Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Muslim Golani fighter in Israel Army

The traditional Israel Defense Forces ceremonial chief of staff sukkah (temporary dwelling for the festival of tabernacles) erected at the head quarters in Tel Aviv will host a special guest next week. One of the soldiers who will be greeted by army head Ashkenazi and will host is Zaid Horani, 21, who graduated his company commanders' course with honors just last week.

The fact that he is Muslim and that his family questioned his decision did not prevent him from enlisting into a combat unit in the army.

"I am very excited," the young Golani soldier told the press. "I still haven't thought about what to say to the chief of staff, but for me the meeting will be very special."

Horani grew up in Akbara, next to Safed, a village made up of refugees who claimed their place following the 1948
War of Independence and for years were not recognized by the authorities. Two years ago Horani notified his family of his intentions to enlist in the Israeli army. Their reactions, which were not all positive, did not discourage him from following his dream.

"Some friends were shocked and others asked me why I would waste three years of my life, but I explained to them that I live in a country where if you want to receive you also have to give," he said. Horani did not settle for "regular" service in one of the units staffed by minority groups, but rather from the start he went for one of the units that most strongly represents the IDF's character: Golani's 51st Battalion.

"At first it was weird. I was asked over and over about my decision, but at no point did I feel any racism," Horani explained. "I am enjoying every minute with the gang. I completed basic training and the company commander's course with honors, and even during my toughest moments, after my mom passed away, I chose to shorten my time at home and go back to being with my friends in the unit."

Horani's unique story and his impressive achievements in such a short period of time led Chief of Staff – the most senior soldier to have graduated from that division – to select him as the representative of his unit in the chief of staff's annual sukkah.

"I am proud to be in the army," the young, gung-ho soldier said. "Even when I come home and talk to friends and explain to them how important it is to serve, I don't succeed at convincing anyone."

Monday, September 20, 2010

First the Russian tourists, Now the Chinese - Wow

The Israeli Tourism Ministry Director General has now signed a tourism cooperation agreement with the Director General of the Shanghai Tourism Ministry. In the agreement, the two sides declared the importance of tourism as a means of promoting ties between the two countries and agreed to work together to advance tourism between Israel and Shanghai, in addition to the exchange of information, advertising and the encouragement and advancement of investments and joint initiatives.

As with the Russians, visa restrictions were lifted and now for the Chinese there has been a promise to raise the visa issue with the Interior and Foreign Ministries in order to remove the obstacles and find solutions that will encourage the Chinese tourist to visit Israel.

“The Chinese tourism market holds enormous potential for Israel and, despite annual growth, we have not yet begun to realize this potential. The tourism industry in China in general and in Shanghai and Beijing in particular displays great interest in and is happy to cooperate with Israel. Simplifying the bureaucratic procedures and increasing airline traffic will facilitate a significant increase in incoming tourism from China.” said the Director General

Outgoing tourism from China over the last decade has recorded impressive and fast growth with great potential for future growth. In 2009, more than 40 million tourists traveled from China, about 15% traveling to Europe and the States. This represents a potential target audience for incoming tourism to Israel.

In 2009, 10,000 tourists visited Israel from China and about 7,000 have visited from January-August 2010 (an increase of over 100% on the same period last year and 26% more than 2008).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The illusion of the Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians

Our fast on the most religious day of the year is at an end. Switching on my computer I received the following heartfelt letter from a friend living on the border with Gaza.

I think his thoughts, though not his actions, are common to those of a large majority of Israelis who feel we are living in an unfair world, a world of double standards, of anti Semitism, a lack of willingness to see the other side of the story and of shutting ones eyes to the realities of life.

From the times of the mandated borders, the area for Israel has been reduced and reduced to almost indefensible borders by a world either ridden with guilt over its colonial past or by countries openly stating the need to eliminate the State completely.

"37 years ago, on Yom Kippur, I was praying in a synagogue, when Israel was attacked by Syria, Egypt and Jordan and my world crashed on me very hard. Since that Yom Kippur day in 1973, I began my little rebellion, since that date, I have never been back in a Synagogue or fasted on Yom Kippur.

In 1977, Sadat of Egypt broke the ice and came to Israel to make a peace deal. My thoughts were, at last there will be peace and my rebellion will stop. Jordan also made peace with Israel. Today we still have peace, (a very cold one) with them but today, Israelis’ are not very welcome in both places, hate still comes out through the media, still bloodletting etc.

After Sadat and Begin sat together, Rabin and Arafat talked about peace and all Israel got back were many terrorist attacks. After Rabin, who was assassinated by an extremist Jew, Barack, Bibi, the first time he was PM and the new Kadima party and all we got was, the same as before.

So now through Obama and Clinton, we are again at the peace talks. The problem is Fatah is not in power in Gaza, Hammas is, so for a start, that dooms the talks. Hammas is in power in Gaza and they will not make peace with Israel, they want to destroy us. They threatened Fatah if they make peace with Israel and they are much stronger than Fatah.

Now since the talks began, the rocket attacks have been fired into Israel, way more than before the talks and more are sure to come.

One Kassam landed in the hydro where a gym room is for handicapped children, luck was with us because it happened at night and no one was there,

Wednesday morning at 7 on the day before Rosh Hashana a rocket fell on my Kibbutz, between two children’s home, a ½ hour before the children were to go there, and the day after one fell near our front gate, we were very lucky, but one day, well I don’t want to go into that.

I lost count of how many rockets have hit Israel, since the talks began, but all I hear from Obama and Clinton is to freeze settlements. No matter what I think about the settlements, why is the world silent, when the Palestinians say no Jews allowed in our state, many Muslim countries do not allow Jews or for that matter many only allow Muslims to live in their state?

I hope that peace will come one day; I hope that day will come at least for the Grandchildren of my grandchildren.

Today, Hammas teaches their 5 year olds and up, on how to kill Jews and fee Palestine, how the Jews are pigs, on TV there, they showed on a children’s show, that a Jew has killed their Arab Mickey mouse, so please tell, how do you make peace, when their children hate you for kill their hero?

In Israel now the fast day has ended, and I hope you are all be subscribed in G-ds book with nothing but health and happiness"

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Year 5770 is at an End

So we completed the year 5770 in the Hebrew calender and enter a period of reflection. Where are we at the end of the year? Well, for sure the effect of Israel's enemies barrage of incitement and deligitimisation is being felt but how effective it is remains in doubt.

The boycott campaigns in many areas of the world have been countered by Israel's supporters in their "buycott" efforts and this has paid off with many reporting that as soon nas there is notification of a boycott of a store, our supporters go into the store and buy up the stock, thus preventing any fall off in sales. Well done to those supporters.

Even at a national level, for example in Norway, where the Palestinian supporters are so active in so many spheres, the overall trade figures show an increase of 15%.

But there is also a lot more good news - we have weathered the global economic storm well and unemployment is already down to levels prior to the financial crisis. and what is more tourism is set to break the all time record. With the cancellation of visa requirements for Russia and Ukraine, the tourists are streaming in and with any luck we will beat the previous record year for tourism of 2.8 million and reach 3.2 million this year. Forecasts for the next 2-3 years suggest we can reach 5 million and that is going to have positive effect on unemployment levels.

And finally there is more to look forward to in the future with amazing finds of gas which is going to allow radical positive changes in society. Yes we have a lot to look forward to.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Infamous AP photo that distorted the truth

You may remember the infamous AP photo that appeared in the New York Times in September 2000 of Tuvia Grossman, the Jewish student from Chicago. Tuvia was beaten within inches of his life before being rescued by an Israeli border policeman yet was portrayed in the media as a Palestinian victim of Israeli brutality.

The subsequent outrage at the media "launched" the organisation Honest Reporting. Now, ten years on, they have managed to exclusively reunite Tuvia with his rescuer, a Border Police commander from a northern Druze village and captured the event on video.


This is a compelling story and hope that it may even generate some interest from the mainstream media. But first we have to reach a critical mass of online interest on blogs, social media and other places.

This is pretty much HR's commemoration of our ten year anniversary fighting against anti-Israel media bias. We would be really grateful if you could promote this video and the accompanying interview with Tuvia Grossman

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And now a success from Sheba Medical Center

Following up from my last blog concerning the success at Haifa's Rambam hospital, Tel Aviv's Sheba hospital does not want to be outdone.

A three-week-old Beduin baby who would likely have been aborted if his mother had undergone an ultrasound scan during pregnancy has been saved from a congenital defect with sophisticated treatment, that included days of being connected to a $200,000 device at Sheba Medical Center’s Edward and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital.

The first son of Rahat residents Rasha and Shadi Elkranawi, themselves barely out of their teens, was born at 2.6 kilos in Rasha’s ninth month at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba.His condition immediately turned critical, as doctors diagnosed a diaphramatic hernia, in which the intestines move up into the chest cavity and put pressure on the lungs.

Soroka lacked the special equipment needed to keep him breathing and his heart beating after an operation.Although doctors didn’t know if the baby would survive the transfer to Sheba at Tel Hashomer, they nonetheless sent him there and hasty arrangements were made for him with the head of the medical center’s pediatric intensive care department. Four expert staffers – some of them on vacation in other parts of the country – were urgently called to the department to perform surgery to push the intestines back into the baby’s abdomen and repair the hernia.

The full story can be read at http://www.jpost.com/HealthAndSci-Tech/Health/Article.aspx?id=186772

The operation was a battle against time. Due to the pressure, some damage had already been done to the lungs. However the doctors performed miracles and now the baby is home and will not need any special treatment or equipment as he recovers.