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August 25, 2016 / 21 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘work’

Hebrew U’s Dr. Yosef Buganim Awarded for Work in Stem Cells

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Dr. Yosef Buganim, a research scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been honored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the prestigious journals Science and Science Translational Medicine, and the Boyalife industrial research consortium, for his work in stem cells and regenerative medicine (see Dr. Buganim’s essay Back to basics).

Dr. Buganim is a young researcher who recently joined the Department of Molecular Biology and Cancer Research at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC). Part of the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, IMRIC is one of the most innovative and multidisciplinary biomedical research organizations in the world.

Awarded for the first time this year, the Boyalife Science & Science Translational Medicine Award in Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine honors researchers for outstanding contributions in stem cell research and regenerative medicine around the globe. AAAS, Science, and Science Translational Medicine joined efforts with Boyalife, an industrial-research consortium formed in Wuxi, China, in 2009, to sponsor the award.  Composed of prominent researchers, the judging panel was co-chaired by a Science and a Science Translational Medicine editor.

At his Hebrew University laboratory, Buganim uses somatic cell conversion models to identify and investigate the elements that facilitate safe and complete nuclear reprogramming. As a postdoctoral fellow at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT, he used single-cell technologies and bioinformatic approaches to shed light on the molecular mechanisms that underlie the reprogramming of somatic cells to iPSCs.

Regenerative medicine is a developing field aimed at regenerating, replacing or engineering human cells, tissues or organs, to establish or restore normal function. Embryonic stem cells have enormous potential in this area because they can differentiate into all cell types in the human body. However, two significant obstacles prevent their immediate use in medicine: ethical issues related to terminating human embryos, and rejection of foreign cells by a patient’s immune system.

In 2006, Japanese researchers discovered that it is possible to reprogram adult cells and return them to their embryonic stage, creating functional embryonic stem-like cells. These cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and constitute a solution to these two obstacles. In addition, these cells provide a good basis for modeling diseases and finding medical solutions, because they can be reproduced from different patients and different diseases.

Despite these cells’ enormous potential, their quality is still not sufficient to be used in clinical practice, and there is a need to find the best protocol that will enable production of high-quality iPSCs that will not endanger patients.

Dr. Buganim’s laboratory has made two major breakthroughs in this area, representing a major step forward in the field of regenerative medicine and transplantation.

Project A: To improve the quality of embryonic stem cells, Dr. Buganim and colleagues conducted bioinformatics analyses which pointed to four new key genes capable of creating iPSCs from skin cells, of superior quality to stem cells in current use. These cells produced in his laboratory (in this case mouse cells) are able to clone a whole mouse at a much higher percentage (80%) than other iPSCs (30%). This test is the most important one determine the quality of the cells.

Project B: Many women suffer recurrent miscarriages and abnormal development of the placenta, which causes fetal growth restriction and in some cases produces children with mental retardation. Dr. Buganim’s lab found the key genes of the placenta stem cells and by expressing them in surplus in skin cells, created placental iPSCs. These cells looked and behaved like natural placental stem cells. Various tests showed that these cells have cell-generating capability in a Petri dish and inside a placenta that develops following a transplant. These cells have potential for use in regenerative medicine in cases of problematic placental functioning. The success of this project may enable women with placenta problems to give birth to healthy children and rescue pregnancies at risk of dysfunctional placenta (see Scientists Convert Skin Cells Into Functional Placenta-Generating Cells).

Alongside creating specific cell types (e.g. nerve cells in patients with Parkinson’s disease, ALS and Alzheimer) from a patient’s skin cells, a potential future use of iPSCs is the creation of whole organs (such as heart, liver or kidney) in a suitable animal model using cells taken from the patient.

JNi.Media

Rabbi Asher Weiss Calls on All of Klal Israel to Support his Holy Work [video]

Monday, June 20th, 2016

R’ Asher Weiss has dedicated his life to continuing the quest started by his holy father and the Klausenberger Rebbe. As they survived the fires of Auschwitz, to rise up and rebuild Torah after the war, so too is R’ Asher Weiss creating a new army of Torah leaders.

Today Jews around the world have the opportunity to join with him to continue this holy work.

Join him in his life mission to inspire, teach and spread the light of Torah.

Hear R’ Asher Weiss tell in his own words the experience of his father in Auschwitz and how he fought to keep the light of Torah alive.

Jewish Press Staff

Palestinians and Jordan: Will a Confederation Work?

