News Highlights September 2013


1. The Second 100 years

2. The Israelis.

3.  Israeli Cities.

4.   Israeli Kibbutzim.

5. Govenor of the Bank of Israel.

6.  Legal meaning of sexual harassment.

7.   Ebay and Israel.

 8.   Food Labeling.

 9.  Visiting Prime Ministers.

10.  Mayor of Kiryat Malachi.

11. CBS report on Poverty.

12. Israel Sifonietta.



 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.

Italy discovered the benefits of the Negev. Greengrocers in Italy have signed an agreement for growing potatoes in winter in the Negev.
Negev farmers received seeds from " G'rmicofh " European potato seed type Daiflh , to raise them in Israel during the winter , when the weather is not favorable for growing in Italy . The first transaction involves the export of 450 tons from fields in the Negev.
Israel has become Europe's vegetable supllier during the winter when frozen ground in parts of the mainland does not allow for growing vegetables in open areas . With the rise in living standards in Russia and Eastern Europe , the demand for vegetables is strong  in winter and spring.


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 – Amos Oz

Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist. He is also a professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba.

Since 1967, he has been a prominent advocate and major cultural voice of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Oz's work has been published in some 41 languages, including Arabic, in 35 countries. He has received many honours and awards, among them the Legion of Honour of France, the Goethe Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature, the Heinrich Heine Prize and the Israel Prize. In 2007, a selection from the Chinese translation of A Tale of Love and Darkness was the first work of modern Hebrew literature to appear in an official Chinese textbook.

Oz was born in Jerusalem, where he grew up at No. 18 Amos Street in the Kerem Avraham neighborhood. Roughly half of his fiction is set within a mile of his boyhood home.

He and his family were distant from religion, disdaining what they perceived to be its irrationality. Yet he attended the community religious school Tachkemoni as the alternative was the socialist school affiliated with the labour movement, to which his family was decidedly opposed in their political values. The noted poet Zelda was one of his teachers. After Tachkemoni he attended Gymnasia Rehavia.

His mother, who had suffered from depression, committed suicide when he was 12, repercussions of which he would explore in his memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. Soon after, at the age of 15, he became a Labor Zionist, left home, and joined kibbutz Hulda.

There he was adopted by the Huldai family (whose  son Ron serves as mayor of Tel Aviv) and lived a full kibbutz life. He also changed his surname to "Oz", Hebrew for "strength". Asked why he did not leave Jerusalem for Tel Aviv, he later said, "Tel Aviv was not radical enough – only the kibbutz was radical enough". However by his own account he was "a disaster as a laborer... the joke of the kibbutz". When Oz first began to write, the kibbutz gave him one day a week to write; when his book My Michael became a best-seller, and he had become "a branch of the farm", three days; and in the eighties he had four days for writing, while teaching for two days and taking turns as a waiter in the kibbutz dining hall on Saturdays.”

His earliest publications were a few short articles in the kibbutz newsletter and the newspaper Davar. His first book Where the Jackals Howl, a collection of short stories, was published in 1965. His first novel Elsewhere, Perhaps was published in 1966. Following this, he began to write prolifically, publishing an average of one book per year on the Labor Party press, Am Oved. Oz has written 18 books in Hebrew, and about 450 articles and essays. His works have been translated into some 40 languages, including Arabic. In 1997, President Jacques Chirac presented him with the Legion of Honour.

·         In 1998, he was awarded the Israel Prize, for literature. In 2004, the Welt-Literaturpreis from the German newspaper Die Welt[

·         In 2005, he was awarded the Goethe Prize from the city of Frankfurt, Germany for his life's work, a prize which was awarded in the past to the likes of Sigmund Freud and Thomas Mann.

·         In 2007, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in Literature (Spain).

·         In 2007, his book "A Tale of Love and Darkness" was nominated one of the ten most important books since the independence of Israel.

·         In 2008, he was awarded the Primo Levi Prize (Italy).

·         In 2008, he received an honorary degree from the University of Antwerp.

·         In 2010, he received the honorary fellowship from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

·         In 2013, he was award the Franz Kafka Prize.

