Jews

February 8, 2011

 

The video everybody should see, let alone Jews.

Napoleon and the Jews

January 24, 2011
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An 1806 French print depicts Napoleon Bonaparte emancipating the Jews.

The ascendancy of Napoleon Bonaparte proved to be an important event in European Jewish emancipation from old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited Jews’ rights to property, worship, and careers.

Contents

Napoleon’s Law and the Jews

The French Revolution abolished the different treatment of people according to religion or origin that existed under the monarchy; the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen guaranteed freedom of religion and free exercise of worship, provided that it did not contradict public order. At that time, most other European countries implemented measures restricting the rights of people from minority religions. The conquests of Napoleon Bonaparte spread the modernist ideas of revolutionary France: equality of citizens and the rule of law.

Napoleon’s personal attitude towards the Jews is not always clear, as some feel that he made a number of statements both in support and opposition to the Jewish people at various times. Historian Rabbi Berel Wein in Triumph of Survival claims that Napoleon was primarily interested in seeing the Jews assimilate, rather than prosper as a community: “Napoleon’s outward tolerance and fairness toward Jews was actually based upon his grand plan to have them disappear entirely by means of total assimilation, intermarriage, and conversion.” This ambivalence can be found in some of his first definitively recorded utterances on this subject in connection with the question of the treatment of the Alsace Jews and their debtors raised in the Imperial Council on April 30, 1806. On the other hand, his liberation of the Jewish communities in Italy (notably in Ancona in the Papal States) and his insistence on the assimilation of Jews as equals in French and Italian society indicate that he was sincere in making a distinction between usurers (whether Jewish or not), whom he compared to locusts, and Jews who accepted non-Jews as their equals.

This attitude can be seen from the letter he wrote on the 29th of November 1806, to Champagny, Minister of the Interior:

[It is necessary to] reduce, if not destroy, the tendency of Jewish people to practice a very great number of activities that are harmful to civilisation and to public order in society in all the countries of the world. It is necessary to stop the harm by preventing it; to prevent it it is necessary to change the Jews. […] Once part of their youth will take its place in our armies, they will cease to have Jewish interests and sentiments; their interests and sentiments will be French.

(It should be remembered that Napoleon, while insisting on the primacy of civil law over the military, retained a deep respect and affection for the military as a profession, and often recycled former soldiers in civilian occupations).

The net effect of his policies, as a result, significantly changed the position of the Jews in Europe, and he was widely admired by the Jews as a result. Starting in 1806, Napoleon passed a number of measures supporting the position of the Jews in the French Empire, including assembling a representative group elected by the Jewish community, the Sanhedrin. In conquered countries, he abolished laws restricting Jews to ghettos. In 1807, he made Judaism, along with Roman Catholicism and Lutheran and Calvinist Protestantism, official religions of France. Napoleon rolled back a number of reforms in 1808 (so-called décret infâme of March 17, 1808), declaring all debts with Jews annulled, reduced or postponed, which caused the Jewish community to nearly collapse. Jews were also restricted in where they could live, in hopes of assimilating them into society. These restrictions were eliminated again by 1811.

Though Ben Weider argued that Napoleon had to be extremely careful in defending oppressed minorities such as Jews, he clearly saw political benefit to his Empire in the long term in supporting them. He hoped to use equality as a way of gaining advantage from discriminated groups, like Jews or Protestants and Catholics. Both aspects of his thinking can be seen in a response to a physician (Barry O’Meara) who asked why he pressed for the emancipation of the Jews, after his exile in 1816:

My primary desire was to liberate the Jews and make them full citizens. I wanted to confer upon them all the legal rights of equality, liberty and fraternity as was enjoyed by the Catholics and Protestants. It is my wish that the Jews be treated like brothers as if we were all part of Judaism. As an added benefit, I thought that this would bring to France many riches because the Jews are numerous and they would come in large numbers to our country where they would enjoy more privileges than in any other nation. Without the events of 1814, most of the Jews of Europe would have come to France where equality, fraternity and liberty awaited them and where they can serve the country like everyone else.

Bonaparte and a Jewish state in Ottoman Empire

During the siege of Acre in 1799, Bonaparte prepared a proclamation declaring a Jewish state in the area of Palestine within Ottoman Syria[1], though he did not issue it. The siege was lost to the Ottoman Empire and the plan was never carried out. Some historians, including Nathan Schur in Napoleon and the Holy Land, believe that the proclamation was intended purely for propaganda purposes, and that Napoleon was not serious about the creation of a Jewish state. Some believe that the proclamation was made in order to win the heart of Haim Farhi, the Jewish advisor to the ruler of Acre, Ahmed al Jazzar, and to bring him over to Napoleon’s side, as Farhi was the actual commander of the defence of Acre on the field. Henry Laurens holds that the proclamation never took place and that the document which supposedly proves its existence is a forgery.[2]

Napoleon’s legacy

Napoleon’s indirect influence on the fate of the Jews was even more powerful than any of the decrees recorded in his name. By breaking up the feudal trammels of mid-Europe and introducing the equality of the French Revolution he effected more for Jewish emancipation than had been accomplished during the three preceding centuries. The consistory of Westphalia became a model for other German provinces until after the fall of Napoleon, and the condition of the Jews in the Rhine provinces was permanently improved as a consequence of their subjection to Napoleon or his representatives. Heine and Börne both record their sense of obligation to the liberality of Napoleon’s principles of action, and the German Jews in particular have always regarded Napoleon as one of the chief forerunners of emancipation in Germany. When Jews were selecting surnames, some of them are said to have expressed their gratitude by taking the name of “Schöntheil,” a translation of “Bonaparte,” and legends grew up about Napoleon’s activity in the Jewish ghettos. Primo Levi said that the Italian Jews often chose Napoleone as their given name to recognize their liberator.

The reactions of the major European powers

The first to object against the creation of the Great Sanhedrin was the Russian Czar Alexander I. He vehemently denounced the liberties given to the Jews and went further still, demanding that the Orthodox Church protest against Napoleon’s tolerant religious policy. He referred to the Emperor in a proclamation as “the Anti Christ” and the “Enemy of God”.

The Holy Synod of Moscow proclaimed : “In order to destroy the foundations of the Churches of Christendom, the Emperor of the French has invited into his capital all the Judaic synagogues and he furthermore intends to found a new Hebrew Sanhedrin. Which is the same tribunal that dared long ago to condemn the Lord Jesus to be crucified.”

In Austria, the Chancellor Metternich wrote “I fear that the Jews will believe (Napoleon) to be their promised Messiah”.

In Prussia, the Lutheran Church was extremely hostile, while in Italy the reactions were less virulent but remained unfriendly.

The reaction of London was unequivocal, rejecting the principle and doctrine of the Sanhedrin.

The Czar was able to persuade Napoleon to sign a decree restricting the freedoms accorded to the Jews on the 17th of March 1808. Napoleon hoped that in exchange the Czar would keep his promise to put pressure on London in order to end the war. But three months later the Emperor effectively cancelled the decree by allowing local authorities to implement his earlier reforms. More than half of the départements restored the freedoms guaranteed to citizens to their Jews.

Jews in Europe

All the states under French authority applied Napoleon’s reforms. In Portugal, the State allowed Jews the same rights as other citizens and authorised them to open the synagogues for the first time in over 300 years. In Italy, in the Netherlands and in the German states, the Jews were able to take their place as free men for the first time in the society of their respective countries.

After the defeat of the Empire at Waterloo, the counter-revolution restored discriminatory measures in many countries. In France however, the Bourbons relegated the Legion of Honour to a minor civilian decoration and replaced it with the Royal Order of Saint Louis as the highest French distinction. Those to be decorated with it were required to prove their Catholic faith, effectively barring Protestants, Jews and Muslims who had received the Legion of Honour from enjoying an equal status under the Restored Monarchy. (The return of the Bourbons was equally accompanied in 1815 by the massacre of Muslim troops who had served Napoleon, in Marseille.)

In the Papal States, Pope Pius VII re-established the ghettos and imposed the wearing of a yellow hat (colour associated with betrayal, and thus Judas Iscariot, but also with prostitutes) and the Star of David.

SDL building Israel’s largest desalination plant – Israel Business, Ynetnews

January 21, 2011

Desalination plant

SDL building Israel’s largest desalination plant – Israel Business, Ynetnews.

New facility, slated to be completed in 2013, will produce 150 million cubic meters of water each year

Reuters

SDL Desalination Ltd said on Sunday it began construction of the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, hoping to alleviate Israel’s water shortage. 

The group said the new plant in central Israel will produce 150 million cubic meters of water each year, or about a fifth of household water consumption in Israel, and will be finished in 2013.

World Leader
Arid Israel recycles waste water on grand scale  / Reuters
With increased interest worldwide, Jewish state marketing its waste water reuse technologies and has developed billion-dollar industry by sharing systems and expertise
Full story

SDL is 51% owned by IDE Technologies and 49% by Hutchison Water, a unit of Hong Kong group Hutchison Whampoa.

Israeli conglomerate Delek Group owns 50% of IDE, with the other half owned by fertilizer maker Israel Chemicals.

The group said in a statement the plant will produce water at a cost of around NIS 2.01 (56 cents) per cubic meter.

Currently, the largest reverse osmosis plant – a technology that requires less energy to desalinate sea water and is friendlier to the environment than thermal-based systems – is in the northern Israeli city of Hadera. It produces 127 million cubic meters of water annually.

 

TUVIA FRIEDMAN, NAZI HUNTER

January 13, 2011

The man who caught Adolph Eichman and many nazi criminals tells all.

Part 1

You can see a 2 hours intervieu with Tuvia at the group “The Exodus from Europe” or at Boris Kangun

Bella Friedman Kangun’ s husband, Tuvia’s sister, whom Boris brought from Auschwitz to Vienna on a Russian truck sent from Vienna by order of the Russian comander who occupied Austria and helped Boris Kangun make it possible to bring 300000 holocaust survivours to Vienna via Italy to Israel.

Part 2

The real story told, no newspaper nor a writer who made a book about this person or another told this for a simple reason, they were working for fame and tell bla bla stories which had mostlly no real history value, none is covered by documents.

Part 3

See the documents, pictures and video, you will get the truth about how it was really done.

Part 4

Part 7

Part 8

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

 

https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=136958126331409&comments&ref=mf

Jerusalem will never be divided, says city mayor – Yahoo! News

January 13, 2011

Jerusalem will never be divided, says city mayor – Yahoo! News.

Jerusalem will never be divided, says city mayor

NEW YORK (AFP) – The mayor of Jerusalem, a rising star in Israeli politics, has vowed that the city would never be divided to allow the eastern side to become the capital of a future Palestinian state.

“It’s not going to happen, it’s not natural, it’s the wrong thing to do from any perspective,” mayor Nir Barkat said during a visit to New York.

Barkat also joined government rejections of international criticism of an historic east Jerusalem hotel to make way for settler homes.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have both strongly condemned the demolition of the Shepherd’s Hotel. Ban said the action would “heighten tensions.”

But Barkat called their comments “shallow” and said they should visit Jerusalem before speaking out.

The demolition of the hotel on Sunday to make way for luxury apartments for Jewish settlers in occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of any future independent state.

“Not only for the Jewish people, but for the world, it would be a big mistake to go that route, in advance we know that there is not one example of a working model of a split city,” Barkat told a group of reporters. “Therefore it is not on the table.”

The mayor said the Shepherd’s Hotel was “owned legally, by Jewish owners, they have asked to develop the land according to the zoning code, with no extra demands or requests. They have been granted permission like they would be in any city, in any country in the world.”

Palestinians have refused to take part in direct talks with Israel since Israel ended a freeze on settlement building in the occupied territories. But Barkat argued that “Arab neighbors” could also get permits to build under Israeli law.

“Anybody trying to freeze by race — its anti-constitutional, it is double standards and it is not acceptable,” Barkat said.

A spokesman for Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the demolition of the hotel had “ended any possibility of a return to (peace) negotiations.”

Barkat, an independent, has been mayor of Jerusalem for two years and has been tipped by analysts as a probable member of a future right wing government.

Open letter to the entire world

January 6, 2011

“How Can You Defend Israel?”

January 4, 2011

 

Executive Director, AJC, and Senior Associate, St. Antony's College, Oxford University

I was sitting in a lecture hall at a British university. Bored by the speaker, I began glancing around the hall. I noticed someone who looked quite familiar from an earlier academic incarnation. When the session ended, I introduced myself and wondered if, after years that could be counted in decades, he remembered me.

He said he did, at which point I commented that the years had been good to him. His response: “But you’ve changed a lot.”

“How so?” I asked with a degree of trepidation, knowing that, self-deception aside, being 60 isn’t quite the same as 30.

Looking me straight in the eye, he proclaimed, as others standing nearby listened in, “I read the things you write about Israel. I hate them. How can you defend that country? What happened to the good liberal boy I knew 30 years ago?”

