For the second time – and within one year – His Excellency Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel, has hosted representatives and activists of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (lgbt) community at events at the elegant American ambassadorial residence in Herzlia Pituach. The Ambassador and Ms. Julie Fisher took time from their busy schedules to spend Friday morning entertaining their special guests. The occasion was the visit to Israel of Ms. Ann Kaner-Roth of Minnesota. Ms. Kaner-Roth, who has 20 years' experience in changing Minnesota state and federal policy concerning children/family and lgbt issues, spoke on "Marriage Equality: Has the U.S. reached a Tipping Point?"

 

The Ambassador and his guest speaker were introduced by embassy First Secretary Andrew L. Sisk, who is himself a member of Gays & Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. (How many countries encourage or even allow membership in such groups? A feather in the cap for the USA.)

In his opening words, Ambassador Shapiro explained that not only are civil rights, equal rights, gender equality and lgbt rights a personal issue for him and his wife, but also a priority of the Obama Administration, who has issued consular instructions to "embrace the lgbt community". Here too, it seems, many countries could take the lead of the greatest democracy in the world to change and equalize the status of all their minorities.

 

Ms. Kaner-Roth spoke before an enraptured audience, thirsty for information on how she (and others) successfully campaigned for marriage equality in Minnesota. There are at present 19 states in the USA that permit single-sex marriages, while 43% of Americans now live in "equality" states. In nine other states court rulings banning equality are being challenged in the courts. 6-7 years ago, only 38% of Americans were pro-marriage equality; today that figure exceeds 50%. The complications of state vs. federal legislation, where the laws are often contradictory, have created a complexity that will have to be resolved in time. Has the USA reached a tipping point? Ms. Kaner-Roth thinks that by 2015 or 2016, the answer will clearly be in favor of equality. When asked about the situation in Israel, the speaker's response was sharp and to the point: "It should not be illegal to marry the person you love". It's hard to argue with that logic.

 

The applause for the Ambassador's stance was most profound when a member of the audience expressed her gratitude for his (and the Administration's) equality policy. No less was the appreciation for the American guest's presentation – interesting, factual and always gripping.

 

 

 

  Photo Credit:  David Azagury/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

 

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, sent a message to the new King of Spain, His Highness King Felipe VI, who is following his father, Juan Carlos, who announced his abdication earlier this month. Please find below the text of the letter:

 

The celebration of Your Majesty's Coronation offers me the welcome opportunity to extend to you and your people, on behalf of the State of Israel and myself, my warmest wishes and sincere congratulations for your personal well-being, for the happiness of the Royal House and for the continued progress and prosperity of the people of Spain.

 

I wish you every success in the challenging task ahead and trust that under your reign, the relations of friendship and cooperation between Spain and Israel will continue to expand and strengthen.

 

 

 

 

  President Peres:

"The terrorists will be brought to justice"

"The families are a symbol of the strength of the Israeli spirit, they are a source of inspiration – we will pray with them for the safe return of their sons, our boys"

 

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, delivered remarks this afternoon at a ceremony to mark outstanding military reserve units, along with the Minister of Defense and Chief of Staff. President Peres began by addressing the kidnapping of Naftali Frankel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach and said, "Our soldiers are operating without respite in Hebron and in the villages to find the three boys. The terrorists will be brought to justice.

 

They are the envoys of death and destruction, they offer no hope. The kidnapping of the three boys shows once again the daily threats Israel faces but the strength of our society will overcome the terrorists. Today the whole nation is united. The families are a symbol of the strength of the Israeli spirit, they are a source of inspiration – we will pray with them for the safe return of their sons, our boys.

 

The fight against terror is a global one, it is the fight of all those who love life and wish to be free."

 

Photo Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the entire month of May 2014, Romania commemorated 70 years since the expulsion of the last Jews of Northern Transylvania to Auschwitz. During this time, multiple events honoring the victims deported to Auschwitz were organized either by the Romanian-Jewish Communities or under the auspices of the Romanian Government.
To the same end, the Elie Wiesel National Institute for Studying the Holocaust in Romania in collaboration with the Romanian Ministry of Transport, held throughout entire May 2014, a series of events consisting of 11 commemorative plaque unveilings in memory of the 132,000 victims of the Holocaust. The plaques were placed in train-stations from where trains transported Jews to the extermination camp, such as: Baia Mare, Targu Mures, Reghin Sighet, Viseu de Sus, Dej, Cluj-Napoca, Satu Mare, Şimleu Silvaniei, Oradea, Bistrita.
These deportations took place in Northern Transylvania in 1944, at that time belonging to Horthy's Hungary and occupied by Nazi Germany. Out of the 132,000 Jews deported, almost all were exterminated.
Events for the unveiling of commemorative plaques were held as follows:
• Sunday, May 11, 2014 - train station in Baia Mare;
• Monday, May 12, 2014 – train stations in Tirgu Mures and Reghin;
• Sunday, May 18, 2014 - train stations in Sighet and Viseu de Sus;
• Monday, May 26, 2014 - train station in Dej;
• Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - train station in Cluj-Napoca;
• Wednesday, May 28, 2014 - train station in Satu Mare;
• Thursday, May 29, 2014 - Silvaniei Şimleu train station;
• Friday, May 30, 2014 - Oradea train station;
• Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - train station in Bistrita.
Present at the unveiling of the commemorative plaque in Cluj Napoca, on 27th May 2014, the Romanian Minister for infrastructure projects, Dan Șova, said:
"Today we commemorate a tragic consequence of hatred and anti-Semitism, for which we are required to have compassion and the duty of keeping alive the memory of Holocaust victims. Moreover, we have an obligation to build a society in which ethnic, cultural and religious values will be not only tolerated, but respected and appreciated [...]
Through effective educational programs and initiatives, focused on civic values ​​and democratic principles, we can understand the causes led to this tragedy. In the same time, I am convinced that we must pass-on to future generations the lessons of the Holocaust, so that, whenever anti-Semitism and racism will be taken to the streets, will receive a proper rebuff and such atrocities will not happen again. "

 

 

 

 

 Dozens of senior health establishment figures from different countries came this month to Rambam to take part in an Israeli effort that has changed the lives of AIDS patients worldwide.

The  aim of the international delegation was  to enrich participants’ knowledge of HIV and AIDS. Held under the umbrella of UNAIDS, the UN organization for HIV medicine, the group was composed of participants from China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Colombia. Health care, particularly in connection with AIDS, is a major objective of Israeli assistance. This visit was the fruit of 15 years of collaboration between Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UNAIDS.

During their visit, the officials learned of developments in the area of AIDS. Subjects like laboratory techniques, treatment management, drugs,  groups at-risk and epidemiological data were included. In addition, the guests toured Rambam departments and visited the hospital’s protected emergency room, which was built in recent years.

Dr Margalit Lorber, director of the Unit for Autoimmune Diseases at Rambam, has been responsible for the scientific planning of this effort since its inception. ”During the 15 years this program has existed, it has done much important work,” says Dr Lorber. “This effort has contributed to the creation of joint programs between Israel and the health establishments of more than ten developing countries. There is no doubt we have helped improve the quality of life for many HIV carriers throughout the world, have prevented babies being born with AIDS and have helped bring about better, more advanced medicine in the developing world.”

 

 

 

 

 

Photo caption: The delegation members at RHCC

Photo credit: Pioter Fliter

 

 

 

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(June 12, 2014– Jerusalem) Yad Vashem has posthumously recognized Jose Maria Barreto of Peru as Righteous Among the Nations. This is the first Peruvian to be recognized as Righteous Among the Nations. Barreto served as a diplomat in Switzerland and used his position to attempt to rescue Jews during the Holocaust. A ceremony honoring Barreto will be held at a later date.

By 1938, the government of Peru had given instructions to all of its consulates in Europe not to issue visas to foreign immigrants, with an emphasis on barring Jews in particular. Abraham Silberschein, the head of RELICO, a Jewish relief organization in Switzerland funded by the World Jewish Congress, originally approached Jose Maria Barreto, the Consul General of Peru in Geneva, Switzerland asking him to issue Peruvian passports for Jews under German occupation. In the summer of 1943, the Swiss police asked for clarifications from the Peruvian Embassy to explain the issuing of a Peruvian passport to a German Jew by the name of Gunther Frank. Barreto responded in a letter to the Peruvian Ambassador that he had issued 27 Peruvian passports to 58 Jews (including 14 children) at the request of the "Intellectual Refugee Protection Committee" in order to save the lives of people in German concentration camps expected to be sent to death. After the incident came to the attention of the Peruvian Foreign Minister, the Ministry ordered the cancelation of the passports issued and closure of the Peruvian consulate in Geneva. In addition, Barreto was fired from his position and dismissed from Peru's Foreign Ministry.

In a letter written on August 27, 1943, Silberschein described Barreto's noble efforts: "Mr. Barreto, deeply moved by the suffering of millions of human beings in the occupied countries, wished to participate in helping to alleviate the plight of these innocent people, and decided to agree and provide us with a certain number of passports so that we could send them to different persons in the countries under German control. Mr. Barreto was convinced that by this highly humane deed he would save a number of people."

 

More information about the Righteous Among the Nations, including background, stories and the Database of the Righteous: http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/index.asp

 

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education. www.yadvashem.org

 

 

 

THE ISRAELI OPERA FESTIVAL AT MASADA, DEAD SEA, JUNE 2014 OPERA "LA TRAVIATA"

Composed by GIUSEPPE VERDI Conducted by DANIEL OREN
Directed by MICHAL ZNANIECKI On JUNE 12, 14, 16, 17, 2014

La traviata at the foot of Masada

Paris comes alive in the Judean Desert!

A new ravishing production of Verdi's most popular opera at the footsteps of the majestic Mt. Masada

The Israeli Opera returns with the Opera Festival at Masada, the largest cultural event in Israel, with the Opera "La Traviata" composed by GIUSEPPE VERDI, one of the best known and loved operas.

The opera will be conducted, as traditional in the Opera Festival at Masada, by the great DANIEL OREN, who selected an especially talented team for this important event.
The opera will be directed by MICHAL ZNANIECKI, one of the major opera directors in the world, specialized in the direction of outdoor events.
This production will be the largest and most complex ever organized in Israel, and will involve 2,500 workers besides the 700 participants and operating crew.
Arkia Israeli Airlines, commonly referred to as Arkia, provides the commercial sponsorship and will be the sole marketing company of the tickets+lodging packet for the Opera Festival.
To get this packet, call to phone no. *5758 or turn to website www.arkia.co.il.

 

 

For more information on the Opera Festival, or to get tickets to this event at all range of prices, contact BIMOT on phone no. *6226 or turn to website www. opera-masada.com.
Israel's Ministry of Tourism markets the Opera Festival in Germany, Italy, France, Russia, UK and USA. This Ministry also provides the flying and lodging arrangements for dozens of journalists from all over the world for covering this event.


The main participants in this grand event are listed below.
Libretto  Francesco Maria Piave
Conductor  Daniel Oren
Orchestra Rishon LeZion's Symphony Orchestra
Choir Israeli Opera Choir
Director Michal Znaniecki
Set Designer  Luigi Scoglio
Costume Designer Joanna Medynska
Light Designer and video Bogumil Palewicz
Choreographers Szlufik-Pantak Elzbieta   Pantak Grzegorz

Soloists: Violetta
Elena Mosuc / Aurelia Florian
Alfredo
Celso Albelo / Jean-Francois Borras
Germont
Ionut Pascu
Baron
Noah Briger
Marquis
Oded Reich
Dr. Grenvil
Carlo Striuli
Gaston
Guy Mannheim
Anina
Shiri Hershkovitz

 

The Israeli Opera Chorus

Chorus Master: Ethan Schmeisser

Kielce Dance Theatre, Poland 

The Opera Orchestra - 
The Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon LeZion
Surtitles in Hebrew and English 
Translation: Israel Ouval

"Bigger than life! Excellent singing, precise set design and spectacular background created an unforgettable evening of the opera at Masada." Yediot Achronot (Israel leading newspaper)

 

And remember: the Opera Festival at Masada will be the largest and most complex production ever organized in Israel.

 

 

THU 12.6.14 21:30
SAT 14.6.14 21:30
MON 16.6.14 21:30
TUE 17.6.14 21:30

 

 

 Photo Yossi Zavker

 

La Traviata in Massada | June 2014  

 

http://www.israel-opera.co.il/

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The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering wraps up on June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"The Cold War was declared over with the collapse of the Iron Curtain," Russia academic Sergey Karaganov a former advisor to Russian President Putin said Tuesday at the Herzliya Conference. "But the West has continued it by a different means, by expanding its sphere of influence and control of NATO."

Karaganov said called the period after the collapse of the Iron Curtain the "second run of the Versaille policy" – referring to the post-WWI policy against the defeated Germany – "It [Germany] was run to the corner and became the source of the Second World War in a generation. The same thing has been conducted against my country."

"To heal this syndrome, we went to arms...against Chechnya, and again when Georgia attacked and killed our peacekeepers. But the problem was that the Cold War was not over and an open wound was left in the heart of Europe and it became infectious. Then there was the Ukrainian infection."

He said the open wound would remain until the Cold War against Russia was finished.

Karaganov also took issue with suggestions that Russia's annexation of Crimea was illegal. "We have drawn a red line by taking over Crimea. Of course, one could say it is against the law, we can say it is within the limits of law," he said.

"Living in Israel, which took over several lands, or the history of Turkey taking over Cypress, or even worse, NATO attacking Yugoslavia, or the US in Libya or Iraq, so it is worthless to talk in terms of law. We have to talk in terms of interests and the political facts of life."

Karagvnov said he understands the bitterness of the West towards Russia on this issue. "I have sympathy for the feelings of failures and losses which the US has inflicted on itself during the last decade, especially after the fantastic victory in the Cold War."

He said he understands the feeling because Russians "are used to being winners" and did not take to losing the Cold War easily. "And of course we fought back."

Watch the video clip of this speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crOmB9fGD8U

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf - #HC14

 

 

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

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The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering ended today at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"On the table are two models very different from one another, and there is a world of difference between them. One is a model of two states, and the other is two nation states," former cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser said Tuesday during a panel at the Herzliya Conference.

Israel, he said, was working towards two nation states, a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, while the Palestinians want two states but are unwilling to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

The panel of experts, including Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans, examined the recent breakdown in peace talks, why they failed and what can be done to improve prospects for success in the future.

Ashraf al-Ajrami, former head of Palestinian Prisoner Affairs, said the US made a key mistake in the last round of talks led by Secretary of State John Kerry. "The Americans didn't reach any basic understanding – why are they talking, what is the main aim? Therefore the majority of the effort was concentrated on, What are we talking about? which issues are the most important issues."

"The breakthrough should always start at the end," he said. "An agreement of the principle we want to reach at the end of negotiations. For example, a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders. If we start by agreeing on two states for two people based on 1967 borders, then we can start delineating borders," he added.

Noted attorney Alan Dershowitz, a strong advocate for Israel, warned that comments from Kerry and others about boycotts push the Palestinians to dig into their positions. "The US and international community has created disincentives to create peace," he said.

The even-handed approach by the US also creates unrealistic expectations from the Palestinians. "Every time Israel builds in Gilo or Maale Adumim, places that everyone knows will stay with Israel in any agreement, people say it makes it harder to reach a peace agreement. That's not true," he said.

Israeli journalist Ari Shavit said there was no point in repeating a process that has proven unsuccessful. "Time after time, we have failed. We need a paradigm shift, right away. The old peace has died unfortunately, and one needs a new peace, now," he said.

Shavit suggested a series of gradual unilateral Israeli withdrawals from the West Bank to build trust and shift the situation in the direction it needs to go. "We have to save the Jewish democratic state, we can embark on saving our nation gradually, while learning as we learned from the Gaza Strip, he said "And the Palestinians can start to build their nation."

Yossi Kupperwasser, director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the negotiations failed because they were based on a number of incorrect assumptions, including the idea that Israel concessions will bring a change to the Palestinian rejectionism.

"We also assume that the West knows how to lead negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians," he said. "No, it does not know. The chances are better if the West is not involved.

Matthew Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings, offered the view from Washington's perspective.

"The failure of negotiations shows that Kerry might have been wrong about the need to push the Middle East track," he said. "The conclusion for Washington is the old axiom – you can't want it more than the parties themselves."

Prior to the panel, pollsters Prof. Mena Tzemach and Dr. Khalil Shakaki presented their recent findings (Attached) about public attitudes in Israeli and Palestinian society.

Questions from Tzemach's poll included:

Should Israel negotiate with a Palestinian government comprised of the PLO and Hamas?

45% said no under any circumstances
32 said yes, but only if they meet the Quartet demands
19% said yes with no pre-conditions
4% is undecided.

Should Israel freeze settlement construction to return to negotiations?
49% said no.
48% said yes
3% didn't answer.

Questions from Shakaki's poll include:

Do you support a two state solution?
54% yes

Do you view the two state solution as impractical?
61% yes

The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has dissolved all armed groups that belonged to political factions or parties. After the reconciliations [unity government], under what conditions do you think armed groups in the Gaza Strip should be dissolved?

33% oppose the dissolution of armed groups in the Gaza Strip under any circumstance.
19%, now, having formed a unity government.
16% only after the lifting of the siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip.
15% only after signing of peace agreement with Israel.
12% only after the upcoming legislative and presidential elections.
6% don't know.

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering wrapped up at IDC Herzliya Campus

"Is America prepared to keep its commitment given its budgetary constraints?
Has America turned away from the Middle East to the Far East and has it left the Middle East behind? ... Is America ready to maintain its commitments to the Middle East and particularly to the State of Israel? I'm here to say that the unequivocal answer to those questions, to the question of whether America is committed, is 'yes.' America remains firmly committed to this region. Firmly committed to the State of Israel. Firmly committed to our mutual security," said the Honorable Dr. Matthew Spence, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy confirming, in no unequivocal terms, the United States' commitment to Israel, the Middle East and its influence and involvement in the area.

Spence was speaking during a panel session on "Global Powers and Middle East Peace and Security: How Can They Make a Difference?" on the final day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference.

Regarding America's presence in the Middle East, he noted that America maintains "35,000 military personnel in the region. 10,000 soldiers, the fifth fleet headquarters with over 50 ships in Bahrain, the F22 fighter aircraft and some of the most advanced military technologies and missile defense technologies in the region."
"The amount of military equipment we have in the region does not make a policy or a strategy but the sheer amount when you add it up ... says a significant amount about what America has been committed to defer, deter and defend against conflict and threats in the region."

Talking about America's planning in the Middle East, he said that America's department of defense "plans for a range of contingencies to make sure we are prepared as things happen and to plan against things that we frankly don't want to happen." He mentioned that three weeks ago, with Israel, with over 700 American troops, the US participated in Juniper Cobra, the largest military exercise of the year.

"The type of close cooperation we have between the two countries I think is really quite impressive," he said, mentioning that his boss, US Secretary of Defense
Chuck Hagel, has met with the Israeli ministry of defense six times since they both took office. More than any other defense minister in the world.

The third thing that America focuses on regarding to its commitment to the region are its partnerships. "The partnerships are deep as they are broad." He mentioned that just this year, the United States had given Israel 3.1 billion dollars in military financing, the most in US history, and had provided some of the most advanced technologies to Israel, all to "preserve Israel's qualitative military edge." He added that this was the United States' "iron clad commitment to make sure that Israel has exactly what it takes to defend itself against any enemy, or any combination of enemies, that could threaten its security ... This commitment is not just in Israel's interest but in Americas interests as well."

In conclusion, he said, "Is America here to stay? Is America committed? ... Yes ... Given the huge amounts of problems that we face, we don't have the choice not to try and we don't have the choice not to try to lead."

Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilead, Director, Political-Military Bureau, Ministry of Defense opened his address with the "good news" of Israel's unique relationship with the United States that "covers all areas essential to our existence." He said that he, "could not imagine our national security without the unique cooperation that covers many areas, including many areas that we do not agree because the United States is superpower and we think we are superpower but we are not, we are a local force." He stressed, the "United States-Israel security relations can be considered a major pillar in our national security."

Gilead stressed Iran as Israel's major challenge. They are determined to exterminate Israel "and they mean it. Believe them. Read their lips." In this regard, "the combination between nuclear weapons and this nuclear regime is unacceptable ... If Iran gets nuclear, the leading Arab countries will be equipped with it. The whole area will look like hell. It will an accurate reflection of hell ...A bad agreement is worse than a lack of agreement."

Turning to Egypt, Gilead said, "Egypt is some kind of miracle. There are too many miracles in the Middle East." He added that, "Muslim brotherhood is seen by leading Arab countries as an existential threat to their regimes" and they want to establish a Sunni empire across the Middle East.

He did say though that the good news for Israel is that "There is a moderate Sunni Arab block that is determined to fight against al Qaeda ... Muslim Brothers ... and to try to give stability and economic prosperity to Egypt." Regarding this, he said that "we need to do our best to support this ... all under auspices of the United States ...All Arab countries are relying on US supremacy."

Mentioning Israel's favorable relations with Germany Gilead said, "we have very qualitative important security cooperation ... Very frank, qualitative dialogue with substantive achievements to our national security, like submarines."

Gilead also mentioned the "new reality that there are official states that are not any more states." Such a state is Syria, "Psycho there that is poisoning his own people with chemical weapons."

"Who is stable in this Middle East?" he asked. "This is very important lesson. The kingdoms. They are not real democracies but they are very impressive by their stability."

In closing, he noted Israel's "excellent security relations" with its friends and allies. This is a "very important asset to our national security, our future, our deterrence and our reputation to be able to fight independently without foreign soldiers with support of our partners in the world."

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

2014 Herzliya Conference wraps up today at IDC Herzliya

The good news at the moment is that the interim agreement is actually "performing as it was designed and expected" as the Iranians have "capped most key elements of their nuclear program," said Dr. Gary Samore, Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) closed the morning's simulation game on "The Day after a Deal with Iran – Regional & Global Implications" on the final day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference.

Samore stressed that as details of these negotiations had not been made public, which he saw as a genuine effort to come to an agreement by both sides, he was making his comments as an outside observer alone.

Noting some of the successes of the interim agreement, he said that the Iranians had converted or diluted most of their stockpile of 20% enriched uranium; seized any additional enrichment above 5%; halted the installation of additional centrifuges and suspended major construction at the Arak heavy research reactor. As a result, the US and EU have been able to ease some of the trade sanction and released some of the frozen funds from Iran's oil exports.

Despite concerns expressed at the time of the interim agreements inception, the "overall sanctions regime has remained intact," and "the US and the EU governments have demonstrated that they are able to manipulate sanctions. They can raise and lower sanctions in a way that gives them powerful bargaining leverage."

Samore said that he had always thought Iran would be more willing to "trade away the plutonium track" than their enrichment program as the effort to produce plutonium is much more challenging than their enrichment program.

Despite the progress so far, Samore questioned whether the conditions were right to negotiate a comprehensive agreement by July 20, the initial target date set by the joint plan of action.

He noted that although there had been some progress in this direction, "it seems to me that the negotiators are very far apart on at least two main issues." The first being what the physical constraints on Iran's enrichment program will be, the second is "the pace and scope of sanctions relief."

Given the "complex and very contentious issues" surrounding this issue, he feels it would be "extremely difficult" to reach a comprehensive deal by July. However, "both sides have a strong interest in keeping the negotiations going because neither wants to return to the previous cycle of increased nuclear facilities and increased sanctions."

According to Samore, everybody recognizes that this is a "tactical retreat," not a "fundamental shift," on the part of Iran and its leadership.

He advised that the "US and its allies will need to maintain a very high priority on intelligence efforts in order to detect cheating" and have plans in place for what to do if the deal falls apart.

In short, looking ahead, Samore said that he can imagine a sequence of interim agreements, "I do think we still have the option of buying time and given the current leadership in Iran, that's probably the best that diplomacy can achieve."

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

President Peres congratulated Israel's President-Elect MK Reuven 'Rubi' Rivlin, the 10th President of the State of Israel

President Peres to President-Elect Rivlin:
"I'm very pleased to hand over to you, I am sure you will fulfill this role excellently."

President-Elect Rivlin to President Peres:
"I am stepping into very big shoes – thank you Shimon ."

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, called and congratulated the President-elect of Israel MK Reuven 'Rubi' Rivlin who will serve as the 10th President of the State of Israel from the end of July, "Rubi, Your Excellency the next President of the State of Israel, you are right for this role. It is a position that brings with it responsibility, you have to consider your every word and every action, but you will do it successfully because you are, to your core, a good person. There is a handover period and I am at your disposal from this moment onwards with whatever you need. My team and I will do everything we can to ensure the handover is conducted is honorably and professionally and we do it gladly."

President Peres continued and said, "I am at the end of my 7 year term as President and it is an incredible privilege to serve to our people. As President your role is to serve, not to rule and in my eyes there is no greater honor than to faithfully serve your nation and your people. You have all the qualities to do just that. I wish you luck and I am confident that you will succeed in your future, which is also the future of the State of Israel."

President-elect Rivlin thanked President Peres and said, "I thank you on behalf of myself and my wife. I am stepping into big shoes, it won't be easy to be the 10th President after your presidency in which you done a lot of good for humanity, thank you Shimon."

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"An international agreement that leaves Iran on the threshold of nuclear capability is worse than no agreement at all", Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said today at the Herzliya Conference.

Steinitz said bilateral talks between Iran and the United States set to begin today have far-reaching consequences. "What is now at hand is not just the fate of Israel in the Middle East but the fate of the world," he said.

A successful agreement, he said, would allow Iran to access nuclear power for civil use but leave it incapable of enriching enough uranium to produce nuclear weapons.

An unsuccessful agreement, he said, would lead to a dire scenario over the next decade where Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, threatens Israel as well as targets in Western Europe and even the US, and leads to an arms race in the Arab world.

"When we speak to our allies, the Americans, we stress the main point is to prevent Iran from being on the threshold," he said.

If Iran is left on the threshold, he said, "Sooner or later Iran will reach nuclear capability, just like North Korea, which signed many agreements. Two or three years later, it broke through to nuclear weaponry. Today, we know it has 5-12 nuclear missiles."

A bad agreement would embolden other states to seek nuclear weapons without concern for sanctions. "They will say, if it's possible for Iran to be considered legitimate and on the threshold of nuclear capability, why not give the same to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, or Turkey?"

"When we look at the political negotiations, we are not against it, but we watch with concern," he said. "Always, we remind them that they need to ask themselves the same question – what will the Middle East look like in 10 years. The future is going to arrive, quicker than you think."

Following the speech, the Chairman of the Herzliya Conference, Prof. Alex Mintz, revealed a new survey conducted by the IPS - Institute of Policy & Strategy at IDC Herzliya. The poll was conducted in Israel and reached at least 500 respondents over the age of 18 and included minorities and from all parts of the country. (Margin of error +/- 4.4%)

The one questions dealing with Iran said:
If an agreement will be reached between Iran and the West on its nuclear capabilities Israel should:
22.3% - Support it
22.9% - Oppose it
30.8% - Depends on what it says
7.8% - Oppose it and attack Iran's nuclear facilities
16.2% - Don't know/Not Sure
For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

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The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"There is dramatic instability in our region and we have to always keep on our toes. If we veer to either the right or left we will see things dropping. We don't have a safety net. I'm sure there is one but we can't see it yet," said Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff, speaking on the "Challenges to Israel's National Security" at the opening session of the second day of the 14th Annual Herzliya Conference.

"We get up in the morning, drink our coffee and realize that everything could change in a moment," he said, explaining that one hour we could be drinking coffee, the next we could be fighting a war.

Gantz gave an extensive review of the Middle East, explaining the possible dangers from Egypt, Sinai, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank. "We have seen various dramatic changes to this threat [facing Israel]. On one hand, the threat of armies has not disappeared but has, perhaps moderated ... But other threats are surfacing." He mentioned the threat of surface to surface missiles, as well as that of even more precise missiles. He also stressed that even though the Syrians were currently busy with their own internal issues, they continued to accumulate their abilities and could "not be put on the back burner" regarding Israeli military considerations.

"I hope our strategic peace with Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia remains and is reinforced but if this stability crosses any lines, we could face a very different reality," said Gantz. He specifically emphasized the threats facing Israel as a result of Hamas and Hezbollah, adding that Hezbollah boasts a cache of weapons that many other countries would be proud of.

Gantz also used the opportunity to discuss the threat of the growing jihadist movement, to which no number could be attributed as it is a "decentralized foe" with forces spreading throughout the world. This was "very unfamiliar" territory and it made it "difficult to plan [militarily] like we used to." He noted that jihadists were spending time in Syria and then dispersing around the world. "The Russians should also be concerned."

Moving slightly further afield, Gantz touched on the issue of Iran and stressed the importance of preventing Iran from reaching nuclear capabilities "as swiftly as possible" because one they started, it would be impossible to stop the flow.

Ending on a positive note, Gantz confirmed Israel's determination to be prepared for all situations and eventualities. "We have to grapple with new threats as they pop up and prepare ourselves for the new areas ... Sometimes we have to use old maneuvering capabilities but we have also made shifts and changes and adapted ourselves to the new realities ..." He also mentioned dramatic change in Israel's air force, which would be launched next month.

Following the speech, the Chairman of the Herzliya Conference, Prof. Alex Mintz, revealed a new survey conducted by the IPS - Institute of Policy & Strategy at IDC Herzliya.

The poll was conducted in Israel and reached at least 500 respondents over the age of 18 and included minorities and from all parts of the country. (Margin of error +/- 4.4%)

 

Should the Defense budget be raised, cut or not changed?
33.9% - Raised
32.8% - Not Changed
25.7% - Cut
7.6% - Don't Know/Not Sure

 

Should Israel negotiate with a Palestinian Government made up of experts from the PLO and Hamas?
18.9% - Yes, without pre-conditions
32.1% - Yes, but only if the meet the criteria set by the Quartet
44.6% - No, we should not negotiate with such a government
4.4% - Don't Know/Not Sure

 

Should our special relations with the United States continue or not continue to be a central factor in Israel's security?
65.8% - Should be a central factor
30.7% - Shouldn't be a central factor
3.5% - Don't Know/Not Sure

 

Should Israel aim for the forming of a regional alliance with moderate Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States?
19.6% - Yes, even if it means a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank
56.4% - Yes, but not at all costs
20.6% - No, it shouldn't
3.4% - Don't Know/Not Sure

 

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

  For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

Twitter: http://twitter.com/HerzliyaConf - #HC14

 

 

 

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 President Peres bestowed the Presidential Medal of Distinction Upon President Napolitano

President Peres: "The State of Israel thanks you – you stood resolutely by us over the years."
"The time has come for peace and we must find an agreed upon solution accepted by both parties"

President Napolitano: My unflagging relation with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, my determination to fight anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel are an integral part of my anti-fascist commitment.

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, bestowed the Presidential Medal of Distinction upon the President of Italy, His Excellency Giorgio Napolitano, at a ceremony in Rome. The award is the highest civilian honor in Israel. The ceremony took place the day after President Peres attended the joint event in the Vatican hosted by Pope Francis along with Palestinian President Abbas.

President Peres thanked President Napolitano for his steadfast support for Israel and said, "I am proud to confer upon you the Presidential Medal of Distinction in honor of your steadfast commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. You raised a clear voice in support of Israeli democracy." President Peres addressed yesterday's event at the Vatican and said, "The time has come for peace and we must find an agreed upon solution accepted by both parties. We still face threats, namely terror from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. We must overcome terror and improve the situation for all the people of the region. Israel stretches out its hand for peace with the Palestinians, our neighbors. I have experienced both war and peace and everyone deserves the right to live in peace."

President Napolitano "My unflagging relation with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, my determination to fight anti-Semitism and attacks on Israel are an integral part of my anti-fascist commitment. I am honored to receive this distinguished award." Turning to President Peres he said, "Peace is a part of your legacy and today we must say with conviction, the time has come for peace."

The recommendation for the award is as follows: "Over the years, President Napolitano demonstrated his uncompromising commitment to the well-being and security of the State of Israel, and inspired by him, the Italian Communist Party adopted new and independent positions in relation to the Middle East. At the time, President Napolitano clearly and consistently voiced his views on the question of Prisoners of Zion in the former Soviet who requested to emigrate to Israel was denied. President Napolitano has condemned every manifestation of terrorism, he has hosted meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to seek a solution to the Middle East conflict on the basis of mutual recognition. The President represents a figure of leadership in the European arena in the fight against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. President Napolitano's relations with the State of Israel and the Jewish people have been steadfast and characterized by a deep sense of friendship. He has repeatedly expressed his steadfast position regarding Israel's unequivocal right to live in peace and security."

Later in the visit, President Peres will meet with the Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini, and the President of the Italian Senate, Mr. Pietro Grasso.

Background Information on the Presidential Medal of Distinction:

The Presidential Medal of Distinction is awarded to private individuals and organizations that have made unique and outstanding contributions to Tikkun Olam (Bettering the World), Israeli society and the State of Israel's image around the world, and which constitute examples of initiative, innovation, creativity and vision. The medals themselves feature the North Star to symbolize the right path and a menorah, the symbol of Israel and the continuous link between past and present. The medal is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 "from his shoulders and upward." The Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the "Legion of Honor" (France) or the "Order of Canada."

The advisory committee for the Presidential Medal of Distinction includes retired Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, former President Yitzhak Navon, Professor Suzie Navot, Dr. Mohammed Issawi, Rabbi Dr. Ratzon Arusi, Gil Shwed and Professor Anita Shapira. Previous winners of the award include President Obama, President Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta, Attorney Uri Slonim, Judy Feld Carr, The Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

 

Photo Credit: Haim Tzach/GPO

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"The challenge of American Middle East policy today is to know America's limits in the treacherous landscape but also not to be paralyzed by them," former US National Security Advisor Samuel R. (Sandy) Berger told the Herzilya Conference on Monday.

"We cannot now turn our backs on this region, allowing its problems to fester," he said. "It is a sure-fire way of allowing them to grow and come back to haunt us."

Berger, who served under President Bill Clinton, laid out the American view of the Middle East, and the need for US engagement in the region.

He referred to Syria as a microcosm of the currents flowing through the Middle East today: "the fight against an indescribably brutal ruler, fought along sectarian lines, between more mainstream Islamists and Jihadists, all in the context of a struggle of regional influence between Iran and Saudi Arabia."

He noted that US concerns about the complexity of the conflict have held the government back from serious engagement. "But we cannot afford to be spectators in this unfolding tragedy, whose effects are felt across the region," he said.

He also said the security of Israel is a vital US interest both on a political level and in the hearts of the American people. "It matters to us if Israel is threatened or secure, caught up in conflict or in peace, for our interest in this nation and its welfare is deeply rooted in the American people, across political spectrums," he said.

He said that it was true that Americans were war-weary, tired of sending armies around the world. "But our friends, our adversaries, and our leaders, should not confuse war weariness with an unwillingness to lead, to engage with others around common goals."

"Americans understand that what happens in the world matters to us, and what happens to us matters to the world," he said. "When we lead, we're able to convene the world to
do great things, as President Obama did with assembling the coalition against Iran, and when we don't, as in the case in Syria, it veers off into chaos."

For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

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The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

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The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

On the issue of Iran, MK Lt. Gen. (res.) Shaul Mofaz, Former Minister of Defense & Chief of Staff ; Chairman, "Kadima" Party is clear, "we cannot stick to the doctrine of we are all alone, we have to do what is best for us. We need to have good relations with the West and United States."

Mofaz was giving the concluding address of the session on "Facing Turbulent Global and Regional Arenas: reformulating Israel's National Security Doctrine" at the 14th annual Herzliya Conference. He said that the United States had negotiated with Iran for over a year, behind closed doors, on their nuclear situation, but Israel, to whom this is "Perhaps one of the most important issues to do with existential threats" was not privy to these meetings. He said that because of Israel's attitude of wanting to "attack Iran tomorrow" and standing alone, "we missed the opportunity to be in that closed room" and to be a part of the solution to this issue. "We need a joint political agenda with the United States."

Regarding Israel's national security doctrine, Mofaz felt that it was something that needed updating every decade, "We need a refreshment of the mind not every year or every month but every decade." Referring to the address of Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Chief of the IDF General Staff, who spoke at the conference earlier in the day, Mofaz said he felt the idea of a national multi-plan was "too big a challenge for the State of Israel, at this time ... our security doctrine needs to be based on a long-term view and budgeting."