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

Talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan has once again resurfaced, this time after a series of unofficial meetings in Amman and the West Bank in the past few weeks. Jordan, fearing that such confederation would end up with the Hashemite kingdom transformed into a Palestinian state, is not currently keen on the idea.

Many Palestinians have also expressed reservations about the idea. They argue that a confederation could harm their effort to establish an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The confederation talk returned during a recent high-profile visit to the West Bank by former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdel Salam Majali. During a meeting with representatives of large Palestinian clans in Nablus, Majali voiced his support for the confederation idea, saying it was the “best solution for both Palestinians and Jordanians.”

The former Jordanian prime minister told some 100 Palestinians who gathered to greet him in Nablus, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank: “Jordan cannot live without Palestine and Palestine cannot live without Jordan.” Stressing that such a confederation should be created after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Majali said that the confederation would mean that Palestinians and Jordanians would have a joint government and parliament.

In a rare moment of truth, Majali admitted that the Palestinians were not “fully qualified to assume their responsibilities, especially in the financial field, in wake of the failure of the Arab countries to support them.” So Majali is basically telling the Palestinians: “You can’t rely on your Arab brothers to help you build a state. Jordan is the only Arab country that cares about you.”

Some Jordanians said this week that Majali was speaking only on his behalf and that his views did not represent those of Jordan’s King Abdullah or the government. They pointed out that the last time Majali met with the monarch was four months ago, when King Abdullah visited him in the hospital where Majali was being treated.

Still, it is hard to believe that such a senior figure as Majali would have advocated the confederation plan without having first received some kind of green light from the royal palace in Amman.

Let us remember that Jordan has a history on this issue. In 1988, the late King Hussein “divorced” the West Bank, announcing that the kingdom was cutting its administrative and legal ties to the territory that had been under its control until 1967. Of course, the king had good reason to renounce any claim to the West Bank: the First Intifada had just begun and the Palestinians in the West Bank were considered “troublemakers” that he did not need in his Palestinian-majority kingdom.

Thus we see why many Jordanians remain opposed to the confederation idea. A study published in 2014 shows that the Jordanian public was against the idea.

According to the study, the Jordanian public is totally opposed to the idea, even after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. The Jordanians fear, among other things, that the confederation would lead to the “dilution” of the Jordanian identity, create instability and undermine security in the kingdom.

Jordanian columnist and political analyst Fahd Khitan echoed this fear by declaring that the confederation idea “means suicide for the Hashemite kingdom.” Noting that many Palestinians were also opposed to the idea, even after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, Khitan said that mutual confidence between the Palestinians and Jordanians has deteriorated, particularly in wake of the recent controversy over the installment of security cameras at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Under a U.S.-brokered plan, the Jordanian government was supposed to install the cameras at the holy site as a way of easing tensions between Palestinians and Israel. The controversy had erupted over Jewish visits to the Temple Mount. However, the Jordanians were forced a few weeks ago to abandon the plan after Palestinian opposition and threats. The Palestinians claimed that Israel would use the cameras to arrest Palestinians who are stationed at the Temple Mount with the mission of harassing Jewish visitors.

“The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not just residents who can be incorporated into this or that country,” Khitan explained in his rejection of the confederation idea. “The Palestinians are a people who have their own land and Jordan is a country that is now celebrating its 70th anniversary.” So this Jordanian analyst is telling the Palestinians: “We love you and you are wonderful people, but we prefer that you stay away from us.”

While most Jordanians seem to be strongly opposed to the idea of adding another three or four million Palestinians to the kingdom’s population, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip appear to be divided over the idea.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, which by all accounts has failed to lead its people towards statehood because of its incompetence and corruption, has yet to spell out its position regarding the proposed confederation with Jordan.

There are, however, signs that a growing number of Palestinians are beginning to entertain the idea of being part of Jordan. A recent public opinion poll published by An-Najah University in Nablus found that 42% of Palestinians favor the confederation idea. The poll also found that 59% of Palestinians do not believe that a Palestinian state would be established within the pre-1967 lines.

This means that a majority of Palestinians have lost confidence in their leaders’ ability to achieve an independent Palestinian state. One of the main reasons is the ongoing power struggle between the PA and Hamas. It is a conflict that has divided the Palestinians into two separate cultural as well as geographic entities, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The reality on the ground is that the two-state solution has already been fulfilled: in the end, the Palestinians got two mini-states of their own — one governed by the Palestinian Authority and the second by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Another sign of growing Palestinian support for the idea can be found in the Hebron area, where leaders of large clans have also begun campaigning for the implementation of a confederation with Jordan. It is estimated that nearly one million Hebronites live in Jordan and the West Bank, and this statistic is also driving support for the idea.

