Information and news on israel

IsraAID Responds to Global Crises
Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the nonprofit organization IsraAID responds to global crises, such as natural disasters and poverty, and sends teams of volunteers to help those in need. After its founding in 2001, IsraAID responded to crises in over 50 different countries. Its expertise in crisis relief includes emergency aid distributions, pinpoint trauma support and prevention training for local government and non-government professionals. These are some of the global crises IsraAID has responded to:

Typhoon Ketsana in the Philippines

IsraAID sent its first mission to the Philippines after Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. Working in collaboration with local partner Operation Blessing International, IsraAID dispatched a team of nurses and doctors to assist in the emergency medical operations. In 2013, another typhoon devastated the Philippines, killing over 6,000 people, injuring more than 28,000 and affecting over 16 million people overall. IsraAID responded within 48 hours with its medical team on the ground less than four days after the event. It spent the first three days of its efforts assisting the local health workers in one of the many hospitals the typhoon had destroyed. After that, IsraAID spent the next two years operating with the local government, instigating programs in medical support, psychotherapy and the rebuilding of the fallen cities.

Earthquake in Nepal

After a major earthquake left Nepal in ruins back in 2015, IsraAID sent a team to help the local police force locate survivors and provide emergency medical treatment. This was a relief to the local authorities and medical personnel outnumbered by the number of injuries and the chaos that ensued. Working alongside the authorities and an emergency response from the Israeli Defense Forces, IsraAID volunteers risked their lives to save and treat the survivors who the rubble had trapped. IsraAID not only provided the immediate essentials of food, water, shelter and medical aid to the Nepalese but also focused its efforts on long-term recovery via farming, fishing and a new supply of clean water. It also provided psychosocial services to the victims, helping them cope with and build resilience in the wake of the tragedy.

The Dadaab Refugee Camp and Famine in Kenya

Since 2007, IsraAID has been sending emergency relief teams to the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya—the largest refugee camp in the world—to aid the victims running from violence and famine. Later in 2011, when a drought caused one of the worst famines to ever strike the Horn of Africa, IsraAID returned to Kenya with a distribution of food and relief items for the refugees and locals still suffering from hunger and chaos. It also offered that same assistance to the people of Turkana, Kenya’s poorest county. IsraAID has maintained a steady presence in Kenya since 2013, helping those in poverty and the refugee camp with medical treatment, water management and psychosocial support.

Refugee Crisis in Greece

During the refugee crisis in 2015, IsraAID responded by sending a team of volunteers to Greece. Special mobile units provided immediate medical and psychosocial aid, distributed supplies and identified particularly vulnerable groups, such as children. IsraAID volunteers also rescued refugees whose boats had capsized and provided sleeping bags to anyone who had to sleep on the ground. Throughout the crisis, the volunteers provided food, clothing, medicine and hygiene kits to the refugees, as well as psychotherapy training to the local government and non-government professionals so that it could better care for the traumatized population.

Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico

After Hurricane Maria devastated the Puerto Rican population in 2017, IsraAID responded with a Spanish-fluent team of psychosocial and medical support, as well as experts in water and sanitation. At the time, the country’s poverty rate was 43.5 percent and the unemployment rate at 10.3 percent, on top of 95 percent of the populace losing electricity as a result of the storm. IsraAID provided emergency relief programs in the distribution of food, water and basic supplies, medical treatment and mental support. The team then shifted focus to long-term recovery and implemented a system to provide water and sanitation to the people of Puerto Rico.

The aforementioned countries and many others have benefitted greatly from IsraAID’s support, and IsraAID responds to global crises to this day. The organization has even established ongoing training programs for water management, psychosocial services and other relief efforts in the countries listed above, as well as in Japan, South Korea, Haiti, Jordan and South Sudan. As IsraAID responds to global crises, those in need have a chance to lead better lives.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

Five Israeli Charities
Despite its successful economy, Israel’s poverty rate is higher than average at 21 percent of the population below the poverty line. Many families in this percentage struggle for food and basic necessities, even with Israel’s government programs meant to assist the underprivileged. Fortunately, several nonprofit organizations within Israel devote themselves to helping the poor. Here are five Israeli charities that break the poverty cycle.

