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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Tel Aviv University’

Israel Weighing Moving Desalinated Water to Drought-Plagued Kinneret

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Israel’s Water Authority is looking into establishing a system to move desalinated water from central Israel to lake Kinneret, in the opposite direction of the historic National Water Carrier of Israel, which has been delivering Kinneret water to the Negev since 1964. Over the past three years, due to partial droughts and natural evaporation, the Kinneret’s rate of replenishment has been reduced substantially.

An additional burden on the receding lake is the uninterrupted consumption by Jordan. In accordance with the 1994 peace treaty with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the latter will be drawing 11.2 billion gallons of water from the Kinneret – while Israel in 2016 will be drawing only about 6.6 billion gallons.

So the Kinneret continues to recede and the Water Authority realizes something’s gotta’ give. The plan, according to a report in Ha’aretz Wednesday, is to push 27 billion gallons annually into the lake from desalination plants in central Israel, raising the Kinneret water level by about 28 inches each year.

Incidentally, the total annual capacity of central Israel’s desalination plants is 150 billion gallons, making Israel the runaway king of water reclamation on planet Earth. By 2015, Israel’s desalination programs provided roughly 40% of Israel’s drinking water and it is expected to supply 70% by 2050.

The plan was presented at Tuesday’s inaugural meeting of the Water Public Forum at Tel Aviv University, which included past and present Water Authority senior officials, scientists, engineers, managers of northern water societies, and representatives of environmental groups.

Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, Israeli farmers upriver from the Kinneret, who had been refused an increase of 11 billion gallons annually, have begun to draw water from the Jordan River at night – endangering the environment which is already on a brink of an ecological crisis – this while Jordan continues to siphon exactly this amount for its own agriculture.

JNi.Media

ADL, Families, Rebuke Jewish Teens for Decorating Birthday Cupcake with Swastika

Monday, November 28th, 2016

Guests at a Jewish teen’s birthday party in Paradise Valley, Arizona, on Nov. 20, decorated their cupcakes with swastikas. Images of the Nazi influenced topping have been infesting social media after the teen’s mother posted her account of the event on her Facebook page (she has removed the post since).

The mother wrote she was hoping her own shocking revelation it would be used as a teaching moment for parents. The girls told the mother they created the Nazi cupcakes because they wanted to “be funny,” after having attended a Holocaust class before the party.

Holocaust jokes are widely considered to be a defense mechanism. In fact, in 2014, Yad Vashem published in book form (It Kept Us Alive: Humor in the Holocaust) the Ph.D. thesis by Tel Aviv University philosophy major Chaya Ostrower titled, “Humor as a defense mechanism in the Holocaust.” Ostrower interviewed 84 Holocaust survivors, finding that Jewish death camp inmates told Holocaust jokes as “Defense Mechanism, including its sub types – Self-humor and Gallows humor.”

But the mother was not amused by the girls’ creative coping mechanism exercised under her roof. Neither was Carlos Galindo-Elvira, Director of the Arizona Anti-Defamation League, who told local TV station 12News that “when you joke with symbols like the swastika you begin to normalize them and make it very casual within our society.”

In a later post, this one still online while his story is being filed, the mother wrote: “I know many people are asking what happened after yesterday, so I hope this will suffice. I received wonderful feedback from each and every parent of the girls at the party fully underscoring that each family spoke at length with their daughters about the severity of the issue. My daughter spoke again with her friend who apologized profusely and told her she thought it was just “being funny” but understands that her actions weren’t humorous in the slightest.”

The mother added that she “spoke with the school and they will be reaching out to all the teachers to relay to their students that hateful speech/actions/insignias will not be tolerated or condoned. Opening this hurtful incident up to others to provide a teaching moment will hopefully stop others from promoting ideas of hate is all I ever wanted. Happy early Thanksgiving to you and yours.”

Finally, here’s a sample of Jewish gallows humor from Ostrower’s book:

Moshe and Chaim are being taken to be shot. The Executioner asks them, “Do you have a final wish?” to which Chaim answers, “No!” But Moshe says: “I can’t face the firing squad, please give me a blindfold.”

So Chaim turns to Moshe and says: “What are you making trouble for?”

JNi.Media

Israeli Scientists Find Algae Yields The World’s Cleanest Energy Source

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have discovered that algae can yield mass quantities of hydrogen, “the world’s cleanest energy source.”

