“The Nation Demands Social Justice” – For All

August 14, 2011

Event Poster for Beer-Sheva Rally that Reads, “The Negev Demands Social Justice”

I’m forgoing my perfectionist leanings because I want to tell you about the Israel protests tonight. I attended the Beer-Sheva rally, estimated at 35,000, and followed closely on Twitter and Facebook the progress of the protest in Haifa as well. (I consider Haifa and Beer-Sheva to be my Israeli hometowns.)

In Beer-Sheva, it was a warm, dry night. The atmosphere was that of a street festival, and babies and small children abounded, despite the late hour.

But something interesting was happening. Taking the focus off Tel Aviv changed the nature of the protests. In Haifa and Beer-Sheva, we saw a far greater inclusiveness in the protests than we had seen before, with gay pride flags flying high, signs for handicapped rights, and most of all, significant mike time given to Arab Israeli issues.

In Beer-Sheva, Hanan Alsana (חנאן אלסנע), a Bedouin woman, was one of the headline speakers and a highlight of the night to many.

Live Coverage from the Ground

I know many people are uncomfortable with Twitter, and that’s fine, so I’m bringing it to you. Here’s a live account of what people were saying as the protests happened.

— Keep reading for photos, videos, funny stories, and recommendations of what to read next. Most importantly, I look forward to hearing your thoughts — 
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Seeing the Bomb (Wednesday, March 23, 2011: Beer-Sheva)

March 25, 2011

 

Impact of a Grad Missile on Pavement (Ashdod: Week of March 23rd, 2011)

What a week. And here’s the truth of it: nothing makes you want to connect with other people more than a crisis- and for me that means writing, blogging, and Facebook.

I was contacted several times this week by reporters of the mainstream news, but I’d rather tell my own story in my own words.

The Siren Sounds

The Nearest Staircase**

On Wednesday morning, March 23rd at 5:30 am, the alarm sirens blared in Beer-Sheva. For those of you who have never been in this situation, the siren sounds for 60 seconds and you have that amount of time to get to your bomb shelter, safe room, or the nearest approximation [see footnote].

I was sleeping with my two and a half year old son (my husband was working) when the siren sounded. I grabbed the baby, my shoes, and the keys and walked rapidly toward a building across the street so that we could make it to the nearest staircase [left].

(The closest bomb shelter is more than a minute away, which doesn’t leave enough time to get there from sleep to siren. It’s been locked before, so wasn’t worth the risk. My husband and I had already decided that in case of emergency, the nearest stairway was the best bet.)

Let me tell you this. Unless you live in Sderot, perhaps, when you hear that siren, your heart stops, but you don’t think it is going to affect you directly- meaning in front of your eyes. You believe that there may be a missile coming toward you and that you need to take action to protect yourself, but you don’t believe that it’s coming straight at you. My opinion on that front has now changed.

— Keep reading —

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Amplifying Women’s Voices in Israel and Palestine (TEDx HolyLand)

December 11, 2010

There’s no question in my mind that women do it best when it comes to relationships.

We’re more giving with each other, more intimate, more talkative, and more forgiving. That’s why hearing and amplifying women’s voices is so important to the process of Middle East peace. After all, the essence of meaningful coexistence is strong, healthy relationships.

If you care about women and the Middle East, it is essential that you listen to the voices of the women in these videos.

TEDx HolyLand

This morning I came across TEDx HolyLand– the only TEDx conference in the world devoted to women’s voices and narratives. (Note that the full name of the conference is TEDx HolyLand: It’s Time).

In the conference’s opening video, co-organizer Israeli Liat Aaronson explains:

“We want to have women’s voices heard in an effort to progress toward the end of Occupation and the end of violence in our region. That’s what we’re about.”

Co-organizer, Palestinian Hanan Kattan asserts:

“The Palestinian people and the Israeli people have many individual challenges they have to work on separately. And yet, ultimately, a truly sustainable future relies on both sides understanding that they cannot do it alone. This connection to each other, this working together, is essential to make anything truly worthwhile happen.”

