Tuesday, February 21, 2012

California State U Reintroduces Study Abroad at Haifa U

Travel-abroad program to Israel is reinstated, after 9-year suspension **The University of Haifa has been chosen by California State University as its only approved study abroad program in Israel. The decision signifies the end of a nine-year suspension of its travel-abroad program to Israel**

Almost a decade after suspending its study abroad opportunities for students wanting to study in Israel, California State University<
http://www.calstate.edu/> has reinstated the program and chosen the University of Haifa<http://www.haifa.ac.il/index_eng.html> as its location of its study abroad students in Israel.

The Cal State Study Abroad Program is being reinstated in Israel after it was suspended in 2002 due to security concerns. The decision to choose University of Haifa was made after representatives of Cal Sate visited the Haifa campus and met with university officials, including the head of campus security.

"We are honored and pleased that Cal State has chosen the University of Haifa as the location of choice for Study Abroad in Israel. This decision affirms the strength and attractiveness of University of Haifa Study Abroad Programs<
http://newmedia-eng.haifa.ac.il/?p=4883>,” stated Prof. David Faraggi, Rector of the University of Haifa. The new opportunity is being opened to the entire student body of the Cal State system, which comprises 23 campuses and over 400,000 enrolled students.

Prof. Hanan Alexander, Dean of Students and Head of the International School<http://overseas.haifa.ac.il/> added, "Today the International School hosts over 800 students each year from over 40 countries around the world in fall and spring semester programs, as well as summer and winter intensive language programs. During the coming five years, we are looking to double those numbers by increasing partnerships with universities abroad who are attracted to the unique combination of academic excellence and cultural immersion offered by the University of Haifa."

About University of Haifa and the International School The campus of the University of Haifa stands atop the Carmel Mountain ridge southeast of the city of Haifa<
http://www.tour-haifa.co.il/eng/> and is surrounded by the Carmel National Park<http://www.parks.org.il/BuildaGate5/general2/data_card.php?Cat=~25~~698900455~Card12~&ru=&SiteName=parks&Clt=&Bur=825485882>. The University considers the link between academic excellence and social responsibility as its flagship, and service to the community as one of its important goals.

The University of Haifa is the largest research university in northern Israel. It supports a wide range of interdisciplinary programs and cooperative endeavors with academic institutes around the world. As a thriving academic center marked by multiculturalism and tolerance, the University of Haifa is a growing institution with internationally recognized faculties. With some of the world's most renowned professors, several of which are recipients of the prestigious Israel Prize, the country's highest civilian accolade, the University is one of Israel's foremost institutions of higher education.

The University houses six faculties (55 departments and 60 research centers): Humanities; Social Sciences; Natural Sciences; Law; Social Welfare and Health Sciences and Education; and numerous Schools including the Graduate School of Management, Social Work, History, Public Health, Political Sciences, the Graduate School of Creative Art Therapies and the Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences. Some 18,000 students are studying toward a degree (B.A., M.A., or Ph.D.) in 2011/12.

The University of Haifa has recently launched several international MA Programs taught in English: Peace and Conflict Management; Business Administration and Patent Law; Holocaust and Genocide Studies; Creative Arts Therapies; and Maritime Civilizations.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ein Hod Revitalised after the Fire

With thanks to the Israeli Foreign Office for the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=RCIfUkBlmzo we can report that despite the 2010 Carmel fire that took its toll on the region, the Ein Hod oasis for artists is open and ready for visitors.

The 150 families who live in the Ein Hod artists colony in the Carmel Mountains are marking a year since the devastating Carmel Forest fire struck the whole region. But according to longtime Ein Hod resident and tour guide Dan Ben-Arye, the vibrant community of painters, sculptors, musicians, writers and stage performers is stronger than ever.

"Besides having 18 galleries and two museums, we have lots of workshops," says Ben-Arye. "You can come and work with the artists themselves, without any kind of background."

