Good News Friday

After the hard week we’ve just been through, it’s not easy to write about good news. Nevertheless, for reasons that will become clear further on, here is another Good News Friday installment.

Piles of salt at the Melach Haaretz mining company near Eilat

We’ll start with one of Israel’s greatest natural resources – salt! (via  Brian Goldfarb). Salt, of all things, is providing Israel with yet more commercial success.

Israel is known as the land of milk and honey – and now salt, too. Israel’s Salt of the Earth, which packages salt mined in Israel, has just won awards from SIAL Innovation Selection 2014. SIAL (Salon International de l’alimentation) is the world’s largest food trade show, and SIAL Innovation Awards are among the most coveted honors given out in the food business.

Salt of the Earth (“Melach ha’aretz” is the company’s Hebrew name), a part of the Arison Group, has been mining salt since 1922, selling to both the retail and industrial markets. The salt is mined in the areas of Eilat in southern Israel and Atlit, near Haifa, in an environmentally responsible manner, preserving
harvesting areas “as nature reserves, islands of greenery, hosting many species of animals and combining bird-watching and nature activities through setting up lookout points as well as habitation and nesting areas for thousands of waterfowls and migratory birds,” the company says, and it “cooperates with
Israel Nature & National Parks Protection Authority in the protection of sea turtles.”

While you might think not much could be done with salt, the company has dozens of products, including table salt, “gourmet” salt like black salt granules, white salt granules, rosemary salt granules and smoked salt granules, reduced sodium salts, industrial salts used in meat koshering, cheese production, pickling, leather tanning, plastics manufacturing, and more, and even salt for dishwashing powder products.

Salt of the Earth won the SIAL awards last week for three products: WonderSalt, a low-sodium sea salt for kids, naturally colored with fruit and vegetable extracts; a “fun-colored” salt designed to help children control sodium intake; Umami-Essence Sea Salt, derived from tomato extract, pure salt from the Red Sea that can reduce the level of a recipe’s sodium while boosting flavor via umami, the “fifth taste” (after salt, sweet, sour and bitter) that scientists agree is an important part of the taste universe; and Salt ‘N Easy, seasoned sea-salt roasting mixes for poultry, fish or vegetables.

Who knew that salt could be so interesting? Or so delicious? Kol hakavod to Melach Haaretz on winning the SIAL award. May they go on from strength to strength.

The dam at Nahal Taninim

Brian also recommends a wonderful Israeli tourist attraction, which though not new, received a fantastic write-up in the Times of Israel:  how an effort to stop the main road from Tel Aviv to Haifa flooding during winter led to the creation of a new nature reserve – Nachal Taninim (Crocodile River): – which despite its name, does not hold any crocodiles:

“Nahal Taninim includes a glistening lake, a flowing river, flora, fauna, quarries, a Roman aqueduct, and an entire ancient dam.”

If it hadn’t been for several torrential downpours in 1992 and a couple of heavy storms in 1995, Israel’s Nahal Taninim Nature Reserve as we know it today simply wouldn’t exist.

But fortunately for us nature lovers, water pouring into the sea near Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael and Zichron Ya’akov flooded the Tel Aviv-Haifa highway each time, and the powers that be decided that they had to take action.

The problem stemmed from a dam that the Romans built two millennia ago to transport water from Nahal Taninim to the coastal city of Caesarea. In any kind of serious downpour the 1,500-acre lake formed by the dam would fill up to the brim. And since openings that the Romans carved into the dam walls were blocked up with debris, the overflow would end up on the road.

This is certainly a highly recommended visit for tourists to Israel – and for Israelis too!

Hebrew Manuscript smuggled into Israel from Syria by the Mossad in the 1990s

The next item is, as Brian put it, just a jaw-dropping appreciation of the culture of the people I’m a part of.  This is an article about how Israel’s National Library hopes to digitize every possible Hebrew manuscript in the world. To publicize the project, there is an exhibition on to show off some of the documents they already have, such as Franz Kafka’s Hebrew vocabulary notebook, when he started to try and learn Hebrew; the first evidence of Yiddish; and Newton’s theological ponderings.

These are treasures that Israel doesn’t allow anyone to check out of its national library.

Kafka’s Hebrew vocabulary notebook. The first written evidence of the Yiddish language. And the Crowns of Damascus, Bibles smuggled out of Syria 20 years ago in a Mossad spy operation so classified that their very existence in Israel was kept secret for years.

Many nations maintain official libraries of their countries’ most prized historical manuscripts. Israel’s is unique: It seeks manuscripts from every country in the world where Jews have ever lived.

Now the National Library of Israel is dusting the cobwebs off some of the most prized jewels of its collection as it seeks to draw attention to a new effort to preserve — and publicize — these treasures.

It’s pioneering a worldwide initiative to digitize every Hebrew manuscript in existence. It’s building a new home next to the Israeli parliament. On Sunday, it sent a prized manuscript handwritten by medieval Jewish philosopher Maimonides to France accompanied by bodyguards for a first-ever display at the Louvre Museum.

Here’s a look at a few of those manuscripts, and the unlikely route they took to Jerusalem.



These “crowns,” a Jewish term for revered biblical manuscripts, are some of the earliest complete manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. Written in the Middle East and Europe between 700 to 1,000 years ago, they were safeguarded by Syria’s ancient Jewish community in Damascus for hundreds of years.

The exhibition sounds and looks fascinating. I’m sure the publicity is hardly needed because the public interest is going to be huge.  Read the rest of the article to see some of the other amazing exhibits.

A monumental Roman inscription found in Jerusalem by the Israel Antiquities Authority. (photo credit: Moti Tufeld)

Speaking of historical finds, the most important 2,000 year-old monumental stone with Hadrian’s name inscribed on it was uncovered in Jerusalem, it was announced this week:

The massive limestone slab, roughly a meter wide, with Latin text inscribed in six lines with letters several inches high, was part of a monumental arch dedicated to the emperor in 130 CE in honor of Hadrian’s arrival. It’s one of a rare few Latin inscriptions found in Jerusalem from that period. The slab’s discovery sheds light on the timeline of Jerusalem’s reconstruction following its destruction by Rome in 70 CE, demonstrating that it was in large part rebuilt just 60 years later.

“To the Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, son of the deified Traianus Parthicus, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with the tribunician power for the 14th time, consul for the third time, father of the country [dedicated by] the 10th legion Fretensis (second hand) Antoniniana,” the text reads.

The 10th legion Fretensis, garrisoned in the ruined city of Jerusalem after the first revolt and also known for its participation in the siege of Masada, dedicated the monument at the city’s entrance to Hadrian before his historic visit.

Two years after Hadrian’s visit, and after the monumental arch was erected, the province of Palestine was consumed by a second Jewish insurrection against Rome known as the Bar Kochba revolt.

