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Remembering Daniel Pearl z”l: October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002—Daniel Pearl was kidnapped on January 23, 2003 while working as the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, based in Mumbai, India. He had gone to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between Richard Reid (the "shoe bomber") and Al-Qaeda. He was subsequently beheaded by his captors.
Lest We Forget: January 31, 1943, Russian Victory at Stalingrad: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Feb. 1, 2013—We sometimes forget the key historical importance of war, and of the decisive tuning-point battles associated with wars. Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the great Russian victory over Nazi Germany at Stalingrad (today Volgograd), a decisive turning-point in the Second World War.
Israel 21C’s Top Ten Science & Technology Stories of 2012: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Dec. 24, 2012—If you read the world’s newspapers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only things happening in Israel this year were security related: the looming threat of a conflict with Iran, missiles from Gaza and unrest on Israel’s borders. The pages of ISRAEL21c, however, tell a completely different story.
To Whom Does the Golan Heights Belong?: Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2013—Referred to as “Bashan” in the Bible, the Golan Heights was considered part of the Land of Israel. Its main city, “Golan in Bashan,” (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27) was designated a “City of Refuge” (for those who had committed involuntary manslaughter). The area was assigned to the tribe of Menashe (Joshua 13:29-31).
Watering a Thirsty Planet: I.C. Mayer, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feb. 20, 2011
Good News for Knees: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Jan. 15, 2013
Top Ten Israeli Advances Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, Sept. 2, 2012
Top Ten Facebook Apps From Israel: Brian Blum, Israel 21c, August 29, 2012
Israeli Pharmacologist Kick-Started Marijuana Research: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, May 14, 2012
October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002
“Civilized society, so it seems,
is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.”
Judea Pearl, Father
RUSSIAN VICTORY AT STALINGRAD
CIJR, Feb. 1, 2013
We sometimes forget the key historical importance of war, and of the decisive tuning-point battles associated with wars. Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the great Russian victory over Nazi Germany at Stalingrad (today Volgograd), a decisive turning-point in the Second World War.
On January 31, 1943, as his troops, under-supplied and out-gunned, froze to death in -45 degree C. temperatures, German Field-Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrendered to Soviet forces after what has been termed the “most desperate battle in history”, the Russians’ six-month struggle against von Paulus’ 280,000-strong Sixth Army.
Fought at Stalingrad, in southern Russia, near the Caspian Sea and the gateway to the Caucasus’ rich oil fields, along a 25-mile long Volga River front, the contending armies fought a desperate, six-months’ long battle. Both dictators, Hitler and Stalin, locked in personal as well as political-military struggle, had proclaimed “death until victory”.
Stalingrad cost a total of some two million mostly-Russian lives, military and civilian, from its beginning in July-August 1942 to the final surrender of the complete Sixth Army on February 2, 1943 (one Soviet division of 10,000 men was reduced, in a few weeks of fighting, to 320 survivors; and NKVD security troops, on Stalin’s orders, shot 13,500 fleeing soldiers and civilians).
Led by General, later Marshal, Georgi Zhukov (author, later, of the biography “The Man Who Beat Hitler”), Soviet troops first surrounded von Paulus, and then imposed a decisive defeat on him and Hitler’s Germany. German soldiers called it the Rattenkrieg, “rat’s war”, continuous hand-to-hand combat, and Vassili Grossman, the famous Soviet journalist and author of the great novel Life and Fate, who was there, described “an iron whirlwind howling over the bunkers and slicing through anything living that raised its head above the earth”.
Twenty-four German generals, in addition to von Paulus, were captured, along with the 91,000 survivors of the once-proud Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army invaders (of whom only 9,626 ever made it back to Germany).
Stalingrad (today called Volgograd) was the key turning point of World War II, as Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin understood. It was here, and not in the later 1944 Allied landings in Normandy, that Hitler’s war to make the German ”Aryan” master-race the rulers of the world, was effectively lost.
The Allied campaigns from North Africa to Italy to France, were of course of great importance in the European theater, not least in tying down Wehrmacht divisions and war materiel, including tanks and aircraft. But it was the Russians, suffering ca.20 million casualties, military and civilian, from 1941-45, who bore the brunt of World War II. From Stalingrad, Marshal Zhukov would lead the great Soviet Western counter-offensive which would, finally, end in Berlin, and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker there, in April, 1945.
