Good News Friday

A week of ups and downs has just gone past, with, on the one hand the Pope’s visit and his controversial statements, and then on the other hand Yom Yerushalayim following on immediately afterwards. So thank goodness it’s Friday and time for another Good News Friday installment to put us in the right mood for Shabbat.

This week’s post is going to concentrate mainly on BDS fails (or #BDSFail in Twitterspeak).

Golan Heights wines

First up is wine – Golan wine to be precise. Despite all the boycott efforts, Golan Winery’s exports to Europe have gone up 20%!:

According to Arnon Harel, marketing manager of the Golan Heights Winery, despite all the talk of boycotts against products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, exports to Europe have in fact blossomed over the past year.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Harel commented “we are not the only innovators creating quality wine for (consumption) abroad. We invest a lot in export to the US, the Far East, and Europe.”

“Despite the opposition and the attempts to boycott, that doesn’t interest the European consumers that are looking for quality wine. There’s a roughly 20% rise in sales in Europe; European customers don’t care about pro-Palestinian organizations opposing wine from the Golan Heights,” reported Harel.


Harel pointed out another trend, notably that customers are shifting to higher quality wines: “there’s a transition by consumers to quality wines, even if the wine costs a little more money.”

White wines can’t be produced fast enough to keep up with the consumption, indicating a great demand which is also shared by “brut” sparkling wines, according to Harel.

“We at the Golan Heights Winery are preparing for the holiday of Shavuot, when the focus is on white and bubbling wines,” he beamed.


Harel remarked that his winery recently introduced an exclusive sparkling rose wine which is appropriate for unique events. “The demand comes from consumers who are looking for something interesting and prestigious,” he said.

“Bubbling brut wine is another niche in the world of wines that we believe will develop in the coming years,” concluded Harel.


The Tura Winery, located in the Samaria village of Rehelim near Ariel, said in February it is responding to the boycott threats by ignoring Europe and concentrating on the American, Russian and Chinese markets.

Sadly there is a fly in the wineglass in the form of home-grown boycotters, who as usual are worse than our external enemies. However, judging by the figures posted by the Golan and Samaria wineries, they are not making much of a dent.

Let’s drink to that anyway. Lechaim!

Moving on to the world of music, Israel is enjoying tours and shows by several top performers this summer. The wildly popular Justin Timberlake arrived in Israel this week and tweeted a photo of himself at the Kotel

Welcome Justin Timberlake. Thank you for not listening to the BDS bigots and for coming to entertain us.

Cheeky Photoshop of the Rolling Stones Israel concert poster

Of course the biggest names to top the billboards are the Rolling Stones who are set to perform this week too. The Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Woods gave credit for their Israel visit to Bob Dylan:

Ronnie Wood, guitarist for The Rolling Stones, revealed Monday that Bob Dylan put the idea in the Stones’ circle to include Israel as a tour stop.

In an interview with Channel 2 in response to written questions ahead of the Stones’ Israel debut on June 4, Wood said that one time after seeing Dylan perform, the singer made the suggestion.

He was coming offstage and said “we’re going to Tel Aviv.” He had a big smile on his face, and he said he loved it there,” said Wood. “I said, we’ve never been there, so we’ll have to go play there one day, so there you go.”

Kol hakavod to Bob Dylan who is a frequent visitor to Israel, and kudos too to the Rolling Stones for listening to him and coming here to perform. A huge kol hakavod to the Stones too for rejecting loud and energetic calls from the BDS bigots to boycott Israel. I’m sure their show will be a huge success.

FIFA World Cup

Yet another #BDSFail occurred when Palestinian demands of FIFA (the governing body of the international football association) to ban Israel were rejected by Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s president:

FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter said yesterday that he does not see a reason to take actions against Israel in next month’s FIFA Congress, though Palestinians have said they will urge delegates to do so.

Palestinians say Israeli security forces, who control movement between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, frequently prevent athletes from traveling freely between the two separated territories.

Israel cites security concerns but says it has eased travel for athletes between Palestinian territories.


“I think that soccer can be a bridge for peace and if they [referring to the Palestinians] will want, as I have offered more than once to Jibril Rajoub, that once he decides I’m willing to hold a match between Israel and Palestine for peace,” said Avi Luzon.


Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine FA and also head of the Palestine Olympic Committee, has said that they would press ahead with demanding sanctions if Blatter fails to convince Israel to lift the restrictions on the travel and movement of Palestinian athletes.

