The chagim are now well and truly behind us, and it’s back to normal programming (or what counts for normal in this household!).
Tomorrow is Shabbat Bereishit, the Shabbat when we start reading the Torah from the beginning all over again, so although it is not technically the first Shabbat of the year (that occurred straight after Rosh Hashana), it certainly feels like it! That feeling was magnified yesterday with the first rainfall of the season, a sudden downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning. We are still arguing whether it was because of my husband’s tefillat geshem or because my dad cleaned his car! 😀
I take this as an auspicious start to the year and a good reason to post this week’s Good News Friday installment.
My first item (via Brian Goldfarb) comes – believe it or not – via one of the UN’s institutions: The World Health Organization is considering giving Israel one of its highest awards for its emergency medical teams and field hospitals, something which no other country has:
Israel’s military field hospital, regularly dispatched to disaster zones to provide humanitarian relief — and to win the Jewish state some rare international brownie points — may soon be awarded the World Health Organization’s highest ranking, which would make it the first in the world to be so recognized.
In 2013, the United Nation’s WHO created a set of criteria to classify foreign medical teams in sudden onset disasters, on a scale from one to three. No country has yet to receive the top mark and “only a handful in the world could even think of” doing so, according to the lead author of the classification system, Dr. Ian Norton.
Last month, a WHO delegation visited Israel to assess the IDF Medical Corps’ field hospital, a sprawling 26-tent structure, during a large-scale exercise in northern Israel to determine if Israel would indeed be the first to score a “Type 3,” Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Ofer Merin, commander of the field hospital, told The Times of Israel.
The field hospital is “not just some medics and doctors spread out in the field,” but is a “national treasure” that has the capabilities of an advanced, permanent hospital, but can be set up almost anywhere in under 12 hours, Merin said.
Israeli disaster relief delegations — some of them led by Merin — have been some of the first and largest to arrive at the scenes of natural disasters. Teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command provided rescue and medical services after an earthquake in Turkey in 1999, an earthquake in Haiti in 2010, a typhoon in The Philippines in 2013 and, most recently, an earthquake in Nepal in 2015.
Watch this video of an American journalist expressing wonderment at Israel’s field hospital, and at the speed with which it was set up:
The article continues:
A Type 3 classification would cement Israel’s position as a world leader in emergency medicine and prove to both friends and foes that the Jewish state knows how to handle catastrophes.
The classification could also allow Jerusalem to continue to be among the first in line to respond to disasters in the future, a position its diplomats and other politicians relish, but one which has drawn accusations of “rubble-washing” — or using its disaster relief effort to boost its international standing.
Following his visit to Israel, Norton, who was part of the WHO delegation, backed up Merin’s boast, applauding both the field hospital itself and the immersive exercise being conducted inside it at the time.
“We saw a part, just six of the 26 tents, but even just those six tents were impressive,” Norton told The Times of Israel, over the phone from the WHO headquarters in Geneva.
In my mind there should be no doubt whatsoever that Israel’s emergency medical aid teams should receive the highest honour. Every time there is a disaster somewhere in the world, we have become used to automatically searching for the Israeli insignia or looking out for an Israeli spokesman on the scene. And in 99% of cases we find them.
And of course we are extraordinarily proud of our medical personnel, our army and our crazy little country.
Kol hakavod to all the Israeli personnel who take part in the disaster relief efforts, and amazingly enough, kol hakavod to the WHO for recognizing Israel’s excellence in this field.
Now let’s just wait and see if the high rating is actually given, or if some BDS-bigot ruins it for everyone.
Still on the subject of health care, via No Camels (whose site is problematic today), Israeli researchers have discovered why cancer recurs even after successful treatment:
Even with today’s safer and more targeted anti-cancer drugs, scientists have been unable to satisfactorily explain the phenomenon of why treated cancers so often recur. The common theory is that the cancer cell develops internal resistance to treatment, and overrides the toxic effects of the drug.
Now, a team of Israeli scientists provide the key for reducing recurrence, allowing anti-cancer drugs to do work as intended.
Led by Prof. Yuval Shaked of the Technion-Israel Institute, the study shows that tumor relapse occurs when the body, in effect, mobilizes itself in favor of the tumor, causing recurrence of the disease, increasing its aggressiveness and creating metastases (tumor spread). Even selective, highly focused treatments that almost exclusively harm cancer cells lead to a similar response.
“The administration of an anti-cancer drug is very aggressive intervention in the body,” Shaked said in a statement. “Therefore, the body responds to chemotherapy the way it responds to trauma. This creates the effect of a double-edged sword: although chemotherapy kills cancer cells, it also causes the secretion of substances that confer resistance to the tumor.”
Understanding the mechanisms that enhance the tumor and accelerate the spread of metastases “will enable us to develop methods to inhibit them,” he stresses. In fact, when the researchers inhibited the secreted factor related to the activity of inflammatory cells, they observed a decrease in the proliferation of cancer cells. Now, they are working on various ways to inhibit the body’s response to anti-cancer treatments.
This is a fantastic discovery, and if developed successfully it will provide a cure and relief to thousands of cancer sufferers everywhere. Kol hakavod to Prof. Yuval Shaked and the researchers at the Technion on this very important discovery. May they continue to ever greater success.
Perhaps this idealistic and altruistic side of Israel is what causes Israeli Arabs to be far more confident in Israel’s future than even Israelis themselves are!
The Israel Democracy Institute has a Peace Index which asks a series of questions every month about Israeli attitudes towards the state and some specific timely issues.
This month’s results show that Israeli Arabs actually have far more confidence in the strength and future of Israel than Israeli Jews do.
In your opinion, what is Israel’s overall situation today?“Very good” or “moderately good”: Jews 43.7%, Arabs 63%In your assessment, what will be Israel’s overall situation in the new year that is now beginning?Better than last year: Jews 22.5%, Arabs 54.4%How will Israel’s situation be in these domains compared to last year?Military/Security:Better than last year: Jews 27.4%, Arabs 39.9%
This is an astonishing finding and wonderfully encouraging. Israel is obviously doing something right after all!
Proving the point, the niece of an aide of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat so loves Israel that she had its name tattooed on her back! (via Reality):
The niece of a top official in the Palestinian Fatah party and a close confidant of the late leader Yasser Arafat says she loves the State of Israel so much, she had the word “Israel” in Hebrew tattooed across her shoulder blades.
Sandra Solomon, 38, was born a Muslim in Ramallah under a different name, but grew up in Saudi Arabia before moving to Canada where she converted to Christianity.
Solomon is the niece of Saher Habash, one of the founders of the Fatah party, a member of its Central Committee and a leader of the Second Intifada.
“I grew up in a home that hated the Jews, hailed Hitler and praised the Holocaust,” she told Channel 2 in an interview Wednesday.
Solomon, who wears a pendant of the Star of David around her neck, and has become a public advocate for Israel, said she hoped the Jewish people would forgive her for the insults and the demonization they underwent in her home and in her surroundings growing up.
Solomon said her “dream, one day, is to come to Israel, to fly the flag and salute it.”
“The State of Israel was created not to be erased but to stay,” she added in the interview.
“I stand behind what I say and I will tell the truth even if it leads to my death one day. I will at least know that I’ve had the honor to die for the truth,” she said.
What an incredibly brave woman is Sandra Solomon! Kol hakavod to her. May she live and be well until 120, and not have to be forced to choose between the truth and life.
From the pinnacle of the 21st century we now go back in time a couple of thousand years or so, back to the days when Jerusalem was conquered by the Romans. Amongst the many priceless archeological finds unearthed over the years, a recent excavation recently uncovered the spot where Titus and his army breached the third wall of Jerusalem:
Fascinating evidence of the battlefield where invading Romans breached the third wall of ancient Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago has been unearthed at an Israel Antiquities Authority dig underway at the Russian Compound in the city center of modern Jerusalem.
The excavation is being carried out ahead of construction on the new campus for the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Archaeologists uncovered the remains of a tower jutting out from the city wall. Opposite the tower’s western facade were scores of ballista and sling stones that the Romans had fired from catapults toward the Jewish guards stationed at the top of the tower to defend the wall.
Dr. Rina Avner and Kfir Arbib, who are heading the excavation for the IAA, called the find “fascinating testimony of the intensive bombardment by the Roman army, led by Titus, on their way to conquering the city and destroying the Second Temple. The bombardment was intended to attack the sentries guarding the wall and provide cover for the Roman forces so they could approach the wall with battering rams and thereby breach the city’s defenses.”
The historian Josephus Flavius, who witnessed the battle, provided many details about the wall. According to him, the wall had been designed to protect Beit Zeita, the new quarter of the city that had developed outside its original boundaries, north of the two existing city walls. Construction of the third wall began under Agrippa I, but he suspended the work to avoid incurring the wrath of Emperor Claudius and to dispel doubts about his loyalty. Construction of the third wall resumed about two decades later by the defenders of Jerusalem as part of their preparations to defend the city and launch a revolt against Rome.
Starting from the early 20th century, researchers disagreed about what the third wall was and where it lay, as well as where the boundaries of Jerusalem stood on the eve of the Roman invasion, led by Titus. The Russian Compound finds appear to prove that the wall existed in that location.
This story, together with the story that I posted last week – but which has been emailed to me multiple times since then by friends, family and other readers (read my blog! Every day! ☺) – about the First Temple-period papyrus with the world “Jerusalem” written on it, is another “brick in the wall” refuting UNESCO’s absurd vote – and revote and re-revote! – that Jerusalem has no connection to the Jewish People (and by extension to Christians).
Then again, as a wise person once said, you cannot reason a person out of a position into which he wasn’t reasoned in the first place. UNESCO is not a place of reason, logic, or morality. We Jews and Israelis, and our supporters, can be proud of our morality, our progressiveness and our long and glorious history.
And with the support of local Israeli Arabs who seem to have more confidence in us that we do ourselves, and of course with the help of G-d, Israel has a very bright future ahead.
With this food for thought I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!