News Highlights May 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. 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 Supreme Court has made it easier for Kibbutz members to own their own home. It is now possible for an apartment to be transferred into the name of a member by paying a tax equivalent of less than 4% of the value of the land. However if a kibbutz member wishes to sell the apartment then a further land tax equivalent to one third of the land value will have to be paid at the time of sale.


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.

The Turmoil in Syria

USA, Israel, Iran and Hezbollah are keen to keep Assad in power.

The USA and Israel are frightened of the consequences of the collapse of the Assad regime. It is not at all clear what type of opposition would replace Assad. The country is made up of several tribal groups and there could be a major civil war before any tribal group gets the upper hand. The attitude of the USA and Israel is that it is better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.

The situation on the ground with the slaughter of the protesters by the Syrian defense force is likely to change the US and Israeli position. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is also involved in attacking Syrian protestors and killing any Syrian soldiers who refuse to kill civilians.

Nasrallah’s expressions of support for Assad derive from the same impulse as the large-scale practical support currently being offered to Syria by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. These are members of an alliance, uniting in the defense of a member of the team currently in trouble.


Water production at the desalination plants in Palmahim and Hadera will be temporarily increased by about 10-20 million cubic meters per year until the end of 2013.

An inter-ministerial committee that deals with seawater desalination tenders addressed the two plants about increasing production by 15 percent, making use of additional hours in which the facilities are not usually operating due to higher electricity prices, the ministry said.

A large underground water supply has also been found in Jerusalem.

The water price was determined according to electricity prices over the course of the year for both the existing water production and the new addition, and the Finance Ministry estimated that costs would amount to between NIS 1.34- 3.15 per cubic meter.

The inter-ministerial committee predicted that the agreement will contribute significantly to alleviating the country’s current water distress, the Finance Ministry said.

World Bank Project

The Palestinian authority will receive a $45m. waste water treatment facility in Hebron.

Local communities suffering from mosquito infestation and polluted water will gain relief from new plant supported by World Bank.

"The World Bank acknowledges the significance of the advancement of environmental solutions such as the Hebron Waste Water Treatment Plant,” said Mariam Sherman, World Bank country director for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “We are very proud to be able to support the Palestinian Authority in this important project.”

After lengthy delays to the project, the new treatment facility will “affect the lives of many residents in both Israel and Palestine,” those people who live on the borders of both the Hebron Stream and the Beersheba Stream and are affected by sewage flow from Hebron and Kiryat Arba, according to Friends of the Earth.
The European Union has also expressed interest in funding the project.

“Sewage treatment is more than just an infrastructure project, but an opportunity for communities who jointly suffer to work together and build trust between one another,” an official said. “It is important that infrastructure projects involve all communities impacted from the earliest of stages, so that all come to understand the benefits of working together.”

“We believe the only way to solve this is to build a plant in the city of Hebron itself,” she added.

Since the two municipalities share the same pipes, sewage from both Hebron and Kiryat Arba will flow into the new facility, which will be completely administered by the PA, it was stated.
“Unilaterally, no one can solve this – we need to be working on these water issues and sanitation issues together.

Jerusalem Light Festival

During June, the Old City’s dark alleyways will be transformed with art installations bursting with light and 3D movies across the city’s ancient walls and buildings, during the third annual Jerusalem Festival of Light, which will take place from June 15 – 22.

More than 200,000 people visited the light show last summer, crowding the streets in and out of the Old City until midnight. This year’s festival will feature installations by artists from around the world.

“The light festival is a good example of ways to use the beauty of Jerusalem,” said Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. “The artists can mix between emotions and history to compliment different sites within the Old City,” he noted.

“The festival will awaken tourism inside of Jerusalem and encourage people to come to places they wouldn’t normally go to, like east Jerusalem, where there are beautiful places,” said the chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority.

The event is open to the public free of charge, except for performances from Circus Y, a group that will perform acrobatics on the Old City Walls.

Israeli-South African who hid Mandela

Prof. Arthur Goldreich, an Israeli-South African painter and architect who took part in the struggle against Apartheid and at one point hid Nelson Mandela, has died in Herzliyah.

Born in
Johannesburg, Goldreich made aliya at the age of 19 and he returned to South Africa aged 33 where he became a successful painter winning national awards while taking part in the struggle to end Apartheid.  During those years Goldreich owned a farm outside Johannesburg which was used to hide African National Congress operatives including the movement’s leader Mandela.

