The economy in Israel grew at an annualized 4.4% in the fourth quarter of 2009. This is its strongest spurt in nearly two years, while the nation continues its recovery, quickly, from a short downturn.
The Central Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday also left unchanged the third-quarter growth, which was of 3.0% and the full year 2009 estimate that the economy grew 0.5% to NIS 763 billion which is $203 billion.
The economic forecast for 2010 is that we will witness roughly 3.5% growth.
The growth which we saw in the fourth quarter was the highest since the first quarter of 2008, when the economy grew 5.5%.
After contracting an annualized 3.1% in the first quarter on the dawn of the global crisis, Israel’s economy grew 1.2% in the second quarter and 3% in the third quarter.
Also, the per-capita gross domestic product grew 2.4% in the fourth quarter.
The growth in the final three months of last year was fuelled by a 33% surge in exports and a 4.4% rise in consumer spending, the bureau said in its first estimate of fourth-quarter GDP growth.
In addition to this, imports rose 13.8% while investment in fixed assets fell 9.4%.
The haredi world says that their religious rabbinical sensibilities are being manipulated by businessman and politicians on their Internet sites. The skillful manipulation seriously damages the popularity of haredi Internet sites which offer news items, op-eds and talk-backs focusing on internal ultra-Orthodox matters, spiced with multimedia.
Official rabbinic opinion allows surfing the Internet just for business purposes â€“ but itâ€™s a rule that apparently many are willing to break. According to a recently released study by the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2008, 55 % of haredim who own a computer also were connected to Internet â€“ this is compared to a national average of 92%.
“B’Hadarei Haredim”, “Haredim”, and “Kikar Shabbat” are the three biggest haredi sites, but there are smaller sites such as “Ladaat”.
They all dedicate themselves to issues such as new rabbinic decrees, interviews with haredi politicians and coverage of demonstrations.
While the haredi print media tends to deal with what is called “hard news” such as political and diplomatic stories, the haredi Internet sites delve into the depths of internal haredi affairs.
The site “Kikar Shabbat” will be posting an op-ed about the dangers of sending young boys to the mikveh, not from haredi mikveh-goers, but from secular perverts who frequent the baths.
The piece was carefully censored by the site’s editorial staff to take out words like “sex”, “backside” and “deviant”. Still, the topic of child abuse is strictly taboo in the haredi printed media.
Unlike the three daily haredi newspapers – Hamodia, Yated Ne’eman and Hamevaser – Internet sites are not aligned with any political or rabbinic leadership. This freedom, so they have discovered, allows them to be much more critical of rabbis, politicians and other haredi figures.