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November 23, 2012

Terror suspects arrested in connection with bombing public bus in Israel

Terror suspects arrested in connection with bombing public bus in Israel

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Friday, November 23, 2012

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Several people have been arrested in connection with the bombing of a public bus on Shaul Hamelech Street in Tel Aviv, Israel.

A bomb exploded on a bus at approximately noon on Wednesday, near Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) headquarters. At least 28 people were injured in the bombing. The bus was transporting passengers on the Dan Number 142 line. Authorities are still investigating the bombing. Israeli police said they don’t know if the bomb was left on the bus by a departing passenger or thrown by someone outside.

“Person who planted bomb in Tel Aviv bus yesterday-found and arrested. He is an Arab-Israeli from Taybe & was a member of Hamas”, said Avital Leibovich, a spokesperson for the IDF, in a statement posted to her Twitter account.

Most of the suspects were from the Israeli town of Beit Lahia. One was a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship. The suspects were allegedly part of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Reports say most have admitted to their involvement in the bombing. Earlier reports, attributed to Israeli intelligence officials, suggested the bombing was the “act of [a] lone operator” and that the individual had no ties to a terrorist organization.

According to the driver of the bus, Nachum Herzi, no passengers prior to the explosion seemed suspicious. Herzi recalled there were not many people on the bus and said “I felt the explosion … smoke was everywhere, you couldn’t see a thing.” After the explosion Herzi said he drove the bus for a few more meters until he was able to pull over and help passengers.

Although no group claimed responsibility for the bombing, Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Hamas, “blessed” to the bombing when saying, “[We see] it as a natural response to the Israeli massacres…in Gaza. Palestinian factions will resort to all means in order to protect our Palestinian civilians in the absence of a world effort to stop the Israeli aggression.”

This is the first such bombing to occur in Tel Aviv since April 2006 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a restaurant near the bus station in the center of the city. Eleven people were killed and 68 were injured. In that attack, Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. The suicide bombing was the first since Hamas took over the government of Palestine a few weeks earlier.



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September 12, 2009

Israeli President Shimon Peres collapses in Tel Aviv

Filed under: Archived,Israel,Middle East,Politics and conflicts,Tel Aviv — admin @ 5:00 am

Israeli President Shimon Peres collapses in Tel Aviv

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

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File photo of Shimon Peres.
Image: David Shankbone.

Israeli media is reporting that the country’s president Shimon Peres briefly collapsed in Ramat Aviv, a suburb of Tel Aviv, while he was giving a speech. Peres regained consciousness a short time later and was able to stand up, but was still taken to Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv by ambulance for observation.

“He feels well and the incident is over. Just to be on the safe side, we are transferring him to Sheba Medical Center for the night. I estimate that he’ll be able to return to work Sunday morning,” said Dr. Valdan at Sheba Medical center, as quoted by Ynet News. “It was simply very hot and he stood up for a long time and felt dizzy.” Peres has no known medical issues.

Director of Sheba Medical Center Ze’ev Rothstein said that Peres is in “excellent” condition. Doctors will perform tests on Peres as a precaution.

“President Shimon Peres is already at the hospital […] and will undergo a series of tests. His overall condition is excellent but I estimate he’ll spend the night here,” stated Rothstein.

Peres was speaking at an event for the Young Presidents Organization and answering the audience’s questions. Peres, 86, was elected as Israel’s President in June 2007.



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April 3, 2009

Mushroom corals change from male to female and back again

Mushroom corals change from male to female and back again

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Fungia scutaria, a type of Musroom Coral

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In a recent discovery by researchers at Tel Aviv University, it has been determined that Mushrooms Corals (Fungiidae) can change sex from male to female and back again female to male.

It was in 2004 that scientists had collected two species of Mushroom Corals near Japan and tagged them. They were kept in a lab until after the full moon when then would send out sperm or eggs in gamete explosions. Mushroom corals were classified as male or female. The corals were returned to the sea and researchers repeated the laboratory experiment in 2006 and 2007.

The gamete explosions on tagged mushroom corals revealed that the corals had changed sex. In 2006, 75% of the corals had changed sex, and in 2007, 80% of the corals had changed sex, some returning back to the original sex they had been tagged with.

“No one reported before on the fact that some coral species may change sex. I believe this was quite a big surprise to all coral reef scientists,” said lead author Yossi Loya, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University.

“We never realised in our wildest dreams that these corals can undergo sex changes. This is really exciting.” said Professor Robert van Woesik, marine biologist at the Florida Institute of Technology.



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January 9, 2008

Shimon Peres discusses the future of Israel

Shimon Peres discusses the future of Israel

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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone with Shimon Peres.
Image: David Shankbone.

This year Israel turns sixty and it has embarked upon a campaign to celebrate its birthday. Along with technology writers for Slate, PC Magazine, USA Today, BusinessWeek, Aviation Weekly, Wikinews was invited by the America-Israel Friendship League and the Israeli Foreign Ministry to review Israel’s technology sector. It’s part of an effort to ‘re-brand the country’ to show America that there is more to Israel than the Palestinian conflict. On this trip we saw the people who gave us the Pentium processor and Instant Messaging. The schedule was hectic: 12-14 hours a day were spent doing everything from trips to the Weizmann Institute to dinner with Yossi Vardi.

On Thursday, the fifth day of the junket, David Saranga of the foreign ministry was able to arrange an exclusive interview for David Shankbone with the President of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shimon Peres. For over an hour they spoke about Iranian politics, whether Israel is in danger of being side-lined in Middle Eastern importance because of Arab oil wealth, and his thoughts against those who say Israeli culture is in a state of decay.

Cquote1.svg The only crime I committed was to be a little bit ahead of time. And if this is the reason for being controversial, maybe the reason is better than the result. Cquote2.svg

—Peres on the ebb and flow of his popularity.

Shimon Peres spent his early days on kibbutz, a bygone socialist era of Israel. In 1953, at the age of 29, Peres became the youngest ever Director General of the Ministry of Defense. Forty years later it was Peres who secretly gave the green light for dialogue with Yassir Arafat, of the verboten Palestine Liberation Organization. It was still official Israeli policy to not speak with the PLO. Peres shares a Nobel Peace Prize with Yitzak Rabin and Arafat for orchestrating what eventually became the Oslo Accords. The “roadmap” that came out of Oslo remains the official Israeli (and American) policy for peace in the Palestinian conflict. Although the majority of Israeli people supported the plans, land for peace was met with a small but fiery resistance in Israel. For negotiating with Arafat, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shouted at Peres, “You are worse than Chamberlain!” a reference to Hitler’s British appeaser. It was during this time of heated exchanges in the 1990s that Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jew who thought it against Halakhic law to give up land given by God (Hashem).