I replied: “That good liberal boy hasn’t changed his view. Israel is a liberal cause, and I am proud to speak up for it.”

Yes, I’m proud to speak up for Israel. A recent trip once again reminded me why.

Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small things, the things that many may not even notice, or just take for granted, or perhaps deliberately ignore, lest it spoil their airtight thinking.

It’s the driving lesson in Jerusalem, with the student behind the wheel a devout Muslim woman, and the teacher an Israeli with a skullcap. To judge from media reports about endless inter-communal conflict, such a scene should be impossible. Yet, it was so mundane that no one, it seemed, other than me gave it a passing glance. It goes without saying that the same woman would not have had the luxury of driving lessons, much less with an Orthodox Jewish teacher, had she been living in Saudi Arabia.

It’s the two gay men walking hand-in-hand along the Tel Aviv beachfront. No one looked at them, and no one questioned their right to display their affection. Try repeating the same scene in some neighboring countries.

It’s the Friday crowd at a mosque in Jaffa. Muslims are free to enter as they please, to pray, to affirm their faith. The scene is repeated throughout Israel. Meanwhile, Christians in Iraq are targeted for death; Copts in Egypt face daily marginalization; Saudi Arabia bans any public display of Christianity; and Jews have been largely driven out of the Arab Middle East.

It’s the central bus station in Tel Aviv. There’s a free health clinic set up for the thousands of Africans who have entered Israel, some legally, others illegally. They are from Sudan, Eritrea, and elsewhere. They are Christians, Muslims, and animists. Clearly, they know something that Israel’s detractors, who rant and rave about alleged “racism,” don’t. They know that, if they’re lucky, they can make a new start in Israel. That’s why they bypass Arab countries along the way, fearing imprisonment or persecution. And while tiny Israel wonders how many such refugees it can absorb, Israeli medical professionals volunteer their time in the clinic.

It’s Save a Child’s Heart, another Israeli institution that doesn’t make it into the international media all that much, although it deserves a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. Here, children in need of advanced cardiac care come, often below the radar. They arrive from Iraq, the West Bank, Gaza, and other Arab places. They receive world-class treatment. It’s free, offered by doctors and nurses who wish to assert their commitment to coexistence. Yet, these very same individuals know that, in many cases, their work will go unacknowledged. The families are fearful of admitting they sought help in Israel, even as, thanks to Israelis, their children have been given a new lease on life.

It’s the vibrancy of the Israeli debate on just about everything, including, centrally, the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. The story goes that U.S. President Harry Truman met Israeli President Chaim Weizmann shortly after Israel’s establishment in 1948. They got into a discussion about who had the tougher job. Truman said: “With respect, I’m president of 140 million people.” Weizmann retorted: “True, but I’m president of one million presidents.”

Whether it’s the political parties, the Knesset, the media, civil society, or the street, Israelis are assertive, self-critical, and reflective of a wide range of viewpoints.

It’s the Israelis who are now planning the restoration of the Carmel Forest, after a deadly fire killed 44 people and destroyed 8,000 acres of exquisite nature. Israelis took an arid and barren land and, despite the unimaginably harsh conditions, lovingly planted one tree after another, so that Israel can justifiably claim today that it’s one of the few countries with more wooded land than it had a century ago.

It’s the Israelis who, with quiet resolve and courage, are determined to defend their small sliver of land against every conceivable threat – the growing Hamas arsenal in Gaza; the dangerous build-up of missiles by Hezbollah in Lebanon; nuclear-aspiring Iran’s calls for a world without Israel; Syria’s hospitality to Hamas leaders and transshipment of weapons to Hezbollah; and enemies that shamelessly use civilians as human shields. Or the global campaign to challenge Israel’s very legitimacy and right to self-defense; the bizarre anti-Zionist coalition between the radical left and Islamic extremists; the automatic numerical majority at the UN ready to endorse, at a moment’s notice, even the most far-fetched accusations against Israel; and those in the punditocracy unable – or unwilling – to grasp the immense strategic challenges facing Israel.

Yes, it’s those Israelis who, after burying 21 young people murdered by terrorists at a Tel Aviv discotheque, don the uniform of the Israeli armed forces to defend their country, and proclaim, in the next breath, that, “They won’t stop us from dancing, either.”

