Wednesday, June 26, 2019

EXPO 2020 DUBAI - Israel Participates

Video Of The Week - Israel's Virtual Embassy in Gulf States -

 Expo 2020, scheduled for October next year in Dubai.
From J.Post - BY MORAN ZAGA, JUNE 22, 2019 -

 While Israel was excited to host the Eurovision competition in May, in the Arab Gulf States, international events are held almost on a daily basis. One of the most prestigious of them is Expo 2020, scheduled for October next year in Dubai. The Expo ranks as the third most important global event after the Olympics and the World Cup (slated for 2022 in neighboring Qatar). While 132 states had signed up for the fair as of August 2018, Dubai’s leadership continued to debate Israel’s participation. On April 2019, Expo organizers issued a festive statement saying all countries “without exception” were welcome to attend. “For more than 170 years, World Expos have been apolitical events focused on furthering humanity for the common good through innovation, cultural exchange, creativity and collaboration. We are proud to continue that tradition,” according to the communique. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the news, writing, “This is another expression of Israel’s rising status in the world and in the region.” Whether Netanyahu’s insight meets reality or not, Israel’s participation provides itself with an unusual diplomatic opportunity, for which it must prepare wisely to fulfill.

The Expo events afford tremendous economic values for the participating countries, as well as the opportunity to shape their national image within the global community. The exposure to millions of visitors and the platform for establishing direct contacts among diplomatic representatives and key figures from around the world generates a unique hub of diplomacy. Indeed, beyond its importance for Israel’s economy and image, Israel’s participation in this event, hosted by an Arab Muslim country it has no current and past diplomatic relations with, is a significant achievement, which reflects the nature of Israel’s current relations with the UAE.

On the one hand, the UAE, as the host of an international event, is expected by the international community to provide access to all countries, including Israel. As a result, the UAE and other Gulf countries have legitimized in recent years the arrival of Israeli nationals to international conferences and tournaments they hosted. In that sense, the UAE’s decision to invite Israel to Expo 2020 does not reflect a change in the status of ties between the two states, nor does it forecast the beginning of direct and formal relations. On the other hand, meeting this international code points to the UAE’s willingness to compromise on anti-normalization measures toward Israel.

Currently, the UAE government distinguishes between bilateral ties with Israel and international cooperation with it, leaving room to maneuver in the case of the latter. In the international realm, an Israeli representative office has been operating for the past three years in Abu Dhabi, the capital, under the auspices of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Israel and the UAE also conduct joint air force exercises and business cooperation in the fields of diamond trade and cyber technology, under international umbrellas. The UAE was a pioneer among the Gulf States in allowing an Israeli sports team to display its national symbols at the October 2018 international judo championship in Abu Dhabi, in which the Emiratis also hosted Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev according to full ceremonial protocol. Additional sports events in the UAE, such as tennis tournaments, a car race and the Special Olympics have also included growing participation of Israeli delegations in recent years.

Conversely, the UAE strictly limits bilateral relations with Israel, conditioning them on a resolution to the Palestinian issue. Accordingly, the country has been outspoken in its criticism of Israel regarding measures it defines as unjust toward the Palestinian people. Therefore, it does not cooperate with Israel in areas such as culture, research, tourism, industry and media despite mutual interests in doing so.

AT THE same time, we are witnessing a new phenomenon in which Gulf citizens express support for Israel and call for the establishment of direct ties with Israel on social media. Khalaf al-Habtoor, a leading Emirati executive, asked on Twitter why the Gulf States are not signing a peace agreement with Israel, the “same as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan have done before.” Such voices do not regard Israel as an enemy, and view cooperation with it as a vital source of regional stability and development. While not reflecting an official government line, they signal a gradual shift from a formerly taboo subject to an increasingly acceptable opinion. These expressions of interest in bilateral relations create a crack in the traditional demand that has placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the key obstacle to normalization with Israel.

