Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Israel Beyond Politics 27 Jun 2006

Israeli elected member of UN women's committee (CEDAW)
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari elected to the UN Comittee for Elimination
of Discrimination against Woman

On Friday, June 23, Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, head of the Rackman
Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women at Bar-Ilan
Univeristy, was elected by 96 states at the United Nations center in
New York to one of the prestigious UN bodies dealing with women's
rights - the UN Comittee for Elimination of Discrimination against

The election of an Israeli expert to this committee was made possible
through the joint efforts of the Foreign Ministry's Division for
International Organizations and the United Nations, the Permanent
Mission of Israel to the UN, and Israeli embassies throughout the
world. It reflects the high esteem accorded to Israeli experts in the
field of international humanitarian law and helps contribute to the
positive image of the State of Israel on the international arena.

This is the third time that an Israeli legal expert has been elected
as a member of CEDAW, which deals with important issues of civil
rights in general and women's rights in particular. The committee
comprises experts from 23 different states.

Dr. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari has served as chairperson of the Advisory
Committee to the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women
in the Prime Minister's Office. She was responsible for preparing
Israel's first two reports to CEDAW and is the author of Women in
Israel: A State of Their Own (2004).


Underground world found at quarry
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

Previously unknown species discovered at cave located within premise
of cement factory in city of Ramle

Researchers were amazed to discover eight species of previously
unknown invertebrates, bacteria and single-cell organisms in the heart
of an active quarry in the southern city of Ramle. Factory
administrators vowed to give researchers free access to the cave and
to keep it intact. "It is a unique site on an international scale,"
Prof. Amos Frumkin of the Hebrew University's Geography Department
said during a press conference held Wednesday morning. "So far we have
identified eight species of invertebrates, most of which were not
known before."

The cave, which spans across 2.5 kilometers (roughly 1.5 miles) and is
100-meter (roughly 30 feet) deep, is the second largest lime cave in
Israel. In order to explore the cave researchers are required to climb
ropes and crawl through most of it. Due to its scientific significance
and the fact it is located inside an active quarry, the cave is
currently closed to visitors.

Four species of invertebrates were found in the lake inside the cave;
the other four species inhabit the cave's terrain. The lake is a
habitat for bacteria that synthesize the sulfur in the water as a
source for energy, thus creating the nutritional infrastructure for
the cave's aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The cave's uniqueness is due mainly to its isolation from the outside
world, since the cave's surface is situated under a layer of chalk
that is impenetrable to water. The underground cave includes an
underground lake, in which the crustaceans were found. The lake is
part of the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer, one of Israel's two aquifers, yet
is different in temperature and chemical composition from the main
waters of the aquifer. The lake's temperature and salinity indicate
that its source is deep underground.

The species have been sent to biological experts in both Israel and
abroad for further analysis and dating. It is estimated that these
species are millions of years old.

Yoel Feldschue, director-general of Nesher Industries, said today that
Nesher will preserve the ecosystem which has been revealed in the
center of its quarry in order to avoid any damage to the important
findings there. He added that he is hopeful that the planning
authorities will enable the company to operate in alternative areas in
order to help preserve the site.


Israeli doctors deliver new smiles

'Operation New Smile' established by Israeli doctors provides needed
plastic surgery and medical care in the Third World.

By Laura Wiessen
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Courtesy of Israel 21c)

When Dr. Eyal Winkler, Dr. Yitzchak Zilinsky and Dr. Yigal Shochat,
three experienced plastic surgeons from Israel's Sheba Medical Center
arrived in Huancayo, Peru this past February, they knew what to
expect. Waiting outside the rural local clinic were about 70 children,
all suffering from some variation of cleft lip/ palate disorder.

Cleft lip/palate is a birth defect in which either the lip or the
palate (roof of mouth) or both failed to close in the womb, leaving a
separation that can affect eating, speech, and hearing. After hearing
about the visit from the Israeli doctors, these children and their
families flocked to the clinic, for free, quality treatment for the
potentially life-threatening defect. For most of them, this would be
their only opportunity.

The mission to Huancayo, in the Peruvian Andes, was the sixth cleft
lip/palate mission to the developing world for Sheba. Winkler has been
leading the Sheba team since 1998, when Interplast, an international
organization providing free reconstructive surgery for people in
developing nations, asked the hospital to join them on a mission to
Katmandu, Nepal.

Winkler was one of three Sheba doctors who went to Nepal, and by the
end of the week, he was hooked. After the Nepal mission, Winkler and
Sheba administrators decided that they wanted to operate these
missions on their own. As hospital CEO Dr. Ze'ev Rothstein explains
"our policy is to extend help wherever it is needed."

So they created 'Operation New Smile' - with the goal of providing
needed plastic surgery and medical care in the Third World. Operation
New Smile's mission hinges on creating cooperative relationships with
doctors and medical technicians in the countries where they work.