Yad Eliezer

One of Israel’s top poverty-relief charities, Yad Eliezer has provided for Israel’s poor for almost 30 years. At its founding, it intended only to deliver monthly baskets of food to families in need. Since then, the organization has grown to encompass 19 social service and economic programs devoted to aiding over 18,000 Israeli families per year. These programs include the distribution of food, clothing and household items, as well as job training and child education. Its efforts for economic recovery and social welfare have broken the poverty cycle for over 20,000 families living in Israel permanently.

Yad Ezra V’Shulamit

Another well-known charity among Israelis is Yad Ezra V’Shulamit and it also began as a hunger-relief charity in 1998. Today, it provides food to thousands of Israel’s poor. While food delivery remains a focus of the organization, it has since expanded its efforts towards humanitarian services, focusing on individual empowerment through tailored rehabilitation as well. These services include academic tutoring, after school educational programs, professional guidance and activities for at-risk teenagers. The extracurricular programs offer assistance in building self-confidence and ultimately future success, subsequently bringing these individuals out of poverty for good.

Leket Israel

Leket Israel is the country’s leading food rescue organization. Emerging in 2003 under the precursor name Table to Table, Leket Israel saves and collects the surplus of agricultural harvests and cooked meals, then distributes them to families in need. In doing so, it ensures that excess food does not go to waste and removes the problem of food insecurity. Members of its staff make sure that hungry families in Israel receive healthy, nutritious produce and meals and that the food is up to par with safety regulations. Today, Leket Israel is the largest food distribution network in the State of Israel.

Lev Lalev

Based in Netanya, Israel, Lev Lalev focuses on feeding and sheltering disadvantaged Israeli children. Primarily a Girls Orphanage and Children’s Home, the Lev Lalev Charity Fund provides the girls with not only food and shelter, but also individualized therapy, mentoring, tutoring, clothing and summer camp activities. The organization also supports the girls through adolescence and adulthood, arranging religious and cultural events for them, such as Bat Mitzvahs, graduations, weddings and meals for religious holidays.

Meir Panim

Meir Panim is a relief organization that runs multiple projects to ensure that no Israeli suffers from hunger and existential distress. Meir Panim runs soup kitchens, restaurant chains, children’s programs that offer academic assistance as well as food, activities to promote distressed youths and food packaging programs. In addition, it provides food cards and redistributes furniture and second-hand equipment to people in need.

In short, these Israeli charities have helped and saved thousands of people from poverty. Donation funds from Israeli citizens, as well as some of the organizations’ international branches, allow these charities to continue their good work and break the poverty cycle for yet more individuals and families in need.

– Yael Litenatsky
Photo: Flickr

https://pixabay.com/photos/jerusalem-worship-history-holiday-597025/
Multiple Middle Eastern countries and the Mediterranean Sea surround the State of Israel. The nation declared its independence in 1948 after the British cabinet ended its rule of Palestine and the United Nations failed to partition the area into Arab and Jewish States due to dissent from Arab groups. The day after the establishment of the State, this disagreement escalated into a civil war known as the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Since Israel’s inception, conflict and bloodshed have plagued its history, including the Six-Day War in 1967 and Operation Badr in 1973. Yet today, Israel is the only democracy and technologically advanced economy in the Middle East. Reports show that Israel ranks high in various health indicators, especially life expectancy, yet there are still concerns for the nation’s well being. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Israel will provide insight into the country’s current state.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Israel

