News Highlights April 2014

Contents

    1. The Kibbutz Movement – the second 100 years.

 

 2. The Israelis.

 

 3.  Israeli Towns.

 

 4.  Israeli Kibbutzim.

 

 5. Kibbutz Businesses.

     6. Israel and Palestine.

     7. Allenby Bridge Commerce.

     8. Gaza Tech Incubator.

     9. Injured Ukrainian Mayor Flown to Haifa.

     10. Haredi Yeshiva Agrees with Army Service.

     11. Israeli Beer on World Map.

     12. Gaza Singer performs 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 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.

For more than 20 years there have been attempts to regulate construction and growth on kibbutzim. In recent years there has increased difficulties and construction was suspended several times due to various government claims. The kibbutz movement will not accept collective punishment. We will work together to ensure proper and fair conduct.
 
The kibbutz movement wants to be at the center of development and construction. The housing crisis severely affects the younger generation's chances to build a life and we want young families to be able to build a life on kibbutzim. The kibbutzim wish to build tens of thousands of apartments which will both create affordable housing for our children and for the many thousands who seek to join a modern day kibbutz.

An Arrangement must be found to allow construction, development growth, employment and decent living hundreds of kibbutzim across the country. We need to remove the bureaucratic obstacles created by the government.

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 – Assi Dayan

Assi Dayan was the youngest son of the legendary General Moshe Dayan and peace activist Ruth Dayan. After military service and studying philosophy and English literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he embarked on a career as film actor, which eventually also leads to directing.

In 1967, Dayan established himself as a film actor and Israeli icon in He Walked Through the Fields. In 1969 Dayan co-starred in the American movie A Walk with Love and Death, set in medieval France and directed by John Huston, in which he plays alongside Huston's daughter, Angelica.

In 1984, Dayan had a supporting role as a prisoner in Uri Barbash's Beyond the Walls, described as an important milestone in Israeli political cinema. Other acting credits include Operation Thunderbolt, about the Israeli raid in Entebbe, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Dayan was the deputy of Yoni Netanyahu, played by Yoram Gaon.

Dayan played the leading role of psychologist Reuven Dagan in the TV drama series Betipul, which ran for two seasons on Israeli TV (2005 and 2008). The series was later adapted for the US market by HBO, which called it In Treatment and had Gabriel Byrne in the lead role.

By 2008 he had acted in some 50 films and TV series episodes.[12]

From 1973 until his death in 2014, Dayan directed 16 films.

In 1976 he directed the film Giv'at Halfon Eina Ona, a comedy about a group of military reservists in the Sinai. This film is considered by frequent surveys to be the 'most Israeli' film of all time.

In 1992, he wrote and directed Life According to Agfa, a film portraying life in a Tel-Aviv pub. The film is a very harsh critique of Israeli society at the time and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 43rd Berlin International Film Festival and won an Honorable Mention. In 1999, he was a member of the jury at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival.

Dayan won the Israeli Academy Award as Best Actor for Mr. Baum. In 1998, he received a lifetime achievement award at the Jerusalem International Film Festival. His role in Time of Favor was acclaimed by Israeli critics as his best screen role of his career.

In 2005, he was voted the 129th-greatest Israeli of all time, in a poll by the Israeli news website Ynet to determine whom the general public considered the 200 Greatest Israelis.

 

Israeli Towns – Ma'alot-Tarshiha

Ma'alot-Tarshiha in Northern Israel, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of Nahariya, about 600 meters (1,969 feet) above sea level. December 2009 the city had a total population of 20,600.[1]

Tarshiha is believed to have been built on the site of a Canaanite settlement, Hakidating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BC. Excavations of a 4th-century burial cave in the village unearthed a cross and a piece of glass engraved with a menorah.

During the Crusader period, Tarshiha was raided by Crusader troops in 1266.

In 1573, under the Ottoman Empire, the village of Tarshiha was raided by the Lebanese feudal chief, Mansur ibn Furaykh. The inhabitants paid taxes on "occasional revenues", from bees and goats. The village was also taxed for a press, used either of olives or for grapes. In the Ottoman period it became one of the major cotton-producing villages of Galilee.

