Israeli veganism takes root in land of milk and honey (en)

25 January 2016
From the sectionMiddle East

Vegan Fest fair in Ramat Gan, Israel (file photo)Image copyrightAFP Israel has the highest number of vegans per capita in the world, activists say

On a typical evening at Nanuchka, a popular Georgian restaurant in the middle of Israel’s bustling Tel Aviv, music fills the air and alcohol flows freely.

Until a few years ago, Nanuchka was just a conventional Georgian pub serving traditional food like khachapuri, a cheesy bread, and khinkali, a meat-stuffed dumpling.

But then Nana Shrier, the flamboyant owner of the venue, where the walls are adorned with erotic art, became a strict vegan – in what is said to be the most vegan country in the world per capita.

She decided to convert her entire restaurant to a meatless and dairy-free establishment despite being advised against it by friends and business colleagues.

Israelis are flocking to it – and business is more successful than ever.

Nana ShrierImage copyrightErica Chernofsky Image captionNana Shrier has seen business grow since converting her restaurant to vegan cuisine

For vegans, everything derived from animals is off-limits. Similar to – but stricter than – vegetarians, vegans do not eat eggs and cheese, or drink milk, and in some cases even avoid honey. Leather, wool and silk are also avoided.

Sitting at Nanuchka, eating a meal of vegan tsatsivi (where cauliflower is substituted for chicken), Nana says that consuming animals is both inhumane and unhealthy.

«I don’t like it,» she explains, scrunching her nose in disgust. «I feel the body of the animals in the steak, I feel the animal in the fillet, and the blood. I don’t like it so much.»

Plate of vegan appetisersImage copyrightErica Chernofsky Image captionA plate of vegan appetisers on the menu at Nana Shrier’s restaurant
Plate of vegan Image copyrightErica Chernofsky Image captionThe restaurant also serves a vegan version of the meat dish shawarma

Nana argues there is another benefit to veganism as well.

She says that sometimes, after eating a large steak, or a cheeseburger, for example, people can feel tired and lethargic.

«When you eat vegan food, you have a lot of energy to do very good and nice things,» she says with a coy smile.

When asked if she is implying that vegans have a better sex life than their meat-eating counterparts, she laughs heartily and says, «of course!»

Vegan soldiers

Veganism has become so prominent in Israel that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has started catering to followers in its ranks by offering vegan-friendly ration packs, non-leather boots and wool-less berets.

From an army base in southern Israel, Cpl Daniella Yoeli says the food is not exactly worth writing home about but she is happy to have the option of eating couscous and lentils over schnitzel and schwarma.

Cpl Daniella YoeliImage copyrightErica Chernofksy Image captionThe IDF meets the needs of vegan soldiers like Cpl Daniella Yoeli

She has always loved animals, she explains, and became a vegetarian as a child, converting to veganism only recently.

Her diet is so important to her that had the army not been able to provide conditions that had harmed no living creatures, she might not have enlisted in a combat unit where she would not have been able to provide her own food.

While a vegan combat soldier might seem contradictory, Yoeli politely disagrees.

«In Israel, in the army, what we do in our service is defend the citizens, so I don’t think it’s a paradox, » she says, M-16 rifle slung over her shoulder.

«Like I want to defend animals, I want to defend people, so this is why I’m in combat and this is why I’m in the army.»

‘Species revolution’

According to Omri Paz, the head of the Israeli organisation Vegan Friendly, 5% of Israelis are vegan and the number is growing. Israel boasts some 400 vegan-friendly restaurants, including the world’s first vegan Domino’s Pizza.

Omri PazImage copyrightErica Chernofsky Image captionOmri Paz: It’s time to think about civil rights for animals

Mr Paz attributes the rise of veganism here to a YouTube video by US animal rights activist Gary Yourofsky, which garnered millions of hits worldwide, and more than a million in Israel alone, a lot for a country of only some eight million people.

