“Only now, when I stand here by the reservoir, can I understand how you are able to cultivate the soil in such a dry region.”
While Bosnia & Herzegovina is very different from Israel, it appears that KKL-JNF’s professional expertise can benefit foresters who work in entirely different climate and geographical conditions. Three forest professionals from Republika Srpska in Bosnia & Herzegovina toured Israel to learn about KKL-JNF’s forest, water and community projects as well as its management of open areas.
L-R: Itzik Moshe; Natasa Bosnic; Stevan Stancic; Stojko Blagojevic & Johannes Guagnin at Yatir's Foresters House. Photo: Yoav Devir
“In our country, we have open areas that we want to turn into forests and we seek to learn from KKL-JNF’s experience,” said Stevan Stancic of the Interfob Association for Forestry & Wood Technology.
“We can greatly benefit from KKL-JNF’s expertise in a variety of areas, includingafforestation in regions with harsh conditions, production of seeds and seedlings,combatting forest fires, and using forests for purposes other than wood production and community relations,” added Stancic.
On the first day of their visit, the guests met with representatives of KKL-JNF in Jerusalem and heard about KKL-JNF’s projects throughout Israel. KKL-JNF Chief Forester and Head of the Forest Department David Brand presented KKL-JNF’s many afforestation projects. Forester Noam Ben Moshe spoke to the group about invasive species.
Nahal Ziz Forest: Trees Instead of Waste
Planting in furrows in Nahal Ziz. Photo: Yoav Devir
The next day, members of the delegation set out for a tour of the Negev in order to get a closer look at desert afforestation and the fight against desertification, two areas of expertise that KKL-JNF is known for around the world.
At the Nahal Ziz, the group saw how KKL-JNF restored the wadi and transformed a dilapidated waste site into a forest that now attracts visitors. The waste site that once stood there was covered with earth, and dams were put in place to prevent flooding during rainy weather. Aside from its contribution to tourism, KKL-JNF also works to prevent soil erosion and as such, preserves the fertility of agricultural land. The magnitude of this contribution could be seen in the fact that each time a farmer passed the group, he stopped to thank KKL-JNF for its commendable efforts. Deputy Director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region Itzik Moshe presented the organization’s unique planting method that uses runoff harvesting – collection and conservation of rainwater. “We live in a region that has no rainfall for about nine months of the year,” explained Moshe, “Therefore, our objective is to collect the water which can then be used to water trees throughout the entire year.” At Grar River, water is collected by furrows in the ground. Sheets of plastic were placed underground in order to hold the water and prevent weeds from growing. The trees are draped in plastic sleeves to protect them from animals.
Grateful farmer stops by to chat. Photo: Yoav Devir
Moshe explained that the trees are watered for the first three years and afterward are able to grow on their own. KKL-JNF’s forest in this area includes carob, plum, tamarisk and acacia trees as well as other species. “In the past, KKL-JNF primarily worked with a limited number of species, while today we plant a variety of local trees,” he said.
Local residents were invited to participate in the tree planting in order to facilitate a sense of connection with the forest and to encourage them to preserve it. “We invest a great deal of resources in providing information to the public and in fostering ties with local residents,” Moshe explained.
“This is a most remarkable project and an excellent example of cooperation with the community,” said Stojko Blagojevic of the Public Forests Enterprise, the organization that manages the public forests in his country.
Tifrah Reservoir: Recycling Water
Tifrah Water Reservoir. Photo: Yoav Devir
The next stop on the tour was Tifrah Water Reservoir, which was constructed with the support of JNF Australia. The development of water sources in the Negev is one of KKL-JNF’s largest challenges, which it tackles by means of constructing reservoirs and wastewater purification plants to provide farmers with water for their fields.
Johannes Guagnin, Foreign Relations and Research Coordinator for KKL-JNF’s Afforestation Department, who accompanied the delegation during their tour of the Negev as well as several other days of their visit, explained that using reclaimed water has a number of benefits, with the most significant being that it increases the supply of water and minimizes the amount of valuable drinking water used for irrigation. Reclaimed water is about fifty percent cheaper than fresh water, which benefits the farmers. Thanks to these reservoirs, fields that had been abandoned in the past can now be cultivated once again. This significantly benefits the environment as well as it prevents soil contamination and groundwater pollution.
The Tifrah Reservoir serves Beersheva, Ofakim and surrounding communities and contains two million cubic litres of water. Before water enters the reservoir, it is treated and purified in the adjacent Aryeh Pool nearby. Thanks to the high quality water provided by the Tifrah Reservoir, local farmers no longer need to limit their crops to cotton and cattle fodder, and can now expand to include fruits and vegetables as well.
“Only now, when I stand here by the reservoir, can I understand how you are able to cultivate the soil in such a dry region,” said an amazed Blagojevic.
Gilat Nursery: A Maternity Ward for Trees
A sapling at Giilat Nursery. Photo: Yoav Devir
During their tour of KKL-JNF’s Gilat Nursery, KKL-JNF’s guests were fascinated to find a variety of forest trees and ornamental plants, intended to be replanted in forests, parks and public gardens. Each year, the nursery produces 800 thousand seedlings that belong to 300 different species. The process begins with seed collection and continues until each seedling is firmly planted in the ground.
Seedlings intended to be planted in forests are usually started from seeds, while ornamental plants are generally started from cuttings. Seeds are collected from select trees in the forests and nursery. Some seeds are treated by refrigerating and soaking them as well as other methods intended to increase their chances of germination.
Germination occurs in a container whose humidity and temperature are regulated by a computerized system. The seeds are disinfected and planted in trays. They are then nurtured in a greenhouse with an irrigation system. Cuttings are rooted on heated tables, transferred to containers and are watered by either drip irrigation or a sprinkler system.
Throughout the duration of the tour, the three representatives expressed great interest, asked a variety of professional questions and inquired about details. ‘How big are the containers?’, ‘What kind of platform is used for planting?’ They indicated that the nurseries in their country are similar to Gilat, except that they lack a computerized control system, which can occasionally lead to problems with cultivation.
Yatir Forest: Coloring the Desert Green
A view of Yatir Forest. Photo: Yoav Devir
The long and fascinating day ended with a tour of Yatir Forest, which spans 30,000 dunams of land. With the help of its friends around the world, KKL-JNF has developed scenic roads, hiking paths, picnic areas and maintains historical sites in this forest.
In the Negev, runoff harvesting is conducted by means of Shichim, stone terraces that collect rain water. This method is based on the terraced farms used by Negev residents in ancient times. Who says you can’t learn from history?
Another method is limans – Earthen structures that collect rainwater using a crescent shaped dam placed in the riverbed. The dam slows the flow of water to a trickle and uses it to irrigate small groves. Over 400 limans are in use in the Negev today and members of this group visited a few of them.
Natasa in front of limans. Photo: Yoav Devir
Ten days after the rain storm that drenched Israel, including the Negev, it is not hard to understand the efficiency of the water reservoir system. The soil surrounding the limans is still wet and thelimans are full of water and serve as small lakes. This water, currently held in the ground, will be used to irrigate the trees on the many dry days that await them.
“If we want to create a sustainable system, we must use renewable natural resources,” explained Itzkik Moshe. “The Negev has a lot of water in these reservoirs, and using this water is the most appropriate method for this region.” “It is amazing to see that despite the relatively water-impoverished nature in this region, KKL-JNF has managed to accomplish so much to make this a better place,” said Natasa Bosnic, representative of the PFE Afforestation Company. “Your awareness of environmental issues is most impressive, as is the ability of KKL-JNF’s foresters to make the desert green.”
Birds enjoy puddles in Yatir. Photo: Yoav Devir
Later during their visit, the delegation from Republika Srpska in Bosnia & Herzegovina visited Sataf, where they learned about the preservation of heritage sites in the forest. In Ben Shemen Forest, they learned about the forest’s function as a green lung and about the community activities that take place in the forest. In the Carmel Forests, they were fascinated to hear about the forest restoration efforts following the large forest fire. At Hula Lake, they watched the birds and heard about the lake’s restoration.
Blagojevic imparted that he had visited many European countries but that he had been most impressed by his visit to Israel. “The conditions in Israel are not simple, but the projects are innovative and quite impressive. I hope that we can implement some of the things that we have seen here in our own country.”
Itzik Moshe summarized the visit by stating that, “All cooperation between countries can benefit everyone, and KKL-JNF is happy to share its knowledge and experience. Despite the differences, certain issues are shared by anyone involved in forestry.”
President Peres opened the conference for Israeli ambassadors and heads of mission this morning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
President Peres on the peace process:
"The State of Israel cannot stand on security alone, Israel needs diplomacy as well and it is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push forward a peace agreement."
"This is the first time Israel is getting offers to upgrade the relationship with the European Union and the Arab League."
"An economic boycott can be as damaging to Israel as the security threats."
President Peres on Iran:
"We must monitor the development of missiles in Iran and include that in an agreement – it requires cooperation between the US and Russia."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, officially opened the Ambassadors Conference for Israeli ambassadors and heads of mission this morning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. President Peres opened the conference alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Lieberman. Before speaking to Israel's representatives across the world President Peres surveyed the MFA Situation Room which was opened during his tenure as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a lay a wreath at the memorial wall for MFA employees who fell in the service of their country.
President Peres addressed the negotiations with the Palestinians and said, "Since the creation of the State of Israel we have always faced more threats than opportunities, today for the first time the tables have turned and the opportunities are more tangible and promising than the dangers "This is the first time Israel is getting offers to upgrade the relationship with the European Union and the Arab League, who for the first time is willing to recognize Israel and understands that Israel is not the enemy. Don't be confused, an economic boycott can be as damaging to Israel as the security threats. I was here when the state was founded, Ben Gurion faced fateful decisions which had great dangers and only small chances for success. Today Israel has great opportunities. "The State of Israel cannot stand on security alone, Israel needs diplomacy as well and it is the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to push forward a peace agreement."
President Peres also addressed the Iranian nuclear threat and said, "I am concerned by Iran's development of long range missiles. We must monitor the development of missiles in Iran and include that in an agreement – it requires cooperation between the US and Russia. It is hard to monitor uranium but much easier to monitor the means of delivery. Iran continues to supply arms to terrorist organizations and serves as a world center of terror.
President Peres addressed the importance of investing resources in the Negev and the Galilee:
"We should change the national priorities and invest resources in the Negev and the Galilee – in higher education, in infrastructure and in hi-tech centers"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, opened the seventh Galilee conference today (Tuesday) which is taking place in Tiberius with an on-stage interview which addressed the major issues of the day. President Peres discussed the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and said, "Israel's greatest strategic strength is peace. If there will be peace we will find budgets we didn't think we had. Israel is facing a new reality that includes within it new opportunities. Both the European Union and the Arab League are putting forward proposals to us which only a few years we couldn't have even dreamt of. They used to say that peace with Egypt and Jordan was impossible, and today we understand how important those peace deals are. I believe that Israel is facing new opportunities and I hope that some of us can throw out our preconceptions. Everyone knows that to achieve peace we will have to give up territory. There is no argument about that. If the government decided not to create new settlements then we should stand by that decision."
President Peres also addressed the importance of the development of the Negev and the Galilee and urged a greater resource allocation, "We should change the national priorities and invest resources in the Negev and the Galilee – in higher education, in infrastructure and in hi-tech centers. We should prioritize the Negev and the Galilee. We developed the medical field in Safed with an aim to expand it further in the future. There should be a university in the Galilee. I'm pleased to see the development in the Arab sector. The Hi-tech park in Nazareth, in which Jews and Arabs work together, changed the face of the city. An agreement was signed at the President's Residence with the University of Texas which will set up a satellite campus in Nazareth. The galilee has things which no other part of our country does. The government has a great vision for its development and it should be carried out as soon as possible."
The conference was also attended by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, the Mayor of Tiberius Yosef Ben David and other distinguished guests.
In honor of the New Year, President Peres hosted a reception at his residence in Jerusalem for the heads of the Christian denominations in Israel
"The State of Israel will not tolerate aggression against members of the clergy. I feel angry at the insults some religious leaders in Israel have faced recently"
His Beatitude Theophilos III:
"We commend the police authorities and the security forces for their hard and responsible work. However, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of bitter experience, there is more that can be done, both to facilitate access to the Holy Places for pilgrims from a distance as well as from our local communities."
In honor of the New Year the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, hosted a reception at his residence in Jerusalem for the heads of the Christian denominations in Israel. President Peres delivered remarks at the reception and condemned recent price tag attacks against holy sites, he stressed that Israel will not tolerate attacks on holy sites, "The State of Israel will not tolerate aggression against members of the clergy. I feel angry at the insults some religious leaders in Israel have faced recently. Israel has always been and will always remain committed to freedom of worship, freedom of religion. We will continue to guarantee access to holy sites for all. My prayers for the coming year are that harmony and coexistence reign in this Holy City, as an example and an inspiration for the togetherness of faiths across the world. Wherever intolerance appears we will continue to take firm action against it. There is no place for violence in our society, even more so when it targets people or places of faith."
President Peres stressed that international must act against extremist terror organizations and condemned the recent attacks in Russia, "We must stand united against the dark movements of fanaticism across the world. In the past two days, in Russia, too many innocent victims were killed by acts of madness. I speak for all of us present today when I say that our thoughts are with the families of the victims and our prayers go out to the full and speedy recovery of the wounded."
President Peres continued and added that peace is at the top of Israel's agenda, "Our peace talks with the Palestinians are ongoing; they are the greatest promise for our people and for the Palestinians. There is no solution other than two states for two peoples. An agreement between us can bring a change in the relations between Jews and Muslims and between all faiths. It is time for us and the Palestinians to move away from the language of enemies and opponents and embrace a dialogue of friendship and cooperation."
President Peres ended by delivering a greeting to the world for the new year and said, "There is more that united than divides us. We look forward with optimism. This house is your house and its doors are always open before you. I turn to you, as faith leaders, as community leaders, as people of peace and ask that you build bridges of understanding and paths of peace. This year is looking forward to the visit of Pope Francis, He is an outstanding example of a new spirit towards faith of prayer. He kept the old values but brought a new spirit of hope, of tolerance and of love. . On the eve of the New Year, I wish you all a year of peace, a year of hope."
The Minister of the Interior, Gideon Sa'ar, spoke and said, "We are committed and we remain committed and we will continue to ensure freedom of religion and religious practice in Israel for all religious denominations and groups. The Ministry of the Interior, under my leadership, attributes great importance to the relationship between the churches and all Israel's government institutions. We are pleased to allow free entry to all people who wish to pray at the holy sites. This weekend we all watched a TV report that described attacks on Christian clergy and holy sites here in Israel, we will deal with this type of crime with a strong response. I condemned this phenomenon immediately. The Israeli government will not stand for any attacks on the holy sites and against the followers of any religion anywhere in this country. The gangs responsible for price tag attacks at these holy sites that offended religious clergy and followers do not represent the Jewish people and its values. I hope these criminals will be apprehended and brought to justice."
His Beatitude Theophilos III also address the invited guests on behalf of the Christian leaders and said, "We take this opportunity to express our appreciation in particular to you, Mr. President for the determined and strong voice that you have been raising in condemning the wave of "Price Tag" crimes in our country, and especially in Jerusalem. In our capacity as the Heads of the Church communities we understand all too well the complexities of managing large numbers of people and we commend the police authorities and the security forces for their hard and responsible work. However, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of bitter experience, there is more that can be done, both to facilitate access to the Holy Places for pilgrims from a distance as well as from our local communities."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, tomorrow (Sunday, 29 December 2013), submit for Cabinet approval a NIS 166 million plan for economic benefits for Sderot and the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip. The goal of the plan is to strengthen residents, local authorities and the regional economy in light of the security situation and the difficulties regarding daily life.
The 2014 plan includes a series of benefits for residents of the area: Tax benefits, local property tax benefits, exemptions from leasing fees, daycare benefits, investments in infrastructures and local authorities, benefits for industry, agriculture, trade and employment, and expanded medical and social welfare services.
Among the benefits are: 20% tax credits, a 30% discount in local property taxes on residences, subsidized daycare, economic assistance to local authorities (NIS 8 million for the Sderot municipality and NIS 5 million for regional councils), an employment track for the absorption of new workers in the area, a 24% discount in local property taxes for industry, trade and services, a 15% preference in the allocation of foreign workers for agriculture, subsidies for new dairy farms and exemptions from Israel Land Authority leasing fees.
Psychological and social services for those suffering from shock – especially children – will be expanded at five local centers. Assistance will be provided for the operation of emergency medical units in the form of increased mobile intensive care units, the operation of night switchboards and bolstering the mental health center in Sderot.
It should be noted that the Government has made similar decisions in each of the last four years, at an overall investment of approximately NIS 950 million.
The plan was formulated by the socio-economic team chaired by Prime Minister's Office Director General Harel Locker and which included representatives from the Finance, Interior, Negev and Galilee Development, Health, Economy, Social Welfare and Social Services, National Infrastructures, Energy and Water, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Construction and Housing Ministries.
The Jerusalem Municipality wishes all its Christian residents and visitors Season's Greetings
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat would like to extend his warmest greetings to Jerusalem's Christian residents on the occasion of the Christmas holiday.
December 25, 2013 - Mayor Barkat would like to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of Jerusalem's Christians denominations.
As the home of the three Abrahamic traditions, Jerusalem is dear to over 3.5 billion people of varying faiths around the world. Our city is proud to be an open city, with freedom of religion for all residents.
Mayor Barkat looks forward to his annual tradition of visiting Christian leaders from Jerusalem's diverse Christian community and to personally wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
On behalf of the residents of Jerusalem, Mayor Nir Barkat would like to wish all residents and visitors much health, happiness and success during this holiday season.
TOURISM MINISTER DR. UZI LANDAU TO THE HEADS OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN ISRAEL: "WE WILL CONTINUE TO INVEST IN THE CONSERVATION OF SITES HOLY TO CHRISTIANITY; THE STATE OF ISRAEL SANCTIFIES FREEDOM OF WORSHIP AND WELCOMES COLLABORATION WITH THE CHURCH"
Minister Landau and representatives of the Tourism Ministry hosted pre-Christmas receptions today (Monday) and yesterday (Sunday) for the heads of the Christian communities in Jerusalem and Nazareth.
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau and representatives of the Tourism Ministry today (Monday) hosted a festive pre-Christmas reception in Jerusalem for the heads of the Christian communities and representatives of the various denominations of the Church.
Tourism Minister Landau: " It is no secret, that Christmas is one of the most beautiful and popular festivals in the Christian calendar, and around the world. Christmas is a festival that brings with it renewal and creativity, and new beginnings. It is a festival which brings a special light, and symbolizes peace, love for fellow man and the spirit of giving."
The minister continued: " The Ministry of Tourism, under my leadership has worked side by side with the Christian community in order to provide the best experience for the more than seventy five thousand visitors who are expected to come to Israel over the festive period.We are working in many ways to facilitate the crossing into Bethlehem. We are providing a free shuttle service which will operate tomorrow between Jerusalem and Bethlehem for the benefit of pilgrims and worshipers. We have invested heavily in the development and conservation of the Christian holy sites in order to enrich the spiritual experience for the pilgrims who visit the Holy Land. We will continue to do this for the Christian faithful from around the world"
The minister also said: " The State of Israel proudly carries the banner of humanitarian principles, foremost among them human dignity and the value of life - and has been dedicated to these principles since its establishment."
The minister noted that Israeli hospitals frequently treat the wounded, the sick and the needy who come from the Palestinian Authority and from neighboring countries - even in the absence of diplomatic relations. He also recalled that, during the snowstorms which raged in the region, Israel provided access to humanitarian assistance to our neighbors in the territories and in Syria, with the help of the United Nations.
"For me, as a student of the Bible and a Minister of the State of Israel, this event not only symbolizes Christmas – but the coexistence of those of different faiths, the friendship and the ability to find a common language, to build common values. Values such as the sanctity of life, liberty, faith, freedom of religion and conscience and the respect for all humanity."
Among the Church leaders attending the reception were Archimandrite Ignatios, head of the Shepherds Fields Monastery who read a message from His Beatitude the Greek Patriarch Theophilus the Third, Apostolic Nuncio to Israel H.E. Archbishop Lazzarotto Giuseppe, Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and Mr. Jurgen Buehler Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
A similar reception took place in Nazareth yesterday (Sunday) with the participation of, among others, Archbishop Elias Chacour, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Father Bruno Varriano, Guardian of the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Greek Orthodox Bishop Kuriakos, Mayor of Nazareth Ali Salam, Imam of the Peace Mosque in Nazareth and others.
Minister Landau referred to the International Day of Faith celebrations that had taken place in November in Nazareth in collaboration between the ministry and the Church. " I expressed to His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch Fuad Tawal, my sincerest hope that this important day would be the first of many more events in the future, and, as we say in Hebrew, may we meet on joyous occasions."
The Tourism Ministry will distribute sweets and Christmas gifts to pilgrims and tourists making their way through Rachel's Crossing to the Mass in Bethlehem on Christmas. According to Tourism Ministry statistics, 56% of all tourists visiting Israel in 2013 were Christians. The ministry is expecting about 75,000 visitors to the Holy Land over the Christmas period.
Photos: Credit Nitzan Shorer and Miriam Alster
- Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau, Senior Deputy Director-General Ahuva Zaken and Bishop Giacinto Marcuzzo, Vicar of the Latin Patriarchate in Nazareth (Jerusalem) - Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau and Archbishop Elias Chacour, head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Nazareth)
KKL Mexico holds an Urban Ecology with the the Ibero-American University.
On the 22nd October, the Ibero-American University (Universidad Iberoamericana) hosted the event - 1st Workshop in Urban Ecology: Understanding the city as an ecosystem. The event was the outcome of a fruitful collaboration between KKL Mexico and the University.
The event was attended by students of several faculties including Architecture, Engineering, Urban Planning, International Relations, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. The undergraduates came from universities from all over the Federal District of Mexico: National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM), the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education (ITESM), Anahuac University and, of course, the Ibero-American University (UIA).
The event took place in a warm and respectful atmosphere where the new representative of KKL for Northern Latin America, Magister Shay Salamon, presented the work of KKL in Israel as well as its projects in Mexico. The latter were presented in context of the main topics of the event: water, energy, air quality and residues. The attendants were impressed and surprised by the high level of technology involved in the development for a better environment in Israel.
One of the objectives of the event was to teach the real concept of urban ecology, which is the scientific study of the relations between human beings, the built surroundings and the environment, and how we can contribute with our knowledge to the planning and development of environmentally sustainable cities in the future.
In the first part of the event, various experts gave talks on their specific field.
Architect Moisés Gamus, Magister at the UIA University and KKL´s collaborator in this project, gave an overall explanation of what the urban ecology is and its scope.
Sara Topelsonde Grinberg, a prominent professional in the field of Urbanism, talked about the problems related to territory expansion and their solutions. She also introduced the case study which was later discussed in the workshop: Santa Fé.
Dr. José Antonio Barrios, an academic at the Engineering Institute of UNAM spoke about the water issue in Mexico's Federal District: its shortage, waste, pollution and how to promote a culture based on saving water.
Mr. Jose Luis Arbesú, architect and teacher of Planning and Systems, talked about the complexity of the collection and residues system in Federal District, the private politics managing it and the battle to be fought in order to educate the population on their consumption habits.
Dr. Leonardo Martínez, a specialist in Urban Economy, spoke about how we should change the concept of mobility in big cities.
Finally, on the topic of energy, engineer Ruben D. Ochoa, expert consultant in energy efficiency as well as founder of the organization SUMe – Sustainability for Mexico, spoke about humans' excessive consumption of energy and its effect on the climate.
After the conference, the attendants were divided into 4 groups in order to discuss in more detail the Santa Fé Case within the four areas, with the professors. This moment was useful for the attendants to think back to what was apprehended during the conference whilst creatively coming up with ideas to put into practice to solve urban real problems.
The most interesting part of the workshop was the contribution of engineer Oscar Vázquez, Director of the Climate Change at the Environment Bureau of the F.D. Government. Contributing to both the conference and workshop, engineer Vázquez enriched the discussions with his knowledge from the government's point of view.
We would like to highlight that the event was organized by the Ecological and Youth Committee of KKL Mexico. Special thanks to Carol Brousside Rubin, Moisés Gamus,Shirley Dobin and Fredel Kajomovitz for their excellent job in the organisation and to all the volunteers of the Youth Committee for helping us on the day of the event.
"The Lord is doing what he can but we must do what we need to do, to follow his wish and our destiny, to live in peace."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, conducted a special festive visit to the Franciscan Catholic Church in Ramla in honor of Christmas. President Peres was welcomed at the entrance by children in Santa hats singing Christmas songs in English, Arabic and Hebrew.
President Peres, accompanied by the Mayor of Ramla and the head of the church, entered the main hall which was decorated festively for the holidays. The event was attended by the leaders of a number of Christian denominations, each of whom delivered a holiday greeting. President Peres joined the choir of a local school as they sang classic Christmas songs and, along with the gathered guests, was given traditional chocolates.
President Peres thanked the community for the warm welcome and said, "It is a special occasion for us to be able to celebrate Christmas all together – we all pray to the same lord and we all pray for the same thing – for the Lord to provide peace to us all and in particular that the young girls and boys will now know anymore wars and hatred. I came to offer my blessings on behalf of the State of Israel where Jews, Christians and Muslims live together. It is my pleasure to bring you the greetings of the whole people of Israel, a holiday for one religion is a holiday for the whole county. As a state we are responsible for your safety, freedom and holy sites and for your feeling as free and equal citizens that carry with them the hope that unites us for peace and a better world. The Lord is doing what he can but we must do what we need to do, to follow his wish and our destiny, to live in peace."