The gap between the official UAE policy toward Israel and the mutual courtship between the two nations demonstrates that Israel is on the cusp of a formative phase in these relations. At this point of time, Israel would do well to leverage the relative openness of the Gulf States toward it by expanding its involvement in the region. Just as Israel sought a formal invitation to Expo 2020, it should continue to identify opportunities, map scheduled international events in the Gulf and ask to participate. Israel should also invite Gulf countries to take part in international events it hosts.

One important issue that arises from increased interactions between Israel and Gulf States is the need to study the culture, values, sensitivities and local laws when preparing Israeli delegations for excursions in the Gulf. Such preparation should be overseen by a government agency, which will formulate a plan for ties with the Gulf States and will be put in charge of these ties through diplomatic, security, economic and civilian channels. By so doing, Israel’s presence in the Gulf could become more acceptable and even be expanded. However, if Israel seeks a more significant opening to the region, it must advance a resolution of the Palestinian issue through a genuine process that would also be of great benefit for its ties with the Gulf States. Above all, Israel must acknowledge these new nexuses of power in the Middle East and draw up a corresponding map of alliances. Its integration into the expanding circle of opportunities emerging around the Gulf countries has the potential to be triplicate beneficial, since it consists of bilateral, regional and international opportunities.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Startup Nation is becoming the AI Nation

Video Of The Week The Future For Europeans  -

‘This sector’s vital signs are positive,’ reports IVC Research in its summary of Israeli artificial intelligence startups.

ISRAEL 21C - By Brian Blum  11.12.2018 -

Israel has a well-earned reputation as the Startup Nation. But it’s also becoming the AI Nation.

More than 1,200 artificial intelligence (AI) companies have been established in the country since 2010; 79 percent of them are still active and 6% have been acquired, reports IVC Research, which adds that “this sector’s vital signs are positive.”

Exits (where a company is either acquired or goes public) were higher in the first half of 2018 than for all of 2017, IVC adds.
The mix of AI companies in Israel has also changed – particularly in the last four years.

AI companies in Israel have traditionally focused on computer vision and this is where most of the development activity has been.
Jerusalem-based Mobileye, for example, builds systems that “watch” how your car is driving and sound an alert if you’re getting too close to another vehicle or veer out of your lane. Computer vision technology is now the basis behind Mobileye’s AI-centric approach to self-driving cars.

Beginning in 2014, though, there has been an increase in the share of companies implementing “data science” (a catchall name that encompasses data mining, statistical inference and prediction models) into their product lines. That’s been accompanied by a decrease in companies whose technology is more about computer vision, recommendation systems and text analysis.

IVC Research broke out the percentage of companies it tracks in each sector for the years 2010-2018.

  • Recommendation systems (5%) – companies that use mathematical models to predict and recommend user preferences. Example: Outbrain, which has raised $144 million.
  • Text analysis and NLP (8%) – companies which recognize and analyze the content and context of speech and text. Example: Twiggle, which has raised $35 million.
  • Sound recognition and analysis (10%) – companies that analyze and process sounds for applications such as voice assistants. Example: Gong, which has raised $26 million.
  • Chatbots, robotics and assistants (11%) – companies with technology that imitates a human interface. Example: Lemonade, which has raised $180 million. 
  • Computer vision (20%) – companies which acquire, process and analyze digital images. Example: Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion.
  • Data science and analysis (43%) – companies that build statistical models for data mining and analysis. Example: Gett, which has raised $597 million.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

An Ancient Village That Never Existed

Video Of The Week - EU illegal activities on area C -
From Israel Hayom – 12-6-2019 - By Naomi Kahn
A joint project of the Palestinian Authority and the European Union is taking over a strategic area in the center of Gush Etzion, creating a "historic" village out of thin air.
The Palestinian Authority, aided by the European Union, is taking control of a strategic area in the heart of the Gush Etzion bloc, between Highway 60 and Neveh Daniel. Over the past two years, the P.A. has created, out of thin air, a “historic” village – that just so happens to be located on a strategic point adjacent to the Jerusalem-Hebron highway. The name given to this new “ancient” village: Shoshkhalah.
Yishai Hemo, Judea and Samaria field coordinator for NGO Regavim, describes the methodology: “Over the course of the past two years, activists from the Arab town of Al Khader, backed by P.A. and European Union funding, occupied the ruins of two ancient shomerot  (watchman’s huts) – primitive stone structures used by passing shepherds or farmers as shelter from the elements – that dot the landscape in the Jerusalem and Sataf areas. They renovated these abandoned structures and turned them into homes – and from that point, in very short order, totally new structures have been added in the surrounding area.”
The signs posted on the refurbished buildings, proudly bearing the European Union emblem, explain that the site is an ancient village – Shoshkhalah – despite the fact that aerial photos paint a completely different picture: In the past two years, more than 15 homes have been built in this “village,” each connected to solar power infrastructure and water tanks paid for by the Europeans. Analysis of aerial photos from 1967, as well as historic maps dating back to 1880, prove that there was never any settlement of any kind at the site.
“This is another phase in the PA-European Union program to seize control over strategic  areas,” says Hemo.
“We are all too familiar with the program – from illegal construction in the Adumim Region, from land grabs and highly developed construction projects on Israel Defense Forces training grounds in the Hebron Hills and Gush Etzion, and from the extensive agricultural work that the P.A. is carrying out as a means of securing ownership rights to tens of thousands of dunams that have been illegally seized for Roots Project activity.
“The ‘ancient village’ of Shoshkhalah is just one more example of the fact that there is no such thing as a vacuum. When the State of Israel fails to regulate and register land in Judea and Samaria, the PA takes advantage of the opportunity to seize this land and annex it, de facto, to its jurisdiction.”


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Protesting Anti-Israel Bias

Video Of The Week-Heat Wave and Arson Balloons -
 UN- Watch - By Philippe Val -
Despite my disdain for the government, I continue to feel great love for my Italian friends, and for Italy herself, which, like all states that observe the rule of law, is like a second homeland for me. Nowhere do I hear talk of anti-Italianism; nowhere do I hear it said that Italy must be wiped off the map.
So, when it comes to Israel, obviously, one can criticize the policy of the Israeli government, but one also hears talk of wiping Israel off the map. This reflects a bias that shows how unwise we were to have put up so long with the term anti-Zionism, which was clearly a form of anti-Semitism, just as anti-Italianism would be a form of racism. I now believe that, all doubt having been removed, anti-Zionism is modern jargon that stands in for anti-Semitism.
The state of Israel is threatened on its borders; it is menaced by most terrorist organisations. It has a duty to protect its citizens. That cannot be forgotten. And now I would like to say that there are two types of votes to condemn Israel within the UN organization: there are votes by dictatorships and votes by states governed by the rule of law.
What do the votes and condemnations of the dictatorships reveal? These dictatorships, which are unable to run their own countries properly, which prefer corruption and personal enrichment over progress for their people, over building hospitals, over working for the public good, enrich themselves.
To be able to continue to exert their dictatorship, they rely on tricks that are as old as humanity: they find a common enemy that they can all hate, and Israel fills the bill. Israel is appointed to serve as an alibi, to create cohesion among the dictatorships, as well as popular cohesion, cohesion among people who have been duped and robbed by their leaders.
And I would like to say one thing very quickly, which is that as long as hatred for Israel is exploited by the leaders of these countries, Muslim countries will enjoy neither progress, justice, prosperity, or freedom. Anti-Semitism is the trap in which their dictators confine them. That’s what is revealed by the votes from the dictatorships.
Now, what is revealed when democracies condemn Israel at the UN? Most of the condemnations come from countries with large numbers of citizens of Muslim origin. And the politicians and shapers of opinion, acting out of demagogy and electoral calculation, are seeking to capture the votes of these Muslim-origin populations, whom they assume hate Israel.
They are unconcerned about the fairness of their condemnations of Israel, and even less so about living up to the ethical foundations of the United Nations. Such condemnations are political acts taken for domestic consumption—demagogy pure and simple.
The combination of these two betrayals—dictatorships betraying their people and democratic politicians betraying their voters—the confluence of these two betrayals has consequences that are very serious indeed. Simply put, the two types of condemnation are a catalyst for anti-Semitism.
The UN, set up after World War II to preserve peace among nations, is in the process of reigniting one of the major pieces of propaganda that triggered that tragic war—namely, anti-Semitism.
The struggle against anti-Semitism is a question of life or death for all states ruled by laws. That is why we will fight to end; that is why we will never surrender; and that is why we will prevail.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

German Parliament branding BDS as ‘anti-Semitic’

Video Of The Week - Inside the Life of an Israeli "Lone Soldier"-
From “WIN” 18-5-2019
By Algemeiner Staff and Agencies
Top Israeli officials welcomed the German parliament’s condemnation on Friday of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement as “anti-Semitic.”
The non-binding motion — submitted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, their Social Democrat coalition partners, as well as the Greens and Free Democrats — read, “The argumentation patterns and methods used by the BDS movement are anti-Semitic.”
“The campaign’s calls to boycott Israeli artists, as well as stickers on Israeli goods that are meant to deter people from buying them, also recall the most terrible phase in German history,” it continued. “The BDS movement’s ‘Don’t Buy’ stickers on Israeli products inevitably arouse associations with the Nazi slogan, ‘Don’t Buy from Jews!’ and similar graffiti on facades and shop windows.”
Securing Israel’s survival has been a priority for Germany since the defeat of the Nazi dictatorship that committed the Holocaust in which some six million Jews were murdered.
“I congratulate the German Bundestag on the important decision branding the boycott movement (BDS) as an anti-Semitic movement and announcing that it is forbidden to fund it,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday. “I hope that this decision will bring about concrete steps and I call upon other countries to adopt similar legislation.”
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan — who has been in charge of the Jewish state’s anti-BDS efforts in recent years — called Friday a “historic day in the fight against the anti-Semitic BDS campaign.”
“The true face of BDS is being exposed!” he exclaimed.
Israel’s UN envoy, Danny Danon, stated, “This is a crushing victory for the truth and a great achievement in the struggle against Israel’s detractors.”
Danon went on to urge world leaders to “join Germany, and work towards shaping a future without hatred against Jews and against Israel.”
Israeli Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff tweeted, “We welcome this initiative by its sponsors. It has broader European significance given that BDS makes no attempt to build coexistence and peace between Israel and all of its neighbors.”
The BDS movement slammed the motion.
“The German establishment is entrenching its complicity in Israel‘s crimes of military occupation, ethnic cleansing, siege and apartheid, while desperately trying to shield it from accountability to international law,” it said on Twitter.
Lawmakers from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party abstained during the vote. They had submitted their own motion calling for a total ban of the BDS in Germany. That motion was defeated.
A majority of the far-left Die Linke party had voted against the motion. The party also submitted its own proposal, which called to oppose the BDS and commit the German government to work toward a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on UN Security Council resolutions. The motion was also defeated.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


Video Of The Week - Eurovision 2019 in Israel -

Dear Euro-visitor,

Please tell everyone that we aren’t just alive: but, having returned to our natural habitat, our homeland, ever improving and stretching, still being self-critical – we’ve figured out how to thrive.
We know worried friends suggested skipping the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, following the Palestinians’ 698-rocket barrage. We know fanatics bullied you to boycott this apolitical celebration of international unity. So, thanks for coming.
In this small Albania-sized country, Israelis party in Tel Aviv clubs as friends scramble into shelters. This insouciance is not callousness or obliviousness; it’s defiance. Our coolest cats cry like babies on Remembrance Day, and exchange their hipster threads for military khaki when called to serve. But after millennia of being persecuted – often, ahem, by your ancestors – we won’t be pushed around anymore. We laugh, love, dance and party whenever we can – while ducking, crying, empathizing and fighting when we must.

Besides, what’s real? Everyone underestimates us. Everyone overestimates our problems. Yet, look around. We have failures and blind spots – what country doesn’t? But watch the trend lines. Israel today is stronger, richer, more sophisticated than ever. And it’s kinder, gentler, more tolerant, more pluralistic, too.

Even with a right-wing government, Israel has a liberal-democratic soul. Israeli Arabs, gays, women, religious people – actually, most citizens – are better off personally, economically, democratically, existentially than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago.

