No matter how bad the week gone by has been, there’s always some good news to be found, so it’s time for another Good News Friday installment.
My first item consists of a few related articles: Israel’s international isolation, which happily turns out to be a bit of myth.
I’m sure you’ll be as delighted as I was to learn that Israel is among the top 10 most powerful countries in the world:
The National Power Index is a comprehensive list that ranks the countries of the world according to a composite index which combines statistical analysis of the Economic, Military, Population , Technology, Energy Security, and Foreign Affairs capabilities of a country. Each of these factors is given a certain weightage and the overall composite index is prepared after detailed analysis of the individual components.
Israel comes in at number 10 according to this report, about whom it says:
Israel : Though a small nation in terms of area and population, Israel ranks highly on technological and scientific progress. Israel also wields significant influence in the Middle East region due to its military capacity. Israel also ranks a high fifteen on the UN Development index, reflecting the high quality of life this small but prosperous state has been able to provide to its people.
The report does not tell us anything we didn’t know before (at least to those of who know Israel well) but it is nice to see this acknowledged in an international report.
On a related them, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett mocked the very idea of Israel’s isolation when he recounted his busy day meeting foreign representatives:
On Facebook, Bennett listed his “day so far,” which included meeting an Indian delegation to establish a joint research fund, establishing a booster for Israeli start-up companies in Shanghai, China, and approving final guidelines for joint technology investments with Germany.
He also met with the Canadian Prime Minister, and Canada’s Ministers of Trade, Industry and Natural Resources to discuss upgrading Israel’s Free Trade Zone agreement with Canada. He attended a presentation on progress on Free Trade Zone negotiations with Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, and granted a green light for a feasibility survey towards opening Free Trade Zone negotiations with Vietnam.
“This international isolation situation is not easy,” Bennett joked on Facebook.
On Monday, the Financial Times reported that several Northern European-based pension funds were considering dumping their Israeli investments to boycott the Jewish state.
Let the Europeans dump their Israeli investments. The Chinese will pick them up – the Chinese are investing billions into Israel:
China, one of the world’s largest countries and the second biggest economy in the world has hit its spotlight on Israel. By investing billions of dollars in Israel in the last three years, China has shown the world that it has targeted Israel and has plans for future investments as well.
China and Israel have been collaborating for years in cross border trade and has had good diplomatic relations in the past, but it is just recent that the business relations started to take significant proportions. Starting with a rather small but yet important investment, the business relations between the two countries took off at a speed no one has ever seen before. Today the investments exceed billions of dollars, and the future is looking bright.
The part that most interested me was this:
China invests in Israel’s greatest infrastructure project
In October 2013 Israeli transport Minister Yisrael Katz and China’s Minister of transport Li Shenglin signed a memorandum of understanding concerning a railway that will allow goods to be transported to and through the Suez Canal. The short distance to Asia from the Suez Canal makes the MOU important in terms of trade and business. Instead of going around Africa or seeking the permission of Egypt to pass, trade can, by the railway, reach the Suez Canal and be transported directly into Asia. (See images below.) The link between Eilat and Ashdod will allow inland transport through an inland passage, linking the Indian Ocean, through the Gulf of Aden, directly to the Mediterranean Sea. The memorandum of understanding establishes that Israel is in charge of the operations of building a railway in Eilat Israel, while China development industrial bank will handle part of the funding. The railway will link Israel’s Mediterranean ports in Ashdod and Haifa with the Eilat Port. The railway is considered important both for strategic and policy purposes.
Let the haters hate and the boycotters boycott. Israel has managed to thrive and prosper through wars, boycotts and opprobrium. Obviously adversity is good for us!
I wonder if the boycotters would be so ethical as to boycott this item (h/t Sharon Klaff): an Israeli invention to enable 3D surgery on the brain:
When Avi Yaron was 26 years old he had a motorbike accident – a day he describes as the luckiest of his life.
As doctors scanned his head to check for damage, they found a tumour deep inside his brain which may otherwise have remained undetected.
And in 1993 the electronic engineering student from Israel was told the mass they had just discovered was nestling close to areas of the brain critical for movement and thought.
He now faced a choice – to have complex, invasive surgery that carried a risk of paralysis, or to find another way.
The story has a happy ending for Avi Yaron, but continue reading:
But this epic search for better surgical options continued to play on his mind. He kept thinking of and experimenting with ways to do brain surgery in a less invasive way.
And over the last few years he perfected a way to do surgery on the brain – in 3D.
Shahzada Ahmed from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham who carried out one of the first 3D endoscopic neurosurgical procedures in the UK says: “A bit like going to the movies, Avatar is a great movie in HD but it is an even better one in 3D.
“When I use the scope there is a better appreciation of depth and the pictures feel more real to me.”
It also allows him to see his instruments in 3D, which he feels gives him a better understanding of where they are in relation to key parts of anatomy.
[...]But for Mr Yaron, whose scope is now being used in the US and across Europe, this invention is the bright side of an issue that has been playing on his mind for many years.
He says: “If I hadn’t had this accident I wouldn’t have been able to offer this solution. And I really know how it feels to need options.”
Kol hakavod to Avi Yaron! What an amazing man, to have taken such adversity and turned it into a benefit not just for himself but for doctors and patients everywhere.
My last item for today is also related to the BDS brigade in a roundabout way: the beautiful actress Scarlett Johansson is going to be star of an advert for the much maligned and embattled Israeli SodaStream company – and the BDS-ers are livid:
Five years ago the Israeli carbonated drink company made its way to the US market, and Americans have since fallen in love with the soda pop-making gadget. But the product’s success has been overshadowed by a political cloud, which is threatening the Israeli business’s achievements and its spokeswoman.
Johansson will appear in the company’s advertisement during the Super Bowl, the largest American tv event of the year, but stores across the US are continuing to ban the product for its political background. In addition, there have been vocal protests, calling for the same type of boycott and sanctions that were imposed on South Africa.
SodaStream employs 900 Palestinians in the Israeli settlements where its products are manufactured and according to reports pays Palestinian employees Israeli wages.
Despite the disagreements with the company’s politics, BDS supporters can’t argue with the product’s success.
“A lefty journalist friend of mine in Tel Aviv has a machine he keeps under his kitchen sink so that he doesn’t get embarrassed when other lefties come over for dinner,” said Ali Gharib, a reporter covering Middle East issues, told New York Magazine.
What hypocrites! There is at least one group that is doing absolutely sterling work in confronting the boycotters with counter-demonstrations and activities, and promoting the company, and that is the Sussex Friends of Israel group. They posted this Elder of Ziyon graphic which demonstrates so, well, graphically how hypocritical the boycotters are, and how full of hate:
The Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers report that despite the best (or worst) efforts of the BDS brigade to thwart SodaStream for its purported apartheid, the company has in fact seen rising success:
Sodastream, a home carbonation device has been fetishized by anti-Israel activists who refuse to let pesky and inconvenient facts stand in the way of their irrational hatred.
From Haifa Diary:In the last 40 years of operation the company has been on a significant growth rate climbing from 8 to 46 markets and sales up to $500 mill per year. If that was not impressive enough, the business plan calls for sales to increase to $1 bill in the next 3 years, a truly exceptional rate of growth.The BDS campaigners should eat their hearts out.
Amen to that! Kol hakavod to Scarlett Johansson for standing by her decision to promote SodaStream – she has principles as well as beauty. And a huge kol hakavod once again to the Sussex Friends of Israel.
One could almost wish for more boycotts if these are the affects of them. :-)
And with that interesting thought I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!