Even if the world around us is exploding in flames, there can always be found some little nuggets of good news to cheer us up for Shabbat, so I present you with this week’s Good News Friday installment.
We start this week with a few anti-BDS victories for Israel.
The Israeli company SodaStream which has been the target of a vicious BDS campaign, has seen its stock price shoot up from $55 per share to almost $100!
Israeli home carbonation king SodaStream got a big boost Monday when Barclays raised the firm’s price target on the stock to $100 per share, up from $55. The company’s stock shot up 8% on the news. Shares of SodaStream are up almost 28% over the past month and 54% year to date in 2013, according to Dailyfinance.com.
The at-home beverage maker has often been the target of anti-Israel boycotts, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing down its growth and popularity.
Globes reported Thursday that both Pepsi and Coca-Cola were in talks with Sodastream about possible acquisition or strategic co-operation.
The Daily Finance article linked above attempts to offer some explanation of SodaStream’s amazing success:
After all, while SodaStream offers a variety of flavor options, many of its customers aren’t particularly worried about calories as they take advantage of the system’s ability to make sparkling water at home for an average of just 25 cents per liter. Better yet, SodaStream machines cut down the number of plastic bottles otherwise required to distribute traditional soda, and each refillable SodaStream carbonation canister can make between 60 and 110 liters, saving the equivalent of 170 to 310 aluminum cans.
In addition, according to SodaStream, an average can’s worth of their soda costs just 25 cents, and a single 8-ounce serving of SodaStream Cola contains just 35 calories, 8 grams of carbs, 8 grams of sugar, and only 10 milligrams of sodium.
But perhaps it’s simply because BDS nearly always backfires.
A story which is not quite about BDS but is connected to the traditional Arab hatred of Israel and its boycott of anything Israelis was seen this week when an Egyptian wrestler tried every illegal move in the book against her Israeli opponent, and yet the Israeli wrestler won the gold medal:
The only revenge Israeli wrestler Ilana Kartysh exacted on her Egyptian opponent, Enas Mostafa, in the Golden Grand Prix tournament in Italy – after Mostafa refused to shake her hand and, during the match, reportedly broke two of her fingers and bit her on the neck – was emerging victorious in the bout and, having secured the gold, basking in her national anthem as she stood on the podium.
Kartysh, 22, who competed in the the 67-kilogram (147.7 pound) weight category, experienced an incident unlike any other in her career.
“In wrestling you must shake hands at the beginning of a match,” Kartysh said. “But not only did [Egyptian wrestler Enas Mostafa] refuse to shake my hand, she even broke my fingers and bit me until I began bleeding.”
However, she continued, “Because of her dirty behavior my desire to beat her grew stronger.”
Kartysh said she felt “some kind of hatred” directed at her by Mostafa, but that she did not know whether it was political or personal.
“It’s never happened to me before,” the 22-year-old wrestler said. “She really attacked me.”
The gold medal that Kartysh won was Israel’s first in a Golden Grand Prix tournament.
At the end of the match, the Egyptian again refused to shake hands with her.
Words cannot express my disgust at the Egyptian wrestler, nor at the international media which have failed to report on this extremely unprofessional conduct which should by rights have disqualified the Egyptian altogether. However, kol hakavod to Ilana Kartysh on her excellent performance and mazal tov on her gold medal. She has done herself and Israel proud!
Staying with the BDS campaign and moving on to the arts scene, the American singer Alicia Keys has also been the subject of an intense campaign by the BDS brigade, led by the slightly demented author Alice Walker (who participated in the second Gaza flotilla) to persuade her to cancel her upcoming performance in Israel. But the lady is not for turning, and Alicia Keys will be coming to Israel as planned:
Pop star Alicia Keys announced Friday that she plans to go ahead with her scheduled July 4 concert in Tel Aviv, despite calls to cancel the show for political reasons.
“I look forward to my first visit to Israel. Music is a universal language that is meant to unify audiences in peace and love, and that is the spirit of our show,” Keys said in a statement to the New York Times.
On Wednesday, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker, a prominent American supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel, asked Keys to cancel her upcoming Tel Aviv concert appearance.
In an open letter posted online, Walker wrote that Keys was putting herself in “soul danger” by performing in “an apartheid country that is being boycotted by many global conscious artists. You were not born when we, your elders who love you, boycotted institutions in the US South to end an American apartheid less lethal than Israel’s against the Palestinian people.”
The debate over Keys’s appearance in Israel has branched out to social media, with Israel supporters launching multiple Facebook pages in support of her arrival, only to be countered by pro-BDS campaigns.
Keys’s official Facebook page on Wednesday, in the wake of the additional publicity generated by Walker and Rogers, featured multiple extended debates on her Tel Aviv concert, with fans sounding off both for and against in comments underneath unrelated pictures from Keys’s world tour. She is currently in England.
“I’m excited to go to new places on this tour, among them Tel Aviv. I plan on bringing with me a show full of emotion and inspiration,” Keys said when the concert was announced.
Kol hakavod to Alicia Keys for withstanding the barrage of boycott calls. It must be very difficult for pop stars and other artistes to withstand the public pressure, but Ms Keys has shown that she has backbone and principals. As I wrote back in February, I’m really looking forward to her performance!
Still with the culture scene, the Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg won the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels.
Giltburg, 28, of Tel Aviv, was named the winner in the piano category early Sunday for his “impeccable and unusually moving rendition of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3,” the Belgian-Jewish magazine Joods Actueel reported.
The Moscow-born musician is the second Israeli to win the international competition, which began in 1951; Miriam Fried won in the violin category in 1971.
Giltburg won a cash prize of $32,450 from the competition’s fund and another $3,245 from the VRT broadcaster.
Mazal tov to Mr. Giltburg and kol hakavod on wining the competition. May he go on to win many more competitions.
From reading the items in my Good News Friday series, it becomes evident that despite all the efforts of our enemies to boycott, delegitimise and otherwise isolate us, we are still a thriving, successful and essentially happy people. This depiction is very much based in reality and how better to conclude this week’s installment than to prove this point by bringing you Daniel Pipe’s wonderful column in Israel Hayom entitled simply “Happy Israel”: (h/t Dad):
In a typically maladroit statement, U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry recently complained that Israelis are too contented to end their conflict with the Palestinians: “People in Israel aren’t waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity.”
While Kerry misunderstands Israelis (Palestinian rejectionism, not prosperity, caused them to give up on diplomacy), he is right that Israelis have a “sense of security and … of prosperity.” They are generally a happy lot. A recent poll found 93 percent of Jewish Israelis proud of be Israeli. Yes, Iranian nuclear weapons loom and confrontation with Moscow is possible, but things have never been so good. With thanks to Efraim Inbar of Bar-Ilan University for some of the following information, let us count the ways.
— Women need to give birth to 2.1 children to sustain a country’s population; Israel has a birthrate of 2.65, making it the only advanced country to exceed replacement
— Israel enjoyed a 14.5% growth of gross domestic product during the 2008-12 recession, giving it the highest economic growth rate of any OECD country. […] Israel invests 4.5% of its GDP in research and development, the highest percentage of any country.
— Due to major gas and oil finds, Walter Russell Mead observes, “the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be … inch for inch the most valuable and energy-rich country anywhere in the world.” […]
— With Syria and Egypt consumed by internal problems, the existential threat they once posed to Israel has, for the moment, nearly disappeared. Thanks to innovative tactics, terror attacks have been nearly eliminated. […] Inbar, a strategist, concludes that “the power differential between Israel and its Arab neighbors is continuously growing.”
— The Palestinian diplomatic focus that dominated the country’s politics for decades after 1967 has receded, […] Kerry may obsess over this issue but, in the acerbic words of one politico, “Debating the peace process to most Israelis is the equivalent of debating the color of the shirt you will wear when landing on Mars.”
— Even the Iranian nuclear issue may be less dire than it appears. Between the vastly greater destructive power of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and its growing missile defense system, military analyst Anthony Cordesman predicts that an exchange of nuclear weapons would leave Israel damaged badly but Iranian civilization destroyed. […]
— Successes of the “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement are pretty meager (Stephen Hawking snubbed the president’s invitation! A United Nations body passed another absurd condemnation). Israel has diplomatic relations with 156 out of the United Nations’ 193 members. […]
— In public opinion surveys in the United States, the world’s most important country and Israel’s main ally, Israel regularly beats the Palestinians by a 4-to-1 ratio. And while universities are indeed hostile, I ask handwringers this question: Where would you rather be strong, the U.S. Congress or the campuses? To ask that question is to answer it.
— Ashkenazi-Sephardi tensions have diminished over time due to a combination of intermarriage and cultural cross-pollination. The issue of haredi nonparticipation is finally being addressed.
— Israelis have made impressive cultural contributions, especially to classical music, […]
Listen up, anti-Zionists and anti-Semites, Palestinians and Islamists, extreme right- and left-wingers: You are fighting a losing battle; the Jewish state is prevailing. As Inbar rightly concludes, “Time seems to be on Israel’s side.” Give up and find some other country to torment.
What a wonderfully optimistic, and even realistic, column!
With those happy thoughts in mind I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!