In 1963, Ma'alot was merged with the larger Tarshiha, and the unified town was renamed to reflect both origins. The inhabitants of Tarshiha hoped that the merger would improve the level of services.

Ma'alot-Tarshiha was officially recognized as a city in 1996.

The Iscar plant and industrial parks built in the vicinity of Ma'alot-Tarshiha by Stef Wertheimer are major sources of employment for the city's residents. In 2007, the jobless rate in Ma’alot-Tarshiha was 5.5 percent, compared to 7.9 percent nationally.

In 2001, there were 11 schools and 4,272 students in the city, including 7 elementary schools with an enrollment of 2,000, and 7 high schools with 2,272 students. 58.5% of the city's 12th graders earned a matriculation certificate in 2001. In August 1975, Yeshivat Ma'alot, a Hesder yeshiva, was established, attracting students from all over the world. In recent years the Yeshiva has estimated 300 students per year.

Lake Monfort, an artificial lake to the east of Ma'alot-Tarshiha, has become a local tourist attraction. In January 2008, Ma'alot-Tarshiha hosted the Israel International Chess Championship. The city has also hosted other international events, among them an international fencing tournament. The "Stone in the Galilee" International Sculpture Symposium has been held annually in Ma'alot-Tarshiha since 1991. In this 10-day springtime event, sculptors from Israel and around the world convene at Montfort Lake to create stone sculptures from huge blocks of stone.

In 2009, the non-profit Docaviv established an annual documentary film festival in the city in an effort to bring "high quality cultural activity to the Israeli periphery."

 

Israeli Kibbutzim – Alumim

Kibbutz Alumim is situated in the north western Negev. It was established in the late-summer of 1966 by two groups (garinim) from the Bnei Akiva youth movement and belongs to the Religious Kibbutz Movement. Alumim is a religious kibbutz combining a modern orthodox way of life and a commitment to earning a living whether by agriculture or in alternative professions.

There are 90 families with 135 children. The population includes kibbutz members, soldiers, students, young couples in various stages of absorption and Garin Yonatan, whose members divide their time between working, learning and voluntary work in a Gap Year program before enlisting in the army. Most of the members are "sabras" (born in Israel), but there are also a number of English, American and Australian members.

Alumim is a traditional cooperative kibbutz which adheres to the established kibbutz ideology "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs". All income generated by the various branches of the kibbutz and all members’ wages are deposited in the kibbutz’s central account. Members receive all their requirements ("basic needs", a monthly allowance and many "luxuries") from the kibbutz regardless of the income they have generated for the kibbutz. Unlike most of the other kibbutzim, there has been almost no privatization on Alumim and most of the very large communal budget is distributed by committees which are responsible for all areas of kibbutz life.

Alumim is a successful kibbutz whose stable economy is based largely on agriculture. In addition, internal service industries have been expanded and now sell their skills to all interested parties. Apart from being home to 375 people, Kibbutz Alumim is a thriving business which provides a living for the 90 families who live there.

 

Kibbutz Alumim's businesses include - growing potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes,(conventional and organic) peppers, jojoba, wheat and other cereal crops, avocados and citrus fruit - poultry farming,dairy farming, packaging,computer automation technology, dental clinic.

A central focus of Alumim's communal life is the Bet Knesset (synagogue) and Bet Midrash. Shabbat, festival and daily services are held in the synagogue and there is a full schedule of daily and weekly shiurim (lessons) given by Rav. Amit Kula, the rabbi of the kibbutz, or kibbutz members. There is a rich cultural life on the kibbutz with trips, lectures, shows and activities to suit all tastes.

Kibbutz Alumim places great importance on Tzedakah (charity) and social awareness. As a community and as individuals the residents of Alumim are involved in numerous voluntary projects: an annual summer camp for handicapped children run by the youth of Alumim, visiting bereaved families, volunteering on help lines for victims of violence, giving beauty treatments to cancer patients, preparing food parcels for needy families in the area, volunteering in a neighborhood in Sderot and many more.

