News Highlights December 2009


The First 100 Years
During Succoth 2009 Kibbutz Degania, the first kibbutz in Israel, starting planning for the centenary celebrations. The year 2010 is the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the first kibbutz in Israel.
Several events and activities will be held throughout Israel to celebrate this very important milestone.
The various celebrations will bring esteem to the more than 250 kibbutzim spread out throughout Israel.

150th Anniversary
It is fitting that another significant celebration will take place in 2010, namely the 150th anniversary of the birth of the father of modern Zionism. Theodore Herzl was a great visionary and wrote about his vision of the modern State of Israel. His book" Der Judenstaat" (The Jewish State) was translated into English in 1896 and was a statement to the world about his vision of a Jewish state. Herzl also established The World Zionist Congress and was its president until his untimely death in 1904 in Austria.
In his will Herzl stated that he wished his remains to be taken to Israel by the Jewish people. In 1949 according to his wish, Herzl's remains were taken from Austria to Israel and he was reburied on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.


70 Years Ago
A relatively unknown event took place during Britain's battle with Nazi Germany. The year 2010 is the 70th anniversary of the sailing of HMT Dunera on its 57 day journey from Liverpool to Sydney. Britain believed that they had on board more than two thousand German agents who entered Britain to plan the invasion of The British Isles. These prisoners were triumphantly banished to a prison camp in Australia.
Indeed there were some Nazis on board but more than 90% of the prisoners were German Jews who escaped to Britain from the atrocities of Nazi Germany.
The Nazi's and the Jewish refugees were imprisoned in Australia for one and half years until the British Government realized its terrible mistake of earmarking Jewish refugees as Nazi spies.
Seventy of the Jewish refugees were in fact members of the Kibbutz Movement who fled Germany and were on their way to Israel when they were arrested by the British. One person from the group who still lives on a kibbutz recently published a book of his experiences during the long trip to and from Australia and the internment in Australia.

The Israel - Lebanon Hummus Conflict
During the past year tension has risen between Israel and Lebanon surrounding claims to the traditional chick peas dish known as Hummus.
Lebanon accused Israel of calling hummus an Israeli traditional dish and claimed that Israel has hike jacked its national dish which is hummus.
The rivalry is continuing and recently Lebanon broke the Guinness book of records by creating the largest dish of hummus.
Israeli's were furious and vowed to break the world record in early January.
A representative from The Guinness book of records was invited to Israel to witness the largest plate of hummus ever made. The Israel's have hired a huge satellite dish that will hold more than four tons of hummus.
People in the Middle East are waiting with abated breath to see whether the stakes in the conflict or contest will reach even greater heights.

Protective Umbrella
The Israeli Defense Force announced the successful tests of the new protective umbrella against incoming short range rockets.
In recent years the civilian population in the north and south of the country was on the receiving end of thousands of rockets without any protection (other than bomb shelters).
The new system is designed to shoot down short range rockets before they reach populated areas in Israel. This protection is an addition to the new Arrow defense umbrella that was designed for medium and long range missiles that will be shot down before they enter Israeli air space.


Economic improvement
The latest financial reports of Kibbutz companies that are listed on the Stock exchange indicates an improvement in sales and profitability, but still at levels well below those before the onset of the world economic downturn.
The number of kibbutz companies has dramatically decreased from approximately 350 to about 250 but the remaining strong companies are expected to grow and eventually exceed the total performance of the original 350 plus companies.
In fact the annual sales of some Stock Exchange listed kibbutz companies are expected to exceed one billion shekels.

Foreign workers
Over the past ten to fifteen years Israel has become a haven of work for tens of thousands of foreign workers from all corners of the globe including Africa and the Far East.
Although the vast majority of these workers entered the country legitimately, they found it extremely difficult to become members of The Histadrut (The umbrella body for trade unions in Israel).
The Histadrut has now opened its doors to these workers and they can become members and receive rights and protection under the laws of Israel.
The Histadrut also fought for the rights of the approximately 1,200 children born in Israel but whose parents are illegal immigrants. The Israeli house of Parliament "The Knesset "voted overwhelmingly to grant these children Israeli citizenship.

Sex Education
Israel's first sex museum has opened at a kibbutz and is the brainchild of an 81 year old experienced sex educator.
 In an interview the great grandmother of four great grandchildren said this project is a fitting culmination of her many years as a sex educator of youth.
The idea of a sex museum usually floods the brain with all sides of human imagination, but the museum is meant to educate people on the subject of sex seen through the eyes of an experienced sex educator.

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