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    Israël - Palestina Info: Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues

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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Genetic research refutes Shlomo Sand - It's in our DNA (Nadav Shragai)
    Geplaatst door abby op Sunday 14 March @ 19:42:27 GMT+1 (5536 maal gelezen)

    Genetics results refute Shlomo Sand's attempt to dissolve the Jewish people
    IT'S IN OUR DNA

    (Article by Nadav Shragai, Yisrael Hayom, 5.3.10, pp. 18-19B)

    The claims presented by Prof. Shlomo Sand in his book The Invention of the Jewish People – according to which, there was no Jewish People up until the 19th century – are gathering popularity in Europe and the Arab world. But opposition to the claim comes from a surprising scientific field. Several DNA researchers have discovered: Not only are Yemenite and Polish Jews brothers but Aaronic priests from various communities descend from the same father. The discoveries in the field of genetics are reassuring and refute racist approaches.


    In Europe, Prof. Shlomo Sand's book The Invention of the Jewish People, is a best-selling hit. Sand, an economics history professor at Tel Aviv University, claims, in his book, that up until the second half of the 19th century, "There really was no Jewish People;" that the exodus from Egypt never happened; and that the kingdom of David and Solomon never existed. He even went so far as to claim that the Jewish People were not exiled after the fall of the Second Temple.

    The book became a bestseller in Europe, especially in France, where it was on the national bestseller list for 19 straight weeks and received the "Today" prize from a group of columnists. But here the storm began. A French researcher, Eric Marty, severely criticized the book in Le Monde under the headline "Bad Reasons for the Success of a Bestseller." Other researchers, most of them students, attacked Sand, including in a leading article in l'Histoire, and two other researchers, Claude Klein and Mireille Hadas-Lebel, called Sand's book "an invention."

    As expected, the book, which claims there was no Jewish People, plays into the hands of those who are struggling against Israel's right to exist, not only in Europe, but in the Arab world as well. From various publications, it arises that there are already contracts for translating the book into 16 languages, including Arabic.

    But to academics in a totally different field, Sand's theory seems especially unfounded. Until recently, those who replied to Sand in learned articles have been historians, archaeologists, columnists and – of course – rabbis. But researchers in the field of genetics are now joining the argument. Recently, there have been scientific developments in this field. The researchers more or less confirm the familiar story of the Jewish People, as well as the underlying assumption which, in one sentence, holds that Jews in the four corners of the Diaspora are indeed one people and the descendants of common forefathers and fore mothers.

    Prof. Karl Skorecki is the Director of Medical and Research Development at Ramban Hospital in Haifa and the Director of the Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences at the Technion. Together with research groups from the US, Russia, the UK, France, Portugal and Estonia, they have – in recent years – located a series of identical or very similar genetic signatures, i.e. "barcodes", in DNA taken from the blood of Jews in approximately 25 different countries.

    These unique genetic markers show considerable genetic closeness between Jews around the world. All of this is in spite of the distances of time and place between them. These "signatures" are common to Jews thousands of miles apart from each other and they are not found among their non-Jewish neighbors, from whom the research group also took DNA samples. Moreover, the research showed that the genetic "barcodes" common to Jews the world over are indeed different from the "barcodes" of their non-Jewish neighbors in the various countries – but are identical to the genetic "barcodes" characteristic of residents of the Middle East (Jewish and non-Jewish), such as Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Whoever desires may find here far-reaching evidence of the origin of the first Hebrew, Abraham, from Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and the Tigris.

    In the DNA samples that were taken from Jews around the world, there is also evidence of assimilation and conversion to Judaism in lesser and greater rates: In some countries, there is considerable intrusion by genetic "barcodes" characteristic of the non-Jewish population and vice-versa. And indeed, Jewish sources tell of large-scale conversion to Judaism. For example, the Book of Esther (8:17) says that, "And many from among the peoples of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews was fallen upon them." Rabbi Yehuda Halevy's book Kuzari tells of Khazars who converted to Judaism 1,300 years ago (although most researchers believe that the story of the Kuzari has no historical basis and that it was written as a literary device for the philosophic discussion in the book).

    Skorecki, a world-class nephrologist, led research teams to cooperate in their work with Prof. Sergio DellaPergola, who is considered the outstanding demographer of the Jewish People, and with history Prof. Theodore Parfitt from the University of London. With their assistance, the geneticists tried to understand the historical significance of their findings. One of the main historical insights raised by the genetic findings among Ashkenazi Jews was that European Jewry originated in the Middle East.

    It is interesting that similar findings were received in a different genetic study issued several years ago by the US National Academy of Sciences.* The genetic "fingerprints" or "barcodes" of Jewish maternal and paternal lines, as found in DNA samples taken from the blood of European Jews, moved apart as far back as 1,300 years ago.

    This specific research, which was coordinated by Doron Behar, under Skorecki's guidance, showed that the approximately 3.5 million Ashkenazi Jews are the descendants of four ancestral women. The findings raised by the genetic study of Ashkenazi Jews apparently match the history that we are familiar with: Ashkenazi Jewry originates from Jews who migrated from the Land of Israel to Italy in the first and second centuries; later, in the 12th and 13th centuries, they migrated to central Europe and spread throughout the continent, until reaching approximately ten million people on the eve of World War II.

    Can the genetic research refute the claims of those who deny the Jewish exile, such as, for example, those Palestinians who call on Jews who came to Israel from eastern Europe to return to their countries of origin?

    Prof. Skorecki says that the genetic research does not deal with this but adds that, "The findings show us that the DNA 'barcodes' among European Jews are not the 'barcodes' characteristic of the non-Jewish European populations but of those characteristic of the residents of the Middle East, which can certainly assist in strengthening the claim that there was an exile."

    Skorecki, who is considered among the leading experts around the world in the genetic research of the Jewish People, became interested in the field by coincidence approximately 17 years ago, after returning to Canada from a year's sabbatical at the Weizmann Institute. One day it occurred to him that among the Aaronic priests ["cohanim"] at his synagogue were tall men with blond hair, alongside darker men of lower stature, and all recited the same blessing by virtue of the tradition that they are descended from Aaron the priest ["cohen"].

    The scientist asked himself if it was possible to check the claim that the priestly lineage was "pure" and if there was a genetic basis for the claim that all these men should be considered Aaronic priests today by virtue of the tradition passed from father to son that they are indeed the descendants of one father, Aaron the priest. The research question that Skorecki sought to crack touched on one of the main genetic parameters for considering the preservation of the ancestral Jewish people. According to the book of Exodus, the status of the priesthood began to coalesce in the time of Moses, during the period of wandering in the desert. The sons of Levy were set apart for sacred tasks and one family among them, that of Aaron, received the right of the priesthood, which has – apparently – passed from father to son ever since. Priests were demarcated from the rest of the people in their lifestyle as well. They were – inter alia – barred from marrying divorcees or converts. Later sources speak of thousands of priests who served in the Temple over the years, in permanent watches of 24 groups.

    Josephus Flavius attests that this meticulousness was also upheld during his time. The Babylonian Talmud tells of 18 High Priests who served during the First Temple period and of 300 during the Second Temple period Skorecki and his colleagues tested DNA from 68 Aaronic priests, and from another 120 Jews who were not Aaronic priests. The samples were taken from Israel, Britain and Canada. They were tested on a certain part of the Y chromosome that only men carry and is passed on from father to son. The findings, published in the distinguished periodical Nature,** caused waves. It was clear that, despite the geographical dispersion over two thousand years, the genetic identity of the priestly dynasty remained intact. If that was not enough, the research determines that all of the Aaronic priests originated from one biological father who lived 3,200 years ago, at about the period in which, according to tradition, Aaron the priest lived, during the period of the Tabernacle, according to Jewish custom.

    That is not all: The Aaronic priest research also showed that Ashkenazi Jews and Jews of eastern descent, who separated into two communities about 1,000 years ago, are indisputable genetic relatives and are genetically related to each other many times more than they are to the peoples among which they lived. Simply put: A Jew from Yemen is genetically closer to a Jew from France than he is to his neighbor in Yemen. A few months ago the scientists repeated the research, in a more comprehensive study. Once again the findings were validated and even found four Aaronic priest sub-branches that the technology available to the researchers 13 years earlier could not have discovered.

    Yigal Shafran is a Professor of Science and Jewish Law at the Bar-Ilan University School of Education. He is also a rabbi and a lecturer on medical ethics at the Technion and heads the Chief Rabbinate's Department of Medicine and Jewish Law. Shafran was required more than once for Skorecki's research. He says that, according to Jewish law, genetic studies do not constitute proof, but rather support for additional findings. Therefore, it is not possible, for example, to prove mamzerut status through genetic testing. Despite this, under financial law, Jewish Law relies on genetics. For example, when a father asks for an exemption from making support payments for a child under the claim that he is not the real father, and the genetic test supports this - he is exempt from payments.

    British social science researcher Dr. Charles Murray claimed in the past that the IQ of the Jews is 7-15% higher than the general average. Skorecki clarifies in this regard: "In our research we only test DNA segments called neutrals. There are 'genetic barcodes' that indicate tendencies toward diseases, and there are 'barcodes' that indicate behavioral tendencies, for example a tendency toward violence, but our team did not deal with them at all."

    "We are not enslaved to our genes," emphasizes Skorecki, "Genetics is merely a tool that, only when combined with additional means such as linguistics, archeology and history, helps us to gain insights into humanity's past, and in our case – on the history of the Jewish People. These studies can, however, indicate a group of Jews from various places in the world who share a common origin and mutual genetic 'barcodes', but the historical-political issues, like those of the Jews and Palestinians, I will not try to settle, and will leave that to the historians. My opinion is that while it is important to know from whence you came, it is more important to know where you are going."

    That is perhaps the reason why Skorecki refuses to relate directly to claims raised by historians such as Sand, even though his opinion on the matter is rather clear. Even Prof. Batsheva Bona-Tamir, a genetic pioneer in Israel, speaks in the same vein. Bona-Tamir founded the National Laboratory for the Genetics of Israeli Populations at Tel-Aviv University, where DNA examples are kept at -190 C. She also warns against, "interest-guided categorical characteristics which depart from the realm of research, or the misguided use of research in any such direction."

    Does the genetic research of the Jewish people play into the hands of those who accused us in the past of condescension and pretensions to racial superiority? "Paradoxically," Prof. Skorecki emphasizes, "DNA research actually disproves any basis for racist thinking. DNA research can indicate a genetic affinity between people, and it does indicate significant genetic links between Jews around the world, just as it shows that the Druze are a type of 'genetic nature reserve', who have not intermingled with other peoples. Genetic research has discovered, inter alia, that the American Indians are actually from Siberia. In any case, DNA does not define people as a race, because it does not define attributes, character, behavior and heritage or tradition. As a rule, genetics teaches us that all of humanity is one family, from one stock, with 99.9% similarity to each other, and that this similarity is indeed common to the human race, but here it begins and ends. Whoever uses genetic studies of the Jewish people, based on one agenda or another, in order to describe a people-race, is distorting reality."

    Despite these things, the genetics, which doctors make use of in order to characterize a tendency toward diseases in communities and various groups, and which the police utilize to identify suspects in crime, or their victims – is gradually becoming a tool in deciphering and monitoring historic processes.

    Thus, for example, a research group from the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, in cooperation with New York University, turned to the public a few months ago and requested anonymous blood donations in the framework of the Jewish HapMap Project, which is intended to map the wanderings of the Jewish People. Here as well it would be done by deciphering donor DNA of Jews from different communities. The existence of the Jewish People however is characterized mainly by common heritage, religion, history, experiences and territory, but more than a few scientists are anxiously awaiting historical discoveries as a result of developments in the genetic field.


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues After 100 years, the kibbutz movement has completely changed (Haaretz)
    Geplaatst door abby op Friday 15 January @ 23:45:33 GMT+1 (1691 maal gelezen)


    After 100 years, the kibbutz movement has completely changed
    By Eli Ashkenazi
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1140864.html


    As the kibbutz movement marks it centenary, it seems little resemblance to the ideals which once motivated it remain. Only a quarter of kibbutzim still function as equalized cooperatives, while the rest have begun paying salaries to their members, a study by Haifa University's Institute for the Research on the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea has shown. Even Deganya Aleph, Israel's first kibbutz, is now operating on the privatized model.

    Another survey conducted this year found that 70 percent of all kibbutz members receive monthly salaries of less than NIS 7,000, while 11 percent receive salaries of over NIS 12,000. One hundred eighty-eight kibbutzim (72 percent) are run according to the "new kibbutz" privatization model, which includes differentiated salaries for members; 65 kibbutzim (25 percent) are communally run; and nine kibbutzim (3 percent) are run as "integrated" kibbutzim.

    A communal kibbutz is one in which there is no relationship between the work a member carries out and the budget he receives; in other words, everyone is paid the same amount. The integrated model combines a basic budget equally distributed among all members along with a percentage of each member's salary. A "renewed kibbutz," the privatized model most popular today, replaces the budget with regular salaries from work and other income sources specific to each individual member. The privatized kibbutz retains joint ownership of the kibbutz instruments of production and other assets, along with a "safety net" for health insurance, pension, education and supporting members with special needs.
     
    From 2007 to 2008, 14 kibbutzim were privatized; only five were privatized between 2008 and 2009. In a number of kibbutzim, the privatization process failed after most members chose to retain the traditional cooperative model.

    "The really interesting news is that a number of kibbutzim decided not to privatize," Elisha Shapira, the coordinator of the cooperative branch in the kibbutz movement, said. "I don't want to prophesize, but it may be the beginning of a sobering up."

    More and more members understand that going from cooperative to differentiated harms the majority of them, and benefits only a select few. When you take a society that used to be equal and you let it run by market rules, it's self-evident that a minority is going to move up and the majority is going to move down," Shapira said. "When privatization begins, the member suddenly gets a lot more cash in hand, so he thinks things just got better - but then he gets the bills for health insurance, education, transportation and other fairly basic services. The kibbutz member then realizes his condition actually worsened."

    However, the director of the research institute, Dr. Shlomo Getz said it was too soon to tell. "We shouldn't conclude that the privatization process has been stalled because in 2009 [only] two communal kibbutzim and three integrated kibbutzim adopted the privatized model. Twelve more communal and three integrated kibbutzim are already discussing changing their administration model."

    The great challenge before kibbutzim today is the image of the kibbutz as we emerge from a two-decade long economic and social crisis," said Ze'ev Shor, secretary of the Kibbutz Movement. "Most of the movement fared well through the crisis. All the kibbutzim are now economically stable and their [children] are coming home. Twenty-five hundred new members joined kibbutzim in recent years, 60 percent of them returning kibbutz members."

    There have been great changes to the kibbutz way of life during the crisis, but even those kibbutzim operating privatized salaries, products and certain services still retain the solidarity and mutual assistance that is the DNA of the kibbutz," Shor said.


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues The Jewish state's buried treasures (David Breakstone)
    Geplaatst door abby op Tuesday 15 December @ 00:47:59 GMT+1 (1252 maal gelezen)


    The Jerusalem Post
    Dec 9, 2009 19:47 | Updated Dec 9, 2009 22:49
    The Jewish state's buried treasures
    By DAVID BREAKSTONE
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1260181033807&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull


    Fill in the blank: In the year 2009, Israel celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of _____. Chances are that if you spent any time in the country over the past 12 months and were semiconscious, your answer would be "Tel Aviv." Unless you are still celebrating May 1 as International Workers' Day and are a trivia freak, in which case you may have responded: "Deganya," the very first kibbutz, which happened to come into being at the very same time as the first Jewish city in modern times.

    Interesting. When the Zionist idea first entered my consciousness in the late '60s, I'm fairly sure that had I been asked then what we would more likely be celebrating 40 years hence, the metropolis or the farm, I'd have bet on the latter. For Jewish youth in the Diaspora living in an age of isms, Tel Aviv represented so much that the revolutionary movement of Jewish self-determination seemed to be revolting against: individualism, capitalism, materialism and hedonism.

    Israel's communal settlements, on the other hand, were perceived as the embodiment of the very opposite: collectivism, socialism, asceticism and altruism and were fêted as a harbinger of a new social order, proof that human nature could indeed be reoriented. Hi-tech was not yet part of our vocabulary, and it was social, not computer engineering that was then touted as being Zionism's great gift to humanity. Our movement, after all, wasn't only about making the world a better place for the Jews, but a better place for everyone.

    SO WHAT happened? Why is the party taking place along the shores of the Mediterranean rather than the Kinneret? Perhaps it's a matter of numbers. There are some 390,000 residents of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and more than 3.1 million in the urban sprawl of Gush Dan of which it is the hub. Deganya Aleph claims only some 550 inhabitants, and all the communes it mothered fewer than 130,000.

    But the answer cannot be attributed entirely to statistics. The kibbutzim were never home to more than 2 percent-3% of Israel's population, even in the years preceding statehood, yet they once dominated the Zionist self-image and provided the entire enterprise with one of its most popular myths - not without foundation - that the top echelon of the country's leadership was nurtured on the ethos of communal children's homes.

    No one argues that anymore, not in an age when "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" is no longer the ideal, not even in the abstract, and when there is nothing pejorative in characterizing an individual as someone who knows how to look out for himself.

    This shift in values has not spared the kibbutzim, which have gone through a process of privatization that has made them something of anathema to their founders. (That process overtook even Deganya just a few months ago.) Meanwhile, there has been a concurrent retrospective reevaluation of Tel Aviv and a popularization of all that it meant for the nascent movement of Jewish national liberation.

    Perhaps it is fitting, then, that the year of festivities in the city that never sleeps will officially wind up on December 15 with the opening of a new historical museum, located just across the street from the historical home of Chaim Nahman Bialik. It is this history, and the contribution of Israel's national poet and his contemporaries to the Jewish renaissance, which infuses the merriment with substance.

    Despite the remark popularly attributed to Meir Dizengoff, Tel Aviv's first mayor, welcoming the first reports of prostitution in the city as a reassuring sign of the normalization of the Jewish people, one somehow doubts that Mayor Ron Huldai today finds similar comfort in the latest reports on human trafficking in his city, or on the poverty in its slums, the exploitation of its foreign workers and the rise in crime on its streets and beaches.

    Bialik, in any case, would most definitely not. Witness to the wretched suffering wrought upon the Jews in the Kishinev pogroms, eloquently documented in his epic poem "In the City of Slaughter," he beseeched his people to create a city of hope in their Old New Land: "On a summer's day, a scorching day at high noon / with the sky a blazing furnace / the heart seeks a quiet corner to dream - / Come to me, come to me my weary friend."

    But if Tel Aviv in its revelry can boast Bialik as its native son, the kibbutzim around the Sea of Galilee can claim Rahel as their native daughter. And 2009, it turns out, is the perfect year in which to do just that. By stunning coincidence, 1909 was the year in which both poets first came to the Land of Israel, which means that this is a centennial celebrating not only the first Jewish city and the first kibbutz, but also the people who built them.

    The poetess of the Second Aliya laborers spoke on behalf of them all: "I have not sung to you, my country / nor have I glorified your name / with heroic deeds / or the spoils of war / Only a tree have I planted with my own hands / on the bank of the gentle Jordan / Only a path have my feet trodden / upon the open fields." Bialik and Rachel died long ago, but what of the idealism, romanticism and passion they personified? By chance, I recently had the opportunity to visit the two cemeteries in which they are buried, along with so many other pioneers of their generation, sung and unsung alike.

    IN THE center of the country, it was at the end of a workday, against the bustling backdrop of busy coffeehouses and traffic-filled streets, framed by tall buildings whose lighted windows at dusk revealed a vitality that those who had witnessed the city's dawn, and whose graves I was wandering among, would have found impossible to prophesy. Ahad Ha'am, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Haim Arlozorov, Yosef Haim Brenner and Menahem Sheinkin all lie within earshot of Bialik.

    In the North, it was at night, with the moonlit Kinneret - visible through a grove of lofty palm trees - shimmering silently in the background, a resplendent reflection of the nature and harmony cherished by those whose final resting place I was trespassing. Rahel's eternal neighbors include Moshe Hess, Dov Ber Borochov, Nahman Sirkin and Berl Katznelson, to name only a few. Well, perhaps one more. When Rahel was buried in 1931, one of the mourners at her graveside was Rivka Sapir, a founder of Kvutzat Kinneret, the communal settlement that Rahel had made her home. She held her one-year old infant in her arms. She would grow up to be none other than Naomi Shemer, first lady of Israeli song, now interred just a stanza away from her lifelong inspiration.

    One visit was every bit as inspiring as the other. While the headstones above ground reveal only the briefest hint of the biographies they eternalize beneath, they constitute a stirring testimony to the countless lives lived in pursuit of a common dream, multifaceted though it may be. Which aspects of that dream reflect our ideals today? Which remind us of our successes - which of our failures? Which represent our aspirations?

    Whatever answers we may have individually, collectively we owe our presence here today to these men and women and to the infrastructure they fashioned, to the ambitions they nurtured, to the ideals they cherished and to the dreams they wouldn't relinquish. They are our buried treasures, of inestimable value. The more we dig into their past, the more we familiarize ourselves with their stories, the wealthier shall we become.

    Try it, you'll see. The next time someone asks you what centennial Israel celebrated this year, tell them: the arrival of Chaim Nahman Bialik and Rahel Bluwstein in the Land of Israel. You'll feel richer already. May we be deserving of their sacrifices. May we be worthy of their legacy.

    The writer represents worldwide Masorti/Conservative Judaism on the executives of the Jewish Agency and World Zionist Organization, where he also serves as head of the Department for Zionist Activities.


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Benjamin Netanyahu raises child benefits - Lust for Power (Nehemia Shtrasler)
    Geplaatst door abby op Saturday 28 March @ 03:21:44 GMT+1 (1283 maal gelezen)


    The lust for power
    By Nehemia Shtrasler
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1073487.html
    Wed., March 25, 2009 Adar 29, 5769

    The scent of power is driving Benjamin Netanyahu crazy. He is willing to do anything to become prime minister again. He does not care about any principle, any ideology or any long-term vision. The lust for power is dulling his senses and he is losing his mind. Netanyahu is now willing to sell the most important change he brought to Israeli society six years ago: the transition from handouts to work.

    The Netanyahu of 2003 was a very different one. Back then, he brought along a revolutionary spirit and was willing to go against the stream. Together with Shinui and the National Religious Party, he presented a revolutionary plan: leveling out child benefits. The system of child allowance payments in place at the time had been the same since Haim Ben-Shahar's 1975 reform. Every child was eligible for a state allowance, regardless of whether his or her parents were employed or not. For years, the ultra-Orthodox parties pressed for an increase in child benefits. Since they were the kingmakers in many of the governments that were formed here, the ruling parties were forced to increase the payouts each time.

    This absurdity reached new heights at the end of 2000, when Likud was looking for a way to topple Ehud Barak's government and, to that end, joined forces with Shas and United Torah Judaism, and supported their demand to increase such payments. In November 2000, the Knesset passed the Halpert Law, which raised child welfare payments to a dizzying NIS 856 per month from the fifth child onward, compared to NIS 171 for the first child.

    At that time, I asked MK Reuven Rivlin how he dared to vote in favor of a bill that was so anti-Zionist and so anti-social. He answered: "It's a bad law, but we can't rule without the ultra-Orthodox." When I pointed out that it was a law that encouraged Israel's non-Zionist forces, he said he knew that NIS 200 million of the NIS 500 million the law would cost "would go to the Arabs, who want to use demographics to take control of Israel - but I want to be in power."

    In 2003, the plan for rescuing Israel's economy was launched. One of its key clauses was to significantly cut child welfare payments, making them the same for every child. The result was dramatic. The number of children in ultra-Orthodox and Arab families began to drop and Haredim and Arabs increasingly joined the labor market. It turned out that, contrary to their claims, the birth rate in the ultra-Orthodox sector is influenced by economic variables.

    Netanyahu boasted about his accomplishment. The transition from welfare to work, he said, is the only way to break the circle of poverty. He also used to say, in private conversations, that his relatively small policy change reduced the demographic danger facing Israel, because now Arabs and Bedouin would find it less financially worthwhile to bring more children into the world.

    But now everything is up in the air again. Netanyahu is willing to once again raise child benefits and even halt the process of making all child benefits equal - a process that began in 2003 but has not been completed. The outcome of such a policy will be much higher stipends for a third, fourth or fifth child than for a first child. And this is just the beginning. Ultra-Orthodox families are now saying that they will continue to demand an increase in child welfare payment for the fifth child and up - at the expense of reduced payments for the first and second child. Indeed, past experience shows that when the principle of equal child welfare payments for every child is done away with, the pressure will continue.

    Tzipi Livni agreed to raise child allowances by just NIS 600 million. Netanyahu is willing to increase them by NIS 1.4 billion. And at a time when the economy is in a state far worse than it was six months ago, suddenly Netanyahu has an unlimited budget. He has also promised the ultra-Orthodox that he will increase the monthly stipend to yeshiva students - married and single alike - by hundreds of shekels, which will cost the state almost NIS 500 million.

    And once again, secular families will be discriminated against. Avigdor Lieberman was unable to protect them. It is not enough that both partners in a young secular family are forced to work and also do reserve duty - in addition, they will now get less child welfare payments than a family that does not work and does not serve in the reserves.

    Once again, it will be more worthwhile to live off handouts than to work. Once again, there will be large, impoverished families. Once again, the Religious Affairs Ministry will be large and strong, will divvy up huge sums of money to anyone who refuses to work and do reserve duty. This is the very worst of anti-Zionism.

    And what about the demographic threat, which Netanyahu, Lieberman and Rivlin believe in? That, too, no longer interests them. The lust for power has driven them completely crazy.


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Water in Israel: Don't make the desert bloom (The Economist)
    Geplaatst door abby op Sunday 08 June @ 01:31:28 GMT+1 (3088 maal gelezen)

    Don't make the desert bloom
    Jun 5th 2008 | JERUSALEM
    From The Economist print edition

    Milk and honey is all very well. But what about the water?

    THIS is the fourth consecutive year of drought in Israel. Last winter it rained only about 65% of the long-term average. The water level in the Sea of Galilee, the source of nearly 30% of Israel's fresh water, is close to the danger line and hardly rose during the winter even though the pipeline that takes water from it was closed for part of the year. This week the government reacted with an emergency plan.

    It includes spending 120m shekels ($37m) extra on improving water conservation and 915m shekels on better water recycling for agriculture. And it calls for building more desalination plants, to increase their output from 138m cubic metres a year now (with another 100m due to come on line next year) to 750m by 2020. But the priorities, say not a few critics, are the wrong way round. "It's missing the most important element, which is to charge all sectors a market price for water," says Hillel Shuval, head of environmental health at the Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem.

    Israel shares its water sources with the Palestinians (the main aquifer that feeds many of its wells lies under the West Bank), as well as Jordan and Syria. Fast-growing populations are putting a strain on those sources. So is global warming: although average rainfall has not been dropping in the region, rain showers have become shorter and more intense, so more water runs into the sea instead of recharging the aquifers. The Jordan River is a trickle of its former self, and the Dead Sea, which it replenishes, is falling by around one metre a year. 

    Water management has improved, but not by enough. "Making the desert bloom", a cornerstone of the early Zionist ideal, turns out not to have been such a smart idea. Agriculture consumes some 60% of the country's total of 2 billion cubic metres of water a year, but contributes less than 2% of GDP, thanks partly to water-guzzling export crops such as bananas and citrus fruits, as well as dates (these are fine in their natural habitat of oases, but in Israel large plantations of date palms stretch across otherwise arid desert).

    True, the once huge water subsidies to farmers have dropped, as has their water use. Yoav Kislev at the Hebrew University calculates that water productivity in agriculture has increased threefold since the 1950s. A year and a half ago those farmers who got their water from the state water company (the majority) reached a deal to pay market price. That, according to Mr Kislev, would be around three shekels per cubic metre. But the deal has yet to be fully implemented, and it will still allow for hidden subsidies which, he estimates, will cut the average price to around half that.

    Israel could also, he says, do better in recycling its domestic water for agriculture. A lot of the treated water flows into the sea, and what is reused is still dirty enough to contaminate ground water; this has forced the closure of some wells. More alarmingly, because rubbish dumping in Israel is better controlled than it used to be, contractors now dump more waste illegally in the poorly supervised West Bank, which adds to the contamination of the aquifer.

    Domestic use in Israel could easily be cut too. The government's 120m shekel conservation package, Mr Shuval says, is "too little, too late". He points to Australia, which after years of crippling drought began a subsidised national campaign to install water-saving devices in every home, reducing domestic water use by 20%.

    Even the chief scientist of the environment ministry, Yeshayahu Bar-Or, said last month, before the emergency plan was announced, that desalination was not enough. He predicts a dire long-term future: rising seas contaminate the coastal aquifer with salt water, global warming reduces rainfall by 35% by 2100, rising heat leads to the pollution of the Sea of Galilee.

    The fondness for desalination, argues Gidon Bromberg of Friends of the Earth Middle East, an environmentalist group, stems from a confluence of interests. Politicians like big, headline-grabbing projects; Israel's government wants to promote the Israeli water-treatment industry abroad; and the plants, under long-term build-operate-transfer schemes, provide their builders with a guaranteed income. But desalination burns up energy, adds to the global warming that exacerbates the water problem and reduces the incentive to save water, even though conservation is usually cheaper. Mr Bromberg accepts that some desalination is necessary. But he says it should be a technology of last resort, not first instance.



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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Jewish religion and nationality: No more conversion (Haaretz)
    Geplaatst door abby op Monday 21 January @ 23:15:51 GMT+1 (2034 maal gelezen)

    Last update - 03:55 16/01/2008

    No more conversion


    By Avirama Golan
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/945077.html

    About a week ago, Channel 1's "Mabat Sheni" (A Second Look) aired Michal Kapra's report about three soldiers who were among the recipients of a tzalash (a citation for bravery in combat) for their behavior during the Second Lebanon War. The three, natives of the Commonwealth of Independent States, immigrated to Israel with their families, but have not yet completed the conversion process. To be less politically correct, they are "Russians" rather than Jews.

    Recently, the prime minister's bureau promised to ease the conversion process of the approximately 300,000 new immigrants who are not Jews according to halakha (religious law). A nice promise, which is encountering an opposite trend in the religious establishment. The Hardal (ultra-Orthodox nationalist) rabbis make things difficult for the converts, keep track of their families in order to ensure that they are observing religious law and force them to send their children to religious kindergartens.

    There is no end to the absurd regulations they invent. For example, the husband of a woman convert is not allowed to come near his wife for three months, as the rabbis say they must be certain that she did not become pregnant while waiting for approval of her conversion. Otherwise it is impossible to know whether the child will be a non-Jew who requires conversion, or a Jew.

    One could presumably expect the prime minister's bureau to operate with determination in order to ease the conversion process. In fact, anyone following the developments on the issue of conversion since the beginning of the major immigration from the former Soviet Union (FSU) knows that there is no chance of that. The Ne'eman Committee, the Conversion Administration, Israel Defense Forces conversions and Na'aleh (a program for immigrant high-school students) conversions - none of them has succeeded in rescuing conversion from strangulation.

    Why do the "Russians" need conversion at all? Those in favor of conversion claim that since the immigrants came to Israel by dint of their connection to Judaism, and are interested in joining the Jewish nation, they should be allowed to be defined as a "Jew" in their ID cards. Even people who are totally secular are convinced that otherwise it will be difficult to establish the definition of Jewish nationality in Israel. Moreover, they cite studies that prove that non-Jewish youth suffer from a feeling of alienation and occasionally even descend into crime.

    It is true that the rejected youth should be made welcome. But Israel is a country of immigration, and immigrants in every country suffer from various levels of alienation and rejection, until most of them merge into the central stream. The immigrants from the FSU have outstanding human resources for accelerating this process.

    The desire to solve every type of social ostracism by religious means has already proven to be a bitter mistake. Many Jews of North African or Middle Eastern origin who were afraid that the veteran Ashkenazim confuse them with Arabs, and see them as citizens of the lowest type, have been swept up in the Shas-led process of returning to religion, so that they could define themselves as more Jewish. And thus, instead of a culturally enriching process of integration, an anti-civic, sectoral mentality has been created, which encourages withdrawal from society and delays integration.

    It is hard to understand why so many Israelis are making the mistake of identifying religion with nationality, in accordance with the philosophy of the religious right. Israel is the home of every Jew, whether he observes mitzvot or rejects them. Anyone who has been discriminated against because of his Jewishness has a right to have the gates of this country opened to him, without anyone checking his religious credentials.

    In retrospect, the immigrants are gradually being absorbed into society, but in addition to the usual problems that cause immigrants to feel excluded and which are supposed to become blurred over time - the study of the language and absorption at work - and in spite of the military service that in Israel offers a unique route for mobility, the religious-Orthodox barrier is causing this normal process to fail.

    It prevents people from getting married, marks their children as "other," buries them outside the fence and defines them as "without religion" or "Christians." Because of it, they consider themselves second-class citizens even if they received a tzalash and excelled at work and studies.

    The problem is not only that of the "Russians." As long as Israeli society is not liberated from the religious establishment, it will find it difficult to pave the way for a renewed definition of the meaning of Jewish existence in a sovereign state. The time has come to give up on conversion, to erase the slot for "nationality" in the ID card and to legalize civil marriage for all. The key to nationality must finally be expropriated from the ultra-Orthodox nationalist gatekeepers.


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Kibbutz: The communal capitulation (Haaretz)
    Geplaatst door abby op Thursday 11 October @ 01:16:32 GMT+1 (2059 maal gelezen)

    The communal capitulation
    By Goel Pinto

    "I get up in the morning, walk three minutes with my daughters and leave them with the caretakers. I then walk another five minutes to an office overlooking the Hula Valley and the Golan Heights. After spending eight hours with the guys I grew up with, I pick up the girls and visit my parents who live half a minute away from me. I play and eat dinner with friends on the grass - what more does a person need?"

    Amit Schlesinger returned to Kibbutz Baram on the border with Lebanon after spending 12 years away, like many kibbutz members who have since returned. "It's an amazing place in terms of quality of life. Only the neighbors leave something to be desired," he says with a smile. He works in the kibbutz factory that develops medical products, and his wife, an art therapist, works outside the kibbutz.

    Devora Gelbstein, a native of Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh in Emek Hefer, returned home after living in the center of the country for 20 years. She and her husband own a grocery at a nearby moshav. "I live in a closed community with all that it entails," she says, "but I take only the good from it and disassociate myself from the bad. I never cut myself off sentimentally from the kibbutz."

    She lives in an "old and leaky" house in the kibbutz, as she describes it. She says she wouldn't live there if it were situated in a city, but the blooming flowers and ficus trees swayed her.

    It is well-known in the Kibbutz Movement that privatization, which uprooted the original socialist ideology, is the main reason for the growing trend of returning members; many are indeed coming back because of financial difficulties or simply due to convenience.

    "The privatization created a situation in which it is possible to live on a kibbutz with considerable independence, just like any place in the country," says Niv Wiesel of the Kibbutz Movement. "First and foremost, we had to make the kibbutzim attractive again. We realized that the fact that everything on the kibbutz is cooperative is the Achilles' heel. Whereas you once had to wait on line for a home and to study, today financial independence lies with the individual."

    Kibbutz veterans may not like all these changes, but the movement's leaders understand the need to change, even if it comes at the cost of capitulating to capitalism. "We are bringing the children back, not as an ideology, but as a necessity," says Wiesel. "We have to change according to the reality, which is constantly changing. We are at the beginning of the process of empowering the kibbutz enterprise. There are kibbutzim where the average age of members is 55 and the process is saving them from demographic destruction."

    Naturally, kibbutzim in the center of the country have an easier time winning back members - both because they are closer to job centers and because they are more profitable. Elsewhere, a greater effort is required. The impressive carnival held over the Sukkot holiday in the Ibim Students Village, near Sderot, looked like the launch of a trendy new item. Ahead of the event, flags and banners were hung and dozens worked on final preparations. On stage, a local female troupe rehearsed Hebrew versions of hits from "The Lion King." Among stalls selling food and local artists' crafts, youngsters in costumes handed out balloons and lollipops.

    Under the banner "going back home," kibbutzim representatives in the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council gathered to persuade former members to return. Every kibbutz built a sukka with decorations.
    Kibbutz Dorot advertised its successful garlic factory. Kibbutz Or Ha'ner, which was founded by immigrants from South America, handed out flyers that said, among other things, "every Saturday there is a multi-generational soccer game," "everything is done slowly" and "you can be late for meetings."

    In recent months, many kibbutzim have taken carefully-planned steps to lure kibbutz natives home, and have even appealed directly to those who left, but this is the first time that a regional council, in collaboration with the Kibbutz Movement, is organizing a mass event to meet with the deliberating potential returnees. It appears to be effective. Einat and Yair, parents of a newborn baby, have already put out feelers and have started to make inquiries about returning to one of the kibbutzim in the area, where Einat was born and lived until after her army service. Her partner, Yair, who was born and raised in Rishon Letzion, said he was not "the only sucker."

    "I'm surprised, really," says Yair. "The fact that I see so many people here who are planning to go back makes it easier for me." Einat adds: "That's basically the essence of the kibbutz, isn't it? Not to be alone."
    Oded Felot, the director of the strategic office at Shaar Hanegev and one of the organizers of the event, understands how important it is for those who are wavering to meet hundreds like themselves. "The sense that you are part of a bloc that wants to be accepted back in the kibbutz makes the difference," he says.

    Security problems in the area were not directly addressed by the flyers, but they did come up in conversations. For Alon Schuster, the head of the regional council, the return home at this time is clearly an ideological move. "It's our response to terrorism," he says. "This is Zionism for us, and we stress to the children, the 'despite everything' idea. Come home despite the Qassams."

    Most of the kibbutzniks return with families at the age of 30 to 40. "It was clear to us that once we had children, we wouldn't continue living in Tel Aviv," says Aviv Kutz, 37, married with two children, who returned to Kfar Aza after eight years. "The surrounding noise and the fact that there are no green spaces - it's just not it."

    The Kibbutz Movement does not have precise figures on the number of returning members because the Central Bureau of Statistics does not differentiate between kibbutz members, returning members or those who rent an apartment on a kibbutz and record their new address on their identity card. "We know that in 2006, there was an increase of 500 members in the movement's 250 kibbutzim," says Amikem Osem of the office for demographic support at the Kibbutz Movement, "but we don't know if they are returning members."

    Figures from several kibbutzim indicate an increase in the population: Kibbutz Einat recently absorbed 80 new members, Netiv Halamed Heh accepted 34 members, Netzer Sireni accepted 150, Kibbutz Yasur accepted 50 and Kibbutz Be'eri took in around 40 new members, as did Maagan Michael and Sasa. Kibbutz Na'an even submitted a request to the state to increase the number of households permitted to live there from 500 to 1,000.

    The rights and obligations of returning members and new members are defined by each kibbutz, and there are numerous different absorption options, almost as many as there are kibbutzim. There are some that offer membership in which the new member is not a party to the kibbutz's past debts, but is a member of the community and the businesses. There are kibbutzim that offer "absorption for expansion" (residence without obligations and rights) and there are some that offer an in-between status, a share of the debts and a share of the benefits. According to this arrangement, the individual's salary is not transferred to the kibbutz's coffers, but a mutual responsibility tax is paid.

    Schlesinger, of Kibbutz Baram, which is in the process of privatizing, acknowledges that "whoever grew up on a kibbutz has baggage, and when you return, you must consider what you are willing to give up. The fact that I, as an adult male with a family, must share financial decisions that apply to me with 300 people is certainly a concession on my part. The fact that I will have to obtain the approval of the special committee for me to go and study, a trivial thing in the city, is a concession. The fact that I will have to accumulate vacation days for my wife to be able to extend her maternity leave, so that she can use them instead of me, is a concession."

    On Baram, Schlesinger can still enter the grocery store and take 30 packs of cigarettes a month. The kibbutz also pays a share of parking tickets. "A kibbutz member has a budget suited to him," he explains, "but every member has different needs and therefore it's logical that everyone receives bonuses beyond his salary, each according to his needs."

    In the meantime, Schlesinger has three months to stop smoking; at the beginning of next year, the kibbutz will stop paying for his cigarettes. Gelbstein and Schlesinger may not want to have their children raised in communal children's homes, the way they themselves grew up, but they have no bad memories of that era: on the contrary. As far as Schlesinger is concerned, the people who grew up with him in the same children's home and with whom he lives and works today are "closer to him than brothers."

    Gelbstein, who says she left because "we were young and spirited and yearned for independence," adds her roots lie in the kibbutz. "The kibbutz provided an education and instilled values that are a major factor in my moral behavior today. I received only good things from the kibbutz enterprise. I don't want to be condescending, but the kibbutz values are different, more tolerant than in the city, where the concept of 'there is no one like me' prevails."


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Seven days on Kibbutz Lotan (Yehuda Hammer)
    Geplaatst door abby op Wednesday 07 February @ 18:32:53 GMT+1 (2203 maal gelezen)

    http://blogcentral.jpost.com:80/newsItems/viewFullItem$1653
    Jerusalem Post - Blog Central

    February 5, 2007; 1:48:19 AM
    Exodus: Throwing refrigerators
    Posted by YEHUDA HAMMER |

    I moved south from Beersheba to Kibbutz Lotan seven days ago. 

    Kibbutz Lotan is on the border with Jordan, 55 kilometers north of Eilat, the southernmost Israeli city.  In Lotan there is a spectacular view of the Edom Mountains in Jordan.  Shades of orange, yellow, and red explode from the mountains and sand surrounding Lotan.  As the day progresses the colors change.  It is beautiful.  


    Kibbutz Lotan was founded in 1983 by settlement groups of Israelis and North Americans.  Many of the founders were graduates of the Reform (Liberal Jewish) youth movements.  Currently there are approximately 60 adult members from 9 countries, whose average age is 35.  There are also around 60 children in Lotan.  There are people living temporarily on Lotan who partake in educational courses, such as an environmental design course, Israelis who elect to do a year of national service before joining the army, Reform Jewish youth groups and volunteers who come from all over the world, which make up about another 30 people.  Last of all there are about 25 non-member residents who also live on Lotan.


    Lotan’s economy is based on a dairy barn, a date plantation, a fish farm in Eilat, and eco-tourism.  Many of the members are employed outside the Kibbutz in a variety of professions. 


    How long will I stay on the kibbutz?  I don’t know.  I have to take it day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second, breath by breath, heartbeat by heartbeat, et cetera et cetera.


    My living conditions on Lotan are nice.  I have a living room, with a sink, cabinets, a hot plate, a medium sized refrigerator, a desk, a bedroom, bed, a closet, and a bathroom with a shower.  There was supposed to be working internet in the room, but the fiber optic cable running underneath my house is damaged.  I spoke to the man in charge of the kibbutz internet network and he told me he would install DSL in my house next week.


    I always feel nervous in new living situations and starting life at Lotan was no different.  I was nervous to the point of nausea.  A couple of evenings I skipped dinner afraid I would be unable to hold the food down, but after a week I am beginning to feel more relaxed.


    There is communal dining on Lotan, which means for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the people on the kibbutz eat together in a dining hall.  The kitchen and food are kosher.


    On the first day I took a two and a half hour bus ride from Beersheba to Lotan.  At Lotan I was given my room by M who is in charge of the kibbutz absorption process, which takes about two years before one can become a member.  M also gives the weekly work assignments.  After I received my room I unpacked and tried as best as I could to get settled.


    On the second day I milked goats with three other guys, something I had never done before.  First I filled trays with pellets of goat food.  I then opened a gate and the goats went up onto a platform with the food trays and began eating.  While the goats were eating I gently squeezed down on the goat teats to make sure there was milk.  I then put clear cylindrical vacuum tubes on the teats which automatically milked the teats.  The goat milk went from tubes to a clear container and then after some sort of purification process went to a black storage container.  After milking many goats the goat milk was poured into plastic buckets which were taken to a storage refrigerator.  Eventually the goat milk will become cheese.


    On the third day I went to three lectures by various kibbutz members given to prospective members.  For the prospective kibbutz members one day a month is dedicated to learning.  My Hebrew is far from fluent so I just nodded my head and tried my best understand.


    On the fourth day I helped lay irrigation pipes, something I had never done before.  Like most of Israel, Lotan uses a drip irrigation system.  I unrolled plastic black irrigation hoses, punched little holes in various areas and put drippers into the little holes I had punched. 


    On the fifth day I moved lots of junk from one storage area to another larger storage area.  The junk was separated by wood, plastic, and metal.  I worked with a couple other people.  At one point during the day we ended up moving about six medium sized refrigerators.  With the help of one of the other workers we threw a couple of the refrigerators into the larger storage area, something I had never done before.  One…two…three and throw…THUD! 


    On the sixth day I replaced damaged door and window screens, something I had never done before.  During the evening I went to a lovely Shabbat service, followed by a nice Shabbat dinner in the communal dinning room.  After dinner there was a charming ceremony for eight new kibbutz members.  The night was capped off by drinking beer, talking, and dancing at the pub.

    And on the seventh day I rested and wrote this, something I had never written before. 



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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Golda Meir's room revisited (Y-net News)
    Geplaatst door abby op Saturday 16 December @ 02:39:52 GMT+1 (2910 maal gelezen)


      Recreating History
    Golda's room at Kibbutz Merhavia
    New in Merhavia: Golda's room

    Following immigration in 1921, Golda Meir and husband Moris join kibbutz Merhavia, promise to share gramophone they brought from US

    Dudi Cohen

    A new site in kibbutz Merhavia's cooperative courtyard: A special exhibit providing the opportunity for a peek into the room where former Prime Minister Golda Meir lived 85 years ago, after she came to Israel.

    Golda and her husband Moris Meirson arrived in Israel from the US in September 1921, and asked to join the Merhavia kibbutz in the Jezre'el valley.

    At first, the couple was not found to be acceptable, for two reasons: 1) There was a general decision not to accept families, as the kibbutz afforded no facilities for children; 2) The Meirson's struck them as 'spoiled Americans', who wouldn not be able to work as hard as necessary.

    The Meirsons then unveiled the 'secret weapon' they'd brought from the States: a hand-powered gramophone and several records. The kibbutz members could not resist such a 'cultural treasure' and the couple was accepted to the kibbutz.

    Not embarrassed to work in the kitchen

    As if to prove to Golda that she wouldn not be able to handle the work, she was sent to the most difficult physical labor: Picking almonds, moving large stones and cutting trees.

    After discovering that the American was tough, she was sent to the kitchen – considered humiliating work, since kibbutz women at the time were pushing for egalitarianism and lobbying for physical tasks.

    Responding, "I don't know why feeding cows is an honor and feeding humans is a lesser one," Golda set about the task. Within a short while, she significantly improved the menu and the appearance of the dining room, and won the respect of kibbutz members.

    When she was sent to learn poultry-raising, she showed the same dedication and quickly became such a poultry expert that people from across the Jezre'el valley came to learn from her.

    She was later voted to the cooperative's management committee and served as a delegate to the kibbutz movement in kibbutz Degania in 1922.

    Leaving the kibbutz 

    While Golda quickly thrived in the kibbutz, her husband was not able to assimilate as well, neither ideologically nor physically. After an illness took him to his bed for several weeks, a physician instructed that they should leave Merhavia.

    In March of 1923, a year and a half after joining the kibbutz, the couple was forced to move to Tel Aviv. Later, Golda returned to the kibbutz for two years, with her son Menachem.

    Golda eventually separated from her husband, although they did not divorce. Moris passed away in 1951. She passed away, at the age of 80, in December 1978.

    The modest and reconstructed room is 23 square meters, with an attached corridor of 21 square meters. The exhibition (design: Ronit Lombrozo; graphics: Zeev Harari) recreates the atmosphere of Golda's room, including an old gramophone of the same design as the one the Meirson's brought.

    The exhibition continues in the corridor, where there is a long board featuring pictures and texts of Golda's time and connection to Merhavia.

    The formal opening of 'Golda's Room' will take place in the middle of December, with a festive ceremony to be attended by two Meir family members, the kibbutz members, heads of the council for preservation of historical sites and many other guests.

    However, it is already possible to visit the room, on the condition of payment and coordination in advance.
     

    Tel: 972 52 3638051


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    Internal Jewish & Israeli Issues Israeli politics - The fault of the Left (Haaretz)
    Geplaatst door abby op Thursday 07 December @ 22:52:55 GMT+1 (1625 maal gelezen)

    Thursday, December 7, 2006
    The fault of the Left http://zionism-israel.com/israel_news/2006/12/fault-of-left.html

    The Guilt of the Left
    Tzivia Greenfeld (Grinfeld)
    Translated by Ami Isseroff for Zionism-Israel News

    The lost moral compass of Israeli society is expressed in the corrupt behavior of the leadership, in the disintegration of government and social institutions, in the unabashed refusal of failed leaders to take responsibility, and in general in the amazing absence of leadership that results in the appontment of dangerous dangerous megalomaniacs as saviors. This loss of moral compass might be prevented or at least ameliorated, if there was a clear ideological alternative in Israel with which citizens could identify, and which could be used as the starting point for substantive change.

    The problem is that even though the citizens of Israel understand that we are in a crisis that is perhaps unprecedented in the short history of the state, they cannot discern any reasonable alternatives for managing society and the state, which can earn their whole-hearted support. The blame, one must say with heavy heart, must be ascribed wholly to the left.

    Since the disappointment with Stalin and the decolonization period of the 1960s, expecially in France, the left began to deal obsessively with justification of third world countries who are supposedly in rebellion against modern-western hegemony, and lost all interest in other poor people and people who lack rights anywhere else in the world.

    How typical it is of leftists like Yitzhak Laor or Meron Benvenisti to ignore the rights of the homo-lesbian minority (a typical western minority of course) in the name of the supposedly higher priority needs of the ultraorthox "Haredi" Jews or the Palestinians. How characteristic of the "Gallery" supplement of "Ha'aretz" newspaper to glory in radical leftist theoretical critique, and in precisely the same pages, to advertise reports that unabashedly nurture preoccupation with dizzying luxury products of the upper one thousandth income bracket.     

    This process of focusing on non-modern minorities sucked in most of the Israeli left, that began to become confused between our essential, human and moral duty to end the occupation immediately, and to stop preventing the Palestinians from realizing their rights to an independent and prosperous life, and their immediate and almost unlimited advocacy and political and emotional empathy for all the [violent] doings of the Palestinians. True, the Palestinians are under occupation, and until the problem of the occupation is solved, we cannot expect them to stop hurding us. And we had better understand that basic principle before our supposedly mis-aimed shells exterminate the children of Gaza, and their Qassam rockets and cruel terror attacks kill our children. But  too many of the left have a childish need to portray the oppressed Palestinian side as absolutely perfect, and the oppressing Israeli side as the incarnation of evil. This has caused the left to fail to understand the tremendous complexity of the historical situation in which Israel finds itself today. The left has therefore completely lost the confidence of the broad masses of the Israeli public.  

    It is not easy today to find Zionist leftists who really believe that the right of the Jews to their own country, here in the land of their forefathers, is completely equal to the right of the Palestinians. The Israeli left has become a factor that explicitly or implicitly no longer believes in the right of the Jewish state to exist. True, as opposed to the feverish approach that characterizes the nationalist right, there is no longer a need to set up the state. But that doesn't mean that it is no longer necessary to defend its legitimacy, and too many of today's Israeli left doubt the fundamental justice of the existence of the Jewish state.

    If a responsible political approach were offered to the Israeli public, one that believes on the one hand absolutely in our human right to live here in liberty, and to be "a free people in our own land, in the land of Zion and Jerusalem," and that on the other hand declares - despite the recognition that returning all of the occupied territories will not materially change the basic hostility to Israel -- that there is no practical and moral way to live here without ending the occupation and securing the rights of all the citizens of the state, if such an approach were presented - it is likely that the public would finally discern an alternative ideological and polical solution  to the crisis, and would support it.


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    Enquete


    Te Zionistisch (pro-IsraŽl)
    Te anti-Zionistisch (anti-IsraŽl)
    Teveel sensatie
    Teveel leugens
    Te veel, het onderwerp komt mijn neus uit
    Te summier
    Te weinig achtergrond
    Niks te, precies goed zo



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    * Zionism and Israel Information Center 
    * Israeli-Palestinian ProCon - questions and answers by quotes from both sides of the conflict
    * Ariga's PeaceWatch - on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Middle East peace
    * Council for Peace and Security (Israel)  * Israel-Palestine: Peace with Realism
    * Zionism & Israel News Archives  * Middle East Analyses
    * ZioNation - Progressive Zionism and Israel Web Log
    * IMO - Israël & Midden-Oosten Blog (Nederlandstalig)  * Israël & Palestijnen Nieuws Blog
    Vrije Encyclopedie van het Conflict Israël-Palestina (Nederlandstalig)
    * Israël Informatie op Eigenstart (links Nederlands en Engels)




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