The scientists revealed in the findings of back-to-back studies published in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology for Biofuels, that microalgae produce hydrogen, a clean fuel of the future. The researchers also suggested in their studies a possible mechanism to jump-start mass production of this environmentally-friendly energy source.

The research was led by Dr. Iftach Yacoby, head of TAU’s renewable energy laboratory, and Rinat Semyatich, Haviva Eisenberg, Iddo Weiner and Oded Liran, his students at the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at TAU’s Faculty of Life Sciences.

Researchers in the past believed that algae only produce hydrogen in the course of a single micro burst at dawn, lasting just a few minutes. But Yacoby and his team used highly sensitive technology to discover that algae produce hydrogen from photosynthesis all day long.

Armed with this discovery, the team harnessed genetic engineering to increase algae’s production of this clean energy source by 400 percent.

Laboratory tests revealed that algae create hydrogen with the assistance of the enzyme hydrogenase, which breaks down when oxygen is present. The researchers discovered effective mechanisms to remove oxygen so hydrogenase can keep producing hydrogen.

“The discovery of the mechanisms makes it clear that algae have a huge underutilized potential for the production of hydrogen fuel,” Yacoby said. “The next question is how to beef up production for industrial purposes — to get the algae to overproduce the enzyme.”

Some 99 percent of the hydrogen produced in the United States comes from natural gas. But the methods used to draw hydrogen from natural gas are toxic — and wasteful — he said.

“I grew up on a farm, dreaming of hydrogen,” said Yacoby. “Since the beginning of time, we have been using agriculture to make our own food. But when it comes to energy, we are still hunter-gatherers. Cultivating energy from agriculture is really the next revolution. There may be other ways to produce hydrogen, but this is the greenest and the only agricultural one.

“The world burns in just one year energy it took the earth over a million years to produce,” Yacoby continued. “We must stop being hunters and gatherers of energy. We must start producing clean energy — for our children and for our children’s children.”

Yacoby is now researching synthetic enzymes capable of increasing hydrogen production from microalgae to industrial levels.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli Study Finds No Increased Risk With Induced Deliveries

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

A new Tel Aviv University study has found there is no increased risk when labor is induced by rupturing the amniotic sac in a birthing mother.

The findings showed the natural spontaneous deliveries and induced deliveries after rupture of the amniotic sac shared similar neonatal outcomes, according to a report published in the August 8 medical journal, Archives of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

The study was led by Dr. Liran Hiersch and Dr. Eran Ashwal at the Sackler School of Medicine and the Helen Schneider Hospital for Women at Rabin Medical Center.

“Induced labor — the process of jumpstarting delivery using prostaglandin — has gotten a bad rap. We found little justification for this” in the case of women whose water broke prematurely, said Hiersch. “People have an idea that everything natural is better, including childbirth. But induction is not necessarily more dangerous for mother and child than Mother Nature herself.”

The researchers studied the outcomes in the births of 625 mothers who were admitted to Rabin Medical Center in Tel Aviv.

Most expectant mothers are warned about artificially induced deliveries. These warnings counsel that induction may cause a low fetal heart rate, an increased risk of infection to mother and baby, and uterine rupture or excessive bleeding after delivery. However, the researchers concluded those warnings might not be accurate. “We have found that induction produces healthy mothers and infants, with risk factors similar to those of spontaneous deliveries,” Hiersch said.

It is important to note that women in the induction group were found to be at an increased risk for Caesarean section (CS), but researchers said they believe this was due mainly to blocked birth canals and not the induction itself.

Artificial induction is a possibility for all expectant mothers who have approached two weeks past their delivery date, who experience high blood pressure or diabetes, who have a uterine infection or who simply haven’t experienced contractions despite their water having broken. These women are often hospitalized for 24 hours. But after 24 hours have passed without natural delivery, most medical professionals will induce labor artificially to reduce subsequent risks to mother and child.

Hana Levi Julian

TAU Researchers Decipher Malignant Melanoma

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

When malignant melanoma metastasizes to the brain, it is a death sentence for most patients. Metastatic melanoma is the deadliest of the skin cancers and the mechanisms that govern early metastatic growth and interactions of metastatic cells with the brain microenvironment remain shrouded in mystery.

A new Tel Aviv University study reveals a novel way of detecting brain micrometastases months before they transform into malignant inoperable growths. According to the research, micro-tumor cells hijack astrogliosis, the brain’s natural response to damage or injury, to support metastatic growth. This knowledge may lead to the detection of brain cancer in its first stages and permit early intervention.

The study was led by Dr. Neta Erez of the Department of Pathology at TAU’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and published in Cancer Research.

Following the path to cancer

Dr. Erez and her team used mouse models to study and follow the spontaneous metastasis of melanoma in the brain. She and her partners recapitulated all the stages of metastasis: the initial discovery of melanoma in the skin, the removal of the primary tumor, the micrometastatic dissemination of cancer cells across the body, the discovery of a tumor and death.

The detection of metastasis depends on imaging techniques that still can’t detect micrometastases. Melanoma patients whose initial melanoma was excised believe that everything is fine for months or years following the initial procedure.

But following the removal of the primary tumor, micrometastatic cells learn to communicate with cells in their new microenvironment in the brain — cells which are, at first, hostile to them. But eventually a tumor appears. These cells travelled across the body to the brain or other organs but were undetectable at the micro level. When they become detectable, it is too late for treatment.

Opening the “black box”

Dr. Erez calls the period of the initial growth of disseminated micrometastatic cells in distant organs the metastasis’ “black box” — the history of melanoma in the brain. “We believe that we have found the tools to characterize this black box,” said Dr. Erez. “And this is key to developing therapeutic approaches that may prevent brain metastatic relapse.

“Every organ in body has a defense system that detects intruders,” said Dr. Erez. “Much of this is regulated by support cells in the brain. When there is tissue damage due to a stroke or viral infection, these cells are activated and induce an inflammatory response.

“At the earliest stages of metastasis, we already see astrogliosis and inflammation. The brain perceives the micrometastatic invasion as tissue damage, activating inflammation — its natural defense mechanism. We found that the inflammation unfortunately gets hijacked by tumor cells that are able to grow faster and penetrate deeper because the blood vessels in the brain are more permeable than in any other part of the body. We found that all of this happens very early on.”

Dr. Erez is currently studying detailed molecular pathways in the brain’s biological response to find a way to block the metastases. “We’re hoping to develop the detection tools for humans that we developed in mice,” said Dr. Erez. “We’re also trying to find molecular targets that will allow us to prevent metastasis rather than trying to treat it.”

This article was originally published by AFTAU.

David Israel

Israelis Placing at the Top at Science Olympics Around the World

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

By Michael Zeff/TPS

While Israel’s top athletes are competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, some young Israeli scientists have been winning a remarkable number of medals at the “science olympics” around the globe. An Israeli delegation of high-school students won two medals on Friday at the International Olympiad in Informatics held in Kazan, Russia.

Tomer Adar, a student at the Ruppin School in Emek Hefer, won a silver medal at the Olympiad, and Liran Markin, a student at the WIZO high school in Nahalal, took bronze. The delegation was also comprised of Noam Ta-Shma from Tel Aviv and Ron Solan from Herzliya and was coached by Dr. David Ginat of Tel Aviv University.

“Israeli students repeatedly achieve international success in scientific competitions and bring honor and pride to the State of Israel,” said Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

The competition included delegations from 81 countries while Israel ranked at 28th place overall. China was ranked first, followed by Russia and the United States.

The victory at the competition marks the fourteenth by Israelis this summer at science olympiads. An Israeli delegation also won the silver and bronze medals and ranked 20th in the world at the Chemistry Olympiad held in Tbilisi, Georgia earlier in August.

Other achievements include six medals at the Mathematics Olympiad held in Hong Kong and four medals at the Physics Olympiad held in Zurich, Switzerland.

President Reuven Rivlin held a reception in honor of some of the young scientists at his residence in Jerusalem on Sunday where he thanked them for their achievements.

“Good morning to you my champions. I thank you in the name of the entire nation for your achievements,” the president greeted the medalists of the Chemistry Olympiad, Ron Solan and Sevostianov.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Survey Finds Israelis Have Few Delusions about Peace, IDF Brass

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Against a background of recent disputes between the IDF senior command and right-leaning groups in the Israeli Jewish public, as well as with senior political leaders on the right, the July Peace Index focused on aspects of the IDF’s relationships with the public and with the political leadership. Or, rather, its Tuesday’s press release said so. As in all things factual, God is in the details; and when it comes to public opinion surveys, the details emanate from the questions.

To illuminate things, the Peace Index is a project of the Evens Program for Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Tel Aviv University and the Guttman Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research of the Israel Democracy Institute. The IDI is mostly made up of hard-left academics, with a smattering of token right-leaning individuals.

Now, rather than copy and paste the executive summary which was emailed to news organizations in a press release, JNI.media examined the actual data, which the Peace Index website also offers.

For whatever reason, it turns out the PI press release completely ignored the second question posed to its July group of 500 Jews and 100 Arabs: “Do you believe or not believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will lead in the coming years to peace between Israel and the Palestinians?”

Among the Jewish respondents, only 4% strongly believe in such a possibility. 16.1% believe it moderately. 35.4% moderately do not believe it. 41.1% do not believe it at all. We feel this should have been the focus of the survey: some 77% of Israeli Jews do not believe peace is a possibility. Incidentally, the Arab group is more optimistic, with 27% strongly believing in a coming peace, 19% moderately.

But maybe the PI has grown tired of getting this same answer to the peace question from Israeli Jews, who have grown thoroughly disillusioned and simply no longer expect their Arab neighbors to accept them as a legitimate political entity.

So, turning to the subject on which the PI press release opted to focus: how close is the apparent value system of the IDF senior command and that of the general public and of the political leadership? The question posed was: “At present, is the framework of values of the IDF’s senior command level close to or distant from the framework of values of the general Israeli public?”

Very few Jews, 7.2%, actually believe the two are very close. The middle was taken up by 41.7% who see them as moderately close and 28.7% as moderately distant. 8% believe they’re very distant. In other words, about 78% of Israeli Jews perceive a gap between the ideology of the IDF leadership and the rest of the nation. That is some gap.

A very similar outcome emerges in response to a comparison between the IDF leadership and the political leadership. A whopping 69% perceive a distance between the two. In a democratic country, such a perception of the military skewing to the left of where the elected officials and the political majority stand is reason for anxiety.

More Israelis disagree than agree with the assertion by Rabbi Yigal Levenstein, head of the Bnei David pre-military academy in Eli, that the IDF has adopted a pluralist worldview, expressed through HR allocations, appointments and budgets, that opposes halakha and pushes out religious-Zionist and ultra-Orthodox soldiers and officers. 33% of the Jews agree with Rabbi Levenstein, 52.3% disagree.

But one must ask how much of the Levenstein lecture that caused the public brouhaha did those 52.3% actually get to hear?

Are they aware of the recent Liba organization report that points out blatantly anti-religious IDF orders, like the prohibition on growing beards. Or do they know that the age limit for career officers enrolling in the IDF battalion commander course was cut down to 32, deliberately in order to disqualify religious officers whose career track, mixing yeshiva study and military service, is longer? Do they know that the Education Corps promotes soldiers’ interaction with Muslim, Christian and Reform and Conservative practices, at the expense of the more established faith, Orthodox Judaism? Is it possible that those responses would have been different had the respondents been aware of the realities Levenstein’s talk represented?

Finally, here’s a stacked question where the phrasing presages the answer. The PI question was: “In your opinion, is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values—for example, regarding acceptance of the other when it comes to the LGBT community?”

What the question does, slyly, is introduce a claim that the values of openness and pluralism are mainly expressed by embracing homosexuals. It doesn’t offer any other choices for pluralism, such as permitting religious soldiers to abstain from concerts with female singers (they must stay and listen); or accepting a call from a brigade commander to go to battle that includes the Shema Israel; or accepting the fact that the vast majority of religious Jews view homosexuality as a repugnant phenomenon, which some are prepared to tolerate, but nothing more.

To produce a reliable response, the question should have been either, “Is it good or not good for the IDF to adopt a pluralist and open framework of values,” with which the vast majority would have agreed (who doesn’t want to be open and pluralistic?) or “Do you support homosexuals serving in the IDF?” — without endowing the LGBT with the mitigating term of “the other,” which would have produced a truer reflection of the Israeli public’s views on the matter.

This month’s survey was conducted by telephone on July 25-27, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 600 respondents (500 Jews and 100 Arabs), who constitute a representative national sample of the entire adult population of Israel aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/survey-finds-israelis-have-few-delusions-about-peace-idf-brass/2016/08/03/

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