This is a great video that shows us the many Israeli innovations that impact our everyday lives.
This is a great video that shows us the many Israeli innovations that impact our everyday lives.
In memory of those who lost their lives in the Holocaust.
Image by kyle simourd / flickr
After four years of anticipation, natural gas from the Tamar reservoir began to flow from an offshore rig in the Mediterranean Sea into Israel on Saturday afternoon, the Energy and Water Ministry announced that evening.
Within about 24 hours from its departure from the rig, the gas will begin to arrive at the receiving station in Ashdod. Containing approximately 250 billion cubic meters of natural gas, the discovery and development of Tamar – and the subsequent find of its even bigger neighbor Leviathan – have symbolized to energy experts an opportunity for Israel to hone its energy security and freedom.
This is an amazing step toward energy independence for the Jewish state. I am very excited to see this vital new sector of the economy come online.
Over the last two years, Israel’s source of natural gas in Egypt has been spotty at best, as the pipeline into Israel has been bombed and turned down on multiple occasions.
I am currently in the midst of planning my first trip to Israel in about three years. This is the longest I have gone without a visit to Israel since I started college. It was a sad realization, with the relief in knowing that I should be touching down at TLV in May.
This trip was prompted by a wedding, one of my cousins in Ramat Gan is getting married and I didn’t want to miss it. While thinking about my trip, I realized that Israel is facing a huge challenge keeping diaspora Jews connected to Israel.
If you are a regular reader of this site, you have seen my contribution levels ebb and flow over the last seven years. There were long stretches where I would write more than five posts per week, but there were also periods when I would write sparsely, such as the recent few months.
Of course, anyone who knows me or my writing knows that it is not for a lack of caring about Israel. I consider Israel the single most important place in the world for the Jewish people, and the modern State of Israel the most important thing to happen to the Jewish people since the Talmud was first written down.
So why a lack of Israel posts from the founder of an Israel blog? There are a few reasons. I have found more profitable writing projects that take more of my time. I have a wonderful relationship with a beautiful, loving woman that I hope to bring with on my next visit to Israel (don’t worry, she’s Jewish), and I want to give her more of my time. I have a good job that takes at least 40 hours per week. I am on the local board for B’nai B’rith and spend time planning events, some about Israel. I own other projects… I could go on and on.
But the biggest reason probably has something to do with the overall problem of the disconnected diaspora. I am over here, Israel is over there. While I am reading about elections and wars, the Likud and Meretz are fighting about Israel’s future thousands of miles away from where I live. New York seemed a long way from home when Superstorm Sandy hit late last year, imagine how far Israel seems from home.
While the flights to get there are easy, the costs and time are not. Just think, the last time I was in Israel, Yisrael Beiteinu was a formidable opponent to both the Likud and Kadima. Labor was on the way down having just lost its longtime leader. Now, parties that didn’t even exist then (Likud Beiteinu and Yesh Atid) are the two biggest in the country and that dying Labour party made a big comeback while the leading opposition party (Kadima) is practically dead.
So, if even an Israel blogger can become a bit disconnected, what can be done to keep people outside of Israel connected? That is a challenge organizations around the Jewish world have been trying to tackle for decades.
The answer is a difficult one. How do we engage people in the politics, culture, and life of a country on the other side of the world? More speakers? More fairs? More nightclubs serving Macabee and Goldstar beer playing Hadag Nachash music? I don’t think the answer is that simple.
I think the answer is making the world Jewish population feel vested in the day-to-day life of Israel. Not just knowing that their Israel bonds and JNF donations helped plant some trees, but actually making them feel like part of Israel.
That is where I run out of ideas. I am not sure how to do it. I just know that even I feel a bit disengaged at the moment, and that is a huge problem for Israel. I am supposed to be the guy that does the engaging!
Just to be clear, this is not me saying that I am done with this blog, that is far from what I am saying. I want to ensure the ongoing success of this site long past my days here, which are not numbered yet.
I am just pointing out a huge challenge that groups like AIPAC should think about beyond lobbying congress. Aish should be engaging us in Israel as much as soliciting our donations for their activities there. Birthright should keep up the efforts to keep us engaged well after our 10 day trip, not cutting back on funding in smaller cities with Jewish populations around 85,000 (that is what happened to us in Denver, and I was being sarcastic when I called it a small community).
What do you think about the future of engagement for the Jewish diaspora? Please share your thoughts and feelings in the comments.
Image by kobylib / flickr
For all of history, there has never officially been a state called Palestine. Today, the United Nations took a step to turn disputed territories in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza into a recognized state.
The vote, which took place at UN headquarters in New York, change the Palestinian’s from a “non-member observer entity” to a “non-member observer state.” That is the same level of representation The Vatican has at the United Nations.
