News Highlights January  2013


                1.  The Next 100 Years.

2.   The Israelis.

3.   Holocaust Commemoration.

4.   Israeli Wildlife.

5.   Research Excellence Program.

6.   Jewish and Arab Volunteers.

7.   Navy bio-treatment Facility.

8.   Agricultural Exhibition.

9.   The Deficit.

10.   The Sea of Galilee.

11. Tallit(Tallis) Arrests.

12.   Jerusalem Marathon.

 

 

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.

In the political arena for the first time in Israel's history there will be no kibbutz members in the Knesset (Parliament). From1948 to 2012, 85 kibbutz members served as members of parliament. It is hoped that the new government will lean towards the center and not rely only on right wing parties as has happened in recent years.  

Back in 1952 Ben Gurion asked a dairy worker to get permission from his kibbutz to take up the position of Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense. The dairy worker was just 29 years old but Ben Gurion believed that he was important for the country. The worker approached his kibbutz and a vote was held at a general meeting whether or not to allow a kibbutz member to work outside the kibbutz. That was the way the kibbutzim operated in those days. The members of Alumot voted in favor and the dairy worker, Shimon Peres, was granted leave to serve the country as Deputy Director General of Defense. Shimon Peres was instrumental in building Israel's Defense industry including its nuclear capacity. He also served in numerous ministerial posts including that of Prime Minister. He is of course Israel's current President.

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.


The Israelis – General Mufid Ganam

In the words of Brig. Gen. Mufid Ganam, the Chief Logistics Officer of the Israel Defense Force: "The Druze are treated equally and are deployed in all IDF units according to their abilities and qualifications. We are citizens of the State of Israel and share its rights and duties. We are part of Israeli society, and as such Druze soldiers serve in the IDF like any other soldier".

The Israel Defense Force relies heavily on the Druze population. Arabic can be heard in all units of the IDF.  83% of the Druze population serve in the IDF as compared with only 47% of the Jewish population.

The Druze are found primarily iSyria, Lebanon, Israel and   Jordan, The Druze religion has its beginnings in 11th century and is an offshoot of the Shiat Muslim religion.50% of the Druze of the world live in Syria,40% in Lebanon and 6% in Israel.

General Ganam has served as Chief Logistics Officer of the IDF for the last four years. He began his military career as a combat soldier in an Infantry Corps battalion. After completing the IDF Officers School, he joined the Logistics system and advanced in core positions: At the beginning as a Company Commander, then as Brigade Logistics Officer in the Gaza division during the Intifada. Afterwards he was the Logistics Officer of Spatial Brigade 406 and the Givati Brigade. During his years of service in the IDF, he also served as Logistics Officer of the Ground Forces Training Center, Head of the Ground Forces Logistics Department, Logistics Officer of the Central Command and Deputy Chief Logistics Officer.

Brig. Gen. Ganam, 54, lives with his wife and their five children in the village Madjer, where he was born and his family has been living for numerous generations. He says that he grew up in a relatively strongly military house, especially thanks to his father: "My father fought in the War of Independence and worked in security services for 25 years. It all came from him. It was very important to him that his children would have a meaningful service in the IDF." Mufid is not the only officer in his family: One of his brothers reached the rank of Colonel and served as a brigade commander, and another brother served as a doctor in the IDF.

 

Holocaust Commemoration

A Holocaust Remembrance day has officially been recognized by the United Nations although several Muslim countries and some other countries have declared that the Holocaust never took place and that is another story invented by Israel. This group of countries is led by Iran who openly announced that Israel does not have the right to exist.

Notwithstanding Iran's and its allies efforts to deny the Holocaust ,some 100 imams will commemorate the Holocaust at a memorial monument near Paris. 

The event is planned for Drancy, a suburb of Paris where tens of thousands of Jews were confined in 1942 before being transported to extermination camps during the German Nazi occupation, according to a report in the French daily Le Figaro. The paper called the event unprecedented.

Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy and a veteran activist for dialogue between Muslims and Jews in France and against anti-Semitism, will host the imams.

Israel is one of the few countries in the world that allow the practice of  Sharia Law and Israeli Sharia courts often decide on complicated situations involving Islam.

Israeli Immams are officially employed and paid by the Interior Ministry. As Israel is a democracy with complete freedom of speech Immams and others in the population are allowed to express their opinions and speak against the government and its policies.


Israeli Wildlife – Leopards

It is estimated that less than 20 leopards still exist in Israel .The conservation status of leopards in Israel is that of critically endangered.
A well-known verse in Judaism goes "it is an insult to God to let his creations die out" Can someone save the leopards in Israel?
The cats in Israel are of the African species (panthera pardus), and the ones from Africa and Israel have not undergone so much genetic variation that they can’t produce viable offspring. So should programs exist with the African countries with leopards to save and to increase Israel’s leopard population?

