News Highlights April 2011

 The First 100 years

The year 2010 was 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.

A reunion will take place in June for all those have volunteered on Kibbutzim throughout the years. More than 300,000 volunteers from all over the world have lived and worked on a Kibbutz.

At the reunion volunteers will once again be among many people of different nationalities, who will share the memories from the past. 

Life on the kibbutzim is changing. About three quarters of all kibbutzim have moved away from the original purely collective style of living whereby all income and resources were shared for the benefit of the whole community.

The majority of today's kibbutzim are more in line with any small town in the country, where each family cares for its own needs and where the local council provides the minimal municipal needs required by the community.


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 established 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.

Israel Joins Top Physics Organization

Israel has been invited to join CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is the world’s largest scientific organization in the field of physics.

The country has therefore received international recognition for its leading contribution to research in general and the CERN project working on the particle accelerator project.

This will enable scientists to observe the extreme energies, mini-black holes and other phenomena that occurred during the first millionths of a second after the Big Bang – the mother of all explosions that led to the creation of the universe.

The ultimate aim of the project is that the findings will help explain the foundations of particle physics, and throw light on the basic forces and building blocks of nature.

Israel’s high level of theoretical and practical know-how – much greater than Israel’s proportionate size – was appreciated at CERN and is responsible for Israel’s recognition as an official member. CERN has even ordered parts from Israeli industry and sent experts to visit on a regular basis. Israel is among the top eight countries, along with scientists from Italy, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the US and the UK.

A Nation Remembers

 A two-minute siren sounded at 10 a.m., calling the country’s citizens to remember the six million Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust.

“Each Jew should see himself as if he or she survived the Holocaust,” Chief of the Israeli armed forces Lieutenant General Benny Gantz said.

President Peres also remembered his own family members, who were massacred together with all members of their community by the Nazis and their local helpers, who gathered the Jews in the wooden synagogue and burned them alive.

“The lives of millions of members of the Jewish nation were cut short by the Holocaust,” said Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni. “Some of the survivors came to Israel, and build new lives in the state of Israel. Their descendants continued to struggle for its existence, at times at the expense of their lives.”

Defense Minister
Ehud Barak  referred to the role of Israel’s defense force. “The Israel Defense Force is standing guard for the Jewish people, and it is the IDF that promises ‘never again.’ The defense force is the eternal answer to the Holocaust – the revenge of those who were killed, the consolation for those who survived and the hope shared by all,” Barak said.

In a statement from US President Barak Obama, the president expressed solidarity with Israel for the six-million killed by the Nazis. “I join people here at home, in Israel, and around the world in commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, and in honoring the memory of all those who suffered, died and lost loved ones in one of the most barbaric acts in human history,” his statement read.

Barenboim in Gaza

The great pianist and conductor, Daniel Barenboim, conducted a peace concert in Gaza, accompanied by musicians from Europe’s leading orchestras.

“We are very happy to come to Gaza,” Barenboim said in a statement. “We are playing this concert as a sign of our solidarity and friendship with the civil society of Gaza.”

Barenboim is a UN Messenger of Peace – one of 12 celebrities chosen to draw attention to the UN’s work around the world – including George Clooney, Yo-Yo Ma, Stevie Wonder, Elie Wiesel and Charlize Theron.

In 1999, Barenboim cofounded the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which brings together young Arab and Israeli musicians. Barenboim also founded the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, which has three branches in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem, with more than 500 students. He also runs music education programs in Nazareth and Gaza.

Barenboim was awarded an honorary Palestinian passport in 2008.

The kibbutz movement through its Givat Haviva Center is also actively involved in joint Israeli-Palestinian projects.

Food Wasted in a Hungry World

About one third of all food produced for human consumption goes to waste, according to a study commissioned by the United Nations food agency.

That amounts to more than one billion tons of waste around the world every year.

The study recommends that developing countries should improve production and distribution, so as to stop losing so much food.

It also says industrialized countries must stop throwing so much away.

It was found that consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food as the food production of Africa.

Every year industrialized countries waste more than 650 million tons and developing countries lose more than 620 million tons.

Losses happen during the production, processing and distribution of food. They affect mainly developing countries. The answer is to improve technology and infrastructure.

Food waste is the big issue in industrialized countries. It is mainly due to retailers and consumers throwing perfectly edible food into the bin.

Waste amounts to around 100kg per consumer in Europe and North America every year.

Consumers in Africa and most of Asia each throw away only about 10 Kg per consumer.

The report also criticized "buy one, get one free" promotions because they lead to waste.

Food loss and waste also causes a major loss of resources - water, land, energy and labor and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.


Christianity in Egypt

Egypt has a large Christian community numbering about eight million people and they form an integral part of modern Egyptian society.

At a remote location deep in the Eastern desert in Egypt in an oasis in the Red Sea Mountains is one of the world's oldest inhabited monasteries: The 4th century Coptic Orthodox St. Anthony's Monastery.

The founders of this monastery were disciples of St. Anthony, widely believed to be the initiator of Christian monastic life as we understand it today. The monastery made Egypt the origin for a movement that spread throughout Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia and ultimately Europe.

The disciples followed a way of life that consisted of prayer, reflection, and fasting. They lived and practiced their ideals close to their communities and families, and in the next century these ideas spread throughout Egypt.

At the summit of the Red Sea Mountains, surrounded by amazing views of the desert and the Red Sea, is the cave's entrance and inside a pathway leads to a small shrine to St. Anthony. The monastery has five churches, a mill, and a water spring. One of the paintings depicts the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus.

It is believed St. Anthony's remains are buried beneath the main altar, so every Sunday afternoon the monks honor him by holding a candle and singing for him.


Gas Pipeline Blown up Again

Israel and Jordan gas supplies were affected by another explosion in Egypt, but Jordan is more vulnerable to cut-offs because relies heavily on Egypt for gas.

Jordanians are being asked to shut off air conditioners and turn off lights when they don’t need them as the country’s main source of fuel for electric power ,natural gas piped from Egypt ,has been shut off for the second time in three months.

Jordanians aren’t optimistic that the days of cheap and plentiful gas will come back anytime soon as Cairo seeks to renegotiate terms and to direct more of its gas to growing domestic needs.

Israel also saw its natural gas supplies cut off after the explosion, but Israel is less reliant on Egyptian gas than Jordan and its richer economy is in a better position to pay for substitute fuel. Israel gets 40% of its gas from Egypt and has huge domestic fields in development, while Jordan relies on Egypt for 80% and has no domestic supply.

Jordan’s energy crisis comes at a sensitive time for the country. Opposition protesters have been demanding reforms from King Abdullah while the economy is struggling with higher global prices for food and energy. The government has already announced plans to increase subsidies and wages as well as lower taxes, which will make it difficult to soften the blow of suspended gas deliveries.

Jordan’s energy crisis is as much about Egypt’s changing politics as it is sabotage. Jordan signed agreements to buy Egyptian gas before Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak was pushed out of office by mass protests. Now, the Egyptians are saying that the prices Jordan and Israel have been paying are unfairly low.

Last week, the decision by Egypt’s public prosecutor to extend Mubarak's detention by 15 days was made partly in order to question him about his role in agreeing to sell Israel natural gas.

While Egyptian anger has been focused on Israel, Jordan is also being forced to renegotiate terms.


Overseas readers are invited to provide us with feedback regarding our monthly news bulletins.