News Highlights June 2014


     1. The Kibbutz Movement – the second 100 years.


 2. The Israelis.


 3.  Israeli Towns.


 4.  Israeli Kibbutzim.


 5. Kibbutz Enterprises – New Fund.

     6. Shanty towns have no bomb shelter protection.

     7.Eilat hotels to employ Jordan workers.

     8. Facing the Fundamentalists.

     9. Trucks drive through Israel.

     10.British Gas.

     11.East Jerusalem Infrastructure Improvement.

     12. Joint Israel-Palestinian team at World Cup.



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.

Three quarters of the Israeli population are under rifle, grenade, mortar or rocket fire from Gaza and this includes several kibbutzim whose daily lives have been severely disrupted as they run to bomb shelters several times each day. The bombardment from Gaza has been so heavy that several members of kibbutzim have been evacuated to other areas of the country.

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 – Israel Lau

Yisrael (Israel) Meir Lau is  Chairman of Yad Vashem the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. He previously served as the Chief Rabbi of Israel from 1993 to 2003.

Lau was freed from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, after he was detected hiding under a heap of corpses when the camp was liberated. He was 8 years old and grew up in the concentration camps. Almost his entire family were gased by the Nazis. He was ordained as a rabbi in 1961. One of his sons is now Chief Rabbi of Israel.

In 1993, Rabbi Lau had a meeting with John Paul II at the Pope's summer residence of Castel Gandolfo near Rome where the Pope sought to offer the Vatican's moral support to the latest peace moves in the Middle East. It was the first ever meeting between a Pope and the Chief Rabbi of Israel.

In 2005, Lau was awarded the Israel Prize for his lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

In 2011, he was awarded the Legion of Honor (France's highest accolade) by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in recognition of his efforts to promote interfaith dialogue.



Israeli Towns – Ashkelon


Ashkelon has a population of 120,000. The city has suffered greatly for the last 14 years due to periodic rocket fire from Gaza. More recently Ashkelon has suffered a constant barrage of rockets from the Hamas Islamic Fundamentalists who control Gaza.

Ashkelon is the northern terminal for the Trans-Israel pipeline, which brings petroleum products from Eilat to an oil terminal at the port. The Ashkelon seawater reverse osmosis desalination plant is the largest in the world. The project was developed by a consortium of three international companies was voted "Desalination Plant of the Year" in the Global Water Awards.

Since 1992, Israel Beer Breweries has been operating in Ashkelon, brewing Carlsberg and Tuborg beer for the Israeli market.

The city has 19 elementary schools, and 9 high schools. The Ashkelon Academic College opened in 1998, and now hosts thousands of students. Harvard University operates an archaeological summer school program in Ashkelon.

The ancient site of Ashkelon is now a national park on the city's southern coast. The walls that encircled the city are still visible, as well as Canaanite earth ramparts. The park contains Byzantine, Crusader and Roman ruins. The largest dog cemetery in the ancient world was discovered in Ashkelon.

The Breeza Music Festival has been held yearly in and around Ashkelon's amphitheatre since 1992. Most of the musical performances are free.

 Israeli Kibbutzim – Ein HaShlosha


Ein Ha-Shlosha is a secular agricultural kibbutz and has a population of 350.

Every year the kibbutz receives youth groups from various movements abroad and integrates studies of language, the local economy and knowledge of Israel. At the same time the kibbutz tries to employ volunteers from abroad, interested to learn about the way of life in the kibbutz.

The kibbutz has regularly come under rocket and mortar fire from Gaza and more recently has suffered a constant barrage of rockets fire by the Hama Islamic Fundamentalist controllers of Gaza. Hamas has also launched a land attack on the kibbutz through underground tunnels and the kibbutz members held out until Israeli military came to their assistance.

The community grows field crops, wheat, cotton, potatoes, sunflowers, carrot, paprika, etc.

It is extremely difficult to harvest the crops as the workers are fire on from Gaza.

It has orchards, a cowshed, turkey coops, "Kartonia" industrial plant and a tire repair garage.


New Fund for Advanced Technology

 The special fund to support and encourage kibbutzim to introduce advanced technology was initiated by the Economics Department of the Kibbutz Movement, the Kamea Fund, the Kibbutz Industries Association and by the secretary general of the Kibbutz Movement, Eitan Broshi, who pushed for the fund.

The objectives of the fund are to lift the kibbutzim onto the fast moving industrial train (including  agriculture) that is travelling rapidly towards advanced technology in the country and throughout the world.

The thrust towards advanced high technology is being achieved through the creation of partnerships and the integration of businesses with innovative advanced technology that is tailored to particular kibbutzim or kibbutz businesses.

 The fund will be led by a high profile team of executives from the various parties involved in the special fund and its main objectives.


Shanty Town Residents have No Cover


When the siren went off in the ramshackle south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Kfar Shalem, residents did what they always do – they went outside and looked to the sky to see the Iron Dome interception, so they’d know which way to run from the falling shrapnel.

The meter-long rocket chunk that fell from the interception crashed through the roof of a house into the bedroom where one of the residents had been sleeping when the siren went off.

She said she managed to make her way out and lie face down on the ground outside and wait for the boom, adding that she has nothing else to do when the siren goes off.

Residents said the neighborhood has no public bomb shelter, and that all of the houses are ramshackle buildings with wood or tin roofs, with no stairwell to seek protection in. They said that the least the city or the government should do is to place a few freestanding concrete bomb shelters in vacant lots in the neighborhood.


In many areas in Israel and especially in shanty towns, residents have no bomb or rocket protection.

Eilat Hotels to employ workers from Jordan



Due to a lack of Israeli workers, the cabinet approved a proposal by Tourism Minister Uzi Landau and Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar to employ up to 1,500 Jordanian daytime workers in Eilat hotels.

The first phase of employment is to begin with the hiring of 500 Jordanian workers and is to be followed by two more phases, after an advisory committee is established to decide how many Jordanians can be hired and when they can begin working.

“We are under severe pressure by the shortage of manpower in Eilat – especially in the summer season,” said Eilat Hotel Association CEO Shabtai Shay. Being able to employ Jordanians “will make our lives much easier,” he said.

The Jordanians will work only during the day – crossing the border in the morning and returning to Jordan in the evening. Eilat is just six Kms from the Jordanian city of Aquaba

“I’ve done everything in my power to employ Israelis,” Shay said. “We offer special benefits; we offer higher salaries…but we were unable to employ Israelis.”

Employing Jordanians, Shay said, will also benefit the political relationship between Israel and Jordan.

Facing the Fundamentalists

The Middle East is facing an enormous onslaught from Islamic Fundamentalists who are well armed and well trained.

The ultimate aim of these groups is to turn the whole of the Middle East into one or more states tightly controlled by forces whose ideology is driven by very extreme versions of Islam.

All these groups are determined to wipe Israel off the map as well as Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt.

The most dangerous groups to the sovereignty of the countries in the region are ISIS (an offshoot of El Qaida), Hezbollah (controlled by Iran), Hamas (financed by Qatar) and Jihad Islami (financed by Iran).

Isis has taken over large parts of Syria and especially Iraq and is preparing for an onslaught on Jordan by massing their fighters on the Jordanian border where they have stated that they wish to enter and eventually advance on Jerusalem.  King Abdulla has requested Israel's help in containing ISIS on the Jordanian border and Israel has agreed. Israeli security forces are operating alongside Jordan security forces in keeping ISIS from advancing any further.

Thousands of volunteers from Europe have joined the various fundamentalist groups so as to express their ideological beliefs by fighting the armies of the Middle East governments.

Hamas an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jihad Islami have been firing rockets at Israeli populated areas for fourteen years but recently decided to expand operations to include Israel's major cities, which has resulted in more than 1,500 rockets fired at Israel in just two weeks in the latest escalation of the ongoing war.

From Israel's point of view the continuing stranglehold of fundamentalists on the Palestinian Authority makes it very difficult to come to any peace agreement with the more moderate Fatah Palestinian group led by Abu Mazan.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad Palestinian factions have the destruction of Israel as their main declared aim. Fatah under Abu Mazan is prepared to talk peace and recognize Israel's right to exist but they are less powerful than Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Trucks drive through Israel

In a convoy that stretches hundreds of meters, the trucks travel east across northern Israel, bringing goods from Europe to customers in Jordan and beyond.


Until three years ago the cargo these trucks carry – fruits, cheese, raw material for the textile industry, spare parts, and second-hand trucks – would have come through Syria. But civil war has made that journey too dangerous.

 Israel plans to invest at least 6 billion shekels ($1.7 billion) in infrastructure over the next six years to improve the trade route. In the past, some Israeli businessmen and diplomats have lamented the way politics have hurt economic opportunities; others have kept any trade with their Arab neighbors quiet so as not to upset them. Now they see a chance to boost economic and political relations.


"Israel is returning to its historic role, as a transit country, as a bridge between continents, where historic trade routes passed through," said Yael Ravia-Zadok, head of the Middle Eastern Economic Affairs Bureau in Israel's Foreign Ministry. She leads a group of Israeli government and security officials trying to figure out how best to encourage trade.

 Also goods from Europe and elsewhere destined for the wider Middle East are usually unloaded in Egypt before they make the several-hour drive to a Red Sea port, where they are loaded onto new vessels and shipped to their final destination. The routes from Haifa in Israel to Jordan, Iraq and even Saudi Arabia are potentially much quicker and cheaper, shaving days, if not more, off a trip between Turkey and Baghdad, for instance. Costs could be cut in half.

Israel plans to build two $1 billion ports to be run by foreign operators – one in Haifa, the other 80 km (50 miles) south in Ashdod. The new Haifa port will have a capacity for 1.5 million containers a year, roughly doubling current levels.

A railway from Haifa to Beit Shean, not far from the Jordan border, will be completed this year, and a final leg is being planned, so that by 2017 a steady flow of containers could travel by train all the way to the border.

British Gas to purchase Israeli Gas

The deal is worth approximately $30b. In total, such an agreement could generate more than $20b. in income for the state, the source said.

“The intention is to finish the negotiations in the coming months,” the source added.

In 2008, Egypt’s East Mediterranean Gas Company began supplying Israel with about 40% of its natural gas needs, until saboteurs began thwarting the flow through Sinai pipeline explosions. Following 14 months of such attacks, the Egyptian government formally terminated the agreement between the East Mediterranean Gas Company and Israel in April 2012.

Calling the weekend’s letter of intent “unprecedented,” the Israeli source said that saboteurs would not be able to destroy infrastructure if the new agreement pans out, because the floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) unit would be connected to the liquefaction plant in Egypt through an underwater pipeline.

The Egyptian liquefaction plant at Idku is a two-train liquefied natural gas (LNG) production site, owned 35.5% by the British Gas Group, 35.5% by the Malaysian firm Petronas, 12% by Egyptian Gas Holding Company, 12% by Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and 5% by Gaz de France.

The major gas shortage in Egypt is very much a paradox, as Egypt has 2.5 times the amount of proven gas reserves than Israel has, explained Dr. Amit Mor, CEO of Eco Energy.

The letter of intent signed with British Gas is the second such negotiations launched between Israeli gas reservoir partners and facilities operating in Egypt.

East Jerusalem Infrastructure

The cabinet approved a plan to invest NIS 295 million to strengthen the eastern portion of Jerusalem.

 “On a national level, this is an important contribution to the unity of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, and the effort to remove the fear many visitors have of violent events occurring at important historic national sites,” the report said. “On the municipal level, it will help strengthen the feeling of belonging for east Jerusalem residents, strengthen municipal governance in the city’s eastern neighborhoods, and improve the security situation.”

To reduce crime, the plan is set to allocate NIS 95m. to employ more police officers in the area and procure additional security cameras. Moreover, the government is expected to institute harsher penalties on those who break the law in east Jerusalem, with stricter guidelines on arrests and indictments to be issued by the Justice Ministry.

In terms of education, NIS 47m. is to be invested in adding more computers to east Jerusalem schools, increased Hebrew instruction, greater preparation for college matriculation, and enhanced efforts to reduce the number of high school dropouts.

Unemployment will be addressed with NIS 48m. to be invested in small- and medium- sized businesses and in job-counseling centers. An additional NIS 39m. is to be invested to address at-risk youth, substance abuse and substandard welfare services, the report added.

Meanwhile, NIS 67m. is set to be allocated for maintenance and improvements in public buildings, transportation, road safety, sewage and lighting, among other things.

 “According to the Jerusalem Municipality, NIS 2 billion is required to bring east Jerusalem’s infrastructure into fair condition,” the statement read. “The government decided to spend only one-tenth of that within the next five years.”

תחתית הטופס

Israelis and Palestinians  cooperate in Brazil

Although almost not reported in the international media, a parallel FIFA  football competition consisting of 32 teams from war torn regions took place alongside the official World Cup competition.

A joint Israel-Palestine team took part in the competition.

"People asked us how it is that Israelis and Palestinians agreed to sleep together when we know there is an escalation in the country. But for our future, we want peace".

 A joint team of boys and girls represented Israel and Palestinian in the football tournament organized by FIFA for hope.

The opening ceremony, held in Kaza, Brazil was attended by the FIFA president and by the great Brazilian footballer, Ronaldo.

 The teams in the FIFA for hope competition also watched some of the World Cup games.