Some of the items in this post were supposed to go at the end of yesterday’s post, which was going to be a “First the good news, then the bad” type of article. But there was unfortunately so much bad news that I decided to keep all the good news for one very big Good News Friday post, with which I hope to counteract this week’s bad news.
On the international front, Israel has had several successes in recent days. We start with the surprising good news that Israel’s exports to Turkey have registered a significant rise:
According to the report, the dominant exports across this time period were pharmaceuticals, electronic components and chemicals, a trend that had a clear impact on the makeup of Israel’s top export markets.
The rest of the article has even more good news for Israel’s exports.
Israeli Minister for the Environment, Amir Peretz, also made a rare official trip to Turkey this week:
Peretz arrived in Istanbul to participate in an environmental conference, Channel 2 reported.
The Prime Minister’s Office was quoted as saying that Peretz had obtained all the necessary permits to make the trip in his capacity as the head of the Environmental Protection Ministry. The ministry declined to comment to The Times of Israel about the visit.
The report said officials in the Turkish government were optimistic that diplomatic relations between the two countries could improve in the near future.
So much for that nasty little Erdogan’s attempts to boycott Israel! Improving relations with Turkey can only be good for Israel in the long term.
Israel also had some international anti-BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) victories:
A French court fined BDS activists for discrimination because they tried to persuade shoppers to boycott Israeli products:
The Court of Appeals of Colmar near Strasbourg fined each of the group’s 12 members individually on Wednesday for their participation in a pro-boycott activity in 2009-2010, which the court qualified as “provocation to discrimination.” The court also gave the activists a suspended jail sentence, according to a report by the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities.
The ruling reversed a 2012 verdict by the Correctional Tribunal of Mulhouse, which found the defendants not guilty. Prosecutors filed the appeal, CRIF said in a statement.
The French court also punished the antisemitic “comedian” Dieudonne for his vile behaviour:
In a separate ruling, a French court of appeals on Thursday slapped a $36,000 fine on the comedian Dieudonne for “inciting racial hate” in films in which he ridiculed the Holocaust and expressed anti-Semitic views. It was Dieudonne’s seventh conviction related to anti-Semitism.
Kol hakavod to the French justice system which didn’t allow itself to be swayed by political correctness, and who saw the justice in Israel’s cause.
In more anti-boycott good news, FSV Frankfurt, a German football club has ended an advertising contract with Saudia Airlines because that airline will not sell tickets to Israelis:
The Frankfurt-based FSV second league football club terminated its advertising contract with the Saudi Arabian airline “Saudia” because it refuses to sell tickets to Israeli citizens. The Berliner Morgenpost reported on Wednesday in an article titled “Second division Frankfurt ends sponsorship because of anti-Semitism.”
New York’s Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio demanded that Saudi Arabia airlines be banned from New York’s airports, because of the airline’s anti-Israel policy.
“No city in the world has closer ties to Israel than we do, and yet Israeli citizens are being discriminated against right here at JFK. It’s not only illegal; it’s an affront to who we are,” said de Blasio, prior to his election victory.
Alex Feuerherdt, a German Journalist who writes about anti-Semitism and football, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday “for Saudia that would have an upgrade of its brand name” if the sponsor contract with FSV had been approved.
How the wheel of history has turned! 75 years ago, who would have believed that Germany would condemn Arabs fro anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discrimination! Kol hakavod to the managers of FSV Frankfurt and also to NY Mayor Blasio for promoting this “anti-boycott”.
Turning to defence and military matters, the prime good news of this week was the assassination of Hassan al-Laqqis, a senior Hezbollah commander in Beirut. Hezbollah immediately (of course) blamed Israel, but we are denying any connection:
Hezbollah said Wednesday that one of its commanders, Hassan al-Laqqis, was killed outside his Beirut home overnight in an attack it blamed on Israel.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor denied any Israeli involvement, saying Hezbollah has often automatically blamed Israel for such incidents in the past. “This has strictly nothing to do Israel. Hezbollah has made a fool of itself in the past with these automatic and groundless accusations against Israel … If they are looking for explanations as to what is happening to them, they should examine their own actions.”
Laqqis was believed to have been one of Hezbollah’s senior commanders and head of its weapons program.
A group calling itself “The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Battalion” on Wednesday afternoon claimed responsibility on its Twitter account for the assassination.
Kol hakavod to whoever the assassins are, and good riddance to al-Laqqis. The world is now a slightly better place.
In related news (h/t Hadassah), a US court has ordered Iran to pay $9 million to families of Israeli terror victims from a 1997 attack in Jerusalem:
For the first time in US history, victims of an Iran financed terror attack in Israel have won the potential seizure of Iranian funds, the NGO Shurat Hadin–Israel Law Center announced on Wednesday.
The approximately $9.7 million lien entered in favor of the families of the five fatal victims of a triple suicide bombing in central Jerusalem in 1997 (as well as in favor of a parallel, but separate, claim by the daughter of an assassinated former Iranian prime minister) is the first time that such victims have been so close to being granted Iranian assets in the US.
An order officially giving the victims’ families (who won a default judgment against Iran years ago) title to the funds in theory, if not in practice, is a first in Shurat Hadin’s decade-long struggle to not only win judgments on Iran-related terror financing cases, but to find actual assets to satisfy the judgments.
In that attack, on September 4, 1997, three operatives from the Islamist group set off explosives attached to their bodies as they wandered the packed Ben Yehuda Street promenade in the middle of the afternoon, killing five Israelis and wounding scores of others.
Three of those killed were 14-year-old girls.
“This is a tremendous victory for the victims of Islamic terrorism,” Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, founder of Shurat Hadin, said in a statement.
The Iranian money that Shurat Hadin has been seeking out is a story in itself.
Read the rest of the article which sounds like an international thriller. (It probably is).
Kok hakavod to Nitzana Darshan-Leitner and the Shurat HaDin organization for their persistence in pursuing the perpetrators of terrorism and for their pursuit of justice for victims of terrorism. May they continue to have more and greater successes for the sake of all of us.
Still with regional news, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon says that Israel is providing humanitarian aid to Syrian villages. This is besides the medical treatment that Israel is providing in Israeli hospitals to Syrians injured in the fighting:
“We can not sit by in the face of humanitarian difficulties – not while they need preparations for winter and for other needs we can work to help them with,” Ya’alon said during a tour of Israel’s northern border on Tuesday. “In light of the fact that the villages here are besieged and have no access to other places, we are assisting them for humanitarian reasons, so we give water, food, baby food and humanitarian assistance.”
On the same subject, the IDF is using a a new life-saving treatment for the Syrian war-wounded in the field:
Over the past ten months — ever since Israel began aiding Syrians wounded in their country’s civil war — the IDF has treated over 500 Syrian nationals, the Northern Command’s chief medical officer told the Times of Israel on Wednesday.
[Col. Dr. Tarif Bader, Head of the IDF Northern Medical Command] did reveal, however, that dozens of Syrians have been given a new life-saving treatment that the IDF has recently introduced into the medical corps but has yet to use on an Israeli soldier. Holding a glass bottle of freeze-dried plasma, he said that blood loss, within the first hour after injury, is the primary cause of death for soldiers in the field. Ordinary plasma, known as fresh frozen plasma, must be kept at a minimum of -25 degrees Celsius and is therefore only administered at hospitals with the appropriate freezers. The FDP, made by the German Red Cross, can be kept in a simple refrigerator or even at room temperature. Mixed with IV fluid, the powdered unit of plasma can be intravenously introduced to a patient within minutes.
The simple treatment restores a patient’s intravascular volume in a far more significant way than mere IV fluids. Noting that the IDF has treated dozens of Syrians in this manner, he said “it has made a tremendous difference in the field.”
Need I say kol hakavod to the IDF and to the Israeli government for providing this vital aid to Syrian civilians and fighters, and for developing and using a vital life-saving treatment for enemy soldiers? I don’t think there is another country in the world who would provide aid to its enemy’s civilians and military during a war right on its border. We have good reason to be proud of ourselves and our army, and to be grateful that we are not involved in the war but yet are able to assist the needy.
Even the BBC (!) finally recognized Israel’s humanitarian aid to Syrian victims of the civil war and Kevin Connolly wrote an excellent and honest article about their treatment in Ziv Hospital in Tzfat (Safed). There’s a very nice video at the link too. It’s highly worth a read and a viewing.
Moving far away from the Middle East, Israel’s water company Mekorot has signed an agreement with Mexico to improve their water quality:
Mexico recently turned to Israel’s water experts for help in improving their water. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico and Mekorot Group signed a cooperation agreement for the development of strategies for the protection of groundwater quality in Mexico. The first of its kind cooperation agreement between Mekorot Group and CONAGUA (the Mexican national water commission) was signed in the presence of President of Israel Shimon Peres, who is visiting Mexico, and the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.
According to the agreement, Mekorot, a worldwide known expert in the water field, will provide the National Water Commission of Mexico “technical assistance in protection of groundwater quality, carrying out rehabilitation of the underground reservoirs and quality control of the restoration of water resources.”
Kol hakavod to Mexico for having the foresight to turn to Israel, one of the world’s leaders in water quality and conservation. And of course Kol hakavod to Mekorot for their excellent work in Israel and we wish them and Mexico much success in their joint venture.
And to conclude this week’s bumper production, here is yet another amazing, unprecedented archeological find (h/t Reality and Hadassah), a perfect discovery in time for Hannukah (which has just finished): A Hasmonean-era building was unearthed in the City of David in Jerusalem:
Despite over 100 years of exhaustive excavations throughout Jerusalem’s City of David, archeologists have been unable to find a single significant structure from the Hasmonean period, until now.
On Tuesday, following months of delicate probing and analysis, the Antiquities Authority announced an unprecedented finding – a 4- meter-high building from the second century BCE, covering some 64 square meters, with dozens of ancient coins still lying on its floors.
“More than 100 years of archeological excavation has failed to find the buildings of the Hasmonean period,” Dr. Doron Ben-Ami, one of the excavation’s directors, said on Tuesday. “We have not had good evidence of Hasmonean buildings, until now.”
The Hasmonean dynasty, descendants of the Maccabee family, ruled Judea and surrounding areas from 141-37 BCE, during classical antiquity.
In 37 BCE the Hasmoneans fell to Herod the Great, of Edomite descent, and the Herodian dynasty began.
Although numerous pottery vessels were discovered inside the building, Ben-Ami said it was the discovery of more than 40 silver and bronze coins found on the floor that surprised him most.
“These indicated the structure was erected in the early 2nd century BCE and continued into the Hasmonean period, during which time significant changes were made inside it,” he said.
While descriptions of the Hasmonean city were vividly articulated in the works of Flavius Josephus, Ben- Ami said that apart from remains of the city’s fortifications discovered in different parts of Jerusalem, none of the Hasmonean city’s buildings had been uncovered.
Calling the finding unprecedented, the archeologist said the structure bridges the gap in Jerusalem’s settlement sequence by adding “tangible expression.”
“We are filling a gap in the sequence of periods in Jerusalem’s history,” he said. “We know it is well-documented in different texts that it flourished in the 2nd century BCE, but there has been almost nothing found there until now.”
This is all excellent news. Every archaeological discovery, particularly in Jerusalem, strengthens our claim to the city and destroys the arguments of those who claim we are invaders and interlopers. Besides this, the discovery adds to our understanding of our own history, bringing it alive in front of our eyes. Kol hakavod to all the archaeologists involved in this very important excavation.
Last but not least, after suffering temperatures in the high 20s to mid 30s Celsius, winter has finally arrived, with heavy rain, cold weather and even snow on the Hermon. Better late than never! Now I have to remember where on earth I put my closed shoes over 6 months ago… 🙂
With the hope that this bumper crop of good news puts you in the right mood for Shabbat, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!