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August 29, 2016 / 25 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘israeli’

Israeli Students Win Big In Chemistry Olympics

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Tzvi Lev/TPS

Georgia (TPS) – The International Chemistry Olympiad was a rousing success for Israel, as the Jewish State’s high school delegation took home two medals and was placed amongst the world’s top 20.

“Israel’s students bring pride and honor in international contests time after time” praised Education Minister Naftali Bennett. “For a student to succeed and achieve prizes in something that is also a hobby is a formula for success.”The Israeli delegation won the Silver and Bronze medals, ranked 20th worldwide, and second in Western countries, one spot behind the United States.

Professor Zev Gross of Technion University accompanied the Israeli team, and offered lavish praise. “This year, we noticed a significant improvement, not just in the medals but the high scores that the Israeli received in the competition.

The Chemistry competition was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, with 66 countries participating. Romania won first place, with China winning the second and third spots.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israeli National Service Program Incorporates 120 Young French Female Immigrants

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

By Ilana Messika/TPS

A total of 120 French women, aged 18 to 23, have immigrated to Israel in 2016 through a specialized program, called Shlomit, which coordinates and finds Israeli citizens placement in national service, also known as Sherut Leumi.

French immigration increased from 1,900 immigrants in 2012 to 7,800 in 2015 and French immigrants make up 25% of all immigrants to Israel. However, the year 2016 has seen a particular upsurge of French women deciding to immigrate through the Shlomit organization and particularly through one of its branches, Shilat, which is specifically for religious women.

Shlomit was the first organization to extend national service opportunities to all Israeli citizens, regardless of sexuality, race, or financial status. The group’s mission is to enable every young Israeli citizen exempt from military service to serve the country and to make a significant contribution to the advancement of Israeli society.

“We endeavor to construct the best-suited combination between the particularities of the applicants, such as their specific skills, capabilities, place of origin, and languages, and those who could best utilize their services,” Shilat Director Osnat Tzadok told Tazpit Press Service (TPS).

Most of this year’s applicants are from the area of Paris, but some have also emigrated from Marseilles or northern France. They tend to settle in Jerusalem in particular, but many of them also reside in Raanana, Netanya, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, and Tel Aviv. Program participants volunteer in a wide range of sectors, including hospitals, hospices, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and special education.

“It is not easy to immigrate to Israel, to integrate oneself within a new culture and country without one’s family, and to be disconnected from all that is familiar,” explained Tzadok. “Our program makes it easier by allowing participants to better familiarize themselves with the Israeli mentality, fostering confidence, creating new relationships and friendships, and learning Hebrew,”

As of the end of July, most Shilat participants will already have completed most of the administrative steps that immigration to Israel entails and are expected to start their year of service in September, but some will still be in the process of filing various necessary documents and arranging exemptions from military service.

Shilat helps the women get through that bureaucratic process and provides the women with benefits equivalent to those of lone soldiers, such as an apartment, an internet connection to reach family members, funds for transportation, and some assistance in everyday expenses. The program helps the women with the psychometric exams for academic studies after their service and offers Torah courses to enrich their religious knowledge.

Salome Benichou, a Shilat participant originally from Saint-Brice, told TPS that “Sherut Leumi for French Olim is complicated due to the fact that there is no forum to formally guide us through the process, to centralize the opportunities, and to actively make contact with French people and institutions while also providing support.”

“Shilat provides both professional and personal assistance through coordinators that are always available yet it allows for enough independence for immigrants to find their own place in Israeli society. It is an excellent medium to materialize the strong brand of Zionism I was brought up in,” she added.

Leaders of the program report that it has been very successful in integrating French women into Israeli society and that it has had a virtually nonexistent dropout rate. Participants in the program say that the success is a consequence of both the importance of Zionism in Jewish culture in France and of the efficacy of the program itself.

“What we need to understand about the immigrants from France is that many of them spend a year doing Israeli national service after having already done a Masa program for a year while their counterparts in France and the rest of Europe have already finished their degree. That is a pretty significant concession for both French young women and their parents to make in favor of Zionism given the French mentality,” concluded Liora, who is currently completing her second year of Sherut Leumi.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Chinese Consortium to Buy Israeli Games Company Playtika for $4.4 Billion

Sunday, July 31st, 2016

A consortium including an affiliate of Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co., one of China’s largest online games companies, announced on Saturday that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Caesars Interactive Entertainment to acquire CIE’s social and mobile games business Playtika in an all-cash deal for $4.4 billion.

