News Highlights December 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.

Kibbutz enterprises are leading the way by narrowing the gap between salaries for men and women. A recent survey showed that women working in kibbutz enterprises receive more than 90% of the pay received by their male counterparts for similar work. The percentage for the country was found to be less than 80%.

The Ministry of Health recently approved the use of the very sweet powder from the Stevia plant as a recognized sweetener in addition to sugar and other sweeteners. This new development could often the way for growing the Stevia plants as an agricultural alternative.

After three years of punching and counter punching the residents of Megiddo,Afula,Hazorea,Yokneam and surrounding areas  won the day and persuaded the government not to build the new international airport in the fields of Kibbutzim in the area. The new airport will be build in the Northern Negev and has received the blessing of local councils in the area because of the impending economic development of the very underdevelopment area.

Life on the kibbutzim is changing. 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.

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

Christmas Trees from KKL-JNF Forests

KKL-JNF once again  distributed Christmas trees to local churches, monasteries, convents, embassies, foreign journalists and the general public. Private individuals, too bought  trees for the token sum of 70 NIS.

KKL-JNF foresters grow cedar trees, which are best suited to serve as attractive Christmas trees. The trees  are carefully tended for another two years until they grow to a height of around two meters.

In northern Israel, KKL-JNF foresters grow plots of Arizona cedars in a variety of forests. As Christmas approaches, the foresters thin out the crowded woodland and sell the trees to the general public for a token sum. This prevents illegal cutting down of trees and allows Christians to enjoy the  important symbol of the Christmas.

Haifa Technion wins New York Bid

Haifa Technion- Israel Institute of Technology won a New York City contest to build an engineering campus with a grant of land on Roosevelt Island and $100 million for infrastructure improvements.

The NYCTech Campus is intended to bolster job creation in the city and may generate 600 spinoff companies and $23 billion in economic activity over the next three decades, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a news conference.

Haifa-based Technion  was invited to enter the contest by the New York City Council together with some of America's leading Universities. In the final round the Technion teamed up Cornell University and beat six competing bids, including one from Stanford University. An anonymous donor agreed to give the Technion –Cornell partnership a $350 million gift.

The new campus will generate more than $23 billion in overall economic activity and $1.4 billion in tax revenue over the next 30 years, according to the statement. The project will create 20,000 construction jobs and 8,000 permanent jobs. The estimated 600 spinoff companies will create another 30,000 jobs.

The project will cost about $1.5 billion to build and the partnership will rely on tuition and philanthropy, technology license fees and corporate partnerships.

The Technion was founded a hundred years ago when the cornerstone of the first building was laid. In 1923, Professor Albert Einstein visited the Technion. During his visit, he planted a now-famous first palm tree, as an initiative of Nobel tradition. The first palm tree still stands today in front of the old Technion building in Haifa. Einstein founded the first Technion Society, and served as its President upon his return to Germany after his visit to the Technion campus. Professor Dan Schechtman of the Haifa Technion was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry on Dec. 10.

Upon seeking requests for proposals in July, the mayor of New York supported the development of a “world-class” applied sciences and engineering school in the city. He said it would be “a critical driver of the further diversification of New York City’s economy” beyond its dependence on Wall Street, which provided about 7 percent of the city’s tax revenue in 2011.

Water Recycling

KKL-JNF presented their activities in developing water sources at the Water Technologies Exhibition, which was held in Tel Aviv.   

The convention offered field experts and professionals, diplomats, and members of the public interested in ecology, renewable energy, and water technology, an opportunity to meet.  The convention also presented an opportunity to exchange information, keep up to date with the latest developments, and to make local and international contacts.  Dozens of organizations hosted booths at the exhibition where they presented technological developments, products, and services concerning water The booth belonging to KKL-JNF aroused a great deal of interest among visitors from all around the world, who came to learn about the extensive and innovative projects of KKL-JNF in the  water technology field, such as building water reservoirs, rehabilitating rivers, purifying wastewater, managing wetlands, and developing parks.   All these projects have been accomplished with the help of friends of KKL-JNF from all over the world. 
"KKL-JNF has been working in the field of water for the past 30 years, and our objective is to expose the general public to these activities," explained Moshe Cohen, Director of Development Projects at KKL-JNF.  Cohen  "Our projects contribute to agriculture in Israel's periphery and to the environmental quality and the water economy in the country as a whole," Cohen added. 
Israel is considered a world leader in water recycling, which, among other things, is due to the 220 water reservoirs built by KKL-JNF throughout the country, using purified wastewater and runoff.  This water is recycled for agricultural use, and provides about half the water used for agriculture in Israel.

Another important area that KKL_JNF is working on is the rehabilitation of polluted rivers. This involves eliminating pollutants, rehabilitating the landscape and developing parks.

Latin Americans Tour Israel

The winners of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Know Israel contest held in 13 Latin American countries spent a day touring KKL-JNF environmental projects in southern Israel, as part of their four-day visit to Israel to learn about the country's achievements in the fields of environmental preservation and technology.

The Know Israel project holds a nation-wide contest in the participating countries to test the applicants’ knowledge about Israel. The top contestant from each country is flown to Israel to experience for themselves the reality of Israel. This year, the theme of the contest was Green Israel, and KKL-JNF was a partner in the project.

