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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘China’

Israel Loses Case to Gag Witness in Bank of China Terror Trial

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

An American family, whose son was killed in a suicide attack in Israel, has won its argument in a U.S. court against the Netanyahu administration that has been trying to muzzle testimony by a former intelligence officer.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu formerly told the family of 16-year-old Daniel Wurtz that it supported letting Uri Shaya testify against the Bank of China, which is charged with having handled terrorists’ monetary transactions.

Wurtz and 10 others were killed in the attack in Tel Aviv in 2006.

The Mossad has helped the Wurtz family prepare its case, but the Israeli government last month made an about-face and told the court that testimony by Shaya might reveal state secrets.

Wurtz’ family in the lawsuit accused of surrendering to pressure from China, which happens to be Israel’s fourth largest lender.

“The complaint was filed only after the GOI (Government of Israel) repeatedly assured my attorneys that it would provide cooperation and support for our allegations,” Daniel’s father, Yekutiel Wultz, said in a written declaration, Reuters reported.

Israel Must Learn Taiwan Lesson and Grow Up

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests. Paraphrasing Lord Palmerston (Henry John Temple)

While Israel and the United States share some common, fundamental values, in reality, they have very different interests.

The most basic example is the Middle East.

America’s first priority in the region is to keep the oil flowing, and reduce reliance on any single country for that resource.

Israel’s top priority is survival.

Iran is the best example of where these differences come to a head.

Israel is rightfully worried that Iran wants to commit nuclear genocide against it. America, on the other hand, is not overly concerned about an Iranian attack, but would definitely like to see Iranian oil flowing into the U.S., while keeping Iran out of Russian hands.

It fits well into an American Middle East strategy, that Iran, whatever its regime, would have a working relationship with the U.S.

That doesn’t mean that the U.S. would destroy Israel to satisfy Iran, but the it has no problem with Israel paying a price in exchange for Iran’s friendship.

Think Jimmy Carter, China and Taiwan. Back in 1979, Carter switched his allegiance from Taiwan to the People’s Republic, practically overnight. It’s what superpowers do.

This leaves Israel in a dilemma.

Iran will get nuclear missiles, because it plans to get them – at all costs. The U.S. wants a rapprochement with Iran, and a few nuclear bombs aren’t going to stand in the way of that. Israel attacking Iran, on the other hand, would.

Israel doesn’t have too many initial options here.

Israel can pressure the U.S. Congress to try to reduce the size of the bus Israel gets pushed under. Israel can attack Iran alone, and pray that it’s strong enough, and be prepared to endure the consequences it will face from the U.S. and from an Iranian retaliation. Or Israel can keep its mouth shut, ride out the Obama storm, and be prepared to eventually face off with a nuclear Iran, with expansionist goals, protecting its proxies on Israel’s border with its nuclear umbrella.

There is another option that Israel can take.

Israel can grow up, and cut the American umbilical cord.

Israel needs to diversify.

It needs to go out and begin building better and deeper relationships with other strong countries – Russia included. It doesn’t need to cut its ties with the US, but it does need to end its complete reliance on the US, because Israel’s interests and US interests are not the same.

It doesn’t need to be big moves either. Simply buying some military from Russia would give Israel customer (not client) status, and that would change all the relationships. The US would also be faced with a choice, and pushing Israel under the bus would have consequences for the US in return.

Israel could then play those relationships off one another, just like the big boys do.

The U.S. had been holding back parts of Israel’s economy, specifically that of the military industry. Israel can begin selling its systems that compete with the US’s military industry. It’s well known that Israel’s war tech is superior, and selling a few major systems would do well for the Israeli economy.

And finally, Israel can apply Israeli law over Area C, and unilaterally declare that the price for a nuclear Iran, is an Israel with borders that we believe are needed for our protection, as well are historically and legally ours. The Arabs in Areas A are free to run their government and live their lives however they want, as long as they don’t attack us or attempt to harm us in any way.

Taiwan manages to thrive and grow, despite the Chinese shadow, and its president being persona non grata in Washington (even if it is now trying to build a relationship with China)

Israel has a lot more going for it than Taiwan.

A little growing up, and a little diversity never hurt anyone.

Visit The Muqata.

Chinese Fund Donates $130 million to Technion

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

A Chinese fund, bankrolled by the country’s richest man, is donating $130 million Technion University in a joint venture between the Haifa-based university and Shantou University (STU) to build a new academic facility in Guangdong Province.

The contribution from the Li Ka Shing Foundation is the largest in Technion’s history and one of the largest ever to an Israeli university.

