Good News Friday

There are days, even weeks, when I feel so depressed by our situation – and I’m not talking only of the physical terror war against us but also, almost more importantly, of the propaganda war against Israel and the Jews – that I feel like packing in this whole blogging thing and opting out of this fight.

I might yet do so, but for the moment I’m trying to hold my head high (or at least above the water-line), and in that spirit here is another Good News Friday post.

Since much of my depression is caused by the BDS bigots and their antics, it always gives me much pleasure to report on their #BDSFails. Here is another one (via Brian Goldfarb) where the State of Indiana has outlawed anti-Israel boycotts:

WASHINGTON — The Indiana Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill banning state dealings with entities that boycott Israel or its settlements.

Indiana State Capitol


The bill approved 47-3 on Tuesday, with bipartisan backing, defines “the promotion of activities to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” as meeting the standard of “extraordinary circumstances” necessary under state law to mandate divestment from a company.

The state House of Representatives passed the measure in January. Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican who was a pro-Israel leader when he was in the US Congress, is expected to sign the bill into law.

“This will place Indiana among the select vanguard of states that have publicly defended the Jewish State of Israel using proactive legislation,” said a statement Wednesday by the Jewish Affairs Committee of Indiana, which led the lobbying effort for the bill.

The best part of this bill is that it applies to the settlements too – not a given even in America:

The bill includes in its definition “territories controlled by the Jewish State of Israel,” effectively including any bid to boycott settlements in its purview.

It is one of over 20 bills that have passed or are under consideration in state legislatures that would counter the BDS movement; not all include language targeting settlements. The Obama administration has said that while it will continue to oppose efforts to boycott Israel, it will not oppose bids that specifically target settlements.

Thank you Indiana and kol hakavod on your politically incorrect courage in standing up for your principles.

Reinforcing Israel’s anti-Apartheid status, here is a remarkable story from Major Alaa Waheeb, a Muslim IDF soldier who says that “only Israel could produce a soldier like me:”

But perhaps more than most people on either side of the debate, I am better placed to argue against them [the claims of Apartheid etc – ed.]. Because I am an Israeli, an Arab, and the highest ranked Muslim in the IDF.

Major Alaa Waheeb, a Muslim IDF officer

Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today? Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society. It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that.

But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences?

And while we’re on the subject of those defences, let me tackle accusation two: that the Israel army is a particularly immoral one. I am not particularly religious, but as the Holy Quran says, “if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind.”

I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people. When Hamas fires rockets, or Fatah encourages stabbings, we are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

And so on to the last point – that the best way to resolve violence and conflict is through the kind of tactics advocated by the Boycotts movement. Namely, isolation and intimidation. For me, this is the most important issue, and the one which makes me shake my head with anger and sadness the most.

Like I said, I visited the UK to combat Israeli Apartheid Week, to challenge the lies and mistruths hurled at the country I am proud to call home. But what hurts me the most is not how unbelievable they are. The opposite, in fact. They are all too believable, and I should know – because I once believed them too.

The reality is that the town I grew up in did not recognise the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. While Arabic is an official language, I did not learn Hebrew until I was 17. I was raised to believe the worst things about Jews, and, had I not eventually met and worked alongside them, I might still believe those things today.

In my role as a soldier, I have met all kinds of people both in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Jews, Arabs, Religious, Secular, Left-wing and Right-wing. I have met Israelis who were prejudiced against me. But I have also met Palestinians who appreciate the work that I do to maintain some sort of peace and stability in the most dangerous part of the world.

Forget slogans and shouting. Peace – real peace – will only come when people talk to each other. Not necessarily agree – just agree to listen. But the irony of Israeli Apartheid Week is that it wants individuals to focus on differences, not similarities. Instead of building bridges between communities, it wants to build walls.

What a remarkable man is Maj. Waheeb, who freely admits that ignorance led him to hate Israel until his eyes were opened. And yet he both allowed his mind to be opened and then went on to spread the good word about Israel to those who hate us. May he go on from strength to strength, an I wish him lots of success both in his career and in his service as a goodwill ambassador for Israel. Now if only his message were spoken in front of a BDS audience and not only in front of a supportive audience, maybe some progress could be made.

Since we’re talking about #BDSFails here, how about this tweet by the French Ambassador to the US, calling out Human Rights Wrongs Watch (HRW)’s Ken Roth for singling out Israel: (h/t NGO Monitor):

And in case anyone still fancies boycotting Israel after all that, watch this video. It’s harder than you think:

In fact investors are pouring millions into Israeli startups. Amongst those investors are Israeli billionaire Haim Saban who will be investing no less than $100 million into Israeli digital startups.

Of course, as the above video shows, we all know that Israel is a sure bet when it comes to their high-tech industries. But what of the actual people behind these developments? What is the extra quality in their education which leads them to such heights?

This story, of a girls’ high school in the periphery town of Yeruham, which won a robotics competition, should help explain the phenomenon:

A girls’ school robotics team from the Negev town of Yeruham has won the national FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition and will go on to represent Israel in the international round of the competition in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Amit Kamah robotics team celebrates its victory at the national FIRST heat | Photo credit: Itay Tamir / FIRST Israel

The international FIRST school robotics competition is open to eighth-to-10th-grade pupils.

The Amit Kamah girls’ school from Yeruham battled it out with teams from high schools all over Israel at the national heats this week in Raanana. The teams built the robots themselves and were judged on how well the robots were programmed and functioned in activities such as picking up balls, climbing over hills, and defending themselves against competing robots.

Each team was also asked to donate to its home community through a project of its choice.

The Amit Kamah team won the Inspiration Prize, the most prestigious category in the competition, which judges the team’s community work as well as the performance of its robot. The Amit Kamah students “adopted” children from the elementary school in the nearby Bedouin community of Rakhma and taught them robotics, enabling them to eventually form their own robotics team.

And THAT, dear readers, the spirit of volunteerism and help the less fortunate, is what I believe gives Israeli students the edge over their peers elsewhere.

Kol hakavod to the students of Amit Kamah school both on their prestigious win and on their wonderful voluntary work with their Bedouin neighbours. I’m sure we will be reading more about these young women in the years to come.

That spirit of reaching out to others is seen in another Israeli project: Energiyya Global is crowdfunding to raise money to fund a solar power generator for a South Sudan hospital:

Jerusalem-based Energiya Global is using the Israeli crowdfunding platform Crowdmii to raise $60,000 toward building a solar-powered generator for His House of Hope, a Christian ministry-run orphanage, school and hospital catering to women and children in Yei, South Sudan.

Staff and workers at the House of Hope hospital in South Sudan

The Israeli solar and social development enterprise aims to provide clean electricity for 50 million people in underserved areas of the world. South Sudan, a country founded after a long civil war in Sudan, has many orphans and homeless children. The funding campaign is a partnership with the New York-based Renewable Light Fund.

“By providing a solar installation to His House of Hope Hospital we are increasing the facility’s ability to care for the ill, assist birthing mothers and prevent the spread of disease in the region while reducing the cost of electricity and augmenting its availability,” the company explains in its campaign. “We are currently planning the construction, financing and interconnection of a utility-scale solar field that will be connected to the national grid.”

Kol hakavod to to the Israeli entrepreneurs behind this project. May they be successful in helping these poor sick people, and make a Kiddush Hashem (a sanctification of G-d’s name) in the process.

And with this food for thought, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

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13 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. ShimonZ says:

    שבת שלום; שתהי מתוקה וקדושה ונזכה כולנו לבשורות טובות

  2. Elchanan Sussman/ says:

    …..ומי כעמך גוי אחד בארץ…….

  3. Barney says:

    Keep going, Anne! As a non-Israeli and a non-Jew I depend on your blog for good news and for accurate news about Israel.

  4. Yves P. says:

    Hi Ann,
    you wouldn’t know but most companies using mainframe computer in America depend on a software product called CONTROL-M. You have to know that on any enterprise’s computer there are hundreds if not thousand of programs executing every night. Control-m is responsible for scheduling and monitoring the execution of all these programs. It is not the only product on the market doing this but it is without doubts the best one.
    As you wouldn’t imagine a modern airplane taking off without a few computers behind the cockpit, I wouldn’t imagine a data processing center going through a single night without a scheduler.
    I am a software analyst and I have installed new version of Control-M many times. It always freak me out when I report an unexpected problem with this software to our local supplier and somebody from Israel call back a few minutes later. This is how I learned that Control-M was developed in Israel.
    Yves P.

  5. Reality says:

    This was a fantastic blog.I cant for the life of me understand how BDS keeps going strong when so many States or countries are against their values regarding Israel.What an upstanding wonderful person Major Waheeb is May G-d watch over him and all our soldiers.
    Well done to those precious clever wonderful girls.Firstly to win such a prestigious prize(I can barely make a cake never mind a robot!!)but to volunteer at a nearby Beduin town is wonderful.In my place of work we have many Arabs Jews Christians who I know I can trust with my life.
    Lets hope for better news this coming week.
    Shabbat Shalom

    • Brian Goldfarb says:

      Reality, the BDS mob make a lot of noise, but achieve little, as the “Divest This” (US site) website shows. just getting mentioned is often claimed by them as a victory. They might try to claim the SodaStream move back into Green Line Israel as a victory, but if it is, it is Pyrrhic one. The result has been the loss of jobs by all the Palestinians previously employed in the Maale Adunim bloc.

      That’s a victory?

      And do you notice that they still use their cell phones and computers? That’s a BDS win? In their dreams.

      May they forget to take their (Israeli-developed) medicines!

      • anneinpt says:

        BDS know that they’re losing their boycott battle, so they’ve been reduced to “making a lot of noise” as you put it. But they’re managing to enforce a minor-boycott of Israelis, especially on campus, simply by making life unbearable for visiting Israelis. This leads also to increased antisemitism. At least it’s starting to be noticed now, and more and more academics are speaking up about it, which is a good thing I suppose. Evey cloud has a silver lining and all that.

        As for your wishes for the BDS – what can I say but Amen! 😀

    • anneinpt says:

      Thanks for your great comment Reality, especially for the insight into your work-place.

  6. Brian Goldfarb says:

    May I add a reference back here, please: two weeks back, BBC Radio 4 had a programme on BDS in its “Moral Maze” slot (possibly still available on BBC iplayer for those who can access it) in which Melanie Philips (not my favourite conservative) tackled one of the pro-BDS “witnesses” by asking him (rhetorically, of course) if he was still using his mobile (cell) phone, his desk-top computer, taking this that and the other Israeli-developed medicines, etc…, forcing him to note that he would have to consider this information (he won’t of course: that might stop him communicating his anti-Zionist [I’m being polite, you understand, after all, sensitive people might read these posts] messages).

    Good on you, Melanie!!

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