Kol hakavod to Mr. Blatter who obviously understood Israel’s security concerns – which include the Palestinians having used a soccer field to launch rockets at Israel, and rejected the Palestinians calls for a boycott. And just to remind us all who the head of the Palestinian football association really is, Jibril Rajoub is a convicted violent terrorist with a history of incendiary remarks against Israel. If anyone is to be banned it should be him.

Floating is easy in the high salinity of the Dead Sea

Leaving the BDS to its bigots, we now move back to one of my favourite subjects – Israel’s hi-tech and biomedical developments. Today we learn about a Dead Sea salt-loving fungus that could help to feed the world (via Brian Goldfarb):

A team of scientists from Israel, Germany and the US are studying Eurotium rubrum, a filamentous fungus found in the depths of the Dead Sea, to understand why it tolerates salt so well. Their findings may help agronomists develop hardier varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be grown in brackish water. This goal has become more important than ever, as fresh groundwater deteriorates and increases in salinity in parts of the world undergoing accelerated desertification, the scientists said.

The team is studying E. rubrum’s genome to find out what makes it survive and grow in high-saline environments. The group is led by Eviatar Nevo from the University of Haifa in Israel, Igor Grigoriev of the US Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI), and Gerhard Rambold of the University of Bayreuth, Germany. The team’s findings are described in the May 9 issue of Nature Communications.

The Dead Sea has 34.2 percent salinity, making it the fourth saltiest body of water on earth, 9.6 times as salty as the ocean. The high level of salt in the Dead Sea is a boon to tourism, enabling swimmers to float without trying. However, it is not very conducive to life, hence the sea’s name.

Over the years, scientists have discovered numerous life-forms, such as algae, bacteria and fungi, that are able to survive the harsh Dead Sea environment. But most of the life-forms in the Dead Sea area live on the beach and go dormant when inundated with salt. E. rubrum, among other bacteria and fungi, is different and does well in the water itself.


“Understanding the long-term adaptation of cells and organisms to high salinity is of great importance in a world with increasing desertification and salinity,” the team wrote. “The observed functional and structural adaptations provide new insight into the mechanisms that help organisms to survive under such extreme environmental conditions, but also point to new targets like the biotechnological improvement of salt tolerance in crops. In principle this discovery could revolutionize saline agriculture worldwide by laying the groundwork of understanding necessary to appropriately using salt-resistant genes and gene networks in crops to enable them to grow in desert and saline environments,” they added.

If this experiment pans out as the scientists hope, this finding is of immeasurable benefit to the whole world. Kol hakavod to the Israeli and other scientists. May their work continue to show success for the benefit of all of us.

Concluding this week’s installment, since we’re still in the Yom Yerushalayim mindset, here is a beautiful video of scenes from the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six Day War, accompanied by the original rendering of Yerushalayim shel Zahav.

Watch and enjoy!

And with all these happy developments I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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5 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Andrea says:

    Reading this entry has left me with one question, maybe of secondary importance : is wine Kosher ? not all kinds of wine since special wine is sold by a frind of mine to his Jewish observant customers. Since my friends are not observant and drink (too much) everything is alcool I have not reliable source of info 🙂 I will google it any way – not homework after Shabbat

    • Brian Goldfarb says:

      Yes, Andrea, it is. Although, as you say, not all wine. I spoke not too long ago to an Australian Orthodox Rabbi at an ultra-orthodox wedding, and he noted that the kosher wine we were offered was “one-step up from paint stripper”. He also noted that it is very possible to make kosher wine without it being either smothered in sugar or boiled to death, so that it loses all taste (but not its alcoholic content).

      You and/or your friends will just have to be selective about which wines are good to drink. When we were in Israel last year, as far as I know all the wine we drank was kosher (although religious purists might disagree – but remember that rabbi!) and it all tasted good.

    • anneinpt says:

      Hi Andrea, as Brian said, wine is indeed kosher. But it’s only kosher when produced from a Jewish-owned vineyard and Jews are in charge of the production process. It’s a throwback to the days when wine was used in idol- worship.

      Nowadays there are wonderful prize-winning kosher wines, not only from Israel but also from France and other countries. And of course there are many home wineries too.

  2. Reality says:

    What a wonderful post.I cried watching the video!Just this week on Jerusalem day we went up to Jerusalem to join the hordes dancing in the streets,but not so long ago we could have been killed for walking along the old city streets.
    Well done also to Golan wineries and to researchers checking out how to utilise the salt in the Dead sea and elsewhere.

    • Brian Goldfarb says:

      Me too, Reality. I was in my first year of work after graduating in June 1967, and I hung on every news broadcast for al those 6 days. Still brings back the poignancy.

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