Any community must continue to grow, develop and expand if it wishes to survive. In light of this Alumim is taking strategic action and planning for the future.

Some of the challenges that lie ahead are the - expansion of the kibbutz's businesses and infrastructure together with the promotion of building initiatives - absorption of new members to ensure continuity - provision of support and welfare for the founding members as they grow older - development of educational and cultural programs to enrich the members and their families - Involvement and mutual support of social welfare programs in the surrounding communities and in Israeli society as a whole - continued investment in countering the security and settlement challenges inherent in a community flourishing on the Gaza border

In the 21st century where individualism and personal fulfillment are such strong motivators Alumim is committed to the challenge of attracting new members who are willing to be part of a society which relies on a willingness to contribute to the wider community and where personal benefit or advancement may have to take second place.

 

Arison Investments sells Dorot Control Valves at a loss

Arison Investments, controlled by Shari Arison, has reached an agreement to sell Dorot Control Valves to the Spanish company Regaber for 70 million shekels. Arison Investments originally paid 105 million shekels.

Regaber, a subsidiary of the Spanish company Mat Holding, will also inject another 70 million shekels into the company to pay back loans received from the Arison Group. The agreement requires Regaber to continue operating Dorot Control Valves at Kibbutz Dorot, where it employs 220 people, for the next 10 years.

Regaber will repay the shareholders loan that Dorot Control Valves received from Arison Investments. A further amount will be paid to Arison Investments if Dorot meets its sales and profit targets in the coming years.

Regaber is active in the field of irrigation infrastructure products and gardening products, and partners with Netafim and Makteshim, in addition to being a customer of Dorot Control Valves. The parent company Mat Holding is active in the areas of water and copper-based pesticides.

 

Dorot Control Valves, which makes command and control valves and valves for irrigation and transportation of water for agriculture, water and sewage systems for local authorities and fire fighting, power plants and mines, did not fulfill the expectations of Arison Investments for rapid growth. This occurred both because of the unfortunate timing of the acquisition, the economic downturn, and due to a fall in real terms of 18 % of the dollar against the shekel since the acquisition, which reduced profitability.

 

Dorot Control Valves was founded in 1946 and has increased its operations in recent years due to increasing its product portfolio, entering additional geographic markets and increasing its share of the domestic market. The company entered the remote reading of water meters market through collaboration with Miltel and partnered with Advanced Ag, establishing a subsidiary in Australia for entry into air valves.


Israel and Palestine

A debate is going on suggesting that a viable Palestinian state offers a logistical problem given that its two parts, the West Bank and Gaza, will be separated by Israel. One could argue that, under sincere peace conditions, the passage across that stretch of Israeli territory can in the long run become as uncomplicated as crossing from Germany to France in the aftermath of the shaping of the E.U. The Middle East however is not Europe.


There may be another solution. It is modeled on the experience of India and Pakistan, which were shaped as modern states at around the same time that Israel gained independence. Having primarily Muslim Pakistan divided into two parts by primarily Hindu India proved disastrous for decades, until finally the two Muslim states were disconnected from each other, leaving one as Pakistan and the other as Bangladesh. Why not do the same with non-Israeli Palestine? Instead of a two-state solution, what about a three-state solution.

For starters, this proposal would eliminate the main logistical complication pertaining to the communication between the two parts of the Palestinian state. The notion of creating a land corridor between Gaza and the West Bank would effectively cut Israel in half: how do Israelis then travel from north to south of the country? There have been other proposals, for extensive connecting tunnels or bridges, but these, too, are a logistical challenge.

Moreover, two separate states for Palestinians would accord more realistically with a key current political reality: Hamas controls Gaza and the Palestinian Authority controls the West Bank. Creating two separate states would allow each to develop according to its own plans.

From the perspective of Israeli security, the majority of Palestinians and their PA leaders on the West Bank have expressed readiness to think and act in favor of peace and to move toward normalized relations with both Jordan and Israel—and with the world within and beyond the Middle East—but Hamas, embedded in Gaza, remains more intransigent. The three-state solution would make it possible for Israel to focus toward normalized relations with the West Bank, PA-led Palestinians; and on defense measures with regard to the Gazans. 

