Thursday, April 18, 2013

US Senators Approve Resolution to Assist Israel in Iran Strike

From Arutz Sheva, 17 April 2013, by Elad Benari:
The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopts a resolution which stipulates that the U.S. will assist Israel in an attack against Iran.
Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
AFP photo

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted on Tuesday a resolution which stipulates that the U.S. will assist Israel if it is forced to take action against Iran.
The resolution, Senate Resolution 65, was introduced last month by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and was co-sponsored by 15 Senators, including Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chuck Schumer (D-New York).
It states that the United States has a vital national interest in and unbreakable commitment to, ensuring the existence, survival, and security of the State of Israel; reaffirms the United States support for Israel’s right to self-defense; and urges that if Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense, the United States will stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.
It also states that U.S. policy is to halt Iranian nuclear ambitions. Senate Resolution 65 gained the support of 70 of the 100 senators.
A statement issued by AIPAC following the vote said, “The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has sent a very clear and enormously important message of solidarity with Israel against the Iranian nuclear threat—which endangers American, Israeli, and international security. AIPAC urges the full Senate to act expeditiously to adopt the resolution.”
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that
“the regime in Tehran does not see the western world as determined to stop the nuclear project, so it allows itself to continue with its plans.
“Only putting the Iranian regime before the dilemma of ‘bomb, or survival’ will lead to the end of the project,” he said.
“The world must take the lead in the standoff with Iran, but Israel must prepare for the possibility that it will need to protect itself alone,”
he added.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also referred to the Iranian nuclear threat on Tuesday, comparing it to the recent behavior of North Korea. He made the comments during a reception for foreign diplomats.
"We have recently seen the results of a wild regime that possesses nuclear weapons,” he said. “We have also seen that heavy sanctions are not always effective against a sufficiently determined regime.
“Therefore, we have an obligation to ensure that this will not happen again. If Iran achieves nuclear weapons, this will change the world. When I said this in the past, many listened and agreed, but now it is possible to agree from an additional perspective, and I think that all governments must do everything possible in order to ensure that this danger is not realized,"
said Netanyahu.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The top 65 ways Israel is saving our planet

From Israel 21c, April 14th, 2013, by Nicky Blackburn:

...To celebrate Israel’s 65th birthday, ISRAEL21c takes a look at some of the many creative and varied ways Israel is helping to enrich and improve our planet.

The list comes in no particular order, and is by no means exhaustive. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more worthy projects going on every day....

Here are just the first ten on the list. Follow the link to see all 65 ways....

1. An Israeli company is developing a toilet that needs no water, and generates its own power to turn solid waste (including toilet roll) into sterile and odorless fertilizer in 30 seconds. Liquid waste is sterilized and then used to flush the toilet. Developer Paulee CleanTec has been awarded a grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which reports that about 80 percent of human waste goes into rivers and streams untreated, and 1.1 billion people don’t use a toilet.

2. Fifty years ago, Lake Victoria carp was a significant part of the diet of Ugandan villagers. But when Nile perch was introduced to the lake, it decimated the carp population. Villagers had neither the equipment nor the expertise to catch the huge perch, and symptoms of protein deficiency started becoming apparent in their children.
Prof. Berta Sivan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem came to the rescue with a multiyear project to help these African families. Using expertise developed in Israel, her project not only successfully spawned carp on Ugandan fish farms, but also provided training on how to dig and fill ponds and raise the small fish. Now local children have an abundant supply of protein.

3. About 50 percent of every grain and pulse harvest in the developing world is lost to pests and mold, but an Israeli scientist has developed a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh. International food technology consultant Prof. Shlomo Navarro invented huge bags, now marketed by US company GrainPro, which keep both water and air out. The bags are in use all over the developing world, including Africa and the Far East, and even in countries that don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel.