The Mayor of Ramla also added his greetings and said, "Ramla brings together all faiths, Jews, Christians and Muslims, and from this place we call for people to come together, and solidarity between all faiths."
At the end of the event President Peres and the leaders of the Christian denominations in Israel raised a glass to a year of peace and the president wished them a "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."
The annual Open Day Agricultural Exhibition at the Western Negev Research and Development Station, which took place this year on Tuesday, December 17, is always an exciting experience for both local farmers and also for the many guests who come from Israel and abroad.
R&D Center peppers on show. Photo: Tania Susskind
Open Day provides an opportunity to showcase the station's research projects, which focus on discovering new crop species and growing methods that suit the soil, water and climate of the western Negev. With the help of its friends throughout the world, KKL-JNF funds 50% of the budget of Israel's R&D stations. There is a KKL-JNF representative at every R&D, who is involved in decision making and the R&D's daily activities. According to Lior Katri, the director of the Western Negev R&D, "with KKL-JNF, we know we're in good hands.
"KKL-JNF is our anchor," Katri continued. "It's not just about financing. KKL-JNF personnel like R&D board member Itzik Moshe and Micky Kaplan are involved in all our daily work. I'm not just saying this for the KKL-JNF website; I talk about KKL-JNF whenever I speak about the Western Negev R&D. And as for the financing, I know that when KKL-JNF commits itself to transferring funds by a certain date, the money will arrive right on time.
"Looking towards the future, the R&D will be concentrating on encouraging local farmers to diversify their crops. We're too dependent on tomatoes and peppers. Our focus will also be on sustainable, green agriculture, which means taking our surroundings into consideration. We want our region not just to be successful agriculturally and economically, but also to be a place where people will be proud and happy to live."
Farmer Mayan Kitron. Photo: Tania Susskind
The impressive KKL-JNF booth at the fair attracted many visitors, providing maps and brochures about KKL-JNF and its activities in the region. Mayan Kitron, a farmer from Moshav Eidan who is also the director of flower research at the Arava R&D and whose picture is featured on one of the walls of the KKL-JNF display, said that there was a great deal of cooperation between the Western Negev and Arava R&Ds: "We exchange information all the time and figure out how to apply it to our different regions. KKL-JNF has been a full partner to agricultural research in Israel from the very beginning."
Ami Uliel, KKL-JNF Southern Region director, said that he feels an enormous sense of personal satisfaction from being part of Israel's cutting-edge achievements in desert agriculture. "And for the first time in our history, local farmers don't lack water, thanks to desalination and thereservoirs that KKL-JNF built with the help of its friends throughout the world, which is something people aren't so aware of." When asked about the harsh winter storm that recently hit Israel, Uliel responded, "I'm a farmer myself, and while it's true that fruit fell off the trees, I always see such amounts of rain as a blessing."
Open Day is not just about agricultural innovation; it's also an opportunity to share knowledge about life in the Western Negev in general. This was the focus of a conference that took place at the exhibition, which also included surveys of topics such as the summer locust wave that caused damage to crops, organic agriculture, and more.
The Negev R&D Open Day. Photo: Tania Susskind
KKL-JNF Southern Region architect Zohar Tzafon spoke about the Western Negev as a possible site of bicycle tourism. To date, KKL-JNF has created 190 km worth of singles in the region, which attract cyclists from all over the country, as has been shown by KKL-JNF's eco-counter, which counts the number of cyclists. "However," Zohar noted, "we could expand this field and possibly also attract tourists from abroad. To do so, we need to start thinking about enabling cycling trips which take several days, which would necessitate facilities like a hotel where you could bring your bike into the lobby, and special healthy menus for the cyclists. The Western Negev has a lot to offer, so this possibility should definitely be looked into."
Of course, no Open Day would be complete without the tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, flowers, hanging strawberries and even edible grapes for which the region has achieved international acclaim. Tomatoes are the region's leading crop, and 58% of Israel's tomatoes are grown here for export and for the local market. Hanging strawberries, a special technique developed at the R&D that prevents disease, makes harvesting much easier and produces out-of season strawberries that can fetch prices many times higher than in season. Nematodes, a type of worm that attacks and feeds on vegetables, are kept away by use of solar sterilization. Solar Sterilization involves covering areas to be planted with plastic for four to five weeks before planting, which kills many of the pests in the ground and greatly reduces the need for pesticides.
Delegation of agricultural experts from India. Photo: Tania Susskind
Nitesh Yogi, from Nepal. T.Susskind
Among the visitors at the exhibition was a group of agricultural experts from India, who were in Israel for a course in post-harvesting management. "One of the things we're learning about here is indoor agriculture," said one of the scientists. "India and Israel have a lot to learn from each other, and we have found this to be a very practical and interesting fair."
Nitesh Yogi from Nepal was at the KKL-JNF booth with a group of students that he brought to the fair. "I head a group of fifty students from West Nepal, who are in Israel for eleven months to learn about growing tomatoes, peppers and other crops. I've seen a lot of new things at the fair, and I'm especially fascinated by the huge tomatoes grown in the greenhouses here. It's very inspiring when the connections between nations are about technological advancement for the benefit of all our citizens."
The Civil Administration has implemented a number of measures which will allow for greater access and ease of movement for both Palestinians and foreign tourists during this holiday season.
THE CIVIL COORDINATION DEPARTMENT Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories Ministry of Defense, State of Israel
The celebration of Christmas generally occurs on December 24-25 and related festivities are scheduled to take place from December 19, 2013 until January 20, 2014. During this period, many Christians visit the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem which marks the birthplace of Jesus.
Every year, the Bethlehem DCL coordinates preparations for the holiday period with the Palestinian Authority and other relevant agencies. Additionally, the Civil Administration has implemented a number of measures which will allow for greater access and ease of movement for both Palestinians and foreign tourists during this holiday season.
Official measures for the Christian community during Christmas 2013-14
Permits will be issued for the Christian holidays, exclusively for members of the Christian community.
Permits to Israel will be issued with no restriction as to age or marital status. A magnetic card will not be required.
The permits include an overnight stay.
Accompanied minors under age 16 will be free to enter without a permit.
Up to 200 visas will be issued for Jordanian citizens visiting family in the West Bank.
Permits for up to 500 Christian Palestinian residents from Gaza (under age 16 or above 35, and not under security restriction) will be issued to enter Israel in the West Bank.
Israeli Arabs will be allowed to enter West Bank cities for the purpose of visiting family, engaging in business, and/or tourism.
Members of the Christian community will be permitted to pass through the Jalameh crossing until 7:00pm on the following dates:
* Christmas: Christmas: 24 Dec 2013 to 26 Dec 2013 * New Year: 31 Dec 2013 to 1 Jan 2014 * Christmas [Orthodox Catholic Church]: 6 Jan 2014 to 8 Jan 2014 * New Year [Orthodox Catholic Church]: 13 Jan 2014 to 14 Jan 2014
COGAT and the Civil Administration wish a safe, happy, and fulfilling Christmas holiday to all.
President of Guatemala Otto Fernando Pérez Molina waters his newly planted tree, with KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. Photo: Sasson Tiram, KKL-JNF Photo Archive
"Planting this tree in Jerusalem not only strengthens the ties of friendship between Guatemala and Israel, but also expresses our hope for a better world." President of Guatemala, Otto Fernando Pérez Molina planted a tree at the KKL-JNF Grove of Nations in Jerusalem. "It is an honor for us to be here with you and plant a tree in the tradition of Abraham," said the president, who joined the ranks of the many heads of state from all over the world who have planted olive trees in the Grove of Nations in Jerusalem as a sign of friendship with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and as a symbol of peace between the nations of the world.
This was the first official visit to Israel of a President of Guatemala. The tree planting ceremony in the Grove of Nations, which took place on Monday, December 9, 2013, was attended by Guatemalan government ministers—the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister and the Minister of Agriculture—as well as KKL-JNF executives, among them KKL-JNF Chairman Efi Stenzler. "In the Jewish tradition, planting a tree is the most important symbol of friendship," said Stenzler. "I am sure this tree we have planted here will reinforce the cooperation between our countries."
President of Guatemala Otto Fernando Pérez Molina waters his newly planted tree, with KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. Photo: Sasson Tiram, KKL-JNF Photo Archive Stenzler said that the new olive tree joins the 240 million trees planted by KKL-JNF all over Israel over the years. He detailed KKL-JNF's work to the audience, which includes not only planting trees but also constructing reservoirs, developing agriculture in arid regions, combating desertification, rehabilitating waterways, developing infrastructure for ecotourism and education for environmental protection.
The ceremony was emceed by Andy Michelson, who made many people smile when he said that planting trees in the land of Israel is so important, according to the Jewish tradition, that it says, if the Messiah arrives when a man is in the midst of planting a tree, he must first finish planting the tree, and only then may he go and greet the Messiah.
Among those present was the President of KKL Guatemala, Susan Michaeli, who said that "Guatemala has been a friend of Israel since the establishment of its statehood, and this visit is important in strengthening the connection."
The Israel Ambassador to Guatemala, Moshe Bachar, and the Guatemala Ambassador to Israel, Alfredo Vasquez, read the Planter's Prayer together, in Hebrew and in Spanish, after which everyone got to work planting the olive tree. The muddy ground following the rain did not deter the Guatemalan President and his ministers, who planted the tree skillfully and did not forget to water it when they were done. "Every tree signifies hope, life, concern for the environment and the continuity of future generations," concluded the President.
The next day, President Pérez Molina was taken on a helicopter tour of the Negev accompanied by KKL-JNF executive officers, and he was very impressed by the achievements of KKL-JNF in the development of southern Israel. The tour included bird's eye views of the various projects that are turning the desert into a green and flourishing region. That evening, KKL-JNF hosted a reception in honor of the President of Guatemala at the Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, where he was the main speaker.
During his visit in Israel, the Guatemalan President met the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. At the official reception, President Peres said, "Welcome to the State of Israel and to the city of Jerusalem. We welcome you as the President of Guatemala, a friend of Israel, a friend of peace." President Peres said that Israel and Guatemala have great potential as collaborators and said, "Your visit is an opportunity for expanding cooperation, in this era when Guatemala is progressing toward a future of innovation and science."
The President of Guatemala's Helicopter Tour
The helicopter tour of the President of Guatemala with KKL-JNF executives included the Dead Sea and Masada, and sites of projects being developed by KKL-JNF all over the Negev, with the assistance of its friends worldwide.
KKL Guatemala President Susan Michaeli and KKL-JNF Board Member Hernan Felman. Photo: Yoav Devir The largest planted forest in the Middle East, Yatir Forest serves as an example for maximal adjustment to arid climate conditions and is a focus for international research on environmental protection and carbon sequestration by trees. These research studies have shown that desert trees absorb as much carbon as trees in the rain forests!
As the organization responsible for Israel's forests, KKL-JNF contributes towards the reduction of global warming by having planted more than 240 million trees in an area of 920,000 dunams, and in maintaining 800,000 dunams of natural woodlands and pasture.
Planting trees is the most significant contribution towards reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and preventing global warming. Thanks to the work of KKL-JNF, Israel is one of the only countries in the world that has more trees today than it had a hundred years ago.
KKL-JNF Reservoirs Water is an acute issue in Israel, where water is scarce. As the population grows, more and more water is allocated for domestic use, so the quantities of water available for agriculture have been diminishing. KKL-JNF sees great importance in the intensive development of agriculture in Israel to enable the empowerment of populations that make a living from agriculture, especially in rural areas, and also as a safeguard for Israel's open spaces and landscapes. Development of reservoirs for agriculture is therefore a priority for KKL-JNF among its diverse activities.
KKL-JNF has constructed more than 240 reservoirs for storing floodwater and treated wastewater. Some of the reservoirs with treated wastewater fill up several times a year. Thus, a capacity of 260 cubic meters can produce up to 160 million cubic meters of water a year. In 2010, water provided by the reservoirs constructed by KKL-JNF provided half of the water used for agriculture in Israel!
Ambassadors Forest and Desert Afforestation
Efi Stenzler presents the Gautemalan President with a KKL-JNF Planting Certificate. Photo: Sasson Tiram, KKL-JNF Photo Archive KKL-JNF invests great resources in halting the expansion of the desert, and in rehabilitating areas that have undergone desertification, by developing methods for desert afforestation based on agricultural methods such as the ancient terrace system and the more modern liman system.
The year 2006 was declared the year of desertification by the UN, and it was therefore decided to inaugurate the Ambassadors Forest in the environs of Beersheva. The Ambassadors Forest was planted in the green belt that KKL-JNF is developing around the Beer Sheva metropolis. The forest, which covers 700 dunams, was planted in sandstone, where water resources are utilized by special methods that enable trees such as acacia, carob, fig and other desert species to thrive.
Beersheva River Park In the heart of Beersheva, the Negev's capital city, flows the Beersheva River, which was polluted for many years and became a hazardous waste dump. A joint rehabilitation project undertaken by KKL-JNF, the Shikma Besor Drainage Authority, the Beersheba Municipality and the Israel Ministry for Environmental Protection, has turned it into an ecological park covering an area of 5,200 dunams and measuring 8 kilometers in length.
The Beersheva River Park includes lawns, groves, footpaths, cycling trails, historic sites, designed bridges, sports facilities, a botanical garden featuring desert flora, picnic areas all along the promenade and assorted wildlife. A manmade lake is planned for the center of the park, to be supplied by treated wastewater.
Gaza Border Communities – Life Saving Trees
The Grove of Nations. Photo: Yoav Devir The people living in communities bordering on Gaza are constantly exposed to Palestinian artillery and missile attacks, while accessing their farms, within the boundaries of their own communities, and while driving along the roads, such as the anti-tank missile fired at a school bus on a road near the Gaza border, which killed a 16-year-old boy.
In order to remedy the situation, KKL-JNF and the IDF embarked on a tree planting project in 2011. The trees, which border vulnerable communities, serve a triple benefit to residents of the south: these rows of trees will not only block the vision of terrorist firing into Israel, but will also provide pleasant scenery and shade. The planting program focuses on using fast-growing, water-saving species, adapted to the desert conditions in the area.
Jerusalem The helicopter tour concluded in Jerusalem with a view of the Old City.
The fight against racism, xenophobia and antisemitism
The seminar will focus on manifestations of antisemitism in the EU, the sharp rise in hate crimes and antisemitism on the web and in cyberspace, and education to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
The 7th European Commission - Israel Seminar of experts on the fight against racism, xenophobia and antisemitism will be held in Brussels on December 16-17, 2013.
During the seminar, participants will discuss such issues as: manifestations of antisemitism in the member states of the European Union, and effective ways of combating it; the sharp rise in hate crimes and antisemitism on the web and in cyberspace and how to reduce it; education to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, to enhance tolerance and combat antisemitism. There will also be a discussion of the results of the recent survey of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on Jewish people's experiences and perceptions of antisemitism, hate-motivated crime and discrimination across a number of EU Member States.
On the second day, meetings will be held in the European Parliament to raise awareness among European lawmakers of the need to combat antisemitism.
The Israeli delegation to the dialogue will be headed by Ambassador Gideon Behar, Director of the Israel Foreign Ministry Department for Combating Anti-Semitism, alongside experts from Yad Vashem - the World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration - and the Israel Students Union.
The European delegation will be headed by Ms. Salla Saastamoinen, Head of Unit of Fundamental Rights and Rights of the Child in the Directorate General Justice of the European Commission, along with diplomats and senior officials involved in the fight against antisemitism and racism.
The Seminar will be opened by David Walzer, Ambassador of Israel to the European Union and Paul Nemitz, Director for Fundamental Rights and Citizenship at the European Commission Justice Directorate-General.
Peace activist and Honorary Consul of Croatia Shmuel Schlesinger initiated a gathering of friends calling to stop the killing of innocent Syrian people and to empathize with the innocent victims in the civil war in Syria.
Schlesinger donated his home in Savion for the occasion whose participants included diplomats, representatives of several religions in Israel, a Rabbi, Christians, religious leaders from the Druze and Arab community, lecturers, academics and executives.
The conference was held on Friday morning, November 29, in protest against the killing of innocent victims throughout the world, and in particular against the genocide and killing of innocent people in neighboring Syria.
Honorary Consul Samuel Schlesinger explained the idea that drove his initiative: "As a Holocaust survivor whose family was destroyed by the Nazis, I can't afford to sit still when I hear that innocent women, children and the elderly are being killed in bombings and gassings. I have a private as well as a public interest in helping to sow the seeds towards world peace. I was personally hurt when the world was silent while innocent people were killed in the Holocaust. Now, I cannot be at peace with myself, if I will not shout out when across our fence, our neighbors are killing and murdering innocent people". "I know this will not actually stop the fighting and killing" says Schlesinger, "but through protest I hope to plant the first seed and steps toward real peace with our neighbors in Syria."
Besides being an activist for peace, Schlesinger is active in the diplomatic and public sectors, and is the owner and chairman of the "Schlesinger Group" which controls "Ashdod Bonded", with warehouses and freight terminals at air and sea ports and – "IQ LOGISTIC", a company specializing in logistical management. Schlesinger sees great importance and attributes supreme value to peoples of different religions, engaging in public diplomacy, and in promoting peace between nations and between people.
Among the guests were the Ambassador of Croatia Pjer Simunovic; MK Ayoub Kara, deputy speaker and Minister for Development of the Negev and the Galilee; the Mayor of Majdal Shams, Dolan Abu Salah; Leader of the Druze religion, Amin Kbalan in Beit Jaan; and Rabbi Yosef Kaplan, a Chabad Rabbi and religious Jewish educator. Among the academics present were Dr. Mordechai (Moti) Kedar, an expert in Middle East Studies and Islam, and Marc Gal, a bereaved father from the Druze community and others and other executives and intellectuals who came to show their solidarity with this topic.
As the event took place during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, Rabbi Yosef Kaplan, opened the event and invited Ambassador Simunovic, all religious leaders and academics to gather together to light the second candle, symbolizing cooperation between nations and religions. This created an atmosphere of goodwill and mutual respect among all those in attendance.
After lighting the Hanukkah candles, MK Ayoub Kara praised the Israeli contribution to the Syrian people that has been given quietly and discreetly. MK Kara noted that this aid is especially helpful to those seriously injured and having no one to turn to in their own country. He described how the contributions and Israeli humanitarian aid is being highly regarded in the world. He further says that his colleagues from other countries praise and even envy the fact that that the state of Israel sends humanitarian aid unconditionally despite the problems and difficult hostile surroundings.
Majdal Shams Mayor Dolan Abu Salah (second term as mayor) also spoke about the humanitarian aid that we as human beings must give to the Syrian people who are victims of war. When Mr. Abu Salah was asked what is the extent of his emotional involvement with the Syrian people, he commented: "I dedicate time, effort and deep thought to this issue, especially when I see my children playing around the house and imagine what they (God forbid) might have to go through if they were in Syria now.
Another speaker at the event was Marc Gal, a communications expert who proposed a global plan for regional peace. According to Gal, a stable peace in the Middle East will take place only of we take into account the traditions of the local population groups in the region.
Dr. Mordechai (Moti) Kedar, Director of the Center for Middle East Policy – at Bar-Ilan University, presented a broad picture of the historical sequence that led to the current situation in Syria. Dr. Kedar studies the core issues of the Israeli - Arab conflict and is a researcher of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar Ilan University. He is known as being an expert on Islamic groups, political discourse in Arab countries, the Arab media and the internal Syrian arena. Dr. Kedar is the author of the book, "Syrian Media Under Hafez al-Assad". He has also published articles and opinion pieces on Islamic terrorism, Iran, the Palestinians and the issue of Palestinian refugees. Dr. Kedar surprised the guests – particularly the Muslim religious Druze and Arabs, with his extensive knowledge of Muslim religion and the distinction between all its sects and factions, using terms from the Arab world only elders of the community know.
According to Dr. Kedar there is no actual concept of "Israeli nationality" but there is a "State of Israel", therefore, there is no actual entity called the "Syrian nation" but there is a "Syrian state", in which there are cults and sectors of the Arab Muslim and Christian populations who fanatically preserve their traditions and religion and are not willing to accept the religious coercion being dictated to them by the dominant party and the Alawite community headed by Assad. What is going on now is basically a process of dissolution similar to what happened in the former Yugoslavia, where Yugoslavia was broken up into small countries and ethnic groups. The same process resulting in small states occurred in the former Soviet Union. Dr. Kedar predicts that this is what will eventually happen in Syria. Peace will come in Syria when everyone will recognize the right of every faction to establish its own autonomy and form their own state.
Dr. Kedar summed up with the English expression: "High Fences Make Good Neighbors" giving his own interpretation: "Give each group respect, while making sure they are separated by clear borders, and they will live together in peace and mutual respect".
If at the beginning of the morning, we wondered how so many individuals from such different backgrounds gathered under the same roof could come together - at the end of the meeting, we discovered that unusual relationships and friendships had been formed.
Mr. Schlesinger sees a personal mission in bringing world peace by promoting dialogue between parties. Since he is a practical man, he begins to implement the change in his own home by inviting people to his home in Savion. Guests might include individuals from the wide political and religious map where they discuss different topics, enjoy music in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere. Schlesinger says his goal is to reach an understanding between the sides out of a sense of goodwill and love for humanity.
And we think, If only the same atmosphere of openness, understanding, love and mutual desire for peace, like that we have experienced here today between such varied groups of people, we could find between countries – then the world would be a much better place to live in.
The event was the launch of El Al’s newest wine menus for the airline’s First and Business classes. Most of the guests were members of El Al’s Frequent Flyer Club, or passengers who usually fly in Business or First Class. But among the invitees was a not insignificant number of “us” – those who choose to fly in Economy Class for whatever reason. They too are recognized, properly serviced and fully appreciated.
Friday morning at the “Hamam” in old Jaffa. El Al pulled out all the stops for their honored guests; the wine flowed like water, the snacks were plentiful (and delicious!) and the atmosphere welcoming and laid back. Everyone felt “At home away from home”.
El Al President & CEO Elyezer Shkedy briefly welcomed the guests with a short overview of El Al’s recent achievements and awards from independent tourism experts. (Did you know that this summer Travel & Leisure Magazine’s readers placed El Al in the top 20 airlines in the world, position #18?) He then introduced wine expert Yair Haidu who recently joined the El Al culinary team to make sure that next time you fly, the on-board service will be even better. In addressing the audience, Haidu reminded us that: “Wine is like no other beverage. It means something special (and unique) to everyone. Wine is the prince of drinks so it is not surprising that El Al over recent years has paid even more attention to improving the flight experience – and that includes the wines on offer.”
The launch of the new wine menus included a wine-tasting of dozens of wines selected from about 300 that various Israeli wineries – large and small – offered to El Al. Haidu added: “Whereas before, airlines had to choose only between huge wineries that could supply the needed quantities year round, El Al has now “broken out of the box” with a decision to have wine menus change with the seasons, in addition to offering a “Wine of the Month” with special discoveries and selections. Now frequent flyers (and others) can taste and enjoy new wines each time they fly. On El Al, the boring days of “red or white?” are a thing of the past.
Happy landings and “l’chaim”.
Photos Sivan Farag
Yair Haidu with El Al President & CEO Elyezer Shkedy
"The world lost a great leader who changed the course of history"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, released a special statement following the death of Nelson Mandela. President Peres said, "The world lost a great leader who changed the course of history. On behalf of the citizens of Israel we mourn alongside the nations of the world and the people of South Africa, who lost an exceptional leader. Nelson Mandela was a fighter for human rights who left an indelible mark on the struggle against racism and discrimination. He was a passionate advocate for democracy, a respected mediator, a Nobel peace prize laureate and above all a builder of bridges of peace and dialogue who paid a heavy personal price for his struggle in the years he spent in prison and fighting for his people. Nelson Mandela's legacy for his people and for the world will forever remain engraved in the pages of history and the hearts of all those who were touched by him. He will be remembered forever."
While the IDF aid mission has returned to Israel, the IsraAID delegation continues to provide relief to the typhoon victims. The Hanukah holiday has brought light to the island that still suffers from electricity and power outages since the typhoon.
Celebrating Hanukah in Ormoc, Philippines
Immediately after the extent of the damage was known, the IsraAIDhumanitarian NGO sent a team of seven medical professionals to storm-ravaged Philippines to aid the people struck by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
IsraAID's current team of 12 medical and psychosocial professionals in Ormoc, Philippines have been celebrating the Hanukah holiday with partners and colleagues from around the world including the US, Germany, France, Australia and of course the Philippines. The holiday has brought light (both figuratively and literally) to the island that still suffers from electricity and power outages since the typhoon.
At the same time, the team has made strong headway in its medical, psychosocial and livelihood projects, and further cemented IsraAID as one of the leading organizations with an integrated model for the rehabilitation and recovery of Ormoc and its surrounding municipalities.
A new IsraAID team on the ground is working closely with American, German and Filipino doctors, equipped with a new batch of medicine and medical equipment. IsraAID remains active in the Ipil district, and the total number of patients treated to date has risen to well over 1,500. In keeping with the community based approach, 1-2 day mobile clinics are conducted in each of the neighborhoods in the district.
In addition, as other organizations begin to pull out, IsraAID has been called upon by the Department of Health to both adopt another district of over 45,000 people (the largest in the city), and support the main city health center which is losing its international medical backing. At the request of the UN and the US government liaison, IsraAID is also providing health services in two villages outside the city.
