International Women’s Day

kofiannanThese words were shared by Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the U.N. on February 28, 2005 as part of the Commission for the Status of Women.

Since the founders of the United Nations noted their faith in “the equal rights of men and women” on the first page of the UN Charter 60 years ago, studies have shown that “there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today.

“No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, or to reduce infant and maternal mortality,” he said in remarks to the opening of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), which is meeting through next week to review progress in the 10 years since the Declaration and the Platform of Action was agreed at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 in China (Beijing+10).

“No other policy is as sure to improve nutrition and promote health – including the prevention of HIV/AIDS. No other policy is as powerful in increasing the chances of education for the next generation. And I would also venture that no policy is more important in preventing conflict, or in achieving reconciliation after a conflict has ended.”

The high-level, two-week CSW meeting also marks the 30th anniversary of the first summit on women issues in Mexico City.

What was needed now was the scaling up and targeting of the solutions that the Millennium Project Task Force on Education and Gender has recommended, he said, including providing primary and secondary education for girls, investing in infrastructure beneficial to women, increasing their role in policy-making and guaranteeing their rights to sexual and reproductive health, property ownership, inheritance and equality in employment.

In addition, the Task Force had called for redoubled efforts to combat violence against girls and women. “That means, leadership in showing, by example, that when it comes to violence against women and girls, there are no grounds for tolerance and no tolerable excuses,” Mr. Annan said.

Besides the benefits to society of investing in women, the most important fact was that women have the right to live in dignity and with freedom from want and fear. At the five-year review of progress on the Millennium Declaration in September he hoped leaders would take urgent action to achieve the Declaration’s goals, he said.

Ten years after the Beijing Conference women were not only more aware of their rights, but were better able to exercise them, Mr. Annan said. “Life expectancy and fertility rates have improved. More girls are enrolled in primary education. More women are earning an income than ever before.”

New challenges had emerged, such as the odious but ever-increasing trafficking in women and children and “the terrifying growth of HIV/AIDS among women, especially young women,” Mr. Annan said.

Nonetheless, the past decade had shown that these challenges were not problems that lack solutions, he said.

“We have learnt what works and what doesn’t work,” Mr. Annan said.

Shiny Eyes

benjzanderI love YouTube!   Because I don’t have a TV, you miss out on a lot of conversation between friends about what was on the previous night. My wife saw this video and ended up sending it to all her friends. To date, it is the best video I’ve seen so far on YouTube.

Benjamin Zander is today a conductor in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, teacher and widely sought after speaker. His fame came quickly as he demonstrated his dedication and perseverance in the world of classical music. But it took him several decades to realize that as a conductor he really doesn’t  do anything besides waving his hands. He plays no instrument. Just stands in front of the orchestra. The question he had to struggle with was what his true purpose was as conductor?

Once he was able to answer that question, this led him to become a world renown speaker on the true purpose of a leader. Leadership or conductor is about taking a wide range of people with different backgrounds, personalities, aspirations and cultures and harness there complete talents to achieve the impossible. The leader gets his power from making other people powerful.

No one should forget that leadership is about interaction between people in all situations. As Benjamin Zander points out each word we say between people can have a transcending effect.

Check out this truly amazing talk from a very special person. Benjamin Zander: The transformative power of classical music



A New Voice, Old Problems


Wlliam Ury tell a wonderful story about a man who leaves his herd of 17 camels to his three sons as their inheritance. To the first son, he leaves half the camels; to the middle son, he leaves a third of the camels; and to the youngest son, he leaves a ninth of the camels. The three sons get into an intense negotiation over who should get how many, because 17 doesn’t divide by two, or by three, or by nine. Tempers become strained, so in desperation they consult a wise, old woman. She listens to their problem and says, “Well, I don’t know if I can help you, but if you want, at least you can have my camel.” Now they have 18 camels, so the first son takes half of them, or nine camels; the middle son takes his third, or six camels; and the youngest son takes his ninth, or two camels. Nine plus six plus two adds up to a total of 17 camels. There is one camel left over, so the brothers give it back to the woman. (TED Ideas 2017)

One of the most common questions that is asked about the Middle East conflict is whether their will be sustainable peace between Israelis and Arabs?

William Ury, co-author of “Getting to Yes” and many other classics on conflict resolution knows a lot about the Israeli-Arab conflict, being involved in the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel in the 1980’s and having served as a mediator in conflicts around the world. Prof. Ury is convinced that peace is a possibility!  Along with his colleagues they came up with the idea called “Abraham Path” as a healthier way of understanding the greater commonality between the three main religions as oppose to our differences. Jew, Christians and Muslims are all connected to Abraham. Abraham was known for hospitality, kindness and respect. The goal of this organization is to encourage people to walk side by side the path of Abraham and find the commonality through Abraham’s teaching.
It’s a perspective worth learning about.

I have since read a wonderful book called ‘Not in God’s Name’, by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks that addresses the growing violence perpetrated in the name of God. In the most subtle way, Rabbi Sacks shifts our eyes to words that seem to be overlooked in narratives we know so well. These are words like love, brotherhood, family  and Notingodsname blessing. How is this possible ? In part it has to do with education and intuition. When we learn about the siblings in the Book of Genesis, intuitively one can think that if one is chosen then the other is rejected, one is loved and the other is not. Rabbi Sacks points out consistently throughout the narrative, that choseness and love are part of one whole. We are all loved by God and chosen for different tasks. His book touches on the Quran and the New Testament. His insights are a new opportunity towards mutual understanding and respect. If only we will listen to voices of common sense. 

What U.K. women need to know…

british HealthA British woman in her early 20’s was told recently by her doctors that the treatment to save her life from cancer will unfortunately rob her of having children in the future. She asked her doctor if their was a way to remove the eggs before the treatment and store them until after the successful completion of her treatment. She had read somewhere or heard from someone that such a thing was possible. Her doctor inquired into such a possibility but concluded that it was not possible. No such treatment was available. She was devastated. Even the warm comfort of her husband could not soothe the pain. What the doctor didn’t say to this young British woman is that Israel is at the forefront of IVF treatment and a strong proponent of the BDS of any research that comes from Israel.

What people don’t realize is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel is a game of Russian roulette. IVF treatments was developed in Israel and exported to the world to give women a second chance at bringing life into the world. The real victims are U.K. women and the people who support the BDS.


Story About Stuff

storyof stuffSomehow it seems that people are either crazy about environmental issues or already out the door. But in truth, no one denies its importance only that once mentioned we somehow feel obligated to change our whole lifestyle. One of the goals of Focus Israel is to encourage critical thinking, educate ourselves and others and bring about healthy change.

I heard about this movie on Channel 1 news on Israeli TV. This animated movie is based on ten years of research by Annie Leonard on the processes that produce all the stuff we use each day in our lives. Although comical and humorous, Annie shows where our craze for all our stuff comes from and the cost it is having on our environment and people.

Click to watch. I know you will enjoy!

Looking for Leadership in Haiti

pihA good friend of mine gave me a book years ago while studying for his MBA in non-profit organizations at I.D.C. in Israel. The book is called Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World  written by Tracy Kidder. It was truly an amazing book. Since reading about Dr. Paul Farmer and associates, I’ve followed up and contributed to various projects over the  years. The amazing thing is that his quest to change the world is taking place in the most over looked place in the world, Haiti. The people of Haiti don’t just suffer from bad luck. It seems like nothing goes their way. The problems they suffer, poverty, neglect and abuse are unparalleled.

It is in this unlikely place that Dr. Paul Farmer, Ophelia Dahl, and Jim Yong Kim thought to do the greatest good and founded Partners in Health (PIH). It’s fair to say that they have set the standard for health care around the world. But more then that, they are the face of humanity, respect and hope for all people.

Click here to see a 60 Minutes Special on P.I.H.

Thanks Danny for the book.