"It's not just I'm landing in Hanoi airport and I'm saying the great
Dr. Winkler is here and bring me your kids," explains the jovial
doctor with a smile. "We want to work together with them. It's a
mission of cooperation, it's a mission of sharing techniques and
assisting each other and learning and teaching at the same time," said

In Israel and the West, surgery to correct these deformities is common
and occurs early in a child's life. A child born with cleft lip will
be treated by the age of 10 to 20 weeks, and with a cleft palate by
the age of 18 to 24 months. Because of the important role of the
palate in speech and in eating, it is considered critical to correct
the deformity early in order to allow a child to develop normally.

"In the Third World there are thousands or maybe tens of thousands of
kids, nobody really knows, that are both born undiagnosed prenatally
with cleft lip/palate problems and that do not receive treatment."
Operation New Smile is doing what it can to change that. In 1999, the
Sheba team traveled to Haiphong, Vietnam on their first 'Smile'
mission. Four doctors went with the Sheba team - two plastic surgeons,
a pediatrician and an anesthesiologist. They worked 12 hours a day for
a week, operating on babies and toddlers up to three years old. In the
end, they operated on between 30 and 50 children suffering from cleft

The team's first emergency intervention came at the end of 2001. A
fire, most likely caused by makeshift fireworks, broke out in the Mesa
Redonda section of Lima, Peru. Hundreds of people were killed and
hundreds more disfigured in the chaos. The Peruvian government
appealed for help, and Israel sent Winkler and a colleague to Lima

"We packed some bandages, some ointments, some knives and started our
long way to Peru. We were there within 72 hours of disaster. And we
found ourselves in one of the hospitals working hard with the [local]
team, shoulder to shoulder," recalls Winkler. He and colleague, Dr.
Joseph Haik, now head of Sheba's Burn Unit, worked with the Peruvian
doctors and medical staff for approximately ten days, treating
hundreds of patients.

Peruvian president, Alejandro Toledo and his wife Eliane Karp de
Toledo were grateful for the doctors' work, thanking them publicly in
a press conference and taking them on a private helicopter ride above
the Andes. First Lady Eliane de Toledo had spent several years living
in Israel, and when. Winkler told her about Operation New Smile's work
with cleft lip/palate children she offered to help them set up
missions in Peru. The group has done three subsequent cleft lip palate
missions to Peru, two to the Amazonian region of Peru in 2001 and
2004, and the most recent to Huancayo in February.

Funding for the missions comes from wherever. Winkler and the hospital
can find it - sometimes the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs helps,
sometimes private donors, and sometimes the doctors pay out of their
own pockets. Sheba offers the doctors the time off and the surgical
instruments they bring with them and leave behind for their colleagues
in the countries they visit. He hopes that he can establish regular
sources of funding that will enable the group to organize more
missions to areas in need.

For some children, the treatment can mean a whole new life. In
Huancayo, they met a ten year old boy called "Onze" or eleven in
Spanish. He had gained this nickname because of an eleventh finger.
The boy also had a cleft lip. "He was hidden by parents, never brought
to parties as a child," explains Winkler. "And when he went to school,
everybody laughed at him because he had a tiny finger coming out of
first finger."

The team operated on Onze, removing the extra finger and correcting
the cleft lip. "The first time he saw himself in the mirror he started
weeping. His parents acted like we were Jesus Christ coming the save
them, they called us savior, savior," says Winkler, obviously moved by
the experience.

It's making this kind of a difference in the lives of people around
the world that makes Winkler and the Sheba team eager to organize more


Cornerstone laid for MDA first aid station in Sahnin
(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)

The new station will be built with the help of a donation by Magen
David Adom UK.

On Tuesday, June 20, 2006, the cornerstone was laid for a new MDA
first aid station to be established in the Arab Israeli town of
Sahnin, with the help of a $750,000 donation collected among the
British Jewish community by the Friends of Magen David Adom in the
United Kingdom. This donation will be used to construct a new and
modern building that will enable the local teams of workers and
volunteers to work in an agreeable atmosphere, a far cry from the
existing building used by MDA. The new building will include training
rooms, a volunteers club, a clinic and blood donating premises.

This is the first time that an MDA Friends' Society from abroad is
sponsoring a first aid station in the Arab sector in Israel. Over the
past years, MDA has intensified its efforts to provide better service
in the less populated periphery, more distant from hospital care.
Within this framework, MDA has strengthened its ties with the local
community in Sahnin, training citizens in first aid courses,
organizing blood drives, enrolling new volunteers, training young
mothers and dispensing humanitarian services. The building of the new
station in this town is the result of intensive cooperation and
understanding between MDA directorate and the town leadership with the
encouragement of MDA Friends' Society in the UK.

MDA Director General Eli Bin commented: "The erection of this building
in Sahnin actually expresses the fundamental principles of MDA,
Israel's National Emergency Medical Services, of equality and
availability of MDA services at all times and in all places, in town
centers and periphery alike, reflecting the spirit and principles of
the Red Cross and Red Crescent International Movement - the right of
all human beings to receive medical relief without discrimination of
race, creed or gender."

The cooperation between the local authorities and MDA directorate is
the crown of MDA activities in the non-Jewish sector and an emblem of
true co-existence.


Posted by Dr. Mike Cohen http://www.gogalil.com with permission of MFA