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Did You Know?

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.

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'Sorry, Coke & Pepsi' is the uncensored version of SodaStream's commercial for the Big Game 2014. Watch as Scarlett Johansson shows us how to save the world with a soda that's better-for-you and all of us. Less sugar, less bottles.

Starring: Scarlett Johansson
Director: Bryan Buckley
Creative Director: Alex Bogusky / David Littlejohn, Humanaut
Copywriter: David Littlejohn
Art Director: Stephanie Galabert
Producer: Chris Kyriakos, Octopus of Mind

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Israeli Prof’s ‘Artificial Intelligence, Robots, and Art’ Lecture at TEDx Goes Viral


Professor Guy Hoffman, a lecturer and researcher at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications and co-director of the IDC Media Innovation Lab (miLAB) at the IDC Herzliya, gave a TEDx talk in October that has since become one of the 30 most viewed lectures in the TED Talks program, and, last week, was ranked by YouTube as one of the three most viewed videos in the world.

Watch Professor Hoffman’s TEDx video below:

Netanyahu to meet with Google, Yahoo chiefs at Davos


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was set to leave Wednesday for the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he is expected to meet with leaders of Google and Yahoo in a bid to expand collaboration between Israel and the two technology giants.

He will meet with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Google’s senior vice president and chief business officer, Nikesh Arora, as well as give a speech on Israel’s cybersecurity industry at the annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, for 2,500 of the world’s political and financial leaders.
“The Israeli economy has been successful in the face of the global economic crisis and is continuing to show high growth and low unemployment,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Participation in the World Economic Forum will allow us to showcase the achievements of the Israeli economy to the entire world. ”
The prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace will also be on the agenda.
President Shimon Peres will discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace process on Thursday and Friday. He will also talk about the Iranian nuclear program and the economic and diplomatic challenges facing Israel and the region.
On Friday, Peres will be presented with the Spirit of Davos award for his contribution to the success of the World Economic Forum over the past two decades.
About 100 leading Israeli businesspeople are heading to Davos in part to promote a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples. The World Economic Forum is dedicated an entire day to discussing an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and the effect it could have on economic opportunities in the region.
Bank of Israel governor Karnit Flug will also be attending, but Finance Minister Yair Lapid will not be going.
The forum’s invitation to Netanyahu, who will be returning late Saturday or early Sunday, said Israel is a “key to positive developments in the regional and global economies,” according to the Israeli government statement.

NASDAQ CEO Greifeld Tells Peres: ‘Israeli Companies Are a Success Story’

President Peres and Nasdaq CEO Greifeld. Photo: Israeli government.
President Peres and Nasdaq CEO Greifeld. Photo: Israeli government.

Robert Greifeld, CEO of the Nasdaq-OMX Stock Market, recently met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, and praised Israel’s technological success and innovativeness.

Greifeld told Peres that “Israeli companies are a success story on the NASDAQ, a success which can be mathematically proven. There are no national boundaries when relating to Israeli science and innovation. Israeli companies are inventive in their initiatives, think globally and are very much like American Silicon Valley companies. All the world’s companies wish to imitate the Israeli companies, and we recommend they do so.”
President Peres explained that Israeli Chutzpah was the key to its success. “Israeli audacity and the desire to change, to improve life standards and to dare – they are the true drive of Israeli companies,” he said. Peres believes Israel’s success as a ‘Start-Up Nation’ is a result of it being surrounded by hostile countries, situated in a desert region with no natural resources. “Israel relies on science, technology, and its human resources. There is no question that today’s Israeli hi-tech companies received a strong basis and a push by Israel’s military industries,” the President said.
President Peres elaborated on the latest technological achievements of Israeli developers, offering a glimpse into the future: “After the success of Nano technology, which was a true Israeli technological revolution, the next technology development I think will be the augmentation of human capabilities.”
At the conclusion of their meeting Greifeld wanted to hear about Peres’ legendary rigorous daily schedule.
NASDAQ, a New York based tech-focused exchange, lists nearly 70 Israeli companies.

Hot, black Israeli rap duo bubbles over on YouTube


Ethiopian-born Kafe Shahor Hazak rappers grew up in a tough neighborhood, but say their music does not reflect urban distress.

