Israel in the News Nov/Dec 2012
War-Prep Leaflet Features Muppet
Moishe Oofnik, Israel’s version of Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch, is on the cover of a new 15-page pamphlet telling Israelis how to prepare for war. The leaflet, part of a public-awareness campaign designed to teach what to do in an emergency, has been appearing in mailboxes across the country.
It explains residents will have only minutes, sometimes 30 seconds, to find shelter in case of an attack.
Reuters news service reported that Israel “stepped up the distribution of gas masks and other protective gear to the public some weeks ago, but the mailing of what-to-do information suggested an escalation in preparation for possible conflict.”
Israel Not Always to Blame
Social protests are escalating in the Palestinian Authority (PA) territories, with rising unemployment and no economic relief. Demonstrators recently castigated PA Chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas at a protest and had their microphones suddenly silenced by authorities during a live broadcast from Tulkarem.
The move did little to quench the rage of what is fast becoming known as the approach of the “PA Winter.”
“Israel is not always to blame!” protesters shouted. “You cannot silence us!” PA Arabs have been protesting for weeks against the difficult conditions created by the global economic crisis.
Moreover, a significant percentage of the PA budget that could be used for infrastructure is instead diverted to “prisoner salaries”—that is, monthly payments to terrorists in Israeli prisons who have murdered Israelis. In fact, many of these terrorists recently received pay increases. Some now receive as much as $3,000 per month.
Juvenile Diabetes Drug Passes Test
A new treatment for Type I (juvenile) diabetes invented by Israeli scientist-professor Irun Cohen has met its first and secondary goals in a Phase III clinical trial conducted by the Andromeda Biotech firm. Recruitment of participants has started for a second, validation trial hoping to replicate the results.
The drug, DiaPep277, created at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, was tested on 457 patients aged 16 to 45 in 40 medical centers throughout Europe, Israel, and South Africa. Patients received a subcutaneous injection once every three months for two years, while a control group received a placebo injection. Both groups also received insulin as needed.
Patients treated with the drug for a year or more exhibited significantly higher pancreatic function than those in the control group. No significant differences were found with regard to side effects.
Andromeda Biotech is a second-tier subsidiary of Clal Industries, which belongs to the IDB group. Three years ago, the company gained FDA approval for the development plan for DiaPep277, which is set to become the company’s flagship product.
If the medication succeeds and makes it all the way to market, it will face virtually no competition, being the first of its kind to at least slow down, if not halt, the march of juvenile diabetes.
Jerusalem Now in Missile Range
Iran says it has a “domestically produced” cruise missile capable of being launched “from land, sea, and air” and reaching major Israeli cities, including Jerusalem.
Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Mehdi Farahi announced the existence of the long-range Iranian missile, dubbed “Meshkat,” with a range of 2,000 kilometers, or 1,250 miles, that could easily reach Israeli cities, including Jerusalem, a report says.
The weapon will serve as “the upper hand of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran….[The] Meshkat cruise missile, which Allah willing will be unveiled soon, has a range of more than 2,000 kilometers,” the report quoted Farahi as telling Iran’s Press TV.
The cruise missile will also be able to hit targets as far away as the vital American military base at Diego Garcia, described by the U.S. military as the “tip of the spear” for U.S. military operations in the Persian Gulf, which lies 2,400 miles from Iran.
Diego Garcia hosts the strategic B-1 bomber and is a major U.S. military depot, Mashregh news, a media outlet run by the Revolutionary Guards intelligence division, reported.
Iran has armed all of its vessels with long-range ballistic missiles and plans to navigate into the Atlantic Ocean and near the Gulf of Mexico. Many of Iran’s missiles are reported to be in underground silos across the country, and even if its ships and aircraft come under fire, many of the ballistic and cruise missiles could be launched before the “enemy” can target them, Mashregh news reported.
Diamond Lab Opens in Israel
The Gemological Institute of America has opened a new laboratory in Israel’s diamond center in Ramat Gan to provide on-site services, including GIA Diamond Grading Reports, Diamond Dossiers, and related services. GIA, the world’s foremost gemological institution, maintains a presence in 16 cities around the world. The new Ramat Gan facility is the eighth GIA laboratory and the sixth outside the United States.
“Israel has long been a center for the global diamond trade,” said Donna Baker, GIA president and CEO. “We hope that having direct access to GIA diamond-grading services in Israel will support the success of Israeli companies.”
Israel’s Satellite TV Provider Gives CNN the Heave-Ho
A staple of Israeli television since the inception of digital, multichannel broadcasts more than 20 years ago, CNN soon will no longer be seen in Israel. Satellite broadcaster YES has announced it is dropping the station due to high costs. No replacement station has yet been named. CNN broadcasts on YES will end December 31.
Once considered the standard in international cable news, CNN has been losing ground in recent years to competitors like Fox News, which is available in Israel. As in the United States, Fox News has higher ratings among YES customers than CNN, even though Fox News is a “premium” channel that customers must pay for above the costs of their subscriptions.
Industry insiders said the satellite broadcaster felt it was paying too much to feed CNN to local customers, a situation that came about because of the original contract Israeli broadcasters signed with CNN some two decades ago; the price started out high and remained so, they said. In a statement, YES said it was examining replacement services but that, in the meantime, customers who want to watch an international news service in English could choose from a wide variety of stations, including Fox News, Sky News, BBC World, Bloomberg, and English-language news services from France, China, and Japan.
Last year, HOT, the cable-television provider, dropped CNN over a similar contract dispute. HOT replaced CNN with the much more reasonably priced MSNBC.
In a statement, CNN said it “is exploring the way we deliver our news in Israel. It’s worth noting, however, that with…the continued dynamics of this region, and major global events that impact us all, the need for independent and objective journalism has never been greater. CNN recently grew its viewership across Europe, the Middle East, and Asia to remain the #1 news channel by a mile.”
The statement added, “With that leadership comes a responsibility to viewers. For CNN, the consumer comes first and they will drive any discussions we have with operators before any other considerations.”
Abbas, Ahmadinejad Attack Christianity
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are sounding more alike all the time. Abbas claims “Palestinian” history is 9,000 years old—even though Islam came into existence 1,400 years ago; and Ahmadinejad said recently, “God has only one religion, that of Islam.” He said, “He did not send Judaism or Christianity. Abraham was a harbinger of Islam, as were Moses and Jesus.”
The Israeli news service Arutz-7 reported that Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), which has translated PA documents, said Abbas and PA leaders have denied the first and second Temples’ existence thousands of times, thus attacking Christianity, which often mentions the Temple in the New Testament. In fact, Arutz-7 wondered why Christians do not protest.
Many Jewish sites, such as Rachel’s Tomb less than a mile from Jerusalem, have been given Arab names. The PA claims Rachel’s Tomb is a Muslim site. Yet the Jewish patriarch Jacob buried his wife Rachel there more than 2,000 years before Islam was founded.
Arutz-7 also reported that PMW also uncovered Abbas’s statement that “all of Israel’s archaeological digs and tunnels…will not create a [Jewish] right based on fantasy and legends.” The statement ended, “There will be no peace, security, or stability unless the occupation [Israel], its settlements and settlers will be evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state.”