Due to recent reports of increasing numbers of cases of depression, anxiety, and other related mental health symptoms, IsraAID has begun to offer resilience training to 50 volunteers (mostly daycare workers, social workers, and teachers). These volunteers are responsible for running psychosocial activities with children in the 29 evacuation centers serving over 1,080 homeless households within the city. In addition, IsraAID professionals are now developing a long-term training and mentoring program, with the goal of expanding to the five other major areas, including Tacloban and Palo.
Following a request from the city departments of health and education, IsraAID has begun training programs for key members of the 1,544 teachers in Ormoc city. This training is crucial for the long-term psychosocial health of the children, and the prevention of trauma-related issues. As a result of all these developments, IsraAID has been invited by the city to take the lead on psychosocial/trauma programs, and to present its findings, methodology and curriculum to the international and national organizations working in the municipality.
Recent assessments on the ground have revealed a growing number of reports of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence since the crisis destroyed families and livelihoods. In response, IsraAID aims to further investigate the situation and build a task force in cooperation with both the department of social welfare and the PNP (Philippines National Police) Women's Desk to address the situation.
Rehabilitation and livelihoods
While the immediate emergency needs are being addressed, IsraAID is working with several key partners on the rehabilitation of educational infrastructures and livelihood initiatives.
Accompanied by the departments of education and engineering, IsraAID visited both the Ipil National High School and the adjacent Ipil Central Elementary School to assess typhoon-related damages. The team worked in close coordination with the Australian Army (flanked by Australian Aid) to clear the debris and build make-shift shelters before schools reopen in early December.
Our team has also been compiling information on the state of the fishing community of Macabug and have thus far identified potential households as well as four major municipal programs for support with rehabilitation and enhancement of the livelihood using Israeli innovation and know-how.
SANTIAGO, Chile, November 27 2013, (BWNS) — Significant progress is being made in the construction of the Baha'i House of Worship here, the final one to be erected to serve an entire continent.
Work has been completed on a complex three-storey structure and underground service tunnel, requiring more than 2,000 cubic metres of concrete and 190 tonnes of reinforced steel.
Now the next major phase of the project - the erection of the Temple's distinctive superstructure - has commenced.
The recent developments were announced in a letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated 26 November.
"We are delighted to share news of the progress on the construction of the continental House of Worship for South America rising in the foothills of the Andes in Chile," the Universal House of Justice wrote.
The 30-metre high superstructure will include an exterior envelope made of cast-glass pieces that will be mounted on some 3,200 aluminium frames, as well as more than 8,000 robotically milled panels of translucent stone which will clad the Temple's interior.
They are being fabricated in several facilities in Europe and the Americas and shipped to Chile for assembly and installation by a small team of engineers now working on-site together with local contractors, staff, and volunteers.
"Discernible on the horizon from the city of Santiago is the structure's central scaffolding tower, upon which has been hoisted into prominent position the steel oculus ring that will unite eighteen arched tubular columns at the uppermost point of the edifice," observed the Universal House of Justice.
When completed, the edifice in Santiago will be the eighth in a series of continental Baha'i Houses of Worship-distinctive buildings, open to everyone-established to integrate worship with service.
An integral concept of each Baha'i House of Worship is that it is a place of prayer and meditation as well as a spiritual center around which agencies and institutions of social, humanitarian, and educational service will emerge to serve the surrounding population.
Two videos released
A new video depicting the progress of the House of Worship's construction has recently been released. It shows the completion of the concrete structural elements and highlights the fabrication work of the components of the building's superstructure. A second video shows initiatives that are under way to develop vibrant united communities dedicated to the service of humanity in the neighborhoods surrounding the House of Worship. The videos can be viewed here in English, and here in Spanish.
We are very pleased to present a new episode of Diwaniyya, the Moshe Dayan Center podcast: Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia’s recent refusal of a seat on the UN Security council left many onlookers puzzled. Dr. Brandon Friedman of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies gives background on the Kingdom’s strategic orientation, its interests in the Syrian Civil war, its attitude toward Russia and China, and the reason it is working so hard to prevent a nuclear Iran.
You can stream “Saudi Araba and the Middle East” on at the Diwaniyya blog or the Dayan Center website. Please visit the following link: http://www.dayan.org/diwaniyya-28-saudi-arabia-and-region-feat-brandon-friedman
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Subscribe by email to our blog for updates and for enlightening extras like photos, videos, and editorials related to each episode theme.
Future episodes will be available on the Dayan Center website, the Diwaniyya blog, and through iTunes.
4,600 people rock and roll with Canadian PM Stephen Harper at JNF Canada's 65th annual Negev Dinner.
4,600 guests attended the JNF Canada Negev Dinner, in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the guest of honor at the event. The Prime Minister pledged the friendship of Canada to the State of Israel, and surprised the audience with a rock and roll performance. The dinner raised funds for The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center.
Around 4,600 guests attended the festive JNF Canada Negev Dinner held at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. The dinner was held in tribute Canadian Prime Minister, theRight Honorable Stephen Harper, who was the guest of honor at the event. The Prime Minister's senior ministers were also present, along with other government officials and numerous KKL-JNF and Israel supporters.
JNF Canada is honoring PM Stephen Harper with a major KKL-JNF project, the Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center, which will bear his name. The Hula Valley, with its abundance of water and vegetation, serves as an important rest stop for millions of birds migrating from Europe to Africa during the winter months, earning its reputation as a world class bird-watching site.
Over the course of the evening, the 175 KKL-JNF projects in Israel established over the past decade thanks to the support of JNF Canada, were shown, including, of course, the Hula Lake Park.
PM Stephen Harper was visibly moved at the major display of love and affection showed by the Canadian Jewish community, and delighted the audience by announcing his intentions to visit Israel in January 2014. The Prime Minister's upcoming trip will be his first visit to the State of Israel.
Regarding theStephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center, he emphasized that the project was very important to him for 3 reasons: "I value it obviously as a personal recognition that is bestowed on me, I also think it is a fantastic environmental project, but the third, most important thing is this: It is where it is, in the homeland of the Jewish people, in that light of freedom and democracy in what is otherwise a region of darkness, the State of Israel."
JNF Canada CEO Josh Cooper. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
The Canadian Prime Minister reaffirmed his support for the State of Israel. "We understand that the future of our country and of our shared civilization depends on the survival of that free and democratic homeland for the Jewish People in the Middle East, and I tell you friends, that is why Israel will always have Canada as a friend in the world."
The audience received a wonderful surprise when Stephen Harper, with a twinkle in his eye, revealed the reason for his casual attire and his 'herringbone' pendant – when he suddenly transformed into a lead singer with the Herring Bone band, which had come all the way from Ottawa to perform for the guests as a gesture of 'love and affection'. The Canadian prime minister delighted the audience with several classic rock numbers, including Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline and Jumping Jack Flash by The Rolling Stones. In response to the audience's demand for an encore, he played the Beatles "Hey Jude".
JNF Canada CEO Josh Cooper thanked the Co-Chairs of the 65th JNF Canada Dinner, TheHon. Linda Fromm and Howard Sokolowski, who "made this event happen".
"I am proud to represent one of the oldest Zionist organizations in the world," he said, and thanked the Canadian Prime Minister for allowing JNF Canada to honor him.
Audience. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Josh Cooper noted that this event was the "largest dinner honoring the sitting Prime Minister in Canadian history."
Regarding PM Harper's support for Israel, he said "You have taught us that your friends stand with you shoulder to shoulder, regardless of the size of the bully, and you have raised the bar for what it is to be considered a true friend of Israel."
In a special video message to PM Stephen Harper, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu congratulated JNF for choosing to honor the Canadian Prime Minister, saying that it was a wise choice. "Stephen Harper has proved to be a real leader," he said. "He stood with us against the collective wisdom, the received wisdom, the political correctness, because Stephen doesn't want to be politically correct. He wants to be correct." PM Netanyahu saluted Stephen Harper as a personal friend, a great friend to the State of Israel, and a great leader.
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, hailed the event and PM Stephen Harper's vibrant presence as an "unprecedented display of support for KKL-JNF and the State of Israel."
70 years since the Jewish rescue action in Denmark, and the tragic end of 68 Jews in Gilleleje.
As a tribute to the commemoration of the 70th year since the 'Jewish Action' in Denmark, in which the Danish people worked to rescue their Jewish fellow countrymen from the clutches of the Nazis, KKL Denmark contributed a gift to the city of Gilleleje.
Three Malus trees planted by the Gilleleje Church. Photo: Courtesy KKL Denmark
KKL Denmark President Mr. Ulf Haxen. Photo: Courtesy KKL Denmark
Most of Gilleleje's Jews were rescued and shipped to safety in Sweden, but the little fishermen's town is also the place of a tragic failed escape, where 68 Jews hiding in the attic of the local church were discovered by the Nazis and sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
A planted American Ash tree. Photo: Courtesy KKL Demark.
KKL-JNF’s gift was coordinated with the local authorities, the Gilleleje Church parish council, artists and landscape architects. Seven memorial-stones with Hebrew inscriptions, words and symbols will be placed in several locations in Gilleleje; near the church, by the harbor and at several of the original hiding places.
A number of 'Peace Trees' have been planted near the church. After careful deliberation and discussion regarding the trees' placement maintenance, resilience and growth-patterns, it was decided to plant American Ash and Malus Crab Apple trees.
KKL Denmark's donation to the project was funded by a bequest of Gerhard Herzog, a German Jew who himself was rescued in Denmark and shipped to Sweden in October 1943.
The gift from KKL-JNF was dedicated on October 6th at a beautiful memorial service in Gilleleje.
KKL-JNF Dedicates Outdoor Exercise Area in Memory of Hila Betzaleli.
KKL-JNF dedicated outdoor exercise area in Sataf Springs, in memory of Lieutenant Hila Betzaleli, who was killed while rehearsing for an Independence Day ceremony at Mt. Herzl last year. The new exercise area in Sataf, an ancient agricultural area popular with Israelis, is a perfect tribute to Hila, who was full of life, and loved nature and sport.
"Sataf is Hila, it symbolizes everything beautiful in Israel. Hila loved nature and the land, this is the perfect place to remember her. Sometimes life hits you like a sudden storm on a clear day, and when that happens, you know that nothing will ever be the same again. Gestures like this give us the strength to go on." Sigalit Betzaleli, Hila's mother, was speaking at a ceremony that took place on Wednesday, November 27, dedicating an outdoor exercise area at KKL-JNF's Sataf Springssite in the Judaen Hills. The audience included family, friends and soldiers who served with Hila.
L-R: Sigalit and Yaron Betzaleli, with KKL-JNF's Meir Spiegler, at the newly unveiled memorial for their daughter Hila Z"L. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli served as an IDF officer in the Medical Division of the Jordan Valley Brigade until her tragic death on April 18, 2012. Hila had dreamed of becoming a doctor, and since she was one of the most outstanding medics in the army, she was chosen to participate in the Independence Day ceremonies at Mount Herzl. On that fateful day on Mount Herzl, during preparations for the ceremony, a faulty light fixture snapped and fell, killing Hila and injuring many others.
Sigalit spoke straight from her heart: "A few days after Hila was so senselessly killed, there was a ceremony in her memory on Mount Herzl, and when it was over, someone I never met before came up to me and introduced himself as KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. He said that he wanted to do something to commemorate Hila. We didn't have to do anything, KKL-JNF took care of everything. There isn't so much light in our lives now, but the many kind people who embrace us from every direction are like beacons of light for us."
Left: Sigalit Betzaleli, mother of Hila. Right: The newly inaugurated outdoor exercise area in memory of Hila. Photos: Tania Susskind
KKL-JNF Director General Meir Spiegler said that KKL-JNF decided to commemorate Hila at one of its most-visited sites. "Sataf is a nature site, and nature is eternal - it was here, it is here and it will be here. It is an honor for KKL-JNF to be a partner to remembering such a unique person, and I can assure you that we will make certain that this site will always be a maintained in a manner that honors Hila," Spiegler concluded.
View of Sataf National Park. Photo: Tania Susskind
Regional Council Head Yoram Shimon, with Yaron and Sigalit Betzaleli, who is holding the KKL-JNF honorary certificate. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
The ancient agricultural site of Sataf, which has been reconstructed and cared for by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund over past years with the help of its friends from many different countries, is located in the heart of a forest that begins southwest of Jerusalem and climbs up to Mt. Eitan from the Nahal Sorek streambed.
The location of the ancient agricultural terraces, fruit tree orchards and springs that flow the entire year, have made Sataf into a favorite recreation and leisure spot for Israelis, and it attracts thousands of visitors, primarily on weekends, but also during the week. The site includes a many elements of historical, agricultural, settlement, geological, and biological value.
Yoram Shimon, the newly-elected head of the Mate Yehudah Regional Council, said that Hila, who lived in Mevasseret Tziyon, was killed when she was about to realize a dream – "to participate in the Independence Day ceremony, a dream that turned into a tragedy. Hila played basketball, loved swimming and worked out here, at Mount Eitan, in order to be in shape for her upcoming officers' course, so there really couldn't be a better place or way to remember her."
Shalom Eisner, outgoing deputy commander of the IDF Jordan Valley brigade, recalled that his father had said that there were three things that determine how a person lives their lives – "the person, the place and the time. Sataf is the perfect place, with its view of Mount Herzl and the many trees around it. Hila is like a tree that was cut down in its prime. The time is the holiday ofHannukah, when we light candles, just like Hila was a candle of hope."
The ceremony, which was conducted by KKL-JNF Director of the Israel Fundraising Department Michael Ben Abu, concluded with the a KKL-JNF honorary certificate to Hila's parents, Sigalit and Yaron.
"J'aime Israël"- Sending love and friendship to Israel from the Côte d' Ivoire
Photo: Courtesy of Israel Consulate, Cote d'Ivoire
On November 24th, the MIERA Evangelist Church held an 'I Love Israel' event with its congregants. The aim: to raise funds for the planting of 1,000 trees in Israel, through KKL-JNF, as an expression of love and friendship to the State of Israel.
About 1,000 people attended the event, filling the church to capacity and even spilling out into the street. The participants danced and sang local hits as well as Hebrew songs and prayers, expressing their love for the State of Israel and its people, and for KKL-JNF.
MIERA (Mission Internationale d'Evangelisation et deRestauration des Ames) is an international evangelical organization based in the Ivory Coast, with 9 satellite churches in Africa and Europe, and is headed by Pastor Yves Kimou, who attended this event.
The event was organized in collaboration with the J'aime Israël (I love Israel) NGO.
Honored guests were Israel's Ambassador to the Côte d' Ivoire HE Isi Yanouka, Israeli Consul in Côte d' Ivoire Mr. Ido Bromberg, and KKL-JNF Emissary to Belgium Mr.Olivier Rafowicz.
Photo: Courtesy of Israel Consulate, Cote d'Ivoire" target="_blank" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; outline: 0px; cursor: pointer; color: #545454; text-decoration: underline; text-align: center; font-size: 11pt;">Creating A Better Tomorrow, was shown at the event, and KKL-JNF's Olivier Rafowicz spoke about the activities of KKL-JNF, and explained the significance of planting a tree in Israel, both for Israel and for the community.
MIERA has already begun raising money to plant the first stage of 1000 trees. The community hopes to begin planting towards the beginning of next year.
At the end of the event, both the Israeli Anthem Hatikvah and the anthem of the Ivory Coast were sang.
According to KKL-JNF's Olivier Rafowicz, the event was "a Zionist event of the highest order."
President Peres began his state visit with a diplomatic work meeting with the President of Mexico
Under the auspices of the two presidents a series of economic and diplomatic cooperation agreements were signed between Israel and Mexico including in the fields of water technology, trade relations, assistance to exporters from both countries, tourism and others
President Nieto to President Peres:
We see in Israel a true friend of Mexico. Today we sign a series of strategic agreements which will expand the relations between Israel and Mexico
President Peres to President Nieto:
"Israel attaches a deep strategic importance to the relations with Mexico in particular and Latin America as a whole"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, began the diplomatic part of his state visit to Mexico today at a welcome reception at the Presidential Palace which included a guard of honor of Mexican soldiers and the playing of the anthems of Israel and Mexico. After the ceremony President Peres and President Enrique Pena Nieto conducted a diplomatic work meeting during which they discussed strengthening the strategic, diplomatic, economic and defense relations between the countries. In particular they focused on the response of Latin America to the Iranian threat and the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. At the end of the meeting the two presidents delivered joint statements to the press and oversaw the signing of a series of diplomatic and economic cooperation agreements.
President Nieto of Mexico thanked President Peres for his visit at the head of a delegation of Israeli companies and said it was a great honor to welcome him and the delegation to Mexico. President Nieto described the visit as a symbol of the strengthening relations between the countries which always shared positive dialogue. He continued and described the signing of the deals as the beginning of deeper economic cooperation between the countries. The Mexican president addressed the diplomatic meeting and said that the two presidents had discussed the major challenges faced by the two countries. He ended by saying that Mexico saw in Israel a true friend.
President Peres thanked President Nieto for his warm welcome and warm words and said, "I want to thank you for the warm reception and for our friendly and constructive conversation. I am impressed by your vision to move Mexico into the new age. The reforms initiated by your administration have been inspired and inspiring. Israel shares a deep friendship with Mexico. But also a common vision, based on our mutual values, and a strive towards a bright future. Your call to "Mover a Mexico" also fits the Middle East which can fly to new heights. Like Mexico, Israel strives to be a contributing member of our region. Israel is interested in seeing a prosperous and stable Middle East. We have reopened the peace negotiations with our Palestinian neighbors in the hope to achieve a peace agreement based on the two state solution. Two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security. Peace is possible and urgent. There is no alternative for us and no alternative for the Palestinians. Peace is not just a strategic decision but a moral call from the depth of our heritage. We appreciate Mexico's support for our efforts towards peace. Ending the conflict will only serve to benefit us and the Palestinians."
President Peres addressed the large business delegation travelling with him and said, "I have come to Mexico with a delegation of 80 heads of Israeli companies. These entrepreneurs have spearheaded the most modern and cutting-edge technologies which Israel has developed. They have come to further strengthen the important relations with Mexico. To learn from you and share our experience."
President Peres ended by inviting President Nieto to visit Israel, "On behalf of the people of the State of Israel, I want to extend an invitation to you to visit Israel. I will be delighted to receive you as an honorable guest and a true friend of the State of Israel.
The Gezi Park protests this past summer demonstrated the extent of popular dissatisfaction with the ruling Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) and its unilateral mode of governance. Paradoxically, the street protests also illustrated the lack of a viable political alternative to the AKP. Turkey’s leading opposition parties - the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, MHP) - have failed to present a credible alternative to the AKP, which has won overwhelming electoral victories in each of the last three general elections. The People’s Democracy Party (Halkların Demokratik Partisi, HDP), endorsed by none other than the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi, BDP), has stepped forward and is now attempting to fill the void in the Turkish opposition. The BDP has decided to run under the HDP banner in western Turkey in the upcoming local elections as part of its strategy to extend its electoral base into areas that are not limited to the Kurdishdominated east and southeast. As Turkey readies itself for a busy election schedule with local and general elections on the horizon –in March 2014 and June 2015, respectively –the question that is repeatedly voiced is whether the HDP, with its leftist outlook and close association with the Kurdish political movement, can be a viable alternative to those disenchanted by both the AKP’s conservatism and Turkey’s main opposition parties.
Although the HDP held its first extraordinary congress in October 2013, its roots lie in the pre-2011 general elections period, which was marked by the BDP’s efforts to find a way of bypassing the ten percent electoral threshold. At that time, the BDP had formed the Labor, Democracy and Freedom Bloc (Emek, Demokrasi ve Özgürlük Bloğu) and eventually succeeded in sending 36 representatives to the Turkish Parliament as independents. Following the elections, the Bloc continued its activities as the People’s Democratic Congress (Halkların Demokrasi Kongresi, HDK; also known as Kongre Girişimi). The HDK was established at the behest of imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Öcalan, as part of his plans to transform the Kurdish political movement into a ‘party of Turkey’ in order to become a legitimate political actor by shedding its ethnic-based politics. As such, the HDK attempted to incorporate the Kurdish question into the general politics of Turkey and bring together a variety of political organizations under one banner. The HDK includes a variety of minority groups, including Alevis, Armenians, Circassians, Laz, Arabs and Assyrians, as well as feminists, socialists, far-leftist parties, environmental movements, communities for the disabled, and lesbian and gay communities (LTGB). From the very beginning, the HDK has acted as a platform for the political unification of these underrepresented groups and eventually founded the People’s Democracy Party (HDP).
The HDP’s diverse membership is a clear indication of the plurality that the party claims to represent. If plurality is one central aspect of the party, the emphasis placed on the disadvantaged and oppressed groups, a reflection of its leftist orientation, is another. Four members of the BDP, who transferred their membership to the newly formed HDP, are known for their left-wing positions. For instance, the HDP’s co-chair, Ertuğrul Kürkçü, was the president of the socialist Turkey’s Revolutionary Youth Federation (DEV-GENÇ) during the 1970s. Women also play a central role in the party administration in the same fashion as its sister party, BDP. This reflects Kurdish women’s high level of political activism. The HDP has adopted a co-chairmanship leadership system, which is shared by prominent Kurdish politician Sebahat Tuncel and Ertuğrul Kürkçü. The party has also allocated a ten percent quota for LTGB individuals.
Despite the HDP’s diverse appeal, there are a number of obstacles that may stand in the way of its ability to broaden its constituency and challenge the AKP in the coming election cycle. First, it will be difficult to get around the fact that the party is the brainchild of PKK leader Öcalan. His role in the party may be too unpalatable to Turkish liberal voters, whom the party aims to reach. Second is the leftist/socialist tone of the HDP. Leftist parties in Turkey have long been virtually irrelevant in Turkish domestic politics. They have never fully recovered from the state of inertia that followed the Turkish Left’s peak during the 1960s and the 1970s. An overemphasis on its leftist underpinnings may prove detrimental to the HDP, as the Turkish public traditionally tends to vote for center-right parties.
Although the HDP aims to unite the Kurdish and Turkish left, the historical resentment of these groups towards one another may also reduce the prospects of the HDP’s future success. Nevertheless, it may be worth remembering that the Kurdish nationalist movement had emerged out of Turkish leftist organizations during the 1960s. Modeled after the world youth movements during that period, these organizations became an important venue for Kurdish political participation. The Turkish Workers Party (Türkiye İşçi Partisi), founded in 1961, whose Marxist message of equality resonated well with the Kurds, quickly became their first choice. The party’s inactiveness on the Kurdish issue, however, soon led the Kurds to form their own parties and organizations. The first was the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Turkey (Türkiye Kürdistan Demokrat Partisi, TKDP), which was founded in 1965. The Turkish Left distanced itself from the Kurdish nationalist movement, often remaining ambivalent towards the Kurdish issue. Therefore, there may be those on both sides who are unwilling to be lumped together in the same group. Lastly, it should also be noted that despite having been generally well received by the Kurds, the HDP has caused some divisions within the BDP. For the conservative and Islamist elements within the party, the HDP represents too strong of an integration with the “marginal” Left, and therefore runs the risk of alienating itself from its Kurdish constituency.
Notwithstanding its shortcomings, the HDP may still be able to produce electoral gains, for two reasons. The first is the Gezi Park factor. Although the protests have lost steam and the protestors have thus far failed to become a credible political force that challenge the AKP government, the source of popular dissatisfaction which generated the protests in the first place, and the concomitant need for a competitive opposition party remains an issue. Sırrı Süreyya Önder, who became a highly popular figure during the Gezi Park protests in a manner that transcended ideological affiliation, has been discussed as its potential leader, and is now part of the HDP. His name is mentioned as the HDP’s candidate for the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, a point especially worrisome for the main opposition party, the CHP. The latter hopes to snatch the Istanbul municipality from the incumbent AKP with its strong candidate for the position, Mustafa Sarıgül, who enjoys significant popularity in the city. It is feared in opposition circles that two potent opposition candidacies will ultimately play into the hands of the AKP by splitting the vote and thus guaranteeing another AKP victory in Istanbul. A second factor that may draw voters to the HDP is its discourse that articulates the demands for individual and collective rights, rather than simply relying on the force of nationalist sentiments, as in the case of the MHP, or feeding off of secularist fears, as in the case of the CHP.
The HDP’s first test is just a few months away, and its success will ultimately depend on its ability to convince a wide range of ideologically split Turkish and Kurdish voters that its message and policies offer a real alternative to the AKP. Despite the hurdles it faces, the HDP has already injected some new life into the heretofore feeble Turkish opposition.
Duygu Atlas is a junior researcher and the program coordinator of the Süleyman Demirel Program for Contemporary Turkish Studies at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.
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.
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 TelAviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website,http://www.dayan.org.
10th and 26th of every month, as well as occasional Special Editions.
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 TelAviv University, and include a reference and hyperlink to the original article on the Moshe Dayan Center's website,http://www.dayan.org.
Live broadcast: JNF Toronto Negev Dinner - paying tribute to Canadian Prime Minister the Right Honorable Stephen Harper. Proceeds will build a special project: The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center.
Save the Date!
JNF Toronto Negev Dinner with Canadian PM the Hon. Stephen Harper!
Stay tuned for live broadcast right here:
Canada/USA: December 1, 2013 - 4:30 PM Israel: December 1, 2013 - 11:30 PM
A Tribute to Canadian PM and World Leader the Right Honorable Stephen Harper
Photo: Courtesy JNF Toronto
Stephen Harper was sworn in as Canada's 22nd Prime Minister on February 6, 2006. Among his many accomplishments, Prime Minister Harper steered Canada through the worst recession in 50 years by supporting job creation and long-term prosperity for all Canadians through pro-growth initiatives. He rebuilt Canada’s military, has staunchly defended victims of crime and restored Canada’s strong voice on the world stage.