It is an unimaginable sacrifice that must never be forgotten. Had von Paulus and Nazi Germany prevailed at Stalingrad, the entire course of the war might well have been changed, with immense consequences for Western, and indeed, world, civilization.
(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing,
and Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)
If you read the world’s newspapers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only things happening in Israel this year were security related: the looming threat of a conflict with Iran, missiles from Gaza and unrest on Israel’s borders. The pages of ISRAEL21c, however, tell a completely different story. Imaginative, exciting and dynamic – Israelis were at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in hundreds of different fields this year, pushing the boundaries in art and culture, biotech, medicine, the environment, science and technology.
Already famous for their technological innovations, Israeli companies brought dozens of groundbreaking new technologies to market, from inventive mobile apps to cardboard bikes, invisible keyboards and technology that can protect our runways. Israeli physicians and researchers were just as hard at work, making significant breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, infertility, viruses and asthma. From prizes in medicine and science, to awards for developments in the fields of world hunger, solar energy, desertification and water reclamation, Israeli entrepreneurs gained worldwide recognition.
Israel was also there to help in the wake of global disasters, from Haiti to Kenya, Ghana to Japan. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the US east coast, Israelis were among the few foreigners to send aid. It was also a year when Israel itself came into the spotlight. Tourism rose to its highest level as visitors came to enjoy the country’s hugely varied landscape. National Geographic magazine called the Israel National Trail, stretching 1,000 kilometers from the Red Sea to Israel’s northernmost point, one of the “holy grails of trails across the world.” Lonely Planet chose the Negev Desert second on its top 10 list of regions to visit in 2013.
Tel Aviv won many accolades. Lonely Planet included the beach city on its list of Ultimate Party Cities, and as one of the Top Ten Hedonistic City Breaks. The Huffington Post named it among the eight Best Beach Cities in the world. The Globe and Mail listed it as one of the world’s most creative cities, Master Card named Tel Aviv among the world’s top destinations in 2012, Travelers Digest announced it was home to the most beautiful people in the world, and Condé Nast dubbed it one of the best cities for architecture.
To help you relive an exciting year of development and culture, ISRAEL21c brings you its top 10 most-read stories of the year, giving you a small taste of how a tiny country in the Middle East is helping to change the world.
1. Made in Israel – the Top 64 innovations developed in Israel: To celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday, ISRAEL21c put together a list of the top 64 developments that have come out of Israel since it was founded. Most people already know that the ubiquitous Disk-on-Key was developed in Israel, but did you know that Windows NT and XP operating systems were primarily developed here? We take a look at some of the country’s best innovations, from Copaxone and Sambucol, to the emergency bandage, Krav Maga, Magshoe, desalination, instant messaging and the Powermat.
2. New Israeli tactic makes deadly viruses commit suicide: In September we ran a story on Vecoy Nanomedicines, a biotech company that has developed a cunning new way to disarm viruses by luring them to attack microscopic, cell-like decoys. Once inside these traps, the viruses effectively commit suicide. Today viruses are considered one of the biggest threats to humankind. In 1918, a Spanish flu outbreak killed 40 million people in two years. A new super virus could wreak even worse havoc in today’s uber-connected world, experts fear. There’s still a long road ahead, but Vecoy may have developed the solution that will keep us safe.
3. Space age rapid transit debuts in Tel Aviv: It sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but if all goes well, within two years Israelis will be the first to try out a futuristic rapid transport system designed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The software-guided personal transport pods, designed for two, drive along a guide rail suspended from existing power lines. Magnets in the vehicle create a magnetic field around the metal coil inside the rail, causing the vehicle to lift up and glide 60 miles per hour on a cushion of air. The system uses very little energy and potentially could be powered entirely by solar panels. The goal is to build a pilot project in Israel, and then take it worldwide.
4. Top 12 ways Israel feeds the world: As the world population soars and food production dwindles, food security is becoming a major global concern. No other country in the world has contributed more breakthroughs in this field than has Israel. From drip irrigation to grain cocoons that can keep water and air out of stored crops, from biological pest control to fish farming in the desert, better strains of crops and the most advanced dairy farming techniques on the planet, Israel is leading the way, pioneering advances that could potentially keep our world from starvation.
