ZICHRON YA’ACOV, which last year celebrated its 130th anniversary, is one of Israel’s pioneer towns, still carrying a certain old-world charm despite many new developments that have taken place in recent years. One of the most recent developments was the inauguration at the end of last month of a new four-hectare (about 10-acre) park. The park was created by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund with an investment of NIS 5 million, as part of the organization’s strategic policy to construct urban parks throughout the country in locations as close as possible to the city center and to tourist attractions. The new park – which was dedicated by local council head Eli Abutbul and KKL-JNF world chairman Efi Stenzler, in the presence of local council members and leading members of the town’s business community – is within easy walking distance of the famous Zichron Ya’acov wineries and other attractions. Similar parks will soon be dedicated in Kiryat Shmona, Karmiel, Migdal Ha’emek, Shoham, Sderot, Dimona, Beersheba and Eilat.SCOOP ISRAEL is the name of a conference organized by students for students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, as part of a project to broaden the effectiveness of Israel’s public diplomacy. The conference will open on August 11 and continue through August 15, with the participation of 30 international student reporters who are at the forefront of campus media and are responsible for how Israel is portrayed.Scoop Israel is a project of 25 BGU students who are part of the StandWithUs Fellowship. In its seventh year, the program educates 150 students from six Israeli universities about public diplomacy while focusing on leadership and advocacy.“Student media are an important and central aspect of campus life, and how these students learn to do their job carries into their careers,” says project coordinator Shahar Liran. “Our main goal was to bring in students from universities in Europe, Asia and North America because they generally have a negative image of Israel, which is depicted in the annual campus anti-Israel Apartheid Week. As students, it is crucial to do what we can to improve Israel’s global image – an image that is portrayed in the press often in a distorted manner, due to lack of facts and a real understanding of events.”The SCOOP Israel conference will focus on newspaper coverage of conflicts in general, with particular emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Participants will hear from experts about conflict-sensitive reporting. They will also tour Judea and Samaria and the area around the Gaza Strip, and participate in workshops by Arab and Israeli lecturers and learn about media from specialists in the area. Lecturers include Danny Ayalon, Richard Landes and Itai Anghel, among others.In addition, participants will experience “Israel beyond the conflict” by visiting Jerusalem, enjoying a night out in Tel Aviv and trips to a kibbutz, Abu Ghosh and other parts of the country. “We are not afraid of criticism, and, in fact, welcome opinions and discussions from all viewpoints as long as this criticism is derived from an understanding of the situation,” says StandWithUs campus coordinator Assaf Farhadian.FORMER STATE comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, 76, is going back to school – not to study but to teach. When the new academic year begins, Lindenstrauss, a former president of the Haifa District Court, will rejoin the law faculty at the University of Haifa and will teach two courses related to the work of the state comptroller. Prior to his appointment as comptroller, he lectured at the University of Haifa on other aspects of law. ALTHOUGH HE was born and raised in Tel Aviv, Yotam Halperin, one of three stars who are at the forefront of the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, declared that he is now “100 percent Jerusalem.” Halperin, an international hoopster who has played with various European teams, has signed a three-year contract with Hapoel Jerusalem. He told reporters this week that before returning to Israel, after playing for a year with Bayern Munich and before that with Spartak St. Petersburg, he really had no idea which way the wind would blow for him.Halperin played basketball with Maccabi Tel Aviv Juniors from the age of eight.When he joined the senior team after finishing high school, he spent most of his time warming the bench – which was very frustrating. Then in 2005, he received an offer from Union Olimpija Ljubljana, and proved to be one of the team’s star players, helping it to win the Slovenian National Cup and the Slovenian Championship. He has also played on the Israeli National Team.After coming home and surveying the basketball scene, he opted to sign up with Hapoel Jerusalem because he believes in its potential. The other prominent members of the team are Yaniv Green and Elishay Kadir. Green, who was born in Herzliya, is new to the team. He has also played with overseas teams, but has primarily played with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Kadir, who is team captain, previously played with several local teams. Both he and Green, like Halperin, have played with the Israeli National Team.