[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach six "human interest" items concerning Israel, not generally connected to Middle East violence and hostility. (Another dispatch with items about attacks against Israel and Jews will follow later today or tomorrow.)
1. Israeli Army To Combat Stress With Cannabis
2. Uganda To Make Site Of Entebbe Raid A Museum
3. Klezmer Festival Invites Clinton To Play On Sax
4. 81 % Of The Israeli Population Content With Their Lives
5. Israeli Company Develops Revolutionary Vaccine For The Flu
6. Bank Of Israel Predicts 3.5% Growth In 2005
ISRAELI ARMY TO COMBAT STRESS WITH POT
Ma'ariv (Israel's second highest circulation daily newspaper) reports (August 5, 2004):
The Israeli army is evaluating the use of cannabis to treat combat fatigue. Volunteers are being selected from among reserve soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. An Israeli research team had discovered that mice suffering from physical stress were helped by the cannabis - and that it even reduced the risk of stroke. Following three years of mandatory military service, Israelis perform reserve duty until well into their forties. Many are treated for stress-related disorders after doing their reserve duty in post-1967 territories.
UGANDA TO MAKE SITE OF ENTEBBE RAID A MUSEUM
The Entebbe control tower and passenger terminal from which Israeli commandos rescued 102 Air France passengers in what is widely considered to be one of the most daring military raids in modern history, will become a museum to "perpetuate the historic influence the rescue operation had on the country," according to the Ugandan Aviation Authority. The raid, known as "Operation Yonatan" after its leader, Yonatan Netanyahu, the only Israeli soldier to die in the rescue, took place on July 4, 1976. The tower and terminal have not been used since.
KLEZMER FESTIVAL INVITES CLINTON TO PLAY ON SAX
Ma'ariv reports: Israel's annual Klezmer Music Festival, held each summer in the ancient city of Safed, has invited Bill Clinton to play saxophone. The festival's management has sent a formal invitation to the former U.S. president. The deputy mayor of Safed said that it is a "serious request" and that Clinton associates have confirmed receipt of the invitation. Performances in this year's festival will take place on the rooftops of the Old City of Safed, illuminated by blue lights. The three-day event, which will take place later this month, draws about 80,000 people per day.
81% OF THE ISRAELI POPULATION CONTENT WITH THEIR LIVES
By Moti Bassok
August 3, 2004 (Extracts only)
Contentment runs high in Israel, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics 2003 survey, 81% of Israelis are generally pleased with life, and 52% are optimistic that their lives will improve in the next few years.
The 2003 survey found a higher rate of contentment among young respondents, with 88 percent between 20-24 saying they are pleased with their lives, compared to 79 percent between 45-64, and 77 percent among those 75 and older.
The contentment rate among people with little or no education, 78 percent, is lower than among those with a high school matriculation certificate, 83 percent, a higher education degree, 81 percent, or a university degree, 87 percent.
83% of employees are pleased with their jobs, although only 48% are pleased with their income.
The survey covered 7,200 respondents aged 20 and up. The bureau's first survey of this kind in 2002 recorded similar results.
ISRAELI COMPANY DEVELOPS A REVOLUTIONARY NOSE DROP VACCINE FOR THE FLU
An Israeli company has developed a revolutionary nose drop vaccine for influenza, which promises to protect people of all ages for five years against all present and future strains of the flu.
The patented vaccine - developed by startup company BiondVax - has completed successful laboratory testing on mice and is now securing funds for clinical tests on humans.
The vaccine is based on 20 years of research by Weizmann Institute of Science Professor Ruth Arnon, who earlier in her career was a senior member of the team that developed the breakthrough drug Copaxone for multiple sclerosis.
BANK OF ISRAEL PREDICTS 3.5% GROWTH IN 2005
The Ministry of Finance predicts 3.8% growth in 2005. The Bank of Israel also predicts that business product will rise 4.8% and unemployment will fall below 10% next year.
Globes (Israeli Financial Daily)
August 3, 2004
The Bank of Israel has lowered its growth forecast for 2005 to 3.5%, compared with 3.7% for 2004. Israel's economy grew by 1.3% in 2003. The Bank of Israel's forecast for 2005 is lower than the Ministry of Finance's forecasts of 3.8% for 2004 and 2005. On the other hand, the increase in productivity and jobs are expected to reduce unemployment to 9.9%, below the psychological threshold of 10%, compared with 10.6% in 2004 and 10.7% in 2003. The number of unemployed is expected to decline from the current 291,200 to 264,500. Employment is expected to increase by 2.5%, and business sector employment by 3.7%.
Governor of the Bank of Israel David Klein believes that the key policy target for 2005 and following years should be the preservation of economic conditions conducive to fulfilling Israel's long-term growth potential, while creating jobs and reducing poverty. Klein says the government's fiscal policy should keep its 1% spending increase and 3% budget deficit targets.
The Bank of Israel research department today published its economic survey for the first half of 2004 and macroeconomic forecast for 2005. The survey states that the economic expansion that began in second half of last year was consolidated in the first half of 2004. However, the first half of 2004 can be divided into two periods: rapid growth in the first quarter and slower expansion in the second.
In its forecast for 2005, the Bank of Israel believes that business product will rise 4.8%, compared with 5.2% in 2004. Both predictions are below the corresponding predictions by the Ministry of Finance of 5.2% in 2005 and 5.7% in 2004. The Bank of Israel predicts that exports will increase by 7.4% in 2005, after rising 9.1% in 2004. Civilian imports will increase by 6.6% in 2005, after rising 9.3% in 2004.
GDP per capita is expected to rise 1.7% in 2005, after rising 1.9% in 2004. The standard of living (private consumption per capita) is expected to rise 2.2% in 2005, after rising 2.4% in 2004.
Employment of Israelis is expected to increase by 2.5% in 2005, after rising 3.2% in 2004, while business sector employment is expected to rise by 3.7% in 2005, after rising 4.7% in 2004. The decline in unemployment and increase in employment are contingent on the continued reduction of foreign workers.
Investment in fixed assets is expected to increase by 7.1% in 2005, after rising 3.8% in 2004, and after a 4.9% contraction in 2003. ??, excluding defense imports is expected to increase by 3.4% in 2005, after rising 4% in 2004. Public civilian expenditure is expected to decline by 0.8% in 2005, after falling 0.9% in 2004, and 0.8% in 2003. Civilian consumption is expected to decline by 0.8% in 2005, after falling 1.1% in 2004.