Haley’s Comet

I know that there are many people, even on the right, who are not overly happy with Donald Trump’s election.  They are worried about his temperamental suitability, his inexperience, his ostensible ties to Russia, his lack of formulated policies on some issues, and the policies that he has formulated on other issues.

However, speaking from an Israeli point of view, the change in atmosphere between the US and Israel is almost dizzying. There is no doubting Trump’s absolutely pro-Israel credentials, so amply demonstrated by the choice of Nikki Haley for UN Ambassador.

Ms. Haley is the best thing that has happened to Israel (and the US as well, not to mention the free world) in decades.

Via UN Watch on Facebook – Read this excellent editorial from the New York Sun.

Haley’s Comet” | Editorial of The New York Sun | February 16, 2017 | on Nikki Haley

A star is born is our reaction to the first press briefing by President Trump’s new ambassador at the United Nations. The ex-governor of South Carolina was ridiculed by the Left when the president first sent her nomination up to the Hill, owing to her alleged lack of foreign policy chops. She certainly rang the wake up gong for that crowd this morning, after emerging from her first Security Council monthly meeting devoted to the Middle East. Tough as nails but with a smile and a layer of Southern charm.

The ambassador had just come from the regular monthly Security Council on Middle East issues. She said it was her first such meeting, and “it was a bit strange.” The Security Council, she said, is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But the meeting, she said, was not about Hezbollah’s illegal buildup of rockets in Lebanon, it was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists, it was not how we defeat ISIS, it was not how we hold Beshar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of thousands of civilians.

“No,” she said, “instead the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated month after month for decades. I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to underscore to the ironclad support of the United States for Israel. I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.”

The ambassador made clear that the Trump administration will not support the kind of resolution from which the Obama administration’s ambassador — Samantha Power — shamefully abstained, though Mrs. Haley was too polite to name the humiliated Ms. Power. “The outrageously biased resolutions from the Security Council and the General Assembly only make peace harder to attain by discouraging one of the parties from going to the negotiating table.”

“Incredibly,” Mrs. Haley said, “the U.N. department of political affairs has an entire division devoted entirely to Palestinian affairs. Imagine that. There is no division devoted to illegal missile launches form North Korea. There is no division devoted to the world’s number one state sponsor of terror, Iran. The prejudiced approach to Israeli-Palestinian issues does the peace process no favors, and it bears no relationship to the reality of the world around us. The double standards are breathtaking.”

The ambassador warned that it is “the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias that is long overdue for change,” and said America will not hesitate to speak out in defense of its friend in Israel. All this was going on while the press was questioning President Trump on what he was going to do about anti-Semitism. If his ambassador to the world body is any example, the answer is plenty. She has the principles of a Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the grit of a John Bolton, and the star power of a Jeane Kirkpatrick, and in her first press briefing she certainly made her point.

 

Posted in Antisemitism, Incitement, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Friday

Another week has rolled round and it’s time for some Good News Friday.

Let’s start with some very sweet news, honey sweet in fact: Honey from wildflowers produced by Kedumim won first prize in the “Black Jar Honey tasting contest” in North Carolina (via Zvi et al). The link is in Hebrew so I’ll give a rough translation:

This year the participants came from the US, Spain, Italy, Turkey Canada, Greece Slovenia, the Canary Islands, Israel and more. The judges examined the anonymous numbered black jars. The judges included chefs from top restaurants, restaurant reviewers, the director of a cooking school, as well as bee-keeping experts.

In the category of international wildflower honeys, Kedumim Honey, owned by Yael Farbstein, won first place. Honeys from Greece and the Canary Islands won second and third places respectively.

Collecting honey at Dvash Kedumim

Collecting honey at Dvash Kedumim

Farbstein, the owner of Kedumim Honey, told the 360 News site “there is no greater gift for Tu Bishvat. The honey that was gathered from wildflowers in the Shomron, both from trees and bushes, gains international recognition. This is further proof that we live in the Land of Milk and Honey”

Kol hakavod to Kedumim Honey, (Dvash Kedumim) and to Yael Farbstein on this excellent win. May you go on to ever-sweeter glory.

