News Highlights June 2013




1. The Israelis.

2.    Israeli Cities.

3.Seeds of Peace.

4. Jerusalem Light Rail Extension.

5.   Haredi Soldiers.

6.   70 CE Siege of Jerusalem.

7. Archbishop of Canterbury Visits Israel.

8.  Science Park in Beersheva.

9. Home Ownership.

10. Life Expectancy and Health.

11. Teva.

12.   Music.

13.Sport in Israel.



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.

The organic food market in Israel is worth billions of shekels every year. Over 90% of the organic produce  is for export. The main export markets are Western Europe. Germany is the largest customer of Israeli organic produce. In Israel there are more than 200 organic organic food producers and manufacturers. The Domestic organic market is also very developed.

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 – Ada Yonath


Ada E. Yonath  is the director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly of the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2009, she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry  becoming the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize  and the first woman in 45 years to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Yonath was born in Jerusalem. Her parents, Hillel and Esther Lifshitz, were Zionist Jews who immigrated to Palestine from Łódź (Poland) in 1933 before the establishment of  modern Israel. Her father was a rabbi and came from a rabbinical family. They settled in Jerusalem and ran a grocery, but found it difficult to make ends meet. They lived in cramped quarters with several other families, and Yonath remembers books being the only thing she had to keep her occupied. Despite their poverty, her parents sent her to school in the upscale Beit HaKerem neighborhood to assure her a good education. When her father died at the age of 42, the family moved to Tel Aviv. Yonath was accepted to Tichon Hadash high school although her mother could not pay the tuition. She gave math lessons to students in return. 

 In 1968, Ada earned a Ph.D. in X-Ray crystallography at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

She has one daughter, Hagit Yonath, a doctor at Sheba Medical Center, and a granddaughter, Noa.

Yonath accepted postdoctoral positions at Carnegie Mellon University (1969) and MIT (1970).

In 1970, she established what was for nearly a decade the only protein crystallography laboratory in Israel. Then, from 1979 to 1984 she was a group leader with Heinz-Günter Wittmann at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin. She was visiting professor at the University of Chicago in 1977-78. She headed a Max-Planck Institute Research Unit at DESY in Hamburg, Germany (1986–2004) in parallel to her research activities at the Weizmann Institute.

Yonath focuses on the mechanisms underlying protein biosynthesis, by ribosomal crystallography, a research line she pioneered over twenty years ago despite considerable skepticism of the international scientific community.

For enabling ribosomal crystallography Yonath introduced a novel technique, cryo bio-crystallography, which became routine in structural biology and allowed intricate projects otherwise considered formidable.

At the Weizmann Institute, Yonath is the incumbent of the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professorial Chair.

Israeli Cities

Safed  is a city in  Northern Israel. Located at an elevation of 900 meters , it is the highest elevation of any city in Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters. Since the 16th century the city has remained a center of Kabbalah, also known as Jewish mysticism.

Due to its good climate and scenic views, Safed is a popular holiday resort frequented by Israelis and foreign visitors.

Legend has it that Safed was founded by a son of Noah after the Great Flood.

Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified Jewish town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus (Wars 2:573).

It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period.

Hebrew printing press was established in Safed in 1577 by Eliezer Ashkenazi and his son, Isaac. It was the first press in the whole of the Ottoman Empire. In 1584, there were 32 synagogues registered in the town.

After the expulsion of all the Jews from Spain in 1492, many prominent rabbis found their way to Safed, among them the Kabbalists Isaac Luria and Moshe KordoveroJoseph Caro, the author of the Shulchan Aruch and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, composer of the Sabbath hymn "Lecha Dodi".

In 1837 there were around 4,000 Jews in Safed. Today Safed has a  population of  approximately 35,000 , 43.2% of the residents are19 years of age or younger, 13.5% between  20 and 29, 17.1% between 30 and 44, 12.5% from 45 to 59, 3.1% from 60 to 64, and 10.5% 65 years of age or older.

Safed has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and cold, rainy and occasionally snowy winters. The city receives 682 mm (27 in) of precipitation per year. Summers are rainless and hot with an average high temperature of 29 °C (84 °F) and an average low temperature of 18 °C (64 °F). Winters are cold and wet, and precipitation is occasionally in the form of snow. Winters have an average high temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) and an average low temperature of 5 °C (41 °F).