This is a slap in the face to Israel, which is constantly struggling to protect its citizens from terrorist activity in Gaza. Just eight days ago, Israel was actively working to protect its citizens from 1,500 rockets fired into civilian areas by Palestinian terrorists.
Rather than condemn the Palestinian Authority for its actions, the UN rewarded it by upgrading its status in the UN assembly.
Not only does this move completely undermine peace efforts, it also ignores that PA President Abbas has absolutely no control over its renegade other half in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and Fatah, formerly the PLO, do not work together and were in a state of civil war shortly after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had this to say: “Israel is prepared to live in peace with the Palestinian state,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday. “But for peace to endure, Israel’s security must be protected, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state and they must be prepared to end the conflict with Israel once and for all…
“No decision by the U.N. can break the 4,000-year-old bond between the people of Israel and the land of Israel.”
Via JFNA (Jewish Federations of North America) - November 16, 2012
The Israel office of The Jewish Federations of North America continues to follow closely the continued severe violence in the South of Israel as Operation Pillar of Defense enters its third day.
In the last twenty four hours, over 250 rockets have been fired at the State of Israel, landing in the South and in the greater Tel Aviv area. The Israel Air Force has targeted over 450 terror activity sites in Gaza with the aim of impairing terrorists’ rocket launching capability.
Homefront Security Minister, Avi Dichter warned Thursday evening “We’re on our way to a night that won’t be quiet” and that “This is no time for indifference.” He expects hundreds of rockets to be fired from Gaza to Israel over the next days.
Rockets have been hitting Southern Israel since Saturday, with over 250 rockets on Thursday alone. The Iron Dome Defense system has intercepted 130 rockets headed towards populated areas and the IDF is readying to deploy a fifth battery. Intended for use starting 2013, the fifth, more advanced, battery of the Iron Dome is needed earlier.
Thursday night, a rocket hit near Bat Yam, landing in the sea. The sirens sounded in Tel Aviv, for the first time since the 1991 Gulf War, bringing home to Tel Aviv the immediacy of the violence inflicted on the periphery. Sirens were also heard in Rishon Letzion, Israel’s fourth largest city, and in Holon, cities both very close to Tel Aviv.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in reference to the continued rocket fire that “From our experience there is no ‘quick fix’, and this test will continue, a test which we must face with resilience and composure. We are all family. And today in Tel Aviv, we are feeling something that over one million Israelis have been feeling for a long time, especially in these days.”
The IDF suspended strikes over Gaza for three hours during Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil’s visit to Gaza today. Kandil was sent by President Morsi and condemned Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza.
Rockets have scored direct hits on homes and vehicles today and the emotional trauma suffered by the besieged Israeli citizens is severe. 25 Israelis were rescued after the building they were in collapsed on top of them. Yesterday, Aharon Smadga, 49, Itzik Amsalem, 24, and Mira Sharf, 26 were buried after a rocket attack directly hit the apartment in Kiryat Malachi.
Mira Sharf was visiting Israel from New Delhi where she served as a Chabad emissary with her husband. She came with her husband and three children to mark the anniversary of the 2008 attack on the Mumbai Chabad House which killed nine, including Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and was due to give birth in a few weeks. Her husband and 4-year-old son were seriously injured.
Hundreds of soldiers from the Paratroops, Golani and Givati Brigades and Armored Corps units, have been transferred to the Gaza border in preparation for a possible wide ground offensive. Right now 16,000 reservists have been called up in response to a “Tsav 9″ call-up of reservists. Tsav 9 is a limited emergency call up, similar to a “Tsav 8″ but smaller in number. 14,000 more reservists may be called up in addition. Families are adapting to the anxiety and pressures this demands.
Operation Pillar of Defense is working to reduce Hamas’ ability to launch Fajar-5 rockets. Fajar-5rockets are able to strike further across the country and target more people.
The IDF continues to distribute leaflets to Gazan citzens advising them to distance themselves from terrorists in the coming days. Watch the launch of rockets from Gaza into Israel.
President Peres addressed the targeting of Ahmed Jabari yesterday by the IDF and the strikes against Hamas’ weapons and said, “The IDF operated with the utmost effort to avoid civilian casualties. Jabari was an arch-murderer and responsible for terror attacks and the killing of many. I salute the IDF and the security services for their accurate, surgical and strategically important operation.”
Despite Operation Pillar of Defense and the onslaught of rockets pounding the millions of Israelis, Israel has not stopped providing electricity and water to Gaza as well as medical care for Palestinians who need it.
President Peres said, “There is no nation that loves peace and hates bloodshed like Israel, our enemies are not the people of Gaza, our enemies are not the Muslim people. Our enemies are the terrorists who operate without reason and without thought.” The President stressed that Israel’s hand is outstretched for peace but that Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect her citizens, “The world is beginning to understand that we are operating with responsibility and we do not take human life lightly. I don’t know any country that would show restraint for as long as Israel did during the attacks on the south.”
