News Highlights August 2014

 

Contents


     1. The Kibbutz Movement – the second 100 years.

 

 2. The Israelis – Reuven Rivlin.

 

 3.  Israeli Towns – Benei Brak.

 

 4.  Israeli Kibbutzim – Kefar Giladi.

 

 5. Kibbutz Enterprises – Business with China.

     6. Egypt asks for 3,500 years compensation.

     7. Billionaire Power.

     8. Seven woman Appointed to Diplomatic Posts.

     9. Natural Gas for Southern Israel.

     10.Controlling the Gall Wasp.

     11.Lady Gaga Lights Up 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 nearly a month postal workers have been on strike and or a go slow and this has caused chaos for kibbutzim and other communities that are situated in the peripheral areas. Many items have been held up in the system as postal workers give service when they feel like it. They are protesting the government’s decision to privatize the postal service.

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 – Reuven Rivlin

Reuven Rivlin is the new President of Israel and replaced the outgoing President Shimon Peres.

The Rivlin family has been in Jerusalem since 1809. Reuven Rivlin  received a law degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked as a lawyer. He is married to Nechama  and has four children.

He has been a vegetarian for more than forty years.

He was first elected to the 12th Knesset in 1988, and served as Likud chairman from 1988 to 1993. He lost his seat in the 1992 elections, but returned to the Knesset following the 1996 elections. Reelected in 1999, he was appointed Minister of Communications in March 2001, serving until February 2003, Rivlin was reelected in 2006 and 2009. He ran in the 2007 election for President as the Likud candidate. He withdrew after the first round of voting when it became clear that Kadima MK Shimon Peres had sufficiently broad support to inevitably win in a run-off. In the 2014 presidential election, Rivlin defeated Meir Sheetrit in a run-off.

For his first official visit as Knesset Speaker, he chose the Arab-Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm, just south of the Galilee. He was accompanied by MKs Uri Orbach (The Jewish Home) and Afu Agbariyah (Hadash), a resident of the city.

In June 2010, Rivlin found himself in the center of a controversy after ignoring the advice of a committee that recommended the removal of Balad MK Haneen Zoabi for having participated in the Gaza flotilla earlier that year. Many wished to see Zoabi banned from the Knesset for participating in activities deemed contrary to the interests of the state, while others believed that removal of an elected politician by other politicians would undermine democratic principles. Rivlin's actions in defending the parliamentary rights of Zoabi were criticised by many MKs and the Israeli right-wing, but Israeli and foreign liberals praised Rivlin for his courage in defending Israeli democracy.

 

Israeli Towns – Bnei Brak

Bnei Brak (or Bene Beraq is a city located on Israel's central Mediterranean coastal plain, just east of Tel Aviv, in the Dan metropolitan region and Tel Aviv District. Bnei Brak is a center of Ultra Orthodox Judaism.

Bnei Brak covers an area of 709 hectares. According to figures of the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of 2009, the population was 154,400, with an annual growth rate of 1.7%.In November 2012, the spokesman for Bnei Brak City Hall released numbers from the Ministry of Interior saying that on 27 September 2012, the population of the city stood at 176 556, making it the 10th largest city in Israel. Bnei Brak is one of the poorest and most densely populated cities in Israel.

Bnei Brak takes its name from the ancient Biblical city of Beneberak, mentioned in the Tanakh (Joshua 19:45) in a long list of towns of ancient Judea. The name is also cited by some as continuing the name of the village of Ibn Ibraq ("Son of Ibraq/Barak") which was located 4 kilometers (2.5 mi) to the south of where Bnei Barak was founded in 1924.

Due to a lack of land many of the founders turned to other occupations and the village began to develop an urban character. Arye Mordechai Rabinowicz, formerly rabbi of Kurów in Poland, was the first rabbi. The town was set up as a religious settlement from the outset, as is evident from this description of the pioneers: "Their souls were revived by the fact that they merited what their predecessors had not. What particularly revived their weary souls in the mornings and toward evening, when they would gather in the beis medrash situated in a special shack which was built immediately upon the arrival of the very first settlers, for tefilla betzibbur (communal prayer) three times a day, for the Daf Yomi shiur, and a Gemara shiur and an additional one in Mishnayos and the Shulchan Oruch."

