VFI News January 3, 2020

New Decade Opens With Israel’s Population at 9,136,000

 “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.” Ps. 131:3

On Tues. 31 Dec. 2019, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), Israel's population stood at 9,136,000. In the past year, Israel’s population grew by 1.9%. Approximately 6,772,000 Israelis identify as Jews - or 74.1% of the entire population - and 1,916,000 as Arabs - 21%. A total of 177,000 babies were born during 2019, and 34,000 people immigrated to the country under the Law of Return. The Jewish Israeli women's fertility rate (3.05) exceeded that of Arab Israelis (3.04) for the first time, reported the CBS on Tuesday. In 2019, 177,000 babies were born in Israel - 74% to Jewish women and 23.2% to Arabs. According to CBS calculations, Israel's population will top 10 million people by the end of 2024. (VFI)

Thank you, dear Lord, for the increase of your people in Israel during 2019. “Do good in your good pleasure to Zion; build the walls of Jerusalem.” Ps. 51:18

Israel Breaks Its Tourism Records in 2019

Some 4.55 million tourists visited Israel in 2019, the Tourism Ministry announced on the eve of 2020. Visitor entries increased by 11% compared to 4,120,800 in 2018. The foremost starting places for visitors were the USA (890,000), France (338,200), Russia (296,000), Germany (268,900) and Britain (218,700). In a whopping 51% increase from 2018, some 144,400 visitors arrived from China last year. (VFI News)

“Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.’” Isa. 2:3

Leviathan Natural Gas Field Starts Flowing For 2020

Leviathan offshore natural gas field is the largest energy project in Israel's history. Its resources began flowing on Tues. 31 Dec. 2019, hours ahead of the new decade.  Yossi Abu, CEO of Delek Drilling LP, said, "For the first time since its establishment, Israel is now an energy powerhouse, able to supply all its energy needs and gaining energy independence. At the same time, we will be exporting natural gas to Israel's neighbors, Egypt and Jordan, thus strengthening Israel's position in the region." The Leviathan field holds some 22 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas. The gas supply will enable Israel to phase out expensive and polluting imported coal for generating electricity. The Leviathan site is located in the Mediterranean Sea 77 miles west of Haifa. (VFI News)

“My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory.” Phil. 4:19

Most Israelis Say They Like Their Jobs - But….

Close to 90% of Israelis claim they are happy with their jobs and lives, though nearly a third live in debt. The numbers don't tally. Some 21% of employed Israelis manage to end the month in the black, while 51% just manage to cover their monthly expenses. The new survey, published this week by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reveals also that 22% of the same population live in debt most or all of their lives, and another 5% do not manage to cover their monthly expenses at all. Fifteen percent of respondents felt they were poor in the past five years, and 10% felt they were poor within the past year. Just 14% of employed Israelis are "very happy" with their work-life balance. Another 47% say they are "happy" with it, while 28% say they are not happy and 11% are not at all happy with their work-life balance. Meanwhile, even though just 60% of Israelis are happy with their salaries, 88% of Israelis are satisfied with their jobs, and 89% are happy with their lives. Among those Israelis unhappy with their salaries are social workers and teachers (including preschool teachers), over 90% of whom are happy in their jobs but just 41%-51%, respectively, are happy with their salaries. The survey also showed that 55% of employers offer full compensation for sick days, while 86% offer full compensation for vacation days. (VFI News/Arutz-7)

Poverty Increases In Israel

While Israel has enjoyed much increase in 2019, end of the year poverty figures reveal that some 2.3 million Israelis, including one million children, live beneath the poverty line. Additionally, child poverty has climbed by two percentage points, from 27.1% to 29.1%. Poverty among the elderly also increased, from 17.2% to 18.8%. The report also found that nearly one-fifth of Israelis, over 1.6 million people suffer from food insecurity, a 2-point increase over the previous year. It warned that those trends will likely increase again this year and accused the government of “a continued policy that forsakes a quarter of Israeli citizens and a third of its children.” Vered Windman, executive director of the Israel National Council for the Child, said the report showed the failure of the government’s economic and social policies. She also blamed the lack of a functioning government over the past year amid repeated elections. “There must be a dramatic change in Israel’s socioeconomic policy which dooms almost one in three children to lacking health, education, and welfare and harms their human dignity.” She warned that such disparities “will have far-reaching social consequences in the future.” The latest children’s poverty rates place Israel as second to the highest in the OECD, countries with only Turkey ranking higher.  The poverty line in Israel is defined as an income of NIS 3,593 ($1,040) a month for singles and NIS 5,750 ($1,664) for couples. The poverty crisis is compounded by the fact that the cost of living in Israel is among the highest of developed nations. (VFI News)

Please continue to help us at VFI to ease the very real hurt and distress of poverty in Israel.  Strained government budgets are due in part to Israel’s high-security needs. Additionally, the allocation of funds for welfare programs are presently being stalled and impacted by the ongoing lack of a functioning government and the high cost of repeated elections.  We at VFI continue to be deeply concerned for, and dedicated to, assisting underprivileged children, the elderly and entire families who are beloved of the Lord. Please continue to enable us to be expressions of His heart and hands. We need and appreciate your donations at: www.visionforisrael.com. “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” Prov. 19: 17

Israelis Coping With Addiction

The latest national public health survey in Israel conducted among adults aged 18–65 reported that 27% of the population used cannabis and 2% other illegal drugs in the past year, with 0.25% reporting heroin use during this period. The Ministry of Labor and Welfare, this week, published the statistics on numbers of Israelis treated for addiction in recent months. The data show that 15,067 people were treated in the treatment centers and communities (11,850 men and 3,217 women). Numbers increased slightly over those from previous years. The most common addictions were to alcohol, cannabis, opiates such as heroin and morphine, cocaine and cheap stimulants. In Israel, the attitude of the establishment and the general public has softened somewhat in recent years regarding the approach to drug use, especially the use of cannabis. On the legal level, the war on drugs policy continues.  In reality, however, criminal indictments and penalties have been focused on drug dealers and less on users. In April 2019, Israel officially decriminalized the adult use of cannabis. (VFI News)

Pray for Israelis to increasingly discover the balm to emotional pain and distress that comes with a relationship to the God of Israel. He promises peace and strength and comfort to His people. “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’ He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Ps. 91:1-2, 4

‘Corner Of God’s Altar’ Among Top Archaeology Finds In 2019

A horn that was discovered in the town of Shiloh during August 2019 by a team of 200 archaeologists and volunteers won second place on the 2019 list of the Top Ten Discoveries in Biblical Archaeology. The horn is believed to be one of the four corners of God's ancient altar, as described in the biblical book of Kings: "When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah although not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar," reads the passage in 1 Kings 2:28. The tabernacle housing the Ark of the Covenant once stood in the area of Shiloh, according to the biblical account. Binyamin Council head, Israel Gantz, congratulated the archaeological team members for their discoveries and achievements. “Such important findings, give us, again and again, a clear proof of the roots of the Jewish people in our promised land," said Gantz. (VFI News)

“Your servants take pleasure in her stones, and show favor to her dust.” Ps. 102:14