Good News Friday

Shavuot in the middle of the week has mucked up my timetable somewhat, so Friday seems to have come round even quicker than normal! Nevertheless it’s time for another Good News Friday posting.

Let’s start on the diplomatic front, since that is usually so problematic for Israel. The good news is that Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, has been elected as Vice President  of the next General Assembly!

NEW YORK – UN Ambassador Danny Danon was elected vice president of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon

“It is an honor to represent the State of Israel in this leadership position at the United Nations,” Danon said following the vote. “We have proven once again that Israel is ready and able to serve in significant positions in the UN and the attempts to block this progress will not succeed.”

Vice-presidents of the GA are elected according to a pattern that ensures equitable geographical representation.

Danon was chosen as a representative of the Western European and Others regional group.

He will begin his term with the opening of the General Assembly session in September.

Danon will serve alongside the incoming-president, Slovakia’s Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcák, who was also elected Wednesday The election is seen as a major victory by the Israeli mission to the UN. In May 2016, Danon became the first Israeli to chair a permanent committee of UN when he was elected by 109 member-states to chair the Sixth (Legal) Committee.

He will remain in that position until September.

I know this is more of a procedural role, yet it is not so long ago that Israel did not belong to any regional grouping at all and could not get a look in on any committees or chairmanships of anything at all.  Since there was a secret ballot for this position, this is a huge diplomatic win for Israel! Kol hakavod to Ambassador Danon and to all those who voted for him.

Let’s move now to Israel’s technology sector which I’ve neglected for a while.

An Israeli solar-panel “tree” has been “planted” in France, in the central town of Nevers:

NEVERS, France — A solar tree with giant square leaves that converts sunlight into electricity was unveiled in the central French town of Nevers on Monday, allowing passersby to charge their phones, surf the internet… or just enjoy the shade.

The Israeli-French “eTree” made by Solar Tree Europ, a French-Israeli start up (Philippe Desmzes/AFP)

The town of 37,000 on the Loire River is the first in Europe to experiment with the technology developed by Israeli company Sol-logic.

Inspired by the acacia tree found in the Israeli desert and African savanna, the futuristic-looking “eTree” also supplies water and street lighting.

The first prototype was unveiled in Israel in 2014. A year later the first operational model was presented at the COP 21 climate conference in Paris.

Since then solar trees have been planted in around 10 cities in Israel and the US.

What a brilliant idea! Note to the developers: I haven’t seen any Israel – please plant a few in Petach Tikva! ☺ Kol hakavod to the researchers and developers at Sol-logic. May they grow from strength to strength!

And lastly, here is another excellent development for the blind: a technology that enables the blind to “see” what is around them via a device that reads out words on packaging for example, or identifies the people around them etc. Watch the film below:

This reads like science fiction, but happily for us it is real. Kol hakavod to the brilliant Israeli scientists and researchers who produced this device. It could help millions of blind and visually impaired people.

With these happy thoughts I wish you all Shabbat Shalom!

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