Israel - Light onto Nations is an initiative, not a media watch organization. It is web-based and does not involve fundraising.

Israel - Light onto Nations endorses various Canadian media-watch organizations, such as: CLIC - Canadian Light on Israel Coverage, Honest Reporting ( and The Media Action Group (

Did You Know?

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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Jerusalem videos stir UFO buzz

As dark UFO videos go, this clip showing flashing lights over Jerusalem is certainly a puzzler. A bright speck seems to descend toward the skyline, around the location of the Dome of the Rock (also known as the Temple Mount). A minute into the clip, there's a bright flash, then the speck shoots up from the skyline. This version of the Jan. 28 clip shows two side-by-side videos, captured by observers who were virtually side-by-side as well. "Have fun debunking this one," the YouTube user who posted the video writes.

Here's another version, which sounds as if it was shot by a group of tourists. "We've seen 'em in Mississippi like this," one observer can be heard saying.

Debunkers might note that the views come from perspectives that could make nearby objects seem farther away and faster-moving. Or they might wonder whether the whole thing was faked. Over at HowStuffWorks, Marshall Brain offers a smorgasbord of videos aimed at pointing out the traces of image processing.

I think this is going to be one of those shaky-camera sightings that will live on in UFO lore without making much of an impact in the wider world. But what do you think? Feel free to leave your comments about the Jerusalem Lights.

Poll Results: Construction in the West Bank

Construction in the West Bank:

Should be frozen indefinitely = 0%
Is not the issue = 50%
Must continue no matter what = 50%
Doesn't interest me = 0%

Thank you for voting - look forward to the next poll posted 02/01/2011

How do you think Mubarak's ouster would effect Israel-Egypt relations?

Link found between Facebook use and eating disorders

University of Haifa study authors advise parents to supervise their children’s web use in order to reduce the danger.

The more teenage girls are involved in Facebook, the higher their risk of having a negative body image and developing eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, according to a new University of Haifa study, whose authors advise parents to supervise their children’s Web use in order to reduce the danger.

Prof. Yael Letzer, Prof. Ruth Katz and Zohar Spivak (who studied the matter for her doctoral thesis) of the Social Welfare and Health Sciences Faculty studied two factors involved in eating disorders among a sample of 248 Jewish secular adolescent girls aged 12 to 18: exposure to the media and personal empowerment.

The girls, with a median age of 14.8, were asked about their TV-watching, Internet and magazine-reading habits. Regarding television, the girls were queried about whether they watched popular shows that present an extreme focus on Barbie doll-like “beautiful, voluptuous and thin” women. They also filled out questionnaires on their desire to be thin, satisfaction (or lack of same) with their bodies, weight and eating.

The Haifa researchers found that there was a direct connection between the extent of their Facebook involvement and a greater number of eating problems. The more they were on the social network, the more they were likely to suffer from bulimia (eating a lot of food and then vomiting it) or anorexia (starving themselves), dissatisfaction with their figures and pursuit of a weight-loss diet.

The authors hinted that being constantly involved with Facebook promoted a single minded focus on oneself – one’s looks, habits, and behaviors.

Exposure to fashion and music on the Internet showed the same trend, but not as strong a connection as Facebook use. The researchers also found that the level of the girls’ personal empowerment was negatively linked to eating disorders; the more empowered they felt, the lower the risk of eating disorders and suffering from poor body image.

When parents were aware of what their daughters were seeing and doing on the Internet and conducted a dialogue with them over the content and amount of hours invested, the more protected the girls were from eating disorders; they had a higher feeling of empowerment and a better body image, the researchers found.

They concluded that with their involvement, caring and supervision, parents have the ability to influence their daughters’ sense of self and minimize their risk of eating disorders.

Asked to comment, sports medicine expert Dr. Naama Constantini of Hadassah Optimal and the orthopedics department of Hadassah University Medical Center said the study’s conclusion was interesting and sounded logical and deserving of further study.

However, she suggested that girls who tended to spend a lot of time on the Internet and especially social networks might be more likely to suffer from eating disorders because they used the sites to get tips on how to hide their disorder or didn’t have the strength to do sports and go out into society or felt they had to hide how they look.

They would automatically be exposed more to Facebook, which apparently has replaced many of the websites established by sufferers who wanted to spread the word and give tips to fellow sufferers.

The university spokesman said that the study was based on interviews that showed a direct link between Facebook exposure and eating disorders, even if one did not cause the other.

New Jewish Neighborhood in Eastern Jerusalem

New Jewish Neighborhood in Eastern Jerusalem

Jews and Arabs Cooperate in Gush Etzion

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Regional Development, Silvan Shalom, toured Gush Etzion on Sunday.

During the tour, Shalom visited the local branch of the successful supermarket chain belonging to Israeli entrepreneur Rami Levy (who recently made headlines after his successful bid to take over development of the Nof Zion project). After meeting with Levy, Shalom observed the area of Bat Ayin and met with the Mukhtar (Arabic for the head of a village or neighborhood) of the nearby village of Khirbet Zakaria.

During the meeting Shalom learned of the excellent relations and cooperation between local Jews and Arabs, a relationship headed by Gush Etzion Mayor Shaul Goldstein and the Mukhtar. Following the tour, Goldstein said that Gush Etzion is the perfect place for one to actually be able to find long-standing stability and regional cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

“Gush Etzion is glad to be a bridge between Jews and Arabs,” said Goldstein. “This comes from our deep connection to our land, which was received after much bloodshed for thousands of years of history. It is precisely the connection to our land and not a disengagement from it which allows for such regional stability.”

During the tour, Shalom said: “For years the instability in the Middle East was blamed on the State of Israel, due to the ongoing conflict with the Arabs. The processes we see today in various countries such as Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia, show that these statements have no basis. The instability in the areas around us proves once again that the State of Israel must ensure its security and have strong and stable security arrangements, in order that at any time and in any situation we can ensure the security of Israeli citizens.”

Shalom concluded his tour with a visit to the Makor Chaim yeshiva in Kfar Etzion, where he participated in a ceremony marking one student’s finishing the study of the Talmud.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Israeli Firm Reveals Taxibot for Better Airports

Israeli Firm Reveals Taxibot for Better Airports

Joint Israel-PA Project to Clean Up Sewage in Jordan Valley

Environmentalists have launched a joint project between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at cleaning up sewage in the Jordan Valley village of Ouja. The pilot project will use Israeli technology to help the PA Arab village to upgrade to a modern, eco-friendly sewage system.

Located between Jericho and Beit She'an, the Ouja project will be carried out in collaboration with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. Organizers hope it will lead in the long run to the formation of a cooperative framework between Israel, Jordan and the PA on water resources in the region. Meanwhile, however, Israel is being aided by Europe in its efforts to help an Arab neighbor get on its feet in the green scene.

The Mapal Green Energy company has been tapped to build the new sewage treatment facility for Ouja. The estimated cost of the system is approximately $150,000 to $200,000, with up to $2 million needed to connected the village houses to the sewer system.

The money for the project will be raised by the Italian Trade Commission through an appeal to European Union nations.

Barely 22.5 million of raw sewage is adequately treated out of the 150 million cubic meters created every year in the Palestinian Authority.

