A System for All Seasons

Plants having “A Field Day” in South Africa thanks to Israeli expertise

By David E. Kaplan

While South Africa poured cold water on the recent groundbreaking United Arab Emirate’s deal with Israel – expressing it was “regrettable” – Israeli companies are only too happy to provide water solutions to South Africa.

One such Israeli company is the startup SupPlant that develops a sensor-based system that autonomously waters crops according to gathered data, while optimising water consumption and alerting farmers of the status of their crops, the soil and the air.

SupPlant’s motto imbedded in its brand:  

More Produce, Less Water

One of the biggest problems in agriculture is weather.

While South Africa’s regional rainfall pattern for the 2020/21 agricultural season is encouraging as the bulk of southern Africa is expected to receive an adequate rainfall throughout the growing season, previous years of substantially less rainfall resulted in adverse impacts on agriculture, water resources and hydropower generation in much of the region.

Very hard hit were South African farmers.

The SupPlant system processes hyper-local weather forecasts and provides the farmer with irrigation recommendations for a week ahead. As an example, when a large heat wave is approaching, its system will alert the farmer and recommend the necessary steps needed to overcome this heat wave without suffering crop damage while maintaining a reasonable use of water. SupPlant has accumulated years of experience in dealing with extreme weather events around the world – including South Africa – and thus is well positioned to advise its farmers globally.

Back to the Roots

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Afula in Israel’s picturesque Yezreel Valley, SupPlant has been active in the South African market since 2017. It started with two farms in the Western Cape that yielded impressive results in citrus and apples then subsequently expanded to the  county’s northernmost province of Limpopo.

Gamechanger. SupPlant changing the nature of agriculture.

SupPlant’s system assists farmers by providing the tools to maintain a correct irrigation regime all year long. It focuses on the needs of the crops and the changing conditions in the environment. “Using our system, farmers can manage their precious water resources correctly, prevent plant stress, reduce fruit loss, improve production, and maximize their crop potential year after year,” says Ori Ben Ner, the CEO of SupPlant.

In South Africa, “We have been able to decrease water usage by 37% in apple crops, increased lemon yield by 60% and Macadamia nuts have been increased by 21%. This is worth $4500 savings per hectare,” says Ori.

SupPlant CEO Ori Ben ner

Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree

CEO Ben Ner is following in the footsteps of his revered grandfather, Avner Ben Ner, who was born and raised to be a farmer in a small village in the northern part of Israel. It was  “Grandfather Ben Ner”  who came up with the original concept based on his experience – literally and figuratively –  “in the field”.

At 88, the elder Ben Ner is today still actively farming.

Very proudly CEO Ori reveals that “all of the experiments and R&D is done on grandfather’s original plot.”

All in the Family. (left-right) The farmer with ideas, “Grandfather Avner” Ben Ner, President & Founder Zohar Ben Ner and CEO Ori Ben Ner.

Today, with climates so unpredictable that can change so rapidly, “we have to rely on the available technologies to communicate with plants and prepare them for any scenario,” says Ori. “Our mission,” he asserts, “is to equip farmers and agri-businesses to manage their water challenges with the most relevant and potentially effective agronomic insights.” 

Today,  SupPlant is a world leading company in the field of “IOT” (“Internet of Things”) relating to agriculture. By shifting away from antiquated irrigation methodologies, SupPlant’s unique technology significantly saves water and improves productivity. 

How it works is that its artificial intelligence system analyses the data from the crops acquired through sensors which it then processes to provide irrigation commands.

Under Strict Surveillance. Strategically placed sensors monitor the growth of the fruit, the contractions of the stem or trunk and leaf temperature.

A lot of farmers talk about “sensing the needs of their plants” but what SupPlant has found is a way to scale the sensing: “We place sensors strategically which transmits data to the cloud on what the plant is sensing. It then translates that data through the use of artificial intelligence and big data to irrigation recommendations,” explains Ori. “We use all the data we have accumulated about 31 crops from 14 countries to create the best knowledge base.”

Look Who’s Talking. Farmers can now simply place sensors in the field and let the plants do the talking.
 

SupPlant has partnered in South Africa  with Nulandis  to service the country’s agricultural sector by assisting its farmers achieve  two goals:

– increasing crop yield

– reducing water usage 

Listening to the Plants

Farmers can now listen to their plants and hear directly how they are feeling or even likely to feel! SupPlant’s new mobile app will allow farmers to monitor plots and control their water budget from anywhere. The mobile app will  also send real-time alerts to the farmer in case the plants show a high stress level as it continuously monitors plants stress. In addition, it will alert when the soil is too moist, or a technical malfunction has occurred and will send advance notice  and recommendations  for dealing with extreme weather conditions.

A New Dawn. CEO Ori Ben-Ner at a SupPlant’s autonomous irrigation technology presentation at the UN in July 2019 says “a day where all growers in the world will be able to grow more produce and saving water – that day is now closer to reality more than ever.”  

This more intimate relationship between  man and his crops reminded me of in the 1969 musical western classic Paint Your Wagon with Clint Eastwood singing “I Talk To the Trees”.

Who would have thought that in 2020 the trees are now talking to the farmer!






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

From Meddling to Menace

A hungry Turkey itching to gobble all  before her

By David E. Kaplan

What’s cooking with Turkey these days? Like its namesake in the animal kingdom it has an insatiable appetite to gobble all in its sight!

President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seems set on sampling a new regional “dish” nearly every month creating each time an international crisis.

His latest flavour of the month  – Armenia.

Over the course of 2020, starting in February, the salivating President interfered in Syria’s Idlib and then in April and Mayit was Libya that attracted his fancy. Clearly unsatiated, the President bombed Iraq in June and then from August through to September, drooled westerly threatening Greece over drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Then, from meddling in the Mediterranean,  the appetitive Erdoğan switched his tastes to the Caspian and Caucasus to support Azerbaijan in its current clashes with Armenia.

Syrian Arab and Kurdish civilians arrive in Hassakeh city after fleeing Turkish bombardment on Syria’s northeastern towns. [Delil Souleiman/AFP]

Recent reports by a Syrian source supported by photos and videos revealed Syrian mercenaries recruited by Turkey being transported by busses on September 23 towards Armenia. Photographs furnished by Majd Helobi confirming these allegations further suggest that the Syrians recruited by Ankara are the same that carried out earlier “crimes against humanity” in Turkish-occupied Afrin and Tel Abyad. These crimes that according to a September 2020 United Nations Human Rights Council biannual report include “rape, ethnic cleansing and looting” were directed against women and children, primarily targeting minorities such as Yazidis, Kurds and Christians.

Man with a Mission. Two-fisted threatening Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a typical tirade.  (Photo: EPA via STR)

Bullying Beast

Is there no stopping the insatiable Turkey?” ask Arab journalists throughout the region.

Jalal Aref, writing in the UAE’s Al-Bayan, laments the tragic plight of the Turkish people under its president:

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to wake up every morning to yet another report about the deterioration of the Turkish economy, the collapse of his country’s reputation around the world and the decline in his party’s influence at home. But the Turkish leader refuses to look reality in the eye and insists on maintaining his illusion of grandeur. The question is, where will these illusions take his bullying next?”

Syrians flee shelling by Turkish forces in Ras al-Ain, northeastern Syria [AP Photo]

The man who inherited a promising economy is now only promising misery as he leads Turkey to the brink of bankruptcy. In his grandiose quest to revive the “glory days” of the Ottoman Empire,  he “has brought blood and destruction not only on his own people, but also on hundreds of innocent civilians throughout the Arab world,” writes Aref.

Syrians throw stones toward Turkish military vehicles during a patrol along the Syria-Turkey border near the town of Darbasiyah, Syria, Nov. 11, 2019. (Photo by DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP via Getty Images)

How did it come about that a man who initially promised to promote democratic reforms in his country has instead allied himself with terrorist factions that undermine the sovereignty of nation-states throughout the Middle East causing havoc!

Also writing in Al-Bayan, “How Long Will We Keep Silent About Turkey?” asks Dr. Abdullah Al-Madani. The countries of the Gulf “can no longer afford to sit idly by as Turkey continues to threaten the security and stability of our entire region. Ankara, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party is clear about its aspiration to lead the entire Muslim world by restoring the Ottoman caliphate.”

Meddling in the Med. Turkish drilling vessel Yavuz escorted by a Turkish Navy frigate in the eastern Mediterranean Sea off Cyprus, last August. (Reuters)

Asserting that Erdogan’s Turkey is “no longer a friendly country with good intentions,” but rather, continues Dr. Al-Madani, “has become one of the most malicious nations in the world, deploying mercenaries all over the region and destabilizing the security and stability of distant countries in an effort to lock in political and financial gains.”

The height of hypocrisy  was when Erdoğan threatened to suspend diplomatic relations with the UAE following its September breakthrough deal between the Gulf state and Israel, without even suggesting that it might downgrade its own diplomatic relations with the Jewish state that it has maintained since 1949.

This position by Turkey was widely criticized as hypocrisy.

Today, Turkey competes with Iran in only one major respect – its hate and threats toward Israel!

What’s more disturbing, does the insatiable Turkey have its sights again set on “returning” to Israel restoring the Ottoman legacy that ruled Palestine for 400 years from 1517 to 1917.