Kattan explains that the HolyLand conference was sponsored by a Palestinian (lesbian) woman who wishes to remain anonymous. As someone who cares about these issues, I can’t think of a better use of funding to forward peace.

Treading on Transboundary Identities

Here I also want to note how many of these women tread the borderlines of mixed identities, as you will hear below. They are Arab, and Israeli; they are Muslim, and sometimes lesbians; they are Middle Eastern, but occasionally educated in Europe or the United States. It is my belief that the power of their voices comes from their experience with transboundary identities and the spiritual beauty that comes from exploring all aspects of the self.

— Keep reading to hear the powerful voices of women in Israel and Palestine as well as extended resources for recommended reading and viewing —

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Israel Needs Your Help: Forest Fire Devastates Haifa

December 3, 2010

Israel needs your help. The worst fire in the nation’s history erupted yesterday from the forests of the Carmel in Haifa.

International aid from Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Greece was offered almost immediately to help quench the flames as Israel’s resources were quickly depleted.

As of early Friday morning, Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters updated:

More than 15,000 residents evacuated, flames near Haifa. Mass evacuation continues into night as fire ranges in northern Israel, thousands of Haifa residents ordered to leave homes. At least 40 dead; casualty information center reopens for first time since Second Lebanon War.

Here’s How You Can Help

Jewish National Fund (JNF)

The Jewish National Fund has established a Forest Fire Emergency Campaign.

Here’s how your donations can help- and keep in mind here how many of our physical resources were lost in the fire and that Israeli firefighting sources will need extensive funds to recuperate from the loss of equipment:

  • $100- Hose
  • $500- Helmet
  • $1,000- Hose Nozzle
  • $5,000- Masks and Tanks
  • $7,500- Camera
  • $10,000- Equipment
  • $50,000- ARV
  • $125,000- Fire Truck

The JNF has also organized an international conference call on Friday, December 3rd for 12:00 EST with CEO Russell Robinson and several of their chief executive officers, as well as Shimon Romach, Chief of the Israel Firefighters, and Tim Tidewell, US Chief of the Forest Service. Click here to register and log-in information will be sent to you.

Note also JNF’s projects to Help Alleviate Israel’s Water CrisisForest Management and Fire Prevention, and Friends of Israel’s Fire Fighters. You can learn more about them here.

— Keep Reading: Magen David Adom (Israeli Red Cross), JGooders, Role of Social Media in Breaking News —

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Israeli Water: Innovations and Challenges in 7 Videos (Blog Action Day 2010)

October 16, 2010


No issue is more critical in the Middle East than water. But what does that really mean? Water is a transboundary issue that affects the environment, geopolitics, social, and health concerns.

Today is Blog Action Day for the environment and this year’s theme is water. I’m on a quest to learn more- even if it only means bolstering my knowledge incrementally- and I’m happy to take you along for the ride.

Water and the environment are a vital issue. But where to begin? I decided to consult the experts using videos from Israeli universities, the Jewish National Fund, Israel21C, and more. I encourage you to post your own links in the comments section so that we can learn from each other.

Post Preview

Here’s how this post is organized.

  1. Introduction: Get acquainted with the issue of innovative water technologies in Israel and overview of the challenges we face
  2. Best Practices:  Meet students and alumni from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Arava Institute of Environmental Studies who are becoming global scientific ambassadors on water-related issues
  3. Next Steps: Learn from a case study in the Bedouin community of Um Batin. One of Israel’s next steps in water management is in bringing basic resources to all the citizens of the nation

Innovations in Israeli Water Technology

Straight from Israel’s new YouTube channel comes this overview of Israeli water technology that focuses on Israel’s role as a scientific ambassador to governments around the world. It additionally covers:

  • Water purification, desalination, and reclamation
  • Drip irrigation as a technique to maximize crop yields while simultaneously decreasing water usage

— Read on to learn more —

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Exodus to Empowerment (Guest Author: Dana Talmi)

July 8, 2010

Dana Talmi profiles Avraham Nega Admasu for
PresenTense Magazine’s recent “Heroes” issue

Name: Avraham Nega Admasu
Home: Rishon L’Tzion, Israel
Profession: Material engineer, father, community leader
He’s a hero because: He’s empowering Ethiopian youth

Who is Avraham Nega Admasu?

A 38-year-old father of three, material engineer, and community leader, Avraham Nega Admasu empowers Ethiopian youth in Israel to connect to their culture and to integrate into the broader Israeli community.

Admasu is part of a garin—a Hebrew word that means “seed,” a collaborative community working together for the betterment of society, under the umbrella of the Friends by Nature.

The nonprofit organization works to empower and educate the Ethiopian community in Israel. Committed to planting the seeds for a successful and vibrant Ethiopian community in the town of Rishon Letzion, the garin is one of 10 such communities dedicated to strengthening the Ethiopian community from within.

Ethiopian Beginnings

Admasu’s path as a community leader is informed by his life story. He grew up among 11 siblings in Kabazit, a small village in northern Ethiopia.

During his childhood, he tended livestock with his father and helped the women bring water from the nearby well. In 1984, his family sold their livestock and bribed the necessary local officials, enabling 52 family members to leave the country secretly and make the 12-day trip to the Sudanese border by foot.

— Don’t stop reading now. Continue on to Israel. —

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Jewish/Israel News: All the News That’s Fit to Tweet

October 21, 2009
Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

Source: Flickr, Just.Luc

The air is popping, molecules are dancing, you can practically feel the crackle in the air– alive with energy in the world of Jewish philanthropy and innovation. The New Jew is here to bring you the news that can’t be missed.

Israel

  • Israel President’s Conference— Today is the first day of the 2nd annual President’s Conference, founded by President Shimon Peres. This year’s theme is “Tomorrow’s Future.” To get live updates on Twitter, click on this link where I have collected all the relevant resources for you

(Flickr photo link via Just.Luc, Creative Commons)

In the Media

TNJ_ReportsWOBordersIndex_20Oct09

  • Free Press Index— Israel’s Free Press Rank plummets on Reporters Without Borders’ index due to tightened government control over the media during Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2008/2009) and during the elections. Israel dropped 43 places to #93. (The US is #20, up from #40 last year)
  • Human Rights Watch: Anti-Israel— In this New York Times op-ed, Robert L. Bernstein, former chairman of HRW criticizes the group for repeatedly singling out Israel for human rights violations without holding other Middle Eastern countries to equivalent standards
  • Shalom, Al Jazeera— An Egyptian newspaper broke the story that Israeli billionaire Haim Saban was set to acquire the Arab world’s news station. The story is yet unconfirmed
  • Palestinian Jews? It’s not Pre-State Deja Vu— The Wall Street Journal’s James Woolsey asks if we have Israeli Arabs why can’t there by Palestinian Jews?
  • Our Israel? — A raging debate between The Forward’s Jay Michaelson and the Shalem Center’s Daniel Gordis centers on the question of how we perceive Israel as a Jewish state and as our state. Michaelson complains: “My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations,” in reference to his stance toward Israeli politics, peace, and Palestinians. Gordis counters, “But you know what I love about this place, Jay?  I love that all the political baggage is mine.” (Don’t forget to read the comments as well)

Jewish Connectivity

TNJ_Birthright.LogoSquare_20Oct09

  • Assessing Birthright Israel— It’s been 10 years. Where does Taglit-Birthright Israel stand after a decade of hard work? Here are the statistics: Birthright has brought 200,000 young Jews to Israel so far– 10,000 will come this winter. Philanthropic  dollars: $80 million raised: 55% from individuals; 22% from Jewish communities and the Jewish Agency; 23% from the Israeli government

— Interested in Jewish Connectivity, Israeli Technology & the Environment, Israel’s Economy & the Jewish Community Landscape, Innovation & Education? Read on. —

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