Despite the hard week we have just gone through, or maybe davka because of it, we need some good news to bring us into Shabbat, so here is my latest Good News Friday installment.
Since so much of the news lately has dealt with the delegitimization of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, it is wonderful news to learn that the Mayors of Efrat and Maale Adumim will be attending Donald Trump’s inauguration as President next week:
The heads of Moetzet Yesha – The Council of Judea and Samaria, received an invitation to President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony in Washington D.C., according to a report in Makor Rishon. The invitation was passed on to them via the Chamber of Commerce of Orthodox Jews (US), who are connected to Trump’s special advisor Jason D. Greenblatt.
The settlement council will most likely be represented at the inauguration by Mayor of Efrat, Oded Revivi, who also heads the foreign desk for Moetzet Yesha, and Beni Kashriel, the Mayor of Maale Adumim.
In addition, several other people connected to Jewish life in Judea and Samaria have been invited, but according to the report, they prefer not to publicize their invitations.
This is the first time that settlement leaders have been invited to a presidential inauguration.
Yigal Dilmoni, spokesperson for Moetzet Yesha, praised the move, saying it “foretells the new spirit emanating from the US regarding the change in [Washington’s] attitude towards Israel, and in particular, [Jewish] settlement in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley. This new spirit was also expressed by the recent visit of Governor Mike Huckabee last week to Maale Adumim, and we are preparing for it.”
This is such exciting news for much maligned communities in Yehuda and Shomron. We are all looking forward to a complete change of atmosphere after Trump takes office. I hope he doesn’t disappoint us!
In vaguely related news, it is extremely heartening to learn (via Israel News Online) that Israel hit an all-time record for incoming tourism over the past year – and this is against the background of the Palestinian terror wave as well international assaults on our legitimacy:
Against the security background in the Middle East and despite the drop in incoming tourism in many countries in the region, Israel has registered a 3.6 percent increase in incoming tourism for 2016, with 2.9 million tourist entries.
Tourism Ministry officials say they’re not surprised by these statistics, however; they attribute the increase to a strategic shift in marketing and an increase in the marketing budget.
The marketing program adopted by Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and implemented under the direction of Tourism Ministry Director-General Amir Halevi focused on creating demand within Israel — domestic tourism — by building sub-brands suited to different target markets. This was supported by wide-ranging campaigns and including new foreign markets such as India and China, which have each registered major increases in incoming tourism.
The Tourism Ministry also promoted collaborations with the largest international online travel agents such as Expedia and TripAdvisor. In addition, the ministry worked with international airlines to expose them to the economic potential of opening routes to Israel and, among others, by giving incentives for every passenger flying into Ovda Airport near Eilat, and for opening new routes into Ben Gurion International Airport.
With a budget of nearly half a billion shekels, the highest ever for tourism marketing, the focus was placed on campaigns in key markets with the highest numbers of incoming tourism and the largest potential for additional growth.
Those included the United States, Russia, Germany, France, England and others. Focus was also placed on investment in new and significant markets with high potential for increased tourism, particularly India and China, Levin said.
Israel won a prize from the Indian Travel & Leisure Magazine as the best destination for history and heritage, for example, and won the 2016 Best Destination in Chinese media awards.
The figures are almost jaw-dropping, especially considering the previous frosty to non-existent relations with countries like Russia, India and China. Kol hakavod to Tourism Minister Yariv Levin and his staff for their initiative.
A revolutionary drone aircraft, big enough to carry people, could be whizzing through the skies within a few years, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Manufacturers of the Cormorant, formerly known as the AirMule, hope to see what has been dubbed a “flying car” on the aviation market by 2020.
The UAV has been in development for 15 years by Yavneh-based Urban Aeronautics, who envision it being used as an air ambulance for tricky rescue missions in tight urban environments or for moving troops around the battlefield.
Weighing in at 1.5 tons, the drone can carry a payload of up to 500 kg (1,100 pounds), uses internal rotors to keep itself aloft and can zoom along at 185 kilometers an hour (115 miles per hour). It can be remotely piloted or set to fly autonomously.
Watch the ambulance in action on a trial take-off:
Speaking to Reuters, Urban Aeronautics founder and CEO Rafi Yoeli said, “Just imagine a dirty bomb in a city and chemical substances of something else and this vehicle can come in robotically, remotely piloted, come into a street and decontaminate an area.”
The company claims the stocky, box-like flying machine has an advantage over helicopters: its internal blades make it safer to fly between buildings and beneath power lines.
What a brilliant idea, and sadly so necessary in this day and age. Kol hakavod to Rafi Yoeli and the whole research and development team at Urban Aeronautics. Let’s hope your prototype become reality very soon in order to save many lives.
And one more life-saving device invented by Israelis: A smartphone app that can warn you about skin cancer (via Reality). Watch the video below.
What an incredible development that has the potential to save thousands of lives! Kol hakavod to all the developers and researchers at Emerald Applications. May their app enjoy great success for the benefit of millions of people worldwide.
And now, with all this uplifting good news, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!