I haven’t posted a proper Good News Friday post for a while, so I’m happy to post a new installment.
Starting with a BDS fail, a South African court banned BDS protests inside Woolworth’s department store (h/t Barry Shaw):
The Johannesburg High Court banned BDS South Africa on Tuesday from protesting in Woolworths stores.
The South African retailer, with a stock market cap of NIS 10 billion, has been involved in a long-running battle with boycott, divestment and sanctions activists over three Israeli foods that the store imports: pomegranates, figs and pretzels.
All together, Israeli products make up 0.1 percent of foods in Woolworths supermarkets.
The company, explaining why it was taking the matter to court, said the BDS campaign’s decision to ramp up its protest action left Woolworths with no other choice but to protect customers and staff, allowing them to shop and work unhindered.
“The right of BDS to assemble and protest does not extend to protest action inside Woolworths stores,” said the company in its court application.
The campaign took an ugly turn when a student body aligned with the ruling government placed pigs’ heads in what they thought was the kosher section of a Woolworths store in Cape Town last month.
It later emerged that the heads were actually in the halal section.
Oops. Talk about epic fail!
Tuesday’s court order prevents members of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions SA (BDS SA) from organizing, coordinating or encouraging any form of protest action inside the Woolworths stores.
The court’s ruling is not a 100% for Israel’s supporters since it also requires the two sides to meet face-to -face to discuss the issue, but in the light of mounting boycott calls against Israel and outright the antisemitism expressed by BDS supporters, this court ruling is a very welcome development.
Connecting BDS Fail to Israel’s technological front, the UK turns to Israel for its cyber-security needs:
The United Kingdom has a goal of becoming “one of the safest places to do business online in the world,” according to British Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude. To help achieve that goal, Britain is seeking Israeli help.
On a visit to Israel this week, Maude met with top government officials involved in cyber security and visited start-ups working in the field to discuss possible investments.
“It was a pleasure to be back in Israel to see more of Israel’s impressive cyber and digital innovation first hand,” said Maude. “Both countries face enormous challenges in securing our cyber spaces and supplying the best digital services to our citizens, so cooperation between the UK and Israel is of great mutual benefit.”
…Some of those firms, and others, Maude said, could benefit from a joint Israel-UK £1.2 million cyber research fund, announced earlier this year. In addition, Maude said he had shored up a mutual assistance pact between Israel and the UK on cyber emergencies.
“I am delighted that UK-Israel bilateral relations and cyber cooperation continues to deepen, including through the joint academic cyber research fund which we have established. We have also agreed that the UK and Israeli Computer Emergency Response teams will further strengthen their relationship to enhance global cyber resilience.”
The UK and Israel have a close tech relationship, thanks in part to the UK-Israel Tech Hub, a program of the British Embassy in Israel dedicated solely to enhancing partnerships between Israeli and British tech entities.
This is excellent news for both countries and is a great boost to Israel’s prestige and economy. Kol hakavod to the UK for recognizing Israeli quality and progress. If only that could translate to the diplomatic sphere too.
Speaking of international cooperation, what could be more important than Israeli “hospitals of hope” to combat the deadly Ebola disease?
Israel’s experience in dealing with emergency situations makes it a valuable asset to the international community during times of crisis. Following urgent pleas from the United Nations, the World Health Organization, the US government, and others, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has allocated NIS 1.2 million (approx. $313,000) to help combat the Ebola virus that continues to spread at an alarming rate. “We perceive these direct requests as testimony to the well-known Israeli willingness of constant assistance in crisis situations,“ said head of MASHAV, Ambassador Gil Haskel.
MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation has teamed up with SAREL, Israel’s one-stop-shop for medical equipment and emergency supplies, to launch operation “Hospitals of Hope” aimed at providing much-needed equipment to the West African countries hit hardest by the virus, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
Launched on November 11th, the containers should take 30 to 40 days to reach their destinations. The medical shipments expected to arrive will include mobile clinics with a capacity of 20 beds each, protective gear for healthcare workers, as well as a treatment cart and all the equipment needed to set up the clinics as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the meantime, Israeli NGOs, such as “ISRA-AID” and “Israel Flying Aid” will continue to recruit doctors and assist local medical teams as they begin to operate the clinics.
The Israeli response to Ebola arrives in two phases
Israel’s immediate response to the Ebola outbreak was to provide the region with basic medical equipment, medication, and protective gear. An early request was made by the UN and US to send Israeli Defense Force field hospitals to the region, but the Ministry of Defense declined. Fear of exposing the Israeli medical teams to infection coupled with the difficulty of providing security for each encampment caused great concern. Instead, a team of doctors was dispatched to peripheral countries to assist in emergency preparedness and prevention, and the Foreign Ministry also upped the level of Israeli aid to the region.
Now, MASHAV is switching gears and getting ready to initiate their long-term response by building clinics and providing training to the local population.
What can we say in the face of such generosity and bravery? Kol hakavod sounds too weak to praise the courage of the medical staff who will be travelling to the “Ground Zero” of this terrible disease, and also to the local staff who live with this fear every day. May they be successful in their mission and come home safely.
Staying with the hi-tech field, here is an ingenious Israeli development to provide a portable solar energy source to provide electricity when travelling:
Lovers of nature and technology, meet the KaliPAK, the portable renewable energy generator.
The brainchild of two years of research and design by the Kalisaya team based in Israel, the idea for the KaliPAK came about as a solution for those places where grid-based electric power doesn’t exist. This doesn’t just mean that campers and trekkers have a way to stay connected; this autonomous and environmentally-friendly power source could even be used to replace diesel generators or as a back-up in the case of natural disasters. Currently, the team of designers, disaster-recovery experts and businesspeople are hoping to raise $250,000 on crowdfunding site Kickstarter to bring the product to market and aid electrically-challenged communities in Africa in the process.
Calling itself “all the power you need when there is no power around,” KaliPAK can generate up to 600watts/hour, enough to charge a smartphone 100 times over, a laptop 10-15 times and provide 120 hours of light. The pack weighs less than 14 lbs. and can be charged by plugging it into anything from a regular outlet, to a car-lighter socket, or using the four (patent-pending) solar panels contained inside the pack. According to the company, the KaliPAK can be charged to up to about 80 percent of its full power capacity on a sunny day. In addition, the pack comes equipped with all the outlets you may need: two USB ports, two 12V power outlets and a Bluetooth transmitter that will let you know, through the KaliAPP, how much energy you still have, whether you’re correctly aimed at the sun, and provide an emergency switch.
Besides being an incredible outdoors gadget for those who can afford it, the KaliPAK has an inherently positive mission to make power accessible to those who need it most. Whether it be providing accessible energy to a small community in Africa, or immediate power needs after a natural disaster, if it raises the required funds, KaliPAK’s uses are likely only to grow with time.
What a clever device! I know several members of my family who’d love to have such a machine when they’re travelling. Just the thought of being disconnected from their phones gives them nightmares! 😀
Kol hakavod to Kalipak’s developers. I’m sure it will will be a huge success.
For my final item of this installment, I’ll revert to my British roots and talk about the weather. 🙂 It’s been raining! Pouring! Flooding! And Petach Tikva tops the Israeli rain-charts this week. (Actually I’m not so sure how good that news was, considering the flooded streets and traffic gridlock, but PT is so rarely mentioned that it has its own “everybody ignores PT” facebook page! 😀 )
Downpours battered Israel from the North to the South on Wednesday as part of what the Israel Meteorological Service said is the wettest start to the rainy season in the central region in 20 years.
Some of the heaviest precipitation was in Petah Tikva, where more than 110 mm. of rain was recorded. Similar accumulations were recorded in the Negev, flooding dry creek beds and causing serious congestion on the roads. The North saw significantly less rainfall, between 20 mm. and 50 mm. across the region, the IMS said.
The amount of rainfall this season is far higher than average for this time of year, the IMS said, adding that over the past 75 years there have been only three years that saw more by the end of November.
By the morning, the overnight rains had raised Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) by 3.5 cm.
The Jews have a special relationship with rain. We have a special prayer for rain – Tefilat Geshem – on Simchat Torah and we bless G-d for the rain and wind every day during the winter. So despite the hardship caused by these heavy rains you will be hard put to find an unhappy face in the streets. The usual reaction of Israelis to rain is to cry out happily “Geshem!” and for the kids to run outside in their boots to jump in the puddles. To be honest it’s what I feel like doing sometimes too. 🙂
May the blessed rains continue to fall on us, but since it’s nearly Shabbat and we don’t drive, I hope that at least the weekend will be dry.
Wishing you all a safe, warm, dry Shabbat Shalom.