Peres is the elder statesman of Israeli politics, but he remembers that he has not always been as popular as he is today. “Popularity is like perfume: nice to smell, dangerous to drink,” said Peres. “You don’t drink it.” The search for popularity, he goes on to say, will kill a person who has an idea against the status quo.

Below is David Shankbone’s interview with Shimon Peres, the President of Israel.

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Israeli technology

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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

David Shankbone: One of your big initiatives in technology has been nanotechnology.

President Shimon Peres: Yes.

DS: What made you focus on nanotechnology as a sector for Israeli investment?

SP: Well, nanotechnology is not a vocation but a dimension. It’s a new dimension and it concerns all walks of life, not limited to one, from the military to the civilian. Everywhere you turn around you can see the eventual effect of nano. It also raises some of the most complicated moral issues because until now the human race knew how to build. It didn’t know how to grow. What we did is collected wood and stones and steel and glass and we built from up to down. Structure. Now, what is common to both building a structure is the smallest particular, the nanometer. The minute you can manage it, you can begin to make things grow. And that’s a tremendous change; it is also a tremendous dilemma for humanity. Now actually, like on many other occasions, we discover the nano from the negative side. The bomb.

DS: The bomb?

The now disused Koffler particle accelerator at the Weitzmann Institute, one of Israel’s most accomplished institutions of higher learning in the sciences.
Image: David Shankbone.

SP: Yes. The nuclear bomb. The nuclear bomb was to release the hidden powers of a combination or dispersion of nanostructures. The minute you dismantle an existing structure, then you create a lot of energy and you create new dimensions and new measurements. I mean the size has nothing to do with power. You can, say, take a nuclear bomb where the core is six or seven kilos of plutonium and you can destroy a city. Why can’t you build a city with the six kilos? Same story. And the answer is clear. It was easier to destroy because then you don’t have to control the nanostructure. It’s simple when you want explosions; then, fission or fusion does not matter. The minute you want to build, you have to control the nano, and for a very long time we couldn’t, we weren’t able to see the nano, it is so small. No microscope could grasp it. The size of a nano is like 1/100th of a single hair, which is unbelievable. Or if you want to, to compare the nanometer with the meter is to compare an orange to the globe. Same proportion. That’s nothing. And the minute they discovered the microscope, the electronic microscope that can see the nanostructure, we can begin to build. And to build with materials and powers and combinations that we weren’t aware of. And then you can create a lot of things, like I said, on the military side. But it doesn’t make sense to chase it in modern warfare. It’s not armies against armies. It’s strength against, the strength of a collective army against the strength of an individual terrorist. It does not make sense to take an F-16 that costs $40-50 million and chase a terrorist. Nano enables you to miniaturize everything.

DS: To miniaturize?

SP: Yes. And from the beginning you can create invisible sensors that will inform you about every movement in armies all over the world. Then you can hand over the soldier, a new uniform made of nano which is immune against cartridges, against biology and chemical warfare. It’s a strong material because the nano material is 100 times stronger than steel and it weighs only 1/6 of it. It can warm up the soldier in cold weather; cool him in the warm weather. It enhances his strength 3 times; he can lift 120 kilos with one hand. And then you can go on and say not only to protect the protector but as well to create robots as in planes without pilots and military units without soldiers. You don’t need a soldier; you can run it by proxy. Small weapons, small robots that can penetrate or perform in conditions that a human being cannot. He is too large, too inflexible.

DS: That’s amazing.

SP: Then take the nano in medicine. You can produce the smallest instruments that you don’t have to invade the body. You can do it from the outside control, with such tiny little instruments.

DS: Are you satisfied with the progress in the nanotechnology sector here in Israel?

SP: Look, I started it 5 or 6 years ago to explain to the people the importance of it, then I was instrumental in collecting several hundred million dollars that was given to the universities and the research institutes. As a result, we have a very good group of nano experts, you see, all of the best, and now they are working with me voluntarily. I have 30 top scientists in Israel who have developed different ideas in the domain. This type of research can be applied to whatever you want: Alternative energy, because if you want to have solar energy, you need very large equipment. With nano you can condense it. The same is true about desalinization. It can replace the uniform of humankind. In the future ladies will have a dress. You can press a button and it will change the color. The nano has what has been called the lotus effect. Lotus is a flower that keeps cleaning itself. And so is a nano so it doesn’t shrink, doesn’t get dirty.

The future of the peace process in Israel

The future is only peace. The problem is how long will it take and how many victims will it call for.Shimon Peres
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: Mr. President, as a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and as one of the fathers of the modern peace process in Israel, do you still think that there is a future to the peace process?

SP: The future is only peace. The problem is how long will it take and how many victims will it call for. Why do I say peace? Because when you look historically, at the development of humanity, most of our lives we are living on the land. The history is written with red ink. The reason for it is because people were fighting for our land, either defending it or extending it, because that was the main source. The land, the natural resources, the markets, all these go together. The minute the land was replaced by science, what is there to fight about? Armies cannot conquer science. Customs cannot check what a scientist has in his mind, they can see what he has in his pocket but not what he has in his mind so it’s uncontrolled; it means that borders aren’t important and distances aren’t important.

DS: How do you approach the difficult challenge of talking to the Palestinians when, in the end, they don’t want Israel to exist. How do you come to an understanding to make peace possible?

SP: Well, what is the problem? I mean, is the problem national, say between Jews and Arabs; or is it a matter of generations between an old age and a new age? You see, the terrorists are protesting against modernity. They think that modernity may endanger their tradition. They are simply afraid and hate modernity. They consider modernity as their enemy, but then they have two problems. First of all, can they exist on tradition? They cannot. Sooner or later they will have to enter the new age. All the talks about nationalities, etcetera, well, the new age has very little patience for history. History is becoming more and more irrelevant.

DS: How do you feel about that?

SP: Well, I distinguish between two histories, the spiritual and the material. Or the history of events and the history of values. The history of values is okay because wisdom is ageless; it doesn’t grow old, like material.
But events are totally unimportant for 2 reasons. First, the event is unimportant. Tell me, what events is today important such as how many elephants Hannibal had on the Alps, when you can have helicopters? Why should I bother my children with all this nonsense? What sort of a nose did Cleopatra have? God, I don’t know! You can invite people to war over noses, but nobody will go to fight for noses any more. On the other hand, there are already machines that can replace our memory. Why should I bother my child with memory when he can buy a computer that will remember everything you asked him to remember?

The waning importance of history

DS: Isn’t the answer to that question that wise decisions are made with a basis from memory? Although a computer can have…

SP: No, no. Forget memory. Look, the new age is unprecedented. When something is unprecedented, it means it doesn’t have a past, doesn’t have a history. It’s totally oriented on the future. And whoever dwells in the past, doesn’t understand the future because the past is full of prejudices, of commitments. It arrests us. And then you say you won’t commit a mistake, so you’ll commit new mistakes. It doesn’t matter.

DS: What about the adage, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it”?

Cquote1.svg I say brains is the greater producer of wealth, not oil. It’s limitless, and you’ll see that the GNP of Israel is very close to the Saudis’. So they are 3 times larger than us and they have all the oil in the world. We have brains. Cquote2.svg

—Peres, on whether the Arab states’ oil wealth will eclipse Israel’s prominence in the region.

SP: So they will make new mistakes. Mistake is inevitable as long as there are human beings. But you cannot repeat mistakes because the world is not built on repetition; it’s built on mutation.

DS: Don’t you think Darfur is repetition?

SP: I think Darfur is, again, the last, or among the last battles between old and new. What are they fighting for? What are they killing killing killing over? They don’t carry futures. It’s not a mistake. It belongs to a past. It doesn’t have a moment. I am sure that the reasons for war are over, even though still there are wars which are an inertia from the past, a continuation that doesn’t make sense. I’m answering your question. The problem is how to enable the whole world to enter the new future, including the Arabs. And there are already Arabs who did it. Look at Turkey, who is knocking on the doors of the united Europe. Why? It’s not a geographic endeavor, it is an intellectual endeavor. They say you can be Muslim and modern.

DS: Like Dubai?

SP: Dubai…you must be very careful because Dubai is a small people with a large service sector. The citizens of Dubai are almost unnoticed. The rest are hired people. Turkey is different. Take Dubai or Qatar; in Qatar you have 180,000 citizens with 700,000 foreign workers. That also belongs to the past, because you see what’s happening: they live on oil. Oil is not produced by human beings, the producer of oil is the land. It takes a million years to produce oil without any human interferences. The need for oil is growing, so the cost of oil goes up which is forcing people to go to alternative energies to balance it. Just because oil is discovered doesn’t mean every year more and more and more people will pay for the same discovery. To hell with you, I shall look for an alternative! Even for Israel. If you have to make a choice between Saudi Arabia and the sun, it should go to the sun.

DS: A criticism of the Arab states is that back in the 1990s they had squandered the wealth that they were making on the high oil price because they had not invested it wisely. It seems that that has changed, that the Arabs are creating these new wealth funds and that much of the money that is generated in the Middle East is now coming from Arab states. Are you worried that Israel will become increasingly marginalized in the Middle East? Right now it’s very Iraq War focused or Iran-focused or the Emirates around the Gulf with their money.

SP: Look, if you’ll ask me “What is the real wealth, money or brains?” I say brains is the greater producer of wealth, not oil. It’s limitless, and you’ll see that the GNP of Israel is very close to the Saudis’. So they are 3 times larger than us and they have all the oil in the world. We have brains. We have to develop it. And for that reason I say that whoever dwells in the past is ignoring the future. Modern society is not based on the experience of the past but on risk-taking for the future.

Is Israel a united society?

In 2006 the northern town of Kiryat Shmona came under heavy shelling during the Lebanese War. Norman Sandberg, (above, left), who is a Vice President at Meytav, Israel’s largest technology incubator, said it has become difficult to find people willing to leave the bustle of Tel Aviv, the heart of Israel’s business and technology sectors, to work in Kiryat Shmona, where Meytav is based.
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: As you know, I’m part of a group from a technology mission over here of journalists. We went to Meytav, your largest technology incubator, and spoke with their Vice President Norman Sandberg. One of the things that he raised as an issue is that Israeli society is becoming dichotomized between Tel Aviv and the rest of the country. How do you develop the brainpower without Israel becoming a city-state with Tel Aviv? Mr. Sandberg told us nobody wants to go to the North. They want to stay in Tel Aviv. They don’t want to actually spread out and work on developing the rest of the country and invest outside of there. Is that a problem that you foresee that this bubble is forming around Tel Aviv in terms of brainpower?

SP: The whole world is moving from rural to urban life. Now everybody is made up of city-states; they are not a state of cities but cities that are states on their own. First of all, Tel Aviv is becoming noisy like all cities. It has all the flaws of a city, the crime and drugs, and the pollution. Like in America, you see people and companies are leaving the cities. It will happen here, too. Secondly, it’s a matter of transportation. If we shall speed up transportation, it’s a small country, then people will move. In the United States, if you go half an hour, an hour, to work, it’s normal. Here, an hour is the other side of the moon. It’s nonsense. They’ll get used to it. And then, more and more people today are not working in the same building, but using the same computers. So you computerize from home, which is again a difference. Today, a young boy is attending three schools: the formal school in the morning,; the informal school—television—in the afternoon; and the new language, which is Internet. We talk all the time that education is in the school; the school is just a third of the education of the children. What keeps them up-to-date is more the television and now more the internet. They look upon their teachers as old-age and a little bit boring, because they already know more than the teachers do. They have a new language, they have a new mind, they have a new sensitivity. In my judgment, the greatest thing is to bring over people from the old past that was slow–the cultivation of land–to a new future, which is as quick as an Internet.

During lunch Yitzhak Apeloig, the President of Israel’s renowned Technion, told David Shankbone that he noticed the quality of Hebrew spoken by the students at the Israeli M.I.T. had decreased, and that “some professors have difficulty understanding their students.” Peres waived such concerns aside: “They think everything is being ruined and is decaying. It’s different! They would like that we shall still dance a hora.”
Image: David Shankbone.

Eytan Fox’s 2006 film The Bubble, so-named because of the mentality and sometime apathy of the peace of mind that exists in Tel Aviv, amid a tumultuous region.

DS: When you speak of language, Hebrew is very unique. At a time when languages are disappearing, Hebrew is the only example that I know of a language revived successfully. Although I don’t speak Hebrew, I understand that the quality of Hebrew spoken by the younger generations has decreased.