In a speech this October to lawmakers during the opening of the new legislative session, President Erdoğan proclaimed “Jerusalem is ours”. The Turkish leader touted years of Ottoman rule over Jerusalem lamenting that “In this city that we had to leave in tears during the First World War, it is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance.”

Designs on Jerusalem.  President Erdogan greets legislators at the parliament in Ankara on Oct. 1, 2020 on the way to declare ‘Jerusalem is our city’.  (Turkish Presidency via AP. Pool)

Erdoğan should do well not to brag nor lament the past when it comes to Jerusalem.  We have enough archaeological reminders of those ‘visitors’ who approached with armies more likely to try crushing its walls than entering through its gates, hence the city’s long and tumultuous history. Since the city was first established by Kind David in 1004 BCE, Jews have suffered war, massacre, slavery and exile .

No Mr. Erdoğan – ENOUGH and the loudest voices telling you this are not from Israel but your fellow Muslims across the region.

Tensions over Gas. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  announces on Aug. 10, 2020 that it will be conducting energy exploration in an area of the eastern Mediterranean that Greece says overlaps its continental shelf.(Turkish Presidency via AP, Pool)

Today Israel welcomes those that come with cameras not threats and as we see what is evolving around the Middle East – particularly in the Gulf –  this is a sentiment shared by new generations seeking a future of peace and prosperity not a past of bloodshed and bondage.






While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

A New Dawn in Dubai

Once a gulf apart, now Israeli emissaries set to serve Jewish community in the Gulf

By  Michael Jankelowitz

Following the signing of the historic Abraham Accords in August, no less historic will be the sending of long-term emissaries to the Jewish community in Dubai by the World Zionist Organization (WZO). Why this is monumentally moving is that this will be a first time Israeli emissaries are sent to serve a Jewish community in an Arab country!

The resounding message is that far more than a ‘practical peace’ – something Israelis are accustomed to  –  but a portent of a ‘warm peace’ – what we all aspire to and embodied in the spirit of the Abraham Accords.

Picture Perfect. An idyllic vista of Dubai that will be seeing an influx of Israeli visitors. 

After all, the name of ‘Abraham’ in the accords holds special meaning to Jews, Christians and Muslims as the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

By so naming the deal, Israel and the UAE hope to publicly display their ancient ties and a commitment to a future of peace and prosperity.

It is to this warming milieu in the Gulf that the WZO is sending its emissaries – a young married couple Yaacov and Zolty Eisenstein.

The Eisensteins will work with a South African expatriate in Dubai, Ross Kriel, who is President of the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE), an umbrella group established by Jews living in the country.

Destination Dubai.  World Zionist organization emissaries  to the UAE, Yaacov and Zolty Eisenstein (photo credit: Courtesy)

The small Jewish community of the United Arab Emirates has welcomed the historic agreement between Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi to formalize relations, praising the Arab Gulf state for its pluralism and religious tolerance.

I am so moved by the many messages of hope that I have received from Emirati friends of our community on hearing this news,” says Kriel. “Our community members look forward to direct flights to Israel and welcoming Israeli friends and visitors to the UAE.”

Winds of Change. Fluttering in the wind, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag waves alongside an Israeli flag. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE

Food for Thought

A Jewish community has been operating in Dubai for about a decade with estimates as to the size of the community in the UAE ranging from the low hundreds to 1,500. There are three functioning congregations – two Orthodox and one egalitarian – and one kosher eatery called “Elli’s Kosher Kitchen”. Clearly it has established a reputation as it has caught the eye – or more the palette – of UAE Culture Minister Noura al-Kaabi who gastronomically observed that it has added “a new chapter in Gulf food history”.

Looking Ahead. The Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi looks ahead to cultural exchanges between the UAE and Israel. (Chris Whiteoak / The National)

Also a former South African, Elli is the wife of Ross Kriel. She reveals that after receiving repeated requests for kosher food over the years while living in Dubai, she started Elli’s Kosher Kitchen “to provide fresh, wholesome, homemade kosher meals to travellers.” 

Man on a Mission. President of the Jewish Council of the Emirates, former South African, Ross Kriel in Dubai.

Describing the newly formed Jewish Community of the Emirates, Elli says it “grew organically out of the homes of a few expat families living in Dubai. These families used to get together occasionally for Shabbat. After we moved to Dubai in 2013, my husband did not want to pray alone and was determined to create a functioning Jewish community. Striving for a minyan, he started weekly Shabbat services in our living room using a wardrobe as the Aharon Kodesh. Chagim were also initially observed in our home. The development of the community continued in my home for two years until more space was required. Our community, albeit small, is vibrant, warm and embracing, diverse, inclusive and eclectic in its makeup.”

Kosher Cuisine. Opening her business in response to growing demand, Elli Kriel preparing Shabbat bread in the kitchen of her Dubai villa. (Pawan Singh / The National)

It is to this “vibrant, warm and embracing” community that emissaries Yaacov and Zolty Eisenstein will soon be arriving to serve on behalf of the World Zionist Organisation.

Clearly, this is “history in the making” avers Chairman of the WZO, Avraham Duvdevani, asserting: “This is an important milestone in the existence of the World Zionist Organisation.”

In a process started a few months before the announcement of the Abraham Accords, the WZO, which has a framework of hundreds of emissaries worldwide – including in small, dispersed communities – has been in touch with the Jewish community in Dubai. This followed a request from the Orthodox Union of Jewish Congregations of America to send emissaries for the first time to Dubai’s Jewish community and now with the historic decision to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, what could be more “normal” than sending such ideally suited emissaries.

Changing Perspectives. A man sporting a Jewish ‘tallit’ looks out over the Dubai skyline in the United Arab Emirates. (video screenshot)

The Eisensteins will establish and run a Jewish kindergarten, teach about the heritage of the Jewish People and Israel, will establish an Ulpan for learning of the Hebrew Language and will organize community events around the Jewish festivals. Highly motivated, they have already begun working in time for the upcoming Jewish Festivals.

The emissaries are part of the “Ben Ami” programme of the Center for Religious Affairs in the Diaspora of the WZO, which has 36 emissaries operating in 23 countries. Most of these Jewish communities are small and dispersed, however, these are the first emissaries that are being sent to a Jewish community in an Arab country.

Says WZO Chairman, Avraham Duvdevani:

This is an important milestone in the history of the Zionist Movement through all its years of existence. We will continue to operate in every way to strengthen the connection between the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the diaspora and to strengthen the Jewish identity of our people throughout the world, including tiny dispersed communities.”

Monumental Milestone. Upbeat over the sending of emissaries to the UAE, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization Avraham Duvdevani  aims to strengthen the connection between the State of Israel and Jewish communities throughout the world.

This news has been received with great enthusiasm by communities around the world and what has been truly moving, has been to see the reaction from the Emiratis, who are looking forward to welcoming their new Israeli friends.

With Israel working on a direct airline route from Israel to Dubai that will fly through Saudi air space, Elli’s Kosher Kitchen will definitely have many more mouths to feed!




About the writer:

Michael Jankelowitz, has worked for the World Zionist Organisation and Jewish Agency  for Israel in various capacities since leaving the National Union of Israeli Students in 1978. He has worked in the WZO’s Student Division in New York and Jerusalem and was the Jewish Agency’s representative to the Jewish organization, Hillel in Washington DC and advisor on World Jewry to the JAFO treasury. He has also worked as spokesperson for JAFI.

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

“Under Construction” – from Buildings to Human Relations

Israel’s Top Trade Union Provides Safety Training During the COVID Crisis for Every Palestinian Construction Worker

By David E. Kaplan

Something “constructive” has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel – an innovative programme to save Palestinian lives; not from disease but from preventable accidents in Israel’s bustling construction industry.

In Israel’s entire workforce, construction workers are in the greatest danger, and for decades have suffered the highest rates of fatal workplace accidents – 6.6 times more than that of the average worker in Israel.

Like in most societies, the victims of these fatal workplace accidents are disproportionately the most vulnerable members of society and in Israel it is Israeli Arabs, Palestinians  and other foreign workers consistently over-represented in the number of construction-site fatalities and injuries.

Caught in the Act. Captured on camera, repeated safety offenses at a construction site in the center of the country. (Photo: First thing)
 

A breakdown shows that the highest incidence of fatal workplace accidents from 2017 to 2019 were caused by falls from heights, followed in descending order of falling objects, vehicular accidents, collapsing walls and scaffolding, electrocution, explosions and other.

Yes, society demands expansion and rapid development, but humanity no less morally requires that there is a limit at what price and every effort should be made to safeguard work environments.

To this end, over the past few months, a construction site in the Beit Zafafa neighbourhood in Jerusalem was rented by Israel’s largest trade union – the Histadrut – and converted into a “hands-on classroom” for the safety training of Palestinians in the construction industry. Already more than 500 Palestinian construction workers have participated in the training course at the “Safety Headquarters” with the primary aim “to prevent the next casualty.”

“Stayin’ Alive”. Safety training for Palestinian workers in Israel as the  Beit Zafafa construction site in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nizzan Zvi Cohen)

The Histadrut or the General Organization of Workers in Israel was established in 1920 in Mandatory Palestine and soon emerged as one of the most powerful institutions in the Yishuv (the body of Jewish residents in the region prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948).

