Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Behind the Headlines: Facts and Figures – Islam in Israel

“The State of Israel…will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.” –Israel’s Declaration of Independence, 1948 (Statistics from 2017).

Freedom of religion is a core value of the Israeli democracy

•    Israel is home to 1,454,000 Muslim citizens who enjoy full civil liberty and political freedom.

•    Hebrew and Arabic are the official languages of the State of Israel.

•    Most Arab citizens of Israel are Muslims, mainly Sunnis. Other branches of Islam in Israel include: Shia, Alawite, Ahmadiyeh, Sufi and Shazaliyeh. Islam is the second biggest religion in Israel after Judaism.

•    Jews account for 75.4 percent of the population, Muslims make up 16.9 percent, Christians 2.10 percent, Druze 1.70 percent and the rest of the population identifies otherwise, including a small Baha’i community.

Religious affiliation in Israel

•    The Muslim population of Israel has increased about ten-fold since the State was established; from some 156,000 in 1949 to over 1,454,000 today.

Muslim Population Growth

•    There are over 400 mosques in Israel, of which some 73 are located in Jerusalem. The number of mosques in Israel has increased about five-fold since 1988, when there were 80 mosques.

•    Approximately 300 imams and muezzins receive their salaries from the Israeli government. Israel provides the Korans used in mosques and funds Arab schools and many Islamic schools and colleges. Such schools teach Islamic studies and Arabic, as well as the Israel Ministry of Education’s general curriculum.

•    In 2015, the Israeli government approved a 10-15 billion NIS budget (about 2.6-4 billion USD) for a five-year plan to develop the Arab sector in Israel.

•    The Muslim community regulates its own unique court system and handles marriage and divorce under Islamic law. Eight regional Islamic law courts and one national appeals court operate in Israel, under the supervision of Israel’s Ministry of Justice.

•    Muslims are highly involved in Israeli academia, with some 26,000 Muslim students enrolled in Israeli academic institutions. In 2014, about 21 percent of the undergraduate students at the prestigious Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa were Arabs, up from 11 percent in 2001. This is roughly the same proportion of Arabs as in Israel’s overall population of 8.3 million.

•    Some Muslims also serve in the Israel Defense Forces; approximately 1,700 Muslims served in 2015, mostly from Bedouin tribes.

•    Most of Israel’s Muslim citizens, some 69 percent, live in the northern part of the country, i.e. the Galilee and Haifa. About 20 percent live in and around Jerusalem and 11 percent of Israel’s Muslims are Bedouins that live mostly in the south of Israel, near Be’er Sheva in the Negev.

•    Each year the Jerusalem municipality decorates the streets of the city in celebration of the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, and hosts dozens of festivities and events for the public.

•    The municipality also marks the holiday with a traditional ceremony in which a shot is fired from a historical cannon in East Jerusalem each day at sunrise and sunset to mark the beginning and end of the daily fast.

•    Muslim employees can take days off work during Ramadan, and working conditions are tailored to their needs while fasting during the month. The Israel Defense Forces also adjust Muslim soldiers’ training regimes during the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan Lights in Jerusalem, 2016

•    The Museum for Islamic Art in Jerusalem contains one of the most impressive archives of Islamic art in the world, while the Islamic Museum on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem boasts 600 copies of the Koran from various periods.

The Museum of Islamic Art in Jerusalem

•    The umbrella organization Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, or ICCI, has for nearly three decades run programs that foster dialogue, education and mutual understanding among various members of the religious communities in Israel. It is comprised of over 70 Muslim, Christian, and Jewish institutions, including Jewish-Arab coexistence organizations, universities, museums, and various ecumenical organizations.

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Hair Cut only Once a Year

by Steve Ray on May 8, 2019

999-269David had a very handsome son. His name was Absalom and he betrayed his father the king and led a rebellion against him. The Bible says that Absalom was “beautiful“ and he only cut his hair once a year. Here is what the Bible says about him:

Now in all Israel there was no one so much to be praised for his beauty as Absalom; from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head there was no blemish in him. And when he cut the hair of his head (for at the end of every year he used to cut it; when it was heavy on him, he cut it), he weighed the hair of his head, two hundred shekels by the king’s weight” (2 Sam 14:25-26).

The pile of hair left on the floor each year, after Absalom’s haircut, weighed 200 shekels. How much is 200 shekels? It is an amazing 4.4 pounds!

Now, do you remember how Absalom died in his fight against his father, King David?

absalom

Absalom was riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and his head caught fast in the oak, and he was left hanging [presumably by his hair] between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on….

“Joab said, “I will not waste time like this with you.” And he took three darts in his hand, and thrust them into the heart of Absalom, while he was still alive in the oak. And ten young men, Joab’s armor-bearers, surrounded Absalom and struck him, and killed him” (2 Sam 18:9, 14-15 ).

What was Absalom thinking about as he was hanging between heaven and earth?  I have to believe he was wishing he’d gotten his hair cut a bit earlier that year!
And notice, the Scripture says Absalom was left hanging between heaven and earth — almost a implication that the traitor was condemned and unworthy of heaven or earth.
Remember Judas? What did he do to his king, Jesus? And how did Judas die?

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We just arrived in Jerusalem last evening (Wednesday, May 8) and we pick up our sold-out group of excited pilgrims at the airport in Tel Aviv tomorrow which is Israel’s Independence Day. Celebrations have already begun. These are a tough bunch of people and I consider their existence and regaining of their land (Genesis 17) as a major argument for the existence of God (see my article Jews as Proof of God’s Existence and Faithfulness).

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the population of Israel:

The population of Jews around the world just topped 15 million. The population in Israel has topped 9 million for the first time. In 1948 when they proclaimed Israel as a nation there were only 806,000 people in Israel and the global population of Jews was only 11.5 million since so many had been slaughtered by the Nazis. In 1948 only 6% of the world’s Jews lived in Palestine  (as the name was at the time — which, by the way, comes from the word “Philistine.”)

Before the Holocaust, the world population of Jews was about 16.5 million. Today the total is just over 15 million. They have not yet regained their pre-slaughter numbers. Out of the total world population of 15 million Jews, 6,697,000 live in Israel which is 45% of the world Jewish population.

Out of Israel’s 9 million in population 74.2% are Jewish, 20.9% are Arabs and 343,000 are non-Arab Christians or members of other ethnic groups. 75% of the current Jewish population were born here in Israel.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-population-tops-9-million-including-45-of-world-jewry/

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