The thing is Israeli leopards are part of a sub-species (Panthera pardus nimr).So while you could preserve them though cross breading with African leopards the sub-species would be lost.

Their are also serious questions about if it is possible to save the leopards in Israel at all.

The problem with Israel wildlife as the human population continues to grow and human development continues to expand there is less and less room for them to live. Israel is the most urbanized country in the world. Nearly 90% of the population live in cities.


Research Excellence Program

The Council for Higher Education is expanding its research excellence program this year to include 11 more research centers.

The program, known as ICORE – the Israeli Centers for Research Excellence – began following a government decision in March 2010. Its purpose, according to the council, is to “reinforce Israel’s intellectual capacities and promote synergy among Israel’s leading research centers: universities, colleges, hospitals and research institutes.”

When the program started operating in October 2011, the first group of four centers focused on the fields of cognitive science, algorithms, solar energy and genetics of human diseases.

Of the 11 research groups, four will engage in research in the humanities, and seven will focus on the exact sciences, such as engineering, life sciences and medicine.

The centers, which will be located within universities. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem will manage four of them.

The research units involve collaboration among professors from universities and private colleges across the country.

Among the groups are one studying Jewish culture in the modern era, headed by a Hebrew University professor; one on education and the new information society, headed by a lecturer at the University of Haifa; and one that will engage in mass trauma research.

Others will research the fields of quantum physics, astrophysics, genetics, biophysics and medical technology, as well as plant adaptation to the changing environment.

In total, 26 research groups working in 17 fields applied to join the program.“The high quality of all the proposals, particularly of the winners, is a testimony of honor for research and researchers in Israel,” the council wrote in a statement.

The text added that the new centers of excellence would “promote innovative and groundbreaking research in a variety of fields, consolidate collaborative research between institutions in the country and internationally and will help in the absorption of new excellent researchers,” as well as “pave the way for training future generations of outstanding researchers in the country.”


Jewish and Arab Volunteers

World leaders in Davos were pleasantly surprised to discover that Jewish and Arab volunteers work together.

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland is a place where people come to listen. It consists of interested and involved men and women who participate in order to contribute to the communities of the world and make a difference.

Among the 2,500 people gathered at Davos every year are successful businesspeople and politicians,scientists, social entrepreneurs and the young global leaders.
An Israeli representative had the chance to talk to Bill Gates and hear how is interested in the idea of a community-based first response organization. He understood the importance of such an organization and the opportunities surrounding it: a lifesaving model that does not need significant equipment, that is scalable and implementable anywhere on the world. He was happy to hear that the Israelis not planning to keep the model to ourselves but are ready and willing to share it with whoever is interested.

Represenatives from Lithuania, Brazil, India and China clearly understood how The Israeli emergency first-response team model could benefit their communities.


Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Lebanon were pleasantly surprised to learn how Jewish and Arab volunteers work together for the greater purpose: to save lives. Many said they learnt something about Israel they didn’t know before.

Leaders were very surprised to learn that Wizo in Israel hosted 28 Muslim volunteers from Palestine at a gathering in Haifa to learn from each others volunteering experience. A group of Israeli volunteers were in return invited to Palestine.

The 240 Jewish attendants at the forum celebrated a Shabbat Friday evening meal.The head of JPMorgan Chase, Jacob Frenkel, said the kiddush. At the table sat President Shimon Peres, who is about to turn 90 and who is the oldest serving head of state in the world.

Navy bio-treatment facility

Navy has a bio-treatment facility which separates contamination from wastewater coming out of its ships.

The greasy wastewater that collect in the underbellies of the nation’s coastal guardians are now able to return to their Mediterranean origins due to the implementation of a new purification system.

Deep inside the ship where dirty water collects ,the water used to operate the vessels’ diesel engines accumulates in a form extremely contaminated by oil and fuel, explained Capt. Yaron Ben-Simon, head of naval architecture and the marine engineering department at the navy’s Haifa Base. In the past, the base had to either collect the greasy grime in local tanks and suck it out on-site for disposal, or ship the tanks on polluting trucks to remote treatment locations.
Now, however, the navy has invested in its own biological treatment facility, at the base itself.

“This is a special bio-treatment facility which separates contamination from wastewater coming out of our ships,” Ben- Simon said.
After collecting the engine wastewater from many ships in a single, large tank, the naval treatment site operators then pour a biological treatment agent into the tank, which cleans the water to the extent that it may be returned to the sea, according to Ben-Simon. Entirely separated from the clean water, the contaminants are then sent for proper disposal.