Now is the time, as President Obama would say, to recalibrate, and to think outside the box, as the United States uses its leverage to help pull the Israelis out of their box of fear and distrust and to push the Palestinians and other Arabs out of theirs. It requires the will of Israelis and Palestinians and of an American leadership committed to long-term peace. 

Upgrade of the Allenby Bridge commercial crossing

A representative of the Quartet (of Middle East peacemakers) will visited Amman to further discussions with the Jordanian government on the upgrade of the commercial crossing at Allenby Bridge between Jordan and the West Bank, aiming to increase the volume of containers passing through it.   

The vast majority of the Palestinian export market is with Israel. According to the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics, some 70% of imports (worth some $4.7 billion) and 80% of exports (worth around $800 million) come from Israel or through it each year.

These figures have long troubled Palestinian economic leaders, and they are looking for ways to diversify the Palestinian export market and open up other markets.

 

Israel is also unhappy with these figures. Research carried out by the Office of the Quartet Representative and the Ministry for Regional Cooperation in Jerusalem found that if Allenby Bridge was equipped with a scanner capable of checking containers, it would see a 30% increase in the goods bring processed. Similar scanners are now being used in Haifa and Ashdod ports.

 

 Allenby Bridge is more important to the Palestinians than Ashdod or Haifa, as this is the passing point for their exports to the Arab states to the east, mainly the rich Gulf states and Jordan.

 

There is no passage for Israeli goods at Allenby - it serves only the Palestinians. There is currently no scanner at the bridge, and so no containers pass through, only trucks carrying crates of goods. This creates a problem as international companies, particularly in the Gulf, demand modern standards for goods and container packaging to make the transfers much more efficient.

 

At present, 1,400 trucks pass through Allenby each month. The vast majority of them are for import (raw materials, household items and food) and very few are used for export (such as agricultural produce and building materials). Furthermore, the Palestinians import used cars, which are in high demand in the West Bank, via a special terminal at the bridge.

 

Some two years ago, the Quartet Representative Tony Blair and the Dutch foreign minister visited the bridge. Following a recommendation and encouragement by then-Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, the Dutch government announced that it would donate 8 million shekels to purchase a container scanner for the bridge.

 

In order to install and operate the system, a further investment of NIS 35 million was needed. In October 2013, Israel, at the initiative of Minister Silvan Shalom, took the decision to fund and carry out the infrastructure work needed to install the system. The scanner will be owned by the PA, but operated by Israel.

hose responsible for installing the container scanner and the necessary work on the Allenby Bridge will complete the project within approximately two years. At the same time, the Office of the Quartet Representative 


is working with the Jordanian authorities to upgrade the arrangements on the Jordanian side of the bridge, as well as at the port of Aqaba, which is vital for the passage of the goods.


Gaza tech incubator hopes to encourage entrepreneurship

The Palestinian Information and Technology Incubator (PICTI), based in Gaza City, helps small business by providing office space, advice, and financial support.

Golden Bird is housed at the Palestinian Information and Technology Incubator, PICTI, in Gaza City. PICTI is funded by several international organizations, including the US Agency for International Development, AID, and the British-based Oxfam. The idea is to provide office space and support to small companies to help get them off the ground.

The Gaza Strip, with about one-third of its 1.8 million residents living under the poverty line, and unemployment at 28 percent, seems a strange place for a technology incubator.

 

 

 “We stayed here at PICTI for one year, and now we have our own small office in Gaza City,” Alewady of Golden Bird told The Media Line. “For our current initiative of 'Buy from us' we have an angel investor paying for the campaign, including the grand prize of a new Hyundai Accent car.” The coupons encourage shoppers to spend more and stimulate Gaza’s economy.

 

Since 2008, the Palestinian Information and Technology Incubator, PICTI, has been supporting and funding new creative technological ideas in the Gaza Strip. PICTI’s main branch is in the West Bank.

