News Highlights December 2013


  1. The Second 100 Years.

  2. The Israelis.

  3.  Israeli Towns and Cities.

  4.   Israeli Kibbutzim.

 5. Green Parliament 

 6. Roving Ambassador.

 7. The Retirement Crises.

 8. Waterproof Phones.

9. Colonel  Oshrat Bachar.

 10. Tax Benefit for Donations.

 11. Academic Qualification before joining IDF.


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 privatized kibbutzim or the relatively few unique collective communities.

The total kibbutz population of about 143,000 is the highest in its 104-year history. More people are now joining kibbutzim than leaving and the addition of working-age adults and young children is helping to redress the balance of an ageing population.

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

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

In the Negev agriculture or should we say aquaculture is booming. On an industrial scale marine products are being produced such as ornamental fish, food fish, crabs, seahorses, algae, corals and crocodiles.

The global market for ornamental fish has grown rapidly over the past two decades and with it the international trade of these marine products. What started as a hobby of enthusiasts has now become a flourishing market.

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 – Itzhak Perman

Perlman was born in Tel Aviv. Perlman first became interested in the violin after hearing a classical music performance on the radio. At the age of three, he was denied admission to the Shulamit Conservatory for being too small to hold a violin. He instead taught himself how to play the instrument using a toy fiddle until he was old enough to study with Rivka Goldgart at the Shulamit Conservatory and at the Academy of Music in Tel Aviv, where he gave his first recital at age 10. Perlman contracted polio at age four. He made a good recovery, learning to walk with crutches. Today, he uses crutches or an electric  scooter for mobility and plays the violin while seated.


Perlman was introduced to the American public when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show twice in 1958, and again in 1964, on the same show with the Rolling Stones. He made his debut at Carnegie Hall in 1963 Soon afterward, he began to tour widely. In addition to an extensive recording and performance career, he has continued to make guest appearances on American television shows such as The Tonight Show and Sesame Street as well as playing at a number of functions at the White House.

Although he has never been billed or marketed as a singer, he sang the role of "Un carceriere" ("a jailer") on a 1981EMI recording of Puccini's "Tosca" that featured Renata ScottoPlácido Domingo, and Renato Bruson, with James Levine conducting. He had earlier sung the role in an excerpt from the opera on a 1980 Pension Fund Benefit Concert telecast as part of the Live from Lincoln Center series with Luciano Pavarotti as Cavaradossi and Zubin Mehta conducting the New York Philharmonic.

In 1987, Perlman joined the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) for their concerts in Warsaw and Budapest as well as other cities in Eastern bloc countries. He toured with the IPO in the spring of 1990 for its first-ever performance in the Soviet Union, with concerts in Moscow and Leningrad, and toured with the IPO again in 1994, performing in China and India.

While primarily a solo artist, Perlman has performed with a number of other notable musicians, including Yo-Yo Ma,Jessye NormanIsaac Stern, and Yuri Temirkanov at the 150th anniversary celebration of Tchaikovsky in Leningrad in December 1990. He has also performed (and recorded) with good friend and fellow Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman on numerous occasions over the years.

As well as playing and recording the classical music for which he is best known, Perlman has also played jazz, including an album made with jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. Perlman has been a soloist for a number of movie scores, notably the score of the 1993 film Schindler's List  byJohn Williams, which subsequently won an Academy Award for best score.

Perlman played at the state dinner attended by Queen Elizabeth II on May 7, 2007, in the East Room at the White House.

He performed John Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts" at the 2009 inauguration ceremony for Barack Obama along with Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero(piano), and Anthony McGill (clarinet).

The Perlman music program, founded in 1995.The program allows the students the chance to be coached by Itzhak Perlman himself before playing at venues such as the Sutton Place Synagogue and public schools. By introducing students to each other and requiring practice sessions together, musicians who would otherwise be practicing alone develop a network of friends and colleagues in the profession. Rather than remain isolated, participants in the program find an area where they belong.]