Since its establishment in 1953, Ein Hod has counted 10 Israel Prize winners among its ranks.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

They wouldn’t give up on Nadji

I have written on previous occasions about the Aleh Hanegev village http://www.aleh.org/eng/index.asp that deals with chidten with many assorted handicaps. Hee is yet another success story well worth reading.

By Masada Sekely, Director - Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran


People often think trees and water in connection with the Jewish National Fund. In fact, the organization supports much more, including Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran rehabilitation village in southern Israel. This column is by its director Masada Sekely.

Nadji came to the Aleh Negev- Nahalat Eran rehabilitation village at the age of 5 months. He suffered from a number of medical problems, and his prospects looked bleak.

Nadji was small, underdeveloped and incredibly sweet. We refused to give up hope that he could have a better future.

When a new resident comes to the village, we make a point of setting aside all prior diagnoses and conclusions they have received from other places. Instead, we work to build a program for growth and development that is individualized for each resident’s capabilities. Like all of Aleh’s activities, this program is based on our belief that all children, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, have the right to benefit from the highest standard of professional care and to receive every opportunity to grow and develop to their fullest potential.

We tailored Nadji’s medical and therapeutic program to his specific needs. At the same time, we made sure that he could enjoy typical childhood experiences like games and outdoor trips.

Nadji’s development exceeded expectations, well beyond his initial prognosis. He began smiling and reacting to those around him, crawling and – after intensive work – even walking and running.

Even before his newfound freedom of movement, Nadji was hard to miss. The care and affection showered upon him by the staff crossed boundaries of religion and culture. We all marveled at the close connections forged between this Bedouin boy, who began to understand three languages (Hebrew, Arabic and Russian), and the diverse population of caregivers who treated him as if he were their own child.

Ruti, a volunteer who has been with Nadji from the very beginning, still makes sure to visit him several times a week. She always comes supplied with special home-cooked food, little gifts and, most importantly, unlimited stores of love.

One of Nadji’s development challenges has been his approach to food. For a very long time, he drank only from a bottle, refusing to eat in any other ways. This wasn’t surprising, considering that he was surrounded by other babies and toddlers who were fed through gastro tubes; in this environment, chewing and eating were not the norm.

The village includes a kindergarten for regular children from neighboring towns. In the morning, Nadji attends class alongside the other children. Nadji’s teacher made sure that he ate with the regular children at mealtimes. This way, he could see them eating in the usual manner and imitate their behavior. In just a few days, Nadji began to eat just like other boys.

Today, despite his initial disheartening diagnosis, Nadji is viewed as having regular cognitive abilities. It turns out that his developmental delays were not caused by the syndrome with which he was diagnosed at birth: cleidocranial dystosis, a disorder involving abnormal development of bones in the skull and clavicle area; in fact, they were a result of the fact that from the day he was born, he was placed within a population defined as ill or sick. We are thankful that we were able to make that distinction, and provide an environment in which Nadji was able to thrive.

Nadji still had to undergo a series of operations and rehabilitative procedures for his physical disabilities. Now, we are helping Nadji with his communication skills and the activities of everyday life. For the first time since he was born – Nadji will soon live at home with his family.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

January News Not Found in your Media?

With thanks to the British Israel Group (BIG)

· The month of January saw the highest number of rainy days in one month on record in Israel. Rain fell on 29 out of 31 days. The level of Lake Kinnereth has risen by half a metre and 2 metres of snow has fallen on Mount Hermon.

· Among the 25 children currently undergoing surgery at Israel’s Save a Child’s heart programme at the Wolfson Medical Centre, 12 are from the
Palestinian Authority and 4 are Iraqis.

· On a recent visit to Sha’are Zdek Hospital in Jerusalem to see a friend in the cardiology unit, we waited for a while in one of the visitors’ rooms, in company with two Arab families, while our friend was given some physiotherapy. We were curious as to what was on a shelf opposite where we were sitting and discovered that on one side was a stack of siddurim (Hebrew prayer books) and on the other, a pile of prayer mats for the use of the Moslem patients and visitors of which there are many. As this is an observant, Jewish hospital, we thought this extremely thoughtful.

