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April 17th 2013
Washington, DC (April 17, 2013) – More than a dozen of Israel’s top academic and industrial biofuels research scientists and innovators will be arriving in Washington next week to begin a week-long dialogue with their American counterparts at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and the Navy, FAA and the private sector. They will be meeting with White House officials and with top government energy program managers and scientists and in Washington, DC and at DOE labs in Oak Ridge Tennessee and in California. The scientific exchange, April 17th – 25th, has been designed to help build U.S.-Israel collaboration mechanisms for research and innovation to produce alternative fuels (“advanced biofuels”) that can substitute for petroleum-based gasoline, diesel oil and aviation fuel currently produced from imported oil. The elite Israeli delegation was chosen through a competition held over several months, The U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge, in which the initial selection was made in Israel and the final participants were selected with input from the U.S. agencies.
The project has been sponsored and coordinated by two U.S. not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF) and by the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in the Ministry for Trade and Industry.
Project sponsors stress the importance of finding alternatives to petroleum imports at a time when high oil prices once again are a drag on the economy and some oil producing nations are using oil revenues to develop weapons that threaten their neighbors: “The one-half trillion dollars of oil revenue OPEC nations collect each year provides enormous geopolitical power to nations that oppose U.S. and Israeli interests, helps fund terrorism, undermines peace, and drains money from our economy. So, this effort to reduce the industrialized world’s dependence on oil imports will be of benefit to both Israel and the U.S.” explained TIEP President Jack Halpern. “One of the most important benefits will be the reduction of income for Iran, half of whose government revenue comes from the sale of oil. Without that oil revenue, it will be much more difficult for them to pursue their nuclear ambitions.”
“The Office of the Chief Scientist continues to expand the opportunities for collaboration between academic researchers and industrial enterprises from both countries” said Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor. “We support this initiative that can significantly advance the development of applicative solutions for reducing our dependence in fossil oils – an objective that both nations share and strive for.”
“Israel’s role as a scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial leader is well known,” added TIEP Executive VP Neil Goldstein. “Cutting-edge research and development is taking place in Israel in the selection, bio-engineering and modification of fuel feed-stocks; in growing novel feed-stocks on non-arable land and without using fresh water; and in the more-efficient and cost effective production of fuels from feed-stocks using innovative chemical, physical and biological processes. Building on that research base, we are establishing a scientific, technical and economic collaboration between Israel and the U.S. to help both nations achieve our energy goals.”
Eyal Rosner, chairman of the Alternative Fuels Initiative in Israel's Prime Minister's Office, added: "Israel is committed to the development and implementation of alternative fuels for transportation.” The Initiative was launched in 2011, and is headed by the Prime Minister’s Office, with the cooperation of eight government ministries. The program has set an ambitious 10 year goal of reducing oil consumption within Israel by 60% by the year 2025. "We believe that by increasing collaboration between Israel and the US we will be able to accelerate biofuel development for the benefits of both nations and for the entire world."
April 2nd 2012
Later in the week, the group visited the Mafteyach center of the TEVET program, implemented by the JDC in partnership with the Government of Israel. The Mafteyach center provides a hub to reduce social barriers to employment and raise the level of marketable skills in the ultra-orthodox community. As noted in Israel 2028, Israel does not have a high level of unemployment as traditionally defined, meaning a high level of those seeking work being unable to secure it. Rather, for OECD countries, Israel has a high level of individuals who are not employed in the main economy and are not seeking work either. Ultra-orthodox families tend to be large and are frequently living in difficult economic conditions as the culture promotes lifelong Torah study for men, keeping them out of the labor force. As cultural norms change and economic pressures grow, some ultra-orthodox men are choosing to strike out into the labor force and Mafteyach is there to meet them where they are and help them understand how to market their skills, how to search for jobs and the norms of the general labor force.
As Israel 2028 points out, bringing the non-employed into the workforce, particularly Arab women and ultra-orthodox men, will not only benefit them on a granular level, but will have major uplifting impacts for the Israeli economy as a whole. I was impressed by the way that the Mafteyach program has helped more than 3,500 ultra-orthodox citizens of Israel by empowering members of their own communities to help them from the inside prepare themselves for the work force. Projects like these help make the vision of Israel 2028 a reality.
To learn more about the TEVET program, please click here (http://www.jdc.org/jdc-worldwide-programs/israel.aspx?id=1510).
March 29th 2012
I just spent the week of March 12-16 in Israel on a service learning study tour organized by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and Pursue, a program of the American Jewish World Service and Avodah for individuals interested in social issues domestically in the U.S. and abroad. The first half of the trip was led by the JDC which designs pilot programs to address social issues in Israel to test and then spin-off to the government. This trip, and some of their programs, was of particular interest to me here at the USISTF as our Israel 2028: Vision and Strategy publication as they address a number of the economic issues that the research team identified. In the following series of posts, I will share a few details about these programs and the issue areas of 2028 that they work to rectify.
To frame my series, I will start with a visit we paid to the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. Led by Prof. Dan Ben-David, the Taub Center, an independent, non-partisan, socioeconomic research institute based in Jerusalem, conducts impartial research on socioeconomic conditions in Israel, develops policy recommendations and brings these to the public to enrich the public debate and decision making process. Dr. Ben-David gave our group a presentation which laid out his conclusions about what drove the social justice protests in the summer in Israel and some of the major economic challenges facing Israel. Similarly to Israel 2028 he pointed out the following issues among others that are also touched by Israel 2028:
- Need for immediate education reform from the earliest ages to the universities in order to prepare the next generation of Israelis to compete and to stop the brain drain
- Need to develop adequate infrastructure to support one of the fastest growing populations in the OECD
- Need to bring individuals such as Arab women and ultra-orthodox men into the labor force to increase productivity
Dr. Ben-David presented the group with copies of the Taub Center’s “State of the Nation Report” which on a yearly basis evaluates society, economy and policy in Israel. The report touches on developments across several areas where recommendations by Israel 2028 were made such as developments in Israel’s education systems, specifically curriculum, education gaps, matriculation rates and expanding research. You can download copies of the Taub Center reports should you wish to dive deeper into the state of the nation post-Israel 2028 to see policy progress in Israel. (http://taubcenter.org.il/index.php/featured-publication/state-of-the-nation-report-society-economy-and-policy-2009/lang/en/)
Next up, addressing labor integration issues.