News Highlights November 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.
The official ceremony was attended by The President of Israel, Members of Parliament, senior officers of the Defense Force and leading figures from the business community.
In recognition of the importance of kibbutzim in Israeli society, four thousand schools will study the facts outlining the first hundred years since the establishment of the first kibbutz.
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.
Chinese Jewish Annual Scholarships
The highlight of the awards event was the announcement of several academic scholarships for Chinese students studying at institutions of higher learning in Israel and as well as many scholarships for Israeli children of former China residents.
The annual presentation of academic scholarships of the Association of Chinese Immigrants began 15 years ago. The scholarships are funded by donations from private individuals as well as from the Chinese Embassy in Israel.
The Association of Former Residents of China was founded in Israel in 1951after the largest Chinese Aliyah.
Among former Chinese residents was Dr. Jacob Rosenfeld who was in the Provisional Communist Military Government of China under Mao Zedong in 1947 and was also known as General Luo.
The annual event was a well attended and included Chinese government officials.
In an effort to slow global warming Israel is about to introduce thousands of electric vehicles onto its roads. These vehicles will assist in reducing the amount of carbon emissions.
The introduction of the electric vehicles coincides with the latest round of international meetings to discuss global warming. These meetings cover many topics, including reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the obligations of the developed and developing countries.
In Israel we seem to think that we are the only people in the world suffering from a climate that appears to have gone crazy. The huge and disastrous blaze that occurred in the Carmel mountain area after a long dry period with high temperatures served to illustrate this point as Israel found itself unable to cope with the disaster and had to ask for international assistance.
A Venezuelan representative told how her country had suffered this year from huge floods, which drove hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Burundi delegates told of serious drought, as did many other representatives from Africa and South America. The climate changes these and other countries are experiencing make KKL-JNF's upcoming presentation on afforestation and agriculture in semi-arid and arid regions especially relevant, along with Israel's achievements in the fields of water conservation.
Countries need to make a comprehensive commitment to continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent dangerous warming of over 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius above the annual average.
The Israeli Housing Market
Demand for the purchase of new apartments on a national level continued to grow in the first seven months of the year compared with the same period in 2009, according to the survey published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics and the Housing and Construction Ministry.
The survey also showed that the number of available new homes for sale is continuing to decline. Figures show that the supply of new homes in private construction for sale has been falling steadily over the past four years from a level of around 14,000 homes at the beginning of 2006 to just over 9,000 at the end of July 2010.
Cities and areas in outlying places in Israel, including kibbutzim, are continuing to attract the interest of home buyers as Israel real estate prices in traditional demand areas such as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have been very high and the supply of new homes has been decreasing.
Demand for the purchase of new homes in the southern region of the country increased by nearly 50 percent from the beginning of the year until the end of July compared with the same period last year. Another popular area of interest by home buyers was the Haifa region where demand for the purchase of new dwellings has risen by 21 percent in the first seven months of the year compared with the corresponding period of 2009.
Israeli housing prices have increased by some 51 percent since 2007. There is a feeling that the housing market is threatening economic stability, with the government and the Bank of Israel taking steps aimed at cooling the overheated property market.
The latest evidence of concern regarding the possible impact of the real estate market on the economy came with the announcement of measures by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week aimed at lowering property prices.
Cycling in Israel
Over recent years, cycling has become one of Israel's favorite sports. With the help of its friends worldwide, KKL-JNF has been at the forefront of creating bicycle trails throughout the country. The KKL-JNF pavilion at the "Bikes 2010" fair in Tel Aviv, which took place in November was a major focus of attention.
In addition to improving the quality of life of Israel's citizens, KKL-JNF's bicycle trails project is important because of its environmental impact. The more people ride bikes and the less they drive cars, the more energy will be conserved, in addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. Fighting global warming is high on KKL-JNF's environmental agenda.
KKL-JNF creates bicycling trails with varying degrees of difficulty, including singles and trails suitable for the entire family, throughout Israel. One of our most popular routes is the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem trail, which was created with the help of KKL-JNF Canada.
A new cycling track is under construction next to the kibbutzim in the Megiddo municipal area.
A Treaty with Canada
A twin-site treaty for the promotion of the combined development of two major bird-conservation sites – Lake Hula in Israel and Oak Hammock Marsh in Manitoba – has been signed between KKL-JNF and the government of the Canadian province of Manitoba.
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler declared: “This is an event of far reaching significance. It proves that we share the same values – scientific progress, education for nature conservation and an awareness of the sacred duty incumbent upon us: to protect the world’s natural resources for the sake of future generations.”
The agreement which was signed is designed to formalize cooperation on site development, scientific research, educational activities and management challenges.
“What KKL-JNF is doing here in the Hula Valley is protecting the environment,” said Chairman Efi Stenzler. “It is our duty to ensure that the next generation lives in a pleasant environment.”
Manitoba and Israel are very different from each other. For example, Manitoba has over 100,000 lakes, some of which are larger than the entire State of Israel, while Israel has only one sizable lake: the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The two countries’ bird-conservation sites, however, have significant features in common. Both have been restored after being damaged by human activity, and each is located on one of the world’s two foremost bird migration routes: from Europe to Africa and from North America to South America. A great deal of effort has been invested in educational activities at both sites, and both serve as centers for scientific research.
Over 500 million birds pass over Israel every year. The area serves as a bridge between three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa, and it is a vital way station for the migrating birds.
The site presents complex management challenges and is a model combination of nature, tourism and agriculture, as birds, animals, tourists, visitors and local farmers all share the area around the lake.
The birds also visit the many fish farms on kibbutzim in Israel in search of food and each year present the fish breeders with a major challenge in fighting off the birds on the one hand and letting nature take its course.
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