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Did You Know?

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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

UNICEF to use ICL-made water purification tablets in Syria

Israel Chemicals given special authorization to have subsidiary sell tables to UN mission trying to rehabilitate war-torn country’s water sources

Israel Chemicals (ICL) was given a special authorization Sunday to have one of its European subsidiaries sell water purification tablets to UNICEF with the knowledge that they will be used in the agency’s relief mission in Syria.
UNICEF is overseeing a project meant to rehabilitate Syria’s water sources, which have suffered significant damage during the 18-months revolt against President Bashar Assad.
The deal will be carried out by ICL’s Ireland-based subsidiary, Medentech. The company needed government approval for the deal since it involved the delivery of Israeli products to an enemy state.
According to details obtained by Ynet, UNICEF expressed interest in the company’s “AquaTabs” water purification product following the growing shortage of drinking water in war-torn Syria.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz was therefore called on to authorize the deal, due to the innate political sensitivities.
He did so citing humanitarian grounds; as well as the fact that the product will not be sold directly to Syria, but rather to the UN agency.
Source: Ynetnews

Jaffa hosts International Photography Festival

Some 200 Israeli, foreign photographers participate in this year’s festival, focusing on themes of environment, community, art

Some 200 Israeli and foreign photographers and as many as 30 curators will take part in the 2012 International Photography Festival, which will be held during the intermediate days of Sukkot (October 2-8) at the Jaffa Port and other locations.
According to organizers, this year’s festival will be focused around the themes of the environment, community, and art.
The festival will include a project in collaboration with Google, as well as several exhibitions in which photographers will select the works of their colleagues.
The Shpilman Institute for Photography will present an integrated project of exhibitions and video screenings, and huge photos with “harsh messages on the boundaries between society and art” will be showcased on the port’s buildings.
Some of the exhibitions are free, but tickets should be purchased to see the whole festival. A single entry card costs NIS 39 (about $10), and a family card (a couple and up to three kids) costs NIS 78 ($20).
Source: Ynetnews

Saturday, September 29, 2012

PM Netanyahu's Speech at UNGA September 2012

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PM Netanyahu's Speech at United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 2012

IDF Chief Cantor Sings "Unetanneh Tokef"

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This video clip, which was produced especially for the Jewish High Holidays, shows the IDF chief cantor and IDF soldiers singing the prayer "Unetanneh Tokef" in the Great Synagogue in Tel Aviv. The video features footage of the Yom Kippur War and one of its heroes, Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani, who was a battalion commander in the Armored Brigade, fought in the battle of the Valley of Tears and was awarded a Medal of Valor.

Special thanks to:
Brig. Gen. (res.) Avigdor Kahalani -- head of Association for the Well-Being of Israeli Soldiers
Ofir Sobol -- producer and musical arranger
The Great Synagogue on Allenby St. in Tel Aviv
Raanana Symphonette Orchestra
Kibbutz Beit Hashita
Music: Yair Rosenblum

For more from the IDF:

Sderot introduces first urban solar field

Members of Migvan urban kibbutz agree to ‘plant’ solar panel field on roofs; eco-venture yields 11% profit

Members of Migvan urban kibbutz, located in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, have decided to invest in a unique crop – solar energy.
The commune’s houses are covered with solar panels, making them the location of Israel’s first urban solar field, which produces electricity for its residents.
Migvan was formed in 1987 and is currently home to 50 people.
The urban kibbutz adopted environmentally friendly principles from its inception, and has a large recycling center and a compost recycling facility, as well.
About three years ago, the members agreed to install small solar systems on their roofs, to manufacture their own power.
“We had a clear agenda then, to save electricity, to contribute what little we could to the environment and yes, to form a long-term savings account for the kibbutz,” Migvan member Lior Lapid said.
Migvan was able to obtain a bank loan to finance the venture and soon installed 10 Sunpower systems.
In late April the systems went on the grid and started producing electricity.
Each rooftop system produced 4 kilowatts of power and together, they are expected to produce more than 70 kilowatts of electricity a year.
As it was soon discovered, the systems produced more electricity than Migvan needed, yielding an 11% return on their investment. The commune now hopes to pay off the bank loan it was given within 8-9 years.
“It’s like having a savings account with a 12% return,” Lapid said.
“The State should encourage these kinds of projects. There’s plenty of sun and more than enough roofs. There’s no need to take up open spaces for it.”
Source: Ynetnews

Bringing Morocco’s sacred music to Israel

Artists from Israel, abroad share variety of musical traditions as part of Jerusalem festival. Hassan Hakmoun, his New York-based ensemble perform ancient African folk music of Islamic Gnawa sect

The Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival recently brought a new tradition to the holy city. For 24 consecutive hours, artists and musicians from Israel and abroad, shared a variety of musical traditions through the wee hours of the next morning.
Centered at Jerusalem’s Tower of David, the festival venues were chosen to reflect a message of inter-faith unity and sanctity at historical venues reflective of Jerusalem’s diverse faiths.
Musical events and shows were held at Zedekiah’s Cave in the Old City and Notre Dame across the road from the New Gate. In addition to taking part in a Slichot workshop, festival participants also had the opportunity to tour the Ethiopian, Franciscan and Armenian morning prayers at the Church of Holy Sepulcher.
The music festival featured esoteric, meditative and ceremonial music from Azerbaijan, Iran, Africa, Morocco, Iraq, Brazil, and India as well as a Sufi dance workshop.
The festival opened with Persian music and chants performed by two Iranian musicians based in Canada, the brothers Kiya and Zia Tabassian who played and sang together with Israeli percussionist Zohar Fresco.
Other international artists included Morocco’s Hassan Hakmoun and his New York-based ensemble, who performed ancient African Islamic folk music of the Islamic Gnawa sect, descendants of West African slaves brought to North Africa several hundred years ago.

Prayer for peace for the region

Speaking with Tazpit News Agency, Hakmoun described his childhood growing up in Marrakesh, Morocco. “I grew up in a musical family in Morocco. My mother is mystic music healer and I learned the Gnawan musical traditions from a young age.”
“This is my second time in Israel,” added Hakmoun, who performed in Tel Aviv in 1994. Hakmoun, who is Muslim, believes that people can live as one. “When you come to Jerusalem, you see churches, mosques and synagogues, next to each other. There is a peacefulness here that you never see on TV.”
“The most amazing part of this city, is seeing how the footsteps of all the world’s major religions have passed through here – the prophets actually walked through these neighborhoods,” said Hakmoun.
Hakmoun moved to the United States in his early twenties with his family and made his first US musical debut at the Lincoln Center in 1987. He has since then performed widely across the US and internationally, and produced several albums, fusing traditional Gnawan music with American sounds, and making the Gnawan musical and dance tradition a popular element in the American music scene.
“In Morocco, Gnawa music wasn’t so popular when I was growing up, but thanks to the major Gnawa World Music Festival that was spear-headed by the senior adviser to Morocco’s King Mohammed, AndrĂ© Azoulay, who is also Jewish, our traditional music has become much more appreciated in my home country” explained Hakmoun.
Playing the sintir, a three-stringed lute with a body made of camel skin stretched over nutwood, Hakmoun sang soulful and spiritual Gnawan rhythms with his ensemble, to a mostly Israeli audience at the Tower of David.
Of the many chants, and songs that were played, Hakmoun also included a prayer for peace for the region.
Source: Ynetnews

Jerusalem goes basketball crazy

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Every summer, the municipal complex at Safra Square gets repurposed for two days as a giant basketball venue for young Jewish and Arab players.

Maryland gov. to head trade mission to Israel

Martin O’Malley announces plan to lead delegation of business, elected and civic leaders to Jewish state in November

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will be going on a business trip to Israel in November.
O’Malley’s office announced the eight-day trip last week.
The governor will be leading a delegation of business, elected and civic leaders.
O’Malley’s office says the itinerary is still being developed. He is scheduled to travel to Eilat to speak at the Eilat-Eliot Renewable Energy and Innovation Conference with Israel’s chief scientist, Avi Hasson.
He also is scheduled to go to Tel Aviv where he will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
It will be O’Malley’s second economic development trip to Israel. He last led a trip in 2008.
Source: Ynetnews

Saving children from Gaza

Against the background of tensions in the south, four children from Gaza are receiving treatment at Rambam Medical Center without which they might die. Medicine across borders.

At a time when rockets are being fired from the Gaza Strip at the communities of southern Israel, four young residents of Gaza are receiving treatment in northern Israel. The four children, suffering from kidney insufficiency, have been hospitalized for several months in the Children’s Hospital at Rambam Health Care Campus, where they have been receiving lifesaving therapy while awaiting kidney transplants.
Several months ago, three of the children – Mohamed and Hadeel (both 12) and Hadeel’s brother Ahmad (15) – arrived at Rambam in serious condition. Since then, they have gone from hemodialysis treatments (in which blood is cleaned via an artificial kidney) to peritoneal dialysis (administered through the abdomen). The latter therapy is given overnight, which enables patients to lead more active lives. Soon, for the first time in three years, the kids will be able to go back to school like every normal child of their age. The fourth youngster, six-month-old Lian, is still being treated with hemodialysis, which is appropriate for her medical condition.
Now that their health has improved, the three schoolchildren are due for release to their homes, Mohamed within the next few days, and siblings Hadeel and Ahmad shortly afterward. The families have recently spent time with the staff of Rambam’s Pediatric Nephrology Unit, under the direction of Prof. Israel Zelikovic, and learned how to perform peritoneal dialysis by themselves.
“Peritoneal dialysis is preferable for children because it can be performed by an automated dialysis device at the child’s home, in his natural surroundings,” Prof. Zelikovic says of the method’s advantages. “The treatment is performed at night while the child sleeps, which frees him for regular activities during the day. It also makes possible better nutrition and metabolic balance and reduces the burden on the heart and blood vessels.”
According to Mahdi Tarabia, Head Nurse of the Pediatric Nephrology Unit, who has accompanied the families during their stay at Rambam, until now it has not been possible to receive peritoneal dialysis in the West Bank and Gaza. “The hemodialysis treatment that these children were given before their arrival at Rambam was associated with medical complications, resulting in a worsening of their condition and many hospitalizations,” he explains.
“Now, these families have the skills to administer peritoneal dialysis, which represents a significant improvement in the children’s circumstances and will enable them to function almost normally.” The families will receive the equipment required for peritoneal dialysis and the solution used with it from Teva Pharmaceuticals, which will convey it to the Erez Checkpoint.
Mr. Tarabia noted the cooperation between the Pediatric Nephrology Unit at Rambam and the medical authorities in Gaza and the West Bank, who together have the children’s best interests at heart.
Over the past year, the Pediatric Nephrology Unit has cared for tens of Palestinian children from the West Bank and Gaza, who have arrived at Rambam Medical Center with various kidney diseases. The Unit, which specializes in dialysis for infants and small children, has performed more than 4,000 dialysis treatments this year.
Source: MFA

Gene Simmons’ message to Israeli students – Crazy Crazy Nights? Do your homework!

Israeli-born co-founder of legendary rock band Kiss Gene Simmons sends a personal message to the kids at World ORT-affiliated Shifman High School in his home town of Tirat HaCarmel, near Haifa. Wise words from a living legend!

Sharp rise in number of cyclists in Tel Aviv

Fourteen percent said their main transportation to school or work was by bicycle, compared to nine percent in the last survey from 2010.

A new survey reveals a dramatic rise in bicycle riders in Tel Aviv – 54 percent since 2010. According to estimates, 18,000 residents use bicycles to get to work or school, compared to 12,000 two years ago. Thirty-nine percent of households use at least one bicycle. The survey, which polled 1,500 adult Tel Aviv residents, was conducted by Heker for the Tel Aviv municipality economic and social research center.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

West Bank Communities, and Peace

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Israeli students take quantum leap at physics competition

The Israeli team at the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben Gurion University.

Israeli high school students win first prize at the 20th annual First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics competition in Warsaw • Yuval Katznelson, of Kiryat Gat, wins first place overall for his research into energy in unique gases found in charcoal fibers.

Israeli high school students have won first prize at the 20th annual First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics competition, held in Warsaw. It is the first time an Israeli delegation has won the top prize at the international competition.
The competition, held at the Warsaw Institute of Physics in the Polish Academy of Sciences, requires high school students from across the globe to submit research papers in the fields of physics and high-technology.
Yuval Katznelson, of Kiryat Gat, won first place overall for his research of energy in unique gases found in charcoal fibers.
“We succeeded in showing the world the potential of the Jewish mind,” said Professor Victor Malamud, the head of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center at Ben Gurion University, which works with students who wish to enter physics competitions.
May Alon, 18, from the southern town of Netivot, won third place for her project in the field of astrophysics. After graduating from high school, Alon is now doing national service. She said she was dreaming of a Nobel Prize in physics and possibly of becoming an astronaut so she can see the subject of her research up close.
“Within the framework of my national service, I guide groups for the Israeli Astronomical Association and think of what will happen down the road. I want to do great things in science and contribute to humanity,” she said.
Source: IsraelHayom

Coaxing crops from the sand

Israel’s most productive vegetable farms are located in the Arava desert. How did this inhospitable environment become so fertile?

By Avigayil Kadesh
Back in 1959, a bunch of idealistic would-be farmers staked a claim in the arid sands of Israel’s Arava, a quite literally deserted region situated along 180 kilometers (about 112 miles) stretching from the Dead Sea in the north to the southern city of Eilat on the Red Sea coast.
Everyone thought they were “meshugenners,” crazy people, relates Aylon Gadiel, director of Central and Northern Arava Research and Development.
Sure, the narrow strip of land offered picturesque landscapes winding from the mountains of the Negev highlands in the west to the Edom mountains of Jordan in the east. But farmland? Not likely.
“You couldn’t live in the Arava, let alone grow vegetables there,” says Gadiel.
Today, however, thriving Arava farms supply more than 60 percent of total Israeli exports of fresh vegetables and about 10% of ornamental exports such as flowers and exotic fish.
Turns out these early pioneers, so eager to fulfill David Ben-Gurion’s vision of a blooming desert, weren’t so crazy after all. The kibbutzim they established – Yotvata, Ein Yahav, Ein Gedi – are still around as proof that anything is possible with enough human ingenuity and a little help from above.

The drip works wonders

Gadiel explains that modern drip irrigation, innovated in the early 1960s in Israel, was the number one advancement that allowed the experiment to succeed.
Until that time, agriculture in Israel was almost entirely dependent on rainfall, and therefore was limited to the northern and coastal sections of the country.
“Some of the pioneers of drip irrigation, such as Simcha Blass and Yuval Zohar, made Israel as a whole an example for the entire world,” he says. “Israel has always shared [its expertise]. People come from abroad to see cotton, vegetables and date trees growing on drip irrigation. In the last 15 years, the Arava in particular has become an international school for agricultural trainees.”
In drip irrigation, which Israel’s agricultural researchers are constantly improving and refining, water is dripped uniformly onto the root system of crops from a specially constructed pipe. Both water and fertilizers can be delivered economically in quantities to fit any soil type, and even poorer quality saline water can be used effectively.
Because agriculture gobbles up the largest portion of available water, this efficiency is especially important in a country that gets rain only during the winter months. The United Nations chose the Arava region as a global model for agricultural education on using minimal water.
What drip irrigation started, Arava R&D has continued through unique cooperative programs that demonstrate what can happen through sharing collective wisdom.
“We try to work with the growers and agricultural extension services and commercial companies like seed companies, because they are all here in the Arava. We use our website and we have seminars and tours for growers. We try to get the knowledge flowing back and forth,” says Gadiel.