  1. Israel ranks 13th in worldwide life expectancy and research projects it to be seventh by 2040. The life expectancy at birth for Israeli citizens is 82.3 years, which is higher than the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and other highly developed nations. Many expect the lifespan of Israelis to increase as the country tackles issues such as air pollution.
  2. Israel’s infant mortality rate is lower than the average in the developed world. Up to one year after birth, Israel sees 3.4 deaths per 1,000 births and five maternal deaths per 100,000 births. These low rates can be attributed to Israeli’s highly regarded doctors, most of which train in the U.S. and then return.
  3. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid. Since World War II, the United States has provided Israel $142.3 billion in foreign assistance, most of which is military assistance. In 2016, the two countries agreed on a 10-year plan that provides Israel $38 billion in military aid. This includes $500 million in missile defense, including $70 million for the Iron Dome, which directly helps protect Israeli citizens from regional threats that endanger their lives
  4. Israel guarantees health care to all citizens as a fundamental right. A national health insurance law passed in 1995 provided universal coverage. In 2015, benefits such as psychotherapy and medication improved the provision of mental health care. Thus, no citizen suffers from an inability to access health care, which greatly improves life expectancy. For instance, the chance of dying from heart disease, stroke, cancer or diabetes at ages 30-70 is among the lowest in the world.
  5. Israel’s mandatory military service increases male life expectancy. In 2016, a study published by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel discovered that mandatory military service for men over the age of 18 leads to improved physical fitness and adds more than three years to life expectancy.
  6. Diet contributes to Israel’s long life expectancy. Israelis generally adhere to the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and fish.
  7. Despite high life expectancy, Israel faces a shortage of doctors and nurses. A report published by Israel’s Ministry of Health found that the nation’s numbers of doctors, nurses and hospital beds are declining. For every 1,000 people, there are only 3.1 doctors, placing Israel below the average of other OECD countries. As a result, doctors are immigrating from North America to lessen Israel’s shortage
  8. Poverty could also threaten life expectancy. An estimated 22 percent of the Israeli population lives below the poverty line. High housing and commodity prices exacerbate this issue, an increasing concern for many Israeli citizens. Although only .03 percent of the country is homeless, only a small number qualify for social services due to stiff criteria. As a solution, the OECD recommends increasing competition and efficiency in the economy, as well as investing in infrastructure and promoting skills, especially among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. Therefore, Israeli leaders are calling for reforms to increase competition in the banking sector and boost the supply of housing.
  9. Gender equality can help reduce Israel’s poverty. One report from the OECD found that more female participation in the workforce can reduce economic inequality. Mark Pearson, the author of the report, said, “More women in work really does seem to have an effect on inequality.”
  10. Terrorism remains a constant, looming threat to Israeli lives. Since 1948, the total reported number of casualties from terrorist attacks include 3,705 killed and 14,736 injured. To help solve this constant threat, the country deployed the Iron Dome, an air defense system, in 2011, and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion began a conscript army, the Israel Defense Forces, in 1948.

These 10 facts shed light on how factors such as Israel’s health care system and lifestyle contribute to its high life expectancy, while also highlighting areas for improvement. The life expectancy of Israel’s neighboring countries provides extra context for these facts, such as Egypt at 70.5 years. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Israel reveal why, despite recent challenges, the nation is an ideal model for other unstable Middle Eastern countries to strive toward and ensure longer, healthier lives for their citizens.

– Adam Bentz
Photo: Pixabay

Humanitarian Crisis in GazaIn early July 2019, presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren told a group of activists that “she would push to end the Israeli government’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza,” according to Mike Brest of the Washington Examiner. Senator Warren’s comments stray from her record as a vocal Israeli and AIPAC supporter, but her comments are important to the 2020 democratic presidential campaign as she is one of the, if not the first, democratic candidates to mention and wish to assist the Gaza Strip. As the 2020 presidential campaign moves forward, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza deserves more attention.

The Gaza Strip Blockade

Since 2007, Israel and its chief Arab ally, Egypt, have enforced a complete air, land and water blockade of the Gaza Strip in response to the Strip’s controversial election results. In Gaza’s first major elections, Hamas, a U.S. State Department recognized terrorist organization since 1997, won control of the Strip causing Israel to immediately impose sanctions. After Hamas forced its political rivals out, Fatah, Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade of Gaza to prevent further hostile actions from the Gazan government. In the 12 years since its implementation, “more than 1,000 Palestinians have died as a result of the ongoing blockade,” according to Al Jazeera in early 2018.

According to Al Jazeera, “Gazans continue to face a desperate situation because of the blockade with water and electricity shortages as well as a lack of medicines and doctors.” The heinous conditions in Gaza have resulted in the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an accredited independent organization, to declare the Strip “the world’s largest open-air prison” in mid-2018. The NRC also reported that “a 2012 U.N. report predicted [the Gaza Strip] would be unlivable by 2020” for the predicted population of 2.1 million Palestinian. Despite the U.N. report, the conditions have not improved in Gaza as “1.9 million people are confined [by the blockade], 84 percent require humanitarian aid, [and] 41 percent have too little food,” according to the NRC.

The United States and the Gaza Strip

Although the controversial blockade has continued for over a decade, U.S. politicians have rarely discussed the horrific conditions in the Gaza Strip. The U.S. has largely ignored the situation in Gaza, which has allowed it to perpetuate and worsen, but Senator Warren’s recent comments could point towards a possible advancement. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza deserves more attention, and some U.S. politicians could be bringing more light to the crisis.

