Jerusalem – Israeli independence day, observed this week, is always a time when people in the know in Israel tally figures that reflect the growth of the Jewish state.

It seems that the initiative by the Israel Absorption Ministry to bring Israeli expatriates back to Israel in honor of this year’s 60th anniversary celebrations has met with success. More than 2,500 Israeli expatriates have moved back to Israel since the initiative began – a record-high number. Another 4,500 are currently in the process of returning to Israel.

The initiative was taken in honor of the 60th anniversary and offered expatriates various benefits if they returned. They were promised, among other things, a special discount on their airfare, a discount in shipping their possessions to Israel, tax breaks for income made overseas, health insurance arrangements, Hebrew language tutoring, work placement services, business loans, research grants and revisions in matriculation exams for teenage children.

According to Absorption Ministry data, 2,500 Israelis have already moved back to Israel since November, when the campaign began. This number is 50 percent higher than the average number of returning expatriates annually. An additional 4,500 expatriates have already registered for the initiative and are in the process of returning to Israel. Absorption Ministry officials anticipate that more than 12,000 Israelis will return to Israel by the end of 2008.

Most of the returning Israelis are young families of working age. Seventy percent are age 20-44, 66 percent are families, and 64 percent are returning from North America. Forty-four percent have academic degrees, 38 percent left Israel for reasons of professional advancement, and 27 percent are returning after having spent less than 10 years abroad.

A study by the Absorption Ministry found that returning Israelis contribute tremendously to the Israeli economy, even in comparison to the veteran Israeli population.

“Bringing the Israelis back home is the most important national mission facing us in the near future,” said Absorption Minister Yaakov Edri. “The record number of returnees this year attests to the campaign’s success and to the Israelis’ desire to return home, provided the basic tools for their reintegration are given.”

Meanwhile, some 400 new immigrants from 23 different countries landed on Monday at Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport in honor of Israel Independence Day.

The new immigrants, who arrived from the United States, Brazil, Argentina, England, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Australia, South Africa and Turkey, among others, were received with a state ceremony attended by Mr. Edri, Jewish Agency Director Zeev Bielsky and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.

Zim And Dubai Ports World Agree To Buy Control Of Spanish Port

The Zim Shipping Company, owned by the Israel Corporation, a public corporation owned in part by the Israeli government, signed an agreement for cooperation with the port giant Dubai Ports World. The agreement, according to a Spanish newspaper, calls for buying control of a container port in Tarragona in Catalonia, Spain. The negotiations went on for two years, and after the purchase, Dubai Ports World will have 60 percent and Zim 40 percent of the deal.

The Spanish La Vanguardia newspaper wrote that the two partners would invest 70-100 million euro in improving the port’s facilities, which today cover 10,000 square meters. As a result of the investment, the port is expected to grow in two years and be able to handle 400,000 containers a year. It currently handles 60,000 annually.

The hope is that the Tarragona port will become one of the six most important ports in Spain for containers. The announcement generated waves because of the “unusual Israeli-Arab cooperation.”

A Zim spokesman commented that there was cooperation with Dubai Ports in other ports in addition to Tarragona. Dubai Ports World, controlled by the Dubai government, is considered one of the largest companies in Europe in port logistics with 43 terminals in over 20 countries.

In February 2003, during the crisis between Dubai Ports and the U.S., Idan Ofer of Zim personally intervened on behalf of Dubai Ports and influenced a number of senators to allow it to operate in the U.S. He said that there had never been a security problem in the any of DP’s ports.

This was because some U.S. senators, headed by Hillary Clinton, were opposed to having ports run by Dubai in the U.S. because of security issues. The senators conditioned this on canceling the boycott of Israel.

The current cooperation between Zim and Dubai shows that not only is there no boycott of Israel but there are business ties between them.

Security Alert And Israel’s Independence Day Celebrations

Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations will begin tonight against the backdrop of real fears about a terror attack that could disrupt the celebrations.

The Israeli security establishment has declared a high state of alert. “We’re talking about intelligence warnings that are really unprecedented in terms of their scope and severity,” said one security official.

According to the most up-to-date intelligence assessment, the warnings about a potential terror attack are acute on all fronts. Israeli security officials in the north are taking into account the possibility that Hezbollah will choose Independence Day as its preferred date for exacting its revenge for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in Damascus in February. Hezbollah ascribes responsibility for Mr. Mughniyeh’s death to Israel.

Hezbollah Secretary General Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is adamant about carrying out a revenge attack, expected to strike at an Israeli target overseas. His goal is to perpetrate a terror attack that is severe enough but shouldn’t prompt Israel into another war in Lebanon.

Israeli intelligence has beefed up the number of agents who protect the Israeli diplomatic missions overseas. All of the 60th anniversary celebrations abroad will be held under a heavy security blanket.

The Israeli security establishment also anticipates the possibility that Hamas might try to perpetrate an enormous terror attack either on Independence Day or adjacent to it. Israeli officials assess that it might try to carry out an attack that would allow it to kidnap more Israeli civilians or soldiers. The IDF and the Israeli police will beef up the number of troops deployed along the seamline around Judea and Samaria as well as in the Gaza Strip periphery.

Another scenario is that Hamas will sponsor a mass march of Palestinian civilians toward the fences that surround the Gaza Strip on the border with Israel.

Israeli troops have been equipped with tear gas and other means in order to deal with any scenario of that sort, but security officials said they doubted whether that would be adequate to stem the Palestinian attempt to create a symbolic image of the “siege being broken” at a particularly sensitive time for Israel.

David Bedein can be reached at His Web site is

©The Bulletin 2008


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.