Has Amnesty International Lost The Plot?

By Rolene Marks

Amnesty International, used to enjoy a pristine reputation as one of the foremost non-governmental organisations that was at the vanguard of ensuring the rights of the truly oppressed. They raised a proud voice to free icons like Mandela, release prisoners of war and brought human rights to the global consciousness in a noble and erudite manner. They were feted by celebrities who brought social justice to rock concerts, admired by many and set the benchmark for activism.

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Losing Its Way. Amnesty International was founded in 1961 by Peter Benenson, a Jewish British lawyer and human rights activist . As a youth, one of his earliest human rights campaigns was collecting £4,000 from friends and family to bring two young Jews to Britain from Nazi Germany in 1939. One wonders what he would think of his organization’s actions today!

Lately it would appear that this once venerated organization has become a poor excuse of what it once was and has decidedly lost the plot by disproportionately focusing on the Jewish State.

The latest attempt at trying to de-legitimise the Jewish state is the launching of a campaign that targets major travel websites to boycott listing Jewish-owned homes and businesses in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The NGO has released a report called “Destination Occupation” where they claim that Israel has built a significant “settlement tourism industry” which has helped “sustain and expand” communities beyond the 1967 lines.

Amnesty International have online giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor firmly in their sites and accuse them of “fueling human rights violations against Palestinians” in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by promoting Jewish-owned properties and activities there.

It does not stop there.

The report greatly diminishes both Jewish and Christian spiritual connections to historical sites in both areas. Amnesty International accuse Israel of using archaeology “to make the link between the modern State of Israel and its Jewish history explicit,” while “rewriting of history [which] has the effect of minimizing the Palestinian people’s own historic links to the region.” These claims come despite antiquity that supports ancient ties to the land.

Amnesty International would rather have you believe that instead of finding antiquity that is thousands of years old and supports Jewish claims and presence to the land of Israel, it is a ploy to build neighbourhoods in the West Bank. The report goes on to say, “Israel has constructed many of its settlements close to archeological sites…[as] part of an active campaign to normalize and legitimize Israel’s increasing control of [occupied] Palestinian territory.”

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Airbnb Talks With Forked Tongue. Although it says it opposes BDS, Airbnb is still boycotting settlements on the West Bank.

Targeting Israel

With all the other conflicts in the world, including the civil war in Syria that has resulted in genocide, it does beg the question, why is Amnesty International so fixated on Israel?

It could be said that there may be more nefarious intentions. Is Amnesty International giving a tailwind to the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement who by their own admission, advocate for a “Palestine that is free from the river to the sea,” in other words – no Israel? For a “movement” that purports to be human rights driven, this is more like hate-mongering drivel.

This latest Amnesty International report calls for travel websites to boycott only Israeli homes and businesses in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  This is unacceptable and plays into the hands of BDS whose goals are anti-Semitic.

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The ban applies a double standard exclusively to Jewish-owned properties there – twice:

First, it calls for travel companies to remove the properties from their services, while it has never promoted similar bans for every other disputed territory in the world – from Northern Cyprus, Western Sahara and Tibet to Kashmir, Crimea and Gibraltar.

 Second, it treats listings offered by Jews differently than those from Palestinians – despite being in the same area. This violates Israeli law which states that there can be no discrimination based on location of homes of business according to where you live.

Human Rights Watch, another NGO who spearheaded the campaign to coerce Airbnb to delist properties, found out the hard way that when it comes to discriminating against Israel that there are those who are willing to play hardball. No sooner had the Airbnb ban been announced, four attorneys filed a class action suit against the company in the Jerusalem District Court to protest the US-based company’s decision to drop listings in West Bank settlements from its vacation rental website that hosts adverts from 191 countries. The case is based on a 2000 law against discrimination in products and services, which was amended in 2017 to include places of residence.

The law in Israel forbids discrimination based on the place where you live, and what Airbnb has done is by all means discrimination based on the place where you live,” said attorney Aviel Flint, a partner in the law firm Yossi Levy & Co.

This could also likely apply to the other targeted companies who may not want to test the boycott waters. NGO Monitor, who monitors the activities of these types of organisations, exposed the flaws and anti-Semitic intentions of Human Rights Watch in this report.

https://www.ngo-monitor.org/reports/human-rights-watchs-airbnb-campaign-discrimination-and-bds/

Amnesty International may be on the same trajectory to being exposed for its anti-Semitic intentions by expanding to include other travel juggernauts, TripAdvisor, Bookings.com and Expedia.

   Despite its earned reputation as a respected human rights organization, Amnesty International has a documented history of discrimination regarding Israel. Examples include its 2015 rejection of a “Campaign against anti-Semitism in the UK” – the only proposed resolution at its Annual General Meeting that was not adopted; comments by its current Secretary General that Israel is a “government that is rogue” and the head of its Finland branch that Israel is a “scum state”; and the fact that no other country in a conflict zone is the focus of similar Amnesty-led boycotts.