He stressed, "When the army has a horizon of one year [thinks only a year ahead], it wastes money because it doesn't know what is to be." He said that it was a mistake for the army to talk of the uncertainties in order to increase its budget. "We need money to be earmarked for our capabilities ... a protected flower that exists every year and every year it needs to be budgeted for."

Mofaz also mentioned that Israel's defense community needed to work on its deterrence capabilities. "When did Khaled Mashal ever dream of reaching the Gaza strip? ... If our deterrence were so good, how did we enable him to reach the Gaza strip with such trumpets?"

 

 For more information including VOD of all proceedings please log onto: www.herzliyaconference.org/eng

Follow the Herzliya Conference on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HerzliyaConference

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The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

The Middle East's leading security & policy gathering runs through June 10th at the IDC Herzliya Campus

"Peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not a magic wand that will solve all problems of the Middle East overnight. But it will eliminate a key fault line running through the region," said H.E. Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission during his keynote address closing the first day of the 14th annual Herzliya Conference. "What History teaches us is that it [peace] belongs to those who continue it and move forward and not to those who hijack it, looking backwards. This place is full of History - some even say too much History - but the pages of the peace chapter of Middle East's History book are still waiting to be written."
Barroso focused much of his address on the conflict and the need for the two sides to find a way to peace, while Europe would support any and all efforts. "We cannot create such an agreement – only you and the Palestinians can – but through understanding and support, through commitment and dialogue, we hope we can play our part in bringing it about."
Touching briefly on some current issues facing Europe, he said, "As the outcome of last month's European elections has shown, these momentous changes [that Europe has faced in the last ten years] have also caused anxiety amongst some of our citizens. In a democracy, doing the right thing is not enough – you also have to convince citizens that it is right, that it is to their advantage.
"We have to continue to provide answers to legitimate questions and at the same time fight populism and extremism wherever necessary and uphold the values on which the European project is based. Uncertain economic and social times can never be an excuse for dehumanising political narratives."

He also used the opportunity to strongly oppose all levels of anti-Semitism, "Europe, as the continent where the Holocaust took place, has a particular responsibility to lead the fight against any resurgence of anti-Semitism, whenever and wherever it occurs," and recognized "the particularly difficult challenges ahead addressing the phenomenon of radicalised European jihadis returning to our streets from Syria."
Offering the concluding remarks at the Strategy in the Face of Regional & Global Transformations panel, H.E Daniel Shapiro, Ambassador of the United States to Israel commented that the current pause in the peace negotiations was a "period of pause and reflection to reassess and reflect on the benefits on peace and the costs of rejection." Shapiro confirmed that both sides would still be held accountable to prior obligations and that the US would continue to evaluate the policies of the new (Palestinian) government.

Shapiro reiterated that Hamas is still listed as a terrorist organization and US will not support or have contact with Hamas, and that recent reports to the contrary are "nonsense".

Shapiro ended his remarks by reaffirming President Obama's "strong alliance and commitment to Israel's security".

The Herzliya Conference is the flagship of the Institute of Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Lauder School of Government of IDC Herzliya. The Herzliya Conference addresses Israel's national agenda by encouraging public debate and influencing the country's public policy planning. This is achieved through convening Israeli and international elite policy makers, conducting cutting edge research, fostering a global network of contacts in a public forum by attracting the best and the brightest to take part in the conference and its discussions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Commission's President José Manuel Barroso and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today witnessed the signature of Israel's association to Horizon 2020, the new EU research and innovation programme. Horizon 2020 offers a huge opportunity to enhance the traditionally active cooperation between Israeli and EU researchers and innovators. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel will have the same access to the programme as EU Member States and other Associated Countries. In return, it will contribute to the Horizon 2020 budget.

President Barroso said: "Israel is a strong player in research and innovation and for this reason an important partner for the EU to address societal challenges of common concern, such as ageing, food safety, environment protection or cleaner energy, and to strengthen the competitiveness of our industries. I am pleased that we are signing the agreement today since it reflects the mutual importance we attach to cooperation and partnership in research and innovation."

 

Israel has the highest proportion of researchers in the business sector in the world and one of the highest investments in civilian R&D – more than 4% of GDP. This makes it a strong partner for the EU and will bring added benefit to cooperation in Horizon 2020 given the programme's stronger focus on innovation.

In addition to advancing science, technology and innovation cooperation between EU and Israeli researchers has enabled complex scientific cross-border challenges in all spheres of the economy and society to be addressed. Cooperation also provides an important mechanism to help reinforce mutual understanding, also with regional partners.

 

The agreement was signed by Head of the EU Delegation to Israel, Ambassador Lars Faaborg-Andersen, and Minister of Science, Technology and Space Yaakov Perry. The agreement, once ratified by Israel, will enable eligible Israeli researchers and innovators to take part actively from the start of the new programme in all activities with their EU and international partners.

Background

Israel has been associated to EU research and innovation programmes since 1996. During the last programme (2007-13), Israeli public and private institutions contributed their scientific expertise to over 1,500 projects. Reflecting the strength of Israeli research, Israeli participants achieved a high success rate, particularly in obtaining European Research Council (ERC) and Marie-Skłodowska Curie grants. In the thematic programmes, Israel participated most actively in the areas of information and communication technologies, health and nanotechnology. Some €780 million in EU research funding went to the Israeli participating entities. On its side, Israel contributed over €530 million to the programme. In Horizon 2020, applicants and relevant activities described in the application need to be in compliance with the guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities.

 

With a total budget of nearly €80 billion over seven years, Horizon 2020 is the largest ever EU research and innovation programme and one of the biggest in the world. In parallel to the signature of Israel's association agreement, association agreements are being finalised with several EU enlargement and neighbourhood countries and with the Faroe Islands. The EEA/EFTA states of Norway and Iceland have already secured association to Horizon 2020, as has Turkey.

 

 

 

The Herzliya Conference, organized by the Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya, will start its 14th annual event, dealing with

ISRAEL AND THE FUTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST, on June 8, and will continue until June 10.

The Herzliya Conference is Israel's foremost global policy annual gathering, drawing together the most senior Israeli and international participants from government, business and academia to address pressing national, regional and global issues. The center stage for Middle East risk assessment and policy analysis, the Conference agenda covers a broad span of issues, ranging from nuclear proliferation and the Middle East peace process to world finance and energy security.

Traditionally, the Conference is launched by the President of the State of Israel and concluded by the Prime Minister of Israel, who delivers his annual "State of the Nation" speech, known as the "Herzliya Address".

The Herzliya Conference is a year-long work cycle consisting of the following phases:

· Preliminary research and analysis, conducted by the Herzliya Taskforces and commissioned experts.
· The Conference, at which major policy statements and initiatives are delivered, and Herzliya Roundtables are held, followed by deliberations and the presentation of specially     commissioned reports and studies.

· Executive Herzliya Reports, presented to key policy-makers, summarizing the Conference's proceedings, findings, and major policy recommendations.

The Herzliya Conference program this year is available at its website:

http://www.herzliyaconference.org/

Following the invitation of Pope Francis during his visit to the region:

Pope Francis, President Peres and President Abbas will issue a joint call for peace at a ceremony in the Vatican

At the ceremony, which will take place in the garden of the Vatican on Sunday 8th June at 19:00 (local time in Rome), there will delegations of

Rabbis, Imams and Christian faith leaders

 

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, will depart on Sunday 8th June, for a special visit to the Vatican at the invitation of Pope Francis. At the center of the visit will be an event hosted by Pope Francis with President Peres, Palestinian Authority President Abbas and delegations of Jewish, Christian and Islamic faith leaders, at which they will issue a joint call for peace to people across the world.

The event has been designed to incorporate and respect all three religions and will include readings dedicated to each of the three religions – the Rabbis will read from the Tanach, the Christian leaders from the New Testament and the Imams from the Quran. All the readings will be dedicated to peace. After the religious readings, Pope Francis will read religious verses with President Peres and President Abbas which the three will choose and symbolize the yearning for peace.

 

President Peres will fly to the Vatican at the head of a delegation consisting of Rabbis, Druze leaders and Imams and will call upon leaders of all faiths to work together to ensure that religion and the name of the Lord will not be used to justify bloodshed and terror. President Peres will place particular emphasis on the importance of inter-religious dialogue. The Israeli delegation, which was composed with the assistance of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, will consist of faith leaders from across Israel who will carry the message of peace. The delegation will include Rabbi Dr. Rasson Arussi of the Chief Rabbinate Council, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber, Rabbi David Rosen, the Spiritual Leader of the Druze faith in Israel Sheikh Moafaq Tarif and Chairman of the Muslim Community of Israel, Sheikh Mohammad Kiwan. The Palestinian delegation is also expected to include a faith delegation consisting of Islamic and Christian leaders.

 

The event will take place in a location in the garden without religious symbols and which is not a place of prayer to ensure that it would be in accordance with Jewish tradition. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yosef blessed President Peres for his work towards peace between nations and for his efforts to ensure religion is not used to justify terror and bloodshed, he also wished him luck for his visit.

 

The event at the Vatican is taking place at the initiative of Pope Francis who announced his historic invitation during his visit to the Middle East. The Vatican is preparing to provide a live feed of the event to billions of people of faith across the world. In addition to his visit to the Vatican, President Peres will meet with political leadership of Italy including President Giorgio Napolitano and Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial sum of NIS 570 million to be invested in joint initiatives to connect young Jews to their Jewish identity and to Israel

Sharansky: "Israel needs a strong Jewish world and the Jewish world needs a strong Israel"

 

JERUSALEM – The Government of Israel this morning (June 1) approved the Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative, which aims to help ensure the continuity of the Jewish people by strengthening young Jews' Jewish identity and enhancing connections between world Jewry and the State of Israel. The comprehensive, multi-year plan will be based on joint initiatives to be developed by the State of Israel and world Jewry. According to today's decision, The Jewish Agency for Israel will be the government's partner in spearheading the initiative.

 

Today's government decision comes following a strategic planning process led by The Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, which involved thousands of participants from Israel and across the Jewish world. According to the decision, during the initial stage of the initiative's implementation, the total budget will be NIS 570 million, of which one third will be budgeted by the government and two thirds will be provided by world Jewry. In 2016, an expansion of the initiative will be brought to the government for approval. It should be noted that the government's investment in the initiative will be above and beyond existing funding for programs pertaining to world Jewry.

 

The Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative is viewed as a top priority by the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency due to the ongoing erosion Jewish identity amongst young Jews and growing gaps between young Jews and Israel. The government decision is significant in that it reflects the collective responsibility between the State of Israel and world Jewry for the continuity of the Jewish people.

 

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, who participated In today's government meeting, congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett and said: "The State of Israel needs a strong Jewish world and the Jewish world needs a strong Israel. This government decision, which comes during a difficult period of budget cuts, is the strongest expression of the centrality of Jewish identity as the cornerstone of Israel-Diaspora relations. Enhancing Jewish identity is at the heart of The Jewish Agency's strategic plan, strengthening both Israel and the Jewish world." Sharansky thanked The Jewish Agency's partners at the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, and the World Zionist Organization, and called on Jewish communities, organizations, and philanthropic groups to come together around the initiative.

 

The Joint Initiative will be based on a full and equal partnership between the Government of Israel, The Jewish Agency, and the Jewish people, who will act in concert via a joint steering committee to develop the program, achieve its goals, and fund its activities. The day-to-day operation of the initiative will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.

The government decision is based on a joint planning process between the government, The Jewish Agency, and the Jewish people that was started in 2012 and continued through 2013 and 2014. The process saw the participation of thousands of individuals—including top government officials and both professionals and lay leaders from Jewish communities, organizations, and philanthropic foundations around the world—in conferences, seminars, in-depth interviews, and advanced technological platforms.

 

The initiative will involve joint programs between Israel and Jewish communities around the world that will have a significant, measurable impact on young Jews in Israel and throughout the Jewish world in such areas as formal and informal education, Jewish and Israel experiences, campus life, tikkun olam (social justice), and opportunities for life in Israel. While some existing programs will be scaled up, others will be developed to meet the initiative's aims. The goal is to offer a range of programs that will enable Jews from all denominations, communities, and walks of life to find their place. The programs will include high-quality training for staff and professionals and an advanced online platform to multiply their impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

High ranking officials from the People's Republic of China made an official visit to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa on May 22. The delegation was led by Ms. Liu Yandong, the Vice Premier of China. With her were China's Ministers of Health, Education, and Science, to name a few. Their visit was devoted to gaining a deeper understanding of trauma and emergency preparedness—a subject of great interest to the Vice Premier of the largest country in the world.

During her visit, Vice Premier Liu met with the hospital 's management and representatives of Rambam's trauma unit. Professor Beyar, Director of Rambam, introduced the group to the largest academic hospital in Northern Israel and briefly described the hospital's future plans. Vice Premier Liu was quite interested in what Prof. Beyar had to say, asking many questions about the running of a large Israeli hospital, and carefully taking notes.

The delegation next went on a tour of the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital, which recently opened in its peacetime configuration as an underground parking lot. Rumors of this facility—the largest of its kind in the world—had reached the ears of the Vice Premier and she was very excited to see it with her own eyes. She and the rest of the group next visited Rambam's modern fortified trauma unit, together with Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav and City Clerk , Mrs. Bracha Sela.

"I will work to increase the collaboration between hospitals in China and in Israel, and with Rambam in particular," said the most influential woman in China. Vice Premier Liu invited Professor Beyar and other hospital representatives to visit China to establish collaborations between interested parties.

"The combination of medicine, education, and research, with the synergy between the hospital and medical technology, along with expertise in trauma care are Rambam's strengths, and what have made us a leading medical center in Israel and the world," said Professor Beyar, explaining the importance of this visit. "All of these were of great interest to Vice Premier Liu. We are looking forward to promoting collaborations between us and China, for the benefit of all."

 

 

 

GENERAL BLUE Group headed by Miri and Ran Presberg (two of the owners of the Bulthaup, Boffi and B&B Italia and other modern kitchen furniture) received the concession to open the leading store of the BAXTER modern furniture. In this context, a 200 – square meter exhibition hall was opened to present theBAXTER furniture collection.RAL BLUE Group headed by  Miri and Ran Presberg (two of the owners of the Bulthaup, Boffi and B&B I

Ran Presberg, the owner of the GENERAL BLUE Group said: 
"We are happy and excited to launch today the leading store of the BAXTER modern furniture, which has become a symbol of uniqueness, top quality and prestige in the world of furniture, under the auspices of the best furniture designers in the world.
The opening of this new exhibition hall is another step in the enlargement of this group, which launched a number of concept spaces of kitchen furniture and accessories last year.


The Israeli consumer has refined taste, appreciates quality and esthetics, and is ready to invest for it. Thus, I think that the opening of this new hall will provide an additional solution to his tastes and needs in the premium furniture field, and occupy an honored position within the architects and private customers."

The newexhibition hall for the BAXTER furniture collection is located in the Tel Aviv Port, and includes a wide variety of the company's designs. All the furniture items are manufactured in the company's factories in Italy, and can be ordered suiting the customer's personal taste.

 

The new exhibition hall was designed by architect Orly Shrem, covers 200 square meters, and was erected at a cost of 3 million NIS. The hall was design with a look that suits the creative character to the BAXTER brand, which represents art and culture. The floor was covered with large iron tiles (providing a clear contrast to the leather furniture that is part of the collection).
The walls were covered with a collage of concrete textures with 50's-60's look, river pebbles, up to concrete stripes and the part made of iron.
The hall was divided into small and intimate spaces separated for the versatile model.

 

Architect Orly Shrem said: "BAXTER is not a company that presents a uniformed outfit. Although it is very prestigious and most of its furniture is made of leather, the company represents a culture with creativity, and the leather furniture look simple as made of cloth, very soft, and with artistic touch, message of homeliness, and sometimes even with humoristic blink. With my knowledge on this brand around the world, there it a stress on the spaces and materials in which the furniture is exposed, and it was important for me to create a modern space suited to the company's spirit."

About BAXTER

Was   founded in 1989 in the ItalianLurago d'Erba, where the company's factory is presently located.The company was founded by its CEO Paolo Bastiti and its chairman Luigi Bastiti, and it is fully owned by both.

Along the years, the company has worked with many leading designers and has won many prizes, such as CASA CLIMA in 2011 and the German prize for design in 2015. Besides, the company is classified A in the environmental quality issue.

company's products are sold in about 230 storesItaly, and 300 stores around the world, this along 2 leading stores inItaly, and 18 leading stores around the world.

 

The company is owned by a family, which believes in transmitting strong feelings of beauty and esthetics in each of their creations. Thus, along the years, the company has consolidated a personal identity by searching and maintaining artistic excellence bonded to territorial tradition, plus rediscovery and reassessment of almost forgotten art forms. These elements areentwined together with expertise and excellence that are unique to this company, based on its continued artistic research.

BAXTER's chief designer is Paola Navone.  ( Photo)

About GENERAL BLUE Group:

This group belongs to businessmen Miri and Ran Presberg. It includes the representation in Israel of a number of companies and brands; among them: Bulthaup, German manufacturer of kitchen furniture and accessories; Boffi and B&B Italia, Italian manufacturers of kitchen furniture; and LEMA,Italian furniture manufacturer; Sub-Zero & Wolf, American manufacturer of refrigerators, freezers and wine storage appliances; Daikin, Japanese manufacturer of air-conditioners company; and Bang & Olufsen (B&O) Danish manufacturer of a complete line of audio and video products.

Lately, GENERAL BLUE Group launched a new concept space that combines the worlds of furniture and culinary, calledBulthaup Culinary Academy. This space presents designs by the Bulthaup Company, and includes an academy and workshops conducted by the leading chefs in Israel. Besides, GENERAL BLUE Group owns a new exhibition hall for the prestigious furniture brand Rimadesio.

 

Photo Amit Byron / Silvia Golan 

Chairman Sharansky: "Jewish Agency representatives in Ukraine continue to be active in all areas and are prepared for any eventuality, as shown by this latest event in my own city of birth, Donetsk"

 JERUSALEM – A group of six olim (immigrants) from the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine landed in Israel a short time ago (Tuesday, May 27) following a fast-paced operation put into action by The Jewish Agency for Israel due to the battles surrounding the city's airport.

Battles between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels in and around the civilian airport of Donetsk broke out yesterday (Monday, May 26), following the country's presidential election. Due to the escalation, the airport was shut down, all outgoing and incoming flights were cancelled, and the access road was blocked.

A group of six immigrants, including a couple with two twin baby girls from Donetsk and another couple from the city of Mariupol, was set to depart for Israel last night. Due to the battles and the airport's closure, The Jewish Agency's Russian-Speaking Jewry Unit decided to evacuate them overland to Dnepropetrovsk and to put them up in a local hotel until their departure for Israel. This morning, they boarded a plane from Dnepropetrovsk to Kiev and then another plane bound for Israel. The group landed at Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion International Airport a short time ago.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: "Jewish Agency representatives in Ukraine continue to be active in all areas and are prepared for any eventuality, as shown by this latest event in my own city of birth, Donetsk. Due to the current situation in the country, we have significantly expanded our activities, assisting those who wish to immigrate to Israel, bringing young people to experience life in Israel on a variety of Jewish Agency programs, providing Hebrew classes, and so on."

According to The Jewish Agency's Russian-Speaking Jewry Unit, approximately 30,000 Jews live in Donetsk Oblast, of whom some 11,000 live in the city of Donetsk. The Russian-Speaking Jewry Unit is now preparing to bring additional families from the area in a similar manner should the battles not subside and should the airport not reopen. Jewish Agency representatives are in close contact with the Jewish communities in the area and are prepared to offer immediate assistance, should the need arise.

According to Jewish Agency data, the first four months of 2014 saw a 142% increase in Aliyah (immigration to Israel) compared to the comparable period in 2013. 762 immigrants from Ukraine arrived on Jewish Agency Aliyah flights between January and April, compared to 315 between January and April 2013. During the month of March, 222 Ukrainian immigrants came to Israel, a 200% increase from March 2013, when there were 74. April saw a dramatic increase in Ukrainian Aliyah, with 383 immigrants arriving, compared to 97 in April 2013 – a 295% increase. Jewish Agency representatives have also noted a dramatic increase in the number of individuals who have started the Aliyah process, as well as in the number of individuals who have contacted The Jewish Agency in order to receive counseling and information regarding Aliyah.

The Jewish Agency has some 90 staffers on the ground in Ukraine, strengthening Ukrainian Jews' connections to Israel and the Jewish world and assisting those interested in making Aliyah.

PHOTO: The Urina family from Donetsk is pictured at their hotel in Dnepropetrovsk ahead of their Jewish Agency-facilitated arrival in Israel earlier today. Photo by Jewish Agency representative Max Lurye.

 

His All Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch for 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, planted an olive tree in the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations today. The Ecumenical Patriarch invited the Pope to join him in Israel to commemorate the historic meeting fifty years ago between their two predecessors.

 

The Ecumenical Patriarch was accompanied by five Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy, Metropolitan Iakovos of the Princess Islands, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima and Metropolitan Job of Telmessos. A number of archbishops, bishops, Orthodox clergy and other guests attended the event.

 

KKL-JNF World World Chairman Efi Stenzler said, "In the past two decades, the world has witnessed alarming environmental issues –climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the pollution of natural resources. In the midst of this crisis, one religious leader has discerned the signs of the times and called people's attention to this ecological and social situation. His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has persistently proclaimed the primacy of spiritual values in determining environmental ethics and action. His endeavors have earned him the title "Green Patriarch". I was amazed to see that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World for "defining environmentalism as a spiritual responsibility."

 

"In the KKL-JNF, we too see our environmental actions in Israel as a spiritual responsibility. We have been the caretaker of the land of Israel for the last 114 years. In that time, the KKL-JNF has led Jewish people from around the world on an unprecedented forestry project. Together we have transformed this desolate land into a marvelous green country. We have planted over 248 million trees planted throughout the years in order to make this miracle happen."

The Ecumenical Patriarch remarked that his tree was "just a seed", and that he planted his tree in the hopes that Orthodox believers around the world would follow in his footsteps and join him in planting their own trees in Israel, as a symbol of the living dialogue between the various monotheistic faiths that the Patriarch and the Pope have been encouraging during their joint visit.

"The life of relationships begins with dialogue," His All Holiness said, "and the life of the environment begins with trees. One tree, one dialogue can make a difference. But together, many trees and many dialogues can impact the environment, whether it would be the natural environment or the environment of international relationships.

 

Planting this olive tree is a special honor, for me, my church and my nation. I planted many trees around the world, in churches, monasteries, schools and more. However, planting a tree here, in the Holy Land, has an important and superior value for me.

I live in a village known as olive village and I hope this olive tree we have planted here will bare many fruits. I thank you for this privilege to plant a tree, which will further deepen my roots in the holy land."

His All Holiness has commented on the issue of environmental protection claiming that "the environment is a miracle of creation and therefore it is holy. I consider environmental pollution as a sin. Hence, I believe that protecting and preserving the environment is not only an economical or social issue, but rather a theological one. "

 

Known as the "Green Patriarch", the environmental initiatives of the Ecumenical Patriarch have been acknowledged for a decade in Europe. In 2000, Vice President Al Gore and Scenic Hudson honored him with the international visionary award for environmental achievement at ceremonies in New York City.

In Europe, the Sophie Foundation of Norway awarded Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the prestigious Sophie Prize for pioneering efforts in linking faith to the environment.

Photo Caption: (Left to right) KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

 

Photo Credit: Sasson Tiram, Courtesy of KKL-JNF.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerusalem, 27 May 2014

Israel concerned by Army takeover in Thailand

Israel notes with concern the recent assumption of full powers of government by the Army Commander in Chief in Thailand.

 

Israel holds Thailand’s constitutional democratic institutions and civil rights in the highest regard and hopes the military leadership will reinstate these at the earliest. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground, with a view to ensuring the safety of Israeli nationals in Thailand, and desires that all parties involved refrain from any form of violence.

 

As a close friend of Thailand, Israel wishes for the swift and peaceful resolution of the current crisis and for a return to normalcy and stability consistent with democratic principles.


  

Magdala Center  Inform you with great joy that Pope Francis

Will bless the Tabernacle for the “Duc In Altum” Spirituality Center

during His Pastoral visit to the Holy Land.

 

We are honored to cordially invite you on May the 28th, 2014

to the Inauguration of the first stage of the Magdala Center

 

15:00 Inauguration of the Archeological Park

 

17:00 Dedication of the “Duc In Altum” Spirituality Center

Presided by His Beatitude Fouad Twal

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

 

Event Itinerary:

 

§  13:30 hrs ISR – Media Tour in the Archaeological Park with the IAA Archaeologist

 

§   15:00 hrs ISR – Opening of the Archaeological Park with the Israeli Authorities.

 

Spokemen: P. Juan Solana, IAA Sub Director, Project Benefactors and Archaeologists.

 

§  16:00 hrs ISR – Cut the ribbon & Toast

 

§  17:00 hrs ISR – Dedication of the Spirituality Center presided by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal.

 

§  17:20 hrs ISR– Reading the Pope Francis messages.

 

§  17:30 hrs ISR – Gratitude to the benefactors of the Project.

 

§  17:45 hrs ISR – Mass of consecration

 

§  19:15 hrs ISR - Reception

More info   054-2504235

 

 

 

Pope Francis will bless the Magdala Center tabernacle
Pope Francis will bless the tabernacle of the "Duc in Altum" Church located in the Magdala Center on May 26th, during his visit to Jerusalem.
Patriarch Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, will consecrate the "Duc in Altum" Church in the Magdala Spirituality Center on May 28th.

Galilee, Israel, May 20, 2014 – The first phase of the Magdala Center will be officially inaugurated on May 28th. The Magdala Center is a pilgrimage and spirituality center on the shores of the Lake of Galilee. It also holds an archeological park which contains the remains of Mary Magdalene's hometown, including a synagogue in which Jesus Christ certainly preached. The Legionaries of Christ are heading the project up.

On May 26th in Jerusalem, Pope Francis will bless the tabernacle of the "Duc in Altum" Church in the Magdala Center.

Fr. Juan Solana, LC, The Chargé for The Pontifical Institute Notre Dame of Jerusalem will receive Pope Francis on May 26th during his visit to the Holy Land. In a private ceremony, the Pope will bless the tabernacle for the "Duc in Altum" Church in Magdala. This project was inspired by the figure of Mary Magdalene and the other women that appear in the gospel.

"The archeological discoveries of this center unite us to both Jews and Christians. The Magdala Center is called to foster reflection on the role of women in the Church and in society. On May 28th, we will inaugurate the first phase of the construction, which consists in the church and the archeological park. We still have to find the funds to build the hotel for pilgrims and other installations," said Fr. Solana.

The inauguration of the first phase of the Magdala Center will consist in the official opening of the Archeological Park in the presence of Israeli authorities. Then the Spirituality Center will be dedicated, with a Mass presided by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Fouad Twal. The tabernacle blessed by Pope Francis will be placed in the Church.

Fr. Juan Solana, LC, commented, "Pope Francis has graciously accepted the invitation to bless the tabernacle of the Magdala Spirituality Center, as a show of his affection for the Holy Land and of his appreciation for the work of the Legionaries of Christ here.

The archeological discoveries of Magdala offer an opportunity to scientifically explore the relationship between Jews and Christians of the first century. Two Mexican universities have carried out the archeological project: the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, in Mexico City, and Anáhuac University.

About the Magdala Spirituality Center.
The title of the Spirituality Center, Duc in Altum, means "Put out into the deep." The Spirituality Center is one of the most important pieces of this project. It seeks to offer a spiritual experience on the shores of Lake Galilee, like the one that the first disciples of Jesus had. It has four chapels that can hold 50 people and a main room that holds 250.
For more information: http://www.magdalacenter.com

About the Archeological Park of Magdala.
The Archeological Park contains a large stretch of the ancient town of Magdala. Among other things, it holds the remains of a synagogue built during the Second Temple period and in use during the public ministry of Jesus.

It is open to the public from 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM every day of the week.
Mailing Address: Tzomet Migdal, P.O. Box 366, Migdal 14950
Location: East of the mini-mall, using the mall's access roads. For more information, e-mail us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The dedication of the dedication of the church will be available over satellite. For more information e-mail Mariana Bravo at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photos:
Photos of the tabernacle and the Spirituality Center: http://we.tl/yyJQfpjsRx


Photos of the Archeological Park of Magdala: http://we.tl/nh7oTpRawo

 

The Israel-Spain Chamber of Commerce (CCIE) renewed its activities with new leadership. The new President of the CCIE is Mr. Micha Harish. This renewal was celebrated with an important meeting that took place at the Bank Leumi Auditorium on Tuesday, May 15.

 

The program started with greetings by Mr. Micha Harish, CCIE's President, Mr. Haim Aharon‎‏, President of the Federation of Bi-National Commerce Chambers, and Mr. Herzl Inbar, Israel's Ambassador to Spain and President of the Israel-Spain Friendship Association (Asociación de Amistad Israel-España).

 

Mr. Micha Harish presented a message from Mr. Shimon Peres, Israel's President, who expressed the importance of Israel's diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with Spain. Mr. Micha Harish mentioned the importance of these relations for himself and his involvement in these relations, starting with the honor of representing Mr. Shimon Peres, Israel's President at the time, in covert meetings with Felipe Gonzalez, Spain's President, in Madrid. These meetings resulted in diplomatic relations on January 16, 1986, and later in a summit meeting of the two presidents in Hague, Holland, which had great historical and emotional importance. Mr. Micha Harish organized and participated in this meeting.

 

 The program then continued with detailed expositions by the following distinguished representatives of Spain in the event:

 · Sr. Fernando Carderera Soler, Spain's Ambassador to Israel, talked about the bilateral relations between Spain and Israel, and the economic presence of Spain and Spanish companies in Israel. He also explained why now is the best moment to invest or do business in Spain. His detailed descriptions and explanations showed his high degree of expertise in diplomatic, cultural and economic affairs and relations between Spain and Israel.

 

· Dr. Enrique Barón Crespo, Ex-President of the EU Parliament and Spanish Minister of Transport, talked about the Spanish Economy and the opportunities that it offers to the Israeli business community. Dr. Barón Crespo has held an incredible number of political responsibilities, academic functions and other posts, which shows his high degree of expertise in diplomatic, cultural and economic affairs in EU, and particularly Spain. He mentioned the fact that while young he was interested in the agricultural advances in Israel, and spent time living in two kibutz establishments. He was also instrumental in the in the start of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel.

 

· Sr. Lope Llamazares Rodriguez, Regional Director of Exports of the Plimon/Textron Group from Barcelona, talked about the business culture of the Spanish businessmen.

· Mr. Henrique Cymerman, acclaimed journalist of Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and Antena 3 TV channel, talked about Barça Vs. Real: is it only sport, or also economy and politics?

 

· Mr. Micha Harish then closed the event with a summary.

This event was organized with the significant help of the CCIE's Directive Commission lead by Mr. Eyal Oren.

The program moderator was Moshe Shoham, General Director of the Israel-Spain Friendship Association.

 

About CCIE, Micha Harish, and the Israel-Spain Commerce Community:

CCIE is undergoing renewal under the leadership of Mr. Micha Harish. Since Israel's was founded, efforts were made to establish diplomatic and economic relations between Israel and Spain. Mr. Micha Harish worked ceaselessly for the establishment of formal relations between the two countries in 1986, and for the building and strengthening of the bilateral commerce relations while holding the post of Minister of Commerce and Industry under Prime Ministers Rabin and Peres. Micha Harish accepted the post of President of the CCIE, after being approached a few months ago by Sr. Fernando Carderera Soler, Spain's Ambassador to Israel, and asked to take this post. He was also requested to do so by Mr. Haim Aharon‎‏, President of the Federation of Bi-National Commerce Chambers, and other distinguished personnel.

 

Spain is presently getting in the stage of economic recovery from the economic crisis in the world. Previous experiences in such crises in the world show that one of the outcomes following these crises outcome is the opening of many new business opportunities. This is the time to boost the economic enterprises between Israel and Spain, and the CCIE can contribute significantly to the establishment of new initiatives and commercial opportunities for Israeli and Spanish companies, for the benefit of both countries. 

 

 

 

 

The paintings, drawn by the hospital’s founder, depict Crusader knights in armor wearing swords and note, among other things the French knights’ genealogy

 

The Israel Antiquities Authority provided emergency treatment for the paintings and a donation is currently needed to conserve them

Wall paintings recounting the Crusader history of Jerusalem were recently exposed when the sisters of Saint-Louis Hospital, near the Old City of Jerusalem, were organizing the storerooms. In addition, a burst water pipe in the building revealed drawings that were concealed beneath modern plaster and paint.

 

In the wake of the discovery, IAA conservators came to the hospital and assisted the sisters with ‘first aid’ in cleaning and stabilizing some of the wall paintings. The paintings are in the style characteristic of monumental church decorations of the nineteenth century, with close attention to small details and motifs drawn from the world of medieval art.  

Saint-Louis Hospice – an impressive two story structure built in the Renaissance and Baroque style – is situated next to the Jerusalem municipal building and bustling IDF Square, outside the Old City walls and opposite the New Gate. The place is named after St. Louis IX, King of France (the leader of the Seventh Crusade 1248–1254 CE) and was opened to the public in 1896. Today, parts of the building are not opened to visitors because it serves as a hospital and hospice for the chronic and terminally ill.

 

The hospital is run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Apparition. This order treats the sick regardless of religion, age or sex. Besides the sacred work performed there, the inside of the building contains a fascinating historical narrative and an artistic treasure.

 

The hospital was founded at the initiative of a French count, Comte Marie Paul Amédée de Piellat, a man of many accomplishments, an intellectual and devout Christian who visited Jerusalem a number of times in the second half of the nineteenth century, and passed away there in 1925.

The ancient landscape of the Holy Land and Jerusalem in particular, were deeply etched in de Piellat’s personality and strengthened his Christian faith. De Piellat was shocked by the meager Catholic presence in Jerusalem and was concerned about the increasing power of the Greek Orthodox Church and its representatives in Jerusalem – the Russians. It should be mentioned that in the late nineteenth century the great powers fought amongst themselves for the control and religious hegemony of Jerusalem.

 

The count decided to act and between 1879 and 1896 he constructed the hospital which replaced a smaller, more modest facility in the Christian Quarter inside the Old City walls. He subsequently established another enormous and spectacular compound nearby – Notre Dame de France, a hostel designed to serve Christian pilgrims and provide for their needs.

 

The particular area the count selected for constructing the hospital was not accidental. De Piellat considered himself a descendant of the Crusaders, as well as the last Crusader. He wished to continue the work of those Latin kings, knights and nobility who were in Jerusalem some nine hundred years before. Therefore, he chose to locate the hospital in the historic area where the army of the Norman king Tancred camped, before it, together with Tancred’s allies, breached Jerusalem’s city walls in 1099 CE and vanquished the city by storm and brutality.

De Piellat, who was also an artist, adorned the walls of the hospital and its ceiling with huge paintings portraying Crusader knights in their armor and wearing swords. Alongside these giant figures he painted the heraldry (symbols/signs) of the French knights’ families, wrote their names and noted their genealogy. He also added the symbols of the Crusader cities, symbols of the military orders and monastic orders. The sight was spectacular; the enormous halls and endless rooms of the hospital were illuminated with the Crusader history of Jerusalem.

 

The Turks took possession of the building during the First World War (1914–1918). They covered the breathtaking frescoes with black paint. At the end of the war the count returned to the hospital in his old age. De Piellat devoted the rest of his life to removing the black paint and re-exposing the frescoes. He passed away at the hospital in 1925.  

 

Interest was recently renewed in the lost and concealed wall paintings when they were revealed once again in all their glory. These magnificent paintings are a piece of history and a rare work of art. Funds are currently needed for their conservation, exposure and documentation. It should be noted there is no intention of turning the hospital into a tourist attraction in order that the humble and quiet sacred work done there may continue.

Click here to download high resolution photographs:

https://www.wetransfer.com/downloads/caf0b8565d7960266c6961b365f23e2d20140514115109/433c138361c47500fc0fb2f6bea1113f20140514115109/95e5ae

1–6. De Piellat’s paintings adorn the walls of the hospital.

