So the world is melting down all around us while here in Israel, things aren’t exactly quiet and peaceful. But as I’ve mentioned many times, Shabbat is still approaching and we want to read some good news to put us into a better frame of mind. With that in mind, here is this week’s Good News Friday installment.
Starting with the “Israel is not isolated” theme, Japan hosted an Israeli hi-tech delegation to promote innovation across its industries:
After running a successful hackathon in Israel in October, Toyota has decided that it wants more Israeli innovation – and this time it’s bringing that innovation to its home base.
This month, the company is holding an event during which members of an Israeli delegation are meeting some 50 representatives from the purchasing and R&D departments of the company.
The event is just one of several that the newly established Israel trade office in Osaka is setting up. The new branch, in one of the world’s leading financial centers, will open up new economic opportunities for Israeli companies, including Japan’s large automakers, said Amit Lang, director general of the Israeli Economy Ministry, who is in Osaka to inaugurate the new center as well as lead a delegation of Israeli automotive supply companies as part of his working visit to the country.
The goal of the Israeli delegation, organized with the Israel Export Institute, is to create business ties between Israeli companies and potential business partners in the field of auto services in an effort to increase exports to Japan, said Lang. It also aims at presenting Japanese companies with possibilities of investing in Israel.
“Over the past year, there has been a noted increase in the interest of Japanese companies in Israel in a variety of fields, evidenced by the arrival of Japanese companies to Israel and their willingness to host Israeli companies in Japan,” Lang said.
According to the Economy Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration, trade between Israel and Japan reached $2.3 billion in 2014, with exports reaching $800 million and imports $1.5 billion.
This is excellent news for both Israel and Japan. Long may this mutually beneficial relationship continue and strengthen!
Speaking of the Far East, Israeli tech ties with China are also booming, and the ties are growing stronger:
China and Israel established diplomatic relations a mere 20 years ago, but the countries are steadily drawing closer over a common vision – expanding the innovation economy. Israel and China already have in excess of $10 billion in trade since the start of 2015, with China recently asking Israel to join the Asia Infrastructure bank as a founding member, suggesting that Israel may become a major economic ally.
The last year has seen a real surge in investment funds and private investors coming to Israel from the Land of the Dragon, in part due to the easy access to the Middle Eastern country’s markets and the riveting can-do attitude of local entrepreneurs that the Chinese say they can identify with.
It is Israel’s open, innovative and risk-taking approach to tech that initially attracted notable Chinese billionaire Li Ka-Shing to invest in ten Israeli companies, including Waze, in 2012 alone. Through his fund Horzions Ventures, Li set the stage for tech relations with Israel, showing his country’s business elite that it was financially sound and even necessary for the future of the Chinese economy to invest in emerging technologies.
According to Gigi Levi, one Israel’s top angel investors, China may even “look up” to Israel for its Startup Nation title. “Israel is a small nation that has managed to become a high-tech superpower,” he tells NoCamels, “This is something that is very appealing to the Chinese business person.”
The article reports that the Chinese are most interested in mobile phone technology and clean-tech, all of which are Israel’s specialities. It’s not all rosy of course. China comes with its own set of problems, both political and economic, but it is still a gigantic market ready for Israel.
Next on my “Israel is not isolated” list is the news that a British travel group is to hold its annual conference in Israel:
While different organizations in the United Kingdom are calling for a boycott of Israeli products and institutions, the British Institute of Travel and Tourism (ITT) has decided to hold its annual conference in Israel of all places.
The three-day ITT Conference 2016 will take place in early June at the Hilton Tel Aviv Hotel. During this visit to Israel, the guests will tour different tourist sites such as the Dead Sea, Ein Gedi and Jerusalem.
ITT is a British institute dedicated to promoting and training professionals in the travel industry and its members include individuals involved in travel and tourism – whether employed by a travel agency, airline, tour operator, hotel, tourist office, car hire company or any other travel related business such as PR, law and marketing.
Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi said ITT’s decision to hold its conference in Israel was a significant show of faith in the Israeli tourism industry.
This is really very good news, both for Israel’s tourism industry and for our trade relations with Britain. And of course it’s a very nice kick in the teeth for the BDS bigots. :-)
Kol hakavod to the ITT who made the excellent decision to hold their conference here. I’m sure the participants will have a fantastic time and let’s hope it will lead to many more British tourists visiting Israel.
On a similar theme, Jerusalem was chosen as one of the best cities in the world by the Conde Nast Travellers Readers’ Choice Awards:
Israel features in 11 categories in the Condé Nast Traveler’s 28th annual Readers’ Choice Awards. Jerusalem, El Al, and select Eilat, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv hotels were chosen as among the world’s best in their different travel groupings.
Jerusalem was named as one of the Best Cities in the World.
Goodness! El Al?? I well remember the days when El Al stood for “Every landing always late”. :-P
Seriously, well done to Conde Nast, and of course to our beloved Jerusalem.