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The Hypocrisy Of Airbnb’s West Bank Ban. The company is selectively applying its rules when it comes to Israel and, in the process, undermining its own values.

Boycott Over Bridges

Amnesty International’s call for a boycott against Jewish-owned homes and businesses in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is the antithesis of what the objectives of a human rights organisation should be. The report endorses boycott over bridges, conflict over discourse and instead of promoting peace and economic partnerships between Palestinians and Israelis, Amnesty chooses to scupper any attempts at normalisation.

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But Amnesty International may be in for a rude shock. This plan also violates US based anti-boycott laws and this once venerable organization could find itself sanctioned and its funding cut. It would appear that when it comes to human rights and being a voice for the oppressed and persecuted, Amnesty International has chosen to take the path of conflict and discrimination.

Clearly Amnesty International has lost the plot. A sad trajectory for this once noble organization.image012 (12).jpg

 

Flush with Success

When Nature Calls – Israel’s P-Pass will tell you where to go ‘under pressure’!

By David E. Kaplan

When you gotta go; you gotta go!”

We’ve all been in this ‘pressing’ situation when nature calls in a town or city in which you are unacquainted with its lavatorial layout.

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Under Pressure. The awkward trail to finding a loo quickly – an all too familiar experience.

Israel, the Startup Nation that is globally recognized as quick to recognise problems in the world and offer solutions have done so again.

Whether you are in New York, London, Tokyo or Johannesburg what could be more important that knowing – when that familiar pressure builds up – where to take a leak.

The country that gave the world WAZE – the Israeli  GPS navigation software app that informs drivers of motor vehicles on smartphones and tablet computers on best travel times and route details, have now come up with P-pass  – a toilet service developed by Israeli students that tells you –  ‘where to go, when you gotta go.’

This will come as a great ‘relief’ for those whose bladders are bursting.

It’s all evolving in Tel Aviv with its enviable reputation as  “The city that never sleeps” – and therefore has to provide urinals that need to be on active service 24-hours a day.

In a current trial period, tourists and locals in Tel Aviv are using P-Pass where by just a click of a button, finding where to pee is so much easier.

The P-pass bathroom-finding service also informs users which businesses and eateries are open to those who suddenly need to relieve their bladder.p

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Calling Card. “Thank G-d for my P-Pass,” says this relieved Tel Avivian.

Innovation is about solving real problems and we found not knowing where to pee to be a major issue,” 31 year-old Tal Elharar, a female and one of the student-entrepreneurs behind the P-pass service told NoCamels.com – a leading news website covering breakthrough innovation from Israel based at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Everyone has to go,” says Elharar. “When you’re a tourist, you don’t always want to go into a restaurant or business and ask to use the bathroom. Or, you feel you need to buy something that you don’t really want just so that you can go to the bathroom.”

Partnering Elharar are her fellow MA students in Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion – Ariel Rozenberg, Tal Leibushor-Dahan and Shlomit Joy-Goren.

The P-pass mission, says Elharar, “is to provide quick and easy toilet access to users and potential profit to retailers, transforming it from a usually awkward activity to social responsibility.”

In the same way as consumers in shops usually end up buying more than they planned, toilet uses passing through a shop or restaurant may well broaden their original horizon.

Going to “do my business” may translate into actual “business”!

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No Kidding. If children need to go, parents need to find a place and quickly.

I’Loo’minating The Way

The P-Pass gives new meaning to the term “peebrain”. These Smart students hit on the “pee patrol” concept as tourists in Europe. “Finding a place to visit the lady’s room in a foreign city became a time-consuming mission when there was no reason it needed to be,” said Elharar.

In January 2019, the P-pass entrepreneurs ran their first pilot of the service in the Carmel Market and Jaffa Flea Market areas of Tel Aviv.

Tourists paid $1 for the four-day trial that afforded them a “reward card to pee wherever they wanted” at any of the participating 30 businesses that collaborated with P-pass, Elharar told NoCamels. “We proved that there is a real need to know where to go when you gotta go and that people are even willing to pay for that convenience.”

Gearing up to launch a second pilot in March, the innovative foursome want to be ready for the 64th Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Tel Aviv in May, when the lines to toilets could could be at bursting point. After all, some 20,000 visitors are expected to crowd Tel Aviv for this year’s international song competition.

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Gladder Bladders

Elharar says where better to initiate the service than in Tel Aviv. “We aim to make the world a better place in answering the call everyone needs answered.”

The Fab Four are graduating soon and “we’re meeting with investors. Tel Aviv is just the beginning; we’re planning on expanding our service and App to all major European cities starting with London, Amsterdam, and Budapest,” she says.

If all goes as planned, the app will eventually offer premium services that will inform folk on the prowl with pressing needs, where the cleanest toilets are and where to find three-ply softness.

As always, Israel “aims” to please!

 

 

Seinfeld – Magnificent facilities

The Israel Brief – 11-14 February 2019

 

The Israel Brief 11 February 2019 – Ori Ansbacher murder, antisemitic US Congress woman and Labour primaries

 

 

The Israel Brief 12 February 2019 – Iran and Israel and free trade? Apology from Ilhan Omar? Labour party gets a new lease on life?