The city has 25 schools and 6,292 students. There are 18 elementary schools with a student population of 3,965, and 11 high schools with a student population of 2,327. In 2011, Israel's fifth medical school opened in Safed.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Safed was known as Israel's art capital. The artists colony established in Safed's Old City was a hub of creativity that drew leading artists from around the country.

Safed is home to a large Kabalistic community, and prompted a visit by Madonna in 2009 who is a Kabalistic student.

Seeds of Peace

Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf gave a press conference in Jerusalem, where he was appearing as a guest of the Jerusalem Film Festival to present his latest film, The Gardener, as well as hosting a retrospective of his films.

Courage is used often to describe all kinds of people who have overcome some kind of obstacle, but Makhmalbaf has truly taken a great personal risk in coming to Israel at this moment. Asked how he felt to be here, he mentioned that he had been here before. The Gardener is a documentary he made in Haifa with his son, Maysam, about the Baha’i Gardens and the Baha’i faith, whose believers are persecuted in Iran.

“I’m happy to be here with you,” he said. “To come from my country to your country has a great symbolic meaning... There are many reasons for us to feel friendship and peace, and there is really not one reason for us to fight.”

Makhmalbaf, who has made dozens of acclaimed and award-winning films, both features and documentaries, including Kandahar (2001), Gabbeh (1995), and Time of Love (1990), added, “I am one of the first Iranian filmmakers to come to Israel and that is an honor and I am proud of that.”

He said that all his films and all his books (he has published more than 30) are banned in Iran, and spoke about the thousands of “good politicians, artists and writers who are in prison in Iran.” He now lives in Europe with his family, many of whom are filmmakers themselves. In addition to his son, Maysam, his daughters, Hana and Samira, have made many films, as has his wife, Marzieh Meshkini.

It’s clear that Makhmalbaf did not make the decision to leave his homeland lightly, though. After publishing articles critical of the religious establishment in Iran, “they sent terrorists to kill me.” He left Iran when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power, and he described this president as simply a “microphone” for the religious leadership.

He says that he hopes the new president will be better, and urged the Americans, “If the government [in Iran] is a little bit better, the response of the Americans should be a little bit better.”

Much of The Gardener consists of conversations between Makhmalbaf and his son about the nature of religion and whether it inevitably leads to hatred and oppression. Asked what kind of conversation on these subjects he would have today if he could speak to his younger self, Makhmalbaf recalled how he attacked policemen in a protest against the Shah’s regime when he was 17 and served time in prison.

“I made a film about that, A Moment of Innocence.

When I made the film, I cast the policemen, and they played out the story of our younger selves. When I was 17, my idol was Che Guevara. When I was 13, it was Gandhi. Now I prefer Gandhi. Our goal is holy, but democracy is not the goal, it is the way, not the end in itself.”

He spoke with amazement of seeing an ultra-Orthodox man speaking with great animation on a cell phone here. Asking what we would call a “Jewish mullah” – a rabbi, he was told – he said, with a touch of astonishment in his voice, “Here, you can have religion and your own point of view.”

He has seen as many Israeli films as possible, and mentioned being particularly impressed by Amos Gitai’s Kadosh, a film about the religious community.

“It showed the pure human being in this community,” he said.

Asked about filmmakers who influenced him, he mentioned Satyajit Ray, as well as Federico Fellini and Vittorio De Sica.

Asked about portraying reality on screen, he said, “Reality is our mother. We could go crazy without reality.

That’s why politicians put us in prison, to cut us off from reality.... My younger daughter showed me something that said if you change one thing in your reality, if instead of having bread and cheese for breakfast for example, you take something different, you change yourself, and that’s when creativity begins.”

He is happy about the digital revolution in film, with some reservations. “Before this, cinema was in the hands of the rich and the powerful. Now everyone has the power of film in their hands.
As he spoke about filmmaking, he mentioned that although he had no trouble shooting The Gardener in Haifa, some of the footage he shot was confiscated at the airport. While a less generous person would have opened the press conference complaining about this, Makhambalaf dismissed it with the philosophical attitude that has enabled him to continue creating in spite of great odds: “When you have the goal of peace in your brain and your heart, you go on. I am happy I made this film, and happy that I am showing it here.”

