Good News Friday

I can’t believe a week has gone by since last Friday, yet the news does not seem to be improving. The only small comfort we can take from this latest wave of terror attacks is that so far (בלי עין הרע) tfu tfu tfu none of the attacks have been fatal. Nevertheless the “matzav” (lit. “situation” in Hebrew, meaning the security situation in common parlance) is not great to put it mildly.

But it’s Friday, and this week is Shabbat Bereishit, when we start the cycle of Torah readings from the beginning, so with a somewhat heavy heart, here is this week’s Good News Friday installment.

Oil find in the Golan Heights

The biggest announcement of the week, outside of the security situation, was the discovery of a huge oil-field on the Golan Heights: (via Suzanne and David):

After more than a year of round-the-clock drilling, large amounts of oil have been found on the Golan Heights. Estimates are that the amount of oil discovered will make Israel self sufficient for very many years to come.

Afek Oil and Gas chief geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov told Channel 2 News, “We are talking about a strata which is 350 meters thick and what is important is the thickness and the porosity. On average in the world strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is ten times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that’s what we now know.”

Three drillings have so far taken place in the southern Golan Heights which have found large reserves of oil. Potential production is dramatic – billions of barrels, which will easily provide all Israel’s oil needs. Israel consumes 270,000 barrels of oil per day.

Although the existence of the oil in the ground is a fact, the critical phase now is to check how easily it can be extracted and whether it involves high production costs. In a period of very low oil prices, extraction will have to be relatively cheap to make exploitation of the field profitable.

Of course there are many problems ahead, inclduing the environmental and geopolitcal complications. Nevertheless the implications of this oil find are enormous. As Dr. Bartov said:

… “There is enormous excitement. It’s a fantastic feeling. We came here thinking maybe yes or maybe no and now things are really happening.”

Kol hakavod to Afek Oil & Gas together with all the researchers, developers and drillers. Let’s hope this find will bring to reality our dream of “Jews with hydrocarbons” (to quote commenter Earl). 🙂

SpaceIL's race to the moon (screenshot from <a href="">SpaceIL</a>

SpaceIL’s $20m race to the moon (screenshot from SpaceIL)

Israel is at the forefront not only under the ground but way up in space: An Israeli startup has become the first competitor in Google’s $20 million race to the moon:

The Google Lunar XPRIZE is a competition to see who can send an unmanned spacecraft to the moon first. Sixteen spots are available for teams from around the world who will be vying for the  $20 million grand prize.

But getting to the moon isn’t the only challenge. To win, a team’s craft must travel 500 meters on the moon and send back plenty of video and images.

Only one team has already claimed its spot: a nonprofit Israeli startup called SpaceIL.

SpaceIL’s a relatively new group, but it might have at least one trick up its sleeve.

While many teams thinking of joining the race are planning to use rovers to travel the 500 meters, SpaceIL’s abandoning wheels altogether.

Instead, it’ll use leftover fuel to make the craft hop the half-kilometer. Google never specified how the distance had to be covered.

I like the Israeli team’s originality and inventiveness. 🙂  I’m sure we’re all rooting for SpaceIL to win the prize! Kol hakavod to them all!

Speaking of space, here’s a huge kick in the teeth for BDS and boost for Israel: Facebook are going to be using the Israeli satellite Amos 6 to provide internet service to Africa:

European satellite operator Eutelsat Communications and social media giant Facebook said Monday they are working jointly to deliver satellite broadband Internet to connectivity-hungry sub-Saharan Africa using an Israeli satellite.

The firms revealed they have reached a multi-year agreement with satellite communication firm Spacecom to use the entire broadband payload of the AMOS-6 satellite due to come on stream in the second half of next year and provide coverage for large swaths of sub-Saharan Africa, after identifying “pent-up demand for connectivity.”

The multi-million dollar AMOS-6 satellite, built by the Israel Aerospace Industries, will be ready for launch in 2016, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

This is fantastic news for Israel’s space industry, for Facebook, for internet users in Africa and the best #BDSFail I can think of. 🙂

Kol hakavod to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook and to the developers of Amos 6 on their excellent project. We wish them huge success!

Jerry Seinfeld

Coming back down to Earth, renowned Jewish comedian Jerry Seinfeld will be making his first appearance in Israel. (I admit I was surprised he’d never appeared in Israel before though he has visited):

Jerry Seinfeld will bring his stand-up routine to Israel for the first time this coming December.

Seinfeld, the superstar Jewish-American comedian who calls New York, home, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Menora Mitvachim on December 19, Israeli media reported.

In a clip showing the funnyman aired on Channel 2 Wednesday, Seinfeld said he would be making “a lot of Jewish jokes.”

The comedian, who starred in the eponymous hit TV show “Seinfeld” in the 1990s, last visited Israel in 2007 when he was promoting “The Bee Movie.” As a teenager, he did a stint as a kibbutz volunteer.

This should certainly lighten the atmosphere for us Israelis!

Bon Jovi plays in Israel

Seinfeld joins the growing list of world-famous artistes who have been visiting and appearing in Israel, including Kanye West. Another fantastic appearance last week was by the band Bon Jovi who not only gave a great performance by all accounts, but stood by Israel morally. Israellycool has more:

Bon Jovi stood with Israel and gave us reasons to smile. Especially last night, when we really needed it.

“We’re finally here. It took me long enough,” he said in the concert.

The frontman introduced keyboardist David Bryan – aka David Bryan Rashbaum, who’s Jewish and once told The Forward that he blows the shofar at his synagogue on Rosh Hashana – and said that 45 years after sending him to piano lessons, Rashbaum’s dad would be so proud that he was playing in Israel. Then, the band played “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.”

On what was a difficult night for many, attending a rock concert less than an hour after a terrorist attack, Bon Jovi dedicated two empowering songs to Israelis. First “We Don’t run,” which he said “should be the fight song for Tel Aviv” and features lyrics like “We don’t run, I’m standing my ground, We don’t run, And we don’t back down.” Then, “It’s My Life” with: “Better stand tall when they’re calling you out, Don’t bend, don’t break, baby, don’t back down.”

The vile Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, an out-and-out antisemite, had tried to persuade Bon Jovi not to come to Israel. To quote Brian of London:

An unequivocal show of support for Israel. AND a huge f*** you to Roger Waters.

Mensches. Now added to my list.

Indeed. Thank you to Bon Jovi for the great performance and the even greater morale boost for us Israelis as we are going through a very difficult time.

There are some fantastic videos at Israellycool’s link for those who want to watch.

The new Nachal Kaneh bike path

And now back to some local news before Shabbat (via Hadassah): For the sporty types amongst us, a new bike path has been launched, running through Nachal Kaneh, (Hebrew link) the riverbed that runs from Karnei Shomron towards Yakir, and it looks like it will be a beautiful ride. Here’s my free translation of the main part of the article.

This time we reached the single-lane bike path of the Kaneh River built around the settlement of Karney Shomron, 10 minutes east of the separation fence checkpoint. Hovav Landau of Bible Bike who built several single-lane paths said: “The landscapes of the  Nahal Kane Reserve are amazing at the end of the summer, and also in winter and spring. There are several springs and paddling and bathing pools. Local agriculture. Animals.

Pool in Nachal Kaneh

In terms of the trail, it combines single sections, natural open spaces are in the area of the settlement, it was a cool experience and also enables quick, short rides in town, riding the morning or with children. Beyond that, there is the western descent (the black single-lane  – teh Kaneh Cliffs) which is rewarding and fun, challenging with its slopes and its technical level and, of course, the descent in Wadi Ibrahim, with its paved slope, the rocky passes – and the highlight – the bridges. Most of the trail is of medium technical level. The descent of the Black path of the Kaneh Cliffs, partly very steep, requires greater technical skill.”

It took six months to build the single-lane path and in fact it was completed in October two years ago. But then the project got caught up the sequence of events related to various regulatory approvals and things got complicated. “Just six months ago we were able to complete all the gaps created by the crisis and the dedication event this week, we completed all the little details said Hovav.

Kol hakavod to all those who designed, built and organized this beautiful bike path for the benefit of the entire community. I am not a bike-rider but I have hiked in the wadi and it is indeed beautiful. Highly recommended!

Let us send our prayers for refuah shlema, a speedy recovery, to all those wounded in this week’s wave of violence, and I pray that we have a peaceful, quiet Shabbat. May the coming week and the new month of Cheshvan, beginning on Wednesday, bring peace and safety to all of Israel and to our Jewish brethren worldwide.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

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2 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. JudyPt says:

    I am amazed that you found so many good things to write about after this depressing week.I especially like all the space news ,what a kick in the teeth to all the Bdsers, they must be green with envy.Hope they choke on their aggro!Carry on with your good work it gives us some cheer in these difficult times.

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you for your kind words. It is indeed sometimes hard to find good news, or to put myself in the mood to write it, but it makes me feel better in the end.

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