Mr Yourofsky lectures about the cruelty of the meat industry and, controversially, compares the treatment of animals to the Nazi Holocaust.

Omri Paz says he watched the video and did not leave his room for a week. He says this is the civil rights issue of our century.

«Just like 300 years ago, blacks weren’t equal to whites and that changed with time, and then 100 years ago with the women’s revolution, so I think now, the 21st Century, is the animal species revolution,» he says.

«Treating them not as humans, but not as slaves.»

Comunidad Druza en Israel | העדה הדרוזית בישראל

Este video lo lleva a un viaje a las raíces de las creencias monoteístas y retrata aspectos del monoteísmo en Tierra Santa en el siglo XXI.

Todas las creencias ven a Israel como Tierra Santa y tienen rituales especiales y lugares sagrados que son sagrados solo para ellos. Al mismo tiempo, lo que podría constituir un ritual para una religión específica podría no ser considerado sagrado por otro.

¿Podemos mirar más allá de estas diferencias culturales y reconocer que todos somos seres humanos viviendo simbióticamente en la tierra de Israel? Más de veinte líderes religiosos comparten su punto de vista y nos ofrecen una visión de su mundo, rituales y forma de vida.

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Israel

Palestinians: The Difference between Us and Them


I cannot count the number of times that I heard from Israeli Jews the phrases «I’m ashamed» and «I’m sorry» in response to the horrific crime that claimed the life of Palestinian toddler Ali Dawabsha in the West Bank village of Duma last week.

The strong response of the Israeli public and leaders to the arson attack is, truthfully, somewhat comforting. The wall-to-wall Israeli condemnation of this crime has left me and other Palestinians not only ashamed, but also embarrassed — because this is not how we Palestinians have been reacting to terror attacks against Jews — even the despicable murder of Jewish children.

Our response has, in fact, brought feelings of disgrace and dishonor. While the Israeli prime minister, president and other officials were quick strongly to condemn the murder of Dawabsha, our leaders rarely denounce terror attacks against Jews. And when a Palestinian leader such as Mahmoud Abbas does issue a condemnation, it is often vague and equivocal.

Take, for example, what happened after last year’s kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Palestinians in the West Bank. It not only took President Abbas four days to issue a statement condemning the terror attack, but even then, the condemnation was at best a tentative: «The Palestinian presidency… condemns the series of events that happened last week, beginning with the kidnapping of three Israeli youths.» Abbas then went on to denounce Israel for arresting dozens of Hamas members after the abduction and murder of the three youths.

Later in 2014, when Abbas did condemn a Palestinian terror attack that killed five Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue, Fatah official Najat Abu Baker, a few days later, explained that Abbas’s condemnation was made «within a diplomatic context… [he] is forced to speak this way to the world.»

Abbas’s condemnation of the attack at the synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood apparently came only under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who telephoned the Palestinian leader twice to demand that he speak out against the killings. Abbas’s statement said that the Palestinian leadership condemns the «killing of worshippers in a synagogue and all acts of violence, regardless of their source.» His statement then also called for an end to «incursions and provocations by settlers against the Aqsa Mosque.»

Abbas’s ambiguous, half-hearted condemnations of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis are only intended for public consumption and are primarily aimed at appeasing Western donors, so that they will continue channeling funds to the Palestinian Authority (PA). In addition, his condemnations almost always seek to blame Israel for the Palestinian terror attacks — presumably an attempt to justify the killing of Jews at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.

In contrast, Israeli leaders who condemned the murder of the Palestinian toddler sound firm and unambiguous. Here is what Prime Minister Netanyahu said after visiting the murdered baby’s parents and brother, who were wounded in the arson attack and are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals: «When you stand next to the bed of this small child, and his infant brother has been so brutally murdered, we are shocked, we are outraged. We condemn this. There is zero tolerance for terrorism wherever it comes from, whatever side of the fence it comes from.»