 

 

The Israel Brief 13 February 2019 – Netanyahu in Warsaw – are relations warming with Gulf states? Hamas and Fatah to meet? Did Bibi just give away a secret?

 

 

The Israel Brief 14 February 2019 – IDF warns Hamas could spark war, US official on Iran and exiled Shah says relations between Israel and Iran could be friendly one day.

 

 

Salvation Road

If Israeli AI Startup Waycare is significantly reducing car crashes in Las Vegas,  it can help save thousands of lives on South Africa’s deadly roads

By David E. Kaplan

Christmas should be a time of rejoicing not mourning. Not so this last Christmas in SA, where it was more about roads to hell than stairways to heaven!

There were almost 800 dead on South African roads in just 18 days in December 2018.

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Head-On Collision. The frequency of road accidents in South Africa is nothing short of terrifying.

According to transport minister, Blade Nzimande in his mid-festive season road-safety report, KwaZulu-Natal had the most deaths (162) followed by Gauteng (125); Limpopo and Eastern Cape had 89 fatalities each, while Mpumalanga had 82, the Western Cape 81, the Free State 78, the North West 57 and the Northern Cape 24.

The minister noted that although the Northern Cape had the fewest road deaths, the province had the highest percentage increase of 71%, followed by Free State with 53% and KwaZulu-Natal with 46%.

I have been extremely concerned about the high number of public and freight transport vehicles involved in fatal crashes so far in the festive season. When these vehicles get involved in crashes, the number of fatalities increases phenomenally,” said Nzimande.

While Nzimande has in the past advocated severing links between the University of Johannesburg and Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) – where Nelson Mandela had accepted an honorary doctorate – he should have a serious rethink.

As Mandela acknowledged BGU’s groundbreaking work in uplifting Africa in combating desertification and in finding solutions for agriculture under harsh conditions, the Minister of Transport should display similar foresight and take Las Vegas’ lead and win for South Africa – not at gambling tables but on its roads.

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Reducing Risk. Israeli Startup WayCare, takes charge of Las Vegas Roads

The Lottery of Life

An Israeli startup leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics has helped the city of Las Vegas dramatically improve road safety and reduce vehicle crashes by some 17% on a stretch of one of its busiest and most dangerous stretch of highway.

According to a recent report  in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a year-long pilot programme between Israeli-founded company Waycare, which developed an AI-driven mobility platform for traffic data management, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP), has yielded impressive results for traffic management and reduction of car accidents along a stretch of northbound Interstate 15 in the city, near the Las Vegas Strip.

 

Waycare is shaping the future of city mobility, enabling cities to take full control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation.

Waycare’s platform enables municipalities to capitalize on the immense amount of data coming from various transportation modes, including connected and autonomous vehicles, to improve traffic safety and proactively manage the city’s roads.

Responding To Surprises

As misfortune would have it, visitors to the giant CES consumer tech conference and exhibition in Las Vegas in February 2018 arrived just as the city had its first rainstorm after a record 116-day dry spell. The torrent brought grease to the surface of the streets, causing skidding and numerous accidents.

For the Israeli startup WayCare it was an especially challenging day, and came out tops.

That’s because WayCare’s traffic monitoring sees and reacts to everything relevant happening on Las Vegas’ roads and providing real-time solutions.

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Traffic-Monitoring Tech Making Cities Smarter & Safer. A municipal traffic-control center monitoring data on the roads. (Photo courtesy of Waycare)

It does this by taking data from an elaborate network of sensors on stoplights and security and traffic cameras and combining it with information on the weather and data from navigation apps such as the Israeli GPS navigation software app Waze (bought by Google) and GreenRoad (also Israeli technology). It even uses ticket sales from TicketMaster to forecast crowd sizes at sports events and concerts.

How’s that for up to the second real-time information?

Not only knowing what is happening everywhere, WayCare can use the continuously incoming data to predict the likelihood of a traffic jam and what areas are at risk for accidents and to respond:

    – by changing the timing on traffic lights

    – opening and closing roads

    – altering messages on road signs

    – sending out instructions to police officers.

Before the use of WayCare, it was controllers who would view images from over 700 cameras across the city and make decisons based on what they were seeing, assess the risk of traffic building up or an accident occurring. Now it is done automatically, including an assessment of the risk.

“When a controller receives an accident warning through our system,” says the CEO and a Co-Founder of Waycare Technologies Noam Maital, “he creates a report that includes a video, clicks on the report and sends it automatically to the relevant party. A traffic cop who is linked into the system, now knows exactly where he needs to go, including what lane and how the accident looks. Even before he arrives, he can decide whether he needs more police or to call an ambulance or firefighters.”

Way To Go

Using Waycare, enables cities to take control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation. Its technology collects historical and real-time data from both

In Las Vegas, for example, Waycare identified areas of high-risk along the stretch where the programme was implemented, and alerted transport agencies where and when to take preventatives measures. A report revealed that “91% of drivers traveling at over 65 MPH, reduced their speed to below 65 MPH in the area where preventative measures were deployed.”

Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) general manager Tina Quigley is most upbeat. “Groundbreaking partnerships like this,” she says, “enable Southern Nevada to continue to lead the way in leveraging advanced technologies to dramatically improve traffic safety and efficiency.”

“The latest statistics coupled with the fact that we are identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with the Waycare platform helps translate what public and private partnerships can do and that AI is working to modernize and create a better transportation system for all,” she added.

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Road Visionaries. WayCare’s CTO Idan Han, CEO Noam Maital and CIO Shai Suzan. (OFIR ABE)

Streetsmart

The results of the Nevada pilot programme proved “a clear signal that AI and deep learning, when deployed in collaboration with traffic management and enforcement agencies, can have a dramatic impact on improving the safety of even our busiest and most at-risk freeways,” asserts Waycare CEO Noam Maital.

“Traditionally, law enforcement relied on anecdotal evidence to determine where to deploy resources to respond to traffic related issues,” said Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Solow from the Nevada Highway Patrol in a statement. “Now, with the technology that Waycare has brought to Southern Nevada, the Highway Patrol can proactively deploy units into an area when the system identifies a high likelihood of something happening and prevent crashes before they even happen. This translates into significantly faster treatment for those injured in crashes, quicker clearance and restoration of normal traffic flow, and a saving of untold millions of dollars in commerce related delays that are prevented.”

Nevada state officials said they plan to use the programme in other areas of the Las Vegas Valley. Waycare CIO Shai Suzan confirms that the company has signed multi-year programmes across the state.

Waycare is also running a pilot program in Tampa, Florida where there is “cross-collaboration among the city’s traffic management department as well as police, fire and dispatch agencies, all of which are focused on improving safety and gaining efficiencies,” according to a Government Technology report.

A city official confirms that the Israeli company’s pilot programme’s success is “mainly because Waycare relies on so many different types of feeds that it gets information fast, and it can verify that information better than most other agencies that require a little bit more manual interaction.”

The Road Ahead

On the 21st December 2018, shortly before Christmas, a headline in a South African newspaper read:

It’s a bloodbath as South African road fatalities soar

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Bad News. South Africa, where road accidents are everyday news

The article quoted transport minister Blade Nzimande saying that

“what stands out quite glaringly is that many vehicles involved in fatal crashes had a high number of occupants…”

It is a pity that what does not stand out glaringly to the transport minister is how Israeli Smart Mobility technology could have prevented many of those fatalities and can help save South African lives in the future.

Its not too late to take the proverbial ‘turn” and take the high road to a safer future.

 

The Israel Brief – 04 – 08 February 2019

The Israel Brief 04 February 2019 – MSA “Terrorists in suits” report, Bibi may head to Morocco and where are the anglos on the Likud list?

 

The Israel Brief 05 February 2019 – USA State of Union, UK Labour Party antisemitism and Likud primaries.

 

The Israel Brief 06 February 2019 – UNHRC singling out Israel, what Trump said in speech and Likud primary results

 

The Israel Brief 07 February 2019 – UK antisemitism rising, US blocks UN statement vs Israel and IDF responds to rocket fired

50 Shades Of Gray

Rhino conservation is sexy

By Rolene Marks

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.

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Safe & Secure. Ramat Gan Safari Park, Tel Aviv

Born Free

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.

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Israel Provides Lifeline For Rhinos. A three-week-old White Rhinoceros stands next to her mother Tanda, 25, at the Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv. (Photo: Jack Guez / AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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Out Of Africa. His passport stamped, a new immigrant from South Africa arrives in Israel 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!

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Rihanna Begat Rami. Israel’s zoo in Ramat Gan welcomed a baby rhinoceros in February 2017 named Rami, born to a rhino named Rihanna. Read more: https://forward.com/fast-forward/362544/meet-israels-super-cute-newborn-baby-white-rhino-his-moms-named-rihanna/

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.

Israel Leading A Slaughter-Free Revolution For A Healthier World

The world’s first lab-grown steak is served up in Israel

By David E. Kaplan

For lovers of meat, the alluring sizzling aroma is all too familiar. It peaks as you enter a steakhouse; frequently even before entry -like a culinary aphrodisiac titillating the taste buds as you decide – T-bone, fillet, rump or sirloin.

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Steak Out. World’s first lab-grown steak is made from beef but slaughter-free

What a salivating choice!

What if that choice included a steak that hailed from a laboratory rather than a field?

Believing that meat is one of life’s pleasures to be celebrated and enjoyed without the downsides to health and the environment, Aleph Farms in Israel, aims to offer “superior, healthier, slaughter-free meat,” providing a new customer experience.

Aleph Farms was 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 – Israel Institute of Technology.

