News Highlights October 2013



     1. The Second 100 years.


2. The Israelis.


 3.  Israeli Cities.


 4.   Israeli Kibbutzim.


 5. IDF sends a field hospital to Philippines.


     6. Domestic Violence.

     7. The Push for Only One Chief Rabbi.

     8.  Minister calls for Administrative Detention.

     9. Launch of first private power plant.

   10. Ministers Approve Bill Prioritizing Rent Aid.

   11. Israel - France Cooperation.


 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.

Two members of Kibbutzim won the ninth international competition " Eilat Red Sea " Underwater photography - Mimi. They are Mark Fuller, who won the main category and first prize of $ 10,000. Second place was photographer Uri Dotan who won $ 3,000 .

The competition has been called " the Olympics of the world underwater photography - Days " is the brainchild of Israeli diving magazine " s " and  IDIVE  So far the events of " Eilat Red Sea " awards have been worth more than half a million dollars and this year  the total award came to $ 80,000.

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 – Ayelet Zurer

Ayelet Zurer is securing her position as the most successful Israeli actress in Hollywood. After starring alongside Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor in Angels & Demons, which earned $500 million across the world, 41-year-old Zurer has filmed the leading female role in director Chris Eyre’s  film A Year in Mooring, along with Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind).

In 2003, she graduated from small supporting roles in Israeli films and won the Ophir (the Israeli Oscar), for her starring role in Savi Gavison’s Nina’s Tragedies. Zurer played the title role.

Zurer’s Hollywood breakthrough began in 2005 when she was cast in Steven Speilberg’s Munich. In 2008, she appeared in the thriller Vantage Point alongside Dennis Quaid and Sigourney Weaver. She also appeared as a nurse in Paul Schrader’s Adam Resurrected, who gets involved with a disturbed Holocaust survivor played by Jeff Goldblum, “She’s an actress whose abilities are so soft and warm,” Schrader said of Zurer when the film was screened at the Haifa Film Festival.

In 2009, The Independent Film Critics Association crowned Zurer one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women, and ranked her ninth – after Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley and before Scarlett Johansson and Nicole Kidman.

Israeli Cities – Dimona

Dimona is an Israeli city in the Negev desert, 36 kilometres (22 mi) to the south of Beersheba and 35 kilometres (22 mi) west of the Dead Sea above the Arava valley in the Southern District of Israel. It has a population of 40,000.

The city's name is derived from a biblical town, mentioned in Joshua 15:21-22.

Dimona was one of the development towns created in the 1950s under the leadership of Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Dimona itself was conceived in 1953, and settled in 1955, mostly by new immigrants from Northern Africa, who also constructed the city's houses. When the Israeli nuclear program started later that decade, a location not far from the city was chosen for the Negev Nuclear Research Center due to its relative isolation in the desert and availability of housing.

Currently, Dimona is the third largest city in the Negev, with the population of 40,000. Due to projected rapid population growth in the Negev, the city is expected to triple in size by 2025.

Dimona is home to Israel's American Black Hebrew community, governed by its founder and spiritual leader, Ben Ammi Ben-Israel. The Black Hebrews number about 3000 in Dimona, with additional families in Arad, Mitzpe Ramon and the Tiberias area. Their official status in Israel was an ongoing issue for many years, but in May 1990, the issue was resolved with the issuing of first B/1 visas, and a year later, issuing of temporary residency. Status was extended to August 2003, when the Israeli Ministry of Interior granted permanent residency.

In the early 1980s, textile plants, such as Dimona Textiles Ltd., dominated the industrial landscape. Many plants have since closed. Dimona Silica Industries Ltd. manufactures precipitated silica and calcium carbonate fillers. About a third of the city's population works in industrial workplaces (chemical plants near the Dead Sea like the Dead Sea Works, high-tech companies and textile shops), and another third in the area of services. Due to the introduction of new technologies, many workers have been made redundant in the recent years, creating a total unemployment rate of about 10%. Dimona has taken part of Israel's solar transformation. The Rotem Industrial Complex outside of the city has dozens of solar mirrors that focus the sun's rays on a tower that in turn heats a water boiler to create steam, turning a turbine to create electricity. Luz II, Ltd. plans to use the solar array to test new technology for the three new solar plants to be built in California for Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

Dimona is at an average height of about 550–600 meters above sea level. It is in the Negev Desert, therefore it has a desert climate with low humidity for most of the year and little precipitation. Average annual precipitation is about 100 mm (4 in), mostly during the winter.

