News Highlights

Contents

1. Victory for Moderation in Israeli Elections.

2. Israel to supply the city of Rawabi with Water.

 3. Kibbutz Metzer and Palestinian Cooperation.

 4. Israel-Palestine - Combatants of Peace.

 5. Major Archaeological Find.

 6. Israeli Balloon Surveillance System.

 7. A Kibbutz Volunteer.

8. Israel Germany Relations

 9. Like all Big Cities.

   Victory for Moderation

The recent Israeli elections produced some very interesting results with a very strong showing by Israel’s moderate parties and the decline of the extreme right wing parties. One extreme right wing ultra- religious party did not win the minimum four seats required for representation in parliament.

The extreme right wing religious anti-peace party lost one third of its seats in parliament. The secular extreme right wing party lost two thirds of its seats.

The relatively moderate Likud and Labor parties made significant gains.

The election was a major victory for those representing social change and improved economic conditions for Israel’s battered poor and lower middle class communities.

An economic fairness party now holds the balance of power in Israel and will control the finances and distribution of money in Israel. The Prime Minister will have no option but to cooperate with this party, even though he has opposing views, if wishes to retain his position. The new party has demanded the position of Finance Minister otherwise there will be no deal.

Another very strong showing was the Combined Arab List of parties that now is the third largest block in the Israel Parliament. This strong showing will guarantee positions on the most important parliamentary committees and thereby greatly enhance the power of the Arab community in Israel and in the Israeli Parliament.

The elections were also a victory for women who now hold 25% of the seats in Parliament.

The negotiations between the six or seven parties that are likely to form the next government are expected to last about three to four weeks.

 

Israel to supply Palestinian city of Rawabi with Water

Israel's decision to provide the Palestinian city of Rawabi with water is a welcome development, The State Department said.

"We are looking forward to the Rawabi complex receiving the water it needs to function, and that deliberate electricity cuts to Palestinian cities in the West Bank will cease," State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said. "We support all efforts to improve the investment climate and generate greater prosperity and opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis."

On the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to Washington, his office announced that Israel would hook up the new Palestinian city to Israel's water grid, and would take some of the frozen Palestinian Authority tax revenue to pay part of its massive electric bill and ensure an uninterrupted flow of electricity to the Palestinian cities.

The refusal to hook up Rawabi, a new Palestinian city north of Ramallah, to Israel's water network has prevented the populating of the city and has long been a bone of contention.

Regarding the electric bill, Israel will transfer some NIS 200,000 of the funds it has frozen to the Israel Electric Cooperation, which – as a result – will not cut off power to the PA cities. This week, for the first time, the IEC shut off the electricity to Jenin and Nablus for short periods because of NIS 1.9 billion in unpaid bills.

"We encourage the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority to continue their dialogue on lasting solutions regarding electricity and water supplies," Vasquez said.

Combatants for Peace

The “Combatants for Peace” movement was started jointly by Palestinians and Israelis, who have taken an active part in the cycle of violence; Israelis as soldiers in the Israeli army (IDF) and Palestinians as part of the violent struggle for Palestinian freedom. After brandishing weapons for so many years, and having seen one another only through weapon sights, they decided to put down their guns and to fight for peace.

“We no longer believe that it is possible to resolve the conflict between the two peoples through violent means; therefore we declare that we refuse to take part any more in the mutual bloodletting. We will act only by non-violent means so that each side will come to understand the national aspirations of the other side”.

The goals are to raise the consciousness in both publics regarding the hopes and suffering of the other side, and to create partners in dialogue, to educate towards reconciliation and non-violent struggle in both the Israeli and Palestinian societies, to create political pressure on both Governments to stop the cycle of violence, end the occupation and resume a constructive dialog.

“We have been organizing meetings between Israeli and Palestinian veterans, in which both sides tell about the violent actions that they have taken part in and about the turning point which led them to understand the limits of violence. Naturally, these meetings were fraught with many fears, however we soon learned that despite years of fear and hatred, there is more that unites us than divides”.

 Kibbutz Metzer and Palestinian Cooperation

Just 750 meters separates Kibbutz Metzer in Israel and the village of Meiser in Palestine.

 “We see this as a model by which we hope to develop between as many adjacent Jewish and Arab communities as possible.”  said Mohammed Darawshe. Anyone trying to tell you that coexistence between Jews and Arabs can’t work doesn’t understand anything.
Many projects ay adult and youth level take place between the two communities.

The contacts are assisted by Givat Haviva, founded in 1949 and is Israel’s oldest and largest organization working for peace, pluralism, tolerance, democracy, and justice. Givat Haviva’s Jewish-Arab Center for Peace in Israel won the 2001 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education for its “exceptional efforts in the areas of peace education, promotion of peace and non-violence” and work done for the resolution of conflicts through dialogue”. 

A close ongoing working relationship promoting co-existence projects has built up over a long period of time involving many hundreds of local youth and educators from both the Jewish and Arab sectors.

Kibbutz Metzer was the site of a horrible terror attack in November 2002 in which4 kibbutz residents were killed when a terrorist infiltrated their home at night and opened fire on them in their sleep. According to Darawshe, the attack became a catalyst for better dialogue between the two neighboring communities.

“We engaged a number of community leaders in discussions with leaders from Meiser following the attack. And a good number of residents from Meiser participated in the funeral. This created a window of dialogue between the two communities, and we capitalized on it and created some sub-groups, one of which was children. Over the last year, six meetings were held with children from 4th-6th graders from both communities,” said Darawshe.

He said that the modest goal was for both sides to get to know their immediate neighbor, but the response was so positive that both sides clamored for more.

Major Archaeological Find

Archaeologists say some of the artifacts found in the cave date back to the Chalcolithic period more than 6,000 years ago.

Some bronze items date back 5,000 years while there are others from the Biblical period 3,000 years ago and the Hellenistic period 2,300 years ago.

A treasure trove of rare silver coins and jewellery that date from the reign of Alexander the Great have been discovered by cave explorers in northern Israel.

The 2,300 year old treasures were found hidden in a narrow niche among pieces of broken pottery within the stalactite filled cave.

They were spotted by three members of the Israeli Caving Club who had squeezed through the narrow passages at the entrance of the cave to explore inside.

 

Silver coins dating from the time of Alexander the Great were found alongside bracelets, rings and stone weights (all shown in the picture above) in a cave in northern Israel by members of the Israeli Caving Club

One of the spelunkers, Hen Zakai, spotted something shining on the cave floor. It turned out to be two ancient silver coins.

 

Alongside the coins, the cave divers found a cloth pouch containing a handful of coins, rings, bracelets and earrings all made from silver and bronze.

Archaeologists who visited the cave at the weekend say the coins were minted at the beginning of the Hellenistic Period during the reign of Alexander the Great.

They believe they may have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the unrest that broke out following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.

It comes just a month after a chest filled with gold coins was discovered by divers off the coast of Caesarea, near Tel Aviv, Israel.

Speaking about the latest discovery, a spokesman for the Israel Antiquities Authority said: 'The valuables might have been hidden in the cave by local residents who fled there during the period of governmental unrest stemming from the death of Alexander, a time when the Wars of the Diadochi broke out in Israel between Alexander’s heirs following his death.

 

Numerous pottery vessels were discovered in the cave and some had been there so long they had merged with the many stalactites that filled the cave.

On one side of the coins is an image of Alexander the Great, while on the other side is an image of Zeus sitting on his throne, arm raised as if ready to wield his fearsome lightning bolts

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Israeli Balloon Surveillance System.

The US Army has named a surveillance aerostat made by Israeli defense firm RT as an approved defense technology for purchase.

RT’s Skystar 180 balloon successfully completed the annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE), a lengthy process used to shortlist defense products for US acquisition.

The Skystar 180 system, frequently used by the IDF over Gaza during Operation Protective Edge last summer, includes a miniature, multi-sensor payload made by Israeli company CONTROP.

It serves army missions from the company to the brigade levels, according to RT.

The AEWE program, held at Fort Benning, Georgia, is used by the US Army to encourage companies from around the world to submit production-ready devices and products for approval.

“The selection and approval of the SkyStar 180 by the US Army is evidence of the system’s quality and its high-level technological capabilities, and it is a great honor for us,” said RT’s CEO, Rami Shmueli. “Our unique aerostat systems are the only long-distance aerial surveillance system that can operate from as high as 600 meters.”

SkyStar 180 is a small mobile balloon designed for tactical mid-range surveillance and public safety, police, and military applications.

It can carry day and night electro-optical payloads and a communication relay, suspended from a helium-filled balloon that is tied to the ground.

The aerostat can lift a payload of up to 20 kilograms, providing surveillance coverage from an altitude of up to 600 meters for up to 72 hours, after which it is brought down for a 30-minute helium refill. A two-person crew can fully maintain and operate the system.

Last year, RT began providing the platform to the Israel Police, which used them to help counter rioting in east Jerusalem.

The IDF’s Combat Intelligence Collection Unit uses the Skystar 180 and 300 aerostats for a variety of missions that include tactical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

The balloons were a common sight near the border with Gaza Strip during the 50-day conflict with Hamas and Islamic Jihad last summer.

Through the eyes of a Kibbutz Volunteer

Modern Israel is a small country (one tenth the size of Syria) in the Middle East between the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. Israel is not all ancient and religious sites, for Israel is also a thriving and modern nation packed full of attractions. From the sanctity of the old city of Jerusalem to the chaos of Tel Aviv discotheques to the dazzling corals of the Red Sea, Israel has something for everybody.

For Kibbutz volunteers, depending on the job, the day starts between 6-7 a.m. (earlier if in the cowsheds or fields) and finishes between noon and 4 p.m. (again, varies depending on the job you do).

And it is a six-day working week = Sunday to Friday.

Jobs include: dishwasher, fields, gardening, cowsheds, chickens, factory, picking dates and bananas, dining room, garage, supplying the nurseries with supplies, laundry, looking after children (normally only the female volunteers do this work), swimming pool maintenance (lucky to be assigned this one!) and general duties as required.

It’s not unusual to be given one particular job on one day, and another the next... but generally the volunteers are kept in the same jobs for at least a month. Newcomers usually start on the dishwasher or in the dining room, and move on “up the chain” when other volunteers join the kibbutz. So don’t feel disheartened at starting on a crappy job; you will have a chance to change eventually.

In my two years on kibbutzim I worked in most of the jobs mentioned above, my favorite being a gardener. I could basically set my own hours within reason, and the boss just let me get on with it. Had my own tractor and moped too... it was great!

Yes, kibbutzim need volunteers 365 days a year, but obviously the summer months are most popular and competition for places is higher. Don’t be turned off going in winter—Israeli winters are not that cold, mainly rainy, although Jerusalem gets a bit chilly during the winter months. Eilat is nice all year round.

Israel is considered the Holy Land for Christians, Jews, and Muslims holding many holy sites from the biblical era. Many tourists and pilgrims come to Israel for Holy land tours. The diversity of sacred sites invites all religions and denominations: Christian holy land tours, Catholic holy land tours, as well as Jewish and Muslim Holy land tours to places held sacred such as: Jerusalem, the holy city for Christianity, Judaism and Islam, "Sea of Galilee" where Jesus walked on water according to Christian tradition, Nazareth, the birth place of Jesus, and many more.

Israel is home to a diverse population from many ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds. Of its more than 8million population, we can find Jews, Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, Circassian and many other minorities. After Israel was founded as a national home for the Jewish people, many Jews from around the world have immigrated there, creating a melting pot of different cultures and languages. The wealth of different ethnic groups creates a beautiful mosaic of traditions, as can be seen in the language, music and food of the people in Israel.

The official languages of Israel are Hebrew and Arabic. English is widely used as a second language, and recently Russian has become commonplace.

 

Israel Germany Relations

Over 1,100 guests attended the naturally for Israel convention, which featured a day of lectures on Israeli-German politics, culture, religion and environment in three different halls. In addition, over 40 exhibitors presented their Israel-German-related businesses and organizations at the venue. The exhibition displayed a colorful picture of Israeli and Jewish life in Germany. Singer and actor Moshe Becker charmed the visitors with his Israeli cabaret for which he had prepared a one-hour German-English show with wonderful words and uplifting music. He had also produced a heart-warming film on 50 years of JNF-KKL Germany support which had its debut at the conference. 

 

KKL-JNF World President Efi Stenzler opened the event with the words: "Outside it is cold, but here inside it is very, very warm!" One visitor made a very apt comment about the event: "It is like visiting Israel for a day." 

 

Israel´s Consul General Dr. Dan Shaham arrived directly from the Security Conference in Munich to discuss successful economic relationships between Israel and Germany. 

 

Well known historian Professor Michael Wolffsohn gave a critical political analysis of the past 50 years. In his opinion, the two countries both learned from the horrid past to say "Never again" - but for Israelis this means never again to be victims. For Germans, this means never again to apply violence. Thus many misunderstandings arise today. 

 

Israeli Professor Alean Al-Krenawi, president of Achva College, reported on Bedouin society in Israel which today constitutes about 30% of the population in the Negev. 

 

A concert by three cantors singing Shabbat songs set the impressive end to an exciting day which was all for Israel, for mutual understanding and for raising awareness of KKL-JNF´s various activities.

 

Like all big cities

Like all big cities, Tehran in Iran produces vast amounts of garbage. But, as is often the case, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or in this particular instance, a child’s treasure. Mostly hidden from view, there are groups of children in Tehran that go around the city looking through trash cans, and separating out recyclables and other things they might be able to sell.

 

For example, metal and plastic worth 70-80 toman per kilo or dry bread being sold for 40 toman per kilo. These are just small examples of the recycling industry, where children play the roles that their families can't.

 

Iran has not ratified international conventions defining a minimum age for work, but it has set its own rules to prevent child labor. A child in Iran cannot legally work under the age of 15. However, there is a loophole that allows exploitation.

 

Most of the street children live in the slums of south Tehran and are sent out to work every morning by their parents. They travel to the affluent suburbs of north Tehran where they shine shoes, clean car windshields (if they can reach) and sell an assortment of junk and oddities: chewing gum, flowers, fortune poems, nylon socks and cheap shoes.

 

South Tehran is where most Iranians in the city live, squeezed into decaying houses in narrow, twisting alleys. The hub of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, south Tehran, is a densely populated urban sprawl, spilling further and further south in a sea of bazaars and black chadors. This is the district of the poor, working class and religious, where people still flock to Friday prayers.

 

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are about a million Afghan refugees in Iran. Most of their children do not go to school but work instead. "In theory, Afghans are not allowed to work in Iran - at whatever age," the UNHCR says.