Monday, 29 May 2017
Einat Paz-Frankel, NoCamels | May, 29 2017
Over 7 million people suffer from malnutrition in Ethiopia, and one of the ways to increase food security in the poor African country is to increase crop yields.
Israeli nonprofit organization Fair Planet is helping Ethiopia fight hunger by providing farmers with high-quality seeds that can better withstand harsh climate conditions, and are more resistant to pests. Partly developed in Israel, these seeds have shown to increase crop yields fivefold.
For Ethiopian family farmers, whose daily income averages around $1.5, climate change and occasional outbreaks of pests can threaten their very survival.
According to Fair Planet, some of the main problems these Ethiopian farmers face are that the local seed varieties are highly susceptible to pests and diseases. Many crops also have very short shelf lives.
The Israeli NGO provides high-quality seed varieties that are resistant to many pests and diseases, minimizing post-harvest losses. Founded in 2012 by Israeli Dr. Shoshan Haran, Fair Planet seeks to provide famine-stricken Ethiopia with food security and economic opportunities, “by making high-quality vegetable seeds, suitable to local conditions, accessible and affordable to local farmers.”
Haran, who specializes in plant protection after having worked for Israeli seed company Hazera (which means “the seed” in Hebrew), says: “I realized that the best way to help poor farmers in developing countries is to give them access to quality seeds.”
These companies breed, develop, and produce mass quantities of different seed varieties that allow farmers to grow a wide range of vegetable crops around the world.
Bringing super-seeds to famine-stricken parts of the world
Aiming to solve the problems of hunger and poverty for the poorest farmers in the world, Haran “wanted to bring what seed companies had developed to the hungry world.” And that’s why she founded Fair Planet, which currently connects companies that develop quality seed varieties to small-scale farmers in several famine-stricken Ethiopian communities.
When I speak to Dhahari, who visited Israel in January this year as a participant in Yeshiva University’s Israel Winter Mission, he takes me into a world where anti-Semitism is the stuff that life is made of.
Old Sana'a as it used to be. It is not known how much of the city has survived the civil war
“As a Jew in Yemen, you live in your own little bubble and don’t associate with the world around you. You’re always seen as a stranger – even though you’ve been there for thousands of years,” he says. “Every morning, on our way to school, we faced an attack from the kids who were waiting for us with a pile of stones,” he recalls. When Manny was hit by a stone launched into their backyard, his father confronted the father of the attacker. “Maybe you should consider converting to Islam,” said the father. “Then nothing would have happened.”
Although there were a few friendly neighbors, you could never be too sure. “When I was about ten years old, my Arab neighbor, who was also my friend, tried to set me on fire on Shabbat morning as I was walking to shul and chatting with him. He stuffed a lit firecracker in the pocket of my jacket,” recalls Manny. Shortly afterwards, Manny was the first to run to his best friend, who had been shot. Years later, the pain of the horrific loss of a young life still resounds in Manny’s voice.
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More about Manny Dahari
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Norway's Foreign Minister Borge Brende issued a sharp statement noting that the center, named after Dalal Mughrabi, received funding from Norway via the Palestinian Election Commission and UN Women to promote participation of women in elections. The center is in Burka, northwest of Nablus.
'The glorification of terrorist attacks is completely unacceptable, and I deplore this decision in the strongest possible terms. Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way. We will not accept the use of Norwegian aid funding for such purposes,' he said.
According to Brende, Norway asked that its logo be immediately removed from the building, and that 'funding that has been allocated to the center be repaid.'
'We will not enter into any new agreements with either the Palestinian Election Commission or UN Women in Palestinian areas until satisfactory procedures are in place to ensure that nothing of this nature happens again,' he said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon praised the Norwegian move as the 'right step... We recommend that the international community investigate very well where the money it invests in the Palestinian Authority is going, and expect that all the partners in this project act as Norway did.'"
Friday, 26 May 2017
When people think of Iraq, they think of a country plagued by war, on the verge of collapsing. They think of a failed state that ethnically cleanses minorities and blows up holy sites as well as ancient archaeological treasures. Most Iraqi Jews see nothing but a bleak picture when they look at Iraq today. However, within this war-torn country, there is a Muslim voice of hope, calling out for his country to become a true democratic state and to give Iraqi Jews the justice that they deserve. He does this under the threat of death but remains determined to speak out for all of the minorities in his country, including the Jews.
Iraqi Jews escaping to Israel on Operation Michaelberg in 1947
"What is most puzzling is the very constitution that speaks of the freedom of belief and religious practice of Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Sabian Mandaeans does not address the Jews of Iraq as a basic religion," al-Hamadani proclaimed. He noted that in theory, the Iraqi Jewish community has the right to bring their case for restoring their rights before the Administrative Court in Iraq, which is linked to the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council -- technically independent of the executive authority and the government. However, he asserted that in reality, the Administrative Court is politicized, works to defend the actions of the Iraqi government and thus won't give them the justice that they deserve.
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Tonight is the start of Yom Yerushalayim, the day that recalls the 1967 reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War. This year marks 50 years since the momentous counter-attack by the Israeli army which ended with the words, broadcast across the nation: 'Jerusalem is in our hands.' But conditions became very difficult for Jews still in Arab countries. Eta Kushner interviewed several for the WhereWhatWhen.com site (with thanks: Malca)
This year Jerusalem celebrates its 50th anniversary since re-unification
Tania Shichtman is from Lebanon, the country that lies just north of Israel. Her family lived in Beirut, though outside the Jewish quarter. “It was a beautiful city and a beautiful life,” she says, “until the war.” The Jews knew that if Israel won, they would be saved, and if not, they were in great danger. Tania was a teenager at the time and remembers sitting by the radio day and night worrying. It was not only their Moslem neighbors whom they had to worry about. “The Lebanese Christian neighbors hated us almost as much as the Moslems. We understood that our lives depended on the success of Israel, and we were petrified. If Israel lost, angry mobs would come to our house. It was pretty frightening. The first three days, before the true facts came out, it was very scary. That was the first time I realized the importance of having Israel.” Tania describes the tremendous relief when the war ended with Israel victorious: “It was like going back to life. I can remember those days like they were yesterday.”
After the Six Day War, Tania’s family realized that they could no longer stay in Lebanon. Until the war, they had lived together and were friends, but after the war, attitudes changed. “It wasn’t our country. We were not wanted.” There was a lot of resentment that Israel had won. “We didn’t have a very hard time but it was emotionally wrenching,” explains Tania. She had grown up thinking she was part of the country, and “all of the sudden you are a stranger.” They left Lebanon in 1970 and went to Panama, where her brothers had already settled. There she met her American husband who was working for the Defense Department. The new couple were not particularly religious and moved to Aberdeen, Maryland, where her husband Mel got a job. “My husband, my son, and I began to return to Judaism together, but then our son took off, and we had to play catch-up,” says Tania.
Their son Max felt drawn to Judaism even as a very young boy. The Shichtmans realized that they had to move to a Jewish area for his sake. But it was not enough for Max. By the time he was bar mitzva, he decided to wear a kippa and expressed a desire to attend Beth Tfiloh school. Tania and Mel were happy with this and encouraged him, because they wanted to get closer to their roots as well. Eventually Max became a rabbi and now lives in New York.
Jonathan Attar was a teenager living in Iran. He recalls the first days of the war when the only news they heard was the Arab propaganda declaring their victories. All the Jews were crying, and fast days were proclaimed. The Moslem population, meanwhile, was rejoicing in the streets, shouting “Death to Israel! Death to America” and giving out candies.
Even for a few weeks after the war, the synagogues were closed because the Jews were afraid the Moslems would come and try to kill them. Fortunately, no one was hurt. A few weeks later, everything was back to normal, and they resumed the relationship they had with their Moslem neighbors as it was before the war.
Margalit Tiede was only nine years old and living with her family in Moshav Yish’i, a small agricultural village comprised of Yemenite immigrants. While growing up, Margalit lived a very sheltered and somewhat secluded life. There was no real transportation, and they rarely left the yishuv to go further than nearby Beit Shemesh by horse and wagon.
Before the war, moshav members made a trip to Beit Shemesh to stock up on dried goods and necessities for the “shelters” (actually, just trenches they had dug themselves). Families were instructed to prepare food and water ahead of time. Twice a day, Margalit’s father, who was a paramedic in the reserves, and her brother would leave the shelter and milk the cows while “hoping that nothing would happen.” The chickens also had to be cared for. “Life doesn’t stop on the farm, so we had to keep doing these things during the war,” says Margalit.
The moshavniks usually went to Beit Shemesh every Tuesday and Thursday to sell their produce. During the war, however, they had to wait for a cease-fire in order to travel. Whenever they heard a siren, day or night, they all had to run to the trenches. When it seemed quiet, her mother would quickly run home and cook them food. On some of the days, they heard the sirens constantly and saw the airplanes flying overhead, never knowing whether they were friend or foe. Most of the men were in the army or in the reserves. The remaining men patrolled the moshav.
“We could hear explosions and knew when something was happening, but no one told us what was going on for many days.” She doesn’t think people were afraid. As children, they used to run out and play when there were no sirens. Also, they did receive news of the Israeli successes, although not every day.
“I remember that after Jerusalem was liberated someone came to our village with a loudspeaker and announced, ‘Yerushalayim beyadeinu.’” Everyone ran out of their trenches onto the streets of the moshav, shouting to each other, “Yerushalayaim beyadeinu” and dancing in the street.