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LEADING THE SLAUGHTER-FREE MEAT REVOLUTION FOR A HEALTHIER WORLD

Made from cells that were isolated from a cow and grown into a 3-D structure, the first lab-grown steak was served up in Israel. The steak’s “chef” – Aleph Farms – says “it represents a benchmark in cellular meat production,” that could quite literally shape the future of food by producing cell-grown meat that resembles free range meat.

However, will it “meat” the expectations of steak lovers?

The image of a waiter walking towards your table about to serve a ‘laboratory concoction’ rather than a ‘kitchen creation’, might not titillate the taste buds at first, but then that can change.

It may well be that the ‘lab’ steak is no less “sumptuous”!

The proof will be in the proverbial ‘pudding’ – or steak!

In a world where meat production is increasingly under scrutiny from consumers and citizens who feel that certain practices are unethical and insensitive to farm-animal welfare, the announcement of slaughter-free meat has been welcomed. While there are other companies in the race to produce lab-grown meat, they are mostly burger patties, sausages and nuggets. Aleph Farms, on the other hand are going for a carnivore’s ‘gold’ –   STEAK.

This revelation has tongues not only wagging, but wanting to taste.

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Can You Spot The Difference? Aleph Farms’ Technology Will Change Cultured Meat.

Not Yet On The Menu

The steak will likely not become commercially available for at least three to four years, and while this writer has not tucked into one of Aleph’s steaks, a video shows a group of people – among them Aleph’s vice president of research and development, Neta Lavon, enjoying the steak alongside a tomato and zucchini pasta.

And to the obvious question of price – as volume increases, it should be on par with traditional meat within a few short years.

Most of the companies working to produce lab-cultured meat have focused on ground meat and nuggets. “Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms.

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Appetite For Creating A Better World. Didier Toubia, founder of the start-up Aleph Farms in Ashdod, Israel, aims to have its first products on the market in three years.

Toubia conceded that Aleph’s steaks are still “relatively thin” – only 5 mm thick.

However, the steak is said to have the same texture as conventional meat, and it gives off that familiar beef smell when cooking.

Easy Eater

It will ease many a consumer knowing their favourite food on their plate did not come from an abattoir.

Toubia believes that products like Aleph Meats’ steak can help bridge the divide between people who are unwilling to give up meat entirely and the need to reduce global meat consumption in the fight against climate change. “Today, over 90 percent of consumers do eat meat,” says Toubia, “and we think the percentage of vegetarians will not grow significantly despite many launches of plant-based products.”

Lab-grown meats are a welcome alternative to animal-sourced meats.

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Bon Appétit. The steak was made using a variety of cells extracted from a cow

While this development is unlikely to convert die-hard vegans as these products include starter cells derived from animals, they may recognise the positive benefits. Even Louise Davies of the UK’s Vegan Society noted “the potential that lab-grown meat can have in reducing animal suffering and the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”

So, even if it still “isn’t vegan”, Lab-grown meat may prove a sustainable alternative requiring significantly less land, water, and feed than traditional beef farming.

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Worth Waiting. This thinly-sliced steak prototype took between two and three weeks to produce.

It remains to be seen what impact lab-grown steaks can have on the world. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye on what’s ‘sizzling’ over at Israel’s Aleph Farms.

 

 

The Roots of Peace

By Rolene Marks

There is something that is quite phenomenal when women bond. Women can connect in a way that is unique and on a different level to their male counterparts. So, imagine the possibilities of what could happen when you bring together women from very divergent backgrounds!

One Man’s Vision

Israel is a country of simplicities and complexities and gorgeous diversity. This is a country that has gathered in exiles from over 80 different countries and has rich and diverse minority communities making up roughly 24% of the population and contrary to what many of her detractors would have you believe, they enjoy full and equal rights as citizens with representation in the Knesset (parliament).

But Israel, being a country filled with paradox, means that sometimes there are chasms between the cultures and creative ways to break down barriers is exactly what is needed.

David Moatty, Director of WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) Afula Community Centre had a vision. What would happen if he brought together women from different cultural backgrounds to bond over something creative – painting?

The result was “The Olive Tree”.

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Fostering Friendship. Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Circassian women in Israel come together in a creative project to portray the olive tree as the symbol for peace and friendship.

The Olive tree has long been a symbol of peace. Its roots (pun very much intended!) stretch all the way to biblical times and are an iconic image for the Abrahamic religions. In Judaism, the olive tree and its oil, symbolises justice and mercy, and according to the Christian gospels, olives are symbols of sacrifice and love. In the Quran (the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God), it is written that the olive tree is the “world’s axis and the symbol of the universal humanity of the Prophet’.

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UNbelievable. Art from Israeli women of diverse religious backgrounds exhibiting together at the UN in Vienna.

Bonds of Friendship

They came from a variety of different backgrounds and ages with a common interest – to create art and perhaps make a friend or two. Women from all cultural and religious groups – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Circassian and originally from places as exotic and diverse as Romania, Lithuania, Argentina, the Caucasian mountains and with a local flavour that included Nazareth, Umm-Al Fahad and Tiberius. Thirty-five women, aged between 17 and 80, painted glorious portraits of olive trees and weaved bonds of friendship that will last a lifetime.

