Somehow another week has passed by and it’s time for the next Good News Friday installment.
My first item concerns Israel’s burgeoning natural gas industry: Australia’s giant drilling company Woodside has signed an agreement to buy a 25% stake in Israel’s Leviathan gas field for the princely sum of $2.7 billion:
After the deal is completed, Woodside will hold 25% of the rights of the Leviathan field for a payment and commitment to royalties worth $2.71 billion, giving the field a value of $10.8 billion. Also agreed as part of the deal is that the partners will be paid a special “bonus” from any revenue that Woodside will receive from the sale of oil (if discovered) and if the natural gas reserves in the field rise above 20 trillion cubic feet (TCF).
With ample hydrocarbon supplies for decades of domestic use and export, Leviathan is estimated to contain about 535 billion cubic meters (18.9 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas and 34.1 million barrels of liquid condensate.
This is excellent news for Israel’s natural gas industry and potentially signifies the start of Israel’s standing as a gas exporter. Let’s hope the domestic market benefits from this natural windfall too.
My next item is a double serving, with two Israeli scientific achievements from Hebrew University.
The first item (h/t Zvi) informs us that Yossi Kabasa*, an Israeli doctoral student in applied physics from the Hebrew University, beat 350 other researchers from around the world to win the first prize of $100,000 in the Singapore Government’s urban development competition.
Kabasa had developed a method for detecting toxins in municipal water systems using genetically engineered bacteria.
Kol hakavod to Yossi Kabasa for his excellent work and research, and for winning the coveted prize. May he continue on to even bigger discoveries for the good of all of us.
(*For some reason, Bing translates Kabasa’s name to “Abid Ali”. Very mysterious).
In he second of these scientific discoveries (h/t Hadassah), a joint Israeli-American team have discovered what causes mucositis, one of the more serious side-effects of chemotherapy (Google translation):
Mucositis is a strong inflammatory response of the mucosa of the gastrointestinal tract , particularly the stomach. Among other things it causes difficulties in swallowing , loss of appetite , mouth sores , and loss of sense of taste. The medical world so far found no answer to this serious infection which often forces cancer patients to stop chemotherapy and radiation earlier than desired .
Naama Kenrik , a doctoral student in the Lautenberg Immunology and Cancer Research at the Faculty of Medicine of the Hebrew University , found that deleting the enzyme beta- TrCP stomach disrupts the DNA of the mucosa , similar to chemotherapy and radiotherapy . The enzyme beta- TrCP was first discovered 15 years ago by the Hebrew University researchers, led by Kenrik’s tutor, Yinon Ben Neriah from Hebrew University, along with Nobel Laureate in Chemistry , Prof. Aaron Ciechanover that this enzyme regulates acute inflammatory responses . Kenrik showed that the severe reaction of mucositis performed in mice genetically engineered so that they are without the enzyme.
If this discovery could lead to easing the discomfort and terrible side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation these researchers should win the Nobel Prize and every other prize going. Kol hakavod to Naama Kenrik, Yinon Ben Neriah and Israel’s Nobel laureate Prof. Aaron Ciechanover. May their success lead to ever greater discoveries.
My last item for today is a wonderfully optimistic look at Israel’s future. In his “Spengler” column at PJ Media, David P. Goldman says that Israel is now at the point of no return – in the right direction:
I should like to advance a conjecture which I lack the qualifications to adequately develop: The global Left, and the Israeli Left most of all, perceives that the clock is running out, and has worked itself up into a froth of hysteria against Israel. The world of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” where there are no countries and no religions, is about to dissipate like last night’s marijuana fumes. The demographic time bomb that worries the Left is not the relative increase of Arab vs. Jewish populations between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, speciously cited by John Kerry and a host of other errant utopians: it is the growth of the Jewish population itself, and Israel’s transformation into the world’s most religious country.
Israel now has a religious majority, as Times of Israel blogger Yoseif Bloch observes:
“According to our Central Bureau of Statistics, 43% of Israeli Jews are secular, 9% are haredi, and the remaining 48% are somewhere between masorti (traditional) and dati (religious): 23% the former, 10% the latter, and 15% smack in the middle. These five groups do not parallel the five groups identified by Pew, e.g. Orthodox is a denomination, while dati is a declaration.”
This majority seems to be expanding fast. I spent the second half of December in Jerusalem promoting the Hebrew translation of my book How Civilizations Die and was struck by the increase in commitment to religious observance, including among people who were steadfastly secular. … Naftali Bennett’s national-religious party “Jewish Home” has created a new political focus for the national-religious. Outreach organizations like Beit Hillel are bringing once-secular Israelis back to observance. Beit Hillel’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, was in New York recently lecturing about Israel’s religious revival.
Israeli is a standpoint in the modern world with a fertility rate of 3.0 children per woman (the closest second is the U.S. with just 1.9). Excluding the ultra-Orthodox the number is 2.6 children per woman, still outside the range of the rest of the industrial world. Secular Israelis are having three children. Not only does that defuse the much-touted “demographic time bomb.” It ultimately changes the character of the country. It validates the hundred-year-old argument of Rabbi Isaac Kook, one of the founders of religious Zionism, that identification with the Jewish people eventually will lead Jews back to Judaism.
This national religious revival is not occurring at the expense of Israeli or West Bank Arabs. On the contrary, the Arab population between the River and the Sea is flourishing as no modern Arab population ever did. A fifth of Israel’s medical students are Arab, as are a third of the students at the University of Haifa. Ariel University across the “Green Line” in Samaria, the “settler’s university,” is educating a whole generation of West Bank Arabs. The campus is full of young Arab women in headscarves, and the local Jewish leadership reaches out to Arab villages to recruit talented students. Israel’s expanding economy has a bottomless demand for young people of ability and ambition. The Left calls Israel an “apartheid state” the way it used to call America a “fascist state” back in the 1960s.
This is good news for Christians as well as Jews. The secularization thesis is refuted: a country with the world’s greatest record of high-tech innovation is also becoming the industrial world’s most religious country. It is devastating news for Lennonists as well as Leninists. The “Imagine” world turns out to be imaginary. Israel, as Franz Rosenzweig said of the Jewish people, is there to be “the paragon and exemplar of a nation.” For all its flaws, the State of Israel stands as a beacon to people of faith around the world. It is honored by its list of self-appointed enemies. Will Israel prevail against the unholy coalition against it? As we say, b’ezrat Hashem.
What a great article! With so much drum-beating about Israel’s demographic time-bomb and its numerical inferiority compared to its enemies, Goldman’s article both reassures us and confirms what so many of us see with our own eyes yet have trouble believing.
May Goldman’s words reflect the truth as it really is and not as we would wish it to be. Our own little contribution (our newest grandson) to the Jewish population is having his bris (circumcision) today and will be joining the chain linking the present Jewish nation to our glorious past.
With these happy thoughts, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.