 

At its office in Gaza City, PICTI hosts a series of small technology companies. For example, one university professor hopes to make electricity using radio waves.

 

"Last year, we funded 45 small initiatives like Golden Bird, each for an average of $5000, Abdallah Altahrwi, chief of programs with PICTI, told The Media Line. “This year, we are already funding 25 such projects. We plan to expand our office space, very soon, in order to host some other new programs.”

 Fadi Alesawi, PICTI’s director general, says the incubator offers help for recent university graduates and the unemployed in Gaza.

"We provide a seed fund along for creative youth and help them connect with other companies,” Alwsawi said. “We never fund commercial businesses here – we only support ideas that are unique and that could open up new horizons.”

He said the goal is not necessarily to bolster Gaza’s economy overall. It is more to help Gaza’s youth become entrepreneurs.

“We encourage youth to be creative and work on strengthening their skills, instead of staying idle. Those who are successful, can extend their time with us from six months to one year,” he said. “We want to help them until they can find a place in the local market.”


Ukrainian Jewish mayor who survived assassination attempt recovering in Haifa hospital

The Jewish mayor of eastern Ukraine's biggest city is slowly recuperating in an Israeli hospital after surviving an assassination attempt.

Gennady Kernes underwent surgery at Haifa's Rambam Medical Center after being shot in his native city Kharkiv.

Kernes was flown to Israel from a hospital in Kharkiv after sustaining a gunshot wound in his back.

Rambam officials said that Kernes has been taken off a respirator and is fully conscious.

He underwent a complicated hours long surgery after which he was sedated and put on a respirator at Rambam's neurosurgical intensive care unit.

After protesters toppled pro-Moscow Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in February, Kernes, 54, supported calls for Kharkiv – one of the most pro-Russian cities in the country’s Russian- speaking east – to become independent from Kiev’s new, pro-European leaders.

But he changed his views after being accused of fomenting separatism and when Ukrainian police forced pro-Russian protesters out of administrative buildings in the city, making it the only major eastern city to have taken back control from the armed protesters – who have demanded a referendum on independence for most of eastern Ukraine.

A Ukrainian local government official said Kernes was either riding his bicycle or jogging when he was shot by someone, probably hidden in the nearby woods. His bodyguards were following in a car but were not close enough to intervene.

 

Haredi yeshiva opens, includes two years of service in IDF’s Cyber Defense Unit

The first hesder yeshiva for haredi (ultra-Orthodox men) has recently received approval from the Defense Ministry and is now up and running, with 16 students having embarked on a four-year course of Torah study and military service.

The hesder program is designed overwhelmingly for men from the national-religious sector and combines 17 months of military service with three-and-a-half years of yeshiva study, although the course for ultra-Orthodox recruits is different in composition from the regular hesder program.

The course will be run by the Derech Haim Yeshiva, which is based at the campus of the Jerusalem College of Technology, known as Machon Lev. Unlike regular hesder service, participants in the Derech Haim program will serve for 24 months in the IDF.

The Defense Ministry gave its final approval for the yeshiva to be recognized as a hesder institution last week.

The first stage of the course, according to the program directors, will comprise a high standard of religious studies in the mornings and afternoons for a two-year period, which will focus on the acquisition of a deep practical understanding of Jewish law.

During this phase, students will attend classes about defense in the evenings provided by Machon Lev and developed by the Cyber Defense Unit of the IDF, providing approximately one thousand hours of study over the two-year period.

Recruits will then embark on their two-year period of military service in the army’s Cyber Defense Unit, although they will not live on an IDF base and will be able to remain in their college residences, similar to soldiers filling other non-combat positions in the military.

They will therefore be able to return to their religious studies in the evenings, while the other aspects of their military service will be conducted so as to allow the recruits to maintain their haredi way of life.

These factors were critical in giving the program legitimacy and credibility for possible recruits from the mainstream haredi community.

It is hoped that once the soldiers complete the four year course they will have acquired the necessary tools for integrating into the workforce.

