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November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Tazpit News Agency’

Modi’in Mayor Calls Recent EU Decision ‘Harmful to Israel’s Sovereignty’

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

The European Union’s recent decision to classify the city of Modi’in as a settlement, and not part of Israel proper, came as a slight shock to local residents.

Zohar Dovev, whose family moved to the city in 1997, explained how surprised she was to find out last week that the city she was raised in was suddenly given a completely new status.  “It came out of nowhere,” Dovev told Tazpit News Agency. “For 15 years of life, I’m just a regular Israeli resident living in a developing city until one day an international organization decides that I’m a settler.”

Modiin, established in 1993 under the government of the late Yitzhak Rabin, who laid the cornerstone for the city himself, is located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The city, which merges two nearby communities, Maccabim and Re’ut, is home to approximately 80,000 Israelis, about 40 percent of whom are children. According to the Modi’in municipality, the city has hundreds of educational institutions, shopping centers, green parks, and entertainment venues.

Part of Modi’in is located in a buffer zone known as ‘no-man’s land’ that existed between 1948-1967 when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria.

Although Dovev may be surprised by the European Union’s decision, the mayor of Modi’in, Haim Bibas, is not.

According to a written statement from Bibas to Tazpit News Agency, the mayor stated that the hostile attitude among Arab states to the existence of Israel has long played a factor in international politics and policies.

“Since Israel’s establishment in 1948 there have been players in the Middle East who will not accept that the nation of Israel has returned to its historical homeland. Arab states and various organizations have tried to harm the legitimacy and sovereignty of Israel in every available forum. The EU’s decision not to include the city of Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut as part of the free trade agreement with Israeli cities is the most recent example,” Bibas elucidated.

The Modi’in mayor, however, did not lay the blame on the European Union.  “The EU and other international organizations and states work hard to bridge the relationship between Israel and the Arab world. It is easy to complain against the European Union, but pressure from every direction and lack of familiarity with the on-ground situation, can lead to mistaken decisions are made, as we saw last week.”

Bibas emphasized that Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut, are inseparable from the state of Israel.  “Modiin is one of the most rapidly growing cities of Israel and is an integral part of the state, which no one from across the political spectrum challenges.”

Although the European Union later clarified that it was placing only three postal codes from Modi’in Maccabim-Re’ut–not the entire city–on the list of areas deemed ineligible for tax exemptions for goods that are exported to European countries, the Modi’in municipality did not accept the clarification.

“The changed status of these areas is not acceptable and we are doing everything we can to rectify this decision which is not only an attempt to harm the position of Modi’in, but also the sovereignty of the state of Israel,” stressed the mayor.

As for Dovev, 24, she does not believe the EU’s decision will have any impact her family’s decision to reside in the city. “My family will always live here. This is our home no matter the international status,” she stated.

Young Entrepreneurs from India, Brazil, and El Salvador Experience Israel for First Time

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Jerusalem – An international group of young entrepreneurs had a first-hand glimpse into Israel’s social activism and entrepreneurial ventures in a unique project last week.

Hailing from India, El Salvador, New Zealand, Brazil, and South Africa, the participants, ranging from their early 20s to 30s, with a background in entrepreneurial work, were part of an international conference called S.E.E. Israel (Social Entrepreneur Exchange).Organized by Jerusalem’s Hebrew University students as part of a StandWithUs public diplomacy training program, the conference connected the international visitors with young Israeli social innovators, enterprises and organizations.

The four-day conference featured lectures and meetings with experts on a variety of topics including informal education and solutions to universal problems facing civil societies as well as how to strengthen society’s weaker sectors. The participants also experienced on-site tours of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and even participated in a social activist project during their stay.

For Jithin C. Nedumala, 25, of Bangalore, India, and founder of Make A Difference (MAD), the largest youth volunteer network for Indian orphans and underprivileged children, the visit to Israel was an eye-opening experience.

“Being here, I understand Israel and Israelis as people much better. In India, our perception of Israel comes from the media and we always hear about the conflict, especially the flotilla incident. Israel is always presented as an oppressor from this perspective,” Nedumala told Tazpit News Agency.

“The first time I heard about the entrepreneurial side of Israel was when I read the book, Start-Up Nation, which got me interested in Israel in a different way,” Nedumala explained.