“This is an extraordinary find of enormous historical importance,” said IAA archaeologist Dr. Rina Avner, who headed the dig. A find of this kind “is once in a lifetime, if at all.” Speaking outside the IAA headquarters at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, Avner explained that her team found the stone slab during excavation at a construction site on Nablus Road. They uncovered a Byzantine cistern and were surprised to find the Roman inscription used as a capstone. Part of the inscription was missing because a semi-circular hole was cut from the stone.

“It provides us with an exact date for the official construction of the city,” Avner said. “It indicates that there was monumental, official construction projects in the city at least two years before the Bar Kochba Revolt.”

By 130 CE, just 60 years after Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus, the city had its main roads, piazzas, temples and monuments, she said.

One matter that the stone does not resolve, however, is the name of the city, which was changed by Hadrian to Aelia Capitolina. Scholars debate whether it took place before the Bar Kochba rebellion in 132, or after it was crushed as a punitive measure.

Jerusalem is such a fascinating city, with layer upon layer of history lying beneath our feet. Some layers have been discovered, others remain yet to be revealed – as long as the Muslim supercessionists can be stopped from destroying priceless relics on the Temple Mount and at other Jewish holy sites.

Shabbat table

And now, with a complete subject change, this Shabbat is the week of the Shabbos Project – a brilliant idea whose principle is that as many Jews as possible should observe Shabbat (Shabbos) together on one day. The Jewish Press gives more details:

In 340 cities around the world Jews from all walks of life, stars and simple folks, academics and others across the spectrum this week are all going to be ‘Keeping it Together.’

Shabbat. Shabbos. The Sabbath.

However you refer to it, even vocalist Paula Abdul is joining in with Nobel Prize laureates for 25 hours this weekend to keep the seventh day holy, as God commanded His Chosen People.

“The Shabbat Project is an opportunity for the entire Jewish world to keep one complete Shabbat together – from Friday evening just before sunset on October 24, until Saturday night after the stars have come out on October 25,” says South African Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein.

It was Goldstein who originated the Shabbat Project last year in South Africa. His drive and enthusiasm sent the project around the world in 2014.

“The beauty of this is that it is so practical and manageable. It’s only one Shabbat. It’s something everyone can do…This approach is predicated on the idea that the real energy of Shabbat – its transformative power – is wholly dependent on immersing oneself in the full Shabbat experience.”

In Israel, the Rami Levy supermarket is, as usual, leading the retailers’ part in the initiative. The chain is offering a “challah for a shekel, wine for five shekels” special this week to encourage Jews to participate in the project.

Poster ads are running on Egged buses across the country and along its highways and byways. A local team in the “Startup Nation” has also launched the #Keeping It Together app .  It has everything anyone needs to know about keeping the Sabbath holy, and it’s programmed to put your phone to sleep over Shabbat. (After all, it is the ‘day of rest.’)

Read the whole article. It’s a brilliant idea, breathtaking in its simplicity, and with such a powerful message.  In Toronto my cousin Lynda and her daughter Dena are prime movers of their own local Shabbos Project, and I say a hearty kol hakavod to them.

The greatest thanks and Kol Hakavod go to Rabbi Goldstein (about whose South African Shabbos project I posted a while ago) who thought up the whole project. He is one of the Jewish People’s most influential leaders. May he and his ideas grow and and influence the world with its positive message.

Mixing Shabbat with family, here now is the reason why I was so determined to write a Good News post this week.

60 yearsIn a short while the whole family – we, my parents, my siblings, our children and grandchildren, a veritable tribe in fact – are heading out to a hotel for Shabbat to celebrate our parents’ Diamond Wedding, their 60th wedding anniversary.

My parents are a shining example of love, dedication and loyalty to each other, to the family and to the Jewish people.

I’m sure you all join me in wishing them good health, nachat (enjoyment) from their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and may they have many more years of happiness together עד מאה ועשרים – until 120.

Mazal tov!

And on that happy note, I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, Family, History, Israel news | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Terror attacks in Canada – and more stone-throwing in Jerusalem

Israel has sadly not been the only victim of Muslim terrorism this week. In two terrorist attacks in Canada two soldiers were killed and several people injured.

Quebec provincial police examine the wreckage of car driven by the terrorist who ran down two soldiers in the parking lot of a shopping centre in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

In the first terror attack, in an echo of yesterday’s attack in Jerusalem, (h/t TCKT) a homegrown terrorist drove his car into a Canadian soldier, killing him on the spot and injuring another:

The Canadian soldier who died a day after being run down by a suspected homegrown terrorist has been identified as 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent.

Quebec provincial police confirmed the news Tuesday after a news conference at which they said they believe the attacker, Martin Rouleau, may have been lying in wait for more than two hours before running his victims down with his car.

Police said the investigation into the hit-and-run that killed one and injured another has so far uncovered evidence that Rouleau had been sitting in the parking lot outside of a federal building that offers support to Canadian military veterans and other personnel as early as 9:15 a.m. on Monday. The attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, south of Montreal, occurred around 11:30 a.m.

Rouleau, 25, was shot by police after a brief chase that ended about four kilometres from the site of the hit-and-run and died several hours later in hospital.

“He was sitting in the car in the parking lot,” said police spokesman Lt. Guy Lapointe. “The working thesis is that this was a deliberate act.”

On Monday the Prime Minister’s Office said Rouleau had “become radicalized.”

Friends of Martin Rouleau said that over the past year they tried to help him see the error of his new opinions. They say he was lost to a world of conspiracy theories, hatred and religion-fuelled anger that led to what intelligence and security experts have been fretting about for years: a homegrown, radicalized terrorist acting out on Canadian soil.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was fatally shot at the War Memorial in Ottawa

The second attack took place just two days later, when terrorists opened fire outside and inside the Canadian Parliament building in Ottawa, killing another Canadian soldier:

OTTAWA — Two people are dead after at least one gunman stormed Parliament Hill on Wednesday morning.

One of the dead is a soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, a reservist with Argylls of Canada – 91st Canadian Highlanders in Hamilton, Ont., who was standing guard at the National War Memorial. The other is the gunman, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, born in 1982, who opened fire in Centre Block across the street.

Two U.S. officials said that U.S. agencies have been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau was a Canadian convert to Islam. One of the officials said that the man was from Quebec.

Police continued to search vehicles in downtown Ottawa, where blocks of the city’s core were locked down all day.

Gunfire exploded shortly before 10 a.m., just outside where the Conservative caucus was meeting.

The shooter was met with return fire — dozens of shots were heard — and was killed outside the parliamentary library.

Watch the terrifying incident caught on video:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the attack, and kudos to him for calling the killers “terrorists”. This is so unusual in these days of political correctness that it deserves special mention:

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper described the perpetrator of a “brutal and violent” attack on the Parliament complex in Ottawa that left a soldier dead Wednesday as a “terrorist” in an address to the nation.

