News Highlights November 2013



       1. The Second 100 Years.


 2. The Israelis.


 3.  Israeli Cities.


 4.   Israeli Kibbutzim.

     5. Israel, Jordan and Palestine Agreement.

     6. Israel assists Syrian Civilians.

     7. USA Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.

     8. Greek Orthodox Priest's Son Attacked.

     9. Hasmonean Archaeological Discovery.

   10. Battleships to Guard Natural Gas Installations.

   11. Cigarette Vending Machines Banned.


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 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.

The Water Authority and the Ministry of Agriculture agreed that from January 2014 there will be a flat rate for fresh water for agriculture , instead of three price levels prevailing today. This decision is in addition to another decision of the Ministry of Agriculture and The Water Authority , whereby a total allotment of fresh water for agriculture will be given in advance, for three years and there will be an  addition of more than - 20% of the annual allocation compared to the amount given in 2013. The Annual allocation will be in the range of 570 mcm to 640 mcm , according to the Ministry of Agriculture. This year ( 2013 ) allocated to agriculture 530 mcm and 585 mcm will be allocated in 2014 .

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 – Ram Sagi


Israel Defense Forces Col. Ram Sagi formally has responsibility for the health of soldiers throughout the Southern Command. But in fact, this often includes civilians in the south, the whole country and even around the world.

The Southern Command covers 60 percent of the State of Israel from Kiryat Gat down to Eilat, but only 10% of its population.

The 45-year-old pediatrician and Kfar Saba resident – who is married and the father of four – has been in the important and influential post for the past 17 months and takes the job very seriously.
He studied medicine at the Rappaport Faculty of Medicine at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology as part of the academic program (Atuda) of the IDF after graduating from high school. Following completion of his MD, he went on to intern at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, then did a master’s degree in medical administration, pursued his medical specialty at Ben-Gurion University’s Faculty of Health Sciences and an additional master’s degree in political science at the University of Haifa.

He then returned to serve in the IDF as a brigade physician in the field as part of the infantry. He served in south Lebanon, at the Beaufort Castle in 1995, and was wounded in Operation Grapes of Wrath, the 16-day IDF campaign in 1996 to end shelling by Hezbollah terrorists of northern Israel.

He was a divisional physician in the Second Lebanon War, studied in the National Defense College and then was promoted to his current position. “I really enjoy it a lot,” he said with evident pleasure. “I feel that I am doing a lot that makes a difference.”

One of his unforgettable experiences was going as an IDF physician to Haiti to rescue wounded in the horrendous 2010 earthquake there, which measured a catastrophic 7.0 on the Richter scale, with the epicenter 25 kilometers west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated three million people were affected by the quake, and hundreds of thousands died in the disaster.

A quarter-of-a-million homes were devastated, and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged.

“Four days after the quake, we had already arrived, set up the field hospital on a football field and seen our first patient. I was in charge of pediatric medicine on the Israel medical team. We pulled people – live or dead – out of the rubble. Because we had arrived faster than nearly all other national rescue teams, our presence was critical to save lives. We treated over 1,100 victims – about a third of them children,” Sagi recalled. “Some of them were orphans and completely alone.”

First, the team treated many victims who had suffered trauma, including severe head and chest wounds.

“There were many open and closed fractures and amputation injuries and wounds that had become infected. It was so hard when I had to select the children for treatment. I went outside, in front of the hospital, to see who urgently needs to be helped first. We had to set the priorities.”

When Sky News reported on the predicament of one child named Clifford, Sagi rushed with his team to Port-au-Prince and took him to the Israeli field hospital they set up within a very short time. “He was only 18 months old, and we performed several operations on him. When he was better, we handed him over to the American team, and he was in good condition. I remember how proud we were and what prestige Israel got from our work. I still give lectures on our work in Haiti to Israelis and foreigners.”

Sagi he wanted to render assistance in the typhoonstruck the Philippines, but was not sent with the national team because he was needed as the top Southern Command physician. But even without him, the Israeli medical delegation earned high praise for their rescue and medical work among the unfortunate Filipino victims.

The Negev and Arava, with its sometimes-extreme weather – both hot and cold within hours – complicates Sagi’s work. “We have to deal with sudden flooding as well. I and my team have to make sure that soldiers are not active during severe heat and that they always have enough water so they don’t dehydrate.”

One of the vital units serving at the southern border is the Caracal battalion, a mixed battalion with male and female soldiers. Because there are substantial numbers of women, Sagi is considering the possibility that a gynecologist would visit on a regular basis to treat “women’s problems.”

As there are many Beduin living in the area – and Beduin soldiers – Sagi must be alert to their special medical needs as well. The physician is in contact with Magen David Adom and other rescue agencies. “Obviously, there are always limits on our financial resources, so we have to learn how to manage to meet the needs. We give medical help to anyone in the area who needs it. Later we can argue over who pays and how much. If someone is injured or wounded, it doesn’t matter if they are Israeli soldiers or civilians or Palestinians. We give the same treatment whoever they are.”

The medical commander is busy dealing not only with treatment but also with disease and accident prevention and health promotion. “We want soldiers and officers to think different,” he said. Nutrition, prevention and cessation of smoking and physical fitness are prime goals for Sagi. “As a pediatrician who previously treated sick children, nutrition was quite a new field for me. We are considering clinical dietitians to advise us on a better diet for more fitness and weight loss.”

As for smoking, he agrees that there is not much sense in allowing the sale of cigarettes at military kiosks at the same time as struggling to persuade soldiers to kick the smoking habit. Sagi said he will think about putting forward a proposal to bar the sale of cigarettes at these outlets, just as water pipes (nargilas) and all forms of alcohol are prohibited there.