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New book describes how Israel retains its military edge over its neighbours

The Weapon Wizards edited 1Reviewed by JOSEPH LEVEN
The Weapons Wizards tells the story of how Israel rose from having no weapons production capacity at all at the time of its founding in 1948 to becoming one of the world’s great weapons producers in our day.

In 1948 the newly born state had to beg, borrow and deceive in order to obtain a few old weapons with which to defend itself from its many attackers. In 2012 Israel’s defense companies exported over $7.5 billion worth of weaponry to all parts of the world. This is an amazing success story, without which the State of Israel would have perished many times over.
The co-authors of The Weapons Wizards, Yaacov Katz and Amir Bohbot are both veteran reporters of Israel’s military and defense operations. Katz is now editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post and Bohbot is the military editor for the Walla news website. Reading the book, one sees that they are extremely well connected, with many quotes from Israel’s senior military leaders, both past and present.
The book is organized by topic, with chapters on drones, tanks, satellites, targeted killings and more.

The same theme is constantly repeated:
1. Israel is forever at war.
2. The need for improved ways of waging war is recognized.
3. Initiatives are taken, often from a non-hierarchical direction.
4. The military and the defense industries work hand-in-hand on the new technologies.
5. The new technologies are quickly tested and refined on the battleground.
6. Israel jumps one step further ahead of its enemies.

Take, for instance, the chapter titled “Rocket Science”. It tells the story of the rockets rained down on southern Israel by Hamas from the Gaza Strip early in the first decade of this century.
In 2001 four Kassam rockets were fired at Israel. By 2003 the number was 155; by early 2014 over 12,000 of these rockets had been fired. Occasionally they killed or injured Israeli civilians. More frequently they damaged property. Their main use though was to sow terror in the Israeli population that lived within their range. Adults and children alike lived in a constant state of apprehension, waiting for the sirens to sound telling them that a Kassam was going to hit in mere seconds.
Katz and Bohbut then tell us the story of how Israel’s now-famous Iron Dome anti-short-range missile defense system came into being. Initially the development of an anti-missile defense against short-range rockets was opposed by the defense establishment. Such a system did not exist anywhere else in the world.
The idea did not die though, as Brigadier-General Danny Gold, head of the R&D Department within the Defense Ministry, was able to allocate seed money for research in 2004. A proposal from state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems came forward in 2005 and was OK’d by Gold – even without approval of his superiors. Not only did he OK the development of Iron Dome, but also its full scale production.
How could Gold do this? Where would the money come from? Gold put up $6M from his research budget and asked Rafael to match this. He also contacted a private venture capitalist and asked him to put aside $50M to be used on the project if required.
Work began in earnest, and through several ups and downs, money was gradually secured both from the Israeli government and from the American military aid budget. By 2011, Iron Dome was operational and shooting down rockets launched from Gaza. During the two wars with Hamas in 2012 and 2014 Iron Dome shot down between 85 and 90% of the missiles fired at Israeli cities, a stunning success rate.
Katz and Bohbut are unabashed boosters of Israel’s military, its defense industries and the Israeli way of doing things. The authors love the way that the IDF works, its lack of formal structure and democratic nature. They frequently relate how important initiatives originated at the grassroots level, something that would not have been possible in the armed forces of other countries.
To quote Shimon Peres. ‘To retain Israel’s qualitative edge, we need to invest in soldiers’ brains, not just their muscles.’ And to quote Shaul Mofaz, former IDF Chief of General Staff, ‘[The Weapons Wizards is] an essential read for anyone trying to understand Israel and its military.’

How Israel retains its military edge
The Weapon Wizards
How Israel Became a High-Tech
Military Superpower
Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot
St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., 2017,
288 pages
(The Weapon Wizards is available from the Winnipeg Public Library)

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New website for Israelis interested in moving to Canada

By BERNIE BELLAN (May 21, 2024) A new website, titled “Orvrim to Canada” ( has been receiving hundreds of thousands of visits, according to Michal Harel, operator of the website.
In an email sent to Michal explained the reasons for her having started the website:
“In response to the October 7th events, a group of friends and I, all Israeli-Canadian immigrants, came together to launch a new website supporting Israelis relocating to Canada. “Our website,, offers a comprehensive platform featuring:

  • Step-by-step guides for starting the immigration process
  • Settlement support and guidance
  • Community connections and networking opportunities
  • Business relocation assistance and expert advice
  • Personal blog sharing immigrants’ experiences and insights

“With over 200,000 visitors and media coverage from prominent Israeli TV channels and newspapers, our website has already made a significant impact in many lives.”
A quick look at the website shows that it contains a wealth of information, almost all in Hebrew, but with an English version that gives an overview of what the website is all about.
The English version also contains a link to a Jerusalem Post story, published this past February, titled “Tired of war? Canada grants multi-year visas to Israelis” ( That story not only explains the requirements involved for anyone interested in moving to Canada from Israel, it gives a detailed breakdown of the costs one should expect to encounter.

