistrate Courts. Above them, serving both as an appelate court and as a court of first instance are the District Courts. At the top of the judicial pyramid is the Supreme Court. Judges in Israel retire at the age of 70 and are appointed by a committee made up of representatives of the Knesset, Supreme Court justices and the Israeli Bar. The Israeli Supreme Court is regarded by many as Israel’s guardian of civil rights, but by others as the most activist Supreme Court in the world  (http://www.yaleisraeljournal.com/fall2003/courts.php). Constitution Israel has not completed a written constitution. Its government is based on the laws of the Knesset, especially by “Basic Laws of Israel”, which are special laws (currently there are 15 of them), by the Knesset legislature which will become the future official constitution. The declaration of the State of Israel has a significance in this matter as well. Israel’s legal system is a western legal system best classified as “mixed”: it has a strong Anglo-American influence, but in some parts has borrowed heavily from civil law tradition.
In the matter of Jewish religion versus secularism, the status quo achieved by David Ben-Gurion with the religious parties in the declaration of independence is still mostly held today. Religious authorities, which are comprised of the ministry of religion and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, have jurisdiction only in five distinct areas: marital and burial laws, Jewish status of immigrants, Kashrut and the Sabbath. They have no jurisdiction over human rights (other than those previously mentioned) criminal or commercial law, nor on education. Streets of Haredi neighborhoods are closed to traffic on Saturday, there is no public transport on that day and most businesses are closed; restaurants that wish to advertise themselves as kosher must be certified by the Chief Rabbinate. Importation of non-kosher foods is prohibited, but there are a few local pork farms in kibbutzim, catering for establishments selling “White Meat” (the Israeli euphemism for pork, forbidden under Kashrut laws) due to its popular demand (especially after the waves of Russian immigration in the 1990’s). The other major religions in Israel, such as Islam and Christianity are officially supported via their own establishments which have jurisdiction over their followers. The ministry of education manages the secular (largest) and religious streams of various faiths in parallel, with a limited degree independence and a common core curriculum. In recent years, secular frustration with the status quo has strengthened parties such as Shinui, which advocate separation of religion from the state, without much success so far. For example, though an estimated 70% of Israelis (according to polls) support the enactment of civil marriage (not requiring religious affiliation), it was blocked by religious parties (see below). Currently, civil marriages are only officially sanctioned if performed abroad. Local marriage licenses must declare to be Jewish, Muslim, Christian or any of the other officially recognized religions. Nevertheless, some breaches of the status quo have become prevalent, such as several suburbian malls remaining open during the Sabbath. Though this is contrary to the law, the government largely turns a blind eye for fear of strengthening its political rivals in liberal circles.
Golda Meir, a former Israeli Prime Minister, joked that “in Israel, there are 3 million prime ministers”. Because of its Proportional representation electoral system, coalitions in the Knesset can often be unstable and are usually made up of at least two parties. Coalitions can be difficult to form and hard to keep together because of the large number of political parties, many of whom run on very specialized platforms, often advocating the tenets of particular interest groups. The prevalent balance between the largest parties means that the smaller parties can have disproportionately strong influence to their size, due to their ability to act as tie breakers; they often use this status to block popular legislation or promote their own even contrary to the manifesto of the larger party in office.
In the past thirty years, the largest parties have been the conservative Likud Party and the Social-democrat Labour Party. However, they do not attract sufficient support to govern without the help of smaller parties such as Shas, a Sephardi Haredi party which has a network of religious schools, and supports social spending; Shinui, a fervently secularist party that sees itself representing Israel’s middle class and a foe of religious (particularly Haredi) parties, that works to reduce social spending; the National Union Party, a right-wing nationalist party advocating “voluntary transfer” of Palestinian refugees and their descendents for resettlement in Arab countries; the Mafdal – the National Religious Party, affiliated with nationalist religious Zionists (kipot srugot), who favor creating a Jewish constitutional theocracy in the entire Land of Israel; and Yachad (former Meretz), a democratic socialist party which is supportive of the Palestinian cause. Most governments have so far avoided forming a coalition with parties representative of the Israeli Arab minority, such as the Arab-Jewish communist Hadash party, the Arab-nationalist Balad party or the conservative-Islamic bloc United Arab List party Raam. Exceptions were the ‘external’ coalition agreements between Yitzhak Rabin’s second government and Hadash and Raam, which were declared de facto coalition agreements by the Israeli Supreme Court. Parties of the Left dominated Israel’s elections until 1974, when following the Yom Kippur War, the ruling Labour party began to lose popularity. On the Right, the Likud party was formed by a union of the Liberals and the nationalist Herut party. The beginning of right-wing dominance in Israeli politics began in 1977 with the ascendance of Likud’s Menachem Begin as prime minister. With the exception of the Labour-Meretz coalitions between 1992-1996 and 1999-2001, the Likud continued to form most Israeli governments since 1977, sometimes in coalition with the Labour Party. In 2003, left-wing parties fared poorly in elections won by Likud government of prime minister Ariel Sharon.
Women in Israeli industry and politics
In 2002, women comprised 33% of director positions in government owned corporations, and 20% of managerial positions within the private industry (2005). The 16th Knesset (2003) had 18 women parliament members (15%) and 3 Government ministers (13%). The first (and only, so far) woman as Prime minister was Golda Meir, from 1969 to 1974, who was also the third woman Prime Minister in the world.
Main article: Israel Defense Forces. Israel’s military consists of a unified Israel Defense Forces (IDF), known in Hebrew by the acronym Tzahal. Historically, there have been no separate Israeli military services. The Navy and Air Force are subordinate to the Army. There are other paramilitary government agencies which deal with different aspects of Israel’s security (such as MAGAV and the Shin Bet). See further discussion: Israel Security Forces. The IDF is considered one of the strongest military force in the Middle East and among the most technologically advanced in the world. It relies heavily on technology, training, and expert manpower, rather than possession of overwhelming manpower. Much of Israel’s heavy military hardware is bought from the United States (Aeroplanes, missiles) and Germany (Submarines, Ships). Many of the arms used by the IDF are Israeli-invented and Israeli-made, such as the legendary Uzi, Merkava tank, and advanced aerospace technologies such as IAI Ofek satellites. The IDF frequently enhances 3rd party equipment by Israel’s own military industries, usually making the upgraded equipment stronger than that available on the open market. Israel’s military doctrine aims to maintain a qualitative edge over all possible enemies. In recent years Israel has focused it’s military R&D efforts on resources for fighting Low Intensity Conflicts and ballistic missile defense. Most Israelis, males and females, are drafted into the military at the age of 18. Exceptions are Israeli Arabs, confirmed pacifists, and women who declare themselves religiously observant. Compulsory service is three years for men, and 20 months for women. Circassians and Bedouin actively enlist in the IDF. Since 1956, Druze men have been conscripted in the same way as Jewish men, at the request of the Druze community. Men studying full-time in religious institutions can get a deferment from conscription; most Haredi Jews extend these deferments until they are too old to be conscripted, although there has been some change in Haredi society, with a small group of single Haredi annually joining in to serve in various fields. Following compulsory service, Israeli men become part of the IDF reserve forces, and are usually required to serve several weeks every year as reservists, until their 40s.