Dimona is connected to the national rail service which allows for mobility of people and transportation of bulk materials to the ports. The main bus terminal is the Dimona Central Bus Station, with lines to Beersheba, Tel Aviv, Eilat, and nearby towns.


 Israeli Kibbutzim – Ein Gedi

Ein is a kibbutz on the western shore of the Dead Sea in Israel. Located on the edge of the Judean desert at the site of historic Ein Gedi.

The kibbutz was founded in 1953 by graduates of Zionist youth movements and members of the Nahal. Located on the edge of the Green Line separating Israel from the Palestinianheld West Bank, the kibbutz was completely isolated in the desert, the nearest Israeli village several hours away via a dirt road. After the 1967 Six-Day War , a road was paved from Jerusalem via Jericho and along the shore of the Dead Sea. This essentially ended the kibbutz's isolation and opened the door to its development. Today Kibbutz Ein Gedi is home to 650 persons, 240 of which are actual kibbutz members.

Kibbutz Ein Gedi is primarily involved with agriculture and tourism of the surrounding area and neighboring antiquities

The kibbutz operates a 100 dunam (10 ha, 24.7 acre) botanical garden housing over 900 plant species from around the world. It is the only populated botanical garden in the world, with 500 residents. The garden joined the register of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International in 1994, and today is recognized by the National Geographic Society as "the 11th wonder of the world. The garden includes Date palms and Arecaceae, tropical and desert flora.


Located on the shores of the Dead Sea, on the edge of the Judean Desert, facing spectacular views of high rising cliffs, valleys and rivers is the Ein Gedi Hotel. The hotel offers several levels of accommodations suitable for every type of guest, and hidden among the flowers of the botanical garden is a special experience of a pastoral retreat at the lowest plane of land on Earth.

Ein Gedi is a desert oasis characterized by ample beauty which challenges the barren desert and the salty sea. The people of Ein Gedi took a courageous step in building the unique botanical garden, which brings together plants from all over the world and provides those who stroll through its paths an experience of tranquility, serenity and beauty.

IDF sends a field hospital to Philippines

The Israel Defense Force sent a humanitarian mission to assist victims of the Typhoon in the Philippines, army sources said.

The mission, headed by Col. Ramtin Sabati, who commands the National Rescue Unit, consists of 50 medical staff and a field hospital. The decision came following an evaluation meeting held by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

The mission will also include Col. Dr. Dudu Dagan, Deputy Chief Medical Corp Officer, who will act as commander of the field hospital. 

Medical professionals were also sent  to Tacloban City in the storm-ravaged Philippines.

The Foreign Ministry also announced that Israel would send a search and rescue team with experience in searching damaged buildings, as well as further medical teams.

Philippine officials have been overwhelmed by the scale of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest on record, which tore a path through islands in the central Philippines on Friday.

About 660,000 people have been displaced and many have no access to food, water or medicine, the United Nations said. The typhoon killed an estimated 10,000 people in one city alone, with fears the toll could rise sharply as rescuers reach more devastated towns.

The Israeli army field hospital is the only hospital in the area where the Israel Air Force transport plane carrying the hospital and staff landed. All other hospitals in the area were totally destroyed.

An air survey of the damage revealed that a plane could not land without some repairs to one partially damaged air strip and the only air strip that could be repaired.

Army engineers were parachuted into the area with some equipment  for making repairs so as to ensure that the airstrip would be ready for the landing.

Within hours the hospital was up and running and the operating rooms began performing some major operations conducted by Israel Army surgeons. The wards were full of injured people receiving treatment from the field hospital's medical staff. The maternity ward was also very busy as several injured women gave birth on the first day.