SP: Don’t listen to the old generation. They think everything is being ruined and is decaying. It’s different! They would like that we shall still dance a hora. And the boys and the girls want to have all the jumping stuff: They want to jump, let them jump, my God! They still want that they should sing Slavic melodies and they complain the dresses are becoming shorter. What do you care? Let them have their own taste. And by the way: they can have it! Why are the girls wearing such short skirts? Because they are not afraid to show their legs; they take care of themselves. In previous generations, the women were not as up to develop the lady, so she couldn’t show her legs. Today, on the contrary.

DS: You used to not want to see the legs. [Laughs]

SP: They didn’t show because you didn’t want to see! [Laughs] So every generation handles it, they have new advantages, they have new problems, and the older want that we shall obey older traditions, and that children will behave like their parents. But the children have their own culture so they say they are deteriorating. They are not deteriorating! They are stronger, they are better informed, they are full of energy, they have a strategy. They are ready-made persons at an early age—14, 15, 16—physically and mentally and we don’t give them a role in our society. So they go off on drugs. It’s crazy! Let them play a role. Let them introduce themselves in the new hierarchies of our life. I believe that an inventor, a researcher can be the age of 15, 16, 17. We spoke about languages. What is the best time to learn a language? At the age of 2, 3, then you are becoming tired. Maybe at the age of 15 or 16 you have talents which are disappearing. Let them work. In the past generations they would not let the children work because it was a physical effort. Today, to work is to think. Let them think; don’t send them to drugs. Let them have their own challenges, their own curiosities

DS: What informs the question I asked about Hebrew is that it seems to build such a cohesive society here in Israel. It’s one of the binding forces…

SP: You said culture as justifying history, because I don’t suggest to forget the language. No. I am also for having individuality for nations. That can be cultural. But otherwise, I mean, let science run, let values stay permanent. I’ll give you just one example. Take away the land, okay. Take away a dunam of land. But in our culture, the yield per dunam is 25 times higher than it used to be. So maybe you lost one dunam but you won 25 yields. On the other hand, take away the Ten Commandments and the world becomes all of a sudden poor. You don’t have anything to replace these 169 words. So that’s what I mean, the permanence of the values and the mobility of the assets.

DS: One value used to be military service. 20 years ago it was anathema to not serve in the military and that was another binding cohesive force in Israeli society and now it’s quite common….

SP: Go over to sport, fight without killing, what’s wrong? Go over to chess, go over to competition or a creativeness to sing, to create. I would like to see the democracy not just a matter of real expression but a matter of self-expression.

DS: Do you think Israel’s security is at a point where it can move from being concerned with military service to being unconcerned and moving more towards competition in sports or the creative elements?

SP: The minute we shall be free of danger, yes. Right now, no. as long as we have dangers, we must be prepared to face them. You cannot become all of a sudden a philosopher instead of a soldier. It doesn’t make sense. But you see there are two things which are really fascinating. What makes Israel greater than our size? And that is the size of our enemies. We are forced to organize our defense, which means our agenda, not with the size of the land but with the size of the enemies of the land. So all the time we have to be more tense, more alert, more developed. The minute this will disappear, we will have to compete with the world to find our way. I think there is something in Judaism, by the way, which makes us inclined to do so. The greatest thing about Judaism–you can take it as a joke, you can take it seriously–is that introduced to life is dissatisfaction. A Jewish person cannot be satisfied, cannot be satisfied. The minute he is satisfied he begins to be non-Jewish. Dissatisfaction is the source of creation. All the time, because we were oppressed, we were small, we couldn’t sit down and have a glass of wine. All through time we have had to try and struggle and invest and renew. That is the reason why the Jewish people, in a way, are the permanent revolutionaries of history.

Iran: will Israel strike first?

DS: With Iran, do you think that Israel would ever need to act unilaterally again, to make a strike, in response to their nuclear capabilities? The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which is quite controversial, said that they’ve stopped their nuclear weapons program, yet there are many centrifuges in Natanz that are still producing material.

SP: First of all about intelligence. One must understand the nature of intelligence. Intelligence is an organization to report and not to prophesize. They are not prophets and they don’t claim to be. They are experts on what has happened; you can’t ask them to be expert on what may happen because the best intelligence person in America will never have a Persian mind. So how can you know how the mind acts? Don’t expect them. What will finally bring down the danger of Iran is the Iranians themselves; they are sick and tired. Ahmadinejad almost replaced Allah with enriched Uranium. It becomes a holy profession. “We are enriching uranium!” What are you enriching uranium, what for? If you try to use it, you will be hit.

DS: Are you saying the Iranian people will be the agents of change?

SP: Yes.

DS: But there was so much hope for Mohammad Khatami and yet his administration ended up a disappointment–

SP: Yes. There are hopes that become disappointments. It doesn’t mean you don’t have to try again.

DS: But the Iranian people seem to be rallying around their nuclear program.

Cquote1.svg With Iran, we shall do what we have to do in our own way. We don’t want to bother anybody because it’s a world problem. Until now, the problem was will the world stand on the side of Israel. Today, the question is will the world stand on the side of the world? Iran is a world danger. Cquote2.svg

—On the possibility of an Israeli strike against Iran.

SP: You’re only as great as your word, don’t forget. But the Iranian economy cannot hold it and they are mobilizing the world against them. Gradually. Every time more and more. The world is sick and tired. Finally, the world will have to decide if we live in a world with nuclear devices that can fall in the hands of terrorists or we are going to organize ourselves against this danger. So I will be very careful not to describe Iran as an Israeli problem. It’s a world problem and Israel must be sanguine about it. Keep cool.

DS: As part of a coalition?

SP: If they want us, yes. But we shall not insist. We are naturally in the coalition; I don’t know if we shall be formally.

DS: And you feel it would be a mistake for Israel to act unilaterally, or not?

SP: Yes. I don’t think Israel should say it; I don’t think Israel should talk about it. The minute we shall talk about it we shall be left alone. Israel is the only country that has never had a foreign army to defend it. All the European countries had foreign armies, most of the Asian countries. We don’t. And…

DS: You don’t feel America plays that role with Israel?

SP: America helps us a great deal. We are grateful. But we have never asked for American soldiers to defend Israel. And one of the popularities of Israel in the United States is that American mothers know that their children don’t face danger here.

DS: Although they face it quite often in Iraq and Afghanistan.

SP: But here we defend it ourselves. Even in the early times when the United States recognized us, they didn’t give us rifles to defend our lives. It’s only later that they gave us arms and we are very grateful. But with Iran, we shall do what we have to do in our own way. We don’t want to bother anybody because it’s a world problem. Until now, the problem was will the world stand on the side of Israel. Today, the question is will the world stand on the side of the world? Iran is a world danger.