The Land of Milk and Honey leads us inexorably to our own history in this wonderful country. The Temple Mount Sifting Project discovered shells of snails that were used to make the blue dye – the Techelet – that coloured tzizit – fringes of garments:

Murex trunculus, a rock snail shell, believed to have been used in the process of making tehelet, the blue dye for the tzitzit-fringes was discovered by the Singer family from Jerusalem, who participate in the Temple Mount Sifting Project (TMSP).

Making tehelet requires special skills as well as a lot of snails, according to the TMSP blog. Dye can be collected by crushing the snails, or by laboriously milking the snails and collecting the excretion. 12,000 snails might yield 1.4 grams of dye, which is only enough to color the trim of a single garment. Though, according to the Tekhelet site, approximately 30 snails are needed to make one set of strings. The production of the Royal Blue or Royal Purple dye was very expensive, making it an almost exclusive sign of kingship and royalty. Interestingly, the color of this dye becomes more vibrant when left in the sun, and it is possible that different versions of the color can be made by making the dye in the sun or in the shade.

Watch this fascinating video about the snail and the dying process:

Kol hakavod once again to the Temple Mount Sifting Project which is carrying out such vital work to save our priceless heritage from destruction by the malicious Waqf. And kudos to the Singer family who made this very important discovery.

While we’re on the subject of archeology, Israeli archeologists were shocked to discover a gateway at Bet She’arim – the “House of Gates”. Why would they have been shocked? Read on:

With a name like Beit She’arim, Hebrew for “House of Gates,” it seems obvious that the UNESCO world heritage site would have ancient portals. Still, archaeologists from the University of Haifa were surprised to stumble across a massive gateway during recent excavations at the site in northern Israel.

The Roman era gateway discovered at Bet Shearim

The Roman era gateway discovered at Bet Shearim

Half of an impressive northeast-facing gate built of limestone blocks, with postholes for doors and locks, abutting a circular tower, along a road leading into the ancient town, turned up during a dig in the fall of 2016, the school announced Wednesday.

Despite its outsize cultural significance as the headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the chief Jewish judicial and scholarly council, and the birthplace of the Mishna, Beit She’arim was a relatively small town — not a likely place for fortified city walls.

An emblem of a menorah carved in the stone, inside a structure at Beit She’arim National Park, an archaeological site in the Lower Galilee. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

An emblem of a menorah carved in the stone, inside a structure at Beit She’arim National Park, an archaeological site in the Lower Galilee. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

“As far as we were aware, a settlement of this type wasn’t supposed to be ringed by a wall, and therefore it was almost obvious that the name Beit She’arim wasn’t connected to the word ‘gate,’” archaeologist Adi Erlich, who headed the dig, said.

In the decades since the first excavations at the site in 1936, most scholars assumed Beit She’arim’s name was derived from some other origin, since no city gates were found.

“In the beginning, it appeared in [first century Jewish historian] Josephus Flavius in Greek as Besara, so [scholars] thought that maybe it was Beit Sharay, which is another name for a court, the Sanhedrin,” Erlich said. Others suggested the gates referred to the entrances to massive rock-hewn tombs leading into the hillside.

The town was a major center of Jewish life and culture in the Land of Israel during the Roman and Byzantine periods. It was there that Rabbi Judah the Prince compiled the Mishna, the basic text of Jewish oral law, in the mid-second century CE. Its necropolis of Jewish tombs was recognized by the United Nations’ culture and education body in 2015 as “a treasury of artworks and inscriptions in Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew and Palmyrene.”

The actual discovery is so typically Israeli:

The gate turned up in the even tinier town of Beit Zaid, a moshav founded by Jewish pioneer Alexander Zaid, who discovered Beit She’arim right next door. Tali Zaid, his granddaughter and one of the 74 people who live in the community, happened upon some ancient-looking stones in her yard a few years ago during renovations on her home.

Erlich got approval from the Israel Antiquities Authority to dig up the yard this past fall, and uncovered the gate during excavations from September to November.

Though the gate hasn’t yet been dated, the University of Haifa team was certain it was associated with the Roman period.

What a fascinating discovery, and happened upon almost by chance. How can UNESCO deny our connection to Israel yet at the same time grant Bet She’arim heritage status? (Don’t even try to answer. You’ll get a headache at the twisted logic necessary).