Under the direction of Prime Minister Harper, Canada is now a leader in the international fight against anti-semitism and raising awareness of the heinous crimes of the Holocaust. At the UN, Canada stands tall as a nation of principle by defending the freedom and dignity of all people.
JNF Toronto is honoured to have this extraordinary world leader as our 2013 honouree.
For more information, including evening program and donation opportunities, visit
Special Project: The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Center
Proceeds from the 2013 Negev Campaign will support the building of the Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor and Education Centre.
Images of the exterior and interior for the planned center. Images: Courtesy of JNF Toronto
KKL-JNF's Hula Lake Nature and Bird Park is located along a major global migration route. Every year during spring and fall, close to 500 million birds rest in Hula Valley on their way to warmer climates in Africa.
Cranes at Hula Lake Park. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Developed by KKL-JNF as part of the Hula Valley Rehabilitation Plan, the park has become a local and global attraction for hundreds of thousands of visitors each year from Israel and abroad and serves as a model for cooperation between conservationists, tourists and farmers.
Through your support, KKL-JNF is establishing a 4,000 square meter state-of-the-art visitor center at this unique site. JNF Toronto will help transform a vision into a reality.
The Stephen J. Harper Hula Valley Bird Sanctuary Visitor & Education Centre will benefit the environment and become a major source of income for the residents of the area. With your help, the planned visitor and education centre will undoubtedly become the pinnacle of KKL-JNF’s major project, restoring the Hula wetlands to their former glory.
JNF Victoria and JNF New South Wales hold successful Gala and donor dinners, raising funds for KKL-JNF ecological water and community development projects in the Negev and Arava regions.
JNF Victoria Gala Dinner, Monday, 28th October
JNF Victoria held an outstandingly successful Annual Gala dinner, with about 800 people attending this festive event. Guest speakers for the night included Israeli Minister for Science, Technology and Space Mr. Yaakov Peri and Brigadier General (ret) Avigdor Kahalani. The funds raised from this event will go directly to the KKL-JNF Sha’ar HaNegev Water Reclamation Project
JNF Victoria Farewell Dinner for Michael and Atida Naphtali
A farewell dinner for Michael and Atida Naphtali was held at the home of Lionel Krongold. The dinner was attended by Israel's Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel. The proceeds of the dinner will go towards the upgrade of the KKL-JNF Arava Children's Environmental Center
JNF NSW Gala Dinner, Wednesday, 30th October
The JNF NSW Annual Gala Dinner held on Wednesday 30, October was an overwhelming success. Almost 800 people attended the event, which was sold out, to hear the keynote speaker, Israeli Minister Yaakov Peri and the special guest speaker, war hero Avigdor Kahalani. The night began with a tribute to Dr. Harry Triguboff AO on the occasion of his 80th birthday, to thank him for his support to KKL-JNF for the past 22 years. Notable distinguished attendees included the Governor General of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir, MP Malcolm Turnbull and Israel Ambassador Designate.
A message of support from Prime Minister Tony Abbott was read out by NSW PresidentAlex Abulafia.
This month, we commemorate 40 years since the Yom Kippur war, and the audience was moved to hear from the hero of the time Avigdor Kahalani. He poignantly reminded the Sydney Jewish Community about how far Israel has come since that time, and the importance of supporting Israel through the tangible KKL-JNF projects which help develop Israel, and in particular the Negev.
Proceeds from the evening go directly to the KKL-JNF Sha’ar HaNegev Water Reclamation Project.
JNF NSW thanks all the guests who attended and supported JNF.
JNF NSW Major Donors Dinners
JNF NSW major donor dinners were held at the homes of JNF National President Peter Smaller and Elaine Smaller and JNF Patron Dr. Harry Triguboff AO and Rhonda Triguboff. The guests were privileged to hear candid words from Israeli Minister for Science, Technology and Space Mr. Yaakov Peri and Brigadier General (ret) Avigdor Kahalani.
All monies raised at these dinners will go directly to the KKL-JNF Naveh Academy Environmental Garden
Hanukkah - a festival of light, warmth, miracles...and nature. Join KKL-JNF on a journey through Hanukkah in Israel. Find out more about the festival of lights, and celebrate Hanukkah at different KKL-JNF sites, on your own, or by registering for one of our Hanukkah events!
Enjoy the exciting plethora of hiking, walking and cycling trails in Ben Shemen Forest, and visit fascinating sites related to Hanukkah, such as the Modi'in lookout tower, which symbolizes the Hasmonean revolt and offers breath-taking views over the coastal plain and the slopes of the Samarian Hills; the Hasmonean Tombs; and the archaeological ruins at Tel Hadid.
Hike the scenic route in Ayalon Canada Park and stop at observation points to view the sites where the battles between the Hasmoneans and the Seleucids took place. View the panoramas of Beit Horon and Emaus and visualize the stories about the early battles of the Maccabees in the years 167 to 165 BCE.
Sufganiyot, or Israeli jam donuts, are fluffy pockets of fried yeast dough filled with jam or custard. Fried on both sides in oil, they are a Hanukkah favorite in Israel. Take a bite and you will understand why!
This easy recipe is from Miki Shemo, a well-renowned Israeli pastry chef.
This recipe has been translated from the original Hebrew version on the Mako online Food and Cooking Magazine.
Following is an excerpt from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks, today (Tuesday, 19 November 2013), at a conference on Israeli-French innovation:
"What we are seeing is the future. I think where radical Islam is trying to take us is the past. We are for modernity. They are for a dark medievalism. We're for opening up our societies for everyone – men, women, minorities, the right to be different. They're for uniform suppression of a rigid doctrine and they want to back it up with weapons of death.
They shouldn't be allowed to do that. I think it would be a grave mistake to repeat the mistake that was done vis-à-vis North Korea, another closed society, doctrinaire, rigid and aggressive. I think in the case of Iran, there is an opportunity. It would be a great mistake to capitulate before Iran when they have all reasons right now to respond to the pressures that have been put on them. Rather than surrendering to their charm offensive, it's important that they surrender to the pressure that can be brought to them to have them abandon their nuclear program."
U.S., Greek, Polish and Italian fighter jets are planned to deploy to Ovda Israel Air Force Base this month, to participate in the Israel Air Force’s ‘Blue Flag’ air warfare exercise over the southern Negev Desert. Over 100 aircraft and about a thousand air and ground crews are expected to participate. Israeli sources have not confirmed the specific nations taking part in the exercise but foreign sources have indicated these are likely to include Greece, Poland, Italy, the US and Israel (1, 2).
Each of these air forces have already trained separately with the IAF, and some were also deployed here for training, but the ‘Blue Flag’ will be the first opportunity for the IAF to conduct a multinational exercise of this scale, since Israel was excluded from the NATO ‘Anatolian Eagle’ exercise as a result from the deteriorating relations between Turkey and Israel in recent years. Foreign air forces have been flying the Eager Tiger and Eager Lion exercises in Jordan for several years but for the Israelis, the ‘Blue Flag’ is a first of a kind opportunity.
The exercise will employ the IAF Aggressor squadron based at Ovda, and scores of ground based targets and air defense assets positioned throughout the southern Negev, simulating a modern threat environment. While the aggressor role is similar to that of the US “Top Gun” school and ‘Red Flag’ exercises, the aggressor role is tasked on different squadrons every 24 months, thus keeping pilots combat ready and proficient in the IAF combat missions. The squadron flies F-16A Block 15 Falcons, in service with the IAF since 1980.
The exercise simulates realistic engagement with situations from asymmetric warfare engaging low-signature targets to full fledged ‘symmetric’ opponent, where opposing air forces required to operate in denied access environment, penetrating heavy air defenses and aerial threats. The aggressor squadron has been trained in simulating various opposing air forces tactics, particularly Arab aerial tactics, to train other squadrons.
The IAF conducted a ‘grand rehearsal’ in January 2013, deploying five squadrons to the southern base, simulating a surge in missions and operational tempo conducted over several days. For the actual exercise the visiting air forces will deploy to Ovda on November 13, for orientation and preparation, with the exercise itself staged between 17 and 28 November.
Italian Air Force Typhoon takes off from IAF Base Ovda. The aircraft carries two IRIS-T air/air missiles. Photo: Nehemia Gershuni, www.ngphoto.biz
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FCO Permanent Under-Secretary Sir Simon Fraser heads high-level delegation for the fifth UK-Israel Strategic DialogueForeign and Commonwealth Office Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service Sir Simon Fraser led a delegation of British officials to Israel for the fifth UK-Israel Strategic Dialogue in Jerusalem on Monday 18 November.
Speaking after the talks Simon Fraser said:“The UK and Israel are close partners. The Strategic Dialogue is central to maintaining and strengthening that relationship. It provides an annual forum to discuss important issues with our Israeli friends and counterparts. "We discussed a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.
We reaffirmed our common determination to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. The UK firmly believes that the best way to achieve this is through a negotiated settlement that addresses the international community’s security concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme.
As the Foreign Secretary has said, we believe there is an opportunity now to reach a first step agreement with Iran and we must make sure this opportunity is not lost. This is the goal of the next E3+3 meeting with Iran in Geneva this week."We also discussed the Middle East Peace Process where the UK urged Israel to take advantage of the opportunity that the current talks presented -- to achieve the goal of a secure and universally recognised Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state."We agreed a number of steps to strengthen further the thriving UK-Israel partnership in fields including trade, culture, universities, technology, energy and e-Government. We also agreed to expand our exciting scientific collaboration through launching a series of UK-Israel Science Years.”
As of Sunday (November 17), the Israeli field hospital has treated close to 500 patients, including over 150 children. The name chosen by the grateful parents of the first baby born in the field hospital was "Israel".
Israeli aid to the people of Bogo, Philippines
Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
Two Israeli planes carrying personnel and equipment brought a 150 member delegation as well as 100 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies were despatched to the Philippines to aid the people struck by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
It was decided to locate the Israeli medical facility in Bogo, in the northern province of Cebu. While headlines have mostly focused on chaos in and around Tacloban City, the typhoon also left a trail of violent destruction on Cebu Island, where the most basic of necessities are lacking. Provincial officials say as many as 90 percent of buildings on the north of Cebu were badly damaged by winds and rain, which also flattened crops, downed power lines and blocked roads. Bogo is among the cities hardest hit by the typhoon in Cebu province. Bogo City Mayor Celestino Martinez Jr: "The typhoon destroyed everything we have here, from infrastructure to agriculture.”
An advanced multi-department medical facility - comprising a children’s ward, an obstetrics ward, an ambulatory care ward, and a general admission ward - was rapidly established to provide medical care for disaster casualties, operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technicians, and lab workers.
Proud father holds baby "Israel" Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
Photos from the field hospital in Bogo
Copyright: IDF Spokeperson
Trucks carrying Israeli aid arrive in Bogo Copyright: MFA
Patients waiting in line for Israeli aid at field hospital Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
Israeli doctors with first Philippine baby born in field hospital Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
Philippine boy receives toys from Israel Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
An advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 100 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies from Israel, will be rapidly established in the city of Daanbantayan to provide medical care for disaster casualties. President Peres: "We hope that the aid provided by the State of Israel will help ease the suffering of the people of the Philippines."
Israel advance assessment team arrives in Tacloban, Philippines
An Israeli delegation of experts in the fields of search, rescue and medicine left on Sunday night (10 November) for the Philippines, which was struck by a natural disaster earlier today. The rescuers are part of the IDF’s Home Front Command.
A six-member advance team – four people from the IDF Home Front Command and two from the Foreign Ministry – will evaluate what is needed on the ground before Israel sends a larger mission.
The team landed in Manila at 20:00 local time and will depart for Tacloban, where they will perform a thorough situation assessment, including an infrastructure evaluation, that will determine the best rapid response Israel can provide to the government and people of the Philippines.
Israel advance assessment team arrives in the Philippines Copyright: MFA
A 147 member delegation is set to leave for the Philippines on Wednesday, November 13, 2013, in order to provide search, rescue, and medical services. Following assessment, it was decided to locate the medical facility in Daanbantayan, in the northern province of Cebu, which suffered the greatest damage after Tacloban.
An advanced multi-department medical facility, equipped with approximately 100 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies from Israel, will be rapidly established to provide medical care for disaster casualties, operated by IDF doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, mental health professionals, x-ray technician, and lab workers.
The delegation comprises members of the National Search and Rescue Unit of the Home Front Command headed by the unit commander, Colonel Ramtin Sabti, as well as senior doctors in the IDF Medical Corps, headed by the Vice Surgeon General of the IDF Medical Corps, Colonel Doctor Dudu Dagan.
IDF delegation to the Philippines at Ben Gurion Airport Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
Video: Senior officials from Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel Defense Forces are in the area surveying the damage. An aerial shot gives a view of the current state of the area.
President Shimon Peres wrote to Philippine President BenignoAquino:
"Your Excellency, In my name and on behalf of the people of Israel, I wish to extend out deepest condolences to the people of the Philippines affected by the shocking devastation in the trail of Typhoon Haiyan. Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this terrible natural disaster, and our prayers are with you and your people in this time of mourning and hardship. We are following with much concern the horrifying effects of the storm and hope that the aid provided by the State of Israel will help ease the suffering of the people of the Philippines. From Jerusalem, we wish you strength and fortitude."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also sent a letter to President Aquino:
"On behalf of the government and people of Israel, I extend heartfeldt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of the horrific typhoon, and I send best wishes for a speedy recovery to those who were injured. I hope that Israel's assistance will help alleviate the suffering of those affected by this terrible disaster. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the Filipino people at this difficult time."
The IsraAID humanitarian organization also sent a team of seven medical professionals to Tacloban City in the storm-ravaged Philippines to provide critical health interventions in the affected region. IsraAID, too, will continue to assess needs in the field and offer aid accordingly, including trauma professionals and child protection specialists.
EU Ambassador–designate Lars Faaborg-Andersen visits Ziv Medical Centre, congratulates medical staff on providing treatment to injured Syrians
Today, EU Ambassador-designate Lars Faaborg –Andersen visited the Ziv Medical Centre in Safed to observe at first hand the medical treatment being provided to civilians injured in the fighting in Syria. At the conclusion of the visit, Ambassador-designate Faaborg –Andersen said:
"I want to thank the Director of the Ziv Medical Centre, Dr. Oscar Embon for this opportunity to see with my own eyes the wonderful treatment the hospital is providing to injured Syrians. I was deeply impressed by the dedication of the medical staff that is sparing no effort to provide the injured patients, many of them children, with the best possible medical care.
This commitment to the welfare of other human beings, regardless of the fact that they belong to an enemy nation, should be a source of pride to all Israelis.
We have all been horrified by the scale and intensity of the fighting in Syria.
The European Union has also mobilized to deal with the terrible humanitarian effects of the crisis. Just two weeks ago the EU allocated €85m for Syrian refugees bringing our total humanitarian support so far to €400m. About half of this sum will be spent inside Syria to help civil society groups provide basic services while the other half will be used to help Jordan cope with the 500,000 Syrian refugees on its territory."
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina dropped in 2012 compared to the previous year, though the number of physical assaults and online attacks rose.
According to the annual report of anti-Semitic incidents in Argentina released last week by DAIA, the Argentine Jewish political umbrella organization, there were 243 acts of anti-Semitism based on recorded complaints — down from 263 in 2011, an 8.7 percent decrease.
However, the number of cases of physical assault and injuries increased in 2012, to five from one.
“For us, this figure about aggressions motivated by anti-Semitism is the most disturbing,” Marisa Braylan, director of the Centre for Social Studies of DAIA, who compiled the research, told JTA.
Some 40 percent of the anti-Semitic incidents occurred online, up from 33 percent the previous year. Of the online incidents, 40 percent occurred on Twitter, 20 percent took place on websites and 11 percent on Facebook.
According to the 165-page annual report, which is in its 15th year, 36 percent of the incidents involved Nazi symbols and 25 percent were characterized by xenophobic expressions.
Braylan called the increase in virtual hate “a constant trend.”
"We wish that just as the tree, which we plant here today, will grow and spread its roots, so too you will continue to strength the friendship between our two nations."
Sen. Mrio Mantovani with his freshly planted olive tree. Photo: Yossi Zamir, KKL-JNF Photo Archive
"It is a great honor for me to plant a tree here at the Kennedy Peace Forest, in memory of all the fallen victims during the holocaust in Lombardia. Lombardia helped the Jewish people during the war," said Italian Health Minister and Vice President of Lombardia Sen. Mario Mantovani, on the occasion of planting a tree in the Yad Kennedy Peace Forest. The planting took place in the Grove of the Righteous Among the Nations.
Sen. Mario Mantovani, who is on a four days visit in Israel at the invitation of the Mount Sinai Institution and the Israel Ministry of Health, opted to begin his stay by planting a tree at the KKL-JNF Kennedy Peace section in Aminadav Forest. "It is only the beginning of our trip, it is our first day and we chose to start here by planting a tree," Mantovani continued. "I feel it is the most important moment in our visit, to honor our friendship between Israel and Lombardia. I am so glad to be here in Israel".
"Naturally it is an honor to be here today, this is a special moment for our nation to remember the fallen victims in Lombardia and the help we've extended to our Jewish friends, to the Hebrew nation. This is an emotional day for history to remember, to protect and respect human rights," said Mr. Mantovani.
The tree planted today represents the contribution of Italian Political officials, those secular and religious, Mr. Silvio Berlusconi, and the Pope Jonathon II.
"The Grove of the Righteous Among the Nations is a short and clear statement that represents a world of values and characteristics of a deeply righteous group of people, through their exemplified values of social justice, loving ones neighbors, and loving ones fellow man for man's sake," said Etti Lankry of KKL-JNF's European Desk. "We wish that just as the tree, which we plant here today, will grow and spread its roots, so too you will continue to strength the friendship between our two nations."
Mr. Enrico Mairov presents Sen. Mario Mantovani with a KKL-JNF planting certificate. Photo: Talia Ivgi
Mr. Mario Mantovani arrived at KKL-JNF's Aminadav Forest accompanied by his delegation and by Mr. Enrico Mairov, President of the Mount Sinai Association. The Mount Sinai Association is an Italian - Israeli organization, with the goal of establishing a health network in a peaceful Mediterranean area. The purpose Mr. Mantovani's visit to Israel is to study the health system in Israel and to see it for himself. "It is very important for me to be here in order to build collaboration between the Lombardian health system and the Israeli health system. Israel's medical research is very advanced and it sets a great example for us," said the health minister.
Mr. Enrico Mairov strongly believes that peace between nations can only be achieved by collaborating together. "We are working now to build a big project in collaboration between Israel and Italy, beginning with the regions of the north in Lombardia, for the resolution of a social crisis, the issue with elderly population, something that in Israel has been working very well, and now we are going to experiment with this also in Italy. We are talking only about collaboration and projects, only when you work together on projects will peace reign."
Following the reading of the Planter's Prayer by Mr. Enrico Mairov, and the tree planting ceremony in the Righteous Among the Nations Grove, Mr. Mario Mantovani and his delegation were guests at the Israeli Knesset. His schedule for the next days in Israel is to visit hospitals, medical and research centers.
“Trees, children and basketball players all have to aspire to great heights.”
The Pardes Katz neighborhood of Bnei Brak has a new basketball court, thanks to a contribution from friends of KKL-JNF in Italy. The sports facility will make an important contribution to this neighborhood, which is populated by needy families. The dedication ceremony was attended by KKL-JNF executives from Israel and from Italy, the Italian Ambassador to Israel, senior officers from the Bnei Brak Municipality, neighborhood residents, and local children. It was also attended by two famous athletes, former basketball star Tal Brody and Olympic judoka champion Arik Ze'evi. The event was emceed jointly by Elisha Mizrahi of the KKL-JNF Public Relations Division and Rafi Ovadia, the KKL-JNF Emissary in Italy.
Team spirit; including Efi Stenzler, Tal Brodi, Arik Ze'evi, Raffaele Sassun, and Rafi Ovadia. Photo: Yoav Devir
KKL Italy representative Juditta Fellah Sermonta tests out the new basketball court. Photo: Yoav Devir
Local Pardes Katz resident, thirteen-year-old Elad Aboutboul, said, “It’s very important that there’s a basketball court like this one in our neighborhood. We love sports, and it’s great that from now on we’ll have where to practice. Children that used to wander around the streets and get into trouble will now be able to do sports and positive activities thanks to this new place.” Elad recalled how the lot looked before the makeover. “Neglected and trashed, with iron wreckage and boards scattered all over the place, a place not at all suitable for sports or children.”
“KKL-JNF is not just a green Zionist organization but also an important social organization,” said KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler. “What we have constructed here is a beautiful court, where the children can play ball, and make friends strengthening the social fabric of the neighborhood. We have prioritized environmental education, and we will continue promoting projects in this region.”
President ofKKL ItalyRaffaele Sassun spoke about how the idea of the new basketball court was born. Two months ago, Sassun saw a report on Israel TV Channel 1, which described the hardships of the neighborhood and of the local sports club. “I knew right away,” said Sassun, “that this was a project KKL-JNF Italy should undertake. This is an example of the unity of the Jewish people.”
Reporter Ayala Hasson, who had prepared the report, was also at the gala opening of the basketball court, thrilled that the media had made an impact beyond just reporting surveys and reports, with the assistance of the good people who contributed to the project.
Left: Bastketball star Tal Brody shoots some hoops in the new court. Right: Olympic Judoka chamion Arik Ze'evi with Elad Aboutboul and a girl from the neighborhood. Photos: Yoav Devir
Two famous athletes were also at the event, former basketball star Tal Brody and Olympic judoka champion Arik Ze'evi. The neighborhood children were very excited about meeting the two celebrated athletes. Brody was honored with shooting the opening hoop and proved that he was still in good shape when he made a perfect basket from the foul line. Zeevi took part in a judoka performance prepared by the children from the sports club. Both of them symbolically autographed a basketball along with the other dignitaries attending the ceremony.
The project of renovating the sports court included the installation of flooring with a special coating, constructing bleachers for spectators, installing basketball hoops and new soccer goals, building a fence, installing lighting and planting beautiful olive trees around it.
L-R: H.E. Francesco Maria Talo, Raffaele Sassun, Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein and Efi Stenzler cut the ribbon to the new basketball court. Photo: Yoav Devir
“Trees, children and basketball players all have to aspire to great heights,” said the Italian Ambassador in Israel, H. E.Francesco Maria Talo, who praised KKL-JNF's friends in Italy for their generosity and initiative in undertaking this important project.
For members of the delegation from Italy, Juditta Fellah Sermonta and Mirella Hacmun, listening to the words of thanks was not enough, and they decided to try out the new baskets themselves. Each of them has a personal connection to basketball, and it looked like neither of them had forgotten how to play the game. Sermonta had played basketball in her youth with Maccabi Tripoli before her family immigrated to Italy, and Hacmun’s son is a basketball coach and director of a basketball school in Rome.
Outgoing Bnei Brak Mayor Rabbi Avraham Rubinstein said he hoped there would be further cooperation with KKL-JNF and additional projects completed in his city. “The situation in the neighborhood has been improving in the last few years,” he said, “and together, we will continue investing in Pardes Katz and making improvements for the benefit of the residents.”
Newly elected Mayor RabbiChanoch Zeibert, said that the residents of the neighborhood, and of the city in general, deserve the benefit of all social services, just like any other community in Israel, including tended parks and beautiful sports facilities.
Bnei Brak Community Center Director Yitzhak Deri expressed his hope that the neighborhood would develop in a constructive direction and get rid of the negative stigma that has been associated with it.
The new sports facility is ready for the young local athletes. The ball is now in their court, so to speak, for them to enjoy and maintain the new facility for many years to come.
The expert rescuers will perform a thorough situation assessment in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, that will determine the best rapid response Israel can provide to the government and people of the Philippines.
IDF Home Front Command search and rescue soldier pulls a dummy out of the rubble in an exercise
Copyright: IDF Spokesperson
An Israeli delegation of experts in the fields of search, rescue and medicine left on Sunday night (10 November) for the Philippines, which was struck by a natural disaster earlier today. The rescuers are part of the IDF’s Home Front Command.
A six-member advance team – four people from the IDF Home Front Command and two from the Foreign Ministry – willevaluate what is needed on the ground before Israel sends a larger mission. They will perform a thorough situation assessment, including an infrastructure evaluation, that will determine the best rapid response Israel can provide to the government and people of the Philippines.
The IsraAID humanitarian organization also sent a team of seven medical professionals to Tacloban City in the storm-ravaged Philippines to provide critical health interventions in the affected region. IsraAID, too, will continue to assess needs in the field and offer aid accordingly, includingtrauma professionals and child protection specialists.
Three wondrous nature exhibitions at the Open Museum of Photography in Tel Hai. 11th November - 14th December, 2013
The Open Museum of Photography at the Industrial Park in Tel Hai, invites you to the Winter of Birds Festival during the months of November and December. From 11.11 to 14.12, there will be an abundance of cultural activities and activities in nature.
Three new nature photography exhibitions will be opened up to the public on November 11, 2013. The opening event for the exhibitions will take place on November 16, 2013, at 13:00.
Bird watching at Hula Lake. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Hula Lake at sunset. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
Another Land - From the love of nature to the love of photography, featuring the esteemed nature photographer Eyal Bartuv. Bartuv's photographs reflect the sharp contrast and beauty inherent in nature and the destruction that exists within it.
The Hula - Images from a Disappearing Lake -Historical photographs taken during the draining of Lake Hula, which were saved and collected by the KKL-JNF Photo Archive. This exhibition will display the some of the best works of photographers whose names have become legend in the history of Israeli photography, including Zeev Vilnai, Yaakov Ben Dov, Abraham Malevsky, Zoltan Kluger, Peter Merom, Fritz Schlesinger and Rudy Weisenstein.