The project is sponsored by a host of European WIZO Federations that include France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.

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Bonding Together. World WIZO Chairperson, Prof. Rivka Lazovsky with Muslim participant.

Through their mutual love for art, the women have fostered an environment of tolerance and sharing. Olive trees make no distinction between cultures and art is a universal language and this is evident in the exquisite portraits painted by the women. Each picture tells a story and transports you through their personal journeys.

Mali Schneiderman from Kfar Saba was seriously wounded in a car accident ten years earlier. Painting has helped her to heal and regain both her physical and mental health.

Hana Rozenstein, a Holocaust survivor, has painted her “Tree of Peace” in gratitude to the beautiful country she calls home. Sharing her story with the Arab women in the group has brought her a tremendous sense of joy, and Shuzanna Abu-Masoud, the sixth child in a religious, Muslim family, dedicates her painting to her mother who adores the multicultural contact between Jews and Muslims.

Uniting Nations

It is not just the paintings and their talented artists that tell a story. This project with its roots firmly grounded in tolerance and altruism, has found itself warmly received all over the world – even in the halls of the United Nations, where it has been showcased both in Geneva and Vienna.

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State Of The Art. Participants gather at the exhibition and reflect on their pursuit for peace through their art.

Mention of the UN is guaranteed to raise the blood pressure of every Israeli as the institution seems to have a disproportionate amount of focus on the Jewish State but the Olive Tree project is living proof that accusations of practices of Apartheid and trumped up resolutions are figments of the imagination. The real work is done on the ground between Israel’s citizens. This is where peace is negotiated.

The Olive Tree project has recently been renamed “Shutafot le Derech” and the journey that it has inspired has not just been a tour of the world  – helping to tell Israel’s stories of diversity and tolerance that are so seldom heard but do exist – but also healing.

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Message To Mankind. The exhibition at the UN is an example of cross-cultural cooperation.

It is here amongst the women, amongst the unbreakable bonds of friendship, where the roots of peace are firmly planted.

 

 

Coca Cola Cozying Up To Clover

Israeli consortium bids for South African food & beverage behemoth

By David E. Kaplan

Contrary to those half-witted South African politicians who advocate keeping their distance from Israel, are the astute in the country’s business community who think the positive opposite. The operative word is “THINK” as this week reveals a proposed marriage of South Africa’s beverage giant Clover with Israel’s Coca Cola.

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The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Bnei Brak, Israel. (Nir Keidar)

Of course, a deal is only a deal when all is signed – but why keep this news ‘bottled’ up – when the champions for enterprise and entrepreneurship in both South Africa and Israel are so enthused to see ‘golden’ opportunities above ground rather than the usual mineral subterranean variety.

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‘Clover’ an iconic brand in South Africa.

 

Heading a consortium called MilCo, Israel’s Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) submitted a bid to acquire control of Clover, in a deal that values the South African public traded company at $359 million (NIS 1.3 billion). The consortium is offering the SA food producer’s shareholders R25 per share, which will amount to 59.5% of the SA food producer.

Interestingly, while Clover traces its history back to 1898 with farmers meeting in the lush pastures of the Natal Midlands to discuss the establishment of a butter factory, only a year earlier in 1887, 208 delegates met at a hotel in Basel Switzerland where the modern Zionist movement was birthed under the chairmanship of Theodor Herzl.

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Delivering The Goods. Early Days as the precursor to Clover, the Natal Creamery Ltd. starts its milk distribution from Pietermaritzburg in 1902.

Trajectories of both affirm that with determination, passion, grit and self-belief, the impossible becomes possible.

While Clover Industries produces milk and juices, has 8,000 employees and owns 13 production facilities throughout South Africa, the Central Bottling Company is the fourth largest manufacturer of consumer products in Israel. It owns a number of leading brands, headed by Coca Cola Israel, Tara Dairy, and other beer and soft drink brands.

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….and Today. Clover delivery trucks in their multitude.

Eran Elsner, who manages the Central Bottling Company’s overseas business, said, “The Central Bottling Company group believes that its activity is synergetic with the activity of the company in South Africa. There is a reciprocal contribution of knowledge and experience between the Central Bottling Company group and the overseas companies, which is channeled towards innovation and business development, while providing added value to consumers, who are always foremost in our considerations.”

Other members of the MilCo consortium are Ploughshare Investments, which will buy 10.9%, and IncuBev, which will buy 8.3%. The latter is an international business focused on the food and beverage sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.

A barometer of the excitement following the announcement, Clover’s share price jumped 19% to R23.80 on Monday morning after the JSE opened.

At the same time in Israel, CBC, whose subsidiary companies serve more than 160-million consumers worldwide, made the following press release:

CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of beverages and, through its foreign subsidiaries, has manufacturing and distribution operations in Turkey, Romania, and Uzbekistan. CBC, which is also the owner of the Tara dairy, Israel’s second-largest milk processing dairy, produces and distributes its own brands and Müller brands, and it operates the license for the Müller brand in Romania.”

