Jerusalem under attack | by Levi Weiman-Kelman | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel

Edmund Burke, the Anglo-Irish thinker, wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

In the past few weeks there have been a number of disturbing incidents in Jerusalem. Two weeks ago right-wing “price tag” vigilantes scrawled “death to Arabs” on the wall facing the Jewish-Arab bilingual school in Katamon, and last week nasty graffiti was found on the walls of the Baptist church in Rehavia. Most Jerusalemites do not support these acts, which threaten the ability of the city’s highly diverse population to live in peace. The social fabric of Jerusalem is very fragile; the aim of these criminals is to erode coexistence in our city.

There is a prevailing sense of confusion among the general public as to how to respond to these “price tag” actions that they don’t support. The inability of Israeli society to respond to actions that we oppose allows the worst kinds of people to act with a sense that they can destroy our society with impunity. It is clear that the present Israeli government pays lip service to concepts like “rule of law” and “democratic values” while it simultaneously strengthens those who would limit the rights of minorities (religious, ethnic or ideological) in Israeli society.

We must not delude ourselves. Those who threaten Arabs and Christians will turn on us and against all those who reject their racist agenda. If we do not respond immediately and forcefully against these perverted acts we endanger ourselves.

An Arab girl stands near signs against racism at the entrance of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school for Bilingual education in Jerusalem. In the past two weeks the school has been hit by vandals who have daubed racist threats on its playground walls, including "Death to Arabs." (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

An Arab girl stands near signs against racism at the entrance of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school for Bilingual education in Jerusalem. In the past two weeks the school has been hit by vandals who have daubed racist threats on its playground walls, including “Death to Arabs.” (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The “price tag” criminals define themselves as observant Jews. They perpetrated their despicable acts during the season when we read the Ten Commandments and the weekly Torah portion of Mishpatim (Laws). In these portions the Torah states categorically how we are to treat the stranger or other who dwells in our land:

You shall not oppress the stranger because you know intimately the soul of the stranger for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23.9)

Less than one hundred years ago we Jews lived as a minorities in societies, targeted by those societies’ most despicable elements. It started with hooligans burning synagogues and scrawling graffiti.

Today we are privileged to live as “a free people in our own land” – we are the majority. How is possible that we do not hear the voice that calls us to defend the oppressed minorities? In the Bible the experience of slavery obligates us to identify with the suffering slave and not to aspire to be the enslaver. Thousands of years of living as a minority in Christian and Muslim lands should guide us as to how to act as a majority. If we treat the minorities in our midst as we were once treated, we loose our right to complain about previous suffering.

This past summer we showed ourselves and the world that when something pains us as a society we have the capacity to demonstrate and to demand to be heard. We saw hundreds of thousands fill the streets, demanding social justice. But if the Jewish Israeli public can only demand social justice for itself, without caring for the weakest in our society — those who have no voice — then the struggle is doomed.

The medieval German halachic anthology “Sefer Hasidim” says the following in its section on prayer:

One who fails to include the pain and degradation of one’s fellow [in prayer] –- his prayers will not be answered. That is why the rabbis established that prayers and supplication be in the plural.

Our prayers and yearnings for a just society will go unanswered if we fail to include the cry of the minorities in our prayers.

I am proud that at Kol HaNeshama we have a group committed to fighting against racism. I call on all religious communities in Jerusalem to look to the words of the Isaiah — “Zion will be redeemed through justice and its returnees with righteousness” (1.27) — and join the effort to save Israel from those who would destroy it from within.

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NYTimes: Physicists Create a Working Transistor From a Single Atom

The group of physicists, based at the University of New South Wales and Purdue University, said they had laid the groundwork for a futuristic quantum computer that might one day function in a nanoscale world and would be orders of magnitude smaller and quicker than today’s silicon-based machines.

In contrast to conventional computers that are based on transistors with distinct “on” and “off” or “1” and “0” states, quantum computers are built from devices called qubits that exploit the quirky properties of quantum mechanics. Unlike a transistor, a qubit can represent a multiplicity of values simultaneously.

That might make it possible to factor large numbers more quickly than with conventional machines, thereby undermining modern data-scrambling systems that are the basis of electronic commerce and data privacy. Quantum computers might also make it possible to simulate molecular structures with great speed, an advance that holds promise for designing new drugs and other materials.

“Their approach is extremely powerful,” said Andreas Heinrich, a physicist at I.B.M. “This is at least a 10-year effort to make very tiny electrical wires and combine them with the placement of a phosphorus atom exactly where they want them.”

Dr. Heinrich said the research was a significant step toward making a functioning quantum computing system. However, whether quantum computing will ever be harnessed for useful tasks remains uncertain, and the researchers noted that their work demonstrated the fundamental limits that today’s computers would be able to shrink to.

