Here’s the fourth and final update to the TEDxTelAviv conference.

Martin Rappaport – “Fair Trade: An End to Exploitation”
Martin Rapaport was a diamond guy, until he quit to industry after learning about the exploitation that occurs in Africa, primarily Sierra Leone. There are amputee camps in Sierra Leone, with little children missing arms, thanks to the local violence. 28% of children do not reach the age of 5 in Sierra Leone. But, its not just diamonds. 80% of the world’s Coltan* comes from the Congo. This resource is used in cell phones, hearing aids, pacemakers, etc. It’s a situation in which “poor people are killing each other so that rich people can have” the resources their country possesses. They don’t want charity; they want jobs, grass roots programs, and to have a local economy of their own, in which their children can prosper. According to the statistics he presented, government civil society spends $107 billion in aid to Africa (2001-2008), $5.7 billion on peacekeeping in 2009 alone. The West, instead of creating an environment which helps, and encourages prosperity, has created an environment which enables the current situation. Rapaport warns that we must all be careful with our intentions. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Recognize that by changing the environment, you may not always be helping. “No good deed goes unpunished.” Economic environmentalism must be integrated with sustainable development. If you increase life span and decrease mortality rights, you are keeping people alive. But what are they going to eat? Where are they going to work? The golden rule – “He who has the gold, rules.” We must all be responsible with our spending – “for what you buy and what you don’t buy.” So what’s the solution? Well, one is fair trade. Fair trade is composed of 1. fair wages, 2. community benefit, 3. do no harm, and 4. monitoring and branding (pay more for a product which is branded as being one which does not exploit the poor). Rapaport closed with a secret from the diamond industry – They don’t sell diamonds; they sell the idea behind the diamond.
*Thanks to Cabel for commenting with the correct name, despite the less than friendly way in which s/he did it. 🙂

Sign Language Lesson
Members of the Nalagaat center taught a short lesson in English sign language. Pretty cool!

Itay Talgam – “The Art of Letting Go”
[Let me preface this by saying that I know I am about to butcher the names of some of these conductors. So please, feel free to comment with the correct spelling].
There’s a saying in Israel, that Israelis don’t get stage fright, only audience fright. Itay Talgam spoke about what makes a good conductor. Often, a conductor is superfluous. The orchestra known the piece of music of music, has performed it dozens of times, so the conductor isn’t really needed. Two “semi-Israeli” conductors faced this challenge, with the same orchestra, and the same piece of music, Daniel Barenboim and Zubin Mehta, while, respectively, conducting in Berlin. Zubin Mehta was the director of the Israeli philharmonic. He noted that in his orchestra, “I am the only Indian; everyone else is the chief.” Mehta, tried to joke around, even losing his baton, but wouldn’t leave his orchestra. Barenboim, on the other hand, felt that the community spirit could continue without him leading, and left the stage for the orchestra to continue on its own. (Talgam explained that it is community spirit which, for example, drives music or singing in football/soccer matches). The problem is that of being redundant. For Riccardo Muti, according to Talgam, the dilemma is sincere. “He wants to let go, but doesn’t know how. Either he’s in full control or he’s redundant.” However, as result of either option, the musicians suffer. The burnout rate of musicians is extremely high, Talgam believes that it is likely higher that those of teachers and prison wardens. Becoming a professional musician, he argued, is like marrying your lover, stating that institutional love is difficult. He shared a story of a player in Muti’s orchestra who, when asked how the concert went, replied “Good. It could have been better, but he [Muti] wouldn’t let us.” Showing a clip of a conductor-less orchestra, he explained that conductors can only be good if they are great or idiots. If they are idiots, then you are free from their constraints, but if they are geniuses, they force you to better than yourself. So what can conductors do to unleash the power of the orchestra? Talgam explained that there are two types of great conductors. The first type is like Georg Szell, who was a great trainer/teacher. The second option is being larger than life, like Wilhelm Furtwangler or Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein, Talgam said, came up with the idea of setting people free through commitment. Rehearsal, according to Bernstein, is not an exercise; it is not “coordinated playing” but rather “an individual singing his heart out” as one. Bernstein tried to describe a piece of Jewish music. He described it as having a strangled sob, and as being “Jewish in the most universal sense.” Talgam concluded by saying, “You can only let go when you are so sure of your own identity and your relations with the outside world… and music becomes a world view… not playing for the sake of playing, but playing for the sake of delivering a universal message, playing so the music can fly.”