“We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper said before vowing that the attack would “lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts” to keep the country safe and work with Canada’s allies to fight terrorists.

The report continues:

The assault rocked Parliament over and over with the boom of gunfire, led MPs to barricade doors with chairs and sent people streaming from the building in fear. Harper was addressing a caucus when the attack began outside the door, but he safely escaped. He gave his address Wednesday evening from an undisclosed location.

Earlier Wednesday, Canadian authorities identified the shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32. A government official told Fox News that they have been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau, a Quebec native, was thought to be a recent convert to Islam who had changed his name from Michael Joseph Hall. Investigators offered little additional information about the gunman. However, Harper said in his address that “in the days to come we will learn about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had.”

Court records that appear to be the gunman’s show that he had a long rap sheet, with a string of convictions for assault, robbery, drug and weapons offenses, and other crimes.

The shooting, which triggered a lockdown of Canada’s capital, came just two days after a deadly hit-and-run terror attack targeting soldiers in Quebec by a man the Prime Minister referred to as an “ISIL-inspired terrorist.” That killer, also identified as a convert to Islam, had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

My sincere condolences to Canada and to the families of the two soldiers who were murdered. Of all the countries in the world, Canada is the one who least “deserves” to be targeted by terrorists – which of course is precisely the reason they were targeted: because they are not politically-correct, because they stand up for Israel, and because they confront terrorists.

Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu called PM Harper to convey his condolences on the attack:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday evening with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and asked to convey the condolences of the Israeli people in wake of the terrorist attack in Ottawa.

Netanyahu expressed his full support for Canada’s fight against terrorism, in which Israel and the international community are partners, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

It is shocking to note the growing phenomenon of “home-grown” or “radicalised” Muslims, particularly the converts to Islam. Canada is not the first country to suffer from this terrorism and unfortunately won’t be the last, until the world learns to stand up to the extremists.

Speaking of home-grown terrorism, as if it weren’t enough that a Palestinian terrorist killed a baby just yesterday afternoon, this morning Palestinian rioters, aka terrorists, have been pelting a Jerusalem kindergarten with stones:

Stones were thrown at a Jerusalem kindergarten as a baby crawls nearby

A day after the tragic attack in Jerusalem, resulting in the death of an infant girl, assaults against Jewish targets by Arab extremists continue.

Masked Arabs threw rocks at a children’s kindergarten Thursday morning. The kindergarten is located in the Ma’ale ha-Zeitim neighborhood next to Ras al-Amud, in eastern Jerusalem. No injuries or damage were reported. Police and border patrol are attempting to determine the location of the suspects, who fled.

“Jerusalem police emphasizes that it will demonstrate zero tolerance towards any incident of violence and will put its hand on anyone who disturbs public order in the city and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

It is unclear if the kindergarten which was attacked is the same one targeted by Arab thugs late last month. That shocking attack was caught on camera.

In addition to the attack at the kindergarten, stones were thrown at the light rail station in Shuafat in eastern Jerusalem Thursday morning. The train was damaged, but no injuries were reported.

A similar incident took place Wednesday at the same location, also causing damage. However, there were no injuries then either.

A 12-year-old boy, who was caught Wednesday throwing stones at an Israeli vehicle in the neighborhood At-Tur, was brought to a bail hearing today.

But don’t worry. I’m sure AP and the other media will gleefully report that “Israel arrested a Palestinian child” without giving any context.

Posted in International relations, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Terror attack by vehicle in Jerusalem – 3-month old baby killed

3-month old Chaya Zissel Braun HY’D, murdered in a terrorist car attack in Jerusalem

As if predicted by my previous post, a Palestinian terrorist with previous form drove his car directly into a group of people waiting at the Ammunition Hill light rail stop, killing a 3-month old baby and injuring several others.

A three-month-old girl was killed Wednesday afternoon and eight others were injured when a car crashed into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem in what officials said was a terrorist attack.

The suspect, identified by an Israeli official as a member of terror group Hamas, attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot and badly hurt by police, a police spokesperson said.

“A private car which arrived from the direction of the French Hill junction hit a number of pedestrians who were on the pavement and injured nine of them,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

“Initial indications suggest this is a hit-and-run terror attack,” Samri said.

The baby, Chaya Zissel Braun, died at the nearby Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus a few hours after the incident. A spokesperson for Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom said a 60-year-old woman and seven other people, including the baby’s parents, were also lightly and moderately wounded in the attack.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that both Chaya Zissel Braun and her parents were American citizens. US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf couldn’t immediately confirm whether the family was American, but condemned the attack.

The alleged attacker is Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a former Palestinian prisoner from the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan.

a baby stroller at the scene of a terror attack at a Jerusalem light rail station, by Ammunition Hill (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen to receive a briefing about what happened. Netanyahu ordered increased security in the capital.

“This is how [PA President Abbas's] partners in government act, the same Abbas who just a few days ago incited attacks on Jews in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

As if this terrible news were not bad enough, it takes an even more tragic turn, as Arutz Sheva reports:

The grandfather of the three-month-old girl murdered in this evening’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem has issued a heartbreaking statement in response.

The baby girl, named Chaya Ziso was among nine people wounded when an Arab terrorist mowed down pedestrians with his car at a light rail station in Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill. She succumbed to her wounds shortly afterwards; another victim suffered serious wounds while the remainder were moderately or lightly injured.

“Her parents waited for a child for many years during which they did not merit to have children,” said grandfather Shimon Halperin. “Today they were coming back from praying at the Kotel (Western Wall) and a terrorist came and ran over their baby.”

He told of her parents’ joy after she was born, and described how he enjoyed playing with his granddaughter during her tragically short life. He and his wife had just arrived in Israel from the US to meet his grandchild, but only had a few short hours with her.

May Hashem avenge the blood of little Chaya Zissel Braun, and may He bring comfort to her grieving parents and family amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.  May all those wounded have a speedy and full recovery.

But while we Jews await Hashem’s vengeance, the Palestinians have no such compunction. Instead of keeping a low profile, and maybe even apologizing for such a dastardly attack, what do our “peace partners” do? Why, they riot and throw firebombs of course!

A few hours after the suspected attack, dozens of masked Palestinian youths blocked roads in Silwan, set tires alight and fired off firecrackers. Clashes were reported with police forces in Silwan and Issawiya. One police officer was reported injured by a firebomb in Silwan.

A Hamas spokesperson said in response to the reports that if indeed it was a terrorist attack, then it was a natural response to Israel’s actions in Jerusalem, particularly Jewish incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel Radio reported.

Just imagine if we Jews were to avenge ourselves on the Arabs for their desecration of our holiest site in a similar manner. There would be no Palestinians left! Trying to justify a terrorist attack against civilians is simply beyond the pale. Except for the Palestinians of course.

As for the Americans – since the baby and her parents are American citizens – what was their reaction? You can guess it I’m sure (from the previous link):

US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf couldn’t immediately confirm whether the family was American, but condemned the attack.

