News Highlights March 2012

The Second 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 Kibbutz population now numbers approximately 141,000 persons, which is an increase of more than 22% over the past 10 years. 85% of the kibbutzim absorb new members.
 
Over 70% of the kibbutzim are in the north and south of the country. The average population is 500 persons per kibbutz.
 
The total annual gross income of the kibbutzim is NIS 30 billion with Gross profit around NIS 10 billion and operating profit around 6 billion. The breakdown of revenue shows that industry is the main contributor with 20 billion shekels of gross revenue from 250 manufacturing establishments (72% in the periphery) and employs 30,000 workers. The share of industrial output of the kibbutzim amounts to about 7% with approximately 9% of total export turnover.
 At present there are 200 privatized kibbutzim, 60 collective kibbutzim and 14 partly privatized kibbutzim.

In the early days the kibbutzim formed a large part of Israel's economy. 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. Kibbutz enterprises diversified over the years and now cover almost every type of business.

 

Israel Family Project 

Most of the people in the world know just a little about Israel and what they do know comes from the media that covers mostly the conflict in the Middle East. We know that Israel and the Israeli people are much more than the conflict but many important, exciting and meaningful Israeli issues are not familiar to most of the people around the world.  

Israelis are seen very different to what they really are. Those misconceptions influence much of Israel's image in the world which makes it harder for Israelis to have more tourism, foreign investments and to export more Israeli products. Only a small part of the world opposes Israel but most of the others are not supportive of Israel because they don't really know Israel.   

Last year one Israeli family started an independent campaign when they started a one year journey around the world in order to improve the relationships between people around the world and Israel. Their plan is to meet with as many people as they can in 27 countries and 4 continents in one year and to expose them to the contemporary story of the Israeli people. 

The Israeli Family Project is a unique initiative of one Israeli couple from a small village in the Negev who decided to lead an influencing campaign that will change the way people around the world see Israel and the Israeli people. They initiated several unique programs for people and families of different backgrounds and ages. They do lectures, open discussions, music sessions, cooking sessions, school programs and debates. 

One of the most important principles in The Israeli Family Project is to meet with everyone, everywhere, so The Israeli Family Story can be heard by everyone who wants to listen, in different communities, through all the diversities of the world. The Israeli Family Story is performed in schools, pre-schools, universities and colleges, synagogues and churches, conventions and special events. 

 

The Israeli Family Project attracts a lot of media coverage in many places around the world and the story of The Israeli Family finds its way to even more people.

The Israeli Family project website contains information in English, Hebrew and other languages about the project and the journey as well as many posts written by the initiators about their perspective on important Israeli issues. The Israeli Family page on Facebook is active daily and shares the activities the stories and initiatives of The Israeli Family Project. Many videos produced by The Israeli Family Project can be watched on You-tube in several languages. 

The successful and influencing Israeli Family Project is about to grow much bigger and much more influencing now as the plan is to recruit more Israeli families to become the new ambassadors for the Israeli people. They are also about to produce a new movie and a book about The Israeli society.

Crime Reduction

A teenager from a broken home falls in with the wrong crowd, and before long, begins breaking and entering into businesses to steal. He is soon arrested, tried and convicted.


Now, the teenager has a criminal record and his chances of a normal life are low. He amasses one conviction after another.

The youth drops out of school, becomes unemployable and could easily go on to a life of serious crime.

This is the scenario police are now hoping to stop with a new program called Mila.
What’s special about this program is that it is being led by the Head of the Israeli Police Force and he is sending out the message that he would like to prevent the above scenario, not only for youth, but for all of society.

When the project begins, each of the approximately 70 police stations will have a staff of officers who will contact youths deemed by the Welfare and Social Services Ministry to be at risk of crime.

The officers will form a group of troubled teens and meet with them twice a week at community centers. The group will undergo workshops, go on trips and take leadership courses, as well as hear lectures on how to stay clear of violence and crime.

With such cooperation it is hoped that the teens would no longer view police as an enemy, but rather as an aid.

 

Dairy Production


2011 was a record year for milk production with a total of 1.4 million liters of milk. The Israeli consumer consumes about 200 liters of milk per year. Dairy prices have risen by 42% since 2000 and food prices by 95%.
 
More than 114 thousand cows produced the 1.4 million liters of milk, up 7% from the previous year. The average fat content was 3.65%. 
 
Developed countries consume on average 234 liters of milk per capita and developing countries consume about 70 liters per capita. Following the rapid growth of India, China, Brazil and some other countries, there was increased demand for milk and milk prices rose 227% in 11 years. Demand for milk was accompanied by a sharp rise in food prices around the world.
 
Even with the threat of imports, the rise in global food prices and the weather, the outlook in the dairy industry will continue to be a major player of the agricultural sector of the economy.

 

Regional Cooperation


A program of cooperation and community sharing has existed for over a year in Pardes Hanna - Karkur and Kfar Kara which aims to promote the common interests of residents. 
 The intention is that the Pardes Hanna - Karkur, community collaboration will be the first in a series of collaboration programs across the country.
 The purpose of the current seminar is to create and expand programs of cooperation between the two communities, Pardes Hanna - Karkur and Kfar Kara, and refine the model with the help of academics from Israel and abroad, in order to implement it other localities in the country. There have been several inquiries from Jewish and Arab communities, who wish to adopt the project, including Baka al-Jisr - Zarqa and Binyamina. 
  
The pr
oposed programs can also help relieve tension in the mixed cities in Israel such as Acre, Haifa, Jerusalem and other cities. 


Arab women at Work

The International Monetary Fund recommended in its annual report on Israel  that more steps be taken to increase Arab and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) employment. The IMF proposed improving basic child care, transportation and education in Arab communities, removing impediments to business establishment and strengthening enforcement of labor regulations.

