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Did You Know?

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

PM: Conflict continues due to refusal to accept Israel

Netanyahu says Israel must ‘delegitimize the delegitimizers; National Security Council head Uzi Arad visits Jordan.

The root of the Israeli-Arab conflict is not Israel’s presence in the settlements, but rather its presence in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

Netanyahu, speaking at the Foreign Ministry’s annual meeting of the country’s ambassadors and consul generals in Jerusalem, said that “peace cannot be based on lies. This conflict continues because there is a refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and bring an end to the conflict.”

Peace, Netanyahu said, will require the Palestinians to “give up their right of return, because it is impossible to have a Jewish state and in parallel to flood it with Palestinian refugees.”

Speaking at the same forum where five days earlier Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the current PA government was illegitimate and that the Israeli government had too many “coalition contradictions” to present a clear diplomatic program, Netanyahu said his government “seeks peace.”

“This is the target and the goal,” he said, saying that the Palestinians were the ones unwilling to negotiate. Israel, he said, was ready last month to accede to a US request for an additional three-month settlement freeze, but that Washington concluded that this would not help the negotiations, because the PA would continue demanding more moratoriums when that one had expired.

Many countries in the world, Netanyahu said, perceive Israel as “guilty until it proves otherwise.”

He said Israel would “use all the resources at its disposal” to go on the offensive, fight the delegitimization campaign, and “delegitimize the delegitimizers.”

The prime minister said that another pillar of any future peace agreement, alongside the recognition of Israel’s legitimacy, was security arrangements on the ground. The IDF is the only force, he said, that could ensure that if Israel pulled out of the West Bank, Iran would not walk in, as happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza and left the 14 kilometer Philadelphia corridor between Gaza and Egypt.

Regarding Iran, Netanyahu said that the current US-led sanctions regime was having an impact, but that the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear march was through harsh sanctions “combined with a credible military option.”

“All countries are worried about Iran,” Netanyahu said, “and the stronger it gets, the more difficult it will be to achieve peace.”

In a related development, National Security Council head Uzi Arad – who went to Egypt earlier this week to prepare for Netanyahu’s visit there next week – travelled to Jordan Thursday for high level meetings dealing with the current diplomatic process.

Huge gas find a boon for Israel

A massive offshore natural gas reserve is poised to give Israel energy security, freeing the desert nation from the threat of boycotts and reshaping the political dynamics of the Middle East.

Estimated to contain 16 trillion cubic feet of gas – equivalent to more than a quarter of Canada’s proven reserves and enough to meet Israel’s domestic demand for 100 years – the Leviathan field is believed to be the largest such deepwater gas discovery in a decade.

Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau trumpeted the find as “the most important energy news since the founding of the state.”

Observers say the windfall, whose size was confirmed this week, could also affect Israel’s relationships not only with its traditional enemies but also with its allies – and free the energy-poor country in an oil-rich region from the often prohibitively high prices of heat.

But the country’s ability to exploit the field will be fraught with difficulties: It must contend with the challenge of drilling far beneath the earth in deep waters as well as with building infrastructure to transport the gas and sorting out clashes with energy companies over its royalty regime. The field is not expected to start producing for at least six years.

The Leviathan find is believed to cover roughly 325 square kilometres off the country’s north coast – an area about twice the size of the city of Vancouver or half the size of Toronto – in an area called the Levant basin that has already yielded smaller fields. The lease is operated by Houston-based Noble Energy, plus Israeli companies Ratio Oil Exploration and Delek Drilling, which said they plan to drill two more exploratory wells in the coming months to confirm the findings.

If exploited, the gas will mean Israel won’t have to buy on the open market any more and could also lessen its dependence on subsidies from the U.S. government, which has sought to use its clout to push its ally to curb settlements in the West Bank and to try to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

“It’s a long-term insurance policy against possible boycotts or sanctions,” Michael Byers, a political scientist and Middle East expert at the University of British Columbia, said of the new resource. “One could argue that it could give Israel more leeway in terms of its foreign policy and allow it to act in defiance of other countries and the international community.”

Neighbouring countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, are likely to step up their own efforts to find natural gas in the coastal waters, which could ratchet up tensions. Future natural gas infrastructure may also be a target for Israel’s enemies.

“A worst-case scenario would be a bloody fight,” said Renan Levine, a University of Toronto political scientist who has researched Israeli politics. Internally, the country could also fall into the “natural resource curse,” in which money is funnelled to groups that hold the country’s balance of power to placate them, he said.

However, the gas may actually help bring Israel closer to its neighbours, as they sit down to negotiate their maritime boundaries, said Prof. Byers, who points to the recent resolution of exactly that question between Israel and Cyprus as an example.

Besides which, regional conflict is bad for business.

“One could argue that what we’re seeing here is Israel being led into a more co-operative environment,” he said, adding that it’s not in either Israel’s or Lebanon’s interest to go to war. “If Israel does this properly – if it negotiates maritime boundaries, if it works co-operatively with multinational corporations – then it could be a very beneficial thing.”

Regardless of the find’s geopolitical implications, simply getting it out of the ground will present major difficulties. The gas lies under more than 1,600 metres of water in a world skittish about ocean drilling after the Gulf of Mexico spill this year.

Israel must not only find a market for the product but build the pipelines or liquefy the gas to transport it. In a statement, Noble tried to address the concerns: “For nearly a year now, we have had a team evaluating market possibilities, which includes various pipeline and [liquefied natural gas] options. It's our belief that the natural gas resources at Leviathan are sufficient to support one or more of the options being studied,” president David Stover said.

Israel is also sorting out resource royalties. The government has been considering ending tax breaks for energy companies and raising a windfall profits tax – a levy on especially high returns – by as much as 60 per cent. In addition to giving companies pause, these moves also have the potential to make it difficult to raise the financing necessary to pursue the opportunity.

With a report from The Wall Street Journal.


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The answer to boycott is …. BUYCOTT.

Buycott Israel is a joint project under the coordination of the Canada-Israel Committee.

We aim to support Israel by encouraging the purchase of products and services from Israel. Purchasing Israeli-made merchandise is a great way to send a positive message.

Buycott Israel will also help you combat boycott and/or divestment campaigns against Israel. We will alert you to BDS efforts and give you the tools to fight back.

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‘Israel is Doing Far Too Little to Fight Boycotts’

According to Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Israel should do a lot more when it comes to the international boycotts against it.

Is Israel Doing Enough to Counter the Boycotts?

Gerstenfeld, who is Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), took part on Thursday in the Ariel Conference for Law and Mass Media at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, where he gave a talk on “The Academic and Political Boycott of Israel.”

Gerstenfeld told Israel National News TV’s Yoni Kempinski that he believes that the boycotts are “a serious issue” because they essentially affect civil rights.

“These boycotts affect the civil rights of individuals,” said Gerstenfeld. “They are highly discriminatory. To a certain extent they are racist. Many people on the left, the anti-Israelis, are what I call humanitarian racists. They look away from the incredible crimes in the Arab-Muslim world, in the Palestinian world, which is a world permeated by criminality: criminality against human rights, war crimes, and many other crimes.”

Despite the harmful effect of the boycotts, Gerstenfeld believes that Israel “is doing far too little” against them, with the exception of a handful of Israeli diplomats in countries such as Norway or the UK. “In other countries it’s not always very effective and people are not doing their best,” he said.

Gerstenfeld believes that universities, who are almost always under attack, should take action against these boycotts. “The universities should stop their attitude which I would call nearly parasitic. They are the main people attacked. They should also be the main people who fight against it. Certainly the Israeli government should start investigating this issue in far more detail. Devote more human resources to it, devote more financial resources to it.”

