Sde Boker, Israel, July 7, 2016


Every year since 1976, on March 30, Palestinians around the world have commemorated Land Day. Though it may sound like an environmental celebration, Land Day marks a bloody day in Israel when security forces gunned down six Palestinians, as they protested Israeli expropriation of Arab-owned land in the country’s north to build Jewish-only settlements.

The Land Day victims were not Palestinians from the occupied territories, but citizens of the state, a group that now numbers over 1.6 million people, or 20.5 percent of the population. They are inferior citizens in a state that defines itself as Jewish and democratic, but in reality is neither.

On that dreadful day, in response to Israel’s announcement of a plan to expropriate thousands of acres of Palestinian land for “security and settlement purposes,” a general strike and marches were organized in Palestinian towns within Israel, from the Galilee to the Negev. The night before, in a last-ditch attempt to block the planned protests, the government imposed a curfew on the Palestinian villages of Sakhnin, Arraba, Deir Hanna, Tur'an, Tamra and Kabul, in the Western Galilee. The curfew failed; citizens took to the streets. Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as those in the refugee communities across the Middle East, joined in solidarity demonstrations.

In the ensuing confrontations with the Israeli army and police, six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, about 100 wounded, and hundreds arrested. The day lives on, fresh in the Palestinian memory, as in 1976, the conflict is not limited to Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but is ever-present in the country’s treatment of its own Palestinian Arab citizens.

The month following the killings, an internal government paper, written by senior Interior Ministry official Yisrael Koenig, was leaked to the press. The document, which became known as the Koenig Memorandum, offered recommendations intended to “ensure the [country’s] long-term Jewish national interests.” These included “the possibility of diluting existing Arab population concentrations.”

Israel has been attempting to “dilute” its Palestinian population - both Muslims and Christians - ever since.

the situation is as dire as ever. Racism and discrimination, in their rawest forms, are rampant in Israel, and are often more insidious than physical violence. Legislation aimed at ethnically cleansing Palestinians from Israel is part of public discourse. Israeli ministers do not shy away from promoting “population transfers” of Palestinian citizens - code for forced displacement.

Portable robot turns your ordinary car into a self-driving vehicle

  • A self-driving car might be in your future.
  • As companies invest in self-driving technology to bring autonomous vehicles to the automobile industry, graduate students in Israel have made it easier to turn any vehicle into a self-driving car.
  • In theory, consumers don’t need to invest heavily in a self-driving car but can opt for a portable robot that turns their existing car into an autonomous vehicle.
  • Called IVO, short for intelligent vehicle operator, the system utilizes motion sensors, mechanic devices and cameras to create a replacement for a driver, Live Science reported.
  • Oded Yechiel, a grad student at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who took part in creating the robot, said the robot comes equipped with sophisticated computer algorithms. Read more (5/3/17)

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Arabian Ostrich (Struthio camelus syriacus) : 1966

Arabian OstrichStruthio camelus syriacus

A subspecies of ostrich native to the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula, the Arabian Ostrich is just one more victim of the Holocene Extinction’s giant middle finger to birds.

Hunted throughout history for both its meat, eggs, and plumage, the ostrich managed to survive well into the 20th Century because hunting methods prevalent up to that time involved the use of bows and hunting dogs. These methods tended to allow most of a given group of birds to escape. However, with the widespread introduction of firearms, numbers declined, then dwindled to nothing. Climate change (increasing aridity) in some of its former range also appears to have played a part in the subspecies’ demise. The last recorded Arabian Ostrich was a dying individual spotted north of Petra circa 1966.

DNA analysis has confirmed the close relationship between the Arabian Ostrich and the North African subspecies of Ostrich (Struthio camelus camelus), and, subsequently, an effort to reintroduce the species to Saudi Arabia has taken place. In the Negev in Israel, a similar reintroduction has taken place, using the Somali Ostrich (Struthio camelus molybdophanes).

The Arabian Ostrich is mentioned in the Bible, by Roman, Chinese, and Islamic sources, and by T.E. Lawrence.