Good News Friday

TGIF (thank goodness it’s Friday) and time for another Good News Friday post.

We’ll start with some Israeli techie news. There has recently been a dreadful spate of children left in the car by forgetful parents and carers, who have consequently died as a result of heat stroke. Israel’s tech industry has been working feverishly for a solution to this horrific phenomenon (besides providing the parents with a memory chip for their brains!). Now an Israeli father – who almost forgot his own child – has come up with a simple solution:

In the past two months, five children in Israel have died of heatstroke after they were forgotten in cars. It almost happened to businessman Moshe Yerushalmi. He left his two-year-old son in a car, several years ago, but remembered a few minutes later, and his son was unharmed.

Now he has developed a new product called 2Find, using technology similar to ankle cuffs used to monitor prisoners.“It’s a small chip you can put on a baby or a pet or even some luggage,” Yossi Shenhav, the CEO of 2Find told The Media Line. “When there is a certain distance between the child and the parent, it will send an alert to the mobile phone of the parent.”

On their website, 2Find shows a father leaving a baby inside a car while speaking on a cellphone. A minute later he gets an SMS that reminds him that he left the child in the car, and he rushes back. If there is no response within four minutes, the app will send an alert to anyone on a designated list.

Shenhav says the second alert is meant as a back-up feature if the parent or caretaker has a problem with his cellphone, or, for example, goes into a meeting and leave the phone in his office. He said the technology has been in development for four years, and private investors have put in one million dollars.

2Find will be in Israeli stores in the next few weeks, and they hope to market in the US, Europe and Australia soon. The launch comes as the news in Israel focused on a 16-month-old girl who was left in a closed car for two hours in the ultra-Orthodox community of Beitar Illit. Last week, a four year old boy died in Rahat, a Bedouin city under similar circumstances.

Kol hakavod to Moshe Yerushalmi on developing this ingenious and simple device. Now all we need to do is educate the parents to actually use the chip, and we can then pray that this dreadful and deadly amnesia will be brought to an end.

Moving now to something decidedly more cheerful, Israeli scientists, along with others, have succeeded in sequencing the genome of 6,000 year old barley native to the Judean desert:

A new study has allowed scientists to peer thousands of years back in time via a grain of barley found in the Judean Desert.

Wild barley in Israel (photo credit: Gili Soffer)

Barley seeds, dated to 6,000 years ago, have become the oldest plant genome to be sequenced, an international team of researchers announced in a journal article published Monday. Analysis of the 6,000-year-old cereals supports the hypothesis that the key crop was domesticated thousands of years ago in the Jordan Valley.

A team of scientists from Israel, Germany, the United Kingdom and the US employed a wide array of disciplines — archaeology, archaeobotany and genetics — to study the material found in the Yoram Cave. The findings were released in the academic journal Nature Genetics.

The Chalcolithic kernels were discovered in a cavern overlooking the Dead Sea on the southern end of Masada, a mountaintop better known for Jewish rebels’ last stand against the Roman Empire in the first century CE.

The arid climate and precipitous cliff left the grains preserved for millennia. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University, one of the heads of the study, told The Times of Israel that whereas most ancient kernels are found charred and useless for DNA study, those excavated from the cave on Masada by a Hebrew University team “looked almost alive, almost fresh.”

Their immaculate preservation allowed scientists to “read the DNA from these seeds” and determine that they were domesticated locally, he said.

Weiss said that the barley found at Masada could only have been grown at least 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the remote mesa. Hebrew University archaeologist Uri Davidovitch posited that the people who brought it to the cave may have fled some unknown catastrophe and sought refuge in the desert, just like the mountaintop’s Jewish inhabitants thousands of years later.

Radiocarbon dating determined the seeds were 6,000 years old, grown several millennia after humans residing in the Fertile Crescent first domesticated grains such as barley and wheat around 10,000 years ago.

Until now, corn was the only ancient grain whose genetic fingerprint was fully mapped out. Barley’s genome was only studied through modern samples.

The seeds found in at Masada are “much closer to the time and place of domestication,” Weiss said. They are a “time capsule” that gives scientists a shortcut around 6,000 years of genetic mutation and offers insight into what the ancients ate.

This is absolutely fascinating! It enables us to imagine what the barley that was brought as an offering to the Holy Temple might have looked like. I wonder if the scientists will be able to actually sprout this barley and regrow it.

And now, since we’re talking about indigenous species, let’s talk about the indigenous people of Israel, aka the Jews.  Once again, it is beyond gratifying to learn that there are many Muslims who are not only not hostile to Israel, but are proud to openly call themselves Zionists.

Nadiya al-Noor

First we have Nadiya al-Noor (whom I blogged about in a recent post) explaining how as a Muslim woman she ended up becoming a Zionist:

Like many Muslims, I started out being very anti-Israel. A few years ago, I would have fully supported BDS, Students for Justice in Palestine, and even the Intifada. I saw Israel as evil. All I heard about Israel was bad – Israel was an apartheid state, Israel was slaughtering children left and right, Israel had no right to exist. Zionism was racism. My undergraduate university taught us that Hamas was an “interest group,” not a terrorist group. Everyone that I knew hated Israel. That is, until last year, when I learned the truth.

It is by accident that I started to learn about Israel. It occurred in my senior year of university. I decided to gain access to the Kosher Kitchen at the university’s Hillel because most Kosher food is Halal. Instead, I accidentally signed up to join the Hillel Israel Committee. I did not have the heart to tell the Israel Fellow “no,” so I went to meetings, begrudgingly at first. As time went on, I realized that most of what I had learned about Israel was anti-Semitic propaganda. Israel was a country just struggling to keep her people safe. It was not an Evil Oppressor like I had been told all my life. The Hillel became a place where I could be happy and safe, and an environment in which I could grow in my understanding of Israel and Judaism. I attended Shabbat dinners each Friday before my evening mosque services. I started planning events and programming with the Israel Committee.

So I spoke out. I became a pro-Israel advocate. I signed up for the Makom program to learn about Israel. I learned that Israel had tried many times to make peace agreements. I learned how the Arab states banded together to try and destroy Israel in 1948. I learned how accommodating and welcoming Israel is to all peoples, including Muslims. I became friends with people who had served in the IDF, and they told me about what it was like and what they had seen. I learned about the 800,000 Jewish refugees that Israel took in from Arab states. I learned that Jews really do need the state of Israel, and that it has been their land for over 3000 years. It is the only place on Earth where Jews are completely free to be Jewish. Zionism affirms the right for Jews to live safely in their indigenous homeland. Even the Quran speaks about how the Children of Israel would return to their eternal homeland from all corners of the world. All this knowledge shaped my identity. Today, I am proud to be both a Muslim and a Zionist.

It is my goal in life to build bridges between Jewish and Muslim communities. I have met many other Muslim Zionists with the same goal, a lot of them former anti-Israel extremists. Anti-Semitism in the Muslim community comes from anti-Israel lies and false religious teachings against Jews. The Muslim community must be educated about the realities of Israel and Israel’s true history. Only then can there be peace.

Just go and read the whole thing. Nadiya is simply the most amazing and courageous woman! Long may she continue with her good work, and may she continue to stay safe.

Another Muslim who became a Zionist is the Pakistani-born, British Muslim Noor Dahri:

Noor Dahri at the UK Zionist Federation

Noor relates how he became active in the Zionist Federation of all things:

It was 30th of March, 2016, when I was invited by the Zionist Federation of UK and it was the day when I acquired honorary membership in the Zionist Federation. I received mixed responses from different social circles and schools of thought, especially from the South Asian community. My own Pakistani community was surprised and mortified when I proclaimed my adherence to Zionism. I received various texts and social media messages from Muslim communities across the globe. Most of them welcomed my brave and courageous step to grasp the truth and some people asked queer questions regarding any anti-religious elements in Zionism especially for the religion of Islam. In response to their contrasting questions, I adopted the following way of discourse:

Noor addresses the issue in a series of questions and answers and comments:

I was not the sole Muslim who joined this the Zionist Movement; there are numerous Muslims in history that also joined this movement in consensus with the Jewish community and in support of Israel. I joined the Zionist Federation in the UK because I believe that the Jewish community needs more support for their cause, they need someone, who campaigns for peace between the Muslim and the Jewish community, someone who can descant with the Pakistani community for them and someone who can educate their people about the reality of Israel and Jewish people. I then decided to become a part of the Zionist Federation, which is a great honour for me.

He then makes this astounding and vital assertion, which is so important for all of us to internalize, and broadcast loud and wide:

According to British-based Imam Muhammad Al-Hussaini, traditional commentators from the 8th and 9th century onwards have uniformly interpreted the Qur’an to say explicitly that the Land of Israel has been given by God to the Jewish people as a perpetual covenant. Hussaini bases his argument upon the Qur’an in which Moses declares: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which God has prescribed for you, and turn not back in your traces, to turn about losers.” Quran 5:21

This is a concrete proof that this land was never been a historical land for Muslims ONLY and the Jewish community has a divine right on this consecrated land according to the Holy Qur’an. I fully concede with the statement of Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a pupil of the Grand Mufti of Cairo, in which he stated: “The Qur’an itself grants the whole Land of Israel to the Jews, so that any opposition to the Jewish state is an offense against Allah.”

Here too I recommend you read the whole article. A Jewish Agency spokesman couldn’t have put it better if he tried! Kol hakavod to Noor Dahri. I wish him and his fellow Zionist Muslims the greatest success. If anyone can bring about peace it is people like them. May Hashem look after them and keep them safe.

Update: Shirley Perry in the comments has brought this great item by Jeffrey Perry to my attention: Israel debuts in the World Women’s Softball Championships:

Surrey, British Columbia Canada – The Israel Softball Association women’s national softball team made its debut in the XV Women’s World Championships in Surrey, Canada last week. It was the first time in international softball history where thirty countries participated in The World Championships.

The first group stage draw placed Israel, USA, Brazil, and Austria in the same group. Israel’s first game was against the US team which was ranked second.

Alison Aronovic pitches

 

In the placement round, Israel broke out with a win against Switzerland in an exciting 11 – 8 game. Pitcher Allison Aronovic picked up the win in pitching a full game for Israel.

It’s a great feeling to know that Israel was warmly welcomed at the championship:

WBSC (World Baseball and Softball Confederation) president of the softball division, Dale McMann, is very pleased that Israel is participating in the world championships, a sentiment echoed by world championship organizing committee chairman, Greg Timm.

“We are pleased and excited that Israel is participating here in the world championships in Surrey”, Timm said.

Mariana Fox, an athlete on the Israel women’s team who moved from Canada to Raanana, was thrilled to be playing on Team Israel in the world championships. Fox, who plays both infield and outfield, said “I’m excited to be representing my country in a tournament such as The World Championships. Women from thirty different countries play every day representing their sport, country, and developing softball for the younger generation. No matter their religious background, political beliefs, ethnicity, age, or societal status, I want to see softball grow in both Israel and for young girls worldwide.”

It was very difficult for the Israeli women’s team to get to the world championships. There was no government funding to send the team to the tournament, so the team had to fundraise to purchase their own uniforms and equipment. With generous donations from the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and major donors within the Vancouver Jewish community, including Anita and Arnold Silber, travel expenses were raised so that the women could travel to the world championships.

Kol hakavod to the Israeli Women’s team on their participation, and their win. Kol hakavod too and a huge thank you to the generous donors from Vancouver Jewish community. May the team go on to great success in the future!

And now with these heart-warming thoughts in mind, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

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3 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Pingback: Good News Friday – 24/6 Magazine

  2. Shirley Perry says:

    Hi Anne,

    Jeff has just come back from the Women’s Softball World Championships in Canada with the Israel delegation. He wrote this article if you’d like to quote it:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4834757,00.html

    Shabbat Shalom. Shirley Perry

    • anneinpt says:

      Thank you Shirley! I’m going to update my post right now!

      If you every have more good news items like these please send them to me by email at anneinpt at gmail dot com. Thanks and Shabbat Shalom! 🙂

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