Good News Friday

Here’s the latest installment in my Good News Friday series.

Albert Munoz Molina wins the Jerusalem Prize

My first item comes from the world of literature against the background of “BDS syndrome”. The Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina received the Jerusalem Prize and refused to give in to pressure from anti-Israel boycotters (the BDS Brigade) to refuse to accept the prize.

Spanish writer Antonio Munoz Molina told a small group of journalists that the Jerusalem Prize is “good enough for me.” The award was conferred on Molina Sunday evening at the opening of the 26th Jerusalem International Book Fair at the International Convention Center.

Molina commented earlier in the day, at a meeting in Mishkenot Sha’ananim conference center, that the prestige of many prizes depends on who has received it previously. Five of the authors who received the Jerusalem Prize were subsequently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

“Seeing yourself in such a lineup, given the self-doubts you have, you think, ‘Do I really deserve this?’ I’m happy to win this award,” he said, with an easy, self-deprecating smile that emerges frequently in conversation. “As a writer, you live in permanent self-doubt, you’re on permanent trial.”

Molina had received “very harsh” messages and letters “full of clichés” from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott Israel and refuse the award, but commented that he didn’t believe accepting the award made him an “accomplice” to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Kol Hakavod Mr. Molina. Well done both on winning the prize and on defeating the boycotters at their own game. Would that all the literati would follow his example.

Map of Eastern Mediterranean gas fields

Our next piece of good news is connected to Israel’s new-found natural gas fields: Israel and Cyprus have signed a gas and oil deal for continued oil exploration off the coast of Cyprus:

Israeli firms Delek Drilling and Anver Oil and Gas Exploration signed an agreement Monday to acquire a 30 percent stake in exploration rights for gas and oil off the southern shore of Cyprus.

The drilling is to be carried out by U.S.-based Noble Energy. Both Delek and Anver own majority rights in Israel’s own mammoth gas discoveries, the Leviathan and Tamar fields off Israel’s northern coast.

Cypriot Commerce Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis acknowledged in making the announcement that the deal provided a “new era of Cyprus-Israeli strategic cooperation which includes economic and political dimensions,” AFP reported.

The deal comes less than a week after Cyprus signed an agreement with French energy giant Total, to conduct exploratory drilling for gas and oil in two blocks off its southern shore.

Noble Energy, Inc was the first to drill when awarded Block 12, after Cyprus launched its search for an underwater gas field in 2007.

In December 2011, Noble announced it had discovered natural gas reserves of up to 8 trillion cubic feet (226.5 billion cubic meters), at an estimated value of 100 billion euros.

Cypriot analysts estimated the field could satisfy domestic needs “for decades” and enable the country to become a regional player with the export of gas to Europe by 2019.

This is obviously excellent news both for Cyprus and for Israel, ensuring their energy independence needs for the decades ahead, especially given the political violence and instability in the oil-rich Arab nations.

My last item for today is about Israelis using their expertise to help people all over the world. This time it is an Israeli Professor, Yoram Oren, helping India rehabilitate a polluted river in southern India:

Prof. Yoram Oren’s laboratory

Prof. Yoram Oren first saw how chemicals from textile dyeing factories were poisoning India’s Noyyal River during a year-long stay in the country’s southernmost state three-and-a-half years ago.

Oren, an expert on water desalination from Ben-Gurion University, spent his sabbatical year setting up a water research laboratory at Karunya University in Tamil Nadu state. A passionate advocate of water rights, he saw the effects of river pollution on local people, agriculture and wildlife and decided to return to Tamil Nadu and help local water experts save the dying Noyyal.

“Water pollution is a very serious problem, including because water from the Noyyal River is used by local farmers for irrigation. But now they can’t use the water, so it affects food production,” Oren told ISRAEL21c in a telephone interview from his laboratory in India.


So bad is the pollution that it now affects groundwater in more than 95 villages in the region. Residents can no longer use it as a drinking source, while farmers who previously relied on the Noyyal to irrigate their crops have had to leave their lands.

To rehabilitate the polluted Noyyal, Oren is looking at how a technique called nano-filtration can be used to filter out harmful textile dyes from water.

A relatively new technology, nano-filtration uses membranes to remove dissolved solids such as pollutants.

Nano-filtration has been hailed as a good solution for developing countries where there is a shortage of drinking water, because it is relatively inexpensive and because unlike other water purification techniques, it does not strip essential minerals, such as calcium, from water.

“Nano-filtration also saves energy compared with other techniques, because it does not remove all components from water, which makes it cheaper,” Oren adds.

Kol hakavod to Professor Oren, both for his expertise and for his generosity in helping people improve the environment wherever they live.

Wishing all my readers a Shabbat shalom!

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