The 2006 Lebanon War

‘The Iron Dome’: The Anti-Kassam rocket system, to be built by Israeli defense experts RAFAEL, is slated to be able to take its first battery in 2012. The missile shield is designed to prevent the problems encountered in Haifa during the war, when the city, including its oil refinery, came under heavy shelling from Hezbollah in Lebanon, just on the other side of the mountains (photo, above). The Dome is not without its questions and controversies, including whether the $207 million (£104 million) system will work.
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: How did the Lebanese War help Israel’s security?

SP: Look, Israel is almost 60 years old next year. In the 60 years we went through seven wars, two intifadas, all of them outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered. We didn’t lose a single one. So there were wars that were more successful, less successful, never a failure. Now about Lebanon, it became a question of did we do rightly or wrongly. But clearly it not wind up better for Hamas, not better for Hezbollah winning. They don’t know to answer, “Why did they go to the war?” Today, everybody recognizes that Hezbollah is a danger to Lebanon more than to Israel. Today when you speak to a Frenchman or to the United States, they are worried more about Lebanon and Hezbollah than about Hezbollah and Israel. So, we have learned our lessons too, and but I think by and large, some people say we could have saved the lives of 30 soldiers. Maybe.

DS: Do you think it’s hurt the peace process, the Lebanese War?

SP: I don’t think so. You know what is promoting the peace prospect more than losing it? That no one in the Middle East wants to fall under the spell of Iran. Iran today is a country with an appetite. An imperial appetite. They want an Iranian hegemony in the Middle East in the name of god and enriched uranium. And nobody wants it. So they attended Annapolis for the same reason. So everything, you know, it’s not a one-sided situation. It’s very dialectical, including Iran. So they think they won. What did they win? They are less accused; they are not less watched, not less disliked and not less suspected.

DS: Do you think there is still a strong peace movement in Israel?

SP: I think the situation is a peace movement because the more that the Arabs are learning, the more they are becoming peaceful. Look, we have in Israel 50,000 Arab citizens who are academicians. Ask where are they. Some of them are teachers who will remain in the vicinity of their university. Most of them are doctors. You won’t find in Israel today a hospital without Arab doctors and Arab nurses. Now an Israeli that goes to the hospital, maybe he would be reluctant to employ an Arab at his factory but he doesn’t hesitate to come to the hospital, lie on the bed and here comes an Arab doctor with a knife in his hand and operates on him. And he says thank you. So if you have healthy relations in hospitals, maybe it’s a cure for the others. The more people who become professional and modern from both sides, this is the peace movement! The peace movement is not an attempt to write more songs about peace. We have enough songs. What we need is the development and we have to be passionate.

On American politics

DS: How have you seen America’s role in the peace process change between Clinton to Bush?

SP: Look at America after the elections. In my journal, the two parties will come together and try to work up a bipartisan policy. You know somebody said that the difference between the Republicans and Democrats is the Democrats are reformers and the Republicans are maintainers. So they put in a little bit the Democrats to reform, then they put in the Republican to maintain. Then they change, but they keep basic on foreign affairs; America is revolutionary in technology, in economy, but very balanced in foreign policy and even when the United States commits mistakes in her foreign policy, a foreign policy without America would be the greatest mistake of our generation.

DS: You earlier spoke about modernity and the importance of science and how a lot of the terrorists are very scared of modernity and how it will affect their traditions yet one of Israel’s greatest supporters are the evangelicals in America, who are often seen in America as fighters of science and modernity.

SP: Look, I am not going here to make a license office. [Chuckles] I can judge on the general trend but I am not going to make any one remark. You know, one of the candidates is now Romney, who is a Mormon–

DS: Mitt Romney

SP: Yes, the Mormons too are becoming modern, and the evangelists they participate in all modernity. They are not terrorists. I mean, if you have an idea, you have an idea. The problem begins when you want to shoot when you have a different idea, to kill the future. You cannot kill it. Nobody can kill the future. Nobody can stop it. The terrorists will discover that they cannot live on their traditions. They will lose because they are not sustainable. Take a simple, single item: the attitude towards women. If they will not give equal rights to women, they will always be inferior because a nation that doesn’t give equality to women is half a nation. So by definition they are half of modern nations. You lose a lot. It’s not that you lose the women; you lose also the children because if the woman is uneducated, she cannot help the children to be educated. She doesn’t have to make a balance between the number of the children and the state of income of the family. This contradiction will grow and grow and grow and grow. It will take time, I don’t know, it will take 5 years or ten years or fifteen years… But it is so clear that they cannot make a living by killing others or by hanging on tradition.

Peres on his Presidency and learning from the future, not the past

DS: What do you hope to achieve with your presidency?

SP: In the long term I would like to help our people to live on two foundations: on the heritage of our spirit and our talent at modernity. That we should be as old spiritually as the Ten Commandments, and as new economically as the latest model of the Internet. It’s an educational process. Here the proportion between authority and freedom is in favor of freedom. Being free is the greatest, the best administration in life. Administrations are still becoming old, they are becoming bureaucracies. They represent a world that is disappearing. The modern economy is based on global companies that don’t have armies, don’t have police; that don’t have laws. They are based on good will, on inventions. So I don’t see any contradictions. Since we shall always remain a small land and a small people, we have all time to see how to reach the size that is necessary to exist, to defend ourselves, to offer a future to our children.

The office of the President of Israel in Jerusalem
Image: David Shankbone.

DS: Do you hope to have another term as president?

SP: Oh, maybe next time I shall go and be a shepherd or a poet. Why go back to government? [Laughs]

DS: [Laughs] I think you are already seen as both of those things.

SP: Yes, I’m not orthodox about it and I’m not particular. You know, once I was free of administration, I discovered the great advantage of being free. And I feel free. Most of my life, I was quite controversial. [Laughs] Now I know I am tremendously popular. I don’t know what is better, to be controversial and fight or to be popular and becoming a little bit…

DS: It is unique that when you look at your standing 20 years ago versus now, it’s so different–

SP: When was better? [Laughs]

DS: [Laughs] Well…

SP: I think 20 years ago when I was fighting. What do you need popularity? Popularity is like perfume: nice to smell, dangerous to drink. You don’t drink it. Why are people against you? Because you are against the status quo. Why was I unpopular? I didn’t commit any crime in my life. The only crime I committed was to be a little bit ahead of time. And if this is the reason for being controversial, maybe the reason is better than the result.

DS: What do you look at as your greatest legacy in your career?