Playtika, co-founded in 2010 by CEO Robert Antokol, pioneered free-to-play games on social networks and mobile platforms. It is the creator of such popular titles as Slotomania, House of Fun and Bingo Blitz, which rank among the top-grossing games on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Facebook. Playtika’s games are played daily by more than 6 million people in 190 countries, in 12 languages and on more than 10 platforms. Through its core technology and expertise in big data, analytics, and M&A, Playtika has successfully developed a scalable platform that is primed for future international expansion. Playtika is headquartered in Herzliya, Israel, with offices in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Japan, Romania, Ukraine and the US.

The Consortium includes Giant Investment (HK) Limited; Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co., Ltd.; China Minsheng Trust Co., Ltd.; CDH China HF Holdings Company Limited; and Hony Capital Fund.

Following the transaction Playtika will continue to run independently with its headquarters remaining in Herzliya, Israel, and its existing management team will continue to run day-to-day operations.

“This transaction is a testament to Playtika’s unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world,” said Antokol. “We are incredibly excited by the commercial opportunities the Consortium will make available to us, particularly in its ability to provide us access to large and rapidly growing emerging markets. This is an amazing milestone for all Playtikans and we truly value how unique this opportunity is to continue executing our vision with such a strong partner.”

“Playtika’s growth has been exceptional, and highlights its outstanding team, excellent corporate culture, cutting-edge big data analytics, and its unique ability to transform and grow games,” said Giant’s founder and Chairman Shi Yuzhu. “We are looking forward to Playtika continuing to innovate and excel.”

“It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader,” said Caesars Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Mitch Garber. “Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users. Robert is a true visionary and Israeli business leader who has created not only a great business, but also the most unique corporate culture I have seen in my career.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2016.

CIE’s World Series of Poker and real-money online gaming businesses will not be included in the transaction, and the virtual currency used on the Playtika platform will continue not to be exchangeable for real money.

JNi.Media

50 Detained in Philly as Protesters Burn Israeli Flags at DNC Convention [video]

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Reporter Byron Tau tweeted Wednesday morning that “protesters are burning an Israeli flag now in front of the secure perimeter and chanting ‘intifada.'”

As can be seen in video snippets that are being uploaded on Facebook and YouTube, a woman whose face was covered in a black bandanna, Hamas fashion, set an Israeli flag on fire amidst a group of protesters outside of the cordoned Wells Fargo arena in Philadelphia. A person standing next to her was waving a Palestinian flag. There were reports of protesters burning the American flag as well.

The protesters are Senator Bernie Sanders supporters who have not heeded their own champion’s call to join the DNC in supporting the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton against their common enemy, GOP candidate Donald Trump.

More than 50 protesters were detained on Monday following a demonstration outside the Wells Fargo Center by activists from Democracy Spring. Police issued the detainees citations for disorderly conduct,

Sanders activist Jocelyn Macurdy Keatts told CNN she supports the Democracy Spring “very coherent” set of demands. “There seems to be legislative leverage here,” she said, adding, “The Democrats are already moving further to the left to accommodate Bernie supporters.”

It should be noted in this context, that during the writing of the DNC platform, Sanders fielded five rabid anti-Israel proxies who tried to enter anti “occupation” language into the platform, and they were blocked firmly by the majority of the platform committee: five Clinton proxies and four proxies appointed by then DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz has been maligned this week and forced to resign her post, but it should be remembered that in the DNC she is one of the most consistent pro-Israel voices. She may differ with rightwing Jews and Israelis on the two-state solution, but she has been a dyed in the wool pro-Israel legislator. And, unlike many fellow Democrats, and despite the fact that she was Obama’s handpicked leader of the Democratic National Committee, the Congresswoman attended Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. She ended up voting for the Iran deal, which turned out to be a giant mistake, but she did not shame the Israeli PM publicly as other Democrats have done.

Inside the DNC convention hall, Palestinian and Soviet flags were being waved proudly.

David Israel

Syrian Mortar Lands on Israeli Side of the Golan

Monday, July 25th, 2016

An stray mortar from fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights landed on the Israeli side of the border at around 7 PM on Monday evening.

The IDF reports no injuries or damage from the strike.

The Israeli Air Force hit back at the source of the mortar fire.

Jewish Press News Briefs

eBay Acquires Israeli SalesPredict, Introducing Major Change in the Way Business Is Conducted [video]

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

On Friday, eBay, which has reported adjusted earnings per share of 47 cents on revenue of $2.1 billion in Q1, announced the completion of its acquisition of Israeli startup SalesPredict, which leverages advanced analytics to predict customer buying behavior and sales conversion. SalesPredict will support eBay’s artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science efforts, and their deep expertise will contribute to eBay’s structured data efforts.

Upon the close of the transaction, a number of SalesPredict’s employees will join eBay’s structured data organization, working from eBay’s Israeli Development Center in Netanya. SalesPredict Co-Founder and CEO Yaron Zakai-Or will serve as a Director of Product Management, Technology, and SalesPredict Co-Founder and CTO Kira Radinsky will be Director of Data Science & Chief Scientist, eBay Israel.