 Domestic Violence

Some 600,000 children living in Israel today have witnessed domestic violence in their home, a report says.
The WIZO report also stated that about 200,000 women victims of domestic violence reside in the country today.

Prof. Einat Peled of Tel Aviv University’s School of Social Work said  that children exposed to violence in the home have been statistically proven to be more likely to lack stability and experience emotional difficulties than other children.

“When you consider the children who are exposed to violence, we know that in the worst cases, the child lives in an environment of terror, fear and lack of confidence,” she explained. “Secondly, there could also be developmental issues in the fact the child is exposed to problematic models for interpersonal communication and problem solving.”

“Watching abuse take place can affect the relationship between the child and his parents,” Peled added.

“His relationship with an abusive father is problematic because of the violence, and his relationship with a mother who isn’t able to defend herself is also a problem because the child may see her as weak.”

Peled stressed, however, that these consequences vary and are more or less severe depending on the degree and frequency of the violence occurring in the home.

The WIZO study, which is based on data collected by welfare departments and law enforcement authorities, also revealed that in the past year, some 7,335 women, 1,021 children and 2,860 men were treated in 89 centers for the treatment and prevention of domestic violence across the country.

In total, about 15,000 inquiries were made to such centers this year.

Moreover, some 621 women and 1,047 children received assistance in 14 shelters for battered women this year.

According to the data, every year about 60 women who begin the process of integrating into a shelter do not stay.

The WIZO figures also showed that 17,444 cases of violence within the family were opened by police in 2013.

Out of the cases, about 11,303 had originated from complaints of violence against women. Another 657 of them were opened as a result of violations of restraining orders. The total number of such orders filed this year is 7,183.

By the end of the current year, the number of cases opened by police is expected to reach 20,000 and complaints of violence against women are estimated to rise to 13,000, according to the report.

Moreover, 19 women were murdered by their partner or a family member since November 2012 until today. In the past decade, a total of 186 women were murdered by family members.

In terms of battered women’s ability to function on a daily basis, Peled said that although abuse is a strain on women’s everyday lives, some women are still able to assume their roles as mothers and working women.

In terms of medical treatment, about 4,170 women were treated in various healthcare services for injuries following domestic violence and sexual assault in 2012, the report showed. An additional 536 women who suffered such injuries refused to be treated.

“Some women don’t even ask for help,” Peled said. “In these cases we need to think of how we can make these services more accessible to them, and by accessible I mean to adapt the range of services to different cultures and different languages, for example. The aid needs to be adapted to women in different situations.”

She added that although great efforts on the subject have already been made in Israel, “we still have a way to go.

The Push for Only One Chief Rabbi

Israel will only have one chief rabbi, according to a draft bill Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Religious Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett and Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben- Dahan reported.

According to the proposal, there will be one chief rabbi who will be elected regardless of his country of origin. There are currently two chief rabbis, an Ashkenazi and a Sephardi one.

 “Israel has one prime minister, one president, one Supreme Court president and one IDF chief of staff; the time has come for us to only have one rabbi for one nation,” Livni said. “The State of Israel should have one chief rabbi to unite all parts of Israeli society and a rabbinate that will give services to all parts of the Jewish people instead of maintaining a formal, old-fashioned separation.”

According to Bennett, this change is an important step symbolizing national unity.

“The only question is why didn’t this happen sooner,” Bennett stated. “Today, when Ashkenazi people marry Sephardi people and Yemenites and any other origin, there is no reason for two chief rabbis.”

The intended bill would also separate the rabbinate from the religious courts system, making it independent. The head of the religious court and his deputy would be chosen by judges in the Great Rabbinical Court, just as High Court justices choose their president.

The reasoning behind this change is that Livni, Bennett and Ben-Dahan feel the head of the rabbinical courts should be able to focus only on that job, as opposed to the current situation in which the chief rabbis lead religious courts, even if they are not trained rabbinical judges.

If the bill becomes law, it will only apply after the next chief rabbi election, in 10 years.

