US to reassess aid to Palestinians if unity government deal reached

Senior official reaffirms that new government formed as result of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will need to adhere to terms, recognize Israel.

PA President Abbas with US President Obama, March 17 2014 Photo: REUTERS

PA President Abbas with US President Obama, March 17 2014 Photo: REUTERS

The Jerusalem Post (April 24) — The United States would have to reconsider its assistance to the Palestinians if Islamist group Hamas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization form a government together, a senior US administration official said on Thursday.

“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties,” the official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“If a new Palestinian government is formed, we will assess it based on its adherence to the stipulations above, its policies and actions, and will determine any implications for our assistance based on US law,” the official said.

The United States said on Wednesday it was disappointed by a unity pact agreed between the Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization and said it could seriously complicate peace efforts.

“The timing was troubling and we were certainly disappointed in the announcement,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing.

“This could seriously complicate our efforts. Not just our efforts but the efforts of the parties to extend their negotiations.”

Abbas said on Wednesday that the unity pact did not contradict peace talks he is pursuing with Israel.

Amsterdam fined Holocaust victims for unpaid taxes while they were in camps

City collected more $10 million from survivors after the war for unpaid ground lease fees, researchers say.

Anne Frank

View of the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid during the Holocaust. (photo credit: Nati Shohat / Flash90)

The Times of Israel (April 16) THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The City of Amsterdam collected more than $10 million from Holocaust survivors who were charged ground lease fees for periods they spent in hiding or in concentration camps, researchers said.

The team of researchers for the Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, or NIOD, wrote their findings in a still unpublished report they have been compiling since last year at the city’s request, the Het Parool daily reported Tuesday.

The city under Mayor Eberhard van der Laan asked NIOD to look into fines that the city had imposed on hundreds of Jewish Holocaust survivors for properties they owned but for which they had failed to pay ground lease fees after the German army’s invasion in 1940 into the Netherlands. Nazi authorities began in 1942 the deportation and murder of 75 percent of the 140,000 Jews living in the Netherlands then.

Many of the houses in question were used by Nazi occupation officers and local collaborates, Het Parool reported. The city went after Holocaust survivors for missed payments as late as 1947 and imposed fines on them for missing payments, according to the daily, whose publication on the issue last year prompted the investigation.

The NIOD researchers estimate the city received a total of $14.5 million from fines unjustly levied against Jews during the relevant period, according to Ronny Naftaniel, a former chief negotiator for the Dutch Jewish community in restitution talks and a member of the supervisory committee of the NIOD research.

The researchers have obtained documents that prove the city took $6.76 from 217 Jews who objected to the fines levied on them, Naftaniel added. The $14.5 estimate includes cases of Jews who paid and did not object.

“What has come to light is a scandalous procedure, in which people were stripped of their homes and then made to pay for those who moved in their place,” Naftaniel said.

He and other Jewish members of the supervisory committee have called on the city to begin restituting descendants of the Holocaust survivors who were made to pay unjustly, or the Jewish community in cases where descendants cannot be traced.

Mayor van der Laan, a son of resistance fighters, and the city council of Amsterdam in the near future are expected to decide on how to proceed and on what topics further research is necessary.

Click here for full article.

Europe’s Unaccountable Palestinian Aid

The government in the West Bank is the only body receiving EU funds regardless of its human-rights record or economic performance.

The Wall Street Journal (April 9) — At a time of austerity and belt-tightening, the European Union remains the biggest donor to Third World countries. EU assistance to the developing world serves European values and objectives—but only if EU institutions abide by the highest standards of accountability in managing European taxpayers’ money. As a recent report by the European Court of Auditors found, that hasn’t always been the case with respect to EU aid to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

Since the 1994 Oslo Agreement, which created the Palestinian Authority, the EU has offered generous financial assistance to Ramallah to help advance a just and lasting peace between Palestinians and Israelis. The EU is today the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority, which relies mainly on foreign donations. But European lawmakers have a duty to ensure that EU funds aren’t diverted from the noble purpose for which they’re intended.

In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism.

Among other things, the court criticized the absence of any conditions for EU aid to the Palestinian Authority, an approach that reduces the potential leverage of the EU to push for more reforms from the Palestinian Authority. This is a surprising exception to the EU’s famous “more-for-more” principle, according to which the EU offers stronger partnership and more incentives to countries that make more progress toward democratic reforms. This principle applies to every other recipient of EU aid in the world. In other words, the Palestinian Authority is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human-rights record or economic performance.

