Bagir and Obama

June 9, 2009 - 6:48 AM by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Business, coexistence, design, Environment, General, Politics, Technology 

Is he wearing Ecogir?

Is he wearing Ecogir?

President Obama isn’t the first guy to try and create a better working relationship between Israel and its neighbors…or so Israeli suit manufacturer Bagir is aiming to point out to whoever’s listening.

Turns out that Bagir’s latest technological suit, ECOGIR, which is made from recycled plastic bottles and has been written about on this site, is manufactured at Metco, a tailored clothing factory in Port Said. And 50% of what Bagir manufactures in Port Said goes to the U.S. while the other half heads to the UK market. In the U.S., EcoGir is available at Sears stores and online at, where it’s called the Covington Perfect Poly-Wool Blazer. The Covington Perfect Poly-Wool Blazer

According to Offer Gilboa, Bagir’s CEO, the company “is grateful to the Obama administration for showing support in this area and appreciate the new administration’s effort in the regional peace process. Bagir has demonstrated a working relationship can not only be possible, but also profitable and congenial.”

Bagir, like Delta Galil and Tefron, the two other Israeli textile companies that do business with their Jordanian and Egyptian neighbors, has been working with Egypt since the U.S. signed a historic trade partnership with both Egypt and Israel five years ago. The agreement created Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) in Egypt and Jordan, which allow for duty-free export of certain Egyptian and Jordanian goods that contain Israeli inputs to the U.S.

The QIZs have created working relationships that continue despite war, disagreements and political machinations. Work continued this winter(see page 14), in spite of the fighting in Gaza, and during other periods of upheaval.

You figure that if people can get along well enough to make suits out of recycled bottles, they could figure out other methods of getting along.

Refugee photography

January 29, 2009 - 2:18 PM by · 1 Comment
Filed under: A New Reality, Art, coexistence, Immigrant Moments 

Active VisionSince late 2006, an estimated 10,000 African refugees and asylum seekers have arrived in Israel, crossing the border with Egypt on foot. After a long period of not knowing what to do with these people, several governmental bodies have since begun assisting them via a variety of humanitarian projects.

NGOs have been paying attention as well, with initiatives like Fugee Fridays organizing grassroots efforts to bring food from the Carmel Market to hungry refugees. A related organization, called ActiveVision, offering activities and workshops for refugees in the digital visual media arts. Since the late summer, one workshop project called “Asylum City” has taught a group of pupils how to operate still and video cameras as tools for conveying a message. Assignments mostly focused on documenting the community of asylum seeking families living in Tel Aviv, with the results yielding a print publication and a photo exhibition.

As Fugee Fridays co-founder Daniel Cherrin puts it in a recent piece for Haaretz,

The [Asylum City] course was extremely successful and instructors were able to teach the importance of filmmaking and storytelling both in theory and in practice. As a result, some very interesting and important films were produced. The group thus also actively takes part in spreading the awareness of their own situation.

Many of the older images from Asylum City can be seen here, while the latest batch, including profiles of some of the photographers, can be seen here. A slideshow of images from the workshops themselves can be seen here. Last week, a photo exhibition opened at the Shapira Quarter home of Y Circus.

New (Natural) World Order

November 19, 2008 - 1:45 AM by · 6 Comments
Filed under: General 

Okay folks, it’s time once again to defend the republic, or whatever it is you call it over here. Israel is once again being judged in the court of world opinion, and it’s up to we loyal Israelis to make sure we get ours. But we’re not alone this time – if you have any friends in Jordan or the Palestinian Authority, you might be able to get them to help, because they’ve got a stake in this, too. eingedi1120.jpg

First there were the Seven Wonders of the World – so named because they really were wonders. Till today, for example, nobody has been able to figure out how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. Now that’s a wonder! And you knew they were wonders because they had the imprimatur of the ancient Greeks. Later, though, it became clear that there were newer wonders that weren’t included in the original list, like the Great Wall of China, so various universities and the like compiled additional Seven Wonders lists. The Old City of Jerusalem, for example, is one of the New Seven Wonders, according to USA Today.

The latest Seven Wonders gimmick, however, has The People voting on what constitutes a Wonder of the World. The voting is coordinated by the New7Wonders Foundation, which was founded by aviator/explorer/museum curator Bernard Weber. One hundred million people voted to name the Foundation’s “New Seven Wonders,” which were announced on July 7, 2007, and include impressive monuments like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, and Petra.

Now the Foundation is conducting voting for the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, with the i to be named in early 2009. The candidates include sites you would expect to be on such a list, like Mount Everest, Mount Fuji, the Grand Canyon, and Niagara Falls (the latter two being the only sites in North America to make the list). But there are lots of places many people are probably not familiar with. Interestingly, all of the top ten currently rated sites are in the Far East – with four of them in the Philippines, and three in Vietnam!

Israel is respectably represented as well: The coral reefs of the Red Sea are listed (actually, they’re listed as representing not only Israel, but the PA, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other countries too), as is the Dead Sea (also Jordan and PA), both currently in 13th and 14th places respectively. Also on the list, at 64, is Ein Gedi, the oasis on the shores of the Dead Sea (exclusively Israeli).
red sea1120.jpg
Now, I’m sure the Philippines has many beautiful natural wonders  – but four of the current top seven? And while there are many occasions where tapping into The Wisdom of Crowds is a good idea, I’m not sure determining a question like this is one of them. Based on the current standings, it looks more like  a popularity contest – with people urging their friends to vote for their county’s site. But if that’ the way it works, I say “game on.” Just surf on over to the  New7Wonders site and cast your vote. When you register, you get to choose your seven picks – so why not get all three Israeli sites as close to the top seven as possible? Our national – or should I say “natural” – pride is at stake!

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