Israel Briefs: Homophobic Incidents on Rise in Israel and More

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Homophobic Incidents on Rise in Israel

A new report said homophobic incidents reported in Israel climbed 54 percent in 2018, according to JTA.

The report by the Nir Katz Center on LGBT-phobia counted 821 incidents of harassment or abuse against the LGBTQ community in 2018; that compares with 533 incidents in 2017.

The sixth annual report said harassment or abuse incidents against LGBTQ community members occur roughly every 10 hours in Israel. Hateful social media toward the LGBTQ community appears online every four minutes.

Association for LGBTQ Equality Chair Chen Arieli told Israeli President Reuben Rivlin that the biggest problem was “the need to raise consciousness about the need to report. The number of reported incidents has gone up, but it is still a drop in the ocean compared to the real number of events. Only by raising consciousness and by dealing with incidents professionally can we improve our society.”

Chinese Investments in Israel Worry Security Officials

American and Israeli officials are concerned about Chinese investments in Israeli technology firms, JNS.org reported.

Those concerns stem from Chinese activity into companies that provide artificial intelligence and drones — products with both military and commercial uses. JNS.org said officials also worry about China discovering U.S. secrets through Israeli firms and possibly sending Israeli technology specifics to Iran.

In response, Israel is forming an interagency organization to oversee delicate commercial agreements involving foreign businesses. Officials said it would be comparable to the U.S.’s Committee on Foreign Investment.

China has responded to the criticisms, with Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying contending in January that the United States “has been abusing ‘national security’ to smear and strike down normal business activities of Chinese enterprises.”

Adversaries to Join Russian-led Free Trade Agreement

Israel and Iran are both expected to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) — although the adversaries won’t be able to trade with each, JNS.org reported.

Each country will sign its own free trade accord with the bloc.

A spokesperson for the Economy Ministry told The Times of Israel on Feb. 11 that Israel began negotiating with the EAU in April.

“The agreement will cover various aspects of trade in goods, such as rules of origin, customs cooperation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, e-commerce, dispute settlement and others,” the spokesperson said.

Venezuela Interim President Juan GuiadoWants Israeli Ties Renewed, Seeks Aid

Interim Venezuela president Juan Guiado said the process of stabilizing relations with Israel is ongoing, according to JTA.

“It is very important for us. We will renew ties, later we will announce the appointment of an ambassador to Israel, and we really hope an ambassador from Israel will come to us.”

Guiado told Israel Hayom that he was hopeful Israel will send humanitarian aid to Venezuela.

Venezuela is in a tumultuous state these days, with Guiado, the president of the National Assembly of Venezuela, calling himself the country’s interim president last month. He called on President Nicolas Maduro to authorize new elections, calling Maduro’s election last year a fraud. The country’s military still supports Maduro.

About 6,000 Jews live in Venezuela.

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