Jerusalem Light Rail extension

The Jerusalem Regional Planning Committee approved a NIS 1.1 billion allocation from the Transportation Ministry’s budget to extend the Jerusalem Light Rail line to Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.

According to the ministry, the extension will take two years to complete and add more than 21.9 kilometers to the light rail’s current route – resulting in a total of 36.2 kilometers of tracks.

The railway currently travels from the northern neighborhood of Neveh Ya’acov to Mount Herzl, west of central Jerusalem.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz hailed the expansion on Thursday, noting that it was part of a joint effort between the ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality to provide more efficient transportation solutions to the capital’s residents.

“The public transportation system in Jerusalem is going through a revolution that can be an example to other cities in the country,” said Katz.

“In a few years, hundreds of thousands of Jerusalem residents, and the many visitors who visit the city, will enjoy a pleasant and safe ride on the light rail.”

Katz said the extension was due in part to accommodate the high volume of visitors and staff at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.

“Every day about 30,000 people visit the Hadassah hospital, in addition to the thousands of hospital employees,” he said.

“Railway transport will make the hospital more efficient and help visitors driving there save money collected from all vehicles entering the hospital.”

The ministry has already begun preparatory work to extend the line, including the construction of new stations, and it plans to purchase dozens of new coaches, which Katz said will allow the light rail to transport roughly 250,000 passengers daily.

Katz said the ministry is modeling the system after those in European countries that have significantly cut down on traffic and pollution by creating efficient and convenient railways.

“Soon we will buy more cars in order to meet the many demands of the light rail network and we intend to build light rail lines similar to those in Europe,” he said.

Total expenditures for the project are expected to reach NIS 4 billion.

IDF Haredi pre-military academy

The first Haredi pre-military academy to be funded by the Defense Ministry will open this August in the Jordan Valley.

News of the establishment of the Hararei Tzion academy came amid heightened tensions surrounding the issue of Haredi enlistment in the IDF, as well as an attack against a Haredi soldier carried out by a mob of ultra-Orthodox men in Jerusalem. Brig.-Gen. Gadi Agmon of the IDF Manpower Directorate noted that the army has received 80 complaints of physical violence and verbal abuse, in which Haredi soldiers have reported that tires of their vehicles have been slashed, graffiti has been sprayed at their homes, they have been spat on and stones have been thrown at them.

Graduates of the academy will serve as combat soldiers in the Netzah Yehuda Battalion of the IDF’s Nahal Haredi unit.

“We are right now in the middle of a gradual and historic process in which the number of young Haredi men enlisting in the IDF is continually increasing,” Ya’alon said regarding the opening of the new academy.

“We are doing this not by brandishing a sword, but gradually, with tolerance, while having recruited leading Haredi figures in the ultra-Orthodox community to help us in this important social process, which will contribute to the IDF and Israeli society.”

In the first stage of its operation, the academy will accept 20 Haredi youth from around the country, preparing them for enlistment and engaging them in religious studies and community work in the Jordan Valley.

The staff, including the director and instructors, is to be made up of Haredim who served as officers and NCOs in Nahal Haredi.

According to a statement by the Defense Ministry, emphasis will be placed on the participants’ Haredi identity, while at the same time giving them the tools to prepare for army service and contributing to the state as IDF recruits and Israeli citizens.

Although the facility will be the first pre-military academy for Haredim to be funded by the Defense Ministry, there already exists a privately funded academy catering to Haredi youth. It is wary of publicity out of concern for its activities and students, and thus remains little-known.

2,000-year-old siege of Jerusalem

The Antiquities Authority on Thursday unearthed for the first time a small 2,000-year old cistern near the Western Wall that connects an archeological find with the famine that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem during that era.

The cistern – found near Robinson’s Arch in a drainage channel from the Shiloah Pool in the City of David – contained three intact cooking pots and a small ceramic oil lamp.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavations director for the Antiquities Authority, the discovery is unprecedented.

“The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them,” he said. “This is consistent with the account provided by Josephus.”

In his book The Jewish War that describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Jewish scholar Josephus detailed the resulting hunger that ensued.

In his account, Josephus, also known as Yosef ben Matityahu, wrote of Jewish rebels who sought food in the homes of other starving Jews confined to the city. Fearing these rebels would steal their food, many Jews used cisterns to conceal their meager provisions, and later ate in hidden places within their homes.

“As the famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it,” Josephus wrote.

“For as nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the houses and ransacked them,” he continued.

“If they found some, they maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured them.”

Josephus recounted that many Jews suffering from starvation would barter their possessions for small quantities of food in order to stay alive.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of corn-wheat if they happened to be rich; barley if they were poor,” he wrote.

“They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of their houses, where some, through extreme hunger, ate their grain as it was; others made bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table laid.”

The artifacts will be on display during a July 4 conference on the City of David, organized by the Megalim Institute.

Earlier in the week, the Antiquities Authority uncovered in Beit Hanina a well-preserved section of a 1,800- year-old road leading from Jerusalem to Jaffa during a routine excavation prior to the installation of a drainage pipe in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood.

Canterbury Archbishop affirms Israel’s right to exist


Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in Jerusalem on Thursday that Israel had a right to exist – like every other country – “in security and peace, within internationally agreed boundaries.”

Asked about his position on diplomatic issues, he said that “the clear policy of the Church of England and my own personal opinion is that the State of Israel is a legitimate state like every other state in the world, and has a right to exist in security and peace within internationally agreed boundaries.”

“All the people in the region, without exception, from whatever background they come from – whether Israeli, Palestinian or any other – also have the right to exist in peace and security within properly agreed frontiers.”

The head of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion – which numbers some 85 million adherents worldwide – held a series of meetings during a stop in Israel during a trip to the region.

Welby met with President Shimon Peres at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem and with the committee for interfaith dialogue of the Chief Rabbinate, and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum with his wife and son.

Talking to the press at the offices of the Chief Rabbinate, Welby described the Holy Land as the center of the world and the birthplace of religion.

“This is the cradle of three great world faiths, the cradle of our Christian faith, it’s where Jesus lived and walked and died and rose again. It is the center of the world in so many extraordinary ways,” Welby remarked in explaining why he decided to visit the region so early into his tenure as archbishop.

President Peres said when welcoming the archbishop that religious leaders have a greater responsibility than ever before, because problems cannot be solved with power. They can only be solved with goodwill, and spiritual leaders must raise their voices to promote peace, love and understanding, he said.

Referring specifically to Israel, he said that the land was holy to all religions, and that it was the responsibility of the government to guarantee security, freedom of worship and respect for the holy sites.

“We want to introduce a brotherly sentiment,” he said.

Welby said he welcomed the president’s comments about the responsibility of religious leaders, and especially regarded it as a duty on their part to prevent religion from becoming an excuse for violence.

During his visits over the years, Welby said he had seen a deep hope for improving relations between peoples but he had also detected a deep pain.

The attainment of peace, justice and security for all people in this land was a huge challenge “when there is so much history in such a small space,” he said. “This is a land for which we pray. Many of us love and seek the welfare of this land. You are living in perilous times and in perilous times we need courageous leaders.”

At Yad Vashem, the archbishop was presented with a Page of Testimony and archival information regarding a young boy who, according to the Holocaust museum, was most likely a distant Jewish relative of his who was murdered in the Holocaust.

Welby only recently discovered that his father was born Jewish, that he had Jewish relatives who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and other relatives who perished in the Holocaust.

“This is not a place for words,” he said during his visit.

“It’s a place for tears and a place for learning and remembering, and I think the fewer words the better.”

Welby was in Cairo earlier this week where he met Pope Tawadros II, the head of Coptic Orthodox Church, and Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University. He also met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Wednesday and was scheduled to visit the West Bank to meet Palestinian officials.

Science park inaugurated in Beersheba, promoting technology in the South

The park, which extends over some 17 hectares in Beersheba’s Old City, hosts 11 interactive exhibitions; the central attraction of the museum is a nuclear energy display developed in collaboration with the Nuclear Research Center and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.

The park will also serve as an educational facility for students from high schools in the area; they will come several times a year with their class to conduct experiments, guided by staff, and visit exhibits directly connected to their studies.

The goal of the complex is to “kindle interest in science and technology and offer opportunities for acquiring science skills and knowledge, within an innovative educational framework,” according to the Rashi Foundation.