“The Israelis are currently looking into the incident. We are in touch with them and we’ll see what more information we can get, also urge all sides to exercise restraint and maintain calm,” Harf said.

They should have addressed that demand to the rioting Palestinians, not to the Israelis who show nothing BUT restraint.

In truth we must stop restraining ourselves. It has only brought more terror and devastation upon ourselves. It’s about time we stood up for ourselves and fought back with our full strength. It’s time Israel and our leaders stopped fearing the nations and took responsibility for our own safety.

In a particularly nasty piece of reporting which has now gone viral round the internet, AP reported the incident thus (via Israellycool):

How AP reported the terror attack in Jerusalem

Words fail me – and everyone else.  As Brian of London remarks:

It’s hard to describe how evil this is. It immediately (and automatically) was pushed out by Yahoo! and hundreds of other sites that just run any AP story without modification.

It’s all over Google News and the Middle Eastern sites are loving it.

Many people are blaming Yahoo! That’s not entirely fair, the real evil was done by the headline writers at AP. It matters not that they’ve changed the headline now (many times). The damage is done.

The AP need to be kicked out of Israel. I’m too angry to even link to all the pieces I should.

A twitter response has been gaining steam with the ironic use of the hashtag #HowAPWouldReport:

Thus we have the following examples intended to embarrass AP:

All fun and snarkiness aside, this is no laughing matter. Seth Mandell at Commentary Magazine call this a case study in media bias:

If you want to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, those two stories are a good introduction. The Israeli government built rail access to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to better integrate them into Israeli society. Arab Jerusalemites have made the very instruments of Israeli outreach and integration into targets of sporadic violence.

The Associated Press got plenty of attention for its initial headline of the story: “Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem.”

But the AP wasn’t alone. Scanning the BBC, I had noticed their initial headline (since changed as well): “Nine hurt as car hits pedestrians at Jerusalem station.” As the Jerusalem Post’s Seth Frantzman pointed out, the headline on the version he saw, and took a screenshot of, was “Car hits people at Jerusalem station.” Either the BBC was deliberately downplaying the story, or the editor in charge thought he was posting a story about an evil car magically becoming sentient only to lash out, like Black Sabbath’s Iron Man, at the humans around him.

Later in the day, after executives at the BBC located a shred of integrity hidden somewhere in the sofa cushions, that was changed as well. It now reads: “Jerusalem car ‘attack’ kills baby at rail station.” I say “a shred of integrity” because the BBC still saw fit to wrap “attack” in scare quotes. What are the options, here? Was it a car “love tap”? It was a terrorist attack, perpetrated by a member of a terrorist organization.

Addressing the Americans’ call for restraint, Mandell says:

I suppose if the driver of the car had said something mean about John Kerry, she’d really let him have it.

In any event, all sides are not exercising restraint and maintaining calm. Only the Israeli side is. The Palestinians are agitating for more, relying on an international press to obfuscate and deploy scare quotes as needed.

And that encapsulates the dangers of anti-Israel media bias. The Palestinians are always excused, the Israelis are always accused – and are demanded to show restraint. This what encourages the Palestinians in their maximalist demands and their rejection of anything resembling peace and normalization. And they are never required to pay the price for their rejectionism.

If ever there is a reason for the “cycle of violence” between Israel and the Middle East, Western encouragement is one of the major ones.

Posted in Media and journalism, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The battle for Jerusalem

Jerusalem has been under fire, both literally and diplomatically, for a long while now, but in recent weeks the situation has deteriorated sharply.  If the authorities, i.e Binyamin Netanyahu and his Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharanovitch don’t get matters in hand very soon I dread to think what might happen next.

Starting with the Silwan neighbourhood: contrary to the received wisdom, this is no “Arab East Jerusalem” neighbourhood. This was once a Jewish or mixed area, settled (oops, there goes that word again) by Yemenite Jews at the end of the 19th century.

Yemenite Jew in Shiloah (Silwan) c. 1882

The Jews were driven out in the Arab riots of 1929 and were finally ethnically cleansed in 1948 by the marauding Arabs. The area remained Judenrein until Jerusalem was liberated in 1948. Somehow, since those 19 years of Arab occupation, the “Arab identity” of the area stuck and it is considered unacceptable for Jews to live there.

However over the last few years, Jewish individuals and organizations have started buying property in Silwan, which in any other area literally anywhere in the civilized world (I do not consider most Arab countries civilized) would not even raise an eyebrow. In the last few weeks two properties were purchased by Jews and the purchasers moved in, thereby doubling the Jewish presence in Silwan.

The Arabs have been seething ever since. Because Silwan is designated nowadays as an “Arab neighbourhood”, these purchases have been called provocation, theft and generally outrageous and inflammatory. The condemnations have come in swift and sharp from the likes of the PLO and various foreign ministries.

The fact is that it is an outrage that these people consider it an outrage for a Jew to buy a house, and – gasp! – move into it, in his own capital city, or any other city anywhere in Israel. The outrage, faux or real, only encourages the Palestinian irredentists to entrench themselves in their rejectionist positions. If the world is so concerned about peace in the region, they ought to internalise for themselves, and then teach the Palestinians that Jews are allowed to buy property and live in it wherever they so wish, just as the Israelis are pushed to allow the Palestinians to live where they wish.

“Deebo” at Israellycool has an excellent take-down of  the Palestinian point of view as reported by the Palestinian newspaper Ma’an, which illustrates so clearly how slanted is the view about Israel, Jews and Jerusalem. One small example – with Deebo’s remarks in brackets:

The (previous) owners of the buildings, Salah al-Rajabi and Imran al-Qawasmi, sold the properties to a Palestinian man identified as Shams al-Din al-Qawasmi, who in turn sold the buildings to Jewish settler groups, the center said. (Oh that guy is dead meat now)

The previous Palestinian tenants left the buildings over four months ago. (so they “raided” and “occupied” an empty home, that was legally purchased, but some will still claim the previous inhabitants were forced into homelessness)

For more background and history of Silwan, and Jerusalem in general, read this  scholarly article by Shaul Bartal in Middle East Quarterly. One very important point that he makes is this:

The ultimate goal of the Palestinians and their allies is to advance the idea that Jerusalem in general, and neighborhoods like Silwan in particular, have no Jewish ties. Archeological remnants found in Jerusalem are thus presented as either Canaanite or Muslim.

On the Temple Mount, Arab riots and Muslim provocations continue against Jewish visitors. I use the word “visitors” advisedly because Heaven forfend that they should be worshippers for that is forbidden by the Waqf and the Israeli police.

In the latest incidents Mahmoud Abbas has called Jewish visitors to their holiest site “herds of cattle”, and has now called for Jews to be banned completely from the Temple Mount, using “all means”. If that is not a call to violence I don’t know what is.

This follows the shocking daubing of swastikas on the Temple Mount, discovered this week:

Swastikas daubed on the Temple Mount

Avigdor Liberman got it right when he said that Abbas is an anti-semite trying to ignite a holy war in Jerusalem. The terrifying thing is that Abbas might well get what he wants. But he will be the loser – yet it will be blamed on Israel as usual.

The American blogger Meryl Yourish (so glad she has resumed writing) takes AP to task for calling Abbas’s inflammatory words “a suggestion” and concurs with Liberman’s accusations against Abbas:

In a speech quoted by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, Abbas said Jewish “settlers” should be prevented from entering the site “by any means.”

“This is our Noble Sanctuary … they have no right to enter and desecrate it,” Abbas added.

That is outright religious hatred. He’s not talking about the mosque. He’s talking about the entire Temple Mount. You know, the holiest site in Judiasm. And “suggested”? really? You know what a suggestion is? “Hey, I think you should try putting a purple streak in your hair and see how it looks.” That’s a suggestion.

This? This is outright saying Jews have no right to their own holy place. No right to the site where both Temples stood, where the Ark of the Covenant resided, where Jewish priests blew the shofar on Rosh Hashanah–the site, in fact, where Judaism was practiced for centuries before Islam existed. This is part of the Palestinian strategy to pretend that the area was wholly Muslim and Jews have nothing to do with it. It is, straight out, a lie. And the AP calls it a suggestion.

The Muslim desecration of Jewish holy places extends even to the dead, as Arabs  vandalised over 40 graves at the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

Jewish graves vandalised on the Mt. of Olives cemetery

Meanwhile, Arab anti-Jewish violence in Jerusalem continues, with lynching attempts, stonings, firebombings, not to mention the severe damage caused to the Jerusalem light rail, putting almost 40% of the line out of action.

Damage to Jerusalem light rail station

Jerusalem light rail train carriage windows smashed by Arab rioters

It has taken until now, but PM Binyamin Netanyahu has finally lost patience with the incompetence of the police and their lack of response to the Arab violence in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday demanded Israeli police and security agencies take a harsher stand against escalating firebombing, stoning, and vandalism attacks against Jewish residents by pro-Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem in recent months.

Calling to bolster police presence in the streets of the capital as a show of deterrence, Netanyahu “instructed that forces be increased in the confrontation areas and that vigorous action be taken against those who disturb the peace.”

However, despite the staunch calls for a crackdown on crime, a government official told the 0404 news site that Netanyahu is “furious” at Aharonovitch over his inability to quell the burgeoning violence.

According to the source, Netanyahu has expected that Aharonovitch know what steps to take in order to get the streets under some semblance of control.

“Netanyahu is furious with Aharonovitch’s lack of treatment on the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem,” the official said. “The situation is catastrophic. Aharonovitch ‘fell asleep on his watch,’ and now everyone’s getting hit by the ricochets.

“This verges on scandalous,” the official said.

Eyewitnesses at the meeting earlier in the day between Netanyahu, Aharonovitch, Barkat, police officials, and others who deal with the attacks in Jerusalem, said Netanyahu slammed his fist on the table as he turned to speak with Aharonovitch.

Netanyahu, according to those present, gave Aharonovitch five days to boost forces and stop the violence.

But since Netanyahu was the one who appointed Aharonovitch in the first place, why does he not fire him and find a more competent replacement?

This is not a matter of mere politics any more.

Unfortunately, the battle for Jerusalem is not only in our own hands. As Shaul Bartal in the above-mentioned Middle East Quarterly article sums up with these sad words:

Sadly, the battle over Silwan (and for that matter the wider Palestinian-Israeli conflict) is likely to continue as long as Palestinian Arabs and their brethren refuse to recognize that another people, the Jews, have a claim to the Land of Israel.

Posted in Israel news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Guest Post – Middle East news you might have missed over the chagim

This is another guest post by frequent contributor Brian Goldfarb, who brings us a review of Middle East-related news that you might have missed over the Jewish holiday period.

So, let’s start with some good news (sort of), with David Cameron and most of the Conservatives abstaining in the “Palestine vote”.  You will know by now that the result of that vote was a “victory” for the pro-Palestinian faction. However, note that well over half the MPs failed to vote. More importantly, it should be noted that David Cameron was firm in his commitment that:

“[he] has indicated that a favorable outcome of the vote would not change the country’s foreign policy toward the Palestinians, Reuters reported, citing Cameron’s official spokesperson.

‘I’ve been pretty clear about the government’s position and it won’t be changing’ the spokesman [on his behalf] told reporters ahead of the vote”

We can add the following clip (less than a minute) in which Cameron sends Shana Tova wishes to all! And he seems to mean it (even if he does his final greeting slightly wrong).

However, it soon gets worse again. It was a Labour MP, Graham Mitchell, who tabled the motion on Palestine. which is bad enough, but then we know that quite a number of MPs on the Left of the party are, essentially, anti-Israel (including, it seems, the prospective Labour candidate for this constituency: so that’s me voting for the pro-Israel Liberal-Democratic MP next May). That said, a row has broken out in the Labour Party. A significant number of senior (and probably not so senior) Labour MPs are objecting:

“Several senior party members were pushing back against an order that the whole party support the recognition. MPs objecting to the move argue that recognition of Palestine should only come as part of a wider Middle East peace settlement.

Rather than being subject to compulsory support for the motion, party members should be allowed to choose how to cast their vote, the objectors said.”


“Emotions were running high, according to Labour party members.

“To say that there is a row going on is putting it very mildly,” one senior Labour party member told The Independent. “People are furious. This is an attempt to rip up 13 years of carefully calibrated policy. It’s total madness and makes the prospect of peace less rather than more likely.”

According to the report, the Labour Friends of Israel has been campaigning to persuade Miliband to rethink how the opposition party handles the vote. If Miliband doesn’t agree, several senior faction members have also threatened to not turn up for the vote.”

In other words, this is not party policy, it never has been, and shouldn’t become policy on the hoof. It is also a warning to Miliband that, should he become PM after the next election and try to force such a policy through, he’ll have a major revolt on his hands. Good to know that the Left isn’t monolithic, as I keep trying to argue. And I heartily endorse the suggestion that this move “makes the prospect of peace less rather than more likely”.

Let me now turn, inevitably, to the less good news. With Israel, sadly, there’s always lots of that. To begin with, there’s this item, which is headed “Bag of Islamic State flags discovered in north“.

Now the irony here is that the discovery was made in an industrial park in Nazareth Illit, which is a Jewish village/town to the north of the New Testament birthplace of Jesus, Nazareth. Suffice it to say that Nazareth Illit is not a politically happy place, with a previous Mayor under investigation for alleged offences. I’ll leave you to read the article to discover that for yourselves. I will add that I wonder if whoever planted those flags did so hoping that no-one would look in a “Jewish” town for such items. How wrong can you be? They’d have been “safer” in Nazareth proper, where the discoverer might have decided to keep their mouth shut for fear of reprisals.

Who knows?

TV crew films near Sderot

To move on to matters related, sort of, and far less happy (at least the flags were found and the authorities are now on the alert). This article comes from The Tablet and brings us to far more sombre matters. It explains why the Gaza War looked different on Israeli TV than it did on CNN:

“Ten days into the war, when Hamas rejected a cease-fire offer and sent terrorists through a tunnel into Israel, the IDF’s ground operation began. Here, too, it is important to note the disparity: The international media sees Israeli soldiers as legitimate military targets, while to Israelis they are quite literally “our boys”—who are sent off at the age of 18 into mandatory military service. In this war Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s close friend lost his son, the grandson of a prominent left-wing politician was severely injured, and every anchor or reporter knew someone who was fighting in Gaza. In Israel there is often only one degree of separation.

Not only were Israelis watching a different war on television, but the pictures they saw were embedded in a different narrative that, in a nutshell, was this: We left the Gaza Strip, dismantled all settlements, completely retreated to the 1967 lines, and the outcome was that Hamas took over Gaza and we got rockets, which at any moment might strike our homes. The world, in contrast, heard the story of Israel bombing innocent civilians in an Israeli-made prison—and saw pictures of the devastation inflicted by our military might.”

On top of this, Israelis are news junkies, and this only gets worse when fighting breaks out. Thus:

“We live in a country whose people don’t agree with each other on anything. And yet one activity—besides bickering—comes close to uniting everyone: watching the news. Israelis want all the information, all the time. This is true even on a normal, calm day, if such a thing truly exists in the Middle East. The combined ratings of the evening news broadcast on the three main networks—Channel 1, Channel 2, and Channel 10—reach 40 percent, meaning four out of 10 people in the country tune in to the evening news…

The war in Gaza turned all three Israeli networks into 24-hour news channels. Television was the main source of information while rockets were flying toward Israel, and no one turned it off. What was once an hourlong evening news program mutated into an ongoing, seemingly endless broadcast. The country’s national pastime became an obsession.

As a matter of fact, the 24-hour news cycle began almost a month before Operation Protective Edge: It all started June 13, after three young Israelis were kidnapped…And when a few days later [after their bodies had been found] Hamas began the barrage of rockets targeting Israel, the national mood and the media platform were equally prepared for war.

During the 50 days of the war in Gaza, Israelis, and the rest of the world were watching two completely different wars. In Israel, the country was under attack and it was all happening on live television: The camera leaped between different cities being targeted—showing the rocket’s trajectory from the Gazan border, the subsequent sirens, and civilians taking shelter in Israel and, often, the rocket’s interception by the Iron Dome anti-missile system several minutes later—moments of deep anxiety, followed by relief, over and over, throughout the day. Israeli networks co-operating with the IDF’s Home Front Command aired banners clearly stating which region was under attack, and in some areas where the sirens weren’t loud enough, this turned out to be life-saving information.”

You don’t need to be an Israeli to be only too aware of this: anyone with family and/or friends in israel hangs on the news when conflict breaks out in the region – and sits at the computer sending emails and hoping not to receive the ones with bad news.

An Israeli vehicle at the scene where two soldiers were wounded in a bomb explosion near the border with Lebanon, October 7, 2014

Still in the general area of conflict, what started off looking like a Lebanese army faux pas turns into something rather more sinister. The original incident (which you might have read about) which appeared to be an attempted incursion by Lebanese army soldiers in the area of Har Dov (Mt. Dov aka the Shebaa Farms – a disputed area on Lebanon/Israel border), repelled with two IDF soldiers and one Lebanese soldier wounded, has become something much more serious. This article now points the finger at Hezbollah. Or, more accurately, Hezbollah points the finger at itself, as follows:

“The ring of explosives detonated alongside an IDF patrol on the border with Lebanon on Tuesday was another in a series of messages from Hezbollah to Israel. It was a brazen attack, carried out inside Israeli territory, the message being that, from now on, every incident in which Israel causes Lebanese injuries will be greeted with a response along the Lebanese or Syrian borders.

As opposed to other recent cross-border attacks, in which the perpetrators didn’t claim responsibility, the message this time was loud and clear: a full admission by Hezbollah. The claim of responsibility also gave a reason for the attack.

“The Group of the Martyr Ali Hassan Haydar detonated an explosive device in the Shebaa Farms,” the Shiite group said in a statement, using the Lebanese name for the Mount Dov region, where the attack took place.

Haydar was a Hezbollah sapper killed on September 5 in Lebanon while attempting to defuse an explosive device attached to an alleged Israel spying apparatus discovered that day. Hezbollah vowed revenge.”

Of course, the problem is that Israel will not be deterred from responding as it deems necessary, as the article continues by noting that:

“the Shiite group [is] trying to lay down new red lines for Israel — red lines that Israel is likely to cross: Israel will almost certainly continue to disrupt the smuggling of game-changing weapons from Syria to Lebanon (indeed, those violate Israel’s own avowed “red line”), “forcing” Hezbollah to respond the next
time it or its allies come under IDF attack.”

“[However,] one doubts whether Hezbollah, which doesn’t have many available fighters, is seeking to escalate the situation to all-out war or even a more limited conflagration. The organization is tied up with a war that has already been raging for three years, fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces.

This week, eight of its fighters were killed in battles in Syria’s Qalamoun region. In all, a third of Hezbollah’s forces are currently in Syria, where they’re battling a plethora of Sunni extremist groups, including the notorious Islamic State.”

Let’s hope so.

I’d like to wind up this review of items you might not have seen with a slightly lighter article, from Petra Marquardt-Bigman’s blog, “The Warped Mirror” (although German by origin, she now lives in Israel, and also has a blog at The Jerusalem Post) The headline is “Shlomo Sand resigns from being an invented Jew (or something like it)“.

Shlomo Sand and his crackpot theories

For those who haven’t heard of him, or in case it has slipped your mind, Shlomo Sand is the “acclaimed” (it says on his personal website) historian who claimed that the Jews are an “invented people” (two of the words in the title of his book). In other words, the Jews didn’t exist as an ethnic group until the Khazars of the Russian steppes decided to convert, wholesale to Judaism.

This dismisses all that compelling DNA evidence tracing Jews, collectively, back to the Middle East, some 3000 years ago, to say nothing of tracing Cohanim (the priestly caste) to one male, also 3000 years ago (i.e., Aaron existed, whatever his name), let alone the tons (literally) of archaeological evidence. And now he wants to become non-Jewish.