In extending their services to the wellbeing of non-Israeli workers in Israel, the Histadrut proudly subscribes to the motto:

Unionised labour recognizes no borders

The one-day training sessions were planned and implemented by the Histadrut in partnership with the Israel Builders Association, who utilised the prolonged stay of Palestinian workers in Israel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to carry out the safety workshops. The morning of the training, workers were transported from their places of accommodation across Israel to the on-site “classroom”. Upon arrival,  they would register at the reception station, where after the workers were divided into small groups that underwent the training, each one separately, in accordance with the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the restrictions of the Corona virus.

Certificates of Safety. Proudly displaying their certificates are Palestinian safety training graduates with Avital Shapira on the right. (Photo: Avital Shapira)

Work like a Dream

Eyal Ben Reuven, Chairman of the Safety Headquarters, explained that “The training is both theoretical and practical and is based on scenarios of real accidents in the industry.” The training sessions, said Reuven, “dealt with scaffolding, ladders, dangerous mechanical tools, electricity and preventing objects from falling.”

With the thousands of Palestinians working in Israel’s construction industry, the programme has a long way to go, but it’s a start – “a constructive start.”

My dream is that only workers who graduate safety training will be able to work on construction sites,” says Ben Reuven. “But for that to happen, the government needs to help us.”

According to Reuven, the course costs approximately NIS 450 per worker with current funding being provided by the Fund for the Encouragement of the Construction Industry. With the government showing little interest in supporting the initiative at present, “we are trying to fund-raise to continue the course,” says Reuven.

Striving for Safer Working Environments. Meeting with the Palestinian delegation in the office of Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David (4th from the left). (Photo: Histadrut spokeswoman)

The success of the programme depends on the support of the constructive industry, which according to the Deputy Director General of the Israel Builders Association, Itzik Gurvich, has come to the table with construction companies “agreeing to pay their workers a full days wages to participate in the training.” The result has been that “Both employers and the workers have been satisfied with the course, and we’re hoping to expand the pilot.”

Ahmed Ghanaim, who heads Al Ola College, a vocational training  college in the Western Galilee; and whose instructors are responsible for the training itself, explains that even veteran Palestinian workers “who have been working in Israel for decades and are experienced in their field, don’t know Israeli labour and safety laws. This information doesn’t really exist in the Palestinian Authority and also the employers don’t always give workers all necessary knowledge. Once workers have this knowledge, they’ll know what to ask for from management in order to return home safe and sound.”

Constructing a Safer Tomorrow. The construction site hired by the Histadrut in Jerusalem offered a perfect “classroom” training ground. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)
 

After a most instructive hands-on session about scaffolding and ladders, the workers gathered in a circle to discuss the regulations as it applies in practice. One concerned worker remarks to the instructor:

But out there on the site, it doesn’t actually happen like that!”

The instructor replies:

Listen, at the end of the day there’s a hierarchy of responsibility. You have to speak to your foreman, and he needs to report to the contractor.”

And what if the employer tells me to break those rules?” asks the employee.

Contact the Histadrut,” the instructor replies. “Remember that we’re talking about your life, don’t agree to work in dangerous conditions.”

Avital Shapira, Director of International Relations of the Histadrut, addressed the Palestinian workers in fluent Arabic. Shapira’s fluency in Arabic  stems from her stay in Egypt where she was the first Israeli student to study at the American University of Cairo, back in 1994.

This is a great opportunity to show that the Histadrut is the home for all workers, regardless of origin, religion or gender,” Shapira told Davar, the Histadrut’s online news outlet.

This is also an opportunity to use this platform to convey to Palestinian workers the message that the Histadrut sees them as a bridge to peace. I think the presence of so many Palestinian workers in the Israeli labour market is a platform for cooperation and coexistence.” The presence of these Palestinian workers, according to Shapira, also strengthens the relationship with the Building and Wood Workers’ International organization (BW).

Safe and Sound. Histadrut’s Director of International Relations, Avital Shapira, addresses the Palestinian workers in Arabic  at a safety training workshop at Beit Zafafa in Jerusalem. (Photo: Nitzan Zvi Cohen)

It is important to understand that in the construction industry there is no difference between a Palestinian, Israeli, or migrant worker,” adds Tal Burshtein, Vice Chairman of the Construction, Related Industries and Wood Workers’ Union. “Everyone is covered by the same collective bargaining agreement and is entitled to the same rights.”

Most of the Palestinians who came to the safety training chose to become members of the Histadrut, a process that began in recent years.

And for good reason!

Think of the abhorrent conditions foreign workers are treated in countries where they have found employment, notably in the Middle East and Africa. Too frequently they are exploited, with few legal rights to protect themselves.

In Israel, on the other hand, the Histadrut, will aid Palestinian foreign workers who have been fired, help them receive their vacation and sick days, and even represents them against the National Insurance Institution in events of workplace accidents. “First and foremost, the Histadrut is a sympathetic ear – we want to help.” During the COVID-19 crisis, the Histadrut distributed tens of thousands of masks and gloves and more than 2,000 liters of hand sanitizer to Palestinian workers.

Meeting with them has shown us that they lack a lot of knowledge about their rights,” said Burshtein. “Since we’ve been distributing pamphlets on workers’ rights and signing them up to the Histadrut, we’ve been getting many more inquiries from Palestinian workers to our information service center, asking for help with problems at work. The workers who’ve gotten the pamphlets in Arabic also serve as ambassadors who disseminate this knowledge to additional workers.”

Building Bridges

Peter Lerner, Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, is totally upbeat about the joint venture safety training programme for Palestinian workers. “The pilot was an initiative,” he told Lay of the Land,  “that we hope will become the new standard for saving the lives of workers in the construction sector. I believe that it is a joint obligation to combine efforts and produce a safer working environment for the workers, empowering them and sharing knowledge about safety in the workplace and workers’ rights.” 

Thumbs Up. An inspired Director General of the Histadrut’s International Relations Division, Peter Lerner.
 

Lerner asserts that this project is part of the Histadrut’s “expanded activities with Palestinian workers” adding that while “designed to ensure the health and welfare of Palestinian workers, they also promote co-existence.”

In Israel’s ever-expanding ‘urban landscape’, the building of new inspiring edifices is welcome. No less welcome in the country’s frenetic ‘social landscape’ is the building of improved relations between people!

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Unbreakable Bonds

The Relationship between the USA and Israel

By Lay of the Land USA correspondent

Away from the feuding in American politics – a matter for Americans themselves to determine and decide as they will in November’s upcoming election  – President Trump’s steadfast support for Israel has been reassuring and much appreciated. At a time when Israel faces existential threats and is not short of enemies committed to its destruction, it is reassuring to Israelis as well as Jewish communities around the world that the Jewish state enjoys the solid support and friendship of the United States not only in word but indeed.

There is only ONE Israel and we all know what befell the Jews when there was NO Israel!

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Unshakable Ties. During the meeting with President Reuven Rivlin, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo Pompeo said that he is sure that “you know that Israel has no better friend than the United States.”

Appreciation of this enduring support and friendship, was warmly evident in a recent address by leading businessman and philanthropist, Simon Falic at a gathering of Christian Zionists to honor the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The indefatigable Secretary of State has been in the forefront of  championing President Trump’s vision for peace in order to “achieve enduring security, freedom and prosperity for both sides.”

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Simon Falic stressing the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel.

“Judeo Christian values are ingrained in the United States of America,” began Falic. “For many of us, one of the most significant events in the last century was the establishment of the State of Israel and the return of the Jewish people to our ancestral homeland.  I believe, as so many of you, that this historical event was decreed by the heavens. The destinies of the United States and Israel are intertwined.”

Unbreakable Bonds3.png

 

Stressing the familial nature of the relationship, Falic said that  “while our common enemies refer to the United States as the ‘big Satan’ and Israel as the ‘little Satan’, I think it is more like we are the big brother and Israel the little brother.” Evidence of this was  “President Truman’s recognition in 1948 of the establishment of the State of Israel, to 1973 during the Yom Kippur war, when President Nixon sent desperately needed weapons to allow Israel to defend herself and survive the Arab onslaught and then from the billions of dollars in aid over the years to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal and united capital of Israel  and the recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights.”

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Strong Ties. Simon Falic, Chairman of Duty Free Americas at the ceremony presenting Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014. The medal, designed and struck by the United States Mint, recognizes and honored the late President Peres for maintaining strong bilateral relations between Israel and the United States and was the first Congressional Gold Medal to be awarded to a sitting President of Israel. (Photo: Shmuel Lenchevsky/Dov Lenchevsky)

Through this all, “big brother has always been there for little brother.”

Stressing the Biblical ties to the land, Falic said, “The Jewish people returning to live in Israel after 2000 years in exile is based on something far more meaningful than any partition plan, any arbitrary division of land, or any political decision that granted Jewish survivors of World War II a place of refuge. It is essentially tied to the Bible. Without this perspective, people inevitably miss the entire story that leads to mistakes politically.

“Time and again, leaders from across the globe adopt definitive positions about what is best for Israel and how to move the peace process forward. Yet, these ideas never worked. They insisted on imposing a solution without seriously considering and ignoring the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemies who vow to destroy this sliver of Holy Land that could fit into Lake Michigan.  Israel and her people alone will have to face and deal with the consequences, as the Oslo accords have taught us.  The mindset of the Arab world is that they can lose 99 wars with Israel – but all they have to do is win the 100th.”