Ehud Shapiro – “Uncovering the Human cell lineage tree: the next grand scientific challenge”
Ehud Shapiro, of the Weizmann Institute, discussed the process of mapping the tree of a human being from its first cell. The zygote is the root, there are branches for each time the cell divides, and the leaves are the daughter cells. Scientists have succeeded in mapping the tree of the c. elegans, a 1 mm, 1000 cell, transparent worm. It is the only creature, so far, which science knows the entire tree. It was plotted through a movie of its development, which won the Nobel Prize. A new born mouse has 1 billion cells, and an adult human has 100 trillion cells (that’s 100 followed by 12 zeros). Why should scientists pursue this? Shapiro argues that knowing it would answer central questions in biology and medicine. For example, if we were able to make a tree of cancer cells, we could prove the cause of a relapse. A relapse could be caused by cancer cells that escaped the chemo-therapy, or by new cancer cell. If the cause is the former, then we would know that we need stronger chemicals. However, if the cause is the latter, then we would know that we can make chemicals as strong as we’d like, but ultimately, they wouldn’t solve the problem, because its targeting the wrong thing. Another example is that of diabetes; through mapping the Human cell lineage tree, scientists could determine whether beta cells can be renewed. A third example is in the realm of fertility. Dogma maintains that women are born with a fixed number of eggs. Yet, there have been cases of women who have given birth after having chemo-therapy which had destroyed their eggs. Where did those new eggs come from? Why is it appropriate that this research be started in Israel? Israel is a country which crosses boundaries, challenges dogmas, and may cause turmoil for challenging those dogmas.

Noa Wertheim – “Vertigo Vision”
Noa Wertheim is the Co-Founder and artistic director of Vertigo Jerusalem Dance Company. She discussed her history, and the concepts of of breaking systems, asking questions, and existing in the moment. Vertigo, she explained, is about having the “guts to lose direction, sensation” and to “create yourself again and again; create a real vertigo.” She then presented five minutes of the dance piece “White Noise,” a critic of the “modern, capitalistic world.” In response to her view of the world, she and her family established the Vertigo Edo Art Village in the Ella Valley, which is built upon the concept of sustainable living, with mud walls, recycled water, solar energy, rain-collected water, and compost toilets. Last, she presented four minutes of the dance piece “Mana,” about the Zohar and Kabala concept of a “vessel of light,” breathe and soul.

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  • Easy mistake to make though, since the wars around coltan have only killed 4 million Africans. No Jews killed as far as I know, so probably not worth knowing about.

    • Well, don’t blame us. It would be nice if the media, blogosphere and leftist activists started focusing on, you know, real genocides and war crimes…

  • “millions were killed in the holler coarse (if anyone knows what that is, please comment)”

  • Cabel, with all due respect, I was sitting in a large theater, in the dark, listening to a lecture about technology, which is really not my strong suit, and a quick search on google turned up nothing I could see as relevant. Therefore, I asked for someone to correct it, as I don’t know what it is. I don’t really see how there’s a problem with admitting a lack of knowledge?

  • Coal Ten Dahlia –
    4 million dead and you know nothing about it. You are appallingly glib, self-absorbed and ignorant.

  • Cabel – you’re uhm, a little bit of a self righteous dick no? Maybe not, I don’t know. But you can point dahlia and anyone interested in the Coltan industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the appropriate Wikipedia page for further information on the 2nd largest humanitarian disaster in the world today – with up to 6.9 million dead – second only of course to the horrific situation in Gaza where people are finding it hard to buy Marlboro Lights.

    • Cabel – you’re uhm, a little bit of a self righteous dick no? Maybe not, I don’t know.

      No, he’s a dick.

  • Wow, for pointing out millions have died, I’m a dick.
    What’s the next headline on Jewlicious – “Holocaust commemorations attended by millions of self-righteous dicks”..?
    There seem to be a few insularity problems on here.

    • No, you’re a dick for the supercilious, obnoxious, hostile attack on a stranger who doesn’t know something that you happen to know and who puts herself out there by publishing things under her name. You’re an even bigger dick for doing it in a way that doesn’t give her any way of pointing out areas where you’re ignorant, although Dahlia strikes me as too gentle to have fought back that way even if you did provide an opening.

      But yes, we do have insularity problems – it’s tiresome to be attacked by dicks constantly.

  • No Cabel. Your pointing out important issues related to Coltan and the abysmal situation in the Congo was good. That’s a positive contribution to the discussion. The way you did it however, by insulting someone for no good reason, makes you a dick. Well, it makes your behavior dick-like. I’m always willing to be proven wrong though. Go ahead Cabel. Surprise me.

  • Cabel – I cannot possibly have comprehensive facility in all subjects and knowledge of all events which are occurring/have occurred in the world throughout history. Therefore, I would like to invite you to write a post about this issue, which you seem to be so passionate about, if you are so inclined.

  • Let’s review things.
    I called Dahlia glib for not knowing about the largest deathtoll in the last 50 years.
    And I was called a dick for it.
    And then Coal Ten Dahlia says she “cannot possibly have comprehensive facility in all subjects and knowledge of all events which are occurring/have occurred in the world throughout history”…. As if the largest deathtoll in the last 50 years is a minor footnote of ancient history, comparable to knowing the to color of Napoleon’s shoes.
    If you want to confirm your glibness, and your insularity, that’s certainly one way of doing it.

    • Cabel, why don’t you come to North America and do a survey in virtually any part of it and tell us how many people are familiar with the massacres and genocides with serious death tolls of the last 50 years. I believe you will find that most people are ignorant about them because the news coverage is relatively sparse. In fact, I suspect that even in your neck of the woods, most people will “know” more about the Israel-Arab conflict than most other conflicts in the world.

      It takes time to acquire knowledge, and one never knows what one doesn’t know until one learns it, which makes it difficult to know what one doesn’t know and for that individual to target areas of ignorance. In this situation, you could have been a source of information for a young person who didn’t know something, and left it at that. Instead, you insulted her for it and then kept pressing your thumb on the wound. There’s a good chance she knows things that are obvious to her and about which you’re ignorant. So if others are protecting Dahlia from your impolite, dick-like attacks, consider it as insular as you like, but also consider it rational and fair.

  • The “we didn’t know” defense was popular in forties Germany. I’m surprised someone would try to revive it. Forgive me if I don’t join you in its comeback.
    You are a human being with a capacity to go out and find things out yourself, not just a sponge which absorbs media drivel and then blames the media for not feeding you right.

  • Martin Rapaport’s speech was incredibly surprising, inspiring, and shockingly relelvant despite the rambling and shouting.

    What was most interesting about it is the fact that Martin Rapaport himself gave this type of speech. Anyone who does a quick scan of his wikipedia page will know how influential he was to the global diamond trade.

    This is definitely something that needs to be conveyed to young Jews today who don’t know who Rapaport is.

  • Cabel – the issue wasn’t the correction you were making. It was simply the way you did it. That’s all. We don’t get a lot of news out of the DRC because frankly, it’s a horrific place to work as a reporter. Furthermore, the bodies we rely on to provide us with this sort of information, like say the UN and humanitarian NGOs, have had their agendas kidnapped by various special interest groups, as we all know. So yeah, your points are valid, no question about that. We are being woefully underserved by our mainstream media – but that’s no excuse to be a dick about it. And the situation in the DRC is but one example! We’ve talked about the Chocolate trade in the Ivory coast and its reliance on slave labor, the sex trade and trafficked women, blood diamonds, Darfur, Rwanda and on and on. Some of these stories have managed to transcend the media’s reluctance to report on stories that are inconveniently located or that involve antagonists and protagonists that are uninteresting, but most barely register as a blip in the collective western conscience. All of these are valid concerns, but again, no reason to be a dick. Try moderating your language and tone and see if maybe a less antagonistic approach will be more helpful and productive.

  • It’s interesting because the Coltan Wikipedia page includes a link to an article in The Independent mentioning how Coltan is a missed story that isn’t covered.

  • themiddle and ck – thank you.

    raeli – i agree entirely. i found it a fit hard to follow at times, but that, overall, he is clearly extremely knowledgeable and relevant.