The participants, who ranged in age from 19 to 30, came from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile. All were students and young professionals, some working in the fields of environmental conservation, agriculture and forestry

A student commented: "El Salvador and Israel are about the same size and the results are so different, even though we have so much more water, Israel could be an example for us of the proper use of natural resources. From nothing they can grow good things.”

Palestine Authority offers local business 'Green Loans'

The Palestinian Authority is trying to promote waste management, renewable energy projects and environmentally responsible industrial practices by offering its local businesses friendly "green loans."


Ramallah's Green Palestine Investment Company, which was formed in 2009, is the first firm to implement environmental activities that support sustainable economic and social development and has partnered with the Bank of Palestine in an effort to offer green loans for various environmental projects in the fields of waste and wastewater management and renewable energy. Another project is to recycle solid waste in the Palestinian Authority.


Green Palestine Investment has three divisions: Solid Waste, Waste Water and Renewable Energy, which offer affordable alternative energy solutions for the Palestinian market.

Community Cooperation


It is a donut or better known as a sufgania and it is filled with humous.

The idea was conceived as a unique Israeli-Arab food cooperation to celebrate the festival of lights, with activists from Youth for Jerusalem working with Arab vendors from the Old City.

“We do a lot of activities with vendors in the Old City and the residents,” said the head of Youth for Jerusalem.

“They said to us, hey, it’s almost Hanukka, let’s do something together,” she explained.

Those who doubted the combination of humous and sufganiyot were pleasantly surprised.

“Sometimes, working together with the vendors doesn’t just bring good ideas, it brings tasty ones as well,” she said.

A bakery in the old city donated the donuts and another vendor donated the humous.

The thought of eating a sweet donut with a salty humous was quite a challenge for some but the excellent quality of both the donuts and the humous won the day.

A group of Korean tourists started the ball rolling and in a short space of time hundreds of humous filled donuts were gone.

Segregation of the Sexes in Israel

Certain ultra religious groups in Israel are pushing for the exclusion of women from holding public positions and for the complete segregation of women in society. There are already separate buses in certain areas and even separate walking areas. In other areas women are expected to sit at the back of buses.

"The fight against women's exclusion is a fight for Israel's future and it must grow stronger and louder," opposition leader Tsipi Livni said. "The situation is deteriorating rapidly and it's up to us to stop it."

"We've crossed a line when it comes to women's exclusion… this is a fight for the nature of Israeli democracy," Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said. "We are the warriors here and we will lead this fight. We won't allow for women to be pushed to the back – not on busses, not in the workplace and not in society. We are equals."

 Culture Minister Limor Livnat equated the shunning of women to violence, adding it was a dangerous phenomenon that must be nipped in the bud. "All of us, together, will not allow this to continue. I believe that exclusion is violence against women," she said and urged men across Israel to join the fight.

Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of  spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef also participated in the gathering: "The Torah never referenced this issue as it is referenced today," she said."The Torah elevates women. It holds women in the highest esteem. This isn’t about which door we board the bus from. It's about women's honor. Women are powerful, if is wasn’t for us, men couldn’t afford to study the Torah."

Women Fighter Pilots

The Israel Defense Force is relying more and more on women for combat positions in armored divisions and in the air force.

Israel's small population means the country has never had the security of a large standing army despite the immense security and terrorist risks it faces. The Israel standing army of about 150,000 faces the combined standing armies of surrounding countries numbering several million soldiers. Israel is also able to call up several hundred thousand trained reserves within 48 hours.

The Israel Defense force has to rely on advanced technology to offset the huge disadvantage it has on the ground. Part of this technology is the air force which is one of the most powerful in the world. This together with Israel's advanced long range missile systems and nuclear capability make the Israel Defense Force a major force by world standards. In recent years the defense force has opened the doors to women in all positions including front line combat positions.

Women have excelled themselves and many are training officers of men for combat roles. Women have also proved themselves as fighter pilots and proportionally more women than men have succeeded  in the grueling fighter pilot training.

Only fourteen pilots managed to complete the most recent course, out of hundreds who began it two years ago. Five of those were women. The graduates have signed a nine-year contract with the Air Force.

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz addressed the  topic as well, telling the young female soldiers that they are an indicator of "women's considerable contribution" to society.

According to data released by the IDF, 31% of the graduating pilots have grown up in cities, 21% come from moshavim, and 5% come from the kibbutz. Moreover, 58% come from the center of the country, 36% come from the north and only 6% come from the south.

The vast majority of the new pilots – 72% – are secular, while 17% are traditionalist and 10% are religious. The oldest graduate is 26 years of age, and most of the rest are 21.

Negev Riches

The Negev Desert has vast amounts of oil, gas and even uranium and it is believed that Israel's oil reserves rival those of Saudi Arabia. Environmental groups, however, are fighting the future possible production of oil in the Negev Desert. Nevertheless it seems that a license will be granted for the mining of uranium.


The ministry's natural resources and mine supervision administration recently informed an Israeli company that the ministry would grant the uranium prospecting license once it pays the government fee. The company plans to hire foreign experts and to import special equipment for the explorations.


The Maya field in the Negev has exhibited signs of a highly radioactive metal at a shallow depth. The company plans to expand the drilling pit and test soil to indentify the type and quantity of the radioactive metal.


Regarding the oil exploration, negotiations with environmental groups will continue so as to find common ground and eventual agreement that could make Israel a force in the world oil market.


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