Acclaimed Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina said Sunday he would accept a prestigious Israeli literary award despite calls from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the Jewish state.
Molina said that he did not believe he was an “accomplice” in Israel’s policies toward Palestinians for accepting the Jerusalem Prize, an award given every two years to authors who dwell on themes of human freedom in society.
“I have absolute respect for Israel and people in Israel who are critical of their own country,” said Molina. “It doesn’t mean I have become an accomplice of anything horrible that happens in this country.”
International artists often come under pressure by pro-Palestinian activists not to come to Israel or accept prizes, arguing that the country should be censured for its military rule over Palestinians.
Molina, whose prose was shaped by a working class upbringing in a provincial village under the rule of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, has resided in New York City for much of the past 13 years. He said he was honored to receive the award.
“The worth of a prize depends on the people who have received it before you,” Molina told reporters. “I would like to be as good as many of them.”
Molina, 57, said he felt an affinity for Israel, saying the country was often misunderstood like his homeland Spain. He also described his politics as reflective of those of award-winning Israeli author David Grossman, who frequently criticizes Israeli policies and its occupation of the West Bank, which began in 1967.
The Spanish writer said he had never visited areas where Israel maintains military control over Palestinians. He said he wouldn’t have time on his four-day trip, but he intended to visit them in the future. “It’s unfinished business,” Molina said.
Molina said that he had come under pressure not to accept the prize, but that as far as he knew no Palestinians had tried to contact him.
The Spanish writer has three books translated into English: “Sepharad,” “In Her Absence” and “A Manuscript of Ashes.” His latest novel, “Noche de los Tiempos,” is currently being translated into English.
Seventy senior public health professionals working to promote health and save lives around the world will visit Israel this week. The visitors will spend nine days learning about cutting-edge research while exchanging professional experiences, challenges and successes.
The participants are graduates of the Hebrew University-Hadassah International Master of Public Health (IMPH) program. The one-year graduate program is part of the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Faculty of Medicine.
The event is the second Pears IMPH Alumni Workshop and Reunion, sponsored by the Pears Foundation (UK). Participants will hear from world-renowned public health experts such as Harvard’s Dr. Michelle Williams, to whom US President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Award for Excellence.
Since 1971, the one-year IMPH degree has been awarded to more than 750 graduates from 90 countries. Graduates have become leaders in their countries of origin and internationally, working to alleviate disease, end extreme poverty and promote health and development around the world.
Students from low-income countries are awarded scholarships by the Pears Foundation and other donor agencies.
“The Pears Foundation is a strategic partner in our IMPH program,” said Braun School Director and former IMPH program Director Prof. Yehuda Neumark. “In providing support for IMPH scholarships and follow-up alumni activities, it aims to build a network of scholars in low-income regions of the world who benefit from academic expertise in Israel and transfer that expertise towards efforts to alleviate disease, end extreme poverty and promote health and development.
“Its support also helps strengthen relationships between Israel and Africa through building strong academic cooperation.”
Current students and the visiting alumni hail from Albania, Cameroon, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kazakhstan, Mali, Macedonia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestinian Authority, Philippines, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, and Uganda, among others.
Graduates of the program include leading health professionals such as Prof. Cui Fuqiang, a widely published research scientist serving as deputy director of China’s National Immunization Program and director of the Hepatitis Division of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
After graduating the IMPH program in 2004, he moved to Beijing to join China CDC, was granted over $3 million in research support, and recently received his doctorate from the University of Basel.
“I will never forget the IMPH program’s courses in epidemiology and community-oriented primary care. I learned so much that helped me develop my research model when I returned to China,” he said recently, adding that the program “gave me both epidemiology skills and the self-confidence to pursue my career.”
Another IMPH graduate is Amb. Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, ambassador and deputy permanent representative of the Kenya Mission to the United Nations. Dr. Ojiambo has played a leading role in women’s organizations, UNICEF and public health NGOs, in areas such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.
The event will include representatives of the Africa Population & Health Research Center (Kenya), Association of Schools of Public Health – European Region, Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, MASHAV-Israel Center for International Cooperation, University of Toronto, and World Health Organization (Geneva).
A little girl radiant with wonder in a star-studded dress, sitting under a smiling moon against a background of midnight blue. The thin, familiar binding of “Hannaleh’s Sabbath Dress” is part of the repertoire of childhood books of anyone who grew up or raised children here.
The book by Itzhak Schweiger-Dmi’el tells about a little girl who helps an old man who asks her to lift his bag of coals. The girl is wearing a pretty Sabbath dress, which gets soiled by the coals. But the moon shines some of its light on her and her dress glitters with stars. Today it is probably read to children accompanied by a warning. They are sworn not to respond to the requests of strangers and certainly not to follow them. But this little book retains its power. It turns out that it’s still a hit ? the most widely sold book of the veteran Ofer Publishing House, from its publication in the 1960s until today.
The secret of its attraction is undoubtedly its illustrations, especially the girl in the glittering dress that is etched in our collective memory. What 4-year-old girl can resist her? And who doesn’t also remember the grandfather with the bag of coals that the girl helps him hold? Mainly we recall the innocence of the illustrations. A vestige of a period that no longer exists. It’s possible that the children weren’t innocent at all, and that the period was not easy either, but that’s how they were portrayed in the little books and preserved in our memory.
In the Illustration Library in the Youth Wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, a moving exhibition has been mounted in tribute to the then-anonymous illustrator of “Hannaleh’s Sabbath Dress” and many other books published by the veteran Ofer Library. At the exhibition, titled “Days of Innocence,” the original illustrations of the artist, who was the publishing house’s illustrator, will be on display.
Her name – Eva Itzkowitz – never appeared on the covers of the books she illustrated. According to Ofer publisher Shlomo Aluf, who is in close contact with Itzkowitz to this day, that was her choice, because of her modesty. Itzkowitz is now over 90 years old, and there is justice in the fact that she is receiving this overdue recognition during her lifetime.
In her time, and afterward as well, Itzkowitz’s illustrations were not considered especially artistic. They were seen as overly realistic, saccharine, unsophisticated.
Not something to make a fuss over. They suited the books, which were the bread and butter of the children’s library in kindergartens and were not considered treasures of children’s literature. But now, at the exhibition, one can see the beauty and skill of the line and the use of color. These are very beautiful drawings. The charm that is revealed in a reexamination of the illustrations is partly because of the way they represent the spirit of the times. These illustrations also have a sense of retro, like the old American and European posters and advertisements from the 1950s, which display idyllic pictures of family life. This idyll is somewhat heartbreaking. And also somewhat disturbing, especially when, in the spirit of the pre-feminist period, the mothers are usually in the kitchen and the men are working or are brave soldiers.
In one of the books (“My Daddy,” by Yemima Sharon), you see in the distance the edge of a house with a red roof, a man who is a double of Don Draper from “Mad Men” sitting on a lounge chair in the garden, a blond boy playing at his feet. In “Daddy is a Brave Soldier,” the same Draper double is seen in an army uniform. In “My Mommy,” also by Yemima Sharon, the mother is seen in a pretty 1950s-style dress with an apron over it. She is cooking and baking cookies and also scolding a child, and he looks scared and chastened – a domestic scene that has been censored from contemporary children’s books.
Orna Granot, curator of the exhibition and director of the Illustration Library, says that the interesting aspect of the illustrations is their directness, simplicity and clarity.
They characterize books that were meant for pre-schoolers and presented simple pictures of everyday life. For example, the book “The Stalwart Clock” portrays the routine of a brother and sister from morning to evening.
These books want to paint a protected, flawless world. “There’s a degree of prettifying the reality in the books,” says Granot. “It’s similar to the Golden Books, sweet and idyllic books from the 1940s and 1950s, or Walt Disney in his early films, in which they try to create a sweet and innocent image that is etched in the memory. Supposedly simple. The background is not crowded, there are no complex compositions. It’s very different from today’s approach in children’s literature.”
Many people all over the world dream of visiting Jerusalem and its holy sites once day to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. While some manage to go on a pilgrimage to the city, many others never have the opportunity to do so.
A new website, Jerusalem Experience, is now offering the opportunity to visit Jerusalem and its holy sites without having to leave home through a series of videos – a godsend for millions of Christians all over the world who cannot afford the time or the expense of flying all the way to Jerusalem.
The founder of JerusalemExperience.com, Eran Frenkel, came up with the idea for his website while taking visitors to the Old City of Jerusalem during his tenure as VP of Marketing and Business Development at an aerospace company in Israel.
“You should have seen the look on their faces when they entered the Church of the Holy Sepulcher,” he says.
The videos on the site are organized not only according to major location but also according to theme, for example Christian feasts.
The site features many other videos that take each visitor on a private tour of Jerusalem and its famous holy sites, as well as of many other lesser known but equally fascinating sites in the Holy City.
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered a new pathway by which cells in the body become cancerous. The discovery is expected to facilitate the development of new treatment methods that could block this process and prevent the spread of cancerous growths as well as new diagnostic tools to distinguish between normal and malignant tumors.
In their article in the scientific journal “Cell Reports,” the researchers describe a gene found in every cell of the body that manufactures an enzyme called S6K1. This enzyme appears in two forms, one long and one short. It is the latter variant of the enzyme, which like all enzymes is a protein, that is involved in the process of tumor formation.
While the long variant of the S6K1 enzyme is composed of more than 500 different amino acids, the short form contains only 300. In the article, “S6K1 Alternative Splicing Modulates Its Oncogenic Activity and Regulates mTORC1,” the short variation, or isoform, of the protein is described for the first time. Healthy cells contain a relatively small number of this form of S6K1, which the researchers discovered encourages nearby cells to become cancerous. The research team, led by Ph.D. candidate Vered Ben-Hur and adviser Dr. Rotem Karni of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, demonstrated that an additional protein found in the body, SRSF1, depresses the activity of the long variation of S6K1 and activates its short form – the one implicated in the cancer process.
The short variation of S6K1 activates the signaling pathway between cells. This pathway encourages nearby cells to divide in an unregulated manner and thereby become cancerous, spreading and invading various tissues within the body.
The researchers identified the short variform of S6K1 first in mice and then in cell cultures taken from women with breast cancer. They later found significant levels of the short variation in cultures taken from people with lung cancer and from people with cancer of the colon. “We found that the pathway we have described is very important and that it takes place in nearly all types of cancerous tumors,” Karni said.
In a related discovery, the researchers found that in laboratory conditions the long variation of S6K1 actually depresses tumor activity and even prevents healthy cells from becoming cancerous, just the reverse of the effect of this enzyme’s short version. “We showed that the [S6K1] protein causes damage when it is truncated, whereas damage to the long form could actually intensify the disease,” Karni explained.
The researchers have not yet identified the environmental factors affecting the production of either the short or the long variations of the S6K1 enzyme, but the assumption is that environmental factors that have been associated with the development of cancer, such as prolonged exposure to sun or to known carcinogens, could accelerate the production of the short form. Further study will be needed to test this hypothesis.
The research team is now working on turning the short form of S6K1 into its long form and then testing whether this could prevent or at least slow the growth of cancerous tumors.
“We are developing materials that could switch off the splicing mechanism in order to create more of the long form of the protein and fewer of the short ones,” Karni said, adding, “Today we can do this in the laboratory, and the intention is to develop a drug therapy based on this discovery.”
The team has already determined that new cancer drugs, recently approved for use in Europe, can affect the activity of the short form of S6K1.
Snow covers the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City January 10, 2013. Photo by Reuters
Snow covers the Russian Church over the neighbourhood of Ein Kerem and the western outskirts of Jerusalem January 10, 2013.Reuters
The Netanyahu family plays in the snow in Jerusalem on Jan. 10, 2013.Avi Ohayon / GPO
President Shimon Peres with a snowman, January 10, 2013.Gidon Sharon
A street covered in snow in Jerusalem, Jan. 10, 2013.Olivier Fitoussi