5. Cardboard wheelchair to roll out from Israel: The inventor, Israeli entrepreneur Nimrod Elmish, started out with a low-cost cardboard bicycle made from recycled materials, but when a leading charity asked if he could also make a cardboard wheelchair, he realized it was a perfect match for his innovative technique. Now his company, I.G. Cardboard Technologies, has entered into an agreement with an international non-profit to set up a $6 million factory for the production of cardboard wheelchairs in Africa. The cost of these wheelchairs, which are made of recycled cardboard, plastic bottles, and recycled tires, is likely to be in the region of $10 each. What’s next? Cardboard toys, wagons, chairs for airplanes, and yes, even cars.
6. Israeli ice device destroys breast tumors: For nearly two years, a novel Israeli medical device has been changing the way American doctors remove fibro-adenoma tumors – benign breast lumps. Now the device, developed by IceCure Medical, is being tested for small malignant tumors as well. During an ultrasound-guided procedure, the IceSense3 probe penetrates the tumor and destroys it by engulfing it with ice. Needing only local anesthetic, the cryoablation process takes up to 10 minutes in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center, and the patient can get up and leave afterward. No recovery period or post-care is necessary.
7. New blood test offers early cancer detection: Israeli researchers have developed a simple and cheap blood test that was found to provide early detection for many types of cancer in clinical trials. The promising new test, developed by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva, can detect minuscule changes in the blood of a person with a cancerous growth somewhere in the body, even before the disease has spread. Early diagnosis of cancer could save thousands of lives. Every day in the United States alone, 1,500 people die of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Early detection greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.
8. Revolutionary Israeli toilet gets Gates Foundation grant: It’s an invention that could transform the developing world. Israeli company Paulee CleanTec has developed a toilet that needs no water, leaves no waste, and is powered by solar energy. The toilet, which won funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, turns solid waste – including toilet paper – into odorless, sterile fertilizer in 30 seconds. The fertilizer is automatically dropped into a removable canister and can be used on crops. Liquid waste will be sterilized separately and then used as gray water to flush the toilet. The Gates Foundation believes that a reinvented toilet could save millions of lives. Some 1.1 billion people don’t use a toilet, and about 80 percent of human waste goes into rivers and streams untreated.
9. Israeli medicine goes to pot: Israel today has one of the most progressive medical marijuana programs in the world. Thousands of Israelis suffering from cancer, MS, Crohn’s and chronic pain receive pot as medication. Israel’s inroads into legalizing cannabis for pain relief and managing terminal illness rest on the seminal research of an award-winning professor, Raphael Mechoulam from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His work has inspired generations of research teams around the world to look to marijuana for alleviating medical conditions from chemo-induced nausea to chronic pain. His work also led to the discovery of anandamides, naturally occurring THC-like chemicals in the brain.
10. Non-invasive tool identifies brain disorders: One in three people suffers from a brain-related disorder such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ADHD, chronic pain or depression. But because of the complexity of the human brain, blood tests and imaging are of limited value for diagnosis or documentation of treatment. The Israeli company ElMindA could revolutionize this field by opening a new window into how the brain works. Its non-invasive BNA (brain network activation) technology, which expects FDA approval early in 2013, has shown promise in clinical studies. The procedure is simple and painless. Patients sit at a computer for 15 to 30 minutes, performing a specific task many times while the device maps network activation points in the brain. The result is a three-dimensional image of nerve cell connectivity and synchronization that is highly sensitive, specific and reproducible. The tool is sensitive enough to show subtle differences in the severity of the condition from one day to another. It can also optimize drug dosing by monitoring the changes in brain network activities as the drug takes effect.
Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2013
Referred to as “Bashan” in the Bible, the Golan Heights was considered part of the Land of Israel. Its main city, “Golan in Bashan,” (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27) was designated a “City of Refuge” (for those who had committed involuntary manslaughter). The area was assigned to the tribe of Menashe (Joshua 13:29-31).
King Ahab of Israel (874- 852 BCE) defeated Ben- Hadad I of Damascus near Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan (I Kings 20:26-30), and the prophet Elisha prophesied that King Yehoash of Israel (801-785 BCE) would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik (II Kings 13:17).
During the late 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the Golan was settled by Jews returning from exile in Babylon. In the mid-2nd century BCE, Judah Maccabee and his brothers led the Jewish army to rescue Jewish communities in the Golan who were attacked by their non-Jewish neighbors (I Maccabees 5). Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai (103-76 BCE) later added the Golan to his kingdom.