7. Previously unknown frescoes painted by de Piellat were exposed in the wake of a burst water pipe.

8. The room that was used as a storeroom. Other paintings by de Piellat were discovered while reorganizing it.

 

Photographic credit: courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

 

Continuing the festivities connected to Europe Day, the Embassy of Romania to the State of Israeland the Romanian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv are proud to invite you to the events celebratingEurope Day, organized by the Haifa Center for German and European Studies (HCGES) and the Student Union of Haifa University on May 15, 2014. Romania will be present at the events with a national stand within the European Market, open to the public between 11:00-18:00 at the Café Deshe area at Haifa University campus (please see invitation attached).

The Embassy of Romania in Israel will offer general information brochures and leaflets, and will bring to the attention of the Israeli students the various educational opportunities available in Romania, as well as the curriculum of the Romanian language Department at the Tel Aviv University.

Also, at the stand, RCI Tel Aviv will present its programs, Romanian language courses and events for the current year, will distribute informative materials and will accept subscriptions to its data base and newsletter.

Europe Day will be celebrated through the European Market, during which every state participating at the events will be represented by a national stand, as well as through a round table (“The EU Greatest Challenges Today”) and an international conference (“Social Issues in Contemporary Europe: Cosmopolitanism, Gender, and Urban Spaces”) attended by the ambassadors of the European Union member states (please see the poster attached). 

Looking forward to see you there!

Embassy of Romania to the State of Israel

Those in attendance included Jewish WWII veterans of the Allied armies,

Jewish partisans, underground fighters, Jewish Brigade members and  diplomatic representatives from the Allied countries

 

"Today when I see you veterans decorated with medals and sitting here with us at Yad Vashem, where the struggle for life and the memory of the six million Jews who did not survive the inferno are commemorated, I look back and my thoughts and my heart drift to my father who fought in the Red Army." Thus stated Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver as she praised the WWII veterans in the audience during her address on Thursday May 8, 2014, at an official ceremony marking the 69thanniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany which took place at the Edmond J. Safra Lecture Hall in the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem.

 

Over a hundred Jewish World War II veterans of the Allied armies, the majority from the Former Soviet Union, attended the ceremony, along with Jewish partisans, wounded soldiers from the war against the Nazis, underground fighters, volunteers from the Yishuv who fought in the British forces and veterans of the Jewish Brigade, aswell as diplomatic representatives from the Allied countries. Speakers at the event included: Dorit Novak, Director General of Yad Vashem, Prof. Emanuel Gutman, representative of the Jewish Brigade and MK Sofa Landver, Minister of Immigrant Absorption.

 

Conducted by Mikhail Gurevich, the Israeli Police Orchestra played many of the well-known patriotic songs from that era including several from the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States as well as a few sung by Jewish fighters from the Yishuv and Jewish partisans in Europe. Many of those in attendance, especially the veterans and those who lived through that difficult period, joined their voices with the soloists and Lieutenant Colonel Shai Abramson, Chief Cantor of the IDF in a nostalgic melody, singing a familiar song or two that still seemed to reflect the light of hope by those who had the courage to raise their arms in defiance amidst a powerful and growing darkness. Many of these same veterans, especially those from the Former Soviet Union, proudly donned old uniforms, medals or berets serving as a visual reminder of the sacrifice by over 1.5 million Jews who left their families to serve and fight in the Allied forces during World War II and who bravely resisted and defeated the injustice and tyranny which Nazi Germany brought to the world during one of the most evil episodes in human history.

Following the speeches and lively music, the ceremony continued at the Monument to the Jewish Soldiers and Partisans, the main site in which the annual ceremony  takes place but as a result of the rainy weather was relocated this year. Wreaths were laid by representatives of the Government of Israel, the Knesset, IDF, diplomatic representatives of the Allied countries, as well as representatives of fighter and partisan organizations.

 

 The ceremony was organized with the participation of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, and partisan and veteran organizations.   


 photo by Isaac Harari

 

 

The President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, sang a special duet with the singer Rita

President Peres to the 120 Outstanding Soldiers:

"On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I salute you"

"You are the guarantors of our safety. A deterrent to our enemies. The promise of our peace. A bridge to peace and security."

The President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, hosted the central Independence Day celebrations at his residence in Jerusalem this morning. The celebrations included the ceremony honoring the 120 outstanding soldiers and the "Singing Independence with the President" event which has become an Independence Day tradition. The event was attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Yaalon and Chief of Staff Gantz who each sang a song they had selected along with Israeli artists.

 

The ceremony began with an IAF fly-over as a salute to the 120 outstanding soldiers who were chosen by their commanders for making an exceptional contribution to the IDF and who represent the cross-spectrum of the IDF. Following the fly-over President Peres and Chief of Staff Gantz inspected the soldiers.

 

During his remarks to the soldiers President Peres said, "I look upon your glowing faces and your shining eyes and I'm as excited as you are. I'm excited and I'm proud of you. You are the sons and daughters of an ancient people, who was granted redemption in a land that is small in size but great in its moral call. You are the new generation of the IDF, an army that was attacked seven times, which fought and maintained its values. An army that built a wall of security to deter our enemies, to grant security to its people. From the day our country was born until this day we have faced a stark choice: To cease or to win." President Peres continued and said, "The bravery of the soldiers of the IDF is worth more than any other resource. Israel is not a passing shadow but a reality as strong as stone. There is nothing like Israel. She overcome accepted standards and created thrilling exceptions. You are the proof that even without quantity, we can reach quality through excellence. And you are the sons and daughters of a nation who only decades ago experienced the Holocaust, and since then has known wars. You are the children of a nation that was exiled to the four corners of the earth and came to together again to be as one. In the Middle East many nations have collapsed and languages have disappeared, and you still speak the language of your prophets. Israel is a leap more than a move. Israel is a constant surprise that broke routines but maintained its heritage. From her first day Israel is a democracy. A thriving democracy but not a destructive one. Israel created a pluralistic society where the scaffolding remains. While she is filled with self-criticism, Israel also discovers that volunteerism flows through the nation to repair, to improve, to complete. Our existence here is guaranteed by the heroism of our soldiers, by the dedication of our pioneers and our concern for those that will come after us."

 

President Peres concluded his remarks and said, "You are role models for your peers. Every generation surpasses the one before it and every generation is carried upon the shoulders of those that came before it. There are new expanses in which to learn, the secrets of which carry great potential. I knew all the generations that came before you. Every generation made its contribution as necessary to stand in the face of the winds that blew at the time. Your generation will need to stand against more demanding winds blowing from distant horizons more than immediate borders. Your generation is better prepared, is better equipped, is faster, is more accurate, is more varied, is more updated. A generation whose feet are planted on the ground but who mind is already in the future. The IDF and the security forces are respected as the greatest force in the fight against terror and an organization that can produce enormous power. You are the guarantors of our safety. A deterrent to our enemies. The promise of our peace. A bridge to peace and security. The IDF instilled important values in you. Patriotism, camaraderie, mutual responsibility and the search for peace.  On behalf of the citizens of Israel, I salute you and your commanders. You are the best. From the President's Residence in Jerusalem, in Israel I congratulate your parents and all the people of Israel. Happy Independence Day"

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu also congratulated the soldiers and said, "I am always proud to be the Prime Minister of Israel but especially so today. The outstanding soldiers operate in the air, in the water and on land to ensure the security of the state. I know that we have who to rely upon when we send you on operations. I want to thank your parents who raised and educated you to contribute to the state, thank you on behalf of the citizens of Israel."

 

 

 

 

Defense Minister Yaalon said, "This is a day of pride for the State of Israel. To meet these soldiers, who together with their peers, show initiative and ensure the security of Israel, it lifts my soul. The State of Israel can be proud of its soldiers and officers."

 

Following the remarks by President Peres, the Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gantz spoke to the soldiers and said, "The outstanding soldiers standing here today represent our officers and soldiers who are always on guard, including right now. On land, in the air and in the water, along all our borders, on the front lines and the home front our forces operate with unparalleled dedication and courage. It is because of those soldiers that we can celebrate Independence Day – and thanks to them we will continue to celebrate our freedom."

 

The celebrations at the President's Residence were broadcast live on Israeli television, websites across the world and on President Peres' Facebook page.

 

 

Photos by Silvia G Golan

 

 

 

 

 

President Peres to the Diplomatic Corps:

"You have to say to the authorities in Gaza; decide if you want peace and prosperity? You must say no-one will finance your missiles, your tunnels or your ideology."

 

"We are not against unity if they accept the conditions necessary to be united (the conditions of the Quartet)."

 

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, hosted a reception this afternoon at his residence in Jerusalem for the Diplomatic Corps in Israel and addressed the current state of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. President Peres called upon the Ambassadors to pressure Hamas to accept the conditions set out by the Quartet and said, "Ambassadors, our friends, and I know you care about peace as much as I do. Gaza is today the greatest obstacle to an agreement. Why do they need 10,000 missiles? You have to say to the authorities in Gaza, decide if you want peace and prosperity or not. You must say no-one will finance your missiles, your tunnels or your ideology. We are not against unity if they accept the conditions necessary to be united (the conditions of the Quartet). I believe that diplomacy in an uncertain time can prepare a road that will make the process easier and the future more promising."

 

President Peres continued and said that Israel continues to search for peace, "We shouldn't lose hope, we should continue negotiations. I believe that while there is an interruption in the negotiations it is not a stop. We have to renew the negotiations and I believe they will be renewed, none of us has a better alternative. None of us can make peace without the other party. It's normal that when you make peace you have differences and that the opening positions are not the same as the final ones."

 

Addressing the diplomats Foreign Minister Lieberman said, "We expect the international community to stand by its commitments and demand that Hamas abide by the three conditions laid out by the Quartet. The renunciation of violence, Recognizing the State of Israel, Accept previously signed agreement. Two additional issues that cannot be compromised on are a Palestinian recognition of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People and the abandonment of the so-called Palestinian "right of return". Any attempt to advance an agreement without an explicit recognition of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish People by the Palestinians will be a non-starter. The meeting yesterday in Qatar between Abbas and Khaled Meshaal and the recent developments in Judea and Samaria demonstrate with certainty that Hamas is on its way to controlling the whole Palestinian Authority. Regardless of when elections will take place, it is clear that Hamas will win convincingly. This will be the result of the recent agreement signed with Hamas by Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas brought Hamas to power in Gaza and he is now bringing them to power in Judea and Samaria. However, we are determined to prevent Judea and Samaria from becoming the new Gaza. Israel seeks peace, Israel wants an agreement, but we will not be fools."

 

 

 

 

Photo  : President with the Ambassadors  Kobi Gidon

Photo President Peres   : Silvia G Golan

 

 

 

 

B'nai B'rith World Center and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Held a unique Holocaust Day Ceremony Marking the Heroism of Jewish Rescuers

Ceremony was dedicated to commemorating the efforts of rescuer Jonas Eckstein who operated in Slovakia

Jerusalem (April 28, 2014): Today, B'nai B'rith World Center and KKL-JNF held a unique joint commemoration ceremony in a Martyr's Forest "Scroll of Fire" Plaza - the only one in Israel and worldwide that is dedicated to commemorating the activity and heroism of Jews who rescued fellow Jews during the years of torment in Europe.

 


The central theme of this year's event was glorification of the actions and heroism of thousands of Jews who, under impossible conditions, rescued other Jews during the Holocaust, in various ways such as concealment, smuggling, subterfuge and falsification. Bravely and courageously, they were able to disrupt the Nazi extermination machine and ensure the survival of their siblings. They acted throughout Germany, Hungary, the Axis powers, and all other occupied states.

 


This year, the ceremony focused on the figure of Jonah (Jonas) Eckstein (1902-1971) who worked to save thousands of Jews in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust. The daughter of Yona Eckstein, Tova Teitelbaum and his grandson, a reporter of Kol Israel, Beni Teitelbaum, received in his name the title of a Jew lifeguard from Alan Schneider, Director of the B'nai B'rith World Center. Yona Eckstein was an active member of the Jewish community and a successful wrestler in "Hakoach" Jewish sport club. His sporting activities allowed Eckstein to befriend city officials and police which later facilitated his rescue activities. These connections helped him years later in the rescue operations.


His diverse activity touched thousands of people over a period of two and half years and encompassed food distribution to Jewish prisoners with government authorization which he utilized to clandestinely deliver food to hidden Jews along with information vital for their survival; hosting orphans from Poland and facilitating their conveyance to pre-state Israel via Hungary; hosting Jews who fled to Slovakia from Auschwitz; hosting and conveying Polish Jews to the relative safety of Hungary; and hiding Jews in bunkers – including one he dug under his own basement. Eckstein was imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo and pressured by the Jewish leaders to hand over hidden Jews


The ceremony was held in presence of MK Amram Mitzna, Chair of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, Slovak ambassador Hon. Radovan Javorcik, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and B'nai B'rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz.

 

Photo Caption: Tova Eckstein (in the center with cane) and the Teitelbaum family with MK Amram Mitzna, Chair of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee, Slovak ambassador Hon. Radovan Javorcik, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and B'nai B'rith World Center Chairman Dr. Haim V. Katz.
Photo Credit: Rafi Kotz

 

 

 

 

 

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's greetings to the Israeli Druze community ( and () on the occasion of the Nevi Shueib holiday:

"Israeli citizens of the Druze community,

I am happy to greet you on the occasion of the Nebi Shueib holiday.

Nebi Shueib is known in Jewish tradition as Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, one of the founding fathers of the Jewish People. This is yet another link between the Jewish People and the Druze community.

In recent years I have devoted special attention to continuing the development of Druze villages and to improving their economic and infrastructure situations. It is clear to me that there is more work to be done but the changes may already be felt.

I wish you and your families a happy holiday."

 

 

 

The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and "Yad Vashem" in collaboration of a documentation project:
Commemoration of IEC retirees who are Holocaust survivors

Collecting testimonies of Holocaust survivors, writing 'pages of testimonies' and gathering survivors' items from the Holocaust as part of the national project "Collecting the Pieces"

IEC Chairman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal: "The Story of IEC is entwined with the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel."

 

IEC CEO Eli Glickman: "The IEC made a personal approach to retirees of the company who are Holocaust survivors to take part in this important project, to share their personal stories that have not yet been told, in order to document their immense contribution to the establishment of Israel and the IEC for future generations."

"Yad Vashem" Chairman Avner Shalev: "It is not obvious that following their great loss and destruction, holocaust survivors continued to live their life as usual, instead of drowning in paralyzing grief. On the contrary, survivors continued to work and contribute to all sectors of the Israeli economy. They chose to build a life and were full partners in the construction of the Israeli industry and the National infrastructures."

 

The Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) and "Yad Vashem" are launching a national flag project of commemoration and documentation of holocaust survivors who are retirees of the IEC.

The joint project will operate in three channels and will include the testimony collections of Holocaust survivors and documentation through stills and video photography, registration of 'pages of testimony' and items collections, as part of the national campaign "collecting the pieces."
The joint project is designed to document and preserve the heritage of the Holocaust survivors who built the State of Israel, as well as part of the national heritage and the Jewish commitment to memorialize Holocaust for future generations.

 

"Yad Vashem" has been collecting materials and documentation of personal testimonies of survivors for years around the world. "Yad Vashem" archives currently contain the largest collection of Holocaust documentation. The documentation which is found at "Yad Vashem" is an important treasure of the Jewish people. It is the basis for research on the Holocaust, constitutes exhibitions and museums, acts of commemoration and education of future generations. Thus, collecting documentation, names of victims and survivors' testimonies is crucial for preserving Jewish memory for future generations.

Recent years have been showing a worrying phenomenon of Holocaust denial and trivialization. Testimonies of Holocaust survivors and archetypes collection are eternal proof of the horrors of the Holocaust and the international commemoration. Photographic testimony is important for researchers and future generations in Israel and throughout the world, through which one can learn the individual stories that comprise the broader picture.

 

IEC Chairman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yiftah Ron-Tal: "The Story of IEC is entwined with the history of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Hundreds of IEC retirees, who survived the horrors of the Holocaust, took part in establishing the utility and infrastructure development of the state of Israel. As a national company, it is a moral obligation to act with all the means at our disposal to strengthen the memory of the Holocaust and collective memory, which unites us as a society."

IEC CEO Eli Glickman: "The IEC made a personal approach to retirees of the company who are Holocaust survivors to take part in this important project. To share their personal stories have not yet been told, in order to document their immense contribution to the establishment of Israel and the IEC for future generations. This year as well, the company will hold memorial services at company sites throughout the country, in cooperation with survivors who are retirees and employees of a company that took part in the "March of the Living", which has become an important pillar in preservation of the heritage of our society."


Collection of testimonies: Many IEC retirees, whom survived the Holocaust, immigrated to Israel after World War II and found jobs in the IEC, constituting as an essential part of the electricity sector in Israel. Most of the survivors, now retired, still did not provide testimony of their survival story. In cooperation with "Yad Vashem", the IEC workers will help "Yad Vashem" to locate the survivors that have not provided testimonies. The professional staff of "Yad Vashem" will reach out to each of these survivors at their home and will film their testimonies.

 

Writing testimony pages in commemoration of Holocaust victims who were murdered: "Yad Vashem" with the help of the survivors, relatives and friends of the victims around the world, worked tirelessly since the fifties in order to collect and perpetuate the names of the Holocaust victims who were murdered in the Holocaust through the collection of 'Pages of Testimony'. 'Pages of Testimony' are forms listing the names of victims, their biographical details and photographs (if there are any) – all in order to return each and every one of their personal identity that the Nazis tried to erase. Over four million names of Holocaust victims were gathered to date and documented in the database of "Yad Vashem". While many names have been reported, many more are missing due to survivors' emotional difficulty to testify. As part of the framework of this project with IEC, Yad Vashem volunteers will assist all in need to help fulfill the mission of commemoration.

 

Project "Collecting the pieces"
"Yad Vashem" has been working in the project "collecting the pieces" – National Rescue Operation for the collection and preservation of personal items from the homes of IEC employees and retirees, survivors and second generations These Holocaust findings of survivors include photographs, artifacts, films and more.

IEC in cooperation with "Yad Vashem" will work towards collection of such items and as well as documentation of the each of the story the items.

 

 

 

 

 

Along with high-tech, nano-technology, and start-ups, Israel has yet another in-demand product for export: the medical clown. Recently, a delegation of medical clowns from Chile came to Israel to enrich their knowledge of medicine’s most colorful treatment.

 

Seven months ago, veteran Rambam clown Javier Eisenberg (‘Marciano’) set off for Chile. The trip was in response to the request of Mr Alfredo Mizrahi, Director of Santiago’s Las Condes Children’s Clinic, who had the vision of introducing medical clowning to his hospital. Based on the Israeli model, these clowns would work with thousands of young patients at the clinic.

 

In only two weeks, Eisenberg succeeded in training a group of local medical clowns. During this time he taught his Chilean ‘students’ the tools and skills needed for the job. At the end of the training, which included work with hospitalized children, six candidates were selected to be medical clowns in their own hospital.

 

Half a year later, as part of an ongoing collaboration with Rambam, the Chilean participants went one step further. Earlier this month, a group from Santiago arrived in Israel. The delegation of medical clowns included Mr Alfredo Mizrahi, who had accompanied the project throughout.

 

For one week  the South Americans learned first-hand as they accompanied Eisenberg and other Rambam medical clowns on their rounds. The visitors also met with Rambam administrators, attended lectures, and worked with hospitalized children. In addition, the group toured different hospitals in Northern Israel to better understand the scope of the medical clown program throughout Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: Pioter Fliter

 

 

A 3,300 Year Old Coffin was Exposed Containing the Personal Belongings of a Wealthy Canaanite – Possibly an Official of the Egyptian Army

 

Among the items discovered – a gold signet ring bearing the name of the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I

 

The rare artifacts were uncovered during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority near Tel Shadud, prior to the installation of a natural gas pipeline to Ramat Gavriel by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company

 

As part of a project by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company (INGL) to construct a main pipeline that will convey natural gas to Ramat Gavriel, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted a salvage excavation prior to the pipeline’s installation. During the course of the work, which was financed by the INGL, a fascinating and exceptional discovery was made.  


Part of a burial site dating to the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE) was exposed in an excavation at the foot of Tel Shadud.
According to the excavation directors, Dr. Edwin van den Brink, Dan Kirzner and Dr. Ron Be’eri of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “During the excavation we discovered a unique and rare find: a cylindrical clay coffin with an anthropoidal lid (a cover fashioned in the image of a person) surrounded by a variety of pottery consisting mainly of storage vessels for food, tableware, cultic vessels and animal bones. As was the custom, it seems these were used as offerings for the gods, and were also meant to provide the dead with sustenance in the afterlife.” The skeleton of an adult was found inside the clay coffin and next to it were buried pottery, a bronze dagger, bronze bowl and hammered pieces of bronze. “Since the vessels interred with the individual were produced locally”, the researchers say, “We assume the deceased was an official of Canaanite origin who was engaged in the service of the Egyptian government”. Another possibility is that the coffin belonged to a wealthy individual who imitated Egyptian funerary customs. The researchers add that so far only several anthropoidal coffins have been uncovered in the country. The last ones discovered were found at Deir el-Balah some fifty years ago. According to the archaeologists, “An ordinary person could not afford the purchase of such a coffin. It is obvious the deceased was a member of the local elite”.

The graves of two men and two women who may have been members of his family were also located near the coffin. The discovery of the coffin at Tel Shadud is evidence of Egyptian control of the Jezreel Valley in the Late Bronze Age (thirteenth century BCE). During the period when the pharaohs governed the country, Egyptian culture greatly influenced the local Canaanite upper class. Signs of Egyptian influence are occasionally discovered in different regions and this time they were revealed at Tel Shadud and in the special tomb of the wealthy Canaanite. A rare artifact that was found next to the skeleton is an Egyptian scarab seal, encased in gold and affixed to a ring. The scarab was used to seal documents and objects. The name of the crown of Pharaoh Seti I, who ruled ancient Egypt in the thirteenth century BCE, appears on the seal.  Seti I was the father of Ramses II, identified by some scholars as the pharaoh mentioned in the biblical story of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Already in the first year of his reign (1294 BCE) a revolt broke out against Seti I in the Bet Shean Valley. Seti conquered that region and established Egyptian rule in Canaan. Seti’s name on the seal symbolizes power and protection, or the strength of the god Ra – the Sun God – one of the most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. The winged Uraeus (cobra), protector of the pharaoh’s name or of the sovereign himself, is clearly visible on the seal. The reference to the pharaoh Seti on the scarab found in the coffin aided the archaeologists in dating the time of the burial to the thirteenth century BCE – similar to the burials that were exposed at Deir el-Balah and Bet She‘an, which were Egyptian administrative centers.

A cemetery dating to the reign of Seti 1 was previously discovered at Bet Shean, the center of the Egyptian rule in the Land of Israel, and similar clay coffins were exposed.  Evidence of an Egyptian presence was detected in archaeological surveys conducted in the Jezreel Valley in the past but the discovery of the impressive anthropoid at Tel Shadud surprised the archaeologists. Tel Shadud preserves the biblical name ‘Sarid’ and the mound is often referred to as Tel Sarid. The tell is situated in the northern part of the Jezreel Valley, close to Kibbutz Sarid. The city is mentioned in the Bible in the context of the settlement of the Tribes of Israel. Sarid was included in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun and became a border city, as written in the Book of Joshua: “The third lot came up for the tribe of Zebulun, according to its families. And the territory of its inheritance reached as far as Sarid…” (Joshua 19:10). Tel Shadud is strategically and economically significant because of its location alongside important roads from the biblical period.


The Israel Antiquities Authority is currently looking into the possibility of sampling the DNA from inside the coffin to see if the deceased was originally a Canaanite or an Egyptian person who was buried in Canaan.

 

Photo : Parts of the coffin’s lid after an initial cleaning. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Photo :

The gold scarab. Photograph: Clara Amit, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

 

 

 

 

​Passover, one of Judaism's three pilgrimage festivals, commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Throughout the holiday, and especially at the festive Seder dinner, Jews around the world relive the experiences of their ancestors, passing on their traditions to the next generation.
For thousands of years, every Seder has ended with the prayer "Next year in Jerusalem," expressing the eternal tie between the Jewish people and their capital, the holy city of Jerusalem. This is the perfect time to take a virtual stroll through Jewish sites in Jerusalem's Old City.

This year (2014), the seven-day holiday is celebrated from sundown on Monday, April 15th until nightfall on Monday, April 21nd. (Outside Israel, the holiday is observed for eight days).

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In the late 1950's Daniel Lerner published The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (1958), which became a classic of sorts in Middle Eastern studies. But traditional society has not passed entirely from the scene. As the "Arab Spring" upheavals have shown, critically important characteristics of traditional society, such as the intimate association of religion and politics, and the salience of sectarianism and tribalism, remain important facets of Middle Eastern societies, albeit in different neo-traditional forms.

The Problematique of Definition

Traditions themselves are often invented and reinvented.[1] Thus present-day neo-traditionalism is not simply an unaltered replica of the past, but more often than not, it is itself a product of modernity and an effort to contend with the challenges of the modern world by the mobilization of traditional values, however reinterpreted they may be.

The neo-traditionalists differ from the modernists in that the latter are more generally future oriented than the former, who tend to be more past-oriented in their search for answers for the problems and challenges of the present. Neo-traditionalists are not averse to all that modernity has to offer and modernists do not reject everything about tradition. But the two are usually situated on very different places on the modernity-tradition continuum. It is not a clear-cut black and white dichotomy, rather a matter of degree. Nonetheless, the degree of difference is significant.

European and Middle Eastern Historical Experience

The European experience of state formation and modernization and the idea of secularization, as expounded upon in the works of Durkheim, Marx, and Weber, the "trinity" of social theorists — in which the decline of religious belief was "scientifically forecasted" — was not reenacted in the Middle East. The partial adoption of secularizing policies by nineteenth and twentieth-century Middle East states failed to produce secular societies. Though organized religion did decline, new religious movements with mass followings emerged.[2]

Benedict Anderson has observed that in Western Europe, the eighteenth century marked "not only the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes of thought," which were superseded by rationalist secularism.[3] In the Middle East, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were an era of profound ideological ferment, as Western ideas of secularism and nationalism entered into the local intellectual discourse. However, in this region the dawn of nationalism was not accompanied by the dusk of religious modes of thought; rather, the two continued to interact and to collide with each other, experiencing different periods of relative success in the marketplace of ideas.

The Resilience of Tradition: Historical Background

There are four main explanations for the resilience of tradition in the Middle East:

1) The non-separation of religion and politics;

2) The inherent tension between individual rights and group rights;

3) The territorialization of collective identity; and

4) A reform process which was initiated from the top down, by governments and by narrowly-based intellectual elites, rather than from the bottom up.
The non-separation of religion and politics
The ideal Western type of "government of the people, by the people, for the people", as formulated by Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address some 150 years ago, distinguished clearly between the sovereignty of man and the sovereignty of God. This separation was never fully endorsed in the Muslim Middle East (with the exception of the first few decades of Republican Turkey). The Islamic reformers of the late nineteenth century went to great lengths to promote a synthesis between Islam and modern science and Western-style progress, arguing that there was no real contradiction between them.

This allowed their disciples to go in two diametrically opposed directions. If there was indeed no contradiction between Islam and modernity, one could argue that Islam was not in need of any far-reaching reform if correctly interpreted, or alternatively, that Muslims could go ahead and adopt Western ways lock, stock, and barrel since there was no inherent contradiction between Islam and secularizing Western values.

In the 1920s, Egypt's intellectual scene experienced an "attack upon tradition"[4] that was met in the 1930s by an energetic Islamist reaction. Westernizers and Islamists have been in fierce competition ever since, not only in Egypt. Over the years secular regimes made concessions to the Islamists in order to maintain political equilibrium, allowing religion back into the constitutions, the courts, and the school systems.
The tension between individual rights and group rights
As Malcolm Yapp observed, Middle Eastern society was traditionally composed of

"various groups whose relationship to each other was like that of pieces in a mosaic. Governments recognized the existence of these groups and dealt with them in different ways. There was no assumption that society was composed of numbers of individuals who should be treated in a uniform fashion; rather different groups had different rights and interests required to be governed in different ways."

Society was structured by groups based on birth: family, extended family, tribe and, most importantly, religious sect. [5]

The explosion of the "Arab Spring" had far more to do with economic grievances and hopelessness than with the demand for civil rights. Neither the popularly elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of former President Muhammad Morsi, nor the current regime of Field Marshal ʿAbd al-Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power on the wings of a widely supported coup d'état, had the civil rights of individuals as a high priority on their respective agendas.

If anything, the very popular Sisi regime was more brutally repressive of opponents of all stripes, religious and secular, than his Islamist predecessor. The struggle between the two was never mainly about civil rights for individuals but about how best to achieve power and prosperity for Egypt and about its collective identity: namely, its place on the spectrum between religion and secularism, between tradition and modernity.

In Iraq, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the U.S. expectation was that the people of Iraq, as individuals, would establish a Western style pluralist, democratic, party system. But instead, the respective Sunni and Shiʿi Muslim Arab groups, went to war with each other, and now, over ten years later, that conflict is still claiming about a thousand lives every month. In Syria, an outburst of opposition in March 2011, which apparently begun because of individual grievances of peasants of the periphery, quickly developed into a horrific sectarian civil war of the ruling ʿAlawis against much of the Sunni majority.

Libya and Yemen are both extreme examples of tribal-based conflict that are threatening, along with other regional, factional or sectarian cleavages, to tear these countries apart.
The territorialization of collective identity
One of the various European ideas that were absorbed into Middle Eastern societies in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries was the linkage between community and territorial contiguity and specificity. In the traditional Ottoman order communities lived side by side throughout the Empire with almost no regard for territorial boundaries. With the momentum of nationalism, the idea that communities or nations inhabited, or should inhabit, spaces of their own gained widespread currency. The Ottoman reforms of the mid-nineteenth century, the Tanzimat, introduced the principle of equality before the law. This came to replace the system whereby the various religious communities, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, lived in accordance with their own legal systems. With the application of the new principle of equality, state law was applied for the first time ever to all subjects of the Empire throughout the territory under its sovereign control.

This gave rise to new forms of collective identity, such as Ottomanism, in order to unite all Ottoman subjects as one nation. Ottomanism, however, never met with much success and was soon succeeded by Turkish nationalism and other ethnic nationalisms that aspired to link community with language and specific territory. Thus the Balkan nations, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgars and others instead of becoming equal under the law as Ottoman subjects, preferred equality in countries of their own and sought, and eventually obtained, independence. Turkish-speaking Muslims were left with the heartland of the Empire, Anatolia, as their prospective homeland. They were thus soon to come into conflict with the large Armenian community that lived throughout Anatolia, especially in its eastern region, and who similarly sought self-determination. The resulting conflicts of interest eventually culminated in the Armenian genocide during World War I.

This same problem of territorialized identity led to the Turkish-Greek population exchange of 1923 and to many other ethnic conflicts throughout the former Ottoman lands, from the Greek-Turkish conflict in Cyprus, to the wars of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans of the 1990s, and the present-day sectarian struggles in Syria and Iraq, which like earlier such conflicts include numerous instances of communal warfare and even ethnic cleansing. When central governments in modern Arab states were able to dominate their societies and instill the "fear of government" (haybat al-hukm) in their peoples, they could maintain internal order of these communally divergent states. But that is no longer true in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen that possess neither powerful central governments nor consensual social contracts. For some of these countries, even their continued existence, within existing internationally recognized boundaries, is increasingly a question mark.
Reform from the top down rather than from the bottom up
Throughout the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries Western style modernizing and secularizing reforms were introduced in the various countries of the Middle East: by Muhammad Ali and his dynasty in Egypt and the Tanzimat in the rest of the Ottoman Empire, in the nineteenth century, and the reforms of Kemal Ataturk in Turkey of the 1920s, and Gamal Abdel Nasser and the other officer regimes in the Arab states of the mid-twentieth century. Secularizing reforms, however, were introduced top down and not bottom up. They were never introduced in the wake of popular agitation. Quite the contrary, they were always imposed from above, often on an unwilling and uncooperative populace. Secularization never penetrated very far or very deep in Middle Eastern societies. Asef Bayat described Egypt as a "seculareligious" state,[6] a fitting epithet for other Arab countries too.

These societies, for the most part, are going through a prolonged phase of socio-economic crisis and distress, which are often coupled with a sense of profound hopelessness. In such circumstances it is hardly surprising that many of the people tend to seek the comforting and familiar embrace of neo-traditionalist political trends and organizations, whether in the form of political Islam, sectarian associations or tribal loyalties. Thus the struggles of the Arab Spring, for the most part, are more about these forms of neo-traditionalist politics than simply a fight for democracy and civil rights per se.

Asher Susser is a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University and the Stanley and Ilene Gold senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies (MDC).

[1] Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

[2] Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse (University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 339-340.

[3] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991), p. 11.

[4] P.J. Vatikiotis, The Modern History of Egypt (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 292-312.

[5] Malcolm Yapp, The Making of the Modern Middle East, 1792-1923 (London: Longman, 1987), p. 36.

[6] Asef Bayat, Making Islam Democratic; Social Movements and the Post-Islamic Turn (Stanford University Press, 2007), pp.48, 173.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TEL AVIV NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

In the late 1950's Daniel Lerner published The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East (1958), which became a classic of sorts in Middle Eastern studies. But traditional society has not passed entirely from the scene. As the "Arab Spring" upheavals have shown, critically important characteristics of traditional society, such as the intimate association of religion and politics, and the salience of sectarianism and tribalism, remain important facets of Middle Eastern societies, albeit in different neo-traditional forms.

The Problematique of Definition

Traditions themselves are often invented and reinvented.[1] Thus present-day neo-traditionalism is not simply an unaltered replica of the past, but more often than not, it is itself a product of modernity and an effort to contend with the challenges of the modern world by the mobilization of traditional values, however reinterpreted they may be.

The neo-traditionalists differ from the modernists in that the latter are more generally future oriented than the former, who tend to be more past-oriented in their search for answers for the problems and challenges of the present. Neo-traditionalists are not averse to all that modernity has to offer and modernists do not reject everything about tradition. But the two are usually situated on very different places on the modernity-tradition continuum. It is not a clear-cut black and white dichotomy, rather a matter of degree. Nonetheless, the degree of difference is significant.

European and Middle Eastern Historical Experience

The European experience of state formation and modernization and the idea of secularization, as expounded upon in the works of Durkheim, Marx, and Weber, the "trinity" of social theorists — in which the decline of religious belief was "scientifically forecasted" — was not reenacted in the Middle East. The partial adoption of secularizing policies by nineteenth and twentieth-century Middle East states failed to produce secular societies. Though organized religion did decline, new religious movements with mass followings emerged.[2]

Benedict Anderson has observed that in Western Europe, the eighteenth century marked "not only the dawn of the age of nationalism but the dusk of religious modes of thought," which were superseded by rationalist secularism.[3] In the Middle East, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were an era of profound ideological ferment, as Western ideas of secularism and nationalism entered into the local intellectual discourse. However, in this region the dawn of nationalism was not accompanied by the dusk of religious modes of thought; rather, the two continued to interact and to collide with each other, experiencing different periods of relative success in the marketplace of ideas.

The Resilience of Tradition: Historical Background

There are four main explanations for the resilience of tradition in the Middle East:

1) The non-separation of religion and politics;

2) The inherent tension between individual rights and group rights;

3) The territorialization of collective identity; and

4) A reform process which was initiated from the top down, by governments and by narrowly-based intellectual elites, rather than from the bottom up.
The non-separation of religion and politics
The ideal Western type of "government of the people, by the people, for the people", as formulated by Abraham Lincoln in his famous Gettysburg Address some 150 years ago, distinguished clearly between the sovereignty of man and the sovereignty of God. This separation was never fully endorsed in the Muslim Middle East (with the exception of the first few decades of Republican Turkey). The Islamic reformers of the late nineteenth century went to great lengths to promote a synthesis between Islam and modern science and Western-style progress, arguing that there was no real contradiction between them.

This allowed their disciples to go in two diametrically opposed directions. If there was indeed no contradiction between Islam and modernity, one could argue that Islam was not in need of any far-reaching reform if correctly interpreted, or alternatively, that Muslims could go ahead and adopt Western ways lock, stock, and barrel since there was no inherent contradiction between Islam and secularizing Western values.