4. In January 2010, Israel won international praise for the speed and expertise with which it responded to a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti that killed 300,000 people, injured hundreds of thousands and laid waste to the poverty-stricken country.
A team of 240 Israeli doctors, nurses, rescue and relief workers arrived in Haiti just days after the quake, bringing medicines, communications and medical equipment. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) volunteers set up the country’s most advanced and well-equipped field hospital in the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Israeli search-and-rescue missions pulled survivors from the rubble, saving many Haitians, including a man trapped for 10 days.
The delegation included volunteers from IsraAID, the IDF, ZAKA, Magen David Adom (MADA), Tevel B’Tzedek, the Negev Institute, and Alyn Hospital. It was the largest Israeli civilian relief mission ever assembled, and was one of the biggest and most skilled on the island.
In the wake of the disaster, Israel continues to send aid and assistance, including educational projects, trauma programs, micro-financing, development and relief work, rebuilding of communities and schools, aid packages, empowerment for women, and medical assistance.

5. The invention of drip irrigation by Israeli Simcha Blass and its development by Netafim, and later Plastro and NaanDan Jain, has completely revolutionized agriculture across the world, enabling farmers to increase their yields with less water. Constantly upgraded Israeli drip-irrigation techniques are regularly shared with other countries through MASHAV, Israel’s Center for International Cooperation.

6. Tal-Ya Water Technologies has developed reusable plastic trays to collect dew from the air, reducing the water needed by crops or trees by up to 50 percent. The square serrated trays, made from non-PET recycled and recyclable plastic with UV filters and a limestone additive, surround each plant or tree. With overnight temperature change, dew forms on both surfaces of the Tal-Ya tray, which funnels the dew and condensation straight to the roots. If it rains, the trays – which are now on sale – heighten the effect of each millimeter of water 27 times over.

7. About 1.6 million children under the age of five die from untreated drinking water in developing nations every year. An Israeli company has developed a water purification system that delivers safe drinking water from almost any source, including contaminated water, seawater and even urine.
WaterSheer’s Sulis personal water purifier is a small 10-gram mouthpiece that attaches to the top of a water bottle. The company has also developed systems to treat large quantities of water.
Sulis has been used in Taiwan, Myanmar and Haiti, and will be part of contingency plans in case of disaster at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.

8. Israel is building a model agricultural village in South Sudan to teach local farmers about Israeli agricultural methods and technologies to help the fledgling African nation thrive.

9. In plants in China, Italy and the United States, Israeli company Seambiotic is using algae to turn carbon dioxide emitted by power plants into fuel and nutraceuticals. The company’s algae ponds, which are nourished by power plant effluent and sunlight, generate 30 times more feedstock for biofuel than do crop alternatives. The algae are a good source of valuable nutraceuticals, especially popular in China and the East.
Seambiotic is also working with the US National Aviation and Space Administration (NASA) to develop a commercially feasible biofuel variety from algae that has a higher freezing point than biofuels from corn or sugarcane.

10. The lives of thousands of endangered animals in West and Central Africa are being saved thanks to the tireless efforts of Israeli law enforcement activist Ofir Drori, who founded the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) in Cameroon, the first wildlife law-enforcement NGO in Africa.
The organization helped propagate a zero-tolerance approach to illegal wildlife trafficking in Cameroon, which has resulted in hundreds of arrests and prosecutions. The model has been replicated throughout West and Central Africa in activities that go beyond nature conservation to the defense of human rights.

These are just the first ten on the list. Follow the link to see all 65 ways....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Technion named 6th in world for entrepreneurship, innovation

The Technion [The Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa] was ranked in sixth place in the world for entrepreneurship and innovation, in the first comprehensive survey conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The study was performed in collaboration with Skolkovo (the Innovation Center known as Russia’s Silicon Valley). The survey aimed to identify the most innovative universities around the world.
The Technion was one of only two of the top 10 universities worldwide outside the US and Europe. (The other is the National University of Singapore.) The two top schools in the survey were MIT and Stanford University.
The survey also cited the Technion and Imperial College London among the “emerging giants whose reputation had grown considerably in recent years.”
The study was carried out among 61 experts in 20 countries, who identified 120 universities that have brought decisive influence and major contributions to the world in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation.
In answer to the question “Which universities would you identify as having created/supported the world’s most successful innovation ecosystems,” the Technion was ranked in sixth place, after MIT, Stanford, the University of Cambridge, Imperial Collage London, and the University of Oxford. Owing to the Technion’s standing, Israel was ranked third in the areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, after the United States and Great Britain, and ahead of Sweden, Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, China and Canada.
The Technion was ranked first place in answer to the question “Which universities would you identify as having created/supported highly effective technology innovation ecosystems despite a challenging environment. In addition, the Technion was rated highly in the survey as an institution that “aspires to entrepreneurship and innovation, considered among the essential ingredients for achievement.”
Responding to the survey results, Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie said “the Technion’s position among the top ten leading universities in the world in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship brings us closer to fulfilling our mission goals: to be counted among the top ten leading universities in the world.
“This is not the first time the Technion has earned international acclaim such as this,” he continued. “The university’s contribution to Israel’s advanced technology industry is recognized around the world. Not by coincidence did we prevail in the New York City’s tender last year to establish a scientific-engineering research center in partnership with Cornell University.”
Founded in 1912, the Haifa-based Technion — Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s oldest university. It counts three Nobel laureates for chemistry among its 600-plus faculty members.

Stalemate in the Syrian Civil War

  • On the second anniversary of the Syrian civil war, those who hurriedly announced the demise of the Assad regime realize that the existing power structures are strong enough to endure a war of attrition with the rebels even with the loss of large portions of sovereign Syrian territory.
  • Some analysts claim that the Syrian civil war began in 1980 when a group of Muslim Brothers stormed the military academy in Aleppo and, after separating the Alawite and Sunni cadets, cold-bloodedly killed the Alawites with knives and assault rifles. The regime retaliated in 1982 by brutally killing more than 20,000 Muslim Brothers in Homs and Hama.
  • The coalition of minorities around Assad has not disintegrated and the pillars of the regime remain in place. Assad has proved that he has the resolve to conduct effective campaigns against the rebels in a very hostile international environment, while continuing to rule and provide for the daily life of the population under his control. Two million Alawites also understand the implications of a Sunni Islamist regime in Syria, even one of the Egyptian model.
  • Information on events in Syria has come from mostly biased sources. The Syrian NGO known as the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights has become a privileged source of information on Syria. Yet, in fact, it is an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • The United States and Europe face an impossible dilemma: on the one hand, they would like Assad to fall; on the other, they do not want an Islamist regime that is worse than the ones that succeeded Mubarak in Egypt and Ben-Ali in Tunisia.
  • The same dilemma confronts Israel. On the one hand, Jerusalem would like to see an end to the Iranian-led “axis of evil.” On the other, the prospect of a militant Islamic regime, linked to al-Qaeda and possessing the Syrian military arsenal, is a nightmare Jerusalem cannot live with.

