News Highlights May 2009


Pope Benedict 16's first official visit to Israel was welcomed by the Catholic community in the country as he celebrated Mass in Nazareth.

The Pope, who was forced by the Nazi's to belong to their youth movement, reminded the world that they must not forget the atrocities of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust which wiped out one third of the Jewish population of the world, some six million men, women and children. The Pope laid a wreath at Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. 

President Obama's much publicized June visit to the Middle East and Moslem world and his attempt to change the world order towards more cooperation between the West and the Moslem world has been welcomed by many countries. The results of the intended visit will be monitored after the visit takes place. Israel was not included on the President's itinerary.

Israel and other countries in the Middle East are awaiting the results of the Lebanese and Iranian elections which are due to take place in June.    

Some other notable news items involving Israel and the kibbutzim are as follows:

 10th Anniversary  – The KM Website

The Kibbutz Movement (KM) celebrated the tenth anniversary of the establishment of its website which was created to provide information for the more than 270 kibbutzim in Israel.

It was believed that the kibbutzim faced several similar problems and that the website would provide an update on subjects of joint interest.

The website has developed into a very useful source of information for kibbutzim and includes information in the areas of education, culture, economics, agriculture, details of individual kibbutzim and general subjects of joint interest including debates on the changing face of the kibbutzim. The site also includes details of the Kibbutz Movement's organizational structure. There are various other forums including job vacancies and dating services. On line newspapers relating to kibbutz matters are also included.

Regional Cooperation

Mayors of cities and towns from Israel and the Palestinian Authority met in Israel to discuss the worsening water situation in both Israel and Palestine. The joint Israeli and Palestinian seminar was held under the umbrella of the Middle Eastern branch of the global Friends of the Earth organization.

The representatives discussed ways of saving water, the problems of pollution and especially the joint sources of water. Several ideas were put forward to deal with the treatment of waste water.

The participants also visited projects in Israel which are part of the "Water and Good Neighbors" program between Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

Against Racism

Several organizations joined hands for a special project against racism.

Fifty places in Israel were identified where racist graffiti exists.

The participants in the program decided on a particular date to eliminate the racist graffiti and during the course of that day all the chosen places were cleaned and the racism graffiti removed.

The organizers of the project stated that the Israeli Declaration of Independence clearly states that all citizens will be given equal rights regardless of race, color or religion. It was further stated that the action was taken to eliminate obvious acts of racism.

Summer Camps

The kibbutz movement together with the Ilan organization for physically handicapped children will hold summer camps on 25 kibbutzim for approximately 500 children.

The children will come from towns and kibbutzim and will enjoy a week of various activities and challenges.

Kibbutzim not participating in 2009 have been invited to witness the summer camps and get a feeling for what they can do in the future.

The Economic Downturn

The economic downturn has taken its toll on many companies, small businesses and kibbutzim and the rate of national unemployment has again risen to more uncomfortable heights.

The Kibbutz Movement has found itself in a position where it has  to look at its finances in a tough economic climate.

The KM reluctantly decided on across the board budget cuts, which will partially affect the KM's level of activities in many fields.

However, it is firmly believed that the leaner KM will still operate at a high level and meet the challenges of the future.

The Australian Institute of Peace

The Institute published its 2009 list of 144 countries from the most peaceful to the most dangerous.

The index used by the Institute is based on 23 factors and includes the degree of democracy, civil rights, wars and crime rates.

New Zealand was voted as the safest country in the world while Israel, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan were classified as the most dangerous countries in the world.

One wonders about the logic and thinking of the members of the Australian Institute of Peace, who consider that Israel is as dangerous as the war torn countries of Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Any visitor to Israel will tell you that the above index is very far from the truth.

The reality is that Israel is a relatively safe country by world standards and is the most democratic country in the Middle East.

 Israel has a strong economy and is well respected in the world for its contribution in the fields of medicine, high tech and agriculture. Also all citizens are respected and are granted equal rights under the constitution regardless of race, color or religion.


The Israeli national team attended a Taekwondo contest in Sweden notwithstanding violent threats suggesting that the team was not welcome.

The Israeli team was not listed on the competitors list as the organizers feared a violent confrontation with anti-Israel demonstrators.

Notwithstanding the pressure from the threats, a member of the team managed to take first place in his weight category.

Team members proudly sang the national anthem "Hatikva" as the Israeli flag was raised for the winner of the gold medal.

Overseas readers are invited to provide us with feedback regarding our monthly news bulletins -