Grapevine: Academia helps police fight crime

This week's social news.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks in Knesset (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks in Knesset
Police Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich was in Beersheba last week to sign a cooperation agreement with Ben-Gurion University president Rivka Carmi at the launch of the Center for Computational Criminology, which is a joint initiative of the Israel Police and BGU.
The center will develop advanced cyber, big data and artificial intelligence tools to fight cyber crime, which has risen to limitless proportions in recent years as criminals and even rogue governments have capitalized on the anonymity of cyberspace to cloak their activities while reaping sizable profits. Use of social media-based evidence has also been on the uptick in recent years, as more and more information is shared online.
BGU researchers will work side by side with the cyber investigators of the Israel Police to develop artificial intelligence and additional learning tools for law enforcement.
“The last, most significant scientific breakthrough to change law enforcement was DNA testing,” says the head of the new center, Prof.
Lior Rokach, chairman of BGU’s department of software and information systems engineering, and a leading expert on artificial intelligence.
“Today, we are on the threshold of the next big breakthrough: analyzing big data to discover hidden patterns to predict and prevent crime. The AI revolution of the past few years will prove to be even more significant than DNA testing for law enforcement, providing them with unprecedented investigative tools and new sources of evidence.”
■ WHAT DO the Israel Press Council and President Reuven Rivlin have in common? They’ve both decided to set up shop for a day in various towns and cities throughout Israel during the 70th anniversary year of the state, and even beyond. The council has decided to hold its annual conference in Lod with the participation of Rivlin and Lod Mayor Yair Revivo.
Most of the council’s meetings over the next year or two will be in peripheral areas, in order to make contact with local media and to discuss journalist ethics and freedom of expression, two subjects that, more than any others, occupy the attention of the council, which is headed by retired Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner. In this context the council also meets with high school students, school principals and teachers.
The conference, on Sunday, March 4, at the Arik Einstein Cultural Center in the Ganei Aviv neighborhood, will include two daytime workshops on journalistic ethics and freedom of expression. The first, with school principals, will be led by Prof. Yehiel Limor and Ron Kitri; and the second, for students, will be led by Keren Marciano and attorney Yuval Yoaz.
The actual conference will begin in the early evening with a joint meeting of the Israel Press Council and the Lod City Council, followed by a reception and addresses by Rivlin, Dorner and Revivo. Afterward, there will be a discussion on journalistic freedom, the relationship between government and moneyed opportunists, and journalistic ethics. The discussion will be moderated by veteran journalist Shalom Kittal, and panelists will include Prof. Mohammad Wattad, Oshrat Kotler, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler and Ben Caspit.
■ CUTTING-EDGE IDEAS in hydro research emanating from the new Moshe Mirilashvili Institute for Applied Water Studies at Tel Aviv University will benefit not only Israel but all countries that have problems with drought, water preservation, water desalination and water pollution.
The establishment of the institute was facilitated by Dr. Mikhael Mirilashvili and named in memory of his father. It was conceived as a center dedicated to an interdisciplinary and personalized approach to learning. It is headed by hydrochemist Prof. Dror Visar, who hopes that the institute, in addition to contributing to scientific progress, will find solutions to serious global water problems by creating new opportunities for scientists, and strengthening international relations through cooperation on water-related issues.
One major problem that is being immediately tackled is that related to hospital wastes, which contain dangerous pharmaceutical residues, even after conventional purification methods have been applied. The toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic drugs ingested by patients are not adequately degraded by standard sewage treatments and pose real threats to human health and to the natural environment.
Mikhael Mirilashvili is a pediatrician and businessman who has taken a great interest in water issues and is the president of Watergen, a company specializing in water-generating technology.
■ IT HAS become a tradition at the British Embassy for the ambassador to host a spring fair at the residence between Purim and Passover to benefit various charities, and to give people who might otherwise not be invited to the residence the opportunity to get a foot in the door, to buy several Passover gifts and to help out several needy causes. The gifts are all handmade and priced from NIS 5 to NIS 500.