“No garbage cans in the background!” the rappers of Kafe Shahor Hazak (Strong Black Coffee) warn photographer Pavel Wolberg, as they all go out to a Hadera street to shoot some photos for this piece. These two Ethiopian-born musicians, Ilak Sahalu and Uri Alamo, have no problem adopting typical hip-hop poses when Wolberg asks them to, but they refuse to agree with the perception, based on a familiar cliché, that their rap music reflects urban distress and neglect. They did grow up in a Netanya that “wasn’t an easy place,” as they put it, and their texts contain social statements here and there, but the two have since moved on to a better area, in Hadera, and have a different role in mind.
The last time I met Ilak Sahalu was under entirely different circumstances. A little over two years ago I accompanied a group of new Nahal Brigade recruits, from the November 2011 draft, throughout their training period. I was writing a book about the relationship between the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli society ‏(“The New Face of the Israel Defense Forces,” Kinneret Zmora-Bitan; 2013, in Hebrew‏), and Sahalu was commander of one of the platoons.
His photograph, captured in Wohlberg’s sharp lens, even made it to the book jacket in the end. In it he is seen at the ceremony at which the new recruits are awarded berets, giving a friendly pat to the cheek of one of his soldiers, who is a head taller than Sahalu. It’s easy to see what we saw in him: the black commander offering a fatherly gesture to a pale freckled, redhead soldier. How often did one see such a sight in the army 20 years ago? IDF 2013 – not exactly what you thought.
Between the firing range and a platoon exercise in the field, between conversations about the absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in Israel and the IDF training course, the two of us found ourselves returning to a shared obsession: hip-hop. Who is greater, Tupac Shakur or Notorious Big? Is it possible to replicate original American rap in Israel? Sahalu had firm opinions. Nor did he have any doubt about what he would do the moment he took off his uniform: He would return to the career he abandoned when he joined the army, and reestablish the rap ensemble with which he had already enjoyed some success – Kafe Shahor Hazak. The only one from the original five-person ensemble who accepted his offer was his relative, Uri Alamo.
He arrived at basic training in the Nahal Brigade by chance, since he hadn’t even thought about serving as a combat soldier. The platoon sergeant, an amateur DJ before he joined the army, sought Sahalu out and appointed him as his personal signal operator; after some deliberation Sahalu also went on to officers training school. He did the last six months of his service in a home front job, at the headquarters of Central Command in Jerusalem.
Sahalu considers the very fact that he served as a combat officer – still quite a rare phenomenon among Ethiopian immigrants – as a mission, meant to shatter stigmas about that community. “That was one of the considerations,” he says now. “When I walk down the street in Hadera, elderly Ethiopian women say: ‘Good for you.’ I’m not sure they know what a first lieutenant is, but they would see an officer from the community returning home with a rifle, and they’re proud of that.”
Sahalu’s subordinates, however, found it difficult to accept his authority. “Make no mistake,” he once told me during a conversation in the company outpost in Hebron. “When the soldiers in my platoon were imagining who their commander would be, before basic training, you can be certain none of them thought that it would be someone who looks like me. When I came in to give an introductory talk, on the first evening of basic training, the soldiers were surprised. They probably were expecting a platoon commander who looks like …” Sahalu stopped in mid-sentence, but he seemed to be eyeing a blue-eyed platoon commander who was sitting next to him.

Microsoft, Amazon eyeing Israeli cyber-security firms as potential R&D centers


Move would cement Israel’s reputation as global hub for information security, and could be the first of many buys in the field.

In closed-door meetings, senior officials at Microsoft have recently expressed their intention to buy at least one large Israeli cyber-security firm as a major investment, TheMarker has learned. Also, Internet retailing giant Amazon has put out feelers about buying one too.
Officials for the U.S. high-tech giant have been said to refer, in their private talks, to a 2013 deal in which IBM bought the Israeli information security firm Trusteer for $650 million and opened a special research and development center here, a model Microsoft is now apparently seeking to emulate. The acquisition or acquisitions that Microsoft is expressing interest in would provide a foundation for a new cyber-security R&D center for the company here. It would also give the company the capacity to create a critical mass of employees to work at the center. When contacted regarding its plans, Microsoft declined to comment.
In October, Amazon announced plans to establish marketing and customer support offices in Israel. In addition, several months ago the company conducted a round of discussions with a number of relatively new cyber-security firms here, with the apparent intention of making an acquisition in Israel and use it as a base for an R&D center here. The firms contacted by Amazon are involved in the field of information security particularly related to cloud computing – the technology through which data is stored remotely rather than on the user’s own computers. No response was forthcoming from Amazon as of press time.
Sources involved in the field believe that other companies are seeking to take similar steps in Israel, including FireEye, Palo Alto Networks and CA Technologies, which is apparently considering expanding its already existing presence here. “Cisco, CA, Trend Micro, Huawei – we’re seeing all of them coming here hunting,” said an official from one of the cyber-security firms founded in Israel in recent years.
An expansion of the number of research and development centers of this kind would complement those already here in Israel, including General Motors, General Electric, Cisco, VMWare, Deutsche Telekom and Lockheed Martin. Those firms followed on from other multinationals that were here even before that – companies such as RSA, CA Technologies, PayPal and McAfee.
According to the Jerusalem Venture Partners venture capital firm, over the past five years $2.3 billion has been spent on the acquisition of Israeli cyber-security firms, by 18 multinationals. Last August came the news of IBM’s purchase of Trusteer, a company founded in 2006. It was IBM’s largest acquisition here to date.
After IBM snapped up Trusteer, it announced the establishment of a new cyber-security laboratory in Israel, slated to have a staff of more than 200 developers from Trusteer and IBM itself. The acquisition of Trusteer could make a substantial contribution to solidify Israel’s position as a global information-security center, Trusteer CEO Mickey Boodaei predicted, following IBM’s purchase of his company.
In October, Microsoft appointed Michal Blumenstyk, who came to the company from RSA’s Israeli operations, as a senior director of its global operations. She had served as CEO of Cyota, where she replaced Naftali Bennett (now Israel’s economy minister), after the startup was acquired by RSA. Among her current responsibilities is finding companies that would be an appropriate base for Microsoft’s Israeli operations.
In announcing Blumenstyk’s appointment, IBM noted her expertise in the cyber-security field and that she would be involved in leading the company’s activities in the field of cloud computing in Israel and abroad.
Of the 11 purchases that Microsoft has made of Israeli companies, only one major acquisition has been in the information-security field: Whale Communications, for about $80 million in 2006. The following year, Microsoft bought Secured Dimensions for about $10 million. The multinational’s research and development center in Israel employs a staff of about 600, but only a handful are involved in information security and cyber security.