Netanyahu’s strong and clear condemnation left me and other Palestinians wondering when was the last time we heard similar statements from our leaders. I cannot remember ever hearing Abbas or any other Palestinian leader express shock and outrage over the killing of a Jew in a Palestinian terror attack. Nor can I remember the last time we heard of a Palestinian official visiting the Israeli victims of a Palestinian terror attack.

The Israeli leaders’ condemnation of the baby’s murder is a sincere voice that reflects the views of the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public. In contrast, the Palestinian leaders’ denunciations of terror attacks do not reflect the general feeling on the Palestinian street. Each time Abbas reluctantly condemns a Palestinian terror attack, he faces a wave of criticism from many Palestinians.

Unlike the Israeli public, many Palestinians often rush to justify, and even welcome, terror attacks against Jews. This was the situation just a few weeks ago, when an Israeli man was shot dead near Ramallah. Several Palestinian factions and military groups applauded the murder,calling it a «natural response to Israeli crimes.»

This is the huge difference between the way Israelis and Palestinians react to terrorism. The murder of Dawabsha saw thousands of Israelis hold anti-violence rallies to condemn the horrible crime. But has anyone ever heard of a similar rally on the Palestinian side whenever terrorists kill innocent Jewish civilians? Is there one top Palestinian official or prominent figure who dares to speak out in public against the murder of Jews, at a rally in the center of Ramallah or Gaza City? Has there ever been a Palestinian activist who dared to hold a rally in a Palestinian city to condemn suicide bombings or the murder of an entire Jewish family?

While Israelis have been holding rallies to condemn terror attacks against our people, we have been celebrating the killing of Jews. How many times have we taken to the streets to hand out sweets and candies in jubilation over the killing of Jews? Such sickening scenes of men and women celebrating terror attacks against Jews on the streets of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have never been condemned by our leaders. These scenes have become commonplace each time Palestinian terrorists carry out an attack against Jews.

These scenes stand in sharp contrast to the public statements and rallies in Israel in response to terror attacks against Palestinians. Our leaders need to learn from Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, who said he was «ashamed» and «in pain» for the murder of the Palestinian toddler. When was the last time a Palestinian leader used such rhetoric to condemn the murder of Jews? The laconic statements issued by Abbas’s office in response to anti-Jewish terror attacks never talked about shame or pain.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visits 4-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha in hospital on July 31. Dawabsha was badly burned in an arson attack on his house in the village of Duma, which killed his baby brother and also injured his parents. (Image source: Mark Neyman/Israel Government Press Office)

We have failed to educate our people on the principles of tolerance and peace. Instead, we continue to condone and applaud terrorism, especially when it is directed against Jews. We want the whole world to condemn terrorism only when it claims the lives of Palestinians. We have reached a point where many of us are either afraid to speak out against terrorism or simply accept it when it claims the lives of Jews.

The Israeli president has good reason to be ashamed for the murder of the baby. But when will we Palestinians ever have a sense of shame over the way we are reacting to the murder of Jews? When will we stop glorifying terrorists, and naming streets and public squares after them, instead of strongly denouncing them and expelling them from our society? We still have a lot to learn from Israeli leaders and the Israeli public.

By Bassam Tawil, www.gatestoneinstitute.orgView Original

Bassam Tawil is based in the Middle East.

Stav Shaffir: Que es sionismo?

Stav Shaffir, la miembro de la Knesset mas joven de la historia (29 años)  (partido «Avoda»).


Not yet 30, Israel’s youngest lawmaker is already a legend

Video of Stav Shaffir’s impromptu ‘Who Is a Zionist’ speech goes viral after social justice activist catapults to No. 2 spot in Labor primary.
By Judy Maltz | Feb. 2, 2015 | 4:29 PM

She had once dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Later on, it was music that beckoned. In between, she dabbled in journalism and community service.

But a career in politics was never quite on the agenda. And certainly never in her wildest dreams did Stav Shaffir of Isael’s Labor Party imagine that by this stage in her life she would have achieved something verging on political stardom.