In his works, Oz tends to present protagonists in a realistic light with an ironic touch while his treatment of the life in the kibbutz is accompanied by a somewhat critical tone.

Oz is among the most influential and well-regarded intellectuals in Israel.

Oz has been considered in recent years to be a potential candidate to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Israeli Cities – Karmiel

Karmiel is a city in northern Israel. Established in 1964 as a development town, Karmiel is located in the Beit HaKerem Valley which divides upper and lower Galilee. The city is located south of the Acre-Safed road, 32 kilometres (20 mi) from Safed and 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Ma'alot-Tarshiha and 20 kilometres (12 mi) from Acre. Karmiel has a population of about 50,000.

Karmiel was one of the first cities in Israel to be established according to an urban master plan. It was built as part of the Central Galilee Development Project. Work began in 1963, and the official inauguration ceremony took place in October 1964 The first 16 families moved in at that time. A tender for the construction of Karmiel's main roads was issued in 1963, and Mekorot built a water pipe network connecting Karmiel, Rameh, Sha'ab and other nearby villages. In 1981, Karmiel was awarded the Beautiful Israel prize and the Kaplan Prize for Management and Services. Karmiel achieved city status on November 20, 1986. The first mayor was Baruch Venger, followed by Adi Eldar, who has remained in this position until today.

During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah fired 180 Katyusha rockets into Karmiel and the neighboring villages, leading to casualties and damage to buildings, roads, and cars.

Karmiel is located on the Acre–Safed road, on the northern edge of the Lower Galilee. It lies in Emek Beit HaKerem and its elevation is 330 m (1,082.68 ft). The Hilazon Stream passes slightly to the south of Karmiel. Its tributaries, the Shezor and Shagor Streams pass through Karmiel on the east and north, respectively. Karmiel sits on the Shagor mountain range, which stretches from Mount Hazon in the east (584 m (1,916.01 ft), next to Maghar) to Mount Gilon in the west (367 m (1,204.07 ft), at Gilon). Western Karmiel was built on the Karmi (362 m) and Makosh (315 m) mountains. Work on a new railway line linking Haifa and Karmiel has begun.

The city also receives significant internal migration of Haredi families. Since 1990, 16,000 immigrants have arrived in Karmiel, the majority of whom are from the Former Soviet Union. According to the national master plan, by 2020 Karmiel will have a population of approximately 120,000 residents. Since 1980, six new neighborhoods have been developed and populated, and a technical college has been serving the community since 1989.

Today there are four high schools, four junior high schools, a vocational training center, nine state-run elementary schools, one state-run religious school (including high school), an independent education elementary school, a school for gifted children and an educational farm, many kindergartens, nursery schools and daycare centers, as well as a network of community youth and sports centers and the international ORT Braude College of Engineering with a student body of 3,500 studying computers, electronics, industrial administration, biotechnology and other subjects. A biotechnology research and development center will also opened at the college.

The city is known for the Karmiel Dance Festival, a yearly event since 1988. The festival is usually held for 3 days and nights in July, and includes dance performances, workshops, and open dance sessions. The festival began as a celebration of Israeli folk dance, but today it features many different dance forms from all around the globe, and attracts thousands of dancers and hundreds of thousands of spectators from many countries.

The Holocaust Memorial Park is located at the entrance to the city. The bronze sculptures were made by Jewish sculptor and artist Nicky Imber (1920-1996). The sculptures are separated into three groups: Holocaust, wondering and hope; which represent the story of the Jewish people from the time of the Holocaust to the return to the holy land.

Karmiel was the first Israeli city to receive ISO 9002 certification for the quality of its services. It is one of the few Israeli cities with ISO 1410 certification for environmental standards. Karmiel has enacted by-laws to protect the environment and prevent pollution, and become a center for clean industries and advanced technology enterprises that abide by these standards.

 Israeli Kibbutzim – Ma'abarot

Ma'abarot is a kibbutz in Israel. Founded in 1932, today it has a population of approximately 850 people, and is under the jurisdiction of Hefer Valley Regional Council.

Ma'abarot was the third kibbutz established by the Kibbutz Artzi federation and is located in the Sharon Plain, near the old road from Petah Tikva to Haifa. It was founded by graduates of the left-wing Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth movement in Romania who organized themselves as a settlement group, and immigrated to Mandate Palestine in 1924.