With the Autumn Come the Birds - An exhibition of bird photography, by the late Ruby Silberstein, photographer and educator. These photographs center mainly around the fish ponds of Maayan Zvi, the Beit She'an Valley, Shechaniya, Kfar Masaryk and the Sea of Galilee. The exhibition portrays the dynamic activity of local waterfowl and the migratory phenomenon.
Visitors are also invited to a gallery conversation with nature photographer Eyal Bartuv on his experiences in nature photography and on Israel's wildlife. There will also be a photography workshop with Eyal Bartuv at Lake Hula during the changing light, on flocks and details, water and reflections.
In the deal being proposed now, Iran does not roll back its nuclear weapons-making capacities at all, but the P5+1 are rolling back sanctions. That's a bad deal. It's a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation.
Jewish state, the one and only Jewish State of Israel.
For decades we have been struggling mightily against a regime that calls for our destruction and it pursues nuclear weapons in order to achieve our destruction. Others' destruction too, but first ours. It is a vital interest for other countries – the United States, the Europeans, many others, the Arabs, in my opinion the Chinese and the Russians as well – but for us it's a matter of our existence.
The international community has placed demands on Iran to cease and desist the building of capabilities to produce atomic bombs that will threaten us and threaten the peace of the world. They put together a sanctions regime that has brought Iran to its knees, crippling sanctions. The purpose of those sanctions was to get Iran to dismantle – dismantle – its nuclear enrichment capabilities, which are used for atomic bombs and its heavy water plutonium reactor, which is used for atomic bombs.
This is what the sanctions are for. They're not for preventing civilian nuclear energy or medical isotopes. I suppose Iran is building those ICBMs in order to launch medical isotopes to the Iranian patients orbiting the Earth. It is to prevent fissile material – that's the material that you put inside an atomic bomb – that's what those sanctions were about. To dismantle the centrifuge installations, underground military installations, centrifuge halls, and the plutonium reactor.
Now there's a deal. Why the Iranians came to deal is obvious: because the sanctions are biting their economy, crippling that regime. So they came to the table because they have to. And what is being offered now, and I'm continuously updated in detail, I know what I'm talking about. What is being proposed now is a deal in which Iran retains all of that capacity. Not one centrifuge is dismantled. Not one. Iran gets to keep tons of low enriched uranium, and they can take these centrifuges, which are not dismantled, in the halls, underground – using advanced centrifuges that they've already installed, some of them, that are not dismantled – and they can rush within a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, that's all, and create at the time of their choosing, the fissile material for a bomb.
Iran does not give up anything of that. It makes a minor concession that is meaningless in today's technology and in their current capacities. In other words, none of the demands of the Security Council resolutions, which the P5+1 powers passed are met. None of them! But what is given to them is the beginning of the rollback of sanctions. This means that the sanctions that took years to put in place are beginning to roll back with several billions of dollars of assets that are freed up; the automotive industry contracts that is central to Iran's economy freed up; petrochemical industry freed up; matters that involved gold and even petroleum revenues freed up some.
There are people here who deal in the marketplace. The price of anything is determined by future expectations. The pressure on Iran today is based on future expectations. That's the pressure that's built up in Iran. That's the pressure in the international community. But when you start letting up sanctions, rolling back sanctions, you are signaling in Iran that it's reversed. For the first time, you go down. And people understand it's over.
This is the deal that is proposed now. Iran does not roll back its nuclear weapons-making capacities at all, but the P5+1 are rolling back sanctions. That's a bad deal. It's a dangerous deal because it keeps Iran as a nuclear threshold nation and it may very well bring about a situation where the sanctions are dissolved or collapsed. It's a bad and dangerous deal that deals with the thing that affects our survival. And when it comes to the question of Jewish survival and the survival of the Jewish state, I will not be silenced, ever. Not on my watch.
When the Jewish people were silent on matters relating to our survival, you know what happened. This is different. We are the Jewish state. We are charged with defending ourselves and we are charged with speaking up. And it is time now to speak up – all of us. All of us have to stand up now and be counted. I can think of nothing that is as important and as crucial.
We shall continue to work with the rest of the world, and it's good that we have now a few days because this is not only in the interest of Israel; this is in the interest of the entire world. Yes, we speak up, but I thinkthere are other nations in this region and perhaps beyond who can now unite and say: we do not want a nuclear Iran and we stand together to make sure that Iran dismantles its enrichment capacities, its heavy water plutonium reactor, all the things that they need to make nuclear weapons. They're not entitled to it and it is possible right now, given the precariousness and vulnerability of the Iranian economy, to press forward the demand for Iran to dismantle its nuclear bomb-making capacity....
I mentioned Iran, and I mentioned those ICBMs. What is Iran targeting when it's building those ICBMs? Not us. They already have rockets to reach us and missiles. They need those ICBMs to reach North America. It'll take them a few years – not many by the way. And they could be nuclear tipped ICBMs. That's the plan coming to a theater near you. Do you want that? I don't hear you. Well, do something about it. We are. This is the greatest threat. I began with it, I continue with it. Iran must end enrichment at all levels, because they don't need it. They must take out from their territory all the fissile material. They must stop the construction of the heavy water reactor in Arak. And Iran must dismantle the considerable military nuclear infrastructure, including the underground facilities and the advanced centrifuges.
It's not my position. This has been the position of the international community. I stress it again. So here's what you see over time: what you see is as you go from 2005, 2004, Iran is steadily building its nuclear weapons capability and the international community is steadily diminishing and reducing its demands. It's almost a perfect scissor's movement.
That's the bad news. The good news is that parallel to the increase in Iranian capabilities, just to give you an idea, they had I think in 2005 around 170 centrifuges. You know how many they have today? About 18,000. That's not 100% increase – it's a hundred fold increase. This in the face of all international resolutions. That's not surprising because this is a regime that, in the face of all international resolutions, murders tens of thousands of innocent people, including children, in Syria. It participates, its keeps Assad going.
There is no Assad regime; there's an Iranian-propped Assad regime. It's a regime that practices terror as we speak on five continents; a regime that supplies Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah with endless rockets to fire on Israeli civilians; a regime that remains committed to our destruction and subverts just about every single country in the Middle East, and let me tell you, beyond the Middle East. It's a regime that tries to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington and sends its killers either directly or through its proxy, Hezbollah, to Bangkok, to Nigeria, to Bulgaria, everywhere. This regime cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons.
So the good news is that the international community did do something powerful and the powerful thing was to get those sanctions that followed Iran's building of its capabilities and now, when Iran is on the ropes, now when Iran has to come to negotiate, now when Iran understands that if they don't make a real compromise, they'll get more sanctions – now you let it out? Now you say, well, if we don't acquiesce to their demands, they'll continue? They can't continue because their economy will collapse. And even if they do, they'll maintain their capabilities now? I always said that the combination of crippling sanctions and a military option – that has the power to stop Iran and everything I see tells me that. I think it's important to have steady nerves and a firm purpose and stop this program. We can do it.
In any case, you know that the idea of the Jewish state and the purpose of the Jewish state is to enable Jews to defend themselves. This is something that we could not do before we had the Jewish state. But we can do it now and we shall always, always defend ourselves and defend our state.
I heard the learned commentaries of experts who explained to us that Israel cannot defend itself. They must know something I don't know. This is our purpose. This is our goal. This is our way of assuring our destiny. And we have not come nearly four millennia in our odyssey over time, from the time that Abraham set foot in this country to the present, to have the likes of the ayatollahs threaten our life. We will always defend ourselves and our state.
We also want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I want to see peace with our Palestinian neighbors. I am ready for a historic compromise. We need to end this conflict once and for all, and to end it, there's a simple principle. That principle is: two nation-states, two states for two peoples. Not one state for one people, the Palestinians, and then another state for two peoples. No. Two states for two peoples, which means that if the Palestinians expect us to recognize the Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, they must recognize the Jewish state for the Jewish people.
Now, you've got to ask yourself a simple question: not why am I raising this obvious, simple, basic demand; but why have they persisted in refusing to accept it? Why? Why do they refuse to accept the simple principle of a Jewish state? Now, I'm not asking it for them to affirm our identity. I don't need that. I know our history, believe me; I know our attachment to this land; I know our own nationhood. I'm asking it because I want them to give up any demands, any national demands, any claims on the Jewish state.
That's what peace is about. It's not to make a Palestinian state from which they continue the conflict to try to dissolve the Jewish state, either through the "right of return" or through irredentist claims on our territory in the Negev and the Galilee or anywhere else. It's to finally come to grips with something they have refused to come to grips with for close to a century – that the Jewish state is here by right, that is has a right to be here. And they must recognize that right and teach their children to recognize that right and to accept it.
I think this conflict began in 1921. My grandfather came here in 1920 in Jaffa, got off the boat to a little boat and then in a dinghy came to Jaffa port; went from there to the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa. In 1921, a mob attacked this immigration house because the Palestinian Arabs were opposed to any Jewish immigration at all. This was followed in 1929 by the massacre of the ancient Jewish community of Hebron. Horrible, disembowelment of children, beheading of babies, horrible. And that was followed by system attacks on the Jewish community from 1936 to 1939. And that was followed by systemic efforts by the Palestinian leadership, led by the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, during the war years in Berlin with Hitler to advocate the Final Solution. Don't expel the Jews, he said, destroy them. And that was followed finally after the tragedy that befell our people, with a declaration and a resolution by the United Nations for two states – a Jewish state. They didn't say a Palestinian state, by the way. They said an Arab state, but that's all right. We accepted and they refused. And then from 1947 until 1967, system attacks on us, an attempt to snuff out the life of the Jewish state by three Arab countries and several Arab armies in May of 1967 that we foiled in the great victory of the Six Day War.
So from 1921 to 1967, nearly half a century – 46 years – there were systemic attacks on the very nature of a Jewish state. Not on settlements – there weren't any. Not on our presence in the territories – we weren't there. What was this conflict about? Not on the absence of a Palestinian state. They rejected it; we accepted it. This conflict was not about settlements, about territories, even though these issues will have to be resolved. It wasn't even about a Palestinian state. It was and still is about the Jewish state. They have to recognize the Jewish state.
And you know, afterwards, when we left Gaza, every square inch of it, and they kept on firing rockets at us, and we asked them: why are you firing rockets at us? Is it to liberate Judea and Samaria, the West Bank? They said, yeah, sure, but that too. We said, what do you mean, that too? They said, well, it's to liberate Palestine – Ashkelon (they call it Majda), Ashdod, Beer Sheva, Jaffa. So that's the bad guys, the guys who are lobbing the rockets on us. What about the other part of Palestinian society, those who don't engage in terror (and it's good they don't engage in terror)? I ask them, so will you recognize the Jewish state? We recognize the Israeli people, we recognize the State of Israel. No, no, no, that's not what I asked. Will you recognize the state of the Jewish people? You have a state. Palestinians can go there if they choose. We have a state. Jews can come here – a Jewish state – if they choose. Do you recognize that? No. Do you recognize that you won't have any national claims wherever the border is drawn? No answer.
This conflict is about the Jewish state. Have I made that point, you think, subtly enough? You get it. Alright. So now let's ask the second question. Because, you know, since 1921 until today it's almost a century of unremitting incitement and an education of hatred. Now, I don't mean in Hamas or Islamic Jihad. I mean in the Palestinian Authority: textbooks, schools, kindergartens. I showed John Kerry a teacher teaching young kids – four year olds, five year olds. What will you be? Shaheedim, martyrs (that's suicide bombers)? And what will you struggle for? Palestine? What is Palestine? From Kiryat Shmona to Umm-Rash-Rash (that's Eilat). From the river to the sea.
That's what they teach. In their textbooks, Israel disappears. It completely disappears. In their state-controlled media – what a wonderful term – in their state-controlled media, they control everything. That's what they put forward.
We had a wonderful initiative that President Peres and I put forward to bring the Barcelona team, the soccer team, to Israel to play with the Palestinians and then to play with Israel, combined Jewish-Arab games in Israel. In the Palestinian territory, they played in Hebron. When they came to President Peres a day later, there was a song in Hebrew, in Arabic, we talked of peace, we talked of two states for two peoples, we had an exhibition game – Jewish children, Arab children from Israel. That was Israel. A day earlier in Hebron, in the soccer stadium, the Palestinian football federations, an official arm and an official spokesman and he said to the Barca team: welcome to Palestine. Palestine is from the river to the sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, from Eilat to Rosh Hanikra, the Arab name for Rosh Hanikra.
There is a century of this. The minimum thing that we can demand, aside from demanding the end of incitement, but to get a deal is that the official position of the Palestinian leadership recognize the Jewish state. That's a minimum, but I don't delude myself. This will be a long process. But it must begin with that. Otherwise, what are we saying? That this plan to dissolve Israel in stages will continue? Of course not. But we also have to recognize that it may not take root. It may not. We have at best a cold peace. I hope for a warm one. By the way, a cold peace is better than a hot war. But a warm peace is better than a cold peace. I hope for a warm peace, beginning with that recognition of the Jewish state and the abandonment of the "right of return" and all those other fantasies that are still harbored in Palestinian culture.
But we have to know that even if the Palestinian leadership puts an end to 90 years of rejection, and even if they recognize the Jewish state, we know that in this volatile and violent region, that can be reversed. We know thatin our region, there can be no durable peace that is not based on security. A peace agreement that is not based on absolute, robust security arrangements for Israel, by Israel, will not stand the test of time. We want a peace that endures. We need a peace based on security. That's the other fundament. We need security to defend the peace. But we also need security to defend Israel in case the peace unravels. And in our region, peace has a tendency to unravel now and then, if you haven't watched around us. You have.
Now for this genuine peace of a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state, for this peace I am willing to make difficult decisions. I am willing to be both creative and flexible. But I cannot compromise and will not compromise on the safety and security of the one and only Jewish state. And the Palestinians, of course, will have to compromise too. They'll have to compromise and accept the legitimacy and necessity of robust security arrangements that ensure that Israel's security border does not begin four miles from Ben-Gurion airport and a few hundred meters from this hall.
You know, Israel is the most challenged country on Earth. There is no other country, no other power, that is challenged for its very survival as we are, and we are one of the smallest countries on Earth. We need to have very robust security arrangements, and these are the two essential foundations for a secure peace – mutual recognition of two nation-states and robust security arrangements. This is what we need – and we need many other things. For example, we have this huge, historic attachment to our capital, Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It's always been our capital; it always will be our undivided capital.
I've made difficult choices to try to advance the peace, but it must be a two way street. It cannot be that the Palestinians are forever pampered by the international community; that their incitement goes by without a tick; that their refusal to recognize a Jewish state goes by without a bat of an eyelash; that their inefficacy in fighting terrorism is accepted or lionized as a great capacity. It's time that the international community, certainly the serious members of the international community, understand this is a two-way street because peace is not a one-way street and it won't be. To stick, it's going to be very tough, not only for Israel. Everybody says that. It's going to be very tough for the Palestinian leadership. It must be, otherwise it's not a genuine peace. And we don't want a fake peace. We've had enough.
So the question is, will they rise up to it? I don't know. It's in their interest. I hope that they stand up, not only for themselves – and I think they would if they accepted what I'm saying, but they would ensure a future for their children and for their grandchildren and for future generations. But they must be able to give the Bir Zeit speech. A Palestinian leader must do what Anwar Sadat did. He said, it's over, it's gone. No more war. No more bloodshed. But he was speaking for Egypt. A Palestinian leader must stand and say, I accept the Jewish state. That's a simple litmus test of seriousness...
"Ben Gurion decided to relinquish land for the sake of ensuring a Jewish majority. Without a Jewish majority, the future of the Jewish homeland is not guaranteed. This choice remains relevant to this day. "
"Yesterday the P5+1 did not come to an agreement, and rightly so. A deal which does not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power must not be signed."
President Peres delivered a special address by the grave of David Ben Gurion during the state ceremony marking 40 years since his passing. President Peres evoked David Ben Gurion's legacy of safeguarding the security of Israel's citizens through an uncompromising drive towards peace with our neighbors and addressed the crucial decisions facing the State of Israel today.
President Peres said, "We are gathered here today to honor the memory of David Ben Gurion, but also to remind ourselves that we must carry on along his path. A vision to provide security to our citizens, to make the desert bloom, to establish long-lasting peace with our neighbors and to be a moral nation. His legacy will continue to enlighten our path and guide us. We are grateful to history for placing a man like him at the crossroads of the most important and difficult decisions of our people's history for two thousand years. We remember that great opportunities often emerge from trying times. Today again we face important decisions. Today again we may not leave our destinies to the winds blowing through our region. In order to keep control over our destinies, we must keep the initiative in our hands. We must turn the vision of two states for two peoples into a reality, and prevent a deterioration of our situation which would lead to a bi-national state. A bi-national state which would not guarantee a Jewish majority would endanger the survival of Israel as a Jewish homeland and a democratic country."
President Peres continued and said, "Ben Gurion carried the heavy burden of this responsibility at the birth of our country. He made a decision – surrendering territories in order to guarantee a Jewish majority. Without a Jewish majority, the future of the Jewish homeland is not guaranteed. Many changes have come to pass since then, but this choice remains relevant to this day. It is the same as it was 66 years ago. Then as today, the differences between us and the Palestinians can be bridged. Neither us nor our neighbors have a better alternative. I know that there is mistrust between us. But the purpose of peace is to convert a history of mistrust into a reality of trust. It can be done. Peoples are difficult to change, but relations between people can be changed."
The President addressed the latest round of negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program in Geneva and said, ""Yesterday the P5+1 did not come to an agreement, and rightly so. A deal which does not prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power must not be signed. The wording at hand does not answer this requirement. Preventing a nuclear Iran was the P5+1's very purpose and I hope that it remains so. This is also the unyielding position of the State of Israel. We are not opposed to diplomacy to achieve this goal. But there is no point in a deal which would not prevent Iran from becoming nuclear. I believe that our government's position, expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is right.
The Prime Minister, Chief of Staff, government ministers, members of Knesset, representatives of the diplomatic corps, the police, soldiers and school children were all present at the ceremony.
The new 14 km Zechariya single near Beit Shemesh is dedicated at an inauguration ceremony on November 1, 2013. Beit Shemesh resident and MK Rabbi Dov Lipman, who was an honored guest, said that "KKL-JNF and everyone else who worked on this trail have a major part in sharing the region's beauty."
Unveiling the sign for the new Zechariya single. Photo: Tania Susskind
"The new Zechariya single is not far from Beit Shemesh, a city with very different sorts of people. We need to invest in creating unity between these sectors. Sports in general, andbicycling specifically, is a way of bringing people closer together." KKL-JNF Deputy Chairman Gael Grunewald was speaking on Friday, November 1, at the dedication ceremony of the Zecharya single near Beit Shemesh.
Haim Massing with KKL-JNF cyclists. Photo: Tania Susskind
The new 14-kilometer trail winds through the hills and forests of the Judean Lowlands between Zecharya and Sdot Mikha, farming communities established in the 1950s by immigrants from Kurdistan and Morocco. It ascends to the hilltop of Khirbet Zakaria, with its ancient pool, caves and gorgeous, blue winter-blooming lupins, and then continues along an antiquities-studded route westward, passing impressive old oaks and cultivated fields.
Otto Friedman, who was very involved in every aspect of the planning and creation of the trail, said that when the Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhood was built, "Beit Shemesh bicyclists lost a lot of their turf. They approached KKL-JNF, and the response was immediate. Gilad Masai, KKL-JNF Central Region director, took it upon himself to transform the idea into reality. It shouldn't be taken for granted that this happens when you talk to the director of an organization. KKL-JNF carried this project out quietly, with a great deal of care and responsibility."
Friedman quoted on behalf of Nachum Wasosky, Founder of the NPO Geerz that, 'There are all sorts of 'heads' here - bald ones and ones with hats, old and young, but the differences between them disappear under the bike helmets." Geerz, based in Beit Shemesh, is a youth leadership organization that uses mountain biking as its tool. Every week Geerz brings 120 local youth out into the hills to ride and to learn to become the leaders of the next generation. Wasosky is also responsible for the riding club in Beit Shemesh with 150 members on its riding list. With all the new building in the area, there is less and less area to ride. Two years ago Wasosky approached Otto Friedman and asked for help to build a new trail for the region. Because of Friedman's close relationship with KKL-JNF, he knew who to turn to for help.
MK Rabbi Dov Lipman. Photo: Tania Susskind
The ceremony was emceed by KKL-JNF'sMira Zer and Yossi Sharabani, who were both dedicated to the project from the beginning. "The spirit here is one that connects between different sorts of people," Mira said. "It was present during the building of the trail, and it will also be felt by everyone riding on this new single." Yossi added that this had not been an easy trail to create, "because we needed to move boulders and there was no lack of snakes and scorpions. Fortunately, there were many volunteers and after 300 workdays, the trail is now ready for the cyclists.'
Knesset Member Rabbi Dov Lipman, a resident of Beit Shemesh, praised the cooperation between the local residents and KKL-JNF. "Over 100 volunteers participated in the building of this trail, and it's a great example for the entire country. I heard it being discussed on the radio yesterday and was very happy, because unfortunately, our region is usually in the news for negative reasons. KKL-JNF and everyone else who worked on this trail have a major part in sharing the region's beauty."
Haim Masing, KKL-JNF Central Region director, said: "I want to thank all the KKL-JNF personnel who worked so hard creating this trail, it's like their elixir of life. I expect to see more amazing projects like this, they help create a different Israel."
Riding along the Zechariya Single. Photo: Tania Susskind
The vice-mayor of Beit Shemesh, Shmulik Greenberg, was very impressed to see all the teenagers who volunteered to work on the trail. "As part of my job, I am responsible for sports and culture for Beit Shemesh's ultra-orthodox community. I hope and plan to arrange for one thousand young people from this community to be here on Passover and to get a taste of physical activity in nature, it will only improve their ability to sit and learn Torah," he said to loud applause from the audience.
Yossi Moshe, deputy chairman of the Mateh Yehudah Regional Council, thanked KKL-JNF for its ongoing cooperation with the local residents, and for "everything the organization does to maintain the forests, restore streams, blaze trails for hiking and biking, and so much more." And as Yehuda Neisan, a resident of Beit Shemesh who was also involved in blazing the trail, said, "This was a real bottom-up initiative. I have been riding in the mountains quite a while, and every stone tells a story. There is so much history here."
Photo: Tania Susskind
Before everyone set out on the new trail withDoron Amitz, Israel's number one bicycle trail builder, KKL-JNF awarded certificates of honor to everyone who had been involved in the project, including Rabbi Nahum Wasosky, the head of GEERZ.
Friends of KKL-JNF are invited to adopt the new trail. So if you are a biking enthusiast and enjoy mountain-biking, this is a unique opportunity to contribute to the cycling revolution in Israel, and become a part of creating open spaces and opportunities to be in nature, for the ultra-Orthodox youth of Beit Shemesh, Beit Shemesh residents and riders from all across the country.
KKL-JNF is a strategic partner to the 3rd Israel Congress, to be held in Berlin on November 10th, 2013. Israel Congress provides a platform for the exchange of ideas in strengthening relations between Israel and Germany in a broad range of fields.
About Israel Congress
Founded in 2010, the Israel Congress, which is held in Germany, aims to intensify relations between Israel and Germany on all levels - politics, business, science, culture and religion. The Congress provides a forum for political and business leaders, as well as the general public, to exchange ideas and set goals to strengthen relations between the two countries.
The previous conference, held in Frankfurt in 2011, was atttended by over 3,000 people, with 200 participating organizations, making the conference the largest of its kind in Europe.
The Israel Congress 2013 will be held in Berlin, on November 10, and will place a special emphasis on action and will encourage young leadership. Ideas for partnership will be exchanged and conceptualized in five different labs: Politics, Business, Science, Culture, and Religion. The established goals of each lab will be implemented with the assistance of the Israel Congress partners.
Thank-you letters to friends of JNF Germany from children in Israel's south, who enjoyed areprieve at Ness Harim, thanks to their donation. Photo: KKL-JNF Photo Archive
KKL-JNF is the strategic partner for the 2013 Israel Congress. As a leader in technological innovation and international cooperation in the environmental field, and an active facilitator of young Israeli-German leadership through theGreenXchange program, it is well-placed to help advance the goals of increased cooperation between Israel and Germany.
KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler will greet the guests at Israel Congress's opening plenary. Throughout the conference, KKL-JNF will also be running an interactive pavillion where visitors can get information on KKL-JNF's projects, activities and partnerships, along with a rest area where meetings can take place.
The Israel Congress in Berlin will also be the starting point for KKL-JNF's mobile exhibition introducing KKL-JNF and relaying its fascinating history through photos and text.
Assessment of manifestations of antisemitism according to country (% of respondents who said that a given form of antisemitism is ‘a very big problem’ or ‘a fairly big problem’ in the country)
FRA is today presenting the first comparable figures on Jewish people’s experiences of antisemitic harassment, discrimination and hate crime in the EU. On 8 November, the eve of the anniversary of the anti-Jewish pogroms that took place 75 years ago, it needs to be acknowledged that while Member States have made sustained efforts to combat antisemitism, the phenomenon is still widespread. This report, which covers responses from 5,847 Jewish people in the eight countries in which some 90% of the estimated Jewish population in the EU live, will thus be a vital tool for EU decision makers and community groups to develop targeted legal and policy measures.
