News Highlights January 2010
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.
Kibbutzim and Privatization
At the end of 2009 some seventy two percent (188 kibbutzim) operated as privatized villages where everyone lives according to his or her means. Only twenty five percent of all kibbutzim have retained a mostly communal structure and three per cent have decided on mixture of both.
Nearly a third of the communal kibbutzim now operate a system whereby members can do extra work and keep the money for themselves.
At present an additional twelve kibbutzim are debating the subject of privatization.
Many of the old style communal kibbutzim are grappling with the problem of an aging population as they struggle to attract young members.
Israeli Government in Berlin
The Israeli government convened in the former capital of Nazi Germany for a joint session of the German and Israeli cabinets, as ties between Germany and Israel were further strengthened by virtue of the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The event also marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp by the Soviet Army.
The German and Israeli governments reminded the world that a new danger to the world is flexing its muscles. The speakers stressed that the world cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran that is ruled by extremists, who wish to threaten the stability of the world and who have announced their intention to wipe Israel off the map of the world.
Trade with Iran
Officially trade between Israel and Iran is illegal with high penalties and even jail for any offenders. However trade continues unofficially and often the third parties who represent either Israeli or Iranian businesses are not aware that they are doing business with a so called enemy country.
A good example is the recent purchase by the Teheran Chamber of Commerce of an Israeli computer program for website management. The deal was concluded between the Israeli company's Belgian representative and the Teheran chamber of Commerce's Dutch representative. As soon as the real parties were disclosed The Teheran Chamber of Commerce denied having bought an Israeli program.
Another example was the sudden delay in completing the new Khomeini International Airport in Teheran when to their horror the Iranians found out that they had actually bought some Israeli products for the project.
NATO buys the Heron UAV
The severe difficulties being faced by NATO countries in their war in Afghanistan prompted them to turn to Israel for high tech solutions.
The discussions resulted in an agreement to buy Israel's Heron unmanned aerial vehicles which can stay airborne for up to 30 hours and fly at altitudes of up to10 kilometers.
Germany became the fifth country to operate the Herons after Australia, Spain, France and Canada.
The Iranian Threat
Tension in the world is mounting as Iran continues to threaten the world that it will become a nuclear power soon and also continues to outwardly threaten Israel with extermination. Just 65 years after the defeat of Hitler a new threat to Jewish existence has raised its ugly head.
Israel has taken these threats seriously and with the permission of the Egyptian Government nuclear submarines and warships of the Israeli Navy now regularly pass through the Suez Canal to conduct exercises.
The world is making another attempt to confront Iran on the diplomatic front and exhaust all peaceful avenues in order to avoid any military confrontation between Iran and other countries.
Haiti – Israel's Contribution
Several transport and regular passenger planes left Israel for Haiti during the first two weeks after the massive earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people.
Speed was of the essence and the first field hospital to operate in Haiti was that of the Israel Army. The hospital became the largest and best equipped in the whole of Haiti during those two weeks after the quake struck. The hospital was equipped with operating theaters, an X-ray department and a laboratory. Forty doctors and fifty nurses and many supporting medical staff worked around the clock as numerous badly injured persons were brought to the hospital. The hospital also opened a maternity ward as all other hospitals in the area were destroyed by the quake.
Many other rescue teams were flown in from Israel and assisted with pulling people from the destroyed buildings. Some of these rescue teams were from kibbutzim.
A member of a kibbutz was recently granted a sum of money by a British humanitarian fund to continue his humanitarian activities in the Palestinian territories. He has decided to use the money to build a public park for the benefit of Palestinian residents from villages in the area.
Many Israeli organizations operate in the Palestinian areas offering a hand of peace and assistance with community projects and there are also joint Israeli-Palestinian projects for the benefit of all in the area.
Some of these organizations also undertake sterling work in defusing the obvious tensions that exist between Israelis and Palestinians.
Winter Olympics 2010
More than 80 countries will compete for the medals at this year's Winter Olympics in Vancouver Canada.
The Olympics is a shining example of how countries can come together in the sporting arena and leave behind all their political and cultural differences.
Israel too will be represented with a small contingent who will compete in the ice skating and in the giant slalom and slalom events.
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