News Highlights May 2010

 The First 100 years

The year 2010 is the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of Kibbutz Degania, which was the first kibbutz to be established in Israel.

President Shimon Peres opened the official centenary celebrations. Shimon Peres paid tribute to the contribution of the kibbutzim to the development of Israel.

The Jewish community of Istanbul, Turkey also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the first kibbutz. Senior officials of the Kibbutz Movement were present at the ceremony, which attracted 300 members of the community. The Kibbutz movement officials were also invited to a joint Bat Mitzvah ceremony for 48 young girls of the community.

A book will be published during the centenary year highlighting kibbutz life and the contribution of kibbutzim to Israeli society during the first 100 years.

A music album of songs will be published including the most popular songs written by members of kibbutzim.

The kibbutzim formed the backbone of the country before Israel gained independence in 1948 and during the first few years after independence. There was an experienced infrastructure in place because of the kibbutzim and many notable persons from kibbutzim took part in the political and defense organizations as the new state came into being. The kibbutzim were also the bread basket of Israel providing a large percentage of the country's food needs.

The kibbutzim formed a large part of Israel's economy and even today nearly ten per cent of the country's economy is derived from kibbutz enterprises.

A New Middle East

The pot has been boiling for some time now and it is surprising that it took this long for the Fundamentalist Government in Turkey to switch sides from Israel to Iran. The previous secular Turkish Government was very close to Israel both economically and militarily.

The relationship has been cooling for a long time and it just needed a suitable incident for Turkey to launch an all out venomous attack on Israel in all forums of the world community.

Turkey has formed a new alignment with Iran, Syria and Lebanon and is openly supporting fundamentalist movements, like the Hamas who control Gaza and who are not willing to accept Israel's right to exist.

It is just a matter of time before Europe and America will be forced to face this new powerful alignment.  Also Turkey is a member of NATO and has close relations with Europe and the USA. Turkey's application for membership of the European Union may be blocked due to its new alignment with vehement anti-Western countries and organizations.

Turkey has now openly joined Iran, Hamas and the Hezbollah who believe that Israel does not have the right to exist.

50 Years since Eichmann

This year is the 50th anniversary of the capture of Adolf Eichmann who was known as the "Chief Executioner of The Third Reich". He enthusiastically carried out the policy of Adolf Hitler, which was the extermination of the Jewish people. In the eyes of The Third Reich, Jews didn't have the right to exist.

Eichmann was traced to an address in Argentina where Israeli uncover agents positively identified him. He was abducted from his home to stand trial in Jerusalem for crimes against humanity and against the Jewish people, which included the murder of six million Jews.

The world was outraged against the Israeli action and the matter was brought before the United Nations Security Council and Argentina recalled its ambassador to Israel.

Israel's representative at the UN, Mrs. Golda Meir, negotiated with the irate members of the world community and it was agreed that the trial in Jerusalem would be open to the world's press without restrictions.

Eichmann was sentenced to death and although he appealed against his sentence, the Israel Supreme Court upheld the death sentence and Eichmann was hung and his body cremated and the ashes scattered on the Mediterranean outside Israel's international waters.

The Gaza Flotilla

Several ships tried to break through the naval blockade on Gaza.

Among the 700 odd peace activists were about 50 militants from extreme fundamentalist organizations. According to video footage of the incident, Israeli soldiers were attacked by members of this extreme group while the genuine peace activists stood by in awe.

The Un Security Council under the Chairmanship of Lebanon's extreme fundamentalist Hezbollah Government called for an immediate urgent meeting. There was world condemnation of Israel and some countries recalled their ambassadors to Israel.

Military analysts around the world commented on the events and the Officer Commanding British troops in Afghanistan stated that the Israeli soldiers had no choice but to defend themselves. He stated that Israel is not some rogue state but has a genuinely democratically elected government, unlike many totalitarian states in the region.

Israel is surrounded by many nations that do not recognize its right to exist and any country facing such odds would defend itself.

British Colonel Kemp further asked why Israel should be singled out by the world when several allied bombing raids have killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Did anyone call in The UN Security Council and demand an independent inquiry for those incidents? No and there was no outpouring of anger and hate from the world community for the European, American, Asian and Australian troops involved in the ongoing battles in the region.  

Youth Groups visit Israel

Approximately 1,200 youth from the USA and Britain will visit Israel this summer as part of a program organized by the Conservative Movement of World Jewry. They will take part in the program at Kibbutz Hanaton and also meet their Israeli counterparts from the Masorti Movement, which is the equivalent in Israel of the Conservative movement in the Diaspora.

The Conservative Movement in the USA is the largest group of the Jewish population of America and compromises of nearly half of American Jewry.

The Conservation Movement allows people to practice the Jewish religion, including the Halacha without the very strict separation of men and women that is practiced by the Orthodox Movement. Men and women sit together in the Synagogue and women can become Rabbi's and are counted for a Minyan.

Economic News

Dun and Bradstreet reported on the 2009 financial results of the 30 largest kibbutz companies. The results were affected by the problems in the world economy and sales and profit margins were eroded.

The combined sales of the 30 largest companies reached 20 billion shekels. Eight of the corporations manufacture food products, another eight produce plastic products, four manufacture irrigation products and three produce animal feed. The remaining seven companies are involved in various business activities.

Several of the companies are major employers with between 1,000 and 2,000 workers.

Kibbutz companies account for nearly 10% of the Israeli economy.

The fall of the euro has caused serious problems for some companies during 2010 as kibbutz corporations do substantial business with euro zone companies.

Another problem facing the corporations this year is the sudden change of face of the Turkish Government which is expected to impact on some kibbutz companies.

The World Soccer Cup

Sport is often used as a tool for diffusing tensions in the world and many international sporting events allow people from diversely different backgrounds and beliefs to come together in a competitive but peaceful environment.

The gladiators on the sports field vie for the top positions by flexing their muscles and hoping to achieve astonishing results.

The chariots of fire in this international sporting competition are the sportsmen directing a ball with extreme skill from one player to another with the definite aim of scoring a goal and bringing national pride to the nation.

The World Soccer Cup will be contested this summer in Africa for the first time. New names will emerge on the international sports stage as teams vie for the 2010 World Soccer Cup in South Africa.

About a quarter of the world's population will be glued to television screens to witness one of the biggest sporting events the world has to offer.

 

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