January 24, 2008
Briefs: UC ‘study in Israel’ program draws Sacramento attention; Gold officially the man at the Fede
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Homeland Security Convention Touts Israel's Best
When David devised a slingshot and stone to slay Goliath, the young homeland security (HLS) champion came up with a new weapons system. His modern descendants have carried such innovation to new heights.
This felicitous analogy was advanced by an Israeli business executive during a show-and-tell conference and exhibit introducing California officials to the latest in Israeli HLS (homeland security) technologies.
The three-day (Jan. 14-17) 2008 Homeland Security Stakeholders Science and Technology Conference was held at the cavernous downtown Convention Center.
Making an economic virtue out of an anti-terrorist necessity, Israel's more than 450 security-related companies provide not only for domestic needs but annually export above $1 billion in equipment and know-how to the United States, India and dozens of other countries.
Among clients using these protective systems are Buckingham Palace, the Vatican, Eiffel Tower, Heathrow and Kennedy airports, and various Olympic Games venues.
Exports range from automated speech recognition systems and remote sensors to video image location and identification, early warning devices, and advanced tactical imaging systems.
Twenty participating Israeli companies pushed such wares through exhibits and slide shows and at an afternoon session, open to reporters.
The session was conducted in a jargon barely comprehensible to the layman, such as "innovative turnkey solutions for geospatial data needs," "web-centric ICU management and control systems," "softwing parafoil systems" and "tracking algorithm."
Top California HLS officials, most of whom had visited Israel at least once, needed little convincing of Israel's competence in the field.
Mike Grossman, commander of the L.A. County Sheriff's HLS office, observed, "Israel is simply tops."
Matthew Bettenhausen, director of the California Office of Homeland Security, said, "The Israelis bring us real-life experience that you get when you live in a hot zone."
Besides, he said, "Gov. (Arnold) Schwarzenegger keeps stressing the importance of a close partnership with Israel. We're all in this together."
Doron Almog, a reserve major general who led the Israeli delegation, is executive chairman of Athlone Global Security, Inc., an investment company focusing on the HLS venture market.
"With 9/11, everything changed at how the United States and the world look at homeland security," he said. His own company is expanding rapidly and expects to open an office in Washington shortly.
In addressing the conference, Almog drew on his personal experience in losing five members of his family to a one-woman terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv restaurant in 2003.
He also raised some eyebrows by advocating "a database on everyone in society" as a primary line of defense in the war on terrorism.
"This may sound like an invasion of privacy, but we need it in detecting individual terrorists in advance, which is like finding a needle in a haystack," he added.
Some 400 participants attended the conference, including experts from Britain, Canada and Sweden.
Los Angeles-based Israeli organizers of the event included Deputy Consul General Yaron Gamburg, and Shai Aizin and Iftach Yavets of the Israel economic mission.
-- Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
UCSB Establishes Jewish Studies Chair
The Santa Barbara campus of the University of California is establishing an endowed chair in Jewish Studies as part of an expanded curriculum and research program in the field.
Jay Glazer, a business entrepreneur, and his wife Marsha, a noted art collector, have donated $1 million to fund the professorship and have pledged additional funds for faculty and student support.
"This inspiring gift will help launch a new Jewish studies initiative, which will strengthen intellectual and cultural communities beyond the campus," said David Marshall, dean of humanities and fine arts at UCSB. "It will stimulate new scholarship and thinking and create increased understanding of the history and culture of Judaism."
Over the next five years, the university hopes to raise additional funds to create a Center for Jewish Studies. The center would coordinate programming, courses, research projects, grants and fellowships, and communication with students, faculty, staff and the Santa Barbara community.
A minor program in Jewish studies was established on the campus in 1995 in the Religious Studies department, which offers courses ranging from Hebrew and Yiddish to Jewish life in medieval Spain and the architectural history of modern Jerusalem.
An estimated 2,400 Jewish students are enrolled at UCSB, out of a student body of 21,000. Santa Barbara County has more than 7,000 Jewish residents.
The Glazer family has also endowed chairs in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle and at Indiana University.
Polish Foundation Restores Structure, Culture
After having been destroyed by Nazi invaders and then neglected by succeeding communist regimes, some 1,200 cemeteries and 200 synagogues have now been renovated by the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland.
However, since some 60 percent of the world's Jews have roots in Poland, much work still remains. This was the message delivered by Monika Krawczyk, 35, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation, at the annual meeting of the "1939" Club at Congregation Beth Israel.
The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland was established in 2000 by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and the World Jewish Restitution Organization. Its mission is to reclaim the properties owned by Jewish religious communities (rather than individual Jews) prior to World War II, to protect and, where possible, to restore those with religious or historic significance.
It also works to teach school children and the general public about Poland's rich Jewish history, and monitors anti-Semitic incidents to make sure they are prosecuted as hate crimes and not as mere vandalism.
Prior to World War II, the Polish Jewish community owned approximately 5,000 properties. Of these, 130 have been turned over to the Foundation, which receives most of its operating income from rents earned by the properties under its management. Additional support is provided by private contributions, while much of the physical labor needed for the restoration work is provided by European Jewish students.
Before assuming her present position, Krawczyk, was an international lawyer. A graduate of the University of Warsaw, she also studied in Israel and was a Rotary Fellow at the University of Toledo (Ohio) Law School.
She can be reached at email@example.com.
-- Peter L. Rothholz, Contributing Writer
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