The 2012 U.N. report on the Gaza Strip made its results very clear by stating that the Strip would be “unlivable by 2020 if nothing was done to ease the blockade.” For the situation in Gaza to improve, Israel and Egypt must end the blockade, or at the very least loosen it. The United States is one of the only nations that holds the power to bring improvement to the region due to its special relationship with Israel and Egypt.

According to USAID, the United States gives almost $370 million in aid to Egypt and nearly $3.2 billion in aid to Israel annually. America’s close and special relationship with both countries give the situation in Gaza hope. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza deserves more attention, and if more U.S. politicians speak against the horrible environment in the Gaza Strip, the additional pressure could potentially ease the blockade and improve the region. The devil is in the details when discussing the Palestinian-Isreali conflict, but improvement is possible if the humanitarian crisis in Gaza receives the attention it deserves.

– Zachery Abunemeh
Photo: Flickr

Diplomacy in the Middle East
In a time clouded by violent Middle Eastern conflicts, the spotlight is focusing on how quickly the U.S. can militarize these regions. However, it is important to take note of diplomacy in the Middle East. The following is a list of the U.S.’s current diplomatic efforts in the Middle East and the ones it could potentially make in the future.

The Iraq-U.S. Alliance

Iraq is proving itself to be a key alliance for the U.S., as America seeks to put an end to the Islamic State of Iraq. The importance of preserving this alliance is more vital now than ever. To nurture this alliance, U.S. aid goes to the government of Iraq in the hopes of helping the country attain its domestic goals. This aid will hopefully allow Iraq to respond to pressing matters such as finding living quarters for the displaced and putting reforms in place to meet the needs of its people. As Iraq continues to stabilize domestically, it will help both the U.S. and Iraq militarily by giving them the ability to build up their security forces.

Natural Disasters in Iran

In 2019, a flood struck Iran which resulted in over 60 deaths and only succeeded to add on to the country’s existing troubles. The country was already in an economic crisis as a result of President Trump’s decision to impose secondary sanctions. While the Trump administration has been harsh in its stance toward Iran, there are steps the U.S. can take to aid Iran in its recovery.

Many developing countries, like Iran, constantly face under-preparedness for natural disasters which then adds to its existing financial pains. If the U.S. were to aid Iran in preparedness by providing access to better weather monitoring technologies, the country would be better equipped to handle natural disasters. To help Iran accomplish this and save lives, the U.S. government could consider creating a new general license to allow for access to this technology.

Military and Economic Aid to Israel

Israel has been a longstanding ally of the U.S. In fact, America sends Israel over $3 billion in military and economic aid each year. Through strong diplomatic relations with Israel, the U.S. prevented radicalism movements in the Middle East. Israel also provided the U.S. with valuable military intelligence. The U.S. remains committed to this alliance, and as of August 21, 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development released a statement indicating that it would be increasing efforts to create employment opportunities and stable communities in Israel. The U.S. also committed to continuing to provide “water, education, technology, science, agriculture, cyber-security and humanitarian assistance.”

Humanitarian Efforts in Syria

After President Trump’s targeted airstrike, humanitarian efforts in Syria have begun to garner interests again. The airstrike was in response to Bashar Al-Assad’s usage of chemical weapons on his people. Since the airstrike, the U.S. discussed different ways to aid Syria through helping displaced refugees, coordinating with other countries and giving more aid. People consider the crisis in Syria to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times.

If America wishes to aid Syrians in this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. could make it easier for Syrian refugees to enter the country. Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, the U.S. has only accepted 20,000 refugees. There are still millions of Syrians in need of resettlement. The U.S. could also provide insight and intelligence to countries that are dealing with refugees on the frontlines. Countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan need help learning how to deal with a mass influx of refugees.

While the world has shown more interest in U.S. militarization, the U.S. government demonstrated its interest in facilitating diplomacy in the Middle East, indicating that diplomacy in the region is never off the table.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

Access to HealthcareThe West Bank is a region of Palestine but has been occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War in 1967. Due to this occupation, as well as the West Bank’s landlocked location, citizens often struggle to gain access to healthcare. Without sufficient medical resources, individuals living in the West Bank are subject to higher infant mortality rates, untreated psychological ailments and the risk for chronic disease to become acute. Despite these barriers, both physical and political, there are Israeli and Palestinian organizations working to aid people most at risk in the West Bank including women, children, elderly, disabled and the rural poor.