Upon their arrival in Palestine, the group had to wait several years until land for settlement was made available, and they worked as hired laborers in the meanwhile. In 1932, a large stretch of land the Wadi Hawarith/Hefer Valley area was acquired by the Jewish National Fund of which a small part was  given to the settlement group, ten members of which established an initial presence on the land, constructing housing and farm buildings, and making a start in land amelioration, while the rest of the group continued its communal life in Hadera until they, too, moved to the site of Ma'abarot. Over the following years, the kibbutz membership was augmented by additional Hashomer Hatzair groups, from Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany (of which most members where Russian), and Chile.

Ma'abarot farms approximately 3,000 dunams (3 km²) of land. Cotton is the major cash crop, and other branches include subtropical orchard, fish-breeding ponds and a dairy. The kibbutz also operates two pharmaceutical factories:

·         "TRIMA", which produces medical supplies; and

·         "Ma'abarot Products", which manufactures veterinary medical supplies and feed additives for livestock, among them "BONZO" dog food and "LaCat" cat food.

In addition, Ma'abarot runs a state of the art spray drying plant, which dehydrates foods of every variety. Foremost among these is "MATERNA", an infant formula which is the leading baby-formula in Israel, and the only product of its kind which is wholly manufactured in Israel.

Members of the kibbutz were very much involved in the artistic and musical life of the country. The composer Nissim Nissimov, leading figure in the musical activities of the Labor movement, organized in the year 1944 a famous musical show inspired by the Song of Songs. In 1955 the well-known French cellist Paul Tortelier, impressed by the ideals of the kibbutzim, settled and worked here for a year, with his family. He then composed an "Israeli Symphony", based on his experiences in living at the kibbutz.

Musician Geva Alon is from Ma'abarot.

New Governor of the Bank of Israel

Outgoing chief Stanley Fischer praises decision; opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich lauds appointment as "enlightened"; says after 2 failed attempts, PM made "the best decision"; analysts, traders welcome choice.

News of Ms. Karnit Flug's appointment as the head of the Bank of Israel has been well received.

Flug has been acting chief since Stanley Fischer stepped down in June, and, despite being Fischer's preferred choice, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid struggled through two failed attempts to fill the post before tapping her for the role.

Fischer praised the decision, crediting Flug with helping him make key policy decisions during his tenure at the bank.

“I know it was not an easy decision, but I also know that along the way, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister searched for the most fitting nominee for the good of Israel’s economy,” he said.

"Even if the process was faulty and at times ridiculous, Netanyahu needed courage to backtrack from his mistake and correct it, and in the end made the best decision," Yacimovich said.

Analysts and traders also welcomed Flug's appointment.

Amir Eyal, chairman of the Infinity investment house, said he expects Flug to implement an expansive monetary policy, supporting exports and employment and following Fischer's footsteps.

As governor, Fischer bought billions of dollars to help weaken the shekel.

Though many economic analysts praised the choice of Flug for the position, not everyone was so forgiving of the drawn-out process that preceded it.

Despite the fact that Fischer gave a five-month warning before he stepped down, Lapid and Netanyahu did not produce their first choice of a successor until his final days in office. That nominee, former BOI Governor Jacob Frenkel, rescinded the offer in July when allegations that he had stolen a garment bag from the Hong Kong airport duty free in 2006 came to the fore. Frenkel denied all wrongdoing, saying the incident was a misunderstanding, but blasted the Israeli media for relentlessly hounding him over the incident.

In August, the second pick, Bank HaPoalim Chief Economist Leo Leiderman changed his mind just two days after accepting the nomination, as stories of his consultations with astrologers and alleged misdeeds during his employment at Deutsche Bank emerged.

After being overlooked for the second time Flug, who was Fischer’s favorite for the position and had garnered the support of prominent MK’s, had announced that she would resign from the bank once a new governor was in place.

Lapid and Netanyahu could not agree on a final choice. Netanyahu was reportedly persuaded to bring Flug on board after a recent phone call with Fischer.

