Wired Magazine Acknowledges Sabra Tech

Posted on May 29, 2008 • By Rebecca Markowitz
Category: Technology | Tags: Tags: , , | Comments Off

wired magazineAlthough it might sound kind of scary, “The Danger Room”, is a special section of Wired Magazine focusing on technology for national security with a special category dedicated to Israel, called “Sabra Tech“. I wonder if anyone besides the author of this section, Noah Shachtman, actually knows what the heck Sabra Tech means. The section started at the end of April 2008 with an article about special army robots, “Israel’s newest soldier” that can see at night, navigate alone through cities and traffic intersections, patrol borders, scan 360 degrees, and alert officers if it identifies anything suspicious.

Sabra Tech also features flying robotic ambulances (too cool for words) and dogs that are trained to patrol and guard jails. Wired gets a big high five for reporting on Israeli technology for avid robotic fans and Israel fans alike.


Tourism in Israel is growing fast with big plans for even bigger numbers

Posted on May 28, 2008 • By Rebecca Markowitz
Category: Business, News, Social | Tags: Tags: , , | Comments Off

Not only is Israel breaking Guiness World Records for largest amount of people saying Hatikvah simultaneously, largest national flag, and the World’s largest Humus plate, we also keep breaking previous tourist records. According to the Ministry of Tourism, in April of 2008 alone, there were 290,000 tourists, a 41% increase over April 2007 and 26% over April 2006.

But the Ministry of Tourism has set its goals much, much higher, hoping to bring 5 million tourists in 2012. The Director of Tourism Shaul Tzemach is already nervous about a room shortage. As they say, that should be our worst problem! Anyone want to rent out their apartment for a few days? I volunteer. Tourists usually mean m-o-n-e-y. I say, bring it.


You know what this major increase in tourism will mean for Israel, don’t you? More hotels which means more construction! And Israelis just love construction and detours. There are 90 million shekels going towards encouraging tourism and millions more for the construction of more hotels in Jerusalem, the Sea of Galilee area, Acre, Ashdod, Kiryat Shmona and the Upper Galilee. That brings the total cost to 1 billion shekels. The number feels too big to comprehend and reminds me of Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil suggesting the largest amount he could fathom “1 milllliion dollars”.


Canadian Prime Minister Harper strongly supports Israel on 60th birthday

Posted on May 26, 2008 • By Miriam Schwab
Category: Videos | Tags: | 1 Comment

I was born and raised in Canada. From what I remember, Canada’s leaders tended to not be very remarkable, and their attitude towards Israel ranged from uncaring, to hostile.

Well, apparently Canada’s now got a Prime Minister with guts. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is not afraid to laud Israel’s achievements, and provide unconditional support for Israel’s security and right to exist – a move that he admits is unpopular, but he stands behind nonetheless.

And he can even speak French. Although it’s Canadian French, so I’m not sure if it counts.

Here’s his speech at an event in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary:



Presidents Discussing Tomorrow

Posted on May 25, 2008 • By Miriam Schwab
Category: Art and Culture | Tags: | 2 Comments

Here are some interesting ideas that were raised during the President’s Conference. First, I’d like to start with the opening session, titled “Presidents Discussing Tomorrow.” I’m only reviewing the Presidents that I thought were most interesting, so here goes, organized by speaker:

Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the UK, currently on a quest for peace

Tony Blair opened up with a discussion on peace and democracy. He basically said that democracy, equality and justice are the solutions to all the world’s problems, and that we should be “open in hope, not closed in fear.” There was one problem with what he said: he said that no two democracies have ever attacked each other. My wise husband pointed out that Germany was a democracy, whether we like it or not, and they certainly attacked a few democracies, Britain included. Oh well, it was a nice thought. Read more»


Burd flies to the Western Wall for 40 days of prayer

Posted on May 22, 2008 • By Gil Zohar
Category: Art and Culture | Tags: Tags: , , , | Comments Off

According to a kabbalist tradition, God answers the prayers of those who visit the Western Wall for 40 consecutive days. But not everyone lives in Jerusalem, and even denizens of the Holy City find it a challenge to visit the Old City shrine daily for nearly six weeks to avail themselves of divine intervention. Recognizing this need, in 2004 Jewish Quarter resident Batya Burd, 33, established Western Wall Prayers to say proxy prayers at the Kotel for those unable to be there personally.

The requested donation? Just over $2 per day, or $90 for heavenly help, smiles the petite brunette – who was a corporate lawyer in Toronto, Canada before getting into the God game. Read more»


The President’s Conference: facing tomorrow both good and bad

Posted on May 19, 2008 • By Miriam Schwab
Category: Art and Culture | Tags: Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Facing Tomorrow - The President’s ConferenceLast week, I attended The President’s Conference, which was titled “Facing Tomorrow.” For the uninitiated, The President’s Conference was a two-and-a-half-day gala affair where leading Jewish and non-Jewish thinkers, politicians, and moneyed men (yes, 9.9 times out of 10 they were men) got together to ponder the future of the Jewish people, both in Israel and in the Diaspora.

The conference was organized by The Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI), a Jerusalem-based think tank that was commissioned by Israel’s President, Shimon Peres, to put the whole thing together. Read more»


Israeli busker leads the London underground scene

Posted on May 18, 2008 • By Rebecca Markowitz
Category: Art and Culture | Tags: Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Few people riding the Underground in London realize that the amazing voice they hear on their way to work belongs to Hadar Manor, a former Lieutenant in the Israeli army. A recent “Ear to the Underground” contest, which votes on the best talent in the London-wide underground scene, crowned Manor as Queen.

According to TotallyJewish.com, Manor is appreciative of the support she received from the London Jewish community. She has performed for a number of Jewish organizations in London including Limmud, the ZF and JNF. Hadar has been in London for five years and considers herself an “ambassador for Israel. I think every Israeli abroad is an ambassador”. She plans to return to Israel for a show in Tel Aviv later this year.

Here she is, Hadar Manor singing “Queen of the Underground”. One very talented lady indeed.



What will you be driving in 2010? A Sneak Peek

Posted on May 13, 2008 • By Rebecca Markowitz
Category: Environment, Social, Technology | Tags: Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

electriccar.jpg If you answered “One of the two yellow Hummers in Israel”, you may not really be interested in the rest of this post. For the rest of us, we could end up driving electric cars within the next 2 years, thanks to Shai Agassi and Renault. The latest model has been spotted circling around parking lots in Tel Aviv. I wonder who the lucky guy/gal is that gets to test it and is forced to drive around in circles all day. Weee!

While I admit that this is no flying car, the electric car will create cleaner air and lower our dependency on fossil fuels, a good thing considering the only oil Israel has is olive oil and it’s too tasty to be wasted on transportation.

Newsweek explains that 150 recharging stations aka ‘swaps’ will be built around Israel and will take the same amount of time to fill up as a traditional gas pump. You’ll also be able to recharge at home or the office for shorter distances. Drivers can pay for the recharging with monthly subscriptions, similar to a cellphone plan, and it should end up being cheaper than gas.

When these guilt-free and cheaper fueling electric cars become available to the public, I will definitely want one. But I ain’t getting on the roads until the national aggression level in Israeli drivers is lowered significantly. Where is Project Better Drivers? That is the real question here.

Shai Agassi, of Project Better Place, is speaking at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem this week, so hopefully we’ll learn of the latest status of the project and report it here on israelplug.


Celebrating Israel’s 60th with Videos, Websites, Blogs, Birthday Cards, Conferences, Snacks, and more

Posted on May 5, 2008 • By Rebecca Markowitz
Category: Art and Culture, Multimedia, Social media | Tags: Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dear Israel,

I know we have neglected you a bit on our site in the past few months, but this birthday has put our priorities back in focus. As I get alerts and updates on all of the celebrations in your honor, I get that warm fuzzy feeling about how special it is to live here (despite the wacked out taxi drivers and funny hours at the post office).

As a mini-present (and it’s the thought that counts, right? we’re done with the buying each other things stage I hope), I’ve compiled a list of as many websites, videos, blogs, conferences, snacks (?!), etc. that I could possibly find that are dedicated in entirety to you, your innovations, your accomplishments, and your commitment to being an open home to the Jewish people. (cheesy enough? stole it from another Hallmark card I saw in the Israel birthday card store)

Thanks for making us proud and Happy b-day from israelplug! Read more»



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