“It shows that Moore’s Law can be scaled toward atomic scales in silicon,” said Gerhard Klimeck, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue and leader of the project there. Moore’s Law refers to technology improvements by the semiconductor industry that have doubled the number of transistors on a silicon chip roughly every 18 months for the past half-century. That has led to accelerating increases in performance and declining prices. “The technologies for classical computing can survive to the atomic scale,” Dr. Klimeck said.

Demonstrations of single-atom transistors date from 2002, but the researchers from Purdue and New South Wales said they had made advances on two fronts: in the precision with which they placed the Lilliputian switch; and in the use of industry-standard techniques to build the circuitry, making it possible to read and write information from the tiniest conceivable switch.

The results were reported on Sunday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Until now, single-atom transistors have been created on a hit-or-miss basis, the scientists said.

“But this device is perfect,” Michelle Simmons, a group leader and director of the ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication at the University of New South Wales, said in a statement. “This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy.”

In the 1950s, the physicist Richard P. Feynman predicted a world where there would be “plenty of room at the bottom,” opening new vistas into engineering disciplines that would use individual atoms as bricks and mortar in fields as diverse as computing and biology.

Since then, computer designers have moved ever closer to the smallest components that are possible to fabricate. Now, with the publication of the New South Wales and Purdue research, the scientists said they had shown the fundamental limits to which the components of silicon-based computers would be able to shrink in the future. Currently, the smallest dimension in state-of-the-art computers made by Intel is 22 nanometers — less than 100 atoms in diameter.

If the semiconductor industry remains on its current pace, it might be possible to reach that limit within two decades, Dr. Klimeck noted.

The scientists placed the single phosphorus atom using a device known as a scanning tunneling microscope. They used it to essentially scrape trenches and a small cavity on a surface of silicon covered with a layer of hydrogen atoms. Phosphine gas was then used to deposit a phosphorus atom at a precise location, which was then encased in further layers of silicon atoms.

While offering astounding precision for research, these microscopes are not currently applicable as manufacturing tools to make chips that contain billions or even trillions of transistors. Moreover, the devices now operate at very low temperatures.

Despite these limits, the semiconductor industry has made great progress in finding ways to build circuits that are far smaller than the wavelength of visible light. And recently, equipment makers have begun making it possible to assemble layers in silicon chips a single atom at a time.

The low temperatures at which the experiment was performed led Intel scientists to express caution about the results. “It’s good science, but it’s complicated,” said Mike Mayberry, an Intel vice president who is the director of the company’s components research group. “By cooling it to very low temperatures, they’ve frozen out a lot of effects that might otherwise be there.”

Shrinking conventional computer circuitry offers radical increases in the speed at which computers can solve problems, lowers the power they require and drastically increases the amount of data they can store.

 

 

Scientific Agency to Drop BlackBerry for iPhone

Oliver Lang/dapd, via Associated Press

Research in Motion can’t catch a break. Joining the large crop of businesses and organizations dropping the BlackBerry, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to provide employees with Apple’s iPhones and iPads instead.

The government agency, based in Washington, cited the steep cost of Research in Motion’s software, which is used to secure and manage BlackBerry devices, as the primary reason for the switch, which was first reported Thursday by The Loop. The agency has distributed about 3,000 BlackBerry devices among 20,000 workers, and plans to move to the Apple devices beginning in May.

Joe Klimavicz, the agency’s chief information officer, said it was moving to Apple’s devices primarily to reduce costs after deciding that BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server software, which is designed to manage and protect data on BlackBerry devices, was too expensive. He declined to discuss the cost of the software, but said it was a significant annual fee.

The agency has committed to a suite called Google Apps for Government, which offers a cloud-based infrastructure with tools for e-mail, calendars, video chatting and document editing. Hosting these services on outside servers is cheaper than doing so in-house, Mr. Klimavicz said. The Google Apps tools provide sufficient controls for the agency to manage the iPhones and iPads while meeting the agency’s security requirements, he added.

Mr. Klimavicz said that the company tried out Android devices as well, and concluded that the Apple devices were the best bet. He explained that there were too many different types of Android devices to manage. “There’s too many out there right now so it’s impossible for us to lock those different devices down to know what we’re dealing with,” he said.

The N.O.A.A. studies conditions of the ocean and the atmosphere to understand and predict changes in the weather and the Earth’s environment. It was the second major organization this week to announce plans to discontinue support for RIM’s BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone. Earlier this week, Halliburton, the energy services company, said it would move 4,500 of its employees from BlackBerrys onto the iPhone over the next two years.

“We are making this transition in order to better support our mobile applications initiatives,” said Beverly Blohm Stafford, director of corporate affairs at Halliburton, in a statement. “Halliburton has engaged with Apple on this transition.”