News Highlights August 2012

 The Second 100 years

 After many years of declining numbers Israel's kibbutz movement is staging a revival, with many potential members wanting to join the unique form of collective living.

The total kibbutz population of about 143,000 is the highest in its 102-year history. More people are now joining kibbutzim than leaving and the addition of working-age adults and young children is helping to redress the balance of an ageing population.

Most kibbutzim have implemented reforms so as to become commercially viable. Privatization with differential incomes and home ownership has increased the attractiveness to newcomers reluctant to commit to pure communal principles.

Increasing numbers of families are attracted to kibbutz living by the quality of education, environment, space and security. The kibbutz enterprises also provide thousands of job opportunities.

Ten Israeli companies will build old aged homes for dairy cows in India. The complexes will contain adult hostels and older cows will receive special treatment. 

Farmers will be compensated for the cost of setting up and running hostels by increasing the number of female births to 80% and this will increase the milk production.

The Israel Plants Production and Marketing Board noted that Israel now has 4,200 acres of mango orchards, which house some 100,000 trees, cared for by 800 growers.

 Israel produces some 40,000 tons of mangos a year, and is one of the six main exporters to Europe, alongside Peru, Brazil, Spain, the Ivory Coast and Pakistan.  Israel leads the field of mango research and development, with the best fruit-per-acre ratio in the world. Israel is also advanced in creating new varieties of mangos, and six new patented varieties are: Maya, Shelly, Omer, Tali, Noa and Agam."

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 and account for about 8% of Israel's economy.

International Cooperation

Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has won a tender by Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPCO), to help it improve its management services and production.

According to the deal, IEC will provide EEPCO with consultancy and project management services for several projects to build power plants.

EEPCO is owned by Addis Ababa, essentially making it a government monopoly that controls the production and distribution of electricity across Ethiopia. 

Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation aspires to produce 10,000 megawatts by 2016 – five times higher than it does right now.

 Israeli water company Nirosoft has been awarded a $100 million contract to build a water desalination plant in Colombia. The company will also be in charge of the facility's maintenance for the next 10 years.

The facility will be set up at Puerto Gaitan and in expected to produce about 2,825 cubic feet of water every day, which will be used for agriculture.  

Nirosoft CEO said that the facility will save Colombia considerable funds and will upgrade its environmental standards compliance.

  Israel Corporation has completed building the largest power plant in Peru, manufacturing 870 megawatts – approximately 20% of country's power – maintaining environmentally friendly methods.

Increasing power, getting to around 870 megawatts, has been done without the use of additional fuels that might pollute the environment.

Deputy Foreign Minister
Danny Ayalon, who is visiting Kenya, signed a cooperation agreement with Kenya and Germany that aims to improve the lives of millions of Africans who reside around Lake Victoria.

The goal of the project is to promote fish farming techniques and desalinate and purify the waters of the lake, which is one of the main sources of livelihood for some 5 million people living in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.


According to the agreement, Israel will donate advanced technologies especially developed in Israel, as well as knowledge and professional guidance.


Deputy Minister Ayalon said that "projects of these kinds show the true and beautiful side of Israel, and strengthen Israel's ties with the continent of Africa. 


"We have since received many requests from other heads of African states to expand the project to their countries as well".

Open Skies' Deal

Over three years of negotiations matured into a deal that will see Israeli airlines and European counterparts bilaterally expand routes. Tourism, Transportation ministries say deal will benefit consumers and economy alike. Israel and the European Union signed an "open skies" agreement.

 The deal will allow Israeli airlines and their European counterparts to expand their routes and destinations' list bilaterally.


The government and the EU Parliament still have to ratify the deal, but it is expected to take effect within a few months.


The deal will be implemented across five years, mostly in order to allow the Israeli airlines to gear for what is sure to be serious new competition.


According to the deal, seven new weekly flight options will be added to each European destination every year.


Several central European airports, which have heavier traffic, will add only three options a year.


Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said that "After a carful review I was convinced that this deal has great benefits for Israeli airlines.


"I believe in Israeli airlines managers' abilities to lead their companies to great success even in an open market situation, which is beneficial for the market as a whole."  


Katz added that the "liberation" of more Israel-Europe flight routes will bring about the kind of competition that benefits consumers, via reduced prices.