“Those who opposed Flug’s nomination pointed to her lack of international experience, arguing that it could harm Israel’s economic standing,” said Shmuel Ben-Arieh, Director of local market research at Pioneer Financial. “In my opinion, Israel’s standing was actually harmed more by the Lapid and Netanyahu’s unimaginable zigzagging in the process of picking a governor, during which the natural choice, who was finally chosen, was in front of their faces the whole time.”

Flug’s years of experience at the bank and mentorship from Fischer will doubtless help her navigate the serious challenges the economy faces, such as the taming the price of housing, navigating the still-fragile global economy, and moderating the persistent strengthening of the shekel and its effect on exporters.

“The appointment will prevent shocks at the Bank of Israel and the monetary policy,” said IBI Investment House chief economist Rafi Gozlan, who criticized the “puzzling” four-month period that preceded her nomination. “This is a direct extension of Fischer’s policy, though at this stage there is a greater emphasis on exports, and thus the exchange rates, as opposed to housing.”

Knesset panel expands legal meaning of sexual harassment


Public officials can be considered sexual harassers even if their victims do not reject them, according to a bill authorized for its first reading by the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women.

Meretz MK Michal Roisin’s bill is an amendment to the Law to Prevent Sexual Harassment, which lists different kinds of relationships in which propositioning someone or making sexual comments is considered harassment even if the victim did not express opposition to it.

The reasoning is that in a dependent relationship or when one person has power over the other, the victim may be afraid to say no to the harasser.

Roisin added public workers and elected officials to that list, even though they may not have an employer-employee relationship with the victim, because their power and influence could intimidate a victim and make her unable to express opposition.

“Sexual harassment by a public worker is equal to sexual harassment by someone with authority Roisin said. “Even the head of the water department at a municipality, for example, has power over women whose water was disconnected because they’re in debt.”

 Ebay and Israeli renewable energy firm deal

The Israeli renewable energy firm Ormat Technologies Inc. will likely be providing online auction giant eBay Inc. with a 5-megawatt recovered energy generation (REG) power plant to be constructed in Utah, the companies announced on Thursday.

The firms recently signed a joint development agreement that will allow them to proceed with negotiations on a 20-year contract and then begin preliminary development of the facility. The REG power plant is slated to capture waste heat from industrial processes and transform it into electricity for eBay’s new Salt Lake City-based data center, according to Ormat.

“We commend eBay Inc.’s commitment to sustainable commerce and look forward to helping them achieve their clean energy goals,” said Yoram Bronicki, president and chief operating officer for Ormat. “We’re hopeful that our work with eBay Inc. will continue to promote REG as a predictable, environmentally friendly energy source that provides a hedge against the variability of fossil fuel costs.”

Bronicki attributed the project’s development in large part to the fact that energy efficiency has lately begun to play a much larger role in the US market.

“REG offers a proven solution for clean energy to significantly improve energy efficiency to an existing facility,” he said. “These benefits directly contribute to President Obama’s national goal, set forth by Executive Order, to coordinate and strongly encourage efforts to deploy 40 gigawatts of energy efficiency in the US by the end of 2020.”

Ormat already has more than 160 megawatts of installed REG capacity already operating in North America, and a total of 595 megawatts operating around the world, the company said.

The joint development agreement between eBay and Ormat was made possible by Utah legislation – which eBay supported – aimed at enabling non-utility energy consumers to buy and transmit power directly from energy developers.
Afterward, eBay initiated a structured procurement process for an external energy supplier to power its data center. Ormat was the winning bidder.

“SB12 was a critical component to identifying Ormat as a solution to our greener energy needs,” said Dean Nelson, vice president of global foundation services at eBay Inc. “This milestone points to our belief that commerce can be fundamentally more sustainable than it is today – and that eBay Inc. can be a leader in that transition.”

Nelson added that the firm intended to pursue contracts for further REG power “and to reach, and possibly surpass, our goal to source at least 8 percent of our energy from cleaner sources by 2015.”


Food labeling requirements bill

Health Minister Yael German says the Knesset’s winter session will bring about a “revolution” in consumerism with requirements for listing on ingredients of food products on the front of packages.

The plenum is due to soon approve amendments to 20- year-old laws on food products for their second and third (final) readings.