The collapse of hope

From Commentary magazine, 14 April 2013, by JONATHAN S. TOBIN:
The resignation of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad ...lays bare the collapse of ... hope that Palestinian nationalism would be refocused on development and coexistence rather than violence.
Without the fig leaf of responsibility that Fayyad provided, the idea that the PA is anything but a corrupt regime fatally compromised by connections with terror rings false.
Fayyad’s inability to either generate much public support among the people of the West Bank or to use his credentials as a respected international figure to outmaneuver PA President Mahmoud Abbas is a tragedy for the Palestinian people. His failure dooms them to a choice between the venal and incompetent cadres of Fatah or the bloody Islamist tyranny of Hamas.
Fayyad has always had the strong support of both the United States and of Israel, which despite its suspicions about the PA has seen him as an essential interlocutor and partner. His problem is that Abbas’ Fatah Party viewed him as an obstacle to both its drive for political hegemony in the West Bank as well as to the continuation of its crooked patronage schemes that diverted foreign-aid money into its leaders’ pockets.
Without a Fayyad (or someone like him), there is no pretense that what the peace processers seek to create in the West Bank is a state living in peace with Israel or its other Arab neighbors, rather than a kleptocracy run by terrorists. That is not only bad news for the Palestinian people, but also a guarantee that the terms of any peace deal signed with them will not be observed.
This conundrum goes to the heart of the original motivations behind the Oslo process that created the PA in 1993.
Shimon Peres conceived the Oslo process as a path to a “New Middle East” in which Israel and a Palestinian state led by Fayyads would create a Benelux-like enclave in the Middle East. The late Yitzhak Rabin, though, thought handing the territories over to Yasser Arafat would work because the old terrorist would be willing to settle for statehood in only part of the country and would then be free to quash Hamas and any other terrorists without the interference of a Supreme Court or gadfly groups that inhibited Israeli counterterror measures.
As it turns out, both were wrong. Peres’ hopes about what the PA would become were delusional. But the hard-boiled Rabin was just as wrong to think a Palestinian state led by corrupt terrorists isn’t antithetical to the entire concept of two states for two peoples living alongside each other in peace. This has already been amply demonstrated, first by Arafat’s use of terrorism and then by what has happened in Gaza where an independent Palestinian state in all but name already exists.
Fayyad’s tragedy was not just that both Fatah and Hamas wanted to be rid of him, but that he had virtually no support among ordinary Palestinians. So long as shedding Jewish blood is the main factor that gives a Palestinian political party credibility, men like Fayyad will have no chance no matter how much they are applauded by Americans or Israelis.
The collapse of his effort to change Palestinian politics is therefore a key moment that should signal to the world that it must dispense with the theories of both Peres and Rabin and cease ignoring reality in favor of illusions.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Palestinian Authority "prime minister", Salam Fayyad, resigns

From Washington Post, 13 April 2013, by Joel Greenberg:

...Fayyad resigned on Saturday, exposing a rift in the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank ...
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accepted Fayyad’s resignation and asked him to stay in his post until a new government is formed, according to the official news agency WAFA. The two leaders had been at odds over economic policy and the extent of the prime minister’s authority.
[Fayyad was a] former World Bank official who was strongly backed by Washington....
His efforts had received Western financial assistance, but the Palestinian Authority has been in fiscal crisis for months because of a shortfall of foreign aid, leading to strikes and unrest among government employees.
Fayyad’s economic policies have been criticized by top officials of Abbas’s ruling Fatah party, straining relations between the two leaders. The dispute worsened after last month’s resignation of Finance Minister Nabil Qassis. Fayyad accepted the resignation but was overruled by Abbas, challenging the prime minister’s authority to hire and fire cabinet ministers.
A political independent without a popular power base, Fayyad, 61, had targeted entrenched interests in the Palestinian elite, fueling resentment against him in Fatah. The Islamist Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, has called Fayyad a tool of American and Israeli interests, objecting to his leadership of a proposed unity government under a reconciliation accord with Fatah.
Secretary of State John F. Kerry held talks with Fayyad this past week, signaling support for the embattled prime minister, and Israeli media reports said Washington had pressed Abbas to retain him.
Fayyad’s departure could hamper American efforts announced by Kerry to boost the Palestinian economy. An expert in development who also has served with the International Monetary fund, Fayyad was expected to play a key role in that effort, as well as in moves to revive peace negotiations.
Fayyad has served since 2007 as prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, promoting what he has billed as a ground-up effort to build the institutions of a Palestinian state...
While he has drawn praise from Western nations, Fayyad’s critics have accused him of failing to develop the West Bank economy, making the Palestinian Authority dependent on foreign financial support and vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from donor nations...