Gila Davis was 12 years old and living in Cairo with her well-to-do family. The Six Day War was when she realized that it was a big deal to be a Jew living in a Moslem land. Before the war, they had friendly Arab neighbors, and “everything was fine.” As the war drums began beating, the Jews felt something ominous in the air. Those wealthy enough, sent money out of the country for safekeeping.
The day the war started, a fast day was proclaimed in the community. As soon as the fighting began, Gila’s father and all Jewish men between the ages of 18 and 60 were arrested. They were taken to a type of concentration camp three hours away, in the desert, where conditions were terrible. In the beginning, while the war was going on, the men suffered terrible torture, and for nine months there was no communication at all. No one knew the men’s fate. Gila’s family feared their father was dead.
The day before the police took Gila’s father away, her mother had gone into the hospital for emergency surgery. When they came to arrest him the next afternoon, her father gave Gila the keys to his business. ”Take care of your siblings and don’t let anyone in,” he told her.
“I was in a trance. I didn’t know what was going on.” Gila says. There was no parent in the house as her mother was still in the hospital. Gila heard a commotion and went to the balcony overlooking the building’s courtyard. She saw masses of Arabs rallying against the Jews and promising to kill them. A young man, the son of their Italian Jewish neighbor, was being dragged away by the police. His young wife, with a new baby in one arm, was holding on to him with her other, pleading, “Please don’t take him away!” The policeman threw the woman to the ground. Gila started crying, believing they would never see their father again. Then all her siblings joined in with her tears.
The Italian neighbors, an elderly couple, came into the apartment and arranged for the children to go to their grandparents’ apartment in a different neighborhood, not in the Jewish area. (At the end of the war, when Nasser resigned and the truth came out, the Moslem neighbors there wanted to kill them all. Only their grandparents’ Christian landlord managed save them.)
Before the war, Gila had lived a very sheltered life, and her father was quite overprotective. The children didn’t go anywhere other than the expensive French school they attended and straight home. Her mother never left the house, and when her father was gone it was especially hard for her. “My mother didn’t even know how to go to the store and buy a loaf of bread. My father did all the outside things,” she recalls.
As previously sheltered as she was, when the war ended and they were still at her grandparents’ house, Gila decided to run away to find her mother. She wanted to go home. Conditions in the grandparents’ apartment were difficult, and they were always hungry. She had never been allowed out alone but figured out that her mother must be in the only hospital in Cairo that allowed Jews; it was run by nuns. She managed to find her mother, who asked upon seeing her, “They took him away, didn’t they?” Her mother immediately left the hospital, against medical advice, so that she could bring all of the children back home with her.
When the war broke out, all the Jewish businesses were forced to close. Her father was accused of being a spy. “Later on,” says Gila, “My mother was forced to sell my father’s business for next to nothing. We had no source of income. No one was allowed to work, and money became very scarce. We had to sell all the furniture in order to buy food.” Their relationship with their neighbors also changed. Things were never the same, and Jews felt the great animosity and resentment of their non-Jewish neighbors, especially the Moslems.
After a year of writing letters pleading for help, they were able to get some aid from the Red Cross, which met them quietly in the shul. But Gila remembers that “we were always hungry.” For two years, until they were able to leave Egypt, her mother fasted every Monday and Thursday.
Nine months after the men had been arrested, the families learned the fate of their loved ones and were allowed to visit the men in the camps. Each month they had to register the names of those who would be visiting, and only two family members were officially allowed to go for a monthly visit. Somehow, her mother managed to scrape together enough money for the crowded, hot, three-hour taxi trip through the desert. Usually the guards allowed the children to visit, too, although it was against the law.
It was two years before her father was allowed out of the camp. HIAS whisked him away straight to France. About six months later, HIAS aided the rest of the family to reach France as well. After a seven-day boat ride to Marseille and a train ride to Paris, the family was finally reunited. “The first words my mother said to my father when she saw him were, ‘Is there food? Is there food? The kids are starving.’”
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Jerusalem-based Jeremy Bowen has long been criticised by supporters of Israel for his bias in favour of the Palestinians. In the light of persistent complaints that he never mentions Jewish refugees in his reports, I was interested to hear if this segment, Crossing the Divide, was going to be any different.
At 5.22 into the programme, Bowen says he has learned about North African, Iraqi and Yemeni Jews by 'eating their food' in his visits to Mahane Yehuda market. But food is all he seems to have learned about, for we hear nothing about the circumstances in which these Jews 'emigrated' to Israel.
At 6.20 Bowen again mentions 'Mizrahi' Jews, but it is only in the context of the 'ethnic divide': 'brown-skinned Mizrahim excluded by pale-faced Ashkenazim ...who created the state and behaved as if they owned it.' I would challenge Bowen to identify these pale-skinned creatures.
