News Highlights June 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.

A network of volunteers has been established connecting the tens of thousands who volunteered on kibbutzim. The network will operate through the Internet, Facebook, Foreign Ministry, Student  and Jewish Organizations.

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  

Save the World by Saving Israel

A group of leading personalities, including former Prime Ministers and Presidents from the Christian world have formed an organization to remind the world that the future of Western World countries is directly linked to Israel's future.

The group includes a Prime Minister of Spain and a President of Peru, a US Ambassador to the United Nations, a leading British historian, a leading figure from the Vatican, a President of the Italian Senate and several other world leading figures.

The group states that Israel is a fundamental component of the West and that the West has evolved through its Jewish and Christian roots and that these roots are inseparable. If the Jewish element is lost then the West will be lost.

In their opinion the world is abandoning Israel by nearly always taking the sides of the opposing parties whose declared aim is the destruction of modern Western culture. The group believes that Western countries are making a terrible moral mistake as well as a serious strategic error of the greatest magnitude by backing countries and regimes that have the destruction of western values as their declared aims.

The group states that the glue that binds the members is the total support they have for Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. They oppose the growing world community which wishes to delegitimize Israel and aim for its destruction.

 The Volunteer Program

The Kibbutz Movement's volunteer program is undergoing a revival as another 10 kibbutzim have joined the existing 20 kibbutzim that run volunteer programs. Although this is only a small fraction of the more than 250 kibbutzim it is a step in the right direction.

The volunteers not only come to work on kibbutzim and make their economic and social contributions through their involvement in Israeli society. They are also good ambassadors for Israel.

Over the years since the volunteer program started approximately 400,000 volunteers have worked in kibbutzim enterprises.

About 50,000 have come from Britain and 40,000 from South Africa followed by Sweden, Denmark and Germany who together have provided 60,000.The other volunteers have come from 45  countries  in the world covering all continents.

Several children of former volunteers have themselves become volunteers. More than 1,000 volunteers have made Israel their home and have become kibbutz members.

The Kibbutz Movement has set up an internet network in an effort to connect all former kibbutz volunteers.

 Darfur Refugees Succeed

The continuing civil war in Sudan has created a refugee problem involving tens of thousands of people from the Darfur region. Many refugees were slaughtered by opposing groups in Darfur and this prompted others to try and exit Sudan. Some have tried to reach Israel by crossing the Sinai Desert but several have been shot dead by Egyptian soldiers just before crossing the border into Israel.

The Israeli Government has granted refugee status to some and given them an opportunity to make a new life in Israel.

Three refugees decided to try and open a hummus restaurant in Tel Aviv and after succeeding with their venture they managed to bring some members of their family to Israel.

Although hummus is not the main dish in Sudan it is widely eaten during Ramadan. The refugees tried to produce a menu that appeals to Israelis.

The refugees stated that they will never forget the assistance and new life that Israel gave them. Nevertheless, they all hope for peace in their country and to be able to go back to Darfur.

 Preparation for Army Service

The kibbutz movement together with the Ministry of Defense and youth movements operate a one year program whereby participants are prepared for army service and also undertake several social and cultural programs within the one year period.

The service takes place in peripheral areas and the next intake will include service on three kibbutzim that border the Gaza territory of the Palestinian Authority. These participants are members of a national scout movement.

The program recognizes the huge contribution of the peripheral areas to the security of the country as well as the social and cultural elements.

The kibbutz movement provides the largest group of volunteers for the one year program. The army has provided a budget for up to 3,000 volunteers for the upcoming pre-military service program.

The Israel Defense Force has been the melting pot for the cultural divides in Israel and must also continue the one year youth program to try and stem the dwindling numbers of persons illegible for military service.

 Righteous Among the Nations

Wehrmacht Major Karl Plagge was a member of the Nazi party and an officer in Hitler's army and served in Lithuania. The SS ordered all unproductive Jews in Lithuania to be killed. Major Plagge was in charge of a military service unit and employed as many Jews as possible so that they would not be slaughtered.

Karl Plagge issued certificates for Jews stating that they were skilled (even if they were not) and needed to service the Nazi military machine.

When the SS ordered all Jews to be slaughtered regardless of their papers major Plagge ordered the establishment of a special labor camp where he placed hundreds of Jewish men together with their wives and children. Although SS officers ordered the slaughter of his inmates he managed to save several hundred of them.

Some of the survivors of Plagge's labor camp recently had a reunion meeting in Israel.

Major Karl Plagge was posthumously awarded "Righteous Among the Nations" at a ceremony in Jerusalem by the Yad Vashem Memorial.

 Economic News

During 2008 Israel attracted almost $2 billion of global venture capital, the same amount as attracted by Germany and France together.

Notwithstanding Israel's problems, Israel's share of the global venture capital market has doubled since the high tech bubble burst. Israel's share is now a staggering 31%.

Several kibbutz companies have attracted both foreign and local venture capital and many have expanded and become success stories. After the recent publication of financial results, kibbutz companies listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange declared the payment of millions of dollars in dividends.

Kibbutzim also invest venture capital in other enterprises and a kibbutz in the North of Israel is one of the major investors in the new bond issue of a major Israeli high tech company.

 The World Soccer Cup

The World cup brought together teams from 32 nations in an atmosphere of euphoria, which for many ended in tears as their national heroes fell by the wayside in their quest to advance to the next stage.

The spectators blasted on their Vuvuzelas to create an atmosphere and as much noise as possible but also maybe to keep warm as many games were played at temperatures not far above freezing point. The Vuvuzela (known as a stadium horn in English) is similar to the Cometa used in Brazil and other Latin American countries.

Originally there was a request to stop the use of the Vuvuzelas but FIFA decided to let the tradition roll as tens of thousands of fans sounded their stadium battle horns.

Violence was kept to a minimum as 35,000 security personnel were on hand to control 95,000 fans at the main venue, the massive Soccer City stadium.

Africa had deservedly been given a chance to stage a major world sporting event.


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