Tag: Daniel Pearl

THE WIDE WORLD OF JEWISH EXPERIENCE: NEW YORK TO KARACHI, TORONTO TO BUDAPEST, ENTEBBE TO ALBERTA

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Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

 

How Ed Koch Honoured My Son: Judea Pearl, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2013Most Jews have simple epitaphs on their headstones—perhaps a quote from Psalms or a passage from the Torah, or maybe a phrase proclaimed by one of the prophets. Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, who died at 88 last Friday and is being buried today in his city, has the last words spoken by our son Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by terrorists in 2002: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

 

Second World War Survivor Amazed to See Her Picture on Canada Post Stamp Honouring Swedish Diplomat Who Saved Her Life: Joe O'Connor, National Post, Jan 25, 2013Ann Weiszmann has a fascination for Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat credited with saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives in Nazi-occupied Hungary by issuing them bogus Swedish identity papers, or “shutz-passes.”

 

A Native and a Zionist: Ryan Bellerose Metropolitain,  Jan. 24, 2013I am a Métis from Northern Alberta. My father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990 and cemented our land rights. I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. And I am a Zionist. 

 

On Topic Links
 

 

Ed Koch’s Tombstone: Rabbi Benjamin Blech, AISH, Feb. 8, 2013
The Jew Who Would Be God : Peter Schäfer, The New Republic, June 7, 2012Book Review: The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ: By Daniel Boyarin, (New Press, 200 pp., $21.95)
Benny Morris – An Evolving Historian: Robert Slater, Jerusalem Report, Dec. 26, 2012

 

 

HOW ED KOCH HONORED MY SON

Judea Pearl
Tablet, February 4, 2013

 

Most Jews have simple epitaphs on their headstones—perhaps a quote from Psalms or a passage from the Torah, or maybe a phrase proclaimed by one of the prophets. Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York, who died at 88 last Friday and is being buried today in his city, has the last words spoken by our son Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by terrorists in 2002: “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.”

The fact that Koch has now died on the same day as our son seems to be yad hahashgacha, the hand of providence, at work. If I were a believer, I would say: How could anyone doubt God’s existence? Instead, I am struck by what a strange, surreal coincidence this is.

I never met Koch in person, but we first corresponded in 2004, when my wife and I were working on a book of essays inspired by the last words of our son. When I first heard what Danny said in that dungeon, I knew it would strike a chord with every Jewish soul—and, in fact, that every decent human being would be moved by this expression of identity. That he declared those words—words connecting him to his people with a shared, ancient history—makes me feel he wasn’t alone, that he had many millions of hearts with him in Karachi. “Back in the town of B’nai Brak there is a street named after my great-grandfather, Chaim Pearl, who was one of the founders of the town,” Danny said, and he had the pulse of the entire Jewish history with him, from the Talmudic scholars who founded the ancient town to the city-builders of modern Israel.

The echo of Danny’s words has not subsided. Koch took the dramatic act of putting it on his tombstone, but many others carry Danny’s words and are nurtured by them, quietly. For the book, we commissioned many prominent Jews to reflect on what the phrase “I am Jewish” meant to them, and Koch was one of the 300 people we asked. Koch sent in an essay mainly expressing anger about the terrorists—how they act against civilized society, and how they should be dealt with. It was about our world and how we got into this war, and we felt it didn’t fit the theme. The theme was what does being Jewish mean to you, a very personal question, and we asked Koch if he’d be open to revising it. Koch’s answer was definitive: That’s how I feel, he said, and I can’t change it.

 

Maybe his Jewishness was genuinely defined by who his enemies were. Or maybe it was defined primarily by being part of a certain generation of New Yorkers who lived through the Depression—after all, he refused to leave Manhattan, even in death. “I’m proud of being Jewish,” he would always proclaim, and his tombstone will never allow us to forget that fact: “He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith,” it reads….

 

Some will surely comment on the fact that Koch included how our son was murdered, and who his killers were: “Muslim terrorists.” Koch, as I said, was very angry about Islamist terror, and I think using these words was very purposeful on his part: a way of reminding us that our enemy is not 19 misguided lunatics, but a whole ideology that fosters anti-Western fanaticism and elevates itself above the norms of civilized society. In a time when political correctness was at its peak, perhaps it was productive for Ed Koch to remind New Yorkers that our real enemy is not Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but the ideology on which he grew and that is being passed on to his children, emboldened and intensified by the hour. That is our real enemy.

 

When the New York Times reported that Koch had chosen Danny’s words for his headstone a few years ago, I was extremely moved, and I called to thank him. “This is how I feel,” he told me, “and this is how I want to be remembered.”

 

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SECOND WORLD WAR SURVIVOR AMAZED TO SEE HER PICTURE ON CANADA POST STAMP HONOURING SWEDISH DIPLOMAT WHO SAVED HER LIFE
Joe O'Connor

National Post, Jan 25, 2013
 

Ann Weiszmann has a fascination for Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat credited with saving tens of thousands of Jewish lives in Nazi-occupied Hungary by issuing them bogus Swedish identity papers, or “shutz-passes.”  Ms. Weiszmann’s interest in the man is understandable: Without Mr. Wallenberg there would be no Ann Weiszmann. She is the daughter of Wallenberg Jews and a consumer of all things — academic talks, articles, books and movies — related to the Holocaust hero.

And so it was on a recent evening in Toronto that she attended the screening of a film dedicated to the great man, at the conclusion of which event organizers informed the audience that Canada Post had issued a Raoul Wallenberg commemorative stamp on Jan. 17.

Ms.Weiszmann rushed out to buy a couple booklets, tossed them in her purse, pulled them out later to take a closer look and practically fainted. The stamp features Mr. Wallenberg and a shutz pass, and not just any shutz pass, but one belonging to Judith Kopstein — age 14 in 1944 and age 83 now — and, more importantly, Ann Weiszmann’s mother. “I couldn’t believe it,” she says.

Neither could her mother, Judith, a retired structural engineer, Winnipeg resident and transplanted Hungarian Jew whose shutz pass — with picture included — is now immortalized on a stamp honouring a man she regards as the “greatest man” of the 20th century. “It is just incredible that something like this would happen,” Judith Weiszmann says. “Wallenberg was fearless. He saved people’s lives by risking his own and having a stamp of him — that is very natural — but having my picture on it, that is something completely unexpected.”

It is also something of a mystery. Canada Post bought the rights to the image from an image bank. How Ms. Weiszmann’s shutz pass came to be in that bank, however, is a happy subject of speculation among her family members that has produced a second startling philatelic revelation. Sweden issued a commemorative stamp honouring Mr. Wallenberg in May 2012 featuring an image of the hero and a copy of you-know-who’s shutz pass. “My son, Paul, found the Swedish stamp on the Internet,” Ms. Weiszmann says.

Behind both stamps is the story of a teenaged girl living in Nazi Occupied Budapest, the final redoubt of the Hungarian Jews in 1944 — the majority of whom had already been deported and murdered in places like Auschwitz. Ms. Weiszmann’s father, a lumberman, had business ties in Sweden predating the war and when Mr. Wallenberg came to town and began issuing his life-saving documents the Weiszmanns’ rushed to the consulate door. “I remember the lineup outside,” Ms. Weiszmann says. “I remember everything about those days as though it were yesterday.”

She remembers getting her picture taken, the picture that has come back to her after all these years — the original of which is locked in a bank vault in Winnipeg — and leaving the consulate with a phony document and taking up residence in one of the scores of properties Mr. Wallenberg rented to house the phony Swedes. “He arranged dozens of these houses,” Ms. Weiszmann says.

He operated soup kitchens, ran a hospital and intervened when the Hungarian Gestapo seized Ms. Weiszmann and her mother. “Those papers saved our lives,” she says. She met Mr. Wallenberg once. “He shook hands with me. I was only 14, and I was so very honoured because we all knew that what he was doing was something remarkable. He would go and talk to the German officers without fear, even though they attempted to assassinate him numerous times.”

Judith Kopstein met her husband, Erwin, another Wallenberg Jew, after the war. They became engineers, married and fled to Canada in 1956 after the Russians crushed the Hungarian Revolution….“Our second miracle was coming to Canada as refugees after the Hungarian Revolution,” Ms. Weiszmann says. “We were able to make a good life here. I cherish being Canadian.”

The couple had a son and a daughter, and now, grandchildren. Erwin passed away 16 months ago. He was 88. His widow remains in good health. Judith Weiszmann (nee Kopstein) is a “voracious emailer” with friends all over the world, she says, but she also enjoys posting letters the old-fashioned way and plans on mailing a handful of dispatches — with a Canadian-Wallenberg stamp attached. “Some of my friends would be interested,” she says. “It is incredible, something like this happening.”

 

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A NATIVE AND A ZIONIST

 

Ryan Bellerose

Metropolitain,  January 24, 2013
 

I am a Métis from Northern Alberta. My father, Mervin Bellerose, co-authored the Métis Settlements Act of 1989, which was passed by the Alberta legislature in 1990 and cemented our land rights. I founded Canadians For Accountability, a native rights advocacy group, and I am an organizer and participant in the Idle No More movement in Calgary. And I am a Zionist.  Let me tell you why.

I grew up on a Métis colony in what many would say are rough conditions: we had no electricity, running water or telephone.  When it rained, the dirt roads that linked us to the highways flooded and we were stranded. I lived in a bunkhouse with my two stepbrothers, while my father and stepmother lived in a small cabin nearby.  We raised a garden, hunted and fished, picked berries and made the odd trip to town to buy supplies.  My father worked construction and lived in camps for long stretches and I would often stay at relatives’ to escape my stepmother’s abuse. Still, I considered my childhood normal.  

My interest in Israel started at a young age.  My father gave me a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica for my 5th birthday and, from there, a passion for history was born.  I would sit and read whenever the weather was bad.  In fact, it was a family joke that taking away my books for a few hours was a better way to discipline me than a spanking.  One entry that caught my eye was that of Israel’s birth in 1948. It struck me as the ultimate David and Goliath story: Israel, a tiny country that had fought for independence from the British Empire, was forced from its first moments to defend its existence against the combined armies of the Arab world.  Israel survived against all odds, and did so in a truly epic story of will and heroism.  This story inspired me.

Growing up, I was a very small child. (I am called "Tiny Ryney" to this day, though I play defensive tackle for the Calgary Wolfpack).  I was called a "half-breed" and other slurs by white kids while the children in my colony made fun of my paler skin.  I didn’t belong anywhere.  And I had to be resourceful to protect myself, since I was weaker than the others. Being the victim of bullying shaped who I am and my sense of right and wrong.  It is one reason that I support Israel, a country that has faced bullying and manipulation since its birth.  Israel too has had to be resourceful to defend itself against enemies that dwarf it.  And, like me, it overcame. 

Noticing my curiosity about Israel, my father bought me as a birthday gift a book about the 1976 Raid on Entebbe, a brilliant rescue by Israeli commandos of hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists to Uganda.  Again, this impressed me.  Israel was willing to do the impossible to rescue its people, regardless of the political fallout.  This pushed me to read more about the Arab-Israeli conflict.  In so doing, I learned about the ’72 Munich Olympic Games, where Palestinian terrorists massacred 11 Israeli athletes during an event meant to be a celebration of brotherhood and peace. I wondered why more people weren’t as upset as I was.

It was during this time, while visiting relatives working oil rigs, that I learned while watching a hotel TV of the horrific 1972 Lod Airport massacre where terrorists shot dead 26 civilians waiting for their flights, including 17 Christian pilgrims. I also remember the 1985 attack by Yasser Arafat’s forces on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, where an old disabled man was thrown overboard in his wheelchair for the crime of being a Jew.  The more I saw, the more I needed to understand why such things were happening.  The more I learned, the more I grew to appreciate Israel’s moral integrity in the face of brutal hatred.  And I came to believe that the Jewish people and Israel should serve as an example to indigenous people everywhere.  It is with the Jews – and their stubborn survival after being decimated and dispersed by powerful empires — that we have the most in common.

My people, the Métis, came to Alberta after the American Revolution, at the government’s request, to prevent the settling of the Americans in western Canada.  We settled the land and followed the white man’s rules.  But we were eventually evicted, our homes given to white pioneers.  No one wanted us. We were forced to live in hiding, on road allowances, in the bush. We had no rights, and we were killed out of hand, as "nuisances". Exile fractured our nation. Our people wandered with no hope and no home. Then, in the mid 1900's, our leaders managed to secure land for us, not the land we had wanted but land that would nonetheless allow us to build a better future. We took it, built our settlements and formed a government to improve the lives of our people. We still have many problems to solve, of course, but we also have more educated people than ever and are slowly becoming self-sufficient, as our leaders envisioned.  In this, the Jewish people and the Métis have walked the same road. 

The Jews also suffered genocide and were expelled from their homeland.  They were also rejected by everyone and forced to wander.  Like us, they rebelled against imperial injustice when necessary and, despite their grievances, strived for peace whenever possible.  Like us they were given a tiny sliver of their land back after centuries of suffering and persecution, land that nobody else had wanted to call home until then.  Like us, they took that land despite their misgivings and forged a nation from a fractured and wounded people.  And like us, they consistently show a willingness to compromise for the good of their people.  