And now a cute archaeological story: An 8-year old Israeli “Indiana Jones wannabe” stumbled upon a 1st Temple-era figurine in Bet Shemesh:
An eight-year-old Israeli boy on a daytrip with his family in the Beit Shemesh area accidentally made an important archaeological discovery last week, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced Wednesday.
Itai Halpern of Pardesiya was granted a certificate of honor after discovering the head of a statue from the First Temple period and turning it in to Antiquities Authorities’ officials. Halpern’s school class was also invited to take part in an archaeological dig.
Halpern was hiking with his family when he picked up a round object from the ground. He soon realized that the ceramic object was the head of a sculpture.
The family quickly reported their discovery to the Antiquities Authority. Archaeologist Alexander Glick met the family and informed them that they had made a discovery of historical significance. Itai told Glick that he had recently seen an Indiana Jones movie and wanted to be like him when he grows up. Finding the statue was a dream come true for Itai.
Alon de Groot, an IAA expert on the Iron Age, identified the finding as the head of a sculpture of a fertility goddess.
De Groot added that “these figurines serve in our research as a marker for the area controlled by the Kingdom of Judah.”
How fascinating! I’m sure that Itai will never forget that day trip!
Another child prodigy, a real heroine, is Ayala Shapira who was so badly burned last year in a terror attack and who has made a remarkable recovery. She still has a way to go in her rehabilitation from the terrible burns she received, but she doesn’t let that keep her down. This week she interviewed Israeli Nobel Prizewinner Aharon Ciechanover in his chemistry lab in Haifa University. This is what she writes:
The emotional meeting took place in Ciechanover’s laboratory in the Faculty of Medicine’s building at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. This is what she wrote:
When I got to interview the Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry I expected to see an honorable man, perhaps in a suit. I was surprised when a likeable man walked in wearing jeans, with dozens of car models made of wood lying on his desk. He was as energetic and enthusiastic as a child.
Prof. Ciechanover patiently answered my questions. I tell him that I also love technology and science and mathematics, and am very interested in learning and research. I reveal to him that every time a device breaks down at home I ask to take it apart and see how it is built and how it works.
“The important thing is to do what you most love in the best way,” he advised me. “If you love literature, you could be a great writer, and perhaps one day become a Nobel Prize Laureate for Literature.”
Prof. Ciechanover is right. Ayala is truly a remarkable girl who has gret determination to recover and get on with her life. With that indomitable spirit, she will indeed go very far indeed. Kol hakavod Ayala! You are a true hero of Israel, may you continue in your recovery from strength to strength!
And finally, on a happy but bittersweet note, as I write this post on Thursday evening (Fridays are too short in the winter) the postponed wedding of Sarah Techiya Litman and Ariel Biegel is taking place. Sarah is the daughter of Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy’d who was murdered in a terror attack near Otniel just two weeks ago along with his son Netanel Hy’d, Sarah’s brother, as the family was on the way to Ariel’s Shabbat Chatan.
The shiva ended earlier this week, and now the family have heroically turned their mourning into celebration. Arutz Sheva has some amazing pictures and videos. Get your tissues ready!
Sarah-Tehiya Litman had to postpone her wedding after her father and brother were murdered in a drive-by shooting near Hevron almost two weeks ago, but on Thursday night she and her fiance Ariel Beigel went from tears to joy as they got married in Jerusalem.
Litman’s father, Rabbi Ya’akov Litman, and her brother Netanel Litman, were gunned down by an Arab terrorist as they made their way to a Shabbat Hatan – the Sabbath celebration for the groom before a wedding – at Beigel’s home.
Shortly after the wedding ceremony, Sarah-Tehiya and Ariel thanked the public that arrived to help them celebrate.
“Up until two weeks ago no one knew or was interested in me and Ariel, and then in one moment on Friday at the peak of preparations dad and my brother were murdered by a cruel terrorist,” said Sarah-Tehiya.
“There isn’t a moment that I don’t miss Netanel’s smile, or father’s humility and modesty, and that will always accompany me,” she said. “But precisely from the pain in the month of courage before Hanukkah we will, together with all the nation of Israel, spread a great light of joy, giving and love that the nation of Israel has inundated upon us.”
Here is Sarah as she starts on her way to her wedding, throwing sweets to kindergarten children in celebration as her friends accompany her with singing:
And here is a short video of the Chuppah:
Just as all of Israel and the Jewish people have been invited to join in this wedding, and so many people have donated gifts and money to the young couple, I’m sure you all join me in wishing Sarah Techiya and Ariel a hearty mazal tov and all the blessings in the world for a happy future together. May they build a strong home in Israel, fill it with many children, and may the whole family be comforted by the blessed memory of their father Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy’d and his son Netanel H’yd. I am sure they are smiling down from Heaven.
May the coming week hold only blessings and peace for all of Am Yisrael. I would also like to wish Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom!