Israeli Ingenuity Changing the World: Earl Cox, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2018— Israeli innovation was on the front burner during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit.
How Israel Is Helping the Worldwide Water Shortage: Oren Peleg, Jewish Journal, Oct. 24, 2018— More than a decade before David Ben-Gurion declared Israeli independence from the confines of a Tel Aviv bomb shelter, he and other luminaries who envisioned a developed, progressive Jewish state knew that water, as much as war, would determine Israel’s survival and viability.
Pragmatism Drives the Sino-Israeli Partnership: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, Nov. 5, 2018— Chinese VP Wang Qishan, who came to Israel at the end of October, was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel since 2000.
Israel and China Take a Leap Forward—But to Where?: Arthur Herman, Mosaic, Nov. 5, 2018— In March 2017, President Xi Jinping of China hosted two important visitors from the Middle East.
On Topic Links
Rabbi Lord Sacks – House of Lords Debate on Antisemitism (Video): Rabbi Sacks, Sept. 13, 2018
Many Ways Israel Has Innovated the Health Industry: Jerusalem Online, Oct. 17, 2018
How has Netanyahu Transformed Israel? (Video): Visual Politik, Mar. 20, 2018
Breaking Election Barriers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2018
ISRAELI INGENUITY CHANGING THE WORLD
Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2018
Israeli innovation was on the front burner during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit. That visit highlighted joint initiatives in water, green energy and agritech. Israel and Germany also agreed to collaborate in artificial intelligence, cyberdefense, water, nanotechnology, electrochemistry, and oceanographic and cancer research. Merkel’s visit is just one example of how Israel reaches out to help and heal the world.
Israeli innovation touches nearly every sector of life: science, business, food, defense, health – even navigating traffic (WAZE is an Israeli-developed app). In medicine, there’s help for mustard gas victims, cartilage replacement, desert plants that combat lymphoma, even a pill-size camera patients can swallow for non-invasive colonoscopies.
It’s been 70 years since Israel started transforming the Middle East’s technology desert, making it bloom and boom with more than 5,000 start-ups and myriad multinational corporations. But what’s most remarkable about this relatively tiny nation is the darkness of the region around her. Yet, despite this darkness, Israel shines bright. Notwithstanding the challenges of draining the swamp, providing for refugees, forging a common language, and facing wars and hostility from day one, Israel’s defense forces, democracy and educational values have driven what some call its “miraculous” economic and social growth.
Israel’s military trains young adults “to lead and manage people, improvise, become mission-oriented and work in teams,” said Start-up Nation authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Plus, being a democracy protects and encourages individual freedom and initiative, unlike authoritarian regimes, which quench knowledge that might upset the equilibrium.
But one of innovation’s greatest drivers is Israeli education, with its seven research universities, 66 institutions of higher learning, and equal educational opportunities for all races and faiths within its borders. As a result, Israel is a global leader in patents, and has the fifth highest number of scientific articles per capita, the highest research and development) output, and an extraordinarily impressive percentage of Nobel laureates. Yet when Israel reached out to Jerusalem’s Arab citizens to offer its curriculum in their schools – opening a door for their children to study at its highly ranked universities – Palestinian educators slammed the offer as “racist.”
Palestinian Authority Higher Education Minister Sabri Saidam called Israel’s offer a “declaration of war against Arab and Palestinian existence in east Jerusalem.” Educator Ziyad Al-Shamali threatened legal action against any schools allowing the “Judaization of education.” The official PA daily accused Israel of “imposing” its elective offer to “control the minds of Palestinian students and falsify Palestinian history.”
Palestinian leaders fear that Israel will teach history like they do – as propaganda and brainwashing. They distrust the West’s educational approach of free thought and inquiry, which could expose students to the truth about Israel’s democracy and history – including Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Thus the Palestinians’ hatred of Israel has barred their children from a potentially brighter future.
This mentality illustrates why Arabs, who once led the world in science, are dropping behind. Some Arab scholars attribute this to Islam. Pakistani Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy told The New York Times that he attributes the dearth to “an increasing emphasis over the last millennium on rote learning based on the Koran. The notion that all knowledge is in the ‘Great Text’ is a great disincentive to learning. It’s destructive if we want to create a thinking person, someone who can analyze, question and create.’’
The rejection of critical thought and innovation is producing “a great army of young Arabs, jobless, unskilled and embittered, cut off from changing their own societies by democratic means,” according to The Economist. Israel discreetly uses its expertise to help its Arab neighbors. But so long as the Palestinians are blinded by hatred and hemmed in by authoritarianism, they may remain a people of missed opportunities.
The Hebrew Scriptures say, “Choose life.” The first two commandments, cornerstones of Jewish law and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) code of ethics, say to love G-d and your neighbor. But Islam is a religion of war and conquest. This perspective helps explain why Palestinians can’t fathom when Israel extends a helping hand. Some educational and democratic fresh air could help un-trap and train talent and creativity among today’s Arab youth, releasing them into a better future. Spurning Israel, which desires to share its blessings with the world, leads nowhere.
HOW ISRAEL IS HELPING THE WORLDWIDE WATER SHORTAGE Oren Peleg
Jewish Journal, Oct. 24, 2018
More than a decade before David Ben-Gurion declared Israeli independence from the confines of a Tel Aviv bomb shelter, he and other luminaries who envisioned a developed, progressive Jewish state knew that water, as much as war, would determine Israel’s survival and viability. In 1937, well before they had their ancestral homeland, before they had war on their hands, Jews in the region had Mekorot, a national water authority. Tasked with diverting water from sources such as the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River in the wetter north to the more barren south, Mekorot executed plans during Israel’s infancy to lay the groundwork for quenching the future nation’s thirst.
Underscoring the importance Israel has always placed on its water sector is its prioritization over other key infrastructure sectors. Water has been piped from north to south for agriculture, energy and drinking since the 1960s; whereas Israeli drivers got their first true nation-length expressway only 10 years ago. Prioritizing water is one thing. Succeeding in the water sector amid unfavorable elements is another. Nearly two-thirds of Israel is bone-dry desert, long thought unsuitable for bountiful agricultural yields. Rainfall is scarce and devastating droughts are commonplace. The stakes have always been understood: If Israelis were to thrive, they’d have to evolve, fight the elements and provide water security to a people cornered