November/December 2008


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November/December 2008

  1. 1. No. 52 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2008 WIZO'S PUBLIC RELATIONS DEPARTMENT NEWS FROM ISRAEL (that your media does not report) As we go to press a new president is being elected in the United States. This election takes place against a backdrop of a world recession which is reaching every corner of the globe. It is highly likely that the new President will be devoting much of his efforts to improving the economic situation in the US rather than concentrating on the Middle East. Here in Israel the election campaign for a new government is starting in earnest. Contenders will be out and about endeavoring to persuade the electorate to vote for their party. All this is happening at a time when Iran continues to develop nuclear facilities which could endanger not only Israel - whom Iran has threatened to annihilate - but also the entire free world. Iran remains the prime supporter of the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas - situated to the North and South of this tiny country. It was Hezbollah that showered Katyushas into Israel from Lebanon in the summer of 2006 resulting in a mass exodus of Israelis from the North. It is Hamas that is responsible for Kassam attacks in the south that have made life intolerable for the residents of Sderot and the Western Negev. Whilst the UN introduces sanctions against Iran (to persuade this country to halt its nuclear development) these are so weak as to make little difference. Iran’s President Ahmadinajad repeats time and again that he wishes to wipe Israel off the map. Europe’s reaction is somewhat disappointing. As you will read on page three whilst the German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a supportive speech to Israel’s Knesset the truth of the matter is that money comes before morals. We witness Germany’s extensive business links with Iran which continues to increase. An Austrian company (with the support of the Austrian government) has recently signed a massive deal with Iran. Austria is to build a gas pipe line from Iran to Austria. This will bring millions of dollars to the fundamentalist Iranian leadership. Switzerland too cannot run fast enough to complete massive business deals with Tehran. Challenging times requires a leadership that is capable of facing the challenges. As we move towards elections here we can but hope that those who will be chosen to govern will have the courage to face these hurdles with wisdom and fortitude. We take heart in the knowledge that, despite an economic world depression our WIZO chaverot will continue to build the human infrastructure that contributes to a strong and healthy tomorrow for the State of Israel. In strengthening Israel we simultaneously give strength to every Jew in every place. Together we will be able to face the challenges! Brenda Katten
  2. 2. Michael Freund The war in Lebanon may have ended two years ago, but that hasn't stopped the UN from exploiting the conflict to besmirch Israel. In a move that harks back to the double standards, Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon is reportedly set to demand that Israel reimburse Lebanon and Syria for damage caused during the war against Hezbollah. Yes, you read that correctly. The UN wants Israel to pay for having the gall to defend itself. According to the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, Ban has prepared a report that he will present to the upcoming General Assembly in New York. Based on calculations made by the World Bank, he will insist that Israel cough up approximately $1 billion in "compensation" for material and environmental harm to Lebanese society and infrastructure. This is a sequel to one issued last fall by Ban, in which he called on Israel "to take the necessary actions toward assuming responsibility for prompt and adequate compensation to the government of Lebanon." Even for a body with such a long and remarkable record of anti-Israel hyperbole, the UN has outdone itself this time. Ban's insistence that Israel pay the aggressors for damage done during a war they provoked is both morally obscene and intellectually obtuse. If the Lebanese authorities allow their sovereign territory to be used as a launching pad for attacks, as in 2006, they bear responsibility for what ensues, including any damage caused as a result of Israel's actions taken in self-defense. You don't need to be a moral philosopher or international legal scholar to figure that one out. Make no mistake. The UN's attempt to compel Israel to pay for bombing Lebanon has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with a political agenda, painting Israel as the unreasonable assailant rather than the innocent victim. If Ban nonetheless insists on pressing forward with the issue of compensation, let's have a real debate. We can start by working out compensation for the thousands of rockets, mortar shells and other projectiles that were fired at Israel from Lebanese territory during the war. Let's add to that the loss in income from the drop in tourism, the calling up of reserve units and the displacement of thousands of families throughout northern Israel. Then there is the pain and suffering inflicted on soldiers and civilians who were wounded and killed, as well as the mental and psychological trauma endured by countless Israelis throughout the 33 days of conflict. Why shouldn't Syria, Lebanon and Iran be made to pay for their sponsorship of Hezbollah and the damage it wrought? And while we're on the subject of liability, the UN might wish to consult its lawyers. After all, UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon have lethargically presided over repeated Hezbollah arms build-ups while doing little to stop them, despite the requirements of UN Security Council resolutions. You can't have it both ways, Ban. You can't invoke principles of fairness and equity and then demand that Israel be made to pay while ignoring the other side's culpability. ( Opinion) 2
