English-language premiere by Boaz Gaon & Nir Erez Based on the play by Henrik Ibsen Directed by Joseph Megel

Dramaturgy Packet Theater J December 2012


CONTENTS About the authors A Note from Playwright Boaz Gaon Israel’s South Ramat Hovav The Bedouin Population Channel 2 The Israeli Defense Fund Ethnic Identity in the play Social Protest Movement in Israel Evangelical Christians in Israel Images of the Negev Images of Oslo, Norway Glossary 3 4 6 7 9 11 12 16 24 29 30 31 33


About the Authors

Boaz Gaon (Playwright) received an Msc in Media and Communications from The London School of Economics and Political Science. He received his BA in Theatre Studies from Tel Aviv University. He is currently a Dramatic Writing professor at the Minshar Arts School, in Tel Aviv, and Head of the Drama and Story department at HSCC, a leading TV production company. Boaz formerly served as senior writer and New York and London correspondent for Ma’ariv Israeli newspaper; and an investigative reporter for Channel 2 television. His dramatic writing includes ARGENTINA; a theatrical adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s novella RETURN TO HAIFA; MISMATCH for the Haifa Theater; and BRANJA at the Beit Lessin theater. He was the winner of the 2009 festival for new Israeli plays. Other plays by Gaon include FAMILY PACKAGE; and THE ISRAELI FAMILY (nominated for Best Entertainment Show, 2004 and read at Theater J in 2007). Gaon’s work has also been seen at The Odessa Branch Denver Arts Center, Theatrefest 2002. His play DRESS REHEARSAL won the Best Play Award at the Akko Israeli fringe Festival. He recently published the nonfiction book Where America Ends – My Life As an Israeli in New York. Other work includes a nover--Gymax’s Yellow Bus.

Nir Erez (Playwright) is a theater director, scriptwriter, playwright, script and content editor, and acting teacher. A graduate of the Nisan Nativ Acting Studio, he was formerly an actor at Habima National Theater and the Cameri Theater. He directed A SHAPE FOR LOVE and TAPE at the Habima National Theater; JEEPS and SHIRA at the Be’er-Sheva Theater and many other plays, some of which he also wrote. Erez was the author, editor and chief writer of the television series Ahad Ha’Am (Channel 2 - Reshet) and Betzefer (Nickelodeon Channel), the editor of For Laughs with Idan Alterman and Yair Nitzani (Channel 2 - Keshet), and more. 3

Henrik Ibsen (Playwright) was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as “the father of realism” and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre. His major works include Brand, Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, Emperor and Galilean, A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, Rosmersholm, and The Master Builder. Several of his plays were considered scandalous in his era, when European theatre was required to model strict morals of family life and propriety. Ibsen’s work examined the realities that lay behind many façades, revealing much that was disquieting to his contemporaries. It utilized a critical eye and free inquiry into the conditions of life and issues of morality. Ibsen is often ranked as one of the truly great playwrights in the European tradition. Richard Hornby describes him as “a profound poetic dramatist—the best since Shakespeare”. He influenced other playwrights and novelists such as George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Miller, James Joyce, and Eugene O’Neill. Inspired by the demands of critics that literature should address current problems of the day, Ibsen set out to address serious matters by using stories about everyday life. While Ibsen did not invent the social reform play, some believe he perfected it. An Enemy of the People touches on many themes of social and political relevance—first among them the danger of a mindless majority dictating the direction of politics. He also addressed environmental themes, the responsibility of economic growth, and the role of women in society in this—one of his most enduring plays. A Note From Playwright Boaz Gaon We knew that we were on to something—when we listened to the silence. The place was Beersheva, the venue—the new and shining theater of the town that is also called The Capital of the South. For the past ten years, this sprawling capital of the Israeli desert has lived in the shadow of Ramat Hovav, a gigantic industrial park. Twice a day, the sickening smell of acid sweeps through the town. Many more times a day, assurances are given to the 150,000 inhabitants of the town (most of whom are blue collar, new and old immigrants, and many students at the local University named after David Ben Gurion) that “everything is being done to ensure our air is clean, our soil fertile, our air nontoxic.” Mostly everyone feels that this is a lie. Mostly everyone is too busy, too poor, or too disillusioned in their role as citizen to change things—to act. Boged opened in Israel in the Spring of 2011. The audience sat in silence. It was an outraged silence, a silence of people who feel that they are watching a reflection of the truth—their truth. This silence endured almost throughout the show, then was briefly replaced by applause and then returned, as people huddled together outside of the theater, in the desert air, for an hour and more, to talk about what they’ve just seen. And what to do about it outside of the theater, where the air is forever—dirtier. 4

“They showed it like it is”, I remember one ashen-faced audience member, saying. “The problem is,”said another, “that this isn’t a play. It’s our lives. And I’m f**king sick of it.” Spring turned to Summer. April turned to July. On July 14th a young woman by the name of Dafni Leef got tired of “being unable to live in Israel like a normal human being” and set up a tent in Tel Aviv Rotchild’s avenue. Within a month, she was joined by hundreds of thousands, from Tel Aviv to Beersheva. They too were “sick of it.” They too, like Ibsen’s Thomas Stockman, our “Tommy Doany”, felt like the young embody the the hopes for a cleaner town, a cleaner community, hopeful and true. As our show toured around Israel, the reactions grew stronger, the silences grew denser, the closing lines of Tommy’s, celebrating his loneliness and abandonment - more resonant. For once, the Tommy Doanys of Israel weren’t alone. They were living in tent cities, all across the country, dreaming of a better future. Our play felt timely, a reflection of the Israeli Summer of 2011. In time, we grew less surprised at this. We too, after all, like Tommy, like Dafni, were tired of feeling right but weak; strong but alone. We wanted company. -Boaz Gaon



The Southern Frontier of Israel "For those who make the desert bloom there is room for hundreds, thousands, and even millions," So wrote David BenGurion, Israel's first prime minister, when he retired to the Negev Desert in 1954. But Ben-Gurion was a realist—also stating, “It is in the Negev that the creativity and pioneer vigor of Israel shall be tested.” Since this time “Go south, young man" has been the Israeli version of the iconic quote made popular by Horace Greeley. As early as the 1950s, when the first pipelines brought water into the parched Israeli desert in an effort to make this vast expanse of land (about half the nation's land total) viable for a growing Israeli population, the development of the Negev and the Galilee regions in Israel has been a focus of national attention. Journalist David Wainer covered this subject for the journal of social entrepreneurship incubator PresenTense . “With more than 70 percent of Israelis living within the overcrowded triangle of Haifa-Tel Aviv-Jerusalem, and real estate prices increasingly expensive for middle class families” Wainer wrote, “the impetus to expand Israeli settlement into the Negev Desert is commonsensical. Representing a total of 66 percent of Israel’s land, the Negev today is home to a mere 8 percent of Israel’s population. This sparsely populated and poorly developed desert land leaves much work ahead for the Jewish people…But the challenge of developing this region…is vast. Categorized as an arid to semi-arid climate, the Negev is no “land of milk and honey.” This is the environment in which Israeli playwrights Boaz Gaon and Nir Erez have chosen to set their play BOGED (TRAITOR): AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE. The fictionalized environmental concerns highlighted in the play bear some resemblance to the very real problems surrounding the Ramat Hovav industrial park. Ramat Hov is located twelve kilometers from Be'er Sheva--the largest city in the Negev desert and the seventh-largest city in Israel—and covers 5863 6