In the 1920s, Egypt's intellectual scene experienced an "attack upon tradition"[4] that was met in the 1930s by an energetic Islamist reaction. Westernizers and Islamists have been in fierce competition ever since, not only in Egypt. Over the years secular regimes made concessions to the Islamists in order to maintain political equilibrium, allowing religion back into the constitutions, the courts, and the school systems.
The tension between individual rights and group rights
As Malcolm Yapp observed, Middle Eastern society was traditionally composed of

"various groups whose relationship to each other was like that of pieces in a mosaic. Governments recognized the existence of these groups and dealt with them in different ways. There was no assumption that society was composed of numbers of individuals who should be treated in a uniform fashion; rather different groups had different rights and interests required to be governed in different ways."

Society was structured by groups based on birth: family, extended family, tribe and, most importantly, religious sect. [5]

The explosion of the "Arab Spring" had far more to do with economic grievances and hopelessness than with the demand for civil rights. Neither the popularly elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of former President Muhammad Morsi, nor the current regime of Field Marshal ʿAbd al-Fattah al-Sisi, who came to power on the wings of a widely supported coup d'état, had the civil rights of individuals as a high priority on their respective agendas.

If anything, the very popular Sisi regime was more brutally repressive of opponents of all stripes, religious and secular, than his Islamist predecessor. The struggle between the two was never mainly about civil rights for individuals but about how best to achieve power and prosperity for Egypt and about its collective identity: namely, its place on the spectrum between religion and secularism, between tradition and modernity.

In Iraq, following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the U.S. expectation was that the people of Iraq, as individuals, would establish a Western style pluralist, democratic, party system. But instead, the respective Sunni and Shiʿi Muslim Arab groups, went to war with each other, and now, over ten years later, that conflict is still claiming about a thousand lives every month. In Syria, an outburst of opposition in March 2011, which apparently begun because of individual grievances of peasants of the periphery, quickly developed into a horrific sectarian civil war of the ruling ʿAlawis against much of the Sunni majority.

Libya and Yemen are both extreme examples of tribal-based conflict that are threatening, along with other regional, factional or sectarian cleavages, to tear these countries apart.
The territorialization of collective identity
One of the various European ideas that were absorbed into Middle Eastern societies in the late nineteenth and the twentieth centuries was the linkage between community and territorial contiguity and specificity. In the traditional Ottoman order communities lived side by side throughout the Empire with almost no regard for territorial boundaries. With the momentum of nationalism, the idea that communities or nations inhabited, or should inhabit, spaces of their own gained widespread currency. The Ottoman reforms of the mid-nineteenth century, the Tanzimat, introduced the principle of equality before the law. This came to replace the system whereby the various religious communities, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, lived in accordance with their own legal systems. With the application of the new principle of equality, state law was applied for the first time ever to all subjects of the Empire throughout the territory under its sovereign control.

This gave rise to new forms of collective identity, such as Ottomanism, in order to unite all Ottoman subjects as one nation. Ottomanism, however, never met with much success and was soon succeeded by Turkish nationalism and other ethnic nationalisms that aspired to link community with language and specific territory. Thus the Balkan nations, Greeks, Serbs, Bulgars and others instead of becoming equal under the law as Ottoman subjects, preferred equality in countries of their own and sought, and eventually obtained, independence. Turkish-speaking Muslims were left with the heartland of the Empire, Anatolia, as their prospective homeland. They were thus soon to come into conflict with the large Armenian community that lived throughout Anatolia, especially in its eastern region, and who similarly sought self-determination. The resulting conflicts of interest eventually culminated in the Armenian genocide during World War I.

This same problem of territorialized identity led to the Turkish-Greek population exchange of 1923 and to many other ethnic conflicts throughout the former Ottoman lands, from the Greek-Turkish conflict in Cyprus, to the wars of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans of the 1990s, and the present-day sectarian struggles in Syria and Iraq, which like earlier such conflicts include numerous instances of communal warfare and even ethnic cleansing. When central governments in modern Arab states were able to dominate their societies and instill the "fear of government" (haybat al-hukm) in their peoples, they could maintain internal order of these communally divergent states. But that is no longer true in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya or Yemen that possess neither powerful central governments nor consensual social contracts. For some of these countries, even their continued existence, within existing internationally recognized boundaries, is increasingly a question mark.
Reform from the top down rather than from the bottom up
Throughout the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries Western style modernizing and secularizing reforms were introduced in the various countries of the Middle East: by Muhammad Ali and his dynasty in Egypt and the Tanzimat in the rest of the Ottoman Empire, in the nineteenth century, and the reforms of Kemal Ataturk in Turkey of the 1920s, and Gamal Abdel Nasser and the other officer regimes in the Arab states of the mid-twentieth century. Secularizing reforms, however, were introduced top down and not bottom up. They were never introduced in the wake of popular agitation. Quite the contrary, they were always imposed from above, often on an unwilling and uncooperative populace. Secularization never penetrated very far or very deep in Middle Eastern societies. Asef Bayat described Egypt as a "seculareligious" state,[6] a fitting epithet for other Arab countries too.

These societies, for the most part, are going through a prolonged phase of socio-economic crisis and distress, which are often coupled with a sense of profound hopelessness. In such circumstances it is hardly surprising that many of the people tend to seek the comforting and familiar embrace of neo-traditionalist political trends and organizations, whether in the form of political Islam, sectarian associations or tribal loyalties. Thus the struggles of the Arab Spring, for the most part, are more about these forms of neo-traditionalist politics than simply a fight for democracy and civil rights per se.

Asher Susser is a professor in the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University and the Stanley and Ilene Gold senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies (MDC).

[1] Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 1983).

[2] Mansoor Moaddel, Islamic Modernism, Nationalism, and Fundamentalism: Episode and Discourse (University of Chicago Press, 2005), pp. 339-340.

[3] Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991), p. 11.

[4] P.J. Vatikiotis, The Modern History of Egypt (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), pp. 292-312.

[5] Malcolm Yapp, The Making of the Modern Middle East, 1792-1923 (London: Longman, 1987), p. 36.

[6] Asef Bayat, Making Islam Democratic; Social Movements and the Post-Islamic Turn (Stanford University Press, 2007), pp.48, 173.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TEL AVIV NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

 

 

 

President Peres will depart tonight (Monday 7th April) for a state visit to China following an invitation from Chinese President Xi Jinping

President Peres:
"Israel-Sino relations have a strategic significance both economically and in the fight against the proliferation of non-conventional weapons"

At the center of the visit
Diplomatic meetings with President Xi Jinping and senior political leaders
State Welcome Reception and State Dinner at the Presidential Palace
Meeting with CEOs of leading Chinese companies in the Forbidden City

President Peres will launch his official page on Sina-Weibo (China's largest social networking site) and be the first Israeli leader to be active on the site which boasts 2.8 billion posts a month

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, will depart tonight (Monday 7th April) for a state visit to China at the invitation of the President of China, Xi Jinping. President Peres expressed his hope that the visit will strengthen the economic and diplomatic ties between the countries and said, "I depart for China following a personal invitation from President Xi Jinping. This is an extremely important visit for the State of Israel and I will aim to enhance the economic and diplomatic relations between our two countries. China is both a regional and a global power and relations between us have strategic significance. In terms of the diplomatic aspects there are issues of critical importance on the agenda. China is increasing its interest in the Middle East and we have a mutual interest to promote peace and stability, to tackle the scourge of terrorism and the proliferation of non-conventional weapons."

During the three day visit, President Peres will have a packed schedule which will include a state welcome reception and a state dinner, as well as a diplomatic meeting with President Xi Jinping during which they will discuss relations between Israel and China, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and other issues on the agendas of both countries. As part of the series of diplomatic meetings, President Peres will also meet with the Chairperson of the National People's Congress.

On the economic front President Peres will conduct a meeting with the CEOs of major Chinese companies at a special event in the Forbidden City in Beijing. The meeting will include market leaders in the fields of communication, high-tech, technology, innovation and more. President Peres will use the occasion to call for an expansion of the ties between Israel and China and greater cooperation between Israeli and Chinese companies.

In preparation for the visit to China, the official President Peres Sina-Weibo page has been created. The social network has over 300 million users and 2.8 billion posts a month, making it China's largest social network. President Peres will officially launch his page as part of the effort to strengthen relations with the people of China and answer questions from Sina-Weibo users during a live chat.

 

 

50 museums and other sites open freely during Passover under the auspices of Bank Hapoalim

 

The project "We work (פועלים) for culture, nature and beauty", which is conducted this year for the 10th time by Bank Hapoalim, has become a tradition, wherein hundreds of thousands families in Israel enjoy free entrances to museums and other sites throughout the country.

 

Among the many projects initiated by Bank Hapoalim for the community and society in Israel, "We work (פועלים) for culture, nature and beauty", stands out as a unique project that nurtures the link between the people of Israel and the landscapes, culture and historical traditions of its country.

 

The varied sites and museums included in this project combine the present experience and culture with the history of the people and the country, and enable the Israeli public to enjoy a Passover holiday that enriches the knowledge of the children and their parents on the beauty and culture of Israel, while saving a significant sum of hundreds NIS per family.

 

Among the sites included in the project: Tel Aviv Art Museum, Gan Guru (גן גורו), Haifa's zoo, Israel Museum in Rabin Center, Botanical Garden in Jerusalem, Israel Air Force Museum, Haifa Museum of Israeli Art, Deer Forest (יער האיילים), Diaspora Museum (מוזיאון בית התפוצות), Menachem Begin Heritage Center (מרכז מורשת מנחם בגין), Yad Lashirion in Latrun (יד לשריון לטרון), Ramat Gan Museum of Israeli Art, Bible Land Museum in Jerusalem (מוזיאון ארצות המקרא), Design Museum in Holon, Chai-Negev Revivim (חי נגב רביבים), Negev Art Museum, Eilat Museum, and more.

 

All these sites will be open for free during Passover on April 16-20 (excluding Saturday). On Wednesday and Thursday (16-17) they are open the whole day; on Friday (18) and Sunday (20) they are open half a day.

 

The opening hours as well as additional details are provided in:

www.bankhapoalim.co.il

 

Photos Sivan Farag

 

 

 

 

 

The Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) World Chairman, Efi Stenzler: "Despite all the hostile sources that identify KKL-JNF as the body responsible for realizing the vision of Zionisim, and therefore aim to harm it, understanding it will harm Israel as well, KKL-JNF recognizes the national challenges facing the Jewish people, and recruits the Jewish world in order to overcome them."

Said the KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Efi Stenzler today at the annual conference of the Jerusalem Post in New York.

Today, Sunday, April 6th, 2014, KKL-JNF World Chairman, Mr. Efi Stenzler spoke at the annual conference of the Jerusalem Post in New York, which dealt with key issues and discussed the different challenges facing the State of Israel and the Jewish world. Among Israeli officials, Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Uzi Landau, Minister of Tourism, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, and more took part in the conference.

Stenzler addressed a number of issues, including the rising anti-Semitism around the world, the strengthening of the Jewish communities, and the environmental work and activity of KKL-JNF across the globe. Additionally, KKL-JNF World Chairman took part in a panel about the socioeconomic challenges facing Israeli society.

Regarding anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli actions that have been growing recently, Stenzler stated that as of today, it is clear to all various sources who feed a steady stream of poison into the world media, as they disseminate false and manipulative information, misleading people about the actual report situation. "The old anti-Semitism has now joined forces with the new anti-Israelism, and their campaign stops at nothing." In addition, Stenzler noted that "these same elements identify KKL-JNF as a body that is realizing the Zionist vision, and they therefore devote tremendous efforts to opposing us on every possible front.'

Accordingly, Stenzler described in detail the tremendous efforts made by the KKL-JNF in order to enhance and strengthen the Jewish community, while supporting and providing significant tailwind, among others, imparting knowledge and developing professional relationships in the international arena. "We maintain ties with and offer courses to professional personnel even from countries that have no diplomatic ties with Israel. Stenzler emphasized as well that KKL-JNF has a strong and close relationship with the Diaspora. "KKL-JNF, by its very definition, is the emissary of the Jewish People in its homeland, and this status is unparalleled."

Furthermore, World Chairman of KKL-JNF discussed the issue construction and development of the organization in a variety of areas throughout Israel. "The KKL-JNF is engaged in a great variety areas," he noted and elaborated, "supporting agricultural R&D which contributes to the water sector, engaged in land reclamation for community development and agriculture, and preserving natural resources and the environment, combating desertification, rehabilitating river banks, construction of parking lots, creating bike paths and building parks ". Stenzler added that the KKL-JNF has set a strategic goal for the upcoming years and is creating a generation of equality and promoting reduction of social gaps in Israel. "All efforts will be devoted to a single goal: to bring about equality in the periphery and make the Negev and Galilee regions sustainable," stated Stenzler.

The annual Jerusalem Post conference was held today, Sunday, April 6th, 2014 in New York. Among other guests, senior Israeli opinion leaders including Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Minister of Tourism Uzi Landau, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Ron Prosor Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and MKs David Rotem, Omer Bar Lev, and Nacham Shai. The conference dealt with key business issues and challenges facing the State of Israel and the Jewish world today. Some 1,500 participants took part in the Jerusalem Post conference.

Photo Caption: KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler speaks at the 2014 annual conference of the Jerusalem Post  

Photo Marc Israel Sellem

 

 

 

 

 

The Israeli cabinet has unanimously approved the Ministry of Environmental Protecion (MoEP)'s plan to streamline all existing environmental permits into one integrated permit. Integrated environmental licensing, or "green licensing," as it is known, will significantly reduce beauracracy for factories and plants, and will bring Israel's environmental standards more in line with European Union standards. Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz, in cooperation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, introduced the plan at the ministerial meeting on Sunday, April 6, 2014.

Green licensing will provide regulatory certainty for business owners that does not exist today, as permits will be integrated and valid for seven years, a longer period of time than current permits. This certainty will spur growth and increase competition. The less buearacratic process will also mean fewer expenses for business owners. In addition, the process will result in more in-depth inspections and supervision of the most polluting factories. All of this will make Israeli companies more competitive in the global market and will lead to lower prices for the Israeli consumer.

Today, a business owner must receive several different environmental permits from several different departments within the ministry. These include approval for a business license, air emissions permits, poison permits, hazardous waste removal permits, discharge or dumping into the sea (a different permit for each type of material). Each permit lasts for a different period of time, and some of those time periods are relatively short (sometimes just one or three years). Thus, the owner must begin the tedious process of once again applying for all the different necessary permits within a couple of years after receiving them, and (s)he cannot even do the entire application process at one time. What's more, the business owner must receive permits from other regulators, and sometimes gets conflicting environmental instructions from each regulator. This results in loss of time and increased expenses.

Minister Peretz: "With this new licensing plan, Israel is taking an environmental quantum leap toward the European Directive [on Industrial Emissions]. This new licensing will allow for green growth, efficient regulation, and strict protection of the environment. We will not compromise in terms of environmental requirements. We are beginning a process that will, on one hand increase supervision and monitoring of facilities, and together with that will reduce beauracracy involved in receiving environmental permits. One integrated license will include most of the necessary approvals and will be valid for a long period of time, in order to allow for stability and long-term planning for industry."

The principles of an integrated license have been the subject of discussion and debate for more than a year among the Ministries of Environmental Protection and Economy, environmental organizations, and the Manufacturers' Association. With the cabinet's approval of the plan, the MoEP will begin a legislative process to ensure that integrated licensing becomes part of Israeli law.

The integrated license program is a harbinger for a plan to reduce regulation in Israel in general, being formulated by the Prime Minister's Office. Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasized that "reducing and simplifying the regulatory process is part of Israel's strategic goal." He said that Israeli regulation must undergo a fundamental change, and that the MoEP's actions have brought the government closer to this goal. PMO Director General Harel Locker noted, "The Green Licensing process is a first step... [that] will allow business to regulate all their licenses at a one-stop shop, in an efficient and convenient manner, and will create a certainty and calmness for years while also protecting the environment." This type of certainty, Locker added, "is greasing the wheels of the economy... [the PMO is] adopting the process that was led by Minister Peretz as gospel, and as a model for other ministries and regualtors."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photo Amit Shaavi
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

On March 18th, 2014, the sixth Negev Conference took place in Sderot with the participation of President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler also participated, together with government ministers, Knesset members, mayors, regional council heads and businesspeople. The KKL-JNF pavilion at the conference displayed examples of the organization's extensive activities for the development of the Negev with the help of KKL-JNF Friends throughout the world.

 

 The main topics at this year's Negev Conference – the sixth – which was held in Sderot, were the economic development of the Negev in the wake of the IDF bases' relocation to the south, the establishment of factories and hi-tech companies in the region, and, most importantly, how to bring young people to the Negev. Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Silvan Shalom said in his speech at the conference: "We have done a great many things in the past five years, all with the ultimate aim of bringing 300 thousand people to the Negev in the coming decade."

 

Read more about the Negev Conference in Sderot


http://www.kkl.org.il/eng/about-kkl-jnf/green-israel-news/march-14/negev-conference-2014-sderot/

 

In the photo:

Miriam Frankel – Reuth Deputy Executive Director

Merav Mandelbaum – Reuth Chairperson

Celia Gould - Wife of the Ambassador and hostess of the event

 

 

 

Reuth was proud to be a chosen participant in a very special event: the British Embassy Spring Fair. On a very beautiful Friday morning (March 28 2014) we set up our table and attractively designed rollups in the picturesque garden of the British Ambassador's Residence in Ramat Gan, alongside 20 or so other Israeli nonprofits. Throughout the day we presented Reuth and its activities to hundreds of attentive guests, specially invited by the Ambassador.  We were also able to raise a tidy sum by selling many copies of the splendid Reuth Cookbook, containing dozens of recipes contributed by our staff.

"We're doing this because it's a nice way to give the nonprofits we care about a chance for exposure to the international community," said British Ambassador Matthew Gould. "Reuth is a wonderful organization that does exceptional work, and we're very pleased to have them with us."

 

www.reuth.org.il

 

Photo Silvia Golan

 

 

 

 

Buenos Aires, 26 March 2014

The Simon Wiesenthal Center joined the Chile's Jewish Community together with concerned political leaders, in protest against the newly opened "Augusto Pinochet Nazi Art School" on Chiloé island, in southern Chile.

The school's founder, Godofredo Rodríguez Pacheco, apparently has a criminal record and made clear his political ambitions.

"We urge the Chilean government to investigate the political background ties of Rodriguez Pacheco. Pinochet's own sympathies and liaisons were amply illustrated by the protective hospitality he granted to Nazi war criminal Walter Rauff and the almost impenetrable training camp, Colonia Dignidad", stated Dr. Shimon Samuels (Director for International Relations of the Wiesenthal Center), adding, "it is encouraging that Chile's Ministry of Education has not recognized the so-called 'art-school'".

"Our Center has assisted the Chilean Parliament in passing an antidiscrimination law, which now may be applicable to this case. This is also an opportunity for us to offer our expertise in Holocaust education and advise the government in joining Argentina as a member of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (formerly known as the Task Force for Holocaust Education). Argentina is, so far, the only Latin American country among IHRA's 31 members", declared Sergio Widder (the Center's Director for Latin America).

For further information, please contact Dr. Shimon Samuels at +336 09770158 or Sergio Widder at +54911 4425-1306.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.

 

 

 

 

 

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Sherlock Holmes*

On the 16th of March, Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended a grandiose election rally in İzmir, in advance of the forthcoming municipal elections. The rally followed what has become the standard format in Turkish politics: The PM rebuked his adversaries, tarring all opposition with the same brush and boasting that his campaign represented a new "War of Independence."[1] The common "rituals" of tear gassing the homes of those who protested against the AKP, exchanging insults, and street skirmishes followed. The occasion might have easily left one muttering the old Yiddish expression: "Oy vey (İ)z Mir." The phonological resemblance is almost impossible to resist. İzmir, after all, was a town with a rich Turkish-Jewish heritage, populated by Sephardic Jews, although of course their ancestral language was Ladino, not Yiddish.

Turkish society appears to be deeply divided.[2] Recent stories about Erdoğan, his family, and his government have ignited a firestorm of controversy as a result of allegations that he had established what effectively amounts to a kleptocracy. In this fraught atmosphere, what will Turkish politics look like after the March 30 elections? The answers will be directly and indirectly affected by Erdoğan's choices. Efforts to understand his decisions are complicated by Erdoğan's unpredictable temperament and keen political instincts.[3]

These two elements of Erdoğan's persona might be treated as two sides of the same coin: the agile reflexes of a ferocious and populist zóon politikón preoccupied with his political survival. On the one hand they lead him to what some would call solecism, namely, displaying an almost impulsive tendency for the indecorous, especially when he goes off script.[4] On the other hand, they help him to quickly consolidate political gains. This is especially the case when he senses an opportunity to secure his popularity and votes at home. The "One Minute" episode with Israeli President Shimon Peres at Davos in 2009 is a case in point.

Nevertheless, despite Erdoğan's love of risk, there is also a structural limit to his choices, dictated by capabilities. His understanding of this limit dictates the level of rationality of his choices. In methodological terms, it is permissible to employ an analytical scenario-building approach, making use of game theory logic, to attempt to anticipate Erdoğan's future decisions within his strategic environment by factoring in his character and his structural limits.[5]

Needless to say, such an analysis has its limitations, and is not solely conditional on a certain assessment of Erdoğan's nature. However, the analysis, potentially, has the benefit of providing a point of departure for subsequent efforts to evaluate and forecast future decisions of a leader who has already secured a place in Turkey's and the region's political history and whose legacy may remain influential beyond his own active career.

This article will examine Erdoğan's alternatives in the event of potential outcomes in the upcoming elections. First, there are some general points to be made about these elections.

i) They are presented and perceived as a general referendum of approval and support for AKP and Erdoğan. This works to Erdoğan's advantage, mainly because of the strength of his cult of personality and loyal political base. Allegiance to his personality cult is perceived as stronger than the allegiance to the AKP.[6] Erdogan utilizes this to mobilize his constituency and discipline the AKP organization.

ii) Since the Gezi Park events in the early summer 2013 and, increasingly, after the explosion of the corruption scandal in mid-December, Turkish society has become deeply divided.

iii) Erdoğan's campaign rhetoric indicates that his primary interest is to receive as many votes as possible in order to secure and "re-legitimize" his rule. Thus, he doesn't mince words when it comes to employing polarizing rhetoric.

iv) Since the Gezi Park events, it is safe to assume that there is no chance that Erdoğan will be able to create a presidential system. The popular support for such a change appears to be non-existent.[7]

v) Erdoğan prefers an ambiguous yardstick for measuring the AKP's success in the coming elections. In 2002, attaining 34.29 percent of the vote was enough to bring it to power. However, such a result this time would mark a steep decline from the 49.95 percent that it won during the general elections of 2011.

I propose a framework of two likely scenarios in the upcoming elections: The more probable "A" scenario is that AKP receives 38-42 percent of the votes; and the less probable "B" scenario in which AKP receives 34-38 percent.

In the absence of credible polling data indicating to the contrary, it would be hard to anticipate AKP votes dipping below the 34 percent it received in 2002. In municipal elections, traditionally the ruling party has an advantage; moreover, Erdoğan is billing the elections as a vote of confidence in him and the party. The upside threshold of 42 percent is based on an integrated analysis of recent opinion polls.[8] Given the fact that the elections are being held during a period of increasing polarization in society, a precarious economic outlook, and allegations of corruption, it is unlikely that the AKP will attain more than a 10 percent increase from the previous municipal elections.

In the event of scenario "A," it is plausible that Erdoğan would then soon call for early general elections, anticipating that further erosion of his support is imminent. He would want to go to elections at a point where he is still able to secure a majority in the parliament. He would take some time before announcing a final decision on early elections, and he would most likely alter AKP bylaws to allow himself to run for a fourth term as prime minister.[9]

Erdoğan would also need to find a convenient candidate for president. He could go with someone who would be regarded as his proxy. However, it would be relatively easy for the opposition to defeat such a candidate, provided it can build a consensus around a name that has wider appeal and acceptability, particularly amongst the conservative voters. Or Erdoğan could choose the more logical option, which would be a stronger candidate who won't be cowed by Erdoğan's personality. Under the given circumstances, President Abdullah Gül[10] still appears to be the best choice for Erdoğan. However Gül's image seems to have been tarnished as a result of his mid-December approval of what is commonly known as the internet law, which effectively grants the government broad discretionary powers over the internet. Gül also confirmed a controversial judicial law that affectively diminishes the constitutional principle of separation of powers.[11]

A relatively unlikely alternative in scenario "A" is that Erdoğan chooses to run for president. He may do so either as a result of not being able to resist obtaining the most prestigious position of Turkish politics, like many before him, or due to pressure from his inner circle. However his authority would be circumscribed by existing laws, which render the position limited and largely symbolic. Gül, an adamant risk avoider would most likely not run against Erdoğan. It is also hard to imagine anyone else from the AKP running against him. In this case, Erdoğan's success would again depend on the opposition's ability to field a formidable candidate. Erdoğan would still call for early elections and try to determine his successor to the premiership, as well as influence the AKP's list of parliamentary candidates. However, Turkish political history is rich with examples of strong leaders not being able to control their successors after assuming the presidency. It is hard to see why Erdoğan would be the first exception. It is actually more conceivable that he would lose such a presidential election.

In scenario "B," facing pressure as a result of diminished results, if he secures close to 38 percent, Erdoğan could call for early general elections, even earlier than in scenario "A," hoping to secure a majority, or, at the very least, the opportunity to lead a coalition. However, Erdoğan's appetite for early elections would be diminished if he obtains a percentage of votes closer to 34 percent. In this case, his likely strategy would be to hold on to his position until the end of the term and try to broaden his support in advance of elections in 2015. The AKP bylaw on term-limits would still be changed. In any event, in scenario "B" Erdoğan's appetite for the presidency will be lower and his alternatives in that case will be very similar to scenario "A."

It is almost certain that in both scenarios, Erdoğan will declare victory. The AKP will almost certainly receive the highest percentage of votes and win the most municipalities. Further, if it is able to secure the metropolitan municipality in Istanbul he will have more breathing room, and a win in Ankara might be the icing on the cake. To an extent, he could endure losing Ankara – a likely possibility, in fact – even though in the medium term this will signal that he is entering troubled waters. However, a defeat in Istanbul, which is less likely, would be especially damaging. In the unlikely event that the AKP loses in both cities, and with no hope for winning İzmir, the sun would be considered as setting on Erdoğan's political career.

In both scenarios, early general elections for parliament are likely and would be held in tandem with presidential elections. It is also highly probable that Erdoğan will not run for president. A study indicates that as Erdoğan's rhetoric and style has become more rigid, the support for a change to the presidential system eroded by approximately seven percent in one year.[12] It seems that Erdoğan's preference for engendering controversy and crisis, which to an extent has secured him election victories time and again, has destroyed his prospects for the presidency. In any event, post-election Turkey will be less governable for Erdoğan. He will find it increasingly problematic to impose his will on the public and control the bureaucracy. In the same vein, if the AKP wins less than 34 percent of the vote, it means the end of an era. On the other hand, if the AKP manages to gain more than 42 percent of the vote without suspicion of fraud, AKP rule will be reaffirmed, and Erdoğan will be declared totally absolved of all the charges that are swirling around him.

However if there are credible claims of election rigging, there will be more chaos in Turkey, tarnishing its already fragile democracy. What has kept anti-Erdoğan crowds out of the streets, for the most part, is the belief in honest elections and a properly functioning democracy. If the AKP receives anything between 34 and 42 percent and Erdoğan insists on maintaining his style of government, which will further polarize society, he may be risking the sustainability of his party beyond his own career. This might even create a dissident movement within the AKP.

Erdoğan originally reached the pinnacle of power through an unlikely alliance of liberals, Islamists, center right conservatives, Gülenists, the business community, and a good deal of goodwill from the international community. The tide has turned. He ironically faces an equally unlikely alliance opposing his rule and tries to counter it by employing idiosyncratic maneuvers, such as "uncovering" and "disclosing" foreign plots, declaring a "war of independence," feigning ignorance of controversial judicial processes like the Ergenekon trials, absolving himself of responsibility for all past controversies, and calling for renewed "brotherhood" with the Kurdish political movement. It seems that Erdoğan is hoping to create a problematic alignment that consists of nationalists and the military, along with the Kurdish movement, and his AKP core.

At present, Erdoğan is in a tooth and nail battle for his political survival. He doesn't seem to be keen on taking any prisoners either. What Turkey urgently needs, on the other hand, is a renewed consensus on pluralism, an effective and genuine separation of powers, and civil liberties. Whether or not this will come from an Erdoğan-led AKP is the "million dollar question."

Dr. Ahmet K. Han is a visiting research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. He is a member of the faculty of International Relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul.

* Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of Four, Chp. 6.

[1] "Başbakan Erdoğan'ın İzmir Mitingi'nde yaptığı konuşmanın tam metni", AKP Official Website, March 18, 2014, http://www.akparti.org.tr/site/haberler/basbakan-erdoganin-izmir-mitinginde-yaptigi-konusmanin-tam-metni1/61059#1.

[2] "Yolsuzluk Operasyonu Sonrası İlk Seçim Anketi," Cumhuriyet, February 10, 2013, www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/foto/26145/3/Yolsuzluk_Operasyonu_sonrasi_ilk_secim_anketi.html.

[3] There are studies on Erdoğan's personality and leadership style. For one example, see: Aylin Şeker Görener and Meltem Uçal, "The Personality and Leadership Style of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Implications for Turkish Foreign Policy," Turkish Studies, pp. 357 – 381.

[4] He doesn't seem to regard this as particularly problematic. On the contrary, he repeatedly went on record to say, "Anger is part of the art of rhetoric".

[5] For the purposes of this article I define a "strategic environment" as a situation where there is multiplicity of players, making different decisions, based on perceived utility where expected pay-offs of each decision depends on an actor's own choice, as well as on the choices of others.

[6] Consecutive studies show that both AKP and Erdogan were less "approved" by the public from 2011 to 2013: AKP was up from 36.5% to 38.9% and then down to 35.8%, while Erdogan was down from 45% to 42.4% and then to 38.7%. Still, Erdoğan is clearly perceived more successful than his Party. Kadir Has Üniversitesi Türkiye Sosyal-Siyasal Eğilimler Araştırması 2013, February 5, 2014, http://www.khas.edu.tr/uploads/pdf-doc-vb/news/05022014-1siyasal-egilimler.pdf, p.17.

[7] The respondents of the Kadir Has study declared 76.7% support for parliamentarian system, while presidential system received 14.4% support. Ibid, p. 26.

[8] For one example, see: "AK Parti mi? CHP mi? MHP mi? Seçim Anketleri 2014," Bugün, March 9, 2014, http://gundem.bugun.com.tr/ak-parti-mi-chp-mi-mhp-mi-secim-anketleri-2014-haberi/1006870.

[9] AKP, spokesperson Hüseyin Çelik, among others, said that they were receiving "pressure" to annul the article limiting deputies and mayors to three consecutive terms. The annulation might come into effect even if the rule is "changed just an hour to elections." "Hüseyin Çelik: 'Üç dönemi kaldırın baskısı var'" CNNTurk, March 8, 2014, http://www.cnnturk.com/haber/turkiye/huseyin-celik-3-donemi-kaldirin-baskisi-var. It is to be anticipated that in all scenarios this change will be explained with a narrative that refers to the public will.

[10] In 2012, the Turkish Supreme Court decreed that after a first term of seven years, Gül, who founded the AKP with Erdoğan, could run for the presidency a second time.

[11] Erdoğan has professed distaste for separation of powers, seeing it as an impediment to effective governance."Erdoğan, Kuvvetler Ayrılığı Eleştirisi," Milliyet, December 17, 2012.

[12] Kadir Has..., ibid.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TEL AVIV NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

 

 

President Peres sent a festive greeting for the Nowruz and conducted interviews with Persian language radio
President Peres in Persian:

"Iranian-e gerami, Novruzetan piruz bad"

President Peres:

"We are two nations that respect culture and human dignity, that call to live in peace and understanding"

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, delivered a festive greeting for the Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and conducted interviews with Persian language radio stations (Kol Israel Persian and Radio Farda (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty). The greeting was uploaded on to the President's social network sites including his YouTube Channel (Video File available upon request).

President Peres began with the traditional greeting in Persian and said, "Iraniane Gerami, Novruzetan Piruz Bad" which can be translated as "Iranian citizens, wherever you are, Happy Nowruz." President Peres continued and said, "The Jewish people and the Persian people, the Iranian people have a very long history and we're going to have a long future. We are old cultures, we learn history, we make history and we respect history. We have a heritage of values; we are not just business peoples but two nations that respect culture, that respect human dignity. We call to live in peace and understanding." President Peres ended the message and said, "Let us have a year of science and of peace, without war and threats. Happy Nowruz"

President Peres was asked during the interviews about his memories of his visits to Iran during the time of the Shah, when relations and diplomacy between the countries were different. President Peres spoke about his experiences and addressed the Iranian people directly expressing Israel's desire for peace with all her neighbors, "I don't have a special message for the people of Iran because it is the same message as the people of Israel. Let's forget wars, let our young people build a new future. Let's talk to each other, directly, without prejudices. We still have a great deal to do to make the world better, let's march together to this goal."

President Peres was also asked about how he saw relations between the two countries in the future and said, "I think Israel will become the contributing member of the Middle East, I think our children and Arab children, Druze, Christians, everybody will go to the same universities and their major challenge will be the new ideas, the new discoveries. I do believe that the young generation of Iran, like the young generation all over the world will choose to live in peace, in cooperation. Instead of fighting, let's compete in scientific endeavor. In competition everybody wins, in war everybody loses."

President Peres YouTube - www.youtube.com/peres
President Peres Facebook - www.facebook.com/ShimonPeres

 

 

 

Esti Ginzburg and Assi Azar volunteered to lead the Annual Fundraising Evening of Voluntary Association "Hayim" devoted to cancer-ill children. This event will take place in Havat Ronit (חוות רונית) on March 23, at 8 pm

In this event, produced for the second time by Hemi Michaeli from Bold Production Company, will appear voluntarily artists Moshe Perez, Ethnics Band, Shiri Maimon and Nathan Goshen.

The guests will enjoy a unique cocktail and especially designed cuisine prepared by chefs Yaron Shalev, Omer Miller and Paul Assenheim.

All the event incomes will be devoted to the "Hayim" association children. A participation ticket will cost 600 to 1500 NIS. Company owners can acquire special tickets costing 6,000 to 15,000 NIS, which will grant them a company table branded with the company logo.

Tickets can be acquired in the event website http://www.hayim2014.org
or by phone 03-6120494.

 

 

 

President Peres on the importance of the US in the peace talks:

"The US supports us both diplomatically and in terms of security – we should not be embarrassed to say thank you."

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, opened the Sixth Annual Negev Conference this morning in Sderot along with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Minister Silvan Shalom. President Peres said in his remarks, "I am pleased to see the government doing all it can to continue the negotiations so as the process does not collapse. I am also pleased that the US is supporting us in these talks. We are fortunate to have the alliance with the US – we should not be embarrassed to say thank you to the US for the diplomatic and security support it has and continues to offer us. We are not an isolated nation, we never were. We are a nation that seeks peace."

President Peres addressed the disagreements with the Palestinians and said, "The Palestinians are not satisfied with us and we are not satisfied with them but neither of us are satisfied with terror and war. We should all we can to be strong in security and advanced in science, I believe it is our interest to achieve full peace with the Palestinians and not to hesitate. We must base that peace upon two pillars – diplomacy and security."

President Peres also addressed relations with Egypt and said, "Israel has a major interest in seeing Egypt overcome her present difficulties. Both Israel and Egypt will struggle to guarantee peace and security, on both sides of the fence, without ongoing cooperation. There are a number of difficulties on this front, first and foremost Gaza and Sinai which have become focal points of terror. We cannot allow the Negev to become an arena for smugglers and terrorists, and so we have an interest in seeing Egypt strong and whole, and to continue to cooperate both in terms of security and diplomacy."

