The Incredible Shrinking Brain . . . Or, how I got pregnant and lost my mind

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BRAINThe ineptitude that seems to accompany so many pregnancies — forgetfulness, a tendency to lose things, an inability to concentrate and general spaciness — apparently is an unavoidable biological phenomenon. According to results from two recent studies, the maternal brain literally becomes smaller late in a woman’s pregnancy.

Studies Chart Shrinkage

Using magnetic resonance imaging, a team of British researchers led by London anesthesiologist Anita Holdcroft A, M.D., recently scanned the brains of 10 pregnant women who were in their final two months of pregnancy and then again at two and six months postpartum. Holdcroft’s original objective was to look for swollen air passages and changes in brain size in pregnant women with Preeclampsia. She was shocked to learn that instead of swelling, the subjects’ brains were smaller during pregnancy than after delivery.

“Brain cell volume actually decreases in pregnancy,” Holdcroft says. “The changes are not that big, but they are measurable.” Speculating that hormonal alterations of brain metabolism are responsible for the shrinkage, Holdcroft found similar changes in brain volume in menstruating women. She since has launched a larger study of pregnant women to test the hormone theory.

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Pregnancy-Induced Slowness

The link between brain contraction and so-called “pregnancy-induced slowness” is not clear, but research conducted earlier this year by University of Southern California psychologist J. Galen Buckwalter Ph.D.., suggests that pregnant brains not only shrink, but they also suffer impaired cognitive functioning. Buckwalter, who has likened pregnancy to “a big assault on the brain,” tested 19 highly educated pregnant women whose average IQ was about 110. He found that all of the subjects had experienced depressed functioning of their concentration and short-term memory. In addition, the women’s ability to learn and retain new information was reduced.

In a test of how well pregnant vs. non-pregnant women with similar IQs learned new information, the pregnant subjects scored in the lowest 5 percent. Buckwalter will test the group again at one to two years postpartum. Like Holdcroft, Buckwalter is studying the possible connection between the concentrations of pregnancy-altered hormones and the mental glitch.

Real-Life Proof

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Laboratory studies are fine, but real life — mine, for example — offers the best proof.

Take my recurring theme when pregnant: repeatedly missing obstetric appointments. This did not surprise the unflappable receptionist at my doctor’s office. In fact, when I showed up for one phantom appointment (nothing was scheduled for me that day), she told me about one patient who sat in her car for 20 minutes to warm the engine up before she realized she had never turned the key.

Worse, perhaps, is the sudden inarticulateness that can come with pregnancy. A pregnant friend of mine gave her husband this long-winded answer when he asked if she’d seen his keys: “They’re on that thing between the living room and the kitchen, and it’s long and it’s made of wood and about 32 inches high.” Translation: the counter.

Naturally, all this is embarrassing, wastes time and results in some intriguing explanations for lamebrainness. Um. I can’t think or speak because I’m making my baby’s eyeballs today.

It all seems fairly innocuous until you realize that some mental lapses could bankrupt you. One woman I know kept adding money ($300 and up) to her checkbook balance instead of subtracting when she paid bills.

Another pregnant friend’s math impairment caused her to lose count while attempting to organize 89 stock photos at work. “It was like I forgot how to count,” she groused. Someone else finally did it for her. If one brain is pregnant, it’s good to have a normal-size one around as backup.

Don’t Worry — It’s Temporary

Brain shrinkage is part of the many normal body changes that take place in pregnant women, according to Holdcroft’s study. Thankfully, the gray matter seems to plump back up to normal size sometime after childbirth.

Until then, pregnant women can compensate for their crippled brains by making lists, pasting notes to their foreheads, sending themselves e-mail and appealing to the kindness of strangers. Excuse me, but could you tell me if the checker gave me the correct change, because I am too pregnant to know the difference.

I’m sure researchers would agree that we need to issue some sort of warning to the public. Perhaps an open letter in the form of a T-shirt: “Baby on board. Brain back in nine months.”

 

 

Resources/Related:

Change in brain size during and after pregnancy: study in healthy ..

Welcome to the Preeclampsia Foundation

The Effects of Pregnancy on Women’s Brains – Healthline

Pregnant and Fuzzy-Headed? It’s Not Your Imagination – latimes

Fit Pregnancy

Women’s brains shrink during pregnancy, but that’s probably a good …

Pregnancy resculpts women’s brains for at least 2 years | Science

Maternal Mentality – Scientific American

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How the Booming Israeli Weed Industry Is Changing American Pot

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– Photo: Israel’s Breath Of Life Pharma has set up the world’s largest medical marijuana facility in the world.

U.S. medical marijuana companies are setting up shop in Israel, where fewer roadblocks mean better research – and faster results

Standing on the rear balcony of a gray factory building off the side of a highway, Tamir Gedo shields his eyes from the blazing sun. He points to the 23 acres of agricultural fields spread out before him. “We’ll be able to produce more cannabis here than the entire state of Colorado,” he says. Minutes later, walking past the 8,000 square-foot storage room, he adds, “We can store enough in this warehouse to supply medical marijuana for the whole United States.”

With one million square feet of cultivation fields, a 35,000-square-foot production plant, and 30,000 square feet of grow rooms and labs, Gedo’s company, Breath of Life Bol Pharma (BOL), is about to open the world’s largest medical marijuana production, research and development facility. According to Gedo’s estimates, BOL will produce 80 tons – more than 175,000 pounds – of cannabis per year.

A tour of BOL’s new facility feels like a walk through the medical-marijuana version of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. With its patented extraction and purification equipment, grow rooms and germination labs, BOL will be pumping out pharmaceutical-grade cannabis tablets, capsules, inhalers and oils that are customized to treat certain ailments, with specific and controlled consistencies.

And no, this isn’t happening in Colorado, California, or anywhere near America for that matter. This medical weed wonderland sits in what might be the last place you would imagine finding the world’s largest facility for medical marijuana: Israel.

Over the past 50 years, Israel has become the epicenter of medical pot. Home to Raphael Mechoulam, the pioneer of marijuana research, Israel is where THC and the endocannabinoid system were first discovered. And with the world’s largest number of clinical trials testing the benefits of medicinal cannabis, Israel has become the global destination for medical cannabis research and development. Now it is becoming the offshore greenhouse for American cannabis companies seeking to overcome the federal roadblocks standing in their way.

Israel was among the first countries to legalize medicinal use, and is one of just three countries with a government-supported medical cannabis program. Though recreational use remains illegal, support for legalization is a bipartisan issue, with some of the most outspoken proponents coming from the right. Until now, Israel’s role in this multi-billion dollar field has been limited to R&D. Yet now that the Israeli government has approved the export of medicinal cannabis products, companies there are hoping to gain a larger piece of the market. While importing cannabis into the United States is illegal under federal law, companies can get around that ban by receiving drug approval from the FDA – and that is exactly what Israeli companies hope to do. According to the FDA, nothing is stopping them, as long as they meet the agency’s arduous requirements for drug approval.

While the FDA has approved three drugs containing synthetic cannabinoids (Marinol, Syndros and Cesamet, which treat symptoms of AIDS and chemotherapy), it has never approved a product derived from botanical marijuana. According to the agency’s guidelines, “Study of marijuana in clinical trial settings is needed to assess the safety and effectiveness of marijuana for medical use.” Yet initiating clinical trials on U.S. soil is difficult to the point of being nearly impossible. So, American companies are increasingly taking a shortcut: beginning phases 1 and 2 of their clinical trials in Israel, after which they will complete phase 3 in the U.S., speeding up the process through which they can apply for FDA approval of the botanical cannabis drugs they are developing.

Though this level of American R&D in Israel is new, Israel’s impact on the American cannabis industry is not. The very fact that medical marijuana is now legal in 29 U.S. states and counting, is a direct result of Israeli research, which essentially legitimized the study of cannabis in the international scientific community that had long stigmatized it. Without this research, “We wouldn’t have the scientific interest we have now around the world,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the D.C.-based National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “That really opened the door to making the study of cannabis and cannabinoids a legitimate avenue for more conventional scientists and researchers.”

“The seriousness with which the Israeli scientific community approaches this is incomparable,” says Charles Pollack, director of the Lambert Center for the Study of Medicinal Cannabis at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. “Israel is a hotbed of quality cannabis research, because they have a much more favorable regulatory climate for doing serious scientific research on medical cannabis.”

Israel is becoming the offshore greenhouse for American cannabis companies seeking to overcome the federal roadblocks.

The Lambert Center is one of several American institutions that have partnered with BOL, collaborating on at least one of the more than 50 clinical trials the Israeli company will begin once its new facility is fully operational in late September. Of the 15 international companies that have already signed up to conduct their R&D at BOL’s facility, at least six are American, and Gedo is in talks with more.

BOL isn’t the only Israeli cannabis company benefitting from international interest. A growing number of American investors are getting on the Israeli cannabis wagon, which they see as the best vehicle for transforming the medical cannabis field, still in its infancy, into a pharmaceutical-level industry.

According to Saul Kaye, the founder of iCAN an Israeli cannabis R&D firm, 2016 saw the investment of more than $250 million in Israeli cannabis companies and startups – half of that investment came from North America. Kaye predicts that investment will grow ten-fold over the next two years, reaching $1 billion. At least 50 American cannabis companies – and counting – have established R&D operations in Israel.

Israel’s journey to the forefront of the medical cannabis field began with 86-year-old Israeli chemist Raphael Mechoulam, known in the field as the Grandfather Of Marijuana. In 1963, as a young researcher, Mechoulam secured 11 pounds of Lebanese hashish, which had been confiscated by his friend at a police station in Tel Aviv. He used that hash to identify, isolate and synthesize THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, for the first time in history, and study its medical uses. He was also the first to decode the structure of CBD, the plant’s primary non-psychoactive ingredient. But Mechoulam’s most groundbreaking discovery came in 1992, when he and his team at Hebrew University in Jerusalem discovered the physical reason humans can get high.

“It turned out that the cannabinoids in the plant actually mimic the compounds that we form in our brain,” says Mechoulam, a professor and researcher at Hebrew University who works with several American cannabis companies. He and his team discovered that THC triggers the human body’s largest receptor system, now known as the endocannabinoid system, and that the human brain produces its own cannabinoids – compounds that stimulate the body almost exactly the way THC does.

While Mechoulam’s research is what first placed Israel on the medical marijuana map, the country’s progressive attitudes toward cannabis, coupled with the Israeli government’s liberal regulatory policies and the nation’s technological leadership, are what have maintained Israel’s status as the capital of medical marijuana research and development. It might also help that Israel has the world’s highest ratio of marijuana users, according to Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority, with 27 percent of the population aged 18-65 having used marijuana in the last year. That rate is followed by Iceland and the U.S., at 18 and 16 percent respectively.

While the Israeli government invests millions of dollars in medical cannabis research, the U.S. government makes the same research nearly impossible.

“There are onerous restrictions on conducting this research in the U.S. that don’t exist in Israel,” says one expert.

Despite the fact that 95 percent of the U.S. population lives in states where cannabis is legal in some form, marijuana remains federally illegal. This policy makes conducting research into the medical benefits of marijuana notoriously difficult on U.S. soil. Researchers who wish to do so must go through the DEA, the FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Even when American researchers are given approval, they have only one source for their material: a cannabis farm at the University of Mississippi, operated by NIDA. The process, if successful, can take years.

“There’s a lengthy and arduous regulatory process for getting approval for doing studies, and limited resources at these agencies for processing those requests,” says Pollack, of Thomas Jefferson University. “It’s deliberately made very difficult for us.” In Israel, on the other hand, a cannabis clinical trial can get off the ground in a matter of months.

“I think they have approached the issue in a more even-handed and genuine way than the U.S. government has,” says Armentano of NORML. “There are onerous restrictions on conducting this research in the U.S. that don’t exist in Israel.”

This is precisely why many American researchers from universities and private companies are using Israel as an offshore research hub. For example, Pollack, from Thomas Jefferson University, will be conducting clinical trials at BOL’s new facility. Since the trials haven’t begun, he won’t divulge details, but says they will focus on orphan drug indications, meaning they will be testing the benefits of cannabinoids on people with diseases that don’t afflict many people in the U.S. (It also means that the clinical studies are smaller – and go faster – given that fewer patients are needed for these trials.) For that reason, he said, “Big pharma companies tend not to pursue them because there’s not a big enough market for these drugs.”

Kalytera – a California-based company with a lab in northern Israel and Mechoulam on its scientific advisory board – is also focusing on orphan drug indications, conducting clinical trials at Israeli clinics and hospitals in order to bring to market a cannabinoid drug for the treatment of graft-versus-host-disease, which can happen after certain kinds of transplants.

What institutions like Kalytera and Thomas Jefferson University do is they conduct the initial phases of their clinical trials in Israel, since it’s much easier to get the process started here, and then they do the final stages in the U.S., since FDA approval requires that part of the study be done there. Once they reach the final stage (phase 3) it’s much easier to conduct the rest of their study in the U.S., because they’ve already amassed enough data to show that it’s safe. This is the ultimate goal for Kalytera, Pollack and other researchers in Israel: to speed track the process of conducting a clinical trial that meets FDA standards, thus shortening the journey toward FDA approval of their drugs.

In addition to Kalytera, Mechoulam works with ​two other American​ companies, helping them develop new cannabinoid drugs and delivery methods out of his lab in Jerusalem, where he tests the specific properties, compositions and combinations of the cannabis compounds that are best suited to alleviate a specific ailment. American companies then use that research and data to manufacture cannabinoid drugs in the U.S.

According to Saul Kaye of iCan, about 50 U.S. cannabis companies are conducting research in Israel through partnerships, joint ventures or by employing Israel-based researchers like Mechoulam. At least 15 American cannabis companies have set up their entire R&D operations on Israeli soil, conducting clinical trials, and developing the appropriate dosing forms and delivery systems for pharmaceutical-grade cannabis-based drugs. According to Michael Dor, senior medical advisor at the Health Ministry’s cannabis unit, at least 120 clinical trials are currently under way in Israel to test the medicinal benefits of cannabis — more than any other country.

At least 15 American cannabis companies have set up their entire R&D operations on Israeli soil.

Cannabics, a Maryland-based, publicly-traded company, is conducting a clinical trial at an Israeli hospital in order to develop a capsule for cancer treatment. In 2015, One World Cannabis Pharmaceuticals, a public company based in Delaware, established an Israeli subsidiary overseen by Yehuda Baruch, the first head of the Israeli government’s medical cannabis program, established in 2007. They are now beginning phase 1 of a clinical trial to test the benefits of a topical cannabis cream to treat psoriasis. Their next trial will study the efficacy of a soluble pill for the treatment of chronic pain. They eventually plan to conduct clinical trials on patients with multiple myeloma.

Some Israeli companies have partnered with American companies to establish a presence in the U.S., where they sell products that were developed in Israel. For example, Tikun Olam, Israel’s first medical cannabis distributor, opened an American subsidiary in 2016. It now sells its proprietary medical-grade plant strains at 10 dispensaries in Delaware and Nevada and will soon be available at dispensaries in Oregon and California. Their most popular strain is Avi-Dekel a non-psychoactive CBD blend used to help children with seizures.

Some American researchers have even moved to Israel all together. Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained physician, was among the first American doctors to prescribe cannabis to a child. His eight-year-old epileptic patient Charlotte Figi sparked national interest in CBD after her miraculous story aired on CNN’s Weed documentary in 2013.

Yet after years of failed attempts to conduct clinical trials in the U.S., Shackelford recently established his own research entity in Israel because of his frustration with the American government’s stonewalling.

“The U.S. government has funded $1.4 billion in marijuana research since 2008,” says Schackelford. “Yet $1.1 billion of that went to studying addiction, withdrawal and drug abuse,” problems that barely exist with cannabis when compared to the effects of other legal medications, like prescription painkillers, which killed more than 17,000 Americans in 2016.

– Holocaust survivor Moshe Roth, 81, a writer and painter born in Nancy, France, relaxes after smoking medical marijuana in the Hadarim Nursing home in Kibbutz Naan, near Rehovot, Israel, on April 27, 2014.

His research subjects in Israel will include the development of new delivery methods, he says, “because to date, most medical cannabis products no matter where you look in the world, are pot-culture derived. They’re things like brownies, cookies, candy and smoking. Even with advances to these things being much more consistent, they’re still not medically appropriate.”

While the U.S. government restricts American cannabis companies on U.S. soil, it does not prevent them from or penalize them for conducting their work in Israel. According to Robert Farrell, president of Kalytera, “The FDA has no problem with this work being done in Israel. When you file with the FDA, in the application you say, ‘Look we’ve done the previous studies in Israel, gave the drug to this many patients, the drug is safe, it works, now we want to conduct a larger study with patients in the U.S.’ If the FDA is satisfied with the data, they’ll say, ‘Go ahead, try it in the U.S.'”

The FDA will never get behind cannabis the plant as medicine, since it can’t be controlled as a consistent drug.

Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded cannabis research in Israel. Indeed, much of Professor Mechoulam’s groundbreaking research was funded by the American government. The NIH provided him with grants to the tune of $100,000 a year for over four decades, says Mechoulam.

There is also nothing preventing Israeli companies from receiving FDA approval for their cannabis-based drugs, as long as they meet FDA requirements. In order to do so, they will need to develop the kind of products that are more in line with pharmaceutical standards, such as the kinds of capsules and inhalers BOL is developing.

While that goal is feasible, Gedo and others admit that it will take time, perhaps several years, to achieve. The process of getting FDA approval is an arduous one, especially for a drug that has long been viewed with skepticism by the medical establishment. Yet it is these clinical trials that are taking place at a record pace in Israel, along with the advancement of pharmaceutical grade cannabinoid drugs, that will enable Israeli companies to eventually receive FDA approval for their drugs, or for the drugs that they are helping American companies to develop.

As Gedo notes, the FDA will never get behind cannabis the plant as medicine, since it can’t be controlled as a consistent drug that has the same effect day in and day out. After all, there are 140 active compounds in cannabis, and the composition of the flowers plucked from one branch can fluctuate wildly, by up to 300 percent. “The experience of a user will vary a lot with the same strain,” says Gedo. “So even if you have the best-grown product, it will never become a scientific pharmaceutical product.”

This is precisely why the FDA has never approved a botanical marijuana drug, a larger problem than scheduling when it comes to drug approval. According to Senate testimony by the FDA’s Douglas Throckmorton in 2016, in order to obtain FDA approval, drug manufacturers “must demonstrate that they are able to consistently manufacture a high-quality drug product. This is an essential part of drug development and presents special challenges when the drug is derived from a botanical source, such as marijuana…. If there is any future for marijuana as a medicine, it lies in its isolated components, the cannabinoids and their synthetic derivatives.”

BOL and other Israeli companies are working to meet that challenge by developing cannabis-based drugs – the capsules, inhalers, creams and oils composed of isolated, controlled and consistent cannabinoids. Going this route, they could eventually receive FDA approval.

While Gedo is optimistic, he’s also realistic, knowing the complexity of the FDA’s drug approval process, and the skepticism that remains among many in the medical establishment.

Still, asked when Israeli companies might be exporting their cannabis medicine to the U.S., Michael Dor, of the Israeli Health Ministry says, “I believe it’s not far.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resources/Related:

Breath Of Life LTD | Professional Profile

An Israeli Take on the Global Medical Cannabis Industry

Bol Pharma

Israeli Weed Industry

Interview: Professor Dr. Raphael Mechoulam

The Outsourcing of American Marijuana Research – Newsweek

Cannabinoids in health and disease – NCBI – NIH

US Has Funded Israeli Cannabis Research For 50 Years, But There’s ..

Is the NIH blowing smoke on medical cannabis?

Medical Marijuana Research Takes Off in Israel – Bloomberg

iCAN- Israel Cannabis and Breath of Life Pharma Announce ..

Inside Breath Of Life Pharma As Israel Poised To Become Global …

Israeli cannabis expertise attracts U.S. firms – Business – Haaretz.com

Medical Marijuana | Medical marijuana stock companies

Netflix Creates Weed Strains Inspired by Service’s Original Shows

 

 

UN racism committee issues ‘warning’ over US tensions

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– Photo: Supporters of the Ku Klux Klan hold a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 8, 2017 to protest the planned removal of a statue of General Robert E. Lee, who oversaw Confederate forces in the US Civil War.

A UN committee charged with tackling racism has issued an “early warning” over conditions in the US and urged the Trump administration to “unequivocally and unconditionally” reject discrimination.

The warning specifically refers to events last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the civil rights activist Heather Heyer was killed when a car rammed into a group of people protesting against a white nationalist rally.

Such statements are usually issued by the United Nations – Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) over fears of ethnic or religious conflict. In the past decade, the only other countries issued with early warnings have been Burundi, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria.

The United States has been warned under the procedure in the past when CERD raised the issue of land rights conflicts with the Western Shoshone indigenous peoples in 2006.

“We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred,” said Anastasia Crickley, chair of the committee.

Donald Trump faced widespread criticism after he blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville. Although the CERD tement did not refer to him by name, it called on “the government of the United States of America, as well as high-level politicians and public officials, to unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country.”

Crickley also urged the US authorities “to address the root causes of the proliferation of such racist manifestations.”

Lecia Brooks, director of outreach for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a civil rights group, said the UN’s early warning underlined the need for American leaders to “clearly and unconditionally condemn hatred and bigotry.”

“It is a sad day when the president of the United States has so thoroughly failed to denounce white supremacism that UN experts must warn the US about the dangers of racism,” Brooks said.

“Unfortunately, Trump’s racist and xenophobic campaign, and his lukewarm condemnation of white supremacists, has heightened racial tensions in America to the point that it’s raising alarms in the global community.”

Sherine Tadros, Amnesty International’s UN representative, welcomed the UN’s move. “It is significant that the UN is speaking out publicly against the actions of the new US administration, which it so far has been reluctant to do,” Tadros said.

Jasmine Tyler, US program advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, urged the White House to heed the UN warning. “As a black woman raising a black son, and a human rights advocate, I can hardly believe the times we’re living in,” Tyler said.

“The Trump administration should take the CERD’s early warning very seriously and rescind its decision to eviscerate the mandates and budgets of US civil rights institutions; end its attempt to exclude white nationalism from the federal government’s Countering Violent Extremism programs; and end immigration and refugee policies based on anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment.”

The warning was issued on 18 August but came to light on Wednesday, the day after protests outside a rally by the president in Phoenix, Arizona.

Trump used Tuesday’s event to portray himself as the victim of events in Charlottesville, branding journalists who “do not like our country” as the true source of division in America. He also accused the “crooked media” of “trying to take away our history and our heritage” and read out previous statements that he said condemned hatred, bigotry and violence.

And he complained that the media had not given him enough credit for condemning hate groups. “I said everything,” the president said. “I hit them with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, let’s say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all.”

Protesters outside the Trump rally in Phoenix raise their hands after police used teargas to disperse the crowd.
– Photo: Protesters outside the Trump rally in Phoenix raise their hands after police used teargas to disperse the crowd.

The former director of national intelligence James Clapper later described Trump’s remarks as “downright scary and disturbing”. The former spy chief, who served under Democratic and Republican presidents, also called into question Trump’s fitness to serve.

“How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?” Clapper said on CNN.

Following Clapper’s remarks, the former British ambassador to the US, Peter Westmacott, compared Tuesday’s rally to Nazi Germany.

“Shades of 1933 Germany,” Westmacott tweeted, claiming Trump’s speech was “an invitation to autocrats” in countries without the US’s system of checks and balances “to play the same game more dangerously.”

Immediately after the rally, police said they used pepper spray to disperse protesters outside the rally – who numbered in their thousands, according to Arizona media – after being pelted with rocks and bottles.

The Phoenix police chief, Jeri Williams, told reporters that four people had been arrested, including three on assault charges.

In February, the SPLC said the number of hate groups in the US had risen for a second consecutive year and that “the radical right was energised by the candidacy of Donald Trump.” Until last week, his chief White House strategist was Steve Bannon, former editor of Breitbart, which Bannon called “a platform for the alt-right.” Bannon has returned to Breitbart News as executive chairman.

In its statement, CERD also called on the US to ensure that the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not exercised with the aim of destroying or denying the rights and freedoms of others, ensuring “such rights are not misused to promote racist hate speech and racist crimes.”

The committee monitors compliance with the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination, which the US ratified in 1994.

 

 

 

Resources/Related:

OHCHR | Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) 

How Donald Trump emboldened the US far right

Capital FM Kenya

Race issues

The far right

The Subtle Game France Is Playing in Central Europe

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 – Photo: French President Emmanuel Macron (R) offers to shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) at the Chateau de Versailles

Summary

Since taking office in June, the French government has been hurriedly building its foreign policy. President Emmanuel Macron has already met with U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and has had several discussions with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to reform the European Union. Macron will soon focus on Central and Eastern Europe, meeting with the leaders of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Salzburg on Aug. 23 and then visiting Romania on Aug. 24 and Bulgaria on Aug. 25. The official goal of the meetings is to discuss the Eastern European nationals working in Western Europe. But France is also playing a more subtle political game: The European Union is about to start a debate about its future and Central and Eastern European countries will have to decide what role they want to have in it. Macron wants to shape that decision.

– Photo: Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech in Bobigny to announce his candidacy for next year’s presidential election.

