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Events and Life Politics and government Sports

Israeli national anthem played in Abu Dhabi for the first time ever

The Israeli national anthem was played in Abu Dhabi for the first time ever, at the Abu Dhabi Judo Grand Slam. Israel’s Sagi Muki won the gold medal.

In previous tournaments, Israeli athletes couldn’t compete under our flag, let alone hear our anthem play when they won medals.

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Events and Life Mindsets Policy issues Politics and government

A perspective on what it’s like to be a Jew in the United Kingdom at the moment

Thank you for the thread. You offer a valuable perspective on what it feels like to be a Jew in the UK.

You shouldn’t be victimised for being a Jew, certainly not because of a distorted view of what our government is doing to keep us safe, here in Israel.

Modi'in-Maccabim-Re'ut

25 °C few clouds

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Applications Education Politics and government

An alternative to Israel’s expensive Microsoft licensing dilemma

Interesting article on OnMSFT: Israel, scared off by Microsoft subscription deals, won’t renew Office licensing agreements:

Under the current deal with Microsoft, Israel pays about $27 million a year for Office on the desktop, Windows, and server software being used across the government. The ministry issued a bold statement, saying “This will also encourage government ministries to re-examine their needs of using Microsoft technology or switch to other technology alternatives.”

Open source solutions are worth exploring. I’d love to see Israel adopt something like
LibreOffice, especially for schools where PowerPoint slides have become the default choice for notices.

I think Linux also makes a lot of sense for most people who just default to Windows because their computers come with it (albeit at a cost).

Schools, in particular, shouldn’t be sitting with PCs running Windows 2000. They can probably revitalise their old PCs with a lightweight Linux distro, and give kids an opportunity to use them for more than just gaming.

Certainly a switch like this is only possible with an investment, but the longer term benefits must outweigh the initial costs.

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Politics and government Travel and places

What Palestinians ultimately want from Israel?

Israel is a complicated place. The perennial question is how to achieve peace with our neighbours? That question begs another question: what Palestinians ultimately want from Israel? Alwyn Lau answered that question in his article “What do Palestinians want from Israel?” in MalayMail Online recently:

From my conversations with people who support Palestine, the answers usually remain non-specific. It would appear the only precise “demand” which would satisfy their notions of justice would be for Israel to give back ALL the land to the Palestinians.

In other words, the only solution on the table would be for Israel to cease existing as a state in Palestine.

I didn’t know that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians such broad terms in exchange for peace back in 2000. The proposal was probably accompanied by a requirement that the Palestinians acknowledge the State of Israel and commit to peace, both of which were probably deal breakers for Arafat.

Israel’s critics focus so heavily on the distorted narrative created by the BDS and its allies, that they completely ignore the efforts made to achieve peace in the last 70+ years.

The thing is, we aren’t going to just throw our hands up in the air, admit defeat, and sacrifice ourselves and our homeland.  We will continue to raise our families, build our communities, and preserve our connection to our home (unless, of course, we destroy ourselves from within).

In the meantime, peace will continue to elude us. But we can live with that. Literally.

Source: Shoshanna Jaskoll

“Three rarest of all things on Twitter: accuracy, honesty, and integrity when discussing Israel and the Palestinians.”
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Mindsets People Politics and government

Whether to celebrate Israeli independence?

A debate about whether to wholeheartedly celebrate Israeli independence (it was celebrated last Thursday) has erupted on the Web. It started with Sarah Tuttle-Singer’s Facebook post on 9 May:

She qualified her post a couple days later:

Bat Zion Susskind-Sacks published a response to Sarah’s post on her Times of Israel blog, titled “Open Letter to Sarah Tuttle Singer” which was pretty pointed:

This morning I read a pseudo parody of Tuttle-Singer’s post published by Justin Amler and titled “Why I can wholeheartedly celebrate Israel’s Independence Day” which I enjoyed too (thanks to Rolene for the share on Facebook)

Update (2016-05-16): Also read Amler’s follow-up article on Israel Diaries titled “It’s wonderful to be a Jew on Yom Haatzmaut“:

Justin Amler: It’s wonderful to be a Jew on Yom Haatzmaut

I don’t particularly want to wade into this debate even though I align more with Amler than I do with Tuttle-Singer (who, by the way, I think is wonderful even if I don’t share her politics).

If anything, this debate highlights very different perspectives on Israel expressed by Israelis and Jews across the political spectrum. No surprises there. One of the traits that tend to stand out for new immigrants is how Israelis have a tendency to have what seem to be full-blown arguments with each other, almost routinely. It’s practically a national sport and they are rarely meant to be taken particularly personally.

What we share is a passion for this land. Our land.

Image credit: my daughter who loves ארץ ישראל

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Events and Life People Policy issues Politics and government

Are we forgetting our Holocaust survivors?

Sarah Tuttle-Singer highlighted an important issue as we approach Yom Hashoah later this week: is Israel forgetting our Holocaust survivors?

But. We forgot someone. Actually, a lot of someones.

The actual survivors who need our help.

Because during the rest of the year, during the cold winters and the blistering summers, while housing prices soar with the cost of living, one out of four Holocaust survivors lives in poverty and isolation.
Let me repeat that: One. Out. Of. Four.

Yes, a staggering — no, a SICKENING — 25 % of all Holocaust survivors in Israel are struggling to pay the rent, or buy groceries. The children of the Holocaust are in their 70’s and 80’s now…
Some are all alone.

Others are sick.

It is tragic that these survivors made it through the horrors of the Holocaust to our home land only to languish through neglect by successive governments.

I read some positive news just before I started writing this post, too. According to an article on YNet News titled “Kahlon: Half-billion shekels to go to holocaust survivors and elderly” –

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced plans on Monday to increase annual financial support for Holocaust survivors and elderly welfare recipients by a half-billion shekels in advance of the country’s Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, previous Israeli governments have not done enough on behalf of Holocaust survivors…the program is focused on pushing elderly Holocaust survivors over the poverty line,” Kahlon said during the annual Knesset event celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. “In addition, there has not been enough done for the economically-disadvantaged elderly population—increasing their benefits was one of our conditions for entering the government.”

Let’s not forget the living as we remember the dead. Here are a few options if you want to make a contribution (feel free to share more links in the comments and I’ll add to the list):

Image credit: Pixabay

Categories
Events and Life Politics and government

“The removal of Nene was ‘not breaking the economy’”

I think President Zuma pretty much hit the nail on the head when he said that his removal of Nene wasn’t the cause of South Africa’s flirtation with economic disaster in December 2015, at least in more general terms. I just read an article on BusinessTech titled “Economists can’t convince me I was wrong: Zuma” and a few quotes stood out for me, especially if you read between the lines (literally and metaphorically):

“People did not consider many things,” Zuma said. “The rand had been going down when Nene was there. It had been going down for months and months. It was not triggered by the decision (to remove Nene).”

Removing Nene certainly triggered a virtual collapse but if you look at the Rand’s performance over the last decade and a half, you can see the slide. It has been sliding down the hill since about 2012.

“The removal of Nene was ‘not breaking the economy’…People didn’t understand what was happening and they exaggerated the issue,” he said.

Perhaps, maybe everyone overreacted and blamed the market collapse on that one decision to remove Nene as Finance Minister. Perhaps they should have looked at the bigger picture.

Zuma told the SABC in an interview on Sunday: “He (van Rooyen) was going to come into a very effective, functioning department. I don’t know why people thought that when he comes in, the treasury is going to fall down. I don’t understand.

This is probably one of the most interesting statements the President made. If the Finance Ministry was (and, perhaps, is) a “very effective, functioning department” then the root cause is probably not the Ministry or the Minister (I’m oversimplifying). Perhaps the root cause is the person responsible for the bigger picture: Zuma himself. Perhaps someone should suggest he give his comments a little more thought, possible pass by a mirror … Do they have those things in Nkandla?

Just saying (somewhat sarcastically).

Image credit: Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presents Budget Speech, 26 Feb 2014 by the GovernmentZA, licensed CC BY ND 2.0

Categories
Events and Life Policy issues Politics and government

Explaining terrorism to children

The New York Times has a video feature about how a French children’s newspaper responded to kids’ questions about the recent Paris attacks by explaining terrorism to children. You should watch this if you are a parent:

This is something we deal with more and more here in Israel. Terrorism has become an almost daily occurrence here in recent weeks and months and kids are increasingly aware that there is something going on. There are different ways to respond to kids’ questions and I think this is probably a better one.

“I feel, in a way, like I am destroying the childhood of my children by exposing them to …

“Yeah, but they don’t live on planet Mars …”

Our kids have asked about the terrorist attacks here and we explain it to them as best we can without vilifying all Palestinians (in the context of the attacks in Israel) but, at the same time, they need some understanding of the underlying politics, animosity and dynamics between Israelis (specifically Jews) and radical Palestinians.

It is not easy and I wish we didn’t have to have these conversations with our kids but this is the world we now live in. The world has changed and there is no “Undo”.