Friday, August 31, 2007

Opening Our Schools

While much of the world continues to do nothing...while the UN occasionally debates and passes resolutions (when it isn't too busy condemning Israel, that is), the small nation of Israel is doing something to help dozens of Sudanese chidren who have, with their families, found refuge in the Jewish state. This is Israel.

Dozens of Sudanese children to be integrated into Israeli school system with help of special classes
Moran Zelikovich
Published: Israel News

Seventy-six Sudanese refugees, ages four and up, will be integrated into the Israeli school system during the coming academic year, according to an announcement by Education Minister Yuli Tamir Sunday.

The Sudanese children will be enrolled in Israeli grade schools and high schools despite the fact that their parents are in the country under refugee status, and without permanent housing.

According to the child protection law, any child who has been in Israel for over three months must be integrated into the country’s school system, regardless of their parents’ civil status.
Thirty-five of the children will be integrated into Eilat schools, 23 in schools belonging to the Eilot regional council, 16 in Arad, and two schools belonging to the Jordan rift valley regional council.

The students will be placed in special classes designed for children who have recently arrived in the country. They will spend 29 hours a week studying Hebrew, mathematics, and sciences; classes will be conducted in the children’s’ mother tongue Arabic.

Education Ministry Southern District Director Amira Haim told Ynet, “We are opening six new sections of kindergarten’s and classes designated for the Sudanese students only. We have already found Arabic teachers, since some of the children are Christian and some are Muslim.”
Haim also said the education ministry had allocated hours for dealing with emotional and psychological issues alongside the regular academic curriculum.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Earthquake in Peru...Israel preparing to help

Two things happen almost simultaneously in Israel when a natural disaster strikes somewhere in the world. The first is that Israel usually finds out if help is needed, and the second, Israelis immediately want to know if any of our own were there. This has always been the case and slowly, we hear news of how many are missing...until the last one is reportedly found. This was the case during the tsunami when Israel relentlessly went in search of its citizens, flying rescue teams to help the native population as well as teams to help in areas where it was knownt hat Israeli tourists were vacationing.

This was also the case several years ago when a terrible earthquake hit Turkey. Within a very short period of time, Israel's rescue forces set out with special equipment, helping to save lives and find victims. One special team dedicated itself to finding an Israeli family. First, Israelis found the body of a young Israeli boy. They kept searching for his twin sister, Shirin, her father and grandparents. Her mother had managed to escape the rubble and was trying to get help for her family. Ultimately, Shirin was pulled from the rubble by Israeli rescue workers in relatively good condition. Though, her father and grandparents perished, the rescue of Shirin and the touching site of an Israeli soldier holding Shirin minutes after the rescue remain one of those images that remain in our hearts forever.

Now, in the aftermath of another bad earthquake, this one in Peru, Israelis are once again moving forward to offer assistance, and also checking about the fate of Israelis in the area. Almost immediately, it was released that 120 were missing, most likely due to a failure of the communications system that prevented them from contacting their families. Hours later, only four remained as more and more travelers contacted worried relatives in Israel.

Rescue teams may be sent to Peru

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke with Peru's Ambassador to Israel Luis Mendivil to express Israel's condolences to the Peruvian people and offer help. President Shimon Peres has also offered his condolences and ZAKA, a national aid and rescue organization that also focuses on respectfully handling casualties, has offered to organize and fly volunteers there as well.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Amazing Instances of Israel Helping

Today's little-reported story is about a wonderful organization named Save A Child's Heart (SACH). This week, SACH will welcome the arrival of its first group of Rwandan children suffering from heart disease to be operated on in Israel at the Wolfson Medical Center.

The five children, who range from just a few months old to 15 years of age, will land in Israel on Tuesday, August 14th, 2007, accompanied by a Rwandan Nurse as well as by two mothers. These are children who would most likely die in their homeland but will be given a chance to live and grow...because people in a far away country like Israel cared enough to help save their lives.

The story isn't well-publicized...because the goal is to save lives, not make headlines. In the short-term, this is the correct and proper goal...but in the long term, after the children's lives are saved and others as well, it would be wonderful if world governments and organizations would take notice. This is not something Israel has to do...they are not our citizens, they don't even live on the same continent...but this is...above most headlines you'll read today in the newspaper - THIS is Israel.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Irony and Hypocrisy

Nasrallah of Hizbollah says: "The most important thing this country
relies on is the army. They say that every country and nation creates for itself
an army, but Israel is an army for which a state has been built. Without a
strong army Israel would not be able to survive in the region."

One of the things that we Israelis have come to expect from our neighbors and from much of the world, is hypocrisy, often tinged with strong irony. Today's news out of Lebanon is no different. Nasrallah says that the most important thing we rely on is our army, and, to some extent, he is correct. If not for the army, surely Israel would have ceased to exist decades ago. From there, however, he loses his credibility fast.

The irony however, is that this man of great violence, this man who launched thousands of rockets against innocent civilians in Israel and sparked a war by sending in guerrillas to attack and kidnap Israeli soldiers, should accuse Israel of being a nation built to serve the purposes of its army.

But Nasrallah returns to truth when he says that without a strong army, Israel cannot survive in the region. For all that he is a man of hatred and violence, Nasrallah is often one who says what others know to be the truth, but are afraid to verbalize. His most accurate and telling quote to date may well be when he said:
"We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The
Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to
win because they love life and we love death."

For more Nasrallah quotes, see In Their Own Words: Nasrallah.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

But...what happened to the sheep?

According to a report in the news this evening, a passenger train hit a herd of sheep that was grazing around the train tracks near Kiryat Gat in the south.

No damages were caused to the train and none of the passengers was injured, but the train was delayed, according to the news report...and that leaves us with one burning question:

What happened to the sheep?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Defending Israel: Deny Nadia Abu El-Haj Tenure

Yet another aspect of Israel is the need to be ever vigilant against those who seek to rewrite our history and deny our past. One such "scholar" is a young professor at Barnard College named Nadia Abu El Haj. El Haj doesn't waste on facts...but allows herself to guess and assume...and then hope the rest of us won't notice.

Nadia Abu El Haj is a candidate for tenure not because she is an accomplished scholar - she is demonstrably not. El Haj work is of the kind that would be regarded as crank scholarship if not for the fashionably post-modern verbiage in which it is dressed.

The premise of her sole book is that the ancient Israelite kingdoms are a "pure political fabrication," invented, not discovered, by dishonest archaeologists. Because such an assertion cannot be proven using evidence, she ignores almost all actual archaeological evidence, turning instead to repeated and unsubstantiated assertions of fact based on conversations she claims to have had with "student volunteers" at archaeological digs and with "archaeologists" she does not name.

Even without the security of tenure El Haj has signed the petition urging Columbia to divest form Israel, and a petition alleging that Israel planned to carry out a brutal and massive ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians at the start of the Iraq war. There was no evidence of such a plan, just as there is no evidence for the absured allegations found in her book. (Such as her allegation that in the year 70, Jerusalem was destroyed not by the Roman Army, but by a Marxist-style rebellion of lower-class Jews targeting upper-class Jews. The book is filled with risible pseudo-history of this type.)

Some of the shortcomings with Abu El Haj's work are outlined in the petition. To sign the petition, please go to:

Further information is available on:

I urge you to sign this petition and forward it as widely as possible. While the goal is Barnard and Columbia graduates in particular, please feel free to send it to anyone that you believe will sign it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Did you Know? Interesting Facts about Israel

Getting to Know the Israel beyond the News

  • Israel produces more scientific papers per capita - 109 per 10,000 - than any other nation.
  • Israel has the highest number of scientists and engineers per capita than any other country in the world.
  • Israel has the highest number of start-up companies per rata.
  • In absolute terms, the highest number, except the U.S., Israel has a ratio of patents filed.
  • Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of Silicon Valley.
  • Israel has the third largest number of companies trading on Wall Street after the US and Canada.
  • Israel has the highest number of solar power water heaters per capita in the world.
  • Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, radiation-free diagnostic scannign device for breast cancer.
  • The Firewall technology, used around the world to secure corporate and personal networks, was created in Israel by CheckPoint.
  • BabySense, another product developed in Israel, is working to prevent Sudden Infannt Death Syndrome (SIDS) worldwide.
  • Israel's Given Imaging developed a video camera so can easily fit into a pil tha
  • Israeli company, Tecnomatix, created the software sued by many major car manufacturers to manage their production.
  • ClearLight...another Israeli company, created a product that produces a high-intentisy, ultraviolet-light-free treatment that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct without harming the surrounding skin.
  • An Israeli copmany developed the first large-scale solar power plant - now working in California's Mojave desert.
  • Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds, behind the USA.
  • Israel has more museums per capita.
  • Israel has the second highest publication of new books per capita.
  • Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant absorbing nation on earth. These immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom or expression, economic opportunity, and quality of life.
  • Relative to its population, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech industries in the world.
  • The first high resolution camera that can fit on a single electronic chip - used for cellular phones - was created by an Israeli company.
  • Israel is one of only 8 countries in the world that has the capability to launch its own satellites into space.
  • Israel has often sent its emergency forces to help local populations in times of national disaster - this has happened in Turkey, Indonesia, Kenya, and many other places.
  • Israeli companies created the technology that brought us Voicemail, SMS text messages, and other cellular phone services.
  • More than 85% of solid waste in Israel is treated in an environmentally-sound manner...a higher percentage than the vast majority of the world can claim.
  • Israel is the only country in the world which had a net gain in the number of trees last year.

This is Israel


Israel is a land of hi-tech innovation. Sometimes, you cannot even imagine the things that are being developed (and documented) here in Israel on a daily basis. This need to create, to develop, to do what no one else has done before - better, faster, very much a part of Israeli culture.

Much of what is created is often sold around the world, even to places that would not agree to buy Israeli made products...of course, it isn't that they don't know it is Israeli, but rather they find it too convenient to ignore the roots of their every-day comfort. Do you think there are no cellular phones in Saudi Arabia? No disk-on-keys in Iran? How about Pentium 4s? Laptops?

"It is a long time since I bought any Israeli products," Norway's Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen said back in 2006.

One wonders if Halvorsen uses a laptop...most laptops today run on the Intel Pentium chip...created in Israel.

One wonders if Halvorsen uses a cellular phone...the cellular phone was developed by the Israeli division of Israel. Here are just a few of Israel's other inventions...perhaps Halvorsen and others like her should add these to their list of things to boycott...even if it does mean endangering their personal health...

  • Most of Windows operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.
  • The Pentium NMX Chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. Both the Pentium 4 microprocessor and the Centrum processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.
  • Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.
  • The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 in Israel by four young Israeli whiz kids.
  • Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have created a tiny robot which can enter a patient's bloodstream and deliver medical treatment.
  • Medical devices:
    Monitoring, including cardiology (CardioSense, Itamar) and diabetes (Glucon and OrSense
    - Imaging and Ultrasound, non-invasive (Cadent, CMT Technologies, Optical Imaging) or
    invasive (BIOMEDIcom, Capsule view, DenX, Scopic)
    -Therapy, non-invasive (Insightec, Meditrac, Versamed) or invasive (Biocontrol, BrainsGate, Disc-O-Tech, Impulse dynamics, MEL, NaviCath, Qscent, Rafael Medical)
  • A medical device invented by an Israeli company is being used by American emergency medical personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. WaisMed, founded at the Technion Entrepreneurial Incubator Co. Ltd. (TEIC) in 1995, is the inventor of the Bone Injection Gun (BIG) that allows intravenous fluids to be administered through the bone marrow when doing so through the veins proves impossible.
  • An Israeli company has developed a simple blood test that distinguishes between mild and more severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis.
  • An Israeli-made device helps restore the use of paralysed hands. This device electrically stimulates the hand muscles, providing hope to millions of stroke sufferers and victims of spinal injuries.
  • Young children with breathing problems will soon be sleeping more soundly, thanks to a new Israeli device called the Child Hood. This innovation replaces the inhalation mask with an improved drug delivery system that provides relief for child and parent.
  • A new research centre in Israel hopes to throw light on brain disorders such as depression and Alzheimer's disease. The Joseph Sangol Neuroscience Centre in the Sheba Medical Centre at Tel HaShomer Hospital, aims to bring thousands of scientists and doctors to focus on brain research.
  • A researcher at Israel's Ben Gurion University has succeeded in creating human monoclonal antibodies which can neutralize the highly contagious smallpox virus without inducing the dangerous side effects of the existing vaccine.
  • Two Israelis received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Doctors Ciechanover and Hershko's research and discovery of one of the human cells most important cyclical processes will lead the way to DNA repair, control of newly produced proteins, and immune defence systems.
  • The Movement Disorder Surgery program at Israel 's Hadassah Medical Centre has successfully eliminated the physical manifestations of Parkinson's disease in a select group of patients with a deep brain stimulation technique.
  • For women who undergo hysterectomies each year for the treatment of uterine fibroids, the development in Israel of the Ex Ablate 2000 System is a welcome breakthrough, offering a non-invasive alternative to surgery.
  • Israel is developing a nose drop that will provide a five year flu vaccine.
  • A phone can remotely activate a bomb, or be used for tactical communications by terrorists, bank robbers, or hostage-takers. It is vital that official security and law enforcement authorities have access to cellular jamming and detection solutions. Enter Israel's Net line Communications Technologies with their security expertise to help the fight against terror.