And now from our wonderful history, let’s move to our exciting present and future. A revolutionary Israeli device could eliminate the need for follow-up breast cancer surgery:

Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumor is removed. The device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.

Margin Probe device for detecting cancer cells during a lumpectomy

Margin Probe device for detecting cancer cells during a lumpectomy

When women undergo lumpectomies to remove breast cancers, the cancerous tissue is then sent to labs to ensure that the margins surrounding the tumor are clear of cancerous cells, so that the patients are truly cancer-free. Unfortunately, statistics show that when lab results are released, after a process that can take several weeks, one in four women is asked to return for re-excision — secondary surgery — if the tumors tested reveal that the margins are not clear, indicating some cancer cells remain in the patient’s body.

“We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumor, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” Gal Aharonowitz, general manager in charge of Israeli operations, told The Times of Israel in a phone interview.

Clinical trials show that the company’s MarginProbe device reduces the need for re-excision by 51 percent, if it is used during the initial procedure, Aharonowitz said. Commercial use of the product has shown a drop of as much as 80% in the need for repeat surgery, he said.

The device consists of a hand-held gadget — a single-use probe that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument — and a console. After the tumor is removed, while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a signal, both visual and acoustic, gets reflected back, which is then classified as either positive, indicating there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.

This is an amazing new development, which can save thousands of lives and also unnecessary surgery for so many patients. Kol hakavod to the research team at Dune Medical Devices. May this device go on to save millions of lives.

And lastly, Israeli students have developed a unique parachute system to help disaster victims receive aid packages safely:

Israeli Students have developed a unique parachute system to help disaster victims: from extremely high altitudes they drop a PANDA “Parachuted Assistance for Natural Disaster Areas” on them.

Technion’s students are testing the parachute with unique guidance system to help disaster victims

Technion’s students are testing the parachute with unique guidance system to help disaster victims

Dropping supplies from the air via parachute is an nowadays way to get supplies to help disaster victims. But traditional, round parachutes cannot be steered after being dropped. And success in getting supplies where they are needed requires a cargo plane’s pilot to drop the supply bundle from a relatively low altitude to prevent the parachute from drifting away on the wind.

The students in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Faculty of Aerospace Engineering successfully have tested PANDA late last year.

They dropped supplies from a cargo plane flying at altitudes of up to four plus miles high – and were able to place a 2,000 pound load in a target area pinpointed to within 100 meters of their mark.

The parachute’s unique system guidance could greatly improve the delivery of aid to disaster victims where land-based efforts are not possible and without the risk of traditional parachute supply drops from cargo planes greatly missing their mark.

Project supervisor Associate Prof. Benjamin Landkof, explained “In disaster areas, vital infrastructure such as roads and railroads leading to the affected area are often destroyed or severely damaged, making it impossible for ground-based vehicles to deliver aid. Alternative methods for supplying food and first aid are needed.”

“In addition to the risk to responders involved in dropping items from a cargo plane flying at low altitudes, the margin of error is great,” Prof. Landkof added.  “Sometimes the bundle lands hundreds of meters from the target area. Because of these limitations, remotely controlled parachutes were developed to enable slowing the parachute’s fall shortly before landing. The PANDA guidance system navigates the parachute’s way to the desired target by means of a flight computer, two servo motors, GPS, batteries and various gauges.”

The student team members included Nahum Eisen, Gilad Gotlieb, Amir Baidani, Avihai Ben-Naim, Tzahi Calderon, Amir Yanai, Daniel Potashnikow, Gal Rosenthal and Michal Vahav.

What a brilliant idea! Who thinks about the complications in delivering aid? Kol hakavod to all the students who conceived and carried out this wonderful project, demonstrating the important Jewish value of caring for others less fortunate that ourselves, while using their excellent Israeli education to develop this project.

With these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

Posted in Culture, Arts & Sports, History, Israel news, Slice of Israeli life, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Trump-Netanyahu Summit – a mutual admiration society

PM Binyamin Netanyahu meets President Donald Trump, Washington, Feb 15 2017

PM Binyamin Netanyahu meets President Donald Trump, Washington, Feb 15 2017

Binyamin Netanyahu met President Donald Trump yesterday in a widely anticipated and well-publicised summit, and though I missed the broadcast, my other half summed it up well in describing it as a mutual admiration society.

