Friday, January 09, 2009

Gaza and the Dimona Hebrews

The Chronical Review
John L. Jackson, Jr.

In 1966, amid race riots and related urban unrest in America’s poorest neighborhoods, one of Chicago’s native sons, a 26-something African-American named Ben Ammi, led a group of African-Americans out of the “wilderness” of 1960s America.

Every Sunday morning, Ammi (born Ben Carter) delivered his emigrationist message atop a literal soapbox on Maxwell Street in one of the city’s crowded shopping districts. After convincing some 400 people to sell their homes, stockpile canned goods, ignore jeering relatives, and purchase tents for the journey, Ammi began to lead this exodus in the heat of July the following year.

Their first stop, Liberia, proved to be a temporary sojourn. Ammi (who is still alive and well) believes that African-Americans are actually descendents of ancient Hebrews, which means that West Africa was never necessarily their final destination. So, in 1969, these African-Americans moved their emigrationist experiment from West Africa to “Northeastern Africa,” the modern state of Israel. Not quite knowing how to respond to their genealogical claims, the Israeli government allowed them to enter the country in 1969 on “temporary” visas. And these African-Americans have been there ever since.

By the summer of 2004, when I first visited them in the quaint and quiet desert town of Dimona in Israel’s Negev region, about 40 miles southeast of Gaza, I was surprised to learn that the initial 400 emigres had ballooned to several thousand, and that these African-American immigrants who invoke the “right of return” to justify their presence in the area have established themselves as a recognizable (if small) segment of contemporary Israel’s multicultural landscape.

I’ve been conducting ethnographic research with this group (on and off) for the last five years. Most of that research has taken place among community members here in the United States, but I’ve also spent several shorter stints with the group in southern Israel. During one of those visits, Israel’s government was forcibly removing Israeli settlers from Gaza. I remember watching those conflicts and skirmishes on a television set in Dimona. Although not too far away from Gaza (objectively speaking), it still seemed light years away. The “African Hebrews of Jerusalem” traveled without fear. And they made sure I took note of how safe Dimona’s night’s felt, full of children playing in the streets and household doors opened and unlocked well into the wee hours of the morning.

When I found out about the bomb that fell in Beersheba last week, a city about midway between Gaza and Dimona, and someplace community members took me several times during my trip, I e-mailed to make sure that they were all OK. They relocated some community members who were residing there, but they explained that they were otherwise safe. In fact, they claimed to be more worried about how I was doing over here.

As we each follow this escalating conflict, it probably makes sense to think about the many ways, big and small, that we are all differently invested (and even implicated) in the conflagration.


Another Reason To Avoid High-fat Diet

It Can Disrupt Our Biological Clock,
Say Hebrew University Researchers
Nutrition / Diet

Indulgence in a high-fat diet can not only lead to overweight because of excessive calorie intake, but also can affect the balance of circadian rhythms - everyone's 24-hour biological clock, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have shown.

The biological clock regulates the expression and/or activity of enzymes and hormones involved in metabolism, and disturbance of the clock can lead to such phenomena as hormone imbalance, obesity, psychological and sleep disorders and cancer.

While light is the strongest factor affecting the circadian clock, Dr. Oren Froy and his colleagues of the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition at the Hebrew University's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment in Rehovot, have demonstrated in their experiment that there is a cause-and-effect relation between diet and biological clock imbalance.

To examine this thesis, Froy and his colleagues, Ph.D. student Maayan Barnea and Zecharia Madar, the Karl Bach Professor of Agricultural Biochemistry, tested whether the clock controls the adiponectin signaling pathway in the liver and, if so, how fasting and a high-fat diet affect this control. Adiponectin is secreted from differentiated adipocytes (fat tissue) and is involved in glucose and lipid metabolism. It increases fatty acid oxidation and promotes insulin sensitivity, two highly important factors in maintaining proper metabolism.

The researchers fed their subjects either a low-fat or a high-fat diet, followed by a fasting day, then measured components of the adiponectin metabolic pathway at various levels of activity. In the low-fat test subjects' diet, the adiponectin signaling pathway components exhibited normal circadian rhythmicity.

Fasting resulted in a phase advance. The high-fat diet resulted in a phase delay. Fasting raised and the high-fat diet reduced adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) levels. This protein is involved in fatty acid metabolism, which could be disrupted by the lower levels.

In an article soon to be published by the journal Endocrinology, the researchers suggest that this high-fat diet could contribute to obesity, not only through its high caloric content, but also by disrupting the phases and daily rhythm of clock genes. They contend also that high fat-induced changes in the clock and the adiponectin signaling pathway may help explain the disruption of other clock-controlled systems associated with metabolic disorders, such as blood pressure levels and the sleep/wake cycle.

Source ,

U.S. loses another 524,000 jobs

U.S. lost more than half a million jobs last month
by G. Scott Thomas
Business First Magizine

The nation lost more than half a million jobs last month, while the unemployment rate soared to 7.2 percent, it was announced Friday morning.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a loss of 524,000 jobs between November and December. That continued a four-month losing streak, which saw 1.93 million jobs vanish between August and December.

The national unemployment rate crossed the 7 percent mark in December, rising from 6.8 percent in November to 7.2 percent.

The biggest decline occurred in the manufacturing sector, which lost 149,000 jobs in December alone. A total of 791,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared in the 12 months of 2008, an average loss of 66,000 per month.

The nation also lost 101,000 construction jobs in December -- and 632,000 in the entire year.
Employment in the retail trade sector declined on a seasonally adjusted basis, despite the holiday season. There were 66,600 fewer retail trade jobs in December than in the month before. Total retail losses for the year totaled 522,300 jobs.

Good news was hard to come by in Friday’s report. The only sectors to register increases between November and December were health care, which picked up 31,600 jobs nationally; educational services, up 7,000 jobs; and government, which added a total of 7,000 jobs at the federal, state and local levels.

The unemployment rate reached 7.2 percent in December, the first time it had crossed 7 percent since 1993.

Unemployment stood at 4.9 percent one year ago.

See: US loses another 524000 jobs