The French government has said that Macron will use his tour to discuss the posted-workers system, an EU scheme by which companies in Western Europe can hire cheaper labor from poorer countries in Eastern Europe. Though less than 1 percent of all European workers carry out their jobs under the scheme, Macron has identified it as a form of social dumping that creates unfair competition for French workers. The European Union is unlikely to abolish the posted-workers system, but it will seek to reform it and probably limit its use. Support from at least some Central and Eastern European countries will be important to prevent the reforms from widening the divisions between Western and Eastern EU member states.

But Macron’s visit also has the unstated goal of strengthening France’s presence in a region that hasn’t been a priority in recent years. Macron has criticized those Eastern European countries that, according to him, accept EU money but don’t respect its values. His choice of countries for the tour is notable, as two governments that have tense relations with the EU Commission, Poland and Hungary, have been excluded. Poland and Hungary are, along with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, members of the Visegrad Group, a bloc that has repeatedly criticized the European Union. With Macron’s visit, France may be trying to differentiate between cooperative and uncooperative members of the Visegrad Group.

Others have been making similar moves for some time. Brussels threatened to sanction Poland because of recent judicial reforms and Hungary because of recent laws on foreign universities and foreign-funded nongovernmental organizations. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic could also be sanctioned because of their refusal to enforce an EU plan to distribute asylum seekers across the bloc.

Still, Brussels keeps good ties with Slovakia, the only country in the region that is a member of the eurozone and the only member of the Visegrad Group that has accepted a small number of migrants to avoid sanctions. In early August, Prime Minister Robert Fico even said Slovakia’s future lies with Europe’s “core” countries in the West. Similarly, in the Czech Republic, the government wants to be given observer status in the Eurogroup (a forum for eurozone finance ministers) if the institution’s powers are enhanced in future reforms. The Czech Republic does not use the euro and the issue is controversial, but Prague wants to keep the accession door open, even it’s only to have a seat at the table when the future of the currency is debated. The Czech Republic and Slovakia understand that the European Union will start talks to reform the bloc after the German general elections in September. They want their voices heard.

Austria’s decision to invite Czech and Slovak leaders but not Polish or Hungarian representatives to meet Macron suggests that the Austrian government is interested in acting as a bridge between them and the largest EU member states. Austria sees Central Europe as its sphere of influence, a consequence of centuries of its political control of the region during the Habsburg Empire. Austria isn’t interested in joining the Visegrad Group, because it doesn’t want to compete with Poland and Hungary for the bloc’s leadership. Austria seems more interested in weakening the Visegrad Group and siding with the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Of course, Austria and the Czech Republic will hold general elections of their own in October, which means that these strategic decisions could be revised. In Austria, the right-wing Freedom Party could enter a coalition government, which would make Vienna more Euroskeptic. In the Czech Republic, the ANO party, which is against adopting the euro, is polling strongly. But even under different governments, Central and Eastern European countries would continue to have different strategic interests that could undermine their regional alliances and open the door for external influence.

These political moves are all the more relevant considering the upcoming debate about the future of the European Union. On the table are ideas ranging from the introduction of new EU-wide investment mechanisms to strengthening military cooperation. In recent months, EU members have been toying with the idea of letting some countries move ahead with integration while others are left behind (a concept known as a “multi-speed Europe”). The French government believes the participation of the 27 members of the bloc is not necessary to move ahead with reforms. It would put Central and Eastern Europe in a dilemma. On the one hand, most of these countries want to remain outside the eurozone and are wary of Brussels interfering with their domestic issues. On the other, they rely on EU funding, investment and, to some extent, protection.

– Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived to Warsaw for talks on EU’s future with representatives of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The four countries openly oppose Berlin’s refugee policy.

But in addition to increasing East-West divides on the Continent, the multi-speed Europe could also lead to conflict between France and Germany. France doesn’t see Central and Eastern Europe as an indispensable element of its grand designs for the future of the European Union. But Germany is deeply interested in the region, both for economic and security reasons. Many of these countries are important export and investment destinations and some are crucial parts of its supply chain. Moreover, many of these countries play a role in Germany’s competition with Russia for influence. As a result, the European Union’s redesign will force its members to make strategic decisions — both among the so-called “core” countries and among a periphery that risks being left behind.

 

 

 

 

 

Resources/Related:

France: Trump Builds Rapport With Macron in Paris

Multi-speed Europe

The EU Prepares to Pursue Reforms Under Brighter Skies

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French President Emmanuel Macron’s fall from grace, explained

Why does Emmanuel Macron’s presidential approval rating keep

 

New Bill Would Require Donald Trump To Undergo Mental Health Evaluation

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A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would require President Donald Trump to undergo a physical and mental health exam to determine if he is stable enough to stay in office.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced the bill on Friday. Should the results of the said exam be unfavorable, the bill calls for Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet to remove Trump from office.

The move would invoke the 25th Amendment, a rarely-used constitutional provision that allows the vice president and a majority of Cabinet members to jointly remove the president from office and replace him with the vice president.

“Does the President suffer from early stage dementia,” Lofgren asked in a statement announcing the bill.

“Has emotional disorder so impaired the President that he is unable to discharge his duties,” she continued. “Is the President mentally and emotionally stable?”

Lofgren pointed out that Trump has not yet released a “serious” medical evaluation to the public.

Zoe Lofgren’s Bill To Force Trump To Undergo Mental Health Exam by carla on Scribd:

Lofgren, who represents California’s 19th district, is not a professional psychiatrist or psychologist, according to Mercury News.

She doesn’t expect the bill to pass, but she told the newspaper “it will stimulate conversation,” adding that Trump would get the evaluation if “he cares about the country.”

Lofgren has often criticized Trump’s remarks and policies throughout his presidency. The representative suggested on Tuesday that “something is seriously wrong with President Trump,” responding to his off-the-cuff remarks on the Charlottesville white supremacist riot made during an impromptu Q&A with reporters in New York.

“Why can’t he just condemn Nazis,” she asked on Twitter. “Unscripted words today show who he really is. Shameful!”

Lofgren isn’t the first politician or critic to suggest invoking the 25th Amendment to boot the 45th President out of the White House.

In June, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland) led 25 House Democrats to co-sign a bill that would also oust Trump from the Oval Office under the amendment. Commenting on his bill, Raskin told Yahoo News “in case of emergency, break glass.”

Articles and op-eds exploring the 25th Amendment in detail have also sprung up on Washington PostRolling Stones, New York Times and Time Magazine since Trump took office. Meanwhile, Trump has continued to draw ire from the country for everything from his policies on immigration, Muslim travel bans and dangerous health care bills, to remarks that suggest that there are “fine people” who attend a white supremacy rally.

And this summer, the hashtag #25thAmendment began trending on Twitter.

That’s why Lofgren is calling for Mike Pence and other Cabinet members to “quickly secure … medical and psychiatric professionals” to evaluate Trump’s mental health and any possible impairments.

“If it was a physical ailment, you would be getting the advice of doctors,” Lofgren told Mercury News. “The same thing should be true to take a look at his stability here.”

They should have done this before they gave him the job.

Most of the elderly members of the house and senate including John McCain should be required to take a metal health test as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Resources/Related:

Twenty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution

History News Network | Why We Need a Crash Course in the 25th ..

The President is not well

Bill to create panel that could remove Trump from office quietly picks .

Could the 25th Amendment really remove Trump from office?

Impeaching Trump May Not Be Necessary to Remove Him From the .

Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames ‘Both

Mental Health Services

Americans are Rapidly Descending Into Madness

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 I don’t live in an echo chamber, partly because there aren’t enough people out there who think like me, but also because I constantly and intentionally attempt to challenge my worldview by reading stuff from all over the political map. I ingest as much as I can from a wide variety of intelligent sources, picking and choosing what makes sense to me, and then synthesizing it the best I can.

Though I’m certainly grounded in certain key principles, my perspective on specific issues remains malleable as I take in additional information and perspectives. I try to accept and acknowledge my own ignorance and view life as a journey of constant mental, emotionally and spiritual growth. If I’m not growing my capacity in all of those realms until the day I die, I’m doing it wrong. Life should be seen as a battle against one’s own ignorance, as opposed to an obsession with the ignorance of others. You can’t legislate morality, nor can you legislate wisdom. The only way the world will improve on a long-term sustainable basis is if more of us get wise. That’s a personal journey and it’s our individual duty to accept it.

While I’m only in control of my own behavior, this doesn’t mean that the behavior of others is irrelevant to my life. Unfortunately, what I see happening to the population of America right now seems very troublesome and foreboding. What I’m witnessing across the board is hordes of people increasingly separating themselves into weird, unthinking cults. Something appears to have snapped in our collective consciousness, and many individuals I used to respect (on both sides of the political spectrum) are becoming disturbingly polarized and hysterical. People are rapidly morphing into radicalized mental patients.