· On 2nd February 7 Qassam rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza and exploded in open areas of Shaar Hanegev Regional Council. No injuries were reported. Security officials said the Palestinians used the cover of stormy weather and its effect on detection systems to launch the rocket attacks.

· The Israeli Air force hosted a conference on Aviation medicine last week, bringing together experts and state of the art technology from around the world. “Medicine in the IAF is unique,” explained the head of manpower, Brig.Gen.Ilan Boger. “This is a professional and important field with great influence on human life.” Flight medicine is a crucial part of IDF military medicine because “its purpose is to save lives and maintain preparedness for battle.

”Fake" photograph causes sensation on Facebook

A photograph purporting to show an 'Israeli soldier' stepping on the chest of a Palestinian child and pointing his weapon at her face caused a sensation on Facebook this week as millions of Israel supporters reposted the photo but pointing out the obvious errors, such as the 'soldier' carrying a rifle without a trigger, and irregularities in the uniform. "Don't believe everything you see on the Internet," wrote blogger Omar Dakhane, who uploaded a wider framed version of the image, showing a crowd surrounding the soldier and the girl. “This picture was taken in 2009 in Bahrain during a street theatre.”

Just a Heartbeat Away

When Aya Almasal, 12, left her Gaza home approximately one month ago and headed for Rambam, she didn’t know that this trip would save her life. For several years Aya had suffered from sudden bouts of unconsciousness, and her doctors couldn’t find the cause. About a month ago, Aya set out for Rambam to treat this problem, which had accompanied her since birth. Upon leaving Gaza, she felt ill and the situation steadily deteriorated. As the girl neared Rambam, in Haifa, her heart stopped working and she was, in effect, dead. After repeated attempts at resuscitation, the girl’s heart began to pump and she arrived at Rambam, artificially respirated and in serious danger. At the hospital, Aya was diagnosed as suffering from Long QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical system that causes irregular and rapid heart rate, and had prevented blood from reaching her brain. This had caused Aya to lose consciousness suddenly, and could have killed her.

Shortly after the diagnosis, Aya was hospitalized in Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Intensive Care, where she remained for a week. Doctors there stabilized her condition, and Dr Munder Bolus, director of the Unit of Electrophysiology implanted her with a defibrillator pacemaker. Accompanying drug treatment, the pacemaker supplies an electrical shock which ‘jump starts’ the heart during irregularities. After almost a month of hospitalization, Aya felt better, was discharged last Thursday, 2.2.12, and returned to her home in Gaza, standing on her own two feet.

According to Aya’s treating physician, Prof Avraham Lorber, who is head of Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Adult Congenital Heart Defects, Long QT Sydrome is a widespread heart defect that can be controlled with appropriate treatment. “Aya will need a pacemaker all her life,” said Prof Lorber. “She will be monitored to be sure the pacemaker and battery are working correctly.”

Fortunately, Aya had arrived at Rambam in time to receive life-saving treatment. But the girl did not have to die in order to live. Aya’s congenital defect should have been detected earlier. “Every year we treat a number of children with these types of problems,” says Prof Lorber. “Some patients are diagnosed when they seek treatment for their irregular heart rates, and others in regular check-ups. This early detection of life-threatening problems illustrates the far-ranging implications of preventive medicine.”

Rambam’s Department of Pediatric Cardiology and Congenital Heart Defects treats a wide range of disorders, like Aya’s. A large number of patients, some 650 children and youth, arrive from neighboring countries and are treated on a humanitarian basis. A number of Palestinian patients are currently at the department, among them a three-week old infant scheduled for heart surgery, and a 40-day old baby who needs a stent procedure. “Other Palestinian patients are now receiving treatment here or will soon be transferred to Rambam,” states Prof Lorber. Our experience in general medicine, and in cardiology, specifically, allows us to help most of these patients.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

And Why Won't the Palestinians Cooperate?

