Cries from Australia’s wildlife heard in Jerusalem
By David E. Kaplan
Turn on the news on TV these days and the screen flares up in shades of bright orange, with men in protective fighter-fighting garb trying to douse roaring flames.
Australia is in the grip of one of its worst wildfire seasons on record with the human death toll standing at 27 and over 2,000 homes destroyed across more than 10 million hectares of land — an area larger than Portugal.
Caught in this nationwide inferno are Australia’s endearing but vulnerable wildlife, and it is estimated that already 1 billion wild mammals, birds and reptiles have perished. Blessed with a unique eco-system, many species however are now threatened with extinction.
Pictures of koalas with charred feet and kangaroos hugging their human rescuers have through social media and television brought tears to the eyes of people the world over. Many are responding.
The ‘cries’ of these animals were heard in the Israeli capital’s internationally renowned Jerusalem Biblical Zoo that is responding by donating veterinary medical supplies to be used in Victoria’s East Gippsland region.
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo understands only too well the danger of animals facing extinction, which explains why the zoo’s primary focus is on species from the land of Israel mentioned in the Bible but roam no more!
The zoo projects this history revealing the animals that roamed this region at the time of the forefathers of the Jewish People.
While so many of the world-renowned archeological sites around Jerusalem are a reminder of what life was like in the ancient city, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo – officially known as the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens – is a ‘living’ reminder of what animals roamed this region in biblical times.
One of the many in Israel watching the human and animal tragedy unfold on her TV was the Biblical Zoo’s International Manager,Rachael Risby Raz, who grew up in Melbourne, and who still has family living there.
Understanding with professional clarity the devastation befalling the flora and fauna of her native Australia, coupled with her position at the JerusalemBiblical Zoo meant that Raz was well placed for her response to be meaningful and effective.
She knew instinctively what the animals most urgently required and quickly put together “a wish list” of veterinary supplies that included: burn creams, milk formulas, teats for bottles, wound sprays, hydration concentrates, syringes, disinfectant, feeding bottles and more. She then followed up by launching a fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase the equipment online and have it sent directly to the rescuers on the ground. Within 24 hours of launching her appeal, she raised thousands of dollars as more and more heart-wrenching reports of the plight resonated globally.
“It went viral,” she told local media. “Even though we’re so far away – more than 6,000 miles – people are nevertheless so moved and stressed by what’s happening in Australia.”
According to the Biblical Zoo’s press statement, “The supplies will be purchased in Australia and sent directly to the volunteers on the ground,” notably the volunteers working with the East Gippsland Fire Wildlife Support Team.
Although over “6,000 miles” away, The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo felt what was unfolding was close to home as the zoo has a special section dedicated to animals from Australia. “We have a colony of kangaroos who, at the moment, are experiencing a baby boom,” said Raz, “as well as fruit bats which came from Sydney.” They had been rescued after they were injured “and we had a whole group of them come and they live here at our zoo.” The area dedicated to the Down Under also includes a cheeky kookaburra, a bettong, bearded dragons, blue tongue lizards and cockatoos. “This is why it’s probably extra distressing. I look out the window of my office and see kangaroos we know by name and love and then see pictures of their peers in Australia burned – it’s heartbreaking!”
While Raz understands that it’s going to be an uphill struggle and that “the situation is just beginning and going to have consequences that can go on for months, even years,” she sees hope in the overwhelming response from people so far removed geographically from the disaster. After all, these are people who have never even visited Australia and may never visit, but their hearts pour out for these defenseless animals.
In a profound sense, the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo was a ‘natural’ to respond.
Viewing the situation through a biblical prism, Raz asks “What is the role of the zoo?” and then answers herself that “the zoo is like a modern Noah’s Ark. The animals that we have here at the zoo are basically being looked after for the next generation.”
This sentiment is all too evident in the many animals that roamed in the region in the time of the Bible and today no longer do.
This is not something that should be allowed to befall the animals of Australia.
Elsewhere in Israel, Tel Aviv too is galvanizing support for Australia. Fashion model Abbiemay Doré, is one of thousands of Australian ex-pats residing in Israel. Originally from Wodoga, Victoria, the model is helping organize an Australian-themed trivia night at a bar in Tel Aviv to help raise awareness and funds.
While she reveals that she has “never really organized something like this before,” these are extraordinary times in Australia.
“Armageddon Is Here” have read headlines in Australia giving an indication how bad the situation is and how much worse it can still be!
While humanitarian groups like the Tel Aviv-based IsraAid are watching developments closely and considering about different ways in which they can be of assistance, on Instagram, Israel’s ‘Wonder Woman’, Gal Gadot asked her 34 million followers to donate to relief efforts down under. “Nature is so beautiful and powerful and fragile all at the same time,” she wrote. “I’m so devastated.”
“Devastated” is the operative word!
For Israelis the devastation is brought all the more home when one realizes that the area so far devastated is more than double the size of Israel.
From Wonder Woman to the wonderful people of Israel and around the world, may the collective support bring this tragedy to a speedy end and that the animals Down Under don’t themselves go down under.
The reality of the WhatsApp group chat is as simple as “you can’t live with it and you can’t live without it”.
As a mother, you have no choice but to be involved in a group chat for your child’s class because you cannot afford to miss important information about goings-on. This misinformation may result in an inevitable melt down when your child is the only shmendrik in a coloured shirt when everyone else is wearing white. So to avoid such calamities or worse, we join the group chats. BUT, this is only the beginning… make no mistake, it’s a trap.
Usually there is a group for the child’s grade with the teacher as a member and who is the one to send out any important information. However, there is another separate group just for the parents. It is more acceptable for the second type to have ‘chatter’ whereas the first group is meant for important notifications. This is not the case. It’s all too easy to pop out one quick message but when everyone gets going, before you blink, there are 47 new unread messages. One would think there is a crisis at the school only to discover that Moshe is having a birthday party, and everyone wishes him Mazaltov.
Moreover, this same child of yours probably does one or more extra murals and, of course, each activity MUST have a communal forum for information exchange. Gone are the good old days whereby your child came home with a letter pinned to the back of his or her shirt. I sometimes wonder if my children would actually be capable of relaying any information to me, then I fear that this simple skill might eventually disappear from humanity.
Some of things that are announced on these groups never cease to amaze me. Absolutely everything! Everything from school complaints to the weather, to the latest sale at the local grocery store, warnings of a strange dog running in the road and the all-time winning one was that so and so had found a worm in her rice! My great challenge is saying “who cares” in such a way that I don’t offend anyone!
