UN chief admits bias against Israel (& Getting high beyond the Green Line)

August 17, 2013

Planes almost never turn around: Cancer patient Inbar Chomsky with her recovered passport


* A packed Israeli El Al plane – with the support and cheers of everyone on-board – turns around to pick up an 11-year-old cancer patient

* UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admits that his organization is biased against Israel

* Getting high beyond the Green Line: Shortage of soft drugs across Israel leads young secular Tel Aviv residents to settlements, “where residents fearlessly grow marijuana”

* Belgium forces Israeli tennis team to be fined 10,000 euros for refusing to play on Yom Kippur and asking to postpone the game by one day

* IBM buys Israeli company that protects Bank of America, HSBC, PayPal and RBS, from cyber threats, for almost $1 billion


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[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach five articles about Israel. The first is a happy story for once, and the fifth will also be regarded by some as happy.

The third is an economic story, and I would like to add that on Thursday, Moody’s affirmed Israel’s A1 rating, citing the resilience and growth of Israel’s economy.

The rating agency said that Israel’s “high-tech niche and entrepreneurial culture have continued to underpin its latent dynamism,” and remarked that official reserves have risen “to record high levels.”

Earlier this year, the world’s leading investor, Warren Buffett, said that Israel is the “most promising investment hub” in the world outside the United States.

Among recent purchases of Israeli start-ups was the purchase by Google for over one billion dollars of the Israeli mobile mapping application Waze.



1. “Pilots turn packed passenger jet around to get cancer-stricken girl, 11, and take her to summer camp after she lost passport” (By Ryan Gorman, Daily Mail, Aug. 17, 2013)
2. “UN chief admits bias against Israel” (By Omri Efraim, Ynet, Aug. 16, 2013)
3. “IBM buys Israeli cybersecurity startup company for millions” (Israel HaYom, Aug. 15, 2013)
4. “Israeli tennis team fined for refusing to play on Yom Kippur” (By Elad Benari
Israel National News, Aug. 12, 2013)
5. “Getting high beyond Green Line” (By Itamar Fleishman, Ynet, Aug. 16, 2013)



Pilots turn packed passenger jet around to get cancer-stricken girl, 11, and take her to summer camp after she lost passport
By Ryan Gorman
Daily Mail (London)
August 17, 2013

* Passengers and airline staff were initially devastated about having to leave the girl behind, even crying as she was led off the flight
* Her passport was found in another camper’s backpack minutes after departure from the gate
* Everyone agreed the plane had to go back, passengers cheered when the girl was taken back aboard

An Israeli airline – with the support of everyone on-board – turned around a plane to pick up an 11-year-old cancer patient.

All set to fly to New York August 7 to attend a camp for paediatric cancer patients, Inbar Chomsky, was taken off an El-Al Airlines flight after her passport went missing.

Despite a frantic search by airline staff, passengers and the group Chomsky was travelling with, her passport was gone, flight attendants had no choice but to remove the sick girl.

Tears in their eyes, everyone said good bye to the devastated young girl after a half hour search aided by airline staff and passengers failed to turn up the girl’s passport, according to Ha’aretz.

‘El Al sadly called her mother to tell her that Inbar’s passport was lost and that the girl, who had been fighting illness so valiantly, would not be able to fly to Camp Simcha’ Rabbi Yaakov Pinsky, director of of the Israeli branch of Chai Lifeline wrote in Yeshiva World News. ‘What a horrible experience for an 11 year old girl.’

Minutes after the doors closed and the plane taxied away from the gate, a fellow camper looking through another girl’s backpack found Chomsky’s passport and told flight attendants, according to Ha’aretz.

The plane’s pilots immediately stopped the plane, according to Haaretz, and after about 45 minutes were able to convince air traffic control to let them return to the gate to pick Chomsky up, Pinsky wrote.

Still overcoming her disappointment while at the gate with Elad Maimon, program director of the Israeli branch of Chai Lifeline, Chomsky and others watched in disbelief as the plane turned around, said Ha’aretz. ‘The flight attendants could not believe their eyes,’ Maimon told the paper. ‘They told me they had never seen such a thing.’

‘Planes rarely return to the gate after departing, read an El Al statement, continuing that ‘after consulting with El Al crew on the plane and El Al staff at the airport the decision was made and the plane returned to pick up Inbar.’

Passengers cheered and cried, wrote Pinsky, saying they shared ‘Inbar’s happiness and excitement,’ and calling it ‘one of the greatest moments’ he has ever witnessed.

Located in the Catskill Mountains roughly two hours north of New York City, an area long-popular with Jewish tourists, Camp Simcha is a summer camp meant to uplift the spirits of children living with cancer and other similar medical problems, according to its website. Campers are medically supervised and take part in sports, carnivals, talent shows, helicopter rides and other activities.

Chai Lifeline works with Camp Simcha to bring children with pediatric cancer to the camp, among other activities.



UN chief admits bias against Israel
By Omri Efraim
Yediot Ahronot (Ynet)
August 16, 2013

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with students at the UN headquarters in Jerusalem on Friday afternoon, and admitted that his organization was biased against Israel.

Responding to a student who said Israelis felt their country was discriminated against in the international organization, Ban confirmed that there was a biased attitude towards the Israeli people and Israeli government, stressing that it was “an unfortunate situation.”

Ban met with the students as part of the UN Model international academic convention initiated by students at the College of Management.

He told them he had come to the region for the sixth time to express his support for the renewed peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. “I have never been this optimist,” he said, adding that the international community had never had such expectations and hope that the peace process would reach a solution.

Addressing the attitude towards Israel, Ban said that the Jewish state was a UN member and should therefore be treated equally like all other 192 member states. Unfortunately, he added, Israel has been criticized and sometimes discriminated against because of the Mideast conflict.

A peace process is just a piece of paper, he said, adding that the Oslo Agreement was never implemented and remained a piece of paper. “This time I expect real peace,” he said. “The Israeli and Palestinian people are neighbors and have no choice but to live in harmony and peace side by side.”

Asked about the split between Fatah and Hamas, the UN chief responded that reconciliation between Israel and the Palestinians was highly important. “There can be no solution of three states – the State of Israel and two Palestinian states. The vision is of a two-state solution, and that’s the reason we are trying to advance a Palestinian reconciliation process,” he said.

Earlier Friday, Ban met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told him that the root of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the refusal to recognize the Jewish state “on any border” and had nothing to do with Israel’s settlement enterprise.

Ban also met with President Shimon Peres and stated that negotiations were the best way to move towards a two-state solution. He said this was a critical moment for Israel.



IBM buys Israeli cybersecurity startup company for millions
Israel HaYom
August 15, 2013

Technology giant IBM announced on Thursday that it plans to acquire Israeli security software vendor Trusteer for an undisclosed amount, believed to be between $800 million and $1 billion.

With offices in Boston and Tel Aviv, Trusteer helps firms protect web applications, employee and customer computers, and mobile devices from cyber threats.

Among Trusteer’s more prominent clients are financial services firms such as Bank of America, HSBC, PayPal and RBS, who use the company’s technology to protect their customers against financial fraud and cyber-attacks.

Trusteer is considered one of the fastest growing cybersecurity companies in Israel, with an annual income of $100 million. The company’s technology mainly prevents cyberattacks on databases through peripheral machines.

As part of their announcement, IBM said that it will set up a cybersecurity software lab in Israel that will bring together more than 200 Trusteer and IBM researchers and developers to focus on mobile and application security, advanced threat, malware, counter-fraud, and financial crimes.

Brendan Hannigan, GM, security systems division, IBM, issued a statement, saying “Trusteer’s expertise and superior technology in enterprise endpoint defense and advanced malware prevention will help our clients across all industries address the constantly evolving threats they are facing.”



Israeli tennis team fined for refusing to play on Yom Kippur
By Elad Benari
Israel National News
August 12, 2013

The Israel Davis Cup team will be fined 10,000 euros for refusing to compete on Yom Kippur.

The game against the Belgian team which was scheduled for Yom Kippur is one in a play-off series. Immediately after it became known that the game had been scheduled for Yom Kippur, the team’s management informed the World Tennis Association that the Israeli team will not be able to compete that day and requested an alternative date.

The Association accepted the request and postponed the match by one day, but nonetheless ordered the Israeli team to pay the Belgian team 10,000 euros as compensation for deferring the game.

The chair of the Israel Tennis Federation, Asi Tuchmayer, wrote in a letter quoted by Yediot Ahronot on Sunday that “for a long time the Belgian tennis union refused to recognize our basic need to avoid playing on Yom Kippur. Only after the intervention of the World Tennis Association was it decided not to play that day.”

Referring to the fine imposed on the Israeli team, Tuchmayer added, “The high penalty deals a devastating blow to our budget and professional program. As an institution representing the State of Israel and its values, we are proud to stand against all those who refuse to recognize the importance of the tradition of the Jewish people.”



Getting high beyond the Green Line
By Itamar Fleishman
Yediot Ahronot (Ynet)
August 16, 2013

Settler leaders have been struggling for years to improve their image in the eyes of those they refer to as the residents of “the state of Tel Aviv.” After initiating tours of their blooming communities and areas with splendid views, launching PR campaigns and organizing face-to-face meetings, it seems there is finally hope for a building relationship – yet from an entirely different direction: Getting “high” together.

Following the shortage of “soft drugs” in central Israel, mostly because of the fence built on the border with Egypt, an increasing number of young Israelis are flocking to the territories to consume, buy and roll marijuana with young settlers.

You won’t usually hear them discuss politics and the peace process, and words like “the green line” tend to have a completely different meaning during these meetings.


