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Arab and Israeli Martial Artists Join Together to Fight for Peace

Karate chops and high kicks help promote tolerance and understanding in a region fought with tensions.

image via (cc) flickr user emptyhighway

As anyone who actually practices martial arts can tell you, learning how to punch, kick, and chop effectively is less about becoming an excellent fighter than it is about developing a sense of self-discipline and control. Like the oft-repeated adage about jazz, karate isn’t so much about the punches you throw, as it is about the ones you don’t. It’s this duality—the tension between violence, and inner calm—that makes the study of martial arts so compelling. But can karate do more than simply bring peace to those who study it? Can it bring peace to an entire region?

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Get Ready for the Fully Scannable World

A new generation of hand-held molecular data readers offer us a glimpse at a safer, healthier, better informed future.

This month, Consumer Physics, an Israeli startup, will start shipping out a prototype of its maiden product, the SCiO handheld spectrometer, to a group of Kickstarter supporters-cum-beta testers. A pocket-sized molecular sensor capable of breaking down and reporting the constituent atomic matter of various objects, the device probably sounds like a niche interest for the at-home scientist crowd. But in truth, the technology underlying this little, eminently affordable trinket, could revolutionize the way that everyday consumers interact with the world. By allowing us to (as Consumer Physics founders Damian Goldring and Dror Sharon would put it) “Google” physical reality, one day devices like the SCiO may not just provide us with interesting information, but also detect counterfeits, poisons, and other scams, cons, and threats on the fly—among a host of other as-yet-unseen, but inspiring potential applications.

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Humane Clown Posse

Israel’s medical clowns aren’t kidding around.

On a recent visit to Wolfson Medical Center on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, Israel, Yolana Zimmerman (pictured above) is met with audible sighs of relief.

“Great! You’re here! We need you,” says a nurse.

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Israeli and Palestinian Farmers Unite Over Olive Oil

This simple, collaborative economic program reaps a lot more than it sows.

“There is no real border between Israel and Palestine,” says Muhammad Hamudi, an olive farmer and olive oil producer from Asira al-Shamaliya, near Nablus in the West Bank. He has been working with the ongoing USAID-funded project Olive Oil Without Borders (OOWB) since its inception in 2011. Hamudi is in his mid-50s, with smiling eyes and palms so big an olive looks miniscule in them. “Today the border is here, tomorrow it will be there. The olive oil market has no borders as well. The bridge to the global market is the same bridge for everyone.”

OOWB is a collaborative economic initiative among 34 olive oil farming communities in Israel and the West Bank. It is spearheaded by the Near East Foundation (NEF), a 100-year old nongovernmental organization working on economic development among poverty-stricken communities throughout Africa and the Mideast. The initiative is funded by USAID, which provides financial and operative assistance to foreign nations and regions in need. The program has been successful enough that USAID has just granted OOWB its second $1.2 million round of funding, expected to serve some 2,000 Palestinians and Israelis working in the olive oil business over the course of three years.

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It had been about two months since I packed up my bags and moved from Israel to New York to pursue a masters degree in Design for Social Innovation. I woke up, made some coffee and logged on to Facebook, my informal news agency for updates from home.

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Designing Defense: Israel's Iron Dome and the Aesthetics of Conflict

Despite the image of a simple protective bubble, the Iron Dome in fact represents Israel's move toward a more active defense.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMBSWGYlnF0

Fighting between Israel and Gaza intensified over the past week, with several deaths and injuries reported. The violence began when an Israeli airstrike killed the commander of a militant group involved with the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, marking Israel’s first offensive attack in months. In response, dozens of rockets hurtled from Gaza to southern Israel. As Israeli residents ran for cover, the country's new missile defense system kicked into high gear. After nearly six years of development and testing, the Iron Dome finally proved its mettle.

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