Friday, April 24, 2015

From Ian:

Israel ranked 11th happiest country in the world
The annual World Happiness Report published on Thursday by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has ranked Israel as the 11th happiest country in the world in 2014 for the second year in a row.
Switzerland was the happiest country on earth in 2014, followed closely by Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Canada. Rounding out the top 10 are Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand and Australia. The United States trailed behind, coming in at number 15.
The World Happiness Report is a survey of global societal well-being that ranks 158 countries by happiness levels using variables such as GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. The report also includes extra factors such as social support, generosity, freedom to make life choices, and perceived absence of corruption.
When the publication first launched in 2012, Israel was ranked at number 14 our of 156 countries.
The goal of the report is to guide progress toward social, economic and environmental development.
Why Progressives Should Celebrate Israel’s 67th Birthday
Israel has a lot of problems, but its functioning democracy and liberal heritage means they can be fixed. Those on the Left should help it.
Israel turns 67 today. The “old” Israel of the Kibbutz, the farming commune, and the Histadrut, the almighty labor union, the Israel of plucky pioneers and Holocaust survivor-socialists, used to be the Left’s darling, toasted at the Socialist International. If Israel was once unduly romanticized, with no flaws acknowledged, Israel today is unduly demonized, with few virtues recognized by too many critics. Can progressives transcend the politics of the moment today and toast Israel’s historic, liberal, achievements?
Lately, liberals have mourned that “Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel” is no longer their “grandfather’s Israel.” Overlooking such ridiculous reductionism defining 8.35 million free Jewish and Arab citizens by one leader who only earned 1 in 4 votes, let’s admit: nostalgia is a mind-numbing drug. Israel of the 1950s was a tougher, unhappier place, filled with refugees traumatized by the European Holocaust and the Arab expulsion of 800,000 Jews. Until 1966, Israelis Arabs lived under military rule without the democratic rights they exercise today; demonstrated in March when 63.5 percent of eligible Israeli Arabs voted. Unlike today, there was no Palestinian Authority, and, Israel’s consensus did not acknowledge the Palestinians as a people with legitimate rights.
Nevertheless, Israel then was the model developing democracy, epitomizing the best of the post-World War II Asian and African nations. In an age of national liberation, with each new country on its own peculiar nation-building path, the Jewish people’s resurgence through the State of Israel stood out. The story predated the Holocaust, reaching back millennia to the Bible, then jumpstarted in the 1800s when Zionism, meaning Jewish nationalism, was one of many national movements forming, churning, yearning for statehood.
Richard Falk defends Palestinian resort to violence, praises Hamas for pursuing “peaceful co-existence,” attacks UN Watch for “defamatory campaign”
Former U.N. investigator Richard Falk hails Hamas’ “spirit of resistance,” justifies the Palestinian use of violence, says Hamas aims for “long-term peaceful co-existence,” and attacks UN Watch for ruining his 6-year term as Special Rapporteur on Palestine.
“I was very much attacked in a kind of defamatory way by UN Watch and other very extreme Zionist organizations. Wherever I went, anywhere in the world, they would try to prevent me from speaking, mounted a defamatory campaign, called me an antisemite, a leading antisemite. The Wiesenthal Center in LA listed me as the third most dangerous antisemite in the world, which made feel I must be doing something right, in this role…”
Richard Falk defends Palestinian violence, praises "peaceful" Hamas, attacks UN Watch




Leading director holds up a mirror to anti-Semitism in France
The acclaimed French director Alexandre Arcady has made many films over his long career, but none, he said, was as difficult to bring to the screen as “24 Days: The True Story of the Ilan Halimi Affair.”
The feature, which opens nationally in the United States on Friday, April 24, dramatizes the experiences of the French-Jewish (of Moroccan extraction) Halimi family during the three and a half weeks in early 2006 when their 23-year-old son Ilan was abducted, tortured and murdered by a suburban Paris gang fueled by anti-Semitism (27 individuals were arrested and tried in the case).
In a recent phone interview from his office in Paris, Arcady (himself a French Jew of Algerian descent) told The Times of Israel that he was moved to make a film based on a memoir written by Ruth Halimi, the victim’s mother.
One sentence in the book struck Arcady as particularly important, and he has actress Zabou Breitman, who plays Ruth Halimi, utter it toward the end of the film.
“I want my son’s death to sound an alarm,” she says.
Liberman lashes out at South Africa after Israel denies visa to Communist minister
Nzimande, a member of the South African Communist Party, was scheduled to arrive this weekend at Birzeit University for the opening of the Center for African Studies.
The minister said he believes Israel’s refusal stems from the Communist Party’s decades-long support for the Palestinian cause.
“The wild attacks by the South African Community Party against Israel following our refusal to allow the higher education minister to pass through Israel en route to the Palestinian Authority is hypocrisy,” Liberman said.
“It was only a few days ago that a violent, racist attack was perpetrated against foreigners in Johannesburg,” the foreign minister said. “There was also vandalism and destruction of property. The end result was many deaths and wounded.”
“As part of the rioting, South African police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at other migrants from neighboring African countries,” Liberman said. “These events and others prove once again that South Africa remains a country with serious problems of racism and violence.”
“That’s why it would behoove the South African government and the Communist Party to stop preaching morality and attacking Israel, which is a great democracy that is exceptionally coping with threats and terrorist elements while making maximal effort to preserve human rights and international norms of behavior.”
Neo-Nazis in London
Two antisemitic far Right gatherings have occurred in London in successive weeks, showing the Jew-hating essence of both the fake intellectual and the street thug wings of the UK far Right.
The first was in Central London on Saturday 11 April, the latest “London Forum” meeting. This meets every couple of months. It echoes the far Right discussion groups of the 70s and 80s, which were characterised by a sneering racist snobbery that laid bare all the intellectual pretensions of their fascistic and neo-Nazi participants.
Media reports depicting the Forum’s latest meeting as an international Holocaust denial conference are slightly over the top, but some of its guest speakers from overseas, such as (Spaniard) Pedro Valera and (American) Mark Weber, are antisemitic Holocaust deniers who should not be in Britain. Their presence and propaganda are clear affronts to British values, and CST has now raised the matter with Police and Government.
The following Saturday 18 April, a crowd of 20 to 30 far Right activists failed in their attempted antisemitic provocation against the “Jewification” of Stamford Hill (home to a large visible Jewish community), North London.
CST had discussed this demonstration with local Police and the local Jewish community since it was first mooted by Joshua Bonehill, a neo-Nazi social media troll / stalker and serial hoaxer who has repeatedly fallen foul of the law.
French Army Deployed to Protect Catholic Churches From Islamist Attack
France is to deploy soldiers and paramilitary police to defend Catholic churches following reports of a terrorist cell preparing an ISIS-style attack on congregations.
Although already thinly spread and struggling with fatigue, the French deployment of 10,000 soldiers and many thousands more police officers will now be expanded to Christian sites, reports theLocal.fr.
The impetus for the change of policy has come just days after French police arrested would-be Jihadist murderer Sid Ahmed Ghlam. Ghlam, a 24-year-old Moroccan student studying in Paris, murdered a fitness instructor in a botched attempt to hijack her car for a terror attack, and then accidentally shot himself in the leg.
Rattled by Nisman death, spy chief flees Argentina
Argentina’s most famous spy master has fled the country due to threats on his life and is not complying with a summons ordering him to testify Thursday in connection with the investigation into a 1994 terror bombing, his lawyer said.
Antonio Stiusso fears for his safety, his lawyer, Santiago Blanco Bermudez, told The Associated Press during an interview Wednesday evening.
He said Stiusso contends the government is trying to sully his reputation following the mysterious death of a prosecutor who accused Argentine leaders of protecting the masterminds of the bombing,
“We believe [Stiusso] will continue to be a government target,” said Blanco Bermudez, who declined to specify the threats or disclose his client’s location.
Breaking! Anti-Israel boycotters don’t like being boycotted!
We have been here before.
The vicious anti-Israel boycotters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement don’t like it when the tables are turned on them. That’s why, when faculty pass their anti-Israel boycott resolutions, they include in the resolutions the demand that their right to boycott be protected.
In other words, boycotters claim the right to boycott others, but deny others the right to boycott them.
There also is separate federal legislation pending that would require contractors with the U.S. government to certify they are not participating in BDS. There are similar efforts ongoing at the state level.
