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December 7, 2016 / 7 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Economic’

Gaza Businessmen to Meet with Egyptians on Improving Economic Situation

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

A delegation of Gaza businessmen and civil society professionals will travel to Egypt on Sunday for a conference on the current economic situation in the impoverished Gaza Strip, Ma’an reported Saturday.

Osama Kheil, a spokesman for the union of contractors in Gaza, told Ma’an that the 38 businessmen from Gaza had been invited to the “Ain Sokhna 2” conference, organized by the National Center for Middle East Studies.

Ain Sokhna (Arabic: the Hot Spring) is a resort town on the western shore of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Eilat, some 75 miles east of Cairo.

The conference will discuss the economic situation in Gaza and strategies for improving the dire living conditions of the civilian population. The Gazan delegation will emphasize the need for coordination with Egyptian authorities in regards to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which serves as a lifeline for Gazans, in the hope of “keeping the border open as long as possible.”

In October 2014 Egypt announced plans to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was “a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” Egyptian authorities ordered residents living along the eastern border to evacuate their homes prior to their demolishing. The new 1,000 yard wide buffer zone includes water-filled trenches that block tunnel diggers along the 8 mile.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities demolished between July 2013 and August 2015 at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings along the border, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas agreed with the Egyptian operation, saying the smuggling tunnels under the border had produced 1,800 millionaires, and were used for smuggling weapons, drugs, cash and forgery equipment. The total cost to the Gazan economy was estimated at $70 million. On September 11, 2015, the Egyptian army began to pump water from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas condemned the flooding saying it posed a serious threat to Gaza’s environment and ground water. In November 2015, large areas of soil collapsed as a result of the flooding, threatening homes in Rafah. Salt water came out of the ground, contaminating the soil, making it unusable for agriculture.

Or, as the Ma’an report put it on Saturday: The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade.

JNi.Media

Economic Accounting of the Soul

Monday, October 10th, 2016

In these “awesome days” of Elul and Tishrei it is usual for us Jews to examine closely our situation both individually and vis-a-vis our friends and the Creator. Therefore, we pray a great deal, repent, and forgive one another, and increase our good deeds prior to the Day of Judgment which falls on Rosh Hashana, the New Year, and reaches its climax on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on which, according to tradition, the judgment for the new year is sealed. These actions are called “Heshbon Nefesh” – or “accounting of the soul,” and the idea behind it is the assumption that, just as a person is unable to manage his material affairs in an intelligent manner, such as his household or business economies, without keeping an orderly calculation of profit and loss and weighing the balance in its separate parts, the soul accounting comes in order to ascertain whether his situation has improved or, Heaven forbid, has worsened. These calculations will be presented before the Supreme Judge as material for reaching the verdict for the new year for all His creatures. Moreover, it must be stressed that the accounting of the soul also serves the person as a tool to keep track of his general situation, whether he is regressing or progressing towards his goals, or whether the situation is ideal in his eyes.

The accounting of the soul has a moral, ethical, spiritual as well as an economic-worldly content. We exploit this opportunity in order to request for the entire Jewish People and for each one of us that the Creator will improve our economic situation, as we recite in the Avinu Malkenu prayer: “Our Father, Our King inscribe us in the book of maintenance and sustenance.” and in the special Unetaneh Tokef prayer during the Days of Awe: “Who shall become rich and who shall be impoverished.”

Hence, in these days there is a need for an economic accounting of the soul, to weigh the balance-sheet of our personal and national economic condition, particularly in light of the problematic economic situation prevailing in the world since the year 2008 when there erupted the crisis from which the world has not yet recovered. In order to prevent a major global blow (such as the 1929 Great Depression), the United States is mortgaging the coming generations by debts, and despite this there it still no light in its economy. The European countries are following in its wake, and despite this their economy has remained static. This economic behavior of the West is causing the awakening countries in Eastern Asia to reduce their economic rate of growth.

The countries of the world pin their hopes on major institutions like the Common Market, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, but they don’t know how to act in the future, because in the course of the crisis they lost their monetary and fiscal work tools. The monetary tool which they possessed was the ability to set the interest rate. Today the rate is zero, and recently it has even dropped to a negative rate (that is to say, the lender receives in return less than what he loaned at the outset). The captains of the economy are at a loss to

know how to act, and continue with the classic conditioning stipulation to lower the interest rate increasingly. The fiscal tools have also lost their efficacy, and massive injections of capital into the market (contrary to the economic ideology) have not essentially changed the situation of the markets. Undoubtedly, such a difficult global situation calls for a profound and extensive economic accounting of the soul.