"I predict a significant drop in prices and I believe that this deal will increase incoming tourism to Israel and create thousands of new jobs for Israelis," he said.

Tourism Minister Misezhnikov lauded the agreement, calling it "an essential move that will jumpstart tourism to Israel by hundreds of thousands of tourists and will bring about a decrease in fares for the Israeli consumer as well."

Land of Milk and Hummus

In the words of a Danish Journalist: "You hear so much about Israel, but almost nothing about the cuisine, which is rather ridiculous, because the food is mostly fantastic. That's something I want to change.


I am now writing a comprehensive travel guide to Israel for the Scandinavian audience. It's a book that hasn't been revised for 13 years, and its time has come, especially given the growing interest in Israel from that part of the world.


For any traveler in a foreign country, food is high up on, if not top of, the list of criteria, and it's my job to root out the best that Israel can offer. Hopefully at the same time I can help an Israeli or two rediscover the wonders of the local kitchen.


In the Danish countryside, there's an emphasis on raw food – you pick and hunt your ingredients, and then you cook them. It is this philosophy that has made Noma in Copenhagen the best restaurant in the world today.


It's something you can appreciate in Israel as well, with its spectacular fruit and vegetables. Places like Pua in Jaffa, Shefer at the Carmel Market, and Mezze on Ehad Ha'am Street all have wonderful salads, and there are many more that I have yet to discover. But, and it's a big one, I have yet to have a piece of steak here that makes my eyes water at its glory.


So without finely honed taste buds or a false air of pretension, how can I offer you any advice or worthwhile tales on this culinary exploration? Quite simply, appreciation. I'll eat anything and everything, anywhere and at any time.


I'm not going to pretend to be any kind of connoisseur of all things culinary, rather offer a fresh view on everything pertaining to Israeli/Jewish/Palestinian/Arab food culture, and all it entails – the similarities and differences to what I grew up with, and the finer details in between, be they generally about food, or specific restaurants, dishes, service (or the lack of it), or traditions".


2,300 year old port discovered in Akko

Archeological dig uncovers remnants of Hellenistic port near Akko city wall. Findings include sandstone flooring, walls, mooring stones pottery and metal ware.

Antiquities Authority archeological excavations at the foothills of Akko's southern wall have revealed apparatuses belonging to a port which was operational in the Hellenistic period (2-3 century BC) – and was the most important port in Israel at the time.


The floor, which was discovered beneath sea level, raised many questions among the archeologists; other than the possibility of a wharf floor, another option raised by the archeologists was that it was the floor of a large structure.

 According to the Director of the Antiquities Authority Marine Unit, "Among the findings we discovered were large mooring rocks (250-300 kilograms each) which were intermingled with the dock and used to tie watercrafts that docked in the port 2,300 years ago.

"It seems that the floor between the walls slants in a southerly direction with a few collapsed stones in the center. We can assume that this is an apparatus used to lift ships to shore – most likely, warships."  

The ancient port floor was uncovered beneath the facilities. There, they found mooring rocks and thousands of pottery fragments including dozens of intact pieces and metal ware. Initial identification processes indicate that many of the pieces originated in islands on Aegean including: Rhodes, Kos and others as well as other port cities on the Mediterranean shores.


Jews, Muslims, Christians Protest Circumcision Ban


Hundreds of demonstrators appeared in Berlin to demonstrate for religious freedom and decriminalization of circumcision. Jewish protesters, as well as Muslims and Christians, demonstrated in Berlin for religious freedom and the decriminalization of circumcision in Germany.

A Jewish leader in Berlin, stressed that the religious ritual is important for identity for young Jewish and Muslim boys, and noted that the World Health Organization recommends the procedure as a medically accepted practice. The demonstrators turned out as a reaction to last week’s administrative law decision from the Berlin state Senate.

According the Berlin Senate, for circumcision to remain legal, parents must prove that the procedure has a religious basis, the state authority must advise the parents of the health risks associated with circumcision, and a physician, rather than a mohel, will perform the medical procedure.

Jewish organizations in Berlin and across the country have categorically rejected the law as against religious freedom in Berlin. The Berlin senator issued the new regulation in response to a Cologne court decision that criminalized circumcision in the western German city. The ban of brit mila rocked German- Jewish relations and shined an uncomfortable spotlight on the justice system’s treatment of religious freedom in post-Holocaust Germany.

