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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Mercer: For a Good Life, Try Vienna, Avoid Baghdad

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Vienna retains the top spot as the city with the world’s best quality of living, according to the Mercer 2012 Quality of Living Survey. Zurich, Switzerland, and Auckland, New Zealand, follow in second and third place, respectively, and Munich is in fourth place, followed by Vancouver, which ranked fifth. Düsseldorf dropped one spot to rank sixth followed by Frankfurt in seventh, Geneva in eighth, Copenhagen in ninth, and Bern, Switzerland, and Sydney, Australia, tied for tenth place.

Here’s another common denominator to all the cities above: these are all cities I won’t be caught dead living in. Two of my favorite cities barely made the cut: New York City came in 44th and Tel Aviv 99th. I didn’t see Jerusalem anywhere in the survey, although it could be tucked away in the full list, which you have to buy (not gonna’ happen).

New York came in 30th on the Infrastructure Ranking list (seriously? with the longest and most complex subway system in the world?) and Tel Aviv 58th – hey, ahead of 72nd spot Abu Dhabi!

In the Americas, Canadian cities still dominate the top of the index, with Vancouver (5) retaining the top regional spot, followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15) and Montreal (23). Calgary ranks 32nd on the overall quality of living ranking.

Honolulu (28) is the U.S. city with the highest quality of living, followed by San Francisco (29) and Boston (35). Chicago is at 42 and Washington, DC ranks 43rd.

In the Middle East and Africa, Dubai (73) and Abu Dhabi (78) in the United Arab Emirates are the region’s cities with the best quality of living. Port Louis in Mauritius (82), Cape Town (89) and Johannesburg (94) follow, and along with Victoria in the Seychelles (96) and Tel Aviv (99), are the region’s only other cities in the top 100.

The Middle East and Africa have 15 cities in the bottom 20, including Lagos, Nigeria (202); Bamako, Mali (209); Khartoum, Sudan (217); and N’Djamena, Chad (218). Baghdad, Iraq (221) is the lowest-ranking city both regionally and globally.

Title: Not My Kind? I Don’t Mind!

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Author: Hindy Jacobs
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications

When the Fine family (not related to the Feiners from Alone in Africa!) move into a new neighborhood, the twin siblings named Nesanel (again, not related to Nesanel Feiner) and Nechama set out on a very important mission – finding friends to rescue them from their boredom. They went to a window and started looking for someone to play with. Naively, Nechama and Nesanel thought that a friend is someone exactly like them, so they had no luck in their search. They went to a grocery for snacks, but got lost on the way. A girl who Nechama previously saw from her window and didn’t want to be friends with showed them the route. The twins were ready to make a purchase, but then they discovered that they lost the money their mother had given them. The pattern continued and kids that Nechama and Nesanel rejected helped them out. Not only did Nesanel and Nechama find friends, they also learned what a friend really is.

“A friend in need is a friend indeed” is one of the lessons we learn from Not My Kind? I Don’t Mind! Children can also expand their social horizons after absorbing this book.

The illustrations in this book are done in a very creative way – in a fascinating modeling clay format with a drawn background. I would recommend this book for children ages five and under. I know because my cousins were swiping it from me the whole Sukkos, and they are five and under.

Title: Alone in Africa

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Author: Avigail Sharer
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications

Alone in Africa, by Avigail Sharer, is an original adventure story about three siblings named Nesanel, Penina and Chezky Feiner, who are, well, alone in Africa. Except they aren’t entirely alone – they have animals and two battling African tribes to keep them company.

It all started when the three Feiner kids were flying from home in London without their parents to visit their grandparents in South Africa. The airport-provided chaperon was a rookie teenager who didn’t know what to do when the airplane made an emergency landing in the jungle. The kids became separated from the other passengers, who were driven away by military Jeeps to the airport. That is how they became “alone in Africa.”

They were found by an African tribe named the Lulu was who thought that Nesanel was a prophet named Gift of G-d. The other children escaped, but Nesanel was kept. When Nesanel attempted to escape, his plan was foiled when he was captured by a different African tribe named the Bakayas, who were at war with the Luluwas. There was a rescue attempt by Penina and Chezky, but was it successful?