He added that there are many ways to fight these boycotts, and while responding to them rather than ignoring them sometimes gives them more legitimacy, he believes that “it’s like a business feasibility study. You have to analyze each case, how you’re going to harm your enemy. People who boycott us are, to every extent, our enemies in the war against us.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

IDF warns reservists to be wary when traveling abroad

Hizbullah, Iran may be targeting officers, army says; advises to avoid routine, like shopping, when overseas.

Fearing Hizbullah or Iranian retaliation, the army sent a letter to senior officers in the reserves on Wednesday urging them to take extra security precautions when traveling overseas.

The letter, written by Brig.- Gen. Kobi Barak, head of the IDF Operations Division, said that the background for the warning was the 2008 assassination of Hizbullah military chief Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus, which was attributed to the Mossad, as well as the recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Teheran, also attributed to Israel.

The letter also mentioned the recent publication of the names, addresses and personal details of 200 IDF officers who participated in Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip two years ago, under the claim that they were war criminals.

“We thought it was right to again sharpen the procedures regarding your personal security, as we did last year,” Barak wrote in the letter, sent to the homes of senior IDF officers who recently retired.

Routine, the letter warned, makes people vulnerable and allows an adversary to find “your soft spot.”

“Try not to repeat the same action too many times – the time you do something, and the place,” the letter said: For example, what time the officers leave the house, the routes they take, and the places where they shop.

When traveling overseas, the letter warned, retired officers should pay attention to the airlines they use and the airports at which they land, and ensure that the hotels they choose have been approved by Israeli security officials. The letter also recommended staying on a middle floor at hotels, and in a corner room.

Israel has significantly boosted security for officials traveling overseas in the almost three years since Mughniyeh’s assassination.

During that period, officials from the Defense Ministry who in the past did not have a security detail were accompanied by bodyguards on trips abroad.

In addition, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has warned dozens of businessman that they might be kidnapped during trips overseas.

Israeli Pastry Chef Wins Awards with Marzipan

Yudith Zer-Aviv didn't let the economic downturn influence her - she took a cooking class, and soon thereafter was winning awards for her beautiful and often humorous marzipan and sugar flower creations.

2010 Record Year for Tourism to Israel

The year 2010 set a record in tourism to Israel, according to the Ministry of Tourism, with 3.45 million arrivals registered.

Statistics released Monday showed 26 percent more visitors than Israel had seen a year earlier, and 14 percent more than in 2008, Israel's previous record-setting year.

According to the ministry figures, 2.8 million visitors were tourists who stayed more than one night – 21 percent more than in 2009, and 10 percent more than in 2008, another record.

Of the 3.45 million incoming tourists, 2.3 million arrived by air (68 percent), an increase of 18 percent over the previous year and 10 percent over 2008, representing a boon to the airline industry.

Luxury cruise ships did not suffer, however: some 160,000 came on cruise ships by sea – double the number that arrived in 2009 and three times those who came in 2008.

Some 490,000 entered through the land crossings (14 percent) – 38 percent more than in 2009, and 8 percent more than in 2008. Another 470,000 were day visitors who arrived by land and air – 34 percent more than in 2009 and 11 percent more than in 2008. These were arrivals mainly from Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine, all located within close geographic flying range.

American Tourism Still Leads
As in previous years, the United States continued to lead with 625,000 visitors arriving this year, representing 19 percent of all incoming tourism. This was an increase of 14 percent over last year, and a slight increase over the tourism figures for 2008.

Tourism from Russia followed in second place with 560,000 visitors, comprising 15 percent of all incoming tourism – 40 percent more than last year. About 240,000 of these – 40 percent – were day visitors.

French tourists comprised the third largest category, totaling about 285,000 visitors, 9 percent more than in 2009 and 7 percent more than in 2008.

The United Kingdom and Germany followed, each with some 180,000, as well as Italian tourists (160,000), Polish visitors (130,000 – 60,000 of whom were day tourists), and those from Ukraine (90,000, half of whom were day visitors), Canada (73,000) and Spain (65,000).

The majority of incoming tourists this year (69 percent) were Christian, more than half of whom were Catholic). Of the remainder, 23 percent were Jewish; the others were of various faiths and/or unaffiliated.

Although 38 percent said they were coming to Israel on a pilgrimage, 69 percent said the purpose of their visit was “tourism.” In addition, 17 percent said they came to visit friends and relatives, 15 percent came on business, 41 percent arrived as part of an organized tour, 25 percent came pas part of a packaged tour and 34 percent were traveling independently.

Jerusalem is the city most visited by incoming tourists in Israel (76 percent), according to the Tourism Ministry statistics, with Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa) in second place and the Dead Sea area in third.

The Western Wall is the most visited site in the State of Israel (77 percent), closely followed by the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem (73 percent), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (61 percent), the Via Dolorosa (60 percent) and the Mount of Olives (55 percent).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Alber Elbaz - Israeli Designer - The TIME 100

Here's our list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world in 2007 - #11 - Alber Elbaz

Alber Elbaz
By Natalie Portman

I don't know what's harder to imagine: Alber Elbaz, all smiles and softness and style, in Israeli military garb at the tender age of 18, learning how to operate a rifle with fingers that would later sew for the most elegant women in Paris. Or How Alber Lost His T. (A necessity when Americans mispronounced Albert.) If I could understand those transformations, I might begin to grasp Alber's mysterious ability to turn out the most beautifully crafted and coveted pieces season after season.

Born in Casablanca, Alber was raised in Jaffa, Israel. With $800 to his name, he arrived in New York City in 1985 and was plucked from obscurity to assist Geoffrey Beene. He later was head of prêt-à-porter design at Guy Laroche and served as creative director for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.

But it is his time as designer at Lanvin that has earned him a seat among fashion legends. His pieces, he says, reflect the many hats a woman might wear during a single day: mother, lover, executive, partygoer. A fitting philosophy for a house that began as a millinery in 1889.

To me, he's the ultimate fashion philosopher-mentor. He says things to me like "Wear flats. You're short. It's much cooler not to pretend." Alber, 45, does not attribute any grandiose meaning to clothes: the transformation a woman feels when she puts on one of his dresses should originate in her rather than the cloth.

Alber often goes down to the store from his studio above it to speak to his customers or adjust the length of a skirt or the size of a hoop earring. He designs according to what he learns from his clients and so accurately intuits what will make a woman feel good in her body—and even better when swathed in an awe-inspiring dress.

View the full list for "The TIME 100",28804,1595326_1595332_1616649,00.html

Lanvin designer's H&M project

An Israeli fashion designer whose dresses are red carpet staples is to develop a clothing collection for H&M.

Alber Elbaz, the artistic director of the Lanvin fashion house since 2000, will be on sale in 200 H&M stores around the world, including Israel.

“Lanvin for H&M” will be unveiled on November 2 and be in store by the end of the month.

Mr Elbaz, a former IDF soldier, will collaborate on the line with Lucas Ossendrijver, Lanvin's men's clothing designer.

The 49-year-old, who was born in Morocco but moved to Israel as a child, is a graduate of the prestigious Shenkar College in Ramat Gan.

He has worked with several high profile fashion names, from Dawn Mello of Gucci to couture house Guy Laroche.

Mr Elbaz’s Lanvin designs normally sell for £1,000 or more and have been worn by Hollywood stars including Natalie Portman and Nicole Kidman.

The designer said the collection would enable him to translate the Lanvin “dream” to a bigger audience.