Jaffa Gallery puts Arab and Jewish art on display

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The Jaffa Port Salon exhibits the works of both Arab and Jewish artists, in order to spark a broader conversation.

At the Jaffa Port Salon, co-director Yair Rothman exhibits Arab and Jewish Israeli artists together in the same space. "We want to have conversations of art, and people coming to openings together, mixing together, like we want to have in our country," he says.

The unusual gallery showcases the works of local artists as well as those who live in other cities and in small towns in the Galilee and the Negev.
Watch here to find out how the Arab and Jewish artists feel about having their creations displayed in a common venue.

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Lockheed Martin to open Beersheba research center

Lockheed Martin

American companies Lockheed Martin, EMC looking to use great abundance of Israeli innovation in technological realm. Initial investment to stand at one million dollars

American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company Lockheed Martin, maker of Israel’s F-16, F-15 and F-35 fighter jets, announced Sunday that it will open a research and development center in Israel in partnership with American IT storage company EMC.
No announcement was made on how many new jobs the center will create.
The new center, which will be introduced Monday at the companies’ stand in Tel Aviv at the Cyber Tech 2014 conference, will be built in the new industrial park in Beersheba, focusing on cyber defense solutions.
The two companies announced that they want to develop plans for cloud computing and big data analytics in the cyber field. The spokesperson said the park in Beersheba will provide an ideal infrastructure for the two companies to cooperate with industrial researchers, Ben-Gurion University, start-up companies and leading venture capital funds.
Orna Berry, EMC Israel’s corporate vice president, said the entrepreneurial and academic communities are offering a unique combination of skills.
EMC has two research and development centers, one in Herzliya and another in Beersheba. With over 700 employees, its research activities will focus on next-generation technology that EMC says it must develop to address the challenges and opportunities in the world of information technology.
Lockheed Martin’s presence in Israel has been confined to aviation and security so far. With the new center it is expected to increase its realm of activities, which will include more technological work.
John Evans, vice president of international engineering and technology, said the company’s plan is to extract the great abundance of innovation that Israel and its universities have.
Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. Its 2013 sales were $45.4 billion.

Dancing Camel brewery in Tel Aviv

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Boutique beer in Israel.
Take a taste of the microbrewery culture in Israel, courtesy of the Dancing Camel in Tel Aviv.

Video and Editing by Avi Kanner for ISRAEL21c

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Second Israeli astronaut under discussion, says Israeli PM

Ilan Ramon

Almost 11 years after tragic death or Ilan Ramon, Israel is preparing for the participation of an astronaut on a mission to the international space station.

A second Israeli astronaut will go into space within the next few years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu’s statement came in a recorded video published by the Israel Space Agency on the occasion of Israel Space week, which is currently underway. The video was reported by Walla website.
The agency also reported progress in Israel’s contacts with international space agencies regarding the participation of an Israeli astronaut in a mission to the international space station.
Almost 11 years after the death of Israel’s first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, in the Columbia tragedy, Netanyahu told how Ramon had taken a painting done by a Jewish boy in a concentration camp into space with him. “It’s a drawing of the earth as seen from the moon,” Netanyahu said. “Ilan represented our national story, from the ashes of the death camps to the astronaut who goes into the endless heavens.”
Israel, Netanyahu said, is situated “deep in space” and that its space research “can be the engine that drives growth in a wide range of spheres: economic, defense, technology, science and agriculture.”