Referring to Ein Kerem, where Bowen made his home, he launches into the familiar narrative that it was a Palestinian village inexplicably emptied of its Arab residents. (He omits to mention that the Israelis were defending themselves in an Arab-instigated war. There is the obligatory mention of the de-contextualised 'Deir Yassin massacre', but no attempt to mention any of the numerous massacres of Jews by Arabs ). Israel passed laws seizing abandoned (Arab) property, we are told.
At 8.10 we learn that hundreds of thousands of Jews 'from North Africa' were absorbed by Israel. 'They no longer wanted or were permitted to live in Arab countries,' according to Bowen.
So yes, Bowen does mention Jews from Arab countries, but nowhere does he use the word 'refugee'; he does not refer to Jewish property seized, nor does he mention the vindictive pogroms or state-sanctioned persecution which caused most to flee. That would confuse the simplistic 'good guys-bad guys' narrative that the BBC has been feeding its listeners for years.
In contrast to the forceful language used about the Palestinian nakba, Bowen uses obfuscation and euphemism. We can expect that the average listener will not come away any the wiser about Jewish refugees.
'Our Man in the Middle East' may be heard online for about one month after its first broadcast.
Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Victims described being thrown by the blast that scattered nuts and bolts across the floor, with 59 people reportedly injured in addition to more than 20 casualties.
A spokeswoman for King David High School in the City said several students were at the concert. They are believed to by Year 9 children, aged 14, and they did not come into school on Tuesday. “They have access to a student welfare officer should they choose to come in,” she said. “The attack was senseless and shocking, and affects people from all over, not just Manchester.”
Following the incident, Jewish community chiefs condemned the deadly attack and paid tribute to the victims, whilst the CST urged “calm and vigilance” within the community.
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “Today will be a day of immense grief and pain as we mourn for those who have lost their lives in the city of Manchester. This now looks to be the worst terror attack we have suffered in nearly twelve years and first and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.”
“This attack, intended to inflict maximum carnage on innocent young lives, is the purest evil. But our reaction defines who we are as a country. When we are attacked by hate, we respond with love. Nothing and no one can divide us.”
The Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush said: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those caught up at the Ariana Grande concert last night. This savage attack on young people will require a response, but we will not hand victory to the attacker by allowing ourselves to become divided. The response by people of all communities in Manchester, offering shelter and transport to each other shows our society’s resilience, and that terrorism will not win”.
Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism Jonathan Wittenberg said is: ” Horrified by attack in Manchester. My thoughts are with the victims and the emergency services. Most cruel & vile of all crimes- to murder children. Poor parents & all who grieve: our hearts are with you”.
Senior Rabbi of The Movement For Reform Judaism, Laura Janner-Klausner said: “Together we mourn the innocent people, so many of them children, who have died. We send prayers of healing and consolation to those injured. Manchester is a vibrant, creative, diverse and resilient city. I have always been touched by the warmth, sincerity and spirit of solidarity of our three Reform communities there. This spirit which has been so apparent in how the people of the city and wider region have responded is more important than ever.”
Senior Rabbi and Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism Danny Rich sent his thoughts and prayers before adding: “We thank the emergency and security services and are emboldened by simple acts of kindness by so many peoples of all faiths and races. It is these people, not a murderous individual, who represent the decency of humanity. We shall overcome those who try to terrorise us.”
Jewish politicians also paid tribute, with Labour’s Ivan Lewis, who is running to be MP for Bury South tweeted: “As we think about the victims and their loved ones we salute the courage and professionalism of Greater Manchester Police, Manchester Fire Brigade and North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust. Thank you”.
Luciana Berger, candidate for Liverpool Wavertree wrote: “My thoughts are with everyone affected by the terrible events in Manchester tonight”.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu posted on Twitter: “The Government of Israel strongly condemns last night’s awful terrorist attack in Manchester”.
Israel’s defence minister Avigdor Lieberman tweeted: “I share in the grief of the people of Britain. The people of Israel stand with you during this painful hour.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump, who is currently on a visit to is being kept updated on the situation.
Israel’s envoy to the UK Mark Regev wrote on Twitter, “We have lowered the Israeli Embassy’s flag to half mast in solidarity with the people of Manchester. Israel stands with you at this difficult time.” Similarly, Britain’s ambassador to the Jewish state David Quarrey said: “Terribly sad news from Manchester, but a moving, resilient response from the people of the city. Thoughts with all victims & their families.”
The European Jewish Congress condemned the attack: “This horrific attack demonstrates once again that the enemies of civilization have no boundaries,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC, said. “This was a concert attended by mostly youth and children and is a ghastly reminder that terrorism sees all of us as potential targets, regardless of age, religion, nationality or background.”
“Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased, our prayers with those injured for a speedy and full recovery and our solidarity with the British people and government.”