CBC also owns Gat Foods, a “grove to table” juice operation with customers in more than 70 countries. In addition, CBC works closely with its international franchisors, including The Coca-Cola Company, Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Müller Group and Diageo.

Further South African participation in the bid is Brimstone Investment Corporation (Brimstone) cementing its plans to further expand into the food sector.

“In addition to a long history of being one of South Africa’s most popular brands,” says Brimstone CEO Mustaq Brey, “Clover runs South Africa’s largest chilled and frozen goods distribution network and is well placed for further expansion. This made it an attractive investment proposition for the foreign direct investment which South Africa desperately needs if we wish to achieve the economic freedom our country deserves.”

Brey added that all of Brimstone’s investments are geared towards transforming the South Africa’s economy by creating shareholder value on a sustainable and responsible basis. “In this transaction, MilCo is adopting an owner-operator approach and a long-term investment horizon with a view to grow the dairy category as a whole, thereby benefiting local farmers and other suppliers throughout the value chain.”

Building for the Future

Clover has a “strong portfolio of brands and best distribution system in South Africa,” said Richard Izsak, CBC’s chief of staff and Israel Country Manager and Strategic Planning Director for The Coca-Cola Company’s Eurasia Group. “We want to build the company for the long term.”

While foreign takeovers of South African listed-companies have been a rarity in recent years, State President Cyril Ramaphosa has made clear that international investment is a centerpiece of his plans to revive the economy. The challenges are immense – weak economic growth and high unemployment and as warned by the US and the UK, “ongoing corruption scandals are a barrier to investment” as recently reported in South Africa’s Sunday Times.

This is not deterring Israel that has faith in South Africa.

Regarding the economy, says Izak, “CBC is investing for long term, even if there are some ups and downs in the short term.”

It’s the more the “downs” than “ups” that are keeping away much foreign investment, however Israel is ready and willing to invest.

Despite political currents and the diplomatic obstacles, the “Startup Nation” continues to enjoy a prosperous relationship with South Africa.

“South Africa is a country of unquestionable business potential,” said the head of the Israeli Economic Mission to Southern Africa Amit Lev in 2018 to the SA Jewish Report. “While it can be difficult at times, the trade relations between South Africa and Israel are mutually beneficial and have potential to improve both countries significantly.”

Noting that Israel’s trade with South Africa is low relative to business engagements with other countries – accounting for only 1% of overall trade – Lev expressed that “with the right approach and resources, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the markets of both Israel and South Africa.

Lev discounts the impact of BDS as a challenge for business. While these threats must be addressed, “our success stories outnumber such problems.”

There are many advantages to carrying out business in South Africa. “Besides being a portal to the rest of Africa,” said Lev, “the country has a growing economy, a sophisticated banking system which is compatible with Israel’s, and it is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group.

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South Africa-Israel – Working together for a better future

“Also, the country is a top agriculture producer, and the issues it is currently facing regarding water are ideal for the implementation of business infrastructure and solutions from Israel. Israel has so much to share with South Africa in the water, hi-tech and agriculture sectors, and the opportunity for Israel here is immense.”

Reflecting on the economic achievements Israel has notched up in the past 70 years, “Now is the time for Israel to mature its economic sector and move into its next 70 years of success. By creating multinational corporations, growing its trade network around the globe, exposing itself to more opportunities and inviting others to be a part of the growth, Israel can be enhanced and make giant steps in this magical movement of economy.”

While the business relationship between South Africa and Israel is promising, the Coca Cola bid for Clover indicates that the future could be even more promising.

ANC politicians – take note!

Turning Non-Arable Lands Into Fruitful Fields

With Israel in the vanguard of making deserts bloom, read latest report from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry how it has literally planted the seeds of its AgTech success.  This may well be of Interest to South African farmers as the Israel Trade Office will  be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. Charles Abelsohn contributed to this report by the Ministry of  Economy & Industry.

 

 

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Field Of Dreams. Technology in Israel Spans Multiple Sectors.

 

Even prior to statehood, Israel’s pioneers set out to cultivate the land, tackling the challenges posed by limited natural resources by setting up agricultural communities such as kibbutzim and other farming cooperatives to ensure that any future state would flourish. The country also took it upon itself to fulfill the dream of its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, by making the desert bloom, developing agricultural techniques for arid regions which would turn non-arable lands into fruitful fields.

Over 70 years later, Israel is now tackling some of the 21st century’s biggest global challenges – including feeding a planet with an ever-growing population – with a thriving AgTech sector that is carrying on the country’s longstanding tradition of integrating ingenuity and innovation with cutting-edge agricultural techniques.

What helps explain Israel’s global renown as an AgTech powerhouse? Israel’s strong tech ecosystem, coupled with its deep historical focus on agricultural resourcefulness, has provided the perfect setting for the AgTech sector to flourish. Underscoring the Israeli government’s commitment to supporting AgTech innovation, the Israel Innovation Authority offers R&D support for promising AgTech companies, granting between 20%t to 50% of approved R&D budgets to aid the development of new products and technologies.

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Fertile Ground

One of Israel’s greatest success stories in the field is Netafim, a company founded in the Negev Desert in 1965. The company rocketed to international prominence with the introduction of the world’s first commercial drip irrigation system. Now the world’s foremost irrigation company, Netafim remains a global leader in sustainable farming and crop management solutions, operating in 110 countries with 4,300 employees, 29 subsidiaries, and 17 manufacturing plants. Netafim’s innovative solutions played a pivotal role in putting Israeli AgTech on the map, setting the stage for a slew of new companies in the field, including 750 active startups and other firms in the food tech and AgTech sectors, with $189 millionin food tech and AgTech investments in 2017. With a focus on biotech, crop protection and irrigation methods, AgTech investors see the Startup Nation as fertile ground for some of the most inventive technologies and solutions in the sector.

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Simcha Blass

Simcha Blass is more than deserving of the title “Father of Modern Drip Irrigation”. Simcha Blass (November 27, 1897 – July 18, 1982) was a Polish-Israeli engineer and inventor who developed the modern drip irrigation system with his son Yeshayahu. Instead of releasing water through tiny holes easily blocked by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways by using velocity to slow water inside a plastic emitter. The first experimental system of this type was established in 1959 by Blass who partnered later (1964) with Kibbutz Hatzerim to create an irrigation company called Netafim. Together they developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter.

Modern drip irrigation has arguably become the world’s most valued innovation in agriculture since the invention in the 1930s of the impact sprinkler, which offered the first practical alternative to surface irrigation.

Today, Netafim manufactures and distributes crop management technologies, including monitoring and control systems, worldwide. To put things into perspective, Netafim controls over 30% of the global drip irrigation market in the world and the company’s recorded revenues were over $822 million in 2015.

Says South African farmer Bruce Nicholson, “I’m new to Netafim Drip system; I’m actually got a passion for it now. Where before my average yield was 87 tons per hectare, now, the same sugar cane fields are yielding  over 110 tons per hectare – this is a huge inspiration for anyone.” Furthermore,  using special probes with the system “it tells you when your profile is full, so that if you go over the profile you are wasting energy. With this system our energy savings is pretty on-the-nail.”

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Among the country’s hundreds of cutting-edge companies:

  • Taranis is a leading AI-powered precision agriculture intelligence platform that uses sophisticated computer vision, data science and deep learning algorithms to identify crop threats on a granular level, enabling farmers to effectively monitor fields. The system allows farmers to increase crop yields and create a more sustainable farming ecosystem through intelligent insights and oversees millions of acres in Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
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The Young And The Smart. Going places is Israeli precision farming company Taranis.

Evogene is a biotechnology company aimed at improving crop performance using a unique computational predictive biology platform. The company’s platform leverages big data analytics to generate deep insights to help improve crop yields, combat diseases, and protect against pests. Clients include Syngenta, DuPont, Monsanto, and Bayer.
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ADAMA Agricultural Solutions is a global crop protection company, with an innovative fungicide mixture for soybean rust. The company is the first global crop protection company to be publicly traded on the Chinese stock market.

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The Middle And Far East Connection. The new R&D Center complements ADAMA’s operational hub in China, which includes its new formulation facility in Huai’An and Sanonda facilities in Jingzhou. Together with ADAMA’s advanced operational hub in Israel, the new Center is a cornerstone for positioning ADAMA as the world’s leading Global-China crop protection company. ADAMA’s customers will benefit from the best of Chinese and Israeli R&D, formulation and manufacturing, which will allow the Company to bring differentiated products to farmers around the world quickly and efficiently.

While Israel’s AgTech success has played a key role in supporting the country’s growth and development, its benefits are borne out around the world: from Africa, where farmers are harnessing Israeli drip irrigation technology, to China, which inked a $300 million trade agreement that will boost exports of Israeli energy and agricultural technologies, and beyond. China isn’t the only country looking toward Israel to make great leaps forward in agricultural solutions: Israel has also built partnerships with developing countries including India and Vietnam, leveraging the country’s deep expertise in the sector to integrate AgTech solutions and train local farmers in efficient, sustainable methods of crop production and irrigation. In Africa, the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, recently launched an initiative, Tikkun Olam Ventures, that will link local communities to Israeli AgTech solutions, with an eye toward aiding 5,000 farmers over the next five years.

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Sustainable Sudan. Mashav, Israel’s international development agency is helping to provide African nations with sustainable agriculture.

With a robust innovation ecosystem and a storied history of creative agricultural solutions, there’s no telling what new Israeli AgTech solutions will take root in the years to come.

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Drip Irrigation. Helping to grow food in parched globe.

 

The Trade Office will be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. For more information, please email Johannesburg@israeltrade.gov.il

 

Southern Comfort. Israel’s Netafim Drip system explained by South African farmer Bruce Nicholson and revealing his experience with the system. “Even our fertilizer is put through the drip system.”