SP: I am bored by it. My greatest legacy…

DS: What pops into your head right away when I asked that? [Laughs]

SP: [Laughs] It is what I’m going to do tomorrow. What I did yesterday, for me it’s boring and I’m very careful not to talk to my children about it because they will be bored. So why should I? My mind is set to see what will happen tomorrow.

DS: You don’t speak to your children about the things you’ve done in you life or your grandchildren?

SP: No I learn from them what they are doing. Why should I bore them? They know more about the computers and the internet and all; I am taking advantage.

DS: They probably know Wikipedia.

SP: My children are my parents because they teach me the future. Traditionally, I should have taught them, but I think it’s a waste of time. Why should I? Why should I load their minds with what I may think are heroic stories? They have their own heroism which is now giving birth to new possibilities, to a new age. So my time? They don’t ask and I don’t bother them. I imagine they know because [the press writes] about me negatively so much, that they can not escape. [Laughs] But they know one thing: I don’t complain. I generally never complain. They know we have an honest life. So whatever people are writing they do not care, because they know the truth.

DS: You’re very unique in your generation but also in Israel as someone who’s saying “Listen to the younger people.” Wikipedia is something that was basically built by people under 30 and it’s become perhaps the most influential media in the—

SP: Tell that to all those elder statesmen already. Go earlier and approach them. You know what is dying the fastest way? The daily newspaper. Tomorrow, it’s dead. Who remembers the newspaper of yesterday? Israel is not only quite technologically developed, but the revolutionary mind is also expressed in all forms of life. No country in the last a hundred years stayed at a kibbutz or a moshav. So it’s not only new forms of technology but new forms of life. Now let me tell you, the kibbutzim and the moshavim are, all told, today one-and-a-half percent of the Israeli population. Not much. But they are 8.5% of the Israeli production. Unbelievable. They are 20% of our pilots. They are a third of the soldiers that were decorated. What do I mean with this? They are not billionaires. Their capital is pioneering and not collecting. If I have to advise young people that enter politics these days I say don’t try for popularity; it will kill you. Because at the beginning you have an idea you want to make popular. But then you become so addicted to popularity that you forgot the idea that you wanted to sell. Better stick to your idea than to your popularity.

DS: Mr. President, I think that that is advice that many of our presidential candidates could heed as much as any young person. Thank you for your time.



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December 18, 2007

Israel Journal: The Holy Land has an image problem

Israel Journal: The Holy Land has an image problem

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wikinews reporter David Shankbone is currently, courtesy of the Israeli government and friends, visiting Israel. This is a first-hand account of his experiences and may — as a result — not fully comply with Wikinews’ neutrality policy. Please note this is a journalism experiment for Wikinews and put constructive criticism on the collaboration page.

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Ben-Gurion Airport; people waiting outside customs for international arrivals.

An Israeli first aid sign at the airport.

At 70 miles per hour halfway to Kennedy Airport the scent of alcohol filled the back of the cab when the driver turned around and said, “There is no traffic. It is good. Quick.” It was fitting. Up to that point I sat staring out the window thinking about all the warnings my family and friends gave me about taking care of my safety in Israel. Although I have traveled a good deal and never found a place I visited to be as it was depicted in the American media–Cuba is nothing like it is portrayed–the intonations to steer clear of pizza parlors and buses weighed on me. “Whatever you do, David, don’t go to Gaza or take a bus! Don’t. Go. To. Gaza,” my mother said several times, “Just, you know, there’s a war going on over there. If you see anyone praying to Allah and sweating, run!”

Until the cab driver turned around and smiled through his boozy breath, my mind had raced with thoughts of my life ending head bowed on Al-Jazeera, surrounded by gunmen forcing me to denounce my country. I thought about Gay Talese, desperate to go to Iraq, who told me he would tell “the bastards” to “go ahead, make my day” because he would die doing what he loved: working on a story. Strangely, I found solace in my drunken driver to distract me from these thoughts, and instead I thought about Carolyn Doran, the former Wikimedia COO who has caused a firestorm for the foundation when they hired her unaware that not only is she a quadruple-convicted drunk driver, but that she also shot a boyfriend.

My flight from Kennedy to Tel Aviv had the hallmarks of a caricatured bad flight: Despite my request for an aisle, I found myself in a center seat. To my right was a morbidly obese woman in a purple beret breast-feeding her baby. In the seat to my left was another infant in a baby seat, and to his left was his mother holding yet a third baby in her lap. When I woke two of the babies were suspended from the wall in what looked like airplane baby crib trampolines. Surprisingly, it was one of the better 11 hour flights I have had. All three babies slept through the entire trip and when I woke from one nap I found myself lying against what felt like memory foam, but turned out to be the obese woman, whose largess had spilled over our hapless arm rest and into my seat. It was…not unpleasant.

Upon arrival at our hotel in Tel Aviv we were given exactly ten minutes to shower and change before we had to leave to have dinner with Dr. Yossi Vardi–the father of Israeli invention, as he is known. Jimmy Wales had introduced me to him over e-mail, and I had done my research on the man who funded and sold the ICQ network. On the bus over there Stacy Perman and David Saranga spoke about how Israel is trying to brand itself today. In particular, Perman, who writes for Businessweek, mentioned a spread in Maxim Magazine that Saranga, who is in charge of media relations for the Israeli consulate in New York, was responsible for arranging. Its theme was “The Women of the Israeli Army” and featured buxom, beautiful scantily-clad Israeli girls from the armed forces. It rubbed Perman the wrong way. “The spread seemed so Lowest Common Denominator to me. What was the thinking behind that?” asked Stacy.

Saranga had no apologies for appealing to the male libido in his never-ending drive to sell Israel. “Look, I would love for Maxim’s 2.5 million readers to pick up that magazine and read about Israeli technology and our wonderful culture here. But in truth, they are not so interested in that. When we approached Maxim they asked why they should do it; after all, there are beautiful women every where. Why Israeli beautiful women? We said, ‘But Israel is the only army where women are actually fighting alongside the men.’ So they did it. Not with guns and ammunition, but just the…beautiful women of the Israeli army. When we tested how that piece worked, we found it was very, very successful.”

But what is success? The issue, Saranga explained, is Israel has an image problem. Saranga is one of the key people in the Israeli Foreign Ministry working to create a new brand name for the holy land. Indeed, one scheduled dinner for the journalists on this trip is hosted by Ido Aharoni, whose title is Head of Israel Brand Management Team. A country’s brand name is what this trip is all about. More accurately, about rebranding.