“We are speaking of very important legislation aimed at helping consumers choose more healthful food products,” Prof. Itamar Grotto, head of public health at the ministry, said on Tuesday. Nutritional information – in the four categories of energy (calories), sugars, fat and sodium – will have to appear on the face of the package, while the “usual list of ingredients” will continue to appear on the back, he said.

The ministry hopes that food shoppers will, with this information displayed more prominently, choose more wisely and the amount of overweight, hypertension and heart disease will decline.

With the additional information, packaged food will have an “identity card” including the name, manufacturer, ingredients, nutritional data, expiry date, storage recommendations and more, Grotto said.

Prof. Danny Moran, director of the ministry’s national Program for an Active and Healthy Life, added that Israel is thus following in the footsteps of other Western countries in improving labeling and packaging of food products. “It will influence purchasing habits, eating and behavior. We hope the Knesset will approve the amendments as soon as possible during the winter session that will bring about a revolution that will help all of us preserve our health more effectively,” he said.

The ministry has been working on designing the labels.

German has instructed her staff to contact food manufacturers and explain the prospective regulations.

Prime ministers visiting President Peres make history


Two visiting heads of government at individual meetings on Thursday with President Shimon Peres, described their being in Israel as historic. Both Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta and Peter O'Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea are the first sitting prime ministers of their respective countries to visit Israel

Muscat, a former journalist and investment advisor, has been in office only since March of this year. O'Neill, who was a businessman before entering politics, has been in office since August last year.

Each came to Israel with a large delegation and each is interested in cooperating with Israel in the fields of science and technology.  O'Neill is also interested in developing the Defense Corporation Program that PNG has with Israel  in order to rebuild and  improve the standards of the PNG Defense Forces.  He is also interested in upgrading PNG's overall security,  and bilateral talks on this issue were already underway prior to his arrival in Israel. PNG and Israel established diplomatic relations in 1978, but until recent years when Israel began to pay far greater attention to Asia and the Pacific, little was done to enhance diplomatic ties.

Though rich in natural resources, with huge deposits of oil, natural gas and minerals, PNG with a population of 7.5 million is lacking in innovation and technology said O'Neill, who hopes to be able to cooperate with Israel to remedy this situation.  

Because Israel has a very warm place in the hearts of the PNG population, 99 percent of whom are Christians, with a large Catholic majority, thousands of PNG pilgrims have come to Israel, said O'Neill.

 Before meeting with Peres, Muscat met with a number of Israeli dignitaries including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai who escorted him to the city's Rabin memorial site.  Muscat also signed a health and medical sciences cooperation agreement with Israel in Jerusalem and at his meetings with both Netanyahu and Peres discussed the need for cooperation on other levels as well, among them agriculture, energy and tourism.

In greeting each of the two prime ministers, Peres outlined his vision of a 
global economy in which companies rather than governments would help alleviate hunger and poverty through goodwill rather than imposition of laws that cannot be enforced. In making the case for science and technology, Peres told Muscat "the world is divided by violence and united by science". He spoke of the dangers of terrorism with each of the prime ministers.

Muscat mentioned the humanitarian crisis that Malta is having with the absorption of Syrian refugees and some Palestinians as well. Malta is affected by anything that happens in the Mediterranean region he stated, adding that stability in the Mediterranean is in Malta's interests.  "The well-being of Europe depends on peace and stability in the Mediterranean," he said.

Mayor of Kiryat Malachi


Awake Mengistu says racism must first be fought locally, vows to move city past history of discrimination against Ethiopians.

But Mengistu, the first Ethiopian- Israeli candidate for mayor of a city, isn’t just interested in being “a first.” He intends to confront racism in Israel by improving things in the city of some 23,500 people.

Mengistu founded his campaign on the belief that leading a local government enables one to effect change. With this authority, he said on Tuesday, he plans to move Kiryat Malachi past its history of discrimination against Ethiopians and government corruption, which includes mayor Moti Malcha (2003- 2012) being convicted of sexual harassment of two subordinates and violating planning regulations and former president Moshe Katsav, who was mayor of the city in 1969 and from 1974 to 1981, being convicted of rape.

