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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘million’

Government Approves $18.6 Million Transfer to Settlements

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

The government on Sunday approved a budget increase of $18.62 million to the settlements in Judea and Samaria in response to the new security situation. This amount will be added to the initial budget for the settlements of $88 million established in the coalition agreement between Habayit Hayehudi and Likud last year.

As the new decision puts it, “Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria have been experiencing unique security realities on a daily basis because of their geographic location and the quality of life in the area. Since the beginning of October 2015 there has been an escalation in the security situation in Judea and Samaria following the wave of terror attacks and additional terrorist activities. The security escalation influences a variety of areas of life, including psychological and sociological, and economic damage to businesses which require unique responses and services.”

The money will be transferred to the settlements from a variety of current budgets. The transfer will include a one-time award by the Interior Ministry to local municipal councils to the amount of $3.88 million, according to criteria that has been used in the past for security-related awards. Another $2.59 million will be paid out by the Ministry of Agriculture to a project converting structures into permanent housing units and renovating public structures in rural communities. And a total of $3.1 million will be used for the construction and operation of resilience centers, for enhanced welfare and social services, treatment of youth at risk, and support for businesses that were hurt by the security situation. The money for those programs will be taken out of the budgets of the ministries of education, finance, welfare, and health.

MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Camp) called the decision “enraging,” blaming the government for channeling money to the settlements at the expense of development towns on Israel’s geographic and social periphery. Welfare Minister Haim Katz (Likud) argued that the budgetary boost was essential to the communities in need and would contribute greatly to the resilience of these communities. He said, “It is our duty to care for the communities that are on the frontline of the war against terror and are courageously facing complex security and social challenges.”

JNi.Media

Israel Exports 500 Million Predatory Insects, Bumblebees, to Russia

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Israel has sent Russia 500 million predatory insects as part of its assistance in developing an independent Russian agriculture.

Following the European boycott on Russian produce as a result of the Russian invasion of Crimea, Russian agriculture was abruptly cut off from its traditional economic base, and so the state is investing great efforts in developing and sustaining the local agriculture — which is where Israel’s superior agricultural know-how comes into the picture. Israeli companies are now working to construct hothouses for Russian farmers, and consult them on utilizing innovative methods, including using natural, non-toxic methods to get rid of pests.

BioBee Biological Systems, in Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, just south of Beit She’an in northern Israel, is a unique company which breeds and implements beneficial insects and mites (swirskii, phytoseiulus persimilis) for agricultural purposes. These have proven priceless in pest control in tomatoes, cucumbers and roses.

BioBee also sent Russian farmers its home-grown bumblebees for pollination, without which there is no horticulture.

Part of the collaboration involves experiments being carried out by BioBee in using bumblebees to pollinate cherry orchards in Crimea. The company expects that should the trials prove a success this would open new markets for Israel in pollinating cherry trees around the world.

Crop pollination by insects has been estimated at $14.6 billion to the US economy, for instance, but bee diversity has declined considerably in the US and Europe, with many species disappearing from much of their former range, and some species going extinct. The UK alone has lost three species of native bumblebee, and six more are listed as endangered. Four bumblebee species have gone extinct from Europe, and similar declines are seen in China.

Chinese agricultural publications have described falling and increasingly unpredictable yields of insect-pollinated crops, particularly in the areas with the most intensive farming. Where crops are grown in vast fields, there are not enough insects to go around. And where insecticides are sprayed frequently, those vital little pollinators cannot survive.

Israeli innovation offers a viable solution to a major problem plaguing world agriculture, combining non-toxic pest control in a growing number of crops, with a complementary plan to revitalize the bumblebee hives around the world.

JNi.Media

New York’s Oldest Congregation to Appeal Ruling on Newport Synagogue $7.4 Million Grab

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

New York Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the US, announced it would appeal to the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals last month’s ruling by US District Court Judge Jack McConnell in Providence that the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island is the rightful owner of very expensive silver Torah ornaments. Judge McConnell also severed the ownership of the NY congregation over the Newport synagogue building.

Back in May, Federal Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ruled in favor of congregation Jeshuat Israel which resides in Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, and against Shearith Israel of New York which had claimed ownership of the edifice and its contents.

