TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 21

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. After another war, it seems more clear that the Israeli siege of Gaza continues through “inertia.”

By Itamar Sha’altiel in +972

2. A new project looks to inspire a generation to bold new scientific innovation by stimulating creative storytelling.

By Michael White in Pacific Standard

3. Attempts to combat voter fraud should be balanced against a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

By Matthew Yglesias in Vox

4. More than meets the eye: Visual inspection is far from sufficient for guaranteeing the safety of meat and poultry. It’s time to reform USDA food safety systems.

By the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Center for Science in the Public Interest

5. Lifting teachers into leadership roles could help achieve the big gains for students we’ve been seeking.

By Ross Wiener in the Aspen Idea

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Foreign Policy

Kerry Pledges $212M in U.S. Aid to Gaza

A Palestinian man stands atop the rubble of his house as he looks at the ruins of his neighborhood that was badly damaged during the 50-day war between the Hamas militant movement and Israel, in the east of Gaza City on Oct. 12, 2014.
A Palestinian man stands atop the rubble of his house as he looks at the ruins of his neighborhood that was badly damaged during the 50-day war between the Hamas militant movement and Israel, in the east of Gaza City on Oct. 12, 2014. Mohammed Salem—Reuters

The funds will help the region rebuild following a destructive 50-day war this summer

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has pledged $212 million in new aid to help rebuild Gaza after the region accumulated heavy damage during this summer’s 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

Kerry made the announcement on Sunday as diplomats from more than 40 countries gathered in Cairo to pledge humanitarian aid, the New York Times reports. The U.S. previously provided $118 million in aid to Gaza earlier in 2014.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that approximately one-third of Gaza’s population was displaced by the violence and that the parts of the region are still plagued by blackouts and lack of access to water.

Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has said that Gaza will need $4 billion to rebuild, and Qatar has already promised $1 billion toward that goal. U.S. officials suggest concerns for the region’s stability may hinder aid commitments among donors.

“There is the third time in less than six years that we have seen war break out and Gaza left in rubble,” Kerry said. “As long as there is a possibility that Hamas can fire rockets on Israeli civilians at any time, the people of Gaza will remain at risk of future conflict.”

[NYT]

TIME Gaza

Gaza Lions Sent to Jordan After War Damages Zoo

(BEIT LAHIYA, Gaza Strip) — A trio of scrawny lions was brought into Israel from Gaza on Tuesday en route to a better life at a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan after their zoo was damaged in the recent Israel-Hamas war.

The three, a pair of males and a pregnant female, were sedated at Al-Bisan zoo in Beit Lahiya before the big cats were placed in metal cages and loaded onto a truck that transferred them through the Erez border crossing into Israel.

Amir Khalil of the Four Paws International welfare group said the zoo’s animals were in urgent need of care after the 50-day war. He said the zoo was badly damaged and more than 80 animals died as a result of the fighting.

Al-Bisan is one of five makeshift zoos in Gaza that have spotty animal welfare records.

Most of the zoo animals in Gaza have been hauled into the isolated territory through smuggling tunnels linking the territory to Egypt. In one famous scene captured on film, Gazans used a crane to lift a camel over the border fence by one of its legs as the animal writhed in agony.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza since 2007, when the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power there.

Last year a pair of newborn lion cubs died shortly after they were proudly unveiled by Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Gaza’s main zoo once turned to improvised taxidermy to keep its deceased animals on exhibit while another painted stripes on donkeys to try and make them look like zebras.

TIME Gaza

The Hardest First Day: Gaza Kids Return to School

Watch as two teenagers brought TIME along on their first day of school after seven weeks of war

About half a million Gaza children returned to school two weeks ago, after a summer of war. But the restart has faced many challenges including supply shortages, limited facilities and widespread trauma among students and faculty alike, according to a UN report.

As teachers read attendance sheets on the opening day last week, their roll call also served as an account of the dead. 500 children were killed in Gaza during the 50 days of fighting, according to UN figures.

“Many of our friends were not in school,” Khetam Kafarna, a 17 year-old shelter resident, said after her first day of classes in Beit Hanoun. “Some have moved. Some of the girls died. Now we are all strangers to each other.”