Five Obstacles in Access to Healthcare

  1. Mental Health Stigma: Mental health in occupied areas is an immediate and crucial concern, but it is often stigmatized by locals and, therefore, is unaddressed and unrecognized. Of the patients who manage to get access to a medical practitioner, adults will frequently complain of PTSD related symptoms like headaches, generalized weakness and palpitations. Children are also overlooked when it comes to mental health. According to the Palestine Medical Relief Society (PMRS), an NGO working to increase access to healthcare, 54.7 percent of children in a sample of 1,000 have experienced at least one instance of trauma. Despite the high rates of trauma in children, however, parents are often unaware and unable to recognize the signs of PTSD present in their children like nightmares, insomnia and bedwetting. Instead, they assume the symptoms are normal child behaviors.
  2. Infant Mortality Rates: Children are at a high risk of death when there is impaired access to medical services. World Bank data shows the infant mortality rate in the West Bank and Gaza is 18 per 1,000 live births and 21 per 1,000 live births for children under 5. Compared to Israel’s three and four live births per 1000 respectively, these are extremely high numbers and show the direct consequences of poor healthcare access.
  3. Limited Access to Essential Drugs: In an article about Palestine, the World Health Organization notes that for people low on the socio-economic scale, healthcare expenditures are one of the most financially burdensome household expenses. The unavailability or unaffordability of medicine enormously impacts patients dealing with a chronic disease like hypertension, asthma and diabetes.
  4. Long Ambulance Rides: Numerous military checkpoints and barriers physically obstruct the ability of ambulances to bring patients from the West Bank to hospitals in Israel. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, wait times at checkpoints can last up to 15 minutes. For a patient in critical condition, delays like these can hinder their ability to get the right medical treatment in time.
  5. Revoked Treatment in Israeli Hospitals: A recent declaration by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to cease funding in Israeli hospitals means that many patients, especially those in poor rural areas, are unable to gain access to healthcare. There are few other options available for these individuals to seek treatment, especially those living in poor areas that cannot incur travel costs.

NGOs Improving Access to Healthcare

Healthcare access on the West Bank is limited due to a number of interrelated reasons. In order to make it more accessible to those who are most affected, NGOs have been developed in both Palestine and Israel. In particular, the Palestine Medical Relief Society was founded in 1979 to aid the most vulnerable members of society. They have a mobile clinic program that includes a first-aid training program to help people gain access to healthcare in remote areas.

Another prominent NGO is Physicians for Human Rights (PHR). Founded in 1988 by Israeli physicians, this organization focuses on humanitarian aid and policy change. Furthermore, there are volunteer medics who provide free services to people with limited or no access. PHR serves more than 20,000 individuals each year.

Both of these organizations recognize the importance of addressing the fundamental issue through and data collection, policy and education, and they are working to improve access to healthcare on the West Bank.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Wiki

Aid to the Palestinians
A school abandoned and torn down. A sewage system shut off and covered in asphalt. These are just two of the projects that the U.S. is in the process of shutting down as it cuts almost all foreign aid to the Palestinians. Previously, the U.S. was a top donor to the Palestinians, giving $5 billion since 1993. However, the government announced an intention to cut off aid last year, 2018, in order to put pressure on Palestinian leaders to accept the administration’s peace plan, which it is set to announce after Ramadan ends in early June. USAID has laid off all but 14 of its employees in the Palestinian territories, an 85 percent reduction in staff. Aid that funded anti-terrorism programs has also been cut.

Concerns Over Aid Cuts

Many people in the Israeli government supported these aid programs, both for humanitarian reasons and for the benefits they provided to Israeli national security. Dana Stroul, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Daniel Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, wrote in an article for NPR that “Israeli authorities understood that a breakdown in security, an economic collapse or a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank would place an enormous burden on Israel…The Israeli national security establishment remains painfully aware that it will face the burden – financial, security, and otherwise – of addressing a full-scale collapse in the West Bank or Gaza if the U.S. steps away or loses all influence and credibility with the Palestinians.”

The Israeli government opposes cutting aid, calling on the U.S. government to amend the law that resulted in the cuts. One Israeli security official said that “[i]f the law doesn’t change and no solution is found…[t]his will harm a top priority Israeli national security interest.”

Others Provide Aid

In the U.S.’s absence, others have stepped up. A week ago, the European Union announced that it would be giving an additional 22 million euro ($24.6 million) in aid to the Palestinians. The new aid package will focus on health care, food security and safety for vulnerable families.