The Jewish Agency for Israel is preparing relief for a thousand new immigrant youth living in Jewish Agency absorption centers and 23,500 students between 1st and 12th grades throughout Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat, Ibim, and Arad, the center of the conflict, who will be in dire need of a break from the escalating security situation. The Jewish Agency for Israel is also preparing special group psychological interventions for parents and children for those suffering from emotional trauma.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is preparing emergency kits for elderly and the disabled in the afflicted regions, in addition to working with emergency case workers who provide elderly and disabled with emotional and physical support so that they can stay in their homes during the sirens. The JDC is also delivering food to the elderly as day care centers are not able to run currently, running activities for children in shelters and settling in place post trauma interventions for children.
The Israel Trauma Coalition is running phone hot-lines, setting in place group workshops for children and parents, team training and support for those in the field, direct care for those in need in coordination with local councils.
Radio stations are announcing rocket attacks and on some stations the broadcasting is interrupted constantly by sirens and alerts. The Israel Broadcasting Authority will operate a radio frequency (531 AM) during Shabbat house that will be silent except for emergency announcements. This arrangement is used only in times of severe national emergency.
Israeli social media has been put to good use in aiding citizens in finding alternative accommodations, offering their homes and even locations for weddings. Israel’s center for coordinating public diplomacy efforts Continues to fight against propagated falsehoods on Facebook, Twitter and other media avenues.
The Jewish Federations of North America have donated $5 million to the Fund for the Victims of Terror in Israel to assist those Israeli citizens currently living under a constant threat of danger and also have set up an SMS system for donating via your cellphone. You can text ISRAEL to 51818.
JFNA and JCPA held a call Thursday with Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, head of the International Media & Communications Branch of the IDF Spokespersons Unit who explained the situation and encouraged all abroad to fight Israel’s media battle by combatting the falsehoods and misconceptions in the press.
More information on Operation Pillar of Defense can be seen here:
After 822 rockets were fired so far this year (yesterday’s number), and 138 in the last day or so, Israel has responded with an offensive operation against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. This military operation, codenamed Pillar of Defense, has included airstrikes and targeted attacks against terrorists.
Israel’s first major public move in its counter-offensive to the increase in Hamas rockets was a targeted air strike against a major Hamas leader. The air strike killed Ahmed Jabari, the senior commander of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzidine Al-Qassam Brigades.
Jabari was responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, firing countless rockets into Israel, and leading the violent takeover of the Gaza Strip after Israel withdrew in 2005.
Jabari was a terrorist responsible for many murders and injuries, and his death is welcome. However, a Hamas spokesperson said that by assassinating this terrorist, Israel had “opened the gates of hell.”
Rocket Attacks Increased
True to its word, Hamas airstrikes increased dramatically the day after the assassination of Hamas’ top military commander. Nearly 200 rockets have seen been fired at Israeli civilians (not military facilities or leaders) by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other armed terrorist groups in Gaza. Note, 200 is just a small subset of the 800 rockets fired into Israel this year. Israel exercised maximum restraint as terrorists tried to murder its citizens.
Unlike the last major conflict, Operation Cast Lead, Hamas has more powerful and longer range rockets than before. Rockets are now landing just south of Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest population center. Hamas is believed to have long range Fajar rockets, which could reach Tel Aviv from Gaza.
Last night, a rocket struck an apartment building in Kiryat Malakhi killing three innocent Israelis.
US Support and Israel Response
Israel responded to this escalation as it should. It has launched additional airstrikes targeted at terrorist leaders and rocket launchers. The strikes have targeted Beit Lahia, where two terrorists were killed, Gaza City, where Jabari was killed, and other areas where Israel has attempted to assassinate other military leaders.
While Hamas continues to fire rockets at civilians, Israel specifically targets terrorists. Recently re-elected President Barack Obama has stood up for Israel’s right to self-defense. The US State Department issued this statement: “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we encourage Israel to continue to take every effort to avoid civilian casualties.”
UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon urged both Israel and Hamas to use restraint.
Media Bias Against Israel
I find it fascinating and infuriating to see how the media has responded. In the United States, the looming fiscal cliff and former CIA head David Petraeus’ affair remain the front page stories.
The New York Times writes headlines about the “Israeli Air Assault on Gaza.” You have to read a bit into the article to see any mention of rocket attacks. The new source mentions that “At least 20 targets were hit in Israel’s fiercest attack against Gaza since its invasion in late 2008,” but does not mention the 800 rockets fired this year or the 200 over the last day.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette headline states “Military Chief of Hamas Slain in Wide Israeli Attack on Gaza.” You have to read far into the article to see anything about the rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
Another War, The Same Story
We will all keep our eyes on the news and our hearts with Israel over the coming days to see how the current conflict evolves. I pray for the safety of Israeli civilians and the young men and women in the IDF defending Israel from the terrorist onslaught.