Perlman plays using the antique Soil Stradivarius violin of 1714, formerly owned by Yehudi Menuhin and considered to be one of the finest violins made during Stradivari's "golden period." Perlman also plays the Sauret Guarneri del Gesu of c. 1743.

Israeli Towns and Cities – Shlomi

The Shlomi Municipality is located on the northeast boundary of Israel, 3 kilometers east of Rosh Hanikra. Shlomi was built as a development town in 1956 and was populated by immigrants from Tunisia and Morocco. In 1960, when Shlomi received municipal status, it had 1,600 residents. As a result of bad planning and its proximity to the border, Shlomi has suffered from economic and social problems since its establishment. As a result, its population hardly grew.

In the 70s and 80s, industrial enterprises (primarily using manual labor) were established in the town and during the 1990s, some 1,000 immigrants from the Former Soviet Union were absorbed in the town. During the 90s, cheap housing attracted hundreds of veteran Israelis from the North and the suburb of Shlomit (consisting of detached housing) was established. Despite these developments, Shlomi continues to suffer from economic difficulties, including a high level of unemployment.

Only 50% of high school pupils obtain Matriculation.

The town now has a population of about 6,000.

Israeli Kibbutzim – Tirat Zvi

Tirat Zvi is a religious kibbutz in the Beit She'an Valley, ten kilometers south of the city of Beit She'anIsrael, just west of the Jordan River and the Israel-Jordan border. The kibbutz had a population of 654.

Tirat Zvi is located 220 meters below sea level. On June 21, 1942, it recorded the highest daytime temperature in Asia (54°C; 129.2°F).The kibbutz was founded on June 30, 1937.

On February 20, 1948, before the neighboring Arab nations officially joined the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, a battalion of the Arab Liberation Army led by Muhammed Safa attacked Kibbutz Tirat Zvi. The attackers were repelled, after 60 of the attackers were killed. One kibbutz member was killed in the fighting.

The kibbutz operates a meat processing factoryTiv, which sells its products locally and abroad. Tirat Zvi is the largest date grower in Israel, with 18,000 trees. The kibbutz also has a lulav business. Working with scientists from the Volcani Institute, Tirat Zvi developed a method of preserving the palm fronds for several months, allowing them to be harvested in the spring and sold in the fall, for use on the holiday of Sukkot. In 2009, it produced 70,000 lulavs.

 Green Knesset (Parliament)

 The "Green Knesset" project  will make the Israeli parliament the greenest in the world.


The multi-year project's goal is to convert the Knesset into a legislature that is guided in its conduct by the concept of sustainability (a multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary concept which examines our lives, as a whole, in terms of the environment, society and the economy).


Speaker Edelstein said that while the project required a significant financial investment, "it will bear fruit and return the investment," adding that the "Green Knesset" project constitutes a declaration of an "irreversible policy" led by parliament.


The project will consist of numerous activities, including educating MKs and Knesset employees on the environment and encouraging them to partake in activities related to the environment; publishing position papers on the issue; launching projects that will make the Knesset a more sustainable place; and making the everyday operational activities in the Knesset more sustainable as well.


Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz (Hatnua) said during the event: "At a time when my office is leading an environmental revolution in industry and in the residents' homes, the symbol of the country must become a leading element in the green revolution, because it is the Knesset's duty to protect the next generations, and protecting the environment is the way to do it. Those who want to think far must think green."


The first phase of the project, which will be implemented throughout 2014 and 2015. This phase will be characterized mainly by 13 ventures focusing on energy and water. Among other things, this phase will include the construction of a 4,500 square meter solar field for the production of electricity from renewable energy; replacing hundreds of bulbs with LED bulbs; replacing the air-conditioning systems with an energy center; automatically shutting down all of the computers at the end of the workday; measuring the amount of water used for irrigation in the Knesset and adopting a more economical water consumption model; the desalination of water from the Knesset's air-conditioning systems and using this water for irrigation and other purposes. 