Inadequate waste water treatment plants have been blamed for the problem, combined with the use of basic septic tanks by most homes and buildings. The majority of raw sewage in the region simply seeps into the ground, contaminating the ground water and aquifer in both the PA and Israeli supplies.

In Israeli Arab villages, the problem was similar but the situation is slowly improving through supervision, after years when vast sums of money allocated by the Israeli government for the purpose reached the townships but did not find their way to the sewage systems.

Some media reports have laid the blame for the phenomenon on neighboring Jewish communities, saying their own sewage systems are too small to adequately process the load.

Writing for the pro-PA Green Prophet, for example, journalist Arwa Aburawa cited, with no official reports or documentation to back up his claim, “incidents of raw sewage flowing from the settlements into the [PA] villages and contaminating water supplies as well as agricultural fields.” The writer further claimed that “over half of the settlements' treatment plants are too small to deal effectively with the raw sewage from the burgeoning settler population.”

Israel is used to being blamed for everything that happens in Judea and Samaria. The claim with regard to sewage is patently untrue, as Israeli communities are supervised in all areas and have to apply for building permits, which include provisions for safety and sanitation. Arab sewage disposal and Arab construction are uncontrolled and unsupervised.

In July, members of the Binyamin Regional Council complained that pollution from Palestinian Authority towns is ruining natural areas in their region.
Residents of the PA town of Anata near Jerusalem dump their trash in a pond that is known to be filled with sewage, council members explained. When too much garbage is thrown into the pond, it overflows, leading the sewage to flow into nearby natural streams, among them Wadi Kelt.

Hopefully, the new project will be the beginning of a change that will prevent disease from spreading from untreated Arab sewage to the rest of the area's population.

Press Conference: FM Liberman & Australian FM Rudd

FM Liberman: "The root of the problem [in Gaza] is the smuggling of weapons. If the international community will stop the smugglings, we won't have any reason for any restrictions."

"Any effort to achieve a comprehensive agreement [with the Palestinians] within one year, which means the "end of conflict" - is in my opinion is unrealistic."

FM Rudd: "We are deeply concerned about Iran and Iran's nuclear weapons program."

Israel and European Space Agency Sign Revolutionary Agreement

A first of its kind agreement on cooperation in Space Research and Exploration was signed between the Government of the State of Israel and the European Space Agency – ESA. The signing ceremony was held as part of the Sixth International Ilan Ramon Conference. Ilan Ramon was Israel's first astronaut and he was killed in the Columbia Shuttle explosion. His widow Rona attended the ceremony.

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver attended the ceremony and related to the question of whether an Israel astronaut is something we should expect to see in the near future. Garver was also asked about U.S. Navy Captain Astronaut Mark E. Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

“This is an additional step in joint research and development as a whole, and space research in particular, which is strengthening and intensifying with European countries. It shall permit the expansion of scientific and economic cooperation with this continent of significant countries,” said Dr. Tzvi Kaplan, Director-General of the Israel Space Agency.

“The agreement constitutes an international recognition of Israel's status as a space power,” said Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, who attended the signing.

The document noted that Israel and Europe will work together in certain fields in particular, among them space engineering and space exploration. Also included were space technologies, including nano-satellites, Earth Observation -- including monitoring environmental contamination and natural disasters -- and microgravity research.

In practical terms, the agreement will facilitate the exchange of scientists, engineers, and information between the two space agencies. It will also lead to joint conferences and increased communication.

The latest agreement follows similar agreements between Israel and the French and Italian space agencies.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is composed of 18 countries in Europe that conduct joint collaboration in research and development of space science programs, with an annual budget of approximately 4 billion Euros. The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s forefront and prime executer of major space projects to shape and develop Europe’s space capabilities and ensure that investment in space continues, to promote and deliver benefits to the European people and the world. The joint collaboration between ESA and the EU is manifested in two joint projects, the “Galileo” project and the “GMES Project – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security” which has been established to accurate and timely information services to better manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.

Israel continues its advance towards energy independence

Israel approved a plan to develop technologies to reduce the global use of oil in transportation. Following a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, Israel is due to invest approximately $ 407 million over the next decade while seeking to invest millions more from other sources.

According to a January 31 statement from the prime minister’s office, the plan is designed to decrease global dependency on oil and oil-producing countries, such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, “which causes instability in the global economy and harms the environment through the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

Formulated by a team chaired by Israel’s economic council chairman, Eugene Kandel, the plan would encourage investments in the field and assist companies through the regulatory process. Israel would increase is investment in research and development and join various ministries into cooperation. Israel would also seek to increase cooperation between foreign and Israeli government and non-governmental organizations and businesses.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that, "I view this as a national and strategic goal of the State of Israel. Oil addiction has led to the Western world's dependence on the oil countries, and significantly damages the environment. This has significant consequences for Israel as well. We are a small country in size but we are great in science and research. Therefore, the intention is to harness strong research, scientific and technological forces and link them with other bodies so that Israel will be the leader, the catalyst in research in this field."

Israeli Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, in the framework of whose ministry the lion's share of the plan will be implemented and who is signed onto the plan, along with Prime Minister Netanyahu, said that, "The plan utilizes Israel's scientific and technological capabilities in order to implement a strategic goal on both the national and global levels."

Israeli government and business have invested considerable resources in order to foster national energy independence and stability. The Solar Energy Project at Ben-Gurion University is planning to build the world’s largest solar-energy facility in the Negev Desert on a 1,000 acre site. The project has been preliminarily approved by the Israeli government, but has not yet been budgeted. The plant is planned to initially supply 100 megawatts of power and grow to 500 megawatts, about 5 percent of the country's current generating capacity. When construction is finished in 2012, it should employ some 100 people.

Meanwhile, deep well drilling at the Sea of Galilee, and off-shore in the Mediterranean, have also yielded results. The Rosh HaAyin oil discovery off Israel’s coast promises both petroleum and natural gas.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Israeli Software: A Expert Look into the Future of Innovation

Israeli Software: A Expert Look into the Future of Innovation

Intel thinks positive about Israeli kids' futures

Intel volunteer Udi de Groot works with students from a Haifa high school in Intel's Think Positive+ project.

Named one of the top companies in Israel working to improve society, Intel is helping to tutor children across the country in math, science and computing.

It takes a village to educate kids properly, according to an old saying - but in Israel, it takes a high-tech company, in the form of global technology giant Intel, which is now in its eighth year of leading a program called "Think Positive+" (Choshvim Chiyuvi), which gives students all over Israel the opportunity to excel in math, science - and of course, computers.

"We started doing this at Intel in Petah Tikva eight years ago, with a few engineers getting involved with students at a local school and tutoring them," says Koby Bahar, a spokesperson for Intel and a coordinator of the Think Positive+ program. "It's part of Intel's tradition of getting involved in the community, and from there it simply mushroomed."

Bahar isn't just parroting text from the company handbook. Intel employees are among the most socially involved in Israel, and the company takes its role in society very seriously. "Forty percent of Intel employees volunteer to do community work," Bahar says, and the company strongly encourages employees to do exactly that. According to Bahar, Intel is involved in numerous aid projects, both one-time and ongoing.

Beyond social consciousness

During the devastating Carmel forest fire, for example, Intel pitched in by providing both knowhow and substantial material assistance to people who were forced out of their homes by the fire. It's a mark of the company's modesty and serious commitment to "the other" that Intel did not publicize its role in the rescue effort, and Bahar refused to grant permission to reveal too many details. Suffice it to say that the company went far beyond what one would expect, even from a company with a reputation for social consciousness.

Intel immersed itself in that spirit when it first started Think Positive+, which now has volunteers from many other organizations that have decided to pitch in as well. Currently, the program includes volunteers from all four Intel facilities in Israel - Jerusalem, Petah Tikva, Haifa, and Yaqum - and includes volunteers from Marvell, IBM, Agilent, Kodak, Phillips, Cisco, NDS, Ophir Optronics, Factor and Co., JMB, Clear Forest and Tzoren. "We also work with local authorities and municipalities to ensure that we are delivering the services they need," adds Bahar. "Call it a coalition of the committed."

Think Positive+ is all about giving disadvantaged kids a leg up in math, science, and in some cases, English - all skills that young students need for the high-tech tomorrow. Many schools in Israel don't have the resources to teach these subjects properly. Hundreds of volunteers conduct one-on-one and small group after-school sessions with mostly high-school and junior-high kids, helping them to understand the material they require to succeed academically and especially to obtain high scores on the matriculation tests that Israeli kids start obsessing over from the start of grade 10.

But it's about more than just education, says Bahar. "Many of the kids in the program are from weaker families that can't afford to pay for tutors or extracurricular materials for them." Kids aspire to what they see around them, and many of the students in Think Positive+ are from families where high-tech success is not even "on the radar."

Fostering the desire to succeed

"Some of the sessions are conducted inside the local offices of Intel and the participating companies, and the students attending enter the world of high-tech - the offices, the milieu. That in itself inspires them to think about their future, building ambition and a desire to succeed."

In Jerusalem, for example, 75 volunteers from four high-tech firms conduct sessions in their offices for 105 students from four high schools in the city. "We pick them up from school, feed them lunch, and basically give them an overall experience," Bahar recounts.

Both the kids and their schools benefit. Think Positive+ is a part of Intel's worldwide community action program, which qualifies it for official funding from the company. Thus, schools participating in Think Positive+ receive $200 for every 20 hours of volunteer time given to students from each school. In other words, not only does Intel supply tutoring to schools gratis - it pays them for the privilege. It's for that reason that Ma'ala, an organization that promotes social responsibility in 2009 named Intel as one of the top companies in Israel working to improve society.

Active for only eight years, the program already has thousands of graduates. And while Think Positive+ does not track their long-term progress, or keep statistics on whether they have improved in their studies, Bahar says he knows that the program is doing a great deal of good: "Each tutor builds a relationship with the students he works with, and the vast majority tell us that their students make significant progress in their studies. Think Positive+ does exactly what its name says - it encourages kids to think positively about their future. The rest - the actual success - just follows naturally."


Israel airlifts dozens of nationals out of Egypt

Israeli embassy in Cairo closed since protests began Thursday; will remain closed Sunday.

Israel's national airline El AL has whisked some 200 of its nationals, including families of diplomats, out of Egypt on board an emergency flight to escape the chaos engulfing the Arab country.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided on Friday to remove the diplomatic families from Egypt. A special El Al flight including dozens of tourists as well as diplomat's families landed at Ben Gurion Airport early Saturday evening.

Israel's ambassador to Egypt, Yitzhak Levanon and diplomats have remained in Cairo.

The Israeli embassy in Cairo has been closed since the riots broke out, and will remain closed on Sunday.

El Al does not usually fly on the Jewish sabbath to appease observant Jewish passengers who do not travel on the day of rest. El Al refused to comment.

Since the riots broke out the Foreign Ministry conducted status updates on Egypt every couple of hours and Lieberman has been keeping abreast on the protests.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Foreign Ministry announced that they were keeping close track of the volatile situation in neighboring Egypt, but are refraining from taking a political stance.

The prime minister's office has issued strict guidelines to all ministers and government officials not to comment on the current situation in Egypt.

John Bolton On The Crisis in Middle East

If Brotherhood takes over, IDF will face formidable enemy

This year is turning into a critical one for Israel, which is becoming more isolated in the ME. Turkey is gone and Egypt appears to be on the way.

The collapse of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt is not yet about Israel but soon will be, depending on his successor.

If the Muslim Brotherhood grabs the reins in the massive Arab country, Israel will face an enemy with one of the largest and strongest militaries around, built on some of the most advanced American-made platforms.

The impact on Israel will be immediate – the IDF will need to undergo major structural changes, new units will need to be created and forces in the South will likely need to be beefed up. Since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the IDF has not had to worry about two fronts at once. Until now.

The appointment of Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman as the vice president in Egypt is a reassuring sign for Israel.

Suleiman has played a key role in Israeli- Egyptian relations over the years and is considered in charge of the “Israeli Dossier” His office has been responsible for coordinating efforts to stop smuggling via tunnels under the Philadelphi Corridor with Gaza and he is considered something of a moderate in comparison to outgoing Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi.

In a cable published recently by WikiLeaks, Suleiman told the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2009 that Egypt was stopping Iranian money from making its way through the country to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A new regime in Egypt could change all of that, and the transfer of Iranian funds to Hamas would be the least of Israel’s concerns.

Due to the peace with Egypt and Jordan as well as the toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the IDF has spent the last decade focused on the internal Palestinian threat, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. Israel’s military buildup was performed accordingly, including procurement plans regarding the number of tanks, armored personnel carriers and fighter jets acquired.

“With its current assets, the IDF will currently find it very difficult to be able to deal with two live fronts at once,” a senior defense official admitted recently.

In the meantime, in Israel the hope is that Mubarak survives the calls for his downfall and that the appointment of Suleiman as well as the dismissal of the government succeeds in easing the demonstrations on the streets.

At the moment, assessments in Israeli intelligence circles are that Mubarak will survive. The demonstrations throughout Egypt, while large and growing, do not have an organized leadership behind them, and fearing a violent crackdown, the Muslim Brotherhood is staying underground.

The question, though, is what happens the “day after” Mubarak? Who will succeed him and what role will the Muslim Brotherhood play? Israel’s concerns though are not isolated to Egypt. One former senior Mossad official said on Saturday that Israel needed to be more concerned with a potential revolution in Jordan.

“In Egypt, Israel has Sinai as a major buffer zone,” the official said. “This is not the case in Jordan, where there is a massive Palestinian population that could directly threaten Israel through the West Bank.”

This year is turning into a critical one for Israel, which is finding itself increasingly isolated within the Middle East. Turkey is gone and Egypt appears to be on the way.

Egypt Mass Riots - Raw Footage Teen Protestor Shot Dead

Friday, January 28, 2011

Arabs fighting for Israel - Arabs serving in Israel's IDF

Against popular belief, there are some Arabs serving in Israel's armed forces. CNN's Paula Hancocks asks them why.

"Arabs fighting for Israel - Arabs serving in Israel's armed forces!!!" From IslamAndWorldPeace

This Week in History: The capture of Eli Cohen

On January 24, 1965, Syrian secret police raided the home of Damascus businessman Kamel Amin Tha’abet, arrested, tortured, hanged him.

On January 24, 1965, Syrian secret police raided an upscale apartment in Damascus and arrested businessman Kamel Amin Tha’abet. Accused of being an Israeli spy who had revealed some of Syria’s most closely guarded secrets, Tha’abet was tortured, quickly tried and publicly hanged several months later.

Eliahu Cohen was born in Egypt in 1924 to a Syrian father and Egyptian mother. Being a Jew in Egypt at the time, Cohen was denied many opportunities and faced discrimination. As he entered adulthood, Cohen became involved in Zionist organizations and was recruited by the Hagana, helping provide forged papers to Egyptian Jews to enable their escape to the newly-founded Jewish state of Israel. These first years of involvement with the Israeli security services would eventually serve as a forewarning to his final days in Syria.

According to an interview with Cohen’s brother, Maurice, Eli was involved in dangerous covert operations from his early days in Egypt. In the mid-1950s, the arrest of a dozen Jews in Egypt uncovered what would become known as the Lavon Affair. Among those swept up by the Egyptian secret police was Eli Cohen. The Egyptians, citing a lack of evidence, eventually released him. Maurice, nonetheless, claims he was involved in the sabotage operation aimed at disrupting Egypt’s relations with the US and European countries. Israeli sources familiar with the affair have, however, denied his involvement, saying that he was merely familiar with some of the operatives.

Eventually expelled by Egypt, Cohen made aliya at the end of 1956. Having been denied a translator position with the state’s early intelligence services because of his lack of proficiency in Hebrew, Eli began work as an accountant for an Israeli retail chain, according to interviews with his brother. During what may have been the most normal years of his life, Eli met his wife-to-be Nadia. The two were wed in 1959. However, the normalcy would not last.

By then fluent in Modern Hebrew, Cohen was recruited by Military Intelligence a few years after marrying. Realizing his obvious potential, considering Eli’s fluent Arabic and Syrian heritage, the IDF transferred him to the newly-formed Mossad where he underwent training and was quickly dispatched to Argentina, according to his brother Maurice.

Overnight, Eli Cohen became Kamel Amin Tha’abet, a wealthy Syrian businessman in Argentina who longed to return to his homeland. Emersing himself into the sizable Syrian expatriate community in Argentina, Tha’abet threw extravagant parties and built a reputation as a man who wanted nothing more than to move back to Syria and contribute to the country’s success, including the destruction of its new neighbor, Israel. With a cover story built, it was not long before he moved to Damascus.

Quickly gaining the trust and intrigue of senior Syrian officials, Tha’abet gained entry into influential circles in Damascus. He attended exclusive meetings of the ruling Ba’ath party and befriended senior governmental and military personalities. According to his brother, then a cryptographer for the Mossad, Tha’abet became a member of the Syrian National Council of Revolutionary Command. In his regular radio transmissions to Israel, he relayed vital information about Syrian operations that would save Israeli lives and provided warning of military moves and installations.

One of the most famous anecdotes of Tha’abet’s (Cohen) successful moves as a mole in the Syrian elite was an off-handed suggestion which led to the location and bombing of military bases in later wars. Tha’abet suggested to Syrian military officials that they line their army and air force bases with Euculyptus trees in order to provide their soldiers with relief from the harsh Middle Eastern sun. While the trees likely did prevent heat stroke among a handful of soldiers, they also proved an easy way for Israeli Air Force pilots to locate army bases from the air.

Other vital pieces of information sent back to Israel were details of plots by Palestinian terrorist groups to attack northern Kibbutzim and settlements, enabling preemptive action that doubtlessly saved many lives. Additionally, he warned his Israeli handlers that the Syrians were preparing to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River, an operation that if successful, would have effectively cut of Israel’s water supply.

In 1965, the Syrians employed Soviet experts to locate what they suspected was a spy passing vital information to their enemies. On January 24, 1965, the Soviet team successfully located a live radio transmission coming from a Damascus apartment and Syrian police swooped in before daybreak to arrest the suddenly exposed Eli Cohen. Interrogated, tortured and tried without representation, Tha’abet, or Cohen, was sentenced to death. On May 18, 1965, he was hanged in a public square in Damascus.

Numerous efforts have been made over the years to retrieve Cohen’s body for burial in Israel. It has been written that several covert Mossad operations came close to bringing him back to Israel, but all were foiled. Successive Israeli governments have attempted to involve Cohen in prisoner swaps, only to be rebuffed by Damascus. One Syrian official, in a 2008 radio interview, said even the Syrians no longer know where Cohen is buried. He explained that fearful of Mossad operations to retrieve the body, Cohen was buried three different times in three locations so that it would be impossible to locate it.

The story of Eli Cohen has become one of the most famous Israeli spy stories. Furthermore, along with several other notable Israelis who have fallen into enemy hands, he is a cause célèbre for returning the remains of Israeli heroes for Jewish burial in Israel. It is often speculated that only in a peace deal between the two countries will one of the Jewish state’s most successful spies be returned to his family.

On May 18, 1965, the Government of Syria executed Eli Cohen, despite protests from world leaders and Israel.

* He was never allowed a defense at his trial.
* He was brutally tortured during interrogation in defiance of international humanitarian law
* His body was never returned to his family.

One of the most memorable and daring attempts to infiltrate Syria, which at the time controlled the Golan Heights and frequently shelled the Israeli settlers down below is that of Eliahu ben Shaoul Cohen an Egyptian born Jew.

Eliahu ben Shaoul Cohen, worked as a Mossad agent in Damascus, Syria under the alias of Kamal Amin Ta'abet from 1962 until his exposure and execution on May 18, 1965. Cohen was able to supply considerable details on Syrian political and military matters because of his strong interpersonal skills and abilities to build close ties with business, military, and Ba'ath Party leaders, and Syrian President Amin el Hafiz. He was hanged in Martyr's Square with the television cameras rolling for the entire world to see.

Eli was privy to secrets of the Syrian elite including those of national security. Eli was considered to be named the Syrian Deputy Minister of Defense. He was the only civilian to receive private tours of military installations, even being photographed in the then Syrian controlled Golan Heights with high ranking Syrian officials looking over into Israel.

As a result Eli sent highly informative reports back to Israel detailing the Syrian water deviation project and each and every one of the outposts on the Golan, including tank traps designed to impede any Israeli attack.

Eli’s influence on Syrian officials helped Israel beyond measure. Eli suggested that the Syrians plant trees on the Golan near each of their fortifications. Based on the eucalyptus trees, Israel knew exactly where the Syrian fortifications were.

Two years after his death, in June 1967, the intelligence Eli Cohen provided enabled Israel to capture the Golan Heights in two days as part of Israel's victory in the Six Days War.

Eli Cohen was the greatest Mossad agent Israel has ever known. He was greatly admired by all, including the Syrians. His deeds fed and are still feeding the imagination and fantasy of many. He is a hero who sacrificed his life for the sake of Israel, his fellow Jews, his children and his family.

It is 38 years since he was hanged. The Syrian government still has not returned his remains to his family for a proper Jewish burial in Israel where 'Kaddish' can be said at his gravesite. It is Time; the Time Is Now, to demand that his remains be returned. Therefore, we call upon everyone to sign our Petition to Dr. Bashar el Assad, President of Syrian.

Through this web site, we pay tribute to Eli Cohen, Our Man in Damascus, Israel’s greatest Mossad Agent. We remember his deeds through the words of his brother, Maurice Cohen, who was in the same unit that activated Eli, revealing up-to-date facts which were not told surrounding the story of Mossad’s campaign in Syria. This is an international educational site to increase people's knowledge of the contribution Eli Cohen made to the survival of the State of Israel and the Jewish people; and the history of the Middle East at the time.

We hope to reunite his remains with the land and the family he loved so much.

Eli Cohen Official Website

New Evidence About Ancient Historic Site in Israel

New Evidence About Ancient Historic Site in Israel

To the heights of space

A new documentary looks back at Ilan Ramon and a special Torah scroll.

Daniel Cohen’s moving television documentary, An Article of Hope, which will be broadcast on Channel One on Monday at 9:30 p.m., chronicles Ilan Ramon’s final journey and, at the same time, commemorates a special artifact from the Holocaust.

Col. Ilan Ramon was an Israeli fighter pilot who became the first Israeli astronaut. He was killed with the rest of the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia at the end of its voyage, on February 1, 2003.

While the film details the tragedy of the Columbia and the death of Ramon, it also focuses on a special aspect of the space mission. It was Ramon’s decision to bring one particular item into space: a Torah scroll that was used at a clandestine bar-mitzva celebration at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp during World War II.

Dr. Joachim Joseph, known as Yoya, was a physicist and friend of Ramon’s. Joseph was an inmate at the concentration camp when he was nearing his 13th birthday, and a fellow inmate, Rabbi Simon Dasberg, the former chief rabbi of Holland, said that he must celebrate this milestone in his life in the traditional manner, in spite of the grim setting. The bar-mitzva was a moving occasion, and afterwords the rabbi gave the young boy the tiny Torah scroll. Joseph survived and kept the scroll when his family moved to Israel. Ramon saw the scroll at Joseph’s house and asked about it. After careful thought, he chose to take it with him on the space shuttle. Sadly, it was not among the items recovered after the shuttle crashed.

“I saw this as a new way to tell a Holocaust story,” says Cohen, who was in Israel recently to screen the film ahead of its television broadcast.

“I’ve always been a space enthusiast. Space exploration was my passion since I was a little boy,” he says.

“The Columbia crew was one of the most diverse groups ever sent into space, a shining example of diversity. And Ilan was an integral part of it. His decision to bring several artifacts from the Holocaust into space was a reflection of who he was. When Yoya told him the story of the scroll, Ilan said, ‘I’ve got to think about this.’ And then he said, ‘You know, my mother and grandmother are graduates of Auschwitz.’ I see this as the intersection of three people’s stories – Yoya’s, the rabbi’s and Ramon’s. It’s powerful, and I felt a responsibility to tell it,” says Cohen.

A pencil drawing by another inmate who attended Joseph’s barmitzva survived, and Cohen shows it in the film. One of the most effective sections of the film shows the story of Joseph’s bar-mitzva illustrated by a series of pencil drawings.

“We had another artist do some more drawings in the style of the original sketch. It’s a way to fill in the blanks of what the horror of life in the camp must have been,” he says.

Ramon also brought a drawing of the Earth as seen from the moon, which was done by Petr Ginz, a 16- year-old from Prague who died at Auschwitz.

After the Columbia disaster, Cohen learned of the story of the Torah scroll and decided to make the film.

But it took seven years to complete. Although the story is compelling and unique, it was not easy to get the funding.

“Some people said, ‘Oh, it’s just a Holocaust story; we’ve seen that.’ Others said, ‘It’s a story about the shuttle; we’ve seen that,’” says Cohen, who presented a copy of the film to the Yad Vashem Holocaust History Museum during his visit to Israel. “You have to have a passion for what you are doing to make documentaries,” says Cohen, who has a background in television news.

Ramon said he was taking the Torah scroll “from the depths of hell to the heights of space. And by doing that, he made it ‘an article of hope.’”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Linkin Park shows LOVE in Israel

Linkin park band members, who gave a spectacular show here in Israel this past November, apparently documented their tour and uploaded a YouTube video of themselves adventuring the mid east.
The video shows their good time in Jerusalem, strolling the beautiful alleys of Mahne Yehuda's Market, continuing with visiting Jerusalem's holiest sites such as the church of the holy sepulchre and the western wall.

The video concludes at their Park Hayarkon show, where Chester's "little chicken" is eating a falafel and Benington shows his love to the audience, saying that there was no better place to end their tour than here in Israel.

Clay Pigeons to Ward Off Blackouts

The Israel Electric Company carried out an unusual repair operation in Hod HaSharon, near Tel Aviv, this week. Technicians stationed a flock of clay pigeons atop electric poles and transformers in the Neve Neeman neighborhood of the city in an attempt to put an end to repeat blackouts.

The fake pigeons are intended to ward of real doves who have been roosting on the wires. The birds' droppings have caused shortages causing electricity to be cut off on several occasions. In addition, the doves sometimes suffer electrocution while perched on the wires.

After sending technicians many times to fix the same problem, the Electric Company sought a creative, and more permanent, solution.

Experts advised the company that flocks of pigeons avoid roosting in a place where a different flock has made its home. In addition, they reported that white pigeons, or doves, are particularly rare, making them more likely to cause other flocks to keep their distance.

Technicians put up the first “flock” of fake white pigeons several months ago as a test. The 30 fake birds led real birds to avoid the area in which they were stationed, putting an end to the blackouts in their area.

Now birds have been stationed on additional poles. Electric Company officials said they believe the clay animals will put an end to blackouts in the area for good.

IDF Chief of Staff says Farewell to Golani Brigade

The Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, bids farewell to the Golani Brigade, where he served as a young soldier. The visit was held during his farewell rounds to all branches and units in the IDF, before leaving his position in February.

During the visit, which was held at the brigade's training base, key figures from Lt. Gen. Ashkenazi's days as a soldier took the stage, among them: the Brigade Commander from the time during which the Chief of Staff was the brigade's Operations Officer, and his personal assistant from his time as Brigade Commander.

UN delegation marks Int'l Holocaust Remembrance Day in Jerusalem

The UN envoy to the Middle East peace process Robert Serry on Thursday paid tribute in Jerusalem to the 6 million Jews who perished in Nazi Germany during the World War II.

In October 2005, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating Jan. 27 an international day of commemoration of the victims.

This year's ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, was the first attended by a high- ranking UN official, according to a Yad Vashem spokeswoman. Serry was accompanied by the heads of several UN agencies in Israel.

"The visit we've just concluded left a very strong impression on me, as I'm sure it did on all my colleagues," Serry said following a tour of the Children's Memorial Pavilion.

"It is one thing to read about the Holocaust and to see films about it, but it is another to look at luggage, the shoes and the photos of those individuals sent to their deaths," he continued.

Referring to Holocaust denial, which has struck roots in the decades since World War II, Serry said, "the UN condemns and rejects it without reservation. Such denial desecrates the memory of the 6 million Jews and others murdered and opens the door to future atrocities."

In Europe, the presidents of Germany and Poland gathered with Holocaust survivors at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Third Reich's main death camp, for ceremonies marking the 66th anniversary of its liberation by the Soviet army.

Bar Ilan University Scientists Present the Killer Paper

Bar Ilan University Scientists Present the Killer Paper

Cricket tourney in Israel to mark India R'Day

A cricket tournament for people of Indian origin was launched in Israel to mark India's 62nd Republic Day.

The Republic Day was celebrated at the India House in Herzliya Pituah Jan 26.

After unfurling the national flag and singing of the national anthem, Ambassador Navtej Sarna read out excerpts from Indian President Pratibha Patil's address that was delivered on the eve of the Republic Day.

This was followed by a short cultural programme.

Sarna felicitated Indian Hospice director Sheikh Mohammed Munir Ansari, who was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award in 2011 for his contribution in maintaining the hospice as a symbol of India's heritage in Jerusalem.

The embassy also launched the 'India Trophy', a cricket tournament for the Indian-origin community in Israel.

A large number of Indians and friends of India attended the event.

There are approximately 70,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel, most of who are Israeli nationals. The main waves of immigration into Israel from India took place in the fifties and sixties. The majority are from Maharashtra and smaller numbers are from Kerala and Kolkata.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MASA: Olga Baskin

MASA: Olga Baskin

Taking aim at Iranian Holocaust denial

Yad Vashem launches new YouTube channel with survivors' testimonials with Farsi subtitles to provide information about Holocaust.

Yad Vashem, Israel's central Holocaust memorial and documentation center, launched on Sunday a new YouTube channel in Farsi in what officials said was a bid to counter Holocaust denial in Iran, which has become bon ton under the country's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The channel, mainly featuring video clips of survivors' testimonials with Farsi subtitles, will join Yad Vashem's channels in English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish and Arabic. The museum website already has a page in Farsi, the language spoken by 60% of all Iranians, which provides basic information on the Holocaust and the activities of Yad Vashem.

"I turn to the Persian people," Yaakov (Jackie) Handeli, a Holocaust survivor from Thessalonica told journalists at Yad Vashem. "Let them see me and invite me to Iran. I am the sole member left of my entire family, and only because I was born Jewish, nothing else."

Yad Vashem Presents Holocaust Videos for the Iranian Audience

Ahmadinejad has at various times both denied the Holocaust and acknowledged it, albeit only to attack it as a pretext for the existence of Israel. Ahmadinejad's virulent rhetoric on the Holocaust is often tied to his calls to eradicate "the Zionist regime," both seen as preparing the ideological ground for attacking the Jewish state.

In 2006, Teheran sponsored what it called the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, which then Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said was called to provide “an appropriate scientific atmosphere for scholars to offer their opinions.” In fact, the 67 attendees included an array of people denying that six million Jews were systematically killed by the Nazis during World War II.

Eldad Pardo, an Iran specialist at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, said Holocaust denial in Iran ran deeper than presidential statements. Iranian anti-Semitism stemmed both from the traditional Shi'ite outlook on Jews as "impure" and a more modern, Fascist version of anti-Semitism imported from Europe.

"There‘s certainly a need for this new YouTube channel," Pardo told The Media Line. "Since 2005, when Ahmadinejad came to power there has been a noticeable intensification in anti-Semitic rhetoric. No Iranian President has spoken like this before."

During World War II, Iran was officially neutral, but in effect it was a “pro-Nazi, quasi-fascist regime," Pardo said. "The Iranians, who viewed themselves as a superior Aryan race, assumed that Germany would win the war."

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, spoke of what he called YouTube's ability to bring survivors' personal accounts to the attention of web users in Iran.

"The connection between one person and another is extraordinarily powerful," he said. "We know this site won't radically change people's positions, but it is a good start for achieving change over time."

Approximately one half of Iran's population of 74 million was born after the 1979 Islamic Revolution and with 33 million web surfers, Iran enjoys one of the highest proportions of Internet users in the Middle East.

"The young population in Iran will now be able to get true information about what happened in the war," Rena Shashua-Hasson, a Bulgarian Holocaust survivor, told The Media Line. "This new generation, which is half of Iran's population, is misinformed by its government."

Iran has tried to block access to internet sites in the past, especially around the time of the 2009 presidential elections, in which the incumbent Ahmadinejad claimed 62% of the vote amid widespread allegations of election fraud. But David Yerushalmi, professor of Iranian studies at Tel Aviv University, said Iran's failure to completely restrict sites will give Yad Vashem a chance to bring its message.

"The importance of this site is that it might get to some of the population of Internet users in Iran," Yerushalmi told The Media Line.

Pardo of Hebrew University said Yad Vashem's message may be well-received by intellectuals in Iran who oppose the regime and its Holocaust denial. He said the only way to bring about change is to convince those already favorable to the ideas, and hope to empower them by providing facts.

"Today, hating Israel in Iran implies identifying with the regime," Pardo said. "Many in Iran have become pro-Israeli by default, because they oppose Ahmadinejad."

South Tel Aviv school thrilled with Oscar nod

Best documentary nominee ‘Strangers No More,’ about the Bialik-Rogozin school, was made by American filmmakers.

Filmmakers and teachers from a south Tel Aviv school were riding high with excitement on Wednesday, a day after it was announced that a film focusing on the lives of its pupils and teachers was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short category, to be awarded at the 83rd Academy Awards on February 27.

Strangers No More is a 40- minute documentary by American filmmakers Kirk Simon and Karen Goodman that follows the lives of the school’s educators – in particular principal Keren Tal and teacher Smadar Moeres – and takes viewers into the day-to-day lives of three students: Johannes from Ethiopia, Esther from South Africa and Muhammad from Darfur.

The film covers the span of a school year, and describes the hardships the children faced before coming to Israel, and how the Bialik-Rogozin school has become a sort of safe haven for them in their new home.

Simon told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he heard the good news when he was sitting in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday night watching the Oscar nominations ceremony.

The TV ceremony only includes the major categories like Best Picture and Best Actor, but when Simon’s phone began “to go crazy with texts and calls coming in simultaneously,” he knew there was good news.

Though it’s his fourth Oscar nomination, Simon said “this nomination is very special to me, as I’ve grown very close to both the teachers and students at the Bialik-Rogozin school.

“I also feel that the added recognition that comes from an Academy Award nomination will help bring needed attention to the issue of helping to keep the children of immigrant workers in Israel. I believe that the mission of the school is worthy of worldwide recognition, and these children should be able to stay and be educated at the school.”

Simon said part of the pride he takes in the film is the way in which it shows a side of Israel not often seen in the global media.

“We have had numerous screenings of the film in New York and Los Angeles.

At every screening, people comment that what is shown in the film is an Israel that they were unfamiliar with – that the film opened their eyes to something that they had no idea existed. So I feel proud to help present a fuller picture of what life in Israel is.”

The school – on Rehov Aliya in the heart of south Tel Aviv – teaches more than 800 children from 48 countries, all brought together through the language of instruction, Hebrew.

Bialik-Rogozin has become famous in Israel over the past year, as the issue of the children of foreign workers and asylum-seekers and their possible deportation has regularly made the headlines.

The film had its Israeli premiere on January 3, before a capacity crowd at Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque that included students, teachers and politicians, among them Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former finance minister Ronnie Bar-On, former interior minister Avraham Poraz, former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former ambassador to the UN Danny Gillerman.

The idea to make a film about the lives of the children at Bialik-Rogozin came from Simon and Goodman’s executive producer, Lin Arison, who visited the school during a trip to Israel.

The year-long process of shooting the film required the filmmakers to travel seven times from New York to Tel Aviv, each time staying for about a week. By the end of the year, they were able to earn the trust of the children and their parents, who then allowed them into their lives, which is when “the very meaningful things happened,” Simon said.

Part of the message of the film is that children can succeed regardless of what they’ve been through.

“With most of the kids, when you hear what they’ve been through, it seems like they would be scarred for life. But the movie shows that children have every potential to grow and learn regardless of what they’ve been through,” Simon said.

News of the film’s nomination thrilled Keren Tal, the principal of Bialik- Rogozin, who features prominently throughout the film.

Tal called the news “very, very moving,” and said that the school’s success in educating students from dozens of countries speaking a multitude of languages could not have been made possible without “the best teaching staff in the world” and a great deal of support from the Tel Aviv Municipality and the Education Ministry.

She expressed her joy in that the movie shows a different side of Israeli daily life.

“The school’s message of hope and the way it reminds us of our basic moral values as Jews will now be sent across the world,” Tal said.

Strangers No More (2010) - Official Website

Yad Vashem, Google team up to put Shoah data online

Project will make Holocaust photos and documents available on Internet; first batch already hits web; viewers can add their stories.

The world's largest collection of Holocaust documents is going digital.

Israel's Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, is teaming up with Google to make its photographs and documents interactive and searchable on the Internet. The first 130,000 photos hit the web Wednesday.

Google and Yad Vashem Cooperate to Improve Access to Holocaust Documentation

Although much of Yad Vashem's archive was already available through its formidable website, the new project enables users to search keywords and data just like a Google search.

A social network-like component allows viewers to contribute to the project by adding their own stories, comments and documents about family members who appear in the online archives.

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said even though that feature could be misused to post anti-Semitic comments, the risk is outweighed by the benefit provided to future generations seeking information about their ancestors.

"This is part of our vision — to connect Yad Vashem's knowledge and information to modern technology, and bring it to youngsters," he said.

The project started three years ago in the Tel Aviv skyscraper that houses Google's research operations in Israel. It was inspired by a Google initiative encouraging employees to spend 20 percent of work time on projects they feel are important.

Google used experimental optical character recognition technology to make text within documents and photos searchable in multiple languages.

The move is just the latest in Yad Vashem's digital outreach. Earlier this week, the memorial launched a version of its YouTube channel in Farsi to educate the country's most bitter enemy — Iran — about the Nazi genocide of 6 million Jews.

Yad Vashem's next priority is to digitize its collection of survivor testimonies.

The launch comes a day before the UN marks its annual Holocaust remembrance day.

Yuval Selah Music from Israel

Yuval Selah Music from Israel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

IDF Soldier Raised Christian Turned Muslim Now Jewish

IDF Soldier Raised Christian Turned Muslim Now Jewish

Israeli brew may be your cup of tea

Spicy Way - Tea Company

Herbal tea infusions from Israel's Galilee region are proving popular with discerning British tea-drinkers.

How about some Israeli tea with those scones?

A British distributorship has introduced herbal tea infusions from the Galilee and they're proving to be a hit with London tea-drinkers.

"Our teas are based on dried fruit that gives them a fruity taste, and you can eat the fruit after you finish drinking," explains Meirav Yaniv, franchise and business development director for The Spicy Way, based in the northern town of Bethlehem-of-the-Galilee in the Jezreel Valley. "It's apparently very appealing to the English."

Avi Zithershpieler, founder and owner of The Spicy Way, tells ISRAEL21c that it all started with a visit from "two nice ladies from England" to the chain's Eilat-area location last spring.

British franchise expected

Those "nice ladies," entrepreneurs Karen Pomeranz and Louise Caplin, went gaga over the brand and soon began a correspondence with Yaniv. In October, they flew to Cologne, Germany, for a few hours just to meet the Spicy Way team and sample all its teas and herbal blends at the Anuga FoodTec international trade show. They sealed the deal, and visited Israel in December to choose the items for the first shipment of 15 products - including five tea infusions - received in April. Then, the tastings began.

"In the beginning, they thought the infusions wouldn't be interesting for the English public because they have so many teas there, but it turns out they are the strongest seller," says Yaniv. Several new flavors were added to the lineup the women sell to 23 delis, farm shops and specialty food stores in and around London. Now there is talk of opening a British franchise.

Small adjustments did have to be made for the British market: The brand name was changed to The Spice Way rather than The Spicy Way because the word "spicy" has an off-color connotation in the UK. Also, Pomeranz and Caplin altered the place of manufacture from "Israel" to "the Galilee," after encountering some initial hostility.

That's fine with Yaniv. "Karen and Louise are both Jewish and love Israel very much. At the end of the day, we want to reach as many consumers as possible. If emphasizing Israel is an obstacle, we will remove that obstacle," she explains, adding that labels specifically marked "Made in Israel" have great appeal in other places interested in importing The Spicy Way products, such as Mexico City.

The brand is also gaining traction at home, with four standalone stores in addition to branded shop-in-shop and standalone "farm stands" nationwide. This growth is the result of eight years of hard work on the part of Zithershpieler, whose Holocaust survivor parents Zvi and Zipporah founded their organic herb farm in the northern Bethlehem more than 50 years ago. Zvi Zithershpieler taught his son all the ins and outs of the business.

Products draw BBC coverage

"I like the touch and feel of the plants and seeing the miracle coming out of the ground," Zithershpieler says. "To raise these plants and smell their aroma is the best sensation in the world."

Today, he cultivates about 50 culinary and medicinal varieties on his 17-acre boyhood farm, including oregano, marjoram, sage, rosemary, paprika, hibiscus, peppermint, spearmint, lemon verbena and coriander. His packaged products, including the tea infusions, combine domestic produce with ingredients imported from Thailand, Turkey and India. "We collect about 300 raw materials in our storehouse, and from that we cut and grind and mix to make 1,000 [retail] items," he says.

He stresses that the farm has always employed both Arab and Jewish workers, a detail that was highlighted in a BBC report on the company when its products began hitting London.

The Spicy Way Visitor Center in the Galilee features an open market displaying a huge selection of organic herbs and spices with informational signs describing their usage, history and special properties. Zithershpieler and his team offer lectures and workshops on the healing benefits of their products to individuals and groups, concession stores, franchisees and business clients.

Yaniv expects the export enterprise to expand rapidly. She recently began talks with distributors in Switzerland and Germany. "Every day we have a few new contacts wanting to import our products," she says. "Most are people who tried our products in Israel and loved them."

Ashkenazi to Attend NATO Conference in Brussels

IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, departed on Tuesday for Brussels for a two day work visit. During the visit, Ashkenazi will participate in a conference of the Chiefs of Defense of NATO member countries and will conduct work meetings with his counterparts from around the world.

A ceremonial dinner will be held during the conference in the home of the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, for the NATO Chiefs of Defense. During the dinner Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola will bid a farewell to Ashkenazi, who in a few weeks will be concluding four years of service in the position of IDF Chief of Staff and will retire from the IDF after 40 years of service.

Ashkenazi will discuss with his counterparts the security challenges facing the IDF and the State of Israel, both near and far, including the mixture of regional threats. He will also discuss the importance of cooperation between Israel and NATO member countries in the fight against the global terrorist threat.

Ashkenazi is also slated to deliver a speech at a meeting of the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue with the Chiefs of Defense of NATO member countries.