(Updated May 28)

We contacted Ms. Harel to ask whether she’s aware whether there has been an increase in the number of Israelis deciding to emigrate from Israel since October 7. (We want to make clear that we’re not advocating for Israelis to emigrate; we’re simply wanting to learn more about emigration figures – and whether there has been a change in the number of Israelis wanting to leave the country.)
Ms. Harel referred us to a website titled “Globes”:
The website is in Hebrew, but we were able to translate it into English. There is a graph on the website showing both numbers of immigrants to Israel and emigrants.
The graph shows a fairly steady rate of emigration from 2015-2022, hovering in the 40,000 range, then in 2023 there’s a sudden increase in the number of emigrants to 60,000.
According to the website, the increase in emigrants is due more to a change in the methodology that Israel has been using to count immigrants and emigrants than it is to any sudden upsurge in emigration. (Apparently individuals who had formerly been living in Israel but who may have returned to Israel just once a year were being counted as having immigrated back to Israel. Now that they are no longer being counted as immigrants and instead are being treated as emigrants, the numbers have shifted radically.)
Yet, the website adds this warning: “The figures do not take into account the effects of the war, since it is still not possible to identify those who chose to emigrate following it. It is also difficult to estimate what Yalad Yom will produce – on the one hand, anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews and Israelis around the world reminds everyone where the Jewish home is. On the other hand, the bitter truth we discovered in October is that it was precisely in Israel, the safe fortress of the Jewish people, that a massacre took place reminding us of the horrors of the Holocaust. And if that’s not enough, the explosive social atmosphere and the difference in the state budget deficit, which will inevitably lead to a heavy burden of taxes and a reduction in public services, may convince Zionist Israelis that they don’t belong here.”
Thus, as much as many of us would be disappointed to learn that there is now an upsurge in Israelis wanting to move out of the country, once reliable figures begin to be produced for 2024, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that is the case – which helps to explain the tremendous popularity of Ms. Harel’s website.

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Message from a Palestinian in Gaza to protesters: “You’re hurting the Palestinian cause”

Protesters at McGill University

A very brave Palestinian who was willing to put his name to paper and write an article for Newsweek Magazine has exposed the utter hypocrisy of all those students – and others, who have been setting up encampments across the U.S. – and now Canada, too.

You can read the article at

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The Most Expensive Israeli Soccer Transfers

Eran Zahavi

Even if Israel isn’t known as a world soccer power, it has produced plenty of talented players who have made a living in top European leagues. On more than one occasion, an Israeli international has commanded a rather large transfer fee. But who are the most expensive players in Israel’s history? The answer could be a little surprising. We took a look back to find the most expensive Israeli soccer transfers of all time.

Tai Baribo

In 2023, Baribo made the move to MLS, signing with the Philadelphia Union. The reported fee was around $1.5 million, which is one of the highest transfer fees the Union has ever paid for a player.

Omer Atzili

Throughout his career, Atzili has played for a variety of clubs, including stops in Spain and Greece. In 2023, he joined Al Ain in the UAE for a transfer fee of $2.1 million.

Maor Buzaglo

Now retired, Buzaglo was briefly the holder of the richest transfer deal for an Israeli player. After a couple of successful seasons on loan, Maccabi Tel Aviv paid $2.7 million to rival Maccabi Haifa for Buzaglo in 2008.

Dia Saba

Saba made history in 2020 when he joined Al-Nasr, making him the first Israeli player to play for a club in the UAE. At the time, it was a big deal for relations between the two countries. Al-Nasr also paid an impressive $2.9 million transfer fee for the midfielder.

Tal Ben Haim

On multiple occasions, Ben Haim has been sold for more than $1 million. First, there was his move from Hapoel Tel Aviv to Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2023 for close to $1.2 million. A few years later, Sparta Prague came calling for him, spending $3.1 million as a transfer fee for the winger.

Itay Shechter

During the prime of his career, Shechter was the type of player who warranted a seven-figure transfer fee. German club Kaiserslautern paid a little over $2.6 million in 2011 to bring Shechter to the Bundesliga from Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Daniel Peretz

When Peretz was sold to Bayern Munich, it wasn’t the most expensive deal involving an Israeli player, although it was arguably the most important. He became the first Israeli Jew to play at Bayern, which is one of the biggest clubs in the world. The transfer fee for Peretz paid by Bayern Munich to Maccabi Tel Aviv was around $5.4 million.

Oscar Gloukh

Gloukh is one of the best young Israeli players right now. He already has three international goals in a dozen appearances to his name. Somehow, Gloukh is already one of the most expensive players in Israel’s history. After coming up with Maccabi Tel Aviv, he moved to Austrian giant Red Bull Salzburg in 2023 for a transfer fee of close to $7.5 million. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him top that number one day.

Liel Abada

Abada has been a part of two huge transfer deals in his young career. In 2021, Scottish club Celtic paid $4.8 million to acquire him from Maccabi Petah Tikva. However, that number was topped in 2024 when Charlotte FC of MLS paid a fee of $8 million for Abada.

With Charlotte FC, Abada competes in North America’s top league, facing teams from both Mexico and Canada. Throughout North America, sports betting has taken off in recent years. That includes betting in Canada, where there is a large collection of trusted sports betting platforms.

Eran Zahavi

To date, Zahavi holds the record for the most expensive transfer fee paid for an Israeli player. It’s fitting for Israel’s former captain and all-time leading scorer. In 2016, Chinese club Guangzhou City paid $12.5 million to get Zahavi from Maccabi Tel Aviv. That record was nearly broken later that year when another Chinese club offered $20 million for Zahavi, who turned it down and stayed with Guangzhou City.

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