Mengistu, 27, made aliya from Ethiopia when he was five. He explained that his belief in the power of local politics and grassroots movements began in January 2012, when he and thousands of other demonstrators protested racism in Kiryat Malachi. After a Channel 2 segment showed a Kiryat Malachi neighborhood council agreeing not to sell or rent to Ethiopians, thousands of protesters including Mengistu gathered in Kiryat Malachi. They later marched the 50 km. or so northeast to Jerusalem and demanded the Knesset enact more forceful measures to prevent racism against Ethiopian-Israelis.

Mengistu said his involvement in the demonstrations taught him that political activism was a way to reform society. But to combat racism nationally, he insists that change must start locally.

Educating the younger generation in school and through community participation will begin to confront discrimination in Kiryat Malachi, he said. Education will shape “good students” who will be “good influences on their environment.”

It’s not “only education in a classroom,” Mengistu said. “We’re talking about non-formal education like through youth movements, or even taking an empty bottle and putting it in the garbage.”

Mengistu and his campaign, Eden Hadash (“New Era”), which is part of Yesh Atid’s candidates list, say that improving education in Kiryat Malachi will not only benefit the city; it will put Israel on course to eventually overcome racism against Ethiopians.

Nurit Tizazu, part of Eden Hadash, admitted their campaign is “only the beginning of this process.”

But “this is the goal of our generation,” that Ethiopians will be considered equal in Israel in two or three decades at most, Tizazu said.

Deputy Knesset Speaker Pnina Tamnu-Shata (Yesh Atid), the first Ethiopian woman in the legislature, said Mengistu or another Ethiopian becoming mayor is a necessary step to defeating racism in Israel.

“If we want to win against all this discrimination, we need to put people in front like Awake,” Tamnu- Shata said. It is essential that racism be confronted in the Knesset in addition to locally, she said.

Mengistu plans to create employment opportunities and affordable housing in Kiryat Malachi, raise the school system’s grade-point-average and improve the city’s social welfare programs.

But one of the main criticisms of Mengistu is his youth and inexperience.

He has never held political office and just graduated from Bar- Ilan University after serving as a staff-sergeant in the Givati infantry brigade’s reconnaissance company.

Mengistu, who is competing against five other candidates, is behind in recent polls. He said that in the most current survey, 11 percent of the respondents supported him. This was an improvement over the two previous polls that predicted him wining just 4% and 5%, respectively.

Mengistu said that none of these polls included Ethiopians, who make up approximately 30% of Kiryat Malachi’s voters.

Two of the front-runners are Lalo Zohar, a well-liked city councilman, and Yossi Hadad, the incumbent mayor who replaced Malcha after he resigned.

Even if he doesn’t win the mayoral race, Mengistu, along with Tizazu and Shei Sium, who is third on Eden Hadash’s ticket, will be elected to the city council if the list receives approximately 2,000 votes. Sium said it would be just as great a win if three of Kiryat Malachi’s 13 city council members were Ethiopian.

But Sium and Mengistu wonder if gaining support for city council will be hard because they are Ethiopian.

Sium said that one of the obstacles to their campaign is that four of Eden Hadash’s five candidates are Ethiopian. Someone, according to Shei, first notices four black candidates on their campaign banner.

Mengistu said another criticism against him is simply that “I’m black.”

40% of children at risk for poverty, says CBS report


Some 31% of Israelis are close to the poverty line; Israeli rates are twice the rates of European countries.


Some 40 percent of children in Israel were at risk for poverty as of 2011, compared with 20% in the European Union, data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics reveals.

In Israel and in most countries of the European Union, children and seniors are at greater risk of poverty than people between the ages of 18 to 64, the CBS said, as part of its sixth Society in Israel Report.

Moreover, about 31% of Israelis were at risk of poverty – that is, close to the poverty line – as of 2011, up from 26% in 2001.

The EU average is 17%. People in Spain and Greece are at the highest risk for poverty in the EU.

In 2011, about 41% of single- parent families were at risk for poverty, compared to 35% in most European countries.

“The data speaks for itself,” Prof. Asher Ben-Arieh, of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University said. “One thing sticks out particularly and it’s that the rates in Israel are twice the rates of European countries.”

