The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago hosted its
latest meeting on Feb. 6 on the timely subject of “Food Security – What Israel can
do to help Feed the World.”
JCRC Vice Chair Ellen Hattenbach, also chair
of the JUF Hunger Awareness Project, welcomed Daniel
Chamovitz, Director of the Manna
Center for Plant Biosciences and founder of the Program in Food Safety
and Security at Tel Aviv University. Ellen thanked American Friends of Tel Aviv
University for bringing Daniel to speak to the JCRC.
Chamovitz, a graduate of Columbia University and Hebrew
University, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics, discussed food insecurity
and hunger around the world. He said that of the 7 billion people in the world,
about half are food insecure, including many who are hungry and undernourished.
He also discussed how the mirror image of hunger is obesity, with over 10
percent of the world’s population being obese, including in North America,
Europe and parts of the Middle East, where obesity is seen as a symbol of
wealth. Obesity, like hunger, results from a lack of proper access to healthy,
Chamovitz discussed how food insecurity is relevant even to those
to who are not hungry, as it affects the worldwide political and economic
landscape. “Food insecurity leads to social and political insecurity,” he said.
As an example, he stated, “The Arab Spring was not fed by a drive for democracy
but by a drive to have food and the increase in bread prices.”
Israel, according to Chamovitz, is uniquely positioned to help
feed the world. He
said that Israel’s history, dating back to the chalutzim (pioneers), has provided skills to enable Israelis to
grow a lot of their own food, while also helping other countries, especially
Africa, where Israelis are making change on the ground. He said that Israelis’
experience with arid land, drip irrigation, saline-adaptable crops,
heat-tolerant livestock, along with their society’s innovation, and
multi-disciplinary chutzpah (personal
confidence or audacity), has enabled them to “get their hands dirty” and make
strides toward fixing the problem of worldwide hunger.
hopes to expand the reach of the Manna Center at Tel-Aviv University, where the
missions of cutting edge research, education, and public outreach are already
making a difference. In the future, he would like to see a strong partnership
between Israel and the United States to promote food security, especially in
the Middle East and Africa, where food shortages can lead to extremist activity.
closed with a quote by Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization: “Hunger is not an
issue of charity. It is an issue of justice.”
next JCRC meeting will be a joint meeting with the Government Affairs Committee
and Jewish Women’s Foundation focusing on human trafficking on March 25. The
JCRC will also be organizing a Passover Seder
focused on hunger and food insecurity on April 2. For more information about these programs and
the JCRC, please call 312-357-4770 or email JCRC1@juf.org.
For more frequent updates, follow @ChicagoJCRC