Good News About Israel

Congress: The House of Representatives passed legislation that authorizes $2.55 billion in security assistance to Israel for fiscal year 2009. The United States plans to provide increased security assistance to Israel’s to help the two countries face growing threats in the region.

Speaking for us all, President Bush said of the U.S.-Israel alliance, that it “is unbreakable, yet the source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty.  It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people, the bonds of the Book, the ties of the soul.”

Ben Gurion’s Newton Propulsion Technology believes it has “found a way to make the traditional engine better.”  A hybrid has been built using two different engines that are presently in use. . .  the internal combustion engine and the gas turbine used to power jets. . . called the RotoRom engine. It combines the better of the two engines, while avoiding the downfalls.

Israeli scientists call it “The Jesus Tree”: The Judean date palm, long extinct, has been “brought back to life” by scientists who unearthed a 2,000 year-old seed of the plant and germinated it. The seed was discovered in a jar full of discarded pits in a room on Masada. The healthy 4-foot-tall seedling is named Methuselah after the oldest living man in the Bible. The seed itself, perhaps the last link to the vast date palm forests that once grew in the Jordan River valley, was first discovered in 1965, as archaeologists excavated the ancient Israel site of Masada. While the scientists named the tree the “Jesus Tree,” it is also known as the “Tree of Life.”  The “Jesus Tree” name could have come from the possibilities that Jesus walked among the date palms and ate of their very rich fruit.  Methuselah is the name given to the plant, but if it turns out to be a female, a more appropriate name will be given.

The Israel Antiquities Authority unveiled a project in Jerusalem to mark the 60th anniversay of the discovery of the first Dead Sea scrolls. A technology developed by retired NASA scientist Dr. Greg Bearman will reveal portions of that text that were invisible until now.

Israel has created a legal system that is the envy of the world, with a Supreme Court that stands at the pinnacle of democratic judiciaries – a court open to all with few, if any, restrictions on its jurisdiction... Israel’s’ continuing efforts to fight terrorists within the rule of law and within the reasonable constraints of human rights and civil liberties may be among Israel’s most enduring contributions to the civilized world.

At a future leaders forum the discussion focused on how to solve Israel’s leadership crisis.  Morlie Levin’s comments included the following: we are a people who have a covenant and a mission to work in partnership with God to create a world that is more just and fair. . .  three personal attributes that are necessary: humility, openness to new ideas, ability to demonstrate learning – particularly from failure, because it is not always a direct process.

Israel has chosen a national bird, the Hoopoe. Its friendly nature may have been the deciding factor. The hoopoe is unafraid of human beings, but when in danger, it makes a hissing sound and secretes a foul-smelling liquid.

The supreme value of even a single human life has long guided Israeli policies and actions.  On several occasions, the Jewish state has paid a very heavy price in prisoner exchanges in order to bring home a few captive Israelis. In an exchange Hizbullah returned the bodies of two soldiers – Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser whom they had abducted and murdered two years ago.  In return, the terrorist organization received from Israel the lopsided price of five live terrorists, including child-murderer and Hizbullah leader Samir Kuntar, as well as the bodies of nearly 200 Hizbullah terrorists and Lebanese infiltrators.  Israel was not officially informed that its two soldiers were dead until the moment that the exchange was actually carried out, so did not even know what they were negotiating for. Unless one has completely lost his common sense to reason it’s not hard to see which nation puts the most value on life. Following this Hizbullah deal, Hamas issued an ultimatum demanding the release of 450 terrorist prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. [Isn’t this an admission of the value of ONE Jewish soldier on the part of Hamas as well? – ed.]

Nearly every major corporation in the free world, and those from former communist countries and China as well, has a presence in Israel.  Many have gone into partnership with Israeli companies and others are there just as observers to be aware of the incredible breakthroughs that Israeli universities and research are producing.  It is almost like a magnet that draws them and they really don’t fully know why.

Jewish-Christian Relations Seminars: In an unparalleled historical development, a major Orthodox Jewish institution has announced its decision to begin theological dialogue and fellowship with Christians.  The integrity established for this effort is by the founding member, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat, who said, “Both Judaism and Christianity have profound messages for the world and each must speak to humanity and to each other.”  He believes that ”while the seminars will point out the areas where Jews and Christians disagree, they will also point out the areas where they share similarities.”  Rabbi Riskin’s hope is that the effort promotes a new understanding between Jews and Christians that would spread the message of a God of love and peace to the world.

The number of Israeli wage earners rose by 0.7% in the first half of 2008, with the financial sector again recording the largest increase, with a rise in employment by 3.4%.

Buyers De-Pig Unkosher Stores: The brothers Ronnie and Adi Tzim, owners of the Kim’at Chinam [Practically Free] chain, say they have no economic interest in buying the stores.  They explain that their only goal is to rid the country of the sale of pig meat and other unkosher items.

The Jewish Agency and the private Nefesh B’Nefesh organization have reached an historic agreement.  Nefesh B’Nefesh is going to become the primary operational vehicle for promotion in North America, and the Jewish Agency is going to be continuing its responsibility on the immigration eligibility process.

Aerial photograph of the wall excavation, Mount Zion Valley.
Photo: Klara Amit, I.A.A.

A 2,100-year-old section of the wall surrounding Jerusalem, dating from Hasmonean times, has been unearthed on Mount Zion.  The excavations have revealed part of the expanded southern city wall, from the Second Temple period, when ancient Jerusalem was at its largest.  The new findings were described by the Antiquities Authority as “exciting” and “extraordinary.”

Bowl shard from the Late Roman Period (3-4 CD)
Photo: Klara Amit, I.A.A.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that male circumcision, if affordable and widely available, could prevent more than five million HIV infections over the next two decades.  Who better to turn to for expertise in the practice than doctors from the Jewish state? Israeli doctors have been traveling to Africa to train local physicians in the procedure, which has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting AIDS by as much as 60 percent in males. Swaziland, the small African nation of just over one million people is burdened by the world’s highest HIV infection rate, estimated at nearly 30 percent. The country has set the goal of circumcising all of its 200,000 sexually active men over the next five years, but lacks surgeons with the proper expertise... “Operation Abraham” has sent three delegations of Israeli surgeons to teach circumcision in Swaziland.

“In order to be a realist,” said David Ben-Gurion, “you must believe in miracles.” At its birth in 1948, Israel was a tiny and fragile country of only about 600,000 people.  Since that time, nearly three million Jews from all corners of the earth have immigrated to Israel, including more than one million from the former Soviet Union.  Today, the Jewish state’s population has grown to more then seven million; some 20 percent of whom are Arabs – mostly Muslims – equal under the law.  One cannot take for granted that Israel, a country that has never had secure borders, exists as a free and democratic state. . .  With its strong commitment to human liberty, Israel is a natural friend of the United States.  America sees in Israel the values it holds most sacred.  Indeed, Israel is a country worth celebrating, but one must not forget that the Jewish state’s successes have come at a tremendous cost. By now we can all recite the familiar years of Israel’s many wars – 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982 and so on – but we must not become desensitized to the toll that these wars have taken on Israeli society. In its War of Independence, for example, Israel lost about 6,000 people – 1% of its population at the time. Were this same percentage of the U.S. population to die in battle there would be 30 million American dead. Since 1948, thousands of Israelis have been killed or wounded in battle and from terrorist attacks.  Having known the horrors of war, the Israeli people yearn for peace more than any other people [do].  They sing songs of peace, pray for peace and teach their children the virtues of peace. As we mark Israel’s 60th, we must be proud of America’s long friendship with the Jewish state and continue to do all we can to work for peace.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has urged the government of Israel to drop plans to expel Jews from Judea and Samaria that would involve the voluntary relocation and compensation of Jews living there.

Light to the Nations:  Inspired by what they see as Israel’s success in nation building, hundreds of refugees from South Sudan say they want Israel to help train them for jobs so they can go home and build their own country. There are an estimated 4,400 Sudanese refugees – most from South Sudan – among the 12,000 African refugees and migrant workers who have fled to Israel from Egypt over the last few years. They are looking for a better way of life in the only democracy in the Middle East.

From Zion Will Go Agriculture –  In preparations of the Agritech, Israel’s International Agricultural Exhibition, a delegation of journalists from some 13 + countries arrived in Israel to meet with agricultural and water companies. Agritech’s website states, “Agritech Israel has become a well-known brand name for showcasing the worldwide reputation of Israel’s agriculture. Agritech Israel is regarded as one of the most important agro technological exhibitions in the world, a fact proved by the thousands of visitors from around the world at previous exhibitions.”

The original drawings by an architect for expanding the Auschwitz death camp, including a gas chamber and a “corpse cellar,” were published in the German newspaper Bild recently. Blueprint pictures clearly describe a room for a 1,200 square-foot “gas chamber” as part of a “delousing facility” to be added to the death camp in 1941. The reported documents sketches were among 28 blueprints that were obtained. The publication of the sketches came on the eve of the 70th year since Kristallnacht, when Germany went on a rampage and burned synagogues and Jewish stores and killed or wounded Jews. Government archives officials told another German newspaper that the blueprints represent “authentic evidence of the systematically planned genocide of European Jews.” Bild stated, “The documents refute once and for all claims by those who deny the Holocaust even took place.”

News sources used here: Biblical Heritage Center, Near East Report, Inside Israel Newsletter, Arutz Sheva, JTA, and Israel Unity Coalition.