The field of cyber defense in which they will specialize will give them a high level of employability in today’s job market, it is hoped.


Registration is open for the next academic year and the yeshiva hopes to take 15 to 25 recruits.

The Defense Ministry and the army, praised the program as a model for the haredi community for enabling ongoing Torah study and the preservation of a haredi lifestyle, while fulfilling the requirements for military service.


Israeli Beer on the World Beer Map.


Among the new wave of boutique breweries is the impressive Alexander Brewery. This is a start-up, engineered by beer enthusiast and former pilot Ori Sagy. The brewery may be small and reasonably new, but it has already won some very impressive international prizes in some of the world’s most prestigious competitions. Gold at the European Star Competition was followed recently by another gold medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup in Denver, Colorado.

It could be that the little Alexander Brewery is putting Israeli beer on the world beer map.

Alexander Brewery is situated in Emek Hefer, between Hadera and Netanya. It is named after the nearby Nahal Alexander, which is either a river or a stream, depending on how complimentary you want to be. It flows from the Samarian Hills to the Mediterranean Sea, through the Hefer Valley. It is named after Alexander Yannai, once king of Judea.


Ori  studied brewing technology and business administration at the Siebel Institute in Chicago.

Someone once preached to me, “Brands are bland.” There is a lot of truth in this when it comes to beer. The global brands may be regarded as inoffensive, seeking to not put off the majority of consumers by having anything approaching too much character, flavor or individuality. Sagy, by contrast, wanted to make a quality Israeli beer, so he concentrates on ales, which usually have more flavor and character than lagers.

Israel has gone through a few milestones before reaching the craft beer awakening of today.

In 1934, the first modern brewery in Israel was opened at Rishon Lezion Wine Cellars.. It was founded by a Frenchman named Gaston Dreyfus and James Rothschild, the son of Baron Edmond de Rothschild.

This is where Ori's  office is, so he has a daily reminder of the beginnings of Israeli beer.

The only people who drank beer in those days were the British. When the British Mandate ended, beer sales went into terminal decline, and the brewery closed in 1960.

However, two of the beers originally produced at Rishon passed the test of time. These were Nesher, the first Israeli beer brand, and Goldstar, the largest-selling Israeli beer, both of which still exist.


Consumption still remains painfully low. Israelis drink a mere 14 liters of beer per head annually. (In the Czech Republic, they drink 160 liters per head a year!) However, Sagy is full of hope. He remembers that America used to be dominated by the massive global breweries. Then came their Craft Beer revolution, which rejuvenated the whole industry.

He firmly believes that Israel is at the dawn of similar developments here.

Written high on the wall in the brewery bar is a great quote from rock musician Frank Zappa: “You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline.

This is a new Israeli brewery that is flying high, and it should make all Israelis proud.

 Gazan 'Arab Idol' performs in Israel

Recent winner of the singing competition Arab Idol, 23-year-old Gazan Mohammed Assaf, arrived in Israel  and performed for an audience of over 10,000 fans near Nazareth on the Sea of Galilee. 

The television program Arab Idol airs on MBC, a Lebanese station. Arab Idol is thought to be one of the most widely viewed programs in the Arab world and Assaf's victory won him super-star popularity.

The Mayor of Nazareth Ali Salam and Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi were present at the concert in Ilut Stadium and could both be seen dancing.

"Assaf is an Arab-Palestinian super star, a Cinderella story of a boy who grew up in a Gazan refugee camp and reached the pinnacle of the Arab world," said Tibi. 

"Assaf worked his way to the top despite poverty and all the barriers that stood in his way," said Tibi. "I have a lot of empathy for the experience he's been through.

 

"We love you Assaf, you're at home," yelled audience members as Assaf took the stage. Other Arab MKs and leaders also attended the concert.

"We've dreamed of seeing Assaf here," said Gila Soheil Salima, a Nazareth resident. "The famous guy who we've only seen on television. My children always asked about him. If I could see him up close I would welcome him and take a picture with him."

"This is a historic day that I won't ever forget," Salima added. "All of us love Assaf and we want him to come back to Israel."