The Swiss-Israel Friendship Association, headed by MP Corina Eichenberger-Walther (Liberal Party), visited the Knesset on Wednesday and conducted several meetings with Israeli lawmakers, including members of the Israel-Switzerland Parliamentary Friendship Group, headed by MK David Amsalem (Likud).
The Swiss MP also met with MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman, MK Avi Dichter (Likud).
MP Eichenberger-Walther is the head of a European association for fighting BDS, and emphasized during her meetings that she is ceaselessly working to improve relations between Switzerland and Israel.
MK Amsalem noted that Israelis from the entire political spectrum often feel as though the attitude toward Israel around the world, especially in Europe, is unfair and unjustified. Amsalem pointed as an example to the latest resolution passed by UNESCO regarding the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and the holy sites.
Eichenberger-Walther called the UNESCO decision “absurd” and said it “undermines the organization’s credibility.”
During the meeting with Knesset Deputy Speaker MK Yehiel Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp), the Swiss delegation members expressed their concerns regarding the year 2017, when the PA and their BDS supporters are expected to launch a propaganda campaign against Israel, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War.
MK Bar responded, “It is good to see once again that Israel has many friends around the world, some in influential positions. The challenge Israel faces is to recruit all of our supporters for a joint active initiative.”
Each year, the World Economic Forum releases its Global Competitiveness Report, examining data on the soundness, resilience, sophistication and innovation of businesses in each country to compile evaluations of the economy of 138 countries, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.
The 2016-2017 edition highlights that declining openness is threatening growth and prosperity. It also highlights that monetary stimulus measures such as quantitative easing are not enough to sustain growth and must be accompanied by competitiveness reforms. Final key finding points to the fact that updated business practices and investment in innovation are now as important as infrastructure, skills and efficient markets.
“Declining openness in the global economy is harming competitiveness and making it harder for leaders to drive sustainable, inclusive growth,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.
On the Global Competitiveness Index for 2016–2017, Israel is ranked in 24th place, behind Switzerland, Singapore, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the UK, Hong Kong and Japan, and directly behind Ireland in 23rd place. In last year’s report, Israel was ranked 27th. UAE in 16th place and Qatar in 18th are the other two Middle Eastern countries in the top 25, but for Qatar the ranking represents a 4-point drop from last year’s report.
Among other areas, the World Economic Forum looks at innovation, taking into account the quality of scientific research, company spending on Research and Development, ties between academia and industry, the number of patents, and the number of engineers and scientists in each country. In the index for innovation and sophistication factors, Israel is ranked in 2nd place (the US is 4th), with Switzerland in first place.
In innovation capacity, Israel is 9th, Switzerland 1st, the US 6th.
In business dynamism, Israel is ranked 19th, right behind Canada (the US is in first place, Germany 10th).
The most problematic factors for doing business in Israel, according to the report (in descending order): inefficient government bureaucracy, high tax rates, policy instability, an inadequately educated workforce, problems in access to financing, excessive tax regulations, and restrictive labor regulations.
Israel’s least problematic issues: little corruption (who would have thunk, right?), capacity to innovate (there’s plenty), work ethic in national labor force (Israelis work like horses), crime and theft (very low), inflation (non-existent), and public health (Israel has one of the best public health programs in the West).
According to the International Monetary Fund, Israel’s GDP is $296.1 billion, GDP per capita $35,343.3
The Middle East and North Africa region continues to experience significant instability in geopolitical and economic terms as spillover effects from the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen are undermining economic progress in the entire region.
Instability is also being created by the uncertain future of energy prices after recent falls, which affect the region’s countries in different ways. Oil-exporting countries—which include Algeria (87th), Bahrain (48th), the Islamic Republic of Iran (76th), Kuwait (38th), Oman (66th), Qatar (18th), Saudi Arabia (29th), the United Arab Emirates (16th), and Yemen (138th)—are experiencing lower growth, higher fiscal deficits, and rising concerns about unemployment. Growth in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies averaged 5.2 percent between 2000 and 2012, but fell to 2.5 percent in 2015. The forecast for 2016 is also 2.5 percent, and rising oil supplies are expected to keep prices low and limit growth expectations for the coming years.
The IDF Appeals Committee in Judea and Samaria has ruled recently that the 2013 declaration of an area of some 55 acres in the vicinity of Kokhav Ya’akov, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, as state land is null and void, because the process of making the acquisition was improper, Ha’aretz reported Monday. The military panel was also critical of the lack of transparency in making the declaration public — meaning that it was being kept out of PA Arabs’ earshot.