You can’t fake Israel’s freedom, openness, creativity; it pulses through our Eurovision hits. Dana International’s 1998 winner captured our roller-coaster emotions, singing of “pain and hurt” – glorifying a “Diva” who cries like “an angel” yet laughs like “a devil.” Netta Barzilai’s 2018 winner celebrated independence, defiance, openness and Wonder Womanness: “I’m not your toy... You stupid boy!”

BUT TO understand Israel, think historically. Appreciate what Judaism is, what Zionism is and where Palestinians fit into the bigger story.

I’m not sugar-coating: Israelis clash over deep divisions, amid deeper wells of intolerance and insensitivity – like all countries. When Dana International became a transsexual star, some rabbis objected. “I am what I am, and this does not mean I don’t believe in God,” she proclaimed, “and I am part of the Jewish nation.”

Hmm... How can an Israeli drag queen condemned by rabbis be a believer – and what’s this “Jewish nation” – isn’t Judaism just a religion?

Welcome to that complex multidimensional civilization called Judaism. Just as two cookies connected by crème make an Oreo, Judaism combines nationhood and religion. The Jewish people follows the Jewish religion but can create a Jewish state that isn’t a theocracy, because even the religiously mandated Sabbath has national and cultural dimensions. Tel Aviv’s charming Saturday sleepiness reflects collective desire – and memory – not religious coercion. And before condemning democracies wielding religious symbols, check whether your country flies one of Europe’s 27 cross-bearing flags.

Zionism is the Jewish national liberation movement. As a people, we have rights – like the 41 other Eurovision countries – to establish a nation-state in our homeland.

Zionism courts trouble by rejecting John Lennon’s postmodernist “Imagined” world without borders, without countries. But neither Palestinians nor Brits nor Americans nor most proud peoples accept that. As a model of liberal nationalism, Zionism proves that the better term is “nationaliberalism” – that’s how integrated liberal-democratic ideas are into Zionism and into most healthy forms of nationalism.

Zionists imagine the world as a honeycomb. Bonding tribally, nationally, can generate sweet ideas and great achievements, not just xenophobic poison. Rooted in our ancient past and traditions, Israel is what Zionism’s founder Theodor Herzl called Altneuland: old-new land. Gali Atari won the Eurovision in 1978 with “Milk & Honey,” singing an old, particularist call with an expansive vision, delighting in “Hallelujah, sounds of love, Hallelujah, the sunshine above.”

HAVING ESTABLISHED Israel, Zionism now seeks to perfect it. While telling outsiders challenging our legitimacy: “Judge us like any normal country,” as insiders debating our future we strive to be exceptional. These aspirations aren’t about being better than others – just trying to better ourselves, then others.

The boycotters single out Zionism as somehow illegitimate – despite our 3,500-year history here. They often try negating nationalism itself – while somehow supporting Palestinian nationalism and feminist, racial and LGBTQ particularisms. And, characterizing the conflict in black-and-white terms, they cast Israel as “the oppressor” with the Palestinians as “the victims.”

Just as European history is more than all of you squabbling with one another, Israel is much more than the Palestinian conflict. And while we’re not perfect, we’ve repeatedly taken risks for peace. Consider this: Israel withdraws from Gaza in 2005 completely, yet Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and others still claim Gaza’s “occupied.” Then, Hamas unleashes 698 rockets – and Israel is supposed to tolerate these war crimes peacefully, while apologizing for existing.

Unfortunately for the haters, we’re not going away. Remember Ofra Haza’s 1983 second-place entry “Chai” – Alive – a timely reminder to contestants that winning songs sometimes lose Eurovision. “Many are my thorns, but also my flowers,” she sang: patriotically, maturely, acknowledging complexity.

Capturing Israel’s altneu old-new nature, dancing between the universal and particular, emphasizing Jews’ miraculous continuity and never-ending hopes despite oppression, she sang delightedly, not just defiantly: “I’m still alive... The Jewish people live/ This is the song Grandpa sang yesterday to Papa/ And today it’s me.”

But not just “me.” While affirming Jewish vitality, she vowed: “I’ll reach out my hands... To my friends from across the seas.”

So welcome from across the seas – enjoy. If you choose to correct the record back home, please tell everyone that we aren’t just alive: but, having returned to our natural habitat, our homeland, ever improving and stretching, still being self-critical – we’ve figured out how to thrive.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dishonest Headlines Parrot Hamas Claim

Video Of The Week - Poland's Holocaust Law -
Honest Reporting - BY EMANUEL MILLER  MAY 5, 2019

Any journalist worth their salt knows that their work requires describing what has happened, and reporting the whole story. When reporters are unable to determine exactly what happened, standard procedure is to report what the various parties claim, and let the readers make their own judgments.
Those simple standards, however, were repeatedly not met by numerous reporters covering the latest flare-up of violence between Israel and terror organizations Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.
More than 600 rockets have been fired at Israel since Saturday morning, and Israel is responding by targeting terrorists, as well as Islamic Jihad and Hamas’s facilities. Amid the ongoing exchange of fire, a pregnant woman and her 14-month old daughter were killed in unclear circumstances. Despite the IDF refusing to accept responsibility for the deaths, Palestinian sources were predictably swift to blame Israel, and the British media quickly picked up on the story.

The IDF later put out a statement on Twitter, reading: “Today we can say with certainty, after looking into the event, that they were killed as a result of an explosion of combustible materials during the activation of a Hamas explosive device.” A later tweet went further, accusing journalists of complicity, saying they had “amplified the lie.”

Yesterday, Palestinian weapons caused the tragic death of a mother in Gaza and her baby. Hamas blamed Israel. Journalists amplified the lie. Our assessment indicates that the incident had nothing to do with IDF strikes.

Headline Fails
More than any other part of an article, headlines matter the most. The vast majority of people don’t read any given article, only skimming through newspapers and social media feeds. As such, headlines frame the way people read and remember stories.
Despite the paucity of evidence to back up the claim that the IDF was responsible for the deaths, numerous media services parroted the claims put out by the Hamas-run Gazan Ministry of Health – frequently in the most prominent place – the headline.
Another example came courtesy of Sky News, with a headline published on Sunday afternoon saying only that a “Pregnant Palestinian woman and baby [were] killed in Gaza violence.” The article documents the death of the two within the context of “a fresh round of violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.” Only in the seventh paragraph does the article mention that “the Israeli military insisted the pair died due to a misfiring Palestinian rocket.”

Sky News: “Pregnant Palestinian woman and baby killed in Gaza violence”
The same issue surfaced in a report on the website of British television channel ITV which claimed that “A baby girl and her pregnant aunt were among six killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.”

ITV claims baby and pregnant aunt were “killed after Israel airstrikes”

Over at The Independent, the massive barrage of over 400 rockets fired from Gaza on Israel was totally omitted from the Middle East section homepage until Sunday morning. When events were eventually covered, the headline framed developments as if terrorists in Gaza had no role in the violence, and insinuated that Israel was responsible for the death of the mother and baby. The original article (archived here) said without qualification that “A pregnant mother and her 14-month-old baby girl have been killed by an Israeli airstrike, as cross-border violence continues near Gaza.”

Independent headline: Mother and baby killed as Israel hits Gaza with airstrikes
Meanwhile at The Daily Mail, the same claim was again quoted in the headline despite the IDF’s protestations that it was not involved in the death of the pregnant Gazan mother.

No @MailOnline, when something "rains down," it's indiscriminate. The only thing raining down right now is Palestinian rockets on Israel. The Israeli response is pinpointed. Your headline is inverted.

The Mail’s coverage originally stated that “Gaza’s Health Ministry said a 14-month-old girl, Seba Abu Arar, was killed in an Israeli airstrike that hit their home,” but failed to mention that the claim was disputed by Israel. The article was later update to acknowledge the IDF’s version of events.
As HonestReporting tweeted on Sunday, journalists are responsible for telling the whole story, not just the parts that fit in with their worldview. Anything less is a professional failure.

Whether journalists believe the IDF's statements or not, the media have a duty to report the story fully. Telling one side alone is willfully naive at best, and a worrying betrayal of the truth at worst.