The idea for the science park was born in 2005, as part of the Education Ministry’s MADAROM project, established back in 1997 with Rashi to strengthen science and technology education in the South. Another initiative that resulted from the project is the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben-Gurion University.

“Beersheba has particularly invested in making the city and the region attractive in recent years due to the transfer of the military there,” Leven explained. “But we came here way before that and the idea then was really to focus on the periphery and close the gaps.”

“There were huge educational and social gaps and our ambition was really to try and close them, so we are practically not invested in the center of the country where there are more resources,” he continued.

Itzik Turgeman, Rashi’s executive vice president and director-general, said being involved in the periphery allows the foundation to “make an impact.”

“It’s not something you can achieve in one project, it’s a concept,” he said. “There is wonderful potential in the South and the periphery as a whole, and all we need to do is give the kids tools to become excellent.”

“In Israel, we have three main science museums: One in Jerusalem, one at the Weizmann Institute [in Rehovot] and the Technion’s Madatech [in Haifa],” he pointed out.

“The access of citizens from the South to these three science museums is very poor so most of them don’t attend museums, and we know that museums are key elements in exposing people to the beauty of science, of higher education.

“Knowing that kids in the South are not exposed to museums explains part of the existing gaps,” he said.

“When you reach the point that they have a degree in science, you have officially made an impact,” he said. “This is not a one-year project, it’s a long-term vision.”

“Very often you find kids who have the potential, they pass the matriculation exam at a high level but for socioeconomic reasons don’t pursue higher education, and then they need the extra push,” Leven said.

The Rashi Foundation aspires to “create qualified population to the South who will lead the future Silicon Valley of Israel.”

“We have everything we need to make this happen in the South,” Turgeman said with conviction. “The army which has moved down there, an excellent university [BGU] and vast land to build on.

“When there will be hi-tech industry in the periphery, talented population will stay there and population from the Center will prefer to leave the dense city and go to the South or the North,” he explained.

The Carasso Science Park is part of the Gustave Leven Campus, named after the late founder of the Rashi Foundation, which also includes hotel accommodation, a swimming pool and a dining room.

Number of Salaries to Buy Homes Rising


The Ministry of Housing and Construction announced on Wednesday that the situation of homebuyers is worsening in the face of rising prices for new and second-hand homes. It says that the number of average salaries to buy an average home rose to 135 salaries in the first quarter of 2013 from 131 salaries in 2011-12, 129 salaries in 2010, 116 salaries in 2009, and 103 salaries in 2008.

A breakdown of homes by new and second-hand and by the number of rooms found that 181 average salaries are needed to buy a second-hand five-room apartment - more than 15 years of work - and 179 salaries to buy a new five-room apartment.

It takes 150 average salaries to buy an average new four-room apartment (12.5 years of work) and 128 salaries to buy an average second-hand four-room apartment (10.6 years of work). It takes 7.5 years of work to buy an average second-hand three-room apartment, and 90 average salaries to buy a new three-room apartment.

As for mortgages, the Ministry of Housing says that the average monthly mortgage payment was 30% of disposable income in January-April, and that the ratio was even higher for 41% of borrowers. Buyers of apartments costing less than NIS 1.2 million are more in debt, with 54% of them having a loan-to-value ratio of over 60%, compared with fewer than a third of mortgage holders of apartments that cost more than NIS 1.2 million.

The Ministry of Housing says that the average rent is NIS 3,411 a month nationwide. The average rent in Tel Aviv is NIS 5,059, 54% above the national average, and the average rent in the Haifa suburbs in the Krayot is NIS 2,141, 35% below the national average.

Investment in residential construction fell to 8.3% of GDP in the first quarter from 8.7% in the corresponding quarter. "In 2005-12, this percentage rose from 7.5% to 9%, albeit with fluctuations," says the ministry, adding that the ratio was over 10% in the early 2000s. Investment in residential construction was 2.1% lower in real terms in the first quarter than in the corresponding quarter, totaling NIS 22.3 billion.

OECD: Israelis younger with high life expectancy

The good news is that Israelis are younger, have a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality than most other member nations in the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. The bad news is that Israel has fewer hospital beds and nurses per capita and lower national public expenditures on health than almost any other member state.