SalesPredict was co-founded in 2012 by Zakai-Or and Radinsky and its main investors include Yandex, AfterDox, Redline Capital, KGC Capital, and Pitango Venture Capital.

Dr. Kira Radinsky, who immigrated to Israel from Russia at age 4, says her passion “has always been, and always will be, predictions.” During her PhD studies and her work in Microsoft Research she was leading research in the field of Web Dynamics and Temporal Information Retrieval. She developed algorithms that “leverage web knowledge and dynamics to predict future events, that enable early warning of globally impactful events (e.g. riots or diseases) by spotting clues in past and present news reports.”

One of the best examples of Radinsky’s ability to predict future events was her warnings about violent riots in the Sudan during the Arab Spring. “We noticed a pattern that repeats in countries where the people are poor but the land is rich in resources—like the Sudan,” Radinsky told The Marker last week. “We noted that in such countries the canceling of state subsidies starts riots among students, and if the spiraling down isn’t stopped, things may end up in violent clashes.”

“At that time, when it was known that gas subsidies were being removed in the Sudan, our system had already issued an alert for a high chance of riots there. And, indeed, the riots began with student demonstrations, and turned into clashes with police and many protesters being hurt,” Radinsky continued. She said their system had also pointed to a similar pattern in Egypt, when bread subsidies were removed, but at the time there wasn’t enough data for the system to work with and it didn’t predict the downfall of President Mubarak.

“We lead the predictive marketing industry and strive to build the next generation business operating system,” Radinsky wrote on her Technion web page. “I am passionate about our vision of ‘Automatic Data Science’: an on-going effort to create a product that is completely automated without the need for an expert in the loop.”

“Today’s agreement to acquire SalesPredict builds upon our recently completed acquisition of Expertmaker, marking another milestone for eBay in our plans to apply world class learning approaches to building the world’s most comprehensive product catalog and pricing guide,” said Amit Menipaz, Vice President and General Manager of Structured Data at eBay. “SalesPredict’s deep expertise in predictive analytics and machine learning will contribute to eBay’s structured data efforts. For our buyers, it will help us better understand the price differentiating attributes of our products, and, for our sellers, it will help us build out the predictive models that can define the probability of selling a given product, at a given price over time.

There are three key efforts that comprise eBay’s structured data initiative: collect the data; process and enrich the data; and create product experiences. SalesPredict will contribute to data processing and enrichment, specifically with respect to inventory insights.

“With more than 900 million listings on eBay, there is an enormous opportunity to extend our experience in machine learning and predictive analytics to help eBay identify important product attributes that can affect the price of a product,” said Yaron Zakai-Or. “In partnership with eBay’s broader structured data team, we will help arm eBay sellers with more information about the value of items, ultimately helping to increase customer sales conversions.”

“As a data scientist at heart, I’ve always been interested in exploring the myriad ways we can leverage data to predict future high impact events,” said Kira Radinsky. “In founding SalesPredict, our vision was to bring about a major change in how business is conducted by unifying micro- and macro-economic predictions. Today, this vision has yielded state-of-the-art automated data science capabilities. I am excited to have the opportunity to bring these capabilities to eBay’s community and ecosystem.”

JNi.Media

Arab Attacked, Hospitalized for Posting Israeli Flag on Facebook

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Haled Abu Mokh, an Israeli Muslim Arab, was attacked by other Arabs last week for posting a profile picture with Israel’s flag on Facebook. Haled, who works in a Jerusalem hotel, was caught by a fellow Arab worker surfing to his Facebook page, and the other man started cursing him out and threatening him. By the end of that day’s shift, that same worker followed Haled on the street and threw a stone on his head. Haled dropped to the ground and was later evacuated to hospital, where he received several stitches. He’s still suffering from dizziness.

Haled was a guest on Israel’s Channel 20 TV, where he told the host, Rinat Spivak, that he is used to these reactions: “These responses, it’s normal, wherever there are such extremist Arabs, but they won’t break me.”

“Why should I be afraid,” he answered the host’s next question. “We shouldn’t be afraid of them, they should fear me, not me of them. I walk the true path. This is the truth. I was born here, I opened my eyes here and saw the national flag. There was no Palestinian flag where I was born. The Star of David, that’s me, that’s how my mother raised me.”

Haled also made clear that “no one will shut me up! This only strengthened my resolve to love this wonderful country, and I’m not alone. There are other Arabs in this country who aren’t ready to live in fear. It’s a pity that there are some people who don’t understand what democracy is, and they live in a violent and barbaric reality. What kind of future are they going to have?”

JNi.Media

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