It’s not just the big messy mane of red hair that distinguishes this high-energy lawmaker from her Knesset colleagues, who often refer to her as the gingit, Hebrew for “redhead.” At 29, Shaffir is the youngest member of the outgoing Knesset and the youngest woman ever to serve as an Israeli lawmaker. If Zionist Camp ends up forming the next government, which recent opinion polls indicate is a distinct possibility, she could very well become the youngest woman ever to sit in the Israeli cabinet.

An impassioned address Shaffir recently delivered in the Knesset is sure to go down as one of the big moments of the 2015 election campaign. Barely a handful of Knesset members were present when Shaffir took the podium, but the YouTube video of her three-minute speech — which has become popularly known as the “Who Is a Zionist” speech — became an immediate sensation on social media.

Accusing the political right of misappropriating public funds to serve its own interests, and particularly those of its settler supporters, she cried: “Don’t preach to us about Zionism, because real Zionism means dividing the budget equally among all the citizens of the country. Real Zionism is taking care of the weak. Real Zionism is solidarity, not only in battle but in everyday life.”

Shaffir’s comments were an unplanned response to statements made by the head of the religious right-wing Habayit Hayehudi party, Naftali Bennett, she told Haaretz this week. “It was completely improvised,” she said. “We had come to the Knesset to vote on raising the minimum wage, when Naftali Bennett got up and started attacking my party. It made me really angry, and I decided I had to respond.”

The fact that the video of that impromptu speech went viral, said Shaffir, proves to her that “the Israeli public yearns for politics of hope and is sick of the politics of despair.”

That was little more than a week after Shaffir proved her overwhelming popularity within the party. She placed No. 2 in the January 14 Labor primary, giving her the fourth spot on the Zionist Camp ticket, the joint slate merging Isaac Herzog’s Labor with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah — just one rung below Herzog, Livni and former party chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich.

Young blood

It was just over two years ago that Shaffir embarked on her political career. The Labor party was anxious to bring in some young blood, and Shaffir, with her credentials as an outspoken leader of the summer 2011 social justice movement, was seen as a candidate who could attract young voters. Few expected her to serve more than an ornamental function in her first term in the Knesset, or to learn the ropes of parliamentary life as quickly as she did.

Her opponents tend to pooh-pooh Shaffir as a loud-mouthed attention seeker with a penchant for provocation, especially when television cameras are around. But that doesn’t mean it’s been all talk and no action.

Ever since being sworn in two years ago, Shaffir has focused her energies on using her seat in the powerful Knesset Finance Committee to fight for greater budget oversight. As a newcomer to the system, she says she was shocked to discover how many millions of shekels are transferred from one item to another in the secret budget deals among political parties and interest groups, of which the public has little, if any, knowledge. The main targets of her wrath have been the defense establishment and the settler movement, both key beneficiaries of this lack of transparency.

“I was absolutely horrified,” she said in a recent interview with Haaretz. “I couldn’t believe things like this happen. All these deals are being made, and nobody understands what’s going on except for the chairman of the committee and the treasury officials. Most Israelis have no idea where their money is going. They pay lots of taxes, but many of the details of the budget are concealed from them. For example, how much money goes to [the northern border town of] Kiryat Shmona compared to how much goes to [the West Bank settlement of] Hebron, or how much goes to education versus how much goes to defense.”

As a stopgap measure, Shaffir began with filibusters, driving her political opponents mad with endless questions about each budgetary transfer. Then she recruited a staff of volunteers through Facebook to begin investigating every transfer — finding out where the money came from and where it was going, and then posting the findings on her Facebook page.

“Because the treasury tends to refuse to answer a lot of these questions, we decided to look into it ourselves,” she said.

The pressure worked. The treasury eventually broke down and agreed to publish information online on budgetary transfer requests several days before the Knesset Finance Committee was asked to vote on them, rather than on the spot, as had long been the norm — giving its members time to make informed decisions.