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Welcoming Remarks by PM Netanyahu and PM of Canada Stephen Harper

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Peres, Livni post their eyes online to launch digital campaign against racism

Natalie Marx: Alternatively Speaking Photo: Courtesy

“Look in my eyes,” is one piece of the Justice Ministry’s new campaign against racism.

President Shimon Peres and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday initiated a digital campaign against racism, posting pictures of their eyes on their Facebook pages and on a central eye-collage page to create a giant work of unity against racism.
The campaign, dubbed “Look in my eyes,” is one piece of the Justice Ministry’s new campaign against racism, in coordination with the Government Press Office.
The ministry said that the hope was for the campaign to be widespread nationally and eventually to make the largest collage of eyes ever displayed in Israel.
The Association of Students is co-sponsoring the campaign and is working to spread word of the campaign through the ranks of university students.
Peres said, “Israel fundamentally rejects racism on the basis of religion, nationality, ethnicity and gender. We are all born in the image of God. Every person has the right to equality and an equal right to be different.”
Livni said that “in a democratic country, there is no place for racism and discrimination, which is a violation of the law.”
She added that the ministry would continue to have “zero tolerance for this phenomenon.”
“It is time that we look into each other’s eyes and understand that we are all equal before the law and before God,” Livni said.
The ministry said that the campaign’s goal was to show that racism can only be defeated through unity and that it is illegal and a social injustice.
The eye-collage page is and people can upload a picture of their eyes into the collage either via the website or by using the Instagram photo-sharing application.
Some persons who had uploaded pictures of their eyes listed their names, including head Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen, while others were uploaded anonymously.
The collage is mostly pictures of human eyes, but includes several pictures of dogs’ and cats’ eyes, and even one horse.
At press time, 320 pictures of eyes were already uploaded on the campaign’s first day.
The ministry has a hotline, 1-700-70-60- 44, for reporting racism.

Jerusalemites bare their underwear on No Pants Day

No Pants

Madcap ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ is staged around the world every January, and Jerusalem hopped onboard.

We all know that it’s impolite to stare at strangers. But nearly everyone on the Jerusalem Light Rail did just that on January 13, when some 50 people boarded the tramway and proceeded to take off their trousers.
It was the second time the “No Pants Subway Ride” event was staged in Jerusalem, and organizer Boaz Balachsan said he was very happy with the outcome.
“It was great; the number of participants doubled from last year, and people really got into it,” Balachsan tells ISRAEL21c. “People loved it. We got a lot of positive feedback. A lot of people laughed.”
The silly global event started en masse in New York in 2002. The idea came about after a city resident forgot to put on trousers and boarded the subway in his underwear on January 10, 1986. Although mortified at first, he found that reactions were so positive that he and some friends copied his slipup the following year until it eventually snowballed into an international event.
No Pants Day, aka No Pants Subway Ride, is now celebrated every year on or around January 10, and again on the first Friday of May (thanks to a difference of opinion amongst organizers). Only cities with a tram or subway system can participate.
Balachsan, a Jerusalem-based artist, had taken part in the foolery in European cities and was waiting for the Jerusalem Light Rail to be finished in order to launch an Israeli version.
His inaugural baring of legs last year was so well received that this year he and some friends set up a group called Improv Israel to organize “similar events.”
No Pants Day is just one of the “pranks and other spontaneous events to break the routine that we do in Jerusalem. We do lots of events,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
“People are always trying to put Jerusalem in a box of being a city with a very religious vibe where nothing happens. But there are tons of students in the city center and there are a lot of really awesome people here. Even members of the religious communities accept our pranks. We’re not doing something provocative; it’s a joke.”
Balachsan sent an invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other politicians to join the fun. “It was mostly students taking part and some tourists who happened to be here,” he says. “Actually, we had a small group from the Ukraine who were sad that they were going to miss No Pants Day at home and then were really happy to hear we were organizing an event in Jerusalem.”
As for what to wear, Balachsan says, “last year we wore underwear with cartoon characters but this year we just wore what there was. Next year, we’ll surprise you.”

PlaySight aims to revolutionize your tennis game

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 11.47.55 AM

Israeli company, based on military technology, makes CourtSmart to record and analyze moves in order to improve performance.

The story of this Israel startup could be the setting for the next TV hit: Imagine three Israeli partners in big high-tech companies since leaving the army, where they worked on top-secret weaponry and war simulators. After taking that experience into 15 years of building technologies sold to some of the world’s biggest defense clients, they started looking for something new.

Tennis, anyone?

