Friday, November 30, 2007

Victory on the Board

The chessboard, that is. Israel was well represented by 12-year-old Marsel Efroimaski from Kfar Saba this past week - as she sailed to win the 2007 World Youth Chess Championships for girls 12 and under. It's a wonderful testimony to the peaceful activities many Israelis encourage their children to undertake. Most cities and villages offer after-school activities such as ballet, art, music, English lessons, sports of all types and much more. It's what a normal, peace-loving country does - because it means we want our children to focus on the important things in life, despite the violence that all-too-often surrounds us.

So this week, as we celebrate with Marsel's family, we celebrate a victory for our children and for us - we are doing something right!

Excerpt from the Jerusalem Post:

Marsel Efroimaski, a 12-year-old from Kfar Saba, is the new world chess champion for girls 12 and under. She won the title after eight rounds of play at the 2007 World Youth Chess Championships held this week in Antalya, Turkey.

Efroimaski, who returned to Israel on Thursday, is still trying to grasp her huge victory. "At the moment I knew I got first place, it was exciting and confusing and it was hard to believe that I had won," Marsel told The Jerusalem Post. "I was overtaken by emotion."

The young chess champion started to play after-school chess when she was eight. She continued to play in the Kfar Saba chess club, and now plays in Ashdod.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

There's A Helicopter Over My Head...

Circling and circling. They are waiting, as many of us are...for a boom, for the moment when the terrorists succeed. Sometimes it seems inevitable; sometimes it seems we are winning the battle. The pressure is high here now in Israel as we wait for the Annapolis Summit to begin...knowing that there are forces trying to derail it. Sadly, the only way, or perhaps their favorite way of doing this is by murdering Israelis and so our security forces have raised the warning level and put all forces on alert. It's disconcerting to have a helicopter flying over head, making large circles, disappearing for a few minutes to some other side of the city, and then returning here. Being on alert, even high alert, is another part of life in Israel. It can go away for months at a time...but usually, especially when the world believes the opportunity for peace might be at hand...those who would see otherwise choose to act. And we, who sit at our desks and try to work...listen to the helicopters and simply pray that this is yet another day when they don't get through, when nothing explodes. No matter what happens in Annapolis or in the weeks and months and years to this moment...I hope the helicopter pilot is vigilant and that when he goes home tonight, he can say to his wife, "Nothing happened...except I got to fly over the most beautiful city for hours, around and around...and then I came peace."

From Israel National News:
Jerusalem on High Alert

Jerusalem went on high alert on Sunday after security forces received a warning early on Sunday afternoon that a terrorist group plans to carry out an attack in the city. Two terrorists are reportedly on their way to the capital.

Forces are stationed in eastern Jerusalem in particular, near the entrances to the city. Witnesses say police have blocked the entrance to Hizme and the bridge at French Hill. Additional roadblocks have been set up near Adam and Shaar Binyamin. Police Special Forces are mobilized, wearing helmets and bullet-proof vests.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ever Have Your Car Stolen?

Well, I have...and it's no fun. It's a shock, a violation of your property and you feel that you have this anger in side of you...and no one on whom to vent it.

My car was stolen from a street in the middle of Petach Tikvah, in the middle of the day, approximately 10 years ago. A friend of a friend...that sort of thing happens a lot in Israel...had a friend who was a private detective. He made some calls and told me my car had been stolen by Arabs from a nearby village and was sitting there, waiting to be taken apart. He told me for a small fee, I could get it back.

There were back and forth talks, but in the meantime, some Arab took a fancy to my car and decided to take it to Ramallah. From there, it was seen months later, parked outside the Ramallah police department...and my white car had been painted blue.

"How do you know it was my car?" I asked the person who told me.

"It had your license plate on the floor of the back seat."

Well, ten years later, and thousands of stolen cars's news tells us that even Knesset members are not immune.

