This is the latest in my Good News Friday series, intended to put us into a good mood before Shabbat.
The first item, from Yisrael Hayom, relates how Google’s CEO tells PM Netanyahu that investing in Israel was one of Google’s best decisions:
Google CEO Eric E. Schmidt showered Israel with praise on Tuesday during a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Schmidt told Netanyahu, “The decision to invest in Israel was one of the best that Google has ever made.”
During the special meeting, Netanyahu gave Schmidt a doodle he had drawn based on suggestions he was sent from Israeli web surfers.
In return, Schmidt gave Netanyahu a framed picture of the Isaiah Scroll, a symbol of the Dead Sea Scrolls project Google is spearheading together with the Israel Museum. The scrolls will be posted on the Internet as part of a Google project to promote historical preservation and heritage online.
Schmidt noted that even though this was his first visit to Israel, he views it as a start-up nation and believes the fact that Israeli citizens are drafted into the army gives them a great advantage as high-tech workers, the statement said.
The Google CEO said he views Israeli high-tech workers as, “more mature, independent and organized in comparison to other workers,” and added that their ability to maneuver within a competitive environment has contributed to their many achievements.
“We appreciate that Israeli engineers, whose quality is very high, are developing things here that are being used all over the world,” Schmidt told Netanyahu.
The next happy item (via Times of Israel) is quite astonishing: Israel won a prize from the UN (!!) for outstanding progress in e-government:
Whoever said the United Nations has an anti-Israel bias? This week, the Jewish state was one of three recipients of a “special award” from the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Israel shared the honor — in the second of three categories of the 2012 e-Government Survey, “Outstanding Progress among the Top 20” — with Finland and Liechtenstein.
“These countries have strived to leapfrog in their e-government development to be ranked among the top 20 for outstanding progress,” the department said in a statement.
E-government is the online interaction of a government with its citizens and the provision of services through the Internet.
The UN e-Government Survey, conducted every two years since 2003, said Israel’s achievements include revamping government portals and websites and “tremendous leaps forward” in e-service delivery.
Israelis have not only “improved service delivery, but have also shown a commitment to rethink e-government and e-governance by placing greater emphasis on institutional linkages among government structures — now increasingly reflected in their online presence,” the statement read. “They have also enhanced the quality of e-services and e-content offered to the different population groups.”
Improvement of Government Services Minister Michael Eitan is scheduled to pick up the prize on Monday in New York.
The last item of today’s good news come’s via Elder of Ziyon who reports not only about Israel’s desalination miracle, but that the high praise for this technological progress comes from no less than an Arabic Lebanese newspaper!
Since the beginning of the Zionist project, Israel’s founding fathers drew up a roadmap so that the rising entity would not only survive, but flourish. Water played a central role in how this entity was shaped, whether it involved underground or surface water — such as the Tiberias or Al-Hawlah Lakes — or salt water, like that found in the Mediterranean Sea or the Gulf of Aqaba.
Over time, the conflict between Israel and the Arab countries over both freshwater and salt water intensified, whether it was over the Jordan River tributary or the Straits of Tiran. For decades, many predicted that the war over water resources would become the most virulent in the region.
However, after combining technology with money and political, regional and international changes, the water resources issue has been revisited from another angle.
Clearly, part of the reason why the focus on fresh water has shifted, at least from the Israeli side, is due to Israel’s successful investment in water desalination projects.
Some people in Israel talk about this issue as if it were a miracle. The state, which would have gone to war for water resources, realized that desalinating water is not only less expensive than war, but it can also become a profitable investment.
[Israel], a state once desperate for fresh water, has now become a country wishing to export it — or at least the technology that can produce it.
Media reports have emphasized Israel’s satisfaction with the water issue after seven austere years during which it faced scarcity, especially in surface water and groundwater. For years, water experts had been adjusting the “red line” for water in Israel. However, their satisfaction stems mainly from the water desalination projects that were established on the Mediterranean shore, described by some as one of the “largest in the world.”
Currently, there are five desalination facilities in Israel that are either complete or nearly complete, the largest of which is in Hadera city. In addition to these, there are two facilities in Ashkelon, Palmachim, Soreq, and Ashdod. By 2013, these facilities are expected to desalinate approximately 600 million cubic meters of water annually. This is nearly four times the amount pumped from Tiberias Lake each year.
At this point, half of the running water in Israeli homes comes from water desalination plants. Israelis stopped relying on rain water years ago; now they resort to sea water to meet their needs.
Ironically, Israeli experts said that the idea of water desalination is very old, and that the Phoenicians were the first to come up with it. “The first scientific article written about water desalination in history was published by Arab chemists in the eighth century,” they added. An Israeli expert said that, despite the great difference between today’s facilities and those set up in the past, the underlying principle “has existed for hundreds of years, at least.”
I’ll drink Lechayim to that – even if it’s over a glass of desalinated water!
Shabbat shalom everyone.