The summer months brought seven weeks of fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza – over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, and over 100,000 Gazans were left homeless. Seventy-one Israelis were also killed in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.

During the bloody summer months, schools in Gaza became a focal point of the violence and destruction throughout the region. Twenty-two schools were completely destroyed during the conflict and at least 118 more damaged. Gaza’s schools—already stressed before the war, with classes running in double shifts as a result of school shortages—are now facing acute overcrowding, the UN said.

In southern Israel, where local children were subject to frequent scares from rocket sirens throughout the summer, classes started on time but with a changed curriculum that would include activities to provide emotional support to students, according to the Israeli Education Ministry.

The bombing of school-shelters has become one of the most controversial aspects of the entire conflict. Israel said in at least some of these cases that they were responding to nearby rocket fire or targeting militants in the area. The military is reviewing some of the incidents. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said that Hamas used “schools, residential buildings, mosques and hospitals to fire rockets at Israeli civilians.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) “unreservedly condemned” the attacks and has also called for investigations. In three cases, however, UNRWA did discover and publicly condemn the use of its Gaza facilities by militants to store rockets.

Meanwhile, students in Gaza returned after a three-week delay to find schoolhouses with walls bombed to rubble, chalkboards ripped apart by artillery shells and the remains of books and school supplies littered in charred piles.

There are many wounds to heal. Children in Gaza have experienced three wars between Israel and Hamas in just the past six years. At the UNRWA schools, which serve 241,000 students across Gaza, the first week was completely devoted to psycho-social counseling and support. Students participate in supervised activities like drawing and storytelling, and are monitored for further therapeutic needs.

“It’s important that we continue to move forward, and to bring back a sense of normalcy,” said Dr. Iyad Zaqout, who manages the UNRWA community mental health program in Gaza. “This is the best way that we can overcome the scars of war.”

On opening day last week in the courtyard of one UNRWA school in Gaza City, hundreds of girls gathered in matching pinstriped dresses and jeans. They danced and giggled and held hands and sang. But pupils and teachers around Gaza have also found themselves at a loss for space for classes. Over 90 UNRWA schools were converted into shelters during the war, housing up to 290,000 people displaced by the violence.

In one school-turned-shelter in Gaza City, dozens of temporary residents gathered with brooms and rags in the courtyard of to help clean the well-worn facility. Other residents complained of a lack of water in the shelters. There are still over 50,000 Gazans sheltered in UNRWA schools throughout the territory, the agency said. Across Gaza, colorful laundry still draped the light blue railings of UN schools, and old desks had been stacked with curtains used to turn classrooms into cavernous homes reminiscent of childhood fortresses. Families slept out on the open-air walkways at night to keep cool.

Alaa Eliwa, an 8th grader from the Shaaf area east of Gaza City, lost her home and all of her belongings in an airstrike. She had been living for weeks with her family on the barren 3rd floor of a UN school building in Gaza City. Eliwa said she was excited to start school, counting drawing, reading and writing among her hobbies. Alaa had risen before dawn on Sept. 19 to travel across the city, where she would start classes in another UN school building.

“It’s also good that we can leave these classrooms where we live, instead of staying here all day long,” she said. “School provides us with some change.”

TIME Pictures of the Week

Pictures of the Week: Sept. 12 – Sept. 19

From the result of the Scottish referendum and children returning to bombed out classrooms in Gaza to the Pope marrying 20 couples and NASA's next exploration spacecraft, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Gaza

U.N. Announces a Deal to Rebuild Gaza

“We must fundamentally change the dynamics in Gaza,” U.N. envoy says

The U.N. has brokered a provisional deal with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to enable reconstruction work to begin in Gaza, U.N. Middle East envoy Robert Serry said Tuesday.

The U.N. says it will help to rebuild the private sector in the Gaza Strip and give the Palestinian Authority a leading role in reconstruction efforts.

Serry stressed the urgency of getting building materials into Gaza as well as reviving the economy.

“We consider this temporary mechanism, which must get up and running without delay, as an important step towards the objective of lifting all remaining closures,” he said, describing it as a “signal of hope to the people of Gaza.”

