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Did You Know?

Israel engineers are behind the development of the largest communications router in the world, launched by Cisco.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Israeli PM says soldiers defending themselves in Gaza flotilla raid


OTTAWA - Israel's prime minister says soldiers who boarded a ship bringing supplies to the blockaded Gaza strip were only defending themselves.

Benjamin Netanyahu says the Israeli soldiers were mobbed as they boarded one of six ships in an aid flotilla.

Netanyahu, who is cutting short his scheduled visits to Ottawa and Washington to deal with the crisis, said the soldiers had no choice but to defend their lives.

"They deliberately attacked the first soldiers who came on the ship," he said. "They were mobbed, they were clubbed, they were beaten, stabbed. ...

"Our soldiers had to defend themselves, defend their lives, or they would have been killed."

He said the boarding came as the Israeli navy was checking for any rockets, missiles or explosives that might have been headed for Gaza and destined to be fired into Israel.

Netanyahu, who began a two-day official visit to Canada on Sunday, was defending the pre-dawn raid which killed at least 10 pro-Palestinian activists.

During a search aboard the maritime vessel Mavi Marmara, IDF forces uncovered a cache of weapons including many knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5KG hammers, firebombs and gas masks in case IDF forces fired riot dispersal means at the activists as they violently attacked the soldiers.

These weapons were used against Israeli Navy personnel as they attempted to board the ship. 7 soldiers were injured during the incident, which included activists taking two pistols from the soldiers and firing at them.

Barak: Flotilla organizers to blame - IDF Soldier: 'It felt like a lynch'

The IDF released footage of the Monday raid on the "Free Gaza" flotilla, which depicted the activists upon the ship attacking soldiers with various weapons, including a large metal pole and other metal objects.

In the IDF takeover, at least 15 activists were killed and dozens were injured.

In a brief interview with the soldiers who were aboard the ships, one soldier said that the attack "looked like the Ramallah lynch."

Earlier Monday armed Navy ships escorted boats from the Gaza protest flotilla to Ashdod, hours after IDF soldiers and activists clashed in a fatal raid.

International activists aboard the ships opened fire on IDF soldiers who boarded the ships to prevent them from breaking the Israeli-imposed sea blockade, the IDF said Monday.

According to the IDF, the international activists “prepared a lynch” for the soldiers who boarded the ships at about 2 a.m. Monday morning after the soldiers called on them to stop, or follow them to the Ashdod Port several hours earlier.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a press conference on Monday that while he was sorry for lives lost, the organizers of the Gaza-bound protest flotilla were solely responsible for the outcome of the fatal IDF raid earlier in the day. Fifteen activists were killed and dozens wounded in the violent clashes.

Barak said that the soldiers tried to disperse the activists aboard the ship peacefully but were forced to open fire to protect themselves.

He called the flotilla a provocation, specifically called the IHH, an Islamic aid organization, "extremist supporters of terror."

The defense minister also called on Arab and Palestinian leaders not to let this "provocation by irresponsible people" ruin the progress made in proximity peace talks.

Netanyahu supports operation

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu,speaking in Canada where he is currently on an official visit, said he 'fully supported the IDF operation'.

Ashkenazi: Soldiers acted in self defence
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said Monday that the violence aboard the Mavi Marmara, one of the ships of the Gaza-bound protest flotilla, was instigated by those aboard the ships and that soldiers who opened fire were defending themselves.

Ashkenazi noted that the Mavi Marmara, the only ship on which violence took place, was different than the other five ships of the flotilla. He said that five ships carried humanitarians and peace activists but the Mavi Marmara was sponsored by the extremist organization the IHH and those aboard acted in "extreme violence."

Navy chief praises soldiers 'bravery'
Israeli Navy commander Vice-Admiral Eliezer Marom said Monday that IDF soldiers that raided Mavi Marmara acted with "perseverance and bravery."

Marom said that the soldiers lives were in danger and that they fired their weapons in self defense. He added that given the situation, many more than ten people could have been killed if the soldiers had not acted with the proper sensitivity.

Ayalon: Flotilla was 'an armada of hate and violence'
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said that the flotilla of ships "was an armada of hate and violence."

Speaking at a Jerusalem press conference on Monday morning. "It was a premeditated and outrageous provocation" and its organizers had ties to global Jihad, al Qaida and Hamas, said Ayalon.

"Their intent was violent, their methods were violent and their results were unfortunately violent," Ayalon said.

"Israel regrets the loss of life and did everything it could to avoid this outcome," Ayalon stressed, adding that Israel had offered to transport the humanitarian cargo on board the ship to Gaza.

"The organizers on the ship did not heed the calls of our forces this morning to peacefully follow them and bring a peaceful closure to this event," said Ayalon, iterating that the successful arrival of the flotilla in Gaza would have created "a corridor of arms smuggling."

The Foreign Ministry has convened a noon meeting of all ambassadors in the country. The Turkish ambassador was requested to arrive half-an-hour early for a private conversation.

Political echelons, security and police hurried to respond on Monday to deadly clashes that took place earlier in the day between Navy commandos and members of a Turkish flotilla bound for Gaza.

Livni offers help with diplomatic crisis

Kadima chair Tzipi Livni called Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to offer her help in dealing with the diplomatic crisis Israel was likely to face in the aftermath of the violent incident.

Livni's party mate Kadima Council head Haim Ramon attacked Netanyahu's government for mishandling the Gaza flotilla affair.

In Canada, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was getting constant updates on the clashes, a foreign ministry spokesman told Army Radio. Netanyahu is in Canada as part of a trip that has him slated to meet Tuesday with US President Barack Obama.

The IDF and police were preparing for the possibility of demonstrations and violence among Palestinians as well as Israeli-Arabs on Monday, amid reports of up to 15 dead.

Northern District police chief Cmdr. Shimon Koren completed an evaluation of the security situation in the North on Monday morning, and ordered a high state of alert and instructed police officers to be ready "for the possibility of any scenario or attempt to cause a disturbance."

Also Monday morning, Israeli NGO Gush Shalom was set to demonstrate in support of the "Free Gaza" convoy, according to an email circulated by the group.

The demonstrators intend to converge outside the center in Ashdod where the detained international aid activists are supposed to be held.

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch cancelled a planned appearance at an anti-violence march in Lod scheduled for Monday. The march will go ahead as planned.

What Israel can teach us about security

Cathal Kelly

While North America's airports groan under the weight of another sea-change in security protocols, one word keeps popping out of the mouths of experts: Israelification.

That is, how can we make our airports more like Israel's, which deal with far greater terror threats with far less inconvenience.

"It is mind boggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago," said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He has worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

"Israelis, unlike Canadians and Americans, don't take s--- from anybody. When the security agency in Israel (the ISA) started to tighten security and we had to wait in line for – not for hours – but 30 or 40 minutes, all hell broke loose here. We said, `We're not going to do this. You're going to find a way that will take care of security without touching the efficiency of the airport.'"

Despite facing dozens of potential threats each day, the security set-up at Israel's largest hub, Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport, has not been breached since 2002, when a passenger mistakenly carried a handgun onto a flight. How do they manage that?

The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Ben Gurion is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from?

"Two benign questions. The questions aren't important. The way people act when they answer them is," Sela said.

Once you've parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters.

Armed guards outside the terminal observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion's half-dozen entrances, another layer of security is watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.

"This is to see that you don't have heavy metals on you or something that looks suspicious," said Sela.

You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side?

"The whole time, they are looking into your eyes – which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds," said Sela.

Lines are staggered. People are not allowed to bunch up into inviting targets for a bomber who has gotten this far.

At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. Sela plays devil's advocate – what if you have escaped the attention of the first four layers of security, and now try to pass a bag with a bomb in it?

"I once put this question to Jacques Duchesneau (the former head of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority): say there is a bag with Play-Doh in it and two pens stuck in the Play-Doh. That is `Bombs 101' to a screener. I asked Duchesneau, `What would you do?' And he said, `Evacuate the terminal.' And I said, `Oh. My. God.'

"Take (Toronto's) Pearson (airport). Do you know how many people are in the terminal at all times? Many thousands. Let's say I'm (doing an evacuation) without panic – which will never happen. But let's say this is the case. How long will it take? Nobody thought about it. I said, `Two days.'"

A screener at Ben Gurion has a pair of better options.

First, the screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. Only the few dozen people within the screening area need be removed, and only to a point a few metres away.

Second, all the screening areas contain `bomb boxes.' If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof. A bomb squad arrives shortly and wheels the box away for further investigation.

"This is a very small, simple example of how we can simply stop a problem that would cripple one of your airports," Sela said.

Five security layers down: you now finally arrive at the only one which Ben Gurion airport shares with Pearson – the body and hand-luggage check.

"But here it is done completely, absolutely 180 degrees differently than it is done in North America," Sela said.

"First, it's fast – there's almost no line. That's because they're not looking for liquids, they're not looking at your shoes. They're not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you," said Sela. "Even today with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes ... and that's how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys."

The goal at Ben Gurion is to move fliers from the parking lot to the airport lounge in 25 minutes tops.

And then there's intelligence. In Israel, Sela said, a coordinated intelligence gathering operation produces a constantly evolving series of threat analyses and vulnerability studies.

"There is absolutely no intelligence and threat analysis done in Canada or the United States," Sela said. "Absolutely none."

But even without the intelligence, Sela maintains, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – who allegedly tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day – would not have gotten past Ben Gurion's behavioural profilers.

So. Eight years after 9/11, why are we still so reactive?

Sela first blames our leaders, and then ourselves.

"You can easily do what we do. You don't have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit – technology, training," Sela said. "But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept."

And rather than fear, he suggests outrage would be a far more powerful spur to provoking that change.

"Do you know why Israelis are so calm? We have brutal terror attacks on our civilians and still, life in Israel is pretty good. The reason is that people trust their defence forces, their police, their response teams and the security agencies. They know they're doing a good job. You can't say the same thing about Americans and Canadians. They don't trust anybody," Sela said. "But they say, `So far, so good.' Then if something happens, all hell breaks loose and you've spent eight hours in an airport. Which is ridiculous. Not justifiable."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Missy Elliot to make Israeli debut

Elliot to perform on July 15 at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

One of America’s top female rap/R&B artists, Missy Elliot, will perform for the first time in Israel on July 15 at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds, with warm up provided by our own Hadag Nahash.

Together with producer Timbaland, ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliot proved to be an authentic hit maker even before her 1997 debut Supa Dupa Fly was released to mass acclaim, thanks to songs written for Aaliyah and Mariah Carey.

Breaking barriers for women in rap, the one-woman hip-hop machine maintained a string of hit albums and singles throughout the next decade, including collaborations with Pink, Busta Rhymes and Lil Kim.

Her albums include Da Real World (1999), Miss E...So Addictive (2001), Under Construction (2002), This Is Not A Test (2003) and The Cookbook (2005).

Forbes Names Israel’s Shari Arison As One of the World’s Greenest Billionaires

We know that billionaires with their minds and hearts in right place, can do right by the planet.

Taking notice, Forbes business magazine has looked beyond its regular annual billionaires list and has plucked out Israel’s banking and cruiseline heiress Shari Arison as one of the world’s greenest.

Greenest billionaires, that is.

Shari joins Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla, Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Germany’s billionaire Aloys Wobben, among others.

With a personal net worth of a cool $3.4 billion, Shari –– whose eco-spriritual website Essence of Life I used to write for –– may be taken for a bit of quack in Israel, but not in my books. She’s a huge believer that sustainability and profitability go hand in hand.

Shari’s family name is most well-known around the world for Carnival Cruise lines, established by her father Ted in the United States. She’s published a memoir Birth: When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together where she spells out how businesses should benefit both the investor and the broader community.

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. What’s she done? Shari has developed businesses around this philosophy, and maintains that the companies’ bottom line is her driver. She is now planning on making her public construction company, Shikun & Binui 100% sustainable via using solar power, water desalination and recyclable materials, within the next five years, according to Forbes.

We faithful followers of Green Prophet already know that her water company Miya, launched in 2007 aims to reduce leaks in underground water pipes in cities and urban areas. And we just wrote a story about Brazil and Israel, and Miya looks like it will be part of the collaboration between countries.

We’re rooting for you, Shari! If you’d like to read more about Shari’s green vision, Businessweek has a good profile on Shari from 2009.

Shari Arison (born 1957) is an Israeli-American businesswoman and Israel's wealthiest citizen. She is the owner of several businesses, the largest among them Bank Hapoalim. According to Forbes, she is the richest woman in the Middle East, and the only woman to be ranked in the region's top 20 richest people in 2007.

Ted Arison - Israeli businessman

Ted Arison (1924 – October 1, 1999) was an Israeli-American businessman who co-founded Norwegian Cruise Lines in 1966 with Knut Kloster and founded Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972.

Born in Tel Aviv in the then British Mandate of Palestine, he fought in the Jewish Brigade of the British Army during World War II. He moved to the United States in the early 1950s and created Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972 in which he made his fortune.

Later, he established the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts based in Miami. He brought professional basketball to South Florida with the forming of the Miami Heat in 1988, and established the philanthropic Arison Foundation in Israel and the United States.

In 1990, he returned to Israel and founded Arison Investments. In 1997 he headed a consortium that purchased the controlling share in Bank Hapoalim for more than $1 billion -- the largest privatization deal in Israel's history.

His children include Micky Arison and Shari Arison.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Kathy Ireland in Israel

Kathleen Marie "Kathy" Ireland (born March 20, 1963) is an American former-model, actress, entrepreneur, CEO and designer of her eponymous brand product marketing company, Kathy Ireland Worldwide.

Life and career

Ireland was born in Glendale, California, the daughter of John, a labor union organizer, and Barbara Ireland, who worked in charity. At age 17, Ireland was "discovered" by an agent for the Elite Model Management company, and by the time she graduated from high school, she was working steadily as a model.

Sports Illustrated

Starting in 1984, Ireland was featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for 13 consecutive years, with her final appearance in 1996. In addition to her long tenure within the pages, Ireland appeared on the cover of the annual issue three times, a feat tied by Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs and surpassed only by Elle Macpherson (with six or more appearances). Ireland was the cover model for the first time on the 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Edition, which became SI's best selling swimsuit issue to date. She returned to the cover in 1992 and in 1994. In her third appearance, she was accompanied by Rachel Hunter and Elle Macpherson; notably, both Hunter and Ireland were pregnant at the time.

Israel A Source of Snow

Company Profile

IDE Technologies Ltd. is a pioneer and world leader in water technologies. The company specializes in the development, engineering, production and operation of advanced desalination as well as innovative industrial solutions.

Leading the world in clean water solutions.

* Today: IDE is a world leader in the desalination industry. With more than 45 years of know-how and experience, IDE delivers end-to-end project solutions for its customers throughout the world. Leveraging superior thermal and membrane technologies, IDE specializes in the delivery and operation of various desalination and water treatment solutions.

* Tomorrow: IDE is developing a growing portfolio of economic green water treatment solutions for industry and municipalities - especially in the areas of industrial stream concentration/purification and wastewater treatment. In creating customized, end-to-end solutions for its customers, IDE leverages its proprietary technologies and skills in project management, operations, support and financing, all built through 45 years of leadership in the water industry.

* In addition: IDE continues to apply its advanced technologies in the areas of industrial evaporation and heat exchange, resulting in unique breakthrough solutions in the fields of snow and ice production, mine cooling, thermal energy storage and district heating.

Putting It All Together For Our Customers

IDE takes a comprehensive, end-to-end approach to assure the success of its projects and the satisfaction of its customers.

* Cutting-Edge, Economic Technologies: IDE's propiretary technologies and internally-developed processes are the fruit of 45 years of continuous innovation, based firmly in know-how built from work in the field. We customize these technologies to create optimized solutions applicable to the specific needs of each customer and each project.

* Project Management: IDE has built its reputation on the successful management of complex projects, including engineering, plant-building and more. IDE prides itself on its record for completing projects within budget and on time.

* Finance: IDE's financial capabilities help customers create nad execute sophisticated, achievable financing plants targeting the international financial community.

* Ongoing Operations: IDE is available to take over ongoing plant operations, service and maintenance responsibility under a variety of O&M, BOT and other frameworks.

Today IDE is jointly and equally owned by ICL (Israel Chemical Ltd.) (TASE: ICL) and the Delek Group (TASE: DLEKG OTCQX: DGRLY). ICL is a global minerals and specialty chemicals company with an annual turnover of approximately US$6 billion (2008). The Delek Group is one of Israel’s largest holding groups with an annual turnover of US$12 billion (2008).

Haiti Quake - Day 6 - No one but the Israelis

Haiti Day 6 - No one but the Israeli's have come to help any of our patients that are dying.

CNN Elizabeth Cohen interviews makeshift medical tent personnel on January 18, 2010.

Asking Harvard Medical Dr. Jennifer Furin, "Have the American's set up a field hosptial?"

"Currently, not yet."

Cohen: "The Israeli's came from the other side of the world..."

Furin: "It's a frustrating thing that I really can't explain..."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Israel NEWTech

Israel NEWTech is a national government program promoting the water technology renewable energy sectors in Israel. After decades of experience coping with water scarcity and many years working in the field of renewable energy, today Israel is in a unique position to be a world leader in a cleaner age of water management and energy efficiency.

In 2006, NEWTech launched its first initiative focused on the Israeli water technologies industry. The program promotes Israel's water technologies in the local and global markets by supporting R&D, participating in water related events and creating marketing tools for the benefit of the entire sector. The government has invested heavily in the program and allocated substantial resources towards strengthening the foundation of Israel's water tech cluster.

In 2008, recognizing the success of the water program and the strategic importance of alternative energy technologies, NEWTech launched a second initiative focused on the renewable energy sector. This program encourages Israeli companies and individuals to enter the field of renewable energy, invest in R&D, and establish connections with potential partners overseas. The objective of the program is to promote Israel's renewable energy technologies in the local and global markets.

Israel NEWTech is led by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor in cooperation with more then ten government ministries and agencies. This wide partnership shares the goal of supporting and promoting the Israeli water and renewable energy sectors.

Israel Festival plays host to more than 100 international and local artists

18-day event includes theater, opera, circus, jazz and more; discounts available for certain performances.

More than 100 local and international artists descended on Israel this week for the 49th annual Israel Festival, the country's largest arts and cultural festival.

The 18-day event opened Tuesday with the King's Singers, a British group that performs renaissance, jazz, folk and pop music and won a Grammy in 2009, and the Argentine dance troupe Angokinesis, which combines traditional tango and modern dance.

Local groups also participated in opening night, including a maiden performance by Rabbi Haim Louk with the New Jerusalem Orchestra, which combines liturgical poems with modern Israeli music.

The range of events includes theater, opera, music, circus and dance, with shows for children and a wine and jazz expo for adults.

Organizers of this year's festival are offering a set of significant discounts (50% on regularly priced tickets or 25% for the less expensive tickets) to three major jazz performances: Legendary American jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his new quartet, on May 29; The Andrzej Jagodzinski Trio led by Poland's top jazz pianist on May 31; and Grammy-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano, who The New York Times has called "one of the greatest musicians in jazz history," on June 6.

Israeli musicians take on New York

Playing to a receptive crowd – Idan Raichel is one of a number of Israeli performers gaining the spotlight abroad.

Both established Israeli musicians such as Idan Raichel and newcomers like Efrat Gosh are finding success with diverse audiences abroad, even in fiercely competitive New York.

Israeli music is evoking a strong positive response in New York and other major cities in the US. With an increase in the number of private impresarios and American organizations bringing Israeli performers abroad, many are finding enthusiastic audiences far beyond their local borders.

A relatively small number of Israeli performers have always visited the US through organized cultural exchanges and festivals. The New York scene has thousands of bands in every musical genre. However, as Israeli performers become more international in their focus and American audiences are more open to new cultural experiences, venues for Israeli music have increased.

While in the past it was mostly Israeli superstars who were in demand, today there's interest in the newer, younger voices. Israeli performers play to mixed Jewish and Israeli audiences and are gathering new mainstream fans as well, performing in English, in Hebrew and in a mixture of the two.

Karen Sander, head of the culture department of the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan says: "People are interested and open to see a contemporary Middle Eastern flair."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

IAF to test Arrow 3 early next year

The Israel Air Force will hold its first test of the Arrow 3, under development by Israel Aerospace Industries, in early 2011, officials said on Wednesday.

Jointly developed by IAI and Boeing in the US, the Arrow 3 will serve as Israel’s top-tier missile defense system, adding another layer of defense to that provided by the Arrow 2, which is already operational and deployed throughout Israel.

The initial test of the Arrow 3 will not include the interception of a mock enemy missile. An interception test will likely take place in 2011.

“The Arrow system can effectively counter all of the missile threats that exist in the region,” said Inbal Kreiss, the Arrow 3 project manager at IAI.

Kreiss, who spoke at the New Tech conference in Airport City on Wednesday, said that IAI was also modifying the existing Arrow missile launcher to accommodate the slightly smaller Arrow 3 interceptor. This will allow the launcher to also fire American-made SM3 missiles, which are currently used by the US Navy on its Aegis missile defense ships.

Meanwhile Wednesday, defense officials said that the $205 million in funding authorized by the US Congress for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system – developed to intercept short-range rockets – would enable the defense establishment to purchase an additional six batteries that could be deployed along the Gaza border.

Rafael has already manufactured two batteries that were delivered to the IAF, which is planning a final conclusive test of the Iron Dome in the coming weeks, following which it will be declared operational.

Officials said that the system could, in a future conflict, be deployed just south of Tel Aviv and along the Mediterranean coast to defend the city against Hamas long-range missiles, such as the Iranian Fajr 5, which it is believed to have obtained since Operation Cast Lead last year.

Israeli roadside battery chargers headed to Ontario

Ontario Premier Dalton Mcguinty meets with Shai Agassi, founder of Better Place, after testing a prototype of an electric Renault Laguna in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Agassi, who is launching a nationwide network of electrical charging ports and battery switching stations in Israel next year, is bringing Better Place to Ontario in the next few years.
Robert Benzie/Toronto Star

TEL AVIV – Premier Dalton McGuinty took a spin in Israel’s car of tomorrow before road-testing a message of hope as he heads to the West Bank to meet Palestinian officials.

McGuinty on Wednesday drove a prototype Renault Laguna, the world’s first electric car with an easily switchable battery, at Better Place, which is building a nationwide network of charging stations here.

“It’s an exciting concept, it’s a responsible concept. It’s one that’s going to prove to be a benefit to the economy and to the environment,” he said at the company’s testing centre on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

The Israeli firm, which is partnering with Nissan-Renault, will open a similar facility in Toronto in 2011 and put some experimental electric taxis on city streets to get Ontarians accustomed to them.

“We believe that by 2020 the majority of new cars added to the road will be electric cars,” said Better Place founder and CEO Shai Agassi.

“There’s mostly an economic driver. While we would like to think that environment would drive the change, at the end of the day consumers drive change and consumers pick the most convenient and most affordable cars they can buy,” said Agassi, whose high-tech cars will be available to Israelis starting in mid-2011.

Switching stations and plug-in chargers at shopping malls and business will be built throughout Israel – and be coming to Ontario sooner rather than later.

“Most of the people working in Toronto live within a span of an hour to an hour and a half from the city. If you live further than that, you’re an exception, you’re not the rule. It’s mostly focused on the suburban driver,” Agassi said of the cars. The cars can be “trickle-charged” overnight or have their batteries replaced at a switching station in just minutes.

“You can actually change the battery in this thing ... much faster than it takes to refuel your car,” McGuinty said.

Later Wednesday, McGuinty flew to Eilat, near Israel’s borders with Jordan and Egypt, where he toured a high-tech solar energy facility before delivering a speech to Jewish, Muslim, and Christian students at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on the Kibbutz Ketura.

The premier—who has carefully avoided wading into the Middle East political quagmire during his trade mission, including in meetings with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—gently broached the subject of Israeli-Palestinian relations.

“I was talking to someone around Jerusalem and they were telling me they don’t dig any more, because if they dig they’re going to find something. If they find something, they have to take responsibility for it. It’s too complicated,” he quipped to laughter from the students.

Striking a more serious tone, McGuinty, who will visit Ramallah and Bethlehem on Thursday, said “our differences make us interesting, but what’s important is what we have in common and that’s our humanity.”

“If you and I were to knock on 100 doors in any part of the world and if we were to ask families, ‘What’s most important to you?’ I believe those families would all say the same thing,” the premier said.

“They would say: ‘We want a good education for our kids, we want good health care for our families, we want good jobs so we can enjoy a good standard of living, we want to live in a world that is at peace, we want an environment that is safe and healthy,’” he said.

“Those simple, fundamental human aspirations are shared by people everywhere on the planet.”

Student Ikram Salah, 31, who nodded in agreement as McGuinty spoke, said the Arava Institute is “a unique place to meet people from other cultures, from other religions.”

“For me, it’s the first time to meet Jewish people. It’s a good chance just to make sure that we can make something for (the) future,” said Salah.

Toronto’s Leora Smith, 22, who is Jewish, agreed the school is “an interesting place.”

“The friendships here are really strong even though the politics are often different,” said Smith.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Locals learn from Israel's water conservation policies

Tate and Albuquerque leaders are looking for new ways to conserve water. It's something Israel has done for decades -- and now local officials are turning to the Israelis for help.

"Austin Reed is here to show us what "they" do that works. Austin?"

"Israel recycles 80% of its water --- here in New Mexico it's an average of just 4%, but our leaders here say we can and must do better."

State and local politicians. business owners and 10 water recycling companies from Israel gathered in downtown Albuquerque for an all important energy conference. We created the technologies in order to ensure we will have good and solid agriculture, portable water for our people and the new thing is Israel is now producing water the state of Israel says between drip irrigation, a number of massive water recycling facilities, plus big reservoirs that help save and conserve the water so it can be recycled -- has saved Israel billions of gallons of water each and every year.

Dalton McGuinty in Israel to talk energy, water

May 25, 2010

Robert Benzie

JERUSALEM—Premier Dalton McGuinty came to one of the oldest cities in the world to discuss a future of clean water and green energy with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

McGuinty, who has been treated like a head of state in his trade tour of Israel, pointedly did not discuss politics in this holy and disputed city.

“We didn’t get into that at all,” he told reporters Monday at the Jaffa Gate before privately touring the Old City of Jerusalem and praying at the Western Wall.

“We quickly discovered that while we live continents apart (and) have different political circumstances and different histories, when it comes to building an economy we’re actually on the same track and we can and should do more together.”

While the premier is visiting the West Bank on Thursday and Beirut on Friday, Israel’s ongoing tensions with its Arab neighbours — including controversial Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem — were not broached.

Indeed, the one-hour meeting in Netanyahu’s office, coming the day after McGuinty had an eventful audience with Israeli President Shimon Peres, began on a light note.

“So this is your first visit?” Netanyahu asked him.

“My very first visit — Israel is a small country with a big history,” the premier replied.

“It’s about the size of Canada,” Netanyahu cracked, ignoring the fact Israel is just 1/450th the size of Canada

“We’re just the opposite. Big country, small history,” said McGuinty.

Unlike the session Sunday with Peres, where the president sold the premier on a new “virtual” Israel-Ontario brain research institute, the Netanyahu meeting was held behind closed doors after a one-minute photo-op.

“Very positive, very constructive — one of the most constructive and positive meetings that I’ve ever had with an international leader,” a visibly pleased McGuinty said afterward.

“We ended the meeting by saying that what we’ll do is we’ll put in writing a concrete proposal because there are so many different areas and in particular we want to focus on the brain research, water, energy and renewables,” he said.

Netanyahu, who is travelling to Canada later this week and will speak Sunday to more 5,000 people at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre to launch the United Jewish Appeal’s Walk With Israel, was keen to learn about Ontario’s efforts on education.

“He wanted to know what we were doing in Ontario in terms of education, how it was working, why it was working. He asked if we might immediately set up during the course of this trip another meeting between his education people and some of our people,” said McGuinty.

The Israeli leader was especially interested in Ontario’s new all-day learning for 4- and 5-year-olds, which is being phased in starting in September, and in the province’s success at posting online school rankings based on standardized tests results.

“Then we switched gears and we talked about energy from renewables. That’s a big issue here as well, obviously. They’re trying to reduce their energy from . . . carbon-based fuels so we have some common ground there,” the premier said.

“Then we talked about water. They have a tremendous expertise here. They’re very conservation-oriented. They understand that there are global opportunities as well. Then we talked about the proposal put forward (Sunday) by President Peres and he was very keen on that as well.”

Netanyahu’s warmth toward McGuinty is in part fuelled by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s staunchly pro-Israel stance that has Canadians very popular here.

Earlier Monday, in Tel Aviv, Jon Allen, Canada’s ambassador to Israel, told Ontario delegates with McGuinty that “we are at the apex of a bilateral Canada-Israel relationship.”

McGuinty noted Israel’s “innovation-based economy,” and agreed Ontario can learn from Israel and vice versa. “It’s a simple but profound truth that we’re doing well on our own but we can do better together.”

Dr. Eli Opper, the chief scientist for Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, said collaboration is key.

“So you need to be modest or humble to accept the notion that you can’t go it alone with your knowledge,” Opper told the Ontario delegation.

“Even the largest companies in the world are aware of the fact that the state-of-the-art new products, they do not have all the new knowledge they are needing. So the answer is cooperation.”

Ormat Taps Into Geo-Thermic Volcano Energy In Indonesia

NASDAQ-traded Ormat Technologies (ORA) is involved in the proposed construction of a giant geo-thermal electric power plant in Indonesia, a country that is now in bad need of more electric power, even though it is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

The project is estimated to cost around $800 million, and has been in the works since 2006, when a contract was awarded to a consortium of companies headed by PT Medco Energi Internasional (MEDC.Jk), and including the Japanese company Itochu Corporation.

The plan is to have Ormat, whose geo-thermal energy collection installations can be found around the world, tap into the raw energy of Indonesia’s hot springs and magma fissures. One small problem – there is a chance that Ormat’s technology might cause a volcano eruption.

In a meeting with news reporters, Indonesia’s Energy J. Purwono, said that his country “badly needs more power plants.”We need this project to be built quickly because it is very important for Indonesia.”

Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. It has large, untapped geothermal energy potential do to numerous volcanoes and hot springs which can provide the energy to run the 330 megawatt geothermal plant in Sarulla, North Sumatra. Indonesia is estimated to have geothermal potential to produce 27,000 mgw of electricity.

It is unusual that Indonesia, which has no diplomatic relations with Israel is willing to do business with Ormat. Ormat was established in 1965 as Ormat Turbines Ltd., in Yavne, Israel, by engineer Lucien Bronicki (Chairman and CTO) and wife Yehudit "Dita" Bronicki (CEO).

Ormat Industries is one of the world’s leading vertically integrated companies dedicated to providing solutions for geothermal power, recovered energy generation (REG) and remote power. Geothermal energy is an excellent alternative energy source that is both clean and non-polluting.

Ormat Energy Converters (OEC), are Closed Cycle Vapor Turbogenerators (CCVT) with capacities ranging between 200 and 4500 Watt for unattended operation.

There is some risk in trying to “tap” the energy potential of these hot springs and molten magma fissures, due to the possibility of their becoming active volcanoes. For this reason, using this power source is generally more expensive than other energy sources, including petroleum and natural gas. But the advantages are surely worth the costs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Canada-Israel, 60 years of friendship

Sixty years ago, on May 11, 1949, Israel and Canada established diplomatic relations and began building a fruitful cooperation. Over the years our countries have stood by each other and have continually strengthened our commitment as partners and friends in many fields, including commerce, science and technology, culture, education, public safety and trade. This international rate commemorative stamp celebrates Canada’s strong bilateral relationship with Israel—a friendship that spans six decades and is marked by shared values, common interests, and strong political, economic, cultural and social ties.

The Canadian government has issued a beautiful postage stamp honoring Canada's diplomatic relationship with Israel. The stamp shows the Star of David together with the Maple Leaf. Please make a point of asking for and purchasing the stamp at your local postal service outlet.

Issue Date: April 14, 2010

Product# 413777111 - $10.20

HBO Boxing: Yuri Foreman Interview (HBO)

Yuri Foreman reflects on biblical fighters and talks about being the first Israeli World Champion about to defend his title against Miguel Cotto, Live from Yankee Stadium, on Saturday, June 5 at 10:15 PM ET/7:15 PM PT. For more information, log onto


“I will insist the Hebrews have [contributed] more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations ... They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited this Earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more and more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”

- John Adams, Second President of the United States
(From a letter to F. A. Van der Kemp [Feb. 16, 1808] Pennsylvania Historical Society)

The Jewish Impact On The World
Jewish impact on the world | how Judaism has influenced

Signing off on their rite of passage


Deaf children celebrate their bar and bat mitzvas.

In a unique ceremony Monday morning at the Beit Yaakov synagogue in Jerusalem’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood, 52 deaf and hearing-impaired children celebrated their bar and bat mitzvas.

Proud parents, family and friends looked on as the children experienced the rite of passage with the aid of the Judaic Heritage Program for Israel’s Deaf and Hearing Impaired (JHPIDHI), sponsored by the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel.

“This program works to connect [deaf and hearing impaired] children with both their own Jewish community and the greater community of Israel,” explained Rabbi Chonoch Yeres, Program Coordinator of the JHPIDHI. “The obligations for Jewish children to take part in a bar or bat mitzva has no lines or boundaries.”

Like any other bar mitzva, the boys wrapped their arms in tefillin, were draped in tallitot (prayer shawls) and received an aliya to signify their coming of age. The girls recited the hadlakat nerot, the blessing over Shabbat candles, and were called up to the pulpit for a collective recital of the Shema Yisrael prayer.

A sign language interpreter accompanied every speech and blessing.

“We are deeply proud to be able to share this stellar occasion with these young people and their families,” stated Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, president of the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel. “The emotional charge seeing these challenged youth be able to participate as all others in this rite of passage in life is indescribable unless you witness the event personally.”

“After providing them with the education in Jewish religion, Jewish ethics and Jewish heritage, we bring them together in Jerusalem as the apex of the program,” said Rabbi Yeres. “This not only provides the students and families from all over Israel with a joyful visit and celebration, but a way create bonds for the future.

Started 15 years ago, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in Israel’s Judaic heritage program works to provide the deaf, hearing impaired and deaf-blind people of Israel with religious education and the ability to serve as active Jews and people in both the religious and secular worlds.

The program receives partial sponsorship from the Jewish Agency for Israel and works in close ties with the Association of the Deaf in Israel.

Image Wars

The Knesset is joining the battle against stick-thin models. But one pundit is asking whether anybody should really care how Britney Spears looks

By Tsafi Saar

Israel is trying to become the latest nation to shun the ranks of anorexic-looking models. On Sunday the Ministerial Committee for Legislation discussed a proposal for a law that would prohibit underweight models from appearing in television commercials. Other Western countries have already done this and in the previous Knesset there was an attempt to promote a similar law.

This measure is in fact part of a trend: Leading magazines that show only stick-thin women on their pages have recently been featuring models with a bit more flesh on their bones.

The French magazine Elle, for example, devoted its April issue to larger models. Various celebrities, like Britney Spears and Demi Moore, have been displaying their pulchritude, appearing in pictures without the help of Photoshop touchups.

Hollywood, so we have recently been informed, is turning its back on plastic surgery and trying to return to a "natural" look. Apparently the movement is also gathering momentum in the mainstream.

So what's the catch? Well, not everybody thinks it is a battle that needs to be fought. In a rabble-rousing article posted on the Australian media Web site, Australian writer Helen Razer recalled "an era when feminism's purview was not limited to banging on about the need for more fat chicks in glossy magazines."

Moreover, she wrote, "While others fight for the right to force-feed Kate Moss, I continue antique fretting over equal pay, domestic violence and federal representation."

Razer asks whether there is indeed a connection between cellulite and women's rights, and wonders if the aim of feminism today is to ensure size 46 girls get their equal due.

"Yes," she writes, "This just in: Heat is hot, water is wet and teenagers are obsessed with their appearance. As such, let's spend money on developing an industry code of conduct so that we can all enjoy the spectacle of more cottage cheese on Britney's thighs."

In Israel, too, there are feminists who say the concern with body image is excessive, at least in academia, where it is manifested in the many doctoral theses dealing with this issue as compared to a dearth of research in other areas such as the history of Israeli feminism.

Predictably, Razer's words have not been taken lying down. First of all, opponents have argued, it is not only teenagers who obsess about their appearance and suffer from eating disorders - these problems, exacerbated because of the prevalent images in the media, are now appearing at younger and younger ages among children, as well as among older women.

As for Razer's argument that focusing on body image is nothing but "bourgeois feminism," her critics have replied that these problems cross socio-economic lines. Not only do they exist among poor, wealthy and middle-income women and girls, but thanks to globalization, the images are also being exported from the West to the developing world.

Even if there is truth to this, it is worth remembering that there are many millions of women, certainly in the third world but also in the West, for whom all these discussions are irrelevant: women who are fighting poverty and sexual and other kinds of oppression most Westerners might never have to deal with.

This is because today in the West it is usually impossible to say to a woman: Don't get an education, don't aspire. Instead, however, it is all too possible in addition to her job and her second job in the home to cause her to spend her time on makeup and makeovers, lifts and operations.

Or as one of the respondents to Razor's article said, nowadays it doesn't matter if you are smart, independent, successful, capable and qualified, creative and charismatic - you also have to be thin and sexy.

And with all this, there is another option. Not many women choose it but it does have a definitely liberating element. They can simply say: fuck it.

Yes indeed. Don't put on makeup, or put on makeup only when you feel like it, don't diet, don't join in the competition. This has a price: The gap between your appearance and that of the women in the magazines will be much bigger than usual.

Indeed, not an easy choice.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Global Cleantech 100 Includes 5 Israeli Companies

Israel was the only Middle East representation to make the new Global Cleantech 100 list, and according to the survey 5 companies made the cut.

According to the search engine on the Guardian, only 4 made the cut, they are water purification company AqWise, solar company Solel Solar Systems, energy storage company EnStorage, wind energy gear box company IQWind.

Additionally, Better Place, the electric car company which is registered as a US company, but founded by Israelis, made the cut; as did BrightSource the solar energy company, also founded by Israelis.

The list is developed by the UK-based newspaper, The Guardian and the Cleantech Group which providers of leading research, events and advisory services for the cleantech world. Supported by the Carbon Trust, the Global Cleantech 100 recognises companies at the forefront of cleantech innovation offering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

The final list represents the collective opinion of hundreds of leading experts from cleantech innovation and venture capital companies in EMEA, North America, India and China, combined with the specific input of an expert panel of 35, drawn from well-respected organisations such as Altira Group, Crossover Advisors, Deloitte, Emerald Technology Ventures, Google, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, New York Stock Exchange, NGEN Partners, Nth Power, New Enterprise Associates, Sterling Communications, Tsing Capital and VantagePoint Venture Partners.

The panel decided on companies that are currently regarded as having the potential and likelihood to achieve high growth and high market impact. Their thoughts were then combined with insights from the Cleantech Network, the de facto industry association of international clean technology investors, entrepreneurs, large corporations and other industry insiders. Some 3,500 companies were nominated/considered.

“The first ever Global Cleantech 100 shines a spotlight on which companies and which technology areas the global innovation community is currently most excited about, from a commercial standpoint,” said Richard Youngman, managing partner at Cleantech Group.

“Although none of these firms are exactly household names, their innovations and the business acumen of their leaders and investors mean that they are likely to have high impact on our future. The Global Cleantech 100 companies, and many other worthy peer companies, stand to enable environmental sustainability and generate economic growth.”

The full list of Global Cleantech 100 firms is available on the Guardian
( and Cleantech Group
( websites. The list will be featured at Cleantech Forum XXIII in Boston, 8-10 September 2009 and at other locations.

Israeli scientist helps discover planet 'very similar to Earth'

The planet, some 500 light years from our solar system, is so distant that it cannot be seen.

By Ofri Ilani

A team of scientists, including an Israeli researcher, announced the discovery Wednesday of a hitherto unknown planet they described as extremely similar to Earth, some 500 light years from our solar system.

The revelation bolsters the theory that the universe holds billions of planets revolving around stars similar to the Earth's sun.

"Progress in research on planets outside our solar system has been tremendous," said Prof. Zvi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University, who participated in the study. "It's amazing to think that 25 years ago, when I just started becoming interested in the field, not a single planet was known outside of our solar system."

"Now we've been able to discover planetary systems very similar to those of the Earth," Mazeh said. "They are just waiting for us to come discover them." The new planet was found almost accidentally while the team was monitoring another distant planet, TYC 4799-1733-1.

The planet is so distant from Earth that it cannot actually be seen; scientists concluded that it exists based on a small black mark it leaves on its parent star every 20.4 hours.

The newly-discovered planet, named CoRoT-7b, is estimated to have a radius twice that of Earth, but a lower mass.

For months, researchers monitored small changes in the revolution of the parent star with the aid of a highly-advanced instrument operated by the European Southern Observatory, a sprawling observatory located in Chile.

The researchers also discovered another planet, CoRoT-7c, orbiting its parent star in cycles of 3 days, 17 hours, with a mass eight times that of the Earth.

Israel to build an ocean wave-powered engine off India

SDE Energy and India Make Waves With Tidal Power

The idea of producing electricity from ocean currents and waves has been talked about for several years (see our story on Leviathan and India and a $50 million wave energy deal in the works then). But now, the idea is becoming more serious as countries are joining forces to harness the great energy potential that is being produced continuously by the world’s seas and oceans.

Two countries getting serious about these kinds of projects are Israel and India. Israel’s SDE Energy and India’s Om Se Mantra Powergen made an agreement with the government of the Indian state of Gujarat to build a 5 megawatt electric power plant that will be powered exclusively by the power of ocean waves.

Wave energy projects by SDE Energy, headed by Shmuel Ovadia, have been featured on Green Prophet before, including an article in which a project to construct a 100 megawatt power plant in an “undisclosed African country“.

This new project, in which a large country such as India will be involved in, holds a lot of promise since India is bordered on three sides by the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. The new project, in which a 5 megawatt power pilot plant will be followed by a much larger 100 megawatt one, will be financed by a state budget of $700 million USD. The smaller plant, budgeted for a cost of $5 million, is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2010, and will be followed by the larger one, all being well.

SDE has already built 8 model plants, which have been financed by the Israeli government. The technology involved in harnessing and producing electricity from a 1 mw ocean waves power plant ($650,000 USD) is said by the company to be very efficient, environmentally clean, and relatively low in cost as compared to a similar sized solar energy plant ($3,000,000) or a wind energy plant using wind turbines ($1.5 million).

In addition, the SDE wave energy plant, in which only 10% of the equipment is actually in the water, is said to be more weather-proof than other types of power plants, including those fueled by coal and natural gas.

The SDE African project, signed a year ago will involve a 25 year commitment and will cost more than $100 million USD. It is estimated that once this project is completed, revenues from generated electricity could be in excess of $1 billion. After all, wave energy is estimated to have at least 4 times more power generation capacity than wind.

India’s billion plus population is hungry for energy – both industrial and for private consumption. And with so much shoreline available for the construction of such power plants, the future for such projects as this one looks excellent.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Krav Maga - hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel

Krav Maga (pronounced /ˌkrɑːv məˈɡɑː/; Hebrew: קרב מגע‎, IPA: [ˈkʁav maˈɡa], lit. "contact combat" or "close combat") is an eclectic hand-to-hand combat system developed in Israel which involves wrestling, grappling and striking techniques, mostly known for its extremely efficient and brutal counter-attacks, as it is also taught to elite special forces around the world. It was derived from street-fighting skills developed by Imi Lichtenfeld, who made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler, as a means of defending the Jewish quarter during a period of anti-Semitic activity in Bratislava in the mid- to late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his immigration to Israel, he began to provide hand-to-hand combat training to what was to become the IDF, developing the techniques that became known as Krav Maga. It has since been refined for both civilian and military applications.

Some refinements include, but are not limited to, the incorporation of elements from traditional Asian martial arts.

Krav Maga, sometimes known as Israeli jujitsu, has a philosophy emphasizing threat neutralization, simultaneous defensive and offensive maneuvers, and aggression.[5] Krav Maga is used by the IDF Special Forces units and several closely related variations have been developed and adopted by law enforcement and intelligence organizations, Mossad, Shin Bet, FBI, SWAT units of the NYPD[6] and United States special operations forces. There are several organizations teaching variations of Krav Maga internationally.


The name in Hebrew means "Hand-to-hand combat." Krav (קרב) meaning "combat" and Maga (מגע) meaning "contact" or "touch".


Krav Maga was developed in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s by Imi Lichtenfeld , also known as Imi Sde-Or (Sde-Or - "Light Field" - a calque of his surname into Hebrew). He first taught his fighting system in Bratislava in order to help protect the local Jewish community from the Nazi militia. Upon arriving in the British Mandate of Palestine, Imi began teaching Kapap to the Haganah, the Jewish underground army. With the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Imi became the Chief Instructor of Physical Fitness and Krav Maga at the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) School of Combat Fitness. He served in the IDF for 15 years, during which time he continued to develop and refine his hand-to-hand combat method.[12] In 1964 he left the military though continued to supervise the instruction of Krav Maga in both military and law-enforcement contexts, and in addition, worked indefatigably to refine, improve and adapt Krav Maga to meet civilians needs. In 1978, Imi founded the non-profit Israeli Krav Maga Association with several senior instructors. He died in January 1998 in Netanya, Israel.

Current usage

All Israel Defense Forces soldiers, including all Israeli Special Forces units, learn Krav Maga as part of their basic training, although most non-Special Forces trainees only spend a small amount of time training in Krav Maga, up to a week of training for a few hours per day. Further, Krav Maga is the defensive tactics system used to train the Israeli Police, Israeli Intelligence and all Security Divisions. Krav Maga is also taught to civilians, military, law enforcement and security agencies around the world. The Swedish Army uses Krav Maga lightly in close combat training for urban warfare. The International Krav Maga Federation in Netanya outside of Israel trains some of the world's top body guards, who use Krav Maga as a trade fighting art since it includes several exercises in evacuating a VIP through a hostile crowd. Also, the tactics for dispatching several opponents quickly is vital for personal protection agents.

Israeli and Jordanian women, in business, for peace

By Karin Kloosterman

An Israeli-American academic has initiated a program that may both advance disadvantaged women from Israel and Jordan and build peace among nations.

They arrive with ideas for waste management, new media, health clinics and environmental education, speaking Arabic or Hebrew. Funded by the US federal government, 10 aspiring women entrepreneurs - five from Jordan and five from Israel - are heading to the United States this month to engage in a mini-MBA experience that will hopefully, ultimately advance peace in the Middle East.

Prof. Meir Russ, an Israeli-American academic living and working in the US at the University of Wisconsin, came up with the idea that may both advance disadvantaged women and build peace among nations.

"We focused on women first because there is a social impact. They are changing the social fabric of society," he tells ISRAEL21c, emphasizing that the ultimate goal from the US side is to promote business development and improve trilateral relations among the US, Jordan and Israel.

Russ secured funds for the Young Entrepreneurs Program (YEP) so that deserving women will be able to benefit from the MBA-type experience at the University of Wisconsin in two stages of leadership training. Their program is to include workshops, job shadowing, site visits and cultural activities in the Green Bay area.

Coming from Israel, Russ knows that despite the official peace treaty, nothing much has been done to encourage relationships between the citizens of Jordan and Israel. After meeting a colleague who was bringing Jordanian students to the US to learn entrepreneurial practices, Russ conceived a joint project that would forge connections between the US and both Israel and Jordan, and worked to convince the State Department to provide funding.

"I know how entrepreneurial Israel is," Russ says, "and I know that there are pockets of women from Ethiopia [in Israel] and Arab Muslim women who are not getting the same opportunities as others, and thought about bringing some of them to the US." Not to mention that connecting Israel to Jordan through entrepreneurial activities, also, "serves a bigger purpose," he adds.

Jordan is considered a moderate country in the Middle East, and is already involved in ongoing projects with Israel in areas such as emergency preparedness, water technologies and the environment. Organizers and funders hope that the YEP program will expand the opportunities, and enable Jordanians and Israelis to know each other a little better.

A first focus on women

It was easy for the organizers to find willing participants from Israel, including women from the Israeli Arab sector. It was a tougher job finding qualified candidates in Jordan, but with the help of colleagues there, Russ managed to find them and is now looking forward to meeting the women next month in the US.

As a professor of management who earned an MBA in Israel and started a business in the country many years ago, Russ believes that there is more to entrepreneurship than just starting a business.

"We looked at the women's personalities, more than their business ideas," says Russ, explaining that the priorities were to determine whether the women could "use our help, and whether their backgrounds lead to an entrepreneurial way of thinking, and maturity of business ideas."

The selection process is underway, with projects being chosen based on merit and the feasibility of connecting between the enterprises in Israel and Jordan. Among the businesses that the young women aspire to set up is a health clinic for the poor, an environmental education center for young people, a family magazine and a studio for graphic design.

"Some already have academic and professional backgrounds related to business, while others have little business background but good entrepreneurial ideas," says coordinator Jay Harris. "All of them have been able to explain how they can benefit from our training program."

Russ wants to help the participants to grow their own ideas and work together. "Hopefully a group of us will go back to Israel and Jordan later in the year. We are looking to develop some kind of network," he explains. And it seems that with the two-year grant from the State Department amounting to nearly $300,000, and Russ's expectation that the project will run for at least the next six years, there's ample time for a network to take root.

Businesses with social impact

Business people from the Green Bay area and faculty members from the university will be involved in the training process. Support will also come from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network and the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce.

On the Jordanian side, partners include the American Chamber of Commerce in Amman and the King Abdullah Fund for Development; while in Israel, the Israel-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with the Bengis Center for Entrepreneurship at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will help to coordinate ongoing activities.

Co-sponsors include the BIRD Foundation of the United States and Israel, and TRIDE (Tri-lateral Industrial Development) - an alliance promoting investment, research and development by bringing together US, Israeli and Jordanian interests.

Israel’s rising in the East


S. Korea, Mongolia, Japan value honorary envoy.

An emerging force in Israel’s efforts to engage with East Asia is Ami Orkaby, honorary consul general to South Korea and Mongolia and now the sole legal advisor to the government of Japan in Israel.

An all-star guest roster attended Orkaby’s appointment as honorary consul general of South Korea, hosted at Jerusalem’s David Citadel Hotel on Monday, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Ayalon, a former ambassador to the US, praised Orkaby as a “wise choice as honorary consul general... he is good for Israel, Korea and the relationship between the countries.”

Orkaby, 37, says there are many similarities between Israel and South Korea: “Both countries developed rapidly, and both countries did it with one hand on the gun and one hand on the computer.”

South Korea also proclaimed its independence in 1948 and, like Israel, faces a constant security threat from its neighbor in the North. South Korea is an economic powerhouse, having grown tremendously in the latter half of the 20th century, in what is called “the Miracle on the Han River.”

Apart from the children’s choir, Orkaby was one of the youngest people at his appointment ceremony. He says he is the youngest honorary consul general for Korea worldwide, out of some 150 people holding the position in other countries.

In Israel, Orkaby was named number 42 on Forbes’s “300 list” of Israel’s most influential young people last year.

“The position of honorary consul general is usually for people 60 years old, with $60 million in the bank,” he says. “It’s the story of my life – always the youngest. Youngest honorary consul general [for Mongolia, and]... when I was working in the Prime Minister’s Office, I was the youngest.”

Orkaby’s focus on Asia started during his studies at Oxford, where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1994. He then earned a law degree at Buckingham University.

“I read a lot of predictions that Asia will be the next big thing,” Orkaby says. “I was pushed into that, and it became the center of my interest.” It would seem to have been a good investment,” he says.

At Buckingham, Orkaby specialized in Japanese studies while studying law. He speaks fluent Japanese in addition to English, Hebrew and Arabic. He says his Korean and Mongolian is very limited, although he’s taking lessons in Korean to improve.

Orkaby then earned a master’s degree from London Guildhall University, followed by a stint at the Brookings Institute in Washington. He then received an Eisenhower Fellowship to represent Israel and was able to network with future leaders from the US and around the world.

Orkaby calls the Eisenhower Fellowship a sort of early, prestigious social network – like Facebook.

“Six hundred out 1,600 Eisenhower fellows have reached cabinet-level positions in their countries. I guess I am a failure in comparison,” he jokes.

Orkaby originally served in the IAF during his military service, and today his reserve duty is as liaison officer between the IDF Spokesman and the Foreign Ministry.

As an independent partner in the Meitar law firm, Orkaby specializes in international business law, commercial law, business development and transnational entrepreneurship, besides his expertise in Asian law.

He also acts as the sole legal advisor for the embassies of Korea, Mongolia and Japan. This can entail consulting on “local laws, employment law, contract law. Basic things,” he says.

Orkaby is occasionally called on to perform more complex tasks, such as legal adviser for a NIS 30 million land purchase for the new Korean Embassy in Israel, which he supervised “from negotiations to signature.”

The position of honorary consul general is typically a volunteer one, sometimes to supplement existing embassy functions, such as the South Korean appointment.

In other cases, such as Orkaby’s Mongolian position, the honorary consul general is the only representative of that country in Israel and is responsible for all consular functions, many of which take place at his own house. Orkaby once hosted Mongolia’s president and his entourage of 30 people.

“We made recommendations to headquarters and reviewed several candidates,” said South Korean Ambassador Ma Young-Sam , one of Orkaby’s close friends and mentors. “There was a long approval process up the levels, finally approved by the foreign minister.”

On the Israeli side, the appointment was approved by the Foreign Ministry’s chief of protocol.

Orkaby says that among Asian countries, reputation is paramount. Countries like South Korea and Japan prefer almost exclusively to conduct business with people they known and trust.

“I have thousands of hours of experience [as a lawyer] – specific to Asia,” he says. “In this territory, your name and integrity is one of the most important things.”

But the consul position takes it to a whole different level, Orkaby says, adding, “By being the honorary consul general of Korea, that crosses a barrier which can be very difficult at some points. They feel like I’m one of them.”

Led by large conglomerates called chaebol – Samsung, Hyundai, LG – the South Korean economy was ranked No. 15 in the world by nominal GDP in 2009. South Korea is currently the chair of the G-20 nations and will host the economic summit in November – the first Asian country to do so.

Orkaby cautions that Asian countries have a much different way of doing business than is common in Israel. Koreans, he says, are perhaps somewhat brasher than their Asian cousins, but they are very different from Israelis in business style.

Orkaby describes the Koreans as “aggressive, targeted, professional. They take things very seriously.” In Israel, he says, “people will say, ‘Get me the CEO of the company.’ In Korea, it doesn’t work like that. Everyone in the chain of command must be familiar with your business, and you must have the acceptance of everyone all the way up to support your business.”

Israel’s famously brash and irreverent manner might be as opposite to Asian customs as could be, Orkaby says.

“People will give business cards in Asia with two hands and a lot of respect,” he says. “In Israel, people will grab one and just put it in their pockets. They don’t think so much of business cards.”

When Ambassador Ma was recalled to Korea, he left his family in Israel so his children could finish their schooling here. He returned again as ambassador in 2008.

“It’s a very comfortable life they were leading here,” Ma says. “They have many Israeli friends. [My son] speaks Hebrew.”

“There’s no better way to express how comfortable you are with this country than with leaving your family here,” Orkaby says. Especially among Koreans, he adds, for whom children’s education is so important, to leave them to study in Israel was a great compliment to the country.

South Korean Minister-Counselor Chungnam Park says Israel is “the holy land for Korean diplomats,” because every recent Korean ambassador to Israel has been promoted upon his return to Seoul. South Korea’s foreign minister, deputy foreign minister and US ambassador have all been former ambassadors to Israel.

Orkaby says a number of initiatives are in progress.

“The very first thing we’re going to do is to set up an Israeli-Korean chamber of commerce, he says. “We also plan to set up a Korean culture center in Tel Aviv... a place where students of Southeast Asian studies can come to learn.”

Korea’s largest company, Samsung, has partnered with Israeli startup Time to Know, which aims to improve basic education by introducing a digital teaching platform. Samsung will provide the hardware for the company, which has more than $100 million invested so far.