Archive for September, 2010

Transcript of Minister of Foreign Affairs Lieberman’s address to the UN

September 30, 2010
(28-09-2010) Read transcript of FM Lieberman’s address to the UN!

With typical brevity and clarity, FM Lieberman lay out the crucial points regarding the peace negotiations. FM Lieberman made clear that Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria was not an obstacle to peace. He also made clear that the notion that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevented the world from uniting effectively against Iran.  FM Lieberman said that before a permanent peace agreement could be reached between Israel and the Palestinians, an interim agreement must be set in place that would build trust.

Read the speech below:

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman
Mr. President, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen: when I arrived yesterday in New York, I received a phone call from a chairman of one of the  Jewish organizations who asked me how I am coping with all the pressure which is being placed on Israel; surely, he said, it must be very difficult. I recalled an old joke which speaks of five Jews who changed the way we see the world: Moses, law is everything; Jesus, love is everything; Marx, money is everything; Freud, sex is everything; Einstein, everything is relative.

So I told him that everything is relative. On one hand, it’s really difficult. On the other hand, it is easier than before, because now we have a stable coalition, stable government and we have the support of a majority of Israel’s citizens.

We are ready for a fair solution and we are ready to cooperate with the international community. However, we are not ready to compromise our national security or the vital interests of the State of Israel.

At the outset, I want to emphasize that contrary to what is often shown in the international media, the political arena in Israel is not divided between those who seek peace and those who seek war. Everyone wants peace and the controversy in Israel centers on the specific question of how to achieve this peace; how to reach security and stability in the region.

And the question is: why, during the seventeen years since we signed the Oslo Accords, have we not arrived at a comprehensive agreement signifying the end of the conflict and the removal of future mutual claims?

Despite all of the efforts of all the good people with the best of intentions, including Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, despite the summit meetings at Camp David between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat with the presence of former President Bill Clinton, and despite the Annapolis Summit between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, we are today still in deadlock.

In fact, contrary to the prevalent view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the heart of the instability in the Middle East or is the main reason for the region’s numerous conflicts, the reality is entirely different. More than ninety percent of the wars and war victims of the Middle East since the Second World War did not result from the Israeli Palestinian conflict and are in no way connected to Israel, stemming rather, from conflicts involving Moslems or conflicts between Arab States. The Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf war, the wars between North and South Yemen, the Hamma atrocities in Syria, and the wars in Algeria and Lebanon, are just a few examples of a list that goes on and on.

The second flawed explanation for the longstanding conflict between Israel and the Palestinians which has gained popularity is that the root of the problem is the so-called “occupation”, the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the settlers themselves. Only the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, so the argument goes, will ensure peace in the region.

It is sufficient to state a number of well-known facts in order to refute this claim: firstly, all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were under Arab control for 19 years, between 1948 and 1967. During these 19 years, no-one tried to create a Palestinian state.

Peace agreements were achieved with Egypt and Jordan despite the presence of settlements. And the opposite is also true: we evacuated twenty-one flourishing settlements in Gush Katif, and we transferred more than 10,000 Jews and in return, we have Hamas in power and thousands of missiles on Sderot and southern Israel.

The other misguided argument is the claim that the Palestinian issue prevents a determined international front against Iran. This argument is not only flawed, it is completely irresponsible: the same argument could be made that the Palestinian issue prevents action on North Korea, piracy in Somalia, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan or the challenge of Afghanistan.

Just as the Khomeini Revolution had nothing to do with the Palestinian issue, so too is the Iranian decision to develop nuclear weapons unrelated.

In truth, the connection between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is precisely reversed. Iran can exist without Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, but the terrorist organizations cannot exist without Iran. Relying on these proxies, Iran can at any given time foil any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians or with Lebanon. Thus, in searching for a durable agreement with the Palestinians, one which will deal with the true roots of the conflict and which will endure for many years, one must understand that first, the Iranian issue must be resolved.

One must deal first with the root of the problem and not its symptoms. There are of course other problems as well which must be solved and this is not a sufficient condition. But it is nevertheless a necessary one.

In trying to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, we are dealing with two types of problems: emotional problems and practical problems. This is why the solution must also be a two-staged one.

The emotional problems are first and foremost the utter lack of confidence between the sides and issues such as Jerusalem, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish People and refugees.

Under these conditions, we should focus on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades. We need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages.

To achieve a final status agreement, we must understand that the primary practical obstacle is the friction between the two nations.

As is true everywhere, where there are two nations, two religions and two languages with competing claims to the same land, there is friction and conflict. Countless examples of ethnic conflict around the world confirm this, whether in the Balkans, the Caucuses, Africa, the Far East or the Middle East.

Where effective separation has been achieved, conflict has either been avoided, or has been dramatically reduced or resolved. Consider the cases of the former Yugoslav republics, the split-up of Czechoslovakia and the independence of East Timor, as cases in point.

Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace but rather, exchange of populated territory. Let me be very clear: I am not speaking about moving populations, but rather about moving borders to better reflect demographic realities.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an extraordinary insight, and is far less controversial than some may seek to claim. In fact, precisely this notion – that a mismatch between borders and nationalities is a recipe for conflict – has long been accepted as a virtual truism in the academic community.

Leading scholars and highly respected research institutions have even coined the term “Right-Sizing the State” to capture the idea that states and nations must be in balance in order to ensure peace. This is not a controversial political policy. It is an empirical truth.

But beyond empirical truth, there is historical truth:   almost 4000 years during which the Jewish People were born in the Land of Israel, while developing the corpus of ethical and intellectual treasures that have been instrumental in giving rise to Western Civilization. 2000 years of forced exile, and interim conquest by Byzantines, Arabs, Mamelukes, Ottomans and others, cannot, and never will, impair the unbreakable bonds of the Jewish People to its homeland. Israel is not only where we are. It is who we are.

In closing, let me remind everyone in this hall about the quote that adorns the United Nations plaza outside, spoken in Jerusalem almost 3000 years ago by the Jewish prophet Isaiah:

וְכִתְּתוּ חַרְבוֹתָם לְאִתִּים, וַחֲנִיתוֹתֵיהֶם לְמַזְמֵרוֹת–לֹא-יִשָּׂא גוֹי אֶל-גּוֹי חֶרֶב, וְלֹא-יִלְמְדוּ עוֹד מִלְחָמָה

“They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. “

Inspired by the deep wisdom embodied in these words, let us hope that the path to true peace prophesied by Isaiah, will guide our two peoples, in two nation-states, living in peace and security.
Thank You.

Miraculous Pomegranates

September 29, 2010

Foto Friday – Miraculous Pomegranates

September 24, 2010 – 5:56 PM by Rachel Neiman

It was at about 9:30 last night when I spilled the pomegranate seeds on the floor. While picking them up, one by one, I reflected first on the story of Demeter and Persephone, then on the fact that some Jewish schoolchildren are taught that there are 365 seeds in a pomegranate (the number of days in the year) while others are taught that there are 613 (the number of mitzvot or good deeds), and finally (it took some time collect them all) about the long-standing Jewish relationship with the pomegranate as a symbol of fertility and plenty. Well, it has a lot of seeds so you can see why that might be.

© Пётр Рогов

It’s hard to say where Judaism’s connection to this beautiful and fascinating fruit begins; some scholars believe is was the pomegranate, not the apple, that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden. It is mentioned often in the Bible both as a fruitand as a symbol and is one with the Seven Species celebrated at Sukkot.

© RomKri

What is for certain is that the pomegranate has been in this region for thousands of years. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) site, “The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times.” The pomegranate features prominently in this mosaic fruit basket from the Nabatean city of Mamshit.

Photo: Pikiwiki

Also from CRFG: “The pomegranate widely cultivated throughout India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa, and was introduced into California by Spanish settlers in 1769.” In those days, pomegranates and their juice were valued as much for their medicinal properties as for their beauty, but in modern times they were for decades nothing more than a martini mixer or an exotic decorative item.

Photo: Pikiwiki

And then researchers like Dr. Ephraim Lansky, co-founder of Israel’s Rimonest came along, with proof — as reported by ISRAEL21c — of the pomegranate’s high anti-oxidant activity: “the stuff of potential anti-cancer therapies”.

Israel wasn’t the first country to produce pomegranates for commercial export but — as always — is an innovator. Israel was first, for example to give pomegranate juice an upgrade via wineries such as Azarad and Rimon, which produce varieties such as dessert wine, port style wine and dry wine, all the while touting the fruit’s antioxidant properties.

The rise in global interest for all things Punica granatum has resulted Israel’s doubling its pomegranate growing capacity, and the establishment of companies like Pomeg-Tech that provide expertise to those wishing to get into the pomegranate growing game. Here, in case you’ve never seen it, is a picture of the fruit’s flower:

Photo: Lior Almagor,

And Israeli pomegranate innovations don’t stop there: Shoham, inventors of a new gadget, the ART – Arils Removal Tool (that’s a pomegranate seed plucker to you and me), were recently awarded the 2010 Innovation Award at Fruit Logistica Berlin, one of the major events in the fresh produce industry. Here’s a picture of the happy Shoham team. An instructional video can be found on their website – and while it can’t prevent you from dropping the finished product on the floor, I can vouch that the ART actually does the job.

Cheers! A wine that’s good for you.

September 29, 2010

Cheers! A wine that’s good for you | health.

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It is pomegranate season in Israel, and ISRAEL21c takes a look at a winery in the north that is one of very few worldwide making pomegranate wines.

At Rosh Hashana (the Jewish new year), the fruit of choice is the pomegranate. High in antioxidants that are said to combat a range of health problems ranging from diabetes, to cardiovascular diseases and even cancer, eating the fruit isn’t just about tradition.

Now an Israeli winery in the northern Galilee is producing a new kind of wine, made exclusively from pomegranates.


Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
Forget the grapes, an Israeli winery is making wine from pomegranates.
The Rimon Winery was founded by Gabi Nachmias, from Moshav Ben Zimra in the Galilee, and is one of very few wineries around the world making this tasty and healthful wine.

Nachmias originally intended to plant nectarines on his land, but after reading an article about the health benefits of pomegranates he changed his mind. Six years ago he made 2,600 bottles. Today, the winery bottles over 750,000 liters a year and sells its four kinds of pomegranate wine to markets in Japan, the US, Europe and Singapore.

The winery is collaborating with Tel Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv on a large research study that’s examining the effect of pomegranates on general health and on various diseases.

I am a Zionist

September 26, 2010,7340,L-3664422,00.html

Photo: Yoni Hamenachem
Yair Lapid Photo: Yoni Hamenachem

Yair Lapid says he belongs to tiny minority that influenced world more than any other nation

Yair Lapid

Published: 01.30.09, 18:09 / Israel Opinion

I am a Zionist.

I believe that the Jewish people established itself in the Land of Israel, albeit somewhat late. Had it listened to the alarm clock, there would have been no Holocaust, and my dead grandfather – the one I was named after – would have been able to dance a last waltz with grandma on the shores of the Yarkon River.

I am a Zionist.

Hebrew is the language I use to thank the Creator, and also to swear on the road. The Bible does not only contain my history, but also my geography. King Saul went to look for mules on what is today Highway 443, Jonah the Prophet boarded his ship not too far from what is today a Jaffa restaurant, and the balcony where David peeped on Bathsheba must have been bought by some oligarch by now.

I am a Zionist.

The first time I saw my son wearing an IDF ( Israel Defence Forces ) uniform I burst into tears, I haven’t missed the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony for 20 years now, and my television was made in Korea, but I taught it to cheer for our national soccer team.

I am a Zionist.

I believe in our right for this land. The people who were persecuted for no reason throughout history have a right to a state of their own plus a free F-16 from the manufacturer. Every display of anti-Semitism from London to Mumbai hurts me, yet deep inside I’m thinking that Jews who choose to live abroad fail to understand something very basic about this world. The State of Israel was not established so that the anti-Semites will disappear, but rather, so we can tell them to get lost.

I am a Zionist.

I was fired at in Lebanon, a Katyusha rockets missed me by a few feet in Kiryat Shmona, missiles landed near my home during the first Gulf War, I was in Sderot when the Color Red anti-rocket alert system was activated, terrorists blew themselves up not too far from my parents’ house, and my children stayed in a bomb shelter before they even knew how to pronounce their own name, clinging to a grandmother who arrived here from Poland to escape death. Yet nonetheless, I always felt fortunate to be living here, and I don’t really feel good anywhere else.

I am a Zionist.

I think that anyone who lives here should serve in the army, pay taxes, vote in the elections, and be familiar with the lyrics of at least one Shalom Hanoch song. I think that the State of Israel is not only a place, it is also an idea, and I wholeheartedly believe in the three extra commandments engraved on the wall of the Holocaust museum in Washington: “Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”

I am a Zionist.

I already laid down on my back to admire the Sistine Chapel, I bought a postcard at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I was deeply impressed by the emerald Buddha at the king’s palace in Bangkok. Yet I still believe that Tel Aviv is more entertaining, the Red Sea is greener, and the Western Wall Tunnels provide for a much more powerful spiritual experience. It is true that I’m not objective, but I’m also not objective in respect to my wife and children.

I am a Zionist.

I am a man of tomorrow but I also live my past. My dynasty includes Moses, Jesus, Maimonides, Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Woody Allen, Bobby Fischer, Bob Dylan, Franz Kafka, Herzl, and Ben-Gurion. I am part of a tiny persecuted minority that influenced the world more than any other nation. While others invested their energies in war, we had the sense to invest in our minds.

I am a Zionist.

I sometimes look around me and become filled with pride, because I live better than a billion Indians, 1.3 billion Chinese, the entire African continent, more than 250 million Indonesians, and also better than the Thais, the Filipinos, the Russians, the Ukrainians, and the entire Muslim world, with the exception of the Sultan of Brunei. I live in a country under siege that has no natural resources, yet nonetheless the traffic lights always work and we have high-speed connection to the Internet.

I am a Zionist.

My Zionism is natural, just like it is natural for me to be a father, a husband, and a son. People who claim that they, and only they, represent the “real Zionism” are ridiculous in my view. My Zionism is not measured by the size of my kippa, by the neighborhood where I live, or by the party I will be voting for. It was born a long time before me, on a snowy street in the ghetto in Budapest where my father stood and attempted, in vain, to understand why the entire world is trying to kill him.

I am a Zionist.

Every time an innocent victim dies, I bow my head because once upon a time I was an innocent victim. I have no desire or intention to adopt the moral standards of my enemies. I do not want to be like them. I do not live on my sword; I merely keep it under my pillow.

I am a Zionist.

I do not only hold on to the rights of our forefathers, but also to the duty of the sons. The people who established this state lived and worked under much worse conditions than I have to face, yet nonetheless they did not make do with mere survival. They also attempted to establish a better, wiser, more humane, and more moral state here. They were willing to die for this cause, and I try to live for its sake.

‘It won’t be long before Sweden Democrats show true anti-Semitic nature’ – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

September 24, 2010

‘It won’t be long before Sweden Democrats show true anti-Semitic nature’ – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.

‘It won’t be long before Sweden Democrats show true anti-Semitic nature’

Far-right, anti-immigrant party won an unprecedented number of seats in recent elections; local Jewish leader warns its pro-Israel stance is just an expression of anti-Islam policy.

By Danna Harman

It will not be long before the true anti-Semitic nature of the far-right anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats (SD) party – which won an unprecedented number of seats in Sunday’s elections, is revealed – a leader of the local Jewish community there warned on Monday.

“This is a neo-Nazi party… articulate, and talented… but very dangerous,” said Lena Posner, President of the Official Council of Jewish communities in Sweden, an umbrella organization of Jewish groups in the country. “We know where these people are coming from. They are Nazi sympathizers who, under their jackets, are still wearing their brown shirts.”

Protesting far-right Sweden party on September 20, 2010 Demonstrators protest against election of the far-right Sweden Democrats party in Sunday’s referendum, at Sergels torg in central Stockholm on Monday September 20, 2010.
Photo by: AP

Sunday’s elections showed Frederik Reinfeldt’s Moderate-led alliance winning 173 seats in the 349-seat parliament and the Social Democrat led Left-Green coalition with 156 seats, which means there will probably be weeks of coalition talks before a new government, most likely a minority one, is formed.

But the big news in these elections – for a country which has long prided itself as being one of the most tolerant, liberal and progressive in Europe – was that SD won 20 seats, their first entry to the national parliament and a sure sign of changing times.

The previously marginal party, which just a few years ago was considered nothing more than a motley collection of racists and fascists on the fringe of society, ran a campaign focused on the need to cut immigration and featured ominous ads showing burka-clad Muslim women shoving aside white Swedish pensioners in order to take away their benefits.

The party’s leader, a clean-cut 31-year-old named Jimmie Åkesson, described Islam as Sweden’s biggest national security threat since the Second World War, and presented skewed statistics ostensibly to prove that immigrants were five times more likely than native Swedes to be convicted of rape.

Both of the bigger political blocs have ruled out working with the SD, which means it is highly unlikely Akesson will play any role as “kingmaker” or be part of any future government – but the party’s success is indicative of the growing resentment of immigration here, as elsewhere in Europe. One in seven residents in this once homogenous Scandinavian country are today immigrants.

In Holland, the Party of Freedom of Geert Wilders has held the balance of power since an election in June, while in Hungary the Jobbik party – alleged to be both anti-Roma and anti-Semitic by its opponents – won parliamentary seats last spring. Austria, France and Britain have also seen varying degrees of increased popularity for their far-right anti-immigrant national parties.

The SD did not include any anti-Semitic messages in its platform. On the contrary, it has two Jewish members among its top ranks and has actually come out in support of Israel at times. However, according to Posner, the vast majority of the approximately 20,000-strong Jewish community is nonetheless “devastated” by the results.

“Ninety-nine percent of the community are absolutely against everything this party is for. To be Jewish is to have values of humanism. We know what it means to have to flee and to survive and we strive to protect those who are persecuted,” she says. “But Sweden is now joining other Europeans in being xenophobic.”

Posner claims that the SD’s pro-Israel stance emanates from nothing more than a way to further battle the Muslim community, and has nothing to do with an affinity with the Jews or the Jewish homeland per se. “They love Israel because that sort of rhetoric is in tune with their hatred for Muslims. That’s it,” she says.

Posner points to two of the party’s platforms which, she argues, while calculated to be against Muslims, also show their “true colors,” as regards the Jewish community. The SD opposes male circumcision and would have it banned and also stand for the continuation of the 1940s ban on Schita in the country.

Sweden today is one of very few European countries to maintain a ban on ritual slaughter – necessitating the import of kosher or hallal meat from outside the country. The far-right party proposes not only to continue the ban, but also to ban importation of such meat.

David Landes, editor of the daily English language Stockholm online paper The Local has written about anti-Semitism in Sweden in the past and says the situation is a little more complicated as regards the far right and the Jews. He agrees with Posner that SD, “without a doubt” has its roots in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement, but argues that there is little indication they will ever turn their sights on the Jews.

“I do not equate this reformed Nazi party…with anti-Semitism per se,” he says. “It’s that Swedish brand of Nazism which is more about preserving the traditions and strength of the white Nordic race than about wanting to crack the skulls of Jews.”

And, while there have been an increasing number of anti-Semitic events in Sweden this past year – everything from desecration of a synagogue and a cemetery in the town of Malmo, to taunting of children with “Hitler” chants in Uppsala – Landes attributes these more to a growing anti-Israel sentiment, often coming from the Muslim community and the far left.

In fact, of the 79 anti-Semitic incidents which were reported to the police in 2009- twice as many as the previous year – more than half were blamed on radical elements from among the country’s Muslim population as well as extreme members of the far left, not far right.

Indeed, one member of the Jewish community – who did not want to be identified – said the reaction of the Jews to the SD was more nuanced than Posner would admit.

The Jewish community in Sweden, he said, has long been a liberal one, and so there is indeed disgust with the SD’s xenophobia and precious few voted for them. But on the other hand, he admitted, there are Jews also concerned with the rising number of Muslims in the country and some of the more extremist views expressed by some of them, and are thus conflicted.

“It’s a lose–lose situation” he said.

Gaza water park burned down after shut down by Hamas

September 21, 2010

09/19/2010 17:15

Unidentified gunmen set fire to “Crazy Water” park closed for allowing mixed bathing; witnesses say at least 25 assailants took part.

Unidentified gunmen on Sunday set fore to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip’s most popular entertainment sites. Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.

Manager Ala al-A’raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely.
No group claimed responsibility for the arson and the Hamas government, which issued a strong condemnation, promised to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Two human rights organizations also condemned the torching of Crazy Water Park and called for an immediate investigation.

“The attackers stormed the resort using a four-wheel drive vehicle,” one of the guards told a human rights group. “They along with another group of gunmen, set fire to the two main buildings, Beduin tents and 300 nargilas [water pipes].”

Last week the Hamas government ordered the closure of Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that the place did not have a proper license.
Last month Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. The owner of the site was summoned for questioning and warned not to hold events where men and women sit together.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners violated an order banning women from smoking the nargila in public places.

Last week the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama sea-side restaurant in Gaza City where a woman was seen smoking the nargila.

Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up its efforts to impose strict Islamic teachings in the Gaza Strip.
They noted that last week Hamas closed down the Aseel Horse Club, also under the pretext that it was operating without a proper license.
Hamas policemen also raided the Beach Hotel and handed the owner an order closing it down for three days. The decision was taken because one of the hotel restaurants had allowed a woman to smoke the nargila.

Two weeks ago Hamas policemen also stormed two halls in Gaza City where cultural events were taking place and kicked out the guests. The owners of the halls were requested to sign a document pledging that they would not host such events in the future.

Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior, condemned the attack on Crazy Water Park, describing it as a “criminal case.” He vowed that Hamas would do its utmost to capture the culprits. He added that the resort had been closed down because of “violations against the law,” but did not elaborate.

Gaza: Intrepid mujahedin show an amusement park who’s boss

Khomeini’s words ring true for Gaza: “Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious.”

The primary grievance in this case was the mixing of the genders, along with women being allowed to smoke water pipes. Just for that, the whole thing had to burn.
Priorities. “Gaza water park burned down after shut down by Hamas,” by Khaled Abu Toameh for the Jerusalem Post, September 19:
Unidentified gunmen on Sunday set fore to Crazy Water Park, one of the Gaza Strip’s most popular entertainment sites.
And you may ask yourself: the “world’s biggest concentration camp,” as the propaganda goes (despite the briskly economic growth, full markets, and luxury goods), has had a water park?
Eyewitnesses said that at least 25 assailants participated in the pre-dawn attack. The gunmen beat the two night watchmen, bound their hands and confiscated their mobile phones before setting the complex on fire, they said.
Manager Ala al-A’raj said that the water park was closed down by Hamas two weeks ago. He said that no one was injured in the attack, which destroyed the resort completely.
No group claimed responsibility for the arson and the Hamas government, which issued a strong condemnation, promised to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Two human rights organizations also condemned the torching of Crazy Water Park and called for an immediate investigation.
“The attackers stormed the resort using a four-wheel drive vehicle,” one of the guards told a human rights group. “They along with another group of gunmen, set fire to the two main buildings, Beduin tents and 300 nargilas [water pipes].”
Last week the Hamas government ordered the closure of Crazy Water Park for three weeks under the pretext that the place did not have a proper license.
Last month Hamas policemen raided the resort and expelled dozens of men and women who had gathered for a fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. The owner of the site was summoned for questioning and warned not to hold events where men and women sit together.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has been targeting the water park because the owners violated an order banning women from smoking the nargila in public places.
Last week the Hamas authorities closed down the Sama sea-side restaurant in Gaza City where a woman was seen smoking the nargila.

Human rights activists said that Hamas has recently stepped up its efforts to impose strict Islamic teachings in the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu to consider peace deal referendum

September 21, 2010

Netanyahu to consider peace deal referendum

PM says any agreement with Palestinians to be submitted for voters’ approval, promises to favorably consider referendum; Netanyahu vows to respond harshly to Gaza rocket attacks, reiterates demand for recognition of Jewish state

Attila Somfalvi

Published: 09.21.10, 18:29 / Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuhe said he would favorably consider a national referendum before finalizing any agreement with the Palestinians during a tour of the Gaza vicinity communities Tuesday.

“It’s clear to me that any agreement I secure would be presented to the people to decide, and there are several methods for that,” he said in Sderot. “Such decision requires a national verdict, and I therefore said I would consider it (a referendum.)”

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The prime minister, who also visited Ashkelon, warned Hamas against firing at Israeli communities.

“Our prime commitment is security, and I suggest that Hamas and the other organizations refrain from testing our resolve to respond to the fire,” he said, arguing that the equation he presented on the matter prompted a reduction in the number of rocket attacks.

“I determined that fire (from Gaza) will meet a rapid response, and this brings down the number of missiles,” he said. “There was fire recently, and we responded and hit Hamas targets, including a senior Hamas figure. We shall continue with this policy.”

Netanyahu also stressed his unwavering commitment to the residents of Ashkelon who continue to live under the missile threat.

‘Recognize the Jewish state’

A day after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas cynically dismissed calls to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, Netanyahu reiterated the demand: “The Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state, and the fact they haven’t done so raises doubts. I’m saying to Abbas – recognize the Jewish state.”

Meanwhile, the PM avoided an answer about the settlement construction freeze and whether it would be extended, saying: “Ask me again on Monday.” He also refused to respond to a question about whether Jonathan Pollard’s release was conditioned upon extending the freeze.

“We are aiming to secure his release, regardless of the freeze,” he said. “There is no need for a special event to bring up the Pollard issue.”

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin thanked Netanyahu for his support but also reminded him of the recent rocket attacks. “Since Operation Cast Lead four Grad missiles have landed in the city, including inside a school,” he said.

Qassam attacks against Israel continued in the past week. On Monday, a Qassam rocket landed in the Eshkol Regional Council and last Thursday nine mortar shells and rockets were fired at Israel. The IDF responded by attacking weapons caches in the Gaza Strip.

Shmulik Hadad contributed to the story

The male pill women have been waiting for [video] | health

September 18, 2010

The male pill women have been waiting for | health.

ISRAEL21c broke the story about a new male birth control pill being developed in Israel. Now in a new video feature we take an in-depth look at the development.

A potential treatment developed by an Israeli professor to treat infertility in men, could now form the basis of the first ever birth control pill for men.

Prof. Haim Breitbart of Bar-Ilan University has spent the last 30 years and most of his professional career working to understand the biochemistry of the sperm cell.

In 2006, he authored a paper that described capacitation, which is a process that sperm go through before they can fertilize an egg. He and his team of graduate students discovered that once in the uterus, sperm undergo a variety of changes that prepare them to fertilize an egg; they synthesize certain key proteins that both help them to survive and help them to bind to the egg.

Prof. Haim Breitbart

An understanding of male infertility has helped lead Prof. Haim Breitbart towards a potential contraceptive pill for men.

Breitbart noticed that infertile men don’t produce these proteins correctly, and is now using this knowledge to treat male infertility. He subsequently realized there could be another use for this new information about protein synthesis.

“We had the idea that if we can block this synthesis we would be able to develop a new male contraceptive,” he explains to ISRAEL21c.

vía The male pill women have been waiting for | health.

Changing the way we chat | technology

September 18, 2010

Changing the way we chat Bookmark and Share

Revolutionary new Israeli Videochats program means you can chat directly from Facebook, while Website owners can chat directly to customers and enhance sales.

Videochats for Facebook

Through Videochats, shopping sites can reach out and communicate with customers in real time, offering help or ideas.
Video chatting – communicating through an instant messaging program via a webcam – is nothing new, but a novel application created by Israeli entrepreneur, mathematician and linguist Jacob Zoarets is set to fundamentally change our video chats.

Zoarets’ new program, called Videochats, can be used directly from Facebook, the world’s most popular Web application. “All other chat solutions require that you download a dedicated application in order to conduct a video chat,” Zoaretz tells ISRAEL21c. “Videochats is the first video chat application that works in conjunction with Facebook, which has become the premier method of communication for many people, and you can access Videochats directly from within Facebook.”

Videochats, which had its beta introduction in early August, brings another radical innovation: The program allows owners of websites to communicate directly with the people who visit their site, in real time.

“Imagine this,” enthuses Zoarets, “If you’re running a shopping site, you’ll be able to reach out and communicate with customers, offering them help or shopping ideas. Videochats is the first and only application that enables website owners to become active participants in how people who surf to the site experience it, as opposed to the passive role they have taken until now.”

Are you talking to me?

Indeed, according to Zoarets, both sides of the Videochats equation – the Facebook app and the website component – are revolutionary, and it’s all thanks to the latest edition of Adobe Flash, which allows peer-to-peer connections and bandwidth allocation.

Videochats exploits both features, allowing users to benefit from the technology and establish a no-hassle video link in any program that supports Flash (including most Web browsers), and to adjust the quality to take maximum advantage of their computer and network resources.

By utilizing the Adobe Flash technology, Videochats can perform tricks that none of its competitors (like Skype), can pull off – like not requiring a dedicated program to conduct chats.

In addition, Zoarets says, you can use Videochats to talk to as many people as you like, at the same time. You can conduct, say, a dozen different conversations in separate chat windows, or you can integrate that dozen into a single conference call. It’s also easy to switch the microphone on and off with a click, if what you’re saying isn’t for everyone’s ears.

The most outstanding feature of Videochats (and there are plenty of similar programs out there) is that Zoarets’ program is the only one that lets you communicate in real time with the people visiting your website.

The Web component of Videochats has two parts: The first is a component that allows you to observe the activity of a user on your site, and then open a dialog box with them. The second grants you the ability to initiate a video chat, if the other party is agreeable. And there’s no need for the user to install anything, since the Videochat app is embedded on the website.

Sales up “dozens of percent”

“Web retailers we’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic,” Zoarets reports, “For the first time, they can reach out and work with customers, giving them suggestions and ideas, and answering questions, meaning that there is less of a chance that they will lose sales.” In case studies conducted on live websites, Zoarets tells ISRAEL21c that sales increased “dozens of percent” when the Videochats technology was used.

No newcomer to high-profile and highly-productive applications, Zoarets’ previous venture was an application called Twitter Analyzer, established two years ago. It’s one of the more popular tools to measure user effectiveness and reach on the Twitter social network.

“I started that application as my first foray into social networks, which is where the most exciting applications are being developed, using my experience as a mathematician and linguist,” he says.

Zoarets is a unique entrepreneur. Dropping out of college to make money, he worked for years in information retrieval, developing the technology used in many of the major search engines.

Videochats, based in the center of the country in Rosh Ha’ayin, is essentially funded as a spin-off of Twitter Analyzer. The company is privately financed and has about 10 full-time employees, with freelancers kicking in on several projects. While the basic functions of Videochats on Facebook are likely to remain free, Zoarets expects to earn money from ads, and from licensing fees for websites using the application.

In the few weeks that the app has been available on Facebook, thousands of users have embraced it. And Zoarets promises that this is just the beginning, “It’s a revolution in communication and marketing. We could be looking at a new standard here.”

British military hero Richard Kemp explains why he defended Israel, challenged Goldstone Report

September 18, 2010

Modi Kreitman

Published: 09.16.10, 19:13 / Israel News

LONDON – As almost every Israeli knows, public relations are one of the country’s main worries. But surprisingly, the man who has given Israel one of its biggest PR boosts is a British man with a medal of honor from the Queen of England.

Colonel Richard Kemp, 51, served in the British army for 30 years. During his time there he commanded the British forces in Afghanistan, served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, and Macedonia, participated in the Gulf War, and specialized in anti-terror warfare.

Two Sides
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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon introduces results of Israeli, Palestinian investigations into alleged war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead, with no input from Hamas
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Kemp’s distinguished resume also includes membership on the exclusive COBRA council, a crisis response committee whose members are intelligence, secret service, police, and army officials charged with advising the government in times of emergency.

These astounding credentials have turned Kemp into something of a war hero, and his book depicting the UK under terror attack, ‘Attack State Red’, was an instant bestseller. He prefers to keep the location of his London office secret, in order to avoid attempts on his life.

But in Israel the colonel remained little known until January 2009, when a video clip showing him defending Israel during an interview with the BBC was posted on YouTube.

Kemp explained to his interlocutor that Israel had no choice but to engage Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and stressed that the actions the IDF was taking in order to avoid civilian casualties were exceptional, especially because Hamas fighters had been trained by Hezbollah and Iran to fight from within a civilian population.

Later he also defended Israel’s reputation during a testimony before the Goldstone committee, which investigated the Gaza offensive, taking aim at the international community for heaping criticism on the state.

‘Report based on unreliable testimonies’

On Tuesday Kemp arrived in Israel to take part in the 10th conference of the IDC’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, where he delivered two lectures on the threat of al-Qaeda. Some of his experiences in the Holy Land have already been shared on Twitter, including a tweet saying that the beauty of swimming in the sea in Israel is that you don’t have to wait long to see an Apache flying low over the coastline.

“The main problem with the Goldstone report was and remains the fact that most of the claims in it are unfounded,” Kemp said on the report’s one-year anniversary.

“Judge Goldstone admitted it himself. It is based mainly on interviews committee members held with residents of Gaza, and not on the investigation of the wider context and the claims made by both sides. I don’t think the Palestinian witnesses are lying, but at least a few testified and spoke as they believe the Hamas government would want them to, so their claims must be treated carefully. We’re talking about a report that has no real credible foundation, based on unreliable testimonies.”

When asked whether it was true that the report was biased because of the political views of the committee’s members, Kemp answered that though it may not provide a substantial space for Israel’s claims, “it’s important to remember that it was the Israeli government’s decision not to cooperate with the committee”.

But the report is perhaps more offensive, he says, because it significantly harms the abilities of Western states to defend themselves against terror. “In a roundabout way the report gives legitimacy to tactics used by terror organizations all over the world, and legitimizes their ability to hide behind civilians. In this way it turns any action by Israel in its war against such terrorists into an illegitimate act, and indirectly encourages the prolongation of this tactic,” Kemp said.

Terror organizations, he added, are aware of global criticism against the deaths of innocent people and purposefully attract forces to civilian centers, schools, and holy places. “Just this week, in southern Afghanistan, a group of Taliban operatives attacked British forces from a mosque,” he said, a tactic also used by Hezbollah and Hamas.

The bottom line, Kemp insists, is that if Western states adopt the conclusions of the Goldstone report they will be left with no “realistic way” to act against terror anywhere in the world, Afghanistan included.

‘Int’l law must be adapted to reality’

In general, he added, democracy and its laws make it very difficult to fight terror. “In Britain, for example, we know of figures involved in terror but we can’t do anything against them because of human rights laws,” Kemp says.

“For example, there is an Egyptian imam we know is involved in terror, but you can’t deport him because he will be executed there. Guantanamo is a similar story. The world condemns it but what can you do with terror suspects? You can’t treat them like prisoners of war

“The war is with organizations such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hamas in Gaza, who not only do not respect international law in the battlefield but also use it for evil. Laws need to be adapted to reality. Unfortunately the public is of the opposite opinion because of short memory spans, but people will change their minds again after the next attack.”

When asked how he would compare Western countries’ operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to the IDF’s operations in the Palestinian territories, Kemp answered, “First of all, I have never been to Gaza. My assessment is based on what I read and see in the publications on both sides and the global press, and of course 30 years of participation in the war on terror.”

Kemp said IDF forces took extraordinary measures to bring down to a minimum the number of civilian casualties during Cast Lead, but that they could not be entirely prevented during war. “In this sense there is no difference between the IDF’s operations in the territories and the US and British armies’ operations in Afghanistan. The political context is of course totally different but the situation on the ground is the same,” he added.

‘Automatic condemnations a joke’

When asked why, then, he thought Israel’s actions are criticized at every turn while Britain and the US are not, Kemp answered that prejudice against Israel was often at play.

“In certain international circles there is sometimes the automatic assumption that everything the IDF does is illegal. There is harsh criticism against the US and British armies as well, but they are given the benefit of the doubt. Israel is always automatically condemned, no matter what. It’s a joke,” he said.

“Even the conspiracy theory that the one responsible for the September 11 attacks is not al-Qaeda but Israel refuses to die out. It’s unbelievable. Only yesterday I was interviewed by a Spanish radio station and asked about it. I explain that it isn’t possible, and that al-Qaeda had claimed responsibility for it a long time ago, but it doesn’t help.”

Kemp is also well-acquainted with Israeli intelligence from past cooperation, and has visited the country many times as part of his COBRA function. “The cooperation between our two intelligence agencies was successful and continues today. We are dealing with similar threats so it would be foolish of us not to cooperate,” he said.

“On the day of the 2005 London attacks the first call I received was from the CIA, and the second was from the Mossad: ‘Anything you need, just say the word.’ It’s the close cooperation and affinity between Britain, the US, and Israel. There are also other states of course, but I will always remember that the second call was from Israel. In such a situation it’s good to know you have friends.”

Kemp also relied on Israeli expertise when he accepted the command of the British forces in Afghanistan. “I had no experience dealing with suicide bombers,” he said. “After speaking with officials in our army I was not satisfied, so I called someone in the Israeli embassy and explained that I needed advice.

“The next day a senior officer from the IDF arrived on a special flight from Tel Aviv. He’s considered an expert in the field of warfare against suicide bombers, and he sat with me for four hours and told me everything he knew that he thought could help us in Afghanistan. I just sat there and took notes.”

Benjamin Tovias contributed to this report