At the beginning of the Roman war against the Jews, the historian Josephus Flavius wrote of the siege and conquest of Gamla, the main Jewish town of the Golan, where he alleges a mass suicide took place. Excavations of the site revealed the oldest synagogue in Israel, dated to the Hasmonean period, around 80 BCE.
Twenty-five Jewish villages and synagogues from the Second Temple and Talmudic periods have been found throughout the Golan. Jewish life flourished there until the mid-8th century CE, when an earthquake and/or the Muslim invasion destroyed these communities.
Except for a few small Druse villages built during the 15th and 16th centuries, and later, Circassians, the Golan remained desolate until the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Jews bought land between the modern-day B’nei Yehuda and Kibbutz Ein Gev, on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret.
This community survived until 1920, when several of its members were murdered in the anti-Jewish riots of that year; isolated and unprotected, the rest left. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased approximately 18,000 acres of land about 15 km. east of Ramat Hamagshimim, in what is now Syria. Between 1881 and 1903 (the “First Aliya”) Jews established five small communities in this area, but they too were driven out by Arab gangs. In dispute between Britain and France, the Golan became part of the French Mandate after WWI, and was included in Syria when it became an independent state at the end of World War II.
There was little significant civilian Syrian presence on the Golan Heights during Syrian occupation; it was used primarily as a military base from which to attack settlements in the Hula Valley and, in 1965, Syria attempted to divert the sources of the Jordan River, Israel’s main water supply, almost provoking war.
Conquered by the IDF during the Six Day War (in 1967), it was overrun by Syrian forces in 1973 (the Yom Kippur War), reconquered by the IDF and officially annexed by Israel in 1981. Today, there are nearly three dozen Jewish communities on the Golan Heights, most on or near remnants of ancient Jewish towns. Arguments for retaining the Golan based on its strategic and military importance, or its natural resources may be overcome. Israel’s historic and legal claims, however, are unique and irrefutable.
Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 489) discusses performing mitzvot and the relative sanctity of the area east of the Jordan River (territory occupied by the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Menashe) Chazon Ish proves that wherever the 12 tribes conquered and lived is automatically considered Eretz Yisrael, by referring to the laws of shmita, the sabbatical year, which depend on all tribes living in Eretz Yisrael. If Jews living east of the Jordan River weren’t included, then shmita would not apply to any area for anyone.
None of the Rishonim wrote that the area east of the Jordan River is not part of Eretz Yisrael. The Ran (Nedarim 22a) writes that certain mitzvot, like omer, did not apply in areas east of the Jordan River – implying less, but not no sanctity.
The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.
Watering a Thirsty Planet: I.C. Mayer, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feb. 20, 2011— Today, the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor lists some 166 water tech enterprises, including 91 companies offering water efficiency solutions, 50 companies specializing in wastewater reuse and desalination, and another 25 offering water control and command systems. In addition to serving the local market, Israel's water technologies can also be found throughout the world: Israeli water tech exports now total about $1.5 billion annually and the government is seeking to boost this number to $2.5 billion in 2011.
Good News for Knees: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Jan. 15, 2013—If you get a cut, break a bone or scrape an elbow, your bloodstream brings the injury all the necessary nutrients for healing. But if your cartilage gets damaged, you’re out of luck. This flexible soft tissue that cushions joints – especially in the knee – has no blood vessels and therefore little ability to heal itself.
Top 10 Israeli Advances Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, Sept. 2, 2012—The amount and quality of medical research coming out of Israel is quite astounding. Advances in treating cancer, asthma, diabetes, sepsis, neurological diseases such as ALS – Israeli scientists have made their mark in all these areas and many more. So it’s not surprising that some of Israel’s best minds have been tackling the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a fatal and progressive brain disorder that is the most common cause of dementia worldwide.
The Top Ten Facebook Apps From Israel: Brian Blum, Israel 21c, August 29, 2012—If you can play games, share referrals, recognize friends and purchase gifts through Facebook, it’s probably thanks to an Israeli startup. When Facebook acquired Israeli facial recognition app maker Face.com for an estimated $100 million in June, it highlighted a growing category of made-in-Israel apps specifically built for the Facebook ecosystem.
The Israeli Pharmacologist Who Kick-Started Marijuana Research: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, May 14, 2012— If some 7,000 Israelis can fill a prescription for marijuana to ease pain and enhance appetite, it’s only because half a century ago, Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.
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