One of the partners, Evgeni Khazanov, hatched the new idea while watching his young daughter practice tennis. Why did such a high-level sport, resting on billions, not have any advanced tools to help young club players learn from their own mistakes to play better?
He and his buddies combined heads and took the “brains” from army simulator technologies and tuned them to tennis. The result: PlaySight, a company that makes kiosk-size units that record and analyze moves, giving players quick online feedback on how to improve their play.
The company’s SmartCourt unit sits on the sidelines following the moves of both players and the ball, using five cameras strategically placed around the court.
While the system can’t turn anyone with a racket into a Federer or a Williams overnight, it can give emerging athletes the critical feedback they need.
Chen Shachar imagines the units in high schools and tennis clubs. And in the hands of pro-athletes, CourtSmart can be “served” to suit individual specifications at a premium cost.

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USA Today recently called CourtSmart a “game-changer” and not only in jest. The company has eight systems operating now on courts in the United States, and plans to sell 4,000 by 2018.
The idea takes the partners’ experience from building simulators to a more friendly game. They started with tennis, but the system — which can also say whether a ball was “in” or “out,” — can be adapted to virtually any sport.
“To just record the match with video is not a problem. That’s been done for years,” says Shachar. “We are not just recording but analyzing players’ positions and movements. We can take statistics as well, and tell a player after the match how much distance he covered, and what were his unforced errors.”
The idea of having computer software untangle the who’s who in a football scrimmage is a bit complicated right now, but that’s the mission –– to provide an automated tool to help players and their coaches identify points to work on, says Shachar.
“It’s like a mirror used in the dance world,” he tells ISRAEL21c.
SmartCourt costs about $10,000 per unit. Clients also pay a monthly fee. Users who log into the system can get a basic plan for free, but pay more for more storage space and premium features.
Shachar is also banking on the novelty of social video files, hoping that athletes will buy a low-cost premium package to store visual evidence of their latest matches. One planned feature will let them share their videos on social outlets, and theoretically with traditional TV networks.
Another Israeli product, ACE IntelliGym, is also based on military knowhow – in this case, flight simulation software – to train basketball and hockey players to perform better. The cognitive workout developed in Israel is used widely by players from professionals to pee-wees.

Tu B’Shevat spikes dry fruit sales in Israel by 50%


(JNS.orgThe Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce said that sales of dry fruit in Israel are set to reach 400 million shekels (about $115,000) for Tu B’Shevat, representing a 50-percent jump in monthly sales.

Typically, dry fruit and nut sales for the Jewish New Year for trees in Israel amount to about 13 percent of the 3 billion shekels in annual sales for those foods. About 50-70 percent of Israeli households buy extra dry fruits and nuts for the holiday—primarily dates and walnuts, although prunes, raisins, apricots, and almonds are also popular.

Israel goes skateboard crazy


Skateboarding is growing fast in Israel with a new range of urban skate parks popping up all over the country.

Israel’s first concrete skate park is in Tel Aviv (no surprise) and others are following quickly. In fact, it’s hard to find an Israeli city without a place to pop ollies.
Tom Goldwasser of DaSilva Boards thinks it’s high time skateboarding pros and tourists got in on the fun.

Israel’s Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom attends international energy conference in Abu Dhabi

Silvan Shalom

First time Israel has sent a minister to a meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom attended a meeting on Saturday of the International Renewable Energy Agency in the United Arab Emirates, with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations.
It was the first time Israel has sent a minister to a meeting of IRENA since the organization’s founding in 2009.
“Shalom is representing Israel, which is taking part in the meeting like all the other member states of this international agency,” according to a member of the Israeli delegation.
He declined to comment on whether Shalom hoped to hold any contacts on the sidelines with Gulf Arab officials.
Over 1,000 delegates are attending the organization’s annual assembly in Abu Dhabi, including heads of state and ministers from some 150 countries and representatives from over 120 international organizations.
Haaretz revealed in May last year that Israel had allocated a budget for a diplomatic mission in one of the Gulf states, without specifying which.
The UAE hosted an Israeli delegation for the first time in 2003 for a meeting of the International Monetary Fund. But, unlike fellow Gulf states Oman and Qatar, it has never hosted an Israeli trade office. Both missions have since been closed: that in Oman in 2000, and the Qatar one in 2009.

Israel leads global photo apps market


There are almost 13,000 photo applications on iTunes, Google Play. If you look closely out of top 10, almost all originate in Israel. Meet innovative Israelis behind country’s apps advantage