acres, of which 1976 acres are used and the rest is designated for future industrial factories. Currently there are 21 factories and industrial facilities on site. Unlike some of the more progressive projects in the Negev, like Kibbutz Lotan with a primary focus aimed to “promote ecological building, waste management, and environmental education” that was recognized by the global community with a 2006 Award for Ecovillage Excellence, the most prestigious award given to eco-villages internationally, Ramat Hovav has received less-than-stellar reports from the environmental community. Wainer goes on to write, “According to Udi Nathan, the founder of an ecovillage in Kibbutz Kramim, there are ample challenges to be dealt with as the Negev is gradually developed. For example, ‘Ramat Hovav is an outrage,’ he complains, referring to a waste plant by Beer Sheba that emits a stench so putrid that the Israeli army had to move some of its bases due to complaints of nausea and sickness among the soldiers. In addition, he says the Bedouin issue is a moral problem that the government should immediately undertake. Most of the Bedoins who were moved by Israel in the 1950s still live in cluttered villages plagued by utter destitution. Their water supply and sewage system are disgraceful and their electric supply is sporadic at best. Nathan believes the development of the Negev is inevitable. “It is the final frontier,” he says. “The question,” he poses, “is whether the government will use the desert solely for its military projects and hazardous waste plants or if, instead, the Negev will grow in an environmentally sound manner.” Nathan has taken upon himself to be an advocate for the latter option. Ramat Hovav

Ramat Hovav in the evening


An incinerator at Ramat Hovav Official website: Promotional video: From the website for Bustan: Sustainable Community Action for Land and People ( Bustan is an NGO that works in the Bedouin and Jewish communities of the Negev. As in many other places worldwide, the desertification phenomena is changing the physical environment, climate and affecting the livelihood of inhabitants in the Negev region. For generations the Bedouins have been masters in living off the land sustainably in a harsh environment, but geopolitical changes since the establishment of the state of Israel have forced them to abandon their way of live in the Negev and adapt to a modern way of life at the cost of their ancient knowledge, tradition and habits.


In addition to the environmental hazards of inadequate water and sewage treatment, Bedouin communities face additional hazards by several industrial plants e.g. Romat Hovav, located in the heart of Bedouin communities, which consists of 17 chemical factories and the national toxic waste dump site, to which 70,000 tons of waste are shipped annually. The Health Ministry found highly elevated rates of cancer in the region and theorized that Ramat Hovav is the culprit (Haaretz, October 9, 2007). Rates of miscarriage, asthma, sleep apnea and birth defects are also elevated in Bedouin communities (UN OCHA, November 2007) The Bedouin Population Bedouin: Israeli Citizens, Not Illegal Squatters The Huffington Post Posted: 10/24/2012

A Bedouin Market

Less than 10 miles east of Beersheva sits the "unrecognized" Israeli Bedouin village of Khashem Zaneh. When I last visited, Atia Atameen, a community leader, welcomed me into his home. Over tea Atia regaled me with stories about his village's history. Atia told me that Khashem Zaneh dates its roots at this location back hundreds of years, to the days of the Ottoman Empire. Approximately 2,300 men, women and children currently live there. Its residents rely mostly on subsistence agriculture and animal husbandry. Like dozens of other Bedouin villages in the Negev region, Khashem Zaneh lacks paved roads, water, sanitation, electricity, garbage collection, schools or health clinics. The government does not recognize this village -- despite its hundreds of years of history -- and so does not provide basic municipal services. Tens of thousands of Israeli Bedouin citizens like Atia Atameen have been labeled as illegal squatters by several recent articles in the Jewish press. Hard-line politicians like Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein and right-wing activist organizations like Regavim have issued inflammatory statements laced with revisionist history suggesting that the Bedouin are lawless intruders with no historical claim to land in the Negev. The current official Israeli government policy about Bedouin settlements in Negev, known as the Prawer Plan, could lead to the displacement of 30,000-40,000 people like Atia. Approximately 25 of the 35 remaining unrecognized Bedouin villages of the Negev are under threat of demolition with partial to no government compensation. These Bedouin communities are not illegal squatters. Rather, their situation is a result of a long history of discriminatory and repressive government policies. 9

After the War of Independence in 1948, Israel did not recognize the Bedouin traditional system of communal and individual land ownership. The new government used martial law to force the Bedouin who remained in the Negev to live within an arid area between Beersheva, Arad, Dimona and Yeruham known as the Siyag (Hebrew for the "Fence") and confiscated most Bedouin land outside of this area as state land. Under the 1965 Planning and Building Law, all land within the Siyag became zoned exclusively for agricultural, industrial or military purposes, making every existing and future Bedouin structures illegal within the region where the government confined them. Beginning in the late 1960s, Israeli policy focused on further condensing the Bedouin population into seven urban townships created by the government. Those who remained in the unrecognized villages have been unable to get building permits. All new constructions are under threat of demolition and residents who build face the possibility of hefty government-imposed fines. The government's Prawer Plan is the latest example of the systematic violation of Bedouin human rights and the denial of basic human needs. The prohibition against discrimination, as in access to land, government allocation of state land and provision of social services, is a central tenet of all international human rights treaties ratified by Israel. And according to the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body that monitors state parties' compliance to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ratified by Israel in 1991), "instances of forced eviction are prima facie incompatible with the requirements of the Covenant." The Book of Micah makes the following comment about abusing power to seize property: "And they covet fields, and seize them; and [they covet] houses, and take them away; thus they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage." As a nation of people that know all too well what it means to be an oppressed minority, Israel has a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable within its midst. Demolishing homes, forcing people off of their land and denying basic government services builds animosity among the Bedouin population toward the state and toward their Jewish neighbors. Making more Bedouin move into impoverished urban slums against their will where there are few economic opportunities will breed crime and further entrenches cycles of poverty. Joshua Bloom is Director of Israel Programs at Rabbis for Human Rights-North America.

A Bedouin tent


Channel 2

Channel 2 is Israel's most popular television station. It is operated by three franchisees: Keshet, Telad and Reshet, which divide programming time for the week among them. The bid to operate Channel 2 from November 2005 is currently underway. By the end of March 2005, the tender committee will choose two companies to operate Channel 2 for the next 10 years, replacing the current three operators. The two operators will switch schedule days during the contract, one broadcasting four days a week for 26 months, with the other company taking four slots afterward for a similar period. Annual revenue is expected to range from NIS 350-400 ($80-90 million) a year, bringing in an average profit of NIS 30-50 ($7-11 million) a year. Some five companies and investors have announced their intentions to participate in the bidding. Current operators include Reshet, Keshet and Telad. One of the two new bidders is Taya Communications, who adopted “Kan – television that changes the picture “as the consortium's new brand name. The second new group is a partnership consisting of impresario Aviv Giladi and businessman Udi Recanati.


A History of the IDF (from the IDF website) The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was officially established on May 31, 1948, shortly after the founding of the State of Israel. The IDF incorporated pre-state Jewish paramilitary organizations, including the Haganah, Palmach, Irgun and Lehi. Immediately after it gained independence, Israel was invaded by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, sparking the War of Independence (May 1948-July 1949). Through effective organization, the IDF was able to overcome the manpower and supply advantages held by its Arab enemies. The final armistice agreement was signed in July 1949, ending the War of Independence. In the early years of statehood, Israel was beset by security problems, as its Arab neighbors frequently violated the 1949 armistice agreements. Israeli and Israel-bound ships were prevented from traversing the Suez Canal; the Straits of Tiran were blockaded; terrorists constantly infiltrated into Israel from neighboring Arab countries to carry out attacks; and the Egyptian military increased its presence in the Sinai Peninsula. In October 1956, Egypt, Jordan and Syria signed a tripartite military alliance, increasing the imminent military threat facing Israel. On October 29, 1956, Israel launched an eight-day campaign (the Sinai Campaign) during which the IDF took control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. Following international pressure, Israel withdrew from these territories in stages. The withdrawal was complete in March 1957. United Nations forces were positioned along the Israel-Egypt border and Israeli ships were assured the right of passage through the Straits of Tiran. The following decade was relatively quiet, allowing Israel and the IDF to develop. In May 1967, Egypt increased its military presence in the Sinai Peninsula, expelled the UN forces on the Israel-Egypt border, closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and signed a defense pact with Jordan. Facing an existential threat, Israel invoked its right to self-defense. On the morning of June 5, the IDF launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, starting the Six-Day War. Jordan launched attacks on Israel, drawing a response from the IDF. Conflict also broke out with Syria in the north. Over the course of six days, the IDF took control of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.


Following the Six-Day War, Israel hoped that it could convert its military success into permanent peace with its Arab neighbors, based on UN Security Council Resolution 242. Israel's diplomatic overtures, however, were rebuffed. Shortly after the conclusion of the Six-Day War, Egypt initiated the War of Attrition against Israel, with sporadic actions along the Suez Canal that escalated into intense, localized clashes that caused many casualties on both sides between 1967 and 1970. In 1970, a renewed cease-fire was reached between Israel and Egypt. On October 6, 1973, which was Yom Kippur (the holiest day of the Jewish year), Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated surprise attack against Israel, with Egyptian forces crossing the Suez Canal and Syrian forces entering the Golan Heights. Over three weeks of heavy battles, the IDF overcame initial Egyptian and Syrian gains and advanced to the western side of the Suez Canal and to the vicinity of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Negotiations in the following years led to disengagement agreements under the terms of which Israel withdrew from parts of the territories captured by the IDF during the Yom Kippur War. In 1979, Israel and Egypt signed a peace agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, Israel fully withdrew from the Sinai Peninsula. Repeated attacks on Israel's northern towns by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), which was based in southern Lebanon after being expelled from Jordan in 1970, led to the outbreak of Operation Peace for Galilee in 1982. The IDF entered southern Lebanon and removed the bulk of the PLO's infrastructure in the area. Until May 2000, the IDF remained in a narrow security zone in southern Lebanon to protect northern Israel against attacks by hostile elements in Lebanon. In December 1987, the First Intifada (uprising) broke out in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It was initiated by Palestinians in the Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza. Over the course of the First Intifada, Palestinians carried out thousands of attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers using weapons such as Molotov cocktails, hand grenades, guns and explosives. In 1993, Israel and the PLO signed the Oslo Accords, leading to years of peace negotiations. Parts of the West Bank, including its population centers, were handed over by Israel to the Palestinian Authority. Despite these peace process, the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations carried out numerous attacks inside Israel during the 1990s, including the first suicide bombings carried out by carried out by Palestinians. Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement in 1994. In September 2000, Palestinians launched the Second Intifada (uprising). Hundreds of Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed in Palestinian terrorist attacks that included numerous suicide bombings and shooting attacks in Israeli cities. In March 2002, following a Hamas suicide bombing at a Passover seder at a Netanya hotel in which 30 people were killed, the IDF carried out Operation Defensive Shield to eliminate Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. Operations conducted by IDF in Palestinian cities in the West Bank led to a decrease in Palestinian terrorist attacks inside Israel. The construction of a security barrier between Israel and the West Bank also contributed to the decline in Palestinian terrorism. In 2004, Israel decided to disengage from the Gaza Strip. All Israeli citizens and military personnel in Gaza were evacuated in August 2005. On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah terrorists launched an attack on IDF soldiers patrolling the Israel-Lebanon border within Israeli territory. The attack instigated the Second Lebanon War. The war lasted 34 days and ended with the adoption of 13

UN Resolution 1701. During the war, the IDF significantly degraded Hezbollah's military capabilities through airstrikes and ground operations in Lebanon. Following years of rocket fire aimed at southern Israeli towns by terrorists in the Gaza Strip, the IDF launched Operation Cast Lead on December 27, 2008. During the three-week operation, IDF forces carried out operations against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip. After the operation, the frequency of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel sharply decreased. The IDF in the Negev By The Associated Press | Sep.16, 2012 | 2:28 PM IDF begins moving major bases to Israel's Negev Beginning in late 2014, 10,000 soldiers will be moved into new training base south of Be'er Sheva; $650 million construction project is army's largest in decades. The Israeli military has begun construction of its largest training base ever, moving operations from some of the country's priciest real estate to the barren sands of southern Israel in a new attempt to realize the longtime dream of making the desert bloom. The $650 million construction project is the military's biggest in three decades: Beginning in late 2014, 10,000 soldiers will be moved into the new base 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of the city of Be'er Sheva from their current quarters in the country's Tel Aviv-area heartland. The program is designed to streamline combat support training, now carried out at multiple facilities, by funneling it into a single site. But critics question whether it will jumpstart the economy of the Negev region as officials promise. They also note the project doesn't even discuss benefits for Arab Bedouin who account for a third of the 500,000 Israelis living in the area. Not since Israel pulled up its bases from Egypt's Sinai desert in the early 1980s under the two countries' landmark peace treaty has the military carried out a project of this scope, in terms of cost, number of soldiers involved and sheer physical size, said project director Lt. Col. Shalom Alfassy. Today, only a few spare buildings stand on the 625 acres (250 hectares) earmarked for the site. But within two years, 2.7 million square feet (250,800 square meters) of construction is supposed to go up, including barracks, hundreds of computerized classrooms, simulation sites and firing ranges. The base will not train combat soldiers, but drivers, paramedics and other troops who would support them at the front. It will not draw operations from the main military headquarters and Defense Ministry in the heart of Tel Aviv. The project is part of a broader move to relocate military facilities to the Negev. Alfassy says about half of the bases in Israel's center will move to the region by the end of the decade. The Negev accounts for over half of Israel's land mass but is home to just 8 percent of its 8 million people. Making it flourish was the vision of Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion. But poor services have kept the area languishing, despite a series of government programs and improved road and rail links designed to boost it.


Alfassy believes things will be different this time. He estimates the project will create 20,000 to 30,000 temporary construction jobs for Negev residents. Some 500 civilian workers will work at the base and 2,000 to 2,500 jobs will be created for outside vendors, he predicted. The military expects 200 to 300 career soldiers will move their families to the south to be near the base, boosting the economy as well as educational and medical services, he said. Erez Tzfadia, head of the department of public policy and administration at Sapir College in the Negev, scoffed at that notion. "There are half a million people" in the area where the base is being built, he said. "Will 200 families of career soldiers really pull up the Negev?" The project's champions also talk about bringing more buying power to the Negev through the 10,000 soldiers to be based there. But "soldiers don't have any money," Tzfadia said. "At most they will buy felafel at the central bus station in Beersheba. You don't build an economy on that." None of the tribal Arab Bedouin who have been living in the area for decades will have to move to make way for the base, reducing any opposition to the project. Past attempts to develop the south have been marred by forced evictions of unauthorized Bedouin villages. At the same time, the relocation program does not specifically consider ways to involve the impoverished Bedouin community. "They aren't even taken into consideration as a party that should be a beneficiary, even at the level of discourse," Tzfadia said. Alfassy said Bedouin would be considered for projects but had no information on plans designed to benefit them. A top benefit of the relocation is having the military vacate sought-after real estate in central Israel. The Ministry of Construction and Housing estimates 35,000 apartments, including about 9,000 classified as affordable housing, will be built on the emptied sites. That could bring some relief to the masses of young families who cannot afford their own home in an area where even a modest apartment can cost $500,000.


Ethnic Identity in BOGED Latest Population Statistics for Israel (September 2012) On the eve of Rosh HaShanah 5773 - the Jewish new year in September 2012 - Israel's population stood at 7,933,200. The Israeli Jewish population makes up 5,978,600 (75.4%); 1,636,600 (20.6%) are Arabs; those identified as "others" make up the remainder of the population, or 318,000 people. When the state was established, there were only 806,000 residents, and the total population reached its first and second million in 1949 and 1958 respectively. Diversified Growth The overall population grew by 96,300 people (1.8%) since the end of 2011 - a growth rate similar to that of the last eight years. The Jewish population grew 1.8% (similar to past years) while the Arab population grew 2.4% (a rapid decline from the 3.4% annual growth rate in the 1990's). The Christian population grew 1.3% and the Druze population grew 1.7%. Immigration & Naturalization Israel welcomed 16,892 new immigrants as citizens during 2011, an increase of 1.5% from 2010. The largest immigrant nationalities were: Russia (3,678); Ethiopia (2,666); the United States (2,363); Ukraine (2,051); and, France (1,775). There were only 2.7 immigrants for every 1,000 Israeli citizens. The Ethiopian immigration, in particular, has experienced a large increase - in 2009, only 239 Ethiopians emigrated to Israel. 4.3 million (73%) of the total Jewish population are "Sabras" - born in Israel - compared with just a 35% native-born population at Israel's independence in 1948. 38.6% of the Jewish population are Israeli-born to at least one parent who was also Israeli-born. Those of European and American ancestry make up about 2.2 million (36%) of the Jewish population while Africans fill out another 14.5% and Asians are 11.2%. A Young Population Israel's population is considered young relative to the populations of other Western countries. 28.% of the population was aged 0-14 while only 10.3% were older than 65 years of age. OECD average is 18.5% (0-14) and 15% (65+). Israel's average age, however, is getting older. In 2011, the average age was 29.5 years as opposed to 27.6 in the year 2000. Average age for males is 28.4 and for women is 30.6 years old. Life expectancy in 2011 was 80 years for men and 83.6 years for women. This life expectancy continues an upward trend of the last decade. Jewish males had a life expectancy 4.2 years higher than their Arab counterparts; while Jewish women had an expectancy 3.0 years higher. The Israeli life expectancy is higher than the OECD average.


Distribution About 40% of Israel's total population lives in the center of the country (24% in Central region and 16.5% in Tel Aviv area). Approximately 17% of the population lives in the north and another 14% are based in the south. 12% live in both Jerusalem and Haifa regions and another 4% in the West Bank. Just under half of the Jewish population lives in the center of the country, either Jerusalem or Tel Aviv metropolitan areas. 60% of the Arab population lives in the north. Jerusalem and the Central region recorded an above average growth rate of 2.5% while Tel Aviv saw one of its lowest, at 0.8%. Israel's population density increased in 2011 to 347 people per every square kilometer (not including the West Bank) as opposed to only 288 people per km2 in 2000. By comparison, Slovenia (who's territory is roughly the same size as Israel's) has a population density of 102 people per km2; Belgium (slightly larger than Israel) has a density of 364 people per km2. Tel Aviv is Israel's densest region with 7,522 people per km2; Jerusalem has a density of 1,484 people per km2 and Bnei Brak is Israel's densest city with 22,145 people per km2. Birth, Marriage & Divorce 47,885 couples were wed in Israel over the past year, of which 75% were Jewish and 21% Muslim. 13,042 couples were divorced during the year, 80% Jews. 166,296 babies were born in Israel during 2011, almost exactly equal to the 2010 birth number of 166,255. The number of children per woman in Israel stands at 3, slightly lower than the 3.03 of 2010. Jewish women have an average 2.98 children (a rise of .01 from 2010), which is the highest recorded number since 1977. The number of children for every Muslim woman stands at 3.51, however this is a dramatic decrease from 3.75 in 2010.
Sources: "Press Releases," Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, (September 11, 2012). Yoni Dayan, "Population Nears 8 Million Ahead of Rosh Hashanah," The Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2012).

Russian Israelis Israel's former Soviet immigrants transform adopted country From the Guardian Russian-speaking Jews who arrived over the past 20 years have integrated little, but influenced everything from culture to politics

Israel’s Moldova-born foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. His Yisrael Beiteinu party has been successful mainly as a result of its support among Russian-speaking immigrants. Photograph: Pierre Terdjman/EPA


At Bar Putin, in the heart of Jerusalem, you can down vodka shots in homage to the former Russian president. In Ashdod – also known as Little Moscow – you might pop into the Tiv Ta'am supermarket for pork and black bread. On Israeli TV there's Channel 9 if you want to watch broadcasts in the mother tongue round the clock. The million-plus citizens of the former Soviet Union who migrated to Israel in the past 20 years have not only made new lives of their own but they have transformed their adopted country. They have influenced the culture, hi-tech industry, language, education and, perhaps most significantly, Israeli politics. Jews in the former Soviet Union were largely banned from making aliya – migrating to Israel – before the collapse of the empire. But from 1990 onwards they came in their thousands, and they now constitute around 15% of Israel's 7.7 million population. Strictly speaking not all of them are Jewish. In traditional Judaism only someone whose mother is Jewish or who has undergone a formal conversion to Judaism is a Jew. But from 1990 anyone from the former Soviet Union who had a Jewish father or grandparent, or who was married to someone meeting those criteria, was granted Israeli citizenship under the country's law of return. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics around 30% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s were not Jews or not considered Jewish under Orthodox law. In 2005 that figure leapt to 59%. Only around 5% of the non-Jews have converted. Some came to pursue the Zionist dream; some came to escape antisemitism; and a large number came for better economic prospects. They brought culture – art, theatre, music – and a new entrepreneurialism. But they almost overwhelmed Israel, causing a severe housing crisis. Many eventually settled in Russian enclaves in cities such as Ashdod, Petah Tikva and Haifa – and in expanding West Bank settlements, such as Ariel. "It was a very different type of immigration," said Lily Galili, an Israeli journalist writing a book about the impact of the tidal wave from the former Soviet Union. "They didn't want to integrate. They wanted to lead. They changed the nature of the country." Nowhere is this more apparent than in Israeli politics, particularly in the rise of Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Moldovaborn foreign minister, and his far-right party, Yisrael Beiteinu. Now the third largest force in Israeli politics and a key member of the ruling coalition, Yisrael Beiteinu has enjoyed success mainly as a result of its support among Russianspeaking immigrants. Lieberman and his party have pursued a relentlessly rightwing agenda, opposing concessions in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, supporting settlement expansion, seeking to curb the rights of Israel's 20% Arab population and attacking leftist NGOs and campaigners. "Unfortunately they [immigrants from former Soviet states] have changed the nature of democracy in Israel," said Galili. "There's a certain amount of exaggeration – many things may have changed without them. But they have a different concept of democracy. And they have strengthened and given confidence to the [homegrown] secular rightwing." A year ago the former US president Bill Clinton caused a furore when he said Russian-speaking Israelis were "an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians". Russian immigrants were among "the hardest-core people against a division of the land ... They've just got there, it's their country, they've made a commitment to the future there. They can't imagine any historical or other claims that would justify dividing it," Clinton was quoted in Foreign Policy magazine as saying. Galili pointed to "some sense of alienation between Russian immigrants and native-born Israelis. There is not much social interaction. There are still places for 'Russians' that 'Israelis' don't go and aren't wanted – and vice versa." 18

But, she added, there would be no going back. "For many years the joke was that Israel had become the 51st state of the US. Instead we have become just another Soviet republic. It's quite a twist in the story."

Russian Jews attend the 'From Russian with Love' concert at the Yarkon Park.

Study: Children of Soviet immigrants fully assimilated into Israeli society Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute study shows that most children of former Soviet immigrants consider themselves 'fully Israeli', while only 13% of Ethiopian teenagers feel the same. By Revital Blumenfeld | Dec.26, 2011 A recent study revealed that Israeli-born children of immigrants from the former Soviet Union are as integrated into Israeli society as those born to Israeli families who have been in the country for multiple generations. According to a study done by the Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute, children of Soviet immigrants are entirely integrated into Israeli society, while Israeli-born children of Ethiopian immigrants still face integration difficulties. Approximately 2,000 teenagers aged 12-17 participated in the study, in which researchers compared integration data among children of Soviet immigrants, Ethiopian immigrants, and children of veteran Israeli families. The study looked at the percentage of the teenagers that were able to pass every class at their respective school. While 60% of Russian teens passed every class, and 58% of veteran Israelis passed, only 28% of Ethiopian teens did the same. The study also showed that only 10% of Russian teens fail three or more classes compared with 31% of Ethiopian teens. Only 8% of veteran Israeli teenagers failed three or more classes. Furthermore, the study revealed that while 55% of Ethiopian teenagers make use of public school assistance, while only 15% of veteran Israelis and Russians do the same. Moreover, 68% of Russian teens stated that they feel “solely Israeli”, while only 13% of Ethiopian teenagers said the same. According to the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the statistics show that the critical mass of former Soviet immigrants have been integrated, allowing for the limited amount of state resources to be directed toward communities in need, such as those from Ethiopia.


Yemenite Israelis Yemenite Jews are those Jews who live, or whose recent ancestors lived, in Yemen. Between June 1949 and September 1950, the overwhelming majority of Yemen's Jewish population was transported to Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. Most Yemenite Jews now live in Israel, with some others in the United States, and fewer elsewhere. Only a handful remain in Yemen, mostly elderly. Yemenite Jews have a unique religious tradition that marks them out as separate from Ashkenazi, Sephardi and other Jewish groups. It is debatable whether they should be described as "Mizrahi Jews", as most other Mizrahi groups have over the last few centuries undergone a process of total or partial assimilation to Sephardic culture and liturgy. (While the Shami sub-group of Yemenite Jews did adopt a Sephardic-influenced rite, this was for theological reasons and did not reflect a demographic or cultural shift).

Operation Magic Carpet, Refugees Prepare for Flight to Israel. Aden, Yemen circa 1951.

A Magic Carpets Last Fringe Hadassah Magazine--April, 2010 by Wendy Elliman The last remnants of the Jewish community in Yemen are finally leaving the country, and those who left long ago are ready to welcome them with open arms. The closest that Azri Sharabi has ever gotten to Yemen was when he was in the Israeli Navy over 30 years ago. “We were patrolling in the Red Sea,” he recalls. “Suddenly, there were my roots, just 300 yards away on the shoreline!” Sharabi was born in Israel 58 years ago, but Yemenite is a key strand of his identity, along with Israeli and Jewish. His parents left Yemen in 1938, yet he, like all of Israel’s Yemenite Jews, feels connected to the remnants of their 2,500year-old Jewish community, now struggling to leave Yemen. He has no relatives or acquaintances among them, he says, but “they’ll want for nothing in Israel. We’re all here for them.” Will the new arrivals feel as close to the Sharabis and others in Israel’s 360,000-member longtime Yemenite Jewish community? “They will recognize our food and our music,” says Sharabi’s wife, Shoshi, 49. “They will feel at home in our community and our synagogues. But there will be many things that will make them uncomfortable.” 20

One of those things is Shoshi herself. Instead of a life restricted to housekeeping and childbearing, as is traditional in Yemen, she has held a job for the past 15 years. Another is her 17-year-old son, Oded, a self-assured teen whose kippa (when he wears it) perches on top of hair twisted into long, black dreadlocks. And a third is her vivacious daughter, Adi, 19, who wears pants, confidently handles an M-16 and is currently education officer to a paratrooper unit in the Israel Defense Forces. As fiercely as Israel’s Yemenite Jews hold to their ethnicity, they have evolved during the past 60 years from a traditional religious society to one that is modern and primarily Western. For many of the 380 Jews still in Yemen, secular Western society is scarcely less threatening than the intensifying violence and anti-Semitism they face. The result: 56 of the 100 Jews brought out of Yemen in the past year, urged by North American ultra-Orthodox Jews, have chosen refuge in Ashkenazic Monsey, New York, rather than in Israel. “There is nothing wrong with the United States, but Israel is the Jewish home,” says Eli Cohen, director general of the Jewish Agency’s Department of Aliyah and Absorption. It is the Jewish Agency, alerted by Karma Feinstein Cohen, executive director of the Zionist World Magshimey Herut youth movement, that is covertly bringing the last Jews of Yemen to Israel. “Late in 2008, a man walked into my New York office,” says Feinstein Cohen. “He said: ‘I need help. I’m from Yemen. I have family there.’” She contacted the Jewish Agency and, for the next year, found herself mediating between the agency, ultra-Orthodox groups in the United States and Yemenite Jews in and outside of Yemen. Most Yemenite Jews (some 50,000 people) left for Israel in Operation Magic Carpet, from June 1949 to September 1950—but a handful stayed behind. They and their descendants are today under the official protection of Yemen’s dictatorial president, Ali Abdallah Salah, barred from politics and the military but permitted to practice their faith amid a population of 23 million Muslims. Yemen, however, has a history of lawlessness and political instability. Today, with more guns than people in the country, an Iran-backed Shi’ite insurrection in the north, separatist Sunni rebels in the south and a growing AlQaeda presence, its Jewish community is increasingly targeted. On December 10, 2008, in Raida, 190 miles northeast of Aden, a former Yemenite Air Force officer pumped five bullets into a man shopping in the market, screaming: “Convert or die, Jew!” The victim was Moshe el-Nahari, a Hebrew teacher and shohet, father of nine and brother of the local rabbi. “When elNahari was murdered for being a Jew, it was clear to the community that it was time to leave,” says Cohen. “They turned to us.” The first 11 landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on February 19, 2009. Among them were Sayid Ben Israel, his wife and seven children. A hand grenade had been lobbed into their yard in Raida shortly after el-Nahari’s murder. “I felt I was witnessing history,” says Arielle di Porto of the Jewish Agency, who met the newcomers at the airport. “And it wasn’t only me. Everyone, from the customs officials to the baggage handlers, welcomed them with joy.” They had little luggage, she says, but they brought the large clay oven they use for heating and baking bread. “The boys and men had long peyot and were in Western clothing,” she says, “but the women wore headscarves and long robes, which made them look more Muslim than Jewish.” Whatever their appearance, these are not the Yemenites of Operation Magic Carpet who famously started a fire on the plane to warm themselves. These newcomers are clear about their needs. First among them is an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle; second is owning a home. Third is avoidance of all publicity and a blanket refusal to meet with journalists. Their arrival is starkly different from that of Azri Sharabi’s father, who is now 100 years old. “In 1911, when I was 2, my family packed their belongings on donkeys and set out for Eretz Israel,” Nathan Sharabi says. “Along the way, we met a 21

friend of my father who said there was no work or food there, so we turned back. When I was 28, I tried again with my wife, Miriam, and my widowed mother, Leah. We walked to Aden and then found a ship. At sea, there was a terrible storm, they said, but I slept through it all. We docked at Haifa, and they sent us to Rishon le-Zion, near Tel Aviv.” Rishon, seven miles southeast of Tel Aviv and Israel’s fourth largest city with a quarter-million people, is one of many Israeli towns with a Yemenite Jewish community. “In Yemen, we would grow fiber, weave it into cloth and sell it in the market,” continues Sharabi. “In Rishon, I scraped [to make] a living…. I would carry heavy loads for people. It wasn’t always safe. There were Arabs on the road, and I was sometimes shot at. I would earn pennies, not always enough for food. I would search the streets for a discarded loaf.” In their tiny home, Nathan and Miriam raised five children, of whom Azri is the youngest. For the past nine years, since Miriam’s death, Nathan has lived with Azri and his family, “and in all that time I’ve never heard him speak a critical or discontented word,” says Shoshi. Nathan is a Baba, or holy man. “When I was a child, I sometimes felt he didn’t listen to me,” says Adi. “Later, I realized he was on another sphere and didn’t hear me.” Azri and Shoshi are traditional, rather than Orthodox, in their religious practice, and their children’s observance is even more diluted. Does Baba Nathan regret leaving Yemen and raising generations who are increasingly secular? “I am Israel’s child,” he says. “My deepest links are here. I’m proud of my children and my grandchildren, even though our ways are different. They are part of me, and I am part of them.” “Growing up with my grandfather has meant growing up with Jewish tradition,” says Oded. “I’m an Israeli citizen of Yemenite Jewish culture. I feel no conflict between these identities. My friends, too, are mixtures. That’s the way it is in Israel.” Adi, likewise, feels herself a seamless combination of Yemenite, Israeli and Jewish. “All of these have built me and made me who I am,” she explains. “I value the rich culture I come from, from its food to its literature, and I will pass it on to my children, even if their father is not Yemenite.” Her boyfriend of over a year is a kibbutznik of Polish-German descent. “I think his family considers me slightly exotic,” she says, smiling. “But we’re both Israeli and we both come from warm, liberal and open families.” One very conspicuous change that aliya has imposed on Yemenite Jews is family size. “I would have liked more children, but our home is tiny,“ says Shoshi. “It’s no longer our parents’ day, when you put three children in a bed and 10 children in a room. As it is, Oded and Adi share a room, and I’m unhappy about that, but Azri doesn’t want to owe anyone anything, so we’ve stayed in our small house.” Azri is a sanitation worker and Shoshi is a cleaner. “There’s no shame in being a cleaner, but the work is hard and the pay not great,” she says. “I want my children to have more. We’ve worked to give them tools to go further. Now it’s up to them.” It has taken the Sharabis two generations to force wide the doors of opportunity. The Yemenite Jews who came to Israel in the 1930s and 1940s arrived without modern education, ill prepared for life in an industrial state. Their strong work ethic and willingness to take low-level jobs have enabled their children to be teachers and administrators, engineers and programmers, artists and musicians, doctors and lawyers—without diminishing their Zionism. “Everyone in my class is looking ahead to our military service, to serving in combat units to defend our state,” says 12thgrader Oded. “You do not always get what you want in the Army,” explains Adi, who began her two-year service last summer. “You do what the Army wants, because it protects the country you love. My responsibility is soldiers whose education got sidetracked. I organize outings and theater trips for them, lectures on current affairs, drug and alcohol abuse. Ours is the only Army in the world with an Education Corps like this that ensures conscripted soldiers come out 22

better citizens. We are aware that the Army is built of people, and that it can build people as well. It was not my dream Army job, but I have come to love it. I believe I am making an important contribution.” The 44 newly arrived Yemenites (including five of the children of the murdered Moshe el-Nahari; their mother remains in Yemen fighting for punishment of the murderer) and those still to come will likely follow a very different path from the old-timers’. Theirs will lead directly into the Ashkenazic-flavored, often anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox world, which they see as closest to their own unique religious tradition. The Ben Israels, the only newcomers to have left the absorption center, have moved to a haredi neighborhood in Beit Shemesh where the Jewish Agency will help them buy a home. Their children are in ultra-Orthodox schools and Sayid, a teacher in Raida, is teaching in Beit Shemesh. His wife cares for the home, still clothed in her long robes. “Everyone’s entitled to live their own lives,” says Azri Sharabi, mildly. “What’s important is that we respect one another.” “The people coming here are young families with their whole lives ahead of them,” says Cohen. “Israel is their home as much as it is the home of every Jew. There is no reason they won’t flourish here.”


J14 – The Israeli Tent Cities – Israeli Social Protests J14: An Israeli Outcry

An Israeli woman walk past tents set up on a main boulevard as part of an ongoing protest calling for social justice, including lower property prices in Israel, in a main boulevard in Tel Aviv August 14, 2011. Reuters

In July 2011 a major protest movement calling for more affordable housing, education and health care erupted within Israel. The uprising started in June with a simple request: a call to boycott cottage cheese, a staple of the Israeli diet, on Facebook after manufacturers announced a sharp price increase. On July 14 (earning the movement its moniker J14) a handful of young people pitched tents in the middle of the elite Rothschild Boulevard, to protest rising housing prices. The protesters began to multiply, and demonstrations spread to other cities (including Jerusalem, Rishon Letzion, Holon, Yehud, Modi’in, Ashdod, Sderot, Ra’anana, Nes Tziona, Rehovot and Be'er Sheva) with remarkable speed. On July 23, a huge demonstration of 20,000 was held in Tel Aviv--by September 2011 the nation had witnessed the largest protest in Israel's history – in which 500,000 people flooded public spaces across the country.


