Good News Friday

Not only is it Friday once more, but today is the last day of Barack Obama’s administration! That in itself is worthy of a good news post but I have other goodies to share besides that.

It is fitting that at a time when Syrian civilians are suffering so horribly in great part because of Obama’s policies, a Syrian mother named her baby Sarah in tribute to the Jewish state that helped her:

A Syrian woman recently gave birth to a girl at a hospital in northern Israel and named the child Sarah as a way of thanking the Jewish state, Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday.

The Syrian mother with her newborn baby Sarah

The Syrian mother with her newborn baby Sarah

According to the report, all the medical facilities near the 29-year-old woman’s home village have been destroyed since the ongoing sectarian war in Syria broke out six years ago. As the birth of her daughter approached, the woman made her way to the Israeli border, where the IDF picked her up and brought her to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed.

“When my husband heard I insisted on going to the border to give birth in a hospital, he asked that if she was born healthy, to give her a Jewish name in gratitude to Israel,” she was quoted by Israel Hayom as saying.

Following the birth, the woman asked to return home to her family in Syria.

“I am worried about them,” she said.

“I’ll never forget what [Israel] did here for my daughter Sarah and for me,” she continued. “When Sarah grows up enough to understand, I’ll tell her where she was born and why, out of all the names in the world, we chose to call her Sarah.”

How wonderful to read such a heart-warming story.  I also found it notable that the woman’s husband mentioned a Jewish name – as opposed to an Israeli name, this despite the religious nature of the conflict between us. It’s mind-boggling to think that a Syrian citizen thought it quite natural to approach the Israeli border when she needed to give birth. Such a move would have been unthinkable a few short years ago. Yet we now take it for granted that our former enemies willingly come to us for medical aid, and our wonderful little country is so big-hearted that it can give humanitarian assistance to all who come in need.

Mazal tov to the Syrian mother and her baby Sarah. May Sarah grow up to live in peace with her Israeli neighbours as well as with her own compatriots. And may the mother stay safe and be a goodwill ambassador for Israel.

Speaking of the Middle East, the Israeli Air Force received its first Arrow 3 missile defence battery this week (via DP-PT):

“We’re entering a new age — the age of the Arrow 3,” Moshe Patel, the head of Israel’s missile defense program, said at the unveiling ceremony for the system.

“Today, we delivered to the air force the first Arrow 3 interceptor, with interception capabilities that are much greater and can be done from much farther away than anything that we have now,” Patel said.

The Arrow 3, which was developed in a joint Israeli-American program, is designed to shoot down intercontinental ballistic missiles outside the atmosphere, taking out the weapons and their nuclear, biological, chemical or conventional warheads closer to their launch sites.

The system is considered to be one of the most advanced in the world. Its design is the brainchild of the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization and the US Missile Defense Agency, but the system was actually produced by the missile division of the Israel Aerospace Industry.

The Arrow 3 has been in development for nearly a decade, starting in 2008.

The Arrow 3 is one part of a multi-layered missile defense system designed to protect Israel from short-, medium- and long-range attacks. The Iron Dome, for instance, is routinely used to knock down short-range missiles from the Gaza Strip. The yet-to be deployed David’s Sling is designed to intercept medium-range missiles.

“I am sure that this system, along with the others that we have and that will join our arsenal in the future, like the David’s Sling, will give us more effective and meaningful capabilities,” said Brig.-Gen. Tzvika Haimovich, head of the army’s Aerial Defense Command.

With the Arrow 3 system declared operational, Israel and the United States may now be the only countries capable of shooting down ballistic missiles in space.

Kol hakavod to all the teams and departments involved in the research and development of this defensive system. May we never need it, but thank G-d that we have it!

Moving to slightly different news, Israel entered the list of the top 10 most innovative economies in the world: (Via Zvi). The link is in Hebrew only so I’ll give a rough translation:

Israel is at no. 10 in the list of innovative economies in the world according to the Bloomberg Innovation Index. She is ahead of countries like France, Austria, Belgium, Norway, Holland, Ireland, Britain and Australia. This is a rise of one position from last year’s spot. Israel earned a general mark of 81.23 and was placed second in the category of investment in research and development; in third place for the proportion of hi-tech companies, and in first place for research.

The top 10 innovative economies are (counting down):

10. Israel
9. USA
8. Denmark
7. Japan
6. Singapore
5. Finland
4. Switzerland
3. Germany
2. Sweden
1. South Korea

Anyone who follows the news (or this blog!) will not be surprised at this great news, but still, it’s very encouraging to see that our efforts are not in vain. This does not give us a free pass however and we must make sure that future generations receive the right education to continue this trend.

And immediately doubling down on this good news, Israellycool reports that Israel is also at no. 9 out of 16 countries with the best health care (which I’m sure the Syrian refugees will confirm):

Days after making Harper Bazaar’s list of the 17 best places to escape to in 2017, Israel finds itself on yet another list, this time a list of the 16 countries with the world’s best healthcare systems

9. Israel — Israel is the highest ranked of any Middle Eastern state on the Legatum Institute’s health sub-index, and the country has the 8th highest life expectancy on the planet, 82.5 years.

I can confirm from personal experience that we have a great healthcare system here.

Having various family members being treated in different departments of the health care systems, plus others who are working there, I can confirm Dave’s assessment. For all that we complain about Kupat Holim and Israeli bureaucracy it seems we still are on the cutting edge of medicine – something we can all be proud of, and thoroughly grateful for.

On a completely different subject now, Israel’s National Library this week made the historic acquisition of thousands of rare Hebrew texts (via Reality) as it acquired around 8,000 texts from the famous Valmadonna Collection:

Israel’s National Library on Wednesday announced the acquisition of thousands of Hebrew manuscripts and books from one of the most significant collections in the world.

The 8,000 or so texts from the Valmadonna Trust Library collection were purchased in collaboration with collectors David and Jemima Jeselsohn in a private sale through Sotheby’s for an undisclosed sum.

A Passover Haggadah printed in Prague in 1556. (National Library)

A Passover Haggadah printed in Prague in 1556. (National Library)

The Valmadonna’s 13,000-book assemblage of Hebrew texts from Amsterdam to Shanghai and a host of historic Jewish communities in between, spanning a millennium, was assembled by the late Jack V. Lunzer, a Jewish British industrialist. Lunzer died in December, at the age of 92.

“The acquisition is an important and exciting addition to the NLI’s collection,” the library said in a statement. “The printed works in the collection are in superb condition and the acquisition has enabled NLI to gain in one acquisition what would have taken decades to collect.”

Sotheby’s described the collection when it first displayed it before auction in 2009 as “the finest private library of Hebrew books and manuscripts in the world,” estimated to be valued at no less than $40 million altogether.

Among the highlights are a pre-inquisition Pentateuch printed in Lisbon in 1491; a Passover Haggadah printed in Prague in 1556, one of just two that survive; the Plantin Polyglot “King’s Bible,” a multilingual print of the Bible in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Aramaic and Syriac printed between 1568 and 1573; and over 550 broadsheets dating from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

What a wonderful new addition for the National Library. Kol hakavod to the Jesselsons for their participation in this amazing acquisition which I am sure will enthrall thousands of Israelis for years to come.

And now, with these items of good news plus the excellent landmark of the end of the Obama mis-administration, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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7 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. DP-PT says:

    As the BBC’s “Two Ronnies” used to say “and it’s goodbye from him”…………….

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

  3. Reality says:

    This has to have been your best Good Friday blog ever!
    And now lets bring in the new week and the new Hebrew month of Shvat on a happy note.
    Shaua Tov

  4. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Obama’s last day in office (& Trump’s first) is good news if one’s focus is solely on Israel and the region.Yes, I too hope he will move the Embassy to Jerusalem – why is Israel the only country in the world in which the Embassies are NOT in the place the local government has designated its capital; I too hope that Trump will decrease, if nor eliminate, the US Government’s payment to UNWRA and UNESCO , as well as the parent body.

    However, I don’t notice anyone on this site worrying that the Netanyahu government will reverse the laws on sexual equality or on the freedom and equality afforded the LGBT community in Israel, nor that there might be a threat to, say, a woman’s right to an abortion, let alone to the health service as a whole. Yet Trump is threatening all these things to the American population, to say nothing of threatening a return to the 1930s policy of Isolationism from the rest of the world and offering a credible threat to the health of the world economy, as well as seeing Putin and Russia as his new best friend.

    Trump is unalloyed good news if one’s concerns are ONLY focussed on the Middle East and/or one is a dyed in the wool right-wing Republican.

    And I make no apology for that last sentence.

    Obama’s legacy will be tarnished (whatever other parts of it might be seen as good) by the Iran Treaty and by UN Resolution 2243. That doesn’t therefore make his successor a knight in shining armour. He hasn’t actually done anything, but I fear for what he might do outside the MidEast.

    • anneinpt says:

      I agree with your reservations for the most part Brian. But Obama has been such bad news not just for Israel but for the entire Middle East that it has adversely affected the Western world. So one could legitimately say that “as it goes for Israel so goes it for America and the west”.

      So yes, Trump is not the answer to a maidens prayer (absolutely not!!) and no knight in shining armor but he could hardly be worse than Obama.

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