Moreover, the saving of energy will reduce the level of carbon emissions from the Knesset and thus make the Knesset's ecological footprint smaller.


Some NIS 7 million ($2 million) will be invested in these initiatives, and the average return from saving energy and water is estimated at NIS 1.5 million ($430,000) a year, on average, after about five years.


This sum will be transferred to the "Green Fund," which will be designated for the continuation of the "Green Knesset" project (meaning the expansion into additional initiatives), as well as for the benefit of the employees, as is customary around the world.


All of the approved projects have been found to be economically feasible.


The Knesset has already adopted some environmentally conscious practices: Knesset employees recycle paper and bottles and try as much as possible to avoid printing out documents.

Roving Ambassador MK Majallie Whbee


MK Majallie Whbee has been appointed Roving Ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean.

PAM President Dr. Sergio Piazzi notified Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein of the appointment, which Whbee shares with a former deputy speaker of the Egyptian parliament.

Edelstein presented Whbee with the appointment, calling it “a great achievement for the State of Israel and the Knesset.”

“We do not get an abundance of such prestigious appointments, and I congratulate Whbee on his extensive activities, which led to his becoming PAM vice president in the past and now its ambassador,” the Knesset speaker added.

Whbee said he “plans to deal with sensitive missions that will affect regional stability and quiet.”

As part of Whbee’s new position, he will be PAM ’s ambassador to the UN, and was already invited to meet UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon.

Next month, PAM will meet in France, where Syrian representatives plan to take part in the conference, and Ban asked the organization to work on stopping the civil war there.

Whbee is also tasked with acting as an Israeli ambassador to PAM and makes him a member of the organization’s presidium.

Whbee was a Knesset member for 12 years as a member of the Likud and Kadima factions and was deputy foreign minister.

PAM was founded in 2006 and has 25 member countries

including Palestine.

The organization is meant to promote the interests of Mediterranean countries and work on regional issues, including political and trust-building dialogue between members.

The Retirement Crisis

Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional Israeli retirement age of 67.


Living standards will fall, and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II. In developing countries, people's rising expectations will be frustrated if governments can't afford retirement systems to replace the tradition of children caring for aging parents.


The problems are emerging as the generation born after World War II moves into retirement.


"The first wave of under-prepared workers is going to try to go into retirement and will find they can't afford to do so," says Norman Dreger, a retirement specialist in Frankfurt, Germany, who works for Mercer, a global consulting firm.


The crisis is a convergence of three factors:


Countries are slashing retirement benefits and raising the age to start collecting them. These countries are awash in debt after overspending last decade and racking up enormous deficits since the recession. Now, they face a demographics disaster as retirees live longer and falling birth rates mean there will be fewer workers to support them.


"Most countries are not ready to meet what is sure to be one of the defining challenges of the 21st century," the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, concluded in a report this fall.


As the 2000s dawned, governments — and companies — looked at actuarial tables and birth rates and decided they couldn't afford the pensions they'd promised.


People were living longer: The average man in 30 countries the OECD surveyed will live 19 years after retirement. That's up from 13 years in 1958, when many countries were devising their generous pension plans.


The retirement age would have to reach70 in Israel to maintain control of the cost of pensions.


Along with rising life-expectancy, many in Israel are finding themselves near the retirement age with a pension and government allowances that won't allow them to support themselves.


A Taub Center study showed that the number of workers between the age of 55 and 74 has grown significantly from 2001 to 2011 since the National Insurance Institute and the pension structures are not ready to deal with the steep incline of the senior population and are not providing a reasonable response to the phenomenon.


The Finance Ministry wants to raise the retirement age for men to 70 from 67.


 Governments around the world are raising retirement ages and slashing benefits.


Water Proof Phones for Soldiers

Hardened, water proof phone will allow soldiers to send digital media from the battlefield.

The Defense Ministry and Motorola Solutions signed an agreement paving the way for a deal for a new, encrypted army cell phone network made up of smart phones.