What’s worse, this environment is providing a backdrop for the most destructive people of my lifetime — neoconservatives and neo liberals — to preen around on corporate media as “the voices of reason.” This is one of the most perverse and dangerous side-effects of the current political climate. As I noted earlier today on Twitter:

If in your disgust with Trump, you’re willing to run into the cold embrace of these destroyers of the middle class and the Middle East, you’ll get what you deserve. In contrast, if we really want to deal with our very real and very systemic problems, the last thing we need is a population-level mental breakdown that leads to a longing for the criminally destructive political status quo, yet that’s exactly what seems to be happening.

Ok fine, so everything seems to be rapidly collapsing, but what are we supposed to do? First of all, don’t lose your minds.

As I suggested in February’s post, Why Increased Consciousness is the Only Path Forward:

As noted earlier, Wilber thinks 10% is a key tipping point. In other words, if we can get 10% of the population to center around a yellow second-tier level of thought, which consists of a momentous leap in consciousness, the entire world will change for the better. I agree. I’m not here trying to sell you a seminar on how to expand your consciousness; rather, I think these article can help spark some sort of revelation in the minds of many of you who are already at yellow, or at least at the cusp of such a transformation. Since consciousness can and does regress under conditions of stress and fear, it’s extremely important to be conscious of your consciousness so that you don’t fall back into lower states.

Unfortunately, I see many people regressing at the moment, and I see the media as an intentional force in trying to get people to lower their consciousness. A perfect way to tell if someone is operating at a low level of consciousness is if they’re constantly placing tens of millions of their fellow citizens into an outside group they subsequently demonize. It’s perfectly fine and healthy to harshly criticize the system itself and the many powerful individuals doing awful things within it, but once you start dehumanizing large swaths of the population as a matter of your worldview, you are most certainly on a very counterproductive path that will lead to merely a blackhole of nothingness for society.

Beyond maintaining one’s sanity, it’s imperative that conscious humans create systems and communities that have as little connection as possible to the existing and rapidly disintegrating paradigm. This will create “anti-fragile” units of strength within the collapsing Potemkin village socio-economic structure that dominates our culture right now. Some of these projects need to be local, while others can be global.

Community farming/food production is a great example of a local initiative, while Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency in general), represent global initiatives to replace the hopelessly corrupt and archaic entrenched financial system. While crazy, power-obsessed tribes focus on taking over the hopelessly corrupt centralized government in Washington D.C., we need to continue to build separate, decentralized paradigms — and there isn’t much time to waste.

Fortunately, there are plenty of very decent, very conscious people out there. I want this piece to provide encouragement to those of you already engaged in this invaluable work, as well as inspiration for those of you looking for an outlet for your creative and intellectual energies. It’s never been more important to keep our heads steady and not permit ourselves to be sucked into the mental sickness infecting so many of our fellow humans. It’s imperative that we vigilantly guard our wisdom and consciousness, because the best solutions will only come from a place of spiritual and mental health. If you descend into the gutter with everyone else, your output will also end up looking like trash. That’s the last thing we need.

Stay strong and

 

This is video shows how the Blacks and (((antifa))) attacked the PEACEFUL White demonstrators, WITH BATS, AND OTHER WEAPONS, and that it was THEY!!! whom were the ones not only starting the violence, but openly taunting the police to dare to do anything to stop them. (see video below)

Below is a YouTube-ADL video, from 2014, showing the demonstration-leader/organizer, (((Jason Kessler))), when he was an anarchist, anti-Christian, and ANTI-WHITE, reciting a poem that he wrote, entitled, “White Devils”, whimsically demeaning Whites whom brought civilization to the spear-chuckers and mud-hut-dwellers: 

Massive cover up: Youtube deleted this video to cover for CNN and Governor of Virginia, “Charlottesville victim of racist beating wasn’t victim at all” (streamable.com)

You people can make-up-your-minds as to what (((Jason Kessler’s))) job and purpose was, but I am absolutely convinced that he was the typical (((infiltrator))), who probably knew what was going to happen, and I TRULY BELIEVE led the PEACEFUL White demonstrators into the trap that we all saw, and especially can be seen in the video below.

Do you, all, remember (((Frank Collin))), AKA, by his REAL name, (((Frank Cohen))), who pretended to be a neo-NAZI, leading-the-charge in the ‘Swastika war,’ in Skokie, Illinois, only to have all-Hell-break-loose, and create-the-catalyst for the crack-down against Whites exercising their freedom-of-speech, and -of-assembly?  Yeah…

(((EVERY)))

(((FUCKING)))

(((TIME))), there (((they))) are.

 – Exposing classified methods of mental manipulation.

Published on Aug 15, 2017

In 2014 Jason Kessler, the organizer behind the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA shared his anarchist and anti-Christian views, and read a poem titled: “White Devils” from his book “Midnight Road” which he said was inspired by a dream.

and now this –

MSNBC Guests Angered By Host’s Questions About ANTIFA Violence

Published on Aug 18, 2017

Chris Matthews got a dose of reality here. He started asking SLIGHTLY probing questions and these people immediately throw their hands up as if such a thing is beyond reason. These people are not right in the head. It’s a cult like mentality and its dangerous.
ANTIFA targets and attacks anyone who stands in the way of their communist agenda. Notice nobody in the media ever calls them out as communists.

 

 

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Israeli companies defeat drones with new technology

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– FILE PHOTO: The Israeli army launches a Patriot missile in the Negev desert, February 4, 2003.

Drones have become a serious threat, able to penetrate airspace for surveillance or with an explosive payload.

The Islamic State has used weaponized drones against both Syrian and Iraqi forces; groups like Hezbollah and Hamas have sent drones into Israel and are said to be working on upgrading their UAVs for use in both intelligence gathering and offensive operations.

On April 27, Israel used a Patriot missile to take down a drone entering Israeli Airspace from Syria. At $3 million per missile, the Patriot system is an expensive way to down a device that may only be worth $200. Israel has also intercepted drones with fighter jets.

Systems developed by two Israeli companies provide less expensive — and quickly reactive — solutions.

 – Rafael’s counter-drone system combines radar, laser and electronic jamming technologies to detect and disrupt hostile micro and nano UAVs. (Photo: Rafael)

Drone Dome. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has developed a radar and laser-beam system for detecting and destroying drones, with the company adapting its existing laser systems to handle the threat.

Once the system’s radar identifies targets, its laser system destroys them.

Drone Dome also features a jamming system for disrupting communications between the drone and its operator. Drone Dome’s range reaches several miles, but causes minimal interruptions to other systems in nearby urban areas.

The standard Drone Dome system comprises a RADA RPS-42 S-band multi-mission hemispheric radar, CONTROP – MEOS electro-optical (EO)/infrared surveillance suite, a communications package, and the C-Guard RD jamming and NetSense Wideband detection sensor systems developed b Netline. The UAV threat is neutralized by activation of directional GPS/GNSS and radio-frequency inhibitor/jammer devices.

The RPS-42 is a four-panel tactical air surveillance system delivering 360-degree coverage in azimuth and 90 degrees in elevation, with a detection range of 30 kilometers — including the detection of a minimum target size of 0.002 meters square at a range of 3.2 kilometers — at altitudes from 30 to 30,000 feet. The RPS-42 is designed to detect, track and classify all classes of UAV.

 – ORAD’s drone defense system can be deployed on land or at sea in any weather. (Photo: ORAD)

DROM Defense. ORAD’s DROM Drone Defense System can detect an approaching drone at more than 3.5 kilometers away and take command, neutralizing it and landing it far from the operator.

With a weight of 38 kilograms, Orad’s Drom system comes pre-engineered and pre-assembled. It is mobile and easily deployed on land or at sea in any weather conditions and has an effective coverage range of 3.5 kilometers. It has a 2-kilometer neutralization capability.

Once intercepted, the system can land a hostile a UAV in a pre-defined location, keeping any intelligence it gathered out of enemy hands. It can also identify the location of the operator.

The system’s RF detection unit analyzes signal channels and radio transmissions to spot drones. Once detected, an alarm alerts the system operator.

ORAD has sold the system to clients in several countries including Portugal, Spain and Thailand. The company is in talks with Israeli agencies interested in purchasing the system.

– Drom DDS, drone detection & neutralization system Orad’s hi-end integrated security system proves high operational ability, detecting approaching drones at over 2.5 kilometers.
The system was designed for facilities that need to keep their perimeter protected.

 

 

 

 

Resources/Related:

Orad Drom – Drone Defense System

Anti-Drone System – professional UAV/UAS detection and …

Rafael adds laser hard-kill intercept capability to Drone Dome …

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.