Addressing the complex relations in the Middle East President Peres stressed once against the importance of relations between Israel and Jordan, "Relations between Israel and Jordan were developed by all the governments." With respect to the incident at the Allenby Bridge in March President Peres added, "We still do not know for certain what happened, the incident is being investigated. Jordan is a pragmatic partner and a country that invests heavily in education, the benefits of which can be seen. King Abdullah has major achievements in this field."

President Peres on the importance of the US in the peace talks:

"The US supports us both diplomatically and in terms of security – we should not be embarrassed to say thank you."

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, opened the Sixth Annual Negev Conference this morning in Sderot along with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Minister Silvan Shalom. President Peres said in his remarks, "I am pleased to see the government doing all it can to continue the negotiations so as the process does not collapse. I am also pleased that the US is supporting us in these talks. We are fortunate to have the alliance with the US – we should not be embarrassed to say thank you to the US for the diplomatic and security support it has and continues to offer us. We are not an isolated nation, we never were. We are a nation that seeks peace."

President Peres addressed the disagreements with the Palestinians and said, "The Palestinians are not satisfied with us and we are not satisfied with them but neither of us are satisfied with terror and war. We should all we can to be strong in security and advanced in science, I believe it is our interest to achieve full peace with the Palestinians and not to hesitate. We must base that peace upon two pillars – diplomacy and security."

President Peres also addressed relations with Egypt and said, "Israel has a major interest in seeing Egypt overcome her present difficulties. Both Israel and Egypt will struggle to guarantee peace and security, on both sides of the fence, without ongoing cooperation. There are a number of difficulties on this front, first and foremost Gaza and Sinai which have become focal points of terror. We cannot allow the Negev to become an arena for smugglers and terrorists, and so we have an interest in seeing Egypt strong and whole, and to continue to cooperate both in terms of security and diplomacy."

Addressing the complex relations in the Middle East President Peres stressed once against the importance of relations between Israel and Jordan, "Relations between Israel and Jordan were developed by all the governments." With respect to the incident at the Allenby Bridge in March President Peres added, "We still do not know for certain what happened, the incident is being investigated. Jordan is a pragmatic partner and a country that invests heavily in education, the benefits of which can be seen. King Abdullah has major achievements in this field."

 

Photo Office of the President  / GPO

 

 

 

 

 

The GINDI TLV FASHION WEEK 2014 took place in the TLV Fashion Mall on 10-12 of March 2014, in similar style to the world’s leading fashion exhibitions. The TLV Fashion Mall belongs to the companies that promote and own the FASHION WEEK: Gindi Investments, Moshe and Yigal Gindi, Blue Square Properties and fashion designer Moti Reif.

 

GINDI TLV FASHION WEEK 2014 is supported by such public bodies as the Israel Export Institute, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Ministry of Tourism and Tel Aviv Municipality.

The FASHION WEEK included most of leading Israeli fashion designers, who presented their fall and winter 2014-2015 collections and their summer 2014 collections, to the leaders of Israel’s fashion industry and buyers. For the first time, the FASHION WEEK also included global commercial buyers who were exposed to these collections in order to promote the expansion of Israeli fashion to the international market.

 

 

The event took place in a large tent especially designed and built for the occasion. The location will serve as the future Gindi Fashion Commercial Center, to be inaugurated a year from now, where the former Tel Aviv central market was once located.

The event, produced by Motti Reif with great style and taste, highlighted the new 2014-15 collections of the leading Israeli haute couture designers and professionals. The 3-day event included exotic models and artists; public response to the glamorous display was enormous and appreciative. A win-win opportunity for fashionistas and for buyers.

 

 

Among the designers presenting their collections were: Tamara Salem, Alembika, Daniella Lehavi, Sasson Kedem, Ronen Chen, Lee Grebenau, Dorin Frankfurt Raziela, Shai Shalom, Tovale, Yaron Minkowski and Gideon and Karen Oberson. Other collections were presented by the AMOR fashion chain and young designers from the Shenkar Academy of Engineering and Design.

 

The program began with Tamara Salem and the spectacular exhibition of the ONCE trademark. Tamara Salem, following a successful 20-year TV and radio career, studied design and opened a studio. This was her first exhibit. Another outstanding exhibit was that of the Italian fashion company MISSONI, represented by the AMOR fashion chain, which presented the 2014 Spring-Summer collection, and was honored with the presence of the Missoni family from Italy, and of Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of the Italian edition of Vogue magazine. The international star Noa Tishbi led the exhibit, which included some of the finest models. Another collection was that of the designer and actress Dorit Bar Or, “BAR DODO O”, inspired by 9th-century Islamic art, based on geometric and stylized figures.

 

The young designers presented their Upcoming Designers exhibit, in cooperation with the Israel Industry Association and ADIKA, Israel's leading fashion shopping website.

 

Nine young designers competed for the title of "Israel's Next Designer"; the winner was Rima Romano, who was also awarded a special scholarship from ADIKA. Among the judges were: Ilaria Norsa, fashion editor of Italian magazine Grazia, Teresa Missoni, daughter of Angela Missoni, the main designer of the Italian MISSONI fashion house, Valentina Micchetti, president of a leading public relations company in Milan, Marcelo Burlon, international DJ and fashion designer, Shoshana Ben Zur, top fashion designer and one of the founders of ADIKA, and Adi Ronen, her partner.

 

Photos Silvia G. Golan

 



 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Thursday, 13 March 2014), made the following comments during his visit, along with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, to the Teva plant in Jerusalem's Har Hotzvim industrial zone:

"At a time when the Teva plant in Ashdod is producing medicines that will be delivered to Gaza, they are firing rockets from there at innocent Israelis. So how can anybody not condemn the firing of these missiles deliberately at civilians? Precisely. Well, you're going see President Abbas soon, only a few minutes away, and unfortunately he didn't condemn the rocketing of our civilians. He condemned the fact that Israel interdicted and hit the three terrorists who fired mortars on us. That he did condemn. And that's wrong. I say we want to move to a genuine peace. To move to a genuine peace, we have to be very clear on our condemnation of terror and our support for the right to defend ourselves against terror. That is a crucial component of peace.

Our policy in the south is clear. We will strike at anyone who tries to attack us and will respond very forcefully to any attack. I would like to make it clear that whoever tries to attack our Purim celebrations  we will hit them strongly. We did not achieve the greatest quiet in the south in recent years for nothing; this is our policy. It would be worthwhile for terrorists in the Gaza Strip to start internalizing the fact that they have an issue here with a very determined government and a very strong military."

 The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron,  visited Yad Vashem on March 12, 2014.   He was accompanied by Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. The Prime Minister  visited the Hall of Names and the Museum of Holocaust Artparticipated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, and visited the Children’s Memorial.  At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Shalev presented the Prime Minister  the book, “Postcards to a Little Boy” telling the Kindertransport story of Henry Foner, who was sent to England from Germany when he was six.  Foner, now a resident of Jerusalem, was present.  

The Prime Minister visited Yad Vashem in 2007 as well.

During his visit to Yad Vashem , the Prime Minister  meet with members of the Holocaust Commission he formed in 2013.  Commissioners Mick Davis, Dame Helen Hyde DBE, Sir Peter Bazalgette, Natasha Kaplinsky, and Ben Helfgott MBE, are at Yad Vashem for study and discussions related to Holocaust education, commemoration and documentation during which they  meet with experts from Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, visited the Archives and heared about developments in research and the use of new media and the internet.  

During the Commissioners’ visit to Yad Vashem, a joint letter of intentbetween Yad Vashem and UK Holocaust centers, such as the Imperial War Museum, the Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and Genocide and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust,  signed by Mick Davis, Chair, Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, British Ambassador Matthew Gouldand Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.  The agreement, endorsed by the British Government, calls for greater cooperation between Yad Vashem and the British organizations, including seminars for educators at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies and bringing Yad Vashem educators to universities in the United Kingdom, research exchanges, joint academic workshops and fellowships.  

Photo Jorge Novominsky

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Prime Minister David Cameron and Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott visit the Hall of Names at Yad Vashem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Esther and Purim: Female leadership in Jewish national history

Dear Friends,

International Women's Day was held in the week before we celebrate the joyous Festival of Purim. The incidental calendar link between the two events is quite appropriate, because at the center of Purim is the celebration of a woman, the legendary heroine Queen Esther who saved the Children of Israel from genocide planned by the evil Haman.

The Bible recognizes many attributes and qualities of Esther. She combines "classic" and much-appreciated feminine attributes - great beauty, sensuality - with other qualities and virtues generally denied to women in ancient times: Esther was brave and intelligent; a genuinely sophisticated strategist who subtly persuades her husband King Achashverosh by transforming the actual danger his Grand Vizier Haman poses to their whole Persian Empire into a personal and intimate threat to the King himself.

In ancient societies and cultures, courage was generally associated exclusively with men. In the Biblical account, Esther is the person who places her own life in danger for her People, builds the plan of salvation and implements it, at least during its first phase. Judaism's recognition of her action is so large that the book of the Bible which narrates the salvation of the Jews in the vast Persian Empire[*] bears her name The Book of Esther, usually known as Megillat Esther ("The Scroll of Esther"), read in synagogues during Maariv and Shacharit prayers on Purim from manuscript scrolls that resemble actual Torah scrolls.

In an era in which Gender Studies are so popular in Western academia, it is appropriate to celebrate the millenniums-old traditional recognition of women in our Jewish sources. It is not just that women have been important personalities in our foundational books, from the Matriarchs (Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah) to Miriam in the Torah, or Yael and Hannah in the Books of the Prophets.  It is much more "revolutionary" when qualities typically attributed to male personalities are also recognized in women leaders,  such as courage and strategic thinking. We know well the courage of Yehoshua, Shimshon and King David, and the analytical thinking and leadership of Moshe, Shlomo and Ezra. The Bible reminds us that even 2,500 years ago, our People also venerates people like warrior priestess Devorah, the Prophetess Chuldah, and of course, our heroine, the central figure in the happiest Celebration in the Hebrew Calendar, Esther.

When we dress up, cheer as we listen to the reading of the Megillah and celebrate another joyous Purim this year, let us remember that the history of the Jewish Nation was forged by the actions of women and men who secured our future as a People; their legacy is that we are a nation restored, living today in our National Home.

May we meet in joy, in delight, in celebration, appreciating this glorious present in which we are blessed to live as a rebuilt Nation.

Let's all enjoy this Purim. We have much to celebrate!

With best wishes,

Chag Purim Sameach!

 

Chazak ve'ematz!

 

Rabbi Carlos A. Tapiero

Deputy Director-General & Director of Education

Maccabi World Union

 

Photo  MWU

 

 

 
3-5-2014



MOUNTAIN VIEW- Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today signed a broad agreement to develop joint projects and conduct mutually beneficial research in California and Israel.

"Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change," said Governor Brown.

The agreement will boost economic, cultural and academic cooperation between California and Israel, with an emphasis on water conservation, alternative energy, cybersecurity, health and biotechnology, education and agricultural technology.

The agreement will also enable Israeli companies to access California's Innovation Hubs (iHUB), an innovation network that includes 16 clusters of research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories, together with economic development organizations, business groups and venture capital funds.

Photo captions can be found below:

1.) Governor Brown (left) and Prime Minister Netanyahu (right) sign memorandum of understanding. Photo Credit: Justin Short, Office of the Governor.

2.) Governor Brown delivers remarks at meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu (left). Photo Credit: Justin Short, Office of the Governor. 

3.) Governor Brown (left) and Prime Minister Netanyahu (right) sign memorandum of understanding. Photo Credit: Justin Short, Office of the Governor.

For high resolution copies of these photos, please contact Danella Debel, Office of the Governor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The agreement, signed today, is copied below:

Memorandum of Understanding On the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership for Joint Innovation, Exchanges and Cooperation Between The Government of the State of California, United States of America And The Government of the State of Israel

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA (hereinafter "the Participants") RECOGNIZE THAT:

WHEREAS, two-way trade between Israel and California totaled over $4 billion in 2013 - one of the largest two-way trade relationships between Israel and a U.S. State; and

WHEREAS, the State of California and the State of Israel share close ties and are global leaders in the alternative energy, environmental technology, and other technology-based industry sectors; and

WHEREAS, the State of California is home to the largest in-state innovation network in the United States, which offers technology-commercialization opportunities for the State of Israel; and

WHEREAS, the Participants seek to expand the current level of cooperation between Israel and California in, but not limited to, alternative energy, environmental technology, health, food and agriculture and other technology based industry sectors, business innovation, research and development.

THEREFORE, IT IS DECLARED AS FOLLOWS:

The Participants hereby sign this Memorandum of Understanding for the purposes of establishing a formal relationship between them to foster economic cooperation and economic development, facilitate joint industrial research and development, and enhance business relationships and educational opportunities to foster job creation and incubate global solutions from joint California-Israel innovation initiatives.

To achieve these aims:

1. The Participants intend to seek to convene bilateral, interagency and inter-ministerial working groups with international expertise to coordinate initiatives.

2. The Participants plan to facilitate collaborations between Israeli and Californian entrepreneurs and researchers through (though not exclusively limited to) the California innovation hub (iHub) network - a network consisting of self-funded, collaborative regional innovation clusters, uniting government, universities, foundations, national labs and the private sector.


3. The Participants intend to support and encourage their people and competent authorities to further develop interpersonal contacts and exchanges, and to promote mutual cooperation, understanding, and friendship by encouraging ad hoc task forces, trade delegations, and professional exchanges between Israel and California in key sectors including, but not limited to:

a.) Water Conservation and Management

b.) Alternative Energy and related Clean Technologies

c.) Health and Biotechnology Solution

d.) CyberSecurity

e.) Arts & Culture

f.) Education

g.) Agricultural Technologies

4. The Participants intend to support and encourage the creation of public-private partnerships between Californian and Israeli entities in these areas of economic development, social entrepreneurship, or academic research related to the above activities.

5. The Participants intend to support and encourage the strengthening of sister city programs between Israeli and California cities, which are designed to enhance opportunities for cultural and educational exchanges, economic partnerships, and social entrepreneurship on the local level.

6. The Participants intend to encourage collaboration between California and Israeli universities, public and private research institutions.

This Memorandum of Understanding is intended to become effective on the date it is signed and does not create any legally binding rights or obligations for either Participant. This Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Mountain View on the 5th day of March, 2014, corresponding to the 3rd day of Adar II of 5774.





_____________________ 




EDMUND G. BROWN JR. 
Governor of California 
United States of America 




__________________________


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
Prime Minister
State of Israel 

 

President Peres said:

"Women are unjustly deprived both in salary and working posts."

"I call all employers and managers in the market to hire and promote women into important managerial posts."

"I can testify that women are excellent managers, and are often preferable to male managers."

Honoring the International Woman's Day and referring to the publication of the report of the State Comptroller ((מבקר המדינה, which pointed out severe findings concerning the discrimination of women in the public sector, President Shimon Peres assembled the important female managers of his residence and the holders of the main posts, which have become examples of the combination of a significant career with motherhood. The female managers arrived to the presidential residence together with the babies and children born during Peres' presidential term. This event was intended to convey a clear message that it is possible to combine managerial work with motherhood, ant that working women are not to be discriminated in Israel.

During this unusual meeting, President Peres called all employers in the market and senior managers in the public service to hire and promote women into important managerial posts. He said: "The report of the State Comptroller just published shows an annoying reality in which women do not receive the full conditions required to manage a career combined with family life. Unfortunately, women are unjustly deprived both in salary and working posts. In this residence women work and manage, and perform excellently. Their work is a blessing to the people, and we men must acknowledge this fact. I call for the integration of women in managerial, not for them but for all. Women are responsible, thoughtful and devoted, and if we want to progress as a nation we must present equality between men and women in managerial posts, working conditions and all other terms involved."

 

Photo Amos Ben Gershon  GPO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Sunday, March 2, a Magen David Adom (MDA) station was opened in El'ad. The station has been made possible by a donation from the Friends of Magen David Adom in the Netherlands. It is the second station donated by the Dutch MDA friends within six months. Over the past few years, MDA's friends from the Netherlands helped to build and renovate several stations, made possible by Dutch donors from Jewish as well as Christian backgrounds.

The ambassador of the Netherlands, Caspar Veldkamp, was one of the speakers at the opening. He emphasized the role of civil society in the relations between the Netherlands and Israel: 'The relationship between our two countries is not only a relationship between governments or private sector companies. It is not a relationship that only revolves around policy statements or business deals. It is first and foremost a relationship between two societies. It involves associations, foundations, private non-profit initiatives, and even individual volunteers: a relationship from people to people. It is not designed top-down; it is driven from the bottom up.'

Last October, the ambassador was also present at the opening of an MDA station in Fureidis. He was pleased to welcome the Friends of the MDA from the Netherlands again.

El'ad's new Magen David Adom station will improve medical and ambulance services in and around the town. The emergency response will be faster and more efficient. 'Good health services are essential for any town and even more so in El'ad, which is one of the fastest growing towns in Israel', said ambassador Veldkamp.

The opening was attended by many inhabitants of the town, mayor Rabbi Israel Porush, local rabbi's, members of the MDA leadership and a delegation of the Friends of the MDA from the Netherlands, including chairperson Dr. Marjan Sprecher.

 

Photo provided by Netherlands Embassy 

 

 

On December 3, 2013, al-Sharq al-Awsat published a political cartoon featuring three creatures: two of them, symbolizing 2013 and 2014, were trapeze artists swinging a third creature between them. The third creature, "the Arab Spring," slipped from the 2013 creature's hands while the 2014 creature makes a futile attempt to catch it. Indeed, three years after the eruption of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, their outcomes are still pending. Egypt is threatened by the return of violence and economic crisis, following the restoration of a military-dominated regime. In Libya, a weak coalition government is unable to govern or control the hundreds of militias that have mushroomed since Qaddafi's fall. Yemen and Syria are torn by sectarian wars and terrorism. Only Tunisia, following the adoption of a new constitution after two years of negotiations between the Islamist and secular bloc and the establishment of technocratic government, has achieved tangible success and avoided sliding into civil strife. However, the cartoon not only reflects the gloomy outcomes of the Arab Spring uprisings but also the ambiguous situation of Islamist movements, who initially seemed to be the big winners, from the Muslim Brotherhood, to al-Qaʿida affiliated jihadist groups and "al-Qaʿida Central."

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood came to power democratically, through the ballot box in 2012, more than 80 years after its founding and following decades of repression. However, a year later it lost much of the public's trust, and on July 3, 2013 president Muhammad Morsi was removed from office by a resurgent military leadership backed by massive popular protests. While in office the Brotherhood sought to implement their long-term radical agenda, as had been forecast by the Hudson Institute's Samuel Tadros. The Brotherhood's declared commitment to democratic rule proved to be merely tactical.[1] It attempted to appropriate the powers of the Egyptian state structure and exclude all other political elements, and in the process alienated secular and salafi supporters alike. It also failed to stop the country's economic deterioration. The Muslim Brotherhood's failure exposed internal divisions within the movement as well as its inclination to violence.[2] Faced with the renewed ban on its activities and its designation as a terrorist organization, the Brotherhood appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in London to take action against the Egyptian authorities, an act that was contrary to its underlying views but demonstrated its desperation.[3]

The Brotherhood's Tunisian counterpart, al-Nahda, committed similar mistakes in power, and turned a blind eye to the activity of the militant Ansar al-Shariʿa group. But after realizing its mistakes, it sought to come to terms with other political and cultural movements, favoring the welfare of the state over the party's narrow, short-term interests. In January 2014, it relinquished the premiership, and forged an agreement with non-Islamist factions on a new constitution in advance of general elections. By doing so, according to liberal Lebanese commentator Hazim Saghiya, it saved itself and strengthened the prospects for political stability during Tunisia's crucial transitional phase.[4]

The crackdown on the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood weakened the movement's branches across the region – for example, the Palestinian Hamas and the Islamic Front in Jordan – but strengthened al-Qaʿida inspired Egyptian Islamist groups, such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. Until Morsi's fall, these groups confined their terrorist activities to the Sinai Peninsula but subsequently intensified their activities against military targets in Sinai and against individual officials and public spaces in Egypt's Nile heartland.[5] Since Morsi's overthrow, there have been 260 terror attacks in the Sinai Peninsula alone, according to the Brookings Institute's Bruce Riedel, and more are taking place in Egyptian cities every day. Riedel claims that al-Qaʿida's brightest prospects are probably in Egypt, because the restoration of military dictatorship is driving the extremists in the Muslim Brotherhood through al-Qaʿida's open doors and validating the movement's ideology and narrative in the eyes of jihadists everywhere.[6]

The removal of Morsi gave Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama Bin Ladin's successor as head of al-Qaʿida Central since June 2011, an opportunity to reiterate his belief in jihad as the only way for regime change in Egypt. Morsi's ousting, he stated, provided proof that Islamic rule could not be established through democracy, and he urged his followers to abandon the ballot box in favor of armed resistance. He also criticized Islamists for losing power in Egypt and not uniting to implement shariʿa. He concluded by declaring defiantly that "the battle isn't over, it has just started...the Islamic nation should offer victims and sacrifices to achieve what it wants and restore power from the corrupt authority governing Egypt."[7]

Indeed, the battle is not over, and has in fact been raging in numerous spots throughout the Middle East and Africa, as the Islamic umma (or community of Muslims) is "offering up victims and sacrifices" on a daily basis. Al-Qaʿida-affiliated groups have sought to fill the vacuum created by weakened state authority across the region and create operational bases across the Arab world. They have expanded their activities in weak and failed states, such as Yemen and Libya, and in states where civil war has erupted, such as Syria, and now in Egypt.

Syria seems to have turned into a magnet for jihadist groups, perhaps even replacing Afghanistan, says Riedel, and al-Qaʿida-affiliates have emerged throughout the Fertile Crescent. In Iraq, where it was wrongly proclaimed as defeated by the U.S. "surge" in 2007, al-Qaʿida has reemerged and is more deadly than ever under the banner of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shaʿm (ISIS)[al-Dawla al-Islamiyya fi al-ʿIraq wal-Shaʿm or, its acronym, "daesh"].[8] ISIS gave birth to a Syrian franchise, Jabhat al-Nusra li ahl al-Shaʿm ("Support Front for the Greater Syrian People"), which boasts of having attracted 15,000-20,000 fighters from across the Muslim world, including a few hundred from Europe.

ISIS arrived in Syria to help the Syrian rebels remove Bashar al-Asad's regime, but soon found itself at odds with the other rebel groups. Its followers attacked rebel bases to capture supplies and seized control of scattered areas in the north of Syria, forcefully competing with Jabhat al-Nusra, its own offspring, and imposing its Islamist Taliban-like values in areas under its control. Moreover, it collided with Hizballah forces and tried to export the civil war into Lebanon by carrying out terrorist attacks, thus exacerbating Sunni-Shiʿi sectarian violence. In the beginning of January 2014, ISIS was dealt a severe blow by the Islamic Front and had to withdraw from many of its outposts in northern Syria.

Striving to remain relevant and reinforce his authority over the organization's affiliated groups, Ayman al-Zawahiri intervened in May 2013 to resolve a dispute between the emir of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, and the emir of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had announced the merger of the two groups a few weeks earlier, claiming that the Front was "merely an extension and part of the Islamic State of Iraq." Julani had rejected Baghdadi's move and reaffirmed his oath of allegiance to Zawahiri directly, although he previously operated in ISIS. In a letter issued on May 23, 2013 and publicized two weeks later, Zawahiri ruled against the merger, called on members of both groups to refrain from infighting, and named Abu Khalid al-Suri, a Syrian commander from Aleppo and a longtime al-Qaʿida operative sprung from a Syrian prison following the rebellion's outbreak in 2011, as a personal emissary "to oversee the implementation" of the accord [on February 23, it was announced that al-Suri had been killed in a suicide attack by ISIS].[9]

Al-Baghdadi defied Zawahiri again in January 2014, when he was directed to withdraw his forces from Syria. Subsequently, Zawahiri repudiated ISIS, which, in turn broke with al-Qaʿida Central at the beginning of February.[10] Al-Qaʿida Central has experienced similar problems with al-Shabaab in Somalia and al-Qaʿida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Zawahiri's control over the disparate and diffuse operations of al-Qaʿida-affiliated, or inspired, groups and individuals remains limited. William McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution even argues that Zawahiri has mismanaged al-Qaʿida, and that the global jihad movement has turned on itself. "Paradoxically," he wrote, "one major reason that al Qaeda affiliates are not getting along is the great many opportunities before them... As they move in, they often disagree about who is in charge."[11] In any case, Zawahiri's recent moves seem to suggest that he has tried to exploit the persistent internal fractures and infighting between the jihadist groups in Syria and elsewhere to reassert his own authority.

Analysts are divided as to the Islamists' future prospects. Some have declared that "the Arab Spring had been killed,"[12] that Islamism "is conquering the world,"[13] and has "seized back the crucial edge in the battle for the soul of Islam."[14] Others draw comfort from the divisions and internecine hostilities among Islamists, and claim that Islamism is in disarray.[15] Three years after the outbreak of the Arab uprisings, jihadist groups are prima facie emerging as the primary beneficiaries of the revolutionary upheaval, although it is too early to determine whether the fate of the revolutions and the Arab states has been sealed.

Esther Webman is a Senior Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies and the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University. She is head of the Zeev Vered Desk for the Study of Tolerance and Intolerance in the Middle East.

[1] Samuel Tadros, "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood After the Revolution," Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Volume 12, October 18, 2011, http://www.currenttrends.org/research/detail/egypts-muslim-brotherhood-after-the-revolution.

[2] al-Safir, January 28, 2014, http://www.assafir.com/#!/ArticleWindow.aspx?ChannelID=1&ArticleID=335730; al-Ahram Weekly, December 19, 2013, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/4983/21/Abusive-opposition.aspx.

[3] Reham Mokbel, "Egypt's Brotherhood appeals to International Criminal Court," Al-Monitor, January 20, 2014, http://www.almonitor.com/pulse/fa/contents/articles/originals/2014/01/egypt-brotherhood-internationalize-cause-icc.html.

[4] al-Hayat, October 8, 2013, http://alhayat.com/OpinionsDetails/559620.

[5] al-Hayat, November 23, 2013, http://alhayat.com/home/Print/575117?PrintPictures=0.

[6] Bruce Riedel, "The continuing evolution of al-Qaeda 3.0," Al-Monitor, January 3, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/al-qaeda-terror-spread-iraq-lebanon.html##ixzz2s4xzv1Pj.

[7] Associated Press, August 3, 2013, http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/al-qaida-leader-egypts-morsi-abandoned-jihad-19860482; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/03/ayman-al-zawahri-egypt_n_3701385.html; Daily News, August 6, 2013.

[8] Bruce Riedel, "The continuing evolution of al-Qaeda 3.0," Al-Monitor, January 3, 2014, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/al-qaeda-terror-spread-iraq-lebanon.html##ixzz2s4xzv1Pj.

[9] The Long War Journal, June 10, 2013, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/06/analysis_alleged_let.php#ixzz2bq4kJZGX; al-Jazeera, June 9, 2013, http://m.aljazeera.com/story/2013699425657882.

[10] Washington Post, February 3;Daily Star, Haaretz, February 4, 2014.

[11] William McCants, "How Zawahiri Lost al Qaeda. global jihad turned on itself," Foreign Affairs, November 19, 2013, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140273/william-mccants/how-zawahiri-lost-al-qaeda.

[12] Ghasan Shirbil, "Man qatala 'al-rabiʻ," al-Hayat, December 16, 2013, http://alhayat.com/OpinionsDetails/582564.

[13] Joseph Croitoru, "Bualem Sansal's Essay on Islamisation. Fighting Islamists with Conspiracy Theories," January 27, 2014, http://en.qantara.de/print/17486.

[14] Memri, "Indian Columnist Hasan Suroor on 'Existential Crisis Facing Islam'," Special Dispatch No. 5617, January 26, 2014, http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/840/7781.htm.

[15] See for example, Daniel Pipes, "Islamism Likely Doom," The Washington Times, July 22, 2013, http://p.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/22/islamisms-likely-doom/; and "Islamism is in disarray," January 3, 2014, http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/2013/10/islamism-in-disarray.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TEL AVIV NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

 

45 religious leaders from Judaism, Christianity and Islam in Argentina plant carob trees at the Yad Kennedy Memorial Planting Center.
For the group of 45 religious leaders from Argentina on an interfaith mission in Israel, the planting of three carob trees at the KKL-JNF Yad Kennedy Memorial Planting Center was a symbol of their dedication to the ideals of peace, coexistence and tolerance. The trip was organized by the Latin American Jewish Congress,  and also included a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a visit to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah and an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican.


Ceremony participants. Photo: Rafi Ben Hakun, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

 
“Planting a tree here has a very deep significance. It is something mystical,” said Father Guillermo Marco, Director of Service at the Pastoral University and former spokesman for Pope Francis when he was Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, noting that Jesus too spoke of the special role of trees: when a seed is planted, birds find refugee in the tree which grows from it and people seek its shade. “One never knows what grows from the seed that is planted. Our desire here too is to plant peace for the future. And the fact that we have done it here, all together is meaningful.” 


KKL-JNF board member Hernan Felman greets participants as they come off the bus. Photo: Rafi Ben Hakun, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Speaking at the ceremony prior to planting the trees, Pedro Jose Abrahan noted that Muslim Prophet Mohammed also gave great importance to trees, stating that not even in cases of war must trees be destroyed. 

“I am privileged to be a part of this group of the three monotheistic faiths. And here we are pioneers saying that we are able to live together. With dialogue all is possible and can be built with love and desire. I hope this act can be a small contribution to something that will come to  fruition and will give shade not only to us but to our children as well.” 

The group was welcomed by KKL-JNF board member Hernan Felman

“Just as I am sure that you and the people you represent all want a better world, so too KKL-JNF is busy on a daily basis trying to better the world,” he said. He noted that Israel is the only place in the world that has more trees in the 21st century than it did in the 20th century, with KKL-JNF having planted and cared for 240 million trees. Some 80 percent of Israel’s agriculture is irrigated by water which has been purified, recycled or stored by KKL-JNF, he added and KKL-JNF has built countless trails and paths for hikers and cyclists, beautifying the country. 
“In your important work you are also building trails of coexistence,” he said. 


Planting a tree. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

Lucas Randle, president of Un Techo Para Mi Pais, a nonprofit group which mobilizes youth volunteers to combat poverty, said that only after they return to Argentina will the group be able to realize the magnitude of what their trip has accomplished. 

“Dialogue opens hearts to be able to understand and love each other as Jesus tells us Christians,” he said. 

Jorge Tellerman, President of the Cultural Institute of the Province of Buenos Aires, recalled that as almost the only Jewish child in his neighborhood, he organized his non-Jewish friends to help collect money to send to KKL-JNF in Israel to plant trees after his parents and grandparents told him about the importance of the little KKL-JNF blue box they kept in their home. 

“The idea of peace, community and coexistence needs to be constructed, it is not a given,” he said. “I hope this will allow us to duplicate and multiply our efforts.” 

Among those invited to take part in the special trip was KKL-JNF Argentina president Adolfo Filarent. He was happy to see the work that KKL-JNF has accomplished in Israel.
“This is our small contribution to support the ideals of interreligious dialogue and coexistence,” he said. 

Rabbi Daniel Goldman, of the Bet El Community in Buenos Aires, noted that planting trees was a natural extension of their ideals: “Our work is to plant understanding and we hope to harvest what we plant.” 

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, who was recently elected to serve in the Argentina National Congress, the first rabbi outside of Israel to serve in a government, noted that KKL-JNF was based on concepts of rabbinical teaching. 


View from Yad Kennedy. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

“I think this act speaks of transcendence,” he said. “We are finite; we are part of a chain. KKL-JNF predates the creation of the state and this land was promised in peace. The three Abrahamic faiths are here, for peace. Just like a tree has to be cared for, so too does peace need to be nurtured.” 

Omar Abboud noted that the act of planting a tree with friends of all three faiths was a very emotional experience. 

“It is a reminder to always give a place for growth, but more importantly it is important to see this fundamental and ethical work of planting a tree for the environment,” he said. 

The hope is that such a diverse religious group, meeting with government and religious representatives in the region can serve as an example that coexistence is possible, concluded Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress. 

“And planting trees together with KKL-JNF is something that we are doing not just for ourselves, but for coming generations. It is our way of connecting to the future,” he said.

 

On 25 February 2014, the Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel held the fifth round of intergovernmental consultations in Jerusalem. One of the main topics discussed by the participants was marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany in the year 2015.

In the run-up to the consultations the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Germany and Israel, in cooperation with Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design launched a logo design competition. Mixed couples of German and Israeli students worked together on creative proposals for a jubilee year logo. A total number of 18 proposals were submitted out of which a joint Israeli-German committee chose the logo which was designed by Mr. Ariel Wollek and Ms. Ticha Matting. They explained that they had created the logo having two meanings in mind. It can be perceived as a bow tie representing the diplomatic relations, but it can also be perceived as the symbol of infinity, envisioning the future of our relations and its full potential.

On 25 February 2014, the Governments of the Federal Republic of Germany and the State of Israel held the fifth round of intergovernmental consultations in Jerusalem. One of the main topics discussed by the participants was marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany in the year 2015.

In the run-up to the consultations the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Germany and Israel, in cooperation with Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design launched a logo design competition. Mixed couples of German and Israeli students worked together on creative proposals for a jubilee year logo. A total number of 18 proposals were submitted out of which a joint Israeli-German committee chose the logo which was designed by Mr. Ariel Wollek and Ms. Ticha Matting. They explained that they had created the logo having two meanings in mind. It can be perceived as a bow tie representing the diplomatic relations, but it can also be perceived as the symbol of infinity, envisioning the future of our relations and its full potential.

 

 
"Sderot has a special place in the hearts of the Jewish people, and this park helps paint the city green."
The new Azrieli Park, a gift to Sderot from the Azrieli Foundation of Canada-Israel, was dedicated at a special ceremony in Sderot on Thursday, February 20. Participating in the ceremony were members of the 2014 JNF Canada Staff Mission, who came straight from the airport; Dana and Stephanie Azrieli, Sderot mayor Alon Davidi; KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler; KKL-JNF Director General Meir Shpiegler; JNF Canada CEO Josh Cooper; Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division Avi Dickstein; KKL-JNF Southern Region staff, and residents of Sderot.
Unveiling the sign (L-R): Sderot Mayor Ilan Davidi, KKL-JNF Director General Meir Shpiegler, Dana Azrieli, 
JNF Canada CEO Josh Cooper, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, Stephanie Azrieli, 
& KKL-JNF Southern Region Deputy Director Eran Etner. Photo: Tania Susskind
"Sderot has a special place in the hearts of the Jewish people, and this park helps paint the city green," said KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler at the dedication of the new Azrieli Park in Sderot. 


The donor sign for the Azrieli Foundation of Canada-Israel in the brand new park. Photo: Tania Susskind

Stenzler noted that the cornerstone for the park was laid two years ago. "KKL-JNF views urban parks as very important. The greenery absorbs dust and pollution from the air, and lowers the temperature. Parks also bring economic benefits, raising the value of local real estate and closing the gap between Israel's center and the peripheral regions. I want to thank the Azrieli family for their generous contribution, which has helped improve quality of life for the residents of Sderot. This park will be the pride of the city, and it strengthens the Negev and Sderot." 

The new park, which is located in the center of the city, includes spacious green lawns, trees, benches, picnic tables, playground equipment and more. Philanthropist and architect David Azrieli, who built the iconic Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv and founded the Azrieli Foundation, was involved in every detail of the planning, making sure that the park was built according to the high standards he sets for all his projects. 


Cutting the ribbon. Photo: Israel Malovani, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

 Alon Davidi, the mayor of Sderot, said that his city was a very quiet and beautiful place, "when missiles aren't raining down on us. I came to Sderot from Beersheba twenty years ago, and I remember this area as a neglected dirt lot. We want to attract more young people, and this park will help transform our city's future." 

 Dana Azrieli, who was at the ceremony together with her mother Stephanie, spoke on behalf of the Azrieli family. "Our feeling is that you people have our backs. We donors can give money, but it's KKL-JNF that makes it happen. Our donation on behalf of Sderot is an expression of our optimism, of our belief in the future. It's a pleasure to be partners of KKL-JNF – you are professionals, and I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to give." 


Talking with local schoolchildren in the park. Photo: Israel Malovani, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

 Josh Cooper, CEO of JNF Canada and head of the Canadian mission, thanked the Azrieli family, "which is well-known and respected in Canada for the impact they've had on Israel. On behalf of JNF Canada, I want to tell the mayor and the people of Sderot that we'll always be here for you, whether it's building a water reservoir, portable bomb shelters, or this magnificent park. I saw this lot in the past and can't believe what a beautiful site it's become." 

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, the visitors went for a walk through the new park. The guests from Canada showed no signs of jetlag, even though they had just gotten off the plane. The mission includes 19 senior JNF Canada directors, some of whom are in Israel for the first time. The focus is on past, present and future KKL-JNF projects in the Negev, since the last mission concentrated on northern Israel. "JNF is growing in Canada in terms of both awareness and popularity," Josh Cooper said, "and young people are very interested in what we're doing. Prime Minister Harper was the honoree at this year's Negev Dinner in Toronto, which was attended by over 4,000 people." 

 Lynda Taller-Wakter, Executive Director of JNF Ottawa and Atlantic Canada, said that besides activities in Ottawa, she was encouraging a renaissance of JNF activity in Atlantic Canada, which has a population of about 3,000 Jews. "We're planning a Negev Dinner in May in Halifax for the first time in 25 years. Jim Spatz, a philanthropist and community developer, will be our honoree. We're looking forward to a nice turnout of the entire Atlantic business community, who will be there to support Jim." 

Jay Cairns, Executive Director of JNF Edmonton and Western Canada said that his mother served as executive director for twenty-five years, and his father was a JNF honoree way back in 1954, "so I guess you could say we have JNF in our family. We're especially looking for people aged 30-50, and we need to talk in a language that appeals to them. For example, before Tu Bishvat, I said that this is a holiday that's uniquely Jewish, uniquely universal and uniquely human. What's special about KKL-JNF is that besides the activities that the organization is traditionally associated with, they're also involved in fields such as research and development, and KKL-JNF's know-how and expertise are freely shared with countries around the world. This is a message that speaks to everyone."
 
"Israeli know-how can contribute to Serbia and many other countries in the world."
Members of an agricultural delegation from Serbia who are currently visiting Israel planted trees at the KKL-JNF tree planting center in Nachshon Forest. Mr. Dan Oryan, director of the Balkan States Department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Jana Marcus of KKL-JNF's European Desk also participated in the ceremony.


Agricultural delegation from Serbia in Nachshon Forest. Photo: Yoav Devir


"Israel is one of the most advanced countries in the world in agricultural technology, and we hope that we will be able to take advantage of what we learned here back home," said Pavle Pustajic, director of the Vojvodina Agricultural Producers Association, during the ceremony. 


Anemones bloom in February in the fields around the Nachshon Planting Center. Photo: Yoav Devir

KKL-JNF forester Eran Zabadi, who is responsible for the tree planting center, greeted the approximately 40 guests. He told them about the importance ofplanting trees in Jewish tradition since the time of Abraham until today. "I know that Serbia is rich in forests, but try to imagine it without trees," he said. "This was the situation here in Israel until KKL-JNF began planting. We have planted over 240 million trees until now." 

After a short explanation about how to plant, Zabadi took the delegation to the planting area. Due to the dry winter Israel is experiencing, the planting took place in the summer section, which has an irrigation system that helps the young saplings to take root. The farmers, who had heard a great deal about Israeli innovation in irrigation, were very interested in the drip irrigation system that watered the tree holes. 


Sterbik Isvan with his daughter Laura. Photo: Yoav Devir

Sterbik Isvan joined the delegation together with his fifteen-year old daughter Laura. "I didn't know much about Israel beforehand," Laura said. "Your country is very different than Serbia, but it's beautiful and fascinating." Her father, who grows grains, said that for him, it's not just another enjoyable tourist trip, but first and foremost, a riveting professional visit. 

The members of the delegation began to plant trees in the designated area. "We can already start organizing our next vacation, to see how our trees are doing," said one of the members of the delegation to loud laughter from everyone else. 

The delegation's visit was coordinated with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Dan Oryan, director of the Balkan States Department, noted that Israel invests a great deal in strengthening ties with the Balkan countries, particularly with Serbia. "There is a huge potential for deepening our relationship in the fields of agriculture and water management, among others," Oryan said. "Cooperation with KKL-JNF is very important professionally and also as a means of providing an unforgettable experience of planting trees in Israel." 


Pine sapling watered by drip irrigation. Photo: Yoav Devir

Ohad Avital, an Israeli businessman who is active in agriculture in Serbia, was one of the initiators and organizers of the group. "Israeli know-how can contribute to Serbia and many other countries in the world," he said. "Getting to know Israel on a personal level gives added value." 

Delegation member Slobodan Birovljevexpressed his certainty that as a result of the visit, new collaborations between the countries will materialize. "We came to Israel in order to learn, to become better acquainted with your country, and to strengthen ties between us," he said. 

Jana Marcus from KKL-JNF's European Desk thanked the guests at the end of their visit. "I am happy that you came to support us and that you were impressed by our achievements." 

Two new rows of tree saplings now stand proudly at the tree planting center, the fruits of the labor of the Serbian guests. Before the group left, the drip irrigation system was already watering the saplings on the hot and sunny day, ensuring their successful and rapid acclimation in the Israeli soil.
The box that built a country.
A sculpture of the iconic Blue Box was dedicated at the Ruppin Academic Center near Netanya by KKL-JNF on Wednesday, February 19, to honor the memory of David, Gita and Michael Hoffman of Perth, Western Australia, whose legacy and generous support of KKL-JNF's atcivities made the contribution of the sculpture possible.


Unveiling the Blue Box sculpture. Photo: Ancho Gosh, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

 
"There could be no better place for a sculpture of the KKL-JNF Blue Box than the campus of an academic center named for Arthur Ruppin, one of the founding fathers of Jewish agricultural settlement in the Land of Israel," said KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler at the dedication ceremony of a Blue Box sculpture at the Ruppin Academic Center in memory of David, Gita and Michael Hoffman of Perth in Western Australia


Efi Stenzler visits marine wildlife being studied at Ruppin College, accompanied by Prof. Shosh Arad. Photo: Ancho Gosh, KKL-JNF Photo Archive

The day began with a tour of the Ruppin School of Marine Sciences, which is situated on a separate campus on the Michmoret shore. Mr. Stenzler was accompanied by the heads of the Ruppin Academic Center, including Professor Shosh Arad, the president of Ruppin; Mr. Raanan Dinur, chairman of the Executive Committee; Professor Amnon Caspi, and others. Senior KKL-JNF brass included Meir Shpiegler, KKL-JNF Director General; Avi Dickstein, Executive Director of the KKL-JNF Resources, Development and PR Division; David Brand, Chief Forester; Ze'ev Kedem, director of the KKL-JNF Fundraising Department; Haim Messing, KKL-JNF Central Region Director, and others. 

The Ruppin Academic Center School of Marine Sciences was established in 1997 under the academic patronage of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The school, which is the only one of its kind in Israel, trains its students in fields related to the sea, the marine environment and marine technology. The KKL-JNF senior brass visited laboratories with flowing sea water and marine agriculture laboratories, learning about sophisticated molecular biology research and other related topics. 

At the main campus, the group toured the green lawns that are dotted with environmental sculptures, all of which were designed by new immigrant artists. They then proceeded to the Academic Center's library, which will be dedicated in June in memory of the donors, along with an information centre for the conservation of the environment, which will feature KKL-JNF educational and research publications, along with a display of KKL-JNF ecological achievements. 


Ranaan Dinur. Photo: Tania Susskind

Speaking at the ceremony dedicating the Blue Box sculpture, Ranaan Dinur saidthat "those of us who went to school during the 1950s had a shared icon that was very different from those that are popular today – the KKL-JNF Blue Box. It expressed an ethical infrastructure that was characteristic of that time in our history – a nation that valued modesty, dedication and equality. The Ruppin Academic Center has adopted these values and seeks to implement them in a manner appropriate for this time and place, including environmental awareness and responding to Israel's many social challenges. 

"Today, we still seek new horizons, and we have turned our gaze in the direction of the sea. Ben Gurion said that 'if someone stakes a claim on even one corner of the sea, the entire ocean will reveal itself to that person.' I invite KKL-JNF to be part of this pioneering project. I would also like to thank the donors, KKL-JNF and its chairman Efi Stenzler, for their support of the Ruppin Academic Center. I look forward to seeing you again in June, when representatives of the donors will be here and we will officially dedicate the library and environmental information center." 


Efi Stenzler presents Prof. Shosh Arad with a KKL-JNF Blue Box Certificate. Photo: Tania Susskind

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler noted that during the 1920s, "KKL-JNF purchased the swamp lands of Emek Hefer, drained them and made them suitable for human habitation. We have continued to be active in this region, promoting projects such as the Bachan water reservoir and therestoration of the Alexander River, with the help of our friends throughout the world. 

"Everything we have accomplished began with a small blue box that built a country. KKL-JNF is committed to ensuring that the building and development of Israel, which is what the Blue Box symbolizes, will continue. We now face a new frontier, the sea. Marine research is critical for a country with a Mediterranean coastline, in terms of the environment and even marine agriculture. KKL-JNF is interested in working together with Ruppin in this field, and who knows, maybe bread will come not only from the earth, but also from the ocean!" 

The Ruppin Academic Center was founded in 1949 in order to provide administrative education for Israel's agricultural settlements. In addition to the School of Social Sciences and Management, the Center operates schools of engineering and marine sciences, with 14 academic departments awarding undergraduate and graduate degrees, and a total of some 4,500 students.

 

Chairman Sharansky: "We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine's Jews"

JERUSALEM – Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky announced this evening (Saturday, February 22) that The Jewish Agency will extend immediate emergency assistance to the Jewish community of Ukraine and will help secure Jewish institutions in the country.

"The Jewish community of Ukraine, which counts some 200,000 members, is one of most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions. Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions' security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine's Jews," said Sharansky.

Speaking to Jewish Agency leadership, including Chairman Sharansky, Jewish communal leaders in Ukraine have voiced concerns about the community's security due to recent events. "We are in constant contact with the leadership of the Ukrainian Jewish community and are following the events closely. The Jewish Agency's assistance aims to increase security at Jewish communal institutions in Ukraine," said Sharansky.

The immediate assistance will come from The Jewish Agency's Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities. The fund was established in the wake of the horrific March 2012 terror attack in Toulouse, in which a Jewish teacher and three Jewish schoolchildren were murdered. Though most of world Jewry lives in physical safety, the fund provides financial assistance to Jewish communities that have security concerns, strengthening security measures and helping to ensure that Jewish life takes places in safety. The fund has thus far extended some $4 million in financial assistance, helping to ensure the security of some 50 communities in 25 countries, including communities in South Africa, Greece, Brazil, Argentina, and elsewhere. The fund is now in need of replenishment.

Dr. Misha Galperin, President and CEO of Jewish Agency International Development, said: "The Jewish Agency had established the Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities two years ago. We are seeking to replenish the fund now in order to extend additional help to the Ukrainian Jewish communities and strengthen their safety and security measures."

The Ukrainian Jewish community is one of the largest Jewish communities in the world, with some 200,000 members. Most Jews reside in the capital, Kiev, and there are thriving communities in Odessa, Lvov, and Dnepropetrovsk. During 70 years of Communist rule, Jewish gatherings were prohibited in Ukraine, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Jewish institutions began to develop in the country, transforming the Jewish community. Today, Ukraine is host to a vibrant Jewish community with dozens of communal institutions, including synagogues, schools, yeshivas, seminaries, and organizations specializing in extending assistance to the needy and empowering the younger generation.

The Jewish Agency has long been active in Ukraine, strengthening the community's ties to Israel and the Jewish world and assisting those who wish to immigrate to Israel. Some 2,000 community members make Aliyah (immigrate to Israel) each year, and tens of thousands participate in Jewish Agency activities, including Hebrew classes, summer camps, and such Israel experience programs as Taglit-Birthright Israel and Masa Israel Journey. Some 330,000 Ukrainian Jews have made Aliyah since the collapse of the Soviet Union, including some 2,200 last year.

The Jewish Agency's activities surrounding the situation in Ukraine will be discussed by the organization's Board of Governors, which will convene in Tel Aviv between Sunday and Tuesday of this week (February 23-25). The Board of Governors, which is composed of hundreds of Jewish communal and organizational leaders from Israel and around the world, will discuss the challenges facing Israel and the Jewish people and will determine the organization's activities in light of those challenges.

 

 

 

 

Jewish continuity is a challenge for the whole of world Jewry, Israeli and Diaspora Jew, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, alike. The biggest threat to us as Jews, both in Israel and the Diaspora, is the demographic problem currently facing world Jewry.

 

Chairman of the Conference of Presidents Alan Sugarman,

Executive Vice-Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Friends,

I would like to devote my address today to what I believe is our most pressing policy issue. I am not going to talk about Iran or the Palestinians, but about Jewish continuity. I am happy to be able to speak about the issue of Jewish continuity here in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the State of Israel, because one of the eternal prayers that has kept us as a people throughout our exile are the words "Next Year in Jerusalem!"

Firstly, I would like to make it clear that when I talk about Jewish issues, like Jewish continuity, I refer to a challenge for the whole of world Jewry, Israeli and Diaspora Jew, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, religious and secular, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, alike. There is no part of world Jewry that is illegitimate and should be placed outside of the tent, and all of us have our obligations to meet these challenges as one people in the full sense of the word.

That being said, I would like to state my firm belief that the biggest threat to us as Jews, both in Israel and the Diaspora, regardless of background, is the demographic problem currently facing world Jewry. Today, according to the Israeli National Bureau of Statistics there are around 6.1 million Jews in Israel. In the U.S, the exact number of Jews is harder to accurately assess, but according to the 2012 American Jewish Yearbook and Israel's leading demographer, Sergio DellaPergola, the total number of American Jews is around 5.4 million. The number of Jews estimated by the Pew Research Center during their recent survey is slightly less at 5.3 million.

However, the recently released results from the Pew survey on American Jewry make for pretty depressing reading. They demonstrate that there is a significant rise in those who have little or no Jewish content in their lives, marry outside the faith and are not raising their children Jewish, than from a similar survey taken ten years ago. The intermarriage rate has reached a high of 58% for all Jews, and 71% for non-Orthodox Jews, a huge change from before 1970 when only 17% of Jews intermarried.

On attitudes towards Israel we are witnessing a major generational gap. While 30% of respondents professed to be very attached to Israel and 39% said they felt "somewhat" attached, 31% answered that they felt not very or not at all attached to Israel. Asked whether caring about Israel was an "essential" part of being Jewish, only 43% answered in the affirmative, only one percentage point higher than those that responded "having a good sense of humor" was an essential part of being Jewish.

According to the researchers, older Jews are more likely than younger Jews to see caring about Israel as an essential part of what being Jewish means to them, with more than half of respondents over the age of 65 believing that caring about Israel was an essential part of their Jewish identity, whereas only 32% of respondents under the age of 30 shared the same belief.

Ladies and gentlemen, these statistics demonstrate that the Jews of America are facing nothing less than a demographic catastrophe.

For many years, Israeli officials have called on our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, like many of you gathered here tonight, to donate your time, energies and funds to Israel. However, I turn to you today and say that, while we are enormously and forever grateful for your assistance, we believe it is now time to concentrate on the challenges facing your own communities, especially those emanating from the dangerous trends in the Jewish community demonstrated in the recent survey.

It is my strongest belief that the antidote to this rising assimilation, intermarriage and disengagement is education. It is said in the Jewish sources that Jerusalem was destroyed just because school-children were kept from their classrooms. Today, unfortunately, Jewish children are being kept from the Jewish classrooms because of the exorbitant and prohibitive costs of Jewish education in the U.S. It cannot be, it should not be, that a Jewish child will not be able to receive a good Jewish education because of financial reasons. This should be unacceptable to all of us who care for the Jewish future.

On my last visit to New York, I met with a Russian Jewish family in Brooklyn. They told me that for their three children to attend good Jewish schools it would cost them around $100,000. They simply could not endure such costs. They are not alone. This situation is being replicated across the Jewish world, whether in the U.S., Russia, France, Argentina, or elsewhere. If this situation persists, we will lose another six million Jews in a generation or two.

In order to prevent this tragedy, all Jewish children should have the capacity and capability to attend a school where they will receive an education that will teach them about Jewish history, values and traditions, to treasure their Jewish identity and to have a strong attachment to Israel and Zionism. We need to ensure that Jewish schools will be among the best in the world.

As Foreign Minister, when I travel to capitals around the world, I speak to our ambassadors and Consul-Generals and ask them where their children study. I was shocked to discover that over 90% of the time, the children of Israeli representatives study at the American or international schools, even when there are local Jewish schools. When I ask them why do they not send their children to Jewish schools, they simply tell me that the American or international schools are a higher standard. This is unacceptable.

Sadly this is also reflective of the general Jewish population in places like the U.S., where only around 12% of Jewish children attend Jewish schools, and when the Orthodox children are removed from the equation; it drops down to no more than a few per cent.

We need to create a global network of Jewish schools that are superior in standard to the American and international school network. Only through this effort can we ensure our endurance as a people.
The Jerusalem Talmud describes the unity of the Jewish people as a body. Like all bodies, if there is something wrong with one part, then the whole body will not be able to function fully.

We, the Government of the State of Israel, would like to assist in creating a program which ensures that any and every Jewish child will be able to receive a high-level Jewish and Zionist education. You are doing important work for Israel and your engagement with us deepens these ties. We are especially grateful for your continued support for programs like Birthright-Taglit and Masa, which have brought so many young Jews closer to Israel and their Zionist identity.

However, above all discussions on Iran and the Palestinians, your discussions with the Israeli Government and the Jewish Agency should be focused on saving future generations.

The annual budget of the State of Israel stands at over $100 billion. I believe that the Israeli Government should contribute $1 million for every day in a calendar year, making a total of $365 million, which we hope you, the Jewish community in the Diaspora, will match for this educational project. This cannot become just another small project and needs to be the central point of partnership between us.

These funds will be found in our budgets, it is just a matter of prioritizing Jewish education above all other issues. This must become the most pressing issue on the global Jewish agenda. From my point of view, this is more pressing than any other issue, including the Palestinian negotiations or the Iranian nuclear threat.

The essence of the partnership between the Israeli Government and Jewish leaders in the Diaspora should revolve around ensuring that together we contribute $2 million per day to save the Jewish people. I hope that when we create thee next budget, one of its cornerstones will be the allocation of $365 million for this program. This is something that my party, Yisrael Beytenu, will be very active in promoting.

We need a strong response to the looming demographic catastrophe and we need direct investment in our Jewish youth to ensure that they remain Jewish and acquire the tools to remain part of a vibrant Jewish community. I would like to accomplish this vision that I have laid out today and not merely say that I have a dream and then walk away happy that my words made some headlines.

However, the creation of an international network of Jewish schools is only the first part of my vision. In addition, my goal is to bring an additional 3.5 million Jews from the Diaspora in the next ten years so that the Jewish population in Israel will exceed 10 million.

I know this might sound unrealistic to some, and others will say that it is merely a slogan. However, I say:

"אם תרצו – אין זו אגדה" – "If you will it, it is no dream".

This has been the rallying call for the attainment of so-called unrealistic goals for over a hundred years and we have consistently managed to achieve the impossible, especially when our future depended on it.

These essential and existential goals, education and Aliyah, have to become the most important goals of the State of Israel and the Jewish Diaspora. I hope together we will move these projects forward.
Thank you.

Photo :FM Liberman addresses Heads of Mission conference at MFA

Copyright: MFA free usage

 

 

Dear Mr. Ambassador and attaché


It is our pleasure to invite your Excellency and your employees from the Embassy, to be our guest of honor at the International CleanTech 2014 Exhibition and to attend our International Opening Session - The Smart Cities of tomorrow Conference.  

CleanTech 2014 - the 18th annual international event for Clean Technologies - will be held during February 18-19, at the Avenue, Congress and Exhibition Center, Air Port City, Israel. Some 20,000 attendees are expected to take part in the event, including missions from around the world.

The International Opening Session of CLEANTECH 2014 on the Smarter Cities of Tomorrow will take place at “Avenue” Air Port city – the most modern and prestigious events and conference center in Israel, on  18 February 2014 at 9.30-12.00           

 

     
 
 
 
  VIP Invitation
 
The Smarter Cities of Tomorrow
 
 

CLEANTECH 2014: The International Opening Session

18 February 2014, Avenue, Airport City, Israel

תמונה מוטבעת 2

Urban performance is an enormous global issue at the moment, as the world is experiencing a period of extreme urbanization. In the near future, cities will account for nearly 90% of global population growth, 80% of wealth creation, and 60% of total energy consumption. Developing better strategies for the creation of new cities is therefore, a global imperative.
Smart cities are a new style of city providing sustainable growth and designed to encourage healthy economic activities that reduce the burden on the environment while improving the quality of life of their residents.
Social infrastructures, involving energy, water, buildings, transportation, and other elements, are indispensable factors for ensuring that the lifestyles of the people and businesses can be supported. All of these have to be established within short periods of time and in a way that makes them effectively useful in the future.The International Opening Session of CLEANTECH 2014 on the Smarter Cities ofTomorrow will take place at “Avenue” Air Port city – the most modern and prestigious events and conference center in Israel, on 18 February 2014.

This session aims at: Addressing the challenges of smart cities in the next two decades; highlighting smart city trends, technologies, services and applications; examining how technology and innovation will enable the smarter cities of tomorrow.
Some of the topics that will be discussed: Sustainable development and energy efficiency; Cyber security and data privacy; the role of the smart grid in the city; intelligent transport systems.

Click here for vip registration

and enter the VIP CODE: 5862

 
   

Online Jam Session Extended Through Wednesday Due to Overwhelming Demand

JERUSALEM – Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky have engaged Jews around the world in an online conversation to determine ways to secure the Jewish future and strengthen young Jews' Jewish identities and ties between Israel and the Jewish world. The two leaders participated in an online jam session organized by the Joint Initiative Between the Government of Israel and World Jewry.

The Joint Initiative Between the Government of Israel and World Jewry, organized by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs in partnership with The Jewish Agency, is a historic joint effort to develop practical solutions to the greatest challenges facing world Jewry, with a primary emphasis on strengthening Jewish identity amongst Jews and connecting world Jewry to Israel.

The online jam session seeks to expand the conversation and enable every individual, community, or organization to contribute their perspectives to the "collective wisdom" of the Jewish people. More than 1,500 individuals are currently engaged in the online conversation, with participants hailing from Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and a range of other countries. A group of professionals are analyzing the insights generated during the jam session and will integrate them into the recommendations set to be presented to the government for approval. Due to overwhelming demand, the session—which had been set to end tomorrow—will be extended through Wednesday.

Visiting the Jerusalem headquarters of the jam session, Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett said: "This initiative is about hearing new ideas and empowering Jews from around the world to take part in the debate over which direction Israeli-Diaspora relations should take in the years to come."

Visiting the site with Minister Bennett, Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said: "This is our mutual effort to secure our mutual future. The Government of Israel and the Jewish world are working together, as equal partners, to explore how we might inspire the younger generation to celebrate its Jewish identity. We look forward to hearing as many voices as possible in order to ensure that the vibrancy and the diversity of the global Jewish community are reflected in this historic process."

The online jam session, which commenced yesterday (Sunday, February 16), will conclude Wednesday evening, February 19.

To participate in the global conversation, please visit http://securingthejewishfuture.ning.com.

onferences and Seminars 
EMail

 
Tuesday 18.02.14 08:30 
Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies, Tel Itzhak 
09-8999563

At the framework of 70th Anniversary of Warsaw 1944 Uprising, Massuah (International Institute for Holocaust Studies) In Conjunction with the Polish Institute and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung invite you to the international conference: "Teaching the Holocaust - Between the Particular and the Universal, Israel-Europe",


Program:

08:30 Welcome

09:00 First Session: Between Holocaust and Genocide—Historical Aspects

Chair: Prof. Rafi Vago

Prof. Dan Michman (Yad Vashem and Bar-Ilan University): “The ‘Holocaust’ and the ‘Genocide’ Phenomenon: On Relations between Them”

Prof. Yair Oron (The Open University of Israel): “The Challenge in Teaching the Topic of Genocide in Israel and in Western Society”

10:30 Break and Light Refreshments

11:00 Second Session: Myths and Memory in the European Discourse Today

Chair: Aya Ben-Naftaly, Director General, Massuah Institute

Dr. Rafi Vago (Academic Advisor, Massuah Institute and Tel Aviv University): “Does Europe Remember the Murder of the Gypsies in World War II?”

Dr. Pawel Ukielski (Deputy Director of the 1944 Warsaw Rising Museum): “Shaping of the Polish Collective Memory of World War II at the Warsaw Rising Museum”

Prof. Monika Flacke (Chief Curator of the exhibitions “Myths of Nations—The Arena of Memories” and “Freedom—European Covenants since 1945,” German Historical Museum, Berlin): “Myths and Memory in Europe 1945–2014”

13:15 Light lunch

13:45 Third Session: Educational Challenges Between the Particular and the Universal

Dr. Gali Shapira (Massuah Institute): “The Other in Our Midst”—new multimedia center: “Prejudice, Racism, Antisemitism, and Xenophobia”

Prof. Alfonse Kenkmann (University of Leipzig, Germany): “Coping with the Emotional Aspects of Teaching the Holocaust”

Simultaneous interpretation, Hebrew/German/Polish

Details: Mali Eisenberg, Conference Coordinator, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Registration: Zehava Hadar, Administrative Secretary, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Tel. (9729) 7497200

Ebert_Foundation

Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies
Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies
More Events in: Massuah International Institute for Holocaust Studies
http://massuah.org.il/

 

FOR THE FIRST TIME, THE TOURISM MINISTRY LAUNCHES AN INTERACTIVE VIDEO THAT OFFERS VIEWERS 33 VIEWING OPTIONS AND 72 TOURING ITINERARIES IN ISRAEL

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "This video represents a significant step in the overall program to reach wide and diverse audiences around the world. Israel has everything the tourist could ask for, and our task is to illustrate this in the best way possible."

Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau demonstrated the latest technologies that the Tourism Ministry is using to market Israel as a tourism destination at IMTM 2014, the Annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market taking place in Tel Aviv.  A new interactive video<http://www.goisrael.com/InTourIL> designed to encourage incoming tourism to Israel went live today (Wednesday) on the Tourism Ministry website. The viewer can choose the virtual tour he/she wishes to take, in keeping with personal interests and tastes. The interactive video encourages personal engagement and heightens interest in the content.

The video uses a unique platform from the Interlude company which specializes in interactive videos and was recently placed first in a Time Magazine listing of best clips for 2013 with its clip for Bob Dylan's song "Like a Rolling Stone".

 The video invites the viewer to choose from three characters who will lead him/her through those places in Israel that best suit their personalities. These include a tour guide who specializes in religion, history and culture; a young woman whose interest is lifestyle and a young man interested in adventure. Each one takes the viewer on a tour of Israel, during which he/she can select preferred destinations to visit. The video offers 33 viewing options and 72 different touring itineraries. At the end of the video, the viewer can share his choice via facebook or Twitter.

The Tourism Ministry will promote the video via the internet and social media in order to encourage incoming tourism and position Israel as an interesting, attractive and contemporary tourism destination.

The video, produced at a cost of NIS 687,000 by the ministry's Digital Advertising and Marketing Division via Saar Promarket by Jiminy Productions, can be viewed on the Tourism Ministry's English-language site at <http://www.goisrael.com/InTourIL>. In addition, it can be downloaded via Appstire for iPod and iPhones under the name
Intour il.

Comments made as he received Hebrew University honorary doctorate for his leadership, dedication to human rights, and efforts to deepen EU relations with Israel and its universities

Jerusalem, February 11, 2014 — The Hebrew University of Jerusalem's president, Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, awarded the Hebrew University's highest honor to European Parliament President Martin Schulz during a ceremony on Mount Scopus today. The honorary doctorate recognized Schulz’s efforts to deepen the European Union's relations with Israel and with Israeli universities. It also recognized his support for human rights and his public condemnations of anti-Semitism, exclusion and intolerance.

Receiving the award, a clearly emotional Schulz said: “This is an exceptional moment in my life. I could not hide, and will not hide, my emotion at being awarded an honorary doctorate from such a prestigious university." He added, "To be awarded here is a signal that there are more chances of fruitful and in-depth cooperation between the European Union and Israel than is normally publicly perceived or discussed, and that we should increase our cooperation on the basis of mutual understanding and trust, instead of mistrust."

President Schulz then delivered comments and answered questions from the audience. 

Asked about the European Parliament's approach to financial boycott initiatives against Israel, President Schulz replied: "There is no boycott. In the European Parliament there is for sure not a majority for a potential boycott. There is a debate if some of the products produced in occupied territories of settlements could have access to the European Union market in compatibility with European Union rules, and this is an open debate. My personal view is that a boycott is not a solution for anything. And therefore as president of the European Parliament I was strongly in favor, for example, of upgrading of the scientific cooperation between the European Union and Israel."

He added: "Boycott is a very tough word. To boycott means to completely block cooperation and trade between countries. We are not speaking about such a boycott. There is no concrete position of the European Union or its institutions for a boycott of Israeli products."

Asked about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, President Schulz said: "I think before interfering as the European Union in such a very complicated debate – I prefer to go another way: to support first of all [U.S. Secretary of State] Kerry's efforts to bring both sides together, and without any prejudices and preconditions. The best way to start negotiations is not to put at the first day, and at the first moment, conditions. This is by the way what I discussed yesterday with Mahmoud Abbas as well. If both sides would be prepared to say 'We'll start without prejudices and without conditions,' that would already be a historical step."

Martin Schulz was elected President of the European Parliament on 17 January 2012. He is married with two children.

Born on 20 December 1955, Martin Schulz grew up in Hehlrath, Germany, close to the German-Dutch-Belgian borders. After high school he did an apprenticeship as a bookseller, and in 1982 he opened his own bookstore in Würselen, which he successfully ran for 12 years. Joining the Social Democratic Party of Germany at the age of 19, he started out his political career. Aged 31, he was elected as the youngest mayor of North Rhine-Westphalia, a post he held for 11 years.

Since 1994, Martin Schulz is a Member of the European Parliament and has served in a number of committees, first serving on the sub-committee on Human Rights and then on the Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs. He led the SPD MEPs from 2000 and was subsequently elected Vice-Chair of the Socialist MEPs.

In 2004 he was elected group leader of the second largest group in the European Parliament. As leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz campaigned for social justice, promoting jobs and growth, reforming financial markets, fighting climate change, championing equality and creating a stronger and more democratic Europe.

Throughout his career, Martin Schulz has demonstrated a commitment to the security of Israel and to deepening and strengthening the relationship between Europe and Israel.

About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's premier academic and research institution, consistently ranked among the top universities worldwide. Serving 23,000 students from 80 countries, it trains the public, scientific, educational and professional leadership of Israel and world. Producing a third of Israel’s civilian research, it is ranked 12th worldwide in biotechnology patent filings and commercial development. The Hebrew University was founded in 1918 by visionaries including Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber and Chaim Weizmann. In the last decade, faculty and alumni have won seven Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal.

Photo  Hebrew University of Jerusalem President Menahem Ben-Sasson (L) with European Union President Martin Schulz. (Photo: Bruno Charbit for Hebrew University)

 

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Photo  : Israel (Izzy) Borovich ,Dean, School of Managment and Economics at The Academic College of Tel Aviv Yaffo, Boaz Waksman, Ophir Tours - Owner & Arkia CEO Gadi Tepper

"Five million tourists a year? I predict 25 million in the not-too-distant future!" Elyezer Shkedy, outgoing President & CEO of El Al Israel Airlines, was supremely confident in his address to the guests gathered at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds on Tuesday morning for the opening ceremonies on the 20th annual International Mediterranean Travel Market (IMTM). "I've travelled the world," he added, "and Israel is the most fascinating place on earth". Many of the guests nodded sanguinely in agreement.

In accordance with tradition, the travel market opened with a lavish by-invitation-only breakfast hosted for ambassadors, the diplomatic community and the press, followed by the opening ceremony. Dr. Uzi Landau, Israel's Minister of Tourism, proudly told the assembly that 2013 was an all-time record for tourism to Israel. He described the country, with its history, archaeology, culture, gastronomy, beaches, religious freedom, sports and nature as "a true festival for every visitor". He thanked the visitors, pointing out that their presence was a win-win situation – for them and for Israel. Speakers included the deputy mayor of Tel Aviv ("Tel Aviv has one of the youngest populations in the world"), the chairman of the Israel Hotel Association, the president of the Jewish National Fund, and others. Eyal Shmueli, president of I.T.N (the organizers, together with ORTRA) pointed out that this year, the 20th successive event, is the largest ever. "There are some 1,200 exhibitors from about 50 different countries. All in all we expect over 1500 visitors coming to Israel especially to attend IMTM. That includes the Tourism Ministers from 20 countries".

 

Although the official tourist authorities are vital for the success of travel fairs, the backbone of IMTM is provided by the Israelis who come to the fair in their thousands to see what's new for both domestic and overseas travel. It is those end customers who are the main attraction of the foreign tourism authorities. Israelis travel abroad way beyond the per-capita population of the country, compared to most other countries, and they are big spenders.

The biggest news of this year's travel market seems to be the agreement signed between Israel and the EU to "open the skies" to more flights and airlines, hopefully to increase competition and thus reduce travel costs for visitors to Israel and for Israelis travelling abroad.

2014 promises to be another record year for tourism. If you missed IMTM this year, here's a tip: the 21st tourist marketing fair will open on 10th February 2015, for 2 days only. Mark your calendar now.

 Photos credit  Silvia G.Golan

 

Watching Spring in the Land of Israel, 1928 during spring in the Land of Israel, 2014. 
Cinema KKL screens Spring in the Land of Israel at the Patish Fortress in Ofakim Park, in the northwestern Negev. The screening took place against the backdrop of carpets of red anemones, which bloom all over the region at this time of year.


Cinema KKL at the Patish Fortress. Tania Susskind


Red anemones along the Shkima trail. Tania Susskind

Fortunately and unfortunately, Friday, February 7 was a beautiful, sunny day in Israel's south. Fortunately, because the thousands of people visiting the northwestern Negev to see the breathtaking sight of anemones painting the region red couldn't have asked for better weather; Unfortunately, because almost no rain has fallen in Israel since last December's major winter storm. 


Penina Livni and Yaakov Gross. Photo: Tania Susskind

The rain that did fall has turned the desert green as far as the eye can see, and together with the trees in KKL-JNF's forests, one would never guess that this is a semi-arid region. In order to celebrate this special time of year, KKL-JNF, together with other local and national organizations, invited the public to the northwestern Negev for the Scarlet South Festival, which has now become an annual tradition. 

One of the unique festival events organized this year by KKL-JNF was a Cinema KKL screening of Spring in the Land of Israel, a recently restored 1928 film, at the Patish Fortress in Ofakim Park

Hanna Bechar, KKL-JNF Southern Region Community and Town Department Director, explained that a number of years ago, KKL-JNF decided to invest in forests and parks situated next to urban centers and to develop and plan them together with the local residents. "When the people living next door help plan forests and parks, they feel personally responsible for their maintenance and future development. It's no longer about KKL-JNF doing it for the local residents; it's about them doing it together with KKL-JNF. And by holding special events like Cinema KKL in the old Turkish fortress that we renovated, we expose this amazing site to the local populace and to visitors from all over the country. The community forest model has been extremely successful, and we would like for friends of KKL-JNF to help us in expanding this important project." 


The Patish Fortress. Photo: Tania Susskind

Danny Ben David, KKL-JNF Director of the Northwestern Negev Region, summed it up: "We want to bring the community out to the forest and to bring the forest closer to the community." 

Itzik Krispal, director of the Ahuzat Negev Association, said that Ofakim Park is changing the town: "Ofakim has really taken off thanks to the park. For the first time, people come from all over Israel, and they eat, shop, and bicycle here. The single that KKL-JNF helped create has become a national attraction, and there's already a cycling club in Ofakim. The park has brought about a social change and a shift in Ofakim's public image." 