The Guangdong Province and the city of Shantou are earmarking an additional $147 million to fund construction of the new Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology (TGIT) next to Shantou University.

The donation to Technion, made possible in part by profits from the fund’s recent  sale of Waze to Google, will be allocated for the Technion’s home campus.

Tel Aviv University to Set up Life Sciences Center in China

Friday, September 13th, 2013

Tel Aviv University and China’s Tsinghua University have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strategic cooperation in innovative research and teaching, with an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars.

A new research center in China initially will focus on life sciences and nanotechnology but later will include other sciences and high-tech, Globes reported.

The new “XIN” center will recruit researches and students in Israel and China.

Tel Aviv University president Prof. Joseph Klafter said that founding the new center is a sign of how much China looks to Israel for innovation.

Will Israeli Companies be Israeli in the Future?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Are we rapidly approaching the day when most Israeli mega food companies will not even be Israeli? Nestle already owns a sizable share of Osem and PepsiCo holds a major stake in Strauss.

Now comes word that China’s Bright Food Group is in talks to buy Tnuva Food Industries. Could you imagine an Israeli food company owned by a Chinese company?

It may indeed be the days of the Moshiach (Messiah). Bright Food has over 3,300 retail stores across China and is known in the country for its dairy and White Rabbit candy. It is on a global buying spree and has bought majority holdings in Australia’s Manassen Foods and UK cereal maker Weetabix.

Tnuva is Israel’s largest food company and according to controlling shareholder Apax Partners LLP, the company holds 14% of Israel’s food retail shelf space. Apax and investment partner Mivtach Shamir Food Industries Ltd. acquired a 77% stake in Tnuva for more than $1 billion in 2008. I can already see a session between the two companies where the Tnuva people are explaining their different kashrus standards.

But as usual, there are so many ways to look at this possible acquisition. One is that Israeli companies have been so successful in producing and marketing quality food that they have attracted international attention. It is a tribute to the Israelis that some of the largest and most powerful food conglomerates are looking to gain a piece of the action and apply some of the unique Israeli technology and success to their efforts worldwide.

Second is that the Israelis are securing an infusion of capital to further develop their economy.

So much for the positive. My question is how will Israelis feel when they eat the Chinese Leben or drink the milk at breakfast. Maybe they won’t feel anything so long as the products are good and kosher.

We’re Turning Japanese Now

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

It’s an article of American faith that Japan is an incredibly strange place. The world has been mapped and GPS’ed to death ruining much of the thrill of discovery. There probably aren’t any hidden cities with remnants of lost civilizations lurking in the deserts of Africa or the jungles of South America. That just leaves the land of the rising sun as the X on the map, the strange place that suggests that the world that we know all too well, might still be odder than we can imagine.But Japan isn’t really all that strange. We are.

Depressed post-industrial economy, low birth rate, social disintegration and a society obsessed with pop culture and useless tech toys? A country that has embraced pacifism to the extent that it can hardly defend its own borders? A nation where materialism has strangled spirituality leaving no sense of purpose?We are Japan. And so is Europe. Or rather Japan is the place we all reach eventually.Japan is strange because it aggressively hurled itself into a postmodern void without knowing what was on the other side. It did this with the same dedication that its soldiers once marched into machine gun fire.

Japan had been in a race with the West, as it had been ever since Commodore Perry showed up with a fleet to open up a closed nation. It wasn’t unique in that regard. A lot of countries tried to do the same thing. Most found that they couldn’t keep up with either our technology or our decline. Japan shot past us in both areas. It beat us technologically. And then it outpaced our decline.

In the 80s, there were dire predictions that the future would belong to Japan. America would be broken up and run by a bunch of Japanese corporations. There were even predictions that after the fall of the USSR, the next war would be with Japan. Some of those predictions came from some surprisingly high profile analysts.

The future doesn’t belong to Japan. It may not, at this rate, belong to anyone. Japan hurled itself into the future, but didn’t find anything there.

Korea hurled itself into that same future and found only emptiness. Now China’s elites are rushing into that same void and are beginning to discover that technocracy and materialism are hollow. That is why China is struggling to reassert Communist values even while throwing everything into making Walmart’s next product shipment. Like Japanese and Korean leaders, Chinese leaders are realizing that their technological and material achievements have left their society with a spiritual void.

That isn’t a problem unique to Asia. Asian countries were just less prepared for a rapid transition to the modern age. Europe and America, which had more time to prepare, are still on the same track.

Japan isn’t really a technocratic wonderland. It has a few robot cafes, but not a lot of ATMs. Its tech companies got by on Western products that initially never caught on in the West, like the Walkman and the tax machine. There’s not much of a digital economy and the computer isn’t all that ubiquitous. Daily life for the Japanese these days is usually lower tech than it is for Americans or Europeans.

It’s not as bad as some Gulf Sheikdom where desert Bedouins fire off assault rifles in view of the glittering new skyscrapers whose waste products have to be manually removed from the building, but the strain of a feudal society rapidly transitioning to the modern world is still there, as it is in Russia.

Like Russia, Japan tried to beat us. Unlike Russia it did, only to stop halfway there and wonder what the whole point was.

And that’s the problem. There is no point.

American technocrats talk incessantly of beating China. But what is it that we’re supposed to beat China to? The largest pile of debt? The biggest collection of light rail and solar panel plans? The lowest birth rate and the most homeless farmers? The greatest disastrous government projects?

A country should move toward the future. But it should have a goal that it’s moving toward and a sense of connection with its past values.

The thing we have in common with Japan, China and Europe is that we have all moved into a post-modern future while leaving our values behind and our societies have suffered for it. It is a future in which stores have robots on display but couples are hardly getting married, where there are high speed trains and a sense of lingering depression as the people who ride them don’t know where they are going, and where the values of the past have been traded for a culture of uncertainty.Marriage and children are more extinct in Japan than they are here. They are more extinct in Europe than they are here. And China is still struggling with a bigger social fallout headed its way.Japanese modernism has made for a conservative society of the elderly. That is what Europe nearly had a few decades ago and it is what it would have had if it hadn’t overfilled its cities with a tide of immigrants. Japan survived the consequences of its social implosion only because of its dislike for immigration. If not for that, Japan really would have no future the way that the European countries which have taken in the most immigrants have traded their past and their future for the present.

That conservatism helped freeze Japan in time, that time being the cusp of the 90s when Japan was at its peak, and crippled its corporations and its culture, but also made the return of the right to power possible. It’s far from certain that a conservative revolution can save Japan, but so far it has a better shot at it than we do.

A society of the elderly may be slow to turn around, but it’s less likely to drive off a cliff without understanding the consequences than the youth-worshiping voting cultures of America and Europe. Japanese political culture may be lunatic, but even they wouldn’t have elected a Barack Obama. The prospect of an American Shinzō Abe backed by a right-wing coalition winning are poor. The last time Americans voted for a conservative message was 1980 and even Reagan’s message was leavened by liberal ideas. A genuinely conservative resurgence in which the type of politician who might have run for office in 1922 could become president on a similar platform is nearly inconceivable.

Japan is a long way from fixing itself. As a country and a society, it’s still peering into the abyss.

The cultural eccentricities that Americans fixate on come from a society of young men unmoored from normal human connections, a decline of national values and an obsession with trivial consumerism– all commonplace elements in postmodern American and European life. The difference is that Japan got there first.

The loonier elements of American pop subcultures were predated by Japan. Indeed the latter are often influenced by the former. The same holds true with petty plastic surgeries, a truly epic plague among Asia’s newly rich, and some of the more ridiculous accessories for living a life with no meaning or human companionship, but we’re all going to the same place. Just not at the exact same speed.

The common problem is that our journey has no meaning. The postmodern world of robots, fast trains and handheld computers is shiny, but not meaningful. It’s less meaningful than the earlier technological achievements that saved lives and made ordinary prosperity possible.

We can go fast, but no matter how fast we go, we seem to keep slowing down. That’s what Japan found out. Its decline was social. And social decline translates into a technological decline, because technological innovation is powered by a society, not some soulless force of modernism. Innovation must have goals. And those goals must be more than mere technology. They must emerge from some deeper purpose.

American innovation hasn’t halted entirely because its tech culture had enough purpose to make the latest set of digital revolutions possible. But each revolution has slowed down, becoming another shopping mall with microprocessors, replicating the Japanese problem. And at some point we’ll run out of revolutions and be left with the skeleton of a digital shopping mall that is no longer anything but a place to buy more things.

A healthy culture transmits values. When it stops doing that, it dies. When the values no longer seem to be applicable, than the culture hunts around for new values, it undergoes a period of confusion while its forward motion slows down. That is where Japan is now. It’s where America has arrived.

The values of the left, that are present in both Japan and America, are a cultural suicide pact.The left pretends to add a spiritual dimension to modernism. It has been peddling that lie for two centuries and it has yet to deliver. In countries where it wielded full control, there was neither modernism nor values. Russia destroyed the economic, technological and spiritual potential of generations of its people. China is trying to use Communist values to avoid turning into another Japan, not realizing that those are little better than the collective obligations with which Japan rushed into the future.