This is just groups pertaining to one child. Bli ayain Hara, I have four children. The traffic flow of messaging in my WhatsApp is multiplied by four! I may as well be an air traffic controller. These groups by the way, could prove to be a real game changer for people considering having more children. This influx of messaging happens on all the groups, all day long. It becomes a lot to deal with when you are trying to manage a stressful life juggling many things all day long. The truth is that a mother has a huge pile on her plate that never seems to clear – much like the dishes in the kitchen sink. After one issue is sorted out, the next one reveals itself. This is most likely the reason the WhatsApp groups are so annoying – because they present the constant nagging cherry on top of a mountain of mental submissions.
What about the unwanted invitation to a group chat?
A friend of mine, Etana Hecht, has coined the term Whatsnapped. (Look it up on urban dictionary). This is where you are added to a group without your consent, and which you now find yourself serving a life sentence trapped within the wallpapers of the app. Exiting this group could label you a snob or stuck up. (Truthfully, I’m sure some would be jealous of the courage that would take). Leaving a group is scandalous and doing so may provoke questions and concerns and even the evil Lashon Hara!! This is not a road one wants to travel on, so we remain, like loyal participants, in the prison chat.
Let’s talk about the struggle IsRael! This, as an olah chadasha (new female immigrant to Israel), is the clincher! My WhatsApp incoming messages are all in a foreign language now – the writing is literally backwards! This is where ‘fast pace’ checks of instant messaging has become a thing of the past. And back and forth trips to google translate quadruple the time spent reading messages!
What once was a lovely ping on my phone indicating that someone, somewhere was thinking of me has now become trigger for anxiety, denial and the perpetual eyeball roll. Upon opening WhatsApp and seeing 57 unread messages no longer makes me happy. In fact, my stress levels shoot through the roof, my hands become clammy and my heart starts palpitating. And because of the Hebrew names and I have to consciously remind myself to check for which child (name in Hebrew letters / grade / extra mural activity (chug) the notification is intended. Furthermore, I think I’ll just mention at this point that the ‘google translation’ is a serious cause for trust issues. Sometimes when I see all the messages, I simply close the app, gently place the phone face down on the table and happily pretend I hadn’t seen anything. Out of sight, out of mind.
Based on a recent Facebook survey, I have put together a list of ‘code of conduct’ rules for group chat users:
Any group created must have an official permission request before adding a person. A strict ‘no offence but no thank you’ is to be widely acceptable without judgement!
All comments made must be beneficial to ALL members of the group, if not, Private message (PM) the person of interest.
Please think 5 million times before you post anything at all. Then reconsider it once more. Should you ultimately decide to send a message, use minimal wording.
We all know its cold out. This does not need to be a public statement on a group and if you haven’t yet put a jacket on your child in 8 degrees, no WhatsApp group message is going to make you a better mother.
Birthday party invitations are always welcome, individual RSVP’s however are not. Please PM these.
Unless you are handing out personal gift vouchers, we don’t care about the 20% sale at the local supermarket, and while we are on the subject, I really don’t know where to buy yellow plums this time of year.
At all times, keep to the topic relevant to the group. I was so busy trying to scroll past ‘how to repair a broken zip’ that I missed the part about the money which needed to be handed in for the school trip.
When your two year old gets hold of your phone and sends a cute voice note, just delete it.
(Optional) Appoint a group birthday person to wish the birthday lady a onetime wish on behalf of everyone. We all have good wishes for you, what we don’t have is 7 hours to sift through all the heartfelt messages. (That is what Facebook is for).
Finally, remember that we all love each other dearly but we do all run very busy lifestyles. We all agree that phone time should be kept to a minimum so that we can focus on more important things. So let’s try keep life as simple as possible for each other.
Gabi Crouse – Based in Israel, Gabi writes opinions in fields of politics, Judaism, life issues, current social observations aswell as creative fiction writing. Having contributed to educational set works and examinations, as well as interviews, Gabi will usually add in a splash of humour.
Israel may be a tiny country but its humanitarian outreach knows no bounds
By David E. Kaplan
Yes, we are all familiar with the line at the end of emails “Trees have feelings too, please don’t print this!”
It’s a reminder that “Paper doesn’t grow on trees” and we can all do our bit to help save our planet.
Some Israelis have opted to do more – a lot more and going to the heart of one the problem areas – the Amazon rainforest.
While the name ‘Amazon’ conjures up the immediate image as one the world’s most valuable companies, the threat to its namesake –hardly raises an eyebrow and yet, the ‘rainforest’ in South America is a crucial part of our life-support system, creating up to 20% of our oxygen.
Here’s why we need the world’s largest rainforest:
It’s also one of our best tools for keeping heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
All this resonated with the Israeli startup VeganNation that recently announced that it leased some 15,000 acres (60.7 square kilometers or 23.4 square miles) in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest for a ten-year period to protect the land from deforestation and wildlife poaching.
VeganNation is based in Ramat Gan, just outside Tel Aviv, with an office in London. Thomas says the startup employs approximately 20 people and works with 30 “ambassadors” across the world in places like Argentina, Brazil, India, and beyond, to spread its message.
“The Amazon rainforest might be located in Brazil, but its destruction affects us all, as climate change is a direct result of human activity and it’s in our hands to fight it,” said Isaac Thomas, the CEO and co-founder of VeganNation.
The startup also announced that it was partnering with four local soccer teams from cities near the entrance to the rainforest to raise environmental awareness. Thomas told the Israeli innovation news network, NoCamels, that “VeganNation is already a main sponsor of the teams – three men’s teams and one women’s team – and revealed that an additional four top-tier national teams are set to sign on to the initiative.”
Kicking For Eco-Goals
VeganNation’s initiative comes amid the devastating fires that have continued to burn in the rainforest since early August, releasing dangerous air pollutants into the atmosphere, severely damaging flora and fauna ecosystems, and endangering indigenous communities that live under the forest canopy. The fires are so intense that they can be observed from space.
“When we measure the destruction of the rainforest, we talk about football (soccer) fields as a unit, so we thought what if we use that same measure to save parts of it,” explained Thomas. To illustrate the point, the land leased by VeganNation covers over 5,500 soccer fields if we’re using the measure of large regulation-sized soccer fields of approximately 2.69 acres per field.
“VeganNation understands that promoting veganism is an important step towards fighting the global warming crisis and raising awareness through local environmental projects among the Brazilian community is key. Partnering with four Brazilian soccer teams further enables us toward our mission of working together to create a better world,” he says.
