Good News Friday

Here we are again, at the end of another week, and it’s time for my latest Good News Friday installment.

Israel Water Technology conference

We start this week’s good news with something that would have been thought of as miraculous only a decade or so ago: Israeli water technology exports top $2 billion annually, and in recognising that fact, representatives from over 100 countries have come to visit Israel’s Watec 2013 Water Technology conference this week:

Representatives from more than 100 countries have arrived in Israel to participate in the Watec 2013 Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition and Conference in Tel Aviv this week. They will visit dozens of pavilions of Israeli water technology and cleantech companies, which are displaying innovations in desalination, wastewater treatment, round-the-clock control and warning systems, water quality systems, and more.

Water technologies exports totaled $2 billion in 2012, and the Export Institute says that exports rose 170% over six years. Export Institute CEO Ofer Sach forecasts $2.2 billion in water technologies exports this year.

The Export Institute says that Israel has 280 water technologies companies, 150 of which are exporters. The 20 largest companies had $1 billion in exports in 2012.

Sachs estimates the global water market at $700 billion, mostly investment in the construction and upgrading of infrastructures in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. “Israeli companies have not yet tapped the latent business potential in these markets, but the water industry is nonetheless considered one of the future growth engines of Israeli exports,” he said.

Among the innovations to be unveiled at Watec is by SmarTap Ltd., which has developed an app to control the water flow and temperature of showers.

[…]

Water-Gen Ltd. has developed battery-operated mobile water-from-air and water purification technologies for military and civilian use

Read the rest of the article to learn about other brilliant water saving technology invented and developed by Israeli companies. The news about the level of Israeli water technology export is astounding, especially when you add into the mix the efforts and propaganda of the BDS brigade to boycott Israel. In fact this Watec Conference was a huge BDS fail, as Israellycool explains with regards to China’s interest in our water technology.  He has a fascinating video from China TV (which I can’t embed here) which is well worth watching.

When taking into account Israel’s geographical location, in a semi-desert environment, and when considering Israel’s quite recent dire water shortage, this is nothing less than a dazzling success.  Some would call it miraculous. Kol hakavod to all Israel’s water technologists, developers, and inventors, all working to make the world a better and cleaner place.

My next item is also connected to water, although on a rather different plane: Israeli windsurfer Shahar Zubari took the gold medal in the windsurfing Gold Cup competition in China:

Israeli windsurfer Shahar Zubari cruised to a gold medal in men’s RS:X at the Sailing World Cup in Qingdao, China, Saturday.

Maayan Davidovich finished with Bronze in the RS:X women’s division after a tough last race.

Zubari came into the race 18 points ahead, enough to easily glide to the win.

“It’s not been an easy week but I’m happy to come away with the title,” he said, according to the International Sailing federation.

Mazal tov and kol hakavod to Shahar Zubari for his great win and his continued success in windsurfing. We wish him much more continued success.

Artist’s rendition of the Galileo satellite

Moving from water to outer space, Israel this week became a major partner in the European Union satellite program:

At a gala event Monday evening in Jerusalem, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri and the head of the Israel Space Agency, Menachem Kidron, signed an agreement with European Union officials to give Israeli researchers and companies access to projects associated with the EU’s Galileo satellite program.

Officially called the Cooperation Agreement on a Civil Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) between the European Community and its Member States and the State of Israel, the deal was inked on the EU side by Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship, and the incoming EU Ambassador to Israel, Lars Faaborg-Andersen.

By the end of the decade, EU officials expect to have some 30 satellites in orbit, doing everything from checking out weather and climate patterns to monitoring outer space and providing GPS services to the world. While the satellites put into space by the US and Russia are perfectly serviceable, EU officials said, the European GNSS will be the only system to provide services like GPS from satellites run by a civilian organization instead of a military. In addition, the new satellites will provide more coverage, bandwidth, and availability of satellite-based services, as the demand for such services continues to grow.

As an official EU program that is not military in nature, the Galileo project will be open to absorbing technology from a wide variety of sources. As a result of the new agreement, Israel will be one of those sources, Israeli space officials said. Israeli companies will now be able to participate in tenders to supply software and hardware to companies involved in the project, and Israeli scientists and academics will be able to initiate and participate in studies and experiments that will be part of the Galileo program.

I can’t help wondering how or if the EU directive banning any contact or connection with settlements or settlers will affect this new cooperation agreement. If Israel is a major partner, does it get a say in who participates? If Israel withdraws because of issues with the EU directive, who will suffer more: Israel, as a major partner, or the EU?

Luckily, politics were not brought up at all, and this new cooperation agreement is looking good for all parties:

Speaking at the event on Monday, Peri thanked Tajani for his efforts in fostering the agreement with Israel. “This agreement is a milestone in relations between Israel and the EU, and shows our mutual admiration for each other’s research and development capabilities. GPS capabilities have become a major part of our lives, and this agreement will lead to strategic, security, and economic cooperation between Israel and the EU in the coming years.”