Rafael unveils Drone Dome anti-drone system – UPI.com

Drone Detection – FTG Technologies

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Israel shoots down Syrian drone over Golan Heights – Israel News …

RPS-42 Tactical Air Surveillance

All-Threat Air Surveillance Radars

Three-Dimensional Perimeter Surveillance Radars

Israeli new technology

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Israel’s Religiously Divided Society

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Deep gulfs among Jews, as well as between Jews and Arabs, over political values and religion’s role in public life.

Israel's diverse religious landscapeNearly 70 years after the establishment of the modern State of Israel, its Jewish population remains united behind the idea that Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people and a necessary refuge from rising anti-Semitism around the globe. But alongside these sources of unity, a major new survey by Pew Research Center also finds deep divisions in Israeli society – not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry.

Nearly all Israeli Jews identify with one of four categories: Haredi (commonly translated as “ultra-Orthodox”), Dati (“religious”), Masorti (“traditional”) or Hiloni (“secular”).

Although they live in the same small country and share many traditions, highly religious and secular Jews inhabit largely separate social worlds, with relatively few close friends and little intermarriage outside their own groups. In fact, the survey finds that secular Jews in Israel are more uncomfortable with the notion that a child of theirs might someday marry an ultra-Orthodox Jew than they are with the prospect of their child marrying a Christian. (See Chapter 11 for more information.)

Moreover, these divisions are reflected in starkly contrasting positions on many public policy questions, including marriage, divorce, religious conversion, military conscription, gender segregation and public transportation. Overwhelmingly, Haredi and Dati Jews (both generally considered Orthodox) express the view that Israel’s government should promote religious beliefs and values, while secular Jews strongly favor separation of religion from government policy.

Israeli Jews see democracy as compatible with Jewish state but are divided on whether democratic princes or religious law should take priorityMost Jews across the religious spectrum agree in principle that Israel can be both a democracy and a Jewish state. But they are at odds about what should happen, in practice, if democratic decision-making collides with Jewish law (halakha). The vast majority of secular Jews say democratic principles should take precedence over religious law, while a similarly large share of ultra-Orthodox Jews say religious law should take priority.

Even more fundamentally, these groups disagree on what Jewish identity is mainly about: Most of the ultra-Orthodox say “being Jewish” is mainly a matter of religion, while secular Jews tend to say it is mainly a matter of ancestry and/or culture.

To be sure, Jewish identity in Israel is complex, spanning notions of religion, ethnicity, nationality and family. When asked, “What is your present religion, if any?” virtually all Israeli Jews say they are Jewish – and almost none say they have no religion – even though roughly half describe themselves as secular and one-in-five do not believe in God. For some, Jewish identity also is bound up with Israeli national pride. Most secular Jews in Israel say they see themselves as Israeli first and Jewish second, while most Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Datiim) say they see themselves as Jewish first and then Israeli.

The survey also looks at differences among Israeli Jews based on age, gender, education, ethnicity (Ashkenazi or Sephardi/Mizrahi) and other demographic factors. For example, Sephardim/Mizrahim are generally more religiously observant than Ashkenazim, and men are somewhat more likely than women to say halakha should take precedence over democratic principles. But in many respects, these demographic differences are dwarfed by the major gulfs seen among the four religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry.

Self-categorization of Jews in Israel

While most Israelis are Jewish, a growing share (currently about one-in-five adults) belong to other groups. Most non-Jewish residents of Israel are ethnically Arab and identify, religiously, as Muslims, Christians or Druze.1

Most Arabs say Israel cannot be both a democracy and Jewish stateThe survey shows that Israeli Arabs generally do not think Israel can be a Jewish state and a democracy at the same time. This view is expressed by majorities of Muslims, Christians and Druze. And overwhelmingly, all three of these groups say that if there is a conflict between Jewish law and democracy, democracy should take precedence.

But this does not mean most Arabs in Israel are committed secularists. In fact, many Muslims and Christians support the application of their own religious law to their communities. Fully 58% of Muslims favor enshrining sharia as official law for Muslims in Israel, and 55% of Christians favor making the Bible the law of the land for Christians.

Roughly eight-in-ten Israeli Arabs (79%) say there is a lot of discrimination in Israeli society against Muslims, who are by far the biggest of the religious minorities. On this issue, Jews take the opposite view; the vast majority (74%) say they do not see much discrimination against Muslims in Israel.

At the same time, Jewish public opinion is divided on whether Israel can serve as a homeland for Jews while also accommodating the country’s Arab minority. Nearly half of Israeli Jews say Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, including roughly one-in-five Jewish adults who strongly agree with this position.

Mutual doubts about sincerity of leaders in the peace processThe divisions between Jews and Arabs are also reflected in their views on the peace process. In recent years, Arabs in Israel have become increasingly doubtful that a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully. As recently as 2013, roughly three-quarters of Israeli Arabs (74%) said a peaceful two-state solution was possible. As of early 2015, 50% say such an outcome is possible.

Israeli Arabs are highly skeptical about the sincerity of the Israeli government in seeking a peace agreement, while Israeli Jews are equally skeptical about the sincerity of Palestinian leaders. But there is plenty of distrust to go around: Fully 40% of Israeli Jews say their own government is not making a sincere effort toward peace, and an equal share of Israeli Arabs say the same about Palestinian leaders.

Israel’s major religious groups also are isolated from one another socially. The vast majority of Jews (98%), Muslims (85%), Christians (86%) and Druze (83%) say all or most of their close friends belong to their own religious community.

Jews are more likely than Arabs to say all their friends belong to their religious group. To some extent, this may reflect the fact that the majority of Israel’s population is Jewish. Two-thirds of Israeli Jews (67%) say all of their friends are Jewish. By comparison, 38% of Muslims, 21% of Christians and 22% of Druze say all their friends share their religion.

These are some of the key findings of Pew Research Center’s comprehensive survey of religion in Israel, which was conducted through face-to-face interviews in Hebrew, Arabic and Russian among 5,601 Israeli adults (ages 18 and older) from October 2014 through May 2015. The survey uses the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics’ definition of the Israeli population, which includes Jews living in the West Bank as well as Arab residents of East Jerusalem. See survey methodology for more details.

Who is included in the survey?

The survey includes oversamples (i.e., additional interviews, over and above the number that would occur in a purely random sample) of five groups – Christians, Druze, Haredi Jews, Arabs living in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers in the West Bank – in order to be able to analyze the views of people in these relatively small groups. However, the oversamples are statistically adjusted in the survey’s final results so that Christians, Druze, Haredim, Arabs in East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers are represented in proportion to their actual share of the Israeli adult population.

The survey probes Israelis’ religious identification, beliefs and practices; views on democracy and religion’s role in public life; moral values and life goals; perceptions about discrimination; views on intermarriage; and attitudes toward politics and the peace process.

Using data from Pew Research Center’s 2013 study “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” the report also makes comparisons between Jews in Israel and Jews in the United States. There are deep connections between the world’s two largest Jewish populations, but also some key differences. For instance, Israeli Jews overall are more religiously observant than U.S. Jews. Politically, American Jews are more optimistic about the possibility of a peaceful two-state solution and more negative about Jewish settlements in the West Bank than are Israeli Jews. U.S.-Israeli comparisons are discussed in detail in Chapter 1.

How religious groups are defined

Together, the current study and the previously published survey of Jewish Americans provide an in-depth look at the religious beliefs, values, and social and political views of an estimated 80% of the world’s Jewish population. These studies, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Neubauer Family Foundation, are part of a larger effort by Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

The rest of this Overview explores some sources of both unity and division in Israeli society, as revealed by the survey. While the major subgroups of Israeli Jews are united in their support of Israel as a Jewish homeland, they are deeply at odds over the role that religion should play in their country’s public life. And although Jews, Muslims, Christians and Druze in Israel share many life goals – placing great emphasis on maintaining strong families and obtaining a good education for their children, for example – they live religiously balkanized lives.

Israeli Jews united on need for Jewish homeland

Nearly unanimous share agree all Jews should have the right to citizenship in IsraelIsrael is no longer a predominantly immigrant society; at present, roughly three-quarters of Israeli adults are natives, and just one-quarter were born abroad. Yet with virtual unanimity, Israeli Jews of every kind – native-born and immigrant, young and old, secular and highly religious – agree that all Jews everywhere should have the right to make “aliyah,” or move to Israel and receive immediate citizenship.2

This overwhelming support for Jewish immigration may be linked, in part, to perceptions about anti-Semitism. Fully three-quarters of Israeli Jews (76%) think that anti-Semitism is both common and increasing around the world, and roughly nine-in-ten (91%) say that a Jewish state is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people.