There are almost 13,000 photo apps on iTunes and Google Play. However, if you look closely out of the top 10, almost all of them originated from Israel.
So how come Israelis have captured that throne too? Have Israeli’s become the new Japanese or is it just a technological thing? JewishNewsOne went to find out with some of the developers of those apps.
The editor-in-chief of Israel’s top technology blog, GeekTime, says that the reason Israeli app developers have been busy creating photo apps is probably due to the fact those apps are the hottest trend in the smartphone market right now.
“I think that one of the things that Israel does best is adapt, and once Israel saw the success of Apps like CameraPlus and Instagram, for example, they knew how to adapt to the situation quickly and work their way through it,” says Yaniv Feldman.
“Although our audience is not too much into photography like the Japanese, we understand what other people want. What actually changed in the last couple of years is that Israeli companies have learned what they didn’t know before and that’s marketing. They learn how to market better apps well and that’s what helped bring them to the top list.”
iApps is a hub for building smartphone applications. Its CEO, Ori Segal, says he meets around seven entrepreneurs daily who come to him with ideas for new applications to invest in.
“Something like between six or seven entrepreneurs in the field of applications, so it’s become crazy here in Israel. You can sit in a coffee house and you will hear, ‘I have an idea, I have an idea.’ And if you go to dinner, you will hear, ‘I have an idea, I have an idea.’ So Israel is doing applications.”
We talked to two executives at those Israeli photo apps companies to see why they decided to get specifically into that field.
“Today, every interesting content in the media is with pictures, like posting on Facebook,” says Pixtr CPO Yaron Recher. “If it’s without pictures it’s not interesting, people won’t comment on them, won’t share them, so everything is pictures.”
“I’m not sure that there is something about photos that makes us Israelis perfect or experts,” says Group Shot CEO Yair Bar-On. “I think that the innovation here is going in the right direction.
It’s just a coincidence of maybe people influencing each other, maybe when you talk to other entrepreneurs, and you get more ideas and when you see your friend succeed in this specific niche you get more ideas to follow them.”
So apparently Israelis are busy working on many different apps they feel can change the world, and will probably continue to highlight many top 10 lists on the various app stores also in the future.

There are almost 13-thousand photo apps on iTunes and Google-Play, however if you look closely out of the top-ten almost all of them originated from Israel. So how come Israeli's have captured that throne too... have Israeli's become the new Japanese or is it just a technological thing. We went to find out with some of the developers of those apps.

Bank of Israel Governor nominates Canadian-born economist as Bank of Israel deputy governor

Bank of Israel

Appointment, subject to cabinet approval, would for first time put women in top two posts of Israel’s central bank.

The associate dean of the economics department at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has been nominated by Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug as the central bank’s deputy governor. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg’s nomination, which was announced Thursday, would also include her appointment as a member of the bank’s monetary committee and supervisory council. This would be the first time that both the governor and deputy governor of the Bank of Israel are women.
Her nomination is subject to approval by the government panel on senior appointments and by the cabinet. Technically, it is the prime minister that makes the actual appointment of the deputy bank governor, on the advice of the bank governor.
This would be Flug’s first appointment to the monetary committee since she herself took office last November. Flug served as deputy governor of the central bank until her elevation following the departure of former governor Stanley Fischer last June.
Most of Baudot-Trajtenberg’s professional experience has been at Bank Hapoalim, which she joined in 1987 as an economist. Between 2003 and 2009, she was head of investor relations in the bank’s financial division. Among the other posts she held at Bank Hapoalim were head of the securities research division and head of advisory and trading services for institutional investors. She was also on the faculty of Tel Aviv University, where she lectured in macroeconomics.
Montreal-born Baudot-Trajtenberg is a graduate of the University of Montreal, Oxford University and Harvard University, where she earned a Ph.D. in economics. Her doctoral adviser at Harvard was Lawrence Summers, who, from 1999 to 2001, was U.S. Treasury secretary. In the 1980s, she advised the Canadian department of finance and helped develop a reform plan for Canada’s tax structure.
Baudot-Trajtenberg is married to Manuel Trajtenberg, who chairs the planning and budgeting committee at the Council for Higher Education. He served as chairman of the government panel that was convened to suggest recommendations in response to the social justice protests of 2011. He is also the former head of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The sense among knowledgeable observers is that Flug received Netanyahu’s blessing in advance for her nomination of Baudot-Trajtenberg. Although there have been prior nominations to the post of deputy governor that have run into trouble, it is expected she will be approved.
Assuming this happens, Baudot-Trajtenberg will join the ranks of a growing number of women in positions at the helm of Israel’s economy. In addition to Flug as central bank governor, the CEOs of three of the country’s five largest banks are women. And at the Finance Ministry, Yael Andorn serves as director general, Michal Abadi-Boiangiu is the ministry’s accountant general, and Dorit Salinger is director of capital markets, insurance and savings.
As deputy bank governor, Baudot-Trajtenberg would fill in for Flug in her absence or in the event that the governor is unable to function under particular circumstances.
Flug conducted the selection process for deputy governor under a veil of secrecy. Even senior officials at the central bank were unaware of Baudot-Trajtenberg’s candidacy until it was announced to the media. It is thought that Flug’s choice was motivated by the candidate’s education, her experience in banking and the capital markets here, and recommendations from people who have worked with her.
The term of office for the deputy governor is five years, renewable for one additional term. The salary for the post is about 57,000 shekels a month ($16,300) and is set at 90 percent of that of the governor of the Bank of Israel.
In an interview with TheMarker three years ago, when she was appointed associate dean of the economics department at the IDC in Herzliya, Baudot-Trajtenberg spoke of the importance of providing financial aid to university students in Israel so that tuition costs would not provide a barrier for capable students. She suggested that the aid be conditioned on repayment once the students are earning a living and can begin paying it back. “It’s social solidarity in which the strong help out the less strong,” she said. “As I see it, it’s a step that the Education Ministry, together with the Finance Ministry, can carry out relatively easily.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Honor Guard of IDF Generals Salute Ariel Sharon's Casket

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Today former Prime Minister Major General (res.) Ariel Sharon was brought to rest. The Chief of the General Staff Lt. General Benjamin Gantz and other senior officers attended the funeral. May his memory be blessed.


Sri Lankan president makes first-ever visit to Israel


Mahinda Rajapaska visits President Peres in Jerusalem to offer his help in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In the past, Nelson Mandela, the former and recently deceased president of South Africa, wanted to help Israel and the Palestinians to resolve their conflict. Now, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaska wants to help in that direction as well.

Rajapaska, who is on an official visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority, is his country’s first head of state to come to Israel even though diplomatic and other ties between the two countries have existed almost as long as their independence, which in each case was gained in 1948.

In welcoming his Sri Lankan counterpart to his residence on Thursday, President Shimon Peres hailed him as a great leader who was successful in bringing peace, reconciliation and restoration to his people “which is not a small achievement.”

Acknowledging that his guest was well aware of the difficulties of bringing peace to people who have long experienced hostility and violence, Peres told Rajapaska that Israel follows his achievements with great admiration.

“You have come here as a leader with an impressive record. You have invested your heart and mind and days and nights in peace, and you are seeing the fruits. You have come to a region still in search of peace and reconciliation. Israel is determined to make peace.”

Reviewing the seven wars in which Israel had triumphed and noting the peace agreements that Israel had reached with Egypt and Jordan, Peres conceded that while the peace is not perfect, “we prefer an imperfect peace to a perfect war.”

Israel has to conclude the first chapter of peace by concluding an agreement with the Palestinians, before it can hope for peace all over the Middle East, he said, adding that Israel wants to use the potential of peace and of a modern economy and science to help not only its own people, but also the Palestinians.

Peres noted that despite having limited territory, Israel had built up a flourishing economy which answers the needs of the Israeli population, and also enables Israel to help others. “We did not gain land, but we gained knowledge,” he said.

Peres also related to Israel’s sometimes rocky relationship with Sri Lanka, which he said, had its ups and downs, and commented that it was better to forget the downs and remember the ups.

Responding to president’s remarks, Rajapaska said that his country supports peace for all people. Sri Lanka had suffered thirty years of war with terrorists and had enjoyed peace only in the last four years, he said.

In that brief period, it has succeeded in eradicating terrorism and developing economically. It released 14,000 former combatants from prison, some who had been child soldiers, and sent them back to society, he said.

Moreover, 300,000 displaced people had been resettled, minefields had been neutralized, railway lines, roads, hospitals and schools had been built, electricity had been installed and the people in the new areas had been given water. The cost factor had been US$400 billion. In addition people from the army had been recruited for the police force.

Mahinda Rajapaska’s visit to Israel is characterized as official rather than state. For this reason there were no Sri Lankan flags in the streets on the route leading from his hotel to the President’s Residence; there was no honor guard and no army or police band to play the national anthems of both countries. There was however, the usual police motor cycle escort. There was also the red carpet, with Peres waiting at the edge to greet the smiling Rajapaska as he literally leapt from the car to meet him.

Rajapaska did not always entertain a warm attitude towards Israel according to an article by Upul Joseph Fernando which was published on Wednesday in The Sri Lanka Guardian.

Referring to a period in 1970 in which Sri Lanka had severed its ties with Israel, Fernando quoted Rajapaska as saying in a speech at that time: “The establishment of diplomatic relations with German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Provincial Revolutionary Government of Vietnam, and also abrogation of diplomatic ties with Israel are encouraging signs that the government is committed to a non-aligned foreign policy, which is the aspiration of the people.”

More importantly, Fernando continued, “When the Palestine Friendship Association was established in 1975 Mahinda became its first President. In this capacity, Mahinda worked assiduously to raise awareness about the Palestinian problem among the people of this country and mobilize support and sympathy for their cause”
Even though the government closed the Israeli embassy he wrote, the government was buying weapons from Israel through an Israeli agent, who curiously was selling the same kind of equipment to the LTTE.

Future efforts to reopen the Israel Embassy, he added, were opposed by Rajapaska.

The article also mentions help that Sri Lanka received from Mossad, even during those periods in which diplomatic relations had been cut.

For the time being, Sri Lanka has mended its fences with Israel and the two countries have a very good relationship, particularly on matters of defense.

Rajapaska met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the two agreed to expand bilateral relations, especially in agriculture and water technology.

Unlike most official visitors to Israel, Rajapaska met with Palestinian Authority leaders before calling on Netanyahu and Peres.

There are some 7,000 Sri Lankans working in Israel, primarily as caregivers.


Israeli firm SodaStream hires Scarlett Johansson as its new face

Scarlett Johansson

The Jewish-American actress is a loyal user of the Israeli home-carbonation system; their partnership will kick off in a TV advertisement on Superbowl Sunday.

Israeli beverage company SodaStream has hired the sexiest woman aliveto be its first-ever “global brand ambassador,” the company said in a statement issued Saturday.

Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson, a Tony winner and four-time Golden Globe nominee, has signed on to become the face of a new marketing campaign for the home-carbonation system. The multi-year partnership kicks off on February 2, this year’s Superbowl Sunday, when major advertisers spend millions to reach out to more than 100 million viewers who tune into the game annually.

“We are thrilled to welcome the remarkably talented Scarlett Johansson into the SodaStream family,” Daniel Birnbaum, the CEO of SodaStream, said in a statement. “Scarlett is a long-time user and genuine fan of our products, a role model for healthy body image and a champion for environmental responsibility, making her the perfect choice for our global ambassador. She truly embodies our brand values and we are honored to have her join our team.”

The company said that Johansson has loved sparkling water since childhood, which led her to discover SodaStream. “Now a loyal user for years, Johansson has a soda maker in her home and is an enthusiastic fan of the brand,” the statement said.

“I’ve been using the SodaStream products myself and giving them as gifts for many, many years,” said Johansson. “The company’s commitment to a healthier body and a healthier planet is a perfect fit for me. I love that the product can be tailored to any lifestyle and palate. The partnership between me and SodaStream is a no brainer. I am beyond thrilled to share my enthusiasm for SodaStream with the world!!”

SodaStream allows users to turn tap water into sparkling water, in more than 100 flavors, at home.

SodaStream first advertised at the Super Bowl in 2013, when one of two planned ads that aimed to take on Coca-Cola and Pepsi was rejected for taking shots at them. That ad went viral, though, garnering more than 2.5 million views on YouTube after its creator tweeted that it had been banned.


Jerusalem bridge melds modern with biblical


Santiago Calatrava’s String Bridge makes David’s harp into a new landmark combining beauty and functionality at the city’s entrance.

Jerusalem’s new light rail needed a bridge to take the trains high above city traffic at the western entrance to the municipality. Why not also make this functional structure a work of art that evokes the city’s rich history?

That was the thinking behind the String Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The cables reach a peak high above the street, reminding viewers of David’s harp.

Watch Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and city architect Ofer Manor describe how the light-rail bridge has become “a new part of Jerusalem, which is trying to do its best to show respect to the past that we are firmly rooted in but also takes us forward into a new century of modern infrastructure and transport.”

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Santiago Calatrava's String Bridge makes David's harp into a new landmark combining beauty and functionality at the city's entrance.

Jerusalem's new light rail needed a bridge to take the trains high above city traffic at the western entrance to the municipality. Why not also make this functional structure a work of art that evokes the city's rich history?

That was the thinking behind the String Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The cables reach a peak high above the street, reminding viewers of David's harp.

Watch Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur and city architect Ofer Manor describe how the light-rail bridge has become "a new part of Jerusalem, which is trying to do its best to show respect to the past that we are firmly rooted in but also takes us forward into a new century of modern infrastructure and transport."

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Tel Aviv makes Business Insider’s list of ’14 Places You Should Plan To Visit In 2014′

It’s time to start thinking about planing your dream trip next year. So where should you go?

We looked at major developments, cultural trends, and global festivals to find the hottest places to travel around the world in 2014.

From Croatia, the E.U.’s newest member; to Tokyo, the site of the 2020 Olympic Games, here are the best places to travel next year.

Full List via

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Start Tel Aviv - Where Global Entrepreneurs Meet

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Israel is known around the world as the Startup Nation. Tel Aviv is the business capital and a leading innovation hub with a local ecosystem of world-class tech talents, multinationals and tech startups.

So, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together with the Tel Aviv Municipality launched 'Start Tel Aviv' -- an international contest that brought 12 young entrepreneurs from across the globe to take part in lectures, workshops and meetings with leading Israeli investors and professionals.

Participants got to meet the coolest and smartest companies, techies, startups, designers, artists, scientists, investors, and cultural drivers.

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