Once again we’ve had a week full of sadness (Tisha be’Av) and bad news (courtesy of the EU) and yet, as always, there is good news to be found if you know where to look. And as your trusty Good News seeker, I have duly sought and found enough for this weeks’ Good News Friday installment.
We start with the excellent news, which for some reason has been remarkably well-hidden, that an Israeli 24 hour news station has opened, for the moment on the internet only. An announcement about the TV station’s opening was made back in April :
Communications mavens have been saying for years that what Israel needs to get its message to the world is an Israeli-type Al Jazeera.
French businessman Patrick Drahi, owner of the controlling interest in the HOT cable television company, has decided to be one of the financiers of i24 NEWS, despite the heavy financial losses he incurred at HOT.
i24 NEWS which was founded by Frank Malloul, a former adviser to the French government, who will act as its CEO, will operate on a 24/7 basis and will have a website that will concurrently present items on politics, international affairs, culture, sport and other subjects.
Drahi has considerable experience with international broadcast media.
The new channel will initially broadcast in English, French and Arabic and may expand to other languages at some future stage. Its content will be produced by Haim Slutzky Communication Channels which has produced material for HOT and for Channel 8.
However, since then, there has been, well, radio silence. Rob Harris in the comments mentioned he had discovered the news via Irish4Israel’s Facebook page and brought my attention to it, and so I am passing on this very good news.
At the very bottom of i24’s web-site there is a link to the various channels on which the station broadcasts, but if you don’t have a satellite dish it is only available on the internet in Israel for the moment.
From i24’s mission statement page:
The mission of i24news is to cover international news with a new perspective, as well as all facets of Israeli society. This new perspective is lacking in today’s fast-paced, channel-zapping culture.
In English, French and Arabic, i24news is dedicated to presenting another voice from the Middle East, based on the twin pillars of independence and openness. i24 seeks to connect Israel to the world and the world to Israel.
In a single newsroom, some 150 journalists of different nationalities and faiths together produce the same content (news, talk shows, news magazines) from the Jaffa port: a symbol of the social, cultural and religious diversity of Israeli society.
The first major global media channel born in the digital age, i24news will be launched on the web, then on satellite, ADSL and cable.
Go to i24’s website, click on all the various links and tabs and have a good look round. I sincerely hope this news station takes off in a big way and helps to promote Israel’s message in an unbiased fashion to a cynical world. I’m sure you all join me in wishing all of the people at i24 the best of luck and hatzlacha raba (much success) on their new venture.
For our next item (hat tip: Reality) we travel from the latest in 21st century technology back several thousand years to King David himself: Archaeologists say they have discovered one of King David’s palaces:
Two Israeli archaeologists announced that they have found a palace and royal storehouse that belonged to King David. The two buildings are the largest structures standing during the tenth century BCE to have been found in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah.
The discovery was made at Khirbet Qeiyafa near Beit Shemesh southwest of Jerusalem, said Professor Yossi Garfinkel of the Hebrew University and Saar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority on Thursday. Over the past year, the researchers uncovered the two buildings at the site, which is believed by some to be the fortified Judean city of Shaarayim. According to the biblical record, after David smote Goliath, the Philistines were slaughtered on the road to Shaarayim as they fled. Shaarayim means “two gates,” and Khirbet Qeiyafa has two gates in its walls.
The two archaeologists identified one building as David’s palace and the other as a massive royal storeroom. The excavation of the site as a whole has stretched on for seven years.
When David would visit this important regional center, “he definitely didn’t live in a simple home,” Ganor told The Times of Israel.
“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” read a statement released by the researchers. “The southern part of a large palace that extended across an area of c. 1,000 sq m was revealed at the top of the city. The wall enclosing the palace is c. 30 m long and an impressive entrance is fixed it through which one descended to the southern gate of the city, opposite the Valley of Elah. Around the palace’s perimeter were rooms in which various installations were found – evidence of a metal industry, special pottery vessels and fragments of alabaster vessels that were imported from Egypt.”
“This is the only site in which organic material was found — including olive seeds — that can be carbon-14 dated” to the period of King David’s reign, Israel Antiquities Authority spokeswoman Yoli Schwartz told The Times of Israel.
They see the finds as evidence of centralized construction and royal administrative organization during King David’s rule. “This is unequivocal evidence of a kingdom’s existence, which knew to establish administrative centers at strategic points,” they argued. “To date no palaces have been found that can clearly be ascribed to the early tenth century BCE as we can do now. Khirbet Qeiyafa was probably destroyed in one of the battles that were fought against the Philistines circa 980 BCE. The palace that is now being revealed and the fortified city that was uncovered in recent years are another tier in understanding the beginning of the Kingdom of Judah.”
In light of the find, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Nature and Parks Authority are working with local planning bodies to cancel the impending construction of a neighborhood nearby, and hope to reserve the area around the site as a national park.
In 2008, a pottery sherd with five lines of text was discovered at the site. Many scholars believe it to be early Hebrew writing, possibly referring to the ascent of King Saul to the throne. Others argue it features Israelite social rules, while some dispute the idea that it is written in Hebrew at all. The sherd currently sits in Jerusalem’s Israel Museum.
This is wonderful news for historians and archaeologists, as well as for Israel and the Jewish People, for this discovery is yet more proof – as if proof were needed – of the Jews’ historical and unbreakable bond to the Land of Israel. (Not that I expect the EU to accept this). Kol hakavod to Professor Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor for their discovery and extensive research. May they continue to uncover many more priceless finds.
My final item for this week is about “the Jewish Olympics” – the 19th Maccabiah Games which kicked off last night in Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem with a wonderful opening ceremony.
The 19th Maccabiah Games opened at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium on Thursday evening in the presence of 30,000 viewers, including President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Through a prerecorded message, US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron delivered prerecorded messages to the athletes. Obama said the Maccabiah was “a great reminder of the power of sports to bring people together and inspire the best in all of us.”
The prime minister welcomed the athletes, saying “Welcome to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel.”
“Year after year, Jews around the world say ‘Next year in Jerusalem,’ but you say ‘This year in Jerusalem.’ We are all one family, and one people – we are all the people of Israel.”
This year’s “Jewish Olympics” is the biggest ever with a record number of participating countries (78), athletes (8,919) and sports (42).
The festive day began at 11 am with the torch relay which left from Kfar Maccabiah in Ramat Gan, as well as a convoy of Harley Davidson riders carrying the flags of the participating countries. The riders reenacted the historic journey from 80 years ago, when riders passed through Europe’s Jewish communities and spread the news about the first Maccabiah.
This year’s Maccabiah will host representatives from 20 countries which have never participated in the games before, like Armenia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and one tennis player representing Mongolia.
Athletes will compete in 42 different sports, including seven new ones added to the 19th Maccabiah: Archery, ice hockey, handball, shooting, open water swimming, bridge and badminton. The Paralympic events will include tennis, table tennis, cycling, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
Viewers will get to see as many as 150 athletes who participated in the recent Olympic Games, including American artistic gymnast Aly Raisman who performed her performed her floor exercise at the London Games to the tune of “Hava Nagila” and won two gold medals in the team and individual competitions.
Raisman will be joined by American Olympic swimmer Garrett Weber-Gale, who two gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as Ukrainian breaststroke swimmer Maxim Podoprigora, who represented Austria in three Olympic Games and won a silver medal at the 2001 World Championships.
I wish all the athletes lots of success and hope they also have a great time outside the sports arena, visiting and touring around Israel.
May the best men and women win! In fact may they all be winners.
And with that happy hope I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!