Good News Friday

We’ve had a bit of a crazy week in the family this week, but there’s always (well, nearly always) time for a Good News Friday post.

I’ll start with the major news of the week and that after Malaysia’s antisemitic president Mohammad Mahathir banned the participation of Israelis in the qualifying event for the swimming competition in the 2020 Paralympics, the Paralympics Committee stripped the competition from Malaysia:

LONDON — Malaysia has been stripped of the hosting rights for the World Para Swimming Championships after refusing to let Israelis compete in the event that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The Malaysian government said earlier this month that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians. Malaysia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Swimmers at the 2018 Israel Paralympic winter swim championships held at the Alyn pool in Haifa (Karen Isaacson, Israel Paralympic Committee Facebook page)

The swimming championships were due to be staged July 29-Aug. 4 in Kuching.

The International Paralympic Committee on Sunday said its governing board meeting in London decided to take the event from Malaysia after it “failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli Para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the championships. This includes full compliance with the IPC protocols related to anthems and flags, and where required the provision of relevant visas.”

Malaysia remained defiant even after having the competition taken away from them, covering their Jew-hatred with claims of defending the Palestinians:

Malaysian Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was unapologetic. He said that Malaysia will not compromise on its decision “on the ground of humanity and compassion for the Palestinian plight.”

but the International Paralympics Committee was unimpressed:

“Politics and sport are never a good mix,” said IPC President Andrew Parsons in a statement after the body’s governing board made the decision in London. “We are disappointed that Israeli athletes would not have been allowed to compete in Malaysia.”

The IPC said in its Sunday statement that in 2017, when it signed the contract with Malaysia, the government had provided assurances that all athletes would be able to participate without discrimination. But a regime change that saw Mahathir rise again to power meant those assurances were withdrawn.

“All World Championships must be open to all eligible athletes and nations to compete safely and free from discrimination,” said Parsons. “When a host country excludes athletes from a particular nation, for political reasons, then we have absolutely no alternative but to look for a new Championships host.

After criticising the IPC for their earlier lame response to Malaysia’s anti-Jewish boycott, I now congratulate the IPC and thank them for their principled response. Let’s keep racism and politics out of sports!

A similar rejection of an anti-Israel boycott came from a most surprising source – the BBC! The Beeb rejected calls to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest because it is being held in Tel Aviv:

The BBC has dismissed anti-Israel campaigners’ calls to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv, saying it will broadcast it because it is “not a political event”.

Israeli singer Netta Barzilay won the Eurovision in 2018

A letter to The Guardian on Tuesday signed by 50 artists urged the broadcaster use its influence to “press for Eurovision to be relocated to a country where crimes against that freedom are not being committed”.

The signatories included Roger Waters, musician Peter Gabriel, designer Vivienne Westwood, actor Julie Christie and filmmakers Mike Leigh and Ken Loach.

They also claimed that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) “chose Tel Aviv as the venue over occupied Jerusalem – but this does nothing to protect Palestinians from land theft, evictions, shootings, beatings and more by Israel’s security forces”.

But the BBC said: “The Eurovision Song Contest is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign.

“The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity, and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC’s participation for political reasons.

“Because of this we will be taking part in this year’s event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC.”

The letter-writers demanding the boycott were the usual suspects who invariably appear in any call to boycott Israel:

Many of the signatories to Wednesday’s letter have previously made calls for a cultural boycott of Israel, criticising artists such as Nick Cave, Radiohead and Lana Del Rey for organising concerts in the country.

Their campaign follows a call last September by by a coalition of artists from across Europe for Eurovision to be relocated.

That was organised by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges a complete boycott of Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians.

Israel says BDS opposes its very existence and is motivated by antisemitism.

There were plenty of tweets calling out the boycotters for their outright Jew-hatred, here is just one example:

I never thought I’d say it but kol hakavod to the BBC for giving the BDS bigots short shrift and rejecting their boycott demand outright.

I wonder if the BDS bigots would boycott this next item: Israeli scientists think they have found the cure for cancer!

A small team of Israeli scientists think they might have found the first complete cure for cancer.

“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, of a new treatment being developed by his company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator. AEBi developed the SoAP platform, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets.

“Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market,” Aridor said. “Our solution will be both generic and personal.”

Aridor, chairman of the board of AEBi and CEO Dr. Ilan Morad, say their treatment, which they call MuTaTo (multi-target toxin) is essentially on the scale of a cancer antibiotic – a disruption technology of the highest order.

AEBi is doing something similar but with peptides, compounds of two or more amino acids linked in a chain. According to Morad, peptides have several advantages over antibodies, including that they are smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce and regulate.

In contrast, MuTaTo is using a combination of several cancer-targeting peptides for each cancer cell at the same time, combined with a strong peptide toxin that would kill cancer cells specifically.

He equated the concept of MuTaTo to the triple drug cocktail that has helped change AIDS from being an automatic death sentence to a chronic – but often manageable – disease.

The MuTaTo cancer treatment will eventually be personalized. Each patient will provide a piece of his biopsy to the lab, which would then analyze it to know which receptors are overexpressed. The individual would then be administered exactly the molecule cocktail needed to cure his disease.
However, unlike in the case of AIDS, where patients must take the cocktail throughout their lives, in the case of MuTaTo, the cells would be killed, and the patient could likely stop treatment after only a few weeks.

There is much more at the link for those who understand scientific lingo. But what an exciting development! The potential is enormous and what a literal life-changer this could be. Kol  hakavod to all the scientists and researchers and we wish them the best of luck and success, for all our sakes.

An equally great new Israeli invention, and this time it is already entering clinical trials, is a device to help heart failure patients when they have fluid build-up:

Fluid overload caused by congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease is a major clinical problem, placing a heavy burden on healthcare budgets and representing the leading cause for frequent re-hospitalization of the elderly.

Yet nearly a third of patients have developed diuretic resistance and therefore do not respond to current medication, leading to frequent re-hospitalizations costing the US healthcare system approximately $17 billion annually – more than half of all heart failure-related costs.

Aiming to break the costly hospitalization cycle for eight million heart failure patients worldwide, Nazareth-based Paragate Medical has developed a fully-implantable medical device offering a 24/7 out-of-hospital solution to actively prevent painful fluid overload.

Paragate co-founder and medical director of Dr. Yair Feld (L), and CEO and co-founder Nitai Hanani (Credit: Courtesy)

If we can find a chronic solution for this fluid accumulation, we can prevent the hospitalization, and it will be an enormous benefit for both the patient and the health system,” Dr. Yair Feld, founder and medical director of Paragate, told The Jerusalem Post.

Paragate’s Implantable Peritoneal Ultrafiltration device is a minimally invasive, implanted system serving as a mechanical bypass of the kidneys. Peritoneal refers to the serous membrane, which forms the lining of the abdominal cavity and secretes a fluid that fills body cavities.

Paragate’s Implantable Peritoneal Ultrafiltration device.. (photo credit: PARAGATE MEDICAL)

The company expects to commence clinical tests later this year in Wroclaw, Poland, in collaboration with leading cardiology specialist Prof. Piotr Ponikowsky.

“We cannot replace the kidney entirely, but we can at least relieve congestion, reduce the cardiac filling pressure and high blood pressure, and relieve the flood that hits all internal organs and leads eventually to the deterioration of the patient,” Paragate CEO and co-founder Nitai Hanani told the Post.

“The implantable device has a smart control unit that the patient recharges wirelessly on a weekly basis. After the device is implanted and the patient has stabilized, we believe the patient may only need to visit a physician every three months.”

What a clever invention! And having had experience of such fluid build-up with both family members and friends’ parents, this device can’t come onto the market quickly enough. Kol hakavod to Dr. Yair Feld, Nitai Hanani and his Paragate company, may their new device become a huge success.

And now from 21st century technology we jump back a mere 2,000 years to a Second Temple-era coin that was found by an Israeli schoolchild on a school trip:

A boy found a 2,000-year-old coin from the Second Temple-era rule of Herod Agrippa, the last king of Judea, during a hike last week in the northern West Bank Samaria [ed.]

A 2000-year-old coin from the rule of Herod Agrippa, found in Nahal Shilo in Samaria in January 2019. (COGAT)

The rare piece was uncovered in the Shilo stream during a school trip, according to a Sunday statement from the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), an Israeli body that administers civilian matters in the West Bank under the Defense Ministry.

The coin features three stalks of grain on one side, and a royal canopy surrounded by an engraving reading “King Agrippa” on the other side.

The other side of the 2000-year-old coin from the rule of Herod Agrippa, found in Nahal Shilo in January 2019. (COGAT)

The student found the coin on the eastern side of the stream — one of the main tributaries of Tel Aviv’s Yarkon River which flows to the Mediterranean Sea — and informed the group’s tour guide, the statement said.

The tour guide then contacted an employee of the Archaeology Unit at COGAT’s Civil Administration, who arrived in the area.

The schoolkid handed him the coin, which will join the Israel Antiquities Authority’s collection of National Treasures.

Herod Agrippa ruled Judea from 41 CE until his death three years later. He was the grandson of Herod the Great and the father of Herod Agrippa II, the last king of the Herodian Dynasty. He ruled the territory to the satisfaction of the Jews, and was hailed at the time as “Agrippa the Great,” according to Josephus.

“This is an exciting finding,” commented Hananya Hizmi, the head staff officer of the Archaeology Unit. “Every archaeological find has a story that gives more details on the history of the Land of Israel and the Jewish people.”

“Findings like this one complete another piece in the historic puzzle of our nation.”

What a fantastic find! Once again we see that wherever you walk in the Land of Israel you literally stumble over pieces of history that prove our link to this land of ours, no matter what the Jew-haters, the slanderers and the boycotters claim.

Kol hakavod to the schoolboy for finding this tiny coin and for doing the right thing in handing it over to the Antiquities authority. And kol hakavod to the school for taking their students on this hike to such a historical region.

With all these good thoughts it’s time for me to wish you all Shabbat Shalom and chodesh tov – the month of Adar I begins this week. I know it’s a leap month and not the “real” Adar, but nevertheless, may this extra Adar bring us an extra dose of Simcha, of joy and health and happiness, just like we expect in the second Adar.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

This entry was posted in Antisemitism, Boycotts and BDS, Culture, Arts & Sports, indigenous rights, Israel news, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Good News Friday

  1. Reality says:

    This is a great post !Our scientists are so clever,finding cures for cancer,and a device for fluid build up.

    Let the BDS consider THIS!

    No to BDS

    I was very surprised by both the Para Olympic comittee,and BBC.There is hope yet!
    As for the archaelogical find,suddenly the BDS’ers are veryyy quiet!
    Can it possibly be that Jews were here before the Palestinians?!

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

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