He said: “I loved the idea that H&M was going luxury. I thought it was a smart concept.”

A surprise for the President in Rosh Ha'ayin

Peres receives warm thanks from seniors who emigrated from Yemen in 1960s; group credits the president for masterminding in secret operation.

It takes a lot to surprise President Shimon Peres. Talk about almost anything in Israel, and he's been there, done that.

That may be one of the reasons that he so delights in the company of young children and 'teenagers, because they are still capable of coming up with questions that may not have been put to him before; or with statements that are so audacious, that they make him pause for thought.

On Tuesday, Peres paid an official visit to Rosh Ha'ayin, which in recent years was somewhat of a trouble spot.

It was a regular program of being hosted by Mayor Moshe Sinai, meeting with various sectors of the community, and spending time in a Q&A session with a huge representation of the city's youth.

Everything was going according to plan. Peres was on stage in the city's Hall of Culture, fielding questions from adolescents, when six of the city's senior citizens joined him.

Like most of the veteran residents of Rosh Ha'ayin, they were originally from Yemen, and had been brought to Israel as children in 1962, in a secret operation carried out by Mossad in coordination with the Israel Air Force and master minded by Peres, who was then deputy Defense Minister.

At that time, Israel had secretly delivered arms and wireless equipment to the royalist forces in Yemen, in return for which Israel was permitted to smuggle out Jews by air and by sea.

"I came here from Yemen in 1962 as a 2 year old boy, and I am eternally grateful to be a citizen of the State of Israel in which I live," Shmarya Katabi said to Peres. "I don't see myself anywhere else in the world" Katabi attributed the success of that particular immigration operation to Peres, thanked him profusely for his involvement and expressed the appreciation of immigrants from Yemen for what the State of Israel had done to bring them out of Yemen at a time when it was almost impossible to leave.

Visibly moved by being taken back in time, Peres, who has played a significant role in other rescue operations of Jews, recalled that in the early 1960s, there had been severe unrest in Yemen and the King had appealed to Israel to send arms. Israel agreed to help him on one condition – that Yemen would open its gates to allow the Jews to leave. Thus planes that brought ammunition to Yemen returned to Israel with whole families of Jews on board.

Although the story sounds like fiction, Peres could testify that it was indeed fact.

"I'm so proud that we exchanged guns for immigrants from Yemen," he said. "This is one of the most wonderful groups of immigrants that Israel has ever known." When he first met with immigrants from Yemen, Peres reminisced, he was under the impression that they were speaking Biblical Hebrew. "We are fortunate that you came here," he said to the aliya group of '62.

Pollard asks rabbis to plant fruit trees for him in Israel

Imprisoned Israeli agent made request after visit from delegation of rabbis; PM delays announcement asking for Pollard's release.

Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard had a unique request when asked recently what he wanted Israelis to do on his behalf: Plant fruit trees.

Pollard made the request when he received a delegation of rabbis led by National Council of Young Israel executive vice president Rabbi Pesach Lerner earlier this month at his jail cell in Butner, North Carolina, where he is in the 26th year of a life sentence for passing information to an ally.

Beit El Chief Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who was part of the delegation, told the story in an interview with the weekly Torah publication Olam Katan.

“He humbly said: ‘I have an extremely big request from you – when you return to Israel, can you plant a fruit tree.’” Aviner recalled. “I said that I will certainly make sure to plant a fruit tree for you, and I will ask other communities to do so as well.

This is therefore an opportunity to publicize that every community should plant a fruit tree. Every city, every Jew, just one tree.”

When asked about his request, Pollard’s wife, Esther, said her husband wanted Israelis to plant fruit trees “because they will bear fruit for years to come, long after we are gone. It means a lot to him because it solidifies our connection to the land.”

Pollard also had a more traditional request. He said the letters he receives are oxygen to him.

When Aviner was asked whether Pollard felt betrayed, he said: “He feels betrayed by the government of Israel but not by the Nation of Israel. He knows that the Nation of Israel loves him and is interested in him. And if we send him letters, he sees that the Nation of Israel remembers him.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Esther Pollard last week to formally and publicly ask US President Barack Obama to release her husband. At first the request was expected before Saturday’s Christmas holiday, then at the beginning of this week, and now Netanyahu’s associates say it will happen by the end of this week.

“Many people, including legal authorities, are working on the request to ensure its accuracy and to make sure it will help bring about Pollard’s release and not cause him damage,” a Netanyahu associate said.

The leaders of the effort to bring about Pollard’s release said they were not bothered by the postponement.

“If the delay is tactical because they are aiming at success then it’s OK, because it’s easier to hang on when you know there is a chopper in the distance,” Esther Pollard said.

“We can hang on a little longer to enable Netanyahu’s mission to succeed.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

Erekat to address WUJS Congress at Jerusalem hotel

Chief PA negotiator will join Livni, Sharansky, speak to 200 Jewish student leaders from 52 countries participating in conference.

One of the featured speakers at the annual WUJS Congress taking place this week will be chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat.

Erekat, along with opposition head Tzipi Livni and Jewish Agency chairman Nathan Sharansky, will address the more than 200 elected Jewish student leaders from 52 countries who have come to participate in the congress taking place through Thursday at the Jerusalem Gate Hotel.

Chaya Singer, outgoing chairwoman of the World Union of Jewish Students, told the Post on Monday, “There is no doubting the Zionist content of the conference. Bringing voices such as Erekat’s opens the debate in an educational forum and this kind of diversity is the strength of Jewish students world over. It is an answer to the boycott and an opportunity to show our openness to dialogue in the face of extremism.”

Jono Lazarus, chairman of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS), said, “I think it is important that WUJS hosts Dr. Erekat as well as a host of Israeli representatives from the government and opposition, in our attempt to stand up for and with the State of Israel for now, as well as securing its future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

Mike Immerman, one of the delegates, said, “It is of paramount importance that we engage with alternative or even conflicting points of view. Listening to just one narrative may be comfortable to the ears, but it should be stressed that comfort isn’t what were after.”

Other speakers at the conference being hosted by the Foreign Ministry and the Knesset will include Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, Fiamma Nirenstein, vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and former Government Press Office head Danny Seaman.

“In a tradition dating back to 1924, under the chairmanship of Albert Einstein, the WUJS Congress once again brings together representative student leaders from around the world to assess and confront the contemporary face of the age old challenges facing Jewish students,” chairman Singer, from South Africa, said.

This year, at the General Assembly that will take place on the third day of the Congress, a new chairman will be elected to a two-year term.

There are five candidates contesting for this position, three student representatives from Israel and one each from the United Kingdom and France.

“Jewish students are at the forefront of the battle against assimilation, anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel on campuses around the world,” Singer said.

Topics for the 2010 Congress include the battle against anti- Semitism, assimilation and anti-Israelism worldwide.

Advocacy professionals, academics and community leaders alike recognize the growing need for student-to-student peer led advocacy and programming.

Through its programming and the annual congress, WUJS aims to sustain a worldwide network through which a global advocacy agenda can be advanced. At congress, student leadership from around the world will pool their resources to build effective campaigns.

“WUJS provides a crucial platform and network through which global advocacy ideas and campaigns can be developed and shared,” Aaron Vomberg, president of the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students, told the Post on Monday.

“The Canadian delegation comprising six students from six campuses across Canada looks forward to participating in this important dialogue, helping craft the vision for WUJS over the next year, and sharing our campaigns. One of our recent campaigns, one that we are very proud of, is Size Doesn’t Matter, a viral campaign that highlights the multitude of Israel’s accomplishments and contributions in a new, edgy and attractive way. WUJS provides a platform through which we are sharing SDM globally.”

From Gangsta-Rapper to a Representative of the Jewish People

Belize-born, Brooklyn-raised, rap artist known as SHYNE is in Israel, and as we've reported here on Israel National News, he has adopted a Hebrew name, Moshe Levy, and a very Jewish traditional look. During the past few months Levy has been learning Torah and reaching out to Jewish young boys and girls who need support and strengthening. Now SHYNE is preparing his new musical projects and he met Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to see how he could help the state of Israel as a non-official or official diplomat.

“It’s a very complicated situation here,” SHYNE told Ayalon. “It’s not as simple as black and white, and I think there needs more than just dealing with terrorism and [Judea and Samaria] and Gaza. [People] need to see that Israel is a beautiful place. Israel is the center of the world. Everyone argues, everyone disagrees, but they all agree that where the Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) is, is the most important place.”

SHYNE, who was imprisoned due to a shooting incident at a New York night club while hanging out with Sean “Puffy” Combs and actress Jennifer Lopez, is now far from where those unfortunate events occurred but still very influenced by all he has gone through. SHYNE held a meeting with reporters at the King David hotel in Jerusalem and shared with us some of the messages he’s been conveying to the world during the past few years.

“Going to prison is not a boost for your career,” he said. “It actually is quite a devastating blow to your career. To go from ten years of incarceration, paying for something that I did that was terrible and to literally be more powerful than I was, is a miracle.”

He noted that throughout his life he has always acknowledged his Jewish ancestry. His grandmother was Jewish and she instilled in him the Jewish ethical code system. “I had to own that truth. I had to come into that. For me, being in the streets and having a gun and deciding things in an ethical and in a moral way – there’s no greater Judaism than that.”

SHYNE, Moshe Levy, told us about his expected projects which are planned to be carried out during the next few months. Besides releasing two new albums in the coming months, SHYNE is also excited about meeting Jews and non-Jews in order to continue spreading the message of Judaism.

Researchers: Ancient human remains found in Israel

Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the origin of humans.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old.

"It's very exciting to come to this conclusion," said archaeologist Avi Gopher, whose team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans and dated them according to the layers of earth where they were found.

He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "this changes the whole picture of evolution."

The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains are definitively linked to modern human's ancestors, it could mean that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel.

Sir Paul Mellars, a prehistory expert at Cambridge University, said the study is reputable, and the find is "important" because remains from that critical time period are scarce, but it is premature to say the remains are human.

"Based on the evidence they've sited, it's a very tenuous and frankly rather remote possibility," Mellars said. He said the remains are more likely related to modern man's ancient relatives, the Neanderthals.

According to today's accepted scientific theories, modern humans and Neanderthals stemmed from a common ancestor who lived in Africa about 700,000 years ago. One group of descendants migrated to Europe and developed into Neanderthals, later becoming extinct. Another group stayed in Africa and evolved into Homo sapiens - modern humans.

Teeth are often unreliable indicators of origin, and analyses of skull remains would more definitively identify the species found in the Israeli cave, Mellars said.

Gopher, the Israeli archaeologist, said he is confident his team will find skulls and bones as they continue their dig.

The prehistoric Qesem cave was discovered in 2000, and excavations began in 2004. Researchers Gopher, Ran Barkai and Israel Hershkowitz published their study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gazans Choose Israeli Hospitals Despite Troubles

Thousands of patients from Gaza and the West Bank are treated each year in Israeli hospitals. While the region's political situation can complicate the logistics of hospital visits, both doctors and patients at Assuta Hospital in Tel Aviv say that medicine and medical relations are an important step to progressing peace.

El Al Hosts Pope Benedict XVI On Special Flight From Israel To Rome

On May 15, 2009, EL AL operated a special flight from Tel Aviv bearing Pope Benedict XVI and his entourage back to Rome at the culmination of the Papal visit to Israel. For this flight EL AL allocated a special Boeing 777 emblazoned with the Vatican insignia.

Hollywood has a new hero hunting down video pirates

New technology developed by researchers at Tel Aviv University detects pirated clips with what they call a "genetic code."

Hollywood’s search for a technical elixir that can curb the billions of dollars worth of lost revenue to people downloading television shows and movies from the Internet may now have a solution that mimics the techniques used to map human DNA.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University say they can hunt down pirates by using what they call the video’s “genetic code.” The system is designed to search videos as quickly as search engines seek out texts. Its developers say the technology will let film producers’ trawl the vast ocean of the Internet in the search for video pirates.

It works by slapping an invisible grid over the original video and using it to detect changes in color, resolution manipulations and geometric transformations, much like DNA is used to trace genealogy.

“The method actually allows a search of a video clip in the same way that bioinformatics are used to detect basic gene sequencing,” said Alex Bronstein of Tel Aviv University's Department of Electrical Engineering, an expert in bioinformatics using algorithms in human genetic research and one of two twin brothers who in the team that devised the technology.

The illegal downloading and streaming videos of movies on the Internet are responsible for up to 40% of the movie industries losses to piracy, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. The rest comes from illegal DVDs and other physical means of storing and transferring video content.

Global losses for the entertainment industry video piracy were estimated to about $9 million last year, according to Havascope, an online database of black market activities. In the Middle East, movie pirate losses in Iran were $100 million, Saudi Arabia $95 million, Israel $61 million and Turkey $29 million.

The most pirated video this year, according to The Hollywood Reporter, was the American-produced science fiction hit Avatar, which was downloaded over 16 million times. Even after such monumental theft, the movie still was the highest grossing box office hit with $2.8 billion.

Digital encryption has proved ineffective in stopping pirates bootlegging movies, who use high-definition recorders to make a new master. But while technology has been the major factor enabling piracy, Bronstein’s new technique proves technology can be used to combat it.

According to Bronstein, downloading movies on BitTorrent and other file-sharing applications on the Internet are commonplace and the movie studios don’t love them to say the least. These applications work by splitting up movies into thousands of pieces and then assembling them again so that the source can’t be detected.

Bronstein said his video-search technology replicates the process by video sequencing. Called “video DNA matching,” the system automatically sweeps Web sites where suspected pirated videos are offered to locate not only aberrations of the original video’s fingerprint, but common ancestry.

"It's not only members of the animal and plant kingdom that can have DNA," Bronstein, said in a press release. "If a DNA test can identify and catch criminals, we thought that a similar code might be applicable to video. If the code were copied and changed, we'd catch it."

This data would be taken to the owners of the video who would then decide whether to press charges of piracy or not, said Bronstein, who developed the technique with his twin Michael and Israeli researcher Ron Kimmel.

One of the major video-sharing sites, YouTube, has attempted to detect copyright infringement, but the system they use doesn’t work when a video is altered. According to The New York Times, more than one-third of the two billion clips viewed on YouTube each week contain content uploaded without the original owners’ permission.

YouTube has an automated system that detects music uploaded without a license. But its video detection relies on sweeping the text attached to it rather than the video itself, and that can easily be manipulated to get through. Bronstein said his method could save thousands of man hours of search time since it is fully automated and can detect altered videos.

Production companies have been engaged in automating the detection of bootlegged and pirated videos and the introduction of an automated “Video DNA” system is bound to be a welcomed.

Still, some have argued that Hollywood could reduce the incentive to pirate videos if it lowered download costs. Yet, there will always be those who will try to get videos for free no matter what.

David Blumenfeld, a documentary film maker, told The Media Line that the simple knowledge that a film someone is watching was pirated wouldn’t stop the general public from watching it.

“Most people know that when they pay five bucks or download a video from the Internet that they are pirated and I’m not sure they care. A lot of people don’t even think that is stealing, even though it is.”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Male Birth Control Pill?

Professor Chaim Breitbart of Bar Ilan University has been studying the biochemistry of sperm cells for over 30 years. His research has led him to groundbreaking knowledge which he is trying to apply to making the first male birth control pill.

By jamming the biochemical machinery of sperm, an Israeli professor has created a new pill that could finally place the responsibility of birth control with men.

The female birth control pill, commonly referred to as 'The Pill,' is not 100 percent effective, and some women's bodies don't react well to the extra hormones. Now, finally, a new birth control option for men is in the works, which would allow partners to share the responsibility, and let guys be in control of whether or not there will be any surprises in the procreation department.

Prof. Haim Breitbart of Israel's Bar-Ilan University authored a breakthrough paper in 2006 describing how sperm survive in the uterus. Now the biochemist is taking those findings and using them against sperm. He's developed a number of novel compounds that have no affect on male sex drive, but succeed in impairing the reproductive ability of the sperm. If all goes according to his plan, a new male birth control pill could be on the market within the next five years, he tells ISRAEL21c.

So far, the new pill dubbed the Bright Pill (a play on Brietbart's name) has been tested on animal models in a pre-clinical setting, and has been found to work wonderfully on mice. "What we found is that by treating the mice with our molecule we can get sterility for a long period of time; in the lower dose, about one month, and in the higher dose we found three months of sterility.

"Later on the male mouse can become fertile. It's reversible," he promises.

Provided in pill form, but also tested as an injection, the male birth control solution was administered in two treatments over three days: One day on, one day off, one day on. In the larger dose group, it took about a week until the effects manifested themselves, but most importantly, the treatment does not appear to in any way affect the sex drive or the sexual behavior of the mice who received it.

"The mice behaved nicely, they ate and had sex"

"The mice behaved nicely," Breitbart reports, "they ate and had sex; they were laughing, and everything, so all I can say is that we couldn't see any behavioral side-effects - all their sex behavior was retained, which is a very important consideration for human men. A man who takes this pill could also be sexually active later on and have children."

Rather than undergo an irreversible vasectomy, a man could sterilize himself for short periods, suggests Breitbart - probably one to three months depending on the dose. And, unlike the female pill, the male pill wouldn't have to be taken every day.

Scientifically speaking, the effects of the male pill would be highly specific, meaning men would likely experience fewer side effects than do women who go on the pill. Careful not to reveal any of his trade secrets, Breitbart will divulge that the male pill is based on techniques in bioinformatics and microbiology and shows no sign of attacking any cells other than sperm cells.

Referring to the groundbreaking paper that he published in the journal Genes and Development, Breitbart says that the Bright Pill jams the sperm's biochemical machinery. Disproving textbook science, he showed in the seminal paper that mature sperm cells synthesize new proteins in the uterus where they reside for up to three days or longer until fertilization of the egg takes place.

"We thought that since sperm can survive for three days or even longer, that there is another hypothesis: The sperm should renew their proteins because in order to get energy they need new proteins," he tells ISRAEL21c.

In the mature sperm, messenger RNA (mRNA) is produced by DNA in the sperm's nucleus and it is this mRNA, which directs protein synthesis in the sperm, Breitbart's lab showed. In his breakthrough he describes how mitochondrial ribosomes are active in synthesizing nuclei-encoded mRNA proteins. This led to his realization that if he could stop protein synthesis in the sperm, they wouldn't manage to survive in the uterus.

The Jewish stamp of approval

"We thought we could use this method to develop a male contraceptive," Breitbart relates. Sperm are produced in the testes and then move to the epididymus, which is like a holding tank, and there can stay for a few days before encountering a female.

"If we can use a molecule which will inhibit the synthesis of certain proteins in sperm development, and it will stay in the sperm when it goes directly to the epididymus, we increase its chances for high efficiency. So far we know this works in mice," he says.

The Bright Pill would have to be taken a week in advance, which should encourage deliberate, planned, safer sex. And it should be well received by religiously observant Jews. According to Jewish law, castration of any animal - human or non-human - is forbidden; not to mention that 'spilling seed' or ejaculating outside the female body is not permitted.

Also, for Jewish women who are allergic to the pill, the Breitbart solution provides more freedom in family planning, says the professor.

The Bright Pill is being submitted for a patent through Bar-Ilan University's tech transfer company BIRAD, and Breitbart will continue his current studies for another year before moving on to primates. Working with his research associate Dr. Yael Gur, who is currently in the US, the two are seeking a $10 million investment to enable them to move on to the next stage of clinical advancement.

SafeRise Apartment Security System Developed by Israeli General

FST21, an Israeli company founded by Maj. General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, developed a cutting edge keyless security system based on voice recognition and face recognition, where "you are the key" to your building. by Harvey Stein.

Israel's Tel Aviv Port Wins Prestigious Architecture Award

An Israeli husband-and-wife team won first prize this autumn at the European Biennial of Landscape Architecture in Barcelona for their design of Tel Aviv port.

For the first time, a project from Israel has won the European Biennial of Landscape Architecture, the world's most prestigious European award for landscape architecture.

More than 420 entrants competed for the prize, but Israeli architects Ganit Mayslits Kassif and Udi Kassif of Mayslits Kassif Architects were the ones who won first prize for their work that transformed Tel Aviv's once-derelict port into a thriving and popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

With a budget of $5 million, the husband-and-wife team took five years to develop the port project, which was completed in 2008.

In addition to busy shops, clubs and restaurants that are open for business day and night, the port also attracts fisherman, cyclists, joggers and people of all ages. Everyone enjoys the long wooden boardwalk that runs alongside the sea, from the north of Tel Aviv to the popular beaches of Tel Baruch and beyond.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Tel Aviv -- Voted Top World City

The Lonely Planet travel guide ranks Tel Aviv as the third-best city in the world.

Locals and tourists agree, though some would say it's really No. 1.

Lonely Planet calls it "a modern sin city by the sea." With its 300 sunny days a year, there's no "weather-permitting" about an outing in Tel Aviv. And the possibilities are endless.

From art to music, beach culture to nightlife, you can find an activity to suit every whim, mood or state of mind in the city that never stops.
Some say the people are the warmest and friendliest in the world, while others say the same about the climate.

In the truly diverse, 21st-century Mediterranean hub you can go to the opera or numerous museums; see shows ranging from low comedy to high Shakespeare; take in a concert or dance performance; cycle, jog or walk through ports and parks, down shady boulevards lined with cafes, and through quaint restored alleyways lined with designer boutiques.

Or you can rummage through flea markets and vintage shops; explore outdoor fairs; lounge on the beach; check out restored period structures; visit galleries and exhibitions; enjoy the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Bauhaus architecture; sample myriad cuisines, local bars and clubs and quality Israeli wines -- it's the New York, London and Paris of the Middle East.

Israeli hockey teens treated to special ice

An Israeli teenage hockey team enjoyed a special holiday treat after arriving in Windsor, Ont., for a bantam-midget tournament.

The team hit the ice in the city's main arena, home to the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires.

The Israelis travelled to play in Riverside Minor Hockey's annual Christmas tournament, held this year at the Windsor Family Credit Union community arena.

The tournament, in its 51st year, always hosts international teams from Europe, but having Israel take part is a first.

It was more than sport that attracted the Israelis to Windsor. Traditionally, foreign teams are billeted with local players' families, making the tournament a cultural exchange as well.

"I think that it's amazing thing that Jewish people, they're staying [with a] Christian family," one Israeli player told CBC News. "This will be my first Christmas."

Impressed by venue

It wasn't just a struggle with English that had some of the players grasping for words when they saw the new Windsor Family Credit Union centre.

"I think it's amazing. It's a great arena," said one player.

"The ice is great. The shots are better," said another.

As a special treat, the Israelis were allowed to practise in the main 5,000-seat rink where the Spitfires play. That honour is usually reserved for tournament finalists.

The Israeli coach said the team hasn't had much practice because their hockey rink in Israel is in the far north and it takes most of the team four hours to get there. The Mideast team is using the Canadian tournament to hone its skills for the world championships.

It was a scramble to find families to billet the team, which signed up to play at the last minute. But organizers reached out mainly to members of the local Jewish community, who opened their homes to the players.

"My son and I have been anticipating this for about a month now," said a Windsor hockey mom. Her nine-year-old son, Jacob, is just as curious about Israeli culture.

"They're telling me a lot about what they do, and how they do stuff when they do Hanukkah," he said.This nine-year-old Windsor hockey player, Jacob, wants to share a game of pond hockey with his new Israeli friends on Boxing Day.

Jacob is thrilled to be able to take his three teenage billets for a game of pond hockey on Boxing Day. "They've never experienced that ever," he said.

The Israeli team's flight is scheduled to depart on the day of the finals. So the players aren't expecting to have a shot at the championship, but they're not giving up hope.

"I think it will be good practice for us, and maybe we'll make it," said one player.

Israel braces for tourist influx on Christmas

Israel has made all arrangements to provide easy access to its religious places and ensure full security of around 90,000 tourists who are expected to visit the country on Christmas this year.

Israeli tourism ministry estimates the arrival of nearly 2.4 million Christian tourists by the year's end. One-third of them are pilgrims who will visit holy sites in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

Nazareth, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Via Dolorosa and the Mount of Olives are located in Israel, while Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is in the West Bank.

Security and administration officials met with the head of the Franciscan Monastery, the Ambassador to the Vatican as well as the Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Latin Patriarchs to enable complete freedom of worship and movement during the holiday season.

Israel is expediting transport and crossing arrangements so that pilgrims and visitors can participate in traditional Christmas ceremonies, said The Israel Project (TIP), a group which provides the tourists with information about Christian minority groups in Israel and the Middle East.

The Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Eitan Dangot, is working with the Israel Police and the Israel Defense Forces to make sure the Bethlehem area crossings would be constantly open for tourists to enter the city during the holidays.

More than 500 exit permits were given to Christian residents from the Gaza Strip to attend Christmas festivities in Israel. Christian residents of the West Bank are free to cross into Israel during the holidays.

Border crossings and security restrictions have been eased to maximise freedom of worship. In August 2010, Israel allowed tour guides to lead groups in Bethlehem to promote coexistence. The move was applauded by the Palestinian Authority.

Christians constitute about 2 percent of Israel's population. By the end of 2009, 151,700 Christians lived in Israel, a 0.6 percent increase from the previous year.

eFuture in Israel

Various examples of Israel's firm commitment to invest in the technology that can improve the lives of all the people of the world - in the present and the future.

IDF officers finish course on reducing civilian casualties

The first-ever training course is aimed at helping Israel prevent another Goldstone Report in future ops in Gaza, Lebanon.

In what some in the IDF are banking on as the key to preventing another Goldstone Report, the IDF this week wrapped up its first-ever training course for a new military post aimed at helping Israel minimize harm to civilians during future operations in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

Called “Population Coordination Officer,” the positions will be mostly held by reservists with the rank of captain or major. The week-long course was held at the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) school inside the Tzrifin Base near Rishon Lezion.

According to the commander of the school, Lt.- Col. Hatib Mansour, if such officers had been deployed inside IDF battalions during Operation Cast Lead two years ago, the criticism against Israel might not have been as severe.

Following the operation, Israel came under unprecedented criticism, culminating in the United Nations-mandated Goldstone Report which accused Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“If there would have been officers like these in the battalions, I cannot say that there would not have been a Goldstone Report, but it would have spared some of the problems and minimized the damage to Israel afterwards,” he said.

The decision to establish the new post was made by COGAT, which will oversee the course, as well as the IDF Ground Forces Command, which needed to institute the organic change to the combat units.

During the course, the officers were taught how to assist battalion and brigade commanders in planning operations while taking into consideration the effect these operations will have on the civilian population.

“If a field commander needs to conquer a city or a neighborhood, our officer will be there to explain what the sensitive targets are in the area of operations and what to look out for,” Mansour explained.

“We are adding the humanitarian side, like which road needs to be kept open so civilians can evacuate if needed.”

CPC vows to enhance cooperation with Israeli political parties

A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Friday said the party will enhance communication and cooperation with Israel's political parties and promote China-Israel relations.

Liu Yunshan, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks when meeting Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, minister of public affairs and the diaspora, who is leading a Likud party delegation in China.

Liu hailed the smooth development of the relations between the two countries and the two parties.

He also briefed the delegates on China's social and economic development.

Edelstein said Israel and China shared a good relationship and the Israeli people appreciated the help Chinese people gave during World War II.

The Likud minister said he hoped the two sides would further deepen the party-to-party relationship, strengthen bilateral cooperation and promote the development of Israel-China ties.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

In the kitchen there's no nationality or religion

"Working in the kitchen with sharp instruments doesn't mean we have to kill each other," says one of a team of multiethnic chefs who brought culinary glory to Israel.

Four chefs on a multiethnic Israeli team called Taste of Peace garnered three gold medals and a diploma of honor at the international Villeroy & Boch 2010 Culinary World Cup competition in Luxembourg, that took place November 20 to 24.

"The idea is to show peace through the dishes we do," says Sarkis Yacoubian, an Armenian chef instructor from Jaffa who founded Taste of Peace with Arab Christian Johnny Goric, executive chef at the Intercontinental Resort in Jericho.

The team is rounded out by Charlie Fadida, the Jewish executive chef at the Sheraton in Tel Aviv, and his sous chef, Muslim Arab Imad Shourbaji. Four culinary students and an instructor from the restaurant at the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center came along for the event, considered the Olympics of cooking.

"We showed the world that working in the kitchen with sharp instruments doesn't mean we have to kill each other," Yacoubian tells ISRAEL21c. "I'm proud and glad we succeeded in giving this message."

Gold medals, diplomas of honor

The men triumphed despite finding upon their arrival that the kitchen they'd reserved in advance did not exist. On the verge of turning around and going home, they found a hotel restaurant chef who gave them free reign of his kitchen in off hours as well as the hotel's basement laundry room for prep work. This was a far cry from the Sheraton kitchen where they'd been practicing for five months, but it was the best they could do.

"We used the restaurant's kitchen while everyone was sleeping, because we had to present our food at five in the morning," Goric recounts. "We had two hours to display the dishes before the expo opened to the public from 11 in the morning to 7 at night. Then we collected it from our tables after they announced the winners. We did the same thing for four days. It was really tough, but our achievement is something most people work toward for a long time."

Goric, Shourbaji and Fadida each earned a gold medal for their cold platters and tapas. "I did a salmon platter with five salmon terrines in different styles, and tapas for six - two cold and two hot," relates Goric, a 37-year-old resident of East Jerusalem.

Yacoubian, who at 51 is the oldest of the foursome, received a diploma of honor for his two-dimensional marzipan sculpture of wild horses, finished with a "painted coat" of white and dark chocolate.