Serry gave assurances that the U.N. would monitor building materials so they did not end up into the hands of militants.

In July and August more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and thousands of homes were destroyed after a 50-day military campaign led by Israel. During that time, 66 Israeli soldiers and at least five civilians died.

Serry told the U.N. Security Council that a renewed conflict “would be a disaster” and that “we must fundamentally change the dynamics in Gaza.”

On Tuesday the World Bank released a report detailing the damage the conflict has inflicted on the Palestinian economy.

“The conflict and humanitarian tragedy in Gaza has made an already struggling Palestinian economy worse and put further stress on the fiscal situation of the Palestinian Authority,” said the report.

On Sept. 4, the Palestinian Authority estimated it would cost $7.8 billion to rebuild Gaza, Reuters reports.

TIME Germany

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Vows to Fight Growing Anti-Semitism

"It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany"

With attacks against Jews on the increase in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged on Sunday to step up the battle against anti-Semitism.

Speaking at a rally in the capital Berlin, she said Germany would do all it could to stop the growth of anti-Semitism, which has risen since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, reports the BBC.

“It pains me when I hear that young Jewish parents ask whether they should raise their children in Germany, or elderly Jews who ask if it was right to stay. With this rally, we are making it unmistakably clear: Jewish life belongs to us. It is part of our identity and culture,” she said to a crowd of about 5,000 people.

Germany is home to about 200,000 Jews.

The rally, organized by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, comes 75 years after the beginning of World War II, says the BBC. Six million Jews were killed during the conflict.

“The legitimate criticism of the political actions of a government — be it ours or of the state of Israel’s — is fine,” Merkel said. “But if it is only used as a cloak for one’s hatred against other people, hatred for Jewish people, then it is a misuse of our basic rights of freedom of opinion and assembly.”

Since the start of the recent conflict in Gaza, tensions between Muslim and Jewish communities have flared up across Europe. There were 131 anti-Semitic incidents reported in Germany in July, up from 53 in June, Reuters reports the German government as saying.

TIME Education

See the First Day of School for Students Around the World

Sharpen your pencils, TIME looks at the first day of school from the U.S. to Ukraine

TIME Middle East

Israel and Palestinians Reach Open-Ended Cease-Fire Deal

The sign of victory as people gather in the streets to celebrate after a deal had been reached between Hamas and Israel over a long-term end to seven weeks of fighting in the Gaza Strip on Aug. 26, 2014 in Gaza City.
Palestinians in Gaza City celebrate in the streets after a deal had been reached between Hamas and Israel over a long-term end to seven weeks of fighting in the Gaza Strip on Aug. 26, 2014 Momen Faiz—NurPhoto/Corbis

Truce ends the seven-week war, but it's an open question whether longer-term political talks will resume

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday that Israel and various Palestinian militant factions including Hamas and Islamic Jihad had reached a cease-fire deal to end seven weeks of devastating war, and to postpone negotiations over several remaining issues for one month.

The news follows weeks of intense efforts on the part of the Egyptian government to broker a truce between the sides, both of whom were keen to emerge looking victorious, or at least successful, from a bruising war that resulted in the death of nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 70 Israelis.

Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev told the BBC that the cease-fire would meet Israel’s primary goals of keeping its citizens safe. The deal, he said, “commits Hamas to ending all hostile activity against Israel from Gaza. Now if that in fact does happen, and we hope it does, that is, for us, victory.”

Abbas’ role in announcing the deal from his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank was evidence of the more prominent role that Egyptian, Israeli and other officials have sought in Gaza for the Palestinian President, whose Fatah party and security forces were ousted from the coastal strip in a Hamas coup in 2007.

In an evening speech making the deal official, Abbas said that he would soon present a detailed plan aimed at establishing a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, a reference to Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories Israel occupied in the Six-Day War. He also indicated that he would not return to another round of negotiations with Israel amid what seems like such a discouraging prognosis for progress; the last round of talks ended in failure in April.

“The question now is, What’s next?” Abbas said. “Gaza suffered three wars and are we expecting another one? We will consult friends and the international community, and we can’t continue with cloudy negotiations.”

What’s in the Deal
The deal calls for an “open-ended” cease-fire and an Israeli agreement to ease its strict closure policy on Gaza, which Palestinians consider a siege. In theory, this means Israel should ease access at five crossings into Gaza that it controls, opening them up for a better flow of commercial goods and humanitarian needs, and most importantly, for building materials at the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

This latter aspect, according to a Palestinian source close to Hamas, has held up a deal in recent weeks as Hamas thought it necessary to hold out for the free flow of materials such as cement and steel as part of the reconstruction of Gaza. Also included in the deal is an Israeli agreement to allow Gazan fisherman to fish in waters up to 12 nautical miles off the coast by the end of the year — more than doubling the distance they were able to travel offshore in recent years, leading to overfishing.

What Hamas did not get, but had demanded throughout the past month, are three other things that the sides have agreed to postpone discussing for one month. These include the creation of a Gaza seaport, an airport and the release of approximately 50 Hamas activists who were rearrested by Israel in June. After having let them go in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange in October 2011, Israeli forces arrested them in West Bank raids following the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers in mid-June. A senior Hamas official last week took responsibility for that attack.

Also postponed for a month is the demand by Hamas for Egypt to open the border crossing at Rafah. Egypt said it would work that out in a separate, bilateral agreement, with sources suggesting that that Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi wanted to take a wait-and-see approach before agreeing to ease Egypt’s own closure of the Hamas-run territory. Abbas’ Palestinian Authority forces are expected to take over responsibility for administering Gaza’s borders from Hamas, Reuters reports.

The agreement seems to lack exact details as to what precisely it would mean for Israel to “ease” its blockade of Gaza, leaving room for disagreements as in past years. Moreover, the deal largely mirrored the November 2012 cease-fire agreement that ended a week of war known as Operation Pillar of Defense. Exactly how “open-ended” this cease-fire ends up being thus remains to be seen.

Hamas Declares Victory
Hamas proclaimed itself victorious on Tuesday night, as details of the deal leaked out. Gazans gathered in several places throughout the strip and shot celebratory gunfire into the air.

“We are here today to declare the victory of the resistance, the victory of Gaza, with the help of God, and the steadfastness of our people and the noble resistance,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said at a news conference at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital.

The deal fulfilled what the Palestinian group had hoped for during the weeks of negotiations, said Gershon Baskin, an Israeli academic who has acted as a go-between Israel and Hamas on several occasions, including in the lead-up to the Shalit prisoner exchange deal almost three years ago. “Hamas has been ready for an agreement for two weeks, and has made it clear its achievements would not be military but political. What was important to them was to get building materials into Gaza,” he said.

Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of the Hamas political wing who has not been seen in public in some time, was one of several top Hamas officials to speak to the crowd of thousands gathered in Gaza City’s Rimal neighborhood Tuesday.

“We’re going to build our port and our airport, and if they attack the port, they attack the port. But anyone who attacks the airport will have their airport attacked again,” al-Zahar said, according to an Agence France-Presse report, in a reference to the numerous rockets launched at Israel’s Ben Gurion International airport. Though none of these succeeded, a Hamas rocket that targeted a town near the airstrip caused the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend the landing of several U.S. airlines there for several days in July.

Netanyahu Faces Hard Sell
Israel seems less in the mood for celebrating. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who informed his cabinet of the cease-fire deal Tuesday evening, has a more complicated job of selling the war’s achievements to Israelis. While the vast majority of Israelis believed he was justified in going to war, according to polls, not all of them are ready to end Operation Protective Edge with Hamas seemingly undeterred — and many are fearful that a cease-fire is simply a time-out until the next round. Whereas 82% of Israelis supported Netanyahu in mid-July, when he first sent in ground troops, a new poll showed his approval rating sunk to 32%.

Three of Netanyahu’s most prominent right-wing coalition partners — Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovich — announced their opposition to the cease-fire deal. The heads of local councils in southern Israel also announced Tuesday night that they flatly rejected the cease-fire agreement.

Itamar Shimoni, the mayor of Ashkelon, one of the cities hardest hit by the rocket fire, called the deal a “surrender to terrorism” and added: “We wanted to see Hamas defeated and begging for its life, but instead we’re seeing Israel running to the negotiation table every opportunity that presents itself.”

The upper echelons of Netanyahu’s team and senior Israel Defense Forces officials, however, will present it much differently. “The Israeli spin will be that Hamas shot most of their rockets and that won’t easily be replenished, and that most of the tunnels were destroyed and can’t be rebuilt,” Baskin tells TIME. “The big question is whether the regional political process will restart, as it should.”

TIME als ice bucket challenge

I Figured Out Why I Hate the Ice Bucket Challenge

Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square on Aug. 7, 2014.
Two women get doused during the ice bucket challenge at Boston's Copley Square on Aug. 7, 2014. Elise Amendola—AP

I shudder to think what Americans look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world is plunged into acute suffering, and I can tell you exactly why

With much gratitude, somehow my weekend Facebook thread was remarkably free of ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos. A friend with whom I spent the weekend was not so lucky. Every time she looked at Facebook she exclaimed “Another one! Another one. Oh my God. Sheryl Sandberg! Oh my God! Bill Gates! Russell Crowe! Justin Timberlake!” I actually watched Justin Timberlake’s, not because I am obsessed with Justin Timberlake, but because I found him somehow the most surprising. But he really took to ice water, well, I guess the way a duck takes to regular water.

But my friend and I found ourselves ultimately irritated by the ALS challenge, which has shown no signs of fading. We wondered why. How could we object to an organization raising $80 million dollars to help combat a terrible disease? Charitable fundraising is not a frivolous pursuit. Plus, I myself had done many only-charitable-to-myself frivolous things this weekend. I flew in an airplane. I ate food out of takeout containers. I swam in a lovely pool.

Still exploring our irritation, my friend and I watched one particular video of a woman standing in front of her Malibu beach house, screaming as the icy water fell on her head. I’d seen and heard other ALS Ice Bucketeers scream, but this one was particularly bloodcurdling. In that scream, I knew why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge rubbed me the wrong way.

At any given time, many people on the planet are enduring war and famine and violence. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that in the last few weeks the news been especially awful. Around 2,000 Palestinians and 66 Israelis have died in Gaza since that conflict flared up. In our very own country, a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old boy, six times. This morning, Sudanese rebels shot down a U.N. helicopter.

And here we are in America dumping ice water on our heads, which, I insist, is more than just harmless fun for a good cause. It is disrespectful to the literally millions of people in the world who are, as I type and you read, in actual physical pain. To then post that experience in public forum is essentially kind of a subtle form of bragging. “My life is so without trauma that I find creating moments of trauma exhilarating, and hilarious.” The fact that there are hundreds of thousands of Americans creating and sharing these videos suggests that we as a nation are making the same boast.

Do I think everyone who did the ALS challenge is a terrible person? Of course not. Do I think that there’s another way that ALS could have raised all that money so fast? Unlikely. It’s certainly better for the ALS Association and the approximately 30,000 Americans who have ALS that this happened. That said, I shudder to think about what we look like dumping freezing cold water over our heads while so much of the world at this time is plunged into acute suffering over which they have no control. Not to mention the fact that we are also in the middle of an historic drought, and most of the challenge water is from the tap, not the toilet or another used source (an exception being Matt Damon, who rightly called dumping clean water on his head “a little crazy”).

Imagine being a suffering person in the world, watching Americans spend the weekend dumping water on their heads as a quixotic impetus to give—or to avoid giving? Which is it?—money. In Gaza, having bombs drop all around you and sharing the one remaining jug of water left in your kitchen with four other people. In Ferguson, Missouri.

I am not saying that Americans should have spent their weekends in hair shirts, flagellating themselves. But if we’re going to be excited about having this connected world, we need to act like citizens of that world and try to be aware that there are other people living in it, whose experience is absolutely nothing like ours. And with that realization, it might be nice to just quietly, without screaming or wasting, send someone who has less than you, someone who suffers more, a check. Just because.

 

Sarah Miller also writes for NewYorker.com and The Hairpin, among other outlets, and has published two novels, Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn and The Other Girl.

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