It also has the largest population density of any city in Israel, with 25,540 /km2 (66,100 /sq mi). In the 2006 Israeli legislative elections, 89% of the voters chose Haredi parties, and another 7% voted for other religious parties.

 

Israeli Kibbutzim – Kefar Giladi

 

Kibbutz Giladi was founded in 1916. It was named after Israel Giladi, one of the founders of the Hashomer movement. The area was subject to intermittent border adjustments between the British and the French, and in 1919, the British relinquished the northern section of the Upper Galilee containing Tel Hai, Metula, Hamra, and Kfar Giladi to the French jurisdiction. After the Arab attack on Tel Hai in 1920, it was temporarily abandoned. Ten months later, the residents returned. Several older buildings stand on the kibbutz that memorialize previous battles on the site, before and during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Between 1916 and 1932, the population totaled 40-70. In 1932, the kibbutz absorbed 100 newcomers, mainly young immigrants. From 1922 to 1948, between 8,000-10,000 Jewish immigrants were smuggled into Israel through Kibbutz Giladi, circumventing the British ban on Jewish immigration. The immigrants came from Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe.

In an operation known as Mivtzah HaElef, 1,300 Jewish children were smuggled out of Syria between 1945 and 1948. At the kibbutz, the children were dressed in work clothes and hidden in the kibbutz chicken coops and cowsheds.

The economy of Kfar Giladi is based on agriculture, a quarry, nurseries and a hotel. The kibbutz grows apples and avocados, utilizing volunteers to help pick fruit during the harvest season. Other crops include lychees, corn, cotton, wheat, and potatoes. The kibbutz also raises chickens and dairy cows, and operates fish ponds.

Eight historic buildings built in 1922 are being preserved and restored. Built of Galilee stone and materials imported from Lebanon, they are among the few remaining vestiges of early kibbutz housing.

An archaeological site at Kfar Giladi was excavated by J. Kaplan in 1957 and 1962. It revealed remains four stages of occupation in different periods. An early neolithic stage was suggested to date between 6400 and 5800 BC. Finds included Dark faced burnished ware with incisions and rope patterns. Flints included axes, arrowheads and sickle blades. Similar finds were located in a later neolithic stage including a female clay figurine dating between 5800 and 5400 BC.

Kibbutzim Doing Business with China

 

A seminar on "The risks of fraud in international trade" will be held in Tel Aviv. Entrance is free. The purpose of the seminar is to identify the pattern of crooks and how to take precautions to avoid being a victim of fraud. The seminar will cover the extent of fraud and its impact on industry in Israel. Subjects covered will be: The Common risks of exporting to and importing from the Chinese market. How to recognize and deal with a real time problem. Proactive steps to correct a problem. The story of a victim of fraud who fought back and won. With the increase in the volume of trade with developing countries cases of fraud are increasing. There will be discussion about Israeli and other companies victimized. The extent of damage caused by these acts is enormous and may disrupt production processes and cause complications for the victims of the fraud. Most cases occur with companies operating in developing areas of East Asia, but these scams also occur in developed western countries. It is usually very difficult to repair the damage after the deception has taken place and therefore it is important to expand the awareness of the problem and ways to deal with it in a timely manner


3,500 Years Compensation and Interest

During a program on Channel 1 of Egyptian Television, a political historian claimed that the Israelis stole gold and silver when they left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. He claimed that Moses led the Israeli's out of Egypt and in the panic caused by the plagues, the Egyptians were forced to hand over gold and silver. The speaker suggested that there was also the issue of business deals while the Israelis were in Egypt and that interest was charged on loans.

Israeli authorities have stated that they are prepared to make a counter claim as hundreds of thousands of Israel's were forced to work without pay for more than four hundred years. This figure should be added up and together with severance pay and of course interest for the last 3,500 years the figure should be very substantial.

 According to the Old Testament (Exodus 12:35): "The Israelites requested gold, silver and clothing from Egypt, they found favor in the eyes of Egypt, their requests were granted, and they rescued Egypt." No theft is implied anywhere in the text.

The Egyptian claim also includes cattle but nearly all the livestock was wiped out during the 10 plagues.


Billionaire Power

Following a protracted and contentious legal battle that reached the Supreme Court and culminated in a mass hunger strike, 20 families from the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Amal were forcibly evicted from their homes by police.

Accompanied by the Special Patrol Unit, dozens of officers arrived at the disputed community early in the morning to enforce the court-sanctioned evictions of the family members, some of whom refused to vacate their homes.

Since 1947, three generations of Jews belonging to more than 100 families have inhabited the modest village-turned-neighborhood.

The conflict over rightful ownership came to a head when Yitzhak Tshuva – a well known business magnate who owns a large part of Israel’s natural gas reservoirs – bought the land in Givat Amal from the government in 1987 to transform it into a high-end residential complex.

While the billionaire was granted rights to the land, the families contended that they were promised by the government that they only had to vacate under the stipulation that the billionaire would compensate them and provide alternate housing upon construction of his complex.

According to the families, although Tshuva initially agreed to the terms of the arrangement, he subsequently reneged on the deal because the tenants could not produce the official ownership papers.

The Supreme Court ruled that Tshuva, the billionaire was the rightful owner.

Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev (Likud) defended police, saying they evacuated the residents “in the most delicate way possible,” but said it is unfortunate that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai “sat aside and didn’t do what was necessary to avoid these difficult sights.”

MK Dov Henin (Hadash), who was appointed by the Interior Committee to help Givat Amal residents and submitted a bill to provide them new homes, came out against the forced evacuation without alternative housing so close to Rosh Hashana.“In a place where massive luxury buildings are going to be built, there is no justification to not allow the neighborhood’s residents a meager roof over their heads,” he said.

“Unfortunately, Tshuva did not negotiate with some of the families and they are seeing their homes and their futures being destroyed,” it was said. “I hope that a developer who is building more than 1,000 homes in the center of Tel Aviv could reach an agreement with the underprivileged residents.

 

Seven Woman Appointed to Diplomatic Posts Abroad

 

The appointment of Einat Shlein as Israel’s first female ambassador to an Arab country has received world wide publicity.

Shlain speaks fluent Arabic and has had a number of assignments related to the region, including Middle Eastern affairs adviser in the Israeli Embassy in Washington and head of the North African desk. She currently heads the international division of the Foreign Ministry’s diplomatic research center.

This will be Shlain’s second posting to Jordan, after serving in Amman as a junior diplomat in one of her first foreign assignments.

Of the 12 new envoys named yesterday by the ministry’s supreme appointments committee, seven are women. They include Aliza Ben-Nun, ambassador to France; Tamar Samash, ambassador to Romania; Simona Frankel, ambassador to Belgium; Irit Lilian, ambassador to Bulgaria; Yael Ravia as ambassador to Cyprus and Judith Varnai as consul-general in Atlanta.

The Foreign Ministry has the best record of appointing women to topnotch positions. The Health Ministry, headed by Yael German could argue that there are many women among leading medical specialists, nevertheless not a single hospital is headed by a woman. The Science, Technology and Space Ministry can boast that there are many women scientists including Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath; Ruth Arnon, who is the first woman president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem; and Orna Berry, who was the first woman to serve as Economy Ministry chief scientist and is a director in several science and technology enterprises.

Karnit Klug is the first woman Governor of the Bank of Israel.

Natural Gas for the South

The National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry has pledged to allocate NIS 122 million toward bringing natural gas to southern residents and improving their energy efficiency.