Rabbi Haim Navon, a popular author who teaches at moderate religious-Zionist institutions, praised the proposal on Facebook, writing “it’s about time.”

“Here’s a recommendation: The next chief rabbis should be elected for only five years. Ten years is too long for only one person to be in charge,” Navon added.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, speaking for the Reform Movement in Israel, called for the cancelation of the rabbinate.

“The State of Israel is not Iran and Judaism in Israel and in the Diaspora don’t need a Vatican,” Kariv said. “In a reality in which the Orthodox community doesn’t listen to the chief rabbis’ decisions anyway, the job is just a symbol of the Orthodox monopoly and the undemocratic and un-Zionist idea that there is only one right way to be Jewish.

 Minister calls for Administrative Detention

Several car bombs have exploded in central Israel in the past few months as the heads of Israel's Mafia battle for control.

In addition during the past few years there have been several gun battles in the center of Israeli cities as crime families battle for control of areas of the country. Several people have been killed including some innocent passers by.

The head of a major crime organization in central Israel who has been a central figure in police investigations, was immediately declared a suspect in a recent car bombing, as well as in the murder a month earlier of two men associated with a rival crime family.

The Israel Police and the Judiciary have been unable or unwilling to tackle Israel's Mafia problem.

In the wake of the upsurge in mob violence, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Likud Beytenu) has called for “preventative arrests” against criminal figures along the lines of the administrative detentions used to fight terror.

“Our intention is to take [criminals] off the street,” Aharonovitch said

at a conference of the Journalists Association in Eilat.

“I need to worry about the citizens and not about them [the criminals]. This is a war and we will win this war.”

It was a statement similar to one he made during an interview on Channel 2, in which he said that “in a war you use all the tools. There are tools I have requested – budget increases and to allow the police to use administrative detentions.”

An official at the Public Security Ministry said that Aharonovitch is in favor of “preventative arrests... carried out before the commission of a crime, which is permitted if it is for the sake of public security.”

The official added that “if people are going to describe these organizations as being like terror groups, then they need to be treated like terror groups.”

Despite Aharonovitch’s statements, one government source said Tuesday that administrative detention was “not being discussed.”

The source said that while many more aggressive measures were under discussion following last Thursday’s attempted car bombing in Tel Aviv of a prosecutor working on cases against organized crime, administrative detention was not one of the measures.

Administrative detention is indefinite detention without formal trial or even regular charges, although military judges can approve specific periods of detention.

The government says it is used in rare circumstances for foreign terrorists, such as Hamas members, to prevent them from committing future crimes or where presenting evidence at a trial would expose intelligence sources in the field.

Administrative detention is highly controversial and rarely used in Western democracies, with Israel and the US being among those nations employing it.

It has never been used to fight domestic crimes, which must be brought to trial, the suspects being detained only for defined periods by civilian courts.

 Launch of first private power plant

The opening of the first privately owned power plant in the country heralds the expansion of private electricity production that will mean lower prices for consumers, Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom said.

Shalom spoke at the opening ceremony for OPC-Rotem, a natural-gas plant in the Negev Desert about a dozen kilometers east of Dimona. While the 440-megawatt facility came online over the summer, officials held the plant’s formal opening ceremony at the desert facility.

Shalom said with the expansion of private companies, a streamlining of government involvement and the use of natural gas, consumers will see lower bills on common utilities.

“Power generation will become much cheaper,” he told an audience of journalists, diplomats and industry executives.

“Therefore, the rates will go down dramatically in the next few years by dozens of percentage points, and each of you will feel it in your households.”

Shalom said he wants 40 percent of electricity generation to be private.

“You’ll pay less for electricity, less for gas, less for water,” he said, noting how electricity costs impact the distribution of the other commodities.

Shalom praised the coordination between the government owned Israel Electric Corporation and the OPC-Rotem power plant; IEC officials trained their counterparts at OPC-Rotem.

But, he said, “we’re heading toward a huge reform in the electric market. We would like to streamline the IEC and streamlining means downsizing employees.”