Warning against failure to take advantage when destiny provides a window of opportunity, Falic recounted of the telegram, President Truman’s Chief of Staff, General George Marshall wired on May 13th, 1948, to David Ben Gurion “stating that if he declared an independent state of Israel, five Arab armies would attack and within 48 hours and not one Jew in the land would be left alive.  The rest is history.”

This same warning of fearing the worst and hence counselling inaction, occurred before President Trump announced the move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. “He was also warned by his Generals that there will most likely be a violent reaction around the world to US interests.”

And once again “The rest is history”.

This pattern of warning and suggested caution was to again repeat itself with President Trump’s “recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights.  We can only imagine what would be the situation today if Israel had not conquered the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and held in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.  Today, ISIS, the Syrian and Iranian regimes and the Russians would be overlooking the Sea of Galilee.”

Looking to Pompeo, and with a warm smile, Falic exclaimed:

“You are now being part of Israel’s History.”

Exposing European hypocrisy of singling out Israel for selective opprobrium, Falic drew attention to last year’s European Union Court of Justice, when “all 15 judges unanimously ruled, that all products made by Jews in Judea and Samaria, or what they refer to as occupied territory, must be labeled as products made in “occupied territory”.  There are close to 100 conflicts and disputes around the world regarding borders and territories, including Cyprus that is occupied by Turkey, but only Israeli products made by Jews, were singled out. Europe destroyed and eliminated century’s old Jewish communities and today they pursue Israel and the Jews in their courts and in diplomatic circles. The primary product that was part of this European’s court decision, was a wine called Psagot. Psagot is the “poster boy” of the BDS movement.

 

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Taste Of Ancient Israel. The Psagot winery is located in the northern region of the Jerusalem mountains, an area ripe with remnants of biblical-era vineyards and wineries. 

 

My family and I are partners in this winery.  We invested in Psagot over 10 years ago – against the advice of other investors and wine experts. We were told that while the wine is excellent, it is in a disputed area that one day might be part of a negotiated agreement and Jewish life and business there will be eliminated.

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Psagot winery. During the vineyard’s construction, a coin dating back to the Great Revolt of (66–73 CE) was discovered where its front face is stamped with the words “For Freedom of Zion” and adorned with a vine leaf, while the back face reads “Year Two” (a reference to the Revolt) alongside an image of an amphora – an ancient container used for storing wine. This coin appears on the label of each bottle of Psagot wine.

Ironically, these naysayers encouraged and emboldened us, even more, to invest to help establish Jewish life and business after 2,000 years.  Next to the vineyards is a cave and press where wine was produced and stored during the time of the Second Temple. An ancient coin of Judea was found in the cave, and today a replica of that coin appears on many of our bottles.  Psagot was a small unknown boutique winery producing 40,000 bottles per year. Today, after winning many prestigious wine awards in France and London, we produce 400,000 bottles per year.

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Shared Values, Common Destinies. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo waves as he speaks at the 2019 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, at Washington Convention Center, in Washington, Monday, March 25, 2019 (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“Secretary of State Pompeo, only one week after the despicable decision of the European court, you publicly announced the State Department’s determination that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not categorically inconsistent with International law. Your official announcement is widely referred to in Israel as the “Pompeo Doctrine”.  I don’t think you really know how loved and respected you are in Israel.”

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Simon Falic (right) with Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of the Christian United for Israel (CUFI) organization.

Reminding his Christian Zionist audience of the strong connection the Jewish people have with the land of Israel “where Abraham, Isaac, Sara, Leah, Rivka, and Rachel, walked, lived and are buried,” Falic concluded with  “Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and to all our Christian Zionist friends, “May G-d bless you and protect you. May G-d make his face shine upon you and treat you with grace. May G-d lift his face toward you and grant you peace.”

In a world currently plagued not only of a virus but one of uncertainty, it is reassuring that we have certainty on this critical issue – the unbreakable bond between the USA and Israel.

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Simon Falic flanked by his wife, the Honorary Life President, WIZO USA Jana Falic (left) and Nili Falic, Chairman Emeritus, Friends of the IDF (FIDF).

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

You ‘Beer’ The Judge

Israel’s burgeoning boutique beer industry is foaming at the brim.

By David E. Kaplan

Just think of it – twenty years ago in Israel, there were the two stalwarts of Maccabi Beer and Goldstar with few imports from abroad.  The soft drink was king; beer the lowly pawn.

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Today, it has all changed.

While ancient Israel may well have been known as “The land of milk and honey”, 21st century Israel could well be on the way to becoming “the land of hops and barley”.

In the land that gave the civilized world wine in the era of our Patriarchs – evinced by the many ancient presses found all over the country – it was only a question of time for a thriving beer industry to emerge. If the choice of beers was once limited, today it is difficult keeping up with the new labels as an ever-increasing number of enterprising brewmasters are entering the market.

The writer invites you to join him on a pub crawl and get a taste of what’s brewing in Israel.

A ‘Jem’ Of A Beer

I enter the Jem’s Beer Factory – a pub restaurant – in the heart of a courtyard in  the center of Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, situated in the city’s outdoor food market which has been partially renovated and restored to a boutique food court. At night, the courtyard is buzzing, and Jem’s is packed. I meet as arranged the owner who is normally at the headquarters in Petach Tikva. There are ten Jem’s Beer Factory pubs located mostly in the center of the country.

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A ‘Jem’ of a selection.

 “All our advertising is by word of mouth,” says Jeremy (“Jem”) Welfeld – or as likely – word of lips!

The name ‘Jem’ is derived from the name “my younger sister coined for me when we were kids.” That’s the simple part of a long journey that began when Jem gave up a lucrative job as an event planner at the While House, “during the Clinton and Bush administrations” for brewing beer in Israel.

Quickly discovering that his new vision would require a variety of skills “beyond drinking a lot”, Jem studied Microbiology and The Advanced Sciences of Brewing and arrived in Israel armed with a battery of diplomas and a wife and their two kids.

Many hops later, Jem’s Beer Factory churns out many thousands of litres a month. “About a third of our production goes out in bottles, the rest out on tap”, says Jeremy. The range includes an American Pale Ale, an American Indian Ale which he describes as “deep color gold like the city of Jerusalem, with more hops and of course, more date honey,” and a Midnight Stout, “black as coal with a creamy tan head, thick as the afternoon haze over Tel Aviv.”

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“Cheers”. Founder of Jem’s, Jeremy Welfeld with barmaid at his restaurant pub in Kfar Saba. (photo D.E. Kaplan)

If Jem is poetic in describing his beer, he is no less philosophical why he enjoys the business. “Beer is a catalyst to play with people.”

Puzzled, I enquired, “What do you mean?”

 “Israel is a very intense country on a lot of different levels and beer is the perfect equalizer; it lets everyone calm down at the end of their day. It is perfect for the Israeli climate and with only 5% alcohol, it is the beverage of friendship.”

 Rich In History

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Dancing Camel brewmaster David Cohen.

“Our goal”, says brewmaster David Cohen, an immigrant from the USA and founder of Dancing Camel brewery, “is to brew an exciting beer that makes people think and smile. Sure, we make traditional styles, but they are nuanced in a way that is distinctly Israeli. This country is rich in herbs, fruits and spices that belong in beer but have never been tried before. I want to help define what Israeli beer means. You know when I’ll be satisfied? When I hear people in London, Brussels and Seattle talking about how exciting Israeli beers are.”

The market may be competitive but what this writer found most refreshing – apart from tasting the various chilled beers – was the camaraderie amongst the various brewmasters. This is evident at the annual Beer Festivals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where the various brewmasters have little hesitation praising their competitors and their beers. “We are a rare club,” continues  Cohen whose passion for beer began in 1987, “at a time when the American microbrewery scene was first hitting the East Coast,” and decided to brew his own. “It was the thrill of tapping into a craft that’s as old as time itself and for most, as mysterious. Suddenly, I was connected to the Babylonians of 4,000 years ago, the Trappist Monks of Belgium, the pilgrims that landed on Plymouth Rock, the brewers of medieval London. I began to study different beer styles and flavors – to learn what ingredients and processes impact flavors and how. What I discovered was how complex beer really is and how much each reflects the unique cultures, climates and tastes of different civilizations.”

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Once the hobby got under Cohen’s skin, there was no turning back, nor to bringing to ‘fruition’ his other passion – Aliyah (Immigrating to Israel).

The combination of these two passions is Dancing Camels and as to the derivation of the name, “that’s a long story that goes back 500 years.” In the meantime, Cohen’s customers are ‘dancing’ the nights away downing his beer.

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Alexander the Great

Back at the 2013 European Beer Star competition in Munich, judges swigged 1,512 beers from 40 countries to find the best beer. Israeli boutique brewery Alexander located in the Hefer Valley won the gold medal in the English Style Porter category.

Alexander’s ecstatic CEO, Ori Sagy, a former pilot who plotted the course for his brewery’s trajectory, told local media, “Our vision is to make Alexander Israeli beer fresh, excellent and as good as the best breweries in Europe and the USA. After a series of blind tastings, the jury, composed of professionals in the field of breweries from across Europe, selected our beer as the best English Porter Beer. We therefore received recognition in the beer capital of the world that ours is indeed up to par with the best breweries in Europe and the USA. For us, this is a great joy and honour.”

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From Pilot To Brewer. Former Israeli pilot, Ori Sagi at his Alexander Beer brewery in Tel Aviv. (Moshe Shai/ Flash90)

This was followed in 2014 by another gold medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup in Denver, Colorado.

Established in 2008 the brewery takes the name of the nearby Alexander River. However, in case one is confused over “Which Alexander?” – particularly after a few pints – the river is named not after the conquering Macedonian but after Alexander Yannai, once king of Judea. “This beer is historically kosher,” assures an employee with a wide grin.

With the Alexander River home to the country’s largest habitation of soft-shelled turtles it was only ‘natural’ that the turtle featured on the brewery’s logo. The added inclusion of wings on the turtle’s shell is a nod to Sagy’s previous career as a pilot.

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The Line Up. Alexander’s cavalry ready to charge (your glasses)!

Beer and humour go hand in hand, so it was quite fitting to see written high on the wall in the brewery bar the quote from the legendary rock musician Frank Zappa:

You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline”.

This brewery with a pilot in the cockpit is flying high.

Southern Comfort

In Israel’s dry desert sits Negev Brewery, “ready to quench the thirst of any passerby who steps inside,” as the invitation to the public reads. With a backyard bar, Israel’s sole southern brewery is a popular ‘waterhole’. With a relaxed southern desert vibe, visitors come to sample the boutique beer that now distributes to 450 clients throughout Israel.

Negev Brewery started out as a home-brewing project dreamed up by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev graduate Yochai Kudler. Returning home to Kibbutz Orim in the Negev Desert, he continued brewing but mostly for friends. Wanting to expand and build a modern facility, Yochai found an empty building in the industrial zone of Kiryat Gat where he opened Negev Breweries in 2010. In the summer of 2011, Norman Premium, an Israeli importer and distributor of premium beers purchased Negev Brewery.

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In Good Spirits. The Negev Brewery handing out sample shots at an event. (Photo: Negev Beer)

Today Negev Brewery is run by CEO Sagiv Karlboim, Gilad Dror and Tomer Ronen.

Like the purity of the desert, there is a purity in the philosophy  behind Negev Brewery. The desert brewery is environmentally conscious with the wastewater collected used to irrigate the garden which is being developed to host tastings of their array of beers namely: Amber Ale, Porter Alon and Passion Fruit. Like most microbreweries, Negev Brewery does not filter their beers or add preservatives. This means that the beer is best when fresh and as they say, “don’t think that sediment in the bottom of your glass is anything but a positive indication of unfiltered beer.”

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Desert Delight. The flavorful brews at Negev Brewery in Kiryat Gat (photo credit: Rebecca McKinsey/Times of Israel)

Negev’s brews are available around the country, in pubs, restaurants and stores that sell wine and beer

Says Tomer, “the company is very particular about the ingredients that go into its beers,” and refutes that beer is fattening.  Setting the record straight, “It’s the peanuts you eat with your beer that make you fat!”

The Booze Brothers

The story of Shapiro Beer begins with two brothers Itzik and Danny Shapiro in their parents’ basement in the German Colony neighborhood in Jerusalem with plastic bowls and improvised tubes. Toying with flavours and recipes, they soon had a following for their brews, but it wasn’t until Itzik spent a summer working at a microbrewery in Colorado that they began giving some serious thought to turning their hobby into a business.

What a difference a few years makes!

Today, their state-of-the-art brewery is in Beit Shemesh, however “it’s a Jerusalem beer,” asserts Itzik.

Known as Shapira in Hebrew and Shabeera in Arabic it is most popular in the nation’s capital.

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All In The Family. Tamar Shapiro, who runs the brewery with her siblings, shows off her family’s wares. (Photo: Shapiro Beer)

Offering eight beers, there first – Pale Ale – remains there most popular beer. Based on their first home brew recipe, it is a classic golden coloured, American style pale ale, dry hopped with Cascade giving aromas of citrus and grapefruit.

Their label is the Lion of Judea swigging down ale. At the annual Jerusalem Beer Festival, the local brew customarily receives a ROAR of approval from the crowd.

The cool thing about a microbrewery is that it’s flexible,” said Dani. “You can make a test batch and if it’s good, you sell it. If it’s not good, you drink it!”

Clearly no downside!

BlockBUSTER Beer

“In our family, we always spoke about ambition and reaching your dreams through hard work,” said Denny Neilson the founder of Buster’s Cider Factory located in Beit Shemesh.

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Busters Beer. Pam and Denny Neilson at Buster’s Beverage Company in Beit Shemesh. (Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman)

Denny is another fascinating personality blending into the environment like the ingredients in his beer. Formally in the telecommunication business for 30 years before immigrating with his family to Israel in 2003 from Tennessee in the USA, Californian native Denny says, “I started making wine and brewing beer at home.  We are kind of “do-it-yourselfers” and when the local folk expressed how much they liked it, we opened up a store, called Winemaker.” Soon afterwards, he had an award-winning beer under his belt called Isra-Ale. Thereafter, he began making alcoholic apple cider, and once the recipe was perfected, he introduced it to the Israeli market as Buster’s Cider. It became so popular that mass production followed, and in the summer of 2014, he introduced Israel’s first alcoholic lemonade named Buster’s Hard Lemonade. Today the Buster brand of alcoholic beverages is available at retail outlets throughout the country.

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Family Brewery. Now running the brewery is Matt Neilson (right) with mom Pam who runs the visitor’s centre. (photo D.E. Kaplan)

To the question I put to Denny a few years ago  as to how he came up with the name ‘Buster’, Denny replied,

Well, you can probably hear him barking. Buster is our family dog, a Golden Retriever we love so much that we decided to name our beers after him.  So when people ask about the recipes for our drinks, we always joke only Buster knows – and he’s not talk’in.”

Sadly, today Buster has passed on but not his legacy that lives on with satisfied beer drinkers across the country.

Denny’s wife Pamela runs the Visitor’s Center while Matt their son is, “the main man today,” says his proud Dad.

“I’m the science guy,” asserts Matt with his hand on the tap.

We were a large group that sat, danced on the pub’s patio and listened to Pamela present the history of the brewery ‘From Tennessee to Beit Shemesh’, all the while sampling the frothy fruitful delights of the warm Neilson family.

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Sweet Surrender. Enjoy these fruity delights from Busters.

Beit Shemesh is first mentioned in the Hebrew Bible  in the Book of Joshua. After Moses, it was Joshua  who gave direction to the Jewish People. Many Busters later, I reflected on this “direction” and was thankful I was not driving home!

 “Cheers”

Having ‘done the rounds’, I was indebted to the brewer from Negev Breweries’, Tomer Ronen, who assured: “You won’t put on weight from beer; it’s the peanuts that is fattening.”

Staying clear of the peanuts and having ‘weighed’ all aspects of these boutique beers across much of the country, the only thing left to say is:

Le’Chaim! ( “cheers”, or in Hebrew – “to life”)

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Out Of This World. Young revelers from around the world having fun at a Bazelet Beer Festival in Israel. (Photo: Shishi Bagolan/Facebook)

 

Winds of Change

Warming ties between the Arab world and Israel

By Rolene Marks

If someone has said to me a few years ago that the Arab world would start opening up to the State of Israel, I would have thought that they are losing their minds. But an amazing new phenomenon is taking shape in the Middle East. The frosty relations between Israel and Arab countries are starting to thaw and warm up significantly over the last couple of years and this has been demonstrated by a series of overtures from Arab countries towards Israel.

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The Israeli and Bahraini flags (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

It is no secret that one of the key issues that has influenced the warming of ties between Israel and Arab states is the threat to the region posed by Iran. The hegemonic regime poses a massive threat to Gulf States who have aligned themselves more with the USA and has created a corridor via Syria and proxies in the north with Hezbollah, and South with Hamas to further encroach on Israeli territory.

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Change Of Climate. Foreign Minister Israel Katz at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, during a UN climate conference in the city, in late June, 2019. (Courtesy Katz’s office)

One positive side effect of the Iranian threat is the realization that the tiny state of Israel is more of a potential friend or at least ally, than enemy. There is growing concern that relations between Israel and various Arab states have been somewhat covert but there have been rumours circulating that the Jewish State may be close to signing non-aggression pacts with several of these countries.

Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan but formal bilateral relations with other Arab countries would contribute greatly to stability and economic growth in the region. In fact, Israel will be exporting natural gas from the lucrative Leviathan gas field to Egypt within the next few weeks. Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz calls the permit a “historic landmark” for Israel. He says it’s the most significant economic cooperation project between the countries since they signed a peace deal in 1979.

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“Time Are A’Changin”. The same Arab world that once laid on Israel an energy siege is now buying gas from the Jewish state with Egypt and Jordan the first customers from the Leviathan gas rig off the coast of Israel.

In 2019, the Trump Administration revealed part of its much anticipated peace plan with the “Peace to prosperity” proposal that shared how the administration, with the backing of Arab states, intends to build Palestinian civilian and cultural infrastructure that would lead to job creation and lead to the foundations of a future state. This plan was presented in Manama, the capital of Bahrain and while Israel did not send an official delegation, representatives from the business sector were present – and warmly welcomed! Palestinian businessmen, who despite the invitation to participate in the conference being spurned by the leadership, attended and were promptly arrested by the Palestinian Authority for daring to engage the US administration and Israel on possible commercial solutions. Also significant, was the invitation to six Israeli media outlets to cover the event.

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Friendly Exchange. Posted on Twitter, Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz and his Bahraini counterpart Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (R) pose for a photograph at the State Department in Washington on July 17, 2019 during a groundbreaking public meeting.

Since the Manama confab, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and his Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz, met in the United States and in October 2019, an Israeli official, Dana Benvenisti-Gabay, attended the “Working Group on Maritime and Aviation Security” in Manama. In December 2019, Jerusalem chief rabbi, Shlomo Amar, visited Bahrain for an interfaith event. There is hope that this has helped create the climate for future official ties.

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Open Door Policy. Jared Kushner concludes the 2019 Manama Conference in Bahrain assuring that the doors remain open to the 50 billion dollar plan to revive the stagnant economy of the Palestinian people.

Bahrain is not the only state that is welcoming Israeli visitors. The United Arab Emirates is preparing for Expo 2020, where countries will showcase the best of their offerings for six months and Israel will be included.

UAE Tourism Minister announced that not only would Israeli passport holders be welcome at the event, a phenomenon that was previously unheard of, but that he hoped citizens from the Jewish state would continue to visit long after its conclusion. The real Chanukah miracle was a tweet from the UAE Embassy in London sending warm wishes to Jewish friends celebrating Chanukah.

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And if Twitter is the platform where friendships are revealed, then this one between Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Emirati Foreign Minister sure says a lot:

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It is not just the Emiratis or Bahrainis that are showing Israel some love. Recently, 7 bloggers from Saudi Arabia visited Israel and the results have been quite extraordinary. The bloggists have taken to their social media platforms to speak quite openly of their newfound fondness for the Jewish state.

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Meeting Of Minds. “The people of the Middle East want peace with Israel and for the leadership to promote it,” says Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Rabbi Shlomo Amar (bottom, center) at the interfaith conference in Manama, Bahrain, on Monday, December 9, 2019.

There is no problem with Israel. It is important because of Jerusalem that is holy to Jews and Christians, while Islam’s holy places are Mecca and Medina,” Sultan said via the social media platform.

Is this the yearning of the younger generation to have normalization of ties or is there some indirect influence from Saudi officials? Saudi Crown Prince, Mohamed bin Salman is trying to change the image of his country and perhaps the best way to do this is modernizing attitudes towards countries like Israel and recognizing that there is more to be gained bilaterally and regionally through warmer ties.

It may still be a while until formal ties are recognized but the winds of change are blowing in the Middle East and this time, they are rich with promise.

 

Bravo Boris

The HANDS of British voters eased the MINDS of global Jewry

By David E. Kaplan

Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western suspicion, evident by the endless number of spooky horror movies set on this day.

Not so Friday 13th 2019!

Jews the world over awoke on this worrying day, breathing a collective sigh of relief that Jeremy Corbyn would not only be the next Prime Minister of Great Britain but received such a thumping that will send him packing.

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Grave Concern. The man who would be PM, Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath in October 2014 at a gravesite in Tunisia near a plaque dedicated to members of the Black September terrorist group. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

For Jews in the UK, the election was less about Brexit, which was the main issue, and more about antiSemitism. If we would go by conversations in Jewish households prior to the election, it might have ended up as “Jewexit” instead of “Brexit”!

If there was any doubt about that before the election note the British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, entering the political fray in an unprecedent step by describing Corbyn as “not fit for high office” in a November 25 op-ed in The Times.

The Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth was imploring people not who to vote for, but who NOT to vote for.

The future of the UK Jewish community lay in the balance – in the hands of the British voter.

And If there was any doubt about this apocalyptic fear by Jewish voters, it was affirmed in the immediate post-election assurances  by the former Tory leadership candidate, Michael Gove addressing a victory rally in Surrey Heath:

You have had to live in fear for months concerned you may have a prime minister who trafficked in anti-Jewish rhetoric and embraced anti-Jewish terrorists. You should never have to live in fear again.”

Just think about it; this is what it has come down to! That the Jewish community in the United Kingdom has to be assured “You should never have to live in fear again.”

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Reassuring Message. Michael Gove savages Corbyn’s extremism and says Jewish people “should NEVER live in fear”. (Image: BBC)

Summer Recess

By contrast the man who is going to occupy number 10 Downing Street for the next five years is not only well known in Israel but the Jewish state is well known to Mr. Boris Johnson.

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PHEW! Clearly most Britons were happy with this sight and none more so than the Jewish community that breathed a sigh of relief.

Boris’ connection to Israel ‘journeys’ back many years  to the days in which no one was on the tarmac to welcome him at Ben-Gurion International Airport and no red carpets were in sight.

In 1984, two young Brits arrived in Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi as volunteers; they were the future Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his sister the future British journalist and television presenter, Rachel Johnson.

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When In Acre. While in Acre in 2013, the future British PM’s sister, Rachel Johnson dined at the famed Uri Buri, seen here with Chef Uri “Buri” Jeremias (right) whom she described as looking “… like Father Christmas and was the most interesting man. I ate the best thing ever — ‘Ben-Gurion rice’.

It was the summer of 1984, and the Johnson siblings undertook a six-week experience in Israel. In those days, it was “the thing to do”.

Rachel was on a gap year before heading to Oxford University, while Boris, 14 months her elder and already a student at the same university, had just finished his first year at Balliol College, where he was a classics scholar. “Our father thought this was a good way to get rid of us for the summer,” recalls Rachel.

In 2013 Rachel wrote on MailOnline of those experiences of nearly three decades earlier at Kibbutz HaNasi started by  group of British Jewish immigrants, members of the Habonim youth movement.

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Back In Jerusalem. A trip down memory lane, journalist and TV presenter, Rachel Johnson revisits Jerusalem in 2013

I was a pale-skinned, fair-haired teenage girl visiting Israel for the first time with her even paler-skinned and fairer-haired older brother.

We’d come to work as volunteers at a kibbutz north of the Sea of Galilee, on the green banks of the Jordan river, just below the volcanic pointy hills of the Golan Heights and a few miles from Syria.

We arrived at the kibbutz in the blasting heat of July. ‘Warm breeze,’ I wrote in my diary at the time. ‘Smell of blossom … and latrines.’ Soon after arrival, we were assigned our work sections. I had the Augean task of ‘male sanitation’.

Boris was bundled into the communal kitchen, which catered and cleared up after kibbutz Kfar Hanassi’s 600 members and volunteers who dined together three times a day on yogurt, houmous, eggs, houmous, yogurt and tomatoes (that’s all I remember eating at every meal, anyway).”

While comically depicting the scene with “There could not have been worse gigs for pampered, pale-faced public-school spawn,”  Rachel reveals much about her brother, the future Prime Minister who would cause Labour its worst defeat since 1935.

While Rachel “moved to picking fruit, and then, after striking up a friendship with an attractive shepherd called David” and promoted “to being a shepherdess,” Boris, “doughtily remained at his post, his skin peeling from the heat and steam, and stayed sane by reading Homer and Virgil in the library in the evening.”

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Seeing The Sights. Boris Johnson in Jerusalem on his first trip to Israel in the summer of 1984. (courtesy Rachel Johnson)

Boris Takes The Cake

In the land of destiny,  the young man was destined for leadership.

Alec Collins, who hosted the future PM in his home at Kfar Hanassi  in 1984 revealed in a recent interview “Even back then, he used to say, ‘I will be a leader one day”.

“He is a great guy to be around with and chat with,” continued Collins. “Boris can strike up a conversation with just about anyone, on the spot. He has a great sense of humor, and this will be of great benefit to the UK.”

This has proved so.

To quote Boris:

My position on cake is clear: I’m pro-having it and pro-eating it. And once you have your cake and eat it, too, you’ve effectively laid claim to two cakes.”

Equipped with his unique twist of logic and inimitable wit will leave his adversaries baffled as he scales the proverbial ramparts.

Taking on Brexit, the most monumental issue since WWII, Boris can take inspiration from his political hero and wartime victor, Winston Churchill who too was tasked to lead armed with a mastery of rhetoric.

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On top Of The World. Looking down at the Dead Sea – the lowest spot on earth – Boris’ sister Rachel at the top of Masada in 1984.

The Jewish Connection

Like Sir Winston Churchill  – a great greatest supporter of the Zionist movement  and of the 1917 Balfour Declaration – Boris too refers to himself as “A passionate Zionist”

In an article to commemorate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017, Boris wrote:

 “I served a stint at a kibbutz in my youth, and… saw enough to understand the miracle of Israel: the bonds of hard work, self-reliance and an audacious and relentless energy that hold together a remarkable country.”

And on his visit to the country when  he was the mayor of London, he lashed out at BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement – and pronounced Israel the only “pluralist, open society” in the region.

This is a far cry from the man too who aspired to be the resident of 10 Downing Street – Jeremy Corbyn.

While Boris has Jewish ancestry traced back through his mother to the revered 19th century Lithuanian Rabbi Elijah Ragoler, his feelings about Israel may stem just as strongly from Jenny Sieff, who became his stepmother when he was seventeen.

From a prominent Anglo-Jewish family, Jenny’s stepfather, Teddy Sieff, served as chairman of Marks and Spencer and was vice-president of the British Zionist Federation. In 1973, Sieff survived an assassination attempt by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine when he was shot by the assassin Ilich Ramírez Sánchez more familiarly known as Carlos the Jackal. Carlos fired one bullet at Sieff from his Tokarev 7.62mm pistol, which bounced off Sieff just between his nose and upper lip and knocked him unconscious; the gun then jammed and Carlos fled.