When people think of Israel, Saranga explained, they think the same things my friends and family think: it is dangerous, it is a place where you may be blown up. It is difficult to find in the American media stories that travel outside of Israeli-Palestinian-Lebanese conflict narrative. The effect, according to Saranga, has been that people do not want to come to Israel. It is too dangerous and even if safety is not an issue, it does not look like a fun place to go. According to the test research the Israeli government has conducted, people see Israel as a place that is deeply religious–it is, after all, a Jewish state–and besides holy sites such as the Temple Mount and retracing the steps of Jesus Christ, most secular American thrill seekers think there is little for them to do.

In reality, Israel is a multi-dimensional and pluralistic society with a large Arab—the majority of whom identify themselves as Palestinian—population in one of the most stable democracies in the Middle East. This trip, however, is mostly modeled to show the technology journalists what is by any measure one of the most thriving centers of innovation in the world. What we won’t see is Israel’s Arab side. When I suggested to Saranga that I would like to venture to the Jaffa Market, Tel Aviv’s thriving Arab bazaar, he looked at me perplexed, “Why would you want to go there?!” When I replied that it would be a good place to look for things to buy people back home, he still did not see why I would choose to go there. It was only when I mentioned it would also be good for photography–another purpose for this trip–did he say, “Well, that’s true. I suppose it has color.”

At dinner Dr. Yossi Vardi discussed the future of Israeli technology and pointed out that after California and Boston, Israel attracts the highest amount of venture capital incubator dollars in the world. After his speech, he turned to me with what the standard complaints I hear about Wikipedia; namely, that it is not always accurate and it is arbitrary in how it decides what is notable (in particular, the article on a product he is financing, Fring, has been deleted five times, he said, despite being a market leader). “How do you decide what is right and what is notable?” asked Vardi.

David Shankbone and David Saranga of the Israeli Foreign Ministry New York consulate.

It was the same question raised by the Haaretz reporter when he interviewed me later that night for an article about my trip. With both Vardi and Haaretz I brought up the on-going Santa Claus battle on Wikipedia, in which I was heavily involved. Several editors do not want us to point out that Santa Claus is not real (think of the children!) or, absent outright supporting the myth, that we should hide he is made up. The problem is that Wikipedia is not responsible for supporting cultural myths, but to explain them.

“But I believe in Santa Claus” replied Vardi. “Who are you to say he is not real?” It is a question that was raised in the Santa talk page discussion, and a difficult challenge to answer. And like the pro-Santa editors on the Santa Claus discussion, Vardi asked “What about God? Can you say that God does not exist?” But are Santa and God really the same beyond an academic philosophical discussion, I replied. God is typically taught to explain aspects of the world around us that we can not explain ourselves through our knowledge and technology. Santa, on the other hand, is a story parents know to be false. They tell their children to believe in something and then make an elaborate effort to support something they know is not true (milk and cookies consumed; gifts given by Santa; Father Christmas tracked on the Air Force website). Eventually, the time comes when parents reveal to their children that he never existed; it was them all along eating those cookies.

“But perception,” Dr. Vardi responded, “is reality. So who are you to say? It is the question of the tree falling in the woods and whether anyone hears it.” I responded that to take knowledge to such academic and philosophical realms is fine for spirited dinner conversation, but useless when trying to engage in practical pursuits. “After all, Dr. Vardi, how would you ever solve an engineering problem if all it takes for reality to be formed is to believe something to be true? You must come across many people who believe fervently that products they are developing will be successful; do you invest based upon their beliefs? The question is always whether a tree falling makes a sound. The question is never framed as, ‘Has the tree fallen?’ It’s a given.”

Cnaan Liphshiz, the Haaretz reporter, relayed similar concerns about Wikipedia as Vardi, although less philosophical. Are we a reliable source of information? “The short answer is no,” I said. He looked at me surprised “The problem with such a question is not whether Wikipedia is reliable, but is any one source of information reliable? Studies continually show that Wikipedia is reliable at redacting information and presenting what others say to be true. But are our sources right? No person should rely upon one source for anything. They should seek several sources to form an opinion. Does Wikipedia do a better job of presenting several opinions than The New York Times or Fox News? Yes, I believe they do.”

The technology journalists eating dinner with Dr. Yossi Vardi (on the right).

My presence on this trip, I offered Haaretz, raised the interesting question that Web 2.0 presents: how did the Israeli foreign ministry decide on David Shankbone to report for Wikinews and Wikipedia on this trip? 25% of the answer lies in my accreditation with Wikinews and that I am able to be an original source of reporting. But 75% of the reason rests upon my contributions to Wikimedia projects, which made me stand out over other contributors. Between my photography and my interviews, I have done high profile projects on Wikipedia and its sister projects. So can other commoners like me take off to Israel when we make worthwhile contributions to high-profile Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia? Maybe. The challenge for firms, governments and organizations today is to figure out who amongst a morass of disparate and sometimes bizarre user names can actually produce substantive work. The answer is that those who want to contribute information to the public sphere need to expend time to find who out there in Web 2.0 is worth contacting, and whether people in Web 2.0 can even do anything for them. This is the same advice I gave the Rubenstein Public Relations company (who manages PR for the Tribeca Film Festival), which is how the Israelis found me.

On a trip like this, what are the Israelis’ goals for Wikimedia? For David Saranga, it goes back to the rebranding of Israel. They simply want people to highlight aspects of their country that do not involve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hence, we are here to look at Israel’s technology sector in a head-spinning array of meetings. This made Wikipedia and Wikinews, influential sources of information that attempt to present the world as it is, an attractive option. “The fact is, there is so much going on in Israel today that nobody knows about because the media does not write stories about Israel outside of the conflict,” said Saranga. The opportunity to have someone from the Internet’s major encyclopedia visit the Weizmann Institute, the Technion and some of the holy sites was golden for them. Just don’t go to the Arab parts and whatever you do, don’t go to Gaza.


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April 12, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 12, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: April 12, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: April 12, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, April 12, 2007.

Continental passenger jet almost shot down

A Continental Airlines Boeing 777

A Continental Airlines Boeing 777 was in danger of being shot down Wednesday, during a New York to Tel Aviv commercial flight. The pilot of the 777 failed to make contact when approaching the Israeli coast, and authorities were afraid the airliner had been taken over by hijackers. Two Israeli F-15s and two F-16s were scrambled to intercept. While the plane was still over the Mediterranean, the captain realised the situation and immediately made contact. The Continental airliner was then escorted to Tel Aviv airport by the fighter jets without incident. Upon landing at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport, an inquiry into the incident was opened by officials.

Sources


Pakistani army involved in NWFP battles

Flag of Pakistan

For the first time President Pervez Musharraf has admitted the Pakistani army has been helping tribal fighters in the NWFP battling foreign militants. Media has in recent days reported on battles between local tribes and al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, primarily of Uzbek origin.

“The people of South Waziristan now have risen against the foreigners,” Musharraf told a conference of defense officials in Islamabad on Thursday. “They have killed about 300 of them. They have support from the Pakistan army. They asked for it.”

Sources


Katie Couric unaware of plagiarism

Katie Couric

CBS has admitted that the April 4 installment of “Katie Couric’s Notebook” was plagiarized. It seems it consisted mainly of passages lifted verbatim from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow which was published in March.

Although, attributed to – and read by – Katie Couric, in the video essay “Katie Couric’s Notebook,” it has been revealed that she did not write them and that they were supplied for her by CBS producers. Couric, herself, has not commented.

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August 15, 2006

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon develops double pneumonia

Filed under: Ariel Sharon,AutoArchived,Israel,Middle East,Tel Aviv — admin @ 5:00 am

Former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon develops double pneumonia

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ariel Sharon in a 2004 file photo

Former Israeli prime minster Ariel Sharon, 78, has developed double pneumonia and is being treated with “massive” amounts of antibiotics according to hospital officials.

“We are talking about pneumonia that is being treated with massive antibiotics. There is no change in the functioning of the brain tissue and no significant fall in vital signs,” said officials at Tel Hashomer hospital in the Sheba Medical Center located in Tel Aviv, in a statement today.

Yesterday doctors stated that Sharon’s urine ouput had “decreased significantly” and that a scan of his brain “showed a deterioration in his brain function,” said Anat Dolev, a Sheba Medical Center spokesman.

Yesterday the hospital reported that the condition of Sharon was getting worse.

Sharon has been in a coma since suffering a major stroke on January 4. Since being admitted to the hospital, he has undergone several rounds of surgery on his brain in an attempt to stop bleeding. Currently a respirator assists him in breathing.

Related

  • “Ariel Sharon’s condition worsens” — Wikinews, August 14, 2006

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April 17, 2006

Explosion in Tel Aviv injures at least 40, kills at least 8

Explosion in Tel Aviv injures at least 40, kills at least 8

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Tel Aviv police report that a Palestinian suicide bomber has caused an explosion at a restaurant in central Tel Aviv. Eight people are reported dead and at least 40 injured in the blast.

Two of the victims died after they had arrived at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Of the wounded, six were seriously hurt, 12 sustained moderate wounds, while the rest were lightly injured.

A suicide bomber targeted the same restaurant, “The Mayor’s Felafel,” on January 19. At least 20 were wounded in that attack. The restaurant was reportedly full of holiday travellers.

Palestinian group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the attack, as it has for six suicide bombings carried out since a cease-fire was declared in February 2005. Palestinian sources identified the bomber as Sami Salim Hamad, an Islamic Jihad activist from the village of Qabatiyah, on outskirts of the West Bank city of Jenin, where the Battle of Jenin occurred in 2002.

The suicide bombing was the first since Hamas took over the government of the Palestinian Authority less than three weeks ago. On Sunday, Islamic Jihad pledged to carry out more attacks.

The Bush administration has strongly criticized the attacks, calling it “a despicable act of terror for which there is no excuse or justification.” Khaled Abu Helal, spokesman for the Hamas-led Interior Ministry, called the attack “a direct result of the policy of the occupation and the brutal aggression and siege committed against our people.”

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Gideon Meir said Israel held Hamas responsible for the attacks, accusing it of “giving support to all the other terrorist organizations.”

The known deceased: Piroska Boda (50): citizenship: Romanian, nationality: Hungarian, foreign worker in Natanja, spending Easter holidays in Tel Aviv Rozália Besenyei (48): citizenship: Romanian, nationality: Hungarian 7 others are known to be of Israeli citizenship

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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February 14, 2006

The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentences Omri Sharon

The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentences Omri Sharon

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

On February 14, 2006, the Tel Aviv Magistrates Court sentenced Omri Sharon, son of the comatosed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to a nine month prison term, a nine month suspended sentence, and a 300,000 Shekel (USD 63,500) fine. Omri’s lawyers have already stated they will appeal a “exceptionally harsh verdict”. Ariel Sharon has not been charged so far.

Judge Beckenstein decided to delay his prison sentence six months due to the current health of his father. Beckenstein was quoted as saying: “This is a swamp of political corruption and it must be dried up.” In addition Gavriel Manor, an accomplice of Omri, was sentenced to a nine month suspended sentence for his involvement.

Omri was indicted on August 28, 2005 over a fundraising scandal relating to his father’s 1999 election. At the time Omri was exempt from prosecution due to parliamentary immunity but decided to stand trial.

According to Israeli prosecutors Omri received over $1,300,000 in contributions and donations from Israeli and other companies between July 1999 and February 2000. This violated the amount allowed by party finance laws. He was then charged of investing the funds into a corporation called Annex Research.

On November 14 Omri Sharon plead guilty in a plea bargain with prosecutors. He later resigned from the Israeli Knesset on January 3.

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November 13, 2005

Clinton speaks at Rabin memorial service

Clinton speaks at Rabin memorial service

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Former US president Bill Clinton was the guest of honor in a memorial ceremony attended by some 200,000 Israelis in Tel Aviv to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The rally was delayed one week due to Clinton’s schedule.

Clinton opened his speech with some words of respect to the deputy prime minister Shimon Peres, “My dear friend Shimon Peres, thank you for servicing the case of peace all of your life and being a partner and a leader to all of us”.

Regarding Rabin, Clinton said, “I loved him very much, and I was in awe of his ability to move from being a soldier to being a peacemaker, a politician to a statesman”.

Clinton said that it was a great honor for him to be at the ceremony with his wife, daughter and friends from America to stand in solidarity for the memory of Yitzhak Rabin. He said: “If he were here he would say, “There is enough of all this missing. If you really think I lived a good life, if you think I made a noble sacrifice in death, then for goodness sakes, take up my work and see it through to the end” and concluded his speech with the words in Hebrew — “Shalom Haver” (Goodbye my friend).

Later Clinton joined Peres and the rest of the politicians, most of whom were from Rabin’s Cabinet and were with him on the same stage in the original peace rally for singing “The Song For Peace”, the same song that they sang with Rabin that night.

Sources

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