“Antisemitism is a disturbing example of how prejudice can persist through the centuries, and it has no place in our society today. It is particularly distressing to see that the internet, which should be a tool for communication and dialogue, is being used as an instrument of antisemitic harassment,” said FRA Director Morten Kjaerum. “While many EU governments have made great efforts to combat antisemitism, more targeted measures are needed.”
66% of respondents consider antisemitism to be a major problem in their countries, while 76% said the situation had become more acute over the last five years.
21% of all respondents have experienced an antisemitic incident or incidents involving verbal insult, harassment or a physical attack in the 12 months preceding the survey. 2% of respondents had been victims of an antisemitic physical attack over the previous year.
Under-reporting: 76% of victims of antisemitic harassment did not report the most serious incident to the police or any other organisation.
Under-recording: limited data-collection mechanisms in many EU Member States mean that antisemitic attacks remain under-recorded.
Antisemitism is considered the fourth most-pressing social or political issue across the countries surveyed (see Table 1 in report).
Three-quarters of respondents consider online antisemitism to be a problem
The survey also showed significant differences between countries, which frequently demonstrates their differing histories and traditions, and also patterns of immigration in recent decades. For example,
In the UK, 9% of respondents said they had often heard the statement “Jews are responsible for the current economic crisis,” while this figure rose to 59% for Hungary.
The survey found that while in Latvia only 8% of survey respondents said the Israeli-Arab conflict had a large impact on how safe they felt, the figure rose to 28% for Germany and was as high as 73% in France.
In response to the findings of the survey, FRA has formulated a number of suggestions for decision makers, including:
EU Member States need to record Jewish people’s experiences of fundamental rights violations effectively and comprehensively.
Public figures should publically condemn antisemitic statements.
The EU and its Member States must work urgently to find effective ways of combating the growing phenomenon of online antisemitism, for example exploring the option of establishing specialised police units that monitor and investigate hate crime on the internet, as well as encouraging reporting of antisemitic web content to the police.
Background: hate crime
Antisemitic attacks are a form of hate crime. Today’s survey report is published together with FRA's annual antisemitism overview, which brings together statistical data on antisemitic incidents collected by governmental and non-governmental sources. Together, the two reports complement the Agency’s considerable body of work on hate crime. This includes data on the experiences of groups such as lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender people, Roma and other ethnic minorities. FRA’s annual Fundamental Rights Conference, in Vilnius on 12-13 November 2013, will focus on hate crime. Discrimination and Hate Crime against Jews in EU Member States: Experiences and Perceptions of Antisemitism
Antisemitism: Summary overview of the situation in the EU 2001–2012
Notes to editors
5,847 Jewish people aged 16 or over took part in the survey. The results cover eight Member States in which some 90% of the estimated Jewish population of the EU live.
The survey was carried out online in accordance with expert recommendations.
- The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights ( FRA) is mandated to provide evidence-based advice to EU and national decision makers, thereby contributing to more informed and better targeted debates and policies on fundamental rights.
A few weeks ago, Rabbi Hier led a 60-strong delegation including Holocaust survivorsto meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican and on that occassion raised the issue of continuing threats from terrorists and rogue nations, like Iran. He also shared, “Seventy-five years after the infamous Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) pogrom, a poll commissioned by the respected Ebert Foundation estimates that 150 million Europeans still harbor anti-Jewish sentiment.
Today, Europe’s Jews are facing a growing wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish hatred unseen since World War II.
This weekend, as the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the pivotal event which marked the beginning of the destruction of European Jewry, the work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center has never been more urgent.
Every day the SWC is on the frontlines combating anti-Semitism:• In what TheNew York Times called, “A major victory for the Wiesenthal Center”, the SWC successfully shut down a 50-year-old German magazine, Der Landserdedicated to whitewashing the stories of World War II.
• SWC officials demanded action from Hungarian political leaders, in a meeting in Budapest, over rising anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism.
• Travel advisories were issued for countries such as Denmark and Sweden because of ongoing threats to Jews.
Teaching the Legacy of the Holocaust:
• Since 1988, the Center’s landmark traveling exhibition on the Holocaust, Courage to Remember, has travelled to six continents around the world. This year alone, it has been shown in Cuba, Kenya, India, Thailand, the Philippines and across the US in high schools, colleges, police departments, libraries, art galleries, county fairs, the US Army and Navy Academy to name a few.
Fighting Holocaust Denial:
• On International Holocaust Memorial Day, Genocide, our Academy Award®-winning documentary, narrated by Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles, was beamed, in Farsi, into Iran, across Europe and the Middle East via satellite and the Internet, in response to the Iranian regime’s state policy of denying the Shoah.
Introducing new generations to Anne Frank’s Story: • “… The most extensive exploration of Anne Frank in any museum outside Amsterdam,” The New York Times wrote about the new exhibit on the life of Anne Frank, Anne, narrated by Academy Award®-nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld, which tells the story of Anne Frank to visitors of the Museum of Tolerance in a highly interactive, immersive environment.
Preserving the Memory of the Holocaust: • The SWC has fought against Lithuanian campaigns to promote historical equivalency between communist and Nazi crimes and against those who have glorified World War II Nationalists who actively participated in the persecution of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust.
Pushing to bring Nazi War Criminals to Justice: • Operation Last Chance II, launched in Germany, is a massive European campaign to find remaining unprosecuted Nazi war criminals through posters and rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Nazi war criminals.
Witness to the Truth:
In 2013, over 50,000 visitors to the Museum of Tolerance have heard Holocaust survivors tell their first-person accounts each day.
Prime Minister Says "We Have to Secure a Common Future for the Jewish People," Chairman Sharansky Calls Joint Initiative "Our Mutual Effort to Secure Our Mutual Future"
JERUSALEM – An unprecedented gathering of 120 Jewish leaders and senior Israeli government officials organized by the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, in partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel, drew to a close this afternoon with addresses by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky. The summit sought to formulate a joint plan to enhance the Jewish identity of young Jews around the world and strengthen ties between the Jewish world and Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We are charged with the task of securing the Jewish future, which to me means securing the Jewish state for the Jewish people, all the Jewish people. We are a link in a chain of generations of Jews. We are going for a partnership to strengthen Jewish identity by bringing young Jews to Israel. Kol yisra'el arevim zeh la-zeh – all Jews are responsible for one another. We have to secure a common future for the Jewish people."
Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky said: "What was unique in this process is that this time it was done together with the government. This seminar could not take place if it did not have the leadership of the Prime Minister. The government is not only acting on behalf of the Jewish people, but in partnership with the Jewish people."
For the first time ever, the Government of Israel and the Jewish world held a strategic dialogue aimed at formulating a joint plan to strengthen the younger generation's Jewish identity and deepen the connection between world Jewry and Israel. Approximately a year ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a taskforce headed by the Director General of the Prime Minister's Office, Harel Locker, in partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel, in order to develop a joint plan between the Government of Israel and world Jewry. Upon the formation of the new government, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs joined the process. This week, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, in partnership with The Jewish Agency, convened a first-of-its-kind strategic planning summit attended by government representatives and by senior professionals and lay leaders from throughout the Jewish world.
The summit featured a strategic dialogue between the government and world Jewry to formulate a joint policy aimed at strengthening the Jewish identity of the younger generation and deepening the connection between world Jewry and Israel. The joint plan between the Government of Israel and world Jewry is expected to be presented to the government for approval in 2014. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky addressed the gathering.
120 participants took part in the summit. They represented a vast spectrum of Jewish communal professionals and organizations around the world and in Israel, including representatives of Jewish communities, organizations, and foundations, academics, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, both men and women, young people and veteran leaders from around the world. In an unprecedented move, the dialogue included representatives of all government ministries dealing with connections with the Jewish world: the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Culture and Sport. The work took place in small, diverse groups and focused on the joint challenges facing Israel and the Jewish world and on the formulation of joint solutions thereto.
The planning summit marked the culmination of comprehensive staff work begun approximately a year ago by a strategic planning taskforce led by the Prime Minister's Office and The Jewish Agency. The findings were presented to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Diaspora Affairs in June and The Jewish Agency was subsequently asked to convene an unprecedented coalition of senior professionals from throughout the Jewish world and Israel in order to advance the joint initiative.
It should be noted that the Government of Israel invests some NIS 450 million in programs aimed at strengthening ties with the Jewish people each year. The majority of that funding goes to Taglit-Birthright Israel and Masa Israel Journey, a cooperative venture between the government and The Jewish Agency.
This initiative reflects the sense of mutual responsibility between the State of Israel and world Jewry to ensure the future of the Jewish people and maintain Israel's enduring strength as the heart of the Jewish nation. It is being developed in light of indications that young Jews' connections to their Jewish identity and to Israel are weakening.
Participants held a dialogue with the Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, met with Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and were addressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A grove commemorating Georges Messaoud Touboul, a member of the KKL-JNF executive in Toulouse, France, was dedicated in Yatir Forest in the Negev. The ceremony was attended by his widow, his son, and members of a delegation from Toulouse, who are now visiting Israel.
Known for loving Israel, especially the Negev, Touboul was involved in many projects, including projects for the promotion of education in southern Israel. “It is only natural that his name be commemorated in this land, which he so loved,” said KKL-JNF Toulouse PresidentFlavien Sellem. “Everyone involved in this tree planting project is telling his family, with all their hearts, that his name will be engraved forever among those who have been devoted to Israel.
His son, André Touboul, spoke about his father the educator. “To plant a tree is to give life. Like a child, the tree also needs to be raised and nurtured. My father planted many trees, in his way, throughout his life, as he educated his children and his students.”
Choked with tears, Pierette Touboul, who lost her husband Georges a little over a year ago, thanked the members of the delegation from France. “Thank you for being with us,” she said. “Thank you on behalf of Georges.” She gazed at the wonderful forest, which adorns the desert with greenery, and said, “These splendid forests are the results of the hard work done by our wonderful nation. This nation is all about love.”
Yatir Forest covers an area of thirty thousand dunams and is comprised of over four million trees of different species. KKL-JNF has developed scenic roads, hiking trails, historic sites and picnic areas, in the forest, for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the region, for people all faiths, and for visitors from all over Israel. Against all odds, KKL-JNF foresters have succeeded in maintaining this impressive forest in the harsh climatic conditions. Tree planting here is based on a unique method using harvested runoff. Rainwater is collected by ridges inspired by the agricultural terraces that were used by Negev dwellers in ancient times.
The ceremony was led by Yitzhak Mopsik, Director of the KKL-JNF Bequest Department, who said that “KKL-JNF was involved not only with forestry and ecology but also indeveloping the country, so that our children and grandchildren will be able to live here.” Turning to the members of the delegation, he said, “Not only my children and grandchildren but yours, too.”
After the greetings, Drei Saul from Toulouse led the Planter’s Prayer, not just by reciting the Hebrew words but by chanting them, and President Sellem recited the prayer in French. All that was left to do was to translate the words into action, and three olive trees were planted by the family of Georges Touboul and the entire delegation.
The members of the delegation from France, most of them from the city of Toulouse, with a few representatives from Paris and Marseilles, arrived in Israel for a nine-day visit. They have been touring the country and finding out firsthand about many KKL-JNF projects. The itinerary includes visits to projects funded by friends of KKL-JNF from France, includingAdulam France Park in the Judean Lowland. The dedication of the Georges Touboul Memorial Grove on the second day of their visit was one of the highlights of their trip, which included many memorable moments.
Nigeria has no doctors specializing in congenital cardiology. Nigerian physician Dr. Yubi Ecoponkoya turned to Sheba Hospital while doing his fellowship there. Thus was born a unique Sheba/Rambam collaboration to bring training and treatment to adults and children suffering from congenital heart problems.
Nine nurses and cardiologists, a medical heart/lung technician, and an anesthesiologist from Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer, and Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa joined forces in Logos, Nigeria. Their trip initiated a project that was two years in development: bringing congenital cardiac specialists to Nigeria to treat patients and train doctors.
While in Nigeria, the team trained doctors via live procedures in surgical approaches to congenital heart defects. The hospital’s limited resources were challenging, but the effort worthwhile. “We set up the operating room and equipment during our first day there,” says Rami Heisler, Rambam’s cardio-machine Technion. “At first it was overwhelming to try and figure out how to perform surgical procedures under decades-old working conditions, but with a little motivation and a lot of will power, anything is possible.” The end result was treatment of 10 patients, mostly children. All patients returned home within a week, and the observing doctors gained new knowledge and skills for treating future patients.
“All involved saw this as a successful pilot,” explains another member of the team, Dr. Zvi Adler, Senior Physician and Head of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at Rambam. "We plan to return to Nigeria every few months to maintain and develop this important project, and assist the local population in saving lives. "
Watch the Israeli Doctors in Nigeria.
Videography, directing and editing:Tom Mishali-Dadon
"I've only been here a few days, so it's early to reach conclusions, but, as I wrote a friend back home, it seems crazy, nice and warm."
A KKL-JNF Germany mission to Israel, titled 'Water and Desert', visit KKL-JNF projects all around Israel, from Hula Lake Park in the North to the Arava Desert in the south. The group dedicated the Pforzheim-Enkreis forest grove in the German States Forest near Beersheba. The mission then participated in the Foresters for a Day program, where they helped carry out tasks vital to forest growth in the Negev Desert.
Group photo at the donor recognition site in German States Forest. Photo: Tania Susskind
"The greening of the Negev is one of KKL-JNF's top priorities, and you are our partners in achieving this goal." Ms. Jana Marcus-Natanova, director of KKL-JNF's European Desk, was speaking on Tuesday, October 29 to a KKL-JNF Germany mission at a ceremony dedicating the Pforzheim-Enkreis forest grove, which was donated "in deep solidarity with Israel and its people," as is written on the dedicatory plaque. "The forest here is literally an oasis in the desert," Jana continued, "and it fills up with people on holidays and weekends. There are many other projects here that were carried out with the help of our friends in Germany, including a promenade, a cycling and jogging trail, recreation sites and more."
Annedore Wittum unveils the recognition plaque for the newly dedicated Pforzheim-Enkreis forest grove. Photo: Tania Susskind
The German States Forest is part of Lahav Forest, which is located south of the Lower Judean Plain in the direction of Beersheba and covers an area of more than 30,000 dunams. KKL‑JNF started planting this forest in 1952 and expanded it in the 1960s. The forest includes the Joe Alon Center for Regional Studies, underground tunnels, desert wildflowers, active recreation areas, archeological ruins with remains from Jewish and Christian villages, bicycle paths, hiking trails and more.
As Tal Kaizman, a KKL-JNF representative from Germany who accompanied the mission explained, the group numbered about 20 people, from age 30 to 83, some who had visited Israel many times before, some who were in the country for the first time. The theme of the visit was "Water and Desert", and the mission visited KKL-JNF projects and other related sites from Agamon Hula Lake in the north to the Arava desert in the south. Even visitors who had been in Israel many times before got to see places they had never seen previously. The visit also showed participants a different side of Israeli reality than that which is often presented in the European media. For instance, at Beersheba River Park, the group saw how untreated effluents that reach Israel from the Palestinian Authority are purified and used to irrigate this impressive urban park.
Annedore Wittum, who was responsible for recruiting the funds for the forest grove, spoke at the short ceremony: "I first visited Israel in 2007 and fell in love with the land, the people and the incredible atmosphere. I wanted to do something to support the country, so I approached the Israel-German Friendship Association, which referred me to KKL-JNF. It was Israel's sixtieth birthday in 2008, so I gave myself a birthday present – an order to my bank to make a donation to KKL-JNF every three months as long as I live.
German States Forest. Photo: Tania Susskind
"I am a teacher, so I speak about Israel with my fifteen-year old students and I organized an Israel Day at the school. There was some opposition, but the principal supported me. The contributions for the forest grove came from many different sources – my bank, companies, small businesses, private people and more," Annedore concluded.
Michael, who is in Israel for the first time, said that his reason for participating in the tour was probably different than everyone else's: "I'm writing a chronicle for a Jewish family from Cologne, who had lived in Germany for 300 years, until the Holocaust. They now live in the USA, England, South Africa and Israel, and decided to send me to Israel as a gift. I've only been here a few days, so it's early to reach conclusions, but, as I wrote a friend back home, it seems crazy, nice and warm."
Instructions on being Foresters for a Day. Photo: Tania Susskind
Former Major General Dietrich Genschel worked with the Israeli Army in 1984. "I got involved with Israel in 1968, when I became one of the first members of the Israel-German Students Association. When I was here in the past, I never went south of Beersheva, so this visit has been a real eye-opener for me."
Hannelore Hammer and Annegret Bahre are longtime supporters of KKL-JNF. "It's been great to actually see all the KKL-JNF sites we heard about back home in Germany," Annegret said. "One of the highpoints of the visit for me was seeing a project I helped support at Kibbutz Yahel in the Arava."
After cheering Jana for her warm hospitality and informative explanations about the region, the group drove to a new KKL-JNF forest to work as foresters for a day. Since the group was in the Negev Desert in the south, it wasn't exactly the sort of forest they were used to in Europe, but rather desert afforestation at its best, so activities included weeding and tending the young, recently planted saplings. Forester for a Day is a KKL-JNF program in which volunteer foresters take part in a variety of tasks that are vital for forest care. These include pruning and cutting low branches, which accelerate the spread of flames in the event of a fire, blazing trails, assisting in the development of recreation areas for the benefit of the public, and more.
The changeover ceremony for the position of National Security Adviser was held today (Sunday, 3 November 2013), in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Jerusalem office. IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, Mossad Director Tamir Pardo, ISA Director Yoram Cohen and Atomic Energy Commission Director Dr. Shaul Horev participated in the ceremony. US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro spoke and awarded outgoing National Security Adviser Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror a US flag that had flown over the US Embassy in Israel.
Outgoing NSC Advisor Amidror said: "I thank the Prime Minister for offering me the position, for having boundless trust in me, for giving me almost complete freedom to do what I thought best, for listening to my words and for backing my actions. He patiently listened to my arguments and was open to my views. It is important to remember that Israel has one clear existential danger and everything must be done to remove it; if possible, by negotiations and if it is not possible by negotiations, then in another way. The second thing is, today the Middle East is a place in motion. There have already been many upheavals and many more are to be expected in the future. This dangerous situation, perhaps the most dangerous in the 40 years in which I have been dealing with these issues, requires much caution and much thought."
Incoming National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen said: "I take up this office with a deep sense of mission. I thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your decision to appoint me to lead the National Security Council and serve as your National Security Adviser at a time when the world around us is in ferment and the State of Israel faces security challenges in all major and significant spheres. In the previous 30 years I have served the State of Israel in the framework of the Mossad. After long years of operational work abroad, as an operations officer and commander, as well as staff work in Israel, I view the position of National Security Adviser as a natural continuation. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have taken care that my taking up this office should be proper, successful, smooth and meaningful so that I might do well in my post. Anyone who is familiar with the logo of the Mossad knows that it has a menorah, which is, in effect, the values compass for all of us in the service of the State of Israel. Above it is written 'Where there is no counsel, the people fall.' [Proverbs 11:14] This is what I have done over the past 30 years and below it is written 'But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.' [Proverbs 11:14] Thus I will endeavor to do."
Prime Minister Netanyahu congratulated incoming National Security Adviser Cohen and thanked outgoing National Security Adviser Amidror: "The main thing is that, in the end, the thread of our existence depends on us and we will not let it be cut by anyone. The question is – how do we make certain that the most challenged and threatened state on the face of the earth not only continues to survive but continues to defend itself, to build up its strength, to prosper, and to ensure its future. This is our mission. Yaakov Amidror has greatly contributed to the State of Israel. He has helped me very much. I know that Yossi Cohen will continue this work. Yossi has a very long resume and I am certain this commitment and this professionalism will find expression."
"This story should be told and retold every year, so that it should not be forgotten."
High school students and teachers, KKL-JNF representatives IDF soldiers, and Danish expats mark the 70th anniversary of the rescue of Danish Jewry during the Nazi occupation of Denmark. The ceremony took place on October 24 at KKL-JNF's Golani Plant Nursery in the north. Honored guests at the ceremony included Esther Herlitz, former Israeli ambassador to Denmark and president of the Israel-Denmark Friendship society, Alexander (Sasha) Wolfson, and Ministry of Education officials.
Group photo in front of the recognition plaque for Denmarks rescue efforts in WWII. Photo: Tania Susskind
On Thursday, October 24th, high school students, Israeli soldiers and Danish ex-pats living in Israel met at KKL-JNF's Golani plant nursery in the north to mark the seventieth anniversary of the rescue of Danish Jewry. The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany's occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1, 1943 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported. Despite great personal risk, the Danish resistance movement, with the assistance of many ordinary Danish citizens, took part in a collective effort to evacuate about 7,800 Jews in fishing boats to nearby neutral Sweden.
Honored guests at the ceremony, which was graciously emceed by KKL-JNF's Elisha Mizrahi, included Esther Herlitz, former Israeli ambassador to Denmark and president of the Israel-Denmark Friendship society, Alexander (Sasha) Wolfson, who was one of the children rescued at the time, Ministry of Education officials and schoolteachers. The audience also included Israeli army soldiers and students from schools in the Haifa region and Mazkeret Batya, together with their teachers.
Esther Herlitz. Photo: Tania Susskind
Sasha Wolfson and Esther Herlitz told the story of the rescue to the audience, and Sasha shared his personal memories with them. Denmark had been occupied by Nazi Germany at the beginning of 1940. Legend has it that when the Nazis demanded that the Jews wear the yellow star, the Danish king, Christian X, said that he would be the first to put it on, and the Germans let the matter go until 1943, when the order was given to deport the Jews to Auschwitz. The German diplomat Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz leaked word of the order to the Danish resistance movement and to the Jewish community leaders, and the Jews went into hiding until safe passage by sea could be organized to nearby Sweden. After the war, Duckwitz was appointed the German ambassador to Denmark.
Unveiling the recognition plaque. Photo: Tania Susskind
"I was a child of four when all this happened," Sasha recalled. "I want to emphasize that the entire country helped the Jews. For example, when things first started getting bad, I went to sleep every night at our neighbor's home, so that if anything happened, at least I would remain alive. When we took the train to the harbor, the conductor warned us that Gestapo officers would be boarding at the next station and told us to get off the train. A taxi drove us to the port and refused to accept payment. I will never forget the bravery and courage of the extraordinary Danish people."
Esther Herlitz said that the story of the rescue of the Danish Jews is not unlike the exodus from Egypt: "This story should be told and retold every year, so that it should not be forgotten. It was mentioned at the Eichmann trial, and the judge said that it was a reminder that even during the Holocaust, there were good people in the world who saved their friends and neighbors. There are no individual Danish Righteous of the Nations, because almost everyone was part of the rescue operation. At Yad Vashem, there are three trees for the Danes – one for the king, one for the Danish resistance and one for the entire Danish people.
"During the time the Jews were in Sweden, some of them received military training and eventually made it to Israel and fought in the War of Independence. Today's ceremony is very important, because it draws public attention to this chapter in our history and teaches young people about it, "Esther concluded.
The rescue of Annette Goldman and her daughter, as reported in Sweden, after disembarking from one of the Danish fishing boats. Photo: Courtesy of Gil Atzmon
Elisha Mizrahi introduced KKL-JNF regional forester Gil Atzmon, who had an amazing story to tell: "My mother fled from Berlin to Copenhagen with my grandmother, Annette Goldman, when she was just a young girl. They were saved on one of the fishing boats you heard about, and when they arrived in Sweden, a photographer took a picture of them right after they disembarked that was published in Copenhagen and London." Gil showed the picture to the audience. "After the war, my grandmother returned to Denmark and found her home exactly as she had left it. She always felt a deep sense of gratitude towards the Danish people. I find it very meaningful that today, as part of my duties as KKL-JNF regional forester, I am responsible for the forest planted in honor of the Danish resistance, which is located just three kilometers away from here."
Before unveiling the new stone sign in honor of the Danish resistance movement at the Donor Appreciation Center at the KKL-JNF nursery, Israel Ministry of Education officials Sarah Eilatand Zachi Cavti thanked KKL-JNF for organizing the event. Zuf, Noam, Tomer, Yaniv andEliad, eleventh-grade students at the Mazkeret Batya high school, spoke about their experience. "The twelfth-graders from our school already visited the concentration camps in Poland, and we will also," said Zuf. "Being here today is part of learning about the Holocaust and helps prepare us for our journey to Europe."
Aden Malul, an eleventh grader from Kiryat Bialik, belongs to a group called "Young People Remember the Holocaust."
Aden Malul, 11th Grade. Photo: Tania Susskind
"We study about the Holocaust from many different angles; I feel it is very important. I hadn't known anything about what happened in Denmark, this was entirely new for me and also for my friends."
Laura and Niels Nygaard from Denmark, who were at the ceremony with their two young children Iben and Bork, live near Tiberius and represent an organization called "The Word and Israel." "We are friends and supporters of Israel," Niels explained, "and run programs for people visiting here, such as a three-month long program for Danes close to the age of 21, and shorter two-week programs. The idea is to teach people about Israel's past and present, which is very misrepresented in the media. We first came here for our honeymoon and fell in love with Israel, and we believe that it is God's plan for the Jewish people to return to their land."
Pinhas Afik, who is also active in the Israel Denmark Friendship Association, noted that the seventieth anniversary of the rescue of Danish Jewry was marked by a festive concert in the presence of the Danish prime minister in Copenhagen. In addition, a gala concert marking this occasion will be performed on October 30 at the Rebecca Crown auditorium at the Jerusalem Theater, with the Danish crown prince and Knesset Speaker Mr. Yuli Edelstein as honored guests.
The Conference, held in cooperation with UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme, will provide a forum for meeting and dialogue among worldwide colleagues, with special focus on gender equality and women's empowerment.