I liked Alone in Africa for a number of reasons. The plot was fast-paced and full of twists and turns; at one moment they were wandering through the jungle, the next moment they were captured. My personal favorite part of this book was the idea of a non-poisonous, poisonous frog (when you read it you’ll know). The story is also very informative about survival skills. I would recommend Alone in Africa to potential jungle explorers of ages 9-10 who are ready to tackle a chapter book of over 230 pages.

Israeli Innovation Could Make Water Drinkable in Africa

Monday, August 13th, 2012

In a world where freshwater resources are becoming increasingly scarce, Israel–a country that is two-thirds arid–has become a leader in developing the necessary technology for making salt water potable.

The Israeli desalination company, IDE Technologies, which has been in operation for more than 40 years, has made many advances in desalination technology, installing over 400 desalination plants in 40 countries including the Caribbean Islands and United States. IDE Technologies has also won major contracts with Cyprus, India and Australia, and last year with China.

Since 2011, the Israeli-built desalination plant in Tianjin is China’s largest and most environmentally friendly desalination plant to date, running on some of the waste heat produced by a nearby power plant, producing fresh water and salt.

However, desalination plants for the most part are extremely costly for less-developed nations, as they use enormous amounts of electricity and are location-sensitive. But thanks to a recent Israeli discovery, the desalination system may become much more affordable in areas like Africa and the Middle East.

Researchers from the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben Gurion University of the Negev and central Arava R&D, have found a way to utilize solar energy at a fraction of the cost which can be custom-engineered for the desalination process, according to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

The new innovation uses solar energy panels to power the pumps of a desalination unit that generates clean water for crops. More importantly, the technology utilizes unique nanofiltration membranes that enable farmers to decide which minerals should be retained from the water to feed various types of crops, a method which requires much less energy. The new system is currently being tested in the Arava Valley of Israel, south of the Dead Sea, where the basin is very dry. The results thus far show that farmers can use up to 25 percent less water and fertilizer than what has usually been needed in that area.

According to Andrea Ghermandi of the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University and one of the system’s creators, the current environment is forcing agricultural systems to become more economical. Ghermandi told the MFA that “the growing global demand for food and competition for resources among economic sectors compel future agricultural systems to be more efficient in the use of natural resources such as land and water.”

Another important researcher in the discovery, Ben Gurion University’s Rami Messalem explained that the” breakthrough here was to make the system more economical and we’ve done this using nanofiltration cleverly. Our system is compatible with electricity but is based on the premise that it can be used in poor countries, in places where you don’t have an electricity source—as a standalone system.”

The MFA website indicated that the new desalination system was made possible thanks to funding from Swiss philanthropist Samuel Josefowitz.

Reigniting Economic Cooperation Between Israel And Emerging Nations

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Shifting regional alliances, spurred by Europe’s economic adversity and the spread of radical Islam across Africa, has created a window of opportunity for Israel to reengage with a host of emerging African nations.

Last week, Africa’s Voices in Israel, a grassroots effort spun off from the successful America’s Voices in Israel organization (part of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations), invited six Central Bank governors from various African nations to Israel in an effort to forge closer economic ties between Israel and emerging African countries. The inaugural Africa’s Voices in Israel mission was led by prominent New York businessman Michael Landau and sponsored by the IDT Corporation.

During a meeting with Israel’s deputy minister of Finance, Yitzhak Cohen, Professor Martin Dlamini, Central Bank governor of Swaziland, encouraged ongoing cooperation between Israel and Africa. “As we are an agriculturally dependent economy, it is important for us to meet with agricultural innovators in Israel and businesspeople who would be willing to invest in developing our agricultural market,” said Dlamini. “Therefore, I am grateful to have received this invitation from Africa’s Voices in Israel to strengthen the relationship between Israel, Swaziland and my African colleagues, by creating grassroots efforts in the fields of agriculture and finance.”

Professor Eugene Kandel, head of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s National Economic Council, told the group, “Israel has a track record of overcoming adversity and turning it into opportunity. We are a perfect model for developing countries in the areas of agriculture, banking security, and water technology. We see Africa as a strategic opportunity for Israel.”

Netanyahu’s senior adviser, Ron Dermer, said, “We sincerely hope that this mission will help forge a new set of alliances between Israel and Africa. The prime minister believes that the time has come for Israel to invest in developing financial, political and security relationships with the African continent. For banks in emerging nations, our expertise in cyber security will allow you [African banks] to make a critical financial jump forward, while protecting your banking assets against cyber attacks.”