Yaakov Gross of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive edited and restored Yaakov Ben Dov's silent black-and-white film Spring in the Land of Israel, which was screened at the old Turkish fortress.This film, which was filmed in the 1920s for KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod, tells the story of the fourth aliya, including purchasing lands, founding communities, developing agriculture—as well as natural treasures and historical landmarks. The founding of the city of Tel Aviv, the draining of the Hula Valley, immigrant absorption—all these are documented in the authentic photography of Ben Dov. The film was originally intended for distribution in Jewish communities abroad, so there were no copies of it in Israel. The copy that Gross restored was discovered in East Berlin in the 1990s, after the fall of the Communist empire. 


Itzik Elia. Photo: Tania Susskind

"I had begun working on this film about 7 years ago, but I didn't have a budget for it then. Penina Livni, Director of the KKL-JNF Photo Archive, got involved and KKL-JNF funded the project, so that we were able to restore it properly, including narration and a musical score that I believe was similar to the original score used by Ben Dov," Gross said. "The work of KKL-JNF is, of course, evident throughout the film, as it was an integral part of the history of the Jewish State. One of the most moving moments is when the children dance after planting trees on Tu Bishvat 5688 (1928)." 

KKL-JNF Directorate Member Itzik Elia lives not far from Ofakim and spoke at the event: "Look around you, how green everything is. KKL-JNF does amazing things, with the help of communities the world over. Wherever the government gives less, KKL-JNF gives more." 

Of course, no visit to the northwestern Negev would be complete at this time of year without taking some time to enjoy and maybe photograph the anemones covering the hills and valleys. Shokeda Forest, Re'im Recreation Area, Shikma Scenic Route, the Ruhama badlands – these are just a few of the KKL-JNF sites that are now covered by carpets of scarlet. When the sun sets, its golden rays enlighten the flowers with a fiery yet gentle glow, and the only thing missing in this perfect picture is rainfall, to bring water to man, animals, the flora and to Israel's thirsty land.

 

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission between the State of Israel and the Holy See met today, 11 February 2014, in the David Citadel Hotel, Jerusalem, at the Plenary level, to continue negotiations pursuant to the Fundamental Agreement Art. 10 paragraph 2.

The meeting was headed by Mr. Ze'ev Elkin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States.

The Plenary received a report on the few remaining issues concerning the Single Document. The Parties took note of the progress achieved, in a thoughtful and constructive atmosphere, since the last Plenary of June 2013, and agreed on future steps, in view of the next plenary meeting in June 2014, in the Vatican City.

 

Photo  

Mr. Ze’ev ELKIN, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Msgr. Antoine CAMILLERI, Under-Secretary for the Holy See's Relations with States

Credit for photo: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

 

 

At the end of calendar year 2013, there was a sharp rise in the number of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets. The public attention created by these incidents raised the recurring question of whether West Bank Palestinians are on the brink of initiating a third intifada. At the moment, the answer appears to be a cautious "no." Instead, the escalation in violence is the uncoordinated result of two ongoing processes: the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and the regional and internal weakening of Hamas. Isolated individuals acting alone, unconnected to the broader political processes, have also contributed to the increase in the number of attacks. For example, on November 12, 2013, an IDF soldier was murdered by a Palestinian youth, who claimed he was avenging the imprisonment of his relatives.

An intifada is a broad-based popular uprising, and it is not necessarily defined by a spike on a graph of security incidents. The surprise of the "Arab Spring" in 2010-2011 encourages modesty when trying to anticipate the moment when popular rage will reach its tipping point and erupt into a full-blown mass movement or uprising. Keeping abreast of the political dynamics on social networks, which have become a key tool for political mobilization, is helpful, but does not guarantee that one will be able to anticipate the next intifada, if and when it comes. For example, today, many Palestinians are concerned that an unexpected Israeli Jewish "Price Tag" (tag mekchir) action might provoke, intentionally or otherwise, a massive popular Palestinian reaction that would then morph into an intifada.

Despite these concerns, and skepticism typical of both Israelis and Palestinians about the prospects that the current peace negotiations will succeed, just the fact that they are taking place has had a calming effect on large sections of the Palestinian public. The traumatic events of Intifadat al-Aqsa (2000-2005) are still a vivid memory to many, and acts as a deterrent, as does the regional instability in the wake of the "Arab Spring." Economic stability in the West Bank, and even some improvement during the past year, may also play a role in maintaining a certain level of calm (while keeping in mind that revolutions and grass-root uprisings often occur during times of relative economic prosperity).

There is a growing discussion in Palestinian society that suggests that this calm is part of a broad socio-cultural phenomenon reflecting the apparent materialism and indifference of the "self-absorbed generation" (al-Jil al-Maṣlahaji), a term recently used pejoratively by some Palestinians to characterize Palestinian young people who are viewed as focusing on self-advancement rather than on national goals. This critique does not necessarily refer exclusively to the absence of a third intifada, but is being voiced in the broader context of the idea that the younger generation is ambivalent about pursuing collective goals for the benefit of Palestinian society as a whole. Note that this criticism is voiced not only in "hedonistic" Ramallah, but also in Hebron (for example, such criticism was heard following the release of a video clip broadcast on YouTube showing IDF soldiers dancing at a discotheque with residents of the Masharqa al-Fuwqa neighborhood in Hebron) and other places.

If there is no intifada in the offing, how should the current escalation of Palestinian violence be understood? In the past, radical Palestinian organizations have increased their attacks whenever peace negotiations were renewed. At the same time, there has also been a significant change in this pattern in recent years: Hamas, which was responsible for many of the terrorist attacks in the 1990s, is no longer eager to play the spoiler role. It has more to lose today, and is interested in preserving its quasi-sovereign control over the Gaza Strip that it has maintained since June 2007. Nevertheless, the basic uncompromising militant ethos of Hamas has not changed: it remains bent on undermining any long-term or permanent political arrangement with Israel. Hamas's political vision does not substantially differ from that of the other organizations currently engaged in violent struggle with Israel, such as Islamic Jihad, which has grown much stronger since the 1990s and which, for all intents and purposes, is an agent of Iran. Yet despite its pragmatic desire to protect its achievements, Hamas finds it difficult to resist or stop the activism of Islamic Jihad, the popular resistance committees, and other militant Palestinian organizations operating in Gaza. It is trying to navigate between the rock of these organizations and the Israeli hard place. The result has typically been a controlled trickle of minor actions against Israel, which Hamas is permitting in order to prevent a more drastic deterioration of the security environment that might jeopardize its rule.

Since the outbreak of the "Arab Spring," however, geopolitical changes have altered the landscape in which Hamas operates. On the one hand, the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power in Egypt provided grounds for optimism. On the other hand, the bloody civil war in Syria forced Hamas to withdraw from the "Axis of Resistance" (Mihwar al-Muqawama) led by Iran, which also includes Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad, because this group was supporting Asad. Given this strategic shift, Hamas may have been expecting to profit from closer ties with Muhammad Morsi's Egypt (see Tel Aviv Notes, vol. 7 no. 10, May 26, 2013), which was an enemy of Asad. The Muslim Brotherhood's ouster last July, however, upset Hamas' plans. Under the leadership of General ʿAbd al Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt has specifically targeted Hamas, taking strong measures that have included destroying hundreds of smuggling tunnels that were an economic and military lifeline for the Gaza Strip. These developments have isolated Hamas politically and damaged Gaza's economy, which directly affects the security environment there. Hunger is not prevalent, but there is a severe fuel shortage, and recently access to electrical power has been available only four hours a day. The frustration of Gaza residents, which has been directed to a large extent against Hamas, is clearly evident on social media.

Hamas fears these developments will undermine its legitimacy and weaken its authority. It has recently tried renewing its ties with the Muqawama axis, and particularly with Iran. In trying to curry favor with Iran, Hamas may be turning a blind eye towards recent attacks carried out by the smaller organizations like Islamic Jihad, which is Iran's client. A common view in the Palestinian Authority is that the current escalation is an effort by Hamas to destabilize the West Bank by encouraging militant attacks from there. Among other things, these well-founded suspicions are based on several unsuccessful attempts by Hamas in recent months to organize "days of rage" in the West Bank relating to the issue of the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount. This tactic has three aims: first, to divert attention of Gaza Strip residents away from their worsening economic predicament and to show that there is unrest in the West Bank as well as Gaza, due to the constant pressure from Israel, and not necessarily because of Hamas's shortcomings; second, thwarting the peace negotiations, which is still a Hamas objective, as its spokesmen have stated on several recent occasions; and third, attacks directed against Israel from the West Bank will not necessarily result in punitive actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas can thereby avoid risking confrontation with Israel and its potentially harmful effects on its position.

Consequently, the PNA's effective security cooperation with Israel has continued, with the understanding that escalating attacks will serve neither the Palestinians' relations with Israel and the international community nor the PNA's standing in the internal Palestinian political arena.

The PNA security agencies are key players in today's security environment. Since the end of the second intifada, in which many Palestinian security personnel took an active part, these agencies have been thoroughly reorganized under U.S. guidance and training, and today they are producing professional commanders, whom many regard as the next wave of Palestinian political leadership. For now, these organizations are showing no signs of instability or independence from the political echelon.

Therefore, as long as the two processes continue – the Israeli-PNA peace talks and the increased regional pressure on Hamas – the attacks on Israel are likely to continue as well. With that said, this escalation will not necessarily translate into a broadly-based popular uprising in the near future. By the same token, if the negotiations end with no results, or if a a third party, such as the "Price Tag" activists, intervenes, the situation could change, and the "self-absorbed generation" of young people may once again take up its traditional role and shoulder the main burden of a third intifada.

Harel Chorev is a Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

Previous editions of TEL AVIV NOTES can be accessed at http://www.dayan.org/tel-aviv-notes.

The Moshe Dayan Center publishes TEL AVIV NOTES, an analytical update on current affairs in the Middle East, on approximately the 10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.

TEL AVIV NOTES is published with the support of the V. Sorell Foundation.

To republish an article in its entirety or as a derivative work, you must attribute it to the author and the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website, http://www.dayan.org.

 

 

"Being here and seeing everything the residents of the Arava have accomplished is an experience that makes one feel both humble and grateful."
The Vidor Family Visitors' Center was inaugurated at an official ceremony attended by honorees Ervin and Lottie Vidor of Australia. The interactive experience the center offers gives visitors the opportunity to learn about desertification, Arava flora and fauna, and the development of communities and agriculture in the region.

“Many Israelis don’t know what’s going on in the Arava, and this is an opportunity to show them the wonderful things that are being done here,” said Ervin Vidor. “Being here and seeing everything the residents of the Arava have accomplished is an experience that makes one feel both humble and grateful,” he told those present at the inauguration ceremony. 

The center, which is located at the Yair Agricultural Research and Development Station, was established with the support of KKL-JNF’s Friends in Australia, Israeli government ministries, the Israel Government Tourist Corporation and other partners. It is dedicated to members of the Vidor family of Sydney, Australia, in recognition of their long-standing support for Israel in general, and for environmental initiatives in the Arava in particular.
 


The Vidor Center. Photo: Yoav Devir


Ervin and Lottie Vidor. Shira Bachar


“Despite its harsh climate, the Arava has become the jewel in the crown of Israeli agriculture,” said Menachem Leibovic, Vice Chairman of KKL-JNF. “When one considers the sparse rainfall and the small number of people who live there, it really is a modern miracle. I’m sure that the new center will attract farmers and visitors from both Israel and abroad and encourage them to study together, conduct experiments, and enrich the world.” 


Creating desert landscapes with an interactive sand table. Photo: Yoav Devir

Visitors to the center are invited to view photos, watch films and enjoy special exhibits, all relating to the Arava. A sand table equipped with a computerized projection system portrays topographical processes in the region: visitors can construct their own sand hill, dig a valley, create a channel and even cause rain to fall, and the scene projected will change in accordance with the changing events on the surface. Information about different crops appears on screen when the appropriate plot of sand is touched. Wooden cupboards contain video screens that present the personal stories of families who live in the Arava; other exhibits portray biological pest control, water issues, an apiary and an aquarium of orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula), which Arava residents can now breed using a special technique that was developed locally. 

Fruit and vegetable stalls exhibit the best of the local produce, which includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins and melons. Although the Center is based upon advanced technology that caters to all the senses, the wonderful smell and brilliant glow of fresh vegetables need to be experienced at first hand, as not even the most cutting-edge techniques can reproduce them. To enjoy these sights and smells for yourselves, you are invited to come and visit the Center. 


Produce display. Photo: Yoav Devir

Participants in the inaugural event watched a 3D film that showed scenes from Arava life: the desert expanses, the flora and fauna, the extremes of climate, the lively local community and, of course, theflourishing local agriculture. During the hot summers, temperatures in the Arava soar to over 40 degrees Celsius in the shade – not that there’s much shade to be found in this desert region – and on cold winter nights they fall below freezing; a year that has 30 centimeters of rainfall is considered unusually wet. However, despite these difficult conditions, around 60% of Israel’s fresh farm produce for export comes from the Arava, thanks in no small measure to the agricultural research and development stations that operate with the support of KKL-JNF. 

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler sent a video-recorded congratulatory message that was highly appropriate to the technological environment of the Vidor Center. He thanked the Vidors warmly and promised: “KKL-JNF will continue to help the residents of the Arava to prosper, so as to ensure deeper Jewish roots in the Negev. This will be KKL-JNF’s main task in the years to come.” 


Learning about the lives of Arava residents. Photo: Yoav Devir

Some 3,500 people live in seven communities in the Arava. They have succeeded in making the desert bloom, not metaphorically, but in the most literal and practical manner possible. DrEyal Blum, Head of the Central Arava Regional Council, told those present: “The Vidor Center celebrates both human achievement and the beauty of nature. It will attract visitors from both Israel and abroad, thus encouraging local tourism and bringing potential new residents to the Arava.” 

The Vidor Center is situated at the Yair Agricultural Research and Development Station, which operates with the support of KKL-JNF and which is home to a host of innovative initiatives and applied research designed to promote farming in the Negev.  Mayan Kitron, a researcher and instructor at the station, said in the course of the inauguration ceremony: “This innovative information center will provide visitors and researchers with information about agriculture in the Arava and about the research and development activities designed to ensure a sustainable future for the region. This will enable them to understand how and where we live in the Arava.” 


Dr. Eyal Blum presents the Vidors with an Acacia Tree sculpture. Photo: Yoav Devir

After the ceremony, the participants were given a guided tour of the Center, and they also visited the nearby agricultural greenhouses where different varieties of flowers are grown, together with peppers of different sizes (from dwarf to giant) and colors (including violet) and melons. Strawberries are grown in a hanging frame, and there are beds of elongated yellow and orange cherry tomatoes.  Unlike seasonal agriculture in the area, these greenhouses are planned to be kept active all year long, in order to showcase the Arava’s special agriculture and cultivation techniques.

It is hard to believe that before the Vidor Center was established, this, too, was just an ordinary agricultural greenhouse. In the course of their visit the visitors did more than just look at the fruit and vegetables under cultivation in the Arava – they also tasted them. Lottie Vidor especially enjoyed the sweet, tasty strawberries that are grown in a special frame suspended above the ground. 

Towards the end of the tour, Regional Council Head Eyal Blum presented Mr and Mrs Vidor with a symbolic gift: an acacia tree sculpted by local artist Chacha Porat. From this artistic representation, the guests moved on to the real thing, and planted an acacia tree together. Instructor Adi Rapaport told the visitors about the Adopt an Acacia project, which is designed to conserve and rehabilitate acacia trees and the ecology of the Arava in general. 

“I hope to live for many more years and have the opportunity to see the tree we planted grow tall,” said Ervin Vidor with a smile, and his wife Lottie added in conclusion: “This center is based upon initiative and innovation, and I’m sure that it will make a significant contribution to tourism in the region.”

 

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Did you know that Zagreb is the birthplace of the fountain pen? Or that the tie originated in Croatia? A delegation of high ranking officials representing the tourism industry of the city of Zagreb, capital of Croatia, will arrive in Israel in the next few days to attend the opening of The International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM), which currently boasts over 60 participant countries.

The gathering's objective is to increase tourist traffic to the magical city of Zagreb and improve the touristic relations between the two countries.

In Croatia, where the Mediterranean, the mountains and the Pannonian plain come together in a unique harmony of natural beauty, within just a little more than a hundred kilometers, you can come across excitingly different landscapes.The capital, Zagreb, is Croatia's cultural economic, political and administrative center. A very impressive, classic European city, Zagreb is full of remarkable buildings and well-tended parks, which contribute to its unique, Central-European atmosphere. Tourists in Zagreb have plenty of sites to visit: magnificent churches, old plazas, wonderful museums, parks, and even a beautiful, unique cemetery. Zagreb is home to roughly 30 museums and over 60 art galleries. The city also frequently hosts international conventions and sports events. Its wide plazas, impressive monuments, green parks, lovely cafes, beautiful avenues and well dressed men and women will charm anyone.

Tourists who seek entertainment will find that Zagreb has a lot to offer: numerous theatre plays, music concerts, art exhibitions and sports events, as well as a vibrant nightlife. Zagreb's restaurants are well known for their quality and rich gastronomic variety. The city's beautiful surroundings are very attractive, due to the large number of vineyards and "wine roads" in the area, as well as the medieval and baroque castles and palaces, and the spas and wellness centers. The following are some of Zagreb's must-see attractions: Maksimir Park – the largest park in Zagreb, it is similar in size to New York's Central Park. Established in late 18th century, it includes a zoo, ponds, sculptures and cafes. Located in the heart of the city, Zagreb's picturesque, central market is called Dolac, and it always teems with activity. Among other goods, the market offers fresh fish from the Adriatic and homemade dairy products. Built in the 13th century, Lotrščak Tower offers a marvelous view of Zagreb and its surroundings, and is one of the city's most distinctive landmarks.

Another must-see site is the Stone Gate. Located in the Upper Town, this was the eastern gate that led into the medieval town of Gradec. Today, it serves as a chapel. The largest Neo-Gothic cathedral in Croatia, The Zagreb Cathedral is one of Zagreb's most well-known landmarks. The cathedral's treasury contains valuable and sacred items collected over eight centuries. Opened in 2010, The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb tells the stories of ended romances through a unique collection of objects. Two years ago, the museum was awarded the title of "Europe's most innovative museum".
Croatia's national airline company, "Croatia Airlines", offers weekly charter flights from Tel Aviv to Zagreb from May to October. 37,663 Israeli tourists visited Croatia in 2013 and they made 91,392 overnight stays; which compared to 2012 represents an increase of 6% in arrivals and 13% in overnights.

 

 

The class was delivered to over 9000 Amal high school students across Israel using by Cisco Systems Telepresence technology

President Shimon Peres:
"I'm proud of the students who broke this record – it was a privilege to be their teacher"

Guinness World Records Senior VP Marco Frigatti:
We immediately liked this new record idea for three reasons because it combines civics, technology and a teacher who has seen the country from its origins to today.

The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, delivered an online civics class this morning to over 9000 high school students across Israel and together they broke the Guinness World Record for the Largest Online Civics Class. The class, which was delivered from Cisco Systems headquarters, was broadcast live to classrooms using Telepresence technology. Over 8500 students heard President Peres live and some had the opportunity to ask him questions. President Peres told the pupils, "I'm excited to see you all this morning and to be your teacher – I'm also jealous that you are all still pupils. Israel is a small country and as young people you are in competition with young people all over the world, you have to excel. Each of you has more potential than you realize. If you study you will soon learn your qualities and that you can achieve things you never thought possible. As citizens of Israel the most important thing is to preserve your values – it is easier to love the other than to hate." President Peres answered questions from pupils in Tel Aviv, Beer Sheva and Kuseifa and stressed that Israel will do all it can to protect equal rights between all citizens and to connect the periphery to the center.

Guinness World Records Senior Vice President, Marco Frigatti announced the record and said, "We immediately liked this new record idea for three reasons; first because talking about civics and talking about democracy is relevant for everybody in the world and the contribution we make is so important a topic for the young generation. The second important aspect was that we had a special feature, a person who has seen the country from its origins to today and who better to speak to the students. The third part was about the technology, a web based solution that can be used within education to keep everyone connected and informed. The number to beat for this record was 5000 participants and so far we've counted over 7000, which means the president of the State of Israel and all the students are Guinness World Record holders." Guinness World Records Senior Vice President, Marco Frigatti added, "I have an interesting surprise because you're holding two records; not only have you taught a wonderful civics lesson but you're also the oldest head of state in the world." Since the announcement the official number has risen above 9000 students.

After the record was announced President Peres thanked Guinness World Records, Cisco Systems and most importantly the pupils at the Amal Schools across the country and said, "This record should really be for all the students who participated, they created this record. We have to spread education; this is about encouragement of that goal. The more that can participate in these sorts of lessons the better. What we have to do is invest at least as much in education as we have in entertainment and make it approachable to all pupils." President Peres smiled and added, "About the second record I suggest people start earlier and not to wait until my age."

At the beginning of the class Cisco Systems Israel CEO Boaz Maoz said, "Cisco Israel, at the initiative of its Chairperson and CEO Mr. John Chambers, has been working closely with the Israeli government over the past year and a half in the fields of education, healthcare, infrastructure, communications and cyber. The cooperation is aimed at transforming Israel into the world's first digitized country. The initiative aims to boost economic growth and reduce inequality gaps using technology and communication. As part of this effort we invited you, Mr. President, to teach the largest online civics class ever to over 200 classrooms and 8000 students. The class will be broadcast using the most advanced technology which will bring leading experts to every classroom in Israel."

Photo Credit: Mark Neiman/GPO

 

 

 

 

 Darom Adom (דרום אדום)  Anemone Holiday (חג הכלניות) in the Northern Negev

Celebrated every weekend of February 2014 (from 2/6 until 3/1)

After selecting the Anemone as Israel's national flower, owing to the blessed rains in the present winter and the beautiful flowering of millions of Anemones in amazing colorful carpets, the traditional flowering holiday called Darom Adom (דרום אדום) will be celebrated during 4 weekends (from 2/6 until 3/1).

The Darom Adom Festival returns each year following the rainy season, when the northern Negev is covered with a magnificent carpet of red anemones, with a variety of activities, to celebrate this spectacle of Israel’s national flower being in full bloom as well as Israel’s agricultural achievements. Each weekend throughout the month of February in 2014, numerous family-orientated activities will be taking place.

Darom Adom events every weekend during February 2014

Travel by train:  This year, following the inauguration of the new railway line to Sderot, passengers travelling on a special train every Friday will be greeted by entertainment as soon as they board the train (08:30 departure from Tel Aviv Savidor Mercaz Station, arriving at 10:00, and returning at 13:00 and at 14:00). Children will receive puzzles and art & crafts and be humored by actors in costume.   Upon arrival, a tour guide will accompany them among the anemone hills and point out historical landmarks including the burial site of the former general and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.  In addition, visitors can partake in art workshops, enjoy musical performances and wander through local markets.  Must be booked in advance by calling *5770.

South Red Picnic Baskets:  Rather than bringing a packed lunch visitors can purchase a picnic basket containing a variety of organic local produce.  This can be enjoyed whilst sitting on the hills of the Negev.  A double basket costs 135 NIS and a family basket suitable for a couple and two children costs 160 NIS.  This can be ordered in advance on 08-9949374.

“Market on the Water” in Eshkol National Park: Every Saturday from 10:00 – 16:00 visitors can wander through a colorful farmers’ market along the springs of the Park and the Negev’s blooming flowers.  The market offers goods produced from the Negev, ornaments, art, and activities for children.   At 12:30 and 14:00 there will be performances promising magic, clowns, acrobatics, balloon-shaping, and juggling.  National Park entry fees:  22 NIS per adult; 10 NIS per child.

 
 There is also a Dutch farmers market in the South of Israel this year.
Special are, the cookies and many different  cheeses In the coffee&shop you can enjoy good coffee and  apple pie with a lot of cream.
Music from a real Dutch  Barrel organ will give the Negev the sound of the Netherlands.
 
 
Photos provided by Dutch Farm 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


On the background of boycott threats on Israel, the tourism branch in Israel is preparing toward the aerial convoy expected to arrive to Israel at the beginning of next week. Delegations from 50 countries and about 1,500 tourism professionals will land next week in Israel and will flood Tel Aviv's hotels. The largest delegations this year will include France, India, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Greece and Cyprus.
Six Ministers of Tourism and twelve Foreign Ambassadors will participate in the IMTM 2014 Tourism Exhibition that will take place in Tel Aviv's Exhibition Gardenson February 11-12. This central event of the Israeli tourist market will be particularly festive this year, due to the 20th anniversary of IMTM. The exhibition will be inaugurated by Rose The singer winner of " The Factor" TV programme , who will also receive an Honor Title from the Ambassador of Philippines and the Chairman of the Israel-Philippines Tourism Bureau, Yariv Fisher.
The distinguished guests that will honor the exhibition with their presence will include the Ministers of Tourism of Portugal, Poland and Romania, The Ambassadors in Israel from Croatia, Greece and Cyprus, and more.
IMTM is proud to host for the first time representatives from Montenegro, Estonia, Albania, Nepal, Ecuador, and Dominican Republic. These will join the countries that participate in IMTM every year  Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Malta, Greece, Cyprus, India, Japan, Thailand, Tanzania, Ethiopia,Brazil, Maldive Islands, and more.
Eyal Shmueli, Publisher and Editor of Israel Travel News, and one of the promoters of IMTM, says: "We are proud to host the International Tourism Market for the 20th time, including about 20 Six Ministers of Tourism, Foreign Ambassadors and other distinguished guests; this, in the background of boycott threats on Israelthroughout the world. The field of tourism has always been an important economic and political bridge. The proof is that this tourism exhibition started 20 years ago under the name International Mediterranean Peace Tourism Market (IMPTM), with Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Morocco being the largest exhibitors. We expect a large response and are preparing ourselves for the biggest exhibition we have had so far."
IMTM website: www.imtm-telaviv.com

 

 

The Israel Antiquities Authority is launching today an upgraded version of its Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. It includes 10,000 new photographs of unprecedented quality

 

A second, upgraded version of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library was launched today. Visitors to the new website (www.deadseascrolls.org.il) will be able to view and explore 10,000 newly uploaded images of unprecedented quality. The website also offers accompanying explanations pertaining to a variety of manuscripts, such as the book of Exodus written in paleo-Hebrew script, the books of Samuel, the Temple Scroll, Songs of Shabbat Sacrifice, and New Jerusalem.

 

A year has passed since the Israel Antiquities Authority first launched the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library. The library presents hundreds of scroll fragments imaged in unprecedented quality, achieved with a unique camera developed specifically for this purpose and installed at the Israel Antiquities Authority scrolls conservation laboratory in Jerusalem. Over half a million people worldwide have visited the site; 25,000 new users enter the site every month. Dead Sea Scrolls scholars as well as the general public will now be able to view, explore and examine one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century on their personal computers and even on their cellular phones.

 

The upgraded website comprises many improvements: 10,000 new multispectral images, improved metadata, additional manuscript descriptions, content pages translated into Russian and German in addition to the current languages, a faster search engine, easy access from the site to the facebook page and to twitter and more.

 

Through international collaboration, a unique monitoring system for the conservation of the scrolls was developed, using the multispectral images. The monitoring system will ensure the scrolls are properly preserved and kept in optimal conditions that simulate those in the Judean Desert caves, where the scrolls survived for over 2,000 years. The system will be installed in the Dead Sea Scrolls conservation laboratory over the next few months. Using this advanced technology for long-term monitoring of the scrolls will help resolve scientific challenges in preserving these ancient scrolls.

 

The Israel Antiquities Authority is currently advancing local and international collaborations to add to the digital library transcriptions and translations of the scroll texts. The next versions of the website will also include additional images, tools for scholars, conservation data, content pages in additional languages, as well as advanced and multiple search options.

The Tobit scroll, one of the books of the Apocrypha, from second temple times. Photograpic Credit: Shai Halevi, Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

 

 

 
KKL-JNF’s projects have been interwoven into the existence of the Jewish People and the establishment of the State of Israel for the past 113 years.  In honor of the State of Israel, KKL-JNF will hold a festive gala event in Paris that will present a variety of aspects of Israeli life, from Zionism and agriculture to high tech, culture and art.

Live from Paris
Stay tuned for the live broadcast from the festive event. 
Sunday, 2nd February 2014, at 11:00 am Israel time

The event will take place at Brongniart Palace and will be attended by KKL-JNF leaders, government ministers, presidents of the CRIF and the Consistory, mayors and many prominent Jewish community leaders.

The day’s events will include: special exhibitions, a film festival, booths, round table discussions, a special event in memory of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and will conclude with a festive concert.

Israel Today and Tomorrow – Paris 2014, Program

 
Tour of the Exhibition Halls:
10:00-11:00 with:

Ministers, KKL-JNF Leaders
Representatives of KKL-JNF Israel, Representatives of KKL-JNF Europe Jewish;
French Journalists

Israel Today and Tomorrow Opening Ceremony
11:00-11:30
Moderator
: Dr. Robert Zbili - KKL France Co-Chairman
Efi Stenzler – KKL-JNF World Chairman 
Eli Aflalo – KKL-JNF Co-Chairman 
Yair Shamir – Israel Minister of Agriculture
Uzi Landau – Israel Minister of Tourism
Danny Danon – Israel Deputy Minister of Defense
 
The Community Speaks – Guests of Honor
Mr. Refael Ben Shitrit – Mayor of Bet She’an
Mr. Shimon Swissa – Head of the Hatzor Haglilit Regional Council
Ms. Ruble Claude –  Secretary of State for European Affairs
Roger Cukierman – CRIF President
Joel Mergui – Consistory President
Jewish Community Leaders
French VIPs

Ms. Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet – Right Wing Candidate for Paris Mayor
Ms. Anne Hidalgo – Socialist Party Candidate for Paris Mayor
And more…
 
 

Round Table Discussion

 
Round Table Discussion: Israel – From Dream to Reality
Panel opens at 12:30
Part 1 – 113 Years of KKL-JNF: Zionism and the Rebirth of the Jewish People
Moderator: Dr. Frederic Nordmann – Honorary President of KKL France
Panel Leader: Mr. Efi Stenzler – KKL-JNF World Chairman
Participants:
 Mr. Haim Cohen – Director of the Diaspora Department of the World Zionist Organization
 Mr. Danny Danon – Deputy Minister of Defense
 Michel Gurfinkiel – Author, Journalist and Intellectual
 Joel Mergui – Consistory President

Part 2 – Changing the National Agenda – The Negev and Galilee at the Center of our Efforts
Moderator: Mr. Reuven Naamat – KKL-JNF Emissary to France
Panel Leader: Mr. Eli Aflalo – KKL-JNF Co-Chairman 
Participants:
 Mr. Refael Ben Shitrit – Mayor of Bet She’an
 Mr. Shimon Swissa – Head of the Hatzor Haglilit Regional Council
 Pierre Besnainou – Co-Chair of the Anti-Semitism Taskforce Committee of the Jewish Agency for Israel

14:15-15:00 – Sing-along and dancing with Einat Saruf

Second Panel – 2:30 pm
Israel and the Middle East in the Wake of the Arab Spring: Chances vs. Risks, Treaties and Conflicts.
Part 1 – General Overview of the Situation in the Middle East
Moderator:
 Mr. G. Rosenovich – Radio Editor
Panel Leader: Mr. Yair Shamir – Minister of Agriculture
Participants:
 Friedrich Hensler – Author
 Ms. Ruble Claude – Secretary of State for European Affairs
 Dr. Gideon Kutz – Representative of Kol Israel and Maariv in France
 Mr. Olivier Rafowicz – KKL-JNF Emissary to Belgium
 Mr. Ivan Rioufol – Figaro Journalist
 
Part 2 – Israel and the Middle East: The Threat and the Response
Moderator:
 Bernard Abouaf – Radio Editor for Radio Shalom
Panel Leader: Mr. Uzi Landau – Minister of Tourism
Participants:
 Mr. Alexandre del Valle – Journalist
 Mr. Charles Maier – Attorney
 Lt. Col. Udi Lahav – IDF Attaché in Europe
 Mr. Alain Finkielkraut – Author and Intelletual

Third Panel – 5:00 pm: Anti-Semitism in Europe
Moderator:
 Claude Barroche – President of the Jewish Commercial Organizations
Panel Leader: Mr. Gael Greenwald – Deputy Chairman of KKL-JNF
Participants:
 Mr. Yaakov Hagoel – Head of the Department for Activities in Israel and Countering anti-Semitism of the World Zionist Organization
 Roger Cukierman – CRIF President
 Claude Goasguen – Mayor of Paris’s 16th District
 Joel Mergui – Consistory President
 
 

Ceremony and Concert

 
Ceremony to Mark One Hundred Years Since the Birth of Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin
6:00-6:45 pm
Movie about Menachem Begin
Greetings:
 Jacques Kupfer
 – Member of the World Zionist Organization
 Herzel Makov – Director of the Begin Heritage Center
 Raymond Bunan – President of KKL France
Hatikva

Welcoming Event for the Festive Concert
7:00-7:45 pm
Participants: Guests from Israel
  Jewish Community Leaders
  French Politicians
Speakers:
 Mr. Eli Aflalo – KKL-JNF Co-Chairman 
 Dr. Robert Zbili – KKL France Co-Chairman

Festive David Broza Concert
8:00-10:00 pm
Speakers:

 Mr. Efi Stenzler – KKL-JNF World Chairman 
 Mr. Raymond Bunan – President of KKL-JNF France
 Mr. Reuven Naamat – KKL-JNF Emissary to France

 

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev Receives Presidential Medal of Distinction

 

President Shimon Peres Bestows Award in Ceremony Thursday

(January 30, 2014 - Jerusalem) Today, Thursday, January 30, 2014, Avner Shalev, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, received the Presidential Medal of Distinction from President Shimon Peres in a ceremony held at the President’s Residence. Shalev was awarded for his public service as Chairman of Yad Vashem over the past two decades. During the ceremony, President Peres said: "Thanks to your life's work, I feel Yad Vashem is not only a place of memory, but you have also made it a warning bell for the world. As has been said, "Every human being was created in the image of G-d, there are none above and none below."

"The decoration strengthens and encourages me and all my colleagues at Yad Vashem in our mission to ensure meaningful, relevant and enduring Holocaust remembrance for the Jewish people and for all of humanity, now and for future generations," said Shalev at the conclusion of the event.

The President’s Advisory Committee, headed by former president of the Israeli Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, noted that, “Avner Shalev works tirelessly, employing innovative and original methods, to instill vital Jewish, Zionist and universal values within Israeli and global consciousness, primarily through significant and meaningful Holocaust remembrance. For two decades he has invested his soul, his might and the utmost of his abilities to ensure that the Shoahis appropriately commemorated and its profound implications learned.”  As Chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev has initiated a comprehensive development program aimed at enabling Yad Vashem to meet the challenges of the 21stcentury in the challenging contexts of Holocaust documentation, research and education. From the start, Shalev prioritized education, placing it at Yad Vashem's forefront through the establishment of its International School for Holocaust Studies. In addition, his development program has included the establishment of a comprehensive new museum complex, centered around the new Holocaust History Museum, for which Shalev served as chief curator.

The prestigious Presidential Medal of Distinction,  first awarded in 2012 at President Peres' initiative, is bestowed upon rare individuals who have made unique and extraordinary contributions to tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) or to Israel's society, culture and international status, and who personally exemplify the traits of entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and vision. Among the elite group of the Medal's recipients to date are: US Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and Zubin Mehta. This year’s awardees include Professor Elie Wiesel and director Steven Spielberg.

Born in Jerusalem, Avner Shalev served as Head of the Bureau of the then Chief of Staff David Elazar, and worked alongside him during the Yom Kippur War. Following his retirement from military service, Shalev assumed the positions of Director of the Culture Authority in the Ministry of Education and Culture and Chairman of the National Council of Culture and Art, and also served on the boards of a wide range of Israeli museums and cultural institutions, including the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Shalev helped found the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem and was instrumental in creating the Israel Festival as a major event in Jerusalem. In 1993, he was appointed Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate. In 2003, he received the Israel Prize on behalf of Yad Vashem. In 2007, he received the French Legion of Honor by President Sarkozy and that same year the Spanish Prince of Asturias Prize for Concord on behalf of Yad Vashem. In 2011, Shalev was bestowed the Patron of Jerusalem Award.