While the navy has been studying many such purification options for several years, the pilot prototype that administrators eventually chose has been running for about a year. Throughout that year, during which the waters underwent a series of meticulous quality checks, the pilot facility processed about 1,000 cubic liters of liquid, Ben-Simon said.

“Now we intend to continue working with this system,” he added.

Although Ben-Simon could not say exactly how many ships the system is currently treating, he stressed that it is purifying the engine wastewater of all vessels at the Haifa Base.

He and his colleagues are now working to bring in bigger tanks and increasing their treatment abilities, so that they can potentially connect other bases to the system in the future, he explained.

Agricultural Exhibition

 

Over 3,000 visitors from Israel and from abroad, including farmers from the Palestinian Authority and neighboring Arab countries, spent the day at the Open Day Agricultural Exhibition that took place at the Western Negev Research and Development Station. The annual exhibition provides an opportunity to showcase the station's research projects, which focus on discovering new species and growing methods that suit the soil, water and climate of the western Negev. With the help of its friends throughout the world, KKL-JNF funds 50% of the budget of Israel's research and development stations, which are located in Israel's peripheral regions in the north and south. There is a KKL-JNF representative at every R&D, who is involved in decision making and the R&D's daily activities.

 

Myron Sofer, director of the R&D, described some of the new technologies developed at the R&D over the past year: "In the Negev, more efficient water usage is absolutely critical. In order to regulate irrigation, we work with tensiometers, which measure water tension twenty centimeters deep in the soil. They have been in use for 110 years, but we were the first to use them in greenhouses. After three years of experimentation, we have been able to reduce water usage by 15-35%, without harming the crops. I am a Negev farmer myself, and I know what saving that amount of water means. Our goal is to make using the tensiometer so simple that even a twelve-year old child could operate them.

 

"In the Negev, manpower is very important. Israeli agriculture is very dependent on foreign labor, which is expensive and also limited by the government. We are trying to find ways to lessen dependence on manual labor. For example, the western Negev grows 50-60% of all of Israel's tomatoes, a crop which is very labor intensive. Together with the Vulcani Institute and Ben Gurion University, we are developing new methods of growing tomatoes, which we hope will cut back manpower costs within a year.

 

"Until now, agriculture in our region has largely been based on two crops – tomatoes and peppers. We need to help our farmers develop new crops. For example, squash are traditionally grown in open fields, but now we are growing them in greenhouses. It makes a huge difference. In the open field, you get between two to four tons of squash per dunam, but in greenhouses, the yield can be as high as twelve tons per dunam.



The Deficit  

 

 

In 2012, the government spent NIS 39 billion more than it took in, mostly because the slowing economy meant fewer tax revenues. This was double the expected deficit. Now the general election is over, and the new government must produce a budget for 2013 that benefits the people but balances the books. This is a tall order; can it be done?


How does Britain do it? The British Government believes that paying an appropriate amount of tax in the country in which profits are made is not only a matter of basic economics. It is also a matter of morality... there is a moral case on top of the basic economic case that taxation of economic activity should transparently reflect where that activity occurs.”

And British Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly told the G-8 earlier this month: “We all have a common interest in being able to tell our taxpayers, who work hard and pay their fair share of taxes, that we will make sure others do the same.”


Much has been written in the Israeli and world press in recent days about Stanley Fischer’s measurable contributions to the Israeli economy, including the Bank of Israel Law, bold and timely monetary policy decisions, and professionalization .
But less-measurable, and perhaps Fischer’s most important contribution, has been the credibility he has lent to the Israeli economy. Much of this credibility is an outgrowth of the above contributions. But a much of it – possibly most of it – came with the person, and was earned far before he took his current post. This makes the question of Fischer’s successor important.

Stanley Fischer’s nomination seven years ago may have marked the start of what could become a trend: the aggressive global solicitation of central bankers on the sole basis of merit, without regard to citizenship. In short: pursuing the best person in the world for the job.

The Bank of England’s nomination of Canadian Mark Carney as governor of the Bank of England in November created a second data point.

This constitutes an opportunity for Israel, but it may only be a one-time opportunity. An opportunity in that, with the practice of foreign nominations possibly becoming established, and the international status that Fischer has lent to the position, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may have a realistic shot at attracting a number of true international economic luminaries to submit their candidacy.
One obstacle that might need to be overcome is the Hebrew language.

In an increasingly globalized and competitive world, we must recognize that our competition is casting increasingly wider nets in its search for talent. If we limit our own search to the world’s six million or so fluent Hebrew-speakers, we are likely to fall behind over time. Clearly, many accommodations would be required by the Israeli government, and Israeli society, in order to secure the best person in the world for the job should she or he happen to be an English speaker.


 The Sea of Galilee

 

The country’s water basins have crept to promising levels already this rainy winter – the Kinneret(The Sea of Galilee) now lacking less than 2 meters of water from full capacity.

By Monday morning, the Kinneret reached 210.78 meters below sea level, just 1.98 meters from the “upper red line,” or the line that indicates full capacity, data from the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services said. This represented a rise of 2 centimeters from the previous morning’s readings, when the lake lacked 2 meters exactly following a stormy night. 

During the
weeklong storm that pounded Israel , the Kinneret rose 73 centimeters alone, an increase that was unparalleled for this period of time in two decades, the Water Authority said. All in all this January, the basin has risen 1.1 meters, and during the entire winter season thus far – 1.65 meters. It is likely that the Kinneret level will peak this season at about half a meter below the upper red line.

“That’s not only because of the rain,” it was said. “That’s because the change in policy of the Water Authority. We are pumping from Kinneret less than half of the average pump than we had previously done. The policy is to try to revive the natural sources of water.”

The Water Authority has been able to reduce the amount of water being pumped out of the Kinneret by the National Water Carrier due to the significantly increased amounts of desalinated and treated wastewater being employed all over the country. Prof. Eran Feitelson, of the Geography Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, likewise stressed that the increased desalination occurring in Israel has allowed the Water Authority to keep much more freshwater in the Kinneret basin. 


The FOEME roadmap calls for managing flow to the Lower Jordan River in a constant matter, with the water supply eventually reaching the Dead Sea, he explained.

Demand for water in Israel is always higher than what the country will receive by rain, and expensive desalination and water recycling facilities therefore continue to play a crucial role.

Tallit Arrests


Police in Jerusalem have begun a spate of arrests of women for wearing a tallit(tallis), the traditional male scarf with frills that is worn in synagogues.

 

Women are allowed to wear the so called colorful religious tallitot like a shawl around the shoulders. The wearing of the male black and white or white and blue tallis by women is apparently against Israeli Law.

 

The law determines what religious women may or may not wear whether or not they are orthodox, conservative or reform. Similar laws exists in Iran and Saudi Arabia where women have to adhere to specific dress codes.

 

The arrests may seem trivial but at the moment in Israel there is a power struggle between various groups, religious or non religious. The black kippah(yamalka) group control the religious laws in the country.

 

After the elections in January the country is trying to put together a workable coalition government that will be able to govern for the next four years. After three weeks of bargaining no government has emerged. There is a power struggle between the knitted Kippah (yamalka) group on the one side who believe that all members should serve in the army including their women and the black kippah(yamalka) group on the other side who believe that neither their men nor women should serve in the army. The black kippah members believe that their population should only study the Torah.

 

In the last elections the knitted kippah group won 12 seats and the black kippah 19 seats in parliament. However the knitted kippah group has made an alliance with the "We have a future" party which won 19 seats.

 

Coalition negotiations will continue for another three weeks or until a government is formed if before the expiry date. If no decision can be reached regarding the coalition the constitution provides for the President (President Peres) to take a decision about who should govern the country.

 

 

Jerusalem Marathon

Seventeen thousand runners will descend on Jerusalem  for the third annual Jerusalem Marathon, an event that is expected to pump NIS 10 million into the local economy.

Mayor Nir Barkat kicked off the countdown to the marathon  by stressing the race’s impact in bringing worldwide recognition in the sports world to the capital.

“The marathon has breathtaking views, clear air, a challenging route, and last year we even had some hail on the way,” said Barkat, noting the race was ranked by theBritish Women’s Running Magazine as one of the top 10 spring races around the world.
Barkat placed the emphasis on the draw for international runners. There are 1,600 runners coming from 52 countries around the world, including Brazil, Croatia, Argentina, Jordan and Turkey. This is an increase from the first marathon, which attracted less than 1,000 international runners.

Additionally, 35 professional runners from elite running teams will race, in addition to 3,500 soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces. The mayor also highlighted the 5,500 runners who are participating in the race in order to raise funds for causes ranging from the special needs community to cancer research to lone soldiers.

In the past, Jerusalem residents not in the marathon have expressed frustration that the race effectively shuts down the entire city on a Friday, the busiest shopping day of the week. However, Uri Menachem, the director of the municipality’s sports division, said most roads in the capital will be open by 1:30 pm. He also said that the Jerusalem Marathon holds the country’s largest pasta dinner, with 3,500 people expected for the pre-race tradition at the Jerusalem International Convention Center the night before the event.