It is only Wednesday, and we have had to major international news stories out of the Middle East that involve the United States and a lot of political implications.
Bibi Gets Snubbed by Obama
First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a meeting with President Barack Obama during his trip to the United States for the UN General Assembly later this month.
Obama’s staff said no.
They claim that the schedules of Obama and Netanyahu never put them in the same city on the same day, but I have a feeling Bibi would have been willing to work it out even if it meant a quick plane ride.
The implication here is that Obama is essentially saying that Israel is not a priority. I have stood by Obama, albeit one time I almost changed my mind, since he secured the Democratic nomination four years ago. His message on Israel has been very mixed.
Some days Obama is Israel’s best friend. Some days, things are not so rosy. However, his actions speak much louder than his words, which are mixed at best. Even compared to George W. Bush, Obama has been a great partner in security and peace for Israel.
The New York Times offered those tidbits and many more interesting facts about Obama’s relationship with the Jewish state.
So, while Obama’s public insult to Benjamin Netanyahu was embarrassing, let’s give him the benefit of the doubt that his schedule really didn’t work. He has been a great friend.
US Ambassador to Libya Murdered
On the heels of dealing with one Middle East faux pas, Obama was given the news that the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was murdered by Islamist fundamentalists in a raid on the US government compound in Benghazi.
While the Israelis want to meet with the United States, a country the US helped liberate from a dictator is murdering its diplomats.
This was no government action, but it is still telling of the situation in Muslim Arab countries in the Middle East. Apparently, a film was produced which insulted Mohammed. In response, Muslims around the world have revolted and murdered anyone that they could loosely tie to the film, including fellow countrymen that had absolutely nothing to do with the production.
If it only takes a movie release to spark murder of United States government representatives and their staff, maybe it is time for Obama and congress to take stock of who their best friends are in the region.
What do you think the result will be from these events? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
If you didn’t see the news, a terrorist attack in Bulgaria has left seven Israelis dead and many more wounded in a bus outside of Burgas Airport on the Black Sea coast. According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this attack originated in Iran.
Of course, this terrorist attack is not like many others. It was very clearly an attack targeted on Israelis. It was very clearly an attack intended to murder innocent Jews on vacation. But it did not take place on Israeli soil.
Israel has become very good at stopping terrorists. The Israeli military and intelligence teams stop so many attacks, they often do not make the news. Building a strong security fence, having elite border patrol teams, and knowing how to stop the bad guys at checkpoints works. It is not perfect, but it is pretty good.
But what can Israel do to protect the Jewish people, particularly Israeli citizens, outside of Israel?
Several months ago, Israeli officials warned Bulgarian security forces about the risk of an attack on Israelis on Bulgarian soil. The Bulgarians did increase security to some extent, but obviously not enough.
Inside the airport, everyone is in a secure zone. On a bus outside, however, there is little security. The terrorist is believed to have left a bomb in the luggage compartment of the bus and detonated it remotely.
Just like the attack on Chabad during the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Israel can do little to help. All they can do is warn governments and warn Israelis of the dangers of traveling abroad. But should Israelis have to live in a claustrophobic bubble?
Israel can do little to respond to the attacks, but Israelis are empowered to show that terrorism does not work. The Jewish people do not bow down to the homicidal acts of its enemies.
We are not leaving Israel. We are not going anywhere.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima party chair Shaul Mofaz held a joint press conference announcing a new unity government. The two largest parties in Israel bring 55 of the 120 seats of the Knesset together in one large voting bloc.
Just hours after early elections were called for September, Likud and Kadima leadership cobbled together a deal in a secret meeting. The deal will place Mofaz in the role of Deputy Prime Minister and binds him to be loyal to Netanyahu’s coalition until October, 2013.
In exchange for this, Netanyahu has agreed to support an effort to repeal the ‘Tal Law’ which exempts ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel from military service as long as they remain in Yeshiva.
In all, the new coalition will represent 94 out of the 120 votes in the Knesset. This is the widest coalition ever built in Israel’s 64 year history.
Of course, not all are happy with the deal. Former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni says that Kadima has sold out under Mofaz’s leadership. That might be so, as the Kadima party was founded to be a centrist alternative to Israel’s primary right wing party.
The new deal also secures the future of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, now leader of the Independence Party, a party that does not show promise in current polling.
Unity governments have traditionally only been formed in times of war, which leads some political analysts to wonder what sparked the divergent party leaders to join forces. Time will tell if threats from Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas or self-perseverance in politics will drive this agreement forward.
The Guy Behind The Blog
Eric is the founder and editor of IsraelSituation.com. He has been to Israel many times including a semester at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the former president of the Israel advocacy group at the University of Colorado and teaches about Israel and the Media at a local religious school. All Authors…