In addition, the government of Qatar pledged to give $480 million in aid to the Palestinians. While the U.S. and Qatar have allied historically, these countries have had a strained relationship recently, with Qatar defying U.S. sanctions to provide aid to Turkey. The Qatari government has frequently come under fire for human rights abuses.

The good news is that there are ways to restore these programs. In addition to following the Israeli government’s recommendation to amend the law cutting aid, Stroul and Shapiro have several more solutions. The U.S. could specifically allocate money to complete currently unfinished aid projects, such as the school and sewage system mentioned above. Congress could also pass current bills aiming to improve aid to the Palestinians. One of these is the Palestinian Partnership Fund Act, which aims to connect Palestinian entrepreneurs with potential business partners in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Moreover, the U.S. is considering renewing aid. Last month, six senators proposed a bill to restore aid to the Palestinians. “[R]efusal to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people is a strategic mistake,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), one of the bill’s sponsors. “Denying funding for clean water, health care and schools in the West Bank and Gaza won’t make us safer. Instead it only emboldens extremist groups like Hamas and pushes peace further out of reach.”

– Sean Ericson
Photo: Flickr

Start Up Nation 
Out of the ashes of World War II rose a small, independent nation situated on the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1948, the nation of Israel has become a great leader in innovation and technology. In just 70 years, Israeli settlers have transformed the country’s desert landscape into lush green gardens by high-tech agricultural methods. With a population just over 8.5 million, Israel has earned the nickname “Start-Up Nation” which rose to popularity in 2009 after Israeli author Dan Senor’s book.

MASHAV Providing Humanitarian Aid

Since 1958, Israel has been committed to providing humanitarian aid through the Foreign Ministry’s Center for International Cooperation and provides more assistance to more than 140 countries. MASHAV helps alleviate hunger, disease and poverty by providing technology and training to places all across the globe including Cambodia, Guatemala, Albania and Ethiopia.

Since 1959, MASHAV has been sending Israeli eye-doctors to countries throughout the developing world to help combat preventable blindness and ocular disease. It has also introduced Israeli drip-irrigation systems to sub-Saharan African countries to aid in providing water to more regions, especially during times of drought. MASHAV has also started a project called Indo-Israel Agriculture Project, which teaches farmers throughout India new agricultural methods.

The Pears Program for Global Innovation

Israel has made it a priority to assist developing countries through entrepreneurial efforts. The country has “the largest number of startups per capita in the world, 1 startup for every 1,400 people.” One example is a company called The Pears Program for Global Innovation, which aids people affected by poverty by supporting Israeli innovators and companies that create technology-based, financially sustainable solutions.

The Pears Program is responsible for several innovations that could have a lasting impact on the world. For example, through its support to the Mosteq company, Israel has found a way to sterilize mosquitos, which could significantly lower, and eventually, end the spread of diseases like malaria. The company, Soapy, has invented smart capsules containing soap and water to facilitate hygiene in countries where sanitation is an issue or there is little access to clean water.

Ideas for the Future

According to Technion International, “Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than Europe, Japan, Korea, India, and China combined.” What is the secret that makes Israel so ingenious and resourceful? “At the heart of this combined impulse is an instinctive understanding that the challenge facing every developed country […] is to become an idea factory, which includes both generating ideas at home and taking advantage of ideas generated elsewhere,” says Senor in his book “Start-Up Nation.”  Furthermore, Israel values education, which helps to foster innovation.

Idea generation has become the backbone of Israeli society. It has allowed the country to thrive in a desert ecosystem, deliver aid to thousands of countries and defend itself from outside attacks. According to the New York Times, “Years of dealing with terrorist attacks, combined with an advanced medical technology sector, have made Israel one of the nimblest countries in disaster relief.” Other humanitarian programs in Israel are continuing efforts outside and inside the country, like Ziv Hospital, which has treated more than 2,000 Syrian refugees who have crossed the border seeking urgent medical attention.

The Israeli Innovation Authority estimates that, over the next decade, there will be a shortage of 10,000 engineers and programmers in the high-tech sector. Although this gap allows for future economic growth, it is a big concern for policymakers. Who will fill these gaps? Will Israel continue to be the Start-Up Nation of the World? Hopefully, Israel’s commitment to entrepreneurship in developing countries will come in handy and create more jobs within the country for migrant workers.

Grace Klein

Photo: Flickr

Education in Israel
Although Israel as a whole is a highly educated country, its Arab minority does not fare as well in attaining higher education. Arabs and Jews typically attend separate schools, and the state education budget is unevenly skewed towards funding Jewish schools. Unequal access to education has long term consequences and in most cases result in poverty and unemployment of Arab minorities.

An Educated Nation

Education in Israel is treated with importance. Consequently, the nation is a leader among OECD members for the percentage of citizens completing tertiary education. According to the 2013 OECD publication, 46 percent of Israelis aged from 25 to 64 hold a post-secondary degree, well above the group’s average of 32 percent. Additionally, Israel’s population is younger than the average. Over 42 percent of the population is younger than 25, providing a continuous stream of students and young professionals that are entering the workforce.

A precursor and important supplement to tertiary education in Israel is mandatory military service. Conscription begins at the age of 18, lasting three years for men and two years for women. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is structured into different units, with conscripts sorted among them based on military and technical aptitude. The most prestigious IDF unit is the Talpiot, noted for its scientific innovation. It combines military service with rigorous science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, giving its participants transferrable skills for university education and preparing them for the job market.

Challenges in Education in Israel

Primary education in Israel tends to be highly segregated. This segregation is representative of Israel as a whole as, according to Foreign Policy Magazine, 90 percent of Arab-Israelis live in all Arab communities. Separating children by ethnicity and religion limits their ability to learn about one another’s culture firsthand.

In addition to learning in isolation from their Jewish counterparts, Arab-Israeli schools receive less funding and do not meet the same educational benchmarks. Whether measured in standardized test scores, high school graduation rates or university matriculation, Arab-Israelis consistently lag behind. One of the more startling statistics regarding education in Israel is the per-pupil funding figure that can be almost 88 percent lower than that of a Jewish student. Furthermore, Arab-Israelis are not required to serve in the IDF, depriving them of the vocational training Jewish soldiers receive.

Consequences on the Country

Poverty in Israel is high compared to other Western industrialized nations and especially pronounced among Arabs. While poverty rates are decreasing, nearly half (49.4 percent) of Israel’s Arab population lives below the poverty line. Lack of education and underemployment plays a key role in Israel’s poverty rate, as over half of the poor families are working families.

Poverty creates a bad environment and makes people prone to crime, and the poverty present in Arab communities contributes to higher crime rates than Israel’s average. Most alarming is the increase in violent crime, including weapons violations and assaults. According to a 2018 article published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Arab citizens were involved in 40 percent of violent offenses and in 60 percent of the murder cases in the country, despite only comprising 20 percent of Israel’s population. As many Arab-Israelis feel marginalized socio-economically, some resort to violence as a means to make ends meet.

Solutions to the Problem

Both the Israeli government and nongovernmental organizations are working to ameliorate the educational gap between Arabs and Jews. One nongovernmental organization called Hand in Hand that serves as a center for Jewish-Arab education in Israel strives to bring Arabs and Jews together in the classroom. According to the organization’s mission statement, it currently operates in six schools, with the goal of expanding in at least 10 schools and 20,000 pupils in the next decade.

In terms of governmental reforms, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett pushes for both increased spending and a curriculum overhaul. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israel’s 2019 education budget of around $140 billion will surpass its defense budget. This is an astonishing development for a country that faces a vast array of security threats in its immediate vicinity.

Addressing the academic gap between Jewish and Arabic students, Bennett urges Arab schools to emphasize Hebrew and English instruction claiming that its absence is a barrier to future employment. The future of education in Israel depends both on integrating Arab students with their Jewish counterparts and addressing the structural problems present in underperforming schools.

– Joseph Banish

Photo: Flickr

Facts About Human Rights in Palestine
The history that created Israel, Gaza and the West Bank is not brief. The tensions can not be simply put as they require delicate unpacking and care. Until 1948, these three regions were all Palestine; following the Arab-Israeli War of 1947-1948, the land was divided between Jewish Israelis, whose ancestors began migrating to the area in the 1880s, and the Palestinian Arabs whose ancestors had lived in the region for hundreds of years. The dispute over ownership has since led to continued conflict.

Palestine/Israel Conflict

Jewish Israelis lay claim to the land based on a promise from God for a safe haven from widespread hostility to their faith. Palestinian Arabs, whose majority are Muslim but also include Christians and Druze, contest that they are the rightful inhabitants due to the length of their ancestors existence on the land.