The OECD disclosed this on Thursday, as part of its annual comparative report of healthcare data. Israel has been a member of the organization of advanced nations since 2010.

Most of the negative data on Israel involved its medical infrastructure, while most of its positive statistics involved demographics.

From the former, it became clear that only two of the 34 OECD states have fewer hospital beds per capita than Israel.

The ratio is 1.9 beds per 1,000 residents compared to the OECD average of 3.4. The lack of beds forces medical staffers to discharge patients early and to follow a “warm-bed policy” of admitting patients as soon as the existing ones can be sent home – even if they haven’t totally recovered.

There are 3.3 physicians per 1,00 residents in Israel, compared to the OECD average of 3.2, but the local ratio has declined significantly in recent years and will drop even more in the coming years because of mass retirement by doctors from the former Soviet Union who arrived in the 1990s. In most other OECD countries, doctor-to-resident ratios are increasing.

There are only 4.8 nurses per 1,000 Israelis, compared to the OECD average of 8.8 – a very serious lack. In addition, national healthcare expenditure as a proportion of the gross domestic product is low – 7.7 percent compared to the OECD average of 9.3%. The share of state expenditures continues to decline as residents have to pay more out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare, the report found. It is 60.8% compared to the OECD average of 72.7%.

Israel is third among the OECD in the rate of citizens who have supplementary and private health insurance policies, which is an indication that the residents don’t trust their basic health insurance to provide the care they need (as has been shown in recent opinion polls).

At the same time, Israel is a young country, with only 10% of the population aged 65 and older – although the percentage is constantly growing – compared to 15.4% in the average OECD country. It also has a lot of children – 28% under the age of 14 – the second highest rate in the OECD. Thus the dependence ratio, showing the burden of the working public from those too young or too old to work, is the highest in the organization of states.

The mortality rate in Israel is lower than in the US and the UK, but higher than in Spain, Greece and Scandinavia; however, there are significant differences in mortality rates among ethnic, religious and racial groups in Israel.


Teva is stopping filing for patents in Israel for products developed in the country and will file for them in Switzerland instead. The step will enable the pharmaceutical giant to benefit from tax exemptions and incentives that are granted in Switzerland but are not available in Israel for development, manufacturing and registering patents.

As "Globes" revealed earlier this year, Teva has paid virtually zero tax in Israel due to the Law for the Encouragement of Capital Investment which benefits companies manufacturing in Israel. However, for registering patents without subsequent manufacturing, Israel offers no tax benefits. Furthermore, production activities that are not completely undertaken in Israel and are part of the chain that include activities by companies abroad, are also not eligible for tax breaks.

In contrast Switzerland grants tax breaks for companies that are only filing for patents and not manufacturing in the country and conducts a tax breaks regime whereby products only partly manufactured in the country enjoy far reaching tax incentives if certain conditions are met.

"Globes" has also been informed that top executives at Teva contacted senior government officials to investigate the possibility of establishing a similar tax break mechanism in Israel for solely registering patents as exists in Switzerland. The possibility is being examined but it is thought unlikely that the tax incentive will be granted.

The main reason for reluctance to introduce such a tax break is that to create a benefit for solely registering patents without the need for manufacturing could result in factories being transferred out of Israel. Finance Ministry sources also explain that it is unacceptable to create tax policies based on the needs of a single company. Teva, as reported, plans taking advantage of the Swiss tax regime for registering patents and its company's activities abroad, and consequently Israel will lose revenue from patent registration.


Teva has a number of patents including that of its flagship drug Copaxone for treating multiple sclerosis. Teva is also very active in the generics sector developing treatments based on drugs where the patent has expired. Here too in developing generic drugs Teva has registered its own patents on the things it developed itself from the patent taken from another company.

Teva's problem is not the percentage of tax it pays but rather the company's ability to maximize the tax breaks it receives. A source that understands tax considerations said, "The problem is not where tax is higher but what is defined as revenue that enjoys tax breaks. The definition in Israel is very narrow. We are talking about a law regarding production in Israel based on industrial activities in the country. When we look at global companies like Teva with activities partly carried out in Israel but that buy raw ingredients abroad, and some of their activities are carried out by third parties, in such a situation the company does not enjoy tax breaks."

In other words according to the current interpretation by income tax, the question of what is production in Israel for Teva, which is a multinational with a chain of production encompassing countries overseas, means it won't enjoy tax benefits for patents and developments in this international chain.

In contrast Switzerland encourages companies to register their intellectual property and patents and manage their supply chain in Switzerland where production can be partly conducted. Tax break are offered providing management is carried out from Switzerland by at least 25 employees.



"My family was very assimilated, and I guess it wasn’t too cool to be Jewish then, so I was influenced by my surroundings of family and friends,” says Burt Bacharach, explaining in his gruff voice from his home in Los Angeles why he never practiced the Judaism he was born into 85 years ago. “I was left to create a religion of my own in my mind and my heart.”

Even though the legendary melodist responsible for dozens of unforgettable songs may have renounced organized religion from an early age, millions of fervent listeners have worshiped at Beit Bacharach through decades of hits like “The Look of Love,” “I Say a Little Prayer for You,” “Walk on By,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” and “This Guy’s in Love with You.”

Instead of instilling Bacharach with his Jewish heritage, his parents focused on musical education, with piano lessons evolving into late- night jaunts to Manhattan to see jazz greats like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, and eventually a music studies program at McGill University in Montreal, Mannes School of Music in New York City and the Berkshire Music Center. It all led him to songwriting and a chance to earn his Tin Pan Alley stripes at the famed Brill Building song factory in New York in the 1950s and early ’60s, perfecting his craft and rubbing shoulders with fellow future songwriting superstars like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

“It was a wonderful time when I was working at the Brill Building. In the elevator, you would see Leiber and Stoller or run into Phil Spector.

It was a building full of music,” said Bacharach, adding that there was good-natured competition among the songwriting staff to produce bigger hits and better songs, but also a fair share of nurturing and mentoring going on.

Bacharach’s songs, many of which were written with his longtime lyricist Hal David, whom he met at the Brill Building, and performed by sultry voiced songstress Dionne Warwick, are carefully crafted pop symphonies that hit all the right notes from beginning to end.

But remarkably well-preserved and healthy, Bacharach is enjoying a new round of professional activity, including a CD box set, The Art of the Songwriter: Anyone Who Had a Heart – The Best of Burt Bacharach , and a long-awaited autobiography, Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music , which candidly discusses his “swinging ’60s” past, and was described by the Daily Telegraph as “a world of broads, highballs and frequent dinners at Italian joints where Sinatra liked to hang out.”

“I was never a performer. Before I became successful as a songwriter, I made a living as a band leader for Vic Damone and then Dietrich,” said Bacharach. “Later, after I became a songwriting success, I started to get offers to perform and even go to Las Vegas for an engagement at Harrahs. But I never thought it would lead to something like appearing with my band in Israel. You never know where life will take you.”

Sport in Israel

Several sports are played in Israel and many are represented at international level.

At present the main competitions in Israel are the athletics championships and the road and mountain bike national championships and the Maccabi Games.

A decision will soon be taken about who will represent Israel at the World Mountain Bike Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

The Israel Cycling Federation has to decide whether there is sufficient finance available to send a team to South Africa. If the finance is found the team is likely to include Shlomi Hami, Israel Senior Olympic Champion and Ronen Ellis who was recently crowned as Israel Junior Olympic Mountain Bike Champion.

The largest sporting event at present in Israel is The Maccabi Games.The largest ever Maccabiah Games also known as “Jewish Olympics”  opened in Jerusalem with nearly 10,000 athletes coming to participate from 77 countries from all five continents.

The games caters for masters and paraplegic as well as junior athletes.

76 countries will be represented only by their best Jewish athletes as this event is meant to be a gathering of Jewish sportsmen and sports women from around the world. However Israel will be the only country that will be represented by all its sportsmen and women regardless whether they are Jewish or not. The best Israeli Muslim, Christian and Druze athletes will also represent Israel.

The first Maccabi Games was held in 1932. The games are held every four years usually one year after the Olympic Games. 2013 will be the 19th games.

About 40,000 people including Israel’s President and Prime Minister as well as many foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the opening in Jerusalem to see the lighting of the torch, the march of the athletes and live performances by performers like Rami Kleinstein, violinist Miri ben Ari, Canadian born Kathleen Reiter and others.

The Maccabi Games is one of the biggest sporting events in the world by number of participating athletes.