  3. 3. Israel's public rebuke of Germany's pro-Iranian behaviour constitutes a dramatic break in diplomatic protocol between the two countries. The revelation that the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control (BAFA) had given the green light to a 100 million-plus-euro deal enabling the engineering firm Steiner Prematechnik Gastec to build Iran three plants for converting natural gas to liquid fuel, prompted Israel's Foreign Ministry to issue a scathing indictment of Chancellor Angela Merkel's administration. Israel's growing frustration over Germany's undercutting of the international effort to pressure Iran to end its nuclear enrichment program was most evident when MFA Director General Aaron Abramovich charged the Germans with invoking soggy excuses to justify the deal's legality. "We told them it's not just a question of whether these or other sanctions formally apply. There should be intent, especially on the part of a leading country like Germany, to end all commercial dealings with Iran." A shift in Germany's Iran policy is clearly under way. In 2007, when Merkel learned of a firm's plan to build a high-speed railway in Iran, she said: "I consider German assistance in the construction of the Transrapid, in a country whose president constantly announces that he wants to destroy Israel, to be completely unacceptable." The Merkel of 2008 seems less likely to rein in German firms that are strengthening Israel's number one enemy. Following the news of the gas-technology deal, she suggested not that it be scotched but that future deals be reconsidered. Merkel was now retreating from a confrontational approach. Might it be that the chancellor, who faces an election contest in 2009, is currying favor with the German business sector, a traditional base of Christian Democratic Party (CDU) support? Merkel's coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party (SPD), has remained surprisingly quiet. Perhaps because Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is embroiled in his own pro-Iran scandal, having invited and funded former Iranian deputy foreign minister Muhammad Javad Ardashir Larijani to speak at a conference in Berlin. Larijani, speaking, not far from Berlin's memorial to the Holocaust, denied that event, and called for the "Zionist project" to be "cancelled." Germany's Left Party, third largest, remained, like the SPD, inert. Jan Korte, a Left MP serving on the German-Israeli parliamentary group, said, "We are demanding a clear explanation as to whether State Secretary Hartmut Schauerte became involved as a lobbyist for a liquid gas deal between a German firm and Iran, "no business between German firms and Iran may be linked with any threat to Israel." German critics, as well as those in Israel and the United States, are starting to question the sincerity of Merkel's much-praised speech in the Knesset in March, asserting that the preservation of the Jewish state is one of Germany's national security interests. The government-approved applications to conduct trade with Iran, has grown by 63 percent in the first half of 2008, as compared with 2007, with the actual volume of trade growing by 13.6 percent in the first quarter alone. A total of 1,926 business deals were given the green light. How many additional natural gas-to-liquid fuel transactions took place remains a government trade secret. As a reporter for the Israeli press, I receive proclamations from German politicians asserting Israel's right to exist. Should this not be taken for granted? Media reporting and Israeli political anger were required before Chancellor Merkel expressed displeasure about the liquid gas contract, illustrating the tenuous nature of German-Israeli relations. Germany still lacks a home-grown national consciousness that Israel's security is "non-negotiable." Internal German political and civil society pressure to draft and enact legislation to radically restrict German trade relations with Iran would fill the "special relationship" with genuine meaning. Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based independent journalist ( 3
  4. 4. Eitan Green's film "It all Begins at Sea" won the Innovation Award at the Montreal World Film Festival. The film, a drama with comic elements, is based on events that occurred during Green's adolescence. Like Green, fellow Israeli documentary filmmaker Hilla Medalia is up for three Emmy award nominations for her film To die in Jerusalem. Medalia is up for best documentary, best score, and outstanding achievement in investigative journalism. The film tells the story of two women: one the mother of a Palestinian suicide bomber and the other, the mother of a young Israeli girl killed in the same attack. ( (Israel21C) Israeli Start-up Company is one of 20 finalists in Google Challenge Israel's TuneWiki is one of 20 winners in Google Inc. Android Developer Challenge. The Android is an operating system for mobile telecommunications and software library that Google is promoting. 1,800 companies and independent developers took part in the competition. The winners were selected by a panel of 100 judges from companies which are all members of the Association of companies promoting open source codes for cell phones. A total of $3.75 million in prizes was handed out by Google. (Globes Online) Israeli teams ranks 4th in European bee for budding entrepreneurs WIZO Hadassim's ninth-graders placed fourth in prestigious 2008 European Young Entrepreneurs Awards Competition, held in Sweden. The group of four competed in Sweden after winning Young Entrepreneurs Israel in June. The Israeli team created a start-up company called "Shamian" (sky), which specializes in manufacturing novelty soap bars, dubbed "soaprise." First place went to the German team, which created an instructional CD- ROM for tourists arriving in their hometown. ( Israel's 9-year-old cultural ambassador Tom Zlmanov, a gifted pianist, was sent by the Foreign Ministry, to perform worldwide concerts. His latest tour took place in Vietnam and Thailand where he performed to more than 500 people and accompanied by the symphonic orchestra of Saigon. Several months ago, he was sent by the Keren Hayesod foundation fund to perform in Holland and Denmark. This is the first time the Foreign Ministry and Israeli embassies worldwide have decided to recruit him as a cultural ambassador. ( IEC joins EU bid to cut pollution Israel Electric Corporation has signed on to a European Union program for reducing carbon dioxide emissions at power plants. The program is examining new technologies for separating carbon dioxide from other gases during the burning of fuels. Separating carbon dioxide will enable manufacturers to use the gas for commercial purposes as a raw material such as ones used in soft drinks. IEC will use nanotechnologies in filters and membranes that will separate carbon dioxide from other gases. (Globes online) Energy efficiency in Israel A new Israeli company IQWind, exemplifying the spirit of the strong Israeli clean technology movement, proposes a new solution to maintaining a constant RPM to match the wind's temperament. It has designed a new gearbox that promises to squeeze the most energy from both new and existing wind turbines. It will take another two years before the gearbox goes into production. (Israel21C) 4
  5. 5. World's first solar thermal field launches in Israel BrightSource Energy and its subsidiary Luz II have created the world's first operational thermal field in the Negev Desert. The 12,000 square meter test site will create clean and efficient solar energy which will serve as a testing site for five larger fields the company plans to build in California in the next ten years. BrightSource aims to prove that clean energy can be generated reliability and more efficiently at a lower cost then ever before. According to the company, its exclusive technology is more efficient than any other technology because their heliostats are cheaper to build and maintain, there is no need for oil since the water is directly heated, and they achieve a higher concentration of sunlight creating higher temperatures. (Israel 21C) Israeli exoskeleton allows paraplegic to walk Thanks to Israeli-developed exoskeleton, dubbed ReWalk, many wheelchair-bound people will be able to stand up, walk and even climb stairs. The innovative system is based on a wearable exoskeleton- a light support suit with motors at the joints and sensors that detect upper body movement. ReWalk is controlled by a wristwatch-like device worn by the user. Punching a simple command tells the exoskeleton to stand up, walk forward or climb. ( Cholera prevention program developed by Hebrew U. students adopted by International Red Cross A unique cholera prevention program developed by students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has been adopted by the Red Cross in Kenya. The prevention program was found to be highly effective in prevention and management of the disease. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC) is now preparing to implement the program beyond the camps. The program, devised by the students, aims to increase safe drinking water sources; promote awareness in the community about cholera prevention; improve surveillance and reporting of cholera cases; build a centralized network for monitoring and immediate appropriate action; mobilize rapid response teams to areas of suspected cholera cases; improve management of patients; prevent the spread of the disease; and post-epidemic investigation and education. ( Israeli Pharmaceutical Company says drug slows progression of Parkinson' A drug developed by Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, has been proven to slow the progression of the illness. According to Teva, patients who took Teva's Azilect a pill once a day at the start of a late-stage Phase III showed "significant improvement" over patients who began taking the pill nine months later. Azilect is a joint development by Teva and two professors from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. (Israel21C