Look at how Ali Abunimah, one of the most prolific and aggressive anti-Israel boycott advocates who travels from campus to campus advocating various forms of BDS, complains about legislation in Illinois similar to the federal legislation, Illinois law would force state to boycott companies accused of boycotting Israel.
The Illinois bill in question is up for a vote today. Regardless of whether it passes, the handwriting is on the wall.
The people of the United States overwhelmingly support Israel. It’s not even close.
MIT Students Claim Israel Celebration Makes Them Feel “Unsafe”
Anti-Israel activists, along with other far-left interest groups on campus, specialize in a particularly troubling inversion of reality. While anti-Israel groups such as Student for Justice in Palestine (SJP) routinely chant “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and assert that Israel is guilty of being an apartheid state, the slightest challenging of the anti-Israel movement’s moral blindness is deemed offensive and worthy of widespread condemnation.
When the David Horowitz Freedom Center, through a poster campaign, accused the SJP chapter of UCLA of promulgating anti-Semitism and “#JewHatred,” group members complained that they felt offended. “These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality,” the group said in a press release, according to the Daily Bruin. “They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic.”
The charge accuses those who challenge the anti-Israel campus narrative of being racist, bigoted and malicious. In reality, it is the anti-Israel students and groups that routinely promote intolerant narratives – as was the case at Vassar College when the SJP chapter shared Nazi propaganda.
Luckily for MIT, the UA did not relent in the face of student objections. But the challenge to Israel’s legitimacy cannot go unnoticed. Palestine@MIT reinforces the narrative of the far-left that Israel and Zionism are “unsafe” ideas from which students need protection. The very foundation of the Jewish State is rebranded as a genocidal, murderous endeavor.
Most disturbing of all? While the UA didn’t set the precedent of “derecogniz[ing]” the celebration of Israel’s birth, it did set the precedent of considering doing so.
Organizations Slam UCLA Jewish Studies Inviting Anti-Israel Activist
In a letter to Todd Presner, director of UCLA’s Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, who invited noted anti-Israel activist Cornel West to join a panel honoring the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. 21 organizations expressed their outrage that West had been invited.
As just one of the numerous attacks West has launched at Israel over the years, last August, after Hamas had been discover building tunnels to launch attacks on schools with Israel children and put its own children in the way of Israeli attacks, West delivered a speech in Washington D.C. at an anti-Israel rally in which he screamed, “Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal not because he is Jewish, but because he has chosen to promote occupation and annihilation! Barack Obama is a war criminal not because he’s black, or half-American and white, but because his drones have killed 233 innocent children and because he facilitates the killing of innocent Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank!”
New Film: Boston University-Affiliated High School Workshop Promotes Anti-Israel Agenda (VIDEO)
The advocacy group Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) on Thursday released a video (see below) that sounds the alarm on a Boston University-affiliated high school workshop that APT says attempts “to indoctrinate students, especially Jewish students, against the state of Israel.”
While Axis of Hope (AOH) claims that its mission is “developing in young adults an understanding of alternative, non-violent approaches to resolving complex conflicts locally, nationally and internationally,” AOH’s “Whose Jerusalem?” workshop runs mock negotiating exercises that specifically select Jewish students for roles that try to get them to empathize with Hamas, the Palestinian terror group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction and the murder of all Jews.
Carl Hobert, AOH’s founder, has admitted to receiving guidance for the workshop from anti-Israel professors Noam Chomsky (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Denis Sullivan (Northeastern University), according to APT. Hobert has told the Al Jazeera broadcaster that one of the workshop’s goals is “putting pressure on our government to create a Palestinian state.”


Australian Jewish Group Knocks Human Rights Watch Report on Palestinian Child Labor
The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council blasted on Tuesday a report by Human Right Watch, which accused Israeli farms in the West Bank of exploiting Palestinian children for labor.
AIJAC criticizes the report for relying solely on Palestinian allegations, “without any additional documentary or professional evidence provided and without giving the Israeli farms concerned a chance to defend themselves from the charges.”
The group said HRW omitted the crucial role Palestinian contractors might play in providing Israeli farms with underage workers, as well as an “ingrained culture of child labour in Palestinian and greater Arab society.”
The report, which based its information largely on interviews with 38 children and 12 adults employed on seven settlement farms in the Jordan Valley, encouraged other countries to resist doing business with Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
AIJAC said the report was an example of “political documents where the language of human rights is used to further predetermined political goals, and neither reasonable standards of evidence, nor fairness, nor context are allowed to stand in the way of furthering these goals.”
“The report was written primarily with the intention of demanding action against settlements, not fairly and professionally addressing the specific problem of Palestinian child labour,” said AIJAC.
World Vision and the Middle East
Why is there such a dichotomy between World Vision's treatment of Israel and that of the rest of the Middle East? The simplest explanation is that it is safer to condemn the Jewish State than it is to condemn Muslim governments and political movements. World Vision is a Christian organization, and Islamic radicals are attacking Christians and Christian churches on a regular basis in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Christian organizations that operate in Muslim-majority environments have every reason to fear for their safety even if they refrain from criticizing local leaders. According to a security manual issued by the organization in the 1990s, to keep themselves safe, World Vision staffers “should always avoid statements concerning the host government, local authorities, and the political or military situation.” To do otherwise, staffers could give the false perception that they have become parties to a local conflict.
World Vision staff members do not follow this rule in reference to Israel, but they hew pretty closely to it in Muslim-majority environments, as seen on the fundraising materials and advocacy reports posted on World Vision websites about violence in Iraq and Syria. Families are driven from their homes, schools are destroyed and people are threatened with violence by individuals that World Vision allows to remain nameless. An article World Vison published in March 2013 about Palestinians who fled to Lebanon from a refugee camp in Yarmouk, Syria provides telling details about children living in fear as a result of nightly bombardments and of unexploded bombs in school yards, but no information is given about the actors in the Syrian civil war who dropped these bombs.
Compare that with an article about the suffering of children in the Gaza Strip that was posted on World Vision International's website in 2012: “Israel's recent military operation in the Gaza Strip, ‘Operation Pillar of Defense,' resulted in the death of 163 Palestinians, between 29 and 32 of which are estimated to be children, and injuring over 1,000 more people.” No doubt about who did what to whom!
World Vision's distorted narrative about child welfare in the Middle East, compiled by its tendency to single out Israel for condemnation and to remain silent about other countries and political movements in the region, is a disgrace. Not only does the organization legitimize anti-Zionism, and ultimately, antisemitism, by assisting in the campaign to demonize Israel and by remaining silent about Hamas' patently evil policies, World Vision makes it harder to have a discussion about the changes that need to take place in the Gaza Strip.
CBC Reporter Compares ISIS Terrorists to Foreign Recruits of Israeli Forces
On Israel Independence Day no less, CBC Mideast Bureau Chief Sasa Petricic issued the following tweet which implicitly drew a moral equivalence between ISIS terrorists and foreign recruits to Israel’s armed forces.
Comparing ISIS’ recruitment from abroad, with a democratic country’s obligation to protect its citizenry from threats by internationally-designated terror groups is beyond the pale.
Israel faces the scourge of radical Islam on all its borders and requires a conscripted army, and welcomes the support of foreign recruits, in its battle against Islamic extremists and those who pledge to wipe Israel from the map.
ISIS subjugates and persecutes its people, beheads infidels and seeks an Islamic caliphate and world domination. Individuals from abroad who elect to join Israel’s army do so to protect the Jewish state from threats like ISIS, Hamas, and Iran. They volunteer to put their lives on the line (and on hold) and leave their families behind. Many of these “Lone Soldiers” are from Canada. In fact, 3% of Israel’s overseas soldiers are Canadians. Their efforts are entirely praiseworthy, are heroic, and are worthy of our admiration.
Importantly, the Haaretz article that Petricic linked to makes no mention of ISIS. Petricic made this observations entirely on his own and he felt it necessary to relay this comment to his 11,400 Twitter followers.
BBC responds to complaints about Jeremy Bowen’s ‘Today’ interview
Were we to take the ‘Today’ programme production team’s claim that Bowen “was describing the mood of Palestinian Christians, not the policies of the government of Israel” at face value, we would of course have to note that Bowen did not clarify that intention to listeners. Having mentioned the very real threats to Middle East Christians posed by “extreme Islam”, in the same breath he went on to cite “what the Israeli government might be doing” – thus leading listeners towards the mistaken belief that Palestinian Christians do have reason to “feel threatened” by unspecified Israeli government actions just as much as they have cause to fear Islamist extremists.
As readers are no doubt aware, this is the third recent response (see related articles below) from the BBC relating to content produced by its Middle East editor in the last few weeks and it is no more satisfactory than its predecessors.
Armenia marks centennial of Ottoman genocide
The presidents of Russia and France joined other leaders Friday at ceremonies commemorating the genocide 100 years ago of 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks, an event which remains a diplomatic sore point for both sides.
The annual April 24 commemorations mark the day when some 250 Armenian intellectuals were rounded up in what is regarded as the first step of the massacres. An estimated 1.5 million died in the killings, deportations and forced marches that began in 1915 as Ottoman officials worried that the Christian Armenians would side with Russia, its enemy in World War I.
The event is widely viewed by historians as genocide but modern Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman Empire, vehemently rejects the charge, saying that the toll has been inflated, and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. On the eve of the centennial, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that his nation’s ancestors never committed genocide.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a statement expressing “deep empathy…and solidarity” with the Armenian people for the catastrophe of “massacres and forced expulsions” they suffered. It fell short, however, of labeling the killings a genocide.
Turkish Pride in the Armenian Genocide
This photograph captured for eternity the 20th century’s first genocide.
April 24, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of an onslaught that, to this day, Turkey claims never happened. But photographs of genocide don’t lie.
These photographs are eerily similar to others, that would appear three decades later, of another human atrocity against victims only persecuted due to their faith. The 1945 photographs show stacks of emaciated Jewish bodies—victims of Nazi tormentors.
A telling difference exists as to why both sets of photographs were taken.
The photographs of Nazi concentration camp horrors were the product of victors seeking to document a vanquished enemy’s evils, lest future generations doubt what had occurred there.
The photographs of the Armenian genocide were the product of Turkish victors, not to record evil, but as a trophy glorifying kills made in the name of Allah.
Turkey’s genocidal tendencies towards Armenians are historical.
Erdogan's Rage at Armenian Genocide Recognition Hurts the Turks
What is Turkey thinking?
That is the question some analysts are asking themselves in the days following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's condemnation of Pope Francis I. Francis referred to the Armenian "Genocide" as one of the three greatest mass murders of the 20th century in a joint mass with Armenian priests. He grouped the Armenian Genocide with the Holocaust and Stalinism in the same breath. Just yesterday, Austria also recognized the Armenian Genocide, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador.
As Erdogan has reacted in the past, he was furious. He said the Pope would be wise not to make the same mistake again. In that, Erdogan extended the same angry response he had used against France several years ago against one of the most popular social and political figures on the planet.
It is a public relations disaster says Professor Louis Fishman of Brooklyn College, who focuses on Turkish Affairs.
"Due to the elections, the 'angry' part was revived. But, it's not like it used to be."
That is the assessment of the International Crisis Group's Nigar Göksel, who wrote this week, "The nationalist vote is up for grabs in this June’s general election, leaving the incumbent AKP especially wary of being seen as bowing to foreign parliamentary resolutions."
Yet these reactions have not been isolated to election cycles. Generally speaking, Fishman emphasizes that "Turkey should understand its reaction is really bad for public relations."
German lawmakers defy Turkey, call massacre of Armenians 'genocide'
The German parliament overwhelmingly approved on Friday a resolution branding the mass killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces a century ago as "genocide," risking a diplomatic rupture with Ankara.
The vote marks a significant change of stance for Germany, Turkey's biggest trade partner in the European Union and home to a large ethnic Turkish diaspora. Unlike France and some two dozen other countries, Berlin has long resisted using the word.
The term 'genocide' also has special resonance in Germany, which has worked hard to come to terms with its responsibility for the murder of six million Jews in the Holocaust.
In a parliamentary session to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the killings, all parliamentary groups in the Bundestag lower house backed the resolution in a vote likely to infuriate Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Turkey Recalls Austrian Ambassador Over Armenian Genocide
Turkey on Wednesday announced that it is recalling its ambassador to Austria, after parties represented in parliament signed a declaration recognizing the massacre of Armenians a century ago as genocide, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
A Foreign Ministry statement protested against the move, saying Austria had no right to "accuse the Turkish people of a crime."
The statement said ambassador Hasan Gogus was being recalled to Ankara for consultations, according to AP.
Austria Unveils Monument to Victims of Nazi Courts
Austria's chancellor and other top government officials on Tuesday inaugurated a monument paying homage to the 1,200 victims sentenced to death and executed by Nazi courts in Vienna, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
The pyramid-shaped steel structure carries the German and English inscriptions "369 Weeks."
The inscription stands for the duration such courts held sway in Austria between 1938 and 1945.
Chancellor Werner Faymann said the monument is a witness to the injustice done the victims. In his comments at the ceremony, he urged Austrians to fight to protect democracy, adding, "Hatred, incitement and exclusion have no room in our society."
Google’s Israeli-made Waze app to flag kidnappings
Alerts about hit-and-runs and kidnappings in Los Angeles will soon pop up on traffic app Waze, along with road closure information, the city’s mayor said Tuesday.
The agreement is part of a data-sharing partnership between LA and the Google-owned tech company announced by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Created in Israel in 2008 and sold to Google in 2013, Waze has already begun showing street closures and will start including hit-and-run alerts and so-called Amber Alerts sent out for kidnappings in the coming months.
“This is going to be updated in real-time, every two minutes, giving motorists the information they need to… get home for dinner in time,” said Garcetti.
Japanese Advertising Firm Buys Israeli Digital Marketing Startup
Dentsu Aegis Network has acquired abaGada digital performance marketing agency for a reported price of $60 -$90 million, marking its first Israeli acquisition. abaGada will become part of Dentsu Aegis Network and serve as its iProspect branch in Israel.
“This acquisition marks another important step in the continued growth of Dentsu Aegis Network and the reach of our digital capabilities,” said Thierry Jadot, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network, France & Middle East. “With advanced services, a high level of technology products and expertise delivered to globally renowned brands and partners, abaGada is a highly successful business that is both strategically and geographically suited for our global network.”
“Bringing abaGada into iProspect enables us to scale our brand presence in the crucial high tech Israeli marketplace, adding another dimension to our global digital capabilities. We look forward to welcoming Eyal and the whole abaGada team to iProspect,” said Ben Wood, Global President of iProspect.
Kids’ game king TabTale nabs US game maker
Israeli kids’ game start-up TabTale is expanding yet again. The company announced this week that it was acquiring Sunstorm Games, based in Las Vegas – making it the Israeli firm’s first US acquisition. It’s TabTale’s third acquisition in the past year, after buying companies in Serbia and China, and is part of what the company called its “global development plan.”
More significantly, Sunstorm, which had 100 games in its portfolio and millions of customers, was one of TabTale’s main competitors in the kids’ game space, said TabTale CEO Sagi Schliesser.
“We followed Sunstorm’s activity for a while and reached the conclusion that acquiring Sunstorm and working alongside its talented team will not only enrich our portfolio, but will also expand our worldwide reach. With some 5 million monthly customers, Sunstorm Games has a proven loyal fan base, similar to that of TabTale.”
Beating the malaria parasite at its own game
Up to one million people — mainly pregnant woman and young children — are killed each year by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which causes the most devastating form of human malaria.
Israeli researchers have now revealed the genetic trickery this deadly parasite deploys to escape attack by the human immune system.
The parasite replicates within the circulating blood of infected individuals and modifies the surface of the infected red blood cells. It hides from the immune system by selectively varying which surface protein, or antigen, it displays at any one time.
Hebrew University Prof. Ron Dzikowski has long believed that understanding exactly how the deadly Plasmodium falciparum parasite bypasses the immune system – and bypasses drug therapies as well — will open the door to a more effective battle plan against the malaria parasite, which infects about 250 million people worldwide.
“Others are looking for drugs or vaccines, but the parasite is always one step ahead of us,” he told ISRAEL21c in 2013, when he won a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant for his team’s work in uncovering this genetic mechanism. “Our approach is to understand how these parasites evade immune attack, and then we can learn how to disrupt this ability.”
IDF Launches its New Robot Advance Guard
It may sound like the stuff of sci-fi films, but Israel's army is launching a first-ever training exercise based on its new "advance guard" concept, which will see a vanguard of robots leading the charge into battle with IDF soldiers.
The new training was revealed in a report by the Israel Defense website on Tuesday.
Under the new concept, unmanned ground vehicles are to be integrated in IDF ground maneuvers. In particular the robots are to be used in missions aiming to locate and clear explosives as well as other obstacles, thereby minimizing the risk of loss of life.
The first training exercise will have ground forces and robots working on the same mission, and will aim to sort out the inevitable kinks in integrating the human and robot forces as they act on the fly.
According to the site, this type of training will be a first not only for the IDF, but also for world armies in general.
Israel’s economy is a case study for its neighbors
As Israel celebrates 67 years of independence, this is an opportunity to see just what its economic success can teach others in the region.
Remember: From 1948 until the mid 1980s, Israel’s leaders deemed it best to govern a closed economy, protected by high tariffs and government regulations. Since then, the country has witnessed spectacular growth, often characterised by the term ‘start-up nation’. According to the Ministry of Economics, “since the establishment of the state, the number of employees in Israeli industry has grown from 65,000 to 400,000. Israeli exports have soared from $5 million to $47 billion.” Phenomenal!
And that growth shows no sign off stopping. For example: –
- The Israeli economy grew 7 percent in the last quarter of 2014, its highest rate of growth in recent years.
- Even Jerusalem is no longer seen as just a tourist attraction for the religious, but a thriving port of call for high-tech and biotech investment opportunities.
- In the past month alone, multinationals like Apple or Dentsu from Japan have upped their involvement in the economy of the Holy Land.
- It is estimated for 2014 that 300 Israeli start-ups raised approximately US$3.4 billion in capital. A further 100 companies sold out for US$7 billion. 2015 is showing a similar pattern after just four months of activity.
Can Israel become the world’s next tech capital?
While Israel boasts more start-ups per capita than any other country, it also sees most of its IPOs on American exchanges. "If I had gone public in Tel Aviv instead of the U.S., I'd have gotten a much lower valuation, simply because the people in Tel Aviv don't know the space," writes Nir Zohar, president and CEO of Wix (NASDAQ:WIX), an Israeli cloud-based web development platform. "We are a global international Internet company, and global international Internet companies are being traded on the NYSE or the Nasdaq."
Yossi Beinart, president of TASE, hopes that recently debated regulatory changes, actively being discussed in Israel's parliament, will lower barriers to entry. He hopes that Israeli tech leaders will be more inclined toward an initial IPO in Tel Aviv, writing, "If I can be the on-ramp to Nasdaq, I'm fine."
On the whole, Israeli tech has not only grown, but thrived. Six new start-ups were acquired this January alone, predominantly by American companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Dropbox. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) also purchased Annapurna Labs, which is expected to function as the company's first significant Israeli R&D facility.
The country's tech sector has matured to significance, and experts project start-up growth and critical product development for many years to come.
Taken together, Tel Aviv has firmly established itself as the only technological rival to Silicon Valley.
At Gallipoli, a Hebrew fighting force is born
This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the Campaign for Gallipoli, a battle that would end up costing the lives of over a quarter million men before the attacking forces retreated eight months after the landing. Much has been written and said about what took place at Gallipoli, a battlefield that shaped the lives of many. Amongst the ripple effects it would create, it’s impossible not to mention that the landing date would become ANZAC day, the day Australians and New Zealanders view as the formation of their national identity; a day that many Australian’s view as more significant than the country’s memorial or independence days.
In addition to the historical significance the landing and ensuing battles have for the countries who fought the Turks in that allied campaign, Gallipoli would have an impact on the non-existent Jewish state. The death fields of Gallipoli were, on top of everything else, the backdrops against which an organized and trained Jewish fighting force was reintroduced to the stage of history.
On the first of April, less than a month before the amphibious landing on the shores of the Ottoman Empire, 650 men pledged their allegiance to the British army as they formed the Zion Mule Corps, a logistical unit led by Lieut.-Col. John Patterson, an acclaimed British officer. His second in command was the 34-year-old Joseph Trumpeldor; the entire unit comprised of Jews who had fled or been expelled from Palestine by the Ottomans.
UN Secretary General Tries Shakshoukah on Israel's 67th Independence Day


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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.

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