Of the total NIS 122m., about NIS 30m. will be directly allocated toward increasing grants available to helping southern factories convert their internal systems to natural gas.

An additional NIS 32m. will be dedicated toward financing gas connections in areas that do not yet lie within range of the country’s natural gas distribution network.

Most areas not within range of the distribution network will eventually access gas through a future compressed natural gas (CNG) unloading station, the ministry said.

“This large investment is part of our strategy to reduce the cost of living and increase the disposable income of each and every citizen,” said National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, who also serves as the minister for development of the Negev and Galilee.

The Ministry also announced that it would be allocating NIS 60m. toward increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy costs of municipal, industrial and commercial buildings in the region. About half of this sum will go to local authorities, and about half will go to industrial and commercial buildings, the ministry said.

 “The great investment we are making in bringing natural gas will help factories reduce their expenses, as will the savings that authorities will achieve thanks to energy efficiency grants,” Shalom said.

 “Hundreds of homes in the South, and in all of Israel, will benefit from the fruits of this investment over the years.”


Controlling The Gall Wasp

The Gall Wasp, also known as the gallfly, is a species of small wasps which commonly infest a variety of trees including oak and fruit trees. This pest was first identified in Australia in 2000. They have since been found in India, Thailand, the Middle East, South Africa and other locations as well. In 2008 it reached Brazil, the following year it had already spread into Argentina, and last year, the pest crossed the Andes and was identified in three centers in Chile.

We knew that entomologist Zvi Mendel (of the Volcani Center) is an expert in biological control of this pest so we immediately contacted him,” said Chile forest engineer Claudia Munoz from SAG, the Agricultural and Livestock Service of the Chile Ministry of Agriculture.

In Israel, Munoz collected several plastic bags full of leaves infested with the galls, or tissue swellings, caused by the gall wasps’ eggs and larvae. Inside these galls were also the eggs and larvae laid by parasitic wasps, which are the natural enemy of gall wasps.

Prof. Zvi Mendel, together with KKL-JNF chief forester Dr. David Brand and Portuguese colleague Manuela Rodriguez Branco from the University of Lisbon discovered that the parasitic wasp is a natural biological enemy of the gall wasp after several research trips to Australia some ten years ago.


Lady Gaga in Tel Aviv

Lady Gaga’s brand of insanity and sex appeal, was exactly what the Israel’s “non-stop city” needed for its first major concert by an international act after a summer in which rockets from Gaza forced it to cancel performances by acts like Neil Young, the Backstreet Boys and Lana del Rey.

The crowd of over 25,000 seemed desperate to lap up some of the pop star’s vitality and Gaga obliged, giving more and more to the audience for nearly two hours until she broke down crying, with black mascara-stained tears streaming down her face at the end of her encore song, “Gypsy.”

artRAVE: The Artpop Ball,” as Gaga’s current tour is called, had all the neon colors, glitter and pure manic energy of any other rave, but with her 20 songs, seven outfit changes and a dozen dancers it was more than a ball – it was an extravaganza.

Ani ohevet otchem,” I love you, she told the crowd, seeming to read off her hand, and played and sang the song “Artpop” from behind a piano that looked like it was built into a giant crystal. Later she played a crystal keytar and a glittering silver guitar.

Throughout the show, it was hard to decide what was more electrifying – Lady Gaga powerfully belting out her hits, or the intensely wacky costumes she and her dancers were sporting. The pop star “summoned the goddess of love” for her song “Venus” while dressed like a spangled mermaid in strategically-placed seashells, and bantered with the crowd, saying, “I had my clamshell done.”

Lady Gaga brought out crooner Tony Bennett, who was slated to sing in Tel Aviv Sunday night, to perform “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” the first single from their upcoming album, Cheek to Cheek.

It took six years for Lady Gaga to return to Israel after her first concert in Tel Aviv, as she mentioned during the show.

While it’s hard to imagine how she could have energy for another concert, let alone another tour, after her frenzied performance, she left the crowd hoping she’ll come back much, much sooner next time.