  

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.www.yadvashem.org

 

Photo:  Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and President Shimon Peres today.  [photo by Yossi Ben David/Yad Vashem]

 

The field of space photography is gaining momentum in the world in recent years – starting from amateur photographs to art photography. This field of photography is unique in the sense that it is based on advanced technologies of photography from earth to outer space, on technologiesof photography from space outer space to earth, and photography toward further outer space, using advanced image processing technologies.

The Israeli Space Agency in the Ministry of Sciencewill show for the first time in Israel an exhibition that incorporates space photographs taken by Israeli photographers using Israeli technology in space. The exhibition, in collaboration with " Otzar Mifalei Yam", the company that manages the Tel Aviv Port, will present advancedastronomical photography of celestial objects taken by professional photographers usingadvanced equipment, along with prize-winning amateur photographs organized bythe Israel Space Agency, advanced satellite imagery from Israeli satellites,and photographs of students from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, featuring the achievements of work Israeli space industries.

The exhibition  take place in the "Federation" located in Tel Aviv Harbor (besides Hangar 11)and along the harbor, during the Space Week Events - starting from January 27 up to January 31.

Opening hours: Monday - Thursday, from 12:00 to 21:00,

      Friday, from 9:00 to 12:00.

The exhibition is open to the public free of charge.

 

 Photo Silvia Golan

 

 

 

For the first time in Israel: An authentic German train car that transported Jews to concentration camps was placed today at the Netanya Memorial site and will serve as a “living monument” and educational center in memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust


*
Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar said, “The memorial sites established in Netanya are a moral dictate, and they pay homage to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust”

Today, Thursday January 24, 2014, at the end of a complex and sensitive mission, an authentic German train car that was built in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century and was used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the concentration camps, was brought to Bet Yad Lebanim.

The Nazis used the train cars to transport millions of Jews around Europe to their deaths at the concentration camps. The conditions were generally cramped with over 100 people in each car and lacking event the most minimal conditions such as ventilation, food or water. The journey usually lasted between 24 and 48 hours, and the passengers were quickly removed from the cars and taken to their deaths. Approximately 1.5 million of them died en route on the diabolical journey.
The car, known as "munchen12-246" was found in 2013 by entrepreneur and site preservation expert Roni Dotan and Tatiana Rosa, who specializes in commemorating the Holocaust' and Rachel fridman from netanya. They brought it to Israel through their volunteer efforts, based on the belief that displaying this car would strengthen knowledge and help commemorate the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust.
Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar was also a driving force behind this effort, after hearing from Dotan that a cargo car had been found in Germany. The Mayor, who is strongly committed to commemorating the Holocaust, decided to work actively to bring the car to Netanya - as permanent testimony to the obliteration of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.

After the initial contact with Dotan, Netanya Municipality decided to adopt this important project and to invest the resources required to purchase, restore and bring the car to Israel. Additionally, Netanya Foundation solicited donations for the project. After tough negotiations between Netanya Municipality and the parties in Germany, the agreement was signed about six months ago.
"Netanya Municipality believes it is of the utmost importance to lead projects that document and commemorate the memories of the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust," said Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar and added, "We will never forget the millions of pure souls who through no fault of their own were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazis. The memorial sites established in Netanya are a moral dictate, and they pay homage to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust. I would like to thank all of our partners in this unique project, which is an eternal memorial to those who lost their lives and serves as an important educational tool."

Therefore, after being transported from the Port of Ashdod accompanied by a delegation of dozens of motorcyclists from the Israeli Motorcycles Club, the Israel Police and Netanya Municipality, the car was placed at Netanya's central memorial site, next to Bet Yad Lebanim, home to the National Memorial for Fallen Ordinance Corps Soldiers (the military corps adopted by Netanya), the Alexandroni Brigade Memorial that was erected at the site of the division's high command during the War of Independence, the memorial marking the victory of the Red Army over Nazi Germany (inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin) and the memorial to terror victims.
In this manner, the location of the car (at Yad Lebanim) underscores the "commemoration path" and commemoration stations between Holocaust and rebirth.

As noted above, the car will serve as a "living" monument and educational center dedicated to the Holocaust that will also display documentation on Netanya residents who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. Additionally, to preserve and pass down the heritage, school children will visit the site; further education for teachers and workshops will be held there; permanent and temporary exhibitions will be displayed, and all delegations of students making the trip to Poland will visit. Extensive information about the car, the processes of transporting the "Jewish shipments" to the crematoria, the modern technologies used by the Germans to implement their "final solution," testimonies by the car, statements made by survivors and more will all be on display as well.

The inauguration of the car, around March this year, will be accompanied by a day-long workshop by the PISGAH Center.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Roni Dotan, who initiated the project, and the other people and organizations who worked to realize this endeavor, including:
Netanya Municipality and Netanya Foundation, Rabbi Yisrael Lau , Israel Railways, Israel Police, Tambour, Shmuel Mental, Shai Farkash, Tuf Golan, Israeli Motorcycles Club, Society for Preservation of Israeli Heritage Sites, Gunter Demnig and the IDF - Ordinance Corps Association.

Photo Ran Elyahu

Discovery of a major church with a splendid mosaic from the Byzantine period

The discovery was made during a salvage excavation as part of development work by the Israel Land Authority prior to the construction of a new neighborhood at Moshav Aluma, near Pelugot Junction * Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists say, "The church probably served as a center of Christian worship for neighboring communities."

The site will be open to the public on Thursday and Friday of this week
(January 23-24)

Impressive archaeological finds including a major church some 1,500 years old with a magnificent mosaic and five inscriptions were uncovered during Israel Antiquities Authority salvage excavations, prior to the construction of a new neighborhood at Moshav Aluma in Shafir Regional Council, near Pelugot Junction. The excavations were directed by archaeologists Dr. Daniel Varga and Dr. Davida Dagan, and funded by the Israel Land Authority.

According to archaeologist Dr. Daniel Varga, directing the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "An impressive basilica building was discovered at the site, 22 meters long and 12 meters wide. The building consists of a central hall with two side aisles divided by marble pillars. At the front of the building is a wide open courtyard (atrium) paved with a white mosaic floor, and with a cistern. Leading off the courtyard is a rectangular transverse hall (narthex) with a fine mosaic floor decorated with colored geometric designs; at its center, opposite the entrance to the main hall, is a twelve-row dedicatory inscription in Greek containing the names Mary and Jesus, and the name of the person who funded the mosaic's construction."

The main hall (the nave) has a colored mosaic floor adorned with vine tendrils to form forty medallions. The medallions contain depictions of different animals, including: zebra, leopard, turtle, wild boar, various winged birds and botanical and geometric designs. Three medallions contain dedicatory inscriptions in Greek commemorating senior church dignitaries:  Demetrios and Herakles. The two were heads of the local regional church.  On both sides of the central nave are two narrow halls (side aisles), which also have colored mosaic floors depicting botanical and geometric designs, as well as Christian symbols.

A pottery workshop, mainly for the production of jars, was also uncovered during the excavations and yielded numerous finds, including: amphorae, cooking pots, kraters, bowls




and different kinds of oil lamps. Glass vessels typical of the Byzantine period were also discovered at the site. The finds indicate a rich and flourishing local culture.

This church is part of a large and important Byzantine settlement that existed in the region. The settlement was located next to the main road running between Ashkelon on the sea coast to the west, and Beit Guvrin and Jerusalem to the east. Excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority along this road have revealed other communities from the same period, but no churches have been found in them. The recently uncovered church may have served as a center for Christian worship for all the surrounding communities. Wine presses and pottery workshops found in the region attest to the economy of the local residents during the Byzantine period, who made ​​their living from the production and exportation of wine via the coast to the entire Mediterranean region.

As for the future of the site, it has been decided to cover it over and preserve it for future generations. The magnificent mosaic that has come to light will be conserved, removed from the site and displayed to the public at a regional museum or visitors' center.

Photographic credit:
Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

 

On January 20, Israel will assume the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva.
Conference on Disarmament Meets in Geneva, May 2011
Conference on Disarmament Meets in Geneva, May 2011
Copyright: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

On January 20, Israel will assume the Presidency of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, under the leadership of Israel's Permanent Representative in Geneva, Ambassador Eviatar Manor. The first formal session of the Conference will be held in the morningof January 21, 2014, when the Secretary-General of the United Nations will address the Conference.

The Presidency of the CD rotates among its member states, with each President holding office for four working weeks. The first and only time that Israel assumed the role of President of the CD was 11 years ago.

The Conference on Disarmament was established in 1979 as the sole permanent multilateral forum for negotiating treaties on disarmament and arms control. The CD conducts its work by consensus and adopts its own Rules of Procedure and its own agenda, taking into account the recommendations of the General Assembly and the proposals of its members. The CD has 65 members, including Israel, which has been a member state of the Conference and its Western Group since 1996.

 

 

The Situation in the Middle East

President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace.
Amb Ron Prosor addresses the UN Security Council

Amb Ron Prosor addresses the UN Security Council
Copyright: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
(Communicated by Israel's Permanent Mission to the United Nations)

On January 20, 2014, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor addressed the Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East. Ambassador Prosor attacked the Palestinian leadership's continuous incitement against Israel and discussed the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East.

Ambassador Prosor said: "President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace. I and most Israelis will never forget the sight of King Hussein consoling the Israeli families whose children had been killed in a terrorist attack.

Contrast this picture, with a picture from just a few weeks ago when released terrorists were given a heroes' welcome by the Palestinians and embraced by President Abbas. Murderers were met with fireworks and festivities and showered with candies and congratulations. The Palestinian Authority is rewarding terrorists with tens of thousands of dollars. The motto of the PA's pension plan seems to be 'the more you slay, the more we pay.'

From cradles to kindergartens and from schools to soccer stadiums, Palestinian children are besieged by messages of hate. They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism."

Referring to the ongoing peace talks, Ambassador Prosor said: "The Palestinian leadership has yet to learn that real peace requires real commitment. You cannot condemn terrorism to international media and congratulate terrorists on Palestinian media. You cannot victimize others and then insist you are the victim. And you cannot use this forum to spread destructive messages and expect constructive results. "

Ambassador Prosor also referred to the new Iranian president and emphasized that since his election, Iran is still persecuting minorities, imprisoning journalists and targeting political adversaries.

He said: "Rather than cleaning house, the new president believes he can sweep Iran's atrocities under the Persian rug. Behind Iran's smiling façade, President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei continue to preach hatred and provoke hostility. The ink is barely dry on the interim nuclear agreement and Iran is already showing its true colors. This is a regime that crosses red lines, produces yellow cake, and beats its citizens black and blue.

It doesn't take a crime scene investigator to see Iran's fingerprints on the violence erupting in parts of the Middle East."

 

Copyright: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

"We are a link in the chain of generations. We returned to our land to stay and to take root here."
This year's Tu Bishvat events were opened at an official ceremony at the Grove of the Nations in Jerusalem, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Benyamin Netanyahu. By planting a tree here, Mr. Netanyahu joined other heads of states who planted trees in the grove, as a sign of friendship between nations and as a symbol of peace. KKL-JNF is holding about 200 ceremonies and events throughout Israel in honor of the New Year for Trees.

 

"Tu Bishvat is a profound expression of hope and faith," said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the ceremony. "One does not plant a tree for one or two years, but for dozens of years. This is belief in the future." 

KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler noted that during Tu Bishvat, over a million trees will be planted during ceremonies throughout the country. "We are proud that Tu Bishvat 5774 has the greatest number of events in Israel's history," Stenzler said and added: "This is the first time that a prime minister of Israel is planting a tree in the Grove of the Nations, where heads of states plant trees. Whoever plants a tree in Israel also takes root in the country. Tu Bishvat is the symbol of KKL-JNF's green revolution. We will continue what our forefathers began 113 years ago."


PM Binyamin Netanyahu plants a tree with Henrietta Szold students, KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler
President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Li Xialin
and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Photo Archive


Tu Bishvat symbolizes the renewal of nature and the connection between the people and its land. Throughout Israel, citizens go out to plant trees, including students, soldiers, new immigrants and people from all walks of society. There could be no more appropriate way to begin the holiday than by the prime minister of Israel planting an olive tree in the Jerusalem Forest

Prime Minister Netanyahu is the seventieth head of state to plant a tree in the Grove of the Nations

During the ceremony, the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, said to the prime minister: "Your tree planting here today symbolizes your commitment – our commitment – to Jerusalem, the connection to our roots, and the importance of Jerusalem for you and for us." 

Li Xialin, the President of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, who is currently visiting in Israel as KKL-JNF's guest, also participated in the ceremony. Xialin joined the prime minister and the KKL-JNF world chairman in the tree planting. 

Also participating in the ceremony were members of the KKL-JNF Directorate and senior KKL-JNF officials, a delegation of Masa participants from the United States, England and Australia, a delegation of friends of KKL-JNF from Argentina, and also pupils from the Henrietta Szold School of Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Netanyahu also studied. 

"I remember how when I was your age, I went with my friends to plant in the school," the prime minister told the children. "Continue planting trees, and in about 50 years from now, you will stand here and ensure that Israel will exist, grow and thrive forever." 

Of course, not only exalted leaders plant trees on Tu Bishvat, which is first and foremost the holiday of Israel's children. The young generation goes out to forests throughout the country and participates in planting, to help KKL-JNF color Israel green, so at the Grove of the Nations ceremony, the children also took part in the planting. At the conclusion of the official ceremony, the fifth graders from Henrietta Szold planted trees in a special corner of the forest, together with Efi Stenzler. 

"We are a link in the chain of generations. We returned to our land to stay and to take root here," the prime minister concluded.
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Daughter of Righteous to accept medal and certificate of honor at ceremony

OnThursday, January 16, 2014Yad Vashem hold an event posthumously honoring Maria Zurawska as Righteous Among the Nations from Poland. The medal and certificate of honor will be accepted by her daughter Bronislawa Skoczylas who will be arriving from Poland to attend the ceremony.

The ceremony  take place in the Yad Vashem VIP Room  in the presence of H.E. Polish Ambassador to Israel Jacek Hodorowicz, Jay and Amy Lakritz (from the US), the children of the late Holocaust survivor Julia Lakritz, Sheldon Haber, brother of the late Holocaust survivor, two great-granddaughters of the Righteous Among the Nations from Poland, Holocaust survivors, Members of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, family members and friends. The medal of honor and certificate will be presented by Dr. Ehud Loeb, a member of the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations and the Director of the Department of the Righetous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem Irena Steinfeldt.

The Rescue Story

On July 2, 1941, the Germans conquered the city of Sasow in Poland. Of the 1,500 Jews living in Sasow, most were murdered during the first year of the Nazi occupation. The remaining Jews were taken to a labor camp or to the ghetto in Zlochow. In the summer of 1943, Helen Haber (later Szeps) was warned by a labor camp guard of the upcoming liquidation of the camp. Helen managed to escape and join her mother Gittel and her daughter Julia Haber (later Lakritz) who had fled to the forests. Julia was just 5 years old, very sick and her body was covered with wounds. Desperate and sick, in the summer of 1943 the three women came to the house of Maria Zurawska.

Maria had been widowed only a year earlier after her husband Josef was killed along with four Jews who he had sheltered. Despite this, and despite remaining with five children, Maria agreed to hide the three Jewish fugitives in the bunker which had been made by her husband to hide Jews. Maria looked after Julia with devotion and love.

One day, Germans came to Maria's house looking for hidden Jewish people. Maria calmly explained to them that the Jews were at the end of the street and persuaded them to leave. Immediately thereafter, Maria left her home with her children and the three hidden Jews in a horse and buggy. Together they moved to the village of Koltow, where Maria's parents lived. They remained there until the summer of 1944 when the area was liberated. After the war, the Jewish survivors left Poland and traveled west where they settled in the Domincian Republic. They asked Maria to join them but she wanted to stay with her ​​family. Over the years, the Lakritz family and Maria kept in touch by exchanging letters until her death in 1996.

For more information about the Righteous Among the Nations please visit the Yad Vashem   website  http://www.yadvashem.org/

 

21st Member State, the first since 1999

15 Jan 2014

 
At a ceremony held this morning in Geneva, Israel was officially admitted as full member to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Israeli flag raised as Israel becomes full member of CERN
Israeli flag raised as Israel becomes full member of CERN
Copyright: Laurent Egli
(Communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau)

At a ceremony held this morning in Geneva, Israel was officially admitted as full member to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman represented Israel at the ceremony held at the CERN Globe of Science and Innovation, at the end of which the Israeli flag was added to the line of flags representing the member states of the organization. FM Liberman said that it was a source of great pride for him to see the Israeli flag raised, symbolizing Israel's participation in the forefront of world science and progress. He added that the admission of Israel as a full member of the organization is a recognition of the high level and quality of scientific research in Israel and its contribution to the welfare of the human race. 

FM Liberman noted also that Israel's admission to CERN is the outcome of years of diplomatic efforts spearheaded by the Israel Foreign Ministry. Israel is the 21th member state of CERN, and the only country outside Europe to have achieved full membership.

FM Liberman expressed thanks to the leadership of CERN, headed by Director-General Rolf Heuer, and to Prof. Ruth Arnon, President of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, chair of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, and the dozens of Israeli scientists and doctoral students present at the ceremony.

 

In Holland, Germany, France and other European countries it's a given. Even Uruguay unveiled a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of gay men who were persecuted and killed by the Nazi regime. Now Israel/Tel Aviv has joined the family of nations that have recognized the fact that many minorities suffered terribly under Nazi rule – including the homosexual community, Jewish and otherwise.

On Friday 10th January, in the presence of a respectable and somber crowd that encompassed several important dignitaries, including Ambassador Andreas Michaelis of Germany, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and at least 4 members of the Knesset, the city unveiled a beautiful memorial to the gay men who suffered or were murdered in World War 2 – and before – in Germany.

In his address to the gathering Mayor Huldai referred to the Holocaust of the Jewish (and other) people, but added that the Nazi view that everyone "...different to what they saw as the ideal and superior race – themselves – had to be eliminated" included gay men. He added: "The message of this memorial is that in Tel Aviv we honor and accept everyone. Race, creed, religion, color, sex and gender identity are irrelevant. In Tel Aviv we want to welcome everyone. This memorial will help teach these values to the next generation".

His Excellency the German Ambassador to Israel spoke from the heart – so much so that by the end of his speech he wiped a tear from his eye and was clearly choked up with emotion. He spoke of the relative openness of the Weimar Republic which was in power for 15 years before Germany succumbed to the Nazis in 1933, and the contrast with what followed. "In my youth in the 1960s I remember hearing the phrase "the 175ers" to refer to homosexuals, but I didn't understand the reference. Only later did I learn that it was ordinance #175 of the German Penal Code that criminalized homosexuality (in men only). The law was in effect for over 100 years. Today Germany recognizes the awfulness of that period and accepts responsibility not only for the Jewish Holocaust, but for the gay Holocaust as well." Needless to say, Ambassador Michaelis's words were greeted by lengthy applause.

The new Tel Aviv memorial is gracious in its simplicity – an open-ended pink triangle with a brief explanatory plaque in Hebrew and English. The memorial is located in Meir Park, just opposite the municipal gay & lesbian community center.
I overheard one of the young men in the audience: "Who would have thought! Just a few short years ago the gay community was roundly criticized for daring to hold a memorial service for gays slaughtered in Germany, on the same day as the official Holocaust memorial day in Israel. Now this memorial. Israel sure changes fast."

Israel changes fast and in the right direction. Though some say, the changes are not coming fast enough.

Photo   Kfir sivan

"Arik loved the outdoors and green landscapes, and had a very strong connection with the land."
KKL-JNF will commemorate Ariel Sharon, the 11th Prime Minister of Israel, with a 60km scenic route in Nahal Shikma in the Negev, to pass through Sharon's Sycamore Ranch (Havat Shikmim) and near the graves of the former Prime Minister and his wife Lily. The road will be named the Arik Sharon Road. The resolution to commemorate Sharon in this way was made by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler and co Chairman Eli Aflalo, who decided to pave this road.


Fields and roads in Nahal Shikma. Photo: Doron Gompert

Co-Chairman of KKL-JNF Eli Aflalo, a past member of the Knesset and ex-minister, who was very close to the late Ariel Sharon, relates: "Arik loved the outdoors and green landscapes, and had a very strong connection with the land. One time, when I was at his office in Jerusalem, he told me: 'Believe me, Eli, if I had a window here, with trees and a green view, it would be like air to breathe.' For security reasons, the deceased Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was far away from what he loved – the trees and the freedom and wildness of nature, which he enjoyed only when at the Sycamore Ranch. From my acquaintance with Arik, I am certain that there is no better way to commemorate his strong connection with our beautiful land, than by paving a spectacular, beautiful scenic route in southern Israel, near the place he loved so dearly – the Sycamore Ranch."


Anemones growing in the Besor region. Photo: Anat Gold


Efi Stenzler
, World Chairman of KKL-JNF said: "The breathtaking scenic route to be named after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel's leader and hero, presents amazing sites and showcases the history of the people of Israel. It also reflects Arik Sharon's great work and love for the beautiful, green land of Israel."

In the upcoming days, KKL-JNF directors will act to pass the resolution in the KKL-JNF management and in other authorities that collaborate with KKL-JNF in paving this road in the south of the country. Stenzler says that "Ariel Sharon chose to live on the Sycamore Ranch, and to be buried together with his deceased wife Lily in the Nahal Shikma area, overlooking the scenic route to be named after him."

The paving of the scenic route is already in progress, and is executed by KKL-JNF, the Shikma – Besor Drainage Authority, the Nature and Parks Authority and the local municipalities. At this stage, the road is divided into two segments - the first segment runs up to Route 40, and the second runs from Route 40 west to the Zikim Beach.

The proposed scenic route runs approximately 60km along the river channel, from the Kibbutz Dvir area to the Zikim Beach. Once Israel's longest and most beautiful road is complete, with its spectacular unique landscapes, it will be possible to travel in any private car along the entire run of the river, and to take in the beautiful natural and landscape sites, nature reserves, springtime bloom and archeological sites, and enjoy parking areas for outdoor recreation in KKL-JNF forests.

alem, Today, Sunday, January 12, 2014 a 12-day seminar for South Korean educators opened at the International School for Holocaust Studies of Yad Vashem. A group of some 20 educators, among them teachers, principals and administrators, are participating in a comprehensive program designed specifically for them. This is the first time the School has hosted a South Korean delegation.

While at Yad Vashem, participants will attend lectures and discussions on Holocaust history and pedagogy, meet with Holocaust survivors and hear their testimony, experience extensive, in-depth tours of the Campus and have the opportunity to partake in classes taught by top educators and historians about various topics related to the Holocaust.

"Over the past few years, we have seen growing interest in the Holocaust around the world, including in countries geographically far from the events themselves," said Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem. "The seminar for educators from South Korea joins others we have held recently for Asian educators from China and India. I welcome the increasing significance of Holocaust education in Korea, and am pleased that we are able to host this first group of Korean educators at our School."

The rise of modern antisemitism, representation of the Holocaust in literature, the "Final Solution," cultural and spiritual Resistance, the Righteous among the Nations, the unprecedentedness of the Holocaust, and the International School's pedagogical approach to Holocaust education and presentations of specific educational resources, will be among the issues discussed during the seminar. Participants will also tour Jerusalem and other areas in Israel.

The seminar has been made possible by the generous support of the Adelson Family Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel.

The International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem was founded two decades ago to provide Holocaust education to a broad audience. The School conducts dozens of seminars annually for educators from around the world, and produces educational material in over 20 different languages. Established in 1993, the International School is a world leader in Holocaust education, working to implement educational activities for different target populations and age groups in Israel and abroad. Hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, soldiers, and leaders of public opinion from Israel and around the world attend programs at the International School every year, and use the various multi-media and age-appropriate educational materials created.

Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, was established in 1953. Located in Jerusalem, it is dedicated to Holocaust remembrance, documentation, research and education.www.yadvashem.org

Dear all,

I would like to share with you some new papers and articles published by Mitvim – The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. This time, a special focus is put on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Please stay tuned for Mitvim’s 2013 Annual Report, coming soon.  

The Peace Process in the Eyes of the Palestinians:

Insights from a Mitvim policy channel with the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society

A year ago, Palestinian President Abu Mazen established the Palestinian Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society. Mitvim and the Committee recently launched a joint policy channel to support the peace process. The channel aims to increase understanding of each sides' perceptions and attitudes; to analyze, generate ideas, and develop scenarios on key issues related to the peace process; and to convey insights and recommendations to the Israeli and Palestinian policy-elite and general public. This paper summarizes some major Palestinian positions voiced in this channel. The Palestinian participants believe that ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is achievable, but they do not believe that the current round of negotiations has a high chance for success. In their eyes, the continuation of the status quo is dangerous and could bring about a deterioration of relations between the two sides. If a two-state solution will be achieved, Israel can expect the Palestinians to assist it in integrating into the region, along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative. You can read the full paper in English or Hebrew.

Talking peace in the European Parliament

Insights from the “New Paradigms for Israel and Palestine” Conference

In November 2013, the European Parliament hosted a conference entitled, “New Paradigms for Israel and Palestine”, organized by the Socialists & Democrats Group of the European Parliament, in cooperation with the Bruno Kriesky Forum for International Dialogue. The conference was attended by European, Israeli and Palestinian politicians and civil society representatives, including the President of the European Parliament; the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process; and Israeli MKs Hilik Bar and Merav Michaeli (Labor Party). Mitvim’s Nimrod Goren was among the speakers. This brief summarizes positions and recommendations raised by Palestinian and European politicians during the conference, specifically: what is the status of the peace negotiations, what are their chances for success, what should be expected if there is no breakthrough, and what role should or must Europe fill?  You can read it in English or Hebrew.

New Opportunities for American Contributions to Transforming Israeli-Palestinian Relations

By Prof. Louis Kriesberg, Program for the Advancement of Research on Conflict and Collaboration (PARCC), Syracuse University, USA

Prof. Louis Kriesberg claims in a paper for Mitvim, based on a lecture delivered at Syracuse University, that new circumstances within the US and the Middle East open a window for a more effective American role in transforming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The renowned conflict-resolution expert argues that it is a role that must convey a sense of being somewhat new, and not a rehash of old and sadly failed policies. It should include: greater US recognition to the Palestinian representatives and their constituencies’ concerns, the re-branding of the concept of peace, increased support to non-governmental conflict transformation initiatives, and the establishment of procedures and institutions to deal with future conflicts. You can read the paper here.

Regional Analyses - Op-eds by Mitvim experts

In light of the changing regional reality, Mitvim experts regularly contribute op-ed articles on key issues for Israel’s regional foreign policies, such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Egypt, Turkey, Iran, and the US. Here is a selection of some recent articles:

Israel’s Foreign Policy

Nimrod Goren, “Israelis Want a new type of foreign policy,”i24News, 8 November 2013 (Arabic version also available)

Ehud Eiran, “Time for a butter vs. guns debate on Israel’s natural gas,” i24 News, 23 October 2013 (Arabic version also available)

 

The Palestinians and the Peace Process

Nimrod Goren, "Israel should support Palestinian reconciliation," Haaretz, 23 December 2013

Sharon Pardo and Yonatan Touval, “The EU and Israel: Much ado about love,” The Jerusalem Post, 19 December 2013

Ksenia Svetlova, “Blockade? Isolation? Never mind. Hamas will adapt,” i24 News, 19 November 2013 (Arabic version also available)

Grant Rumley, “Palestine’s self-inflicted wounds,” The National Interest, 8 November 2013 (review of the book: State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State, by Jonathan Schanzer)

Ehud Eiran, “Ignore the Naysayers, Peace is Necessary,” i24 News, 28 October 2013

 

Iran

Yonatan Touval, “Jerusalem’s Itchy Trigger Finger,” Foreign Policy, 19 December 2013

Yonatan Touval, "In Praise of Appeasement," Jerusalem Post, 25 November 2013

 

Turkey

Nimrod Goren, “The Turkish Snowball, [in Arabic]al-Masdar, 26 December 2013 [Hebrew version also available]

Nimrod Goren, "Turkey, the rigid contortionist," i24 News, 27 November 2013, (Arabic version also available)

Gabriel Mitchell, “Curing the hiccups in Israeli-Turkish negotiations,” Jerusalem Post, 5 November 2013 (following the Mitvim-GPoT Center Israel-Turkey policy dialogue)

 

Egypt

Ksenia Svetlova, “Will the US tiff with Egypt make way for a lovers’ embrace?,” i24 News, 22 October 2013 (Arabic version also available)

 

United States

Grant Rumley, “Obama dials down in the Middle East - but is it the right move?,” Jerusalem Post, 10 November 2013

www.mitvim.org.il

All the best,

Silvia Golan

Diplomacy co il

 

 

 

THE OLDEST TOURIST EVER TO VISIT ISRAEL?
GERMAN TOURIST CELEBRATES HER 104TH BIRTHDAY AT THE DEAD SEA.

 

Eleonore Maria Theresia Kastner (known affectionately as Oma Ella - German for Grandma Ella)today (7 January) celebrated her 104th birthday in a Dead Sea hotel in the presence of about forty friends and family who traveled with her to Israel for the occasion.

Four years ago, aged 100, Oma Ella decided the time had come to "live a little" and celebrate each birthday in a different place in the world, together with her family. Oma Ella has kept her word, celebrating her centenary at the Vatican and subsequently in Monaco (101), Austria (102), Munich (103).

Oma Ella, a devout Christian, has visited and prayed at Christian holy sites in the country, even traveling on a donkey to reach an isolated monastery in the Judean desert.

On her birthday, representatives from the Tourism Ministry presented her with a silver-bound Bible and a certificate of appreciation, nominating her as an ambassador of good will for tourism to Israel.

Kastner, who was born in 1910 in Kelheim Germany,is thought to be the oldest person to tour the Himalayas and meet with the Queen of Bhutan, the oldest member of the Eurovision Club that travels to every competition, the oldest person to have a Facebook page which she has already updated since arriving in Israel with a video greeting. She also appears in youtube videos celebrating with youth at beer festivals in Germany, enjoying fairground rides and dancing to contemporary music.

And her secret for longevity? "Be healthy and enjoy a sweet shnapps every day!". She began her working life, aged 17, as a hairdresser. At 19, when she inherited a significant amount of money from an aunt, she donated funds to repair the roof of her local church. 81 years later, aged 100, she was invited to celebrate her birthday in the church where the roof remains, intact.

After her wedding in 1932, she went to live in Amberg, Bavaria where she raised four children, only one of whom is still alive. Her elder brother, who was born in 1906, was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1943 after resisting the Nazi occupation.

Kastner has 6 grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild - many of whom joined her in her celebrations in Israel. Today, she lives with one of her grandsons, Joe Kastner and his family, in Berlin.

Photo: "Oma Ella" at her 104th birthday celebrations, holding a silver-bound Bible, a gift from the Tourism Ministry, and a handmade doll in her likeness, wearing the clothes in which she was christened. Courtesy: Israel Tourism Ministry

 

Films from the Blue Box
Jerusalem
, January 15, 2014 | Tel Aviv, January 16, 2014
Haifa, January 20, 2014 | Ofakim, February 7, 2014
 
Films of nostalgia in honor of Tu Bishvat
 
 Cinema KKL-JNF in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa and the Patish Fortress in Ofakim!


Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive

  • Jerusalem Cinematec, Jan 15, 2014 - 19:00

 

  • Tel Aviv Cinematec, Jan 16, 2014 - 18:00

 

  • Haifa Cinematec, Jan 20, 2014 - 17:00

 

  • Patish Fortress, Ofakim, Feb 7, 2014 - 11:00

Under the auspices of the KKL-JNF Photo Archive, in conjunction with the Spielberg Film Archive

KKL-JNF has accompanied the establishment of the State of Israel from the begining, out in the fields with the pioneers. By their side were the KKL-JNF photographers, out documenting all the acitivity in photograph and in film.

At Cinema KKL-JNF 2014, the rare film by Yaakov Ben Dov will be shown: 

"Spring in the Land of Israel" - 1928
 
New digital processing, 55 minutes, Hebrew
 
Register with the KKL-JNF Forest Hotline: 1800 350 550
 
The film "Spring in the Land of Israel" documents the emotional days of the fourth Aliya which took place between 1924 - 1928, as well as the Zionist Enterprise, Jewish ethnic groups in Israel, and festivities in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.
“The volunteers do not just respond to fires – they also strengthen the relationship between the community and the forest.”
KKL-JNF and the Israel Fire Service have established a new volunteer firefighting unit in the ultra-orthodox city of Elad – the fifth unit of this kind to be founded in communities adjacent to forests, on the initiative of KKL-JNF and with the help of its Friends abroad. The volunteers have completed their training course and are now beginning to operate as an auxiliary firefighting force in conjunction with the local fire station.


L-R:Senior Fireman Yankele Shani, Elad Mayor Israel Porush, Fire Department Chief Meir Harel 
present certificates to newly initiated firefighter volunteers. Photo: Yoav Devir


At the volunteer course graduation ceremony, Elad Mayor Israel Porush stressed the importance of expanding cooperation with KKL-JNF in areas such as the education of ultra-orthodox young people nationwide and encouraging local youngsters to help care for the community forest. “When we’re in the business of saving lives, we can overcome all the difficulties,” he told the volunteer firemen. 


Demonstrating rescue techniques - prising open a car door. Photo: Yoav Devir

“The first cup of water on the ground – that’s what this type of force is referred to in firefighting jargon,” said Central District Fire Department Chief Meir Harel. “These volunteers provide the initial response, which can save us from using up the entire contents of the Kinneret if there is a delay in putting out the fire.” 

The volunteer course graduation ceremony, which was held at the Elad Fire Station, began with an impressive display by the volunteer unit, which staged the rescue of a man from a burning vehicle after a road accident. The volunteers stripped off the black suits and hats so characteristic of the ultra-orthodox community and exchanged them for firefighters’ uniforms. Using mechanical equipment, they cut through the body of the car, rescued the “injured man” and doused the flames with water hoses. Fire officers who watched the exercise declared themselves impressed by the volunteers’ skill and expertise. 

Naftali Karni, Director of KKL-JNF’s Forest Information Department, himself a resident of Elad, represented the organization at the ceremony. “We in Elad have the privilege of being surrounded by forest,” he said. “The woodland provides us with a green belt, enhances the environment and improves our quality of life. KKL-JNF is working to develop infrastructure in the forest so that a variety of community activities can be held there.” 

This is the fifth volunteer firefighting unit to be established under the auspices of KKL-JNF, with the help of its Friends worldwide, in a community adjacent to a forest. It was preceded by similar units in Karmei Yosef, Kfar Chabad, Hevel Modiin, and Mesilat Zion, and an additional unit is due to be set up soon in Rosh HaAyin. “The volunteers do not just respond to fires – they also strengthen the relationship between the community and the forest,” said KKL-JNF Coastal Plain Community and Forest Coordinator Mira Zer


KKL-JNF Scout Reuven Sofer awards certificates to course commander Roi Sussia and course coordinator Oren Shesinsky. Photo: Yoav Devir

Effie Stern, Director of the Elad municipal hotline, spoke on behalf of the volunteers: “This unit will spearhead the development of additional groups of volunteers,” he assured his listeners. 

“He who saves a single Jewish life saves an entire world,” quoted Menachem Caspi, the regional fire service deputy director. Praising the volunteers, he said that they “displayed the strength of their humanity when they got up from their comfortable armchairs at home and went out to save lives.” “The volunteers represent an important value and constitute an auxiliary force that we cannot do without,” added senior fireman Yankele Shani

Reuven Sofer, a KKL-JNF scout in the Coastal Plain region, said that the volunteers have a significant contribution to make where firefighting is concerned, as they live close by, know the area well and will be the first to arrive on the scene. 

At the end of the ceremony the volunteers were presented with certificates that confirmed they had graduated from the course. Roi Suissa, the course commander, accepted a token gift from the local mayor and the regional commander, and was applauded enthusiastically by his erstwhile pupils. Each volunteer was presented with a backpack generously provided by KKL-JNF. The mayor and the senior fire service officers cut the tape and inaugurated the new Elad fire station. 

Central District Fire Department Chief Harel concluded the proceedings with an expression of good wishes to the new volunteers: “I very much hope that you will remain unemployed as far as firefighting goes, but that, when you are required to take action, you will be in the right place at the right time.”

 

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