Just the beginning

"I used to teach disabled people and I taught them that cooking is not just adding spices and making soup. It's also art, and you should be creative," Yacoubian explains.

In thanks to the restaurant that allowed them to use its facilities, Taste of Peace presented a multiethnic meal to the workers after the competition.

All of the team's expenses were covered by Goric's personal client, the Norwegian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority. During his career, Goric has prepared dishes for King Abdullah II of Jordan, former French President Jacques Chirac, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat.

"Hopefully this is just the beginning," says Goric. "We want to do more projects together if we get more sponsors." To be eligible for the Culinary World Cup, which takes place every four years, Taste of Peace joined both the World Association of Chefs Societies and the Israeli Chefs Union.

"I think these guys are the best ambassadors for peace," says Yacoubian of his teammates, who are all close friends. "We are trying to go forward with it and hope we can do more activities together to show that in the kitchen there is no nationality or religion; we're just human beings who can talk with each other through the dishes we make."

Gilad Shalit - Israeli Hostage in Gaza

Do you remember what you did during the last


- each and every moment of each and every Day

Gilad Shalit (Hebrew: גלעד שליט‎, born 28 August 1986) is an Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Hamas in a cross-border raid. He was captured near the Kerem Shalom crossing (in Israel), and has been held as a prisoner in the Gaza Strip by Hamas since then.

Shalit, holding a rank of corporal in the IDF's Armor Corps at the time of his abduction, has since been promoted to staff sergeant.

He was the first Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants since Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. Shalit holds French citizenship, a fact that encouraged France and the European Union to be involved to some extent in efforts to release him.

Hamas has refused requests from the International Committee of the Red Cross to allow the ICRC to visit Shalit on the grounds that any such visit could betray the location where Shalit is being held. Several human rights organizations have stated that the terms and conditions of Shalit's detention are contrary to international humanitarian law. In exchange for his release, Hamas is demanding the release of all female and underage Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, as well as a further 1,000 prisoners, a number of which are convicted by Israeli courts on terrorism charges. There are currently around 8,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, which released a report in September 2009, called for Shalit to be released.

International law

Since 2006, the Red Cross (ICRC) has repeatedly asked Hamas to allow visits by the ICRC to ascertain Shalit's conditions of detention and treatment, but Hamas refused the requests. An ICRC representative said that under international humanitarian law Shalit is entitled to regular and unconditional contacts with his family.[83] On 25 June 2007, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem issued a statement saying "international humanitarian law absolutely prohibits taking and holding a person by force in order to compel the enemy to meet certain demands, while threatening to harm or kill the person if the demands are not met", and thus holding Shalit as a hostage to their demands is a war crime. B'Tselem also noted that denying access to ICRC visitations is also a violation of international law.[84] Israeli NGO Monitor said that Shalit's abductors breach several provisions of the Third Geneva Convention, e.g., the right to humane treatment (Art. 13); the right to have knowledge of a POW's location (Art. 23); and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross (Art. 126). Human Rights Watch has also stated that Hamas authorities are obligated by the laws of war to allow Shalit to correspond with his family, and noted that three letters and a voice recording cannot be counted as regular correspondence. HRW has also called to receive visits from the ICRC and said that prolonged incommunicado detention of Shalit is cruel and inhumane and may amount to torture.

A U.N. fact-finding mission headed by Judge Richard Goldstone assigned to investigate the Gaza War, which released its report in September 2009, called for Shalit to be released. In June 2010, on the fourth anniversary of Shalit's capture, Human Rights Watch made a statement describing Hamas' treatment of Shalit as "cruel and inhuman" saying it illustrates the UN definition of torture and violates the international rules of war by prohibiting him from having contact with his family or visits from the Red Cross.

BUYcotters thwart economic terrorism

Yves Archambault owns a shoe store called Le Marcheur on St. Denis Street in Le Plateau, a hip neighbourhood in Montreal.

For the last 25 years, he’s been selling shoes from all over the world.

On Oct. 2, Archambault received a formal demand from a radical left-leaning organization threatening to picket in front of his shop to “make St. Denis an Israeli Apartheid Free Zone”.

These extremists did not want to see shoes made in Israel sold on the Plateau. More than that, they wanted a great purge of all products from the Jewish state.

Even though he is not Jewish and the Israeli shoes in his store represent less than 2% of his sales, Archambault refused to give in to this blackmail. He has been selling these quality shoes for over 15 years. Apolitical, he simply refused to accept a handful of ideologues dictating to him what to sell and not to sell.

Every Saturday since the beginning of October, in the best trading hours, a dozen activists have blocked the entrance of his store with anti-Israel signs and distribute tracts calling for the boycott of his store, harassing his clients.

On Dec. 11, a local Member of the National Assembly (MNA), Amir Khadir, joined the protesters with well-known communist leaders.

This elected official, paid by taxpayers, set about to harm a small storekeeper in his constituency who sells a legal product coming from a country with which Canada has a free-trade agreement.

From his involvement with an “Islamo-Marxist” organization to his public support of George Galloway, a propagandist paid by Iranian state TV, this is not Khadir’s first controversy on Middle East issues.

A non-practising Muslim born in Iran, Khadir co-leads the ultra-left party Quebec Solidaire and is the only Solidaire MNA.

He does not support certain Islamist causes out of religious conviction but participates instead in an anti-imperialism alliance between the extreme left and the Islamists that are coalescing everywhere else in the western world.

Even if polls suggest Khadir is currently the most popular MNA in Quebec, he did not gather support for his boycott campaign.

Last Saturday, my friends and I organized a “BUYcott.” We all went to buy a pair of shoes from Archambault. More than 150 people broke the picket-line and went to Le Marcheur.

We beat the economic terrorism of the radical left one pair of shoes at a time.

Many political columnists were also quick to support our BUYcott and condemn Khadir’s tactics of intimidation.

The BUYcotters reaction of outrage and the almost unanimous condemnation by the Quebec press is very reassuring.

Let’s remember Quebecers were the first in the whole Commonwealth to elect a Jew when they elected Ezechiel Hart MNA of Trois-Rivieres in 1807. Since it was not permitted for a Jew to occupy such a function at the time in the British Empire, another election was called and people from Trois-Rivieres re-elected Hart to the astonishment of our British rulers.

Khadir is not going to make Quebecers turn our backs today on our great heritage of a few centuries of tolerance and friendship with Jews.

— Duhaime is a freelance writer

To write to Mr. Chambault, the owner of the store, please CLIC here:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

To go where no Israeli has gone before

Israeli whiz kids work on mini lunar lander as part of $20 million Google race.

Most people they meet raise an eyebrow or two after hearing their plan. But if you ask Yonatan Winetraub and Kfir Damari what they are doing these days, the answer is simple: “We are working on going to the moon.”

The two, in their 20s, are scientists: Winetraub works for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) as a satellite engineer with a focus on nano-satellites, and Damari is a lecturer at the Israeli College of Management and is a communication-system engineer.

Together, they have come up with one of the more daring Israeli initiatives in recent years: to build a space vehicle that can fly to the moon – and win $20 million while they’re at it.

Sound a little difficult? That’s because it is. The idea came to the two and their friend Yariv, who works for an unnamed government agency, a few months ago after Google kicked off the Lunar X competition.

The challenge, open to privately-funded space teams, is to become the first to successfully launch, land and guide their vehicle across the surface of the moon and send images back to Earth.

The first team to succeed – there are currently 20 contestants – will win $20m. The second team will take home $5m. Another $4m. is being set aside as bonus prizes for successfully completing other missions, such as operating at night, traveling more than 5 kilometers over the lunar surface, succeeding in detecting water or landing near an Apollo site. Another $4m. is being set aside as bonus prizes for successfully completing other missions, such as operating at night, traveling more than 5 kilometers over the lunar surface, succeeding in detecting water or landing near an Apollo site.

No Israeli team had registered until Winetraub, Damari and Yariv got together. Now they have eight days left to collect $100,000 to sign up for the competition. The deadline for the launch is the end of 2012.

According to Winetraub, the idea is to launch a 5-kg. satellite the size of a Coke bottle on an industrial satellite launcher, and then fly it to the moon’s surface, where it will take pictures and transmit them back to Earth.

The vehicle, which will consist mostly of a fuel tank and a tiny engine, will also carry an Israeli flag.

“Failure is not an option,” Winetraub said. “Our concept is simple, and we believe that we will succeed in becoming the third country in the world to put a flag on the moon.”

In the meantime, the two have met with aerospace industry leaders and government officials to present their idea and seek support, either financial or scientific.

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Itzik Ben- Israel, head of the Israel Space Agency, said he was thinking of contributing to the program.

“These are talented people who have good intentions,” he said. “In the meantime, we are giving them moral support, and I am inclined to provide them with financial support as well.”

Lt.-Col. (res.) Danny Grossman, a former Israel Air Force pilot and aerospace expert, has also been enlisted for the project.

“America put a man on the moon and fired the imagination of a generation of Americans,” Grossman said, recalling his own youth before joining the air force. “This initiative will hopefully inspire a generation of Israelis and Jews around the world and project an image of deterrence.”

But what happens if they lose?

According to Damari, the team will likely go through with the launch.

“Even if we lose, nobody is going to get an Israeli flag on the moon before we do,” he said.

Israel submits complaint to UN on continued Gaza attacks

Ambassador Meron Reuben calls on Security Council to send Hamas "a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable."

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Meron Reuben filed a complaint with the Security Council, following a series of Kassam rocket attacks on Ashkelon on Tuesday.

Reuben stated that Israel places full responsibility on Hamas, which is acting in direct violation of international law, and added the Jewish State will continue to exercise its right to self defense.

A Kassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into the Ashkelon area on Tuesday morning, landing in Kibbutz Zikim. The rocket exploded near a kindergarten, as dozens of parents were dropping off their children at school, injuring a 14-year old girl.

The incident followed a spate of attacks emanating from Gaza in the previous days, encompassing the launch of some three rockets and 18 mortars into the regions of Eshkol and Ashkelon. These attacks included the launch of six mortars on Sunday at IDF forces operating near the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Reuben's complaint followed a letter he sent to the UN earlier this month warning of a possible escalation of violence in the area.

"In a previous letter on 9 December 2010, I mentioned that the escalation of such attacks should be viewed with the utmost seriousness. With the intention of preventing the continued escalation of conflict, the Security Council, the Secretary-General, and the international community must send a clear and resolute message that these attacks are unacceptable," Reuben said in the complaint.

"In addition, the Security Council must give appropriate attention to the smuggling of arms into Gaza, which continues to fuel violence and instability in our region - in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions, including resolution 1860," he added.

Earlier on Tuesday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi called the situation in Gaza “fragile and explosive.” Sources in the Southern Command told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas would likely prevent rocket fire deep into the Israeli home front, but continue targeting towns and IDF positions along the border.

“We have no guarantee that the situation won’t deteriorate if a rocket causes a large number of casualties,” Ashkenazi said during one of his final briefings to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Video's DNA could check piracy

Israeli researchers have developed a novel technique to track video piracy and nip it in the bud.

The technique is 'video DNA matching'. It detects aberrations in pirated videos in the same way that biologists detect mutations in the genetic code to determine an individual's family connections.

Alex Bronstein of Tel Aviv University's Department of Electrical Engineering, with his twin Michael, as also Ron Kimmel, has developed the solution to stop video pirates - treating video footage like DNA.

'It's not only members of the animal and plant kingdom that can have DNA,' says Bronstein who was inspired by sequencing tools used in bioinformatics labs, according to a Tel Aviv statement.

'If a DNA test can identify and catch criminals, we thought that a similar code might be applicable to video. If the code were copied and changed, we'd catch it.'

Of course, video does not have a real genetic code like members of the animal kingdom, so Bronstein and his team created a DNA analogue like a unique fingerprint that can be applied to video files.

The technology employs an invisible sequence and series of grids applied over the film, turning the footage into a series of numbers.

The tool can then scan the content of websites where pirated films are believed to be offered, pinpointing subsequent mutations of the original.

Video piracy occurs on a massive scale, causing the global film industry and the US economy loss of billions of dollars annually.

Production companies know their only hope in recouping stolen content is by automating the process. 'Video DNA' can provide a more accurate and useful form of this automation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Denzel Washington visits Israel

Critically-acclaimed American actor Denzel Washington arrived in Israel last Tuesday for a private visit with his actress wife Pauletta.

The two toured Jerusalem, where Pauletta visited the Padani jewelry store at the Mamilla Mall and purchased two red-gold wedding rings, inside which she had the couple's initials engraved. She also bought additional jewelry worth about $14,000.

Washington purchased wine, cigars and other gifts at the attractive, outdoor shopping venue.

The son of a Pentecostal minister, Washington is in Israel to visit his good friend of the past 20 years Dr. David Davis, who heads the Messianic Jewish congregation Kehilat HaCarmel in Haifa. The two met in drama school in New York and performed together in a Broadway show.

The Hollywood star is said to have flown to Israel on a private plane, stayed at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, toured the Western Wall and other holy sites in the capital, and enjoyed a taste of hummus.

Washington, 56, has won two Academy Awards and two Golden Globes and is considered one of the most popular actors in Hollywood. He has been married to Pauletta for almost 30 years and they have four children.

Israeli security device wins top award


Twenty-four hours reduced to a few minutes.

Cameras as we know are everywhere these days. But what happens to the footage they record? Often nothing happens, because there's no one to sit and sift through the endless hours of video. It's usually only after a major disaster or attack that officials check the video, hoping to get clues as to whom or what caused the problem.

Briefcam's solution is its Video Synopsis product. Instead of watching the entire video, a viewer can see a synopsis - with the option of focusing in on objects or people of interest from a 24-hour period within a few minutes.

If viewers notice something odd in the behavior of an individual, they can focus in on that individual, and receive an index of all his or her movements in the entire range of footage. With Briefcam VS, security personnel have a more efficient way to watch and analyze footage, making it more likely that they will catch problems before they occur.

Israel's Briefcam recently won the 2010 Wall Street Journal Technology Innovation Award in the area of physical security for its invention, which offers an innovative solution to quick review of information from security cameras.

Surveillance cameras generate a prodigious amount of video that someone has to watch. Other video-surveillance technologies may address this challenge by fast-forwarding through recordings or capturing only moving images using motion detectors.

BriefCam, developed by Prof. Shmuel Peleg of the Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, takes a different approach.

The patented technology he developed, dubbed Video Synopsis, uses computer software that creates a synopsis of recorded information and generates a very short video that preserves the essential activities of the original video captured over a very long time period.

For example, the movement of vehicles passing through a security gate over many hours can be condensed into a few minutes, showing each vehicle's entry followed immediately by the next one.

"Five hours of video is not five hours anymore," says Peleg, who is also the company's chief scientist. "It's five minutes."

In recent years, numerous video surveillance technologies have emanated from Israel.