Once again, despite the amount of bad news in the media, there is always a spot of good news to be found if one only looks hard enough. (And believe me, I looked very hard this week!). So here is this week’s latest Good News Friday installment.
Our first item comes from the UN, of all the surreal places to find good news about Israel. The General Assembly, the Human
Wrongs Rights Council and the Security Council may be Jew-Hatred Central, but some of the other committees have a more balanced outlook. For example, the head of the UN’s ECOSOC (the Economic and Social Council) NGO branch says Israel is the place to look for expertise and innovations in the field of disability rights and services.
UN’s Economic and Social Council’s Andrei Abramov and Jean Judes, of Beit Issie Shapiro, at first Israeli advisers conference.
Beit Issie Shapiro — Israel’s leading special needs organization furthering the rights, opportunities and services for people with intellectual or physical disabilities — this week hosted the first ever conference of Israeli advisers to the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). “Israel has much to offer the world through ECOSOC by sharing its expertise and incredible innovations,” says Andrei Abramov, who leads the council’s NGO branch. “Israel also has much to benefit, as ECOSOC helps countries to keep abreast of world developments and trends, and to monitor and implement international agreements.” ECOSOC serves as the central forum for formulating economic and social policy recommendations to the UN and member states. Its advisers benefit from international networking opportunities, enhance their potential for impact, and the sharing of knowledge and resources. Abramov spoke about the importance of sharing knowledge internationally.
To anyone who reads Israel 21C, No Camels or just follows my blog, this news is nothing new. But the fact that a UN council makes such a public statement recognizing Israel’s innovations and medical advances is good news in itself, and having the UN recognize promote some good news about Israel is almost miraculous. Beyond that, kol hakavod to Beit Issie Shapiro for organizing the conference and for promoting Israel’s good name, as well as for all the excellent work they do.
My next item is by Prof. Barry Rubin who, considering his usual alarming reports on the Middle East, has written a surprisingly upbeat article about Israel’s status today. Israel is doing remarkably well, both economically and strategically he writes:
Israel’s economic and strategic situation is surprisingly bright right now. That’s partly due to the government’s own economic restraint and strategic balancing act, partly due to a shift in Obama Administration policy, and partly due to the conflicts among Israel’s adversaries.
Let’s start with the economy. During 2012, Israel’s economy grew by 3.1 percent. While some years ago this would not be all that impressive it is amazing given the international economic recession. The debt burden actually fell from 79.4 percent of Gross Domestic Product to only 73.8 percent. As the debt of the United States and other countries zooms upwards, that’s impressive, too.
Israel’s credit rating also rose at a time when America’s was declining. Standard and Poor lifted the rating from A to A+. Two other rating systems, Moody’s and Fitch, also increased Israel’s rating.
And that’s not all. Unemployment fell from 8.5 percent in 2009 to either 6.8 to 6.9 percent (according to Israel’s bureau of statistics) or 6.3 percent (according to the CIA).
Now not only is gas from Israel’s offshore fields starting to flow but a new estimate is that the fields are bigger than expected previously.
In terms of U.S.-Israel relations, the visit of President Barack Obama and Israel’s cooperation on Iran and on an attempted conciliation with Turkey brought quick rewards. For the first time, Israel will be allowed to purchase KC-135 aerial refueling planes, a type of equipment that could be most useful for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities among other things.
Finally, there would be more advanced radars for Israeli planes and a new type of missile useful for knocking out enemy anti-aircraft sites, potentially useful against Iran among other targets. In addition, an Israeli company is now going to be making the wings for the advanced U.S. F-35 fighter planes.
The completion of the border fence with Egypt increases security in places where Palestinian and Egyptian Islamist groups are trying to attack. It also has reduced illegal civilian crossings to zero. Ironically, Israel has gotten control of its border while the U.S. government proclaims that task to be impossible for itself.
And of course there is the usual and widely varied progress on medical, agricultural, and hi-tech innovations. Here is a summary of those inventions.
Face it. The obsession with the “peace process” is misplaced and misleading. The big issue in the region is the struggle for power in the Arabic-speaking world, Turkey, and Iran between Islamists and non-Islamists. And, no, the Arab-Israeli conflict has very little to do with these issues. Those who don’t understand those points cannot possible comprehend the region. Secretary of State John Kerry may run around the region and talk about big plans for summit conferences. But nobody really expects anything to happen.
This is not, of course, to say that there aren’t problems. Yet what often seems to be the world’s most slandered and reviled country is doing quite well. Perhaps if Western states studied its policies rather than endlessly criticized them they might gain from the experience.
When reading a report from such a widely knowledgable and experienced expert such as Prof. Rubin, it gives us both pause for thought and room for quiet optimism. When we are inundated with bad news – and it’s always the bad news that makes the headlines – it’s good to have an article such as this to keep matters in proportion.
A final item for today is a beautiful video about Jerusalem (via Elder of Ziyon) in honour of Yom Yerushalayim. Watch and enjoy!
And for an extra bonus for this week, I would like to wish mazal tov to my nephew Nadav on his Barmitzvah, and to his parents – my “little” brother and sister-in-law. We’re all heading off to a guest house for Shabbat for the occasion and I’m really looking forward to a grand family reunion. Quiet it certainly won’t be, but I’m sure we’re going to have lots of fun.
Mazal tov and Shabbat shalom everyone!