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Did You Know?

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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Child in Tanzania undergoes first open-heart surgery

Group of 20 doctors, nurses staffers from Save a Child's Heart to perform corrective heart surgery on 10 children in the African country.

A medical delegation from the voluntary organization Save a Child’s Heart was due on Wednesday to perform the first open-heart operation on a youngster in Tanzania.

The group of 20 doctors, nurses and other staffers will stay in the poor African country for a week, during which they will perform corrective heart surgery on 10 children who were born with congenital defects.

The operations will be performed at the expense of SACH, which receives donations and whose medical staffers donate their time and skills to the cause. Until now, most of the efforts of the organization – which was established at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon by the late pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Amram Cohen – have focused on surgery on foreign children brought to Israel and then sent home after they recover. The Tanzanian project operates on the children in their home country.

The international, Israel-based humanitarian organization has treated over 2,500 children in disadvantaged countries around the world since 1995.

To find the children who needed surgery, announcements were broadcast on a radio station asking families could apply. Some 200 families are expected to bring their children to Mwanza Hospital in Tanzania to be examined by the doctors, who will decide who can be helped by surgery. Beyond the first 10, SACH will bring others to Wolfson in Holon for heart operations later.

With the help of international supporters, volunteers and physicians, the SACH delegation will spend another week leading a climb of Mount Kilamanjaro to raise $1 million to help pay for saving the lives of additional African children.

Hospital director-general Dr. Yitzhak Berlovich said he was proud to be partners in “this humanitarian project, which glorifies the name of Israel in the world.”

Israeli Research Could Lead to Breakthrough in Autism Diagnosis

Scientists at Israel's Weizmann Institute find a method that could lead to the development of tools for early diagnosis of Autism in children

The results of new research by scientists at the Weizmann Institute could lead to the development of tools for early diagnosis of Autism in children.

The biological causes of autism are still not understood, and a diagnosis of autism is only possible after age three or four. But the Weizmann research, which recently appeared in the Neuron science magazine, has found, for the first time, a method that can accurately identify a biological sign of autism in very young toddlers.

By scanning the brain activity of sleeping children, the scientists discovered that the autistic brains exhibited significantly weaker synchronization between brain areas tied to language and communication, compared to that of non-autistic children.

Along with scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science, the team also included researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of California, San Diego.

“Identifying biological signs of autism has been a major goal for many scientists around the world, both because they may allow early diagnosis, and because they can provide researchers with important clues about the causes and development of the disorder,” said postdoctoral fellow Dr. Ilan Dinstein, a member of the group of Prof. Rafael Malach who headed this study in the Weizmann Institute’s Neurobiology Department.

Many scientists believe that faulty lines of communication between different parts of the brain are involved in the spectrum of autism disorders but there has been no way to observe this in very young children, who are unable to lie still inside an fMRI scanner while they are awake.

The work by Malach’s group pointed to a solution to this problem. Their studies had shown that even during sleep, the brain does not actually switch off. Rather, the electrical activity of the brain cells switches over to spontaneous fluctuation. These fluctuations are coordinated across the two hemispheres of the brain such that each point on the left is synchronized with its corresponding point in the right hemisphere.

In sleeping autistic toddlers, the fMRI scans showed lowered levels of synchronization between the left and right brain areas known to be involved in language and communication. This pattern was not seen either in children with normal development or in those with delayed language development who were not autistic.

The researchers found that this synchronization was strongly tied to the autistic child’s ability to communicate: The weaker the synchronization, the more severe were the symptoms of autism. On the basis of the scans, the scientists were able to identify 70% of the autistic children between the ages of one and three.

“This biological measurement could help diagnose autism at a very early stage,” said Dinstein. “The goal for the near future is to find additional markers that can improve the accuracy and the reliability of the diagnosis.”

China's trade fair catches more eyes in Israel

Israeli traders have shown increasing interests in China's Canton Fair, Israeli merchants and the fair organizers said in a promotion event held in Tel Aviv on Thursday.

"I've heard a lot of good things (from Israeli traders) about the fair, about its volume, its size, etc," said Rona Kotler-ben Aroya, director of the Asia and Oceania Division of Israel's Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.

"I believe that the Israeli business community can find a lot of options and opportunities in this fair," she added.

According to the organizers, some 1,311 Israeli businessmen attended the last session of Canton Fair this May, an increase of nearly 30 percent.

Also known as China Import and Export Fair, Canton Fair is the largest of its kind in China. Held twice a year in China's southern city of Guangzhou, it draws over 22,000 exhibitors and 200,000 overseas buyers from more than 200 countries and regions at each session.

Thursday's promotion event for the 110th Canton Fair, scheduled from mid-October to early November this year, was attended by some 200 Israeli businessmen from various sectors.

The Chinese-Israeli economic and trade cooperation has seen a rapid development during the past years. The trade volume reached 7.65 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, nearly 150 times of the number in 1992, when the two countries established diplomatic relations.

"Now, the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has entered an excellent period, with a good momentum," said Hu Ming, China's commercial counsellor in Israel.

The cooperation in the high-tech industry is expected to become the next focus for both sides, he added.

“Blue and White” Flotilla to Support Israel

Jewish youth movements plan to hold a pro-Israel flotilla on August 14. They will support the Israeli Navy and call on Hamas to free Gilad S

The Young Leadership Department of the World Mizrachi Movement and the student organization Yavneh Olami have announced their plans to hold a special flotilla, this time in support of Israel.

The “Blue and White Flotilla,” which is scheduled to sail from Ashkelon to Ashdod on August 14, is aimed at providing a pro-Israeli response to the freedom flotillas that have been sent to Gaza by anti-Israeli organizations.

The organizers of the “Blue and White Flotilla” plan to hold a special ceremony during the flotilla to honor the soldiers of the IDF’s Shayetet 13.

It was the Shayetet 13 soldiers who boarded the Mavi Marmara during the 2010 flotilla which attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The soldiers were attacked by self-proclaimed 'peace activists' on board the ship, who attempted to lynch them and kidnap them.

Nine members of the lynch-mob were killed when the commandos were forced to open fire to save their imperiled comrades.

Anti-Israel organizations attempted to launch a similar flotilla this year, but it fizzled when the vessels that docked in Greece were refused permission by Hellenic authorities to sail for Gaza. Two were turned back by the coast guard after leaving port without authorization. Flotilla organizers claim two other boats were sabotaged.

The lone ship that did manage to set sail, the Dignite al Karama, was peacefully intercepted by the Navy and was taken to the Ashdod Port.

The organizers of the “Blue and White Flotilla” do not plan to stop at just supporting the Navy, and will also call on the Hamas terror group to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Shalit was kidnapped in June of 2006 by Hamas terrorists and has been held in Gaza ever since. He has not been allowed visits by the International Red Cross for the entire time, and the organization recently called on Hamas to prove that Shalit is still alive.

“Beyond an expression of solidarity and standing alongside the State of Israel, the goal of the ‘Blue and White Flotilla’ is to rouse young Jews around the world, prepare for and to assist Israel in coping with the challenges it faces in the near future, with the expected announcement of a Palestinian state in the United Nations, and in the face of further anti-Israel flotillas which are expected to arrive in the future,” the organizers said in a statement on Thursday.

“We intend to sail with several yachts and boats from Ashkelon to Ashdod, on Aug, 14, 2011,” they added. “During the journey, we will hold a special ceremony saluting the soldiers of Squadron 13 and the Navy, and call upon the terrorist organization, Hamas, and countries around the world, for the speedy release of Gilad Shalit, who remains in captivity for over five years.

“At the end of the flotilla there will be a special event and concert in Ashdod.”

Kiryat Arba Youth Hold Camp for Disabled Children

Thanks to the kind-heartedness of Kiryat Arba's youth, Kav LaChaim's disabled children enjoyed a week of fun.

A special day camp for children with disabilities from the Kav LaChaim organization concluded this week. What made this camp unique is that it was organized and run in its entirety by youngsters from Kiryat Arba, a Jewish community adjacent to the city of Hevron.

Prior to the start of the camp, the youth spent three months preparing and fundraising for the occasion. The camp was made up of dozens of management, production and content teams which presented the children with unique attractions throughout the week. Of course, the youth did not forget the personal care and lots of love, which are important to convey to campers, and especially to campers of this kind.

About 150 teens from Kiryat Arba took part in the planning and running of the camp, and 19 disabled children from Kav LaChaim attended. In general, the teens of Judea and Samaria, maligned in the media as "settler youth", run project after project showing a real sense of social consciousness and love of their people.

“Although we could have organized the camp in a shorter period of time, it was important to us that the youth of the community feel that they are an essential part of running the program,” said Kiryat Arba’s youth coordinator Assaf Asher. “After lots of hard work and a great personal investment on their part, they managed to astonish us all and put together a unique program for Kav LaChaim’s children.”

As part of the preparations for the camp the youth raised thousands of shekels, and set up teams to take care of funding, content, and morale. The youth also took part in seminars that prepared them and taught them how to work with children with disabilities.

The camp was dedicated to the memory of Adiel ben Yosef and Nachshon Porat, two boys with disabilities from Kiryat Arba who had died in recent years.

The camp program included a huge event with inflatables, a Laughter Yoga workshop with a medical clown, a magic show, a juggler show, and many other fun activities. The highlight of camp was a special Shabbat the campers spent in Kiryat Arba. The special Shabbat included a prayer service at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hevron and a Seudah Shlishit with residents of Kiryat Arba.

In order to thank and honor the young councilors, Kiryat Arba Mayor Malachi Levinger, son of the famed Moshe Levinger, idealogue and leader of the renewed Jewish presence in Hevron after the 1967 war, surprised them and took them on a jeep trip after the camp ended.

“It was exciting to see how the youth can have big dreams and fulfill them,” Levinger said. “The entire community felt how mighty our youth is. They undertook this important project and ran a tight ship. We congratulate them on doing so and hope that they continue this way for years to come.”

Israel tests advanced missile interceptor

Israel, concerned about both homemade Qassam rockets launched from Palestinian territory as well as the threat of Iranian ballistic missiles, has field-tested its Arrow 3 interceptor, its new anti-ballistic, long-range air defense system.

The Arrow 3 interceptor shot down a mock enemy ballistic missile in a trial flight, Global Security Newswire reported.

The United States has underwritten a large part of the Arrow 3's development costs. The system is to be deployed in 2015, Arrow 3's program head Yoav Turgeman said, and is intended to provide the topmost level of protection in a planned framework for countering various rocket and missile threats to Israel from any direction.

The Arrow 3's predecessor, the Arrow 2 missile, over the past decade have been deployed in multiple defense units under the operational command of the Israeli air force at a military facility north of Tel Aviv.

The new Arrow 3 system is due to participate in a joint U.S.-Israeli exercise scheduled for January. The "Juniper Cobra" exercise is intended to incorporate every element of Israel's missile and air defenses -- the Arrow 2 and 3 systems, Iron Dome, Magic Wand (also known as "David's Sling") and U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries, as well a U.S. missile defense warship stationed offshore in the Mediterranean.

Iran factored high in Israel's decision to develop the Arrow 3 system as an answer to threats of aerial assaults, including recent declarations by Iran that it had missiles that could hit Israel.

Last month, Iranian air force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh declared: "If the Zionist entity wants to attack us, we will strike at the heart of Tel Aviv before their planes even leave our airspace. We have planned and conducted calculations and we have reached the conclusion that we do not need a range of more than 2,000 kilometers, because Israel is no further than this from our borders."

U.S. Army Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, Israel's multi-layered missile defense system is the only one in existence that can stop rockets and missiles of a variety of ranges and sizes.

A year ago U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew J. Shapiro said: "Given the threat Israel faces from short- and medium-range missiles, Israel air and missile defense systems are an area of particular focus (between the U.S. and Israel), including the Arrow Weapon System to counter long-range ballistic missile threats, and David's Sling to defend against short-range ballistic missiles. For our part, we are working with Israel to upgrade its Patriot Air and Missile Defense System."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Israeli tech behind new Facebook app

Facebook's launch this week of its new 'Facebook for Every Phone' app is based on software developed by the Israeli start-up Snaptu, which the social media giant acquired in March.

The new application is aimed at simple mobile phones that can download Java apps but are not smartphones. The app includes a lightweight News Feed, an Inbox for Facebook Messages, and a way to upload and share photos directly from a phone.

"Today, we're launching the new Facebook for Every Phone app, which offers a fast and comprehensive Facebook experience on over 2,500 different phones," the company said in a statement.

Israeli media outlets raised the question as to why it has taken Facebook so long to launch its newest application, citing that Snaptu's technology also targeted regular mobiles phones.

Facebook said it would offer the new app free-of-charge for the first 90 days, thereby hoping to get mobile phone users hooked on the product.

Reports indicate that there are more than 250 million mobiles users across the globe.

Facebook picks up Snaptu in titanic deal

Facebook has acquired the Israeli mobile app maker Snaptu in a deal said to be valued somewhere between $60 and $70 million.

Snaptu is a free mobile application platform that runs on almost every type of Internet-enabled mobile phones. In other words, Snaptu aims its products at mobile users who still don't have smartphones, tablets or other advanced mobile devices. And according to a CNN report, that embraces the majority of mobile users.

One of the company's latest projects has been working with Facebook and other partners to launch slimmed-down mobile applications of their respective sites. According to Snaptu, its lower-end Facebook app works across 2,500 different mobile devices worldwide.

"Our goal when we founded Snaptu in 2007 was to provide useful and innovative services to the 95 percent of mobile users that don't have access to advanced smart phones," writes Snaptu on the company's blog.

Facebook officials say the deal with Snaptu is expected to close within a few weeks. Writes Snaptu: "We'll have more updates on Snaptu soon, and we'll be working hard to offer a richer and more advanced Facebook app on virtually every mobile phone. During this transition period, we expect Snaptu will continue to operate as it does today."

Snaptu's investors include Sequoia Capital and Carmel Ventures. The company has offices in Silicon Valley, London, and Tel Aviv.

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Snaptu is both a product and a company–the goal of both is to significantly improve the way the world uses the mobile web. Specifically, our goal is to help millions of mobile users access the web easily and quickly—regardless of the mobile phone they’re using. For mobile consumers our Snaptu application delivers a fast, fun and effective user experience for popular mobile Internet applications on virtually every mobile phone. For online service providers, media companies and content owners we provide a large and rapidly growing global channel that requires little setup and no financial or technical investment.

Company background

Snaptu was founded in 2007 by a group of experts from the IT and mobile communication industries. The company is based in London, with offices in Tel Aviv and Silicon Valley

Our Vision

We will become the leading channel for delivering online services to mobile subscribers. We will achieve this by revolutionizing the creation, deployment and delivery of information services to mobile devices, and enabling users to access a rich world of online services from their mobile devices in an exceptionally simple and powerful way.

Our Approach

We believe that designing engaging mobile Internet solutions is not about making online services smaller. It is all about making them smarter and faster.

Imagine a world without PCs, where the only portal to the Internet is the mobile device in your hand. Now start designing the user experience from scratch, bottom up, to the physical and contextual environment of the mobile user. This is what we do.

Designing excellent online solutions for mobile devices does not require overflowing every screen with as much data as possible, it is about providing the easiest and most intuitive way for users to fulfill their task or get the answer they were looking for. And do so quickly.

Snaptu Mobile App Review (Turn Your Phone Into a Smartphone)

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Babylon sets new Guinness record

The Israeli online translation company, Babylon, scored a new Guinness World Record for downloads for language solutions.

Guinness judges stopped by Israel to award Babylon its new title.

"This is an important achievement for Babylon, which is following in the footsteps of other companies like Firefox and Facebook, which recently set records for the largest number of downloads in 24 hours, and the greatest number of likes for a page," said Guinness judge Rob Mollow.

Mollow noted that people today are keen on technology records. "If people were once interested in the Guinness record for the world's tallest man, internet records are now especially popular," he said. "We expect many new digital records to be set."

According to Globes, Babylon has also marked two other achievements: 100 million users of its products, and joining the Alexa list of the top 100 websites.

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Babylon Pro 8 One Click Translation From any language to any language. "Babylon is by far the most useful, intuitive dictionary and translation tool for use with a computer" -

France Ends Ban on Arms Trade with Israel

End of an era: France has ended a four decades-long ban on weapons trade with Israel.

After more than 40 years, France has ended its ban on weapons trade with Israel. Paris has decided to purchase the Heron TP (Eitan) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from Israel Aerospace Industries.

With a wingspan just about as wide as a Boeing 737 (26 meters), the Eitan flies up to an altitude of 40,000 feet and can remain airborne for up to 36 hours. The drone is able to carry a wide variety of equipment with which to conduct its reconnaissance missions due to its size – possibly even missiles.

The Eitan went into service in Israel approximately 18 months ago, and is the first military equipment purchase from Israel by France in 42 years. This is also the first time the Eitan has been sold to a foreign nation.

It was then-President Charles de Gaulle who imposed the weapons sales embargo, barring the sale of a French jet to Israel that was developed with Israeli technology.

That event spurred Israel's government to ensure that no foreign power would ever again have the ability to clip the wings of the IDF.

Israel began developing its own fighter jets, and it also immediately reached out to cultivate other sources of aircraft – primarily the United States.

The IDF purchased the Skyhawk, the F-15, F-16 and most recently the F-35, set to become the newest fighter jet of the Israel Air Force.

Meanwhile, the French-made Mirage, in use for years in Israel, began to undergo a transformation as the Israel Aerospace Industry worked to develop a domestic fighter aircraft. The Kfir fighter jet was the first aircraft to be entirely produced on the soil of the Jewish State, followed by the Lavi in the 1980s. The multi-billion dollar project was never completed, however, due to a complex combination of pressures. These included American political pressure to cancel its new export competitor and the understanding at home that it was just too costly for the small Jewish State to produce on its own.

Instead, Israel turned to the production of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), a field in which the Jewish State has become a leader.

The IAI Heron (Machatz-1) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 35,000 feet. It has demonstrated 52 hours of continuous flight, but the effective operational maximal flight duration is less, due to payload and flight profile. There is a new version, Heron TP, also known as IAI Eitan.

On 11 September 2005, it was announced that the Israel Defence Forces purchased US$50 million worth of Heron systems.

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Design and development
Heron navigates using an internal GPS receiver, and either a pre-programmed flight profile (in which case the system is fully autonomous from takeoff to landing), manual override from a ground control station, or a combination of both. It can autonomously return to base and land in case of lost communication with the ground station. The system has fully automatic launch and recovery (ALR) and all-weather capabilities.

Heron can carry an array of sensors, including infra-red and visible-light surveillance, intelligence systems (COMINT and ELINT) and various radar systems, totaling up to 250 kg (550 lb). Heron is also capable of target acquisition and artillery adjustment.

The payload sensors communicate with the ground control station in real-time, using either direct line of sight data link, or via an airborne/satellite relay. Like the navigation system, the payload can also be used in either a fully pre-programmed autonomous mode, or manual real-time remote operation, or a combination of both.

Operational history
The Heron saw significant use during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza of 2008–2009. During the deployment, each brigade combat team was assigned a UAV squadron for close support. This was the first Israeli operation in which UAVs, helicopters, and fighter jets were allocated to ground forces directly without IAF central command authorizing sorties. Air-support controller teams operated alongside brigade commanders at the front emphasizing the brigade commander's utilization of direct air assets. A high degree of situational awareness was achieved by maintaining at least a dozen UAVs in flight over Gaza at all times. Aerial surveillance was provided by Heron and Hermes 450 UAVs and Apache attack helicopters. Along with coordination between the Air Force and ground troops, Israel ground forces were able to utilize cooperation with the Israel Security Agency by having operatives attached to the forward units. This inter-service coordination allowed for a higher level of tactical awareness and the ability to strike time-critical targets.

Other countries operating the Heron include India and Turkey. France operates a derivative of Heron named Eagle or Harfang. In 2008, Canada announced a plan to lease a Heron for use in Afghanistan, starting in 2009. As of mid-2009, Australia is leasing two Herons as part of a multi-million dollar lease to operate the vehicles in Afghanistan.

Turkey operates a special version of the Heron, which utilizes Turkish designed and manufactured electro-optical sub-systems. Turkish Herons use the ASELSAN of Turkey designed and manufactured ASELFLIR-300T Airborne Thermal Imaging and Targeting System. This is the same FLIR system used by the AgustaWestland TAI T-129 Attack helicopter and the TIHA UAV. Its advantages include the following:

IAI staff maintain that the Turkish Heron's "with its enhanced performance, is better than all existing Heron UAVs operating worldwide”. In 2004, an Indian Airforce Heron UAV, during a reconnaissance mission was shot down by a Pakistan Airforce F-16 over Lahore.

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Israel's HERON TP is the largest drone ever created.

With maximum takeoff weight of 4650 kg, the 14 meter long aircraft can carry over 1,000 kg of sensors in its forward section, main payload bay, and the two bulges located at the end of each tail boom, offering optimal separation for specific systems.

The Heron or Machatz-1 is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aircraft Industries. It is capable of Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) operations of up to 52 hours' duration at up to 35,000 feet.

- Royal Australian Air Force – 3
- Brazilian Federal Police- 15
- Canadian Forces – 3 on a lease contract for three years between 2008–2011
- Ecuadorian Navy – 2
- Luftwaffe – 3 plus 2 ground stations on an initial one-year lease starting in 2010
- Indian Air Force – 50
- Indian Navy
- Israeli Defence Force – 1+
- Republic of Singapore Air Force
- Turkish Air Force – 10
United States
- United States Navy – 2
- Federal Police – 3

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An Israeli made unmanned aerial vehicle, the Heron TP, is displayed at it's induction ceremony into the Israeli Air Force at the Tel Nof Air Force Base, February 21, 2010. The large drone is built by the Israel Aerospace Industries, IAI, and is capable of flying to Iran. It has a wingspan of 86 feet, the size of a passenger jet and can fly 20 consecutive hours. The drone is primarily used for surveillance and carrying payloads

Arts and Crafts Help Overcome Terror Trauma

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Terror attacks result in deaths, and while those who have died cannot be brought back, their relatives who have been left behind often suffer physical and emotional trauma. It is those people whom Natal tries to help, and it does so by providing services such as a telephone hotline, psychological assistance by professionals, a social club, and assistance to discharged combat soldiers who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Claudine Timsit, who lost her husband in a terror attack at the Megiddo junction, became ill and disabled after the attack, which resulted in her having to use a wheelchair. Natal helped her get back on her feet.

“Natal gave me the power to stand back on my feet,” she said. “They were with me almost 24 hours a day. It was my second home.

“I feel here like I’m part of a family,” she continued. “Like I have another family with whom to speak and with whom to be.”

Yvonne Enidzer lost her son in a terror attack in Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station. He was seriously wounded and lay in a hospital for a month before finally succumbing to his wounds. Like Claudine, Yvonne also came to Natal for help.

“When the attack happened, I suffered from physical trauma, and I wouldn’t get out of bed, not even to shower,” she said. “Today I have what to get up for. I come here and I have fun. I don’t know what to tell you. I come wearing jewelry that I haven’t worn for years. I do my hair, things I haven’t done since the terror attack. The house has become colorful and lit up with all my artistic creations. People who come to my house don’t want to leave.”

Yvonne added that most times there is no talk about the trauma.

“There are some days, when it’s closer to yahrzeits (anniversary of a death) and such that we bring up the subject” she said. “When we hear about terror attacks, it takes us back to our own trauma. But in general we have fun here and we try to be friends and everyone is one big family.”

“Today I’m back to my normal self,” said Claudine. “I have greater self-confidence, I create, I have friends here and I know that I have a place to go to. I get up in the morning, I get dressed, I’m not alone. I have Natal, I have my friends, and I go on with life.”

“I feel like I’ve been reborn,” concluded Yvonne.

Ancient bell found in Jerusalem Old City sewer

A gold bell is displayed at the offices of IAA, Israel's Antiquities Authority in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 24, 2011. The tiny golden bell preserved for two millennia underneath Jerusalem is ringing again, having been discovered by Israeli archaeologists excavating a Roman-era sewer.

A tiny golden bell pulled after 2,000 years from an ancient sewer beneath the Old City of Jerusalem was unveiled Sunday by Israeli archaeologists, who hailed it as a rare find.

The orb half an inch (one centimeter) in diameter has a small loop that appears to have been used to sew it as an ornament onto the clothes of a wealthy resident of the city two millennia ago, archaeologists said.

When Eli Shukron of the Israel Antiquities Authority shook it Sunday, the faint metallic sound was something between a clink and a rattle.

The bell's owner likely "walked in the street, and somehow the golden bell fell from his garment into the drainage channel," Shukron said.

The relic was found last week. Shukron said it was the only such bell to be found in Jerusalem from the Second Temple period, and as such was a "very rare" find. The Second Temple stood from about 515 B.C. until A.D. 70.

The biblical Book of Exodus mentions tiny golden bells sewn onto the hem of the robes of Temple priests, along with decorative pomegranates. The artisans in charge of making the priestly clothes and implements, according to the Bible, "made bells of pure gold, and attached the bells between the pomegranates all around the hem of the robe between the pomegranates."

It was not know whether this bell was attached to a priestly garment. It is engraved with a pattern of circular channels starting at the top.

The bell was found inside the Old City walls, a few paces from the site of the Jewish Temples — the sacred compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The compound is home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the golden-capped Islamic shrine known as the Dome of the Rock.

The excavation of the sewer is part of the City of David excavations in the oldest section of Jerusalem, which lies just outside the current city walls and underneath the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan. In the past, Palestinians have objected to Israeli excavations in that area.

The sewer, which Jewish rebels are thought to have used to flee the Roman legionnaires who razed Jerusalem and its Temple in A.D. 70, is set to open to the public later this summer.

Ancient bell found in Jerusalem Old City sewer

Combat Engineering Corps

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The Israeli Combat Engineering Corps (Hebrew: חיל ההנדסה הקרבית‎, Heil HaHandasa HaKravit) is the combat engineering forces of the Israel Defense Forces.

The Combat Engineering Corps beret's color is grey and their symbol features a sword on a defensive tower with a blast halo on the background. The Combat Engineering Corps mottos are "Always First" (ראשונים תמיד Rishonim Tamid) and the unofficial "The hard - we shall do today, the impossible - we shall do tomorrow".

Their roles include mobility assurance, road breaching, defense and fortifications, counter-mobility of enemy forces, construction and destruction under fire, sabotage, explosives, bomb disposal, counter-NBC and special engineering missions.

In addition to Combat Engineering Corps sappers, each infantry brigade has an engineering company trained with basic engineering and EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) skills (called פלח"הן). Combat Engineering Corps sappers and heavy equipment operators are often attached to other units (such as armored or infantry brigades) in order to help them breach through obstacles and handle explosive threats.

Wining and dining with a view

The Pontifical Institute Notre Dame is no longer just a destination for its guests, but now a stop for wine and cheese enthusiasts thanks to a new rooftop restaurant.

The Pontifical Institute Notre Dame in Jerusalem is no longer just a destination for its guests, but now a stop for wine and cheese enthusiasts thanks to a new rooftop restaurant that serves up a tasty panorama of the city as well.

Since the Notre Dame Center Roof Top Wine & Cheese Restaurant opened across from the Old City's New Gate a few months ago, news has spread through word of mouth attracting people from all over the country, city residents and volunteers in addition to the hotel's guests.

“It has been very successful so far, and the view is awesome,” Father Juan Maria Solana told Travelujah. “It is one of the best in town."

The wine bar, with sweeping, awe-inspiring views to the east and south of Jerusalem, opened in March. Outdoor dining is perfect after a hot Jerusalem summer day. Indoor seating is replete with modern furniture and a swank atmosphere.

The wine list has a selection of imports and Israeli vintages. Cheeses run the gamut from French gruyere to British cheddar, plus goat cheeses and fresh butter. Even if you don't like wine or cheese, a trip to the bar is worthwhile. Other drinks and a selection of light foods and meals are on the menu in addition to the exclusive wine and cheese lists.

The Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center is a diverse location. The impressive building, across from the Old City's New Gate, is home to a guesthouse, an exhibition for the Shroud of Turin, a cafe, an elegant restaurant and a church, Our Lady of Peace Chapel, in addition to other outlets.

“Notre Dame has always been looking to be a peaceful place for everyone,” Solana said.

3 Paratroopers Road, across from the Old City's New Gate, Jerusalem.

Nicole Jansezian writes for Travelujah, the leading Christian social network focused on connecting Christians to the Holy Land. People can learn, plan and share their Holy Land tour and travel experiences on Travelujah.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

De Niro in Herzliya

New Japanese-style hotel, restaurant by Hollywood actor, partners to open above Arena shopping mall within two years

In a lavish event held last Thursday at the Nobu sushi restaurant in London, the Nobu Group partners announced the establishment of a new hotel in Herzliya for an investment of NIS 600 million (approximately $178 million.)

Both partner Robert De Niro and his son Raphael, who was due to attend. were absent. Attending the event were Chef Nobu Matsuhisa as well as the former-Israeli partners Meir Teper and Richie Notar and the Israeli partners in the project – the Strauss family and the Tidhar Group. Also joining the event were Paris Hilton and her beau.

“We have faith in the Israeli economy,” said Notar, adding that partner De Niro has personally attended the meetings with architect David Rockwell, regarding the design of the hotel planned to be erected above the Arena shopping mall, owned by Jacky Ben-Zaken and partners.

The hotel will open its gates within two years and will feature 225 rooms. According to Sales Director, Sigal Ben-Moshe, all rooms will be available for purchase from $600,000 for a studio to $1.7 million for a penthouse. The sales concept is that the property owner will receive an annual refund of up to 5% and additional percentage from the project’s profits.

The Herzliya hotel will be built in Japanese-style architecture, featuring a large SPA club designed to provide business people with a relaxing, innovative meeting place.

According to Tidhar Group, the partnership with Nobu and the Strauss family may expand into additional hotel branches as the partners seek other sites in Greece and Eastern Europe.,7340,L-3545038,00.html

Amazing hockey goal - Israeli player

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Eliezer Sherbatov World Championships Div 3 in Cape Town

Army designs new vest for female combatants

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Female combatants in the Israeli Army will receive new military vests especially designed for women, the army said.

Still in its development stages the vest is lighter than those handed out to male soldiers and is designed to fit the female body, Captain Yoav Gelster in charge of military equipment said.

A number of vests have already been tested by female soldiers in the Caracal Battalion he said.

The new vest has narrower straps and fits the female pelvis, its pockets can be dismantled and additional ventilation openings were added Gelster said.

The new vest weighs 1.6 kilograms and allows female soldiers to insert the protective plates into the vests independently.

Vests used by male combatants weigh approximately 2.54 kilograms.

Israeli students shine at international math competition

The Israeli team displaying their medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Amsterdam on Saturday July 23, 2011.

Israeli whiz kids walk away from competition with 1 gold, 4 bronze medals, as Israel reaches 23rd spot out of 101 teams.

After a several-year slump, Israel has reached the 23rd spot out of 101 teams at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Amsterdam.

Last year, Israel only managed to take 53rd out of 96, despite reaching the 11th spot as recently as 2000.

Team members this year won one gold and four bronze medals. Rom Dudkovitz of Blich High School in Ramat Gan claimed the gold medal, while the four bronze medals went to Guy Raveh of Leo Beck School in Haifa, Yoav Krauss of Katzir High School in Holon, Tom Ferster of Ostrovosky High School in Ra'anana, and Konstantin Zbarny of the Fifth Municipal High School in Haifa.

The students trained for the competition in partnership with the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

This year, 564 students from around the world attended the international math competition. The event ended with 54 gold medalists, 90 silver medalists and 137 bronze medalists.

The Chinese team won first place, as it has in every International Mathematical Olympiad event since the late 1980s. Second place went to America, followed by Singapore. Russia took fourth place, Thailand came in fifth, followed by Turkey and North Korea in the sixth and seventh spots. Iran won 10th place at the competition.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar congratulated Israel's team leader and coach Lev Radislavsky. Since first taking part in the games, Israel has had 11 gold medalists, 33 silver medalists and 81 bronze medalists.

Jerusalem 60 Minutes: The City of David

Jerusalem 60 Minutes: The City of David

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PM: Israel identifies with 'deep pain and grief' of Norway

Norwegian police search for more victims of suspected right-wing extremist's shooting spree; up to 98 believed dead in attacks.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement Saturday night saying that Israel identified with the "deep pain and grief" of the Norwegian people.

The prime minister's message of condolence came as Norwegian police searched for more victims and a possible second gunman after a suspected right-wing zealot killed up to 98 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack that have traumatized a once-placid country.

The Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Israel "expresses its shock at the revolting terror attacks in Oslo, which have taken the lives of innocent victims. Nothing at all can justify such wanton violence, and we condemn this brutal action with the utmost gravity."

The statement said that Israel would offer Norway any assistance it may require, an offer repeated in a phone conversation Defense Minister Ehud Barak had with his counterparts in Norway. The Norwegians, according to a statement issued by Barak's office, thanked Israel for the offer, but said that at this time they did not need any assistance.

Israel offered forensic assistance, help in evacuating the wounded, and medical support.

A 32-year-old Norwegian named Anders Behring Breivik was arrested after Friday's massacre of young people on a tiny forested holiday island that was hosting the annual summer camp for the youth wing of Norway's ruling Labor party.

Breivik was also charged for the bombing of Oslo's government district that killed seven people hours earlier.

If convicted on the terrorism charges, he would face a maximum of 21 years in jail, police said.

Breivik had belonged to an anti-immigration party and wrote blogs attacking multi-culturalism and Islam, but police said he had been unknown to them and that his Internet activity traced so far included no calls for violence.

Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, went on a prolonged shooting orgy on Utoeya island northwest of Oslo, picking off his prey unchallenged as youngsters scattered in panic or jumped in the lake to swim for the mainland.

A police SWAT team eventually arrived from Oslo, 30 km (19 miles) away, to seize Breivik after nearly 90 minutes of firing, acting police chief Sveinung Sponheim told a news conference.

"We don't know yet" if he acted alone, Sponheim said, adding that Breivik had surrendered immediately and had confessed.

Sponheim said 85 people were known to have died in the shooting and seven in the Oslo bomb blast. The overall death toll could reach 98 if some missing people proved to have died.

Police gave no figure for the number wounded in Norway's worst violence since World War Two.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, sharing the shocked mood in this normally safe, quiet country of 4.8 million, said: "A paradise island has been transformed into a hell."

Labour Party youth member Erik Kursetgjerde described the panic on Utoeya when the gunman began shooting.

"I heard screams. I heard people begging for their lives and I heard shots. He just blew them away. I was certain I was going to die," Kursetgjerde, 18, told Reuters outside a hotel in the nearby town of Sundvollen, where many survivors were taken.

"People ran everywhere. They panicked and climbed into trees. People got trampled."

The killer, dressed as a policeman, "would tell people to come over: 'It's OK, you're safe, we're coming to help you.' And then I saw about 20 people come towards him and he shot them at close range," he said.

Kursetgjerde said he ran and hid between cliffs, then swam into the lake and nearly drowned. "Someone (in a boat) rescued me. They saved my life."

Norwegian NRK television showed blurred pictures taken from a helicopter of a man, apparently in police uniform, standing with his arm outstretched amid numerous victims, some prone on the rocky shore, others floating in the water.

"This lasted for hours," Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference, describing the killings on the island northwest of Oslo where about 600 young people had gathered.

The bloodbath was believed to be the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times.

Police combed the island and the lake, even using a mini-submarine to search the water, police inspector Bjoerne Erik Sem-Jacobsen told Reuters. "We don't know how many people were on the island, therefore we have to search further."

The suspect, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertiliser -- possibly to make the Oslo bomb.

"These are goods that were delivered on May 4," Oddny Estenstad, a spokeswoman at farm supply chain Felleskjoepet Agri, told Reuters. "It was 6 tonnes of fertiliser, which is a small, normal order for a standard agricultural producer."

It was not clear if Breivik, a gun club member according to local media, had more than one weapon or whether he had stocked ammunition on Utoeya, where police found explosives.

Initial speculation after the Oslo blast had focused on Islamist militant groups, but it appears that only Breivik -- and perhaps unidentified associates -- was involved.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Brazil's Gilberto Gil to perform again in Israel

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Months after famous Brazilian singer and composer Gilberto Gil performed in Israel he announced plans to return for a second time and is scheduled to perform in Ranaana on July 24 with his six piece electric band in an evening dubbed "Gilberto Gil For All."

Gil whose music career spans more than four decades, has released over 30 albums turning him into a legend worldwide.

In the past he played with an array of artists in England including Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Yes and Pink Floyd to name a few.

Describing Israeli audiences as cheerful, Gil said he plans to play in the upcoming event songs in different styles including material from other Brazilian composers. He told reporters there are many similarities between Brazilian music and the music he has heard during visits to Israel and believes it contributes to the enthusiasm of the Israeli audience.

Israel’s public bike rental services to extend outside Tel Aviv

Parked bikes belonging to Tel Aviv’s popular rental program.

Success of Tel Aviv’s bicycle rental program entices neighboring towns to start similar programs in municipalities.

Herzliya and Givatayim will soon join Tel Aviv in launching public bike rental initiatives. The Herzliya project will include the construction of a cycling path linking the city with Tel Aviv.

Herzliya is negotiating with Tel-Ofan, operators of the Tel Aviv project, to set up docking stations in central locations, such as the industrial areas, the beach and the city center. The main customers for the bike rentals are expected to be residents of Herzliya Pituach, who today suffer from a shortage of parking.

The residents of eastern and central Herzliya and Tel Aviv will also benefit from the scheme. The program could significantly reduce the number of cars traveling through the city and cut down on pollution.

Senior officials in the Herzliya municipality told Haaretz that one of the conditions for advancing the plan is the construction of a cycling path linking Herzliya and Tel Aviv along Namir Road. "It's a very complicated project, both logistically and from an engineering point of view, so I think the entire thing will take at least a year," said Herzliya Mayor Yael German. "Unfortunately I don't see a critical mass of cyclists in Herzliya, so we'll join up with the Tel Aviv tender."

Sharon Keren, deputy director of the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority which operates the bike rental project, said that if the talks between the authority and Herzliya mature into an agreement, it will be possible to include Herzliya in the Tel Aviv Tel-Ofan project within a few months.

Meanwhile, Givatayim announced last month that it intends to launch Israel's first electrical bikes rental project within a few months.

The Tel Aviv municipality is working to promote alternative transport in the city in an effort to wean residents away from private vehicles. Haaretz has learned that the Tel Aviv Economic Development Authority is negotiating with Car2Go, an hourly car rental company that maintains vehicles on Tel Aviv parking lots, which can be accessed with a smart card. The authority hopes to be able to offer a joint discount card for Tel-Ofan and Car2Go. "It gives you the perfect transportation solution," said Keren."If you need to travel short distances, take the bicycle, and if you need to get out of town, take a car."

The authority is also working out benefits and discounts for Tel-Ofan subscribers.

The bicycle rental project has 5,000 subscribers, 90 percent of them residents of Tel Aviv. There are over 2,000 bike rentals every day. Currently only annual subscriptions are being sold, but daily and weekly subscriptions are expected to become available. There are 80 docking stations with 550 bicycles positioned throughout the city.

That figure is set to rise to 1,500 bicycles in 150 docking stations by September, as the city begins the second phase of the program - setting up docking stations in every neighborhood.

StandWithUs in San Diego

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Jerusalem boxing club brings together Jews, Arabs

Israeli and Palestinian boxers train June 29 at the Maccabi Jerusalem Boxing Club in Jerusalem. Gershon Luxemburg’s boxing club, a stuffy gym inside a converted underground bomb shelter, has become a rare melting pot that brings Israelis and Palestinians together, one punch at a time.

When Gershon Luxemburg started his boxing club 30 years ago, he was looking to build champions, not bridges.

But thanks to a loyal cadre of Jewish and Arab fighters who flock to his stuffy gym inside a converted underground bomb shelter, Luxemburg’s club has become a rare melting pot that brings the warring sides closer together — one punch at a time.

Luxemburg and his brother Eli run Jerusalem’s only official boxing club. The cramped, smelly gym has pictures of Muhammad Ali and other boxing greats gracing the walls and an assortment of heavy bags hanging from the ceiling. Located in a neighborhood in Jewish west Jerusalem, it draws boxers from all parts of the city and has become a second home for both aspiring professionals and amateurs looking to learn the sweet science.

Despite the sport’s violent nature, Luxemburg says Jews and Arabs never clash in his gym.

“It’s very easy for me to see hate in someone’s eyes, and I’ve never seen it here,” he said. “The boxers are close. They are like brothers to each other.”

At a time when Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly segregated, the Maccabi Jerusalem Boxing Club offers a hub of coexistence. Jews and Arabs who would normally never cross paths jog, skip rope and spar. They pant and sweat, and the occasional nose gets bloody, but tensions never rise after the bell is rung.

Luxemburg says it is typical for aspiring boxers to come with troubled pasts. But learning how to fight actually lessens violent tendencies, he said.

“When someone has that confidence in himself, he doesn’t look for a fight. He doesn’t need to throw stones,” he said. “Sports brings people together. When you get in that ring together, when you get so close you can smell the other person ... it’s a different level.”

He said that in sanctioned tournaments he lets his fighters get “cruel” and hit hard. But the in-house training is kept civil, even cordial.

Ismail Jafrei, a 37-year-old Palestinian truck driver from east Jerusalem, the section of the city claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital, says the trick is to leave politics at the door.

“When we walk down those steps we leave politics, religion and all that mess outside,” he said. “Inside the club, we are all brothers. We spar and at the end we shake hands and everyone goes their own way.”

A frequent Israeli sparring partner agrees.

“We’re just fighters and it doesn’t matter if one is an Arab and one is a Jew,” said Yehuda Luxemburg, a 23-year-old Israeli combat soldier and nephew of the club’s trainers. “There is something pure about boxing. It brings people together.”

Eli Luxemburg is an equal opportunity screamer. At a recent practice, he hollered at his charges “fire, fire, fire” and they began to unload jabs at each other’s boxing helmets.

“Mohammed. Move your feet! You aren’t moving your feet!” he yelled at a Palestinian boxer. The shy east Jerusalemite nodded, and Yehuda Luxemburg gave him some pointers on footwork and other fine points.

“Now hit me!” he said.

The Luxemburg brothers were both former champs in their native Uzbekistan before immigrating to Israel. They now enjoy a cult-like status among Jerusalem’s small but tightly knit boxing community.

They instruct in a mixture of Hebrew, Russian and English. While many Palestinians in Jerusalem know Hebrew, instructions are translated into Arabic for those who don’t understand.

Israeli boxers have enjoyed a moderate level of success internationally. Most originate from the former Soviet Union, such as former WBA super welterweight champion Yuri Foreman and heavyweight Roman Greenberg — nicknamed the “Lion from Zion.”

Some of the Gershon Luxemburg’s fighters have gone on to compete in the Olympics and in European championships, but he says his ultimate dream is to host a tournament in Jerusalem with all religions attending — and perhaps Muhammad Ali too.

“I don’t care if they become boxing champions, so long as they become champions in life,” he said.

History Channel on Great Jewish Revolt - Siege Of Masada

Masada (Hebrew מצדה, pronounced About this sound Metzada (help·info), from מצודה, metzuda, "fortress") is the name for a site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. After the First Jewish-Roman War a siege of the fortress by troops of the Roman Empire led to the mass suicide of the Sicarii rebels. It is located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Arad.

History Channel on Great Jewish Revolt - Siege Of Masada 1

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History Channel on Great Jewish Revolt - Siege Of Masada 2

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History Channel on Great Jewish Revolt - Siege Of Masada 3

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History Channel on Great Jewish Revolt - Siege Of Masada 5

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Israel and Canada

Shared values

Throughout the Middle East and Arab world, people are rising up against dictatorship and tyranny. They are fighting for their human rights and their human dignity, even while under the threat of violence and death.

Amidst this violence, however, Israel remains relatively calm and peaceful. One of the reasons for this is that many of the freedoms that the people of the Middle East and Arab world are fighting for already exist in Israel. The right to vote, the right to disagree with the government and protection of freedom of the press are just some of the fundamental rights that have existed in Israel since its founding.

One of the things I admire the most about Israel is that they have maintained a free and democratic society even while being surrounded by dictatorships. Having suffered firsthand the tragic consequences of hatred and tyranny, the Jewish people created a nation built on the foundation of justice and human dignity. Upon this foundation, they built a modern, prosperous and free society. This nation embraces people of all backgrounds and all faiths, as we do in Canada.

I first learned about Israel when I had the honour of being a part of The Asper Foundation Human Rights and Holocaust Studies Program. I attended a four month program, where students learned about the Holocaust, Israel, and human rights violations around the world. We had the opportunity to hear from Holocaust survivors about their experiences, and I was amazed by the fact that they retained so much hope for the human race, despite seeing the lowest depths of hatred, aggression, and oppression. I was struck by how important it was to them that Israel exists, and how deeply they felt attached to Israel. For them, Israel is not just a country; it is something they carry in their hearts. At the same time, they were deeply grateful for Canada, and they recognized that all of us who live in free countries are truly blessed.

Here on our campus, discussions about Israel can sometimes become quite heated. Good people can be on different sides of this issue. However, if we can channel this passion and emotion towards a search for the truth and for common ground, I believe that people of all backgrounds and all viewpoints will find that there is much to admire and support when it comes to the state of Israel. There is no country on our Earth that is perfect, and Israel is no exception. However, Israel need not be perfect for us to admire what it has achieved.

Many students that I know support Israel because we recognize that their values are our values. These values of democracy, respect for individual freedom, and a willingness to hear all points of view, are essential and fundamental to our way of life. They are the values that we cherish and believe in, and they are the values that our world needs now more than ever.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Turning up the volume for deaf Palestinians

A Palestinian child waits to receive a hearing aid from Israeli doctors.

Israel's Sheba Medical Center pairs with an American foundation to provide hearing aids to a West Bank population affected by genetic deafness.

The plight of hearing-impaired people in the West Bank fell on deaf ears - until a joint American-Israeli humanitarian project outfitted 1,000 Arabs from the Palestinian Authority town of Tulkarm with hearing aids this month.

The hearing aids were distributed in cooperation with the Sheba Medical Center, the US-based Starkey Hearing Foundation, and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.

A hearing aid means the world to young people like Riham Zuheir Kassem, a five-year-old girl left deaf after contracting viral meningitis when she was seven months old. Her mother had tried to get medical care for the child in Jerusalem, but couldn't afford it. Now, Riham will be able to hear, attend school and live out her potential in life.

A hearing aid will improve the quality of life for older Palestinians as well, like Muhammad Arzall, a 50-year-old farmer whose hearing gradually deteriorated as he got older. Arzall didn't have the money to purchase a hearing aid, so he went without -- until now.

Ten-year-old Aya Ayman Ahmad Daghmash, and her little sister Youmna Ayman Ahmad Daghmash, nine, were both diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of five. Unable to educate them in local schools, they were sent to a special boarding school far from home. To enable them to attend a school closer to home, the school asked that they be fitted with hearing aids, but the family couldn't afford them. "I must admit I nearly cried to see them receive the hearing aids. This is a present from above for us. We thank everyone who made this dream come true," their dad said.

Operating under secrecy because of security concerns in the Palestinian Authority, where it can be dangerous and even deadly for Israelis to travel, the team of 20 Israeli doctors and hearing specialists, with representatives from the Starkey Foundation, traveled to Tulkarem to do fittings in April. They returned a month later to distribute the hearing aids, answer questions and train users over the course of three days.

"It's a population which is in a great need for this hearing aid, and they can't afford them," Dr. Raphi Walden, a key organizer of the operation, tells ISRAEL21c.

The members of the delegation felt safe with an escort by an elite Palestinian force, and got an extremely positive response from the local community, adds Walden, a vascular surgeon who is the son-in-law of Israeli President Shimon Peres and is the deputy director of Sheba Medical Center and a leader of Physicians for Human Rights. "Lacking medical services, they can't afford to buy this equipment, which costs about $1,000 apiece."

Walden estimates that the new hearing aid owners, who range from the ages of four to 75, may experience a profound turnaround in their lives now that they are able to hear.

Rampant genetic hearing deficiencies

Hearing problems are rife throughout the Palestinian Arab population, Walden says. This is the result of "inbreeding depression," the scientific term for the genetic effects of consanguineous marriage -- a common, even encouraged, phenomenon in Arab culture, where a husband and wife are often cousins. In some cases, all the children in a family are clinically deaf.

Deafness renders the children outcasts, as they are not able to make friends, go to school and, when the time comes, get a decent job. In many cases, the problems are solvable with a simple device. But the $1,000 price tag is about equal to the monthly income for a family in the West Bank.

So the American Friends of the Sheba Medical Center appealed to the Starkey Hearing Foundation to donate assistive hearing devices (along with a year's supply of batteries to power them) to the Palestinians. The Physicians for Human Rights located those in need, and the Israelis fitted and trained patients, and will oversee maintenance checks in the future.

The Starkey Foundation donates 100,000 hearing aids around the world each year, so far improving the hearing of half a million people. Starkey's head, Bill Austin, came to Tulkarm to see his organization's gift being implemented.

“The Starkey Hearing Foundation Israel-Palestine Hearing Mission of Peace is a humanitarian effort unlike any hearing mission we have done before anywhere in the world,” said Austin. “In our ongoing desire to deliver the gift of hearing to those in need, we thank our Israeli partners and the Palestinian people for giving us the opportunity to bring about a life-changing event for each of the recipients we were able to help. It is our hope that this work will make possible greater understanding and communication.”

This small act of kindness by Americans and Israelis to the perceived enemy is just another of tens of dozens of humanitarian projects that Israelis help coordinate on a monthly basis.

Jerusalem community garden

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A garden refuge in the heart of Jerusalem

Five years ago, the plot of land on the grounds of the Natural History Museum in Jerusalem was barren and unused. Today it has become the city's largest community garden.

Designed as a space to grow organic crops, the garden -- located just a stone's throw from a busy street - is also an educational institution and an urban refuge for the people of Jerusalem.

The community garden is open to anyone, and regular visitors include school children, artists and a nursery for mentally disabled adults.

India and Israel see ‘I’ to ‘I’ in clean-tech

Indian delegates are actively searching for Israeli clean technologies, such as those from solar energy company BrightSource Energy.

Israel welcomed executives from 40 Indian companies to learn how Israeli clean-tech innovators can help India's businesses prosper in a green way.

A clear shift is happening in the world. The economies of emerging countries, poised to avoid mistakes made in the West, are rapidly expanding to address water and energy needs. Countries such as India and China, where many citizens lack modern sanitation and electricity, are seeking solutions that are not only environmentally friendly, but cost-friendly as well.

These countries can leapfrog over the hurdles holding back America and Europe from renewing archaic water pipes, valves and energy infrastructure. Instead, they can adopt clean technologies from the get-go.

And Israel is hoping to help get them there. A free trade agreement between Indian states and Israel is now in the works and is likely to enable business enormously. Earlier this year, Israel's Finance and Industry ministries earmarked $29 million to promote trade with China and India.

With eager partners on both sides of the table, Israeli government officials, companies and investors welcomed CEOs and VPs from 40 Indian companies in June to learn how Israeli clean-tech partners can help India's businesses prosper.

Indian delegates from companies including Jindal Power, Eureka Forbes and Ispat Industries will meet representatives from Israeli industry such as solar energy companies BrightSource Energy, HelioFocus and Zenith Solar; and water technology pioneers Netafim, IDE Technologies and Kinrot Ventures, the water-tech incubator that has in-house labs for the visitors to see.

Building on billions in trade

Historically, the two countries share more than the capital "I" in their names: Diplomatic ties between Israel and India were established in 1992, and last year trade blossomed to $4.7 billion, not including defense sales, making India Israel's second major export market.

So where do Israel and India stand on clean-tech business? The boom is just waiting to happen, says Anat Bernstein-Reich, a managing partner at A&G Partners, an investment firm with an office in India. She's also a vice president of the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce. A&G Partners put the four-day clean-tech matchmaking forum together in Tel Aviv with Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Bernstein-Reich had the foresight 15 years ago to set up a business with an Indian partner, learn Hindi and start developing trade opportunities. The forum she helped organize comes on the heels of a memorandum of understanding that India and Israel will cooperate on cross-border innovation and entrepreneurship. The agreement focuses on high-tech, but there is some crossover as clean-tech is an approach that can be implemented in any industry.

This is the second delegation Bernstein-Reich arranged to bring to Israel. Last year, a group of CTOs came to Israel, and this year she and her colleagues decided to look at clean-tech. "My own company invests in a variety of sectors from real estate to entertainment," she says, obviously looking to cultivate the next big deal.

Focus shifting east

Over the last couple of years, Israel has moved its focus from Europe and the United States to fast-growing countries like China and India. Europe and the US today tend to be slower to change and adopt new technologies and clean-tech solutions, mainly because quasi-governmental infrastructure companies must meet rigorous approval processes and standards. And this can take years.

Israel, quick to innovate and relying on an export market, can enter the Asian markets as fast as they open up. If the innovators can match India's needs and standards at the development stages, solutions uptake - and business - could be rapid.

Naushad Forbes, director of India's Forbes Marshall, a steam engineering company, told The Media Line news service: "There's a complementary software story. Indian firms are entirely process orientated and Israel firms are much more about product. If we put those two together, we can be unbeatable worldwide."