Israel leads way in making saltwater potable

Scarce rainfall and abundant seawater prompted Israel to find desalination solutions now getting a ‘green’ makeover and being shared globally. So, instead of "bleating" about "unfair" allocation on inflated population figures, why not cooperate with Israel and a) build a desalination plant and b) start recycling water instead of destroying the infrastructure.

In an old Middle Eastern curse, enemies are told to drink from the sea. Cursed with water-shortage problems, Israel has pioneered desalination solutions that are changing the world. From manufacturing China’s largest desalination plant and smaller ones on Caribbean islands, to watering its own agricultural industry, Israel’s desalination business is a story that started at the founding of the state.

Today Israel’s award-winning desalination companies are quenching the thirst of dry nations, and are challenged by today’s environmental questions to provide greener options for tomorrow.

Desalination is a process that removes salts and minerals from otherwise undrinkable sea or saline water. With about 70 percent of the world covered in water, and more than 90% of it saltwater, even the water-rich United States finds itself in need of desalination solutions in California. And Israel is there to help.
The biblical Book of Exodus relates how the ancient Israelite leader Moses was empowered to turn bitter water sweet for drinking. Wind the tape forward to the 1950s, when Israel’s technological progress in desalination was catalyzed by founding father David Ben-Gurion, who saw desalination as part of Israel’s destiny.
Over the last few thousand years, nothing has changed: To survive and thrive, Israelis still need a source for fresh drinking water.

Israel’s major foray into desalination began with IDE Technologies – known as Israel Desalination Engineering when it was government-owned – which has built more than 400 desalination plants in some 40 countries, from Caribbean islands to the United States, to mammoth plants in China and Israel. The company is headquartered in Kadima.

Every day, IDE plants produce about two million cubic meters of potable water for the world to use, and its R&D staff is investigating and implementing greener solutions for an industry not known for its environmentalism. Desalination alleviates world “water pressure”

Some estimates suggest that the demand for water-treatment products will rise 6.2 percent every year to $65 billion in the year 2015. Meeting the world’s water needs requires local and international policy and legislation. Israel is deeply involved in implementing policy locally and sharing its processes with the world.

Looking locally, Israel’s major sources of water are the Sea of Galilee, its holding tank and a number of inland and seaside aquifers. Those sources, now combined with desalinated water, supply a population that has expanded many times over from its former size in the last 80 years. As environmentalists rally to protect coastlines from development, the country is also seeking to establish the creation of artificial islands on which to build desalination plants.

Booky Oren, a former CEO of Israel’s national water carrier Mekorot, is now an independent water consultant and is chairman of Israel’s WATEC conference and expo, held in Tel Aviv from November 15-17, 2011. Oren says rising needs lead to little choice but to desalinate water, and similar situations are felt in the rest of the world as well.

“All the population here is increasing and the demand for water is increasing. This is the force that caused Israel to reinvent itself,” he says. “In the beginning, 50 years ago, Israel began to deliver water from the north to the south from the national carrier. Then we moved to recycled water. We began to recycle the wastewater to create more water because we don’t have enough. All the time there is a crisis because we are coping with continuous droughts. The water you have from natural collection is not enough,” says Oren.

“While tools like drip irrigation help to alleviate the problem, at the end of the day this doesn’t solve Israel’s crisis. Israel took a strategic decision to produce more water from the sea,” he continues, though this is expensive. “By 2015, Israel will be fully independent from rainfall and will produce enough water from the sea. Even coping with continuous droughts, we will have enough.”

Israel had to formulate policy to assure that the price of desalinated water would remain relatively low, and this is where ingenuity had to factor in. Water in Israel was about $2 per cubic meter 20 years ago, and it now it is down to 50 cents– a 75 percent reduction, says Oren. To achieve this cost benefit, Israel invented better ways to recycle water, and processes that were less energy intensive.