and Jerusalem Post online edition) Israelis discover cure for bee colony collapse-associated virus Last winter, 36 percent of bee colonies in the United States collapsed, affecting honey production and one- third of all food production that requires pollination- from fruit and nuts, to dairy and beef cows. The Israeli-US company Beeologics has created an anti-viral agents intended to alleviate the effects of the virus associated with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is characterized by the mysterious and inexplicable loss of worker bees in managed honeybee colonies. One virus associated with CCD is Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). Beeologics solution is Remebee, which utilizes a mechanism called RNA (also known as gene silencing) a mechanism that inhibits or hinders gene expression. (Israel21C) 5
  6. 6. If Tzipi Livni becomes the Prime Minister of Israel, the Israeli government may become the first in history to have women heading each of its branches. The head of the judiciary, Dorit Beinisch, is a prominent judge who has served in many capacities in the Israeli legal system. Dalia Itzik heads the legislature branch, serving as the respected speaker of the Knesset. Equally important, this unprecedented role played by women in a democracy has hardly been noticed in Israel and around the world. In one of the most egalitarian societies on earth, women serve in virtually every important capacity throughout society (with the notable exception of the military). Nor is this a new phenomenon for the Jewish state. When Golda Meir became the prime minister of Israel, she may have been the first elected woman leader in modern history who was not the spouse, child, or sibling of a prominent male leader. Meir was a Zionist pioneer who served in important positions prior to and during Israel's establishment. Yet despite these victories for feminism and for equal treatment of women, many feminists around the world continue to vilify Israel and to support its sexist enemies who engage in gender apartheid. Recently, Ms Magazine refused to run an ad by the American Jewish Congress (AJC) featuring these three prominent female leaders of Israel and the caption "This is Israel". One reason reportedly given by the magazine was that the ad would "cause a lot of opposition" and "create a firestorm." How does one explain this bigotry? How does one explain the fact that Emily's List, a political group that supports feminist political candidates in the United States, recently endorsed an African American woman widely regarded as anti-Semitic who was running for Congress against a Jewish man who supported virtually the entire feminist agenda? The woman, Nikki Tinker, had denounced Cohen for not supporting "our churches". Emily's List also endorsed Cynthia McKinney for Congress despite her being widely perceived as anti-Semitic and having a despicable record with regard to Israel and many other matters. None of this should be surprising to British readers who are used to so many so-called progressives being blind, deaf and dumb when it comes to Israel and its enemies. This is not generally the case in the United States, where most liberals support Israel, though not all of its policies, and where virulent opposition to Israel comes primarily from the extreme radical left and the extreme Neanderthal right such as Pat Buchanan and syndicated columnist Joseph Sobran. Those of us who support Israel must make the world aware of its contributions to feminism, environmentalism, gay rights and other progressive causes. Criticism of questionable or wrong- headed Israeli policies is to be encouraged, since criticism is the lifeblood of democracy. But appreciation of Israel's accomplishments must also be encouraged. Indeed, those who refuse to acknowledge Israel's commitment to gender equality, in a world still rampant with gender apartheid, lose all credibility when it comes to criticizing the Jewish state. Alan M Dershowitz is a Professor of Law at Harvard. (Jewish Chronicle) Please visit the WIZO website at Suggested link: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Palestinian Media Watch, Middle East Info Website, We welcome your feedback. Please email us at 6
  7. 7. On the 19th of September 2008, Israel's President Shimon Peres stood before the United Nations and spoke on a number of critical issues affecting today's world. On the Palestinians:  With the Palestinians, we plan to negotiate full peace. Both parties agree on building a Palestinian State side by side with Israel, living in peace, security and respect.  Gaps have been narrowed through negotiations. Particularly the territorial ones. But, peace is not just a matter of territorial compromise. Rogue politics reject peace even where territorial dispute was resolved.  From Gaza, we withdrew completely and dismantled our settlements. Hamas responded with a bloody takeover and turned the strip into a basis of rocket fire.  They added kidnapping to bombings, bringing strife for innocent families. From this important stage, I call for the immediate release of Gilad Shalit. On Iran and Ahjmadinejad:  Iran poses a danger to the entire world. Its quest for religious hegemony and regional dominance divides the Middle East and holds back chances for peace, while undermining human rights.  