Petra notes:

In response to this publication, my very erudite Facebook friend David Sigeti wrote a comment that echoes Shapira’s point quoted above and highlights the important question how Sand’s specious “scholarship” could be so shamelessly promoted by many academics and intellectuals:

“I think that the best short phrase to describe Sand is ‘serial crackpot’. [According to Sand] All the genetic evidence is fabricated and the Ashkenazim are really from Central Asia, Yiddish is a Slavic language in spite of being mutually comprehensible with various dialects of German, the ancient Romans were incapable of transporting large numbers of slaves across the Mediterranean in spite of having fed Italy from Egypt for centuries etc., etc., etc. He is almost certainly the only author in the modern, democratic world to write a book that relies on so many crackpot hypotheses in fields as diverse as genetics, linguistics, and history and to get it taken seriously by other academics and intellectuals.

That this nonsense gets taken seriously may be the most telling example of the confluence between ‘anti-Zionism’ and classical antisemitism. It is almost impossible to imagine anything like Sand’s ideas being taken seriously on any subject other than the Jews

As my mother might have said, he can “gay gezunter haid” (Yiddish), meaning, approximately, “go in good health” – although she, a clever lady, would have been being ironic, and she would have known she being ironic. She might also, or instead, have said that he could “gay in dredd”, or, “go to hell”, without irony.

Read Petra M-B’s article for yourself. It’s a delightful hatchet job. We’re better off without him. Mind you, he still has a post at Tel Aviv Uni. Do any of his erstwhile colleagues actually talk to him?

Anne adds:

Brian, thank you for this review of these news items. I know that I missed some of these myself.

Regarding your last item, Sand makes no sense even within his own parameters. If the Jews are an invented people, as he claims, then how can he resign from them? Either the Jews exist and he wants to “resign”, or they are invented in which case what on earth does that make him? Besides a bigot, a madman, and almost certifiably lunatic.

Furthermore, he makes his wish, or rather his petulant demand, upon the pages of a major UK newspaper with a record of anti-Israel and even antisemitic sentiment, as noted by Richard Millett. If he wants to “resign” from the Jewish people, why did he not write his screed in the Jewish Chronicle?  (Probably because they would have refused…).

In any event, is anyone stopping him from “resigning”? We are only too happy to see the back of him.

Just don’t let the door hit you on the way out Shlomo!

Posted in International relations, Media and journalism, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Good News Friday

It’s been a while since I last posted a proper Good News Friday post, so it’s good to get back into the swing of things.

Bedouin residents of Umm Batin turn trash into cooking gas

We’ll start with green energy, or perhaps it should be considered clean-tech: Israel is teaching the Dominican Republic how to turn trash into cooking gas - but the first beneficiaries of the technology are residents of a Beduin village near Beer Sheva:

Beduin residents of Umm Batin, a village just northeast of Beersheba, are transforming their trash into usable cooking gas in their homes, as part of an Environmental Protection Ministry initiative to bring biogas to their community.

About a week ago, Umm Batin residents received HomeBioGas units produced by Ecogas Israel, whose NIS 8,000 apiece price tag was subsidized by the Environment Ministry. Anaerobic digesters within the machines convert kitchen waste and animal manure into usable cooking gas and liquid fertilizer – optimized for off-grid urban and rural families, according to the company.

Installing the HomeBioGas systems is part of a larger, NIS 80 million investment that the ministry has undertaken to provide communities that currently do not have modern waste treatment mechanisms with trash cans and other necessities.

After learning from the Israeli government about the installation of the units in Umm Batin, the Dominican Republic has decided to purchase 50 of these facilities to install in villages in its own island, the ministry said. Following the earthquake that devastated much of Haiti, the phenomenon of deforestation grew in both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, due to the need for wood heating.

“The combination of social justice and environmental justice is a global solution fitting for Umm Batin, for the Caribbean and for every place in the world,” Peretz said. “We found a way to generate cooperation with the Beduin population from remote communities who feel that as a result of this, the country cares about them, and therefore, the chances are great that this project will succeed and become a model for the world.”

The whole idea is brilliant! Disposing of waste by recycling it into fuel solves so many problems, and not just for the poor and deprived. This technology could huge amounts of money and solve energy problems even for modern countries. Kol hakavod to Ecogas Israel and the Energy Ministry for solving two problems in one.

Ice bucket challenge raises funds for ALS while Israel invents treatment

Moving from bio-technology to the biomedical field, an Israeli development for the treatment of ALS (for which funds were being raised recently by the famous “Ice Bucket Challenge”) is being fast-tracked by the American FDA:

( Stem cell treatment developed by Israeli company BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics has been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a “fast-track” treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The treatment, called NurOwn, is currently undergoing mid-stage clinical trials in Jerusalem and in the U.S. on patients with ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The FDA’s designation will speed up patients’ access to the treatment.

“The receipt of fast-track designation from the FDA is an acknowledgement of the unmet medical need in ALS,” BrainStorm Chief Executive Tony Fiorino said Tuesday, according to Reuters. “What is so valuable about fast track designation to a small company like BrainStorm is the opportunity to have increased meetings with and more frequent written communication from the FDA,” he said, adding that few other cellular therapies have received FDA approval.

Hopefully this treatment will help thousands of patients of this dreadful disease. Kol Hakavod to the BrainStorm developers and researchers, and to the FDA for recognizing its potential. Once again, Israeli researchers are at the forefront of their field for the benefit of the whole world.

Another Israeli biomedical advance is still in the preliminary stages but holds enormous potential if successful. Israeli scientists are testing the first targeted multi-drug cancer therapy:

Delivering cancer-fighting drugs directly to malignant cells is the best way to fight the deadly disease, and Israeli scientists are working on a better way to do that — linking multiple drugs to a chemical engine that can drive them exactly where they need to go.

The process, so far proven only on mouse cells, uses tiny molecules called peptides to carry cancer drugs into specific cancer cells. In a study published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, the scientists showed that the treatment can deliver two different drugs at once, killing leukemia cells while leaving healthy cells undamaged.

No targeted cancer therapy on the market can deliver more than one drug at once. The scientists say the experimental treatment also appears to be more targeted than existing types. With these advantages, they say, the treatment could make existing cancer drugs deadlier to cancers while at the same time reducing their side effects.

Clinical trials are at least two years away.

“We are talking about a technology for targeted drug delivery that consists of a special platform and multiple drugs that are linked to the platform,” said Prof. Gary Gellerman, a biochemist, who built the “peptide-drug conjugates” along with Prof. Michael Firer, a biotechnologist at Ariel University, who developed the drugs. “The advantages for patients are that we can direct more of the drugs to where they are supposed to go, with no side effects. For the first time, we can target cancer with multiple drugs at once.”

Prof. Gary Gellerman of Ariel University

So far, the scientists are focusing on leukemia, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, but they say the treatment should work with any type of cancer.

Prof. Michael Firer of Ariel University

Prof. Robert Langer, a biomedical engineer and a leading researcher of cancer drug delivery at the MIT, called the study “very interesting.” He said “a key next step is to see how it works in vivo [in animals] from a safety and efficacy standpoint.”

