News Highlights August 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.

As part of the celebrations the kibbutzim have organized a treasure hunt and thousands of people are active in searching for the treasure, especially as there are big prizes on offer including a new car and air tickets for a journey around the world.

On the cultural front the orchestras of the Kibbutz Movement and the city of Netanya have announced a cooperation.  

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.

Regional Cooperation

Youth cricket was introduced into Israel three years ago and the under 15 team recently won the silver medal at a competition in Europe. The game has attracted youth from Ethiopian, Morrocan, Russian and Israeli born families.

Recently the Cricket for Change organization visited Israel and brought the game of cricket to areas of high unemployment in the Negev Desert where Jews and Arabs live in poverty. Mixed Jewish and Arab teams of children have started to play regular games and a league has been set up in the South of Israel.

Members of the Cricket for Change organization have travelled to several countries especially those with cultural conflicts. The organization intends to return to Israel in 2011 to start a cricket league in Jerusalem for mixed Israeli and Palestinian teams.

Girls and boys play cricket in Israel and there are mixed boys' and girls' teams.

Tel Aviv in Top Ten

National Geographic has named its top ten beach cities in the world and Tel Aviv has been included on this occasion. It joins other famous cities in the world such as Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.

Tel Aviv attracted approximately three million tourists during the year of the evaluation and its thirteen kilometers of beach was singled out as a special attraction together with its 24/7 night life. Tel Aviv is known as the city that never sleeps and offers people from all walks of life a vast choice of rich cultural and entertainment activities.

The friendly people, good vibes and relative security even at night has made Tel Aviv a city that people from all over the world like to return to, so that they can partake in what this vibrant city has to offer.

There was one criticism of the beaches and this concerned cleaniness.Now a country wide program has invited 2,500 volunteers to assist with cleaning Israel's Mediterranean coastline.

Absorption of new members on Kibbutzim

During the past year approximately 1,500 people have become members of Israeli's 270 kibbutzim. Kibbutz Afikim in the Jordan Valley attracted the most members, namely 93, thereby increasing its membership to 480.

During the past three years many kibbutzim have actively tried to attract potential members for their kibbutzim. Each potential member has a waiting period of up to two years so that kibbutz members can get to know each one in order to take the correct decision when voting to accept (or not) the potential new member.

The absorption program has assisted in increasing the population of the kibbutzim to 126,000, up 11,000 when compared to 2005.

The total population of the kibbutzim is only 1.7% of Israel's total population but the kibbutzim contribute more than 8% of Israel's economy.

The Creation of the Universe

Leading world physicist Stephen Hawking ruffled the feathers of religious leaders when he claimed that God did not create the Universe. Professor Hawking has stated that the universe created itself and continues to expand and create.

British religious leaders immediately challenged Hawking.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain and the Chairman of the Muslim Council in Britain all responded to Professor Hawking's claims.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: "Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation ... The Bible simply isn't interested in how the Universe came into being."

Hawking argues, if there are untold numbers of planets in the galaxy any form of intelligent life that evolves anywhere will automatically find that it lives somewhere suitable for it.

Hawking's book is an attempt to answer the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything," 

 Christian Zionists

Christians United for Israel (CUFI) started out in 2006 in the USA with 400 members and now has close to half a million.

At their gatherings they dance the Horah, sing Hatikvah and Hebrew songs.

The purpose of the group is to give “every pro-Israel Christian and Christian church the opportunity to stand up and speak up for Israel. The group's leader stated that Israel is a tiny outpost of freedom and democracy in a sea of tyranny.

Since 2006, CUFI has held hundreds of events in the USA, raising $43 million for humanitarian work (including that of Migdal Ohr in Galilee which serves disadvantaged youth and the Kiryat Yam absorption center for Ethiopian Jews) and inspiring Christian support for Israel. A Pastor in Florida explained that thousands have rediscovered the “Judeo part of our faith.” He recalled a night for Israel that raised money for flak jackets to protect IDF troops and a night that bought a bomb shelter for residents of Sderot, the small town on the receiving end of rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza.

Peace Talks

Israelis and Palestinians are at the negotiating table again with new euphoria and hope that just maybe this time some kind of peace agreement can be worked out.

The complexity of the geography of the region with the center of Israel narrower than the width of Jerusalem and two Palestinian territories on either side of Israel run by vastly different political groups poses a real challenge.

Many in the region believe that any major breakthrough in the talks could just bring all main Palestinian factions to the negotiating table. On the other side of the coin the Israeli government has to walk a tightrope regarding the drawing of boundaries and the future of any settlements that fall outside Israeli's agreed borders.

Nevertheless where there is an element of hope, however small, an effort must be made to try and find a reasonable solution to the long standing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

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