According to Focus magazine, Dr. Dieter Graumann, the head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, said, “I find it as intolerable that we, Jews, have been labeled torturers of children and a part of Jewish life has been presented as illegitimate.”

The head of the Turkish community in Germany, said at a rally that “no one can stop circumcision in Germany.” He added that “the accusations of opponents of circumcision show the prejudices of some Germans, as well as the growing anti-Semitism and anti-Islamism“.


UN Human Rights Committee


An expert on Israeli Law has been chosen to become a member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee. The new member is also an expert in International Law and is Dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Israel's ambassador to the U.N. said that the appointment was an achievement of the Israeli mission at the U.N. and is a source of pride for the country.

This is the second appointment of an Israeli to the position as a member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

The Human Rights Committee operates under the High Commissioner for Human Rights together with independent experts who monitor the implementation of the Covenant on Human and Political Rights.

The ambassador stated that it is an appreciation of Israel and that with hard work it is possible to achieve impressive results despite the difficult conditions of openness.


South Africa's Travelling Rabbi


Rabbi Moshe Silberhaft ministers to Jews in 13 African countries and in South Africa is known as the "Travelling Rabbi".

The Rabbi flies across the continent taking care of life cycle events. Although he spends 60 per cent of his time traversing the length and breadth of South Africa and beyond and gets physically tired, he loves his work.

He travelled to a meeting with King Mswati 3 of Swaziland together with the Israeli Ambassador. The King announced his appreciation for Israel's development in his country over the years, including in agriculture and in running eye clinics.

At a meeting with the Archbishop of Central Africa in Botswana he was surprised that the Archbishop knew several words in Hebrew and Yiddish and he was told that the vocabulary was obtained from years of contact with Jewish people.

The Rabbi used to travel to Zimbabwe every six weeks with medicines and essential supplies before the situation improved with the government of national unity.

Rabbi Silberhaft says that he does not judge individuals and accepts everyone in the various communities whether they have intermarried or not. His attitude is at odds with the official policy of the religious authorities in Johannesburg. He says that official policy cannot apply to his communities because of the huge intermarriage of men due to the dwindling size of communities. He gave the example of the Jewish Community in Kimberley where a very high percentage of men have married out of the religion.

He sees his duties to the communities as a whole and to keep them running without judging individuals.


London Olympics


The Paralympics took place in London at the end of August and the world witnessed to the monumental challenges facing physically challenged athletes from many countries around the globe. Israeli athletes did well and won eight medals in tennis, swimming, cycling and shooting. This made up for the relatively poor display of Israeli sportsmen and women who failed to win any medals at the Olympic Games in London.

Israeli tennis player Noam Gershoni won the gold medal. 


Gershoni beat the world's No. 1 wheelchair tennis player, American David Wagner, in the singles game, with a score of 1:6, 3:6.  


His medal was the seventh Paralympics medal won by Israel in the London Games, and the first gold medal for Israel since the 2004 Athens Games.


Meanwhile, Israel scored another achievement in London on Saturday when swimmer Inbal Pezaro won a bronze medal, in the 100m freestyle. This is Pezaro's third Paralympics bronze in the London Games.


The 29-year-old wheelchair tennis player is a former IAF helicopter pilot, who was injured in the Second Lebanon War. He began playing tennis only 18 months ago.


A visibly emotional Gershoni said during the medals ceremony. "I'm on top of the world," hearing Hatikvah play and seeing the Israeli flag fly high – I can't describe this feeling."


Representing Israel in the Paralympics and winning any medal – let alone the gold – "Was beyond anything I ever thought I'd accomplish," he added.



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also congratulated Gershoni: "I was moved by your victory. The State of Israel embraces you as one for this tremendous achievement," Netanyahu said.


President Shimon Peres congratulated Gershoni following his win: "You've brought the Israeli people some exciting news – the best we could have hoped for," he said.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak also called Israeli wheelchair tennis player: "We all had our fingers crossed for you and we are delighted that you won," Barak said. "Your war injury, your recovery and your achievements are an inspiration to us all."



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