The Middle East often dominates our headlines – but some newsworthy items are less well known. Take this news quiz to see how up-to-date you are with the latest developments from Israel, its neighbors and beyond!

Rosh Hashanah Violence

In the run-up to Rosh Hashanah, Israel's capital saw violent confrontations between police and often-masked youths. Which of these incidents did not occur during the holiday period?

  1. Alexander Levlovitz, 64, died on his way home from a holiday dinner the first night of Rosh Hashana when his car was pelted with stones in Jerusalem.
  2. Hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah, on September 13 2015, Israeli police discovered a stockpile of pipe bombs, firebombs and rocks in Muslim holy buildings atop the Temple Mount, adjacent to Jerusalem's Western Wall.
  3. Seeking to calm tensions between Muslims and Jews over access to the Temple Mount, Jordan's King Abdullah II appealed for all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from violence.
  4. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas further inflamed tensions, declaring during the crisis that no Jew should be allowed to "dirty" the Temple Mount by visiting the area, the holiest site in Judaism.

(Answer: c. Far from appealing for calm, King Abdullah II met with Israeli Arab lawmakers and urged them to resist sharing access to the Temple Mount.)

European Refugee Crisis

As hundreds of thousands of desperate refugees attempt to reach Europe in the continent's largest crisis since World War II, what are Israelis doing to help?

  1. In a years-old stealth operation, Israeli hospitals have been treating thousands of Syrian casualties – though few have ever heard of the program. That's because Syrians treated in the Jewish state risk violent retaliation if they admit their lives were saved by Israelis. When Syrian patients go back home, Israeli doctors even remove Hebrew lettering and other identifying packaging from drugs and medical devices to help protect those they've treated.
  2. A Rosh Hashanah appeal for canned goods and other food items for Syrian refugees throughout Israel yielded some surprising results, as Israelis donated seven thousand tons of leftover honey cake after the holiday.
  3. Israel has sent teams of aid workers to help refugees streaming into Europe, buying and distributing food, medicine, and offering counseling in Greece, Hungary, Serbia and Croatia.
  4. Far from helping, Israel actually caused the crisis – at least according to one German politician. Albrecht Schroter, mayor of the university town of Jena, has accused Israel of being behind the Syrian refugee crisis – and urged his Government to "take action" against the Jewish state.

(Answer: a, c and d. Although Israelis didn't donate their leftover honey cake, Israelis across the country did rally to donate a crucial item to Syrian refugees: hundreds of Israeli baby slings were distributed to migrants and refugees along the Serbian-Hungarian border in September 2015.)

Saudi Arabia and Human Rights

The United Nations, Amnesty International and other organizations have been busy condemning horrific human rights violations in recent weeks. The UN Human Rights Office announced it had "documented human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international human law" in Yemen, as Saudi Arabia-led airstrikes battle the governing Houthi rebels. Amnesty International also condemned Saudi Arabia, for a "macabre spike" in executions in 2015. (Saudi authorities even had to advertise for 8 new swordsmen to keep up with official beheadings.) On Sept. 16 and 17, 2015, Saudi forces destroyed buildings in the Old City of San'a, Yemen's capital, and a UNESCO world heritage site.

How has the United Nations responded to this and other Saudi Arabian aggression?

  1. By electing Saudi Arabia's UN ambassador to a key post: part of a five-member panel of independent human rights experts on the UN's Human Rights Council.
  2. By censuring Saudi Arabia and removing it from the UN Human Rights Council.
  3. By announcing a special rapporteur to respond to human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
  4. By sending ground forces into Yemen to battle Saudi-led forces and protect Yemen's civilian population from violence.

(Answer: a. While there is no special rapporteur on Saudia Arabia in the UN's Human Rights Council, there is one for Israel – the only permanent rapporteur in the Council.)

Voting in the Gulf

Exciting changes are afoot as democracy spreads in the Arabian Peninsula, albeit slowly. Which statements below are true?

  1. For the first time, Saudi Arabian women will be allowed to vote and stand as candidates in local elections in December 2015.
  2. Kuwait and Qatar have promised to allow members of their governments' Cabinets to be freely elected in 2016.
  3. October 2015 elections in the United Arab Emirates will see the widest enfranchisement in the nation's history, as fully 10% of the population will be able to vote.
  4. Qatar made history in 2015, when for the first time, women – two of them – were voted onto the nation's only elected body, the Central Municipal Council.

(Answer: a, c, and d.)

Israel and Europe

Truth can be stranger than fiction – especially when it comes to Israeli relations with Europe. Which of the following scenarios has not occurred in recent weeks?

  1. Jeremy Corbyn, the popular new leader of Britain's Labour Party, has worried many Israel supporters in Britain by socializing with Holocaust deniers, calling terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah "friends", calling for an arms embargo on Israel and going on the record for supporting academic boycotts of Israeli universities. If the charismatic Corbyn can lead his party to victory in a general election, he could become the next Prime Minister of Britain.
  2. Israeli developers unveiled plans to build a resort for Israeli vacationers – on a rural island in central Finland. In keeping with the undeveloped nature of the island, Finland's newest community is being built without heavy machinery, and with a minimal environmental footprint.
  3. Reykjavik's City Council backtracked on plans to boycott Israeli products – slightly. Two days after announcing it was illegal to sell Israeli products in Iceland's capital, city grandees amended their ruling: some Israeli products can be sold – but only if it can be verified they were not made in occupied territories.
  4. Members of the Spanish group Pallasos en Rebeldia (Clowns in Rebellion) who posed naked and in clown paint in front of a security wall designed to protect Israelis from armed attacks originating in the West Bank, later refused to apologize to Israeli Jews who were offended. Calling their naked clown display an essential expression of free speech, the group insisted they had done nothing wrong.

(Answer: d. The Pallasos en Rebeldia members who posed naked along an Israeli security wall did apologize – after receiving opprobrium and abuse from Muslims who were offended by their actions. After being called "filthy and dishonorable" and an "offence against Islam", the clowns said they "want to apologize publicly to all he Palestinians who could be offended by our action" and explained their nakedness was not meant to be "an attack against Islam".)