It was Jenny’s family in Israel, the distinguished South African-born Israeli diplomat, Michael Comay, who had been Israeli ambassador to Canada, the UN and the UK and his wife Joan, who would  help arrange for Boris and his sister Rachel to volunteer at Kibbutz Kfar HaNassi.

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Aspiring To New Heights. Boris Johnson as a 20-year-old in Israel in 1984 climbing to the top of the Jewish fortress of Masada following his 6-week of volunteerism with his sister Rachel at Kibbutz Kfar Hanassi.

According to Rachel, her brother showed great mettle volunteering on the kibbutz. While she admits how she  finagled her way out of cleaning the men’s bathrooms  and got herself reassigned to picking apples with “an attractive kibbutznik,” Boris dutifully stuck to his appointed job in the communal kitchen. There – as Rachel describes in her diary – “he showed inner steel scrubbing pots and pans and sweating it out in the heat of the kitchen, meal after meal.”

Clear early signs of the  makings of a leader if one adheres to the wise words of President Truman: “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”.

With Brexit the first order of business, the political ‘MasterChef’ is ready to make history. Clearly Israel has a friend at 10 Downing Street and can look forward  to welcoming on the red carpet at Ben Gurion Airport  that unmistakable blonde mop who first came to Israel on the way to kibbutz Kfar HaNasi 35 years ago.

 

Feature Picture: Boris Johnson on the campaign trail CREDIT: ANDREW PARSONS/ I-IMAGES

‘The Magnificent Nine’

Israel makes the cover of Time as 9  of its inventions feature on the Magazine’s  100 best inventions of 2019

By David E. Kaplan

Every year, TIME magazine highlights the Best Inventions that are making the world “better, smarter and even a bit more fun”. In choosing their 2019 list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender on the list is evaluated based on key factors, including

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Cover Story. Nine Israeli inventions or innovations are among Time’s Top 100

– originality

– creativity

– influence

– ambition

– effectiveness

The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible. Amongst the Top 100 that appears in print in TIME’s December 2 – December 9 are nine Israeli-made creations.

Here are the nine Israeli innovations that appear in Time’s top 100:

Seeing Is Believing

I was first exposed to this invention over a year ago when I walked into my uncle’s sitting room in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and saw him reading. Reading! He is virtually blind but there he was, wearing his glasses reading the morning paper. Then I saw he had a device and soon leaned it was a  MyEye 2.0 by OrCam.

It was great, we could argue over politics!

The MyEye 2 is a lightweight smart camera that attaches to virtually any frame of a pair of glasses. Using AI technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface, recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real time. The intuitive device is operated by using simple hand gestures and has more than 20 voice-activated commands. It is designed for all ages, can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection.

The portable, finger-sized device can be discreetly clipped to eyeglasses or sunglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus and can even scan barcodes, identify faces and currency, and tell time even without a watch.

“This is the world’s most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted and have reading difficulties,” OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischer told NoCamels last year. The device is gesture-motivated, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.

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A Word In One’s Ear. No more for those with failing sight need to miss out on enjoining their favourite literature.

“Fitting all this power into such a small device is like “putting an elephant into a small closet,” OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua told TIME. Shashua is also famously the co-founder of Israel’s Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver-assistance systems. Intel acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.

 

Offering CONCRETE Solutions

Man’s love of the ocean and building on its coast is all very well for man – not always for the ocean! The problem lies in the detrimental impact of eco-unfriendly concrete.

Step in an Israeli company ECONcrete – an environmental tech company founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella. Listed in the “design” category of TIME’s list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019, ECONcrete develops sustainable concrete for constructing ecologically active infrastructures in coastal and marine environments as well as in urban landscapes.

The company uses “a technique known as bio­mimicry, relying on the shapes, textures and size of natural systems to dictate how the company builds its products,” so they blend in with their surroundings and are less intrusive to marine ecosystems.

Earlier in 2019, ECONcrete was listed by Fast Company on its “World’s Most Innovative Companies” of 2019. The company was also featured in an episode of the popular web series Nas Daily.

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Below The Surface. ECOncrete is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

With nearly half of the human population living along coastlines, coastal development, and increasing coastal urbanization  are inevitable. Concrete is the main construction material globally, accounting for over 70% of Coastal and Marine Infrastructure (CMI).  Nonetheless, it is a poor substrate for biological recruitment, and is considered toxic to many marine organisms, mainly due to its unique surface chemistry which impairs the settlement of various marine larvae.

Now, ECOncrete, with a suite of innovative, science-based solutions, is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

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“Pitch To Rich”. ECOncrete was honored to be the winner of the event hosted by Virgin Atlantic and Calcalist. ECOncrete’s CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (right) presented its innovation to Sir Richard Branson (3rd from right).

 

Bring To A Head

A world leading survey of health conditions across 195 countries found that, in every year from 1990 to 2016, migraine attacks remained the second-largest global contributor to years lived with disability. They come with a huge economic cost, too, causing an estimated 25 million sick days to be taken in the UK alone each year. But compared to their health and economic burden, migraines remain one of the world’s most under-funded diseases.

Step in an Israeli medical tech company Theranica that has developed a migraine-zapping wearable device Nerivio and featured in Time’s list in the “health care” category.

The device, worn on the upper arm, provides migraine treatment through neuromodulation therapy, altering nerve activity by way of targeted delivery of a stimulus. The treatment is like “a personalized pain-relief programme,” according to the Netanya-based company.

“We are honored to be recognized by TIME and thrilled to see Nerivio listed alongside inventions that are shaping the future,” said Alon Iron, CEO and co-founder of Theranica.

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Getting Ahead. Developed by med-tech firm Theranica, its device, “Nerivio” provides acute treatment of migraines. (Photo via Theranica’s website) Medical Devise Of The Year

“At Theranica, we believe that migraine solutions should be affordable and accessible. We are proud of the non-invasive, low side-effect and drug-free alternative that Nerivio offers and remain dedicated to bringing effective relief to individuals around the world living with migraine.”

 

Home Diagnosis

The “health care” category on the TIME list also featured the remote medical examination device TytoHome developed by Israeli tele-health company Tyto Care. A handheld examination device, TytoHome comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, and more.

The device allows users to perform these comprehensive medical exams and send the information to a primary care provider.

The device, at $299, was recently made available to purchase at over 300 Best Buy locations across the USA. It’s also available online.

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Easy Diagnosis At Home. An ear exam with a Tytocare TytoHome device.

“Tyto Care’s mission has always been to make high-quality healthcare accessible on-demand, from any location to as many people as possible,” Tyto Care CEO and co-founder Dedi Gilad, said in a statement. “We are honoured to be included on TIME’s Best Inventions list for 2019. This recognition signifies the ground-breaking impact TytoHome is having on people’s day-to-day lives and we are excited to continue to deliver the best virtual care experience to consumers across the globe.”

Gilad co-founded Tyto Care alongside Ofer Tzadik in 2012, after spending many days and nights in emergency care as a parent of young children.

As reported in NoCamels, “Dedi Gilad was a young father of two dealing with fevers, fussy eaters and his daughter’s chronic ear infections when he did what few exhausted parents of young children do – he launched a startup!”

Tytocare is a telehealth company bringing medical exams to the comfort of our homes. And like all good ideas, it was born out of necessity. Gilad was spending hours day and night at the emergency room with his daughter, getting exposed to germs in hospital waiting areas and losing countless hours of sleep, only to receive the same diagnosis every time.

 

Home Alone – no more!

Want a beer, ask Temi, an Israeli developed robot, billed as the world’s first intelligent, mobile, personal AI robot. Featured in Time’s list in the “home” category, the 3-foot-tall personal robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head is the creation of Israeli startup Robotemi.

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Mr. Robot. Temi Israel CEO Yossi Wolf with one of the company’s personal robots. (Photo: courtesy)

Retailing at for $1,999,Temi can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. Users can control Temi remotely from any location in the world via the app and command different actions.

Temi has won a number of prestigious awards over the past year, including 1st prize in the field of robots and drones at the Shanghai CES Asia 2019 Exhibition, a Gold Award in the Personal Robot category at the prestigious Edison 2019 Awards, and the best robot in CES Las Vegas according to Tom’s Guide and the International PC Magazine Award for Best of MWC 2018.

Founded in 2015, Robotemi is headquartered in New York City, has an R&D lab in Tel Aviv and a business and manufacturing location in Shenzen, China. Earlier this year, the company announced that world-renown Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard was joining as chief brand officer (CBO).

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Touchscreen Temi. A bedtime story with Temi. (Courtesy)

 

Out Of Thin Air

If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites strike water from the air.

Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.

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Tapping Into Air. Using the company’s GENius technology, the “Genny” is capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day from thin air.

The Israeli company Watergen, which  hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or lack of accessibility to safe drinking water, developed a patented technology that makes drinking water “out of thin air”. It is its at-home appliance called the Genny that featured on the TIME magazine list in the “social good” category.