Kol hakavod to the Europeans (who would believe I would ever say such a thing!) for recognizing Israel’s technological prowess and working to bring about this cooperation agreement. And of course kol hakavod once again to Israel’s scientists, politicians and diplomats for enabling the finalizing of this agreement. It brings huge prestige, besides economic gain, to Israel’s hi-tech industry, and is a great boost to our international standing.

Dr. Karnit Flug, new Governor of the Bank of Israel

Another boost to our international standing was the appointment this week of a new Governor of the Bank of Israel.  After an embarrassing and inexplicable gap of several weeks without a Governor since the resignation of Stanley Fisher, several failed nominations and refusals by other personalities to accept the job, the obvious first choice was finally picked and approved: former deputy Governor Karnit Flug:

The Bank of Israel is vitally important to the Israeli economy. It’s not just one of those sleepy public institutions. The public has the right to hear what the candidates have to say, to size them up and evaluate their economic vision and overall views before they assume the governorship.

Dr. Karnit Flug has pursued a responsible monetary policy ever since becoming acting governor in July, after Professor Stanley Fischer left. She has already lowered the bank’s interest rate once and has announced she will continue her predecessor’s efforts to check the shekel’s appreciation by purchasing U.S. dollars. All in all, she has proved that she has what it takes when it comes to being a proper steward of the Bank of Israel.

Ayelet Nir adds:

The appointment of Dr. Karnit Flug as Bank of Israel governor was good. Flug worked for a long time with former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. She learned quite a bit from him about monetary policy. It is widely believed that Flug will follow Fischer’s path, in terms of policy. Financial markets greatly appreciate stability. They also love certainty and continuity. So for the financial markets, Flug’s appointment was a positive development.

This is very good news and a great relief for the Israeli economy if it wants to continue it’s prime place amongst the developed world’s economies.

Israeli economy is thriving

On this same subject, Bloomberg News (via Dad) reported on how Israel’s credit is improving, while resisting regional upheaval and US fiscal policy shifts:

Israeli credit risk is improving while sentiment in the largest emerging markets deteriorates, highlighting the nation’s resistance to regional upheaval and Federal Reserve policy shifts.

[…]

The start of natural gas production this year has boosted sentiment toward the nation as it spurs gains in the shekel and strengthens government finances. Investors have also looked past the worsening security environment among Israel’s neighbors. Since May, the civil war in Syria has intensified, with the use of chemical weapons threatening to internationalize the conflict. Political turmoil has also deepened in Egypt, where the army’s takeover in July led to escalating violence.

“The periodic geopolitical crises in the region don’t have significant influence on either Israeli markets or the government’s ability to manage the economy,” said Ori Greenfeld, chief economist at Clal Finance Investment Management Ltd. in Tel Aviv.

[…]

Israel’s main stock index has added 15 percent in dollar terms this year, while the MSCI Emerging Markets benchmark dropped 2 percent.

The shekel has been the biggest gainer among 31 major currencies tracked by Bloomberg this year, rising 5.9 percent against the dollar. Its strength has been driven by the start of gas output off Israel’s Mediterranean coast, which is poised to turn the country into an energy exporter.

[…]

Israel had a current-account surplus of $1.79 billion in the second quarter. Income from gas production may add as much as $3 billion this year, and for every $1 billion increase the shekel gains about 1 percent, according to the Bank of Israel.

The IMF predicts an Israeli surplus of 3 percent of GDP next year, compared with deficits of 3.8 percent in India and 7.2 percent in Turkey

[…]

For now, “Israel is like an island in the ocean with all sorts of storms raging around it,” Hentov said. “Most of its adversaries are busy with other priorities, thus deflecting much of its risk.”

Once again, consider this: A tiny country surrounded by hordes of hostile nations armed to the teeth, which until very recently was reliant upon handouts from the USA as well as Jewish philanthropists for its very survival, is now about to become a gas exporter and holds a foreign currency surplus.  There is no way to deny that Israel is the land of miracles!

As a final sign-off for this week I bring you an inspiring video, via Israellycool and CiFWatch, about deaf IDF soldiers singing the Hatikva in sign language. But not only the deaf soldiers “signed” the song:

The blog Israellycool first posted about this last week, and included the following quote from a Facebook update by the Israeli soldier who uploaded the video:

This [particular] Volunteer Soldiers’ Basic Training was extra special because the majority of the soldiers (who are not deaf) asked to be taught to sign the Hatikva national anthem at the closing ceremony (usually only the deaf soldiers and their interpreter sign it). Maybe it will be a precedent, halevai (if only)!

Here’s the heart-warming video:

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

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