In recent weeks, several Hebron clan leaders visited Jordan as part of an effort to muster popular support for the confederation idea. A prominent member of the Jordanian parliament, Dr. Mohammed al-Dawaymeh, lately visited Hebron, where he met with the heads of the city’s large clans to promote the idea. Again, it is unlikely that the member of parliament was acting without the backing of King Abdullah or the Jordanian government. But his visit to the West Bank, like that of Majali before him, has sparked a new wave of speculation among Palestinians that something is being “cooked up” to enable the confederation plan to take place.

What is notable is that the confederation idea seems to be gaining support among Palestinian clans in a society that is largely a tribal one. Both Hebron and Nablus consist of large clans, and it makes sense that the two senior Jordanian figures chose to concentrate their efforts there. If you manage to convince the clans to support the idea, that approval, they believe, would create pressure on the Palestinian leaders to follow suit.

Also intriguing is that some prominent Palestinians seem to have endorsed the confederation idea — again due to their having lost confidence in their leaders’ ability to move forward and bring them a better life.

Two of these Palestinians are Ghassan Shaka’ah, a former mayor of Nablus and a prominent PLO leader in the West Bank, and Professor Sari Nusseibeh, a respected pragmatic academic and former president of Al-Quds University.

The renewed talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan underscores the Palestinian leadership’s failure to convince many Palestinians of its ability to lead them towards statehood. It is also a sign of the revival of the role of Palestinians clans in the Palestinian political arena. For the past two decades, the power of the clans has been undermined, thanks to the presence of central governments — the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. But the weakness of these two governments has prompted clan leaders to take matters into their hands and renew talk about a confederation with Jordan.

A confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan may seem to be a good idea in the long term. But for now, it is hard to see how Jordanian leader would agree to turn millions of Palestinians into citizens of the kingdom. It is also hard to see Jordanians agreeing to absorb either Hamas or the Palestinian Authority and share power with them. Still, the talk about a confederation between the Palestinians and Jordan shows that under the current circumstances, the two-state solution (a Palestinian state alongside Israel) is no longer being viewed by Palestinians as a realistic solution that will bring their people a better life.

Jordan is not the only Arab country that does not consider the Palestinians trustworthy partners. The Jordanians still have painful memories from the early 1970s, when the PLO and other Palestinian groups tried to establish a state within a state inside the kingdom, and thus threatened Jordan’s security and stability. Today, there is only one solution: maintain the status quo until Palestinian leaders wake up and start working to improve the living conditions of their people and prepare them for peace with Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Justice Ministry Issues List of 27 NGOs that Must Disclose They Work for Foreign Entities

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

The Justice Minsitry NGO Registrar on Thursday published the official document detailing the 27 NGOs and Associations which would be compelled to mention in all their official literature that the bulk of their funding comes from foreign countries, and their representatives would have to wear special ID tags while visiting the Knesset — should the “NGO Law” be passed. The law was initiated by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).

The list was published upon request by five opposition members of the Knesset Constitution Committee of the Knesset legal adviser Eyal Yinon, after the Committee Chair, MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi), had refused to reveal the list. The opposition members were concerned that Slomiansky refuses to share the list because it proves that the law affects primarily leftwing organizations.

The list notes the names of the NGOs, next to their annual turnover, the amount they received from foreign entities and the percentage of their income those foreign funds constitute.

Attorney Talia Sasson, President of the New Israel Fund, said on Thursday that about half the NGOs on the list receive funding from NIF.

In 2005, Talia Sasson issued the Sasson Report, an official Israeli government report that concluded that Israeli state entities had been discreetly diverting millions of shekels to build settlements and illegal outposts in Judea and Samaria. The report was rife with inaccuracies and outright lies, including intentional misquotes of the dates when settlements had been approved so that they would appear illegal.

Here are a few choice NGOs who are, for all intents and purposes, foreign agents working to influence Israeli policy:

B’Tzelem | Annual turnover: $2,353,140.50 | Foreign donations: $1,615,337.99 | % Foreign donations: 69%

Breaking the Silence | Annual turnover: $984,838.30 | Foreign donations: $594,868.58 | % Foreign donations: 60%

Committee Against Torture in Israel | Annual turnover: $604,243.26 | Foreign donations: $606,809.34 | % Foreign donations: 100%

Akevot: Trace: Institute for the Study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Annual turnover: $118,907.99 | Foreign donations: $118,909.79 | % Foreign donations: 100%

Hallo Trust Ltd. | Annual turnover: $1,099,469.33| Foreign donations: $1,019,386.18 | % Foreign donations: 93%

The NGO Ir Amim, which on Thursday appealed to the Supreme Court to ban Jerusalem Liberation Day flag marchers from entering the Muslim Quarter Sunday, has an annual turnover of $844,539.90, out of which 64%, or $537,405.17 come from foreign entities. It is the most current and vivid example of how the will of the majority of Jews living in Israel is being directly subverted using millions of dollars from groups which are often the declared or tacit enemies of the Jewish State.

It should be noted that US organizations that receive any of their funding—not 50% or more as the Shaked bill demands—from non-American sources must register as foreign agents in their dealing with any of the branches of government.

David Israel

Sunday Off? Israel’s Unions, Employers, Clash over Shorter Work Week

Friday, May 27th, 2016

British entrepreneur Richard Koch has invented the “80/20 Principle” that argues we get 80% of our work done in 20% of our work time, and the remaining 20% of our work gets done in 80% of the time. Israel’s official work week is 43 hours long, but many Israelis work many more hours than what’s common in the OECD, and still, productivity in Israel is low. The question organized Labor and the employers have been debating over the past few weeks, ahead of upcoming legislation to modify the Israeli work week, has been: will a shorter week reduce even further or enhance productivity?

On Sunday, the Ministerial Legislative Committee headed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) is expected to debate four different proposals dealing with the shorter work week. The leading bill, submitted by MK Eli Cohen (Kulanu) and endorsed by a number of MKs, proposes starting the shorter work week reform with one Sunday off every two months.

“Initially, we were talking about one long weekend a month, starting Thursday night and going through Monday morning,” Cohen said in a recent interview on Radio 103FM. However, he explained, “after many debates, which included Histadrut trade union Chairman Avi Nissenkorn and representatives of the Israeli industrialists and other players, we’ve formed the proposal we’re submitting to the ministerial committee, which talks about six long weekends a year.”

The employers’ organizations object to the move, but by week’s end it appeared they’d acquiesce, after the threat of 12 long weekends was reduced by half. They estimate the damage to the economy at about $2 billion annually. It’s interesting to see that in addition to traditional capitalist employers organizations such as the Manufacturers Association, and the Chamber of Commerce, the long weekend enemies also include the Kibbutz Industries Association and the Farmers’ Union. We expect that more than a few Labor Zionists, including former Histadrut chairmen David Ben-Gurion, are rolling in their grave.

The average OECD work week is between 35 and 40 hours, and Israeli workers receive fewer religious and state holidays than their OECD counterparts. And yet, despite their shorter work week, German and American workers’ productivity is significantly higher than in Israel. Is this counterintuitive?

Stanford University Professor John Pencavel has argued that working longer hours increases fatigue and stress that leads to a greater probability of errors and accidents that will decrease productivity. Likewise, Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health found that overwork can result in health problems leading to absenteeism, greater employee turnover rates, and higher health insurance costs. A 2013 paper by the New Zealand Productivity Commission showed that working longer hours does not make people more productive.

A recent study by the OECD revealed that more productive workers tend to work less: while Greek workers put in an average of 2,000 hours of work per year, Germans worked only 1,400 hours per year and were 70% more productive. More productive workers tend to be better paid, not worse, contrary to what the Israeli employers are predicting, and the correlation between higher productivity and fewer hours worked is due to the reduced fatigue and stress from working less.

CEO Maria Brath of the tech start-up Brath has implemented a six-hour, as opposed to an eight-hour, work day, claiming that her employees get more done in that time than comparable companies do in the longer work day. Treehouse, an online interactive education platform, uses a four-day work day and claims that employee morale, retention, and quality of output, have all improved. (Source: Investopedia)

Will Israel, known for its national obsession with plunging into new, radical changes, take on this moderate change? We’ll know more on Sunday.

JNi.Media

Al-Qaradawi : The Jews Turned Their Deserted Land Into an Oasis

Monday, February 22nd, 2016

Some statements by Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi in 2005.

Video of the Day

Why These Negotiations Will Always Fail

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Peace in the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors—including the Palestinians—is generally described as “elusive.” Why have forty years of active efforts not led to permanent peace in the region? Why 20 years after Oslo is there no great sign that peace stands ready to break out between the Palestinians and Israelis? The simple answer is that parties are negotiating on different planes that can never intersect.

Let’s analyze the ostensible goals of the parties to the current round of talks. The Israelis want peace and one can see why: lower regional threats, less military spending, greater regional cooperation, increased tourism revenue, export of Israeli technology, increased trade with Europe and more. What do the Palestinians get in the peace deal? They get less than half of the land they believe they deserve. They can look forward to a million or more Arab “refugees” showing up, expecting housing, food, work, and schools. They will be saddled with building an economy without natural resources or a strong technical ethos, while international donations will dry up (especially from Muslim countries, for the sin of recognizing a Jewish state). In short, the Israelis have much to gain from peace, while the Palestinian leaders who are running their side of the talks have much to lose.

Additionally, Israelis negotiate like Americans and Europeans: they try to cut a deal, but if it does not work, then they fall back to the present conditions. The Palestinians work in a different way: either they get what they want, or they pull out the terror card. Lawyers who reviewed signed confessions of Marwan Barghouti’s lieutenants found a singular pattern: if negotiations in the Arafat period were going well, then Tanzim and the like were told to lay low. If the Israelis were intransigent—on borders, refugees, or the like—then the order was given to attack. Negotiations cannot proceed when one side is willing to take a much greater liberty than the other side is willing to entertain. Picture if one football team had to respect the out-of-bound lines, while the other did not. The Israelis might walk away from talks, but they would not order the murder of Palestinian citizens, leftist propaganda aside. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are more than comfortable using attacks on Israeli citizens as a means to get what they want at the negotiating table—and this is a point that Americans and Europeans diplomats have never understood. They are convinced that everyone thinks like they do: peace is always good, and the rules of negotiations exclude violence between sides.

The reason for this failed understanding is cultural. Let’s look back at the Nazis, some of the greatest murderers ever. One notes that no German soldier was ever commanded to either kill or injure himself in order to gas, shoot, blow up, torch or otherwise kill a Jew. The Nazis were sadists and invented horrific ways to kill Jewish men, women and children; still, they would not have considered personal bodily harm or worse as being required to kill a Jew. The Palestinians, on the other hand, not only are active practitioners of suicide bombings, but polls still show that their citizenry supports such activities. We of a Western mind-frame find it impossible to consider such an act—whom do we hate so much that we would be willing to undertake such horrific activity? Are there any children or aged citizens of any country that we would hope to obliterate with flying shrapnel so as to somehow exact revenge on somebody else who has some tenuous relationship to the ones blown up? I have asked these questions to student groups visiting from the US; no one can answer in the affirmative.
This week marked another gratuitous prisoner release by Israel in the ersatz peace process.

These releases have generally been categorized as “confidence building measures.” Is there anyone who could define or identify any confidence built by releasing 26 murderers? The Palestinians partied with the released convicts and demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners; Israelis felt anguish at the release and saw protests and complaints against the release of more murderers. What confidence was built by this act? None. The prisoner release is a bribe to the Palestinian leaders to continue with the worthless process of peace-making, so that they can show their base that they are getting something from the talks. The terrorists are free, the Palestinians only want more, and the Israeli leadership is put in the uncomfortable position of explaining why murderers walk free, with nothing to show for it. The Palestinians get their terrorists back, but the act has no tangible effect on the direction, good will or pace of the negotiations.

The current peace talks will enjoy the same fate as their predecessors; and ditto for any future talks. The talks will break down because even the most left-wing Israeli politician is not yet ready to commit national suicide to accommodate the minimal Palestinian demands on dividing Jerusalem, accepting indefensible borders, and welcoming anything more than some token refugees. The Palestinians will blame the Israelis, as will most of the international community. Israel will point the finger at an intransigent Palestinian Authority, and we’ll wait for the whole process to start again sometime in the future.

I would argue that the above analysis is pragmatic and not in the least pessimistic. The Palestinians have too much to lose by making peace and also play by rules not understood or appreciated by the likes of John Kerry or Catherine Ashton. The simple fact is that the Palestinian Authority today enjoys large contributions from international donors and avoids all responsibility for building a functional society designed to absorb four generations of self-made Palestinian “refugees” living in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and the like. Israel looks forward to a rosier future, one that would include peace; the Palestinian cannot see getting a better deal than they have in the present. And for that, negotiations will—again—go nowhere, however much John Kerry and his Israeli partners try to tell us otherwise.

Alan Bauer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-these-negotiations-will-always-fail/2014/01/03/

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