The 28th International Women Leaders’ Conference, which will be held from November 3-8, 2013 will focus on the subject of the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment in formulating the next sustainable development goals agenda of the U.N.
The 50 participants from throughout the world will include government ministers (from Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Romania, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa), members of parliament, scholars and senior representatives of U.N. agencies and international aid organizations.
The Conference will be held in cooperation with UN Women and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and will provide a forum for meeting and dialogue among worldwide colleagues on global issues on today's agenda in the area of international development, with special focus on gender equality and women's empowerment.
The Conference will open on Sunday, November 3, at the Krieger Center for Arts in Haifa in a festive ceremony with the participation of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Israel Minister of Culture and Sport Livnat, and the Mayor of Haifa.
This, the 28th conference of its kind, is sponsored by the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center (MCTC), the oldest extension institution of MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation at the Foreign Ministry.
Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's greetings on the occasion of the Sigd.
"Dear friends, honored kesim, public leaders and members of the Ethiopian [Jewish] community,
I greet you on the occasion of Sigd. You have been celebrating this holiday for hundreds of years in Ethiopia and now you are celebrating it in the State of Israel along with all Israelis. I view this holiday as important because it is important to me that all Israelis are familiar with the cultural heritage of the Ethiopian [Jewish] community, a community which kept alive its love for Zion over thousands of years in Africa. What greater testimony is there for the yearning to return to Zion than this community – which was cut off and distant yet never gave up, not even for a moment, the idea of returning to Zion and Jerusalem.
Today, I told in the Knesset about how excited I was when I saw a member of the community telling on Mt. Herzl, on Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who Perished on their Way to Israel<http://www.knesset.gov.il/lexicon/eng/yom_zik_ethiopian_eng.htm>, about the march, it is possible to call it a 'death march', in which members of his family were attacked and murdered, and this child saw it all – and they continued to march and reached Israel. There stood a man, already an adult, and he wept, and we wept with him and I embraced him, and I embrace you because this is highest expression of the yearning to return to Zion, the ingathering of the exiles.
I was very moved then just like I am very moved now. I know that the first mission to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. I am proud that as Prime Minister I have twice been fortunate to have brought Ethiopian Jews to Israel: Once from the compound in Addis, and now those who remained. I see this as a supreme duty – a supreme Jewish and Zionist duty. But I know that is not enough to help bring you to Israel, we must facilitate your absorption. I am familiar with the difficulties and we are devoting resources to this and our hand is still extended.
I know that there are also other difficulties – of racism and harassment. I am beside myself at such phenomena. When I heard about what happened in Kiryat Malachi, I went there with ministers in order to express my protest. I see you as an integral part of the Jewish People; you are an integral part of the Jewish People and yours is a great story that attests to our identity.
I want you to know that this commitment is genuine and I want it to be expressed in recognition of your heritage – not only should you recognize your heritage, you and your children and your grandchildren – I want the entire Jewish People to know this glorious community and love it as I do.
I wish you a happy holiday and may we continue to work together for the revival of Zion."
Sigd - A Holiday of Ethiopian Jewry
Sigd is a holiday of Ethiopian Jewry, the community named “Beta Israel.” The name of the holiday is derived from the Hebrew word for bowing or prostration, “sgida”. Sigd is celebrated on the 29th of Heshvan – 50 days following Yom Kippur (similar to the holiday of Shavuot, celebrated 50 days after Passover), and the community rejoices for the renewal of the alliance between the people, God, and His Torah. This act is reminiscent of the treaty made for the People of Israel by Ezra and Nehemiah upon the return from Babylonian exile in the 5th Century BCE. The holiday originated in the Book of Nehemiah: “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people, and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the lord, the great God. And all the people answered: 'Amen, Amen', with the lifting up of their hands; and they bowed their heads, and fell down before the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah, 8:5-6). “And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of the Lord their God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and prostrated themselves before the Lord their God” (Nehemiah, 9: 3). During Sigd, Ethiopian Jewry pray to God, and plea to return to Zion. The community also holds communal self-examination, in addition to that held in private during Yom Kippur. In accordance with tradition, the public must examine itself and amend itself socially to be worthy to return to Jerusalem from exile. Sins of the community members are being forgiven for during Yom Kippur and the following 50 days, the last of which is the communal self examination carried out in a similar way to that of Yom Kippur itself in prayers and fast. The holiday in Ethiopia In Ethiopia, the community used to gather from all distant villages to celebrate communally. The day prior to the holiday was used for carrying out special prayers to welcome the following day and for washing their festive clothing. The Kes (spiritual leader) would prepare cow and sheep meat for the feast to be held to end the holiday, during which the community fasted. The Sigd ceremony was held on a high mountain, considered to be pure due to its resemblance to Mt. Sinai on which Moses was given the Torah. Elder members of the community would climb up to the place of prayer and ensure its purity and strengthen its surrounding fence, in front of which they would prepare the area to place the Torah scroll. Early in the morning, the community would bathe in the river and gather at the prayer house. The Kes would then extract the Torah to the sounds of singing and cries of happiness and lead the crowd up the mountain. Some of those present would carry with them a rock symbolizing their surrender before God and as a sign of regret for their sins. The ceremony opens with the Kes reading excerpts from the Bible, spoken in Ge’ez and translated to Amharic. The excerpts included: Receiving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai (Exodus, 19-20), Nehemiah’s ceremony for renewal of the alliance with those returning from the Babylonian exile (Nehemiah, 8-9), and excerpts from the books of Leviticus, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and Psalms. Furthermore, the Kes would pray and accompany their service with sermons and preaching. During the ceremony the members of the community would kneel, bow and direct their hands at the sky. This was followed by an interval of trumpets, while saying: “As we have had the fortune to celebrate the holiday this year, we shall have the fortune to hold it in Jerusalem in the next year.” The prayers following these words expressed joy, comfort and their hope for the return to Zion and the building of Jerusalem. The participants would return to the prayer house in the afternoon to hold a festive meal, accompanied with songs and dance. The holiday in Israel Today, as the majority of the Ethiopian Jewish community has made Aliyah to the State of Israel, members of the community make their way to Jerusalem, to the Wailing Wall and to the promenade at the “Armon Hanatziv” neighborhood in the city. The holiday serves as an annual gathering of the entire Ethiopian community and they see it as a chance to strengthen their affinity to their history and culture. The Kessim carry the Bible holding colorful umbrellas. They stand on top of a stage to read the excerpts and prayers before the community. Many officials come and greet the audience, while the crowd continues to observe their fast until late in the afternoon. The Knesset legislated the Sigd Law-2008, declaring the 29th of Heshvan as a national holiday.
Memorial Day for Ethiopian Jews who Perished on their Way to Israel - 28th of Iyar
The 28th of Iyar is marked by the Israeli Ethiopian community as the memorial day for those who perished on their way to Israel. A mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews ("Beta Israel") took place in the years 1980 – 1984, from their villages in the area of Gundar and through Sudan. Many of them, who dreamt for many years of making Aliyah to Israel, managed to flee Ethiopia and arrive at the Ethiopian-Sudanese border, where they waited in provisional camps to make Aliyah. The passage through Sudan was made possible by an unspoken agreement, only known to a few senior officials in Sudan. Agents of the Mossad awaited the immigrants at the Sudanese border and instructed them to hide their Jewish identity. In their escape and in the Sudanese camps, they suffered from disease, hunger and acts of harassment, rape, and violent robberies. The families, with their elderly and younger members, walked for long periods of up to several months and were forced to wait in refugee camps in Sudan for up to two years. Approximately 4,000 members of the community perished on the way and in the camps, in their attempt to arrive at Israel. Their instructions on minimizing their Jewish identity made it difficult on them to observe Jewish law and tradition; they could not bury their dead in the desert for fear of robbers, and they could not perform Jewish burial ceremonies at their camps for fear of the Sudanese guards. "Operation Moses" began in November 1984, and it was the first national operation for bringing the Ethiopian Jewry to Israel. The operation was done in secret and brought some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews over on Israeli aircrafts. A leak of information to the Israeli press brought the operation to an end before schedule. Many families were left behind, torn apart, and remained there until May 1991, when 14,324 immigrants were brought within 36 hours during "Operation Solomon." In 1989, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption erected a temporary memorial for those who perished at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel with the help of the Jewish Agency and the Israel National Fund. In late 2003 it was decided by the ministerial cabinet for immigration, absorption and the Diaspora that a memorial will be established at Mt. Herzl. The government had decided that a national memorial ceremony will be held each year on the 28th of Iyar, Jerusalem Day. In March 2007, the memorial for Ethiopian Jewry who perished en-route to Israel was erected on the southern part of Mt. Herzl. Its establishment was made possible with the assistance of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Israel Land Administration, the World Zionist Organization and representatives of the Municipality of Jerusalem. The commemoration department in the Ministry of Defense was the coordinator of the technical aspects for the planning and design of the memorial. It was designed by architect Gabriel Kertesz, in cooperation with artists and authors of Ethiopian origin. Their work was introduced into the design of the memorial, as well as monologues by the members of the community describing their way of life in the Ethiopian villages, their journey to Israel, waiting in the refugee camps in Sudan and their yearning for Jerusalem. The area surrounding the memorial serves as a gathering place for uniting with the loss and courage of the thousands of Ethiopian Jews who perished on their way to Israel. The Ethiopian community in Israel consisted in late 2007 of 114,070 people: 79,545 of which made Aliyah since the 1980s, and the remaining 34,525 were born in Israel.
Hugh Robertson welcomes PM Netanyahu’s decision to release 26 Palestinian prisoners but regrets Israeli authorities’ settlement plans
Commenting on recent developments in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Minister for the Middle East Hugh Robertson said:
“The UK continues to support efforts between the Israelis and the Palestinians to secure a real and lasting peace. Bold leadership will be needed along the road to peace, and in this context I warmly welcome the difficult and courageous decision taken by Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Government on Sunday to release 26 Palestinian prisoners.
“We urge both sides to take further positive measures to build trust and avoid steps that undermine the prospects for peace. We therefore regret the recent decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to advance a number of settlement plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The UK has consistently condemned settlements, which are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution.”
GENEVA, October 28 2013, (BWNS) ― Parva Rahmanian and her family used to run a flower shop in Iran - until the government revoked their business license.
The reason given was simple: as Baha'is, they were "unclean" - and so were their floral designs. The uncleanliness of the Baha'is was, to the world's great shock and outrage, the subject of a recent fatwa by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
"We received a letter from the Justice Bureau saying that as a florist one's hands get wet while decorating flowers, and given that Baha'is are considered unclean by the high-ranking clerics..., the work permit was revoked," says Ms. Rahmanian in a new video released today by the Baha'i International Community.
Ms. Rahmanian's story is one of many personal accounts of persecution faced by Iranian Baha'is featured in the 17-minute video, which is titled "Violence with Impunity" and is available on the BIC's YouTube channel.
The new production, which is available in English and Persian, is based in part on a recent report of the BIC with the same title, which was released in March. However, the video also features numerous new interviews done over the last six months in the United States and Europe.
"This new video takes the dramatic statistics documented in our earlier report and illustrates them with personal accounts of what it means to live in a country where the very authorities that are supposed to protect your rights are the ones behind your oppression," said Diane Ala'i, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations in Geneva.
Naim Sobhani, for example, describes what it was like as a child growing up in Iran and having to face vilification from teachers.
" 'These Bahai's are dirty, they are unethical, they are unclean non-believers, do not dine with them, do not socialize with them, do not befriend them,'" he recounts his teachers as saying. "As a child in the elementary school, hearing the teacher saying this sort of things in a classroom to your classmates in the class," said Mr. Sobhani, who now lives in the United States.
Also featured are several human rights activists.
Mahnaz Parakand, an attorney who defended Baha'is before having to flee Iran herself, talks about how the government uses false charges of espionage to prosecute and imprison Baha'is.
"The only reason they cite for espionage on the part of the Baha'is is that the shrines of the great figures of the Baha'i Faith are located in Israel, which are considered sites of pilgrimage for the Baha'is," said Ms. Parakand.
"As a Muslim, when I go to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, does the mere fact that the House of God, the Kaaba, is located in Saudi Arabia mean all Muslims in the world could be spying for Saudi Arabia in their native countries?" she said.
Karim Lahidji, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), says Iran's policy has been "to increase the pressure on the Bahai community so that in the best case scenario they would relinquish their beliefs."
The original report documents a rising tide of violence directed against the Iranian Baha'i community - and the degree to which attackers enjoy complete impunity from prosecution or punishment.
From 2005 through 2012, for example, there were 52 cases where Baha'is have been held in solitary confinement, and another 52 incidents where Baha'is have been physically assaulted. Some 49 incidents of arson against Baha'i homes and shops, more than 30 cases of vandalism, and at least 42 incidents of cemetery desecration were also documented.
Copyright 2013 by the Baha'i World News Service. Stories and photographs produced by the Baha'i World News Service may be freely reprinted, re-emailed, re-posted to the World Wide Web and otherwise reproduced by any individual or organization as long as they are attributed to the Baha'i World News Service. For more information, go to http://news.bahai.org/terms-of-use/
UNITED NATIONS, 23 October 2013, (BWNS) — Despite recent signals by Iran that it intends to improve on its human rights record, there has been little evidence of change, according to a report issued yesterday by the UN's expert on human rights in that country.
"The human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to warrant serious concern, with no sign of improvement," said Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran.
Among other things, Dr. Shaheed expressed concern over Iran's high level of executions, continuing discrimination against women and ethnic minorities, poor prison conditions, and limits on freedom of expression and association.
He also said that religious minorities in Iran, including Baha'is, Christians, Sunni Muslims, and others, "are increasingly subjected to various forms of legal discrimination, including in employment and education, and often face arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment."
His report, which will formally be presented today to the UN General Assembly, devoted several paragraphs to the persecution faced by Iran's Baha'i community.
"The Special Rapporteur continues to observe what appears to be an escalating pattern of systematic human rights violations targeting members of the Baha'i community, who face arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment, national security charges for active involvement in religious affairs, restrictions on religious practice, denial of higher education, obstacles to State employment and abuses within schools," he wrote.
Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha'i International Community to the UN, welcomed the report, saying that it provided a clear picture of what has been happening in Iran—and continues to happen even since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, who has made public promises for improvement.
"Recent reports from Iran give disturbing details indicating there has been no improvement whatsoever," said Ms. Dugal. "Indeed reports to our office actually indicate a worsening of the situation facing Baha'is in Iran. And we note that although much has been made in the news media of recent releases of a few prisoners of conscience, no member of the Baha'i Faith has yet been included among them."
Ms. Dugal stated: "What we see is the continuation of the usual tactics, attempting to delude the international community and to appease the family of nations, even as repression continues at home with full force. The Baha'i community in Iran, like many other minorities in that country, remains deprived of its most basic rights, including ultimately the right to exist as a viable community. Iran's government must be held accountable for this hypocrisy and double standards."
She continued: "In Iran's official reply to Dr. Shaheed's report, the government claims that 'the citizenship rights of followers of other faiths including Baha'is are entirely observed.'
• If this is so, how is it that the barrage of hate-filled incitement against the Baha'is continues unabated in the state-controlled media, and has indeed intensified in recent weeks?
• If this is so, how is that ordinary Baha'is face constant cruel harassment in earning a basic livelihood and official government documents explicitly prohibit Baha'is from engaging in dozens of professions while in practice they are debarred from many more.
• If this is so, how is it that all the properties of the Baha'i community remain confiscated and even Baha'i cemeteries are not immune from destruction?
• If this is so, what is the explanation for an official edict to 81 universities not to accept Baha'i students and why is the government decree expelling any student who is discovered to be a Baha'i still in full force?
• If this is so, how is it that even the courageous lawyers who defend the Baha'is against injustice are themselves thrown into prison?
• And if this is so, why would the country's Supreme Leader issue a fatwa declaring Baha'is as "unclean" and call for them to be systematically identified and socially ostracized?
These and countless other actions, all of which are evidence of obvious religious discrimination, establish beyond the shadow of doubt the presence of a chilling, state-organized, insidious campaign aimed at the eradication of a religious community in the land of its birth."
"How long" asked Ms. Dugal "will the Iranian government persist in its duplicity?"
President Shimon Peres speaks to the Jerusalem Post Editor-In-Chief Steve Linde
Photo : Silvia G. Golan
President Peres on Iran
"An Iranian Spring is possible; don't underestimate the power and ability of the people"
President Peres on negotiations with the Palestinians:
"There is enough to bring the two sides together"
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, openedThe Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, with an onstage interview with Editor-in-Chief Steve Linde. President Peres addressed the Iranian nuclear issue and said of President Rouhani's election, "I think it's part of a new puzzle. People voted for him not because he is a revolutionary but because he was the least extreme and most reasonable. All of us are concerned about the enrichment of uranium but there is a wider picture. Dictatorships only seem strong but they are the weakest, an Iranian Spring is possible; don't underestimate the power and ability of the people." President Peres addressed Iran's nuclear program and said, "Khamenei says that religion forbids the nuclear weapons, then why do they develop long range missiles with warheads capable of carrying nuclear weapons? Those missiles have no civilian purpose. As long as they keep enriching uranium, developing long range missiles, supporting the revolutionary guard then they will remain prisoners of their own work. It is not just a matter of speeches; they have complicated themselves into an impossible system."
President Peres was asked about the negotiations with the Palestinians and said, "I've known Abbas for 30 years, I believe his choice is to arrive to an agreement and he has said there is no need to return to the old cities and if we reach an agreement there won't be further demands. I'm not saying he agrees with us but there is enough to bring the sides together. At the beginning of negotiations and both sides start with maximum positions, the aim of negotiations is to bring the two sides together."
La Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie Israël-France a le plaisir de vous faire part des événements qui auront lieu la semaine du 27 au 31 octobre.
Maurice Levy. "Le monde de la publicité à l'ère digitale".
Événement organisé par l'Université de Tel-Aviv, le dimanche 27 octobre 2013, à 16h30, à l'Université de Tel-Aviv, Amphithéâtre Lion, Bâtiment Recanati.
Le speaker principal Maurice Levy est le Président de Publicis. Meir Brand (CEO Google Israël), Ari Melamud (CEO Publicis Israël) et Itzik Saig feront partie du panel d'experts. Invitation en pièce-jointe.
President Peres' Speech at the State Memorial Ceremony for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin marking 18 years since his murder
Yitzhak Rabin led the country in the battle for resurrection and the fight for its survival, and was at the forefront of the effort to bring about peace. The hills of Jerusalem and the surrounding neighborhoods, the road to the city and the convoys from the War of Independence are signed in the blood of the "Harel" fighters and Yitzhak was their first commander. The soldiers followed him on the most difficult and most dangerous missions, and gave their lives to save Jerusalem from blockade and from isolation from the State of Israel. Yitzhak Rabin, born in Jerusalem, a fighter for Jerusalem and the unifier of Jerusalem. He lays in rest here in Jerusalem's soil alongside his wife Leah. He survived the flames of war but was exposed to the gun of the murderer who pulled the trigger, shot in the back. His crime will never be forgiven.
He never ceased his search for the path to peace. Yitzhak understood the necessity of peace for Israel with our Palestinian neighbors. He achieved peace with Jordan. "Peace is made with enemies" he used to say. Peace is made with enemies for ourselves, to escape the heavy price we already pay today for hostilities and which could become even more costly in the future. And to protect the Jewish character of the State of Israel. We must remember that enemies also need peace. They also pay the price.
I know that achieving peace requires the thorough public debate that is proper in a democratic country. But it must have limits – of respect for those with differing views, of restraint and of maintain the law. Today there are peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and I welcome that. All negotiations start from disagreement with the aim of reaching an agreement. The Two State Solution will maintain Israel's moral character and its future as a Jewish democratic state. Those who delude themselves that the status quo between us and the Palestinians will continue may become a victim of their delusions. Leaders are tested by the goals they set for the nation, by finding ways to achieve those goals even when reality seems imposing. Yitzhak Rabin understood this and had the courage to take hold of history and shape its direction. Rabin was assassinated but the need to take the historical decision remains. Yitzhak believed that peace requires security and security was needed for our peace. The peace process is not a luxury. It is difficult and often heartbreaking. Until the last moment of his life he hoped that we could complete the process. He knew that the path to peace was not yet paved but that those who were willing to walk it anyway would pave the way.
The Oslo Accords opened the door to peace and laid the foundations for a future agreement between us and the Palestinians. And the entire Arab world. The agreement changed us from those being led to initiators. To creators of a new reality with wise caution. It took us out of a situation of a lack of options. To a reality of options. And it enlisted the world to take part in the cost of the peace process, billions of dollars, and reduced the economic cost on the people of Israel needed to responsibly care for the daily life of Palestinians. The Oslo Accords allowed Israel to show the world that Israel has no intention to rule over another people. They released Israel from the moral burden of ruling another people. The Oslo process allowed for the signing of a peace treaty with Jordan. The peace with Jordan proved that there can be relations between the Arab world and Israel. Tourism flourished. Exports grew and investment in Israel increased dramatically. Israel became closer to other nations. Every Israeli government adopted those agreements. They didn't suggest an alternative. It is doubtful whether one exists.
The unity of the Jewish people depends upon peace and democracy. And its fate depends on the existence of a Jewish state. In today's world lone murderers operate to destroy whole systems. Small organizations try to destabilize whole countries. They are a danger to the country. Yitzhak Rabin's murder was the epitome, the worst of these actions. If we do not root out this phenomena at its core, dangerous and poisonous plants may grow in the future. Yitzhak's murdered desecrated the commandment of the Torah, "Thou Shall Not Murder." There is no Jew who can wipe out the words of the Ten Commandments. There is no one who may forgive Yitzhak's murderer for that. The Memorial Day for Yitzhak Rabin should be dedicated to his legacy and to his way as well as to his memory. 18 years have passed. Babies born then are soldiers in the IDF today. The young generation must know that Yitzhak's dream is yet to be fulfilled. We must not rest on our laurels, certainly not before we have peace and social justice. Yitzhak's personality and his legacy illuminate the way for soldiers and civilians.
Let me conclude with the words I said 18 years ago while standing by his grave, "You resembled no one; nor did you seek to emulate anyone. You were not one of the "joyous and merry". You were one who made great demands – first of yourself and therefore also of others. You refused to accept failures, and you were not intimidated by pinnacles. You knew every detail, and you grasped the overall picture. You shaped the details one by one to form great steps, great decisions." May the memory of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin be forever saved in the memory of our nation in this generation and generations to come.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Thursday, 3 October 2013), will continue to give a series of interviews in the American media (including – inter alia – Fox and CNN) and will emphasize the need to continue the sanctions against Iran until it dismantles its military nuclear program.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu was interviewed by journalist Charlie Rose. The interview was broadcast in its entirety on PBS and Bloomberg. Sections were shown on the CBS Evening News and will also be broadcast on its morning program. The Prime Minister told Rose:
"We just have to make sure that in this state of flux, we do the right things and not the wrong things. Because we can easily upset the applecart in a way that we won't be able to put it back together. We cannot do that, we have to be very responsible, buck the trends, don't go by fashion. If you govern by fashion and you govern by the kind of editorials you're gonna get, you'll get good editorials and later you'll get good eulogies. I'd rather have bad press and no eulogies, better a bad press than a good eulogy. My responsibility is to ensure the survival, security, longevity of the one and only Jewish state. I will do that pursuing peace, and I'm prepared to make historic compromises. I will never compromise on Israel's security. Never."
Prime Minister Netanyahu was also interviewed on Univision by Blanca Rose Vilchez and said:
"Iran directly threatens the annihilation of the state of Israel. They talk about it openly, they're trying to develop nuclear weapons to wipe us off the map, but they're not only threatening us. They're building ICBM's, intercontinental ballistic missiles. They have already missiles that can reach Israel; they're building these long range intercontinental missiles to reach the United States. And they want to arm them with nuclear weapons."
In an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani:
"He talks about his revere for democracy in Iran, he tweets here in the United States but they don't let the Iranian people use Twitter. He talks about the scourge of terrorism. Iran conducts, as we speak now, terrorist operations in dozens of countries. He speaks of the tragedy in Syria, Iran's forces help Assad perpetrate the massacre of tens of thousands of men, women and children as we speak. It's one thing to say one thing, it's another thing what they do, and I look at what they do, not what they say."
(September 23, 2013 -Jerusalem) Yad Vashem has posthumously recognized Gino Bartali from Italy as Righteous Among the Nations.Bartali was a champion cyclist and a and beloved public figure. During the German occupation of Italy (beginning in September 1943), Bartali, a devout Catholic, was part of a rescue networkspearheaded by Rabbi Nathan Cassuto of Florence together with the Archbishop of Florence Cardinal Elia Angelo Dalla Costa (previously recognized as Righteous Among the Nations). This Jewish-Christian network, set up following the German occupation of Italyand the onset of deportation of Jews, saved hundreds of local Jews and Jewish refugees from territories which had previously been under Italian control, mostly in France and Yugoslavia.
Gino Bartali acted as a courier for the network, secretingforged documents and papers in hisbicycle and transporting them between cities, all under the guise of training. Knowingly risking his life to rescue Jews, Bartali transferred falsified documents to various contacts, among them Rabbi Cassuto.
A ceremony will be held in Italy at a date to be determined.
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.
Following is an excerpt from remarks that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made, today (Sunday, 15 September 2013), at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, at the state memorial ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War:
"We hope that the understandings that have been achieved between the US and Russia regarding Syria's chemical weapons will show results, and indeed, these understandings will be tested by results – the full destruction of the stocks of chemical weapons that the Syrian regime has used against its own people. The test of results also applies to the international community's diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. Here as well, it is not words that will be decisive, but rather actions and results. In any case, Israel must be prepared and ready to defend itself by itself against any threat. Today, this ability and this willingness are more important than ever."