Ben-Arieh, whose expertise includes child welfare, measuring and monitoring children’s well-being, social policy, children’s rights and the sociology of childhood, attributed this to “an economic policy that constantly increases the socioeconomic gaps and cuts down aid provided by the National Insurance Institute.

“The poverty line is very precise, it’s determined by a specific amount,” he added, “but for people who are one shekel above that, they are still at risk for poverty. Most of the population is close to the poverty line, and only a very few are very far from it.”

Ben-Arieh emphasized that the phenomenon concretely shapes the everyday lives of the children concerned.

“What this means is that the parents need to think twice before sending their child to extracurricular activities and they have to think twice before buying their child some expensive medicine,” he said. “The child ultimately becomes a less enriched, less healthy child: he can’t get tutoring lessons, medical treatment beyond what is provided by the basket of health services provided by the health funds. He is less involved in society, and in most cases he also had no computer or Internet and is less able to connect with the world.”

The solution, Ben-Arieh believes, is to “expand the system of assistance” by making it universal, unrelated to the family’s financial situation, to provide help for those in need and “make sure people are working.

“It’s just a question of society deciding to either take care of this or not to,” he said. “It needs to decide whether we lower the salaries of government leaders to benefit more people or not, and whether the minimum salary should be a dignified one or not.

“Dealing with poverty is the mission of the government and only the government,” Ben-Arieh said. “Whoever thinks that NGOs and all sorts of philanthropic ventures should take care of it doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”


Israel Sinfonietta


Justus Franz – pianist, conductor, Schleswig-Holstein Festival founder, organizer, educator and new music director of Israel Sinfonietta – opened the Negev orchestra’s 2013-2014 season with a program of two 19th century German masterpieces.

He led both with authority, presence and engaging musicianship: Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (commemorating the orchestra’s fifth decade); and Mendelssohn’s infrequently heard Symphony No.2, “Hymn of Praise” (1840), based on biblical verses.

Notably, Justus Franz is the first non-Jewish German music director of the Sinfonietta, or in fact, of any Israeli orchestra since the Holocaust.

Mendelssohn’s magnificent hour-long Opus 52 (in the shadow of Beethoven’s “Choral” Ninth Symphony) was composed to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first book ever printed on movable type – Gutenberg’s Bible. It strives to echo biblical ethos, giving testimony to its manifold aspects of faith.

Structured in four parts, the symphony-cantata’s three brief opening instrumental movements alternate hymn-like phrases (its motto announced in the trombone), “Let all that hath breath praise the Lord,” (Psalm 150:6), with landler or waltz-like rhythms, used as metaphorical musings upon Divine salvation and humanity’s mortal journey and spiritual quest. These are followed by a massive choral cantata movement, flowing into one into another in nine sections or movements. In the center is the Lutheran Chorale “Now Thank We All Our God.”

The combined voices of three youthful, but skilled choirs (60 members): Tel Aviv Chamber Choir (Michael Shani, director), Jerusalem Academy of Music Choir (Stanley Sperber, director) and International Choir Academy Luebeck, all well prepared and coordinated, give expression to powerful emotions of psalmist doubts, supplications, prayers, trust, thanksgiving, salvation and praise.

These ensemble voices were complemented by three soloists. Two from South Africa, Linda Bukhosini, soprano and Tambe Bongani, tenor, notable for their conviction and pathos in conveying the transition from night to day, dark fear giving way to hope and light.

Capable young Israeli soprano Efrat Ashkenazi joined in the duet “Trust in the Lord.”

The essence of Justus Franz’s conducting is in the energy and enthusiasm he projects to players and singers, and exudes to the audience. Tempi are well paced and formal outlines well articulated. Clearly, the Maestro lives this repertoire, and this, in itself, is attractive and refreshing.

Nearing 70, the theme of this opening program reflects upon his identification with the deep sacred roots many feel about Israel’s biblical heritage.

As an expression of cooperation and good will, he brought along about a dozen orchestral players from his own Philharmonia of Nations Orchestra in Germany, with support from Lufthansa and the German- Israel Foundation, to supplement the Sinfonietta chamber orchestra forces.