Iranian support for Hezbollah divided Lebanon. Its support for Hamas split the Palestinians and postpones the establishment of the Palestinian State.  On this very stage, the Iranian leader renewed the darkest anti-Semitic libel – the protocols of the elders of Zion. An attempt to bring to life one of the ugliest plots of history. Their despicable denial of the holocaust is a mockery of indisputable evidence, a cynical offense to survivors of the horror.  The Iranian people are not our enemies. Their fanatic leadership is their problem and the world's concern. Their leader is a danger to his people, the region and the world. He is a disgrace to the ancient Iranian people. He is a disgrace to the values of Islam. He is a disgrace to this very house, the United Nations, its basic principles and values. His appearance here is already a shame. On Terrorism:  Israel has shown that democracies can defend themselves. We do not intend to change. Terrorism did not solve a single problem. It never has and never will.  If small groups of violent killers are allowed to threaten innocent masses, the world will be without order or security. A hopeless battleground. The free world must unite to combat it. On Global Economy and Need for Unity:  We are facing an economic crisis. The global dangers unite and divide us at the same time. Unity offers potential of alternatives. It will direct global investments to new areas and demanding challenges like health, security, education, and environment.  In our region, border areas can become open economic zones. Enabling free movement of people, commodities, and ideas. Economic zones will provide a million jobs and produce billions of cubic meters of desalinated water. We started to do so. The first steps are promising. 7
  8. 8. It is wrong to describe Israeli policies towards Palestinian Arabs as a form of apartheid. These accusations defame the Jewish state, and also diminish the victims of the real apartheid who suffered for centuries under arrogant, heartless colonialism, and then for decades under the brutal apartheid policies of racial superiority, oppression and separation inflicted by the National Party. If everything is apartheid, then nothing is apartheid. In Israel, all citizens - Jew and Arab alike - are equal before the law. Israel has none of the apartheid legislative machinery devised to discriminate against and separate people. It has no Population Registration Act, no Group Areas Act, no Mixed Marriages and Immorality Act, no Separate Representation of Voters Act, no Separate Amenities Act, no pass laws or any of the other myriad apartheid laws. Israel is a vibrant liberal democracy, which accords full political, civil and other human rights to all its peoples, including its one million-plus Arab citizens, many of whom hold positions of authority throughout the Jewish state, including that of cabinet minister, Member of Parliament, and judge at every level of the judiciary. All citizens vote on the same voters' roll in regular, multiparty elections, and there are Arab parties and Arab members of other parties in Israel's parliament. Arab Israelis can express themselves and act freely as members of a transparent and open democratic society where criticism of the government in a free press is the norm. In 1967, as a result of a defensive war thrust upon it, Israel captured the territories known today as the West Bank and Gaza. Since then, the status of these territories and their occupants has been unclear. It is incorrect legally, factually and even morally to speak of an occupation that implies there was once a Palestinian entity in these territories, and that this is now occupied by Israeli forces. Before 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza part of Egypt. It is more accurate to speak of disputed territories. For decades Israel has tried to negotiate with various parties to permanently resolve the future of the disputed territories, but is still in search of a genuine peace partner to represent Palestinian Arabs. There has never been a Palestinian state in all of history. By contrast, Israel is the third Jewish state, the first dating back 3,280 years. Israel has strong claims to the land herself, because the West Bank was a part of Biblical Israel in which the Jews have always lived. Israel is a tiny country, less than one quarter of 1 percent of the size of all Arab lands, and has faced numerous and ongoing attempts by the surrounding Arab countries to destroy it. After nearly 2,000 years of exile, persecutions and genocides, the Jewish people are surely entitled to a tiny strip of barren country to call their own. If there is an analogy to the South African situation, it is that Israel is like the ANC, which was forced into the armed struggle because it had no partner for peace. As soon as the National Party came around to wanting to genuinely negotiate, the situation was resolved. Our South African experience has taught us that you cannot make peace unless both parties to the conflict wish to resolve it. When the Arab world is ready to make peace, Israel will be there immediately. The writer, Warren Goldstein, is Chief Rabbi of South Africa ( The Public Relations Department welcomes its new Assistant Editor Liron Milbar and thanks most warmly Tricia Schwitzer who was an excellent assistant editor over the past four years Editor: Brenda Katten Assistant Editor: Liron Milbar 8