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On Thursday evening, June 13th, Debate for Peace celebrated a year of impressive achievements with a reception at the home of the Cultural Attache of the US Embassy, Elizabeth Fritschle. Dozens of students and teachers from the program were joined by diplomats and civil society leaders for an evening dedicated to youth empowerment, intercultural communication, and peace-building.


In tribute to the youth empowerment theme, the evening was student-led, with Michael Backlund, Neven Atawna, and Tal Zaidman introducing the speakers. After opening remarks from CAO Fritschle and Debate for Peace director Steven Aiello, four speakers were called up to present from the Empathy Storytelling project. Eliran Ben Yair, Sharehan Alwakily, Amit Weinstock, and Eman Otman each presented their Jewish or Palestinian partner’s story in passionate monologues. After all four had spoken, the floor was opened for questions from the audience.


Following the storytelling session, Eiman Darawshi, an English instructor and Model UN coordinator from Iksal high school, spoke about the impact that she has seen from Model UN on her students. She noted in particular her students who had been able to travel abroad, Shada Darawshi to Yale University for an MUN conference there, and Eman Otman to the Netherlands with the storytelling project.


An abbreviated Youth Moot Court simulation was then held, showcasing a project in which several Debate for Peace students participated. The moot court is one of several youth empowerment projects run by Avi Omer’s Social Excellent Forum, a close partner of Debate for Peace.


Following the presentations, Debate for Peace members were called up to receive awards for hard work and outstanding performance throughout the year. The students who received awards were Alon Mor, Amit Weinstock, Aviv Hanuka, Eliran Ben Yair, Eman Otman, Hannah Zohn, Mihal Mizrahi, Sharehan Alwakily; and Yafa Nassar. In addition to Jewish and Palestinian students visiting one another’s homes, some of the projects they worked on this year included organizing iftaar (breakfast meal) for hospitalized children from Gaza; presenting in their schools about what they’ve learned through Debate for Peace programming; presenting in Jewish schools about the perspective of Arab students as minorities in Israel, and a forum for Jewish and Arab students to meet, first discussing social topics online, and then meeting in person.


Steven Aiello, Director of Debate for Peace, told Diplomacy that “this program is changing lives and building future leaders. This year we engaged over 1,000 students and led six delegations abroad, and we couldn’t have done it without the continued support of the US Embassy in Israel!” He added his gratitude for Silvia Golan and the Diplomacy news portal www.diplomacy.co.il for providing coverage of Debate for Peace conferences and delegations throughout the year.


Photos by David Azagury US Embassy






The Israel Ministry of Defense has completed preparations for the opening of an Israeli exhibit at the world's largest aerospace trade exhibition. The International Paris Air Show will commence on Monday, June 17th, at the Le Bourget exhibition center. The show takes place at a time marked by an increase of defense budgets by the European members of NATO. The International Defense Cooperation Directorate (SIBAT), of the Israel Ministry of Defense, along with Israeli defense industries will exhibit advanced tactical UAVs, missiles, radars and more.


SIBAT, The International Defense Cooperation Directorate at the Ministry of  Defense has completed preparations for the inauguration of an Israeli exhibit at the International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, near Paris. This is the largest aerospace trade show and among the most important exhibitions in the world. Five of Israel’s leading defense industries will partake in the exhibition: Rafael, Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Aeronautics Defense Systems, and UVision. Two additional companies, Bet Shemesh Engines and BIRD Aerosystems will also participate in the exhibition.


Director of SIBAT, Brig. Gen. (Ret.), Yair Kulas - recently appointed to the position:

“The European Defense Market is among the most competitive and rapidly growing markets in the world. The European continent is encountering various security challenges including domestic security, counter-terrorism and border defense. The [show] is an opportunity for exporters and innovators to present their solutions, and this is particularly true for Israel, which is considered a global leader in defense technologies. The demand


for advanced Israeli technologies has been on the rise in Europe in recent years, and we will work hard, together with the Israeli industries, to maintain and enforce this trend.”

The products and technology that will be displayed at the Israeli exhibit:


Elbit Systems will reveal new technology in the fields of intelligence, aerial precision guided munitions, and civil aviation. Among the new systems:


The Hermes 45 is a new small tactical UAS that combines airborne and operational capabilities that are typical of large aircraft. The UAS offers a unique combination of extended range and duration with point launch and recovery, to and from land and maritime platforms thus enhancing Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capabilities at the brigade and division levels and also for naval squadron units.


The Rampage is a long-range, precise, supersonic missile.


The i-FMS is a flight management system that tackles the challenge that pilots face today with FMS operations- the need to propose changes to the FMS during critical phases of flight such as takeoff and landing.


IAI will unveil two new products:

The T-Heron is a tactical UAV suitable for missions undertaken by ground troops, coastal guards and similar forces.

The MS-MMR radar features new active and passive sensors to generate an enhanced aerial situation assessment.


Throughout the show, IAI is expected to announce new venues of business cooperation in various fields.

Rafael will reveal:


A new navigation system for fighter aircraft - the first in the world with electro-optic capabilities combined with SAR radar capabilities. The combination of these capabilities provides a broad response to a variety of environmental conditions.


The Iron Dome System - in its various forms: land, marine and mobile versions of the Iron Dome (i-Dome) - in which all system components are installed on a vehicle.


Le Bourget (Figures from 2017): Approximately 330 thousand square meters of exhibition space in the exhibition halls and outside area, 2,400 companies from 48 countries, 290 official delegations from the field of defense and government offices, 27 national pavilions, about 150,000 visiting professionals and about 200,000 visitors from the general public.


Photo Israel Ministry of Defense






Shavuot, one of Judaism’s three pilgrimage festivals (along with Passover and Sukkot), will take place this year between sunset on Saturday, June 8, and nightfall on Sunday, June 9. The Government Press Office would like to offer the following as a brief summary.

Shavuot is a legal holiday. There will be no public transportation; schools, shops and offices will be closed; and newspapers will not be published. 

Shavuot marks the giving of the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; Judaism's most basic scripture) at Mt. Sinai, seven weeks after the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. Indeed, Shavuot literally means “weeks” and is celebrated exactly seven weeks after the first day of Passover, which marks the exodus itself.

The celebration of Shavuot is specified in Exodus 34:22 and Deuteronomy 16:10. On Saturday night, June 8, after festive evening prayers and a festive meal, many people will follow the custom of staying awake all night and studying religious texts, and then saying morning prayers at the earliest permitted time – thus expressing the enthusiasm of the Jewish people to receive the Torah. Most synagogues and yeshivot will organize special classes and lectures throughout the night of Shavuot. In Jerusalem, there is a widespread custom of going to the Western Wall – which will be exceptionally crowded – for Shavuot morning (Sunday) prayers, often accompanied by dancing and singing.

The Shavuot morning prayers are marked by special hymns and scriptural readings, including the Book of Ruth. Special memorial prayers for the departed are also said. Some communities maintain the custom of decorating their synagogues with green plants and flowers; this is in keeping with traditions that Mt. Sinai was a green mountain and that Shavuot is a day of judgment for fruit trees. On Shavuot, some hold the custom of eating dairy dishes; there are many explanations for this custom.

In ancient times, Shavuot marked the end of the barley harvest, and the beginning of the wheat harvest. Jewish farmers brought their first fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 26:1-11), where special offerings were brought (Numbers 28:26-31). In honor of Shavuot's status as the “Day of First Fruits” and the “Harvest Festival” (as it is referred to in Numbers 28:26 and Exodus 23:16, respectively), many kibbutzim and moshavim also organize special celebrations revolving around these themes, including ceremonies in which new produce from the kibbutz or moshav is highlighted.

Shavuot Events

Shavuot events in Jerusalem

KKL-JNF Shavuot page

Israel Nature and Parks Authority Shavuot events (Hebrew)

Shavuot in Film

Following are clips from ten films (courtesy of the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive) that depict the various ways in which Shavuot has been celebrated:

Jerusalem Online 21/93 (1993) – Rabbi David Hartman speaks about the spiritual significance of Shavuot (from 4:48 min.)

Sofer Stam (1981) – An in-depth look at the work of the Torah Scribe, in French.

Israel Journey (1950s) - An extremely rare close up view of an ancient 1800 year old Torah Scroll belonging to the Zinati family of Pekiin. They are the only Jewish family acclaimed never to have left the Land of Israel (from 11:55 min.)

Palestine in Song and Dance (1931) – Ceremony celebrating the bringing of first fruits for kindergarten and school children in Tel Aviv (from the beginning of the film).

Hadassim: A Children’s Village (1950s) – Film documenting life on a youth village in the Sharon region. Scenes of the bringing first fruit ceremony from 12:21 min.

First Steps (1953) – Film summarizing Israel’s achievements on its fifth anniversary. Ends with a first fruits parade (from 26:53 min.)

Youth at the Crossroads (1980s) – Film about centers for youth in distress, including a first fruits parade (from 15:32 min.)

Omer Dancing at Ramat Yohanan (1950s) – On the eve of Shavuot, Jews finish counting the Omer, which began on Passover. This film beautifully illustrates the bringing of the “omer”, a measure of barley which was offered in the Temple. This ceremony was adapted by agricultural settlements in modern Israel.

Songs of Israel: Harvest in the Galilee (1952) – Shavuot is also called the Harvest Festival because it occurs during the wheat harvest season in Israel. This film shows scenes of reapers singing while working in the fields (from 11:48 min.)

This Is the Land (1935) – Depicts renewed settlement in the Land of Israel. The last scenes of the film, wonderfully illustrate the abundant harvest and climaxes in a group of young pioneers dancing in the fields to celebrate a successful harvest (from 53:43 min.)

Photo Silvia G. Golan


The U.S. aircraft manufacturer was awarded a contract worth over NIS 150 million in order to operate and maintain the advanced training center for the F-35 aircraft at Nevatim Air Force Base, over the next decade. As specified in the contract signed with the Production and Procurement Department of the Israel Ministry of Defense, the company will recruit around twenty-five new employees from the country’s southern region.


This morning (11/06/2019), the Production and Procurement Department of the Israel Ministry of Defense and Lockheed Martin Israel have signed a first-of-its-kind, F-35 aircraft maintenance agreement. Chief of Air Force and Navy Procurement, Zeev Landau and CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel, Joshua (Shiki) Shani, both attended the signing ceremony.


Photo  Ministry of Defense





With an investment of more than NIS 150 million by the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, the complex and challenging engineering design of the Caesarea Development Corporation and five years of research and intensive work by the best archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority and experts from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority:

Herod as no one has dared to show him before…

Treasures hidden for over 2,000 years in the land of Caesarea have been revealed and the immense Harbor Vaults have been restored

Honorable President of the State Reuven Rivlin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild inaugurated the monumental preservation and restoration project of the Harbor Vaults at the Caesarea National Park, as well as the innovative Visitors’ Center that brings the audience face to face with the daring, complex and conflicted figure of Herod- presented as never before.

President of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin:

History is not about dry facts or statistics. It is about the lives people lived, the places they loved, and their stories. The Caesarea Vaults restoration project Ensures that the story of this place, and of its connection to the Jewish people, will be told for many, many years to come. On behalf of all Israelis, I would like to thank The Baron and Baroness de Rothschild, And the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, sincerely

Baroness Ariane de Rothschild:

"Caesarea is an inspiration for our call to co-create the future. We go beyond just acknowledging human diversity. We engage in building a society that is strengthened by all its members, believes and tradition. This call is to improve our selves and pave to way for future generations.

It is a call not only for sharing a history but also to honor our responsibility"

The President of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, inaugurated the massive preservation and restoration project of the Harbor Vaults at the Caesarea National Park and the innovative Visitors' Center established by the Caesarea Development Corporation within the monumental building. The structure was erected by the Great Builder King Herod on the unique harbor pier, built on the open sea, and was the first of its kind in the ancient world.

Herod built the huge vaults- standing 740 meters high and 21 meters in depth, with an average width of 5.2 meters. The vaults were part of the storage system at the port and served as a base for the temple podium dedicated to Herod’s patron, Emperor Augustus. The temple was the beating heart of the impressive city, which in antiquity was a central junction of the global economy and trade between the East and West. The Visitors’ Center, which was built within the reconstructed vaults, combines artifacts from Caesarea's hidden treasures with innovative technology, and introduces the audience to the daring, complex and conflicted image of King Herod- as no one has dared to show him before.

The restoration of the vaults, which were in danger of collapse, was particularly complex and required more than five years of intensive, collaborative work by archaeologists, engineers and preservation architects. In addition to the archaeological excavation, engineering buttresses were required, a meticulous examination of the stability of the walls and the soil layers throughout the area of ​​the vaults, and the careful dismantling and reassembly of the walls of the complex. During the excavation, it was revealed that Herod’s original vaults had collapsed in the past and were reconstructed in the Byzantine period. Notably, the Byzantine restorers were careful to preserve them in the original outline.

The exhibition halls within the heart of the vaults, which include a variety of exhibits and archaeological treasures uncovered during the excavations, are also safely accessible to visitors with special needs. At the center of the exhibition is a screening of an internationally produced historical epic about the very complex figure of King Herod.

The lavish production brings back to life the great vision, intrigues, desires, passions, murders, and dreams that Herod experienced, right here- in the heart of Caesarea’s antiquities. The film was filmed entirely in a vertical format, corresponding to the "screen" which takes the form of an arched vault, standing at a height of 7 meters and built by the hero of the epic- King Herod himself. Hundreds of hours of filming and editing, dozens of extras and sophisticated studios in Europe were required to complete the unique experience now offered by the new Visitors’ Center, in addition to the authentic exhibits uncovered by archaeological excavations at the port, sea and in the region.



President of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin: The Caesarea we all see today holds the promise of becoming just as magnificent as the ancient city was, If not more. The Harbor Vaults Project, Which we have gathered here to commemorate, brings us one step closer to this goal. Already, Caesarea attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. And I believe that One day soon, Caesarea will take its rightful place as one of the world's most impressive windows, to the ancient past. A project of such scale and importance would have been impossible without the support Of the Caesarea Development Corporation and the Rothschild family. The Rothschild family has helped lay the foundations of the State of Israel. Especially, in their support of higher education in Israel, And in their commitment to bring together all "tribes" of Israeli society, The Rothschild family makes a real and positive impact on the future of this country. On behalf of all Israelis, I would like to thank The Baron and Baroness de Rothschild, And the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, sincerely. 


Baroness Ariane de Rothschild: "Caesarea is an inspiration for our call to co-creates the future. We go beyond just acknowledging human diversity. We engage in building a society that is strengthened by all its members, believes and tradition. This call is to improve our selves and pave to way for future generations.

It is a call not only for sharing a history but also to honor our responsibility."

The excavation, preservation and restoration of Caesarea Harbor, with a huge investment of more than NIS 150 million, included the preservation and restoration of the ancient synagogue, the construction of a promenade at the Crusader walls, restoration of the Roman aqueduct and the restoration and preservation of the temple vaults, the temple platform and the staircase leading to it. The newly inaugurated Visitors' Center further enriches the experience of visiting the National Park and Caesarea Harbor- one of the leading tourist sites in Israel. The project is another historic step in the work of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, led by Baron Benjamin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild, the successors of the vision set forth by Baron Edmond de Rothschild- the founder of the foundation. This is another link in the chain of generations of the Rothschild family, who continue to work towards the fortification of the State of Israel - through settlement, industry, science, culture and higher education, in the spirit of the vision of the father of all settlements, the famous philanthropist, Baron Edmond Benjamin de Rothschild.

The Edmond de Rothschild Foundation is spearheading the project through the Caesarea Development Corporation, led by the Vice Chairman of the foundation, Guy Swersky, and CEO Michael Karsenti. The excavation, restoration, and preservation of the harbor vaults and the other hidden treasures of ancient Caesarea are managed by the archaeologists and staff of the Israel Antiquities Authority, headed by Israel Hasson and in coordination with the Israel Nature and Park Authority, headed by Shaul Goldstein.

As part of the project, digs of the Israel Antiquities Authority, have recently uncovered three more exciting finds near the vaults: A mosaic floor from the Roman period, which was found in a bathhouse next to the temple's podium and has been replicated in the entrance area to the Visitors' Center. The colorful mosaic floor with geometrical patterns was part of a semi-dome structure that may have been used for ritual or public purposes and was probably built during the 2nd or early 3rd century CE. It was part of the embellishment of the western façade of the podium of the Temple of Augustus and Hera, the goddess of Rome in Caesarea. The walls of the building were covered with marble slabs, and in front were two pedestals originally carrying statues or other architectural decorations.

The second archaeological find uncovered during the excavation was a cache of about 500 bronze coins from the Byzantine period (6th-4th centuries CE). The treasure, identified by Dr. Donald Zvi Ariel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was probably buried in a leather bag or other material that had eroded over the

years. It was discovered when one of the vaults was exposed. In the absence of a “bank”, as known to us today, the coins were hidden "under the tiles," that is, under the floor of a magnificent church building from the Byzantine period- probably the cathedral of the city, which served as the bishops' seat. According to Dr. Peter Gendelman and Dr. Uzi Ad, excavation managers on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "It’s possible that the burial of the coins is related to the construction of the church complex on the temple podium, since it is known that during this period, the church also took part in the administrative functions of

the city." According to Dr. Gendelman, "The owner of the treasure did not return to retrieve it, and so we found it instead. The reason for his non-return will probably remain a mystery."

The third recent discovery was a mosaic from the 5th century CE bearing a Greek inscription "He who knows all is Hosea and he is blessed." During an archaeological dig in the huge warehouse complex that was built at the port in the Byzantine period, an inscribed greeting was discovered in one of the entrances to the warehouses. It appears to have been intended for the warehouse operators and sea farers. The inscription, located within a mosaic circle, was deciphered by Dr. Leah Di-Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During the Byzantine period, Caesarea was a bustling port city and one of the largest ports of the Byzantine Empire. The warehouse area, which served as transit warehouses for the entire region, extended over 2,500 square meters and included public and private goods. The excavations revealed evidence of trade with Italy, Greece, Turkey, and even the area known today as England.

Caesarea Harbor and its antiquities is one of the most popular tourist sites in Israel. The new Visitors' Center was designed and created by Breeze Creative, which specializes in the planning and construction of museums and visitor centers. The Visitors’ Center is included in the entrance fees to the National Park. Each year, tens of thousands of Israeli families and hundreds of thousands of tourists from abroad enjoy the compound all year round. They visit the beautiful Roman theater, tour the fort promenade with its fortifications and watchtowers, admire the ancient synagogue that attests to Jewish life in the city, walk among the remains of the palace and temples and marvel at the aqueduct. During holidays and breaks, horse racing shows and

performances are held in the ancient hippodrome preserved on the site. In between, you can spend time in the artists' square, the cafes and the variety of enticing restaurants, overlooking the open sea.

The new visitors’ center will open to the public on June 1st.

Entrance to the center is free of charge for National Park ticket holders (NIS 39 per adult, NIS 24 per child, free of charge for Israel Nature and Parks Pass Members).

Video from the event:

  1.  Video in English- https://youtu.be/GrmF3Gldj0w

 Credit: Breeze Creative

 Photos  Silvia G. Golan