Israel in the News Jan/Feb 2014

NYT Apologizes
The New York Times has apologized for the picture it chose to go with an article it published in November about the brutal murder of 19-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier Eden Atias, who was stabbed to death on a public bus in Israel.

Rather than running a photo of the soldier, the article titled “Attack on Israeli Worsens Tensions With Palestinians” featured a photo of the 16-year-old terrorist’s mother as she was visited by relatives.

The newspaper’s public editor Margaret Sullivan posted a blog in which she admitted her mistake. She went on to quote some of the angry letters she has received from readers. For example, Allan Lieberman of Long Island wrote, “In the eyes of The New York Times, Israeli victims of terror are mere footnotes to a one-sided narrative of Palestinian suffering and Israeli responsibility for that suffering.”

Freya Morrison of Toronto wrote, “Using a photo of the murderer’s mother to represent the item regarding the fatal stabbing of Eden Atias is the epitome of slanted journalism and bad taste. Let’s get it straight. The Israeli soldier is the victim here. How dare you make it appear otherwise?”

Sullivan added that she had spoken to two senior editors at The Times and that both agreed the photo “was a regrettable choice.”

Arutz-7 (IsraelNationalNews.com)

Palestinian Aid Money ‘Disappears’
Over the past four years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has managed to “lose” nearly $3 billion in financial aid from Europe, according to a European Court of Auditors’ report that was leaked to Britain’s Sunday Times. Yet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas blames Israel for his regime’s economic woes.

The report reveals that $2.7 billion in direct aid to the Palestinians between 2008 and 2012 cannot be accounted for.

The Jerusalem Institute of Justice has noted that, per capita, the PA has received 25 times more aid than did Europe following World War II.

Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)

Will Israel Be World’s First Cashless Society?
The Israeli government now has a committee to examine ways to eliminate cash from the Israeli economy to prevent people from cheating on their taxes.

Cash transactions can take place without the tax man’s supervision. Not so with electronic transactions. With computers, banks can keep tabs on how much people deposit into their accounts and how much they withdraw, while credit card companies have up-to-the-second records of how money is spent.

In a cashless economy, all records would be electronic, making tax collection simpler, the theory goes. By eliminating cash, the prime minister’s office said, “it will be possible to expand the tax base and prevent money laundering.” Observers said it is hard to imagine the government succeeding in this effort.

Arutz-7 (IsraelNationalNews.com)

Philippines Thanks Israel For Aid
Philippine Ambassador to Israel Generoso D.G. Calonge said his nation is most grateful for the immediate and overwhelming support the Jewish state provided in the wake of super-typhoon Haiyan, which killed an estimated 10,000 people and left another 800,000 without food, water, or shelter.

“I can’t describe the feeling right now…that my host country cares about our stricken people,” Calonge told The Jerusalem Post.

An Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command jumbo jet took off for the Philippines in November with 148 Israeli doctors, nurses, and medics aboard. In all, the Israeli army plans to send 234 medical personnel and enough supplies and equipment to establish a state-of-the-art field hospital.

Israel provided similar assistance to Haiti and Japan following earthquakes that devastated both of the island nations in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)

Israel Quietly Feeds Syrian Refugees
Among the organizations funding and distributing physical and emotional aid to the hundreds of thousands of Syrians flooding into northern Jordan to get away from Syria’s ongoing civil war is IsraAid, an Israeli humanitarian group with years of experience in Africa and other regions.

In Jordan, the group is buying and assembling large sacks of essential goods that are passed out to Syrian refugees daily. But it must do so discretely. Both IsraAid and its Jordanian partners are careful to remove any labeling that identifies the packages as coming from or being paid for by Israelis. With Syria still officially at war with Israel, it is a precautionary step organizers feel is necessary to maintain order and security in the refugee areas.

“We don’t announce with trumpets that we’re Israeli,” one of the IsraAid workers told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “There’s no need for that. Once you let that cat out of the bag, everything starts to blow up.”

Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)

Israeli Company Develops Total Lift Hospital Bed
An Israeli company, VitalGo Systems, has devised a hospital bed that helps sick people sit up and ultimately get up and walk. The innovation raises the patient from a lying to sitting or fully standing position without assistance. This can improve the quality of treatment for hospitals and care centers worldwide.

The new bed has been approved for use in the U.S. and Europe, with two companies already supplying facilities in America. And sales are booming.

Because it makes the treatment and rehabilitation of patients much easier, the company envisions the bed becoming the international standard for health care.

Israel Today (israeltoday.co.il)

Israeli Invents Cardboard Bicycle
If you don’t have much money to purchase reliable transportation, Izhar Gafni’s new cardboard bicycle may be your ticket to life on the road.

Although people told him it couldn’t be done, Gafni, a mechanical engineer who lives on a kibbutz in Israel, found a way to construct a sturdy, waterproof, fireproof bicycle entirely out of recycled materials and is now hoping to put it into production in Israel.

To raise the projected $5.5 million needed to build a production facility, Cardboard Technologies tried but failed to raise $2 million through crowdfunding, a way of raising money from a vast number of people via the Internet. Various news sources also report that Jeffrey Swartz, former president and CEO of the footwear and apparel company Timberland, has hitched his wagon to the project as an investor.

The bicycle, made of recycled cardboard, plastic, and rubber, weighs only 20 pounds (9 kilograms) but can handle a 275-pound passenger.

Almost as astounding as its unconventional makeup is its unconventional price. It reportedly costs only $9 to manufacture. At first Gafni said he would market the cardboard bicycles for $20 each. But now news reports say he plans to sell them for $30 to $50 each in underdeveloped countries and $100 each in developed countries. Other sources say the bicycles likely will cost much more.

According to the website israel21c.org, cardboard bikes are only the beginning: “For those who have been following the news stories about Cardboard Technologies, the bike prototypes are only the beginning of this planned cardboard revolution. They’ve already got a cardboard wheelchair and a cardboard baby stroller model, too.”

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