About 20 percent of Arab women are employed, compared to just 10% four decades earlier, according to the report. This corresponded with a three-fold increase over the same period in the average number of years Arab females study – from 3 to 10.

The significant education divide between Arab and Jewish women was bridged over the past decades, but the gaps in the participation rate actually widened. This led them to suggest that other factors such as culture, discrimination, lack of guidance, daycare and public transport accessibility are preventing Arab women from entering the workplace.

“Where education levels increased, the chances of finding a job and a higher wage also grew,” the report said. But it added that single women and divorcees were more inclined to participate, suggesting that cultural barriers are less restrictive to them, and that their households depend more on female income than the households of married women.

The report recommended a number of measures be implemented, including: the establishment of employment guidance programs in Arab towns and schools; introduction of professional training courses; subsidization of childcare and after school; provision of public transport to Arab communities; and cracking down on workplace discrimination.

The Government will authorize  the establishment of 21 employment centers for the Arab, Druze and Bedouin communities over the next three years. The centers, which will cost NIS 200 million to build and will be operated by Arabic-speaking local residents. They will aim to help job-seekers find suitable employment.

According to the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, 47% of participants in programs operated by existing state-run employment centers found employment, while another 21% enrolled in professional training or higher education courses. About 60% of participants said the centers helped to strengthen their motivation, self-confidence and job-search skills.

Israeli Woman is top European Researcher

 

Multinational cosmetics firm L’Oreal and UNESCO have named a Weizmann Institute biologist working in the field of probiotics, commonly referred to as beneficial bacteria, “Europe’s top young researcher.” For her work in researching probiotics to treat disease, Dr. Naama Geva-Zatorsky will receive a two-year postdoctoral scholarship.

During the past three years, young Israeli women have been able to apply for the program, which began 14 years ago and aims at promoting research among women starting out their scientific careers. There are only 15 annual fellowship winners around the world.

Among the members of the Israeli judges’ panel who selected her to compete with others in Europe are several senior Israeli women scientists, including Israel Science Academy president Prof. Ruth Arnon, Nobel Prize for Chemistry laureate Prof. Ada Yonath, Ben-Gurion University president Prof. Rivka Carmi (who is also a renowned pediatrician and geneticist) and Prof. Ephrat Levy- Lahad, head of the medical genetics department at Shaare Zedek Medical Center.

L’Oreal Israel CEO Nava Ravid said her company regards helping young women scientists as vital to their work. In the last century, 95 percent of all Nobel laureates have been men, she said.

“The world needs science, and science needs women, especially now,” she added.

Science and Technology Minister Prof. Daniel Herschkowitz said Geva- Zatorsky is living proof of the scientific power of Israel and the rising force of women in science. He said he hoped this was one in a chain of top prizes that she would receive for her work.

Dr. Geva-Zatorsky travelled to Paris to receive her award and discuss her work, which aims at using “good bacteria” to treat diseases from gastroenterological disorders and diabetes to immune disorders and cancer. She noted that the body contains 10 times more bacteria than human cells, adding that “the bacteria that grow in the body from birth have a vital influence on our bodies and our health.”

 

Israeli Geneticist wins TV debate

A leading geneticist at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba appeared in Qatar on the Doha Debates TV program that was dedicated to the subject of inbreeding by first cousins that causes genetic disorders in the Arab population.

Prof. Ohad Birk, head of Soroka’s genetic institute and of the Morris Kahn Laboratory of Human Genetics at the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, was invited to appear as a leading expert on the phenomenon, which medical experts and some Arab leaders are trying to prevent due to the human suffering involved. The program was broadcast by the BBC World News several times.

The Doha Debates program, hosted by Tim Sebastian, deals with two sides of a controversial issue. Sebastian previously hosted the prize-winning interview show Hard Talk.

The debate show is broadcast from the capital of Qatar to some 400 million viewers around the world, with participation by the BBC and leading Arab networks. It tackles many issues, but especially those that interest the Arab world.

Birk, who was presented as an Israeli geneticist, noted that he was initially worried about traveling to the Persian Gulf Arab state north of Saudi Arabia, but that his concerns evaporated as he was treated very warmly by the production staff and by the live audience from various Arab countries that filled the hall. At the end of the debate, 80 percent of those present voted in favor of discouraging inbreeding by close relatives.


Bamboo Super Material

Bamboo's image is undergoing a transformation. Some now call it "the timber of the 21st Century".

Bamboo is being hailed as a new super material, with uses ranging from textiles to construction. It also has the potential to absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide, the biggest greenhouse gas.

Today you can buy a pair of bamboo socks or use it as a fully load-bearing structural beam in your house - and it is said that there are some 1,500 uses for it.

There is a rapidly growing recognition of the ways in which bamboo can serve us as consumers and also help to save the planet from the effects of climate change because of its unrivalled capacity to capture carbon.

The developing world is now embracing the potential of bamboo.

This is the world's fastest growing plant, ready to be harvested annually and sustainably after four to five years in contrast to the typical tropical hardwood that takes many years longer to mature and can be harvested only once.

Bamboo can reach its full height in a single season.

China produces about 80% of the world's bamboo - it is estimated that up to 1.5bn people globally rely on bamboo-like plants for their livelihoods.

Bamboo's rugged fibers can be cooked and made into a viscose solution before being turned into a weaving material.

Young bamboo shoots can also be eaten.

It can also provide energy - a bamboo-chip biomass power plant is working in the Philippines.

The investment in bamboo is having a positive effect on plantation workers, providing paid employment for people, including women, many of whom were previously jobless, or for men who once had to travel to find work.

 

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