Photo caption: A wounded soldier is treated at Rambam during the Yom Kippur War.
Haifa, Israel |
Forty years ago, Rambam was the largest hospital in Northern Israel, serving the region's most severely injured military and civilian casualties, as it continues to do today. In the 1973 war, the most severely injured soldiers were rushed to Rambam by helicopter and ambulance.
Veteran Rambam surgeon Dr. Haim Toledano (66) recalls Israel and Rambam Hospital during the Yom Kippur War. “Realistically, we should have been defeated because we didn’t have enough resources. We understood that we were on the threshold of destruction, that the existence of the State of Israel was at risk. Everything was improvisation and luck, and our adversaries’ ineptitude. Medically, the doctors and nurses gave their full devotion; we saw each injured soldier as holy, a saint, who must be saved if at all possible.”
On the day the war began, Dr. Toledano had been a surgical resident for just ten weeks. “All of us who hadn’t been on call that day were summoned from home to the hospital,” he relates. “There weren’t any wounded yet, and we started to prepare. We built a wartime-hospital infrastructure within two days." Today, Rambam is preparing once again by completing the Sammy Ofer Fortified Underground Emergency Hospital, the largest of its kind in the world.The hospital leadership has vowed to be ready for any contingency.
“I saw wounds I had never seen before,” Dr. Toledano states of his wartime-hospital experience four decades ago. “I had never understood till then how close to and yet how far from death people can be. Never give up! Even a patient who looks severely injured can recover. We must always give patients the chance to heal medically and emotionally."
Today over two million people depend on Rambam. Our health care campus continues to lead the way as one of the most advanced medical centers in the world.
President Shimon Peres, today (Thursday, 12 September 2013), and the advisory committee for the Presidential Medal of Distinction, announced the names of the latest recipients of the award which is conferred upon 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.
Among the recipients is world famous Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg who is being awarded the medal for his contribution to cinema over the past 50 years and specifically his unique contribution to the memory of the Holocaust, to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people and Tikkun Olam. Spielberg has made a series of important historical films and has been central to the shaping of the Jewish and American ethos. Most famously he directed the Oscar Winning, Schindler's List, one of the most important films in the history of cinema. Also among the recipients is Professor Elie Wiesel who is one of the world's top Jewish writers and intellectuals, a Holocaust survivor who for decades has worked to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust across the world and is the leading figure in the United States of America on the subject. He has published over 40 books and has been awarded a host of literature prizes. In 1986 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
The other recipients are Brig. Gen (res.) Avigdor Kahalani who is receiving the award 40 years after fighting in the Yom Kippur War (for which he later received the Medal of Valor) for his leadership and lifelong contribution to Israel's security. Rabbi Elimelech Firer who, with no formal medical traiing, created a unique medical network which today serves as a central focal point for those requiring medical assistance and consultation. Dr. Zvi (Harry) Tabor who moved to Israel as a young scientist, created the National Physical Laboratory of Israel and played a prominent role in Israel's solar energy program. Avi Naor who is the founder, Chairman and driving force of Or Yarok (the association for safer driving in Israel), an organization he founded following the death of his son in a traffic accident.
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."
Previous winners of the award include President Obama, former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta, The Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. 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.
Foreign Secretary William Hague sends best wishes all those observing the High Holy Day of Rosh Hashanah.
The Foreign Secretary said:
“I would like to send my best wishes to the Jewish communities in the UK and around the world as you prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. In these often tumultuous and difficult times for the Middle East, I share your heartfelt hope that that the new year will bring Israel and the whole region closer to peace.
I am delighted to wish you and your families a very Happy New Year. L’Shanah Tovah U’Metuka (to a happy and sweet new year).”
Operating Hours for Border Terminals during the Tishri holiday period, Sept. 2013
( Spokes Man13/08/2013)
Eve of Rosh Hashana
Regular operating hours
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Rosh Hashana - First day
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Rosh Hashana - Second day
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Eve of Yom Kippur
Eve of Sukkoth
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Second interim day of
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Third interim day of
receipt of shipments*
receipt of shipments*
receipt of *shipments
receipt of shipments*
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Fourth interim day of
receipt of shipments*
receipt of *shipments
receipt of *shipments
receipt of *shipments
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Fifth interim day of
receipt of shipments*
receipt of shipments*
receipt of shipments*
receipt of shipments*
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Eve of Second Sukkoth holiday
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Second Holiday of Sukkoth
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* According to Customs directives, receipt of import cargoes during the interim days of Sukkoth holiday will be possible until 14:00. Cargo that will be received by this hour will be taken care of.
** On the Eve of Yom Kippur and the Eve of holidays, closing time for some passenger terminals at the borders will be earlier than usual, as detailed in the table. Passengers should be prepared accordingly and arrive at the terminals at least two hours prior to the updated closing time, in order to enable completion of the border crossing process.
"I want to wish Jewish communities around the world a very happy Rosh Hashanah. I hope the New Year will bring the Jewish people everywhere security, prosperity and peace. The New Year is of course a time for taking stock, it’s a time for reflection, and as we look back over the last year, there have been many achievements of which we can be proud. Just in the last week we have witnessed some remarkable achievements. We’ve successfully relaunched the Amos 4 communication satellite. You should know that Israel is among a very small and elite group of countries capable of launching such satellites. This is yet another testament to Israel’s technological prowess. Today, Israeli technology and innovation are sought after commodities around the globe, and as a result and despite the world’s economic downturn and malaise, Israel leads the developed countries in sustained growth. Israel stands out economically and in so many other ways. Our young people continue to make us proud. Israeli high school students have brought home numerous prizes from global competitions, including gold, silver and bronze medals from the Science and Computer Olympics. These are important, they are intellectual sports events and I think they are very, very indicative. In international test scores, Israeli youngsters lead the Western world in math and they are in the top tier in science.
During a period in which the rest of our region is experiencing unprecedented turmoil, violence, extremism, we in Israel held elections and we formed a new government. I am proud to serve as Prime Minister. We remain an oasis of democracy, an oasis of stability, of tolerance and liberty where the rights of all are protected, where all are equal under the law. Of course we have many challenges too. We have to make sure that our economy continues to grow, that all Israelis enjoy the benefits of that economic growth and we also have external challenges.
We seek to advance peace with the Palestinians while maintaining our security and ensuring that the peace will be a real and enduring peace. Not a ceremony, not an agreement that we celebrate for two minutes and then collapse. We want a real, genuine and enduring peace and this must be anchored in recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and in our security. This is what ultimately is needed. Now of course as we look around we see the situation in Syria, it’s of great concern, great tragedy, and we follow the developments there very closely, and while we’re not involved in the internal conflict in Syria, we will defend ourselves and if it is necessary, we will act with resolve to protect our people. No one should doubt our resolve. And of paramount importance, we also see Iran continue to pursue its nuclear weapons program, and this poses a great threat to Israel, to the region, to the peace of the world. Iran’s nuclear program must be stopped. We simply cannot allow the world’s most dangerous regime to obtain the world’s most dangerous weapon. We already have enough indication of what this could do.
In meeting these and in meeting other challenges, I have no doubt that Jewish communities around the world will continue to stand by Israel, just as Israel will continue to be there for the Jewish people everywhere, for Jewish unity is a major source of our collective strength, and together, no challenge is too great. When we’ve acted together, we defied the laws of history, we’ve overcome such tremendous odds, and Israel is such a thriving, bustling, prosperous, modern, advanced country, and you can look at a very very far distance, to the west and to the east and to other directions and you see that Israel is a beacon of stability and modernity and progress and it’s because we’re united, because together I believe we can continue to achieve great things for the Jewish people and for the world. So as we gather with family and friends to welcome the New Year, I wish you all a happy new year. We say Shana Tova Umetuka, it means a good year and a sweet new year, so have both. Shana Tova."
Tourism Minister Dr. Uzi Landau: "During the Jewish Year 5773, the tourism industry witnessed investment in over 1000 hotel rooms in the cities and the periphery, the signing of the open skies agreement, the advancement of low-cost flights, the hotel grading regulations and the first steps towards regulations related to lowering vacation costs in Israel. A year of significant activities and an increase in incoming tourism, a strengthening of "blue and white" tourism and an increase in income for the state coffers. We wish everyone, including the tourists who are visiting this wonderful country, a Happy New Year!"
* 3.5 million visitors
* Domestic tourism increased by 4%
* The hotel grading regulations came into effect
* Grants allocated to 45 projects, including 22 new hotels amounting to 1,378
additional hotel rooms at an investment of about NIS1.1 billion
* Israel Government Tourist Office opened in India
3.5 million visitors arrived in Israel over the last 12 months, of whom about 2.9 million stayed more than one night - similar to last year. The record month for tourism during 5773 was Cheshvan (October), after the High Holydays, with 391,000 visitors. The greatest increase in 5773 was recorded in cruise ships (15%) with 298,000 visitors.
Despite Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 and the security tensions on Israel's borders which hindered the tourism industry over the past year, the industry has shown resilience and remains hardly touched thanks to, among others, the swift actions of the Tourism Ministry overseas in marketing campaigns worth tens of millions of shekels. Tourism is on the ascent - for example, last July registered an increase of 11% in the number of tourist bednights in hotels and a 2% increase in Israeli bednights on last year. Both Tel Aviv and Jerusalem registered exceptional increases in Israeli bednights - 236,000 and 229,000 respectively. This might be attributable to accommodation for the Maccabiah Games, which the ministry supported with a budget of NIS 1 million.
There has also been a significant increase in initiatives to establish new hotels. In 5773, the Investment Center of the Tourism Ministry approved 45 grant requests to the sum of NIS 261 million for the establishment, expansion, conversion and renovation of hotels and certain tourist attractions. These included grants for 22 new hotels that will add 1,378 hotel rooms throughout the country.
12 of the 45 grants approved are for projects in Jerusalem which are expected to add 709 rooms to the city's hotel supply - an investment of NIS 142 million in 5773. The total amount of grants approved in 5773 stands at about NIS 1.1 billion.
Today, 3.9.13, the hotel grading regulations come into effect. The Tourism Ministry is currently in the middle of the tender procedure for grading hotels, which is expected to be concluded by January 2014 with the selection of the company that will immediately commence the implementation of the hotel grading.
Last month the ministry opened a new Israel Government Tourist Office in India. There has been a significant increase in recent years in incoming tourism from India, whose population includes 28 million Christians. The middle class in India - about 300 million people - who earn relatively high salaries represent a potential market sector for incoming tourism to Israel. There has been increasing interest in Israel as a tourism destination for Indians in recent years, in particular for business tourism and incentive tourism. Tourism from India has grown by tens of percentage points in recent years. 40,000 tourists arrived from India this year, as opposed to 23,000 four years ago.
The Tourism Ministry has been making preparations to welcome the 300,000 tourists who are expected to visit Israel during the holidays in Tishrei (September). The inspection teams have been checking the readiness of hotels, the maintenance of tourist sites and cleanliness throughout Israel in order to ensure a pleasant vacation for both Israelis and tourists.
"Assad has lost the right to be a leader by killing a hundred thousand people"
President Peres on a possible American response in Syria:
"I admire President Obama's attempt to examine every possibility to bring this horrible situation to an end."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, hosted a reception and raised a toast for the Jewish New Year with the foreign ambassadors in Israel (the diplomatic corps). President Peres delivered remarks in which he addressed the tension in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and other major diplomatic issues while stressing again that Israel has no part in the Syrian conflict but would defend itself if attacked, ""If Syria attacks us we will overcome them and that is why I believe it won't happen. We have enough of a deterrent, enough strength and defense. We have one of the best security infrastructures and one of the best militaries in the modern world."
President Peres addressed the killing in Syria and said, "Assad has lost the right to be a leader by killing a hundred thousand people. He caused it. He wasn't elected properly, it was never a real democracy but even in a democracy you don't have the right to kill your own people. Assad will disappear one way or the other."
On President Obama's decision regarding an American attack on Syria, President Peres said, "War is a very serious business and I would suggest to every leader to think as much as they can before rather than afterwards. I admire President Obama's attempt to examine every possibility to bring this horrible situation to an end. None of us can ignore it, we do not have the right to. I believe it will reach an end because moral borders are not less important that physical borders. Physical borders can be crossed by missiles, moral ones cannot be crossed. You are either wrong or right."
Addressing the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians President Peres said, ""We begin this year with good news and bad news. The good news is that the peace process has been renewed, t wasn't simple for the Prime Minister of Israel, who had to overcome serious problems, who has had to take a risk and to embark upon the desired but also the unknown. He did it, he did it rightly and I think he, and his government, deserves our appreciation. Abu Mazen continues to be against terror, he continues to strive for peace and I think he has shown courage by saying that though he's from Safed he won't return there which is a meaningful declaration. Before the start of negotiations there was a great deal of doubt but the fact that the two parties are talking is a victory for reason, I hope we shall continue."
We used to live in a world where children buried their fathers who fought in war but to see babies being killed by their own ruler, I do not believe that any human being can pass over it without considering it as the worst demonstration of evil. The peace process has been given nine months so at least we have nine months of optimism."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this morning (Tuesday, 3 September 2013), dedicated the high-tech park in Be'er Sheva, which will also serve as the national cyber center, and said:
"We need to see to [our] security. This is our first obligation, as well as mine as Prime Minister, and this is a challenge for us because the reality around is challenging. In the end, our lives depend on an iron wall. We are building an iron wall, an Iron Dome, and we have an iron will. These are the things that give us the strength to defend ourselves and also to tell those who would attack us: It is not worth your while. These are the fundamentals that protect the State of Israel. Everything else is happening here now.
The world around us is changing quickly and the amount of knowledge is increasing geometrically. This knowledge has created new challenges but also new opportunities and cyber is the greatest area that is happening here, and we are a force in it. We are bringing Israel's cybernetic strength here to Be'er Sheva."
The park will serve as a leading technological center in Israel and the world. It was built close to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and IDF technological units. Several leading high-tech companies chose to move to temporary facilities already in 2011 in order to assure their future presence in the first building, which was dedicated in June of this year.
Among the Israeli and international high-tech companies located in the first building are ECI Telecom, JVP, NESS, EMC, Elbit, Deutsche Telekom (in conjunction with Ben-Gurion University), Gefen Dekel and DBMotion.
The park is expected to significantly increase the supply of employment in Be'er Sheva and provide tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs in the coming decade. The park was established on approximately 49.42 acres and includes approximately 200,000 square meters of space in approximately 20 buildings, commercial space and parking areas.
The Israel National Cyber Bureau, in cooperation with the Be'er Sheva Municipality and Ben-Gurion University, has developed an outline to turn Be'er Sheva into an international cyber center by establishing a cyber complex that will include industry, academia, the security and defense establishments, and scientific-technological education institutions.
The statement on turning Be'er Sheva into a national cyber center follows the 14 July 2013 Cabinet decision on the civilian response to the IDF's move to the Negev in which the INCB was charged with formulating an outline for establishing a unique cyber center in Be'er Sheva that would combine industry, research and development and education.
The cyber center that will be built in the framework of the high-tech park and the university will be unique in the country and the world and will attract organizations that are interested in investing in the cyber field, establish research and development centers or acquiring services and research in the field.
The team that is leading the establishment of the national center that will give an immediate response to cyber events is known by the acronym CERT – Computer Emergency Readiness Team. The national CERT will bring with it security and innovation in the field of defense for the country's civilian sector. The CERT will be established within the cyber complex and will be the first national government agency to be based in the city.
The national cyber center will also supply the necessary knowledge for cyber studies in formal and informal education and will train and guide teachers.
In order to advance the issue, NIS 40 million in Government support has been allocated over the next three years for companies that establish cyber innovation centers in Be'er Sheva.
The Defense Ministry Israel Missile Defense Organization (IMDO) and the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA), today (Tuesday, 3 September 2013) completed a successful flight test new version of the Sparrow target missile. This is the first flight out test of this new version of the Sparrow, and was conducted at Israeli test range over the Mediterranean Sea.
At 09:15 the Sparrow missile successfully launched and performed its planned trajectory, in according with the test plan. The Arrow weapon system's Super Green Pine Radar successfully detected and tracked the target while transferring the information to the Citron Treebattle management control system. All the elements of the system performed according to their operational configuration.
Israel Missile Defense Organization and US Missile Defense Agency officials conducted the flight test.
"I have full faith in President Obama's moral and operational stance. I recommend patience, I am confident that the United States will respond appropriately to Syria. Thoughtfulness should not be confused with indecision."
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, gave an hour long interview to Galei Tzahal this morning in which he addressed the situation in Syria, negotiations with the Palestinians and the situation in the wider Middle East. President Peres also addressed domestic issues including Israel's education system, discrimination within the country and his role as president. The full interview, which was aired live between 09:00-10:00 this morning, is available on the Galei Tzahal website.
On the situation in Syria President Peres expressed his support for President Obama and said, "I have full faith in President Obama's moral and operational stance. I recommend patience, I am confident that the United States will respond in the right way to Syria. Thoughtfulness should not be confused with indecision, better to analyse before the event rather than after it. I trust President Obama. There is no one Syria anymore. Syria as it was is no longer. Assad cannot unite Syria, there are three or four countries in one." On Israel's involvement in Syria the president said, "It is not for Israel to decide on Syria, we are in a unique position, for varying reasons there is consensus against Israeli involvement. We did not create the Syrian situation."
President Peres was asked whether he had faith in President Obama's stance on Iran and said, "I have faith in him when it comes to all issues regarding Israel. Iran is a key global interest which impacts upon the peace of the entire world, it not just an Israeli issue. I do not believe he will allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. I also don't believe the Russians want that, it's a complex issue but no-one wants to allow nuclear weapons.
President Peres responded to a question about the Oslo accords and the current peace negotiations and said, "The people of Israel want peace, peace and security. It is difficult to achieve them both and it takes time. Israel can achieve peace and security, the two are connected.. Oslo was the right decision, without it we would be in a terrible situation. Without Oslo there would have been one Arab camp, an enemy one. There would be no Abu Mazen, there would be no-one to sit with. Instead we have Abu Mazen who says he doesn't want to return to Safed and to Jaffa, who says he is in favor of peace, who is in favor of a Jewish state. Prime Minister Netanyahu took a difficult decision, to start negotiations and I respect that. I don't believe he took it as an isolated step, he decided upon two states and no less important he decided against a bi-national state."
"The moral call is superior to any strategic considerations"
"The time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria."
Foreign Minister Fabius to President Peres on developments in Syria:
"It is unthinkable that once what happened is proven and those responsible identified there will not be a strong response by the international community"
The President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, met with the Foreign Minister of France, Mr. Laurent Fabius this morning at his residence in Jerusalem. The French Foreign Minister is visiting the region in light of the resumption of peace talks to express his support for peace efforts.
President Peres welcomed Mr. Fabius to Israel and said, "Your voice has been the clearest in recent days concerning the situation in Syria and I wish to express my appreciation for your clarity and courage. There were terrible things in the past but here is a ruler that kills his people with the most terrible means and without any consideration. The use of chemical weapons to kill hundreds of women and children and the cries of the girl begging her father to come and save her is a cry to which we cannot remain indifferent. I can understand the problems and the doubts but the moral call is superior to any strategic considerations. The time has come for a joint effort to remove all the chemical weapons from Syria. They cannot remain there either in the hands of Assad or of others. In addition to everything else needed to stop this massacre there must be an international attempt to take out the weapons. It is very complicated and it is very expensive but it is more dangerous and more expensive to leave it there. It must be done."
President Peres also addressed the development in peace talks and said, "In order to make peace there must be a major effort to overcome skepticism. The fact is that despite the skepticism negotiations opened and it wasn't easy for either side. Secretary Kerry played an important role, the Prime Minister of Israel and his government took a courageous decision, Abu Mazen took an important decision and his latest comments were helpful. The world justifies optimism as well, history is the march of the optimist. We have to create a positive atmosphere to encourage the peace process, if I can think of a period of opportunity to move ahead, it is now. The position of Abu Mazen has improved, he knows it and it helps him. I think the Prime Minister decided to move and he moved. Peace is not easy but if we achieve it then we will be able to turn our attention to the tragic and existential issues of the Middle East."
Foreign Minister Fabius thanked President Peres for his welcome and said, "I am here for a short visit as a friend of Israel, a friend of the Palestinians and a friend of peace. Like you, I believe the time has come to make peace and I welcome your efforts, the efforts of Prime Minister Netanyahu, of Abu Mazen and of Secretary of State Kerry. Peace is within reach, it depends on willingness and I believe it is there on both sides. So many dramatic things are taking place in the region – Syria, Lebanon, how under those circumstances can we make peace? But we must think in the opposite way, because of those things peace is even more important in the region and we must make the most of this moment."
Foreign Minister Fabius addressed the situation in Syria and said, "I have already spoken clearly about the use of chemical weapons and Assad's regime. We must respond strongly to these events. All the leaders must reach the appropriate response but it is unthinkable that once what happened is proven and those responsible identified there will not be a strong response by the international community. If the international community fails to act following the events in Syria then the people of the world will wonder who can be trusted, on whom can we depend."
A short news flash on a container that was seized at the Port of Ashdod carrying hundreds of coral skeletons that were smuggled from the Far East, led Professor Uri Shavit from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Technion, to study the flow processes at the Coral Reef in Eilat, and examine the consequences of the flow processes and contamination mechanisms such as nutrient supply and photosynthesis.
President Peres met with the US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, Martin Indyk
The President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, conducted a diplomatic work meeting this evening with the United States Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, Martin Indyk. At the beginning of the meeting President Peres welcomed Indyk to Israel and congratulated him for the efforts undertaken by the United States to progress the peace process. President Peres said, "The support of the United States for the peace talks is crucial to produce real long lasting results between the two sides," The two discussed at length the peace process and the current situation in the Middle East.
In a photographic competition “‘Israel Through foreign lenses” , Charlotte Veldkamp, the daughter of the Netherlands Ambassador to Israel, won the second prize. Charlotte sent 5 pictures to the exhibition, amongst others ‘Tel Aviv Thought’ and ‘In the heart of Tel Aviv’.
The political attaché at the Netherlands Embassy, Annemijn van den Broek, and three members of the cultural section attended the event last Wednesday on behalf of Charlotte, as she and her family are currently abroad.
Ambassador Caspar Veldkamp said: “The Netherlands has such a long and rich history when it comes to photography with famous Dutch artists such as Anton Corbijn and Erwin Olaf. Therefor when my daughter decided to go from taking family pictures to a more artistic approach I was immediately enthusiastic. I am so proud to see that her talent - at such a young age - is recognized by the The Diplomatic Club.”
Yakubov Diamond couture and jewelry held high profile fundraiser to help recover the devastating damages of the Carmel fire tragedy.
“Gordo Café” on Gordon beach in Tel-Aviv was the venue of the event that gathered many local celebrities and businessmen. The guests were more than happy to contribute to the cause and purchase the specially designed pendant- “Tree of life”.
Yakubov Diamond couture collaborated with “Carmelim” nonprofit organization to design and produce this pendant, which will be dedicated solely to the recovery of the Carmel forest.
“Carmelim” is a nonprofit organization, founded by the Carmel coast regional council, and its purpose is to encourage tourism and investments in the area of the Carmel as well as provide information about the sites.
In honor of the occasion, many of the known artists photographed with the pendant in order of promoting the event. The photos were taken in the in the studio of fashion photographer Ron Kadmi, who is originally from Ein-Hon.
The photos were exhibited in the event next to the pendant.
The crown was fortunate to enjoy a memorable concert by rock artist Amiram Eini.
The event was an unparalleled success and the fundraising will continue until April in all Yakubov stores.
The Carmel catastrophe was one of the worst Israel had to handle. 40 people found their death in that tragedy and much of the Carmel forest was burnt to the ground. The green nature of the north of Israel became dark black. Events like the one Yakubov Diamond couture organized will help to restore the beautiful view of the Carmel, one of Israel’s most special sites.
The Israeli medical delegation will establish a medical clinic geared to handle the casualties and refugees concentrated in the Miyagi prefecture, six hours north of Tokyo.
A preliminary IDF Homefront Command medical delegation, comprising two doctors and a Homefront Command officer, arrived today (Monday 21 March 2011) in the Miyagi prefecture north of Tokyo and have begun their appraisal of requirements that will enable the dispatch of the full-scale medical delegation, which is due to leave Israel shortly. Israel is one of the first countries to dispatch a medical delegation to Japan. To date, only a few international search and rescue teams have provided assistance, but no medical teams have been dispatched.
The Israeli team will be located in the Miyagi prefecture, about six hours north of Tokyo, which was hardest hit by the recent Tsunami. The team will establish a medical clinic geared to handle the casualties and refugees concentrated in the region. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli embassy in Tokyo will facilitate the dispatch of the team, and will also coordinate communications between the Japanese authorities and the IDF Homefront Command.
In coordination with the Japanese authorities and according to requirements of the Japanese National Disaster Center, the MFA and Ministry of Defense will dispatch a consignment consisting of ten thousand coats, six thousand blankets, six thousand pairs of gloves and 150 mobile toilets.
Over the past few days, the MFA has worked with the Japanese authorities to determine a list of the most necessary items. The Japanese authorities noted that Israel will be one of the first countries to provide aid in accordance with their requirements. While other countries sent planeloads of equipment, they did not consult with the Japanese regarding specific requirements. The Japanese also noted Israeli efficiency and flexibility in determining the list of items that would be shipped to Japan.