It’s late in the evening in one of the Samaria communities. A group of young people in their 20s are sitting on the balcony of one of the settlement’s houses, getting ready to commit the farthermost illegal activity from the “price tag” hate activities.

Assaf, a settlement resident, is responsible for supplying the stuff, while his friend Eran, who arrived from the central city of Ramat Gan, is in charge of the rolling. Refreshments to ease the expected drug “munchies” were provided by Yael and Noa, two of Eran’s friends from Tel Aviv, who are visiting the territories for the very first time.

“The road is a bit scary, but it’s actually pretty nice here. We came to relax, so we shouldn’t be afraid,” one of them says, refusing to have her picture taken.

Between tokes, Assaf finds the time to share amusing thoughts about marijuana’s contribution to the Jewish people’s unity. “For years, we settlers have been using the slogan ‘Settle in the hearts.’ If only we had known that it is much easier to settle in the lungs, everything would have been much easier.

“You see here young people who can speak the same language and bridge ideological gaps. They always bring here all kinds of Tel Avivians to drink the wine and enjoy the view, but they just come and go. The shortage in the center has caused them to come and want to stay, at least for the night, because it’s difficult to drive home afterwards.”

Eran welcomes the new relationship as well, admitting that he never thought he would return to the territories after his military service, certainly not for this purpose.

“We all know each other from university,” he says. “When the shortage began, we started looking for alternative sources and never imagined that Assaf would be the one to provide the stuff.

“One day, while we were making small talk, he told us about a smoking meeting he had with his friends in the community, and we were amazed to discover that while we are craving the stuff – the settlers are celebrating. We joked that after taking our budgets, they’ve stolen our stuff too.”

The reason the settlers have been “blessed” with plenty of drugs has to do with the fact that the police enforcement in the territories is weaker. Growing the stuff is relatively safe and the chance that someone will inform the police is small.

Moreover, while a large number of people compete for the services of every drug dealer and supplier, in Judea and Samaria one source supplies the drugs to a small number of customers by word of mouth.

“You must understand that here people won’t find out after two days about a person who has the stuff,” says Assaf. “Take for example those who get medical marijuana and sometimes give some of it to their friends. In Tel Aviv they are harassed and bothered, like someone who has won the lottery. Here such a person is a hidden nature reserve. No one has heard about him or even knows him. He will almost always have stuff to give you.”

Assaf is joined by Noa, who says she was “amazed” by how relatively easy it was to obtain drugs beyond the Green Line. “It’s not that there are ‘ATMs’ here like in Lod, but there will almost always be someone who can help you get organized if you look hard enough.

“The funny thing is that we initially thought the suppliers were Palestinians, and then we discovered that there are settlers who smoke and grow the stuff and have simply kept it to themselves.”

Yet there appears to be some rare Jewish-Palestinian fellowship in this particularly charged place for the purpose of getting hold of the desired stuff. A young Palestinian was arrested last week in a police operation in the Judea and Samaria District for operating a drug delivery service from his village near Nablus to quite a few Jewish settlements.

The young man would take orders from settlers in Samaria and the Binyamin region, as well as from communities such as Itamar, Elon Moreh and even Yitzhar, which is considered a particularly sensitive place. He would transfer the drugs to his customers using a taxi which would arrive at the gate of the community or any other agreed upon place.

The police detected the “drug cabs” and questioned the buyers, who framed the young Palestinian and led to his arrest.

“There was no difference between moderate and more extreme communities,” says Chief Inspector Nir Sarousi, a detective at the Judea and Samaria District Police.


Police have also detected a recent rise in the consumption and cultivation of drugs in Judea and Samaria. In recent months, Judea and Samaria investigators have uncovered a number of large marijuana production labs, as well as small labs used by residents for private consumption. The police attribute the increase to the shortage across the country as well.

“I have been working in the field of drugs for 10 years now, and the past two years have seen a sharp increase in the number of labs opened or operated in our district,” says Chief Inspector Sarousi. “We have encountered large labs as well, but also labs that people use for their own needs. The reason is that the border has been closed and people don’t produce hashish here, so they focus on marijuana.

“A person says, ‘It’s dry out there, perhaps I’ll grow some at home, put it in the closet and use it whenever I need it.’ People are also investing in the cultivation, buying advanced equipment and irrigation systems. We find modern labs which cost up to tens of thousands of shekels to set up.”

Sarousi admits that the phenomenon has to do with the level of enforcement and the wide area where the illegal activity is taking place.

“People have decided to grow it themselves and smoke instead of buying and risking getting caught in our operations. In the territories each person has his own garden and his own yard. It’s not like in the city where someone looks out the window and sees the ultra-violet light used for production. Here, whoever puts a little shed in his backyard and maintains a small circle of people who keep it a secret has a very little chance of getting caught. Enforcement here is difficult and they know it.”

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.