Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Jul 9 2010

The politics of holidays

An interesting email message was sent the other day to a senior Israeli journalist by the press office of the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv. Under the headline “Greece will always remain beautiful” waited a PowerPoint presentation of some of the most stunning and tempting beaches of the Aegean islands, together with the classic touristic highlights of the mainland.

A Greek beach (photo: Revital Mozes)

A beach in northern Greece (photo: Revital Mozes)

Timing was no coincidence. Soaring temperatures and baking-hot afternoons in the eastern Mediterranean mean that the soundest thing to do is to look for a relaxing refuge. But this time around, due to the sinking relationships between Israel and Turkey, the holiday map is being redrawn, with all players trying to cash in. (more…)

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May 12 2010

Happy to join the club

It is not every day that some of Israel’s harshest critics raise their hands in favour of the Jewish State. So on Monday when Norway, Ireland, Turkey and the 28 other members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) officially accepted Israel as a fully fledged member, Israelis felt that they might be doing something right after all.

Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz

The OECD has hailed “Israel’s scientific and technological policies” that have produced “outstanding outcomes on a world scale”. Despite huge waves of immigrants from underdeveloped countries in the past six decades and even though a constant security threat has drained a large portion of the annual budget, Israel apparently boasts a much healthier economy than many of its new colleagues.

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Apr 24 2010

Israel’s new-found energy

For years Israelis have watched their oil-rich Arab neighbours and envied their abundant energy supplies and the political clout that they bring. More than 400 onshore and 25 offshore oil wells have been drilled in Israel since the 1950s – all to no avail. But recent developments are prompting some to think there could be a new natural gas kingdom – and a Jewish one at that.

Offshore natural gas drilling

Offshore natural gas drilling

A report just published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) suggests there may be 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the area between Israel, Cyprus and Lebanon. That is more gas than the whole world consumed and produced in 2008, and according to the agency, it is “bigger than anything we have assessed in the United States”. According to these estimates, only half of the potential gas belongs to Israel and then there’s the problem of how to drill for it successfully and carry it to shore. (more…)

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Mar 13 2010

America’s secret weapon against Iran

The American flag used for ceremonial receptions at the Ben Gurion airport must be worn out already, as a slew of Obama administration officials and US military top brass are visiting Israel almost on a daily basis.

Joe Biden (photo: Munich Security Conference 2009)

Joe Biden (photo: Munich Security Conference 2009)

The list of dignitaries stopping by in the last two months alone includes national security adviser Jim Jones, CIA director Leon Panetta, Senator John Kerry and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Michael Mullen. Topping them all off is Vice President Joe Biden, who finished his five-day visit last Friday.

The hunch that something big is going on is underscored by the simultaneous high-profile visits in Washington of Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak (in February) and of Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of general staff (right now).

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Mar 11 2010

The fur ban

Brigitte Bardot is not a frequent lobbyist in the Israeli parliament, so her three consecutive letters to Knesset members, urging them to approve an all-out ban on the fur trade in Israel, seem to have left their mark. “All the world’s eyes are turned towards you”, wrote the French animal rights activist and former actress, adding flatteringly: “I am personally counting on your help”.

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot

Bardot’s foundation is just one of many international animal rights organisations watching closely as Israel prepares to pass a bill that would make it the first fur-free country in the world.

Already hailed as “an historic event”, the bill will ban importing, producing and selling of fur and fur items from all mammals, except for fur on shtreimels, the fur-trimmed hats worn by married ultra-orthodox Hassidic Jewish men. While each of those hats is made of no less than 24 fox tails, their wearers number only a few thousand.

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