Thousands of people march in the streets during a protest against the rising cost of living on August 6, 2011 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Israeli author, journalist and professor Amos Oz wrote of the protests, “It is profoundly moving to see protest veterans of all generations, who for years were a voice calling in the wilderness, spending time in the tents of the youngsters who are wisely leading the new protest…The protest washing over Israel’s streets and squares today has long ceased to be merely a protest over housing distress. The heart of this protest is the affront and outrage over the government’s indifference to the people’s suffering, the double standard against the working population and the destruction of social solidarity. The heart-warming sights of the tent cities spreading through Israel’s cities, of the doctors marching for their patients, of the demonstrations and rallies are in themselves a delightful revival of mutual fraternity and commitment.” Summer of Protest in Israel Peaks With 400,000 in City Streets September 3, 2011 By ISABEL KERSHNER

JERUSALEM — As many as 400,000 Israelis demonstrated on Saturday night against the high cost of living and for social justice in one of the largest protests in the nation’s history, although questions remained about about what it might achieve. The mass protest across the country had been planned for weeks and was considered by many to be the grand finale of the street phase of the social dissent that has swept Israel this summer. Organizers initially billed it as a million-person march, but had tried to lower expectations over the last few days, saying that it would be considered a success if the turnout equaled the 300,000 people who took to the streets on Aug. 6. The police estimated that more than 300,000 people turned out on Saturday night, but a company monitoring the turnout for the Israeli news media said the total was about 400,000, with almost 300,000 gathering in Tel Aviv alone. Tens of thousands more rallied in Jerusalem, Haifa and other cities. The nationwide protest came after a lull in the movement over the last two weeks. The country’s attention was first diverted by a mid-August attack by Palestinian militants that killed eight Israelis near the southern city of Eilat, near the Egyptian border, and a subsequent flare-up in violence along the Israel-Gaza border. The most visible symbols of the protest movement, the scores of tent encampments that sprang up around the country, have gradually emptied as summer vacations ended and people went back to work and school. 25

On Saturday, the main rally in Tel Aviv began with a march and ended in Kikar Hamedina, a broad traffic circle and park lined with luxury stores. Television commentators noted that not one display window was broken; these Israeli protests, largely driven by the middle class, have been carnival-like and nonviolent. “This square is filled with the new Israelis who would die for this country, but who expect you, Mr. Prime Minister, to let us live in this country,” Itzik Shmuli, the chairman of the National Union of Students and a leader of the protest movement, said from the stage at the Tel Aviv rally. Daphne Leef, 25, the young woman who pitched the first tent in Tel Aviv in mid-July and invited friends to join her on Facebook, told the crowd that the fact that her generation had stood up and raised its voice was “nothing short of a miracle — the miracle of the summer of 2011.” Organizers have said that many of the tent encampments will end in the next few days but that the spaces may become communal meeting places. The protest movement’s next milestone is likely to come later this month when a government-appointed committee on socioeconomic change led by Manuel Trajtenberg, a respected professor of economics at Tel Aviv University, presents its recommendations to the government. The panel was set up in response to the protests. The protests began over the lack of affordable housing, but grew to encompass calls for tax reform and the creation of a welfare state, among other demands. Mr. Shmuli has urged that protesters cooperate with the committee, but Ms. Leef and other members of the protest movement’s informal leadership have rejected such a move. Mr. Shmuli said on Saturday night that the movement had “reached a very high peak” that had to lead to dialogue and achievements. TEL AVIV (JTA) -- On Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv’s version of Park Avenue, a burgeoning tent city has sprung up amid crowded cafes and its canopy of ficus trees. The squatters are protesting soaring housing prices in the country, and they have galvanized a sudden full-scale national protest, from Kiryat Shemona in the North to Beersheva in the South, that has plunged the government into crisis mode. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned trip to Poland this week and the interior minister has called for the Knesset to cancel its summer recess. Tent cities are swelling in cities across Israel, protesters are blocking roads and activists have practically besieged the Knesset. On Saturday evening, an estimated 20,000 marchers filled the streets of Tel Aviv calling for affordable housing. “For years, Israelis have been like zombies because of the security situation and did not speak out when other areas were ignored, like education and the economy,” said Amir Ben-Cohen, a 30-year-old graduate student camping out on Rothschild Boulevard. “Enough. We are a new generation.” Some are hailing the protests as Israel’s version of the Arab Spring. This Israeli Summer movement is being led by university students and young professionals in their 20s and 30s who until now have shown little interest in demonstrations or activism. One sign strung between tents in Tel Aviv read, "Rothschild, corner of Tahrir," a reference to the Egyptian uprising that centered in Tahrir Square.


With a recent Haaretz poll showing 87 percent of Israelis supporting the housing protesters, their grievances appear to be striking a chord nationwide. Like much of the world, Israelis recently have seen cost-of-living metrics rise across the board, especially for food and gas. But unlike in the United States, where real estate prices are in retreat, housing prices in Israel have skyrocketed, on average doubling since 2002. With the average Israeli salary at $2,500 a month and modest-sized apartments in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv area selling for $600,000, many Israelis feel priced out of their own neighborhoods, particularly young people who live in places where there is a dearth of rental properties. “What is very troubling for Netanyahu is that this is not a left wing versus right wing protest. It’s one of the few issues that cuts across all political spectrums,” said Sam Lehman-Wilzig, a Bar-Ilan University political scientist. He noted that in Israel it’s unusual for socioeconomic issues to take priority over political-security issues. Netanyahu “is definitely nervous," Lehman-Wilzig said, "and he should be nervous.” Netanyahu, who had identified the shortage of affordable housing as a potential crisis when he came to power in 2009, has been busy scolding his own ministers for not doing enough. “Give me ideas for a solution,” Netanyahu was quoted by the Israeli media telling his Cabinet ministers. The prime minister announced Tuesday that his government was preparing a battery of solutions, among them plans to reduce bureaucratic hurdles to building new housing projects and measures that would help young people make their first real estate purchases. He also promised construction of new student dormitories and the construction of 10,000 two- and three-bedroom units, mostly in central Israel, to be earmarked for young couples, large families and students. Half would be available as rentals. Hours after Netanyahu's news conference unveiling his plan, the protest's leaders held their own news conference dismissing the plan as a piece-meal attempt to divide students from other protesters. “When he talks about students and discharged soldiers, what about our grandparents? What about the disabled?" said Yigal Rambam. "Every section in Israeli society suffers from the housing problem and there isn’t a general solution here. Any real solution must deal with rental prices, the prices of buying land, public housing and housing assistance." Itzik Shmueli, head of the National Union of Israeli Students, said at the news conference that although Netanyahu's plan was "unprecedented" and "historic," it remained insufficient and that the union would continue participating in the protest. Experts attribute the vertiginous rise in real estate prices in recent years to a combination of Israel’s small size, relatively high population growth, a strong shekel and an influx of foreign buyers, especially American and French Jews. Demand is strongest in the central part of the country, where most Israelis work and live, though prices in the periphery have risen, too. In a country that managed to weather the international financial downturn exceptionally well and where 2011 growth is projected to reach an impressive 5.2 percent and unemployment is at a historic low, many Israelis still feel financially 27

strapped. A significant portion of the nation’s private wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few families, the gaps between rich and poor is wider than ever and poverty rates remain among the highest in the Western world. Israeli hospitals and health clinics are in the midst of a doctors’ strike, which followed a large social workers’ strike. Both groups cited low wages as their reasons. A boycott last month of cottage cheese to protest rising prices for an Israeli staple appears to have been a symptom of widespread economic discontent that the housing protests also are tapping into. “Whereas the street has been relatively quiet in the last 20 years, it’s beginning to wake up and demand part of national wealth that does not seem to be trickling down as much as it should,” Lehman-Wilzig said. “It’s not a call to return to Israel’s socialist past but to a more collective feeling of society as a whole.” While young people in particular are finding their voice when it comes to issues that affect their wallet, this segment of society appears less interested in taking to the streets when it comes to ideological issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The demonstrators have said theirs is a nonpartisan struggle. In interviews, they say they don’t want to interject hotbutton political topics like the cost of subsidizing home building in West Bank settlements or for haredi Orthodox families at the risk of alienating would-be supporters of their cause. At a protest outside the Knesset on Sunday, Itay Gottler, who heads the student union at the Hebrew University, spoke of a popular movement. “This is a struggle that involves secular people, the ultra-Orthodox, religious, Arabs, young people and students,” he said. “This is the struggle of the people.”


Evangelical Christians in Israel

The Huffington Post Evangelicals, Israel, and the End of the World Posted: 12/14/09 01:37 PM ET It's been just nine years since dooms-dayers expected the new millennium to bring the end of the world, yet the cry of "Armageddon" still rings out. Last month alone, NASA had to allay fears of a 2012 end-of-the-world scenario. And why not? We all know humans are doomed. Either our sun will explode in a few billion years or God's wrath will consume the planet tomorrow. But few Americans have embraced the coming of the End Times as intensely as the Evangelicals profiled in Waiting for Armageddon, a documentary I co-directed with Kate Davis and Franco Sacchi, to be released theatrically in New York City, Providence and Boston in January. In the film, we join Christian Evangelicals on an explosive tour of the future as they see it, from anguish to the sublime perfection of a new world. There are some 50 million Evangelicals in the US who believe in the literal truth of Bible prophecy. You can argue theological accuracy all you want. This massive block of citizens possesses unshakable belief that the end of the world will be heralded by a series of prophetic events some of which have occurred (e.g. 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) some of which are ongoing (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). I am not talking about Bible-thumping, street-corner ravers, though one or two do appear in our film. The people we profiled -- from Evangelical leaders to rank-and-file believers -- are for the most part formidable, intelligent, welleducated. And all are fixated upon Israel (the land of Christ's return). Waiting for Armageddon opens with James and Laura Bagg, an attractive pair of 30-something jet-propulsion engineers living in Connecticut. Yes, Evangelical rocket scientists from the Northeast. "We could be raptured out of this world during this interview," Laura says, referring to a miracle where all good Christians disappear from earth and rematerialize in the clouds as chaos seizes the world. "There will be car crashes and plane crashes. And the people left behind will be asking, 'Are they coming back for me?'" Then James Bagg explains that, "You see God has a plan for the world and it all centers around Israel." The Baggs are, in a way, typical. Millions of Evangelicals share one political belief even more sacred perhaps than opposition to abortion or same-sex marriage: The belief that Israel must remain a Jewish state forever. If that sounds unfamiliar or contradictory, then you've never spent much time listening to Evangelicals. End Times theology declares that the Jewish people must maintain control of Israel and Jerusalem, and retake the Al-Aqsa Mosque (a/k/a the Dome of the Rock), or Jesus won't return. Period. Understand, they are talking about mankind's ultimate salvation. And if that means embracing foretold disasters and wars including the Battle of Armageddon, so be it.


Professor Gary Dickerson from the all-Christian Corban College puts it this way: "I don't look at the wars in the Middle East with the hope that things will work out. We've been told, Israel will experience this distress all the way to the end." Thus comes the central political reality explored in Waiting for Armageddon: that Evangelicals risk creating what the Rev. Barbara Rossing calls "a self-fulfilling prophesy of death and destruction." This is no small sect. Evangelicals control some 60,000 US radio stations. They meet in 25,000-member megachurches and sit on school boards and legislatures across the country. As the Rev. Mel White, former ghostwriter for Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham and Pat Robertson puts it, "They are everywhere and they are not going away." Embedded in its dramatic illustration of the End Times, including a Christian tour of Israel, Waiting for Armageddon offers an object lesson: That if people believe their God has revealed the ultimate course of history, then nothing, not even war, with all its bloodshed and horror, is to be feared. It's a reality that, whether dealing with the Taliban or the Jews or the Evangelicals or even Sarah Palin, every leader -- religious or political -- needs to understand if true dialogue can take place. Because for a great many true believers, the end of the world is just the beginning.


The Negev Desert


Oslo, Norway


Glossary Shawarma

From Fun Joel's Israel Shawarma (or shwarma) is an Arab food that came to Israel via our large immigrant population from the Arab world. Many of our best local foods come from this population. Foods such as falafel, hummus, sabich and shakshuka (all of which might warrant a post of their own) come from Israel’s Sephardic Jewish community. Shawarma consists of pieces of spiced meat, piled on a vertical spit in an inverse cone shape, slow roasting as it rotates for hours on end. And that rotating vertical spit is truly the key. The word “shawarma” itself derives from a Turkish word that means “turning,” and the vertical positioning allows the flavors to drip from top to bottom, thus keeping the meat moist and tasty. That meat is then shaved or cut off in small pieces and typically served inside of a pita or a laffa (a thick, flat bread wrap that is larger than a regular pita) along with various spreads, sauces and vegetables. Now before I go any further, I must point out that while many cultures have a dish that seems very similar to shawarma, they are far from identical. For example, many of you who are unfamiliar with shawarma may be saying right now, “Hey, isn’t that just a gyro?” In truth, the dishes share common ancestors, but they are quite different from each other. For starters, traditional gyros are made using pork, a no-no both for Jews and for Muslims. Shawarma, on the other hand, is traditionally made out of lamb, though lamb shawarma has grown increasingly hard to find. More commonly these days you will find it made from turkey or baby beef (which they call veal, but which isn’t real veal). Often you will see a tomato and/or an onion on the top of the spit, supposedly adding flavor to the meat. But in all honesty, I can’t imagine one of each of those on top adding much flavor to such a large cone of meat! I think they are just there as a gimmick, and challenge anyone to identify the difference in a taste test. Trichloroethylene (TCE) The chemical compound trichloroethylene is a chlorinated hydrocarbon commonly used as an industrial solvent. It is a clear non-flammable liquid with a sweet smell Perchloroethylene (PCE or PERC) is a man-made chemical used mainly in dry cleaning, fabric spot removers, adhesives, metal degreasing and manufacturing. It is a non-flammable, colorless liquid at room temperature that easily evaporates into the air. PERC has an odor that many people associate with dry cleaning. PERC is a hazardous chemical. The potential for health effects depends on how much and for how long you are exposed. Bromine At ambient temperature bromine is a brownish-red liquid. It has a similarly colored vapor with an offensive and suffocating odor. It is the only nonmetallic element that is liquid under ordinary conditions, it evaporates easily at standard temperature and pressures in a red vapor that has a strong disagreeable odor resembling that of chlorine. Bromine is less active chemically than chlorine and fluorine but is more active than iodine; its compounds are similar to 33

those of the other halogens. Bromine is soluble in organic solvents and in water. Bromine is corrosive to human tissue in a liquid state and its vapors irritate eyes and throat. Bromine vapors are very toxic with inhalation. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel consists of two Chief Rabbis: an Ashkenazi rabbi and a Sephardi rabbi, also known as the Rishon leZion. The Chief Rabbis are elected for 10 year terms. The present Sephardi Chief Rabbi is Shlomo Amar and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi is Yona Metzger, both of whom commenced their terms in 2003. Shekels: 1 Israeli New Shekel equals 0.27 US Dollar


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