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A Year of Crisis

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What’s Blooming in Jerusalem?

{image_1}Hop aboard the jolly red locomotive that winds around the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens, and you're likely to see blooming and budding everywhere you look. But it's not just the 10,000 species of plants that are blossoming at this 30-acre oasis at the southeast corner of the Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus. The gardens are also alive with the sounds of some 180,000 visitors per year, up from 80,000 in 2008.

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Israel Sends Aid to South Sudan

{image_1}After the new Republic of South Sudan was given statehood [July 9], Israel recognized the new republic the following day. Later, the Israel Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that the two countries “wished to promote and strengthen ties of friendship and cooperation between their countries and peoples on the basis of equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.” This statement was followed up by the fact that new ambassadors would be accredited in each country.

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Toothpaste that Saves Kangaroos

{image_1} Kangaroos in captivity often develop a contagious and sometimes fatal gum condition called lumpy jaw disease. Now, veterinarians at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo and the northern Gan Garoo Park have teamed up with dentists and pharmacists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to create a tooth varnish that successfully prevents the condition.

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Building Up Jerusalem

{image_1} The Israeli government has pledged to continue building up Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “the heart of the nation” would receive more than US $115 million in investment. The Cabinet approved the Merom Development Plan, an economic plan to strengthen Jerusalem through tourism and high-tech, during a meeting in Jerusalem.

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Massive Desalination Plant Gets Go Ahead

{image_1} Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed an agreement in May approving the construction and operation of a massive new desalination facility near Ashdod. The plant, which will be one of the largest in the world, will, on completion, mean that almost 70% of Israel's water needs will be met by desalinated water.

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Vote for the Dead Sea!

{image_1} The Israeli government is promoting a plan to have the Dead Sea named as one of the natural wonders of the world in the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, which finishes worldwide voting on November 11 of this year.

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Christian Hiking Trail Unveiled

{image_1} A new 40-mile (64-kilometer) hiking trail that passes through Christian landmarks and holy sites in northern Israel was inaugurated by Israeli tourism authorities in April and opened to the public in May. The new trail reaches out to more than 1 million of the country’s 3.75 million tourists that visited last year who identify themselves as “religious pilgrims,” according to Israeli sources.

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On the Lighter Side…Meir’s Shleppers

{image_1} There are more volunteers per capita in Israel than anywhere else on the face of the earth, but the enterprising volunteer project started by 26-year-old Meir Partosh provides a truly unique service. Every Thursday (when most people do their Sabbath shopping), he and a small army of high school students ply the Machane Yehuda open market in Jerusalem, offering to help elderly shoppers carry their unwieldy market baskets to the bus stop or the car—and sometimes, even all the way home.

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Israeli Robots Do It All

{image_1} Open your imagination, and you might just find some lifesaving, time-saving, and entertaining robotics invention that has already been invented in Israel. Many of the advances in this science fiction-inspired field are based on the kind of real-world computer programming and artificial intelligence at which Israeli researchers excel.

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British Muslims Support Israel

{image_1} Israel has a somewhat unexpected new set of supporters—British Muslims for Israel (BMFI). The independent grassroots initiative, founded in 2011, describes itself on its Web site as a “Muslim pro-Israel advocacy group based in the United Kingdom,” saying they are “representing moderate Muslims and advocating democracy and liberty in the Middle East.”

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