Construction on the power plant, which processes gas piped in from the Mediterranean Sea, started in 2011 and took only 30 months to complete, which was nine months ahead of schedule. But the smooth construction process belied the strenuous process of approval.

Around 1,000 Negev residents were among the staff hired to build the power plant.

A spokesperson said, “The establishment of the power plant here will enable not just clean, environmentally friendly energy, but mainly to encourage the creation of new jobs in the Eastern Negev.”

OPC-Rotem is part of the electricity arm of IC-Power, a subsidiary of the Israel Corporation established in 2007. In total, IC-Power generates more than 4,000 megawatts of power in several countries in Latin America as well as in Israel.

Although OPC-Rotem was the first private power station to come online in Israel, it is now not the only one operating.

Three weeks after the connection of OPC-Rotem in July, several turbines at the Dorad gas power station in Ashkelon were activated. That station is slated to operate at its full, 840- MW capacity by the end of the year. Both OPC-Rotem and Dorad had rushed to connect to the grid this summer at the behest of the IEC, which had feared an otherwise jeopardized power reserve during the year’s hottest months.

By the end of summer in 2015, an even larger independent power station, the 870-MW Dalia Power Energies gas facility in the Shfela region, will also come online and will sell the largest amount of electricity to the IEC.

Ministers Approve Bill Prioritizing Rent Aid

 Funds from selling public housing will be used to aid the needy, in rent payment and to buy more property for affordable housing, according to an amendment to the Public Housing Law approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

The same panel voted down the bill in August and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and ministers from Yisrael Beytenu continued to oppose the legislation this week. The bill will have to pass three votes in the Knesset before being implemented.

Under the current law, people who resided in public housing for extended periods have the option of buying the apartment.

The amendment proposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel requires that money from such sales be used to invest in more public housing and its maintenance, to keep the public housing supply intact and to subsidize rent for those eligible to receive aid.

Much of the funding is expected to go to the second option, aid in rent, which Lapid and Ariel prefer.

“Today, we started off on a path that will give solutions to public housing and realistic aid in paying rent for those who are eligible,” Ariel stated. “After many years, tenants will finally be able to buy property that they will own and be fully responsible for, and improve their social and economic standing.”

According to Ariel, selling public housing apartments will give its residents independence.

The New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change, or Shatil, opposed the amendment and demanded that all funds from selling public housing be put into purchasing or building new public housing and not invested anywhere else. In addition, the organization said the government should funnel additional funds toward that end.

Israel - France Cooperation

The French and Israeli governments will examine signing an agreement to allow French companies to build two additional light rail lines in Tel Aviv at a cost of NIS 30 billion. One line, the Green Line, will run between Herzliya and Holon, at an estimated cost of NIS 17 billion, and the second line, the Purple Line, will run from Kiryat Ono via Tel Hashomer, to Tel Aviv, at a cost of NIS 13 billion.

Parties involved in the talks said that if a franchise to build the lines is given to a French consortium, the Green Line could be completed before the Red Line, which is under construction. The deadline for the Red Line has again been pushed back from 2017 to 2022-23, due to bureaucratic and regulatory difficulties and problems.

Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz met French Junior Minister of Transport Frederic Cuvillier, "The French government is interested in being involved in building the Tel Aviv-Gush Dan light rail and metro network. I'll listen to the proposal with the management of NTA, which is responsible for the project, and we'll consider the legal aspects.

Katz said that the French want to participate in the construction, financing, and operation of the light rail lines. "They have extensive and critical experience. Obviously, we'll insist that most of the workers be Israelis," he added.

Katz said that the government would also consider awarding the French franchisee two additional lines (the Yellow Line and the Blue Line), but emphasized that NTA would be a key partner in the project.

Shahal, who is close to the French government, said, "The idea of the Tel Aviv light railway is one of several ideas for economic cooperation in infrastructures between Israel and France. This is a respectable, European-scale project and a French consortium could build it much faster than planned and at competitive terms."

A government-to-government agreement could open the taps, provided that the contract terms do not deviate from market norms.