The new devices will allow members of the security forces to text, send digital media and encrypted emails directly from the battlefield to the command and control centers.

It will replace the IDF’s current cell phone network, known as Rose Hills – based on older cell phone models.

The touch-screen smart phones, like their civilian counterparts, have an inbuilt GPS and an eight-megapixel camera, but they have also undergone an adaption for use by soldiers in combat zones, and come with unique applications.

The phone has a hardened exterior, is water and dust proof, and comes with a battery that provides 400 minutes of air time and 500 hours of stand by time.

The project will cost the Defense Ministry NIS 100 million to implement and manage over the next 15 years.

Motorola will provide ongoing technical support for the devices and the network.

Colonel  Oshrat  Bachar will head Eitam Battalion

The IDF has appointed its first female battalion commander.

Colonel Oshrat Bachar, who will head a Combat Intelligence unit in the Southern Command along the border with Egypt and will take charge of a battalion named Eitam, tasked with monitoring hostile terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula.

 She began her military career as a lookout soldier in the Combat Intelligence Corps, and went on to become a company commander in the field. From there, she became an instructor at the IDFs Combat Intelligence School, before serving as a department head in the office of the advisor on to the chief of staff on women's' affairs.

Her husband, Maj. Ohad Bachar, told an army publication in recent days that they both shared the goal of becoming battalion commanders, and praised his wife for "realizing her ambitions and making a breakthrough as the first woman in the role."

During a conference for recruiting women to Combat Intelligence units Colonel Bachar told young women that "this is your opportunity to be pioneers, and to build another brick in this new and powerful wall."

Tax Benefit for NGO Donations

The Knesset Finance Committee approved tax benefits for donors of NGOs operating in a variety of fields, including welfare, education, and religion.

NGOs working in fields abandoned by the state should receive that state’s support, the Finance Committee chairman said.

The benefit will be provided through a credit of 35 percent on donations made to these NGOs, following a review by the tax authority, and provided they meet all the necessary criteria that the law stipulates, including proper management and issuing of financial reports.

“In this way the state saves itself large expenses that the state was supposed to finance, had it provided the same services as these organizations,” said a spokesperson.

The list of NGOs eligible for tax benefits was only recently received by the committee, following his appeals to the Treasury.

Among the organizations for approval, are those active in the fields of education, welfare, and religion. For institutions not funded by the government, donations are like oxygen. Approval of the benefit is a real development for many of these public bodies, and the population groups supported by them.

The list of organizations, which was submitted included only organizations that were examined and that met all the necessary criteria.

 Academic Qualification before joining IDF

On his visit to the Jerusalem College of Technology President Shimon Peres showed special interest in meeting and hearing the ultra-Orthodox students who constitute about a third of the institution’s 4,500 students.

The visit to the 44-year-old academic institution – which teaches engineering, management, accounting and nursing to national religious and Haredi young people, with men and women on separate campuses – was the first by a president.

The modern Orthodox men on the Givat Mordechai campus join the Israel Defense Forces before or after getting their degrees, while the Haredi men – most of them with wives and children and no scientific, mathematics or English-language background – go straight from their Yeshivot to a year of preparatory classes to matriculate and then to their studies, without IDF service.

Women, both national religious and Haredi, study nursing in the capital’s Givat Shaul campus, while modern Orthodox women get degrees in electronics engineering, computer engineering and other subjects. Haredi women study various subjects, including accounting and business, at Machon Lustig in Ramat Gan to prepare for supporting their families as their husbands study Torah.

The president added that he saw no contradiction between Torah and Science, and some of the Haredi JCT students agreed.

During his visit, Peres called for a national program that would provide free nourishing food for all children from birth through age three, English and Internet studies in pre-schools and free education through the age of 18 for all, whether religious or secular.

He also suggested that all teens from 10th grade should be allowed to work for two hours a day – at clean, intellectual jobs, if possible, to integrate their studies with real life. New ways of teaching have made it possible to learn the same amount in half the time, Peres said.