As America gazes at the ruins of Detroit and the insanity spewed forth by a digital frontier that increasingly looks every bit as eccentric and toxic as anything coming out of Japan, it is all too clear that we are Japan. There is no unique insanity in East, only a common disintegration of values in the East and the West.

Asia and Europe have both witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations. It isn’t technology that destroys civilizations, but a lack of values.To understand where Japan and Europe are, imagine an America decaying with no new ideas, losing its religion and values, losing its economy and finally its sanity, becoming coldly conformist and inhuman, while its families fall apart and its youth retreats into their own makeshift worlds. That reality is closer to home than we might like to think.America is destroying its values on an industrial scale. In a post-industrial nation, the destruction of values has become one of its chief industries. And while there is value in challenging values, in the conflict and clash of ideas, that requires that values go on existing, or there is no longer anything to challenge. And then there is nothing left but emptiness and madness.

Another stupid product from an infomercial. Another ridiculous politician. Another protest. Another indicator of economic decline. Another day, week, month, year of empty nothingness.

That is the modern abyss. And Japan is waiting for us there.

Walking Up 45 Flights On Shabbat: Being a Jew in Hong Kong

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Last summer I went to Hong Kong for three months – for me that’s home. Although I was born in Belgium and lived in Lexington, Massachusetts while in high school, Hong Kong is my home base.  Now Hong Kong may seem exotic to you, but when it comes to observing kashrut and keeping Shabbat after a climb to the 45th floor, it becomes more difficult than exotic. My parents live there for business, along with my married sister and British brother-in-law. (We accepted him into the family because he made us seem more international.)

I was raised in a very traditional and cultural Jewish home in Asia. My parents were proud Israelis who made sure that we always had a connection to the Land of Israel and to being Jews no matter where we lived. While others may have had their Bar/Bat Mitzvah at the Western Wall, we merged these two cultures with our Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations at the Great Wall of China.  My twin brother Orrel and me had our first exposure to Torah observant Judaism at Lexington High School, where the OU’s Jewish Student Union offered free pizza on Monday afternoons.  (Jewish Student Union is a program that enhances Jewish culture at public high schools.)

Initially, Orrel and I were attending for two slices of pizza a week; but eventually, we became interested and started attending NCSY Shabbatons in our senior year. As a result, we spent a year learning in Eretz Yisrael. We now attend Yeshiva University; Orrel is at Yeshiva College and I am at Stern College. As upcoming seniors, we cannot wait for another amazing year!

Since we became shomer Shabbat, we had not been home to Hong Kong for more than a few days at a time and during those occasions, I always had my brother with me for support. This all changed in the summer of 2012 when I had to be in Hong Kong for personal reasons, while my brother was in Israel learning in yeshiva and doing medical research.  I felt that I was being left to fend for myself in Hong Kong.

On one hand, I was really excited to be with my family, but on the other hand I was scared. I was scared because since I became religious I had been immersed in Jewish communities – at seminary in Israel then in Stern College.  In addition, I had a strong support comprised of New England NCSY rabbis and my seminary Aim Bayit to answer my questions and to further my growth as a Torah observant Jew. When acquaintances from high school were placing bets on how long I would stay “religious” after NCSY, my support group was instrumental in keeping me on the “derech.”

In Hong Kong, I was entering three months in which my only social chevra would be myself. My connection to my Judaism would be up to me, and I feared I would lose everything that I had worked so hard to build in the past two years. This was not a dramatic exaggeration but a heartfelt declaration.

Within the first weeks, I felt myself losing my desire to daven and to learn Torah.  Recorded shiurim that used to excite me seemed no longer applicable to the struggles I was facing. I remember calling a friend from Stern College and telling her, “There is no way I am coming out religious after this summer.” But through phone calls of guidance from my support groups in America and in Israel, I slowly learned that the key to surviving the summer would not be the growth I had planned for myself; I had to modify my plans.

Initially, I had strongly believed that just as my twin brother was growing every day in Israel, I had to be growing and firming my roots as an Orthodox Jew.  Instead, I had to learn to tread water in order not to drown. I couldn’t simply focus on listening to shiurim; instead my focus had to be just making it day-by-day. For example, I would try and have one meaningful davening – Shacharit or Minchah  - in Hong Kong. I couldn’t hold myself to the high religious standards that I had set for myself at Stern.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/teens-twenties/walking-up-45-flights-on-shabbat-being-an-orthodox-jew-in-hong-kong/2013/08/30/

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