If the theories are correct and the treatment works, the impact of this research and the treatment cannot be overstated. We wish the scientists and researchers every success.  Kol hakavod to Professors Gellerman and Firer and to Ariel University for their research.

It will also be very interesting to see if the treatment will be boycotted by those who so object to the settlements and boycott Ariel University for being on the wrong side of an imaginary line on a map.

Solar powered wi-fi charging station for cell-phones

Moving now to something much less vital but nevertheless important in everyday life, an Israeli design student has come up with a solar-powered wifi charging station for cell-phones:

Charge Yourself is the final project created by Bezalel Academy of the Arts student Tal Bahar that functions as a shady bench and solar-powered phone charging station in the heart of an urban jungle.

Ensuring that we have enough battery to make it through the day is a modern day worry that Bahar believes causes a lot of unnecessary stress. So why not kill two birds with one stone and create a design that gives our phones and ourselves a much needed break? The bench-like structure that Bahar came up with has three shaded single wooden seats, each with their own charging surface and phone holder. Each charging surface is powered by solar panels on the metal shade overhang and is able to boost the battery of any mobile device (so no more scrounging around for the right charger). In addition, for those who really can’t live an unconnected minute, there is an extendable phone holder that simultaneously charges your phone and allows you to sort through emails or message a friend.

While Bahar’s Charge Yourself sounds like the perfect solution to our modern day woes, many mobile devices are not yet programmed to wirelessly charge, so it may be some time before we can rest and regenerate on our local boulevard. However, Bahar’s idea is a move in the right direction as Starbucks recently moved to install Israeli tech-powered Duracell PowerMat wireless charging stations in some of its US shops. Mostly, Charge Yourself is an important reminder to the work-until-we-drop generation to take a moment to ourselves every so often, and not just to charge our phones.

What a brilliant idea! Kol hakavod to Tal Bahar. I hope his brainwave takes off!

With all these Israeli innovations, which as mentioned above are of enormous import to the whole world, is it possible that the BDS bigots are making any inroads into Israeli international trade relations? This is an especially pertinent question after a week in which both Sweden and Britain voted to recognize a Palestinian state, with all the implied threats of sanctions being imposed on Israel as “punishment”.

Israeli international trade soars

According to the Algemeiner (h/t David) it would seem this is not so. Former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger asks “Is Israel ostracised?” – and answers in the negative:

The elitist media outlets in Israel, Western Europe and the U.S. are wrong! Israel is increasingly appreciated and embraced — not ostracized — by the global community.

In defiance of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in Britain, and despite the recent Gaza war, Israel’s exports to Britain and the Israel-Britain trade balance, surged by 38 percent and 28 percent respectively between January and August 2014 (as compared to the same period in 2013), expanding employment in both countries. In addition, there were 37 Israeli-British mergers, acquisitions and British stock market initial public offerings during the same period.

Israel’s unique achievements in the area of health care were underscored in the Forbes June 2014 list of 10 health tech companies changing the world. Five of them were Israeli. “It’s amazing that Israel — a country of only 8 million people — produces so many leading health technology companies,” David E. Williams, president of the U.S.-based Health Business Group, told the Grapevine. According to Williams, “Israel’s highly educated technical and medical workers are reared in a society that prizes problem-solving and innovation, placing tremendous value on curing illness and saving lives.”

And it’s not only health-care in which Israel is a leader:

Israel bureau chief for the U.S. magazine Defense NewsBarbara Opall-Rome, sheds light on the global added-value of Israel’s defense industries and Israel’s rising weapon exports, which have grown in recent years. The latest conflict in Gaza revealed Israel’s unique advantage, being the world’s largest and most advanced battle testing laboratory, especially in the area of shielding civilians from short-range missiles and defending tank crews against guided missiles.

According to Opall, “over the past five years, Israel has had military sales of around $7 billion annually, and it puts Israel in the top five of the world’s arms-exporting nations. … India is one of Israel’s biggest customers, buying everything from ship and air defense systems to anti-tank missiles and drones.”

After the latest Gaza operation, Bloomberg reported that Shiite Azerbaijan is the leading supplier of oil to Israel and a major buyer of advanced Israeli military systems, despite criticism from its neighbors, Iran and Turkey.

The California-based Entrepreneur magazine suggests that “one country that stands out from the rest when it comes to research and development is Israel. In fact, it ranks second only to Silicon Valley for startups. … The pool of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent in Israel is huge. There are 140 scientists, technicians and engineers for every 10,000 Israeli employees, compared to 85 per 10,000 in the USA. … Israel is flush with entrepreneurs, second in numbers only to Silicon Valley. The country is filled with people with courage, drive, creativity, boldness and tenacity, who will move mountains to achieve their goals and dreams.”

srael’s educational standing in the world was noted by the recent OECD 2014 Education at a Glance study, published by Yahoo Finance in September: Israel ranks fourth in the world as far as post-high school educated population (46.4 percent of the population), trailing Japan (46.6 percent), Canada (52.6 percent) and Russia (53.5 percent), but ahead of the U.S., Korea, Australia, Britain, New Zealand and Ireland.

The respectable, growing slate of more than 250 high-tech global giants with R&D centers in Israel proves how integrated Israel is in the global economy. These companies include Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Apple, Motorola, Computer Associates, Qualcomm, HP, EMC, GE, AT&T, Xerox, Dell, AMD, Marvell, Cisco, GM, Google, Oracle, Paypal, McAfee, Polycom, Telefonica, Ebay, AOL, Yahoo, SanDisk, SAP, Siemens, Philips, Deutsche Telekom, Samsung, etc. A recent arrival in Israel is Russian Internet Security giant Kaspersky Labs, which will inaugurate its first Israeli R&D center in Jerusalem.

And the good news looks set to continue into the coming year:

2014 is shaping up to be an Israeli record year for raising capital, with Israeli IPOs on Wall Street surpassing $3.5 billion. Two of the top 10 Wall Street IPOs were Israeli companies — Mobileye ($890 million) and Israel Chemicals ($507 million). Intercontinental Exchange, the global network of exchanges and clearing houses, acquired Israel’s SuperDerivatives for $350 million, as its R&D center. Pulse Secure acquired Israel’s cyber company, Mobile Spaces, for $100 million.

On September 22, despite the war in Gaza and because of Israel’s brain power and cutting edge and game-changing technologies, Intel announced an additional $6 billion investment in its existing Israeli arsenal (four R&D centers and two manufacturing plants), which will develop the next generation of Intel’s chips.

And the obvious conclusion:

And where does that leave the anti-Israel BDS movement, the Gaza conflict and other conventional and terrorist threats? Based on Israel’s track record, they are bumps in the road of unprecedented growth and acceptance.

This is the best news of all, and a great way to start the Jewish new year. May the good news continue to roll in!

Wishing you all a Good Winter (as is traditionally wished at the end of Sukkot) and Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in energy sources, International relations, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments