News Highlights April 2009
The new Israeli government is settling in and enjoying the traditional 100 day grace period.
In the USA President Obama has just completed his first 100 days and has managed to pass several bits of legislation that he promised during his campaign for the presidency.
Israel, the USA and some other countries opted to stay away from the United Nations conference on race relations, known as Durban 2 and held in Geneva. During the speech by The President of Iran, the representatives of many countries walked out in protest as the speaker used the forum to attack Israel instead of addressing the many racial problems in the world. Ironically Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East and affords all its citizens equal rights under its constitution regardless of race, color or creed.
A very worrying problem for the world is the growing strength of the Taliban who wish to take control of Pakistan and impose Sharia law in that country. They have already taken over part of the north of Pakistan and imposed strict Sharia law in that region. The Pakistani government was powerless to stop them and in fact has accepted Taliban control over part of their country. This is very worrisome for the world as countries become concerned about who controls Pakistan's arsenal of nuclear weapons.
The world economic problems still weigh heavily on everyone's minds as countries struggle to turn around their economies. It is now believed that any upturn in the global economy will only happen sometime in 2010.
Israel and the kibbutzim are anxiously waiting for the local economy to level out and eventually commence an upward swing. Notwithstanding the economic difficulties Israeli's took to the forests and other outdoor areas for the traditional Independence Day barbecues.
Some notable news items involving kibbutzim are as follows:
61st Independence Day Celebrations
Israel and the kibbutzim celebrated the 61st anniversary of the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
As usual some military bases were open for visits by the public, who were invited to view military equipment and in some cases to sit in military vehicles.
The vast majority of the population took their cooking utensils and picnic equipment into the nature for the traditional barbecues.
Israel and the kibbutzim face many challenges as we enter the 62nd year of independence.
The youth movement Rehut Zedaka received the Yisra'ela Goldblum prize for the promotion of good relations and equality between Jews and Arabs.
The youth movement was established in 1983 by Jewish and Arab community groups and its headquarters are in Jaffa.
During each year the movement initiates many communal activities and in the past it was awarded the Israel Prize for its annual volunteer program.
Another notable organization is Kol Acher (Another Voice) which is a group led by Rabbi's, Iman's and Priests from Israel's Jewish, Moslem and Christian communities. The group recently entered Gaza and handed school children and adults a symbolic artistic peace fence made of cloth and also distributed humanitarian aid.
Each year Kibbutzim from the Religious Kibbutz Movement host religious youth from the USA who express interest in doing military training in Israel.
During this year two groups of twenty each are expected from the USA and they will be given the opportunity to get a feel for religious kibbutz life, serve in the army and maybe eventually settle in Israel.
Defense Force Officers Course
Forty nine female soldiers recently completed an officer's course in the field of social services for soldiers and the relations between soldiers and their families and with the defense force.
8 of the officers, almost twenty per cent, are from kibbutzim, which is very impressive when one considers that the total kibbutz population is only one and half per cent of Israel's population.
The social problems experienced at this time have increased as many soldiers are experiencing vastly changed economic circumstances at home due to the severe downturn in the economy.
More than 40 kibbutzim opened their doors to families and single persons for the first night Seder.
This was a coordinated effort of the Kibbutz Movement for people who were not invited to a Seder or who did not have the financial means to provide a Seder for their families.
The Seder and transport to and from their homes was provided free of charge by the kibbutzim.
After the Elections
The left and center left wing of the Israeli political spectrum suffered a huge defeat at the recent elections and declined to a total of seventeen seats in the Knesset which is Israel's parliament. The center left party obtained thirteen of these seats in the one hundred and twenty seat parliament. The center left labor party joined the new right wing government.
Kibbutz members traditionally formed the backbone of the left wing Meretz party.
For the first thirty years after Israel gained independence the center left and left wing parties controlled the Israeli parliament and since then their power has gradually declined. During the last thirty years Israel has had largely right wing governments except for two short periods when the center left labor party was briefly in power.
At a recent seminar left wing members licked their wounds and sought ways to revive the party. It was decided to find some common ground in the economic and social fields among several small parties and thereby build a new block with similar interests.
Identifying with Residents in the South
A group of bicycle riders from San Diego recently visited kibbutzim, moshavim and towns in the border areas near Gaza, as an act of solidarity, after their long suffering from barrages of rockets.
The Jewish Federation of San Diego in the USA has strong cultural, educational, religious and sporting ties with the residents of the affected areas in the Negev desert. They also run student and other exchange programs.
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