Women in the Security Forces
Women were historically barred from battle in the IDF, serving in a variety of technical and administrative support roles, except during the 1948 war of independence, when manpower shortages saw many of them taking active part in battles on the ground. But after a landmark 1994 High Court appeal by Alice Miller, a Jewish immigrant from South Africa, the Air Force was instructed to open its pilots course to women (several served as transport pilots during the war of independence in 1948 and “Operation Kadesh” in 1956, but the Air force later closed its ranks to women fliers). Miller failed the entrance exams, but since her initative, many additional combat roles were opened. As of 2005, Women are allowed to serve in 83% of all positions in the military, including Shipboard Navy Service (except submarines), and Artillery. Combat roles are voluntary for women. As of 2002, 33% of lower rank Officers are women, 22% of Captains and Majors, but only 3% of the most senior ranks. 450 Women currently serve in combat units, primarily in the Border Police and other ground forces. The first female fighter pilot successfully received her wings in 2001. In a controversial move, the IDF abolished its “Womens Corps” command in 2004, with a view that it has become an anachronism and a stumbling block towards integration of Women in the IDF as regular soliders with no special status. However, after pressures from Feminist lobbies, The Chief of Staff was persuaded to keep an “advisor for Women’s affairs”.
Israel is widely regarded as being an undeclared nuclear power — it operates nuclear facilities and is generally believed to be in possession of nuclear weapons. Because it is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Israel rejects international inspections of its purported nuclear facilities and maintains a public policy of “nuclear ambiguity”. For further information, see: Israel and weapons of mass destruction.
Regional cease fire status
Israel is formally at war with Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Lebanon. A 1973 armistice agreement governs relations with its most immediate military adversary, Syria, and a de facto armistice persists with the other states as well. The chances for peace negotiations and/or full diplomatic relations with most Arab nations appear a more likely prospect once an independent Palestinian Entity is established.
Map of Israel Main article: Geography of Israel.
Israel, located in Southwest Asia, is a country whose exact territorial boundaries and borders are widely disputed. It is also considered to be one of the fifteen states that comprise the so-called Cradle of Humanity. The total area—excluding East Jerusalem and other territories taken over by Israel in the 1967 war—is 20,770 square km; the total area—including the aforementioned territories—is 22,145 square km. The territories taken over by Israel since the 1967 war are not included in the Israel country profile, unless otherwise noted. In keeping with the framework established at the Madrid Conference in October 1991, bilateral negotiations are being conducted between Israeli and Palestinian representatives (from the Israeli-controlled West Bank and Gaza Strip) to achieve a permanent settlement. These talks generated the Oslo Accords in 1993, which established mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO, and granted the new Palestinian Authority partial autonomy in areas of the Judea/Samaria and Gaza Strip. Talks were also held between Israel and Syria. On April 25, 1982, Israel withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula pursuant to the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. Outstanding territorial and other disputes with Jordan were resolved in the 1994 Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. Administrative districts Main article: Districts of Israel. Six districts (mehozot; singular, mehoz) and 13 sub-districts (nafot; singular, nafa) Jerusalem District (Mehoz Yerushalayim). District Capital: Jerusalem North District (Mehoz HaZafon). District Capital: Nazareth Zefat S.D. Kinneret S.D. Yizre’el S.D. Akko S.D. Golan S.D. Haifa District (Mehoz Hefa). District Capital: Haifa Haifa S.D. Hadera S.D. Center District (Mehoz HaMerkaz). District Capital: Ramla Sharon S.D. Petah Tiqwa S.D. Ramla S.D. Rehovot S.D. Tel Aviv District (Mehoz Tel-Aviv). District Capital: Tel Aviv Southern District (Mehoz HaDarom). District Capital: Be’er Sheva Ashqelon S.D. Be’er Sheva S.D. Cities See List of cities in Israel. Economy Main article: Economy of Israel. Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of fossil fuels (crude oil, natural gas, and coal), grains, beef, raw materials, and military equipment. Despite limited natural resources, Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production except for grains and beef. Diamonds, high-technology, military equipment, software, pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, and agricultural products (fruits, vegetables, and flowers) are leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans. Israel possesses extensive facilities for oil refining, diamond polishing, and semiconductor fabrication. Roughly half of the government’s external debt is owed to the U.S., which is its major source of economic and military aid. A relatively large fraction of Israel’s external debt is held by individual investors, via the Israel Bonds program. The combination of American loan guarantee’s and direct sales to individual investors, allow the state to borrow at competitive and sometimes below-market rates. The influx of Jewish immigrants from the former USSR topped 750,000 during the period 1989-1999, bringing the population of Israel from the former Soviet Union to 1 million, one-sixth of the total population, and adding scientific and professional expertise of substantial value for the economy’s future. The influx, coupled with the opening of new markets at the end of the Cold War, energized Israel’s economy, which grew rapidly in the early 1990s. But growth began slowing in 1996 when the government imposed tighter fiscal and monetary policies and the immigration bonus petered out. Those policies brought inflation down to record low levels in 1999. Demographics Main article: Jew Jewish religion Etymology of “Jew” · Who is a Jew? Jewish leadership · Jewish culture Jewish ethnic divisions Ashkenazi · Sephardi · Mizrahi Temani · Bene Israel · Beta Israel Jewish populations Israel · United States · Russia/USSR Germany · France · Latin America England · Famous Jews by country Jewish languages Hebrew · Yiddish · Ladino · Dzhidi Judæo-Aramaic · Judæo-Arabic Jewish denominations Orthodox · Conservative · Reform Reconstructionist · Karaite Jewish political movements Zionism: (Labor / General / Revisionist) The Bund Union · Kibbutz movement Jewish history Jewish history timeline · Schisms Ancient Israel and Judah Temples in Jerusalem Babylonian captivity Hasmoneans and Greece Jewish-Roman wars Era of Pharisees · The Talmudic Era Middle Ages · Muslim Lands Enlightenment/Haskalah · Hasidism The Holocaust · Modern Israel Persecution of the Jews Anti-Semitism: (History / “New”) Main article: Demographics of Israel. At the end of 2003, of Israel’s 6.7 million people, 81% were “Jews and others”, and 19% were Arabs. By religion, 77% were Jewish, 16% were Muslim, 4% were Christian, 2% were Druze and the rest were not classified by religion. Among Jews, 63% were born in Israel, 27% are immigrants from Europe and the Americas, and 10% are immigrants from Asia and Africa (including the Arab countries).
6% of Israeli Jews define themselves as haredim (ultra-orthodox religious); an additional 9% are “religious”; 34% consider themselves “traditionalists” (not strictly adhering to Jewish halacha) ; and 51% are “secular”. Among the seculars, 53% believe in God. see
Breslov – Chabad – Chassidus Of the Arab Israelis 82% are Muslim and 9% are Christian. As of 31 December 2003, 224,200 Israeli citizens live in the West Bank in communities established before the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and re-established after the Six-Day War, and in numerous towns and settlements. All but a few of these were new settlements, established after Israel took control following the Six-Day War in 1967, and assisted in their development by government funding and military protection. This number does not include Israelis in “East Jerusalem”, which was captured by Jordan in 1948, and annexed by it from 1950 to 1967. About 7,500 Israelis live in communities built in the Gaza Strip.  Articles related to Arab-Jewish relations Immigration to Israel Anti-Semitism New Anti-Semitism Jewish refugees Balfour Declaration 1917 1922 Text: League of Nations Palestine Mandate 1978 Camp David Peace Accords between Egypt and Israel 1993 Oslo Peace Accords between Palestinians and Israel Camp David 2000 Summit between Palestinians and Israel Proposals for a Palestinian state Arab-Israeli conflict List of conflicts in the Middle East Israeli Security Forces Land of Israel Ancient kingdom of Israel Culture and religion The first stamps, designed before the new state adopted its name, featured ancient Jewish coins and the text “Hebrew mail” in Hebrew and Arabic languagesMain article: Culture of Israel Archaeology of Israel Music of Israel List of Israeli artists Science and technology in Israel Hatikva, the National anthem of Israel Judaism in Israel
Unique Israeli communal farms, see Kibbutz