Here is the latest installment in my Good News Friday series.
My first item comes from my old homeland, England, where the Queen awarded an OBE to British-Israeli Professor Penelope Ur, for her work in promoting the English language:
Prof. Penelope Ur was given an honorary nobility title from Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of her outstanding work as an English teacher, as well as her contribution in promoting greater cooperation between the Britain and Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
Prof. Ur, 69, was named Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) Saturday for her work in the promotion of the English language. Buckingham Palace said that “Prof. Ur’s fingerprints could be found in books, teaching methods and English education institutions all over the world.”
Prof. Ur, better known as “Penny,” was born and raised in Britain; but has spent the majority of her life in Israel, where she resides in Moshav Amnon in the Upper Galilee.
She first arrived in Israel for a short stay on a kibbutz as an Oxford Master’s student. Since then and for more than three decades she has challenged educators to rethink what it means to teach a language, inspired generations of English teaching specialist as well as influencing English classrooms around the globe.
Ur said Saturday the her initial response was one of surprise and disbelief. However once she was convinced that she was, in fact, going to receive a nobility honor, she immediately expressed her gratitude for the decision.
The decision, she added, represents a recognition of the importance of promoting high quality English education.
Kol hakavod to Professor Ur. As a British-Israeli myself, I applaud your dedication and hard work. Perhaps Prof. Ur could put her services to good use in editing, or rewriting, an English text-book for teaching English as a second language which erases all mention of Israel and replaces it with “Occupied Palestine”. (Story updated here).
Still on the general subject of education, my second item relates to group of 66 Indian post-doctoral students who will be coming to Israel for research purposes:
NEW DELHI: Sixty-six post-doctoral scholars from India will travel to Israel in the coming months to pursue research at top universities. The researchers will be sponsored by the government of Israel which has announced three-year scholarships grants for Indian scholars.
According to officials from Embassy of Israel, this is the first programme of its kind, bringing advanced Indian researchers to Israel in a wide range of topics.
In the framework of this scholarship programme, fellows from IIT Delhi, Osmania University, Universities of Delhi, Lucknow, Calcutta, Mumbai and other leading academic institution in India will conduct research in a wide variety of fields, including immunology, genetics, neurobiology, bio-informatics, computer sciences, law and economics.
The research will be undertaken at leading universities in Israel, namely, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Open University of Israel.
Universities in Israel have continued to figure highly in global rankings, with three included in the top 100 universities of the world and a total of six among the top 500 as per 2011 data.
This is great news for both Israel and India. The educational cooperation will certainly benefit both countries, and the Indian students will hopefully become goodwill ambassadors for Israel when they return home to the world’s largest democracy, while providing Israel with more insight into their own country. Well done to all concerned for this very bright idea, particularly Education Minister Gideon Saar.
My last item for this week is the excellent news that Israel launched its first major natural gas platform in the Tamar gas field this week.
Israel has launched its first major natural gas platform in the coveted Tamar gas field in the Mediterranean, raising hope of energy independence, Israel National News reported.
The platform, taller than Israel’s highest building, is located 24 miles west of the southern port city of Ashkelon and is scheduled to receive gas in April 2013.
“With faith, perseverance, and vision, we have achieved Israeli energy independence,” said a jubilant Yitzhak Tshuva, controlling shareholder of Delek Group Ltd., an Israeli energy conglomerate.
“Natural gas will not only make electricity production more efficient, cleaner, and cheaper, it is a giant step toward freeing us from dependence on foreign energy sources, especially Arab oil,” said Israeli Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau.
The Tamar gas field was Israel’s first major hydrocarbon discovery within its territory, spurring the discovery of other major fields such as Leviathan.
As Yitzchak Tshuva said, the positive implications for Israel of these natural gas discoveries and their development are enormous. Kol hakavod to everyone involved in this vitally important national project.
And on that happy note, Shabbat shalom everyone!