According to recent news reports:

A Palestinian Authority Arab stole MK Effie Eitam’s car early on Thursday
morning. In the car was a cell phone with the phone numbers of several
senior government officials, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The
Mazda 5 was leased by the Knesset.

Eitam said the thief called him to negotiate, saying he was in Ramallah and would return the car in exchange for NIS 12,000. "At first he [the thief] called my family, then my assistant and finally me," the National Union-NRP member told news agencies. "He said to me: 'I stole your car. I'm in Ramallah. If you want it back, I'm willing to hand it over for NIS 12,000 (approximately $3,000)'."

"You frequently hear of such cases, but when it happens to you it's kind of a shock," Eitam continued.

"You know deep inside that you won't be seeing that car again. And the thief? He's just a few kilometers from here and wants to negotiate. On his way he even passed an Israeli checkpoint. He couldn't have reached Ramallah any other way. I immediately informed the Knesset's chief security officer of the incident. There is one positive aspect to this incident. As a Knesset member I now feel what many regular Israeli citizens feel when their car is stolen. Unfortunately, a meter from our house exists a lawless entity [the Palestinian Authority], with no order or security," Eitam said.

So, I just want to remind MK Eitam...if you happen to find someway to get your car back...please remember all of those who didn't manage to have the Israeli civilians who came out of meetings and found that almost-new car...gone. We were angry, as you are now. We were shocked to find those pieces of glass on the ground and no car in sight. Mitsubishi SuperLancer of Mazda 5, the feeling is the same. Someone took what was mine, what I worked hard to buy, what I took care of, and what I needed.

On the bright side, apparently the security fence has had a great impact not only on reducing the number of terrorist attacks, but has also drastically reduced the number of car thefts in Israel. Well, I've always thought MK Eitam was a good incredible rarity in the Knesset, so...if you ever need a lift, call least till the insurance company pays on the policy :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maaleh Adumim to Sderot: The Promise He Couldn't Keep

Reprinted with permission from: PaulaSays

Twenty years ago, my next door neighbor and his young wife decided to move to Maaleh Adumim with their small family. They were young and idealistic and didn't have a lot of money. So, they built a beautiful house on the top of the mountain, on the edge of a new city that like their family was growing. Their house was built of Jerusalem stone, like all the houses here, and they could see the beautiful, majestic city of Jerusalem from their living room and bedroom windows.

Her family was from Sderot and were unable to understand why they would move so far away, but the young couple was determined to find their own corner of Israel, to make their own way, and build their own lives. He made her a promise, though. When they retired, many years into the future, beyond anything that a young couple could really imagine, they would move back to Sderot to be closer to her family, her sisters and brothers, uncles and aunts and cousins.

For more, click here.

Sometimes, there are No Words

Ido Zoldan, of Shavei Shomron, will be buried on Tuesday at 1:00 PM in Kedumim.
Zoldan, 29, was murdered in a terrorist shooting attack in Samaria around 11:00 pm Monday night. Palestinian Authority terrorists fired on the man from a passing car as he drove by the village of Funduk, near Kedumim. Paramedics who arrived at the scene were unable to save his life.

Zoldan is survived by his wife Tehila and his two small children, three-year-old Aharon and one-year-old Rachel. The family moved to Shavei Shomron after they were displaced from Homesh in the Disengagement of 2005.

May God avenge his blood and may his family be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and may they know no more sorry.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Amazing Creations

Israel's hi-tech industry continues to be at the forefront of innovation and development...this week - it's Intel-Israel...and the Penryn chip that makes its debut.

According to news sources:

Global computer company Intel unveiled the latest addition to its processor family this week: a new chipset temporarily named "Penryn." The innovative processor is based on hafnium, a metal that is used in transistor production as well as in nuclear plant control rods. It reduces electricity loss through the use of third-generation silicon materials, also does away with the need to incorporate eco-unfriendly lead and halogen in the production process.

"These are the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years," Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said. The latest Penryn innovation drew upon expertise and experience accumulated during the Israeli development of the Centrino processor

Monday, November 12, 2007

You Gotta Laugh

Another thing I love about Israel is the ever-present need to read the news with a sense of humor. It's hard sometimes - there are rocket attacks - several today, attempted terrorist attacks - two 15-year-old Palestinian boys caught today planning to attack a Jewish holy site, and too many traffic accidents.

But then, in the midst of it all, comes the humor. From today's Israel National News:

Senior Palestinian Authority official Farouk Kadoumi recently told a Tunisian paper that Israel was responsible for the deaths of former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat and former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon killed Arafat using poison, he said. He accused Israel of “further crimes in Lebanon and Iraq” as part of a scheme to gain control in the Middle East. Hariri was assassinated in 2005. Lebanese lawmakers and United Nations investigators suspect Syrian involvement in the killing. While the cause of Arafat’s death in 2004 has never been revealed, speculation supported by some PA sources includes rumors that he died of AIDS.

Never one to worry about the truth and the reality of events and facts here in Israel, Farouk Kadoumi has come up with the latest of his many lies and exaggerations. All evidence points solidly to Hariri being murdered by the Syrians. The simple fact, some three years after his death is that Arafat's illness has never been confirmed because the rumors are probably correct. Either way, no evidence existed then (or now) to suggest even the tiniest of truth in Kadoumi's words.

So, in Israel, we accept. Arab leaders will float their lies hoping to fool anyone they can into believing and this too is a reality we live with daily. The only difference, it seems, is that sometimes the lies of Palestinian leaders infuriate us versus today, when they simply amuse us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's Raining!

In Israel, rain is a national preoccupation - more important than any sports event or political election. Will it rain this winter? How much? How soon? Where?

We can't control the rain, but we can control the water once it falls. According to latest news reports, Israel has the highest rate of water reclamation in the word, with more than 70 percent of water being re-used for agriculture and non-drinking purposes.

From Globes Magazine, by Laura Goldman

In Israel, there are several venture funds concentrating on water technology like Altshuler Shaham's "Green Fund", Triple 7 (Tal Treatment Technology), Gaon Agro, and Kinrot. Dan Moses from Debby Communications mentioned, “There is a water technology conference in Tel Aviv.

More than 180 companies will be participating. This is an incredible achievement for a country with 7 million citizens.” Mr. Oren predicts, “In the future, exports from Israel of water technology will top those of hi tech.” Some obvious international investments are the stocks of water utility Vivendi, Nestle, the owner of the number-one bottled-water company worldwide, and Coca Cola.

UBS is following a different approach by investing in several stocks in the water field including American States Water Company, a supplier of water services to the military; water utility Aqua America; filtrations company Pall; and Thermo Electron. The investment in Thermo Electron caught the eye of this writer.

The Environmental Protection Agency has found that the installation of water meters like the type produced by Thermo Electron can produce a savings of up to 15%. Soon, they will be as de rigueur as air conditioning in a building. Efficiency will be to the year 2020 like extravagance was to the 1980s. UBS has created the Water Strategy Certificate to give investors easy access to innovative companies in the water field.

It is an actively managed basket of 25 international stocks. To be selected for the Water Strategy Certificate, the company must have one third of their sales in the water field. A UBS publication has listed these companies as possibilities for inclusion in the basket, but there is no guarantee: Canadian Hydro, a developer of low impact energy projects including those with water; Manila Water, California Water Service Company, the largest water utility in the Western United States; Instuiform Technologies whose products rehabilitate pipes; the operator of water treatment plants BioTeQ, and water consultant Tetra Tech.

Investing in the water field will not be like panning for gold. There will not be instant profits. It is taking a long time for people to understand that global warming is not an urban legend. It will take even longer for them to believe that water, the neglected stepsister of global warming, is an even more dire threat.

Booky Oren summed it up best, “We need to make peace with our neighbors because of water, instead of fighting wars over water.”