He will be joined by his wife Ronit, IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, Head of the International Military Cooperation Department in the Planning Directorate Colonel Hani Caspi, Israeli Defense Attaché to NATO Colonel Uri Halperin and Aide-de-Camp, Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Col. Amos HaCohen.

Ashkenazi took part in a NATO conference last year as well. During that conference he called on NATO generals to work closely with Israel to fight the growing terrorist infrastructure on the high seas.

This past November, Ashkenazi visited Canada where he met his Canadian counterpart, the Chief of the Defense Staff of the Canadian Forces, General Walter Natynczyk.

In this upcoming trip to Brussels, Ashkenazi is scheduled to meet Natynczyk again, as well as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces General Mieczyslaw Cieniuch, Chief of Defense Staff of the UK Armed Forces General Sir David Richards, and Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Nikolai Makarov, among many others.

Ashkenazi will also meet for dinner with USEUCOM Commander, Admiral James G. Stavridis.

Website for Orthodox gays aims to find solutions

New site looks to “increase the awareness among the national-religious sector of the complex situation of the religious homosexual."

A new virtual home for Orthodox homosexual men was launched last week in the form of a website seeking to “expose to the rabbis and religious community the difficulties faced by religious homosexuals, to reach common ground and solutions.”

The Kamoha – Orthodox Homosexuals (meaning “like you” in Hebrew) group was founded by “Amit,” a 30-year-old hesder graduate from central Israel, who broke off from Havruta after feeling that the veteran Internet site for religious gays in Israel was compromising on the religious adherence to which it was purportedly committed. The new Kamoha website,, notes a number of instances in which Havruta – which has been an online platform for the past three years and organizes monthly meetings and other activities – deviated from its declared Orthodox directive, such as endorsing a non-Orthodox prayer service on Yom Kippur or adding non-religious members to its steering committee.

Amit related the pain he had experienced in seeing Havruta, “which was a home for me for two-and-a-half years,” take a new direction that made him, as a person fully committed to Orthodoxy, feel like a stranger.

The founding principles of Kamoha include “increasing the awareness among the national-religious sector of the complex situation of the religious homosexual, encouraging the integration of religious homosexuals into the existent communities, taking part in events pertaining to the world of Orthodox homosexuals, except for such that are provocations against the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle...

recognizing the right of those seeking psychological counsel regarding their sexual orientation to receive it, [and] encouraging sincere heterosexual relationships, not out of concealment and deception, which strive to life in the light of the Torah.”

Publicly endorsing the new movement and its principles are three Orthodox rabbis: Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, head of the Petah Tikva hesder yeshiva; Rabbi Menachem Burstein, founder and head of the Puah Institute for Fertility According to Halacha; and Rabbi Yechiel Faust, former head of the Moreshet Ya’acov yeshiva.

Cherlow is considered relatively open to the Orthodox homosexual community, and signed the recently circulated “Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community,” which emphasizes the dignity and respect such individuals are due as human beings and as Jews. Although Burstein wears a knitted kippa, which is identified with the national-religious sector, he is considered close to the national- haredi camp, which is perceived as more conservative.

Like Havruta, Kamoha is striving to set up monthly meetings. Amit said he hoped the first such event would be attended by a rabbi, something that would help indicate the direction of his new group.

Besides being an anchor for Orthodox homosexual men, who face unique challenges and difficulties personally and socially, Kamoha will also strive to provide helpful information to these men’s religious communities – such as advice to rabbis, who might be the first people with whom young men share their homosexual tendencies or thoughts.

Amit also told The Jerusalem Post about his desire to establish a fund for young men – and women – who want to seek professional help in exploring their situation. Many times these people, who are in yeshivot or the army, don’t have the money for therapy, which could be crucial to their current and future well-being, Amit explained.

Such therapy would not be the controversial “converting” treatments endorsed by some rabbis, who believe that a homosexual inclination can be undone, Amit said.

“There are people who can change, and there are people who can’t,” he added, noting the importance of a religious person knowing he engaged in serious introspection that helped clarify where he stood.

“There is the religious outlook of the importance of establishing a home in Israel, there are halachic problems. It’s not simple,” Amit said. “Such an examination could help a person feel whole with himself when he reaches the gates of Heaven,” where, according to tractate Shabbat of the Babylonian Talmud, one is asked if he procreated.

Situation in Lebanon

Lebanon Goes Iran As Hizbullah Takes Over Government

Deputy PM Silvan Shalom Relates to Events in Lebanon

Analysts have said that there is no immediate need for Israel to be alarmed over the prospect of a Lebanese government being backed by its worst enemy, the Hezbollah.

Professor Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said that while "the Hezbollization of Lebanon" is continuing, he did not see the militant group going on an immediate shooting spree, as they were currently busy with internal affairs.

Israeli officials said they are closely following the developments across the northern border, which they said attested to Hezbollah's growing strength.

"We are concerned about Iranian domination of Lebanon through its proxy, Hezbollah," said an Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The idea of a Hezbollah-backed government raises all sorts of questions, he added, including that of Lebanon's commitment to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah and underpins the four-year-old cease-fire.

That resolution calls for the government to extend its control over all Lebanese territory, and for all armed groups, including Hezbollah, to be disarmed.

A deadly cross-border raid by Hezbollah - a Shiite movement that is backed by Iran - precipitated the month-long war with Israel that killed more than 1,200 people.

Israeli military officials say Hezbollah has since rearmed, building a stockpile of more than 40,000 rockets, including many that can reach far into Israel.

The Israeli official said Israel was interested in maintaining quiet.

"We are not going to give the other side any excuse whatsoever to initiate an escalation along the border," he said.

Some Israelis even see a potential benefit in having a government in Lebanon led by Najib Miqati, a Sunni businessman who is Hezbollah's candidate.

"If Hezbollah is behind the government, it will be much easier to explain to the international community why we must fight against the State of Lebanon," said Israel's former National Security Adviser Giora Eiland.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Netanyahu: Israel stands with Russia in war on terror

Germany and U.S. also condemn suicide bombing that killed 31 at Moscow's busiest airport.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the suicide bombing that killed 31 at Moscow's busiest airport on Monday, telling Russian President Dmiry Mevedev that Israel stood behind its efforts to fight terror.
Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he had "heard of the attack with shock," and added, "I condemn this vile bloodshed in the strongest terms. Nothing can justify this barbaric act. We offer our condolences to the relatives and friends of the victims."

U.S. President Barack Obama also condemned the attack and offered to extend any assistance to Moscow that it requires in connection with airport attack.

"I strongly condemn this outrageous act of terrorism against the Russian people," Obama said in a statement read by White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

The blast, which hit Moscow-Domodedovo Airport during the busy later afternoon, also injured about 130 people during the busy late afternoon.
Security has been beefed up at Moscow's other two airports, which will also receive diverted passengers who were flying toward Domodedovo, media reported.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinto joined Obama strong remarks and declared: "We stand with the people of Russia in this moment of sorrow and we offer our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones of those injured and killed."

"The United States condemns terrorism and all forms of violence against the innocent, wherever it occurs. We stand with the victims of these crimes and we will continue to work with the international community to combat violent extremism that threatens peace-loving people everywhere," she said.

"The United States remains ready to support the Russian government as it seeks to bring these perpetrators to justice," she added.