Ambassador David Quarrey is following in the footsteps of his predecessors, and may even purchase an item or two himself. The fair will be held on Friday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Preregistration with a photograph is required. Anyone wishing to attend should send their name, ID number and photograph to [email protected]
The Embassy advises that there is no parking space available and suggests that people attending use public transport. Bus routes 61, 65 and 161 have stops quite close to the residence.
■ THE WORD “atara” in Hebrew means crown. In English it’s an acronym for Association for Torah and the Arts for Religious Artists. It was founded in New York in 2006 by Miriam Leah Gamliel, who was blessed with a wonderful singing voice but had no outlet for a religiously observant female performing artist. She realized that she was not the only gifted woman in a Torah environment, and that there were dancers and actresses and other singers who would love to perform without compromising their religious principles. So she got a bunch of them together and they produced a women-only musical, with a cast of close to 40 women. The performance was a sellout. Women came from all over New York and continued to do so over the years.
ATARA also performed in other parts of America, garnering the same enthusiasm as in the Big Apple.
Among its pioneers were Toby Klein Greenwald, who lives in Israel and who created a similar venture here; and Robin Garbose, a Los Angeles film director.
When Gamliel came from her native Pittsburgh to New York, she was not yet married. After she married, she moved to Canada, but did not abandon ATARA . An Internet newsletter and a Facebook group guaranteed continued cohesion, despite geographic distance.
ATARA has an annual conference which has been held in various North American cities, and this year, for the first time, the conference will be in Israel, from March 6 to March 12, inclusive. The actual conference starts on March 8 in Ramat Beit Shemesh, following a pre-conference get-together and jam session, and moves to Jerusalem on March 11. It includes workshops, master classes, performances, prayer sessions, vocal harmonizing and a kumzitz. Full details of venues, activities and contacts can be found at
■ THERE’S ONLY one day left in which to submit nominations for the NIS 150,000 Jerusalem Unity Prize, which is awarded to an organization or an individual deemed to have made the greatest contribution to Israeli unity.
The prize was established following the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three yeshiva students – Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah. Before it was known that they had been murdered, there was a tremendous outpouring of not only nationwide but Jewish world support for the families of the three hapless boys. People put aside their differences and were united, first in their sympathy for the families for what they were experiencing, and later in their outrage that three innocent boys had fallen victim to Palestinian terrorism.
The three families were united first in their fears, then in their grief, and afterward in their desire to perpetuate the unity and solidarity in which they were enveloped during their traumatic ordeal. And thus was born the Jerusalem Unity Prize, which this year will be awarded at the President’s Residence on June 6, in the presence of Rivlin and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat as well as the adjudicators charged with determining which of the nominees is most deserving of the prize.
The prize is awarded in three categories: local, national and international, with each winner receiving NIS 50,000.
Barkat, who was a co-initiator of the prize, chairs the adjudicating committee, which also includes former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, Olympic medalist judoka Yarden Gerbi, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Danny Tropper, former education minister Yuli Tamir, Noam Lautman, chairman of the Lautman Foundation, Rabbi Yitzhak Dovid Grossman, singer Kobi Oz, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, Amal Assad and the families of the three boys. Last-minute nominations for the prize can enter the contest by accessing
■ CONTROLLING SHAREHOLDER of the Delek Group Yitzhak Tshuva was honored in Tel Aviv last week at the 10th anniversary conference of the Israeli Institute of Energy and Environment.
Tshuva said that in 2010 the Leviathan natural gas field was discovered, and it was the largest in the world to be found during the first decade of the new millennium. The gas will begin to flow in 2019, said Tshuva, who is hopeful that this will lead to peace between Israel and her neighbors.
Multibillion export agreements have already been signed with Jordan and Egypt, said Tshuva, noting that natural gas will propel Israel into a new era.
Tshuva is also drilling offshore for oil and is confident that he will find it. Perhaps he will be luckier than the late Yekutiel Federmann, who with his brother Samuel founded the Dan Hotel chain and branched into several other enterprises, including drilling for oil. Federmann was president of the Israeli- American Oil Corporation, which more than half a century ago invested $3,500,000 (which was very big money in those days) in a fruitless search for oil.
[email protected]