Most Jews say Israel necessary for long-term survival of the Jewish peopleMost Jews say Israel should give preferential treatment to JewsLarge divide among Jews on whether halakha should be state lawMost Israeli Jews (79%) say Jews deserve preferential treatment in Israel. But they do not see an inherent contradiction between a Jewish homeland and a functioning democracy. Asked whether Israel can be both a Jewish state and a democratic one, majorities of all four Jewish subgroups say “yes.” However, Haredim are less certain than other Israeli Jews that democracy is compatible with Jewish statehood. While a slim majority of Haredim surveyed (58%) say Israel can be both a Jewish state and a democracy, about one-third (36%) say it cannot.

This may be because many Haredim believe that religious law (halakha) should trump democratic decision-making. To test this, the survey posed a hypothetical question: “And if there is a contradiction between halakha and democratic principles, should the State of Israel give preference to democratic principles or halakha?” In such a situation, 89% of Haredim say halakha should be given preference, and only 3% of Haredi respondents would defer to democratic ideals. By contrast, among Hilonim, an equally lopsided share (89%) say the state should give preference to democratic principles; just 1% of secular Jewish respondents would yield to halakha.

When asked whether halakha should be made the official law of the land for Jews in Israel, majorities of Haredim (86%) and Datiim (69%) say they would favor this change. By contrast, most Masortim (57%) and an overwhelming majority of Hilonim (90%) oppose making halakha the law of the land for Jews in Israel.

The disagreements over what it means to live in a Jewish state are not merely hypothetical. The survey asks about numerous concrete policy issues in Israel – including marriage, divorce, conversion, military conscription, transportation, public prayer and gender segregation – and finds deep divides.

For example, the vast majority of Haredim and Datiim say public transportation should be shut down throughout the entire country on the Jewish Sabbath, while the vast majority of Hilonim (94%) oppose shutting down all public transport in observance of the Sabbath. Masortim are more evenly divided between those who favor shutting down public transport across the entire country on the Sabbath (44%) and those who want to keep buses, trains or other public transportation running in at least some areas (52%).

The public intermingling of men and women is another point of disagreement. A solid majority of Haredim (62%) favor gender segregation on public transportation, such as buses and trains, used by members of the Haredi community. Among Hilonim, meanwhile, just 5% favor this policy. The vast majority of Hilonim (93%) are opposed to enforcing gender segregation on any public transport, even when it is used by Haredim.

There is also debate on issues concerning family law. Israel does not allow civil marriage, and Jewish marriages conducted in Israel must be sanctioned by Orthodox rabbis. (For more details on marriage and divorce in Israel, see Chapter 11.) Haredim strongly oppose allowing non-Orthodox rabbis to conduct marriages in Israel, while a majority of Hilonim favor changing the current law to allow Reform and Conservative rabbis to conduct weddings.

Jewish groups disagree on key public policy issues

Israeli Jews divided on the status of Arabs

Majorities of Haredim, Datim agree Arabs should be expelledIsraeli Jews are divided on the question of whether Arabs should be allowed to live in the Jewish state. The survey asked Jews whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” Roughly half of Israeli Jews strongly agree (21%) or agree (27%), while a similar share disagree (29%) or strongly disagree (17%).3

Datiim are especially likely to favor the expulsion of Arabs. Roughly seven-in-ten (71%) say Arabs should be transferred.

Hilonim lean in the other direction: Most (58%) disagree and say Arabs should not be expelled from Israel, including 25% who strongly disagree. But even among these self-described secular Israeli Jews, about one-third (36%) favor the expulsion of Arabs from the country.

Where Jews place themselves on the political spectrum – on the left, in the center or on the right – is strongly correlated with their views on the expulsion of Arabs. Among the 8% of Jews who say they lean left, an overwhelming majority either disagree (25%) or strongly disagree (61%) that Arabs should be expelled. By contrast, roughly seven-in-ten of those on the political right agree (35%) or strongly agree (36%) that Arabs should be expelled or transferred.4

More details on this question can be found in Chapter 8.

Politically, Datiim lean toward the right; most Hilonim see themselves in the center

The spectrum of religious observance in Israel – on which Haredim are generally the most religious and Hilonim the least – does not always line up perfectly with Israel’s political spectrum. On some issues, including those pertaining to religion in public life, there is a clear overlap: Haredim are furthest to the right and Hilonim are furthest to the left, with Datiim and Masortim in between.

Israeli Jews largely identify their political ideology with center or rightBut on other political issues, including those related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the expulsion of Arabs from Israel, smaller shares of Haredim than of Datiim take right-leaning positions. These differences may partly reflect the ambivalence some Haredi Jews have felt about the State of Israel ever since its establishment; some Haredi leaders opposed the formal creation of a Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah. In addition, some Haredi leaders have, at various points in Israel’s history, advocated for centrist or left-leaning positions, such as opposing Jewish settlements in the West Bank and supporting the possibility of giving up land in a peace agreement with the Palestinians. And in pragmatic Israeli politics, the chief concern of Haredi political parties has often been the economic well-being and support of their community, while Datiim are often more ideologically motivated with respect to Israel’s security.5

Overall, more Datiim place themselves on the political right (56%) than in the center (41%). Haredim, on the other hand, are about equally likely to place themselves in the ideological center (52%) and the right (47%); the same is true of Masortim. Most Hilonim (62%) identify as political centrists. Hilonim are more likely than members of the other Jewish subgroups to place themselves on the left side of the spectrum – but, still, only 14% do so.

The survey also asked respondents what political party they identify with, if any. Within each Jewish subgroup, no single political party constitutes a majority. But at the time the survey was fielded (October 2014 to May 2015), Haredim generally supported parties that represent the interests of their community, including the Shas party and Yahadut Hatorah (United Torah Judaism).

Among Masortim and Hilonim, the most common party affiliation was Likud, the largely secular, center-right party that currently leads the ruling coalition government in Israel (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party). Among Hilonim, there was also some support for the center-left Avoda party (Labor), the leading opposition party to the current government; Yisrael Beytenu, a largely secular right-leaning party that draws support from many Russian immigrants; and Yesh Atid, a secular party representing mostly middle class interests.

Datiim were about equally likely to identify with Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) – a right-leaning, religious Zionist and pro-settlement party – and the Shas party (a religious party that traditionally supports Mizrahi interests). Both Jewish Home and Shas are currently part of Likud’s governing coalition.

Among Arabs, there was significant support for the United Arab List, Hadash and Balad, three of the parties that have allied as the Joint List as part of the opposition to the current government.

In 2014-2015, roughly three-in-ten Jews felt closest to Netanyahu's Likud party

Some Jews see their Jewish identity as religious, others as cultural or ethnic

The large differences among the various Jewish groups on the kind of Jewish state they envision may be tied to fundamentally different understandings of Jewish identity.

Seven-in-ten Haredim (70%) and roughly half of Datiim (52%) say being Jewish is mainly a matter of religion, while 3% of Haredim and 16% of Datiim say being Jewish is mainly a matter of ancestry and/or culture. Among Hilonim, by contrast, only 4% see being Jewish as primarily a matter of religion, while 83% say Jewish identity is mainly a matter of ancestry and/or culture. However, at least some members of all of these groups see their Jewish identity as bound up with both religion and ancestry/culture.

(For more on Jewish identity in Israel, including a sidebar on different types of Jewish ethnic identity, see Chapter 3.)

Haredim see being Jewish as a matter of religion; Hilonim see it as a matter of culture and/or identity

Most Hilonim see themselves as 'Israeli first'; most Haredim say 'Jewish first'The survey also asked Israeli Jews whether they see themselves as Jewish first or Israeli first. About nine-in-ten Haredim (91%), eight-in-ten Datiim (80%) and roughly six-in-ten Masortim (59%) consider themselves Jewish first, while about six-in-ten Hilonim (59%) take the opposite position, saying they see themselves as Israeli first. Among Masortim and Hilonim, about one-in-five do not take either position.

Most Haredim do not see themselves as 'Zionists'Many, but not all, Israeli Jews also identify with Zionism. Historically, the term “Zionist” usually referred to a supporter of the establishment of the State of Israel as a national homeland for the Jewish people. Today in Israel, however, “Zionist” may have additional shades of meaning, perhaps roughly equivalent to nationalist, patriotic or idealistic. Rather than trying to define the word, the survey simply asked Jewish respondents how accurately it describes them, personally.

Overall, majorities of Datiim, Masortim and Hilonim say “Zionist” describes them either very accurately or somewhat accurately. But most Haredim say the term describes them either “not too” (24%) or “not at all” (38%) accurately.6 Once again, Haredi Jews’ reluctance to describe themselves as Zionists may reflect their historical ambivalence toward the Jewish state. Among Haredim who identify as Zionists, 85% say Israel is necessary for the long-term survival of the Jewish people; by contrast, among Haredim who do not describe themselves as Zionists, just 55% agree.

Wide variation in religious observance among Israeli Jews

Across numerous measures of religious belief and practice, Haredim are consistently the most religiously observant Jewish group in Israeli society, while Hilonim are consistently the most secular. Datiim closely resemble Haredim in some ways, although they report somewhat lower levels of daily prayer and synagogue attendance. Masortim include some people who are highly observant as well as some who are not, but on several standard measures of religious observance, Masortim tend to show medium levels of religious observance.

For example, about three-quarters of Haredim say they pray at least once a day (76%), as do most Datiim (58%). By comparison, just 1% of Hilonim say they pray daily, and 79% never pray. Self-described Masortim display less uniformity in their prayer habits: About one-in-five say they pray daily (21%), 15% say they pray at least weekly, about one-third say they pray monthly or seldom (32%), and about three-in-ten Masortim (31%) say they never pray.

Similarly, majorities among both Haredim (85%) and Datiim (74%) say they attend religious services on a weekly basis, while among Hilonim, relatively few (1%) do this and 60% say they never attend synagogue. Again, Masortim display a range of worship attendance habits.

These major differences in religious commitment among the four Jewish subgroups also are reflected in many specific Jewish religious practices. For example, very few – if any – Haredim or Datiim say they travel by car, bus or train on the Jewish Sabbath (from Friday evening to Saturday evening). By comparison, travel on the Sabbath is nearly universal among Hilonim (95%). On this question, Masortim are closely divided, with a slightly higher share saying they travel on the Sabbath (53%) than saying they do not (41%).

Secular Jews’ understanding of their Jewish identity as primarily a matter of ancestry or culture is reflected in their beliefs and practices. Not only do few Hilonim say they attend synagogue on a weekly basis or pray with regularity, but many (40%) also say they do not believe in God. However, substantial proportions of Hilonim practice what could be seen as cultural aspects of their religion. For example, 87% of Hilonim say they hosted or attended a Seder last Passover, and about half (53%) say they at least sometimes light candles before the start of the Sabbath.

Large differences in religious observance among Jews of different backgrounds
No significant differences in religious observance among older and younger JewsBy some measures, Jewish men in Israel are more religiously observant than Jewish women. Among Haredim, Datiim and Masortim in particular, men are more likely than women to report that they pray several times a day and attend synagogue weekly. In part, this reflects the fact that Jewish law (halakha) requires daily prayer in a prayer quorum (minyan) for men and not for women, and halakha makes similar exemptions for women regarding many other mandated rituals. But the survey also finds that among Masortim, men are more likely than women to say religion is “very important” in their lives, and more Masorti men than women refrain from travel on the Jewish day of rest.

Among both highly religious and secular Jews, there are few differences in religious observance between older and younger Israeli adults.

Chapter 4 looks at measures of religious commitment in Israel in more detail.

Overall, Arabs in Israel are more religious than Jews

More Arabs than Jews say religion 'very important'Arabs in Israel – especially Muslims – are more religiously observant than Jews as a whole. Fully two-thirds of Israeli Arabs say religion is very important in their lives, compared with just 30% of Jews. Israeli Muslims (68%), Christians (57%) and Druze (49%) all are more likely than Jews to say religion is very important to them, personally. In addition, more Arabs than Jews report that they pray daily and participate in weekly worship services.

Generally, Muslims in Israel are the most religiously observant of the four major religious groups. For example, a majority of Muslims say they pray daily (61%), compared with 34% of Christians, 26% of Druze and 21% of Jews. And while 25% of Druze, 27% of Jews and 38% of Christians say they attend religious services at least weekly, roughly half of Israeli Muslims (49%) report that they go to a mosque on at least a weekly basis.

Among Muslims in Israel, adults between the ages of 18 and 49 are generally less observant than their elders. For example, those under 50 are less likely than older Muslims to say they pray daily or attend mosque weekly. This is not the case among Jews; as previously noted, there are few, if any, significant differences in religious observance between younger and older Israeli Jewish adults.

Data collected by the Israeli Social Survey on religious observance among all non-Jews in Israel – Muslims, Christians and Druze combined – show a net uptick in the proportion of adults who say they are “very religious” or “religious,” from 51% in 2002 to 56% in 2013. Over the same 11-year period, there has been a slight net decline in the proportion of non-Jewish adults who say they are “not so religious” or “not religious,” from 49% to 44%.

(Trends over time in religious observance among Israeli Jews are discussed in a sidebar at the end of this Overview.)

Few friendships and marriages in Israel cross religious lines

Few Haredim, Hilonim have close friends from outside their groupJews and Arabs of different religious backgrounds are separated by more than just their religiosity and political opinions. The survey finds that these groups are also relatively isolated from one another socially.

This is even true within Israeli Jewry. Particularly among Haredim and Hilonim, few adults say they have many close friends from outside their own community, and intermarriage is rare. In addition, the vast majority of Haredim say they would not be comfortable if one of their children were, someday, to marry a Hiloni Jew – and vice versa.

Masortim are the one Jewish group that is more likely than others to have close friends from a variety of other Jewish groups. Only about half of Masortim (48%) say that all or most of their close friends are also Masortim; by comparison, among Haredim and Hilonim, roughly nine-in-ten adults say all or most of their close friends belong to the same Jewish subgroup. Among Datiim, 72% say all or most of their close friends are Datiim.

Similarly, 95% of married Haredim say their spouse is also Haredi, while 93% of Hilonim who have a spouse or partner say that person is Hiloni. Datiim also are very likely to have a spouse who is Dati (85%). As with friendships, Masortim are most likely to have a marriage that crosses Jewish subgroups; 64% are married to another Masorti Jew, but roughly one-third are married to a Jew they describe as either Dati (20%) or Hiloni (15%).

The vast majority of Haredim and Hilonim also are uncomfortable with the idea of future intermarriage between their two communities. About nine-in-ten Hilonim say they would be “not too” comfortable (20%) or “not at all” comfortable (73%) if their child someday married a Haredi Jew, while nearly all Haredi respondents (95%) say they would be “not too” comfortable (17%) or “not at all” comfortable” (78%) if their child were to someday marry a secular Jew. Haredim are also generally uncomfortable with the idea of their children taking a Masorti spouse (88% say they would be uncomfortable with this) or a Dati spouse (58%).

On this hypothetical question, the divisions are less stark when it comes to some other groups that are adjacent to one another on the religious spectrum. Only a minority of Masortim say they would be uncomfortable with their child marrying either a Dati or Hiloni Jew. Similarly, minorities of Datiim indicate they are uncomfortable with the idea of their child having a spouse who is Haredi or Masorti.

Hilonim are generally uncomfortable about the idea of intermarriage with Orthodox Jews – including both Haredim and Datiim. But fewer than half of Hilonim (45%) say they would be uncomfortable with the idea of their child having a spouse who is Masorti.

Haredim and Hilonim strongly opposed to intermarriage with each otherReligious intermarriages cannot be performed in Israel (although civil marriages that take place in other countries are legally recognized in Israel).7 This is reflected in the rarity of marriages between members of different religious communities in the country. Nearly all Israelis in the survey who are married or living with a partner say their spouse or partner shares their religion. Relatively few married Muslim, Christian and Druze residents (1%) say their spouse has a different religion, and only 2% of married Jews say they have a spouse who belongs to a non-Jewish religion or is religiously unaffiliated.

Not only is intermarriage rare in Israel, nearly all Israeli Jews and Arabs included in the survey say they would prefer their children to marry within their own religious circle. Among Jews, 97% say they would not be comfortable with their child someday marrying a Muslim, and 89% say this about their child ever marrying a Christian. Similarly, 82% of Muslims, 88% of Christians and 87% of Druze say they would be uncomfortable with the idea of their child marrying a Jew.

Among Arabs, there is also uneasiness with marriage between religious groups. Three-quarters of Muslims say they are not too or not at all comfortable with the idea of intermarriage with a Christian. Similarly, most Christians (80%) say they would be uncomfortable with their child marrying a Muslim. Druze are about equally opposed to the idea of one of their children marrying a Jew (87% uncomfortable), a Muslim (85%) or a Christian (87%).

Muslims, Christians, Druze, Jews frown upon intermarriage between their communities

Arabs see more discrimination in Israeli society

Vast majority of Arabs see 'a lot' of discrimination against MuslimsSocial divisions within Israeli society may be connected to perceptions of discrimination. Roughly eight-in-ten Arabs (79%) say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims in Israel today, while just 21% of Israeli Jews share this view.