In December 2013, Shaffir went a step further when she petitioned the Supreme Court against the treasury and the Knesset Finance Committee for authorizing hundreds of millions of shekels of changes in the budget without the approval of the full Knesset and the cabinet.

Shaffir’s daily altercations with Nissan Slomiansky, the chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee and a member of Habayit Hayehudi, have become legendary — so much so that a recent cartoon in Haaretz had her thanking Slomiansky with a bouquet of flowers after her impressive showing in the Labor primary.

Not long before new elections were called in December, the Knesset Finance Committee was about to convene for its daily session, with Shaffir already poised for action, banging away on her laptop. Within minutes, she was lashing out at Slomiansky, seated at the head of the table, for authorizing yet another handout to an organization affiliated with the settler movement. As the scene played out, the two of them wagging their fingers at one another, Shaffir continued updating her followers in real time via Twitter and Facebook.

In between, she dashed over to a rather unlikely ally on the committee: Moshe Gafni, of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, who has previously served as its chairman. The two exchanged a few words in low voices and planned their strategy for undermining Slomiansky.

A committee member representing the ruling Likud, who asked not to be quoted by name, had this to say about the young Labor lawmaker, as he observed the scene: “She’s doing a fabulous job, and I wish there were more like her, but I really wonder if she would behave had she been representing the coalition rather than the opposition.”

‘It all comes down to the budget’

Born in the coastal town of Netanya, Shaffir grew up in Pardesiya, a small community in the central Sharon region. Her father was an accountant, and her mother a teacher who later joined her husband in the family business. Shaffir, the oldest of three children, has an autistic sister. Before joining the army, she spent a year working with underprivileged children in Tiberias.

Her dream was to become fighter pilot in the air force. But she didn’t make it through flight school and eventually transferred to Bamahaneh, the IDF magazine, where she served as a reporter for the remainder of her service, covering Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and the Second Lebanon War in 2006. She went on to study sociology, journalism and music.

After completing her military service, Shaffir received a scholarship to City University London, where she participated in a special program to promote dialogue among future Israeli and Palestinian leaders and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and journalism. Upon returning to Israel, Shaffir, who plays the piano, drums, guitar, violin and oud,enrolled in the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. Before embarking on her political career, she worked as a reporter and editor at various Israeli publications.

Despite not having any background in economics or finance, Shaffir, who lives in Tel Aviv, made a conscious decision her first day in the Knesset to immerse herself in money matters. “In the end, it all comes down to the budget,” she said. “How the budget is allocated determines whether there is equality and social justice in this country.”

What would be her dream job in politics? “Mostly I’m interested in a position that would allow me to influence prices in the housing market,” said Shaffir. “Any job that would allow me to implement policy in that area would be great.”

Fuente: Haaretz


Circasianos de Kfar Kama, Israel | העדה הצ’רקסית בכפר קמה

Circasianos en Kfar Kama, Israel


Los circasianos israelíes han tenido buenas relaciones con la comunidad judía en Israel desde el comienzo del asentamiento judío en la Tierra de Israel, en parte debido al lenguaje compartido con muchos de los primeros inmigrantes de Aliyah de Rusia que se establecieron en Galilea. La comunidad circasiana en Israel ayudó a la migración (Ha’apala) de judíos del Líbano al Mandato de Palestina y luchó en el lado israelí de la Guerra de la Independencia.

Como es el caso con los judíos israelíes y los grupos drusos israelíes que viven en el estado de Israel (excepto la población drusa que vive en los Altos del Golán), desde 1958 todos los circasianos hombres (a petición de su líder) deben completar el ejército obligatorio israelí. servicio al llegar a la mayoría de edad, mientras que las mujeres no lo hacen. Muchos circasianos en Israel están empleados en las fuerzas de seguridad israelíes, incluso en la policía de fronteras israelí, las fuerzas de defensa israelíes, la policía israelí y el servicio penitenciario israelí. El porcentaje de reclutas del ejército entre la comunidad circasiana en Israel es particularmente alto.