Now for some Serious Trading

Now for Some Serious Trading

The Israeli elections are over and we are now into the period of horse-trading that inevitably is required to build a new coalition for governing the country.  Excluding the politicians, however, most Israelis are going about their regular business. The country’s many forward-thinking entrepreneurs continue building new enterprises or expanding their current ones, which will undoubtedly bring huge benefits to the world.

Those living in, or traveling to, far-off locations will definitely appreciate the innovations from first two Israeli companies featured.  Starting on dry land, Israel’s Alvarion is deploying its fast wireless broadband service for the benefit of the 7500 residents and workers on the North Slope of Alaska – one of the remotest and harshest places on earth.  We then cast off to hear about Station 711 - part of Israel’s RRsat Global Communications Network – which has just launched the latest version of its mobile communications for ships. Its Fleetbroadband gives crews a commercial, operational and personal link to the rest of the world while at sea. 

We need to keep moving in order to appreciate Israel’s number one position in the market for Gesture Technology - the latest feature that lets you communicate with your personal computer by waving your hands in front of the built-in camera.  At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Israeli companies PointGrab and eyeSight revealed their latest deals; PointGrap’s with Samsung’s smart TVs and eyeSight’s with AMD’s new graphics chip.  We now increase the speed in order to catch up with the new Chevy Corvette C7 Stingray sports car. The new model is much lighter and stronger than similar vehicles, thanks to the very same dense plastic composite material that protects US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The material is manufactured by Plasan Sasa, which is based at Kibbutz Sasa in Northern Israel.

China’s fast-moving assembly lines may be producing most of the world’s TV flat screens, but they need Israeli hi-tech equipment to control them.  Israel’s Orbotech has just won a contract for $40 million of its latest generation flat-screen control panels for automated optical inspection and array testing.  China also needs Israeli help in order to manufacture fertilizer for the crops required to feed its huge population.  It has just ordered 660,000 tons of Israeli Potash as part of a 3 million tons agreement (worth $1.2bn) over three years.

Many firms will be able to grow their businesses faster thanks to a new prize-winning application from Israeli start-up KitLocate.  The location system lets retailers find shoppers in their area and offer them deals and coupons.  Meanwhile, an Israeli biotech is doing a little trading of its own.  Alcobra will be the first new listing on NASDAQ by an Israeli life sciences company since 2010.  Alcobra's MG01CI medication for ADHD sufferers is currently undergoing a Phase II clinical trial.  The non-stimulant treatment is safer than Ritalin and has far fewer side effects than Strattera.

Israel is one of the leading exporters of Clean Technology.  Renowned water expert Dr Yoram Oren has been developing nano-filtration membrane separation to purify two of India’s mighty rivers. The Noyyal and the Bhavani have been polluted due to the large-scale discharge of toxic effluents from dyeing units along the river shores.  On a more global level, one of Israel’s cleantech companies, Miya, is busy saving water across the world. Its technology locates leaks and is currently saving 600 million liters of water every day in Manila, Philippines.  Other projects include the Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico and South Africa.

“What about the Arabs?”  Firstly, Israel’s Ministry of Science sponsored a conference on “The Role of Research & Development in Economic Development in the Arab Community”.  The conference was organized by the NGO Triangle Research & Development Center, which addresses topics affecting the Arab community in Israel.  Israel also provides support to those neighbors who display a genuine desire to have peaceful relations with the Jewish State.  For example, thirty farmers from Gaza were given permits to enter Israel in order to attend an agricultural exhibition.  Ramadan Abu Naja from Gaza said, “We came here to learn about Israeli agriculture. We will take some of the types of produce that we like back with us into Gaza.

Israel’s trade with the world continues to improve as nations come to seek Israeli know-how.  For example, Israel’s Fourth International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification (DDD) drew more than 500 participants from 60 countries.  One of its sponsors was the UN, which aims to halt land degradation by 2030.  In December, Israel even received a delegation from Mongolia's Ministry of Environment and Green Development to learn about water pollution management and prevention, and land rehabilitation.

Finally, perhaps the strangest recent international event of all must have be the International Belly Dance Festival in Eilat.  The world's biggest belly dancing event attracted some 950 dancers from 30 countries – including Turkey, Egypt and Jordan.  Maybe, one day, real peace and trade relations with our Middle East neighbors will materialize in an equally unexpected way.

Israel – I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

Reporting the Inside Story

Reporting the Inside Story

An accurate picture of life in Israel cannot be constructed by focusing only on biased negative reporting and superficial analysis.  It requires looking under the skin at what really goes on inside the Jewish State. 

Starting inside the human body, Israel’s BioControl Medical has implanted its FitNeS vagus nerve stimulation system into epileptics and reduced fits by 50%, with no side effects.  Meanwhile, Israeli biotech Enlivex has developed a treatment called ApoCell that triggers a response from the immune system to reduce adverse reactions during bone marrow transplants.  It prevents Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD), which affects around 70% of transplant patients.  Also inside the Jewish State, a biotech comprising Israel’s minorities is successfully producing innovative products to guide neurosurgeons to the required location in the brain.  Alpha Omega is a Nazareth company of Christian and Muslim Arab graduates of Israeli universities.

Two revealing stories emerged from inside of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer last week.  Firstly, Sheba scientists have isolated cancer stem cells that fuel kidney cancer in children.  Antibody medication was then used to target specific molecules in those cells and destroyed the tumors without harming any other cells.  But I had to blink hard when I read that US President Obama’s step-grandmother has just undergone emergency eye treatment at an Israeli hospital, far away from Tel Aviv. Sheba hospital also manages the state-of-the-art “Shalom” La Paz Medical Center in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and the local staff includes around 100 Israeli doctors.

Inside the heart of many products you find Israeli technology.  Today, if you buy one of Lenovo’s new Ideapad Ultrabooks, it will include the gesture control features of Israeli startup, eyeSight Mobile Technologies.  With simple hand movements, from a distance of up to 70cm you can control media player, photo gallery, Powerpoint and PDF reader.  And in a further example, Colorado’s Spectranetics has just acquired Israel’s Upstream Peripheral Technologies.  Consequently Spectranetics’ medical lasers will soon come equipped with Upstream’s innovative products that reduce radiation exposure to both doctors and patients.

Many of the foods we put inside us are the product of Israeli technology.  The latest natural herbal pesticide from Israel’s EdenShield doesn’t even harm a fly.  When it is sprayed onto the netting surrounding fruit and vegetables, the bugs smell the aroma of the herb and they turn tail and fly away.  More Israeli innovations will be on display at Arava Open Day at the end of January.  250 companies will demonstrate their products to over 30,000 visitors who will also be entertained with a farmer’s market, kids’ activities, and gala evening concerts from top Israeli stars.  Meanwhile among the visitors to a recent agricultural exhibition were 30 farmers from Gaza who came to purchase Israeli products and learn from the Israelis.

Staying with the food industry, the popular Israeli drinks-maker SodaStream has become extremely successful simply by putting bubbles inside flavored drinks.  It also contributes to the environment by avoiding some of the billions of plastic bottles that we put inside the garbage trucks each year. SodaStream’s latest advert makes this sustainability point very cleverly - however the UK regulators banned it for “denigrating plastic bottle makers”.  Judge for yourself by watching the replacement ad and its original here.

Some of Israel’s beautiful environmental sites can be found right inside Israel’s capital.  Jerusalem’s Botanical Gardens are literally blooming.  Planned developments for 2013 include a children’s interactive discovery path and an expanded and renovated tropical conservatory.  And I fully expect the Secretary General of the United Nations to “bubble up inside” when he reads that Israel plans to turn the 64 acres of Gazelle Valley in Jerusalem into Israel’s first city wildlife park. 

I’ll finish with some items featuring some of the residents that live inside our tiny little country.  Members of an Ultra-orthodox (haredi) IDF battalion saved the lives of three Palestinian Arabs who were trapped in a car near Nablus in a raging swollen stream during the recent storms.  A left-leaning Israeli newspaper was surprised by evidence of the surge in applications by East Jerusalem Arabs for Israeli ID cards; more Arab students taking the Israeli matriculation exams; more enrolling in Israeli academic institutions; and a rising number of youth volunteering for national service.  Perhaps less surprising was that dozens of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas have asked to move to Israel.  And then there is Samir – a Muslim Arab who voluntarily enlisted in the IDF.  Samir was born in Syria but now lives in Israel.  “I love the army”, he said proudly.

Lastly, among the 18,000 new immigrants who in 2012 decided to start new lives inside the Jewish State was 100-year-old Moises Lederman from Brazil.  "I'm only sorry I didn't come to Israel earlier on, but better late than never," he said.  But the view of Vivian Hamui from Panama is perhaps even more illuminating.  She finds herself living and studying with Ethiopians, Russians, Spanish, English, Chinese, Americans, Dutch, Venezuelans and many Arab girls.  She doubts if the same situation could occur inside any other Middle East country.

It really helps to have inside information.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

2013 is the time for some Clear Thinking

2013 is the time for some Clear Thinking

As the world begins another calendar year, I urge all readers to try to open the minds of the international community to the momentous work that Israel is doing.  Israelis certainly have been using their brains and also focusing on making a clean start to 2013.

Beginning with the brain itself, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with the Max Planck Society of Germany, is to build a 3 million euro Brain Research Center in the nation’s capital, Jerusalem.  When complete, it should initiate new treatments for destructive neurological diseases.  Even before the new center is complete, Hebrew Uni researchers have discovered a key protein, Calphotin, whose absence can cause Alzheimer’s. Calphotin regulates the amount of Calcium contained in the body’s cells.  Loss of Calphotin (e.g. due to aging) causes Calcium levels to rise and accelerates cell death.  Finally, a study by Israeli neurologist Dr. Rivka Inzelberg has identified an interesting side effect of dopamine-stimulating medication to control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Patients have contracted artistic or literary creative skills that they never had previously.  Reducing the medication suppresses these new skills.

Israel certainly does not discourage individuals with brain disorders from coming to the Jewish State.  20 young North American Jews with Asperger’s Syndrome have just experienced Israel together on a special Taglit-Birthright tour.  They also met Israelis with Asperger’s at Shekel, an umbrella organization for Israelis with special needs. 

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem wants all Israeli citizens to have the opportunity to expand their minds with a higher education. It is therefore creating an access program for students from minority backgrounds and has appointed Professor Nayef Jarrous as its Minority Affairs Advisor.

At Intel’s Haifa centre, Israeli brains are clearing the route for future technology by pioneering a unique “perceptual computing” platform.  Now they are offering a $1 million prize to for developers to build applications that will allow computers to anticipate the needs of their owners.  Meanwhile, road users are already benefiting from Israeli clear thinking.  Ben Gurion University researchers have analyzed data from Israeli GPS navigation application “Waze “to highlight traffic trouble spots where police can be deployed more effectively.  New technology is one of the reasons why numbers of accidents and fatalities on Israeli roads have reached a 50-year low. 

It’s clearly time to move on to the subject of Israel’s work in cleaning up the environment.  Internationally, Israeli start-up Mapal Energy has completed a project in Brazil for purifying water in São Paulo.  Mapal’s units replaced the existing mechanical aerators, saving 50% of the energy while maintaining the quality of the treated water.  Meanwhile, the Israel-US fund for Research and Development (BIRD) has just announced that it will be providing $9 million for ten new infrastructure projects that include water technologies and environmental recycling. 

Cleanliness begins at home, of course, so it was good to read that the Israeli Government has increased the budget for rehabilitating polluted rivers and streams.  Two of Israel’s municipalities are also chipping in.  Be’er sheva has chosen trees over houses by revoking plans to build 16,000 new housing units in the city's Ramot Gimel neighborhood in favor of planting a new forest.  The urban forest will span across 1,360 acres and serve as the city’s green lung.  In contrast, Netanya has combined nature with urban priorities by clearing out 2.5 million cubic meters of garbage from a disused landfill site.  The result will be a residential area for 2,062 families and 1,100 hotel rooms, whilst at the same time extending Netanya’s famous iris nature reserve, thus enhancing the beautiful seaside resort.

Returning to the topic of education, 2012 showed that increased government funding, longer staff hours and teachers for specific subjects have led to encouraging academic results for Israel’s next generation of clear thinkers.  Let’s also hope that the Jewish State continues to be blessed with educators like Penny Ur from Moshav Amnon in the Galilee.  Penny has just been awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List for her work promoting English language-teaching methodologies.

Finally, Israeli clear thinker Yaakov Kirschen has provided 40 years of profound satire and witty commentary on everyday Israeli news and international events with his “Dry Bones” cartoon.  He has traveled to the USA and the Far East, lecturing to the wider community and promoting the Jewish State.  He is now working on a new project to educate the next generation.

It shows that when it comes to making a better future, Israelis clearly can

Think outside the box.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

Israel and the Palestinian Arabs – Dec 2011

JPost - Look what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs (July 2011)

Look what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs - Part 1 (Medical)

Look what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs - Part 2 (Environment & Economy)

Look what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs - Part 3 (Co-existance)

Israeli Help for Palestinian Arabs & Co-existence (July 2011 Detail)

12/6/11 Israel values all life.  Israeli paramedics deliver at least one Palestinian Arab baby every single month.

12/6/11 Shh!…don’t tell the neighbours.  New personal stories from the Israeli organisation “Save A Child’s Heart”.  SACH performs nearly half its operations on Palestinian Arab children, whose parents can hardly believe it.

12/6/11 Let peace begin with water.  Israelis, Palestinian Arabs and Jordanians build EcoCentres to make the most of scarce water supplies.

12/6/11 Environmental Impacts Know No Boundaries.  Students from Israel, the PA, Malta, Lebanon, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the UK are working together on a project to protect their unique shared ecosystem.

5/6/11  “Peace must begin among us.”  A delegation of senior physicians and medical technicians from the Palestinian Authority arrived last week for a study program at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa.

5/6/11 Abbas speaks the truth.  News this week reveals that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas admitted in an Arabic interview, that his family were forced to flee in 1948 due to threats by Arab leaders.  Jews were not responsible.

29/5/11 Life goes on.  Despite the signing of the agreement between Fatah and the Hamas terrorist organisation, Israel continues to co-operate with the Palestinian Authority and to help its economy grow.

22/5/11 Jews & Arabs play to Australian rules.  A team of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs were narrowly beaten by an ex-pat Aussie team in a practice for the Australian Rules International Football Cup later this year.

15/5/11 Israeli company launches Arab talent show.  Yagur Studios in Haifa is responsible for The Palestinian Arab equivalent of “A Star is Born” and “X-factor”.  The program is even shown live on Saudi Arabian TV.

8/5/11 Save a Child’s Heart update.  Currently 21 children are being treated; 7 from the Palestinian Authority.

1/5/11 Israelis are the best employers.  This research report was produced by the Palestinian Arab news agency.

17/4/11 Big splash at Kalkilya zoo.  Arab and Israeli vets navigated a six-year old 1.5-ton hippo into its new home in the Palestinian Arab city.

10/4/11 Don’t blind me with facts!  Palestinian Arabs have one of the world’s highest percentages of home ownership – over 80% - even in Gaza.  These are the PA’s own figures.

3/4/11 Israeli Kibbutz builds dairy farm for Hebron Arabs.  Kibbutz Afikim is using its world-leading technology to combat the milk shortage in the Palestinian Authority controlled city of Hebron – where the world’s media only ever reports conflict.

3/4/11 Fun in the snow.  You definitely won’t see this on the BBC.  Israeli soldiers took Palestinian Arab children cancer sufferers and their families for a day-out, playing in the snow on Mount Hermon.

27/3/11 Jews & Arabs play as one.  Two teams each containing both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs battled out the final of Israel Bowl 1V – Israel’s American football championship league.

20/4/11 Israel is a “good enemy”.  This Palestinian Arab views Israel very favourably when compared to Arab states.

6/3/11 Selling together. Some 400 Palestinian Arab farmers joined thousands of Israelis at an international agricultural fair in Tel Aviv. They also received help from Israeli farming innovations.

6/3/11 Sitting down to peace talks? An Israeli plastics factory employs 50% Israelis and 50% Palestinian Arabs to manufacture (among other things) toilet seats. It gives another meaning to “low-level co-operation”.

27/2/11 Dissolving bitterness.  Israel ran a week-long seminar on desalination technologies for thirty participants from Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, covering design, operation and maintenance of water desalination plants.

27/2/11 Humanity begins here.  Whilst other countries have abandoned its citizens living in Libya, Israel has allowed 300 ex-pat Palestinian Arabs to return to the territories following a request from Mahmoud Abbas.

27/2/11 Brain Surgery in Israel saves Gaza toddler.  Surgeons at Rambam hospital in Haifa removed a tumour the size of a large orange.  The hospital has treated 200 Gazans in the last six months alone.

20/2/11 Football for all.  Men and women in Arab countries may be demonstrating for basic human rights but in the Palestinian territories, Arab women celebrated the inauguration of the new women’s football league.

13/2/11 For Israelis, all life is sacred. Israeli soldiers successfully delivered a baby boy in a military ambulance when his Palestinian Arab mother went into labour in the Jordan valley. They then performed CPR to save his life.

6/2/11 We’re working together.  Palestinian Arab software engineers at Asal Technologies in Ramallah are coding software as outsourcers for an Israeli life sciences software firm.

23/1/11 Arabs want Israeli citizenship.  Arab residents of East Jerusalem are lining up to request Israeli citizenship.

16/1/11 East Jerusalem Arabs prefer Israel to Palestinian state!  A poll of East Jerusalem Arabs, conducted by a joint American / Palestinian Arab organisation came out against PA control of East Jerusalem.

16/1/11 “Ramallah is like Europe”!  Dubai journalist Maisun Azzam declares that the world’s media has completely distorted the image of life for Palestinian Arabs.  She admits that bad news is newsworthy but good news isn’t!

16/1/11 Israel – where Palestinian Arabs are most welcome! Israel is the best country in the Middle East for Palestinian Arabs.  So says Mudar Zahran – a Palestinian Arab, now living in London.

26/12/10 Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together on a project to clean up sewage in Jordan Valley.

5/12/10 Quote by a Sudanese official in the Palestinian Arab press “Where is the siege? I don't see it in Gaza. I wish Sudan's residents could live under the conditions of the Gazan siege." (Oxfam, Amnesty and the rest of the 21 Israel-bashing NGOs probably got lost and wrote their recent usual biased report on the wrong place.)

28/11/10 A groundbreaking exhibition of selected paintings by 120 Israeli and Palestinian Arab children took place last week in the foyer of the Allsaraya Arabic-Hebrew theatre in Jaffa.

28/11/10 Israeli checkpoint prevents attack on Tel Aviv.  Soldiers found a machine gun, ammunition, pipe bombs and other military gear in a Palestinian Arab vehicle trying to enter Israel.

28/11/10 Over the past year, 180,000 Arabs from the Palestinian-controlled territories were treated at Israeli hospitals.

28/11/10 Meanwhile, Gaza terrorists fire phosphorous shells into Israel.  No response from the UN – surprise, surprise.

21/11/10 Israeli documentary "Precious Life" has been short-listed for an Academy award. It tells the story of a baby from Gaza who suffers from a life-threatening genetic disorder, being treated in an Israeli hospital.

14/11/10 Egyptian journalist and political analyst Nabil Sharaf Eldin urged fellow Arabs to visit Israel. “Failing to find a glimpse of hope across the greater Arab world, we must concede that Israel has become the only "safe haven" where one can be sure of his life and dignity.”

31/10/10 The number of Arab volunteers to National Service in Israel has increased six-fold in the past five years to a current total of 1,473. Of the volunteers, 92% are young women.

31/10/10 There are 325 million Arabs in 22 Middle Eastern countries and other lands, but the first and so far only registry for potential unrelated Arab donors of bone marrow or stem cells – which have the ability to cure cancers and other serious disorders – is at Hadassah University Medical Centre in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem

31/10/10 A Cambridge University motion that “Israel is a rogue state” was defeated by 74% of the thousands of delegates present. Even pro-Palestinian Arab supporters cheered Israel’s humanitarian activities.

31/10/10 It may be over the “green line” but Ariel University is extremely popular with hundreds of Arabs students.  Joana Moussa, a 20-year-old behavioral sciences student from Abu Snan, an Arab village in the Galilee region, said "there is no racism here."

10/10/10 Two scientists, one from Israel and one from Nablus in the Palestinian Authority are working together to improve water purification for the region and beyond.

10/10/10 Israeli Jews join Arabs to celebrate annual Oktoberfest beer festival in the Christian enclave of the Palestinian Arab village of Taybeh.

3/10/10 New study shows that life expectancy of Jewish Israelis has increased significantly and is longer on average than in the OECD countries. Infant mortality of Israeli Arabs has improved even more dramatically and they now live noticeably longer on average than Americans. The lifespan of Jews and Arabs has increased by seven years since 1980.

3/10/10 The Peres Center for Peace marked the International Day of Peace with events at the Peres Peace House on Jaffa beach. Hundreds of Israeli Jewish and Arab families, children and young people, as well as Palestinian Arab families attended the events, which was open to the general public, free of charge.

3/10/10 An Israeli woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy by caesarean section within hours of a young couple being shot by Palestinian Arab terrorists in an attack on the same road where 4 Israelis were murdered on Aug 31st.  The new baby’s father said "This was not how I planned to bring a child into the world".

26/9/10 In Jerusalem, a team of Israelis and Palestinian Arabs are putting aside their differences and teaming up on the sports field to chase a common goal.

26/9/10 The Gaza water park, so popular with affluent residents, was closed down by Hamas and then burned to the ground.

12/9/10 Israel's first NBA player, Omri Casspi, ran a basketball clinic for 100 Israeli and Palestinian Arab children in the annual event of the Twinned Peace Basketball Schools project.

12/9/10 Whilst Hamas tells the world that all Gazans are suffering, it's elite enjoy a riding club and a water park with chutes and slides.

12/9/10 An early Jewish New Year present from our Gaza “friends”.  A mortar shell fired from Gaza Strip hit a kibbutz school building just 30 minutes before final lessons prior to the holiday.

29/8/10 Arab-Israeli Eco group (Friends of the Earth Middle East) has won the “Intercultural Dialogue for Ecological Sustainability” award.  The group consisting of Jordanian, Palestinian Arabs, and Israeli environmentalists, seeks to advance “sustainable regional development and the creation of necessary conditions for lasting peace in our region”.

29/8/10 Wishing the Muslim residents of the capital, across Israel and throughout the world a "Ramadan Kareem", Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat fired-off a cannon heralding the end of the day's fast at the ancient Salah al-Din cemetery in east Jerusalem on Wednesday evening.

15/8/10 A wonderful supermarket has opened in the Territories, thrilling both Israeli and Arab shoppers. Palestinian Arab families and Israeli "settlers" mingle in the aisles - one checkout cashier was a Jewish woman from Kiryat Arba of Moroccan descent; on the cash register next to her was a blue-eyed Muslim woman from Halul, and on another register was a member of the Bnei Menashe tribe from India.

15/8/10 The Ramallah construction boom is one of the most obvious signs of economic growth in the Territories, estimated at an annual rate of 8 percent.

15/8/10 Celtic has a new Israeli Arab midfielder – Beram Kayal who has 14 caps for Israel:  "What the television shows about Israel is totally different to what happens. The life between the Jews and the Arabs is very good. I'm an Arab and my agent is Jewish but we're like family. The Jews and the Arabs live together in Haifa, which is a mixed city. Maccabi Haifa has seven or eight Arab players and that's normal. The only difference is their religion, but there's no conflict."

15/8/10 Salim Mansur: The ease with which I moved — alone and without restrictions — from the inner sanctum of the Muslim sanctuary to Judaism’s holiest site, embracing both, is a testimony to the openness of Israel as a Jewish state and democracy.

18/7/10 Rami Hariziat Hassan, a 20-year-old Palestinian Arab shepherd was saved by Border Police officers after being bitten by a viper on Sunday night. His friend Raja Talam Va’ada said ‘Suddenly, a snake bit him on the foot. We rushed to a local checkpoint and asked the soldiers for help. They really helped us,’ adding ‘He nearly died. He wasn’t breathing.’  We want to thank everyone – the border policemen and the hospital doctors,’ Va’ada said. ‘Well done to everyone’. Before Hassan was released from the hospital, Border Police officers came to check on his condition and bring him candy (sweets).

18/7/10 Following details of their Roots gourmet restaurant and the new Olympic size swimming pool, Gaza has just opened a luxury shopping mall. (Not much evidence of a shortage of building materials.)
There are still many complaints though – especially from the tunnel smugglers.

18/7/10 Finally, here perhaps are some surprising (although not to Israelis) statistics.  Infant mortality in Gaza is 17.7 per thousand whereas in Turkey it is 24.8. Life expectancy figures are also better in Gaza.
(But since when have facts ever been important?)