The $7.4 million dispute between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations erupted in 2011, when the Newport Touro synagogue congregation, known as Jeshuat Israel (Heb: salvation of Israel), offered to sell the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston two silver Torah ornaments called “rimonim” (Heb: pomegranates) for $7.4 million. But the ornaments, like the rest of the synagogue, were the property of Congregation Shearith Israel, currently residing on West 70th Street in New York, and they were not amused when they heard of the sale.

Members of the Newport congregation told the court that the reason they had to sell the ornaments—which were made by Jewish American Silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795)—was that their numbers were starting to dwindle and they could no longer afford to pay a rabbi.

Shearith Israel trustee Michael Katz testified that “we were aghast that they were doing this without informing us in advance. We considered it a violation of the lease. We considered it a violation of trust, and it upset us very, very much.”

According to AP, Congregation Shearith Israel on Tuesday issued a five-page statement disputing McConnell’s ruling: “Shearith Israel’s goal has been and remains to ensure that the Touro Synagogue, including the precious rimonim, remains intact, available for the continued use of Jews as an active place of worship and the continuous benefit of all people of faith as well as all those touched by its rich and inspiring history,” the statement said.

Back in the early 1900s, the NY congregation leased the Touro building to a newcomer Jewish congregation in Newport for $1 a year (which, in today’s value, comes to $1.87). They didn’t believe this generous lease empowered the tenants to sell off parts of the synagogue, and certainly not its multi-million dollar artifacts.

JNi.Media

AIPAC ‘Deeply Disappointed’ Obama Won’t Up Israel’s Missile Defense by $445 Million

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) issued a statement criticizing the White House Office of Management and Budget’s “Statement of Administration Policy” which threatened to veto the Senates $576 billion defense spending bill, among other reasons because the statement of policy “opposes the addition of $455 million above the FY 2017 Budget request for Israeli missile defense procurement and cooperative development programs.”

Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $600 million in funding for 2017, which represents an increase of $455 million over the president’s original request.

The statement of administration policy released Tuesday by the Office of Management and Budget reads: “The bill is inconsistent with the [Bipartisan Budget Act], and the administration strongly objects to the inclusion of problematic ideological provisions that are beyond the scope of funding legislation. … If the president were presented with H.R. 5293, the President’s senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.”

One of those “problematic ideological provisions” is the increased allocation for Israel’s missile defense research and development.

The White House used the same tactic against the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which the president also threatened to veto.

AIPAC said in a statement that it was “deeply disappointed” with the White House’s choosing to include the increase in defense spending on Israel’s missile programs in the components of the budget to which it objected. “On a bipartisan basis, Congress has increased funding above administration requests this year, as it has done for well over a decade,” AIPAC said. “These cooperative programs—including the Arrow, David’s Sling, and Iron Dome—are critical for Israel’s defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to US missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for consistently supporting these key programs, and urge their full funding in both the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization and Appropriations Acts.”

Incidentally, on the same day the White House announced it would not increase the funding for Iron Dome, among other programs, DefenseNews reported that after five years of a stellar performance in which Iron Dome has been credited with more than 1,500 operational intercepts—a 90% success rate, and despite a reported widespread global interest, government and industry sources say Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket intercepting system, developed by state-owned Rafael Ltd., has not yet been sold to a single customer.

“Who else in the world is constantly threatened by rockets?” former head of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization Uzi Rubin asked DN, noting: “It’s essentially only us and perhaps sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf, where for obvious reasons, we do not yet export.”

Rubin did not mention that in other, saner parts of the world, persistent rocket attacks from, say, Mexico, against, say, the US, would result in a one-time search and destroy response, rather than with a technological solution such as Iron Dome that contains those unceasing rocket attacks. You don’t have to be Donald Trump to figure that one out.

David Israel

Reports Show 1 Million Gap Between Estimates on Number of ‘Palestinians’

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Affairs and Security in Judea and Samaria on Tuesday took a stab at figuring out just how many Arabs live in eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, where in the latter two no one has taken a scientific census in ages, and the numbers appear to be skewed according to the political leanings of the different sources.

Lies, Damned Lies, and PA Census Data

The CIA World Factbook, updated July 2015, estimates there are 2,785,366 “Palestinians” living in those three areas, a.k.a. the “West Bank.” The Knesset subcommittee’s discussion suggested this figure is more than a little inflated.

Subcommittee Chairman MK Mordhay Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate saying “this is our second discussion of this issue, and we’d like to focus on data regarding Area C which is our responsibility. When I served as Ephraim Brigade Commander, over a period of one year, we executed an accurate count of all the residents in the sector, including Tulkarm and Qalqilya. The State of Israel possesses the needed means to find out, and the State of Israel must find out what is the number of residents for whom it is responsible, and about whom it would have to reach future decisions.”

Head of the Operations Directorate of the Civil Administration Lt. Col. Eyal Zeevi began his part by stressing that the civil administration does not engage in demographic studies, and that the responsibility for that in all of Judea and Samaria belongs to the Palestinian Authority, according to the 1995 interim agreement between Israel and the PA. In that context Zeevi explained that the PA demographic data does not offer specific Area C-related figures. However, Avi Gur-Ari, Population Administration officer in the Civil Administration clarified that he does maintain reliable testing of the data received from the PA.

This came as a surprise to the chairman, who requested that the entire PA census, including the data for Area C, be given to his subcommittee, noting that since the data includes the names of individual communities it should be feasible to discern those communities that are included in Area C.

Zeevi said it wasn’t as simple as that, because some of the Arab villages are split between Area C and neighboring, PA-governed Areas A and B. Other villages border the Jerusalem municipality. “With all due respect for the chairman, I don’t think it can be done in the suggested schedule. To do this professionally would require time and resources, which the political echelon has not yet decided to allocate.”

Once in the Roll, Always on the Roll

Zeevi shared some of the most common problems with the Palestinian Authority census: for one thing, a resident who leaves the PA remains listed as a resident; and these residents are able to visit, register their children and return abroad. Zeevi estimates that as many as 15,000 residents are added to the PA census this way annually.

“The immigration data presented today is partial and pertains only to the Allenby bridge border crossing into Jordan,” Zeevi added, estimating that “over the past 15 years more than 175 thousand have left through the crossing and never returned.”

According to Zeevi, the registered Arab population who carry Palestinian ID cards in Judea and Samaria, not including eastern Jerusalem, is 2.63 million. He believes that with the current growth rate coefficient in 2020 there will be 3.28 million and by 2030 there will be more than 4 million Arabs in all of Judea and Samaria.

According to Avi Lekach from the Population and Immigration Authority, in eastern Jerusalem there are at least 300 thousand Arab residents. David Koren, a consultant to the Jerusalem Mayor, noted that while there are 316 thousand registered Arab residents in Jerusalem, there may be as many as 60 thousand Arabs from the PA who are seeking residency in Jerusalem as part of family reunions.

Italian-born Israeli demographer and statistician Prof. Sergio Della Pergola told the subcommittee that he believes there are some 2.4 Arab residents in Judea and Samaria today, and that the Jewish majority in all of Eretz Israel is only about 52% — which includes people who identify as Jewish but halakhically are not. In his opinion, the halakhically Jewish majority is long gone.

But former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger cited his own research which found that the birthrate balance has switched and that today’s Jewish birthrate is higher than the Arab. Ettinger also said that his research showed that by the end of 2015 there were only 1.75 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Analyzing PA Eligible Voter Data Implies Even Lower Numbers

Back in 2013, Middle East analyst Dr. Guy Bechor cited the number of eligible PA voters in the 2012 local elections — 515 thousand — setting it as the number of adults 18 and older. If we add to it an identical number of people ages 0-18, we’ll get a little more than one million. Add the maximum figure of eastern Jerusalem Arabs and you’ll get a generous estimate of only 1.4 million Arabs. The number of Jews, incidentally, is comprised of 385 thousand in Judea and Samaria and 300 thousand in eastern Jerusalem, or close to 700 thousand in total.

MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp-Labor) said it was shameful that Israel does not know how many Arabs actually live in Area C. “We know how many Syrian tanks there are, but not how many civilians are living under our care,” he said, suggesting that whether Area C becomes part of Israel or is handed over to the PA, “we should know how many potential Arab citizens we’ll have in the state.”

JNi.Media

Netanyahu Promises $220 Million Toward Jerusalem Development

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised an influx on Thursday of hundreds of millions of dollars toward the economic and cultural development of Jerusalem as part of the government’s Jubilee plan to invest in the capital city.

“We are developing Jerusalem and building it,” Netanyahu said in a cabinet session in advance of Jerusalem Day, which falls on Sunday. “Today we are advancing an additional NIS 850 million [US$220 million] to the Jubilee plan, investing in the development of Jerusalem – in technology and companies.”

On Jerusalem Day, Israelis and Jews worldwide celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem when Israel captured the eastern portion of the city – including the Old City which contains the Western Wall and Temple Mount – from Jordanian forces during the Six Day War in 1967.

Netanyahu stressed that technology was one sector that has been helping Jerusalem grow.

“There is an interesting technological development taking place here,” said Netanyahu.

“‘From Zion shall go forth the Torah’ and it goes forth from yeshivot (religious academies),” he continued, quoting the Biblical verse from Isaiah, adding a modern twist: “From Zion shall go forth software and it goes forth from the new companies that we are developing.”

The prime minister added that Israel was also investing in a number of other areas and sectors in Jerusalem.

“We are investing a lot in the infrastructure of tourism and the infrastructure of different projects and parks,” noted Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said that this developmental plan for Israel’s capital is definitely not the city’s first.

“I welcomed the plan for the development of cities, of which they said was the first of Jerusalem’s since the time of the British (Mandate),” he said. “However, I want to make a correction: Jerusalem’s first development program was by King David and after him, King Solomon.”

The Biblical figure King David established Jerusalem as the Jewish people’s capital city some 3,000 years ago, the bible relates. David’s son Solomon fulfilled his father’s wish to build a Jewish Temple in the city of Jerusalem, the site of which currently houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Netanyahu expressed a sense of optimism not only for the level of success achieved in the developmental program but also for Jerusalem’s future.

“This program is working in all areas, including in the development of Jerusalem as an academic city – increasing the number of its students, its wealth of humanity, as well as national and international wealth helping to march the city forward.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

What If They Built a $24 Million ‘Palestinian Museum’ and There Was Nothing to Show?

Monday, May 16th, 2016

The $24 million Palestinian Museum is slated to open on Wednesday this week in Bir Zeit, about 15 miles north of Jerusalem, a dream that has come true after it had been first initiated in 1997 by the London-based Welfare Association to commemorate the “Nakba,” that fateful gamble local Arabs have taken against the 1947 UN partition resolution, which ended up with them getting nothing at all. But, as the NY Times put it on Monday, the new museum has a stunning, contemporary new building; soaring ambitions as a space for “Palestinian” art, history and culture; an outdoor amphitheater; a terraced garden — and no exhibits.

There was going to be an inaugural exhibit, named “Never Part,” about artifacts belonging to Arab refugees, but it will not be happening, because there was a disagreement between the museum’s board and its director, Jack Persekian, and the director was sacked. Or, as a spokeswoman announced on Sunday: “There will not be any artwork exhibited in the museum at all.”

The NY Times commented that the fate of the exhibition says more about the realities of Arab society than any art collection could have done. The defunct exhibition “Never Part” was going to feature artistic interpretations of keys and photographs that Arab refugees around the world have kept from their old homes in Israel.

The ousted director Persekian told the NY Times the museum’s senior management informed him they no longer liked his project, but never explained why. Persekian said he had collected images of countless artifacts from “Palestinians” around the world for “Never Part,” which he intended to make available to artists who could have interpreted the objects as they saw fit. But the folks in charge of the museum were uneasy about his plan. “Maybe they didn’t want to take a risk with something that is so unpredictable and so uncontrollable,” he said.

All the museum people would say is, “We didn’t feel that what was delivered was up to scratch.”

Now, without any exhibition at all, other than a virtual show starting May 25, which it borrowed from a museum in Beirut, the Palestinian Museum building, designed by Irish architectural firm Heneghan Peng, will host the Wednesday opening ceremony with nothing to show inside. The official version is that the ceremony will only celebrate the completion of the building.

David Israel

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/what-if-they-built-a-24-million-palestinian-museum-and-there-was-nothing-to-show/2016/05/16/

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