Are we, here in Israel, also a part of this global accounting of the soul? Israel is a minor player in the Western market, and is dependent on it for the export of its products, but our economic situation, as compared with the rest of the world, is fine. The standard of living of the citizens of the State is continually rising, unemployment is falling- an all-time record, the national debt is increasingly diminishing, and the natural resources such as gas – granted to us and for generations to come – promise an even better future. It can be said that, by comparison with the rest of the countries of the world, the economy of Israel is healthier. Nevertheless, an economic accounting of the soul is required. On the macro side we have not yet achieved fulfillment. Considerable improvement is required in the following areas of the economy: the housing market is too volatile due to the failure of the system; failure of management of the natural resources; failure of investment in pensions; monopolization in many branches – and this is just a partial list of the governmental economic problems of our young State of Israel.

Do we have adequate tools to deal with the reality? Our Holy Torah supplies us with many tools, and their exploitation depends on us. Instead of appealing to the powers that have proved their worthlessness, the Torah gives the individual Mitzvot which can transform the economic reality. Two Mitzvot, which as a rule we have trouble understanding how to observe, and which are a part of the mutual responsibility, will enable us to improve the economy. One Mitzvah is between a person and his fellow-man: “And if thy brother be waxen poor with thee” (Leviticus 25, 39), and the second, “Thou shalt surely rebuke they neighbor, and not bear sin because of him” (Leviticus 19, 17). The first is micro in nature, and the second mainly macro.

In order to observe the first Mitzvah there is no need to wait until your brother is forced to sell his clothes, his home and afterwards himself, but one may help him while he is still at the initial stage of his decline. It is advisable to keep an eye on him, and already in the initial stages of his fall, in order to offer him assistance. Charity is one of the forms of help to the needy, and based on our action in this regard, the Holy One Blessed Be He has chosen us, and He said: “For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice” (Genesis, 18,19).

The power of the observance of the Mitzvah is very great, as it is said at the end of Tractate Shabbat: “Charity saves from death,” and therefore charity is also one of the three things –repentance, prayer and tzedaka – which can “avert the evil decree” (in the Unetanah Tokef prayer).

The second Mitzvah is more general, and the form of its observance is less clear but connected with every economic activity. We can observe it

when we know that a certain policy does not correspond with the principles of the Torah, as for example “Tisporet”(debt-cutting) and even investing money in places which do not promise suitable returns, or taking money disproportionately, as recently practiced in the Israeli economy.

Lack of room does not allow us to enlarge on the essence of these Mitzvot, and so we shall be brief and say here that we wish that each and every Jew will be granted to observe these Mitzvot together with all the people of Israel, and that, thanks to them and the new accounting of the soul, that our actions shall redound to the benefit of the Jewish People as a whole.

{Translated from the Hebrew by David Herman}

 

Nahum Gutentag

Israeli Food Exports Gain Popularity as Economic Ties Expand in East Asia

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to The Tower Magazine website}

As Israel’s economic ties expand across East Asia, so does the popularity of the Jewish state’s food products.

Costco stores throughout Japan hosted an Israeli food festival last week, featuring pita, matza, Wissotsky teas, Angel cookies, Adafresh spices, Hanasich tahini, and a variety of Israeli wines. The festival was sponsored by the Israel Export Institute and the economic attaché of the Israeli Ministry of Economy office in Tokyo.

“In 2015, the government decided to take steps to strengthen the economic relations between Israel and Japan. The Israeli and Japanese prime ministers held reciprocal visits over the past several years under this framework,” Ohad Cohen, exports manager for the Ministry of Economy, told Ynet. “We’ve seen great interest for Israeli products and technological cooperation from Japanese companies in a variety of fields including the medical, communications, pharmaceutical, and automation fields,” he added.

The initial contacts between dozens of Israeli and Japanese companies has led to over $1 million in exports.

Another promising market for Israeli food products is opening in Vietnam, which last week hosted an Israeli food festival in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The events featured cooking demonstrations by Israeli celebrity chef Ruthie Rousso and others. Israeli dishes prepared at the festival included majadra, musabaha style hummus, fresh pita made on site, malabi with pistachios, and sweet Israeli meatballs made with date honey, Ynet reported.

“Over the last several years, Vietnam has greatly developed economically and presents a great opportunity for Israeli industry and food exports,” said Caroline Nevo, the head of the Food and Drink Branch of the Exports Institute. She added that her organization has “seen more interest and demand for Israeli flavors and products in the east, and conversely, we have been expending great efforts to open up markets which will facilitate the entry of Israeli products and fully realize the potential of these markets.”

In addition to the food festivals in Japan and Vietnam, four Israeli wineries — Adir Winery, Morad Winery, Psagot Winery, and Binyamina Winery — attended the China (Guangzhou) International Wine & Spirits Exhibition this year, the largest exhibition of its kind in China.

 

The Tower

Abbas Underscores PLO’s ‘3 NO’s’ in Ramallah Rant

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Palestinian Authority and PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is making sure the world gets it straight once and for all:

1. The Palestinians won’t accept a Jewish state
2. They won’t accept the “Islamization of the struggle in the Middle East”
3. They oppose a temporary [Palestinian] state.

Speaking on Wednesday (March 4) before the PLO Central Council in the PA capital, Ramallah, Abbas claimed, “We are moderate Muslims. We are also against the Jewish State because of the many things it would mean in the future.”

Abbas was coy over whether or not the PA would actually disengage itself from cooperating with the Jewish State over security, however. He also dodged questions about the entity’s future joint economic projects with Israel.

He called on the Central Council to “reconsider” the functions of the PA as it is currently structured and claiming a need for a “sovereign authority.”

Of course, the PA has for several years insisted that it already IS an independent “sovereign authority,” calling itself the sovereign State of Palestine. It has been accepted as such by a number of governments in the international community.

The PA leader continued to call on Israel to withdraw from all territories conquered in the 1967 Six Day war, including the parts of Jerusalem wrested from Jordanian occupation and restored to the ancient Jewish capital.

He also continued to precondition the PA’s return to the negotiating table on Israel’s release of Palestinian terrorist prisoners and cessation of any and all construction (including, for example, repairs on a driveway or a balcony to a private home) in any Jewish community in post-1967 areas. In addition, Abbas accused Israel of violating all agreements it has signed with the Palestinians.

In short, Abbas made wild accusations, continued to make ridiculous and unrealistic demands and lay the blame for his own failures at Israel’s doorstep – as usual.

“If Israel recognizes our rights, it would live in peace,” Abbas ranted. “The world must push Israel to wake up. Israel is the one that is hijacking peace and pushing towards tension in the world by continuing its occupation of Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese lands.”

So having lost his credibility among his own people as well among some of the international community, Abbas has added a new element to his claims about “The Occupation” — now Israel is occupying “Syrian and Lebanese lands.”

What’s next?

Hana Levi Julian

Congressional Bill Introduced: Europe Must Reject Anti-Israel BDS in Free Trade Deal

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

If Europe wants to enjoy the benefits of what could be the largest free trade deal in history, the leaders of its member nations will have to pay a price: they must agree to reject the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement, say two U.S. Representatives – one from each side of the political aisle.

The Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act was formally submitted Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 10) on Capitol Hill under bipartisan sponsorship, which is expected to smooth the way for rapid passage.

But there’s a catch. The legislation will “leverage ongoing trade negotiations to discourage prospective U.S. trade partners from engaging in economic discrimination against Israel, said Representatives Juan Vargas (D-CA) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), who co-sponsored the bill.

Additional co-sponsors are to be recruited to the measure after its introduction to the floor. The two lawmakers said they are optimistic the bill will pass through the House of Representatives.

It’s a great deal. It is estimated the measure could add as much as 0.5 percent to the European Union’s annual economic output. The flip side of it, however, involves how the bill impacts the ongoing free trade negotiations between the U.S. and the EU. Foreign companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges will have to disclose links to BDS activities, and whether they have faced any pressure for avoiding participation in any boycotts.

“The bill … establishes a clear U.S. policy of opposing BDS as detrimental to global trade and regional peace and stability,” the two lawmakers wrote in their introduction to the legislation. They also noted that the measure was created in response to a growing trend among countries “primarily in Europe, to isolate and delegitimize Israel through BDS for political purposes.”

“Today, an alarming number of countries within the European Union and beyond have embraced BDS as a form of economic warfare aimed to cripple Israel’s economy and demonize its very existence. These attacks not only threaten Israel, but commercial relations across the globe,” Roskam told reporters.

“The US-Israel Trade and Commercial Enhancement Act will ensure that American free trade partners never engage in this harmful and illegitimate political protest against Israel, while also protecting US companies from foreign lawsuits targeting their associations with Israel.”

Vargas likewise noted, “BDS is a harmful political tactic which seeks to undermine and diminish Israel’s economic strength. We need to reassure our commitment to our ally in the region by clearly defining US policy to oppose this practice and dissuade other nations from adopting BDS policies toward Israel.”

The measure also unequivocally underlines the “strategic importance of trade and commercial relations to the pursuit of sustainable peace and regional stability,” making it clear that boycotts break down the potential for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the lawmakers said.

Perhaps that bit of wisdom should be directed towards the PA headquarters at its capital in Ramallah: Its latest anti-Israel economic boycott has just been launched, punishing local merchants far more than Israeli manufacturers. Worse, the boycott reinforces for Israelis the utter futility of attempting to secure any lasting agreement with anyone who claims to lead the Palestinian Authority.

Arab governments in the Middle East come and go, and so do those who lead the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza. The PA commitments in particular – on paper or otherwise – can be likened to a ritual courtesy one carries out in ceremonial garb. They mean everything for the moment, but are instantly put aside when “reality” steps back into the scene. In that moment, all is forgotten and anything goes, as happened with the obligations of the internationally recognized Oslo Accords.

A bill such as the Roskam-Vargas measure is invaluable, coming at a time when a European groundswell of anti-Semitism appears to be growing into a tsunami and the U.S.-Israel relationship appears to be floundering in ways never seen before. The entire Middle East is in disarray, and Israel may be facing an existential threat from Iran as it gallops towards a nuclear military threshold. It is precisely now, as Iran strengthens its terrorist guerrilla proxies to the north and south of Israel’s borders, that the Jewish State most needs the support of its friends in the international community.

How fortunate that the lawmakers in Congress have chosen this moment to reaffirm — and concretely demonstrate — America’s commitment to Israel, and to underscore the strong relationship both nations share.

Hana Levi Julian

Done Deal: China’s Bright Food Buys Israel’s Tnuva

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

The Chinese government’s ‘Bright Food’ group inked the deal this morning (Thursday) to purchase Israel’s national dairy company, Tnuva, from Apax Partners for NIS 8.6 billion.  The Israeli government had no part in the deal.

Apax, which owns a 56 percent stake in the firm, will make a cool NIS 4 billion on the deal, and will not be required to pay any tax, according to a report posted on the Globes business news website.

The national kibbutz movement, which owns 23 percent of the company’s shares, did not sell. But Mivtach-Shamir Food Industries, which owns 21 percent of the company, is still negotiating, according to the report.

In a statement released to media, Bright Food said, “We are proud to acquire Tnuva. For us this is a long-term sound investment that will help Tnuva become a company that enters global markets. It is our intention to continue to keep Tnuva as an Israeli company and continue cooperating with all relevant local bodies including employees, farmers, and cattle farmers to faithfully serve the Israeli consumer.”

Under the terms of the deal, Tnuva’s CEO will be Israeli and its chairman of the board will be Chinese, from the Bright Food group. Its center of operations will remain in Israel as well.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been deeply invested in strengthening ties economically and diplomatically with China, and bilateral commercial ventures have risen over the past several years. Tourism projects between Israel and China has increased as well.

However, it is not clear what would happen if diplomatic relations between Israel and China were ever to falter, or if for some reason Israeli consumer regulations differed from those preferred by the Chinese food conglomerate.

The bottom line remains: What will happen to Tnuva — and by extension, to the Israeli dairy consumer — if relations between the two countries go sour?

Hana Levi Julian

The Iran Nuclear Agreement and the Common Sense Test

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Contrary to conventional “wisdom,” Iran considers the US and the Arab oil-producing Gulf States – not Israel – the primary target for its nuclear capabilities. Iran pursues mega (nuclear) capabilities in order to advance its mega goal (domination of the Gulf and Sunni Islam), by removing the mega obstacle (US power projection), irrespective of Israel’s existence and policies, the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Palestinian issue.

In the pursuit of agreements and peace with rogue regimes, the Free World must overcome its inherent temptation to subordinate common sense and reality-check to delusion and wishful-thinking, lest such agreements minimize the Free World’s posture of deterrence and the prospects of peace, while maximizing lawlessness, terrorism and the prospects of war.

Irrespective of President Rouhani’s ostensible pledges to end abuse of human rights in Iran, the minority regime of the Ayatollahs and Mullahs persists in oppressing the majority of Iranians and the number of executions since the rise of Rouhani has increased. According to Reuters, November 19, 2013, “The U.N. envoy on human rights in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, said last month that Iran’s human rights record should not be overlooked amid overtures to the West by Rouhani. He criticized Tehran for executing 724 people in 18 months, including dozens after Rouhani was elected in June.” Rouhani’s intolerance of civil liberties – such as freedom of religion, press, speech and association and equal rights for women and ethnic minorities – reflects his genuine values and worldview.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements…

The diplomatic option is appropriately applied to rogue regimes that abandon violence and embrace peaceful-coexistence. The military option of deterrence should be appropriately applied toward rogue regimes that adhere to violence. While negotiating with the US, Iran is the leading sponsor of anti-US Islamic terrorism; the chief axis of unprecedented terrorism in Iraq; the key perpetrator of subversion and terrorism in the pro-US Arab oil-producing Gulf States; the top supporter of Jihadist movements in Africa and the killing of US GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan; a collaborator with the anti-US regimes in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador; and the anti-US hate-educator of Iranian youth.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani has intensified technological, scientific, economic, diplomatic and military cooperation with North Korea. The leading Washington Times’ military correspondent, Bill Gertz, reported on November 26 that the two are currently engaged in the joint development of a new long-range missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, which could reach the United States, “the Great Satan” according to both Iran and North Korea.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

A Free World which is overly-anxious to conclude an agreement with rogue regimes is destined to pay a heavy price. Moreover, the assumption that rogue regimes would not sacrifice the welfare of their people on the altar of military superiority dooms the Free World to learn from history by repeating past critical mistakes. In 2009, North Korea welcomed President Obama by flexing its nuclear muscle (test), highlighting the dereliction by Wendy Sherman, who led Clinton’s failed negotiation with North Korea, and is currently heading the negotiation with Iran. Sherman deluded herself that the North Korea dictator supposedly recognized that the adverse economic consequences of pursuing nuclear capabilities could topple his regime. Fifty years of diplomacy, economic sanctions and agreements – loaded with verifications, sticks and carrots – to test North Korean intentions paved the road to another anti-US nuclear rogue regime. Thirty years of US sanctions and diplomacy have not transformed Iran, which is at the last lap of the nuclear marathon.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani was not elected democratically, but was handpicked by the Supreme Leader, Khamenei, the omnipotent Shiite Muslim ruler of Iran. Khamenei adheres to the Quran-based Taqiyya, Kitman and Do-Pahlu concepts, which were introduced by the Shiites, shielding Muslims from the “infidel” and from each other via double-talk and deception-based provisional agreements, which are abrogated once conditions are ripe.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Rouhani (just like Bashar Assad upon succeeding his father) is considered a reformer by Western policy makers and media. However, Rouhani demonstrated his own Taqiyya capabilities, while serving as Iran’s chief negotiator with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He systematically violated commitments made, providing Iran with extra time to acquire nuclear capabilities.  In September, 2002, while serving as the Chairman of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Rouhani stated : “When we sign international treaties, it means that we are not pursuing nuclear weapons.  We are not pursuing chemical weapons.  We are not pursuing biological weapons.” Rouhani was one of the planners of the 1994 “AMIA terrorism,” responsible for the murder of 85 civilians in Buenos Aires.
But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Iran’s track record of systematic non-compliance is consistent with Middle East reality, which has never experienced intra-Muslim compliance with most intra-Muslim agreements, domestically and regionally. Unlike the Free World, which considers agreements as a means to advance peaceful-coexistence, rogue regimes with megalomaniacal-imperialistic aspirations consider agreements a means to enhance their capabilities, in order to eventually overcome partners to such agreements.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

The November 23, 2013 agreement with Iran provided Iran with the most essential resource – time – to attain nuclear capabilities, transforming Iran from a tactical – to a strategic – threat. Unlike the USSR, the apocalyptic regime in Iran was ready to sacrifice some 500,000 youngsters, in order to clear minefields during its war against Iraq, signaling its defiance of Mutually-Assured-Destruction. The nature of the Iranian regime on the one hand and compliance with agreements on the other hand constitute a classic oxymoron.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

The November 23, 2013 agreement subordinated common sense and reality-check to oversimplification and wishful-thinking. It follows in the footsteps of a policy which provided a tailwind to the anti-US Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, facilitated the replacement of Qaddafi’s tyranny with a worse anti-US regime, handed Putin a major gain in Syria, instills panic in Saudi Arabia and other pro-US Gulf States and funds hate-education in the Palestinian Authority.

But, Rouhani is expected to comply with agreements….

Happy Chanukkah and Thanksgiving, Shabbat Shalom and have a gratifying weekend,

Yoram Ettinger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-iran-nuclear-agreement-and-the-common-sense-test/2013/12/01/

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