I hope the Metis keep walking the same road as the Jewish people.  Through their efforts, the Jews were able to preserve their identity despite terrible persecution and to revive their culture and language once back in their homeland.  They never lost their sense of who they were, but neither did they lose sight of the importance of looking forward.  Given their history, it would have been natural for them to become insular and reactionary.  But instead, they work hard to be productive and are friendly even to countries that have caused them tremendous suffering.  I want us to similarly make education and the preservation of our ancient culture a priority.  I want us to continue to strive for peace and productivity. 

Many claim that we Natives have more in common with the Palestinians, that their struggle is our struggle.  Beyond superficial similarities, nothing could be farther from the truth.  Beyond the facile co-opting of our cause, the comparison with the Palestinians is absolutely untenable.  It trivializes our suffering.

Co-opting today’s native struggle to the Palestinian propaganda war is a fallacy. Though the Palestinians have undeniable ties to the land, first hand accounts by Mark Twain and countless other travelers to the Holy Land through the ages suggest that a large percentage of the Palestinian people immigrated to Palestine in recent decades.  And for 65 years, the Palestinians have convinced the world that they are worse off than many other stateless nations, despite all evidence to the contrary.  The Palestinians claim to have been colonized but it was their own leaders who refused to negotiate and who lost the land that they want by waging a needless war on Israel.  They claim to have faced genocide but they suffered no such thing: their population has exploded from a few hundred thousand in 1948 to over 4 million today.  They claim deprivation but their elites live in luxury while their people live in ramshackle poverty.  

What’s more, the Palestinian leaders have never been interested in a peaceful solution for their people. They were given several opportunities to have their own state – for the first time in history — and refused each time, choosing war over peace because the offers were never deemed sufficient. They have persistently used terrorism to bring attention to their cause and their leaders have celebrated the killing of civilians by naming parks and schools after murderers.  And any Palestinian that questions the maximalist rhetoric or who suggests real compromise is immediately ostracized, branded a traitor, or killed.

The Palestinians are not like us.  Their fight is not our fight.  We natives believe in bringing about change peacefully, and we refuse to be affiliated with anyone who engages in violence targeting civilians.  I cannot remain silent and allow the Palestinians to gain credibility at our expense by claiming commonality with us. I cannot stand by while they trivialize our plight by tying it to theirs, which is largely self-inflicted.  Our population of over 65 million was violently reduced to a mere 10 million, a slaughter unprecedented in human history.  To compare that in whatever way to the Palestinians’ story is deeply offensive to me. The Palestinians did lose the land they claim is theirs, but they were repeatedly given the opportunity to build their state on it and to partner with the Jews — and they persistently refused peace overtures and chose war.   We were never given that chance.  We never made that choice
 

 

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Ed Koch’s Tombstone: Rabbi Benjamin Blech, AISH, Feb. 8, 2013—With the words he chose to be inscribed on his tombstone, Ed Koch, the iconic New York Mayor who passed away last Friday [Feb. 1], made it very clear how he wanted most to be remembered.

 

The Jew Who Would Be God : Peter Schäfer, The New Republic, June 7, 2012Book Review: The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ: By Daniel Boyarin, (New Press, 200 pp., $21.95) That the historical Jesus was a Jew, that his followers were Jews, and that the Gospels as well as the letters written by the apostle Paul are Jewish writings, firmly embedded in first century C.E. Judaism—all this has become almost commonplace. After long and bitter battles, this fact now has a foothold not only among historians of ancient Judaism but even among the most dedicated Christian theologians. Indeed, the pendulum has swung far in the opposite direction, with scholars outdoing each other in proving the Jewishness of Jesus and the New Testament.

 

An Evolving Historian: Robert Slater, Jerusalem Report, Dec. 26, 2012—Historian Benny Morris has been reviled for exposing Israeli expulsions of Arabs in 1948, but he believes the expulsions were justified and the Palestinians’ end game is Israel’s destruction.

 

 

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REMEMBER/ZACHOR: DANIEL PEARL Z”L, STALINGRAD; THE JEWISH GOLAN, ISRAELI SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

Remembering Daniel Pearl  z”l: October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002Daniel 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, 2013We 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).

 

On Topic Links

 

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 

 

 

REMEMBERING DANIEL PEARL   z”l

 

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

 

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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.

 

    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)

 

 

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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. 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.

 

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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).

 

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.

 

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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, 2013If 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, 2012The 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, 2012If 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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