Thomas reveals that the initiative came about through his close connection with a family in the city of Manaus in Brazil that owns land in the rainforest and used to lease it to a US gas company . When the lease was up, Thomas proposed to the family to lease the land to VeganNation explaining that “it’s a win-win situation for everyone as we’re not polluting the environment.”
The Israeli startup raised capital through private investors and added celebrity vegan activists Jerome Flynn, of Game of Thrones, and actor and dancer Jenna Dewan, to its advisory board.
Thomas says VeganNation’s work in the sports world is of key importance and the startup is set to bring in “one of the top three football players in the world as an ambassador for sustainability.”
Environmental groups and researchers say the fires were started by humans at an accelerated rate probably by cattle ranchers and loggers looking to clear the land. The area of devastation in this year’s forest fires marks a 47% increase compared to 2018 according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research.
While deforestation had declined by 75% from 2005 to 2014 and Brazil was moving impressively toward a zero-deforestation policy, it started reverting back massively from 2015 onwards and now in 2019, it seems to have reached literally – a “devastating” peak.
Late last month, under heavy international pressure, and amid several public spats with world leaders rejecting aid offers, Bolsonaro finally issued an order to send over 40,000 troops to help fight the fires. Included in the global support are an eleven-member team of firefighters and rescuers from Israel to assist local authorities with search-and-rescue operations.
President Jair Bolsonaro who has good relations with the Israeli Prime Minister, accepted the aid from the Jewish state, which is understood to include 100 tons of fire-fighting material.
So, while Israeli firefighters will do what they can in the immediate term, the Israeli startup VeganNation is looking long-term – focusing on preserving Brazil’s home to 2.5 million animal species. Rainforest deforestation – which often takes place to raise and feed cattle for the meat industry – is one of the most important issues to tackle in the fight against climate change.
What also needs to ‘change’ are peoples understanding of the threat and this is where Israel’s VeganNation is looking to make a difference.
Its also about changing lifestyles.
Breath Of Fresh Air
Thomas exalts Tel Aviv as “number one in the world for vegan food,” having earned its title as the “vegan capital of the world.” Tel Aviv recently held the world’s largest vegan festival at the Sarona complex in June, attracting over 50,000 attendees. The city is home to some 400 vegan and vegan-friendly kitchens.
The Mediterranean diet, Thomas explains, “is naturally based on plants; there are salad bars everywhere in Israel. The basic Med diet is very complimentary to a plant-based lifestyle.”
Thomas met his co-founder Yossi Rayby while in Yeshiva (Jewish seminary) in Jerusalem some years ago. Rayby brought in Nati Giat and Shneor Shapira who all have a religious background, and some have maintained an Orthodox lifestyle.
“Judaism has a strong message that drives me toward making the world a better place, where we live in peace and harmony,” says Thomas.
Yes, its one thing putting out fires, but the real battle is to see that deliberate fires are not started in the first place.
Acknowledging that the Amazon rainforest creates up to 20% of the world’s oxygen – the Israeli startup VeganNation and the work it is doing is like ‘a breath of fresh air’.
I can just hear my late father reverting to Yiddish with “Voz iz dos?” on hearing about “co-working”. As a steel industrialist he knew all about a factory floor.
The actual use of the word “co-working” in relation to a shared office environment was first coined by Brad Neuberg in 2005. He was an intrepid entrepreneur with big dreams who created the first co-working space in San Francisco.
It was called the “San Francisco Co-working Space” and was open only two days a week – Mondays and Tuesdays – but sat empty for the first month as nobody had ever heard of a “co-working space” before.
Today, “Co-working Spaces” are the new normal with some 2.2 million people sharing office spaces worldwide. Co-working spaces have grown at an astounding rate of 200% over the past five years, with the number of co-working members estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2022 thanks to the huge increase in jobs offering remote working.
Freelancers, contractors and younger companies are choosing co-working spaces over home offices and coffee shops for a range of reasons, including the productive atmosphere, affordable rates, excellent software and good networking opportunities.
Israelis love it and it’s available – especially in the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv – all across the city.
Joining this trend but with the added gain of bringing VALUES to “a generation of instant gratification” is one of the founding enterprising institutions of the state – the KIBBUTZ.
Field Of Dreams
It should come as little surprise. Ideologically and conceptually there are similarities between the kibbutz – a co-operative Israeli farming community – and co-working in so far as shared working space in a collective and congenial atmosphere.
Both aspire to the common goal of increased productivity.
The Kibbutz was traditionally based on agriculture and although many of them have in recent years privatized and branched out to include industrial and high-tech enterprises, they still maintain an enviable community atmosphere hardly found elsewhere.
It is little wonder that Israel’s city dwellers flock to kibbutzim guest houses for weekend retreats and increasingly, young families from urban environments are taking advantage of kibbutzim that have opened up their land for private dwellings. These young couples with kids are opting to live in the countryside and take advantage of the kibbutz’s excellent communal services.
Come Gather ’round
Enter Gather – a new entrepreneurial project that aims to attract “remote workers” to Israel’s kibbutz communities.
A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. A company might have a team that is a mix both those that work on and off site.
In an interview with NoCamels.com, a news website focusing on Israeli innovation in technology, 30-year-old entrepreneur Omer Har-Shai, co-founder of Gather explains that while “the world has changed,” there’s a trend today “to be part of a community, to belong, and to find meaning,” and that “the idea behind the kibbutz is all the more relevant again.”
Har-Shai came up with the idea to tap into the unique potential of Israel’s kibbutz structure– with its onsite accommodation, mess hall, lush surroundings, community atmosphere, and WiFi – and create a connection with today’s digital generation.
Gather has put out a call for professionals from across the globe to come and stay, work remotely, and experience kibbutz life for a one-month period.
“Over 100 people – graphic designers, writers, freelancers, programmers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and even full-time employees – have written to us so far,” says Har-Shai. “They are from all over the world: Canada, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, different European countries.”
As a former South African, whose first enriching experience of Israel in the early 1970s was volunteering on a kibbutz – inspired by the ideology of the labour Zionist youth movement ‘Habonim’ – I look with keen interests if professionals in South Africans will be attracted to the project.
While once kibbutz communities across Israel attracted tens of thousands of volunteers from abroad, today only a trickle of 20-somethings still come to volunteer and experience the uniquely Israeli communal living style.
Har-Shai says he hopes Gather will revive that legendary kibbutz experience of the 1970s with the adaptations catering to the digital millennial generation.