While others might not go so far (another relation said “both leaders said nothing very much in an extremely nice way”), the change in atmosphere between US Presidents was almost dizzying.  There was no endorsement of the two-state solution (which appears to be dying a long-awaited death); and while settlement activity was not recommended, there was none of the overt hostility and condemnation that typified the Obama Administration’s approach.  The Iran deal was strongly criticized by both sides and altogether it appears that there will be a “reset” in US-Israel relations.

Ynet reported that Trump praised Israel, encouraging both sides to seek peace:

President Donald Trump on Wednesday urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to curb settlement activity but avoided any explicit endorsement of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a longstanding bedrock of US Middle East policy.

Trump opened his joint news conference with a vow to encourage a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But the president said the two parties themselves “must directly negotiate such an agreement.”

Netanyahu added, “both sides.”

The JPost reports that Netanyahu said he asked Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights:

The United States should recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US President Donald Trump when the two men met in Washington on Wednesday.

“His reaction was not earth shattering,” Netanyahu told reporters during a briefing at Blair House after the meeting. He did not elaborate any further about the mountainous area that Israel captured from Syria in the Six-Day war and then annexed in 1981.

The United States and the international community have never recognized Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

Israel has long argued that it must maintain that territory for security reasons.

The two men also talked about the civil war in Syria in general, with Netanyahu explaining that Israel had no interest in getting involved in the conflict.

“We want to avoid involvement as much as possible,” Netanyahu said.

Israel Hayom mentions that Trump backed away from the Two-State Solution:

During the press conference, Netanyahu declined to say whether he had given up on the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the same time, Trump, departing from long-standing U.S. policy, did not push the two-state solution.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said.

“I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one.

“I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi [Netanyahu] and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians, are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Trump continued that “our administration is committed to working with Israel and our common allies in the region towards greater security and stability. That includes working toward a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The United States will encourage a peace and, really, a great peace deal. We’ll be working on it very, very diligently. Very important to me also — something we want to do. But it is the parties themselves who must directly negotiate such an agreement. We’ll be beside them. We’ll be working with them. “As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?”

Netanyahu said that “the two prerequisites of peace, recognition of the Jewish state and Israel’s security needs west of the Jordan, they remain pertinent.”

He added: “I don’t want to annex 2 million Palestinians to Israel and I’ve no interest in them being our subjects. But we must make sure we’re not under threat of a Palestinian terror state in our heartland.”

On Jerusalem, the US embassy, and settlements they report:

The prime minister also told reporters he is prepared to discuss Trump’s request to hold back on settlement construction, noting that he and the U.S. president see “eye-to-eye” on most issues and that if this specific matter is important to Trump, he would be willing to make an effort.

However, he said that construction in Jerusalem, deemed controversial by some, would continue.

Asked about moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step supported by Netanyahu, Trump said, “I’d love to see that happen. We’re looking at it very, very strongly. We’re looking at it with great care, great care, believe me. And we’ll see what happens. OK?”

One of the press asked about the rise in antisemitism in the US, particularly during the election campaing. Netanyahu was careful to praise Donald Trump as a great friend of Israel and Trump returned the favour:

Netanyahu celebrated Trump as a great friend of Israel’s, saying his presidency marks a new era in Israel-U.S. relations. He thanked Trump “for the truly warm hospitality you and Melania have shown me, my wife Sara, our entire delegation. I deeply value your friendship to me, to the State of Israel. It was so clearly evident in the words you just spoke. Israel has no better ally than the United States, and I want to assure you, the United States has no better ally than Israel.”

Netanyahu spoke of future cooperation between the two countries, saying, “I look forward to working with you to dramatically upgrade our alliance in every field, in security, in technology, in cyber and trade and so many others.”

“Mr. President, you’ve shown great clarity and courage in confronting this challenge head on. You call for confronting Iran’s terrorist regime, preventing Iran from realizing this terrible deal into a nuclear arsenal, and you have said that the United States is committed to preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons. You call for the defeat of ISIS [the Islamic State group].

“Under your leadership, I believe we can reverse the rising tide of radical Islam. And in this great task, as in so many others, Israel stands with you and I stand with you.”

Trump acknowledged the importance of cooperation in facing the threat of a nuclear Iran.

“The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about,” Trump said. “One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal.”

Netanyahu praised Trump’s attitude toward Iran, adding, “I think that if we work together, and not just the United States and Israel, but so many others in the region who see eye to eye on the great magnitude and danger of the Iranian threat. And I think we can roll back Iran’s aggression and danger. And that’s something that is important for Israel and the Arab states. But I think it’s vitally important for America.”

Trump added that Israel and the United States “have a long history of cooperation in the fight against terrorism and the fight against those who do not value human life. America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.

“This is one more reason why we reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations, which has treated Israel in my opinion very, very unfairly, or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel.”

Both Trump and Netanyahu noted their long-standing personal acquaintance, and Trump made a point of thanking Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, during the press conference, saying, “You’re so lovely and you’ve been so nice to Melania, I appreciate it very much.”

When I watched the video of the press conference I was impressed at the articulateness of Trump’s speech and his delivery. He sounded statesmanlike and presidential, unlike during his campaign speeches. Either he has an excellent speechwriter, or he has had elocution lessons, or both. He was almost as good during the unscripted question and answer session with the press. Watch the video here:

For me the most outstanding point was the enormous warmth with which Netanyahu was welcomed and the grace with which he was treated. What a hugely refreshing change after the chilly Obama years!  Malcolm Hoenlein, the CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. said that this warmth was intended deliberately to demonstrate the “reset” in relations between the US and Israel:

A top priority for US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at their White House meeting on Wednesday will be to show publicly that there has been a “reset” in the relationship between their two countries following the tensions that characterized the Obama era, a prominent American Jewish leader told The Algemeiner.

Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

Malcolm Hoenlein, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations

The language of the recent White House statement on Israeli settlements, Hoenlein pointed out, was “reminiscent of the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter that was ignored and even negated [by the Obama administration] — which was not good, because if presidential commitments don’t mean anything, then everyone will disregard any commitment that is made.”

In Hoenlein’s view, the new sanctions targeting Iran that were recently announced by the US Treasury Department were “very important as a message” to the Tehran regime.

“I think the Iranians are beginning to react to the stronger messages they’ve been getting,” he stated. “It will also embolden our allies to know that the US will stand against Iran. For too long, Iran was able to act with impunity. They look for weakness and when they find it they exploit it. If we stand up to their threats, aggression and violations, they will back down, as they did when they removed a ballistic missile that was about to be launched [earlier this month].”

When it comes to broader American policy in the Middle East, “I think what’s important is Trump is showing that America is again engaging in the region,” Hoenlein said.

May this be the beginning (or the continuation) of a beautiful friendship. Let’s hope that nothing occurs to sour this relationship.

Posted in International relations, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The two-state solution is in fact a four-state solution – and it excludes a Jewish state

Mr. Netanyahu has gone to Washington today to meet with President Donald Trump. They will be discussing the Middle East, Israeli residents in our Biblical heartland – aka those awkward things called “Jewish settlements”, (by the way, would anyone DARE call Arab towns “Muslim settlements”? Or even “Muslim towns”?), and the chances of peace via a two-state solution.

This is the moment to remind Netanyahu, Trump, and ourselves of the impossibility, the danger and the sheer injustice of the two-state solution. Watch Ezri Tubi in the video below:

Posted in indigenous rights, International relations, Lawfare and Delegitimization, Mideast news, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Alan Dershowitz rips apart BDS

I’ve posted many times about BDS as well as ways to counteract it, and I think most of us understand what it is and what it’s malign intentions are. Nevertheless it’s always good to have our views confirmed, especially by such an important and well-known jurist as Alan Dershowitz.

Watch this video, (from the Jerusalem Institute for Justice) see how Alan Dershowitz calls out BDS for what it is – an antisemitic, Jew-hating organization – and share widely.

Posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good News Friday – Tu Bishvat edition

The day is short and I’m nearly out of time, but there is still  time to post a Good News Friday edition.

"My" almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

“My” almond tree, the shkedia, in blossom

Tomorrow is the minor festival of Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shvat, considered “the birthday of the trees” in Jewish tradition. You can read about the festival in my post of last year.  One of the main signifiers of the festival is the blossoming of the almond tree – the Shkedia – which usually blossoms more or less exactly on Tu Bishvat itself. This year, being a lunar leap year, “my” almond tree across the road blossomed a week early. Nevertheless it is a beautiful sight to see. We shall celebrate tonight by eating (or trying to!) 15 different types of fruit at our Shabbat meal.

And in honour of the festival, our new baby granddaughter was named Shaked (pronounced Shah-ked). She is our little “Almond”. May she grow and blossom like the almond tree ad 120!

On the subject of Tu Bishvat, here are some fascinating pictures from 100 years ago via the Picture a Day website:

Below we see tree-planting around 1930:

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Planting trees on the barren hills on the way to Jerusalem (circa 1930)

Below we see a group of Jewish British soldiers during WWI at a tree-planting in then-Palestine:

 Original caption:

Original caption: “A group from the 39th Battalion with workers and children from Ben-Shemen. 15th (of Shvat).” The sign quotes from Leviticus: “When you come to the Land, you shall plant…”

Besides the historical interest in these pictures, they provide extra proof that the Land of Israel was barren until the Jews arrived and took an interest in it and made it blossom. There are no “Palestinian” villages or farms or forests in any of the pictures above.

While we’re on the subject of trees, an Israeli discovery reveals that trees interact with each other, even sharing resources!

Trees are truly amazing. Besides producing nearly half the earth’s oxygen, providing habitat for millions of species, and creating the soil and timber resources we depend on, trees also do one more surprising thing: they share resources, Israeli researchers show.

Weizmann Institute’s Dr. Tamir Klein recently made such a startling discovery that his supervisors at first declared that the finding must have been a mistake. In the forest, trees are known to compete for resources such as light and nutrients, but Klein found that the same trees also engage in sharing.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Dr. Tamir Klein (center) with members of the Weizmann Tree Lab.

Klein showed that the carbon molecules taken up by the canopies of mature spruce trees were passed through the soil in surprisingly large quantities to neighboring beech, larch and pine. As Klein recently reported in the prestigious scientific journal Science, the carbon was being transferred via “underground highways” formed by overlapping networks of root fungi.

“Neighboring trees interact with one another in complex ways,” Klein said in a statement. “Of course, there is a great deal of competition among them, but they also form communities, sort of ‘guilds,’ within which individual trees share valuable resources. In fact, trees belonging to a ‘guild’ usually do much better than those that don’t.”

This is astounding and fascinating! It is also bound to have great implications regarding climate change, global warming and scarcity of resources. Kol hakavod to Dr. Klein for this remarkable discovery.

And one last item, not connected to the festival, but simply some good news: SodaStream is to feature the Israeli flag on every one of its bottles with the message “made by Arabs and Jews working side by side” printed on it:

The SodaStream company has decided to feature an Israeli flag on all its products, which are sold in 45 countries.

“The company management wants to send a message of national pride, particularly in days when many of us hide our Israeli identity from the world,” the company, which manufactures sparkling water makers for home use, said in a statement this week.

The Israeli flag is accompanied by the English message reading, “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”

SodaStream International CEO Daniel Birnbaum said that “as a proud Israeli company, we have always taken care to keep our Israeli profile high, even if that means fighting for our place in the face of the European Union and economic terrorism from the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement.

“In recent years, we Israelis have found ourselves under attack, apologizing and boycotted all over the world. We may not be perfect, but we have a lot to be proud of, and we decided to show that to ourselves and to the world.

“I’m proud to be Israeli, so I’m putting my flag on 50 million products manufactured in Israel and bringing an unusual message of innovation and social responsibility. I wish every Israeli exporter would put the flag on its products, and I wish every one of us who goes abroad would feel confident in being a proud ambassador for the State of Israel,” he said.

Kol hakavod to Daniel Birnbaum on his initiative and his patriotism. May the company, which has been through so much targeted hate, grow and succeed even more.

And now I wish you all happy Tu Bishvat, Shabbat Shalom, and Happy Birthday trees!

Posted in History, indigenous rights, Judaism, support Israel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments