Is the European Union consistent in restricting economic activity in Israel’s disputed territories? How does the EU deal with other disputed territories around the world? Watch and judge for yourself.
BDS sends a false message to the Palestinian street: namely, that international economic and political pressure can force Israel to capitulate to all Palestinian demands.
By Alan Dershowitz for the Jerusalem Post (Nov 3):
When I was invited to debate in favor of the motion “Is BDS Wrong?” at the Oxford Union, I fully expected to lose the vote of the 250 or so students and faculty who are members of the oldest debate society in the world. “Israel always loses at Oxford,” I was warned by colleagues who had debated other Israel-related issues. Nonetheless I decided to participate, hoping to change some minds.
I proposed as my opponent Omar Barghouti, the Qatari-born, Israeli-educated, co-founder and spokesperson of the BDS movement, but he refused to debate me. The Union then selected Noura Erekat, a Palestinian-American human rights attorney, who has been a vocal supporter of BDS.
When she backed out at the last minute, I began to get suspicious: was the BDS movement boycotting me? After all, BDS advocates have called for “common sense” academic boycotts against individuals who they feel are too vocal in their support for Israel, in addition to a blanket boycott of all Israeli academic institutions. After speaking with the organizers of the debate at Oxford, I continue to believe that I was in fact being boycotted.
The Union then selected Peter Tatchell, a distinguished and popular British human rights activist who has participated in 30 Union debates, most of which he has won. I knew I was in for a difficult time, especially when the audience applauded his points more loudly than mine and when many of the questions seemed hostile toward Israel, though polite.
Mr. Tatchell’s main argument was that BDS was a nonviolent form of protest against Israel’s occupation and settlement policies that mirrored the boycott movement against apartheid South Africa, and followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. He was articulate in arguing that boycott tactics generally were a non-violent alternative to war and terrorism. The force of his argument was somewhat weakened by the recent spate of terrorist knife attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, which leaders of the BDS movement such as Barghouti have justified as resistance to the “decades-old regime of occupation.”
I argued that BDS was not an alternative to war but rather an alternative to peaceful negotiations by the Palestinian leadership. This is because the BDS movement is firmly opposed to the two-state solution. Omar Barghouti confirmed as much when he said “definitely, most definitely, we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.” Thus, the BDS movement makes it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to accept the kind of painful compromises that both sides must agree to if there is to be a negotiated resolution.
Together with other efforts to delegitimate and isolate Israel, BDS also sends a false message to the Palestinian street: namely, that international economic and political pressure can force Israel to capitulate to all Palestinian demands, without any compromise on territorial issues. In turn, this disincentivizes the Palestinian leadership from accepting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s offer to begin immediate negotiations with no preconditions.
Such discussions are particularly important now, to halt the gruesome cycle of violence that has intensified in recent weeks. Both sides must return to the negotiations table, and both must be willing to make concessions. For the Israelis this means rolling back settlemesettlements, and granting greater autonomy to the West Bank; for the Palestinian Authority, it means renouncing violence against Israeli civilians, disavowing Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and accepting the need for territorial compromise with land swaps.
BDS opposes any effort at negotiation that isn’t premised on the recognition that Israel is an apartheid state. Indeed, many of its leaders refuse to recognize the right for Israel to exist as a nation-state for the Jewish people. In so doing, they are empowering radicals on both sides of the issue who have no desire to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Many liberal activists such as Mr. Tatchell—whose advocacy on behalf of LGBT rights I greatly admire—have made common cause with BDS, hoping to pressure Israel to end the occupation, and afford greater self-determination to Palestinians in the West Bank. They seem to believe that a movement advocating non-violent tactics is necessarily the best way to achieve a lasting peace. But BDS is radically opposed to any negotiated settlement, and has increasingly begun to regroup bigots of all stripes who feel comfortable with the language used by its leaders, such Mr. Barghouti.
Mr. Tatchell and many pro-BDS academics also feel that Israel has committed human rights violations both in the occupation of the West Bank, and in its prosecution of the armed conflicts in Gaza. During the course of the debate I issued the following challenge to the audience and to my opponent: name a single country in the history of the world, faced with threats comparable to those faced by Israel, that has a better record of human rights, compliance with the rule of law and seeking to minimize civilian casualties.
I invited audience members to shout out the name of a country. Complete silence. Finally someone shouted “Iceland”, and everyone laughed. When the best is treated as the worst, in the way the BDS movement singles out Israel for accusation, the finger of blame must be pointed at the accusers rather than the accused. In the end, the case against BDS won not because of the comparative skill of the debaters but because I was able to expose the moral weakness of the BDS movement itself.
An excellent video that properly explains why conservatism works.
What makes conservatism right? If you’re a conservative, you should know why you’re right. If you’re not a conservative, why should you think about becoming one? Greg Gutfeld, bestselling author of, “How To Be Right: The Art of Being Persuasively Correct”, explains.
This is an incredibly well-written and well-argued article about the issue of boycotting Israel.
From the Facebook page of Knesset Member Yair Lapid, head of the Centre-Left Yesh Atid party. (Originally published in Icelandic, in Visir and Frettabladid)
Yair Lapid: The Hypocrisy of Boycott (September 19, 2015):
As you know by now, the Reykjavik City Council decided this week to boycott products from Israel. All products. From all of Israel.
I have a few questions:
Does the boycott include products made by Israel’s Arab minority which is 20% of the population?
Does the boycott include the 14 Arab Israeli parliamentarians who sit beside me in Israel’s parliament?
Does the boycott include Israeli factories which employ tens of thousands of Palestinians for whom this is the only opportunity to provide for their children?
Does the boycott include Israeli hospitals at which tens of thousands of Palestinians are treated every year?
Does the boycott include produce made by the 71% of Israeli’s who, according to the latest survey, support a two state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel?
Wait, don’t go yet, I’ve got a few more:
Among the products being boycotted is Copaxone, for MS sufferers, included?
Does the boycott include “Tulip” wine which is made by people with special needs and those who suffer from autism?
And what about the books of Israeli Nobel Prize Laureate in literature, Shai Agnon?
Does the boycott include Microsoft Office, cellphone cameras, Google – all of which contain elements invented or produced in Israel?
If the answer to all these questions is “yes” then I’ll move aside and wish you all an enjoyable life until the sadly unavoidable heart attack (sorry but pacemakers are also an Israeli invention). The other option is that someone at Reykjavik City Council didn’t think the issue through.
If they had then why stop at Israel? One of the best kept secrets about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is one of the smallest conflicts in the Middle East. In fact, there is no correlation between its actual size and the media coverage it receives.
Since the end of Israel’s War of Independence, 67 years ago, around 12,000 Palestinians have lost their lives in this conflict. A large proportion of those were terrorists, suicide bombers, terror tunnel diggers from various global jihadist organizations.
With that we can’t ignore the fact that in those years there were a few thousand innocents who lost their lives. I believe that’s terrible. It keeps me awake at night, like most Israelis. With that the simple fact is – and it’s easy to check – that in 67 years less innocent Palestinians were killed than in one week (!) in Syria. In fact, in that same period around 12 million people were killed in the Arab world. A simple calculation shows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict caused 0.01% of the numbers killed in conflicts in the Islamic world.
An interesting question then is what is the position of Reykjavik City Council about the Islamic world? Do they boycott it also? All of it?
But of course this isn’t a discussion about statistics, it is about morals. Israel is a vibrant democracy fighting for its existence in tough circumstances. Our major sin, in the eyes of the world and the Reykjavik City Council, is that we are winning that war.
Yes, in this conflict more Palestinians are killed than Israelis. Why? Because we have a better army and we have the Iron Dome system which protects our cities from rockets. If our military lays down its weapons and we disarm Iron Dome, we’d be murdered within 24 hours.
So Israel will continue to defend itself, and will continue doing all it can to avoid civilian casualties.
At the same time, we will continue to search for the path to peace with the Palestinians. Twice, in the year 2000 and in the year 2008, Israel offered them over 90% of the land so they could build a state for themselves. Both times they refused.
The boycott industry is not new. It is a vast industry of media and public relations organized by Islamist groups funded by Qatar and Iran. Their purpose is not the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel but a Palestinian state on the ashes of Israel.
They know that message won’t be acceptable to liberal Europe. So they decided – as has been exposed time and again – to sell the naïve Europeans humanitarian values of freedom and solidarity which they don’t believe for even one second.
Hamas has no intention of creating a Palestinian democracy but a dark theocracy in which homosexuals are hanged from telephone poles, women aren’t allowed to leave their homes and Christians and Jews are murdered for being Christians and Jews. Are those values acceptable to the Reykjavik City Council? If not then that’s strange, because they voted in favor of them.
Obama to sign off on bill making rejection of Israel boycott a key objective in trade talks with EU; WJC hails ‘major defeat for BDS’
“The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe… demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response,” said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). “If you want free trade with the United States, you can’t boycott Israel.”
The Times of Israel (June 25) — After weeks of legislative drama, a trade bill containing provisions opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel cleared its final legislative hurdle Wednesday afternoon. The anti-BDS language, passed as part of the controversial Trade Promotion Authority legislation, is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama, who had pushed Congress to pass the trade bill as soon as possible.
Two amendments opposing BDS in Europe – one sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin and Republican Sen. Rob Portman and the other by Republican Representative Peter Roskam and Democratic Representative Juan Vargas – were included in a trade authorization package that was considered must-pass legislation for the administration.
The president needed Congress’s vote to authorize him to negotiate trade deals with so-called “fast-track authority,” but ten days ago House Democrats turned on the president and defeated a key portion of the trade deal package.
After quick legislative maneuvering last week, House Republicans passed the authorization part of the bill – the part that the president needed most urgently and that Republicans tend to support – and then passed the revised House version back to the Senate for approval. On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate gave the controversial legislation its final approval, sending trade authorization to the president’s desk to be signed into law.
The anti-BDS provisions in the trade authorization were directed toward free trade talks between the US and the European Union. The provisions require US negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations with the European Union. These guidelines, sponsors hope, will discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities by leveraging the incentive of free trade with the US.
“Today, for the first time in nearly four decades, Congress sent legislation to the President’s desk to combat efforts to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel,” wrote Roskam in a statement released shortly after the Senate vote. “The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe, including French telecom company Orange’s decision last week to sever ties with Israel, demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response. The bipartisan TPA provisions I authored are simple: if you want free trade with the United States, you can’t boycott Israel.”
The Washington Post (May 20) — The Illinois House just joined the state’s senate in unanimously passing a bill that would prevent the state’s pension fund from investing in companies that boycott Israel. The Illinois bill is part of a broad political revulsion over the BDS movement (“Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” – the strategy of economic warfare and delegitimization against Israel).
While BDS has gotten most of its successes with low-hanging fruit like British academic unions and pop singers, the anti-boycott efforts are getting an enthusiastic reception in real governments, on the state and federal level. And that is because the message of the BDS movement – Israel as a uniquely villainous state – is fundamentally rejected by the vast majority of Americans. Indeed, a wave of anti-BDS legislation is sweeping the U.S.
BDS is not like the civil rights protests, as its supporters love to claim, but rather more like the anti-Jewish boycotts so common in Europe in the 20th century, and in the Arab world until this day. The U.S. has long had legislation criminalizing participation in the Arab League boycott of Israel. The U.S. can just as rightly oppose privately propagated boycotts as it could governmentally-sponsored ones.
The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. (Washington Post)
From the first blood test for cancer to inventions that can save your life, and a reinvented wheel, we look back at some of our most exciting stories of the year.
Israel21c (Dec 26) — To say goodbye to the old year, and to celebrate the new, we’ve brought you our most popular 12 stories of the year. It’s a significant list that demonstrates the incredible diversity and innovation of Israeli life even during the most difficult of times.
After eight years of painstaking research, Israeli life-sciences company Eventus Diagnostics has produced a blood test for the early detection of breast cancer.
ISRAEL21c takes a look at 18 lifesaving innovations from the startup nation.
If you’re looking for something a little different from luxury chain hotels, B&Bs and youth hostels, then check out these unusual places to lay your head for the night.
Israel’s anti-missile defense system was the unexpected hero of this summer’s conflict. Betcha didn’t know there are toy car parts in its history
A Belgian-Israeli Jew and a Dutch Muslim developed Israel Under Attack, a new computer tool for mapping rocket trajectories from Gaza.
BrainStorm’s NurOwn enhanced adult stem cells seem to halt the progression of incurable neurodegenerative diseases.
‘What is going on here is really remarkable. I don’t think this took hold so quickly and intensely in any other place in the world,’ says Israeli food writer Ori Shavit.
CuBox, the smallest computer ever, is made in Israel by an Arab-Israeli company aiming to power the Internet of Things.
Want to be better organized, make music with distant friends, avoid your ex, socialize your shopping experience? Israelis have made an app for that.
Revolutionary shock-absorbing SoftWheel technology is rolling out for wheelchairs, bicycles and eventually everything else on wheels
While her hometown is under constant missile attack from Gaza, pediatric ICU head nurse Irena Nosel cares for critically ill Gazans in an Israeli hospital.
New wound-care products are easing patients’ pain and winning fans among healthcare providers worldwide.
TheBlaze (Dec 16) — It’s a familiar specter of the Americans psyche: The Russian bear looming threateningly, with a tough military exterior…and a sickly economic underbelly.
Is modern-day Russia, like the Soviet Union before it, barreling toward a meltdown?
Here’s a look at four of the major economic challenges Russia is facing:
1. Low oil prices
Russia is hugely dependent on the price of oil. As Morgan Stanley’s Jacob Nell put it, “Since oil and gas account for 67 [percent] of Russia’s exports and 50 [percent] of federal budget revenues, oil prices drive the country’s economic cycle.”
With oil prices dropping nearly 50 percent in the second half of 2014, Russia’s government has been hard-pressed to make up the lost revenue. One solution: pretend the problem doesn’t exist, as the Russian parliament did in October when it passed a budget ”based on an alternate reality.”
2. Western sanctions
Russia’s finance minister has said the country is losing roughly $40 billion annually as a result of international sanctions, which came as a response to Russia’s military adventuring in Ukraine.
In some cases, sanctions have had truly bizarre fallout effects.
As TheBlaze reported in October, Russia responded to sanctions by clamping an embargo on Western food imports, resulting in dramatically higher food prices in Russia and ultimately leading Russian authorities to O.K. crocodile meat as a replacement for Western protein.
3. A crummy currency
The value of the rouble tumbled on Monday, reaching 64 roubles to the dollar for the first time on record. Russia’s central bank apparently attempted to halt the decline, Business Insider reported, but the $350 million move did little to bolster the rouble’s value.
4. Capital flight
As the situation inside Russia deteriorates, individuals have been yanking their money out of the country.
The Bank of Russia estimates capital outflows will hit $128 billion this year and $120 billion in 2015, the Telegraph reported.
In a December bid to stem the bleeding, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced tax amnesty for capital repatriated to Russia and a four-year freeze on corporate tax rates.
The fundamental woes of modern-day Russia are not unlike the problems that faced the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
Then, the price of oil fell from $66 per barrel in 1980 to $20 per barrel in 1986.
Now, the price of oil has fallen from $115 per barrel in June to around $60 per barrel now — and for every sustained $10 drop in the price of a barrel of oil, Russia’s GDP will take an estimated 1.5 percent hit.
Then, the Soviet Union faced protracted bloodshed and global condemnation for its 1979 invasion of — and subsequent decade-long war in — Afghanistan.
Now, much of the world has condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea and suspected continued military involvement in eastern Ukraine.
Then, the situation became untenable and the Soviet Union broke apart.
Now … ?
The 1980s were rough on the USSR, and with the Russian government predicting a recession to hit early next year, it looks like the 2010s could be another rotten decade for Russia.
Forbes Israel ranks 10 wealthiest terror organizations; Palestinian group comes ahead of Hezbollah, Al-Qaida and Taliban.
Haaretz (Nov 12) — Hamas is one of the two richest terrorist organizations in the world, second only to the Islamic State group, according to Forbes Israel.
To finance their operations, terrorist groups sometime use methods similar to those used by criminal organizations, such as drug trafficking, robberies and extortion, but also raise money through charities, donations and, in some cases, government agencies, according to the report. A terrorist organization, like any other large organization, has a business model to finance its activities: from maintenance, salaries and trainings, to acquiring of weapons and vehicles.
The richest terrorist organization today – and in history – is the Islamic State. According to Forbes, the Islamist group, also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, has an annual turnover of $2 billion. Hamas comes in second, with a yearly revenue of $1 billion.
As for the rest of the list: Colombia’s FARC is ranked third with $600 million; Hezbollah is fourth with $500 million; fifth is the Taliban with $400 million; Al-Qaida and its affiliates with $150 million; Pakistani-based Lashkar e-Taiba with $100 million; Somalia’s Al-Shabaab with $100 million; Real IRA with $50 million; and, closing the top-ten list is Boko Haram, with $25 million annual revenue.
The U.S. Treasury estimates that ISIS earns $1 million a day from the sale of crude oil from fields it captured in Syria and Iraq. According to Forbes Israel, however, the figure is closer to $3 million a day. The money flow enables ISIS to expand its operations in the Middle East, recruit foreign fighters and train them, among other things.
The report describes Hamas’ takeover of Gaza in 2007 as the point from which it entered “the big league.” Today, Hamas is now no longer only dependent on donations, but is able to collect taxes from both civilians and businesses. But that’s not all. The report says Hamas also takes a cut out of all international aid donated to Gaza by Arab and other foreign countries.
Israel’s MFA (Nov 6) — Economists predict that in the next 15 years Africa’s economy will be growing at a frenzied pace, similar to India and China. Early birds have started racing into Africa to get businesses off the ground.
But what works in Europe or America –– or even in Israel — doesn’t necessarily work in Africa, especially when you are talking about Africa’s poorest people.
That is why the new Israeli company Waterways has sprung to life. The basic idea is to take the enormous innovations in water coming out of Israel and adapt them to rural areas in Africa.
There is a triple bottom line to fulfill here: people, planet and profit, according to Waterways managing director and founder Ornit Avidar, a startup success story in her own right, and a former diplomat. She has made it her new life mission to help water technologies enter African villages and stick.
Through her research she’s found that about 50 percent of all water projects in Africa’s rural regions cease within a year of implementation.
Cultural reasons, lack of upkeep funding or conflict –– there are endless reasons why “abroad” solutions don’t work in Africa.
That’s too much money going down the drain, says a pragmatic Avidar, who has developed another way.
Soft solutions, for a change?
Rather than propose the sort of large water projects found in municipalities and cities in the West, Avidar has her water compass set on providing Africa’s villagers with soft solutions — scalable, powered by little or off-grid energy, and requiring no advanced technical knowhow to maintain. Her business approach also includes economic models to help villagers make money.
Washington Post (Sep 25) — The U.S. military and two Arab allies on Wednesday bombarded a dozen small-scale oil refineries in eastern Syria as part of an expanding campaign to cut off key sources of financing and fuel for the Islamic State, according to the Pentagon.
U.S. fighter jets and drones, alongside warplanes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, struck the refineries in remote parts of the Syrian desert one day after a larger wave of airstrikes targeted Islamic State training sites, ammunition depots and command centers in the country, U.S. military officials said. Wednesday’s operation was part of a broader strategy to sever supply lines and transportation corridors connecting Islamic State strongholds in Syria and Iraq, the officials said.
The Islamic State is estimated to produce between 25,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil a day, earning as much as $1 million a day, according to industry experts.
The attacks on the refineries came on a day when U.S. military forces reported hitting an Islamic State convoy in Syria near the Iraqi border and Syrian opposition groups reported heavy bombardment in areas near Turkey. American planes also carried out five airstrikes in Iraq, U.S. officials said.
Islamic State fighters are waging a two-front war in Iraq and Syria, seeking to expand the boundaries of their self-declared caliphate, or state ruled by strict Islamic law. The group is accused of widespread atrocities in both countries and the beheadings of at least three Western hostages.
Highlights from the free weekly newsletter by verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
- Two Israeli biotechs have developed solutions to eliminate diabetes.
- An Israeli system can train your brain so that you can read without glasses.
- Israeli hospitals are treating Gazan children, UN peacekeepers and the President of Zambia.
- An Israeli alarm system reminds drivers not to leave their baby in a hot car.
- Japan’s research & development agreement with Israel is its first with any foreign country.
- Israel beat Germany and Japan at the Lacrosse World Cup to become world number 7.
- Despite the rockets from Gaza, 900 Jews began new lives in Israel last week.
Transforming liver cells to cure type 1 diabetes. Israel’s Orgenesis is a pioneer in the field of “cellular trans-differentiation”, a process to transform a type 1 diabetic patient’s own liver cells into new insulin-producing cells. Orgenesis is partnering with Belgium’s MaSTherCell to scale up development.
Minimally invasive implant to cure diabetes. Globes “startup of the week” is Israel’s Endobetix with its implanted device that traps bile fluids and diverts them to another part of the intestine. The result is lower blood sugar without drugs or major surgery; hence no more diabetes.
Get rid of your reading glasses. Scientists at Israel’s GlassesOff have developed a proprietary method for improving near vision sharpness, by improving the image processing function in the visual cortex of the brain. A smartphone app can turn back the age clock of your eyes by over 8.5 years.
Children are not our enemies. While her hometown is under constant missile attack from Gaza, Irena Nosel from Ashdod cares for critically ill Gazan childrens in Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center. Irena is pediatric ICU head nurse for Israeli charity Save A Child’s Heart. Plus another similar article.
Zambia president receives medical treatment in Israel. Zambian President Michael Sata, 76, was receiving medical treatment in Israel. Sata suffered a heart attack in 2008.
Israel signs first-of-its-kind R&D agreement with Japan. Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Toshimitsu Motegi has signed an industrial research and development collaboration agreement with Israel’s Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett. Israel is the first country with which Japan has signed such an agreement.
400 French Jews immigrate despite Gaza terrorists. Some 400 French Jews have just made Aliyah, undeterred by the ongoing rocket fire and conflict with terrorist groups in Gaza. Most of the immigrants are from the Paris area. They include 195 minors and 18 babies. 900 Jews made Aliyah in the past week.
Highlights from the free weekly newsletter verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Pancreatic cancer treatment trials continue. Jerusalem-based biotech Tiltan has raised $1.5 million for the completion of its on-going Phase II clinical study of TL-118, an anti-angiogenic therapy for treating metastatic pancreatic cancer. 80 patients are being tested in seven major Israeli oncology centers and also two in the US.
Generating stem cells quickly and cheaply. (Thanks to Israel21c) Israeli biotech Cellect has developed a stem cell collection kit that could revolutionize the treatment of leukemia and other immune-related diseases. Cellect’s kit takes only 10 hours to generate sufficient stem cells for bone marrow transplants.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
IDF’s first female Christian officer. Yasmin Chayach has become the first Christian woman to complete the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer’s training course. Chayach, who is from Acre, follows in the footsteps of her brother, who also served in the IDF. Christian enlistment in the IDF tripled in 2013.
Improved Israel-Arab view of the Jewish State. In a University of Haifa study, the percentage of Israeli Arabs who recognize Israel’s right to continue to exist as a Jewish and democratic state (53%) rose in 2013 compared to 2012 (47%). 64% (up 5%) thought Israel was a good place to live.
Israelis help AIDS patients in Africa. Professor Dan Engelhard of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center founded the Art Joy Love organization to help AIDS patients. In Uganda, his doctors, nurses, medicine, medical clowns, social workers and other volunteers in 18 months have reduced AIDS from 18% down to 16%.
India’s Foreign Minister is another friend of Israel. Last week I reported that India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a friend of Israel. He has now appointed India’s first female Foreign Minister. Sushma Swara served as chairwoman of the Indo-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group from 2006 to 2009.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israeli chips run Cisco’s best router. Cisco Systems recently declared the ASR 9000 to be its most successful high-end router in a decade. Good news for Israel’s EZchip, which makes the processor that powers it.
Israeli students excel at Asian Physics Olympiad in Singapore. Israeli 12th graders returned from the Asian Physics Olympiad (APhO) 2014 with two silver medals, three bronze medals and three honorable mentions. Each of the delegation’s eight members came home with an award. 27 countries competed.
Israeli students win engineering prize in Turkey. Three Israeli students from Ben Gurion University won second place at the International Cultural and Academic Meeting of Engineering Students conference (ICAMES), a worldwide engineering project competition organized by the Bogazici University in Istanbul.
Free drinking water stations – global pilot begins in Tel Aviv. (Thanks to Size Doesn’t Matter) Israeli start-up Woosh has launched its global pilot, providing free drinking water in Tel Aviv’s public spaces.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Fitch Ratings give Israel another “A” credit rating. Fitch gave as positive, Israel’s fiscal consolidation and narrowing of budget deficits. It also noted, “The start of gas production has caused a structural improvement in the balance of payments that will support continued current account surpluses.”
Teva’s new treatments are worth $1b. In 2014 Israel’s Teva is launching Zecurity (migraine patch), Adasuve (inhalation powder to treat agitation in schizophrenia patients) and DuoResp Spiromax, (an inhaler). The combined peak sales of these products are estimated to be $1 billion. It also has 15 treatments in Phase III trials.
Israel passes US, Europe in plastic bottle recycling. 54 percent of Israel’s plastic bottles were recycled in 2012, compared to 31.8% in the U.S. and 52.4% in OECD countries. 2013 data shows that Israel recycled 56% of its plastic bottles. 350 million bottles were recycled thanks to more than 20,000 recycling deposit stations.
Five Israeli companies list on London AIM. Israel’s Marimedia, a provider of solutions for optimizing for the sale of online advertising space, has just listed on London’s Alternative Investment Market (AIM). Other 2014 Israeli (or Israeli subsidiary) AIM listings include SafeCharge, Summit Germany, XLMedia and Bagir.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Israeli student film wins Oscar. “Paris on the Water,” by Tel Aviv University master’s student Hadas Ayalon, is one of three winners in the foreign film category of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 41st Student Academy Awards competition. The award will be presented on 7 June in Los Angeles.
Justin Timberlake brings ‘Summer Love’ to Tel Aviv. American pop star Justin Timberlake rocked tens of thousands of fans in Park Hayarkon during his first-ever Israel concert. Before the event he prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem – the photo posted on his facebook site received over 250,000 likes.
Bob Dylan recommended Israel to the Rolling Stones. Ronnie Wood, guitarist for The Rolling Stones, revealed that Bob Dylan put the idea in the Stones’ circle to include Israel as a tour stop. “He said he loved it there,” said Wood. “I said, we’ve never been there, so we’ll have to go play there one day, so there you go.”
From the free weekly newsletter verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
In the 25th May 2014 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
- Bone grown in an Israeli laboratory was transplanted back into the original donor.
- Israel has sent medical and humanitarian aid to Serbian flood victims.
- Two Israeli companies have joined forces to develop night-vision display glasses.
- A new Israeli robot can clear landmines without human intervention.
- France’s top association of cheese makers has recognized Israeli boutique cheese.
- Novak Djokovic and Billie Jean King have invested in an Israeli tennis training system.
- This year’s Israel Festival in Jerusalem promises to be the best yet.
- Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv won the Euroleague Basketball Championships.
Highlights from the free weekly newsletter at verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
- Israeli trials show that a synthetic vitamin reduces fatigue in Multiple Sclerosis sufferers.
- An Israeli is the first female Arab Bedouin doctor in the world.
- Israel offered to help rescue kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls and also trapped Turkish miners.
- An Israeli company is building a power plant in North Carolina that uses energy from a landfill site.
- An Israeli smart water filter irrigates trees and plants only when they are thirsty.
- Egypt wants to buy Israeli natural gas.
- Hundreds of exhausted migrating birds recover in Eilat.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Vitamin reduces fatigue in MS patients. Dr Anat Achiron of the Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer has reported that in controlled trials, a synthetic analog of vitamin D significantly reduced fatigue, which is common in patients with multiple sclerosis. The compound is 1a-hydroxyvitamin D3 (alfacalcidol).
Preventing dangerous growth in heart muscle. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that the protein Erbin is an important brake that helps prevent cardiac hypertrophy – the stage before heart failure when the heart grows in an attempt to increase its output.
Breakthrough in understanding genetic disease. Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have demonstrated the molecular basis of Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) – perhaps the most studied among the class of diseases that involves defects in parental imprinting. PWS is due to a defective gene on chromosome 15.
The genetic “switch” that thalidomide corrupted. It is 57 years since the thalidomide tragedy that resulted in thousands of deaths and babies born with severe limb deformities. Now Tel Aviv University scientists have pinpointed the genetic regulator “switch” responsible p53 and its downstream target gene, MicroRNA34.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Special Service. Teenagers that are unable to join regular Israeli Defense Forces units are not forgotten in the Jewish State. Please watch, as they (and their parents) are proud to help serve their country.
Academic campus for Israel’s haredim. Rivka Yeruslavsky was born into an Israeli ultra-Orthodox family and studied computer science. She then went on to open the Strauss Campus of Lomda – Israel’s largest vocational institute, designed to bring more haredim into the workforce.
Israeli Arabs entrepreneurs get more help. The Israeli government is offering promising Israeli Arab entrepreneurs and scientists 200 hours of free business consulting, plus research and development grants of up to 85 percent of the funding required to produce their new ideas in the lab.
The first female Bedouin doctor is Israeli. Israel’s Dr. Rania Okby, a specialist in maternal fetal medicine, is the first female Bedouin doctor in the world and a role model for Bedouin women in Israel.
Nigeria thanks Israeli offer to help locate abducted schoolgirls. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the offer by Israel’s Prime Minister to send a team of counter-terrorism experts to assist in the search and rescue operations for nearly 200 Christian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic terrorists Boko Haram.
Israel’s MDA offers Turkey help in mining disaster. Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom has offered the Turkish Red Crescent assistance after an explosion and fire in a coalmine in the town of Soma that killed more than 200 people. MDA said they could provide valuable manpower and medical equipment.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Transforming phone camera imaging. Israeli startup Corephotonics has developed a dual-lens phone camera that can produce crystal-clear images on a smartphone even when the zoom function is used. It uses two 13-megapixel lenses with their own sensors, thus improving low-light performance and producing cleaner images.
Turning waste into energy in North Carolina. Israel’s Bluesphere is to construct a 5.2-megawatt power plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the fuel for the plant coming from organic waste from the city’s landfill site.
Israeli teens take another top international physics prize. Pupils from Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center in Beer-Sheva have won their 45th prize in the “First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics” competition. Israel has won the most prizes since the US-based competition began in 2007 – more than the USA, Russia, South Korea etc.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
UK on-line retailer uses Israeli software. UK’s online retail giant Shop Direct, based in Liverpool, has teamed up with Israel’s Cimagine Media and yRuler to launch a new service that will allow shoppers to try-out products virtually before they buy them. The brands include Very, Isme and Littlewoods.
El Al boost number of flights from USA by 30%. El Al Airlines’ Spring schedule now has 31 weekly nonstop flights between North America and Israel. They include 22 flights from New York (JFK/Newark), five from Los Angeles and four from Toronto, Canada.
Tourism at new record levels. (Thanks to algemeiner.com) The number of tourists visiting Israel in April was a record-breaking 385,000 – 9% more than in Apr 2013. Even after accounting for the Passover/Easter effect, the increase was still 5%. Over 1 million tourists have visited Israel in 2014 – 16% more than in 2013.
Finance raised to drill Leviathan gas. The developers of Israel’s massive natural gas deposits at the Leviathan field have successfully raised the $2billion necessary to continue the project. Leviathan’s 18 trillion cubic feet of gas should start flowing in 2016, ensuring Israel’s future energy requirements are secure.
First Turkey, now Egypt wants Israeli gas. Israel’s new found energy resource could be a big peacemaker. Following Turkey’s announcement that it was buying natural gas from Israel, now Egypt’s suppliers have signed a letter of intent to purchase supplies from Israel. Israel used to import Egyptian gas but not any more.
THE JEWISH STATE
Green Eilat “saves” hundreds of birds. The recent sudden heat wave affecting the Middle East took its toll on migrating Corncrakes as they ran out of fat and muscle during their flight from Africa to Europe and Asia. Luckily they were able to reach Eilat – the first patch of green habitation after endless deserts.
The future is bright. Gideon Israel writes the facts that refute any claims that Israel is isolated. He cites Israel’s improved relations with China, India, Central Asia, South Korea, the USA, Latin America and eleven European countries. (Without even mentioning friendships with Canada, Australia, Japan, Africa, etc. etc.)
UK Rabbis learn more about Israel. UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and 49 Orthodox British Rabbis have completed a 4-day mission to Israel. Northwood Synagogue’s Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman said that the trip would help him communicate to congregants not to be emotional about Israel but to seek more information.
FrontPage Mag (May 10) — As the modern state of Israel turned 66 this week, it is important to realize that, despite the dreary predictions to the contrary, Israel is not a pariah state, nor is it isolated. However, voices inside and outside of Israel continue to espouse their gloom and doom forecast that failure of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians will increase Israel’s pariah status and/or lead them into isolation. Yet, we don’t need to search very far to find those voices and examine what constituency they represent – since Tzippi Livni, Israel’s Justice Minister and chief negotiator, repeatedly makes this assertion.
She has said, “peace negotiations are the wall stopping the wave [of international boycott pressure],” and in 2013, “we are at the last minute before isolation.” In 2010, “Israel is becoming isolated from the world,” and indicted PM Netanyahu saying, “since you took control, Israel has become a pariah country in the world.”
These statements, and other similar pronouncements, are never supported with data or backed up with facts. However, Livni, other ‘friends’ of Israel and like-minded pundits believe that these types of statements, combined with pictures of fringe groups around the globe supporting BDS, is enough to scare the public into buying into their vision.
But, is Israel really isolated? Even more so, what is the nature of the isolation which Livni, Kerry and others speak about? They certainly haven’t elaborated on what they mean since their pronouncements lack factual support. A country might be considered isolated when most other countries sever relations with them for an extended and indefinite period of time. This might include a cessation of economic, diplomatic, cultural ties and/or an arms embargo. This might also be coupled with UN Security Council sanctions (not to be mistaken for UNGA condemnations which carry absolutely no weight). Since policymakers have made statements warning of isolation, it is important to refute those claims, lest they spread.
Prior to his visit to Israel in 2013, senior Chinese Communist Official in charge of information, media and culture, Liu Qibao, discussed Chinese-Israel relations:
Our bilateral relationship has grown robust and mature over the past 21 years of diplomatic relations…exchange of visits between senior officials is frequent…trade and economic ties grow fast. China is now Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia…Cooperation in science and technology is fruitful. Cultural and people-to-people exchanges are more and more active…China-Israel relationship will undoubtedly embrace a bright future.
Throughout the whole interview the Israeli-Arab conflict was not mentioned once. And while there might be calls for boycott and divestment in Israel China not only hasn’t joined those calls, but is also going ahead with the Red-Med project to build a railroad from Eilat to Ashdod.
Israel-Indian ties also continue to grow stronger. Israel is India’s second largest supplier of arms after Russia with bi-lateral arms trade over the last decade estimated at $10 billion. India’s foreign minister Krishna visited Israel in 2012, and the visit of the Chief of Staff of India’s army, Maj. Gen. Bikram Singh, to Israel in March, 2014, focused on joint cooperation. Israel currently has more than 27 agricultural projects with India and will be sponsoring more than 100 post-doctoral scholarships for Indians in Israel. Additionally, Narendra Modi, head of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), and likely the next Prime Minister of India, has long courted political and economic ties with Israel.
Both India and China, as Professor Efraim Inbar wrote, “treat the Jewish State with reverence as they see in it a similar old civilization that reached remarkable achievements.”
Highlights from the free weekly newsletter by verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
V Wave heart device implanted in first patient. The implant-able shunt developed by Israel’s V Wave treats congestive heart failure patients by reducing pressure on the muscle controlling the blood flow between the heart chambers. The first patient to receive the shunt is already experiencing an improved condition.
Israeli Parkinson’s treatment is used in 40 countries. Japan’s Takeda has signed a deal to commercialize Teva’s innovative treatment for Parkinson’s disease, rasagiline, for use in Japan. It follows Takeda’s deal in Dec 2013 to develop Teva’s glatiramer acetate for the treatment of multiple sclerosis.
Relief for back pain sufferers. Israel’s Teva reported success in a Phase III clinical trial for its abuse-deterrent extended-release CEP-33237 treatment for chronic low back pain. The results showed significant improvement as measured by both weekly average Worst Pain Intensity and weekly Average Pain Intensity scores.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
IDF medics save choking Palestinian Arab baby. 2nd Lt. Ben Tzanani and his medical team rushed to save a one-month old baby from the village of Beitin near Ramallah. The baby began to choke whilst her sister was playing with her. Afterwards many Beitin villagers phoned the division headquarters to express their gratitude.
Arab Bedouins protect Israelis border. Meet Lt. Col. Majdi Mazarib, the commander of the Northern Tracking Unit that operates near the Lebanese border and consists only of Muslim Arab Bedouin soldiers.
The other Zoabi – the Muslim Arab Zionist. Muhammad Zoabi is a relative of anti-Zionist MK Hanin Zoabi but their surname is all that’s in common. Muhammad says, “we are living freedom”, “the Jews are a great nation and they always accept others” and vows to “stand with the Jewish people until the last day of my life.”
Where Christians celebrated Easter in the Middle East. According to David Parsons, media director of International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Christians living in Israel have much to be thankful for and little to complain about compared to their Christian brethren in neighboring countries.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
No need for a periscope. (Thanks to algemeiner.com) Israel Technion researchers have developed a new camera that enables divers and submarines to see above the surface of the water without a periscope. The Stella Maris (Marine Refractive Imaging Sensor) counters distortions from the dynamic refraction of water waves.
If you can imagine it – we can print it. (Thanks to Israel21c) Industrial designers Oded Marcus and Shaul Cohen have set-up Tel Aviv’s 3D Factory – a three-dimensional printing shop. It features a do-it-yourself ‘experience store’ where anyone can print an actual object from a computer design.
Israel is “the wi-fi nation”. It starts when you arrive at Ben Gurion Airport and are treated to free wifi. Then you get on the train; for over a year now, Israel Railways provides free wifi. The Kavim bus to work offers free wifi. Enter a restaurant in Tel Aviv and you will likely be served free wifi. It’s not the same in Europe or USA.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Israel is the place to become a billionaire. A report by the UK’s Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) shows that after Hong Kong, Israel is the best place to become a “super-entrepreneur”. The CPS report analyzed billionaires on Forbes’ lists of the world’s richest people who earnedtheir fortunes instead of inheriting them.
New Trade Offices in Asia, Africa and South America. Israel will open more trade attaché offices in Asia, Africa, and South America, to follow the growth of its trade balance. For 2018, Israel forecasts Asia buying 24.5% of its exports, the U.S. 20.3% and European Union 40%.
Venture capital up 53%. Israeli private high-tech firms raised $673 million in venture capital in the first quarter, up 53 percent from a year earlier. Foreign investment was the main reason for the increase.
Another Israeli company protects Soccer World Cup. Israel’s Risco Group has implemented a command and control system for the 44,000-seat Arena Patanal World Cup stadium in Cuiabá, Brazil. In previous news, Israel’s Elbit Systems is providing a Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicles for the Brazilian Air Force.
Intel to invest billions in Israel. (Thanks to Israel21c) Intel has presented the Israeli government with an investment plan to upgrade its Kiryat Gat semiconductor-manufacturing facility. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that the investment could reach $6 billion. The project would require 1000 new employees.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
The number of Blue Flag beaches doubles. 21 Israeli beaches and two marinas have just received the Blue Flag international accolade for environmental excellence. In 2013 only nine Israeli beaches and two marinas reached the sufficient standard. This year, the Blue Flag was awarded to eight beaches in Netanya alone.
Jerusalem is the place to visit. (Thanks to Israel21c) Leading travel website TripAdvisor has released a new list citing the Top 10 Destinations on the Rise around the world, and ranks Jerusalem as the fourth most popular site to visit. There are over 5,200 Jerusalem related posts on the global travel advice website.
La Traviata in Masada. Following the successes of Nabucco, Aida, Carmen and Turandot, the Israeli Opera will temporarily relocate Paris to the Judean desert. They will perform a new ravishing production of Verdi’s most popular opera at the footsteps of the majestic Mount Masada from June 12 – 17.
Highlights from the free weekly newsletter by verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com:
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Israel’s splendid global integration. Yoram Ettinger’s latest financial report on Israel contains eight key indicators. All positive.
IBM launches Israeli start-up accelerator. IBM Corporation is joining the wave of technology incubator programs with the launch of its first-ever start-up accelerator in Israel. IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator will provide a 24-week program providing free use of IBM’s development tools and services up to a value $24,000.
Israeli income tax is less than most OECD countries. The average income tax rate in Israel is 21% (and falling) compared to the OECD average of 35.9% (and rising). Only three of the 34 OECD countries levy less income tax on its citizens than Israel.
A whole new world. This Israel Technion video provides a different view of some amazing microscopic objects. The images seen through a diverse range of microscopes are the products of 29 Technion researchers working in the different areas of exact sciences, life sciences, engineering, and medicine.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The world’s top producer of in-cab mobile terminals. Israel’s Micronet supplies half a million terminals for fleet vehicles such as trucks and taxis – more than any other manufacturer. The company’s new A317 model just released now allows users to run apps developed for Android-based tablets.
Israeli radar to protect South Korea from the North. A team of South Korean military and acquisition officials has been dispatched to Israel to purchase low-altitude surveillance radars capable of detecting small, unmanned drones from North Korea. South Korea recently discovered three UAVs near the border.
An app to make you enjoy music. Weizmann graduate Yuval Karminka found that 85% of non-musicians wish they had learned to play a musical instrument. He then founded JoyTunes that produces popular music learning apps that encourage the novice musician to advance in their practicing.
The cutting edge of desalination. British trade journal Global Water Intelligence has bestowed its top awards on Israel’s IDE Technologies. Initiatives such as the Soreq plant and the Carlsbad project “will ensure that IDE remains at the cutting edge of the desalination industry for at least another four decades,”
Israeli scientists spring-clean the planet. To mark Earth Day, Weizmann Institute’s latest e-magazine includes the work of Professor Berkowitz who has transformed toxic chemicals in water into harmless compounds. Also Professor Bayer who designed bacteria that turns waste paper into sugar. And much more.
Technology brings together Jewish & Arab teens. For 10 years, the Middle East Education through Technology (MEET) program has been uniting budding hi-tech Palestinian and Israeli entrepreneurs from Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Mevasseret Zion, Nazareth and Beit Shemesh.