While still enticed to the uniquely communal agricultural experience of a kibbutz, Har-Shai hopes that Gather will attract new participants “toting laptops and drones instead of shovels and hoes.”
Back To Basics
“The kibbutz experience is still a brand name,” says Har-Shai. “Kibbutzim have gone through economic and social transformations during the past four decades, but the unique atmosphere, scenic surroundings, and communal facilities still exist today. So, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel, just make the most out of these wonderful communities that already exist.”
There are just over 270 kibbutzim peppered around Israel. In December 2019, Gather will launch its first cohort of up to 25 international professionals in a month-long programme on Kibbutz Kfar Blum, in the Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley.
This will be followed a month later when a second group of some 25 participants will move into guesthouse accommodations at Kibbutz Tuval, in the Galilee on a mountaintop overlooking the town of Karmiel.
That these two kibbutzim were selected resonates with the writer as both attracted over the years, members of the Habonim youth movement from South Africa. They were a hardy and ideologically passionate lot like the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban) who arrived in Palestine from South Africa in the mid-1940s as a law student and trained nurse. Rona had been a member of Habonim in Durban, and “by the time I was 15,” she told the writer in 2005 on the 75th anniversary of Habonim South Africa celebrated on Kibbutz Yizreel, “I was determined to make Aliyah and bear a child in the Land of Israel whose mother tongue would be Hebrew.”
Making her way to Kibbutz Kfar Blum that had been established in 1943 by her Habonim comrades, Rona recalled how “we rode in the back of a lorry carrying rocks for the approach road. I was lucky I came with my gumboots because the place was underwater, and the mud came to our knees. There were only a few buildings on the kibbutz and two families had to share a room.”
Asking how she felt about living in these conditions, Rona answered with a shrug:
“We came to build a country. No one promised us anything. We shared everything. Material things just didn’t mean anything to us then.”
Today it’s a different world where “material things” are paramount but nevertheless, the atmospherics of that bygone lifestyle and its concomitant values still have appeal and are at the core of today’s kibbutz revival.
“People want to travel, see new cultures, but they don’t necessarily want to quit their jobs and leave everything behind,” says Har-Shai. “Today, it is very easy to keep your job and see other places. There are digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Even people who don’t usually work remotely can ask for a month to try working from another place.”
While the Gather project is geared to the 25-35 age group, “interest has also come from GAP year college-age students and people in their 50s,” says Har-Shai. “It’s not about age or being from a specific country. We’re looking for people who are open-minded and curious, people who are looking for this kind of experience.”
Here’s The Deal
It’s the vibe but without the socialism. While foreigners used to volunteer in return for accommodation and board, with Gather, participants pay a fee that covers accommodation and shared office space; daily lunch in the kibbutz Hadar Ochel (Dining room); access to kibbutz facilities, often including a swimming pool or tennis courts. Organised activities may include hiking, yoga, lectures and weekend trips to places including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Har-Shai reminds that participants in Gather’s kibbutz experience are not on vacation but to pursue their work with increased vigor in a highly motivated milieu. “They can sublet their apartments and come live in this community for a month. I think people will be more productive on the kibbutz. There is no traffic, no errands, you live on-site and walk three minutes to the office.”
Over and above impressive levels of productivity of people who work from home, a recent two-year study by Stanford University concluded that people who worked remotely were less likely to leave the company for other employment. The study found there was an overall 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers.
Usually working out of a café in Tel Aviv, it was after working in Nitzana, a remote desert community and youth educational village in southern Israel near the Egyptian border, that “I decided to create a company that would help others work remotely and enjoy a truly Israeli experience at the same time.”
He found the combination of doing physical work on the settlement in the morning “and then on my laptop in the afternoon proved incredibly inspirational and productive.”
He believes that this environment increases productivity because participants will be living “a more balanced life, perhaps starting their day by working in the fields a few hours and eating breakfast in the main mess hall,” before pursuing their professional work.
Searching for the right kibbutzim to meet the needs of remote workers’ needs and finetuning it to a truly revived kibbutz experience for foreign professionals took two years.
Har-shai, who has experience in marketing, sales and business development, shopped around his proposal to 40 kibbutzim across Israel.
Almost all were open to the idea, however, “the two we’ve partnered with to start are both green and beautiful, but different from one another. Kibbutz Tuval is remote and quiet, while Kibbutz Kfar Blum is more traditional with a supermarket and a pub.”
As well as the amazing natural landscape that surrounds kibbutz Tuval, heaving with hiking trails, wildlife, and unlimited outdoor pursuits, it is well located for exploring the Western and Upper Galilee regions, within 40 minutes’ drive of Akko, Safed, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, as well as countless historic and religious sites.
“We’ll help each person find the kibbutz that is right for them,” says Har-Shai.
A third Gather location is planned in the Arava, the northeast strip of the Negev desert in the south of the country.
Har-Shai says, “We’re a private startup with no political agenda. I think that when people are living here for a month, they will see the real Israel. A diverse country, with different people; a beautiful country. It’s an interesting country. We’re offering a new approach for the age of Wi-Fi and remote work – living and volunteering on a kibbutz while keeping your day job.”
And while that “day job” feeds our addiction of our beloved technical appliances of computer and cellphone, seeing a tractor routinely pass by on the way to the fields is an enrichening reminder on the core earthy values of life.
*Should you want to spend a month with a group of inspiring professionals from around the world, as you live and work remotely on a beautiful Kibbutz in Israel visit https://www.gatheround.co/ to learn more.
Paradise for some, hell for others – Tel Aviv’s electric scooter craze
ByDavid E. Kaplan
You cannot escape them!
Walk down any street in Tel Aviv, and you’re most likely to be overtaken – not to mention overrun – by electric scooters. For many pedestrians – from young parents pushing prams to seniors strolling with extra care – a common opinionated exclamation:
“They’re a menace!”
Some may animatedly add an expletive before the word: “MENACE”!
Not so, says Yair who the writer briefly interviewed at a traffic light along Tel Aviv’s famed Dizengoff Street. “It’s a pain taking the car, getting stuck in traffic and then hassling to find parking; you can waste half your day!”
Adjacent to him on her scooter was his wife, Lucy, appearing notably pregnant.
Facing the reality that soon there will be three in the family, “I suspect this might all change very soon,” said Lucy with an all-knowing maternal smile.
For the most part, residents in Tel Aviv, are embracing electric scooters and their smart-phone rental systems, using them to zip along avoiding the heavy traffic. Tourists are catching on too.
“Julie, where have I caught you,” I asked my friend visiting from abroad. “On the way to the beach on a hired electric scooter,” she replied.
A few years ago, I would have been surprised – maybe even shocked.
It’s a lot quicker and cheaper than the alternatives such as a bus or taxi. “It’s so convenient and accessible” all users agree. The app on the phone informs where the nearest available scooter is located.
“It’s so easy; I go to the beach, I stop there, I use the app and that’s all. Also, its fun.”
Tel Aviv lends itself to this trend.
Tel Aviv had already adjusted to the two-wheel trend building bike lanes all around the city. The city has approximately 70km of marked bike lanes. Some of them are on sidewalks in the city and some are outside the city center, in the neighborhoods and parks.
The sunny weather, flat landscape and constant traffic jams make the scooters an appealing option.
There are now around 7,500 electric scooters available, in addition to the thousands of bicycles and electric bikes already on the streets.
Doing It My Way
The industrial designer who started it all is Nimrod Sapir, responsible for Inokim, the lightweight, folding electric scooter brand that’s taken Tel Aviv, and much of Israel, by storm. In Japanese “Inokim” means “speed” and Sapir is a guy on the move – and in a hurry!
As he told ISRAEL21c “I’m always cycling, rollerblading, roller-skating. It’s a personal thing for me; I always want to get to places quickly.”
Turned-on by the electric scooter way back in 1999, “still with the old batteries and antiquated motors,” he became hell-bent on creating a better product, and launched his first electric scooter in 2011 under the brand name MyWay. This was before moving on to partner with Israeli entrepreneur Kfir Ben Shushan in 2014, changing the brand name to Inokim and driving up sales.
Today, the folding e-scooter is shaping the future of urban transport.
The two other main brands currently operating in Tel Aviv are US Bird and German Wind.
Bird recently announced that about 250,000 people have used its app-based, dockless e-scooter-sharing service in Tel Aviv for more than two million rides since August 2018.
Bird Israel general manager Yaniv Rivlin says, “Israel was selected by the company’s managers as one of the first targets for expansion outside the US.”
Ben Shuhan is not deterred by the many competitors in the market. “Demand is much higher than supply, and we think it will increase. This is a supplementary transportation solution that more and more people are adopting. Today, the problem is finding an available or charged e-scooter for riding, especially near the railway stations, which are the places with the highest demand. Among the competition, it’s hard to find an e-scooter fit to ride in the afternoon. There’s room for more players.”
Why have electric scooters become so popular?
Sapir emphasizes “You need no skills – it’s easy to use, easy to ride, easy to get from place to place.”
This is why, he contends that scooters are still leading over other electric mobility options such as electric bikes and hoverboards.
Furthermore, “None of them are as safe as an electric scooter, where you hold a bar in your hands. That gives you a very great feeling of comfort and safety.”
Solution Not The Problem
Asked by, Globes that with Israeli sidewalks becoming increasingly crowded, whether the trend is sustainable in the long term, Ben Shushan replied:
“We’re trying to form as many partnerships as we can with several mayors. The municipalities can also profit and realize that we’re the solution, not the problem. In any case, we’ll work strictly according to regulations, so we also reached agreements with 500 businesses, including 150 parking lots in Tel Aviv, that we can use as stations for renting if we can’t leave them spread around the public space.”
To the question whether renting detracts from marketing e-scooters for sale, Ben Shushan, replied not at all.
“Since our competitors entered the market, our sales have grown by 30%. Awareness of e-scooters has only increased. Here, too, it’s a win-win situation for us.”
“We want to be in every big city in the world, focusing on businesspeople for transportation in downtown areas. You can carry it with you on the train or bus, or you can put it in your trunk and park your car outside the city for far less.”
Designed in Israel, Inokim electric scooters, are sold in 15 countries as a smart green solution for mobility in large cities.
Sapir has won several industry awards as the first electric scooter designer to overcome the tradeoff between performance and weight: Inokim scooters are not only attractive and robust but also quick-folding and lightweight.
“That’s why we stand out,” he told ISRAEL21c.
Apart from the three obvious factors for the electric scooter’s popularity in Tel Aviv:
quick arrival at destination
Sapir adds that the electric scooter is a perfect fit with the Israeli mindset. “Israelis are lazy about walking, always in a hurry and always trying to do too many things at the same time” – the ideal
candidate. And then, when you further add to this cauldron of personality traits that “Israelis are also very fast to adopt technologies or new trends,” it goes a long way to explain why electric scooters are so prominent on the country’s urban roads.
Its impact on city life is immense, Sapir notes.
“First of all,” he says, “I’d like to think it is reducing the four-wheeled cars in the city, and I believe it has. You can imagine that all the users of these electric scooters gave up other ways of transportation.”
Secondly, he’d like to believe that some people have even given up their private cars thanks to the scooters, “which they can easily fold up and carry on the train or bus and take to the office.”
The popularity, he contends, leads to the third observation, and that is the age ranges of users.
“Before, I would say it was 30 to 45, but now there’s no limit,” he says.
“Young people use it; old people use it — there’s really no limit.”
What’s the inventors favorite scooter route in the city?
“The tayelet from Tel Aviv Port to Jaffa. I always take my visitors there,” he says, referring to the city’s seaside promenade.
“It’s very unique,” he adds. “You have the city on your left and the beach on your right.”
In The Family Way
At a beachside restaurant, the writer coincidentally bumps into again Yair and Lucy enjoying a lavish lunch. Beside their table laden with food are parked unobtrusively their two electric scooters.
Methinks in a few months’ time, when they may be back at the restaurant, adjacent to the table will be in place of the two scooters – one baby pram!
Potential New Israeli Treatment ‘targets’ Metastatic Pancreatic Cancer
ByDavid E. Kaplan
While South Africa’s premier university, UCT makes international news of its proposed boycott of academic institutions in Israel, alumni of Israeli universities are making far more remarkable news seeking to save rather than destroy lives.
The irony is that some of these Israelis who are in the vanguard of groundbreaking medical research are former South Africans!
One such is medical oncologist Dr. Talia Golan, a graduate of the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (TAU) is the head of Sheba Medical Center’s Pancreatic Cancer Center.
While UCT conducts itself at the southern tip of Africa hardly befitting its historic moniker “The Cape of Good Hope”, Israeli researchers headed by Dr. Talia Golan are offering genuine “Good Hope” for some pancreatic cancer patients. A world-renowned specialist and researcher in the field of pancreatic cancer, Dr. Golan is also the director of Phase I clinical trials unit at Sheba’s Pancreatic Cancer Center.
Having immigrated from Pretoria, South Africa with her parents Dr. Alfie and Dr.Myra Feinberg – prominent physicians in their own right – when she was 13 years old, Dr. Golan today is in the front lines of battling pancreatic cancer by striving to find the “magic bullet” that could possibly cure several forms of the disease in the near future.
In 2017, Dr. Golan was already feeling confident. “I believe the changes in the way we treat pancreatic cancer, using new and innovative technologies, will result in the emergence of game-changing drugs in the near future,” adding that “these treatments will target the specific gene mutation that causes the cancer, re-engineer it, and eliminate it as a threat.”
That “near future” may have arrived.
Potential Power of Polo
Last week in June 2019, the research team headed by Dr. Golan at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, announced that a targeted cancer therapy drug they developed together with two of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Merck & Co.Inc. – known as POLO – offers “potential hope” for patients with a specific kind of pancreatic cancer, as it delays the progression of the disease.
“The POLO trial using the medicine Lynparza offers potential hope for those who suffer from metastatic pancreatic cancer and have a BRCA mutation,” explains Dr. Golan. “This treatment also exemplifies the advent of ‘precision medicine’ based on a specific genetic biomarker, BRCA 1 & 2.”
Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most common cancer worldwide, with 458,918 reported new cases in 2018 alone. It is the 4th leading cause of cancer death, and less than 3% of patients with metastatic disease survive more than five years after diagnosis. It is difficult to diagnose pancreatic cancer early, as often there are no symptoms until it is too late. Around 80% of patients are diagnosed at the metastatic stage.
So, what are BRCA Mutations?
“A Huge Thing”
As explained in the research, “BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce proteins responsible for repairing damaged DNA and play an important role in maintaining the genetic stability of cells. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, such that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly, and cells become unstable. As a result, cells are more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer. A significant number of Ashkenazi Jews (European origin) around the world are carriers of the BRCA 1 & 2 genes.”
The POLO study was held with 154 patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer who carried the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic mutations.
“When we saw the results were positive it was an exceptional, phenomenal moment,” said Golan in an interview. “For the field it is a huge thing.”
She added that this is the first Phase 3 biomarker study that is positive in pancreatic cancer and the drug “provides tremendous hope for patients” with the advanced stage of the cancer. “This drug has shown efficacy and a tremendous really phenomenal response in this patient population,” she said.
Light Unto The Nations
At the launch last December during Chanukah in Cape Town of the South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center at the city’s contemporary art gallery, “WHATIFTHEWORLD”, Dr Talia Golan said:
“I’m extremely proud of my Jewish South African roots. Africa is in my soul and it’s an honour to represent Sheba Medical Center, where we work to bring cutting edge care to patients, from IDF soldiers to people of all walks of life in Israel and around the world.”
Yoel Har-Even, Sheba Medical Centre’s Chief of Staff added:
“We are looking forward to strengthening the relationship between the South African community and Sheba Medical Center in Israel. Our goals include formulating programmes that will allow South African students from different spheres of the medical sector to intern and to specialize at Sheba Medical Center, assist disadvantaged communities in South Africa and the rest of the African continent by building bridges with us and ongoing support for Sheba’s highest standards of medicine, research, innovation and technology, transforming medicine in Israel and worldwide.”
Executive Director of the South African Friends of Sheba Medical Center, Naomi Hadar, who had spent the past 17 years as one of the most influential Jewish organizational community leaders in South Africa (IUA-UCF) said:
“It is a privilege to be a part of Sheba’s innovative medical centre, which provides global outreach to communities around the world, including the South African community. As our event in Cape Town took place during Chanukah, we hope to bring light to the South African Jewish community and the African continent as a whole. I am looking forward to helping Sheba make a difference in many people’s lives.”
While Dr. Talia Golan, who left Pretoria at the age of 13, leads the battle to find a cure for Pancreatic Cancer supported by the Jewish community in South Africa, one wonders what will cure the ‘cancer’ gripping South Africa’s political leadership that seeks to alienate the country – diplomatically to academically – from Israel?
Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they spread killer diseases and are often called one of the most dangerous animals on the planet
By David E. Kaplan
Many Israelis are alive today ONLY because of the country’s penchant for finding solutions to existential problems. A classic example is the ‘Iron Dome’ – a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets from 4 kilometres to 70 kilometres away and whose trajectory would take them to an area populated with Israeli civilians.
Its success has been proven in battle. The Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas.
However, there are “populated areas” all over the world under daily threat for incoming aerial attacks of a totally different kind – the dreaded mosquito, and Israeli ingenuity have these critters now firmly ‘in their sights’.
Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history.
It is the most dangerous creature in Africa responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria, dengue and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million on the African continent every year, most of these are children under the age of five.
While the threat in Israel is less lethal, they are super annoying. Who is unfamiliar with them buzzing around your bed keeping you awake all night with their infernal whining sound as they dive into attack like the once-feared WWII German Stuka dive bomber! For those that penetrate your ‘Home Guard” defense system – from protective clothing, mosquito repellents, mosquito killer lamps to even eating garlic – the aftermath of an assault results in bites, itches, endless scratching, and finally sores or what I describe as “my battle scars”!
The best defense against mosquitoes is making sure they can’t get to your skin and an Israeli start-up Bzigo has developed a device that scans and locates the biting insects in a room, sending a message to a phone app allowing you to easily kill them. A future model will be capable of eliminating them as well!
This is like a computer game but for real!
Developed over the three years, the Bzigo device looks like a box the size of a compact smartphone that can be connected to the wall or stand-alone on a flat surface. It uses infrared camera that marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands providing the essential ‘intelligence’ to the disgruntled humans to kill them.
Although the current model only helps locate the mosquito, Bzigo CEO, Nadav Benedek says “we are working a future model that will be able to eliminate the mosquito on its own. In reality, killing a mosquito is the easy part – the real challenge is in detecting them. Mosquitoes are adept at avoiding human vision, attacking us when we don’t notice them. But once you know a mosquito is in the room and see where it landed, killing it is simple.”
The technology is based on an algorithm that can detect the movements of a mosquito with a wide-angle high-resolution camera that constantly photographs the walls and ceiling of a room to locate the pest, before sending a message via Wi-Fi to the homeowner’s smartphone.
The brains behind this potential “Iron Dome” against mosquitoes is Saar Wilf, 45, and company CEO Nadav Benedek, 38, both of whom served in the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200. They are trained to zero in on the enemy and firmly in their crosshairs is the mosquito.