The panel’s ruling on an appeal by NGO Yesh Din on behalf of alleged Arab land owners, is more a judicial recommendation to the IDF in the area than a compelling decision, but should the declaration of state land be appealed in the Israeli Supreme court — as it surely will be — the panel’s decision would influence the justices’ ruling.
The grounds for dismissing the government acquisition of the land has to do with its failure to adequately comply with Ottoman Law — a remnant of the Turkish government’s rule over these lands before 1918, which continues to be the law of the land; and will continue to be so as long as Israel fails to impose Israeli law on Area C, where Jews live.
Ottoman law says that a man can establish claim to his land if he can show that he has been tilling it for the previous ten years. The state tried to comply with the law by providing aerial photographs of the area from 1969, showing clearly that the land was not being cultivated.
However, the dissemination of lands to local Arabs by King Hussein, who ruled the area from 1949 to 1967, took place in 1961. So the panel ruled that the aerial photos proving the land was not being cultivated had to be from before 1961, and, according to the state, such photographs could not be found.
There are photographs from 1944 showing that some of the land was being tilled then.
The judges wrote that they were not convinced the state had made the full effort to discover those 1956 aerial photographs, and that without them the panel must rule that the situation back in 1944 continued uninterrupted through 1961. Of course, the decision to require a photograph from before 1961 assumes that when King Hussein handed over lands to the heads of local Arab clans (whom he viewed as a source of potential rebellion) — he had the right to give those lands away. But Hussein was never recognized universally as the sovereign of the “West Bank,” which was considered an occupied territory, along the 1949 armistice border with Israel.
Local residents of Kokhav Ya’akov say they have also purchased the land, but regardless of the ownership papers they would present to the high court, organizations like Yesh Din will rustle up a group of Arab claimants to the land, with papers freshly minted by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah showing the land belongs to them.
According to NGO Monitor, Yesh Din operates on an annual budget of $1.58 million, provided by the EU, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norwegian Refugee Council, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, HEKS (Switzerland), Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Oxfam-Novib (Netherlands).
If you’re in London on vacation this month, here’s an opportunity to explore the streets of 1960s London through the lens of eminent photographer Dorothy Bohm. Born in 1924 to o a Jewish-Lithuanian family in Konigsberg, East Prussia, Bohm escaped Nazism in 1939 when she was sent to England to finish her schooling, armed with a Leica camera handed to her by her father as she was departing. She Graduated from Manchester College of Technology in 1942 and worked in leading portrait studio in central Manchester. In 1945 she married Louis Bohm, in ’46 she opened “Studio Alexander” in Manchester, and in 1947 visited Palestine for the first time. Between 1947 and 1955, she traveled to Switzerland, lived in Paris, lived in New York and San Francisco, traveled around the US and Mexico, until in 1956 she settled in Hampstead, North London, where she still lives.
Church Street market, Marylebone / Dorothy Bohm, Courtesy
She continued to travel and shoot around the planet, but her retrospective show that ends August 29 at the Jewish Museum London steps back in time to discover the diversity of life in London in the 1960s, with photographs focusing on its inhabitants from all walks of life, from schoolchildren to fashion-conscious young adults to market traders.
Dorothy Bohm: Sixties London, at the Ben Uri Gallery & Museum through August 29 2016.
Open Daily 10 AM – 5 PM (Fridays 10 AM – 2 PM). Last entrance is 30 minutes before closing.
Jewish Museum London, Raymond Burton House, 129-131 Albert Street, London NW1 7NB
The Swiss Air Force scrambled fighter planes to escort an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv around their borders following a bomb threat against the flight.
The Swiss F-18 planes escorted the El Al flight along the French-Swiss border, according to Swiss media.
Israel radio said that German fighter planes were scrambled too.
It is unclear what the fighter planes would actually do if there was a bomb on board.
The flight is continuing on to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport without a problem. It’s expected to land between 12:32 PM to 12:40 PM Israel time. Update: The plane has landed safely at around 12:43 PM.
El Al released a statement that an anonymous threat was received, and the plane is continuing to Ben-Gurion airport as planned.
According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry after conferring with El Al, US airport authorities received an anonymous threat of a bomb in the kitchen of the El Al plane. The American authorities informed the Swiss authorities as the plane was then over their airspace. The Swiss then scrambled their fighters.
The El Al crew checked and did not find any bombs on board in the kitchen or elsewhere.
Update: The plane has landed safely at Ben-Gurion Airport at around 12:43 PM.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, declared that the mission for Christians to bring other people to the faith includes militants like the Islamic State (ISIS) who are responsible for the highest persecution of Christian believers in the Middle East. Speaking last Sunday in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, the Cardinal argued that 80% of all the people who are persecuted for their faith around the world today are Christians, who are executed without regard to their denominational distinctions.
Cardinal Koch also advocated a thoughtful welcome of refugees knocking on Switzerland’s door. Incidentally, the Swiss have turned sheltering refugees from the Middle East into a lucrative business, as refugees arriving in Switzerland have had to turn over to the state any assets worth more than $1,000 to help pay for their upkeep. It also presents an ingenious pricing policy: whatever you have above a thousand bucks, please. But we digress.
Recalling the words of Tertullian, an emblematic figure of the Christian community in Carthage in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Cardinal Koch told his listeners on Sunday that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians.” Considering the state of affairs in ISIS controlled areas, this should make for lots of new Christian seeds. Indeed, Koch, formerly the bishop of Basel, Switzerland, suggested that more Christians are persecuted in the world today than they were in the Roman Empire in the first centuries of Christianity.
Since the start of the civil war in Syria, more than 2,000 members of the local Christian minority were killed, and tens of thousands have fled the fighting to seek refuge abroad. More than one hundred churches were damaged or completely destroyed, according to figures provided by AED.
Catholicism is not for the faint of heart, and not for folks seeking self-preservation, never mind a comfortable life. Cardinal Koch noted that while Christians are fleeing the war in the Middle East by the tens of thousands, local bishops have been pleading with them to stay, even at the cost of a swift martyrdom.
But the Church insists on the same disregard for its people’s safety once they have reached European shelters. Faced with the alarming news that about 40,000 Christian refugees are being harassed and threatened by Muslim refugees in shelters in Germany, Church officials have resisted calls to separate the refugees according to their faith. “There’s an educational job to do, it’s a long process to pass the values which are in force in our democracies,” Cardinal Koch said, pointing to the eventual peace that has been reached between Protestants and Catholics in Europe, arguing the bloody conflict between Sunnis and Shiites will inevitably be resolved equally peacefully.
Of course, it’s taken Catholics and Protestants a good six centuries or so to stop murdering each other, and in some parts of Europe and the US the smoke hasn’t yet cleared off of that one completely. But the cardinal is stoic as to the number of victims this approach to conflict resolution will surely exact.
Cardinal Koch told the Daily Telegraph: “We have a mission to convert Muslims to Christianity. We have a mission to convert the people of all the non-Christian religions [except] Judaism.” He also urged Christians to view Judaism as a “mother” – despite key differences between the two faiths – and said they have a unique relationship, unlike the third Abrahamic religion, Islam.
One of the most crucial distinctions in that regard has been that Jews rarely massacre your entire village for daring to invite them to mass.
Only 22 countries around the globe have reached an average life expectancy at birth greater than 80 years, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, which would suggest that if one is planning to retire abroad, one should consider those countries most seriously.
Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the WHO African Region to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions. Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).
Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.
As to the friendly global race of whose citizens get to live longer, the top countries are, in descending order: Japan – 83.7, Switzerland – 83.4, Singapore – 83.1, Italy – 82.7, and Israel – 82.5. The US did not make the 80+ club in 2015, with only 79.3 years’ life expectancy. Neither did the Russian Federation – 70.5.
Israel’s neighbors are definitely not ideal locations for retirement: Egypt – 70.9, Jordan – 74.1, Lebanon – 74.9, and Syria – 64.5 (if you’re lucky). Nigeria stands out with 54.5 life expectancy, along with Angola – 52.4, Burkina Faso – 59.9, Burundi – 59.6, Cameroon – 57.3, Central African Republic – 52.5, Chad – 53.1, Guinea – 59, and Guinea-Bissau – 58.9.
So, here is the list of world countries where you’ll get to grow older than 80, barring unexpected circumstances:
Japan – 83.7
Switzerland – 83.4
Singapore – 83.1
Italy – 82.7
Israel – 82.5
France – 82.4
Sweden – 82.4
Canada – 82.2
Luxembourg – 82
Netherlands – 81.9
Norway – 81.8
Malta – 81.7
New Zealand – 81.6
Austria – 81.5
Belgium – 81.1
Finland – 81.1
Germany – 81
Denmark – 80.6
Chile – 80.5
Cyprus – 80.5