When Goldreich’s activities were eventually discovered by the authorities he was thrown into prison and sentenced to death. However, he managed to escape disguised as a priest eventually making his way back to Israel where he settled.

In Israel, he returned to Bezalel Academy where he opened a new department and rarely spoke about his time in South Africa. He lobbied Israel to sever its ties with Apartheid South Africa and in 1994 returned for a visit, after the discriminatory regime had fallen.


First Woman Major-General  

Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, deputy head of the IDF Human Resources Directorate, will make history in a few weeks when she becomes the first female officer in the IDF to be promoted to the rank of Major General.

Barbivai, 49 a mother of three, will replace the current head of the directorate Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir who is retiring from IDF service. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz recommended the appointment and it was approved by Defense Minister
Ehud Barak.

Barbivai has served her entire career in the directorate since her enlistment as a soldier. She climbed the ranks and served in the past as head of human resources in the Ground Forces Command as well as the head of the IDF Adjutancy Corp

Opposition leader and Kadima Chairwoman MK
Tzipi Livni praised Gantz for the decision to promote Barbivai.

“There is no rank that is too heavy for a woman’s shoulders and there is no doubt that Brig.-Gen. Barbivai was appointed because of her talents,” Livni said.

Solar Energy for 3 Kibbutzim

A 4.95-megawatt field will begin providing electricity for 3 kibbutzim this summer.

The field is made up of 18,500 photovoltaic panels – approximately 200 in each of the rows of side-by-side columns – manufactured by a Chinese company.

“We’re also creating one of the largest works of art in the world,” he said, explaining an 80-dunam (8 hectare) image of Ben-Gurion will in the coming months sit atop the solar panels, and will be viewable on Google Earth and to passing aircraft. “We’re patenting it – it will be called the world’s first solar canvas.”

A mezuzah in the form of a sundial will be attached to the entrance gate to the field at the ceremony, and will be blessed by Rabbi Michael Cohen of the Ketura-based Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, with an additional blessing from Bedouin spiritual leader Abu Krinat.

A 1,000-kilogram “statue of Ruth with her bushel of wheat” is expected to arrive before the ceremony.

It’s not because of the amount of electricity it will produce – it’s just the first and it will be I think a successful story for the whole Middle East, that we can do it. This is the way; this is the direction we have to go.”

Coinciding with Sunday’s ceremony will be the launch of a coin medallion by the Israel Mint in honor of the occasion, which includes an image of Ben-Gurion looking into the sun.
The etching of the sun is a replica of a similar sun that appeared on coins issued by King of Judea Hyrcanus II during the 1st century BCE.

Also on Sunday, the Israel Postal Company will issue a stamp honoring Ketura that comes with a complimentary 16-page booklet. Sunday also happens to be World Environment Day.

Cybernetics Arms Race

The unique attributes of cybernetics battle arena include ability to strike enemies far away without endangering any personnel.  

A world-wide cybernetics arms race has already begun, including the establishment of offices and headquarters in various countries dedicated to this latest battleground, a study by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies said this week.

The study, co-authored by senior researcher Shmuel Even, and senior IDF Intelligence Directorate researcher David Siman Tov, named the US, Britain, Germany, France and China as some of the countries that are busy developing capabilities in the cybernetics battle arena.

“The cybernetic sphere is a new battleground, and joins the land, sea, air and space arenas in modern warfare,” said the authors.

So are military command and control networks and advanced battleground technologies, the report noted.

Unique attributes of the cybernetics battle arena include the ability to attack enemies situated far away from one’s country within a fraction of a second without endangering any personnel.

This makes it an attractive option for periods in between conventional wars, said the study.

The Stuxnet virus that damaged Iran’s nuclear program illustrated the great potential of cybernetic warfare, and is considered to be a major development, the authors added.

The study has warned that non-state actors like terrorist organizations could carry out cyber attacks, creating the need to develop robust defenses.

From Israel’s perspective, “IT systems and the cybernetic sphere play a decisive role in Israel’s qualitative edge in security and economics,” the authors said.

The IDF carried out an “important step when, in 2009, it recognized the sphere as a new strategic and operative arena, and set up a cyber headquarters for coordinating activities,” said the report.

The US’s Department of Defense took a similar step in recent years, it noted.

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