The Zambian-born Bank of Israel governor, Stanley Fischer, who has maintained a longstanding friendship with Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, governor of the Bank of Uganda, explained that Israel has yielded consistent positive economic growth – at a time when Europe and the U.S. have experienced recessions. “We are here to listen and offer our friendly advice to your banking systems, based on our various experiences,” said Fischer.

Tumusiime-Mutebile told Fischer that it was in Uganda’s interest that Israel and Uganda expand their cooperation in the banking, financial and agricultural arenas. Tumusiime-Mutebile is especially keen on working with Israel’s Volcani Institute of Agricultural Research, whose cutting-edge scientists showed him how to maximize the country’s crop yields through advanced agricultural technologies. This would enable Uganda to feed more people, while saving the country significant amounts of money.

Landau, the New York businessman and mission leader, told The Jewish Press, “These encounters enable Africa’s Voices in Israel to foment a variety of important agricultural, business and financial opportunities for emerging African nations who wish to tap into Israel’s unique experiences. We expect that this mission will spur larger delegations of financial and business officials from countries across Africa to come aboard and create important bonds between Israel and their governments.”

Mordechai Kedar: The Suffering of Africa – Sins of Europe Projected on Israel

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Those Africans who enter Israel illegally in order to find work are a very small part of the general global problem of emigrants from Africa who are searching for a new land that will allow them to live, even with only a minimum income and standards of living – and the main thing that drives them is survival. Their poor condition, in Israel, in Europe, in North and South America and in Asia, raises the question: how did an entire continent, where a billion people live, about one fifth of the world population, arrive at such a low condition, and how, among the 61 states and entities that it comprises, not even one offers its citizens security, education, health and welfare at a reasonable level. How did it happen that a whole continent is torn by never-ending wars, mass murders costing millions of lives, and famines that still threaten the residents, most of whom want only to flee from it.

The one answer to all of these questions is: Europe, or more accurately, the greedy lust of the European peoples in previous centuries, which was reflected in colonization; and the way in which the Europeans related to the peoples of Africa when they ruled it, and the way that they left Africa and abandoned it to its suffering.

We must remember that in Africa there were never “peoples” in the European sense of the word; there were tribes. These family-based groups, over the course of generations, grew and split off to form new tribes, but their members always remained loyal to tribal culture. Traditionally, each tribe had its own religion, language, customs, laws, dress, standards of behavior, living area, sources of livelihood and economic interests around which every member of the tribe would unite. To defend themselves and their sources of livelihood, the members of the tribe formed a fighting group, without which it would be extremely difficult for the tribe to survive. For thousands of years the tribes of Africa lived this way undisturbed, in continual balance between man and nature, between tribes and neighbors, between man and his beliefs.

The European conquest and colonization that began in the late 15th century, brought continual disaster upon the tribes of Africa: the colonialists saw the black continent as a source of raw material for European industry – gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, aluminum, diamonds, rubber and wood, and later, oil. But worst of all was that the African was seen as a slave, an amazingly cheap source of labor whose life had value only inasmuch as he could be exploited as a cheap source of labor. The most obvious example of this is the behavior of King Leopold II, king of Belgium (1835-1909), who ruled as Czar of the Congo from 1884 to 1908, and regarded the Congo, and all that it contained, as his private property. He used the residents of Congo as slave labor in his mines and rubber industry, and a third of the people met their death in this work. Slaves who could not fulfill the production quotas that were demanded from them were punished with amputation of a hand. Men were forced into slave labor, families were destroyed and whole tribes were wiped out by famine. Africans were considered lower than animals, and the wealth that the king stole from the lands of the Congo served his large construction building projects in Belgium. Many of the beautiful and stylish buildings in Belgium are the result of his conduct, which earned him harsh criticism from other countries.

During the period from the 16th to the 19th century, millions of Africans were captured by European, Arab and local slave traders and sold into slavery, mainly to South and North America. About one sixth of the slaves did not survive the journey by ship, mainly because of the miserable nutritional and sanitary conditions in these floating prisons. Slave-hunters cast the tribes of Western Africa into a never-ending chain of acts of reprisal because of their collaboration with slave traders.