The court also revealed that, since 2007, “a considerable number” of Palestinian Authority civil servants in Gaza have received their salaries partly funded through EU aid—even though they “were not going to work due to the political situation in Gaza.” How exactly does this contribute to peace-building? And how can the EU preserve its credibility back home when it pays salaries to people who don’t work, while millions of European citizens are unemployed?

The court also found that the EU paid insufficient attention to the fungibility of the funds it provided to the Palestinian Authority. There is reason to believe that EU financial assistance has allowed the Palestinian Authority to use its own general budget to support terrorist or criminal activities.

The Palestinian Authority, for example, allocates a significant portion of its budget to paying salaries to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism offenses. These salaries are up to five times higher than the average salary in the West Bank. Prisoners also receive large grants from the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2012 the Palestinian Authority’s payments to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and to the families of deceased terrorists (including suicide bombers) together accounted for more than 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the budget of the Palestinian Authority. In February this year the Palestinian minister for prisoners’ affairs announced that €30 million will be allocated to current or former prisoners in 2014.

Click here for full article.

Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 8th Apr 2014

Highlights from‘s weekly newsletter:

The year in 2 minutes.  A new Israeli Government video heralds its achievements since coming to power.,7340,L-4500499,00.html

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Go tell the world. Moslem physician, author and women’s rights activist Dr. Qanta Ahmed visited the Technion and praised Israel’s academic freedom, plus its freedoms of expression and religion as unique in the Middle East.  And the way to silence the BDS movement is to publicize Israel’s success.

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Israeli system saves Chileans from tsunami.  No Chileans died in the tsunami caused by the recent 8.2-level earthquake, thanks to the automatic alerts sent by the geo-targeted notification system developed by Israel’s eVigilo. The system was installed after 400 Chileans died in an earthquake and tsunami in 2010.


Surviving heart failure.  Cardiologist Prof. Ilan Goldenberg from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center led an international study into cardiac insufficiency – also known as heart failure.  It reported that an automatic cardiac pacemaker/defibrillator implanted at an early stage of common heart failure could extend life significantly.


Career skills for Ethiopian-Israelis. Hundreds of Ethiopians study at Jerusalem College of Technology’s “Education for Ethiopians” program. Similar numbers attend the Ethiopian-Israeli program at Ono Academic College. There are also special tracks at Kibbutzim College and Yezreel Valley College.


IDF treats 20 Palestinian Arabs after bus crash.  Israel Defense Force medics treated 20 Palestinian Arabs wounded when their mini-bus crashed into a car.  Captain Karin Yamin said, “… saving lives is a priority. Whether the patients are Israeli, Palestinian, Christian or Druze, we take care of them all in the same way.”


Cool Technion technology.  Two student projects from the Control Robotics and Machine Learning Lab at Israel Technion’s faculty of Electrical Engineering. First, a tiny drone follows someone by tracking his face. Secondly, a Kinect device for the blind, that directs a blind person by telling him or her where to walk.

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Israeli mom invents the Upsee.  Israeli mother Debby Elnatan’s son, Rotem, has cerebral palsy. She would not accept that Rotem would never walk, so she invented the Firefly Upsee. The harness places the child on top of the shoes of an adult who wears specially designed sandals. The child “walks” as the grown-up moves.
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Another A+ from S&P.  Standards & Poors has given Israel yet another top rating.  S&P expected average per capita income to grow to almost $42,000 by 2017, up from $28,000 in 2009.  Meanwhile, confidence in Israel’s stock market has resulted in the largest increase in investment into Israeli mutual funds since 2002.


3,800-year-old fortress excavated.  Israeli archeologists have finished uncovering a massive Canaanite fortress dating back to the time of Kings David and Solomon.  The 3,800-year-old “Spring Citadel” was excavated in the City of David National Park in Jerusalem.


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Study: China World’s most powerful nation

moon_china_AFPBreitbart (April 7) — A new study on the economic power of the world’s nations has named China as the “most powerful nation” on its “world market power” index.

The report was issued by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) as part of its Emerging and Growth-Leading Economies (EAGLEs) research project tracking the world’s leading nations.

BBVA feels that China has the most influence on the world’s economies.

“China shows the highest value not only among emerging economies but also when considering all the sample, inverting with the US the rank order given by the exports’ share in nominal terms,” the report reads.

In fact, BBVA ranks China quite a bit higher on its world market power index than any other nation, including the USA.

“China holds the largest share among emerging markets in the sample for 9 out of 18 industries, including all manufacturing groups except food (surpassed by Brazil). The largest industry share corresponds to textiles and leather (above 30%).”

The report also notes that Saudi Arabia and Russia rank high due to their exports of energy. This might cause one to hope that the US might rise in the near future with its growing natural gas and oil booms.

The report does not take into account the possible instability that China may face in the near future both economically and politically, not to mention a certain lack of trust in China’s regulatory milieu held by companies outside its borders.

Click here for original source.

Study: States with higher minimum wages had higher unemployment

This is economics 101, which is why it baffles me every time politicians suggest to raise the minimum wage. Capitalism has raised more people out of poverty than any other system, not increases of government intervention.

minimum-wage-bus-tour1-e1395690126862The Daily Caller (April 1) — A new study by the free-market American Action Forum found that states with minimum wages higher than the federal minimum suffer from higher unemployment.

Researchers looked at labor data from both the nineteen states that as of 2013 had enforced minimum wages above $7.25 per hour and the thirty-one states that had minimum wages equal to $7.25.

Overall, they found that just a $1 increase in the minimum wage was “associated with a 1.48 percentage point increase in the unemployment rate,” and a “0.18 percentage point decrease in the net job growth rate.”

A higher minimum wage thus led to the unemployment of 747,700 workers and a job growth reduction of 83,300 jobs, the study claims.

The study noted that minimum wage hikes especially took a toll on the employment opportunities for young and low-skill workers.

Focusing in on 16-to-19-year-olds, researchers found that the “mean annual average teenage unemployment rate in states with minimum wages above $7.25 per hour in 2013 was 22.5 percent, which was 2.0 percentage points above the 20.5 percent mean annual average unemployment rate in states with minimum wages at $7.25 per hour.”

Furthermore, “In high minimum wage states, the net job growth rate for teenagers was actually negative in 2013, with a mean annual average rate of -0.5 percent.”

Click here for full article.

Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 30th Mar 2014

Highlights from‘s weekly newsletter:

Israeli robot treats sleeping Parkinson’s patient.  The first ever Asleep Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) procedure was performed in Denver, Colorado using the Renaissance Guidance System developed by Israel’s Mazor Robotics.  The 65-year-old patient, previously suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was responding well.


IDF wins the fight against PTSD. Canadian army experts are looking at how the Israeli Defense Forces have successfully combated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The rate of suicides in the IDF is lower that of the national population, thanks to several key support practices.


The best country for women in the Middle East.  The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap survey ranked Israel the best country in the Middle East for women’s rights and freedoms.  Israel also received the “Reducing the Gender Gap” prize in 2013 from the European Parliament for championing women’s rights.


Print your meals.  Israeli company White Innovation has developed “Ginny”, a printer that could revolutionize the food market.  Place a capsule of raw ingredients into one side of the machine. Next, olive oil, milk or water is injected. It then marinates for about thirty seconds and produces a tasty, cheap and healthy feast.


Start speaking freely.  Israel’s VoiceITT has developed speech technology for kids and adults who have difficulty making themselves understood.  If you suffer from a stutter, a stroke or a neuro-degenerative disease, TalkITT will turn your impaired speech into a computerized output of what you really intended to say.

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Israel is working.  Israel’s unemployment rate dropped to a record low in February.  For those aged 15 and over, the rate declined to 5.8% from 5.9% in January.  For those between 25-64 the rate dropped dramatically from 5.4% to 4.9%.  Participation in the labor force rose to a record high of 80%.


Israeli news station on US TV channel.  Jewish Life TV will air Israel’s i24news on American cable and satellite networks.  This is the first time that the Jaffa-based i24news will be shown to an American audience via television, and not just online.  i24news will provide 15 hours of weekly magazine content.–1000925276


Here come the Rolling Stones.  It’s true!  World renowned rock band The Rolling Stones confirmed that they will perform in Tel Aviv on June 4, as part of their “14 On Fire” world tour. Ticket sales for the Park Hayarkon begin Sunday, March 30 at 9 a.m.


Israeli wins women’s Thai boxing championship.  Sarah Avraham (20), of Kiryat Arba in Judea, won the Woman’s World Thai-Boxing (Muay Thai) Championship in Thailand. Sarah was born in Mumbai and converted to Judaism in 2008.  She immigrated to Israel following the attack on the Mumbai Chabad House.


Like streams in the Negev.  Recent desert rainstorms in Southern Israel have caused a river to return.  This video has had over half a million views in two weeks.  Watch closely after 45 seconds.

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New look ZF.  The UK’s Zionist Federation has launched its re-branded image. It has also released a new film that publicizes Israel’s technological achievements, thriving economy and culture.

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MRC Study: Network TV Buries ObamaCare’s Bad News – Less than 1% of evening air time!

The U.S. mainstream media reaches new heights of pro-Obama bias. At this point it should be considered criminal the lengths they go through to protect their guy.

ObamaCareCoverageNewsBusters (March 25) — Unquestionably, ObamaCare is the central political issue of 2014. As the midterm election campaign moves forward, liberal politicians will have to justify their support for a program that has cost millions of individuals their insurance; will raise premiums for most small businesses; imposes hundreds of billions of dollars in new taxes; and will cost, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the equivalent of two million jobs over the next three years.

But so far this year, the three network evening newscasts have minimized, spun or ignored every negative development about ObamaCare, while at the same time touting staged pro-ObamaCare publicity stunts, such as the President’s appearance on a Web-based comedy show in March.

A new study from the Media Research Center finds that long before the saga of the missing Malaysian jet commandeered the airwaves, ABC, CBS and NBC had apparently decided that ObamaCare was not a worthy topic for their evening newscasts. MRC analysts reviewed each newscast (including weekends) from January 1 through March 24, 2014.

  • During this time, the NBC Nightly News aired just a single full report on ObamaCare — a largely celebratory piece on January 1 about the start of what fill-in anchor Lester Holt called “a new era in health care in this country.” Including that piece, Nightly News has only offered five minutes and five seconds of coverage of the health care law so far this year. For context, the total time of all news stories on the NBC Nightly News during the same period (excluding teasers and promos) is more than 24 hours, meaning NBC has spent barely one-third of one percent of its available evening news airtime talking about the health care law.
  • The other broadcast evening networks have hardly been more thorough. ABC’s World News has devoted just 6 minutes, 58 seconds to ObamaCare so far this year, while the CBS Evening Newsgave viewers 19 minutes, 21 seconds of coverage. Combined, that adds up to 31 minutes, 20 seconds, or approximately 0.72% of the total time devoted to news on the three evening broadcasts.

Bad news, such as lackluster enrollment statistics or new delays in key elements of the law, were usually given just a few seconds of coverage, according to the MRC study. Not one of the evening newscasts bothered to cover polls — even their own — showing the law’s continued unpopularity. And only one report (on CBS) profiled someone victimized by ObamaCare’s new rules, something ABC and NBC viewers have yet to hear about in 2014.

Click here for full article.

Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 24th Mar 2014

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A video that Israel haters don’t want you to see – The IDF in Hebron.  This video shows how some Palestinian Arab children react to Israeli soldiers.

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Every anti-Israel NGO in Hebron sees scenes like this daily. I’ve seen them too. But these NGOs can’t raise any money by reporting the situation accurately. The haters can’t get gigs speaking at clueless colleges if they don’t stereotype Jewish soldiers as evil.

So they don’t want you to see this, because it threatens their livelihoods that depend on demonizing Jews.


A Druze voice enlightens.  Mendi Safadi is Chairman of “Druze for Israel”.  Born in the Golan Heights, Mendi tells that Arabs, Christians, Druze and Jews are all equal in Israel. He also highlights Israel’s help for Syrians.

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Israel is a major strategic partner of the US.  The US House of Representatives approved by 140 – 1 the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act.  The bill promotes bi-lateral military, energy, water, science, homeland security, and agriculture co-operation and has now been transferred to the Senate for final approval.


Israeli system protects Statue of Liberty.  (Thanks to Israel21c) The Statue of Liberty National Monument has included Israel’s BriefCam in its state-of-the-art surveillance system. Briefcam’s unique Video Synopsis software solution enables law enforcement and security personnel to review hours of video in minutes.


Budget deficit lowest in 2.5 years.  Israel’s accumulated budget deficit fell to NIS 28.6 billion or 2.7% of GDP.  It is the lowest since Aug 2011 and below the government’s target of 3% of GDP.


PM is TV tour guide.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the star of a new series about the tourist sites in Israel. The program, produced and hosted by CBS travel editor Peter Greenberg, features footage shot the length and breadth of Israel, with Netanyahu himself introducing Israel’s major tourist spots.


Israel to host European swimming championships.  Israel will host the European Short Course Swimming Championships in Jan 2015 – the first time for such a large-scale swimming event.  The venue is the new Olympic-size pool at the Wingate Institute near Netanya, and anticipates around 145 million TV viewers.


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Putin returns the favour: Russia hits US officials with sanction as Obama expands penalties

obama-to-make-statement-on-ukraineFox News (March 20) — The Russian government slapped sanctions on top U.S. officials on Thursday, moments after President Obama imposed penalties on 20 Russians inside and outside the government — as diplomatic efforts over Ukraine unraveled into a long-distance tit for tat.

The newest sanctions would bar nine American officials from entering Russia. The list includes House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Just as Vladimir Putin’s government shrugged off U.S. sanctions earlier in the week, so did the Americans targeted by Moscow.

“The Speaker is proud to be included on a list of those willing to stand against Putin’s aggression,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in a statement.

McCain tweeted that he’s “proud to be sanctioned by Putin.”

As each side imposes sanctions, left unclear is whether any of them will have an effect on the standoff over Russia’s widely challenged annexation of Crimea.

Obama, warning of more costs to come for the Kremlin if the situation worsens, said he also signed an executive order that would allow the U.S. to penalize key sectors of the Russian economy. Officials said Obama could act on that authority if Russian forces press into other areas of Ukraine, an escalation of the crisis in Crimea.

The president, speaking on the South Lawn of the White House, voiced concern that Russian military positioning could point to “further incursions” into southern and eastern Ukraine.

The president cautioned that the threatened economic measures if implemented could hurt the global economy, as well as the Russian economy, but “Russia must know that further escalation will only isolate it further from the international community.”

For the time being, Obama said the U.S. will levy sanctions on more “senior officials of the Russian government,” as well as “a number of individuals” supporting Russian leadership — and a bank, Bank Rossiya, that is likewise providing “material support.” The list includes Putin’s chief of staff and his banker.

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Russian Deputy PM Laughs at Obama’s Sanctions

Krauthammer’s Take: Obama Is Being ‘Ridiculed by Russians’

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President Obama has thus far responded tepidly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting only several individuals in Russia for sanctions and providing Ukraine with rations as opposed to the arms it requested. Because of Obama’s rhetoric and policy, Charles Krauthammer said the president is being “ridiculed by Russians.”

“If he thinks that sanctioning seven Russians out of a population of, what, 150 million is a sanction, he’s living in a different world,” Krauthammer said. Instead we should be sending Ukraine weapons, something the administration denied because it thinks “somehow to arm the victim of aggression is a provocation,” Krauthammer explained.

The idea that such small, targeted sanctions will work is “preposterous,” Krauthammer said. “This really is a humiliating response by a president who can’t even get the Europeans to join him in effective sanctions.”

Krauthammer appears to be right as ABC News reported yesterday that “Russian Deputy PM Laughs at Obama’s Sanctions.”

ABC News (March 17) — It remains to be seen whether the sanctions will dissuade Russia from annexing Crimea, but one an early clue that they will not be effective came just hours later when President Putin signed a decree recognizing Crimea as an independent state, perhaps an early step towards annexation.

U.S. official have warned of additional sanctions for Russian action, hoping it will deter Russia from any further aggression towards Ukraine, but it didn’t appear to upset the often outspoke Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

Rogozin, a friend of actor Steven Seagal,  took to Twitter to tweak Obama, tweeting  he thinks “some prankster” came up with the sanctions list

In a later tweet addressed to “Comrade @BarackObama,” he asked, “what should do those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or U didn’t think about it?”

Another Russian on the sanctions list, Vladislav Surkov, also seemed unconcerned.

Surkov,  a top Putin ideologue often called the Kremlin’s grey cardinal, reportedly told a Russian newspaper, “It’s a big honor for me. I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

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Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 9th Mar 2014

Highlights from

Happy in Tel Aviv. Israelis dance to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” with background scenes of Tel Aviv / Yafo.

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Israel prize for developer of Alzheimer’s treatment.  The Israel Prize for Medicine goes to Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Weinstock-Rosin developed Exelon, for treating dementia related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Exelon is currently undergoing Phase II trials.


Elderly and infirm can stay at home.  Israeli life-science company Essence has launched Care@Home – an in-home care monitoring solution for the elderly and chronic disease sufferers.  The system learns a person’s everyday routine and detects any deviations, such as skipped meals, reduced activity or unusual events.


Ten years of caring for seriously ill.  The Israeli charity Life’s Door – Tishkofet has helped more than 10,000 patients, family members and professionals in its ten years of operation. Professor Ben Corn of Tel Aviv University founded the organization after losing his father to cancer and finding no one to help with the trauma.


Ukrainians treated in Israel.  Seven Ukrainians wounded in the Ukrainian unrest are being flown to Israel for treatment.  One, Alexander, aged 20, landed at Ben-Gurion airport last week and was rushed to Kaplan Medical Center in Rehovot for wrist surgery.


22 ways Israel has helped Africa in last 3 years.  A great summary by Israel21c of Israel’s recent technological, humanitarian, medical, ecological and agricultural aid to developing African nations.


Thinner, stronger and greener packaging.  Israeli start-up Valentis is developing a packaging material that is has a strength-to-weight ratio 8 times greater than stainless steel. The material is based on nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), a biodegradable, transparent material made from plant pulp waste.


Israel’s cyber industry.  Israel National Cyber Bureau (INCB) has estimated exports by Israeli companies in the cyber field at $3 billion in 2013 – three times greater than those of the United Kingdom.  Also, Israeli cyber companies raised $165 million last year – approximately 11 percent of total funds raised worldwide.


What went right in the State of Israel?  Please read this great article by Professor Michael Curtis. It describes some of the major International companies that have come to the Jewish State to share in its success.


Two Israelis win Oscars.  Israel’s Niv Adiri picked up an Oscar to add to the BAFTA he’d won previously for his team’s work on the sound of the multi-award winning film “Gravity.”  Also celebrating was Israel’s Arnon Milchan who co-produced “12 Years a Slave” which won the top prize of Best Picture.,7340,L-4494534,00.html


Hi-tech internships in Israel.  The Israel Tech Challenge, a new initiative by The Jewish Agency, will offer young gifted Jewish students in computer science from around the world – among them Ivy League students and employees of companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google – an insider’s look at the Startup Nation.,7340,L-4491908,00.html


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Iran to Receive Another $550 Million Cash Infusion

Washington Free Beacon (March 7) — Iran is scheduled to receive another $550 million in unfrozen assets from the Obama administration on Friday, just days after Tehran unveiled a slew of new weapons and advanced ballistic missiles.

Hassan Rowhani / AP

Hassan Rowhani / AP

Iranian banking authorities on Wednesday confirmed that another $550 million is now on its way to Tehran under the interim nuclear accord inked last year with the United States and other Western nations.

The United States has agreed to unfreeze a total of $4.2 billion in Iranian oil assets over the next several months. Experts have warned that because the money is being given to Iran with no strings attached it could go to fund terror-related activities or even Iran’s nuclear program.

The latest cash delivery comes as Tehran unveils a slew of advanced weapons, including ballistic missiles capable of “precision targeting.” Iran was also caught smuggling a shipment of weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Iran’s Defense Minister announced on Wednesday that the military had made great progress in approving the accuracy of its ballistic missile guidance system, which Tehran views as a deterrence to the U.S. and Israeli militaries.

“The guidance systems of (the missiles delivered to the IRGC) today enjoy the capability of striking the targets with full precision, and they have a margin of error below five meters,” Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan announced, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

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Five Questions and Answers That Tell you Everything You Need To Know About a Response to the Ukraine Crisis

The Blaze (March 4) — Vladimir Putin has already won in Ukraine.

The pro-western movement in Kiev is basically on its own. The only question left is how far Putin will go with his intrusions, including a possible invasion of the pro-Russian East and the de facto bifurcation of the Ukrainian state. Either way, recent events on the ground have made this much abundantly clear: Nobody is going to stop Putin.

President Obama isn’t going to do anything of any consequence. America won’t leap into action over this. We will watch, as will Europe and the rest of the world, in dumbstruck impotence. And while it doesn’t feel good to say it, that’s really the only realistic option we have.

Here in America, the non-interventionist chorus as well as regional foreign policy experts are quick to point out the myriad reasons why Ukraine is not our problem, and to go beyond minimum action would be a grave mistake. So far, those voices are winning the argument and the Obama administration appears determined to feign resolve and look busy while the fourth-largest country in Europe inches towards civil war or absorption deep into Putin’s orbit.

With that in mind, here are five questions that get at the heart of the Ukraine crisis from a U.S. and European perspective. They explain the limitations on any U.S. response and are effectively a roadmap for how the Obama administration and the rest of the world will react as the Ukraine standoff with Russia continues to evolve…

2) Is there a way to punish Russia so badly that Putin changes his mind? 

Nope. Putin’s Russia is built upon a tripod of nationalism, intimidation, and fossil fuels, and is not easily swayed by so-called “soft power.” Observers have pointed to the obvious similarities between the Russian federation’s modus operandi in Crimea today as compared to its 2008 incursion into Georgia. It looks like Putin is using the same playbook, and as South Ossetia and Abkhazia were annexed in all but name without consequence back then, why wouldn’t Putin stick with his winning formula? He will. The costs for meddling in Georgia were negligible compared to the benefits, and the same will be true from the Kremlin’s perspective on Ukraine.

Even more instructive are the limited U.S. and European options under serious consideration. The responses suggested so far by the “get tough” crowd include freezing some assets, banning overseas travel for certain individuals, and maybe moving the planned G-8 meeting from Sochi. These are the sorts of suggestions that keep think tank analysts employed, and allow our State Department and the EU bureaucrats to feel moderately useful, but in terms of efficacy they amount to shooting a .22 at a T-52.

3) Is Europe really willing to take harsh economic action against Russia anyway? 

No way. For all its love of green energy and tiny cars, Europe needs fossil fuel – especially natural gas – and Russia is the single largest supplier to European markets. About a third of all European oil and gas imports comes from Moscow’s pipelines. As much as the Germans may bristle at Putin’s bullying of former Soviet states like Ukraine and general disrespect of international institutions, they want to be able to heat their homes in winter. That’s a powerful incentive to look the other way while Kiev gets cornered.

4) Does anybody think that U.S. troops should be deployed into Ukraine?

Not anyone who wants to be taken seriously. The U.S. public, tired of its own military fighting wars of liberation and reconstruction in the Middle East with mixed results, has absolutely no stomach for sending our men and women into a shooting war with Russians on the other side of the battlefield…

5) Is there any downside to the U.S. just letting the Ukraine situation play out?

This is where the debate really begins. It seems in the short-term, President Obama will hold some meetings, give a speech or two, but for all intents and purposes, refuse any real action on Ukraine, and it won’t matter one bit for now.

…Today, Ukraine has problems and we don’t have to care. Putin will not stop there, though, and the autocrats of Beijing, Tehran, and other tyrants across the world are closely watching the response of an America that seems uncertain of its role and tired of its principles once we reach the water’s edge.

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Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 2nd March 2014

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Type 1 diabetes treatment success.  Clinical trials of Alpha 1 Antitrypsin (AAT), developed by Dr Eli Lewis of Ben Gurion University, reduced insulin dependence in Type 1 diabetes sufferers and cured several of the disease.  Some physicians are now prescribing AAT as an off-label treatment ahead of FDA approval.

Israel honors Israeli-Arab volunteers.  700 Israeli-Arab volunteers gathered in Karmiel for a celebratory, upbeat and heartwarming event to show them appreciation. Congratulations and affection was showered upon the plucky volunteers who resist blatant bullying in order to perform civic service inside their communities.


IDF Diversity Week.  Every year, thousands of minority recruits join the Israel Defense Forces.  Immigrants have brought their unique culture and traditions from their countries of origin.  The IDF also contains hundreds of Bedouin, Circassians, Druze, Arab Christians and Arab Muslims who want to serve their country.


Finland looks to Israel for inspiration.  Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen is determined to overhaul his economy, and cites Israel’s success as a “start-up” nation brimming with high-tech innovation as his model.  Meanwhile, Finland has been purchasing millions of Euros of Israeli technology.

What does everyone want?  Israeli Technology.  Israeli PM Netanyahu told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations that all visiting foreign Heads of State have been asking for three things: Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.

Most innovative app.  190 Israeli companies presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  Israel’s PointGrab won “most innovative app” with CamMe that lets users make gestures to take “selfies” (photographs of themselves) from their iPhone from up to 16 feet away.  Israel’s EverythingMe was also one of five finalists.

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Clean water for Angola.  Amiad Water Systems won a $1.1 million contract to supply 50 filtration systems to a project providing clean drinking water in Angola.  Meanwhile the Israeli government honored Amiad an Outstanding Exporter award for exporting products totaling $83 million in 2012.

Here come the birds.  A recent IBA broadcast featuring some of the 1 billion feathered visitors to Israel.

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How Isolated is Israel?

Israel economyThe Ettinger Report (Feb 14) — How Isolated is Israel?

1.  A record of 5.3 million tourists in Israel in 2013.

2.  A record of $83.2BN foreign exchange reserves reflects the strength of Israel’s Shekel, at a time when the currencies of the emerging markets plummet.

3.  A record of $2.3BN invested in 662 Israeli startups in 2013 (21% above 2012), according to KPMG and IVC (Globes, January 23, 2014).

4.  Over 250 multinational research & development centers operate in Israel (Globes, February 13).

5.  “Funds from the US, Europe and China are showing interest in dozens of Israeli companies that will be forced on to the auction block by Israel’s efforts to increase competition…. The sale [of dominant Israeli companies] is required by a law passed in December, 2013 to loosen the grip conglomerates have on the economy…. [Israel’s economic] growth is projected to outpace both the US and the euro area this year and next.  The stability of the Israeli economy, and its fundamentals, make it attractive to foreign investors…. You are buying not because of a crisis in Israel, but because there is a desire to boost competition (Bloomberg, February 4, 2014, Alisa Odenheimer and Sharon Wrobel).”

6.  Australia’s Woodside Petroleum, Ltd. will join explorations in Israel’s Leviathan offshore natural gas field, accepting a Memorandum of Understanding – to be completed by March 27 – which will provide the Australian giant with a 25% equity for $2.7BN (Globes Business Daily, February 10, 2014). Cyprus negotiates a $3BN natural gas import from Israel.

7.  Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich on Intel’s 40 year operations in Israel: “It’s a microcosm of Intel, a complete Intel within a single country. It’s about the only place where you have a complete cross-section of the company in one country.”

8.   Lockheed Martin’s Vice President of International Engineering and Technology, John Evans announced a joint investment, with EMC, in Israel’s cyber technologies: “We recognize evolving global needs, as well as the wealth of innovation taking place within Israel and its universities.”

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Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 23rd Feb 2014

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The largest Israeli buyout by an Asian company.  Japanese Internet giant Rakuten has just bought Israeli-developed video and voice communications app Viber for $900 million.  Viber allows users to make free phone and video calls within its network, and has over 200 million users all over the world.


How isolated is Israel?  Good economic summary by Yoram Ettinger.


Google buys advanced Israeli security.  IT giant Google has acquired the staff and intellectual property of Israeli start-up SlickLogin.  The Israeli company is developing applications using ultrasound and smartphones, to allow users more easily to login securely. SlickLogin’s founders served in the IDF elite cyber security unit.


The invisible keyboard for both blind and sighted.  Israel’s Inpris is using crowdsourcing to raise the finance to launch two versions of its invisible keyboard: the UpSense Super Keyboard for single-handed gesture typing, and the UpSense Super Braille Keyboard for a blind person to type with two hands.
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Explore Israel. Try out this exciting interactive video tour of the Jewish State.


Israeli wins BAFTA award.  Israel’s Niv Adiri won a British Academy of Film and Television award for his work in the team responsible for the groundbreaking sound work on the blockbuster “Gravity.”  The team has also been nominated for an Oscar.


Easing immigration for French Jews.  Israel’s minister of immigration absorption was in Paris and promised to “erase all bureaucratic hurdles” for new immigrants.  Sofa Landver plans to submit her ideas at a future Israel cabinet meeting.  3,301 French Jews immigrated to Israel in 2013 – the largest figure out of France since 2000.


Ancient Judean village revealed.  The remnants of a 2300-year-old rural village have been excavated on the outskirts of Jerusalem.  It was discovered in June, when work began on building a pipeline to deliver natural gas from the coast. The Israel Antiquities Authority has been excavating the Second Temple era site ever since.


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Israel’s Good News Newsletter to 16th Feb 2014

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IDF and USAF medics sign agreement.  (Thanks to Herb) The IDF Medical Corps and the American Air Force Medical Department signed a cooperation agreement to share and develop techniques and technologies that will save lives on the battlefield and during humanitarian rescue missions.

Israeli wins global young scientist gold medal.  Hebrew University of Jerusalem doctoral student Yossi Kabessa won the Singapore Challenge gold medallion and $100,000 at the Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore. He designed a system to detect dangerous materials in large water supply systems.

Sorek goes live.  As Israel prays for the end of its current drought, the new Sorek large-scale desalination plant has completed testing and is now fully operational.  Its reverse osmosis membranes can produce 624,000 cubic meters of water a day – two-thirds of the combined output of the existing Ashkelon and Hadera facilities.

Israel is creating a water surplus using desalination.  The above, plus this article explains why, despite current drought conditions throughout the Middle East, Israel is currently supplying ample water to all of its citizens – and (in future) possibly most of its immediate neighbors.

What makes Israel a Start-up Nation? There was rare praise from the BBC, when its technology correspondent paid a visit to Israel. The report includes filmed items shown on BBC TV news.

Foreign investors flock to Israel.  Overseas investment in the Israeli Stock Exchange tripled in 2013 from $410 million in 2012 to $1.5 billion.  Bio-techs, banks and communications companies were the most popular.

What is Israel worth to the EU? Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar presented a report on January 30 arguing that Israel is strategically vital for a secure, prosperous and influential Europe.  Key areas include intelligence on terrorism threats, natural gas and 11% of European Research Council projects.

Two top hotels.  Two Israeli hotels have made it into Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2014 It List, which introduces the 70 most promising new hotels in the world: The Ritz-Carlton in Herzliya and Alma Hotel & Lounge in Tel Aviv.,7340,L-4486548,00.html

What a goal!  The sports world is heralding the incredible goal that Israeli soccer player Barak Yitzhaki scored for Maccabi Tel Aviv against Maccabi Haifa recently.  He performed the famous bicycle kick to perfection.

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