This is Israel - a land of innovation and commitment to bring tomorrow's technological wonders to our world.'s another one:

Case Solved...this Time

Years ago, our car was stolen while parked in central Petach Tikvah. Within a short while, it became evident that we weren't going to get it's "This is Israel" story starts the same way...a vehicle stolen from a central location in broad daylight.

But this one ends differently because this time, it was a military vehicle...and this time, it was "found." According to recent news reports, the military vehicle of IDF's Ground Forces Commander, Maj.-Gen. Benny Ganz, was stolen in Rosh Ha'ayin early Sunday morning. Police and intelligence intelligence efforts were initiated quickly in and around Rosh Ha'ayin and within a short while, the stolen vehicle was located near Kafr Kasem, not far from Rosh Ha'ayin.

A similar case happened years ago when the car of a famous rabbi was stolen. In this case, Knesset members got involved and within a short while, that car, too, was found and returned. Another funny story happened years ago when the mayor of Kalkilya wanted to show his good will. He ordered several cars driven back to Israel and returned and let Israelis know that if they had a car stolen, they should contact him for assistance. One can only wonder how he ever found the time to do anything else. According to some reports, more than 20,000 cars were stolen in Israel during the year 2006 (more than 4500 of them in Jerusalem).

At one point, a friend commented that car theft was actually a good thing, as it caused cars to be recyled more and older cars to be retired sooner. Whatever social benefits might result, the personal anguish cannot be ignored or minimized and every once in a while, police do manage to catch or thwart car thieves.

This is a "This is Israel" story because today our forces kicked into high gear...leaving the rest of us to wish it would happen a little more often.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A Hand Across the World

As much as this blog is about Israel, it is also about Israel's connection with the rest of the world...and in turn, the connection the rest of the world has to us. Many of the posts in this blog detail wonderful and life-saving things that Israel and Israelis have done for people all over the world.

Today's blog is the opposite. This is the story of what one amazing person save the life of an Israeli child.

American kidney donor guest of honor at bar mitzvah of boy he saved,7340,L-3432937,00.html

This Sunday, 13-year-old Moshiko Sharon will take the stage at an Ashkelon party hall and, like any well-mannered boy at his bar mitzvah, will thank his parents "who have brought me to this point." But unlike his classmates, Moshiko has a third adult to thank for quite literally allowing him to reach this important religious milestone.

Three years ago the entire nation followed Moshiko's story with bated breath after a complete stranger from the United States donated a kidney to the young boy, thus saving his life.

The donor, Kansas City resident Eric Swim, will be the guest of honor at the festivities surrounding Moshiko's right-of-passage.

But Swim won't be lonely at the party, more than 1,000 people are expected to attend, including several high-profile guests who Moshiko's mother is remaining mum about to surprise her son.
Moshiko was born with only one functioning kidney and was in desperate need of a transplant. A suitable match, through the HOD (Halachic Organ Donor) Society, was finally located in the generous Swim, who agreed to come to Israel and go under the knife.

The two were operated on simultaneously and the transplant was declared a success.
Since then, Moshiko and Swim have kept in daily contact, speaking on the phone and writing each other emails as well as meeting up from time to time.

Swim, who is currently staying with the Sharon family, came laden with gifts for Moshiko and his family. "I thank God that we have reached this day," he said after landing in Israel.