“I’m amazed by how informal everything is—you don’t feel any hierarchy and people generally let others be. Israelis even refer to the Prime Minister by his nickname—Bibi. In India, society is much more strict and formal,” Nedumala concluded.

Jithin was not the only participant who discovered another side to Israel. Polyana de Oliveira of San Paulo, Brazil did not anticipate the diversity of the country. “There are so many different types of people here from all backgrounds,” she said.

The 26-year-old Oliveira is bringing back to Brazil “a lot of ideas” for her own tourist destination company that she has launched for English speakers in Brazil, called My Destination. “I learned so much about social models during the conference and the fact that we all have similar issues and problems– and that there are creative ways to solve them.”

In addition, the international participants had the opportunity to directly interact with Israelis at the Jerusalem market, Mahane Yehuda which has over 250 vendors selling fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, spices, wines and other goods. They joined Israeli volunteers from the organization, Gveret Im Salim, or Lady with Baskets, which was founded two years ago to help elderly citizens shop in the open market. Distinguished by yellow shirts, the volunteers, who network on Facebook, walk around every Thursday offering to carry heavy bags of goods of elderly people stocking up for the weekend Sabbath. In exchange for the help, the elderly shoppers, many of whom have come to depend on the extra help, share stories of their past with the younger helpers.

It was a chance for the international group of the S.E.E. Israel program to learn more about the Jerusalem lifestyle and converse with elderly Israeli locals who told them stories of growing up in the city.

Rodrigo Aguilar of El Salvador even had the chance to practice a little Hebrew at that the market, which he learned during the visit. “I felt almost Israeli, saying Shalom, Todah (thank you) and Yalla (hurry up),” he said with a smile.

Aguilar, 21, a university student in El Salvador, who has volunteered for A Roof For My Country, an NGO that builds basic homes for the impoverished, explained that he came to Israel to “to see how it really is here.”

“The coverage that Israel receives in my country is usually negative, so I have always done my own research into the conflict and Israel which was why I wasn’t too surprised by what I’ve experienced culturally throughout the trip.”

And Tatyana Kurbatoff, 31, from New Zealand, found the conference especially inspiring. “You can see that the early pioneer spirit is still alive in the entrepreneurial outlook among the Israelis we have met. This was a great opportunity for us to meet, share and learn about the value of social innovation against the fascinating cultural landscape of Israel.”

IDF Survey: Highest Number of Reservists Per Capita Come from Judea and Samaria

Monday, August 20th, 2012

A recently released IDF survey has found that the highest number of reservists per capita recruited by the Israeli Defense Forces over the past year have come from the Judea and Samaria region. The survey, conducted annually by the Israeli army, has found that Judea and Samaria residents top Israeli citizens serving in the army at 34%. This was followed by residents of the North at 29%, 28% from Jerusalem and Central Israel and 27% from the South. Of the members of the reserves from Judea and Samaria, a majority of 60% were found to be serving in combat units.

The poll was also surprising in the diversity it found in the Israeli Defense Forces. 1,200 of the reservists were from the Republic of Georgia, 720 originated from Iran, 30 from the Philippines, and 4 from Bahrain. The study indicates a rarely seen picture of reserve duty, where minorities and immigrants play a larger role than previously thought. A total of 19% of reserve soldiers were born outside Israel.

The survey showed that only 5% of the population served a meaningful stint of at least one week in the reserves this past year. Together with this data, 80% called up for reserve duty did report as called. 14% of those called up were women, a rise of 6% from the previous year.

The IDF reserve formation is currently fighting for its status, shaken by public controversy surrounding the recruitment of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and the declining number of reservists over recent years. A new reservists movement, calling itself “The Sucker’s Camp”, is protesting the fact that only a small segment of society bears the brunt of demanding reservist duty. Amit Barak, spokesman of the “Im Tirzu” Zionist student movement and paratrooper reservist, believes that serving in the reserves is actually a privilege, and does not view himself as a so-called sucker. “Today, someone who does Miluim, reserve duty, does so because he wants to. There are enough ways to evade service. Some who serve do so because they think it’s important, because they’re patriots and because they think it is of social significance. Calling the reserves suckers is humiliating to those who serve. The reserve service is infused with values, and I think it’s a privilege to serve.”

Ofer Inbar, another paratrooper reservist, told Tazpit News Agency: “Every time a put of the IDF uniform I feel a sense of pride. I think it’s an honor to be a soldier in the reserves. It’s a unique experience to be a soldier in the IDF after 2,000 years of the Jewish People being defenseless. I have been educated by these values and intend to educate my children by these same values.”

Arik Ben Shimon, an armored corps crew man, fought to serve in the reserves. His wife was nine months pregnant, and by law he was exempt from service, but he showed up to his scheduled training. During the third day of training, in the dead of night, his wife called and told him the baby was on the way. After a while the contractions ceased, and so he continued the training and concluded it. “Anyone who shows up to Miluim does so because he wants, because it’s important to him. I will continue to report to duty when ever I am called.” Ben Shimon concluded.

New Yorker Cartoonist, Liza Donnelly Brings Cartoon World to Israel

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Liza Donnelly, known for her cartoon work in The New Yorker, is one of the few women in the world who has been able to make a living as a political caricaturist. On a recent visit to Israel as a cultural envoy of the US State Department, Donnelly met with local cartoonists and members of the public to discuss the impact of her work and that of other female cartoonists.

“All cartoonists are linked together in the world—it’s our language, one we can communicate in,” Donnelly told an audience at the American Center in Jerusalem, a wing of the US embassy in Tel Aviv on Sunday, August 12.

Donnelly began to draw cartoons as a child, living in Washington DC. “I was shy and didn’t like using words growing up. Drawing was a way of expressing myself and making people around me laugh,” she said.

“It was actually an Israeli cartoonist, Nurit Karlin, who made me think that I could draw for The New Yorker. I saw her work published in the magazine in the early 1970s—she was the only woman working as a cartoonist at The New Yorker at the time,” Donnelly explained.

In the past 30 years of her career, Donnelly’s cartoons have been regularly published in The New Yorker and offer social commentary on a variety of topics from politics and society norms to love, family and marriage–often times in a humorous light. She has spoken at TED Talks and The United Nations and her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNN.com, Harvard Business Review, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, The Nation and many other national American publications.

In an exclusive interview with Tazpit News Agency, Donnelly described her visit to Israel as “different from what I expected.”

“I love it here,” she said smiling. “I love how Israelis love the news and how passionate and open they are to discussion. I feel very welcomed here as a non-Jew.”

“Israelis give the impression that they are prickly on the outside and soft on the inside and I relate to that. I’m a realist but yet an idealist and I feel that among the people I meet here,” said Donnelly.

During Donnelly’s talk, she explained how difficult it was for her draw after September 11. “I had a lot of trouble drawing cartoons after 9/11,” she said.

“One thing that I was surprised by was the ability of Israelis to move on. There’s so much conflict here so I expected much more serious, reserved people, but there’s always humor and laughter in conversations,” she said.

During her visit, Donnelly also met with Israeli and Palestinian cartoonists. “The reality is much more complicated than I expected, especially in Jerusalem in regard to how everyone lives together,” added Donnelly.

“I’m not a politician or a political expert, but I believe that there are many ways to look at peace,” she said.

During her talk, Donnelly showed a number of different cartoons she had drawn over the years as well as cartoons by other women from around the world. “Social media is allowing women’s art to reach more and more people, especially from countries like Iran and China.”

Donnelly introduced the audience to a number of female cartoonists and their political work from a several countries including Turkey, Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.  “The Internet removes cultural and physical barriers and we need to read cartoons from around the world in order to understand what is going on,” stated Donnelly.

Jewish ‘Valentine’s Day’ Finds Ancient Roots in Biblical Shiloh

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Over 3,000 years ago, an ancient Jewish holiday was celebrated by the maidens of Israel. Dressed in white, the daughters of Israel would dance in the vineyards where men would choose them as their wives on the Fifteenth of Av, known as Tu B’Av.  Soon-to-be brides would dance in the community of Shiloh in Samaria, the temporary capital of Israel before the first Temple was built in Jerusalem.

The holiday celebrates many happy events that happened during this time in the course of Jewish history, some which were associated with the Temple in Jerusalem.

“Tu B’Av , however, has a much deeper significance than just an Israeli Valentine’s Day,”  according to Tamar Asraf, the spokeswoman of the Binyamin Council.

“In the very beginning, this ancient holiday was more of a local custom than a national one,” Asraf told Tazpit News Agency.  “The holiday gained national significance when members of the Benjamin tribe, who were forbidden to marry outside the tribe following the Pilegesh B’Givah incident and the Civil War that ensued, were once again allowed to marry into the the nation on the fifteenth of Av during the period of Judges.”

“This is a holiday that signifies not only love, but marriage and the continuation of the Jewish home during times of crisis and challenge in the history of our people,” said Asraf.

The Mishnah explains that “there were no holidays so joyous for the Jewish People as the Fifteenth of Av and Yom HaKippurim, for on those days, daughters of Jerusalem would go out dressed in borrowed white clothing…so as not to embarrass those who didn’t have.” Tu B’Av was instituted in the Second Temple period to mark the beginning of the grape harvest which ended on Yom Kippur.

Following the establishment of the modern state of Israel, Tu B’Av was revived as a national holiday celebrated across the country. In the modern day community of Shiloh, located in the Binyamin region, about 30 minutes north of Jerusalem, Tu B’Av’s historical and traditional elements play a central role in celebrations.

For the past four years, the Regional Council and Binyamin Tourism have hosted an annual Tu B’Av “Dancing in the Vineyards Festival” which features Jewish dance and music for women. Live concerts, dance workshops and of course the traditional dancing in the vineyards of Shiloh are some of the main features of the evening set near the remnants of the biblical Shiloh city.

Avital Horesh, the festival’s artistic director said that organizers, who spent months preparing for the event, expect over 1,000 women from all over Israel to attend. “Last year we had 1,000 religious women attend from all sectors in Israel, both religious, non-religious. This year we expect even more—close to 1,500.”

There will be a number of different dance workshops available including hip hop, Oriental dance, and African dance. A concert will be held after featuring well known Israeli singers from religious and non-religious backgrounds.

“The underlying idea of the festival is to bring women together from all parts of Israeli society to celebrate an ancient tradition that brought our nation closer together thousands of years ago. It’s sharing an age-old national message of reconnecting to our roots and traditions–accessible to anyone no matter their religious background,” concludes Asraf.

Israeli and Pakistani News Agencies Collaborate in Media Venture

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

Tazpit News Agency, a Jerusalem based news agency, announced a new joint project with Weekly Press Pakistan. Weekly Press Pakistan is a Toronto-based news outlet published in Urdu, one of the most common languages in the world, specifically in the Muslim countries in southern and central Asia.Weekly Press Pakistan also runs a popular journalist discussion group on Google having over 14,000 journalist members, and is associated with Press Network Pakistan (PNP). This project will allow numerous stories distributed by Tazpit to be published through Weekly Press Pakistan in Urdu, giving a much wider audience to Israeli news. This endeavor is unique, as Tazpit News Agency is the first Israeli media company to be published in Urdu and to collaborate with a Pakistani media group. It is of significance to not that Pakistan does have diplomatic ties with the State of Israel.

On their website, Weekly Press Pakistan describes itself as “a Toronto-based newspaper that takes pride in its unbiased in-depth news reporting both in English and Urdu languages. The weekly reaches hundreds of journalists through Press Pakistan Google Group as well as local and international readers including Government officials, political leaders, diplomats, lawyers, civil society, activists and overseas Pakistani community.”

Director of Tazpit News Agency, Amotz Eyal, stated that the collaboration between Tazpit News Agency and the Pakistani news agency has, for the first time, exposed millions to news and balanced information coming from Israel. “I am confident that this joint venture will be beneficial to Israelis as well as Pakistanis, and will promote understanding between the two parties.”

Weekly Press Pakistan is known for making information about Israel more accessible and open, helping to bridge the gap between Pakistani and Israeli perspectives. In April, they celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, by highlighting Israeli innovations and inventions as well as humanitarian programs such as IsraAID and Save a Child’s Heart.

“Today on Israel’s 64th birthday, anyone who denies existence of Israel, actually he denies his own existence… Israel is a reality… Better we not only recognize but also establish close relations without further wastage of time… The day is not far when talented and educated people of both states will join hands to serve the humanity together but for this, Israel would also have to promote media-to-media dialogue keeping in the view the significance of non-Arab Pakistani and Ajmi Muslims…Happy Birthday to Israel.”

Weekly Press Pakistan announced their Yom Ha’Atzmaut celebration and support of Israel. This new partnership is an even bolder step. It is a step by both Israelis and Pakistanis to come closer together, bridging the gaps and enabling mutual understanding.

A Region in Turmoil – An Overview of the Strife on Israel’s Borders

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The Middle East has gone through tremendous changes in the past months, and is continually evolving. It is unclear where the region is heading. Two years ago, no Middle East expert could have predicted how things would develop today. The clashes in Syria continues, and reached a new level of violence as the Syrians shot down a Turkish air force jet over the weekend. Turkey vows to retaliate. In Egypt, a new president was announced yesterday. The outcome of this announcement is unclear, causing much tension in the streets of Cairo. Many variables in this complex web remain unclear.

In an attempt to clarify the basic issues, Tazpit News Agency spoke to Dr. Yehuda Balanga from Bar Ilan University, an expert on Syrian affairs.

Dr. Balanga began by stating that with regards to Syria, it is difficult to talk about a Syrian nation, a unified national entity. Its twenty two million citizens are comprised of several ethnic groups. The majority are Sunni Muslims, while the minorities include Shiite Muslims, Alawi Muslims like President Bashar El-Asad, Druze, and Christians. Assad’s current coalition relies primarily on the Sunni majority, which has not joined the revolt up to this point. The military is comprised primarily of Sunni soldiers, but the high command is Alawi. So far, Assad has managed to retain control. We can expect to see a change in the way the conflict develops only if the Sunni majority changes its allegiance from the Assad regime to the rebels’ cause. The Syrian army is still strong and unified and although there are desertions, they are not on a mass scale.

The UN recently categorized the strife in Syria as a civil war involving many factions. Dr. Balanga does not think the conflict in Syria has reached that state yet. The current situation is still that of a rebel army fighting the Syrian army. The various minorities have not begun to fight each other, so he does not categorize it as a civil war.

As for the rebel army, there are actually two factions. The first is the Free Syrian Army, led by Mustafa El-Sheiq. The second body is The Syrian National Assembly, a less violent faction concentrated more on non-violent resistance. In general, the makeup of these armies is unclear, with their numbers estimated between 5,000 and 40,000. It is hard to define who comprises these groups. It is known that most of the rebels are Sunni, and yet the Muslim Brothers are active and there are also Shiite factions associated with Al-Qaeda. Each group has different objectives and aspirations. This murky situation creates difficulties when countries supporting the overthrow of Assad try to provide weapons to the rebels. They don’t know who they are supporting.

Russia is currently one of the main obstacles to the removal of Assad. The Russians have deep-rooted relations with Syria, spanning over half a century. The two countries share extensive financial and commercial connections. Syria serves as Russia’s last anchor in the Middle East. Libya recently ousted Muammar Gaddafi, causing Russia to lose its connections there and incur extensive financial loss. Russia has no intention of allowing this scenario to be repeated in Syria as it stands to lose much more than it did in Libya. Exports and weapons sales to Syria are extensive and Russia will agree to replace Assad only if the replacement suits their interests.

Dr. Balanga assumes that even if Assad is overthrown, it will be a prolonged process. Not every one is interested in seeing him toppled, especially because it is unclear who will replace him. There is a possibility that radical Muslims will replace him, bringing more instability to the region.

The situation in Syria has already begun to spread to other countries, primarily Lebanon. There have been reports of battles between Alawi and other factions in Tripoli. Dr. Balanga believes that in time, as the strife in Syria continues, the situation in Lebanon will deteriorate. He believes the unrest will spill into Jordan as well.

The Syrian affair may influence Israel. Syria poses a military threat to Israel. In general, the Syrian army is out-dated, old fashioned and heavily influenced by Soviet doctrines, but their ballistic capabilities pose the real threat. They have one of the largest chemical and biological weapons arsenals in the world. The fear is that these weapons may be passed to Iranian hands, or to Hezbollah. The military is currently involved is suppressing the rebels, so an all-out war with Israel is unlikely. A plausible scenario is that a rogue military unit may take independent action and attack Israel on its own. That is probably what happened when the Syrian military shot down the Turkish jet. The officer in command of the surface-to-air missile battery made the call; it wasn’t a decision made by the high command. A full war with Israel at this point would be suicide for the Syrian military. With all this said, Israel must remain vigilant.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/a-region-in-turmoil-an-overview-of-the-strife-on-israels-borders/2012/06/25/

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