“To date, we have carried out hundreds of tests with live mosquitos,” says Benedek. “At first, Saar would spend hours trapping them with containers and nets, but then we found a supplier from the Emek Hefer region.”
Asked by YNet.news.com why they chose to focus on mosquitos, Wilf replied that “anyone with a technological inclination, has at some point in their life thought to find a technological solution to this annoying problem; we were just persistent.”
Benedek described how growing up in the central Israeli town of Pardes Hana, the home was surrounded by netting and recollects how “my Dad always checked my room before bedtime in summer for ten minutes to find and kill mosquitos.”
The Tel Aviv based start-up assures that its device is safe to use near children, food and in hospitals and although the initial model is made for home use, the plan is to produce a model suitable for industrial use, such as to kill pests on farms and in hothouses.
The device is expected to be available on the market in 2021 and will sell for about $170.
Mosquitoes don’t play fair: They target some people more than others and I am one of them and welcome any addition to my arsenal to take on these critters.
Two Young Israeli engineers introduce clean water to Ugandan community
By David E. Kaplan
Israelis have their eyes on Africa, not to exploit but to enrich.
Such was the motivation for two 26-year-old water engineering graduates Selda Edris and Mayes Morad, both from the Galilee who as students were shocked on discovering the level of poverty in rural Uganda.
“We were amazed by the living condition of the children,” said Morad. “We were exposed to horrible poverty and were shaken to see children shivering when it got cold, barefoot or with torn shoes.”
It was one thing to be “shocked”, but both asked the question:
“Can we do something about it? Can we make a difference?”
Following their graduation it was not the exotic beaches of the far east that attracted these idealistic engineers. Armed with their education, they wanted to volunteer and knew exactly where. The calling was clear; they wanted to help provide a specific Ugandan community with clean drinking water.
So, soon after graduating, Edris, from the Circassian village of Rehaniya, and Mayes from the Druze village of Beit Jann on Mount Meron in northern Israel, joined the HELPAPP organization and set off for a community in Uganda that pulled at their heartstrings. “There were 900 school children from the region that drank water from a nearby swamp that filled up in winter,” said Edris.
Although the three schools in the community boiled the swamp water before drinking, “this was hardly a safe solution” to the young Israelis.
Finding “a solution” proved challenging to the enterprising and innovative young engineers. However, Edris and Morad were finally able to install sinks and taps in the schools and connect them to a proper purification facility. When complete, 900 children had running clean water.
The reality of what they achieved struck home.
“When I saw how happy they were when they just turned on the tap and water came out, I thought to myself,” says Morad, “what in the world would make me, or my nieces and nephews who are the same age as these schools kids, feel so happy?”
The joy in the children’s eyes when they opened a tap to wash their hands and water came out stayed with her. “It’s difficult to imagine that there are children in this world who don’t have the most basic commodity – drinking water – only because they weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the right place.”
For Edris and Morad “Clean water is a basic right for every person in this world – regardless of where you were born.”
After providing a solution to supplying the schools with running water, the two Israelis initiated a Facebook fundraising campaign to buy shoes for many the children who ran around barefoot on the hard-arid African terrain.
We Shall Return
“We’ve helped hundreds of children, but we know there are so many others in other parts of Uganda, who don’t consider drinking water a given,” says Edris. “We want to come back to Uganda and initiate a larger scale operation.”
Ask a young teenager in Israel, the USA or Europe what they most want? The answers would not be even close to the answer a 13-year-old girl gave Edris. “All she wanted was clean water, clothes and an electrical light at home to light up the house when it gets dark. What we take for granted isn’t taken for granted in so many places around the world, and that’s sad. She broke my heart.”
It also broke Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1950s. When the future Prime Minister was appointed Israel’s second Foreign Minister in 1956, Golda announced that a cornerstone of her foreign policy was to reach out to the African states emerging from colonial rule. The rationale for this was lost to many at the ministry. After all, the new countries were often poorer than Israel and facing greater security, environmental and other problems; what could they possibly help Israel with?
“Independence had come to us, as it came to Africa, not served up on a silver platter, but after years of struggle. Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together and how to defend ourselves…. The main reason for our ‘African Adventure’ was that we had something we wanted to pass on to nations that were even younger and less experienced than ourselves.”
That “African adventure” continues today inspiring young and talented Israelis like Selda Edris and Mayes Morad who could not stand idly by in the face of suffering.
Obsessed with Israel, South Africa ‘Downgrades’ into the abyss of absurdity
By David E. Kaplan
While South Africa speaks of downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel, smarter countries to its north like Sierra Leone are benefiting from Israel’s amazing technology. Since March, the Jewish State is providing school children at St. Joseph’s Girls’ School in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown with clean drinking water extracted from the air.
Sound impossible? Not for Israel where the word “impossible” is absent from the Start-Up Nation’s lexicon.
The technology comes in the form of an atmospheric water generator known as the “GEN-350,” and is produced by the Israeli company Watergen which can produce up to 900 liters of water per day.
Situated in Rishon LeZion in central Israel, Watergen was set up in 2009 by entrepreneur Arye Kohavi, a former combat reconnaissance company commander in the Israeli Army.
The technology developed by Kohavi and his cadre of engineers, uses a series of filters to purify the air. After the air is sucked in and chilled to extract its humidity, the water that forms is then treated and transformed into clean drinking water. The technology uses a plastic heat exchanger rather than an aluminum one, which helps reduce costs.
Head Above Water
So, while in 2016 when a water conference to deal with the water crisis in South Africa was nixed because of the participation of Israel – considered the world’s no. 1 expert on water management – other countries in Africa like Sierra Leone are literally ‘tapping’ into Israel’s expertise in water technology.
“Watergen is currently operating in many African countries,” said Yehuda Kaploun, president of Watergen USA, “and even more announcements about other countries in Africa using our machines and technology will be forthcoming.”
With a weight of just 800 kilograms, the GEN-350 is easily transportable and can be installed easily. The GEN-350 units are provided with an internal water-treatment system and need no infrastructure except a source of electricity in order to operate.
Watergen’s efforts to make fresh, pure water available around the globe earned the company its place on the World Economic Forum’s list of the world’s top technology pioneers in 2018.
Yet, South Africa prefers to listen to BDS that says, “Israel water technology is not unique or special; such technology is widely available through other more friendly countries.”
So where are those other counties Lindiwe Sisulu, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation – the wording a clear misnomer – who is championing the campaign to downgrade her country’s diplomatic relations with Israel?
Rather than turn to Israel for help, will Cape Town prefer the dubious honor of becoming one of the few – if not the first – developed cities in the world to run out of water?
Would BDS SA try influence Sierra Leone to follow silly Sisulu’s lead, where water pollution in the West African country is one of the leading causes of death and which has an average life expectancy of 56 years, one of the lowest in the world. Approximately half of the population has no access to clean drinking water, and a little less than three-quarters of urban dwellers have a safe water supply available for use.
Sierra Leone’s water sources – primarily consisting of ponds, unprotected wells and freestanding water – have been contaminated by mining and chemicals used in the agricultural industry. Water-borne infections and parasites have increased the probability of Sierra Leoneans contracting diseases such as typhoid fever and Hepatitis A.
Does BDS South Africa prefer contaminated water than to being contaminated by contact with Israel?
Other than being antisemitic, BDS’s arguments – do not hold water!
There is a line from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ that reads:
“Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink…”
The image is of a sailor on a becalmed ship, surrounded by salt water that he cannot drink.
Today, because of Israeli ingenuity, there is potential water everywhere.
From the remote corners of India and Vietnam, to the palm-lined streets of Miami-Dade County, Watergen is doing what was once thought unthinkable – extracting safe, inexpensive potable water from the air we breathe.
“We created a product that can really be the next major source of drinking water,” says Maxim Pasik, Executive Chairman of Rishon LeZion-based Watergen.
Fired up after his visit to Africa in mid-2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – re-elected this May 2019 – announced that year to the world from the podium of the UN when he addressed the General Assembly, about Israel transforming air into water. He was thinking specifically how Watergen’s revolutionary product could be used in various parts of Africa.
Watergen’s cutting-edge and patented GENius technology provides a low cost, abundant and renewable source of fresh and clean drinking water by extracting it directly from the atmosphere. It is a plug and drink solution, requiring only electricity and no infrastructure. The company has also sought alternative energy sources for areas with little or no electricity.
For every community size, “We can provide drinking water from the air in the most cost effective, efficient manner to produce the healthiest, and cleanest tasting drinking water,” says Pasik. The Large-Scale unit produces up to 6,000 liters of clean drinking water each day, the mid-scale GEN-350 unit up to 650 liters each day, and the Genny home unit up to 30 liters each day, all based on an average temperature of 27°C with relative humidity of 60%.
Providing fresh pure water directly from the atmosphere, “at prices that are up to ten times cheaper than local filtered well water (at developing world prices), we are talking about a game changer formany tens of millions who only have access to contaminated drinking water,” says Pasik.
Regarding rural areas where there might be no access to electricity, the company has come up with a battery-operated solution. Using a reverse osmosis process for filtration and purification, the battery-operated device has a water purification capacity of 1,200 liters a day, so it can serve villages or areas that need water in emergency situations.
With unsafe water being responsible for more death than war, Israeli ingenuity provides a lifeboat. Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.
Watergen hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or accessibility to safe drinking water. “This is a humanitarian issue,” says Pasik. “We would like to maintain peace between people and save people’s lives. The project is priceless and is huge.”
Proud that “this solution comes from Israel,” he adds proudly “This is a Kiddush Hashem (Hebrew for sanctification of God’s name) and tikkun olam (Hebrew for repairing the world)”.
Which only goes to show that sometimes the solutions to problems are staring us right in the face!
Out Of Thin Air
By 2025, two-thirds of the world will face drinking water shortages.
Watergen’s systems can solve this problem and help sustain life moving forward.
If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites are striking water from the air
The noble rhinoceros once roamed the plains of Africa in great numbers. South Africa once prided itself on great numbers of these creatures who attracted many around the world who visited the southern African state to see them as part of their safari experience. Sadly today, these modern-day unicorns are targeted and hunted for their horns; their killers believing the horns have medicinal or aphrodisiacal properties!
Poachers are predominantly from the Far East and as a result of their killing these “Big 5” animals, populations are dwindling at alarming levels and if nothing is done to protect and save endangered rhino populations, they could become extinct.
I cannot imagine a world devoid of these magnificent beasts!
South Africa has the largest remaining population of rhino in the world and is at the forefront of rhino conservation. There are a lot of concerted efforts of the ground to protect rhino populations as well as capture and punish poachers but there is an unlikely hero in this story – Israel.
Rhinos are not indigenous to the Holy Land so how come they are finding a new lease on life and thriving?
The Ramat Gan Safari Park on the outskirts of Tel Aviv has successfully brought rhinos from South Africa.
These horny South Africans are thriving in their adopted country and are managing to breed successfully.
The Ramat Gan Safari Park started their rhino conservation programme in 1974 and to date an estimated 31 calves have been born in captivity. The first baby rhino, born in September 1978 was a girl named “Shalom”. The birth of this little calf coincided with the signing of the Camp David Accords – the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
This rhino breeding programme is part of a global conservation effort to increase rhino populations. The white rhinoceros, also known as the square-lipped rhinoceros, is in the greatest danger. Some 78 zoos are taking part in a European breeding project that so far numbers over 300 rhinos. The Ramat Gan Safari has a larger herd than any in Europe! In October 2018, it was noted that the crash of rhinos at the Ramat Gan Safari currently numbers fourteen.
World renowned South African conservationist, Braam Malherbe, lauded the efforts being made by the Park and believes it is a model that should be implemented globally. As a commitment to breeding this highly endangered species, two young females were imported from Pretoria Zoo in 2012.
In recent years, the park has celebrated the birth of baby Terkel, Tupak, Tashi and Timor, all rare white rhinos born to their South African immigrant mother, Tanda. Calves have also been born to Keren Peles, one as recently as the 30th of December. The baby girl’s name is still unknown, but she made her entrance with a lot of energy and curiosity and decided to venture out of the maternity ward on her own. This was the second calf born to 31-year-old mother, Keren Peles, who was named after Israel’s singer-songwriter.
Celebrations have also been conducted for babies Rami, Kipenzi and many more!
In fact, life for rhinos is so good in Israel that a few have tried to explore the sites for themselves. Rhinos have escaped their enclosures at the Safari Park and have sauntered out into the park or the street – much to the absolute astonishment of passers-by!
These horned South African “olim” (immigrants) do not have to worry about dealing with the challenges that others have to deal with like bureaucracy, language and navigating day-to-day life.
In the quite sanctity of the Ramat Gan Safari Park they are assured that the only place a horn belongs is on a rhino.