At the Berlin Conference in the year 1884, the colonialist countries of Europe marked the borders of Africa as a “division of spoils,” and became wealthy from the raw materials and the slaves that were brought out from the lands of Africa. A not insignificant part of European wealth today is a direct result of this act – the greatest plunder in the history of mankind.

Immigration Police Round Up Sudanese for Deportation

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Israeli immigration police arrest dozens of South Sudanese illegal immigrants in Eilat on Monday morning in a raid intended to curb the influx of unauthorized entrants from Africa.

At approximately 5:00 AM, immigration police raided a neighborhood which has become known as a way station for the hundreds of migrants who breach Israeli borders from the south.  Police gave the individuals time to gather and pack their belongings before being deported.  Eight South Sudanese migrants were arrest by the Immigration Authority on Sunday.

Last week, a Jerusalem court ruled that Israel could deport South Sudanese citizens back to their country.

The Knesset on Monday will dedicate special sessions to dealing with strong Israeli reactions to violence and theft brought on by the wave of Sudanese and Eritrean illegal immigrants, in particular in South Tel Aviv and the port city of Eilat.  Discussions will include ways to deal with the various classifications of immigrants – including opportunists as well as asylum-seekers – as well as Israeli violence against the migrants sparked by public outrage at immigrant conduct.

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation supported a bill to punish Israelis who employ or migrants and Palestinians who are inside Israeli illegally.

Though it is difficult to estimate how many illegal immigrants from Africa are currently in Israel, Ministry of Interior estimates, as of April 2012, 59,858 Illegal immigrants who were never imprisoned in detention facilities have infiltrated into Israel.  A fraction of those are entitled to refugee status, while Eritreans – comprising a whopping 34,000 of those – will not be deported due to the opinion of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that Eritrea has a difficult internal situation and a forced recruitment and that Eritrean immigrants should be defined as a “temporary humanitarian protection group”.

Tunisia to Jews: Keep Coming to Djerba for Lag B’Omer

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

The annual Jewish Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to the oldest synagogue in Africa should be maintained as a symbol of Tunisian openness, according to Tunisia’s tourism minister on Tuesday.

Jews have been living on the island of  Djerba since 500 BC, with the local synagogue believed to be the oldest in Africa.  In the 1960s, Tunisia’s Jewish community numbered 100,000.  Most Jews left following the 1967 Six Day War.  Now, almost all of Tunisia’s 1,500 Jews reside on the island near the border of Libya.  Djerba was once called the “Island of Cohanim” because so many of the Jewish families there could trace their ancestry back to Moses’ brother Aaron, the first High Priest and father of the priestly class.

Elyes Fakhfakh’s public support for the annual Jewish event comes as the rise of fundamentalist Islamic Salafi groups threatens to drive out Tunisia’s remaining Jewish population.  Anti-Semitic rhetoric has increased since the overthrow of longtime president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 as part of the Arab Spring.  Unrest in Tunisia led to the cancellation of Lag B’Omer events that year.  Several thousand Jews – many of whom immigrated to France from Tunisia – are anticipated to attend this year.  On March 9-10, they will celebrate the victory of the Jews over the Romans prior to the destruction of the Second Temple, as well as the passing of the writer of the mystical Zohar, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.

Fakhfakh called the annual Jewish celebration in Djerba a rite which “should not change because it illustrates the openness of Tunisia to the world.”  Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali of the Ennahda party Monday concurred with Fakhfakh, saying “the Jewish pilgrims are welcome to Djerba”.

On April 11, Tunisian President Moncep Marzouki, accompanied by Tunisian grand rabbi Haim Bitan, laid a wreath and observed a moment of silence to remember the victims of an Al-Qaida truck bombing, which killed 21 people at the El Djerba synagogue on Djerba ten years ago.  Included in the killings were 16 tourists – 14 from Germany and 2 from France.  At the event, Marzouki called discrimination against Jews and attacks on their person or property “forbidden” and called Jews “an integral part of our people.”

On March 25, Salafi activists demonstrated in favor of the implementation of sharia Islamic law, chanting slogans to “prepare for the fight against the Jews”.

Under the rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Jews enjoyed official protected status, a privilege which has not been renewed by the new Islamist government.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/tunisia-to-jews-keeping-coming-to-djerba-for-lag-bomer/2012/04/18/

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