In the aftermath of the raging fires that wiped out much of Paradise, California, a truck pulled up to a group of residents and rescue workers, parched after a day of cleanup. The driver came out, pointed to a machine in the back and said that the device could pull water out of thin air. He flipped a spout and out came clean, drinkable H20.

“They literally walked around the truck and they kept on trying to figure out where this water is coming from, what magic are you guys doing?” recalled Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA.

The device, which looks like a water cooler, is a generator capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day using the company’s heat-exchange GENius technology. The generator first collects water vapour in the air and then cools the air at its dew point, after which the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.

The Genny retails at an estimated $1,500, according to TIME. Watergen’s generators have been used in countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan, and the US.

 

Come Fly With Alice

While “These are the largest windows in a commercial aircraft,” noted one observer, that is not what won it its listing in the Time magazine list in the “sustainability” category.

In June 2019, Israeli aerospace company Eviation Aircraft debuted “Alice” – a prototype of the first all-electric commuter aircraft. Alice is a battery-powered nine-seater which Eviation hopes will help transform urban aerial travel through a “flying taxi” concept. CEO Omer Bar-Yohay has called it “Uber meets Tesla in the sky,” with commuters of the future travelling at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners ushering in a new era “of flying that is quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective.”

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Flight Of Fancy. Eviation’s exquisite looking Alice.

Regional trips will be “cheaper than a train ticket” and far more considerate for the environment. The idea of curbing carbon emissions by half by 2050 – an eco-friendly pledge by the aviation industry – is another reason many of the major airlines are exploring electric options.

Alice is “capable of flying with nine passengers at 240 knots and a range of up to 650 miles [1046.07 km],” says Bar-Yohay.

“It’s basically a huge battery with some plane painted on it,” Bar-Yohay told reporters.

“This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it’s electric,” he said, “You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space.”

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News Was Electrifying. Eviation’s electric aircraft on display at the opening of the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 16 2019. (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

In 2018, the company was selected as the winner in the transportation category of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.

Alice is sure going places!

 

Hello, Meet ElliO

Making the “special mentions” category on the TIME’s list is ElliQ, is a robotic companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics.

Designed to help the elderly “stay engaged, independent and connected to family and friends,” the tabletop social robot mimics human movements and responds to voice, gaze, and touch. ElliQ offers tips and advice, responds to questions, engages throughout the day, makes appointments, reminds those in its care about medications and can suggest content to watch and set up chats with friends.

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Engaging Fellow. The small tabletop robot helps the elderly connect to the outside world and keep active and engaged. ElliQ can suggest content to watch, give reminders about appointments, and set up chats with friends, among other functions.

Useful for those who cannot easily operate a smartphone, ElliQ is meant to address the issues of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens by reading out messages, displaying photos, and answering video calls.

Founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler, and Roy Amir, Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018.

 

Giving Back

Also in TIME’s “special mentions” section was Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade with its “Giveback” charity component.

Lemonade’s concept was coming up with a fresh brand that through the use of technology rather than relying on brokers, it could break into the huge and rather staid insurance market.

Customers answer a set of simple questions through a chat with the company’s bot, “Maya,” and, in seconds, can get their home insured. It takes 90 seconds to get insured – says the company’s website  – and three minutes to get paid, if and when a claim is made.

Unlike traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a flat fee — one that would normally go to the insurance brokers — and sets aside the remaining funds for claims. In a good year, when there’s money left unclaimed, the company does not pocket the money but donates it to causes their customers choose.

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Dynamic Duo. The co-founders of Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade, Daniel Schreiber (left) and Shai Wininger. (Photo: Ben Kelmer)

Founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, the Lemonade Giveback’s mission is “to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.” They have designed Lemonade to bring out the best in people, while giving society a push for the better.

When users sign up, they choose a charity or non-profit organization they care about, and once a year, Lemonade tallies up unclaimed money pooled from policyholders who chose that same cause and donates it to the organization.

Tens of thousands of members are supporting causes they care about, simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. As the Lemonade community grows, the social impact emerges stronger.

The philosophy of Lemonade’s  Schreiber may apply to all of Israel’s inventions for 2019. “Great digital brands,”  writes Schreiber, “transcend borders. Whether in Chicago, Paris, or Singapore, today’s consumers listen to music on Spotify, ride with Uber, and stay at Airbnb. Consumers are increasingly cosmopolitan, socially aware, and tech-native.”

Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs are in tune with this, hence their phenomenal global success.

We can look forward to a no less exciting 2020 for Israeli inventiveness!

Far Out!

An Israeli Steak-Out In Space

By David E. Kaplan

You can actually say, “This steak is out of this world” and it would be true; both literally and figuratively.

How so?

Earlier in the year, Lay Of The Land published an article titled ‘Israel Leading A Slaughter-Free Revolution For A Healthier World’ revealing on how the world’s first laboratory-grown steak was served up in Israel by Aleph Farms (Aleph being the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet) by isolating cells from a cow and cultivating them into a 3-D structure.

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Animals Survive; Planet Thrives. Slaughter-free meat involves taking a sample of animal cells from a real cow and replicating them outside of the animal: without the antibiotics, environmental footprint, contamination and animal slaughter which comes with conventional meat production.

Founded   in 2017 by Israeli food-tech incubator The Kitchen – part of Israel’s food processing company Strauss Group Ltd., in collaboration with the Technion, Alpha Farms is set to impact the nature and scope of the future of food by producing cell-grown meat that resembles a free range version.

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Alpha Steak. Healthier for all – animals, humans and the planet.

For meat lovers, that all too familiar alluring sizzling aroma that is  like a culinary aphrodisiac,  will still be there.

The only difference  is  that the genesis of your T-bone, fillet, rump, sirloin or entrecote hails from a laboratory rather than a field. Having unveiled in December 2018 to much fanfare, the first prototype of lab-grown steak in the world, the Israeli enterprising entrepreneurs decided to take its curiosity to another scientific level!

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A lab-grown steak in a laboratory at Aleph Farms in Rehovot, Israel. (courtesy: Jpost.com – photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The Next Frontier

In typical Israeli out-of-the-box fashion,  Alpha Farms launched its idea into the stratosphere by conducting an experiment to manufacture its meat product on the International Space Station (ISS) some 248 miles (339 km) from earth.

The ISS is a low-orbit space station that serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory between five participating space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

Aleph Farms explained that the project aims to demonstrate its mission of being able “to provide sustainable food security on earth and beyond by producing meat regardless of  the availability of land and local water resources.”

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Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founfer of Aleph Farms.

Says CEO Didier Toubia who co-founded Aleph Farms together with Prof. Shulamit Levenberg:

 “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liters (3962.58 gallons) of water available to produce one kilogram (2.205 pounds) of beef.”

The experiment, he said, “marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources.”

To conduct the experiment in space, Aleph Farms teamed up with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions, which develops implementations of 3D bioprinting technologies, and two American companies, Meal Source Technologies and Finless Foods, to carry out the process on September 26. As reported by Israel’s innovation news platform, No Camels cosponsored by the IDC Herzliya, “Aboard the Russian segment of the ISS, they used a unique technology of magnetic bio-fabrication, developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, to produce bovine, mummichog and rabbit myoblast/fibroblast constructs provided by Aleph Farms, Finless Foods, and Meal Source Technologies, respectively. All under microgravity conditions.”

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New Horizons. The RSC Energia spacecraft. (Photo via Rocosmos)

In a statement released on October 7, 3D Bioprinting Solutions said that the joint project “lays the groundwork for renewable protein sources for long term manned missions.”

3D Bioprinting Solutions and Meal Source Technologies’ co-founder Aleksandr Ostrovsky said, “We believe that bio-fabrication of cultured meat in space has several unique advantages such as sustainability, personalization, and biosafety. What is more, creating cultured meat products in space may grant invaluable scientific insights for implementation of this technology on Earth.”

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What’s Cooking? Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko on board of the International Space Station during the first experiment with 3D bioprinter in December 2018. (Photo 3D Bioprinting Solutions)

Aiming High

Hailing the experiment in space as a “successful proof of concept,” Aleph Farms said the cutting-edge research “in some of the most extreme environments imaginable serves as an essential growth indicator of sustainable food production methods that don’t exacerbate land waste, water waste, and pollution.”

These new innovative culinary methodologies aim to feed a rapidly growing world population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050.

Assured of it venturing in the right direction, Aleph Farms cited a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report  – published in September – that argued that conventional animal farming methods contributed greatly to climate change, creating “a challenging situation worse and undermining food security.”

Said  The Kitchen’s CEO, Jonathan Berger:

“The mission of providing access to high-quality nutrition anytime, anywhere in a sustainable way is an increasing challenge for all humans.” Whether “On earth or up above,” he continued,  “we count on innovators like Aleph Farms to take the initiative to  provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as the climate crisis.”

This achievement, said Toubia, “follows Yuri Gagarin’s success of becoming the first man to journey into outer space, and Neil Armstrong’s 50th anniversary this year, celebrating the moment when the first man walked in space.”

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Mindful Menu. “Coming Up, one alpha steak with fresh vegetables and salad.”

While lab-grown steaks will likely not become commercially available for at least three to four years and the world waits, a video shows a group of people – among them Aleph Farm‘s vice president of research and development Neta Lavon – enjoying the steak-of-tomorrow alongside a tomato and zucchini pasta.

All these revelations have tongues not only wagging – but wanting to taste!