That’s the country I’m proud to stand up for. No, I’d never say Israel is perfect. It has its flaws and foibles. It’s made its share of mistakes. But, then again, so has every democratic, liberal and peace-seeking country I know, though few of them have faced existential challenges every day since their birth.

The perfect is the enemy of the good, it’s said. Israel is a good country. And seeing it up close, rather than through the filter of the BBC or the Guardian, never fails to remind me why.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/how-can-you-defend-israel_b_801765.html

Since writing “How can you defend Israel?” last month, I’ve been deluged by comments.

Some have been supportive, others harshly critical. The latter warrant closer examination.

The harsh criticism falls into two basic categories.

One is over the top.

It ranges from denying Israel’s very right to nationhood, to ascribing to Israel responsibility for every global malady, to peddling vague, or not so vague, anti-Semitic tropes.

There’s no point in dwelling at length on card-carrying members of these schools of thought. They’re living on another planet.

Israel is a fact. That fact has been confirmed by the UN, which, in 1947, recommended the creation of a Jewish state. The UN admitted Israel to membership in 1949. The combination of ancient and modern links between Israel and the Jewish people is almost unprecedented in history. And Israel has contributed its share, and then some, to advancing humankind.

If there are those on a legitimacy kick, let them examine the credentials of some others in the region, created by Western mapmakers eager to protect their own interests and ensure friendly leaders in power.

Or let them consider the basis for legitimacy of many countries worldwide created by invasion, occupation, and conquest. Israel’s case beats them by a mile.

And if there are people out there who don’t like all Jews, frankly, it’s their problem, not mine. Are there Jewish scoundrels? You bet. Are there Christian, Muslim, atheist, and agnostic scoundrels? No shortage. But are all members of any such community by definition scoundrels? Only if you’re an out-and-out bigot.

The other group of harsh critics assails Israeli policies, but generally tries to stop short of overt anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism. But many of these relentless critics, at the slightest opportunity, robotically repeat claims about Israel that are factually incorrect.

There are a couple of methodological threads that run through their analysis.

The first is called confirmation bias. This is the habit of favoring information that confirms what you believe, whether it’s true or not, and ignoring the rest.

While Israel engages in a full-throttled debate on policies and strategies, rights and wrongs, do Israel’s fiercest critics do the same? Hardly.

Can the chorus of critics admit, for example, that the UN recommended the creation of two states — one Jewish, the other Arab — and that the Jews accepted the proposal, while the Arabs did not and launched a war?

Can they acknowledge that wars inevitably create refugee populations and lead to border adjustments in favor of the (attacked) victors?

Can they recognize that, when the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands until 1967, there was no move whatsoever toward Palestinian statehood?

Can they explain why Arafat launched a “second intifada” just as Israel and the U.S. were proposing a path-breaking two-state solution?

Or what the Hamas Charter says about the group’s goals?

Or what armed-to-the-teeth Hezbollah thinks of Israel’s right to exist?

Or how nuclear-weapons-aspiring Iran views Israel’s future?

Or why President Abbas rejected Prime Minister Olmert’s two-state plan, when the Palestinian chief negotiator himself admitted it would have given his side the equivalent of 100 percent of the West Bank?

Or why Palestinian leaders refuse to recognize the Western Wall or Rachel’s Tomb as Jewish sites, while demanding recognition of Muslim holy sites?

Or why Israel is expected to have an Arab minority, but a state of Palestine is not expected to have any Jewish minority?

Can they admit that, when Arab leaders are prepared to pursue peace with Israel rather than wage war, the results have been treaties, as the experiences of Egypt and Jordan show?

And can they own up to the fact that when it comes to liberal and democratic values in the region, no country comes remotely close to Israel, whatever its flaws, in protecting these rights?

Apropos, how many other countries in the Middle East — or beyond — would have tried and convicted an ex-president? This was the case, just last week, with Moshe Katsav, sending the message that no one is above the law — in a process, it should be noted, presided over by an Israeli Arab justice.

And if the harsh critics can’t acknowledge any of these points, what’s the explanation? Does their antipathy for Israel — and resultant confirmation bias — blind them to anything that might puncture their airtight thinking?

Then there is the other malady. It’s called reverse causality, or switching cause and effect.

Take the case of Gaza.

These critics focus only on Israel’s alleged actions against Gaza, as if they were the cause of the problem. In reality, they are the opposite — the effect.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it gave local residents their first chance in history — I repeat, in history — to govern themselves.

Neighboring Israel had only one concern — security. It wanted to ensure that whatever emerged in Gaza would not endanger Israelis. In fact, the more prosperous, stable, and peaceful Gaza became, the better for everyone. Tragically, Israel’s worst fears were realized. Rather than focus on Gaza’s construction, its leaders — Hamas since 2007 — preferred to contemplate Israel’s destruction. Missiles and mortars came raining down on southern Israel. Israel’s critics, though, were silent. Only when Israel could no longer tolerate the terror did the critics awaken — to focus on Israel’s reaction, not Gaza’s provocative action.

Yet, what would any other nation have done in Israel’s position?

Just imagine terrorists in power in British Columbia — and Washington State’s cities and towns being the regular targets of deadly projectiles. How long would it take for the U.S. to go in and try to put a stop to the terror attacks, and what kind of force would be used?

Or consider the security barrier.

It didn’t exist for nearly 40 years. Then it was built by Israel in response to a wave of deadly attacks originating in the West Bank, with well over 1,000 Israeli fatalities (more than 40,000 Americans in proportional terms). Even so, Israel made clear that such barriers cannot only be erected, but also moved and ultimately dismantled.

Yet the outcry of Israel’s critics began not when Israelis were being killed in pizzerias, at Passover Seders, and on buses, but only when the barrier went up.

Another case of reverse causality — ignoring the cause entirely and focusing only on the effect, as if it were a stand-alone issue disconnected from anything else.

So, again, in answer to the question of my erstwhile British colleague, “How can you defend Israel?” I respond: Proudly.

In doing so, I am defending a liberal, democratic, and peace-seeking nation in a rough-and-tumble neighborhood, where liberalism, democracy, and peace are in woefully short supply.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-harris/how-can-you-defend-israel_b_803388.html

Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

December 30, 2010
Drilling
Photo: Albatros
Tamar drilling site (archives)  Photo: Albatros
Photo: Tal Shahar
Minister Landau (archives)  Photo: Tal Shahar

Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

Reservoir located off of Haifa coast said to contain 453 billion cubic meters of natural gas, making it decade’s largest gas discovery

Tani Goldstein

Published: 12.29.10, 18:04 / Israel Business

 

The Leviathan exploration prospect, which is located northwest of the coast of Haifa, contains 80% more natural gas than the Tamar reservoir, which was previously considered Israel’s largest drilling site, a report released Wednesday by Delek Energy revealed.

 

Raising fish in the desert

December 29, 2010

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By David Shamah
December 26, 2010

With fewer fish in the sea with each passing year, Israel’s Grow Fish Anywhere has found a way to grow them in the desert.

Fish ponds

Biological filters and specially developed bacteria treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything.

“There’s plenty of fish in the sea,” the old saying goes – but that’s not as true as it once was. In fact, says Dotan Bar-Noy, CEO of Israel’s GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) Advanced Systems, there are fewer fish in the sea with each passing year. “Overfishing is a much bigger problem than people realize, and in a few years, many species of salt water fish are simply going to disappear if something isn’t done.”

Bar-Noy and 30 or so others – mostly engineers, marine biologists and other technical folk – have found a solution to the diminishing numbers of fish in the sea. Based on the work of Israeli scientist Dr. Yossi Tal and Hebrew University professor Jaap van Rijn – inventor of the system – GFA has developed an on-land environment where fish can be raised, without having to exchange water or treat it chemically.

“We call this a zero-discharge system,” Bar-Noy tells ISRAEL21c. “We use biological filters and specially developed bacteria to treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything. The system can be set up to raise salt-water fish anywhere in the world – even in the desert, thousands of miles from the ocean,” he asserts.

Fish farms are nothing new. They’ve been around for years, enabling growers to set up controlled environments that can ensure a specific yield of fish, allowing them to guarantee delivery without worrying about dwindling supplies in the ocean, pollution, inclement weather, and other factors that are hard to control.

Fish farm foibles

Still, while they enhance the conservation of fish in the sea, fish farms have problems of their own – mostly due to the need to circulate the water in the pools and tanks where the fish are raised. Most fish farms are located adjacent to a body of water, and their waste-laden water is channeled into the sea, and replaced with “fresh” sea water.

While fish raised in captivity don’t produce an increased amount of waste, at sea it would be dissipated over a much wider area. The fish waste, with its nitrogen and other elements concentrated in a relatively small area, renders the water that it’s dumped into uninhabitable for fish.

As the tanks are generally located near the shore, in relatively shallow water, the wastewater tends to linger there. With the movement of the currents, nearby jurisdictions are liable to find a considerable number of fish floating belly-up in their bays and harbors, having been poisoned by the high concentration of nitrogen and nutrients in the wastewater dumped from the tanks.

Fish ponds

GFA’s New York purification plant opened in 2009 and is already supplying 100 tons of sea fish a year to the US market.

This problem is so serious that in some areas fish farms are banned, despite their being perhaps the only technologically feasible solution available to combat overfishing, says Bar-Noy. Alternative purification systems are based on electrical treatment systems which are expensive to install and run, and are not all that effective, he notes. “Even when they work, the electrical purification systems are too expensive, and fish produced with those systems will cost far more than fish from the sea.”

GFA is currently the only solution that eliminates the environmental problems associated with fish farming. Tanks are filled with water, then with fish – and added to the mix are microbes perfected by GFA to treat the nitrogen and organic waste byproducts of fish production, in the tank.

Water is only added to replace that which evaporates, and the fish can grow through their natural cycle and remain in the tank until they are ready for market. “It’s the most efficient fish growing system possible,” claims Bar-Noy, “There is no pollution, and there is no need to fish at sea. Just set up tanks with GFA technology anywhere in the world, and harvest the fish when you’re ready to go to market.”

Toward eliminating world hunger

Because the GFA system uses cheap and easy-to-produce bacteria to cleanse fish tanks, the costs for raising the fish are fully competitive with those for raising fish from the sea, or other farms, Bar-Noy points out. And tank-raised fish are uniformly tasty. “Fish from the sea are subject to the natural weather cycles of cold and heat, while farmed fish can be raised at a constant, ideal temperature. GFA fish have an even greater advantage, since the water they grow in is always fresh, making the fish taste better than fish from other sources.”

The system has already been set up in several locations in Israel, and the company runs a purification facility in upstate New York, which has been operating since 2009. The facility, the largest using GFA technology, produced about 100 tons of fish last year – mostly salt-water fish like sea bream, bass, tilapia, and others.

GFA is currently working on the third generation of its purification system. While the company was formed in 2008, its technology was developed over a 20-year period. “While the ideas were there for awhile, the only viable purification techniques were based on electrical devices. It was only with the rise of biotechnology techniques that we were able to develop the bacteria that enable us to do the purification cheaply,” Bar-Noy explains.

The resulting system allows for high-capacity fish production – as much as 100 kg of fish per cubic meter of water (220 pounds of fish per 35 cubic feet) – along with the ability to grow fish in any environment. Fish farms can be set up anywhere – including in large cities, where fish may be brought to market the same day they’re harvested, thus enabling growers to eliminate transportation time and costs.

After raising funds from several angels, GFA recently raised NIS 18 million (about $126,000) from Dutch private equity fund Linnaeus Capital Partners. The money will finance a number of projects, including expanding the New York facility and further refining the technology.

“As populations grow, more countries are looking to fish as sources of protein, but overfishing threatens to destroy that dream,” says Bar-Noy. “With our system, fish can be grown anywhere – even in the desert – with minimal environmental impact. This is about more than just growing fish,” he adds. “This could help feed millions.”

 

A moment of Glee for Israel

December 29, 2010

A moment of Glee for ISRAEL21c Bookmark and Share

By Nicky Blackburn
December 13, 2010

A robotic exoskeleton designed in Israel to help paraplegics walk and climb stairs alone, has become the unexpected star of Glee, one of TV’s most popular programs.

When Artie Abrams, the disabled member of West McKinley High School’s Glee club gets up and walks on the program’s Christmas special with the aid of a robotic exoskeleton, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

“It was invented by some guy in Israel,” says Artie, played by actor Kevin McHale, one of the popular TV show’s most endearing characters, a paraplegic teenager who knows how to belt out a great tune.

It’s a poignant moment for viewers who have watched Artie deal with the pressures of being wheelchair-bound in an able-bodied and deeply prejudiced society. But for Argo Medical Technologies, the Israeli company that created this unique technology that gives wheelchair users the opportunity to walk, climb stairs and meet the world eye to eye, the show, which aired in the US this week, marks a significant turning point in the company’s history.

Artie walks on Glee

Artie Abrams, played by actor Kevin McHale, steps out for the first time.

ISRAEL21c first wrote about Argo Medical in July 2008. It was the first time the company, then a seven-year-old start up, had been featured in the press, and the team behind the quasi-robotic exoskeleton which includes leg braces with motorized joints and motion sensors, a brace support suit and a backpack with a computer and battery, were interested to see what kind of response the device would get.

Standing in line for interviews

Little did they realize what they were in for. The ISRAEL21c story was quickly picked up by popular blogs like MedGadget, Gizmodo, and Engadget, as well as blogs serving the disabled community. Soon after Reuters followed up with a video of the device.

The story exploded on the world’s press, and was reported everywhere from Canada’s National Post, to Italy’s Corriere della Serra. Over 14 TV stations ran their own stories on the technology, from ABC News, to the BBC and CNN. The Israeli company even got coverage in the Teheran Times.

“It all started with ISRAEL21c,” says Uri Attir, who was the CEO of Argo Medical in 2008. “This was the first public exposure of Argo. The article gave way to four or five dozen articles and videos. It led the way to everyone standing in line, literally, to interview or film, or both.”

Since that first wave of interest, the company has been working hard to develop and test the technology with clinical trials at the Moss Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia in the US and at the Rehabilitation Hospital at Chaim Sheba Medical Center – Tel Hashomer in Israel.

The 12-employee company has already received CE approval for Europe, and has FDA approval for use in rehabilitation centers. FDA approval for personal use is expected to follow soon.

An unexpected call from Glee

A month ago, according to Oren Tamari, Argo’s chief operating officer, the company got an unexpected call from the producers of Glee.

A week later the episode was filmed and on Tuesday of this week, American audiences saw Artie walk using the device, called ReWalk. “It’s Christmas magic,” Tamari tells ISRAEL21c. “They approached us and it all happened very fast.”

ReWalk goes on sale in January, and is expected to cost about $100,000. “We’re going to start sales very slowly, one customer at a time, so we can give everyone good service,” says Tamari.

In January, he says the company expects to sell four units, then will move up to six, and so on. “We will grow slowly, slowly,” he says.

Aside from enabling users to walk, using crutches for stability and support, the seven-pound device also treats some of the cardiovascular, digestive and circulatory health complications which many wheelchair users suffer.

Designed by a quadriplegic

The exoskeleton has a moving story of its own. It was the brainchild of an Israeli electrical engineer, Dr. Amit Goffer who was left quadriplegic after an accident. He decided to develop a system that allows wheelchair users to walk, climb stairs and meet the world on the same level.

After intensive rehabilitation, Goffer began developing the ReWalk prototype in his home, funding it privately and with a Tnufa – Startup Promotion Program grant. He later entered the Technion Incubator, TechnionSeed for a two-year stint and got financing from VC funds, Vitalife, ProSeed, TechnionSeed, the Technion R&D Foundation, and the Office of the Chief Scientist.

“What we want to do is have the person wake up in the morning, put on clothes, put on the ReWalk, go to work and go throughout the day, wearing it,” Goffer, the founder and director of Argo, told ISRAEL21c in 2008.

Now based in Yokneam in Israel’s north, the company’s target market is the community of wheelchair users in the Western world, of which 300,000 are spinal cord injury sufferers (125,000 in the US and 175,000 in ROW) who are physically able to use crutches as a stabilizing tool.

Mad About You star, mad about ReWalk

Aside from the massive press interest, the ReWalk has also attracted the interest of other Hollywood stars. In April 2009, Paul Reiser, the star of 1990s hit TV show Mad About You, saw ISRAEL21c’s article and was intrigued enough to follow it up with a visit to the company with his family.

While ReWalk holds out hope for thousands of people, sadly the man who devised the system still cannot benefit from his own invention. Goffer has partial use of his hands, but it is not enough to operate the ReWalk.

In his interview with ISRAEL21c in 2008, Goffer said: “This isn’t the first company I’ve founded. My incentive to develop it was a business opportunity. When I was injured the first thing I was offered was the only thing: a wheelchair. I do believe that in the future, in many cases, the ReWalk – or its competition – might be offered. I don’t see any reason for the wheelchair to be the sole solution. There hasn’t been a real change [in the technology] for centuries.

“We’re taking a safe business approach, starting with paraplegics, and the time for a quadriplegic like me will come,” he added.

Back at Glee, some attribute the generous present to Artie as a present from Beast, the high school football coach. Others are calling it a Christmas miracle.