Palestinians have been displaced to two regions, Gaza and the West Bank. Under the Oslo peace accords signed in 1993, Gaza was turned over to the newly created Palestinian Authority, to form one wing of an emerging Palestinian state, along with the West Bank and a potential land corridor between them. But two different parties rule these two regions — the militant Hamas controlled Gaza and Fatah ruled the West Bank.

These tensions run deep, and conflict persists. The Israeli government continues to enforce severe and discriminatory restrictions on Palestinian’s human rights, and Palestinian security forces continue to treat their own people with disrespect. Here are the top 10 facts about human rights in Palestine/Israel.

10 Facts About Human Rights in Palestine/Israel

  1. The Israeli government restricts the movement of people and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip. Israel continues to maintain a decade-long effective closure of Gaza, as does the region’s neighbor, Egypt. This imposed border imposes restrictions that limit the supply of water and medical care as well as educational and economic opportunities. These blockades restrict exports and cripple the economy leading to exacerbated and widespread poverty. Approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance.
  2. Israel’s parliament has given itself the ability to dispossess Palestinian’s of their land. In February of 2017, the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, passed the Regularization Law allowing Israel to take control of private Palestinian land on which they have profited from building settlements for Israeli settlers.
  3. Preferential treatment is given to Israeli settlers in the West Bank. In 2017, Israeli authorities destroyed homes and other property, and forcibly displaced hundreds of Palestinians while continuing to provide security, administrative services, housing, education and medical care for about 607,000 Israeli settlers residing in unlawful settlement housing built in the West Bank. The discriminatory practices also include the rejection of almost all building permit applications submitted by Palestinians.
  4. Feuds between Gaza’s two main governmental parties has led to periodic shutdowns of its only power plant. Disputes between Fatah and Hamas concerning responsibility for paying the plant’s fuel has led to frequent loss of electricity in Gaza. Power outages jeopardize water supply, interfere with sewage treatment and cripple hospital operations.
  5. Thousands of Palestinians have been imprisoned, on what Israeli authorities call “security grounds,” without charge or trial. The majority of these prisoners are overwhelmingly Palestinian. As of November 1, 2017, Israeli authorities incarcerated 6,154 inmates. In April and May later that same year, hundreds of Palestinian prisoners spent 40 days on a hunger strike seeking better conditions.
  6. The two leading Palestinian political groups — the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — have arrested and mistreated activists critical of their leaders, security forces and policies. The Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine received 205 complaints of torture and ill-treatment by Palestinian Authority security forces and 193 similar complaints against Hamas security forces.
  7. Torture perpetrated by the Palestinian police and security forces remain common. In September 2018, a 16-year old boy and another detainee died in unclear circumstances in a Hamas-controlled detention center. Instances of torture have been carried out with impunity in both the West Bank and Gaza.
  8. Security forces use excessive force to disperse protests. Palestinian security forces have used excessive force to violently suppress peaceful protests in the West Bank. On March 12, 2018, at least 13 men and eight women were injured. Seventeen people were hospitalized during a protest outside of the Ramallah District Court. Despite the Prime Minister’s commitment to upholding recommendations made by a Fact-Finding Commission to follow government regulations on the dispersal of protests, none of the officers responsible for the violence were brought to justice.
  9. Women and girls continue to face discrimination is both law and practice. The violation of women’s human rights in Palestine is most clearly seen in the inadequate protection of women and girls against sexual and other gender-based violence including “honor” killings. In 2017, at least 28 women and girls were reported to have been killed by male relatives in honor fashion. Article 308 of the Jordanian Penal Code allows those who commit rape or sexual assault to escape punishment by marrying their victim.
  10. Capital punishment has been used in Gaza. Six people were executed in 2017 after civil and military courts sentenced them to death for their “collaboration with Israel” and other offenses. In May, Hamas executed three men in a public square in Gaza city after a trial that lasted only one week (consisted of four brief sessions).

Supporting Humanity

Violence committed with impunity is a trait of no one creed but man; both Israelis and Palestinians violate the human rights of each other and themselves. These top 10 facts about human rights in Palestine/Israel and their total violation do little justice to what it is to live under the weight of so much hate.

“We are of one blood you and I.” This sentiment is as true between the people of Palestine and Israel as it is between those reading this and those suffering from the things discussed in this list. Showing indifference to hate allows it to flourish. Do not support representatives and policies that excuse indifference to crises such as what is happening in Palestine/Israel.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr