Good News Friday

It’s Shushan Purim today, the day after “regular” Purim, when the festival is celebrated in Jerusalem and other cities which were walled in the time of Joshua, so it is all the more appropriate to post a Good News Friday installment.

My first item for today happened just yesterday, in my hometown of Petach Tikva. The owner of the Orlov Shwarma shop provided the Border Guards, who arrived to secure the local Adloyada parade, with delicious meals and refused to take payment for them. What a great guy! Kol hakavod!

Here is the story (via Zvi) on Facebook, posted by one of the Border Guards:

Moving from the local to the international scene, in a manner reminiscent of the Purim story, we read of a classic “venahafoch hu” (“and it was turned about”) emanating from Dubai: Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy head of Dubai Police and General Security, spoke out against seeing Israel as the enemy and rejected the idea of a Palestinian state!:

Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy head of Dubai Police and General Security, made the statements on Twitter this week, flouting a long-standing Arab taboo on speaking positively about Israel and accepting the possible failure of an independent Palestinian state.

Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s police chief (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

He urged his followers not to “treat Jews as enemies,” but when he then posed a series of questions about Jews to his 1.3 million Twitter followers, their overwhelmingly negative responses indicated that most do not share his sentiments.

“America is trying to get closer to Israel…the entire world is…Rapprochement will solve problems. Why shouldn’t we have a coalition with the Jews against the enemies of the Middle East,” wrote Tamim to his Twitter followers.

Though he did not specify who he meant by the “enemies of the Middle East,” he was likely referring to Iran.

In a later tweet, Tamim accused the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of “trading in the Palestinian cause.”

Of course it’s not all unbridled good news since Tamim foresees the Palestinian population overcoming the Israeli Jewish population and then taking control, although he still sees no reason for the two peoples to live together peaceably. I think Tamim is either very naive or very disingenuous, but the very fact that he has distanced himself from an Arab “holy cow” of demanding Palestinian statehood is reason in itself to be optimistic.

This slightly surreal turn of evens is notable especially considering Tamim’s past form on Israel:

The former Dubai police chief is credited with discovering and publishing the identities of Mossad operatives allegedly behind the 2010 assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.

Writing last May in al Araby al Jaded, an important London-based Arabic news site, Alain Gresh said that “Tamim does not fear controversy and avoids doublespeak.”

“Should we believe him?” asked Gresh. “In any case, nobody appears able to prevent him from speaking his mind. Frankly, it’s a rare quality in a region where leaders do not usually confide in the media.”

Let’s hope that other Arab leaders join Tamim in joining together with Israel against our common enemy, Iran.

Meanwhile in Britain, it is refreshing to hear Prime Minister David Cameron take Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to task for the growing antisemitism in the Labour Party:

UK Prime Minister David Cameron issued sharp criticism of the Labour party Wednesday, given the large number of members recently exposed making anti-Semitic comments and the party’s unwillingness to take action against them.

In parliament, Mike Freer of the Conservative party asked Cameron if he agrees that all organizations “public and private” should root out anti-Semitism, in a timely statement given the Labour party’s recent association with anti-Semitism.

“Anti-Semitism is an absolute cancer in our society,” responded Cameron, warning that when hatred of Jews grows it’s a signal of “many even worse things happening to ethnic groups and other groups all over our country.”

Recognizing the growth of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks in the UK, he called to “stamp it out.”

Cameron then focused his comments on Labour head Jeremy Corbyn, and noted there is a growth of anti-Semitism in “part of the Labour party.”

“And I say to the leader opposite, it’s his party and he should sort it out,” added the prime minister forcefully.

Watch the video below:

Kol hakavod to David Cameron. I hope he continues to press the Labour Party on their sorry record of antisemitism until it truly is dealt with properly.

And to conclude this week’s installment, how about some good old Israel bio-medical advances? The latest news from this field is a single blood test that can reveal multiple serious diseases:

An Israeli-led international team of researchers has proof of concept for a single blood test that can detect multiple conditions, including diabetes, cancer, traumatic injury and neurodegeneration, in a highly sensitive and specific manner.

The novel method, tested on 320 patients and control groups, zeroes in on patterns of circulating DNA that is released by dying cells and traces it to specific types of tissue.

The study was reported in a paper published recently in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA.

The test was able to detect pancreatic beta-cell death in the blood of patients with new-onset type 1 diabetes, oligodendrocyte death in patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis, brain-cell death in patients after traumatic or ischemic brain damage, and exocrine pancreas cell death in patients with pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis.

“In the long run, we envision a new type of blood test aimed at the sensitive detection of tissue damage, even without [prior] suspicion of disease in a specific organ. We believe that such a tool will have broad utility in diagnostic medicine and in the study of human biology,” said Prof. Benjamin Glaser, head of endocrinology at Hadassah Medical Center and another lead author of the study along with Prof. Yuval Dor, a developmental biologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Noninvasive measurement of cell death is a super exciting area with endless applications,” Dor told Science magazine.

What an incredible discovery with such hugely important potential. Kol hakavod indeed to all the researchers: Hebrew University students Roni Lehmann-Werman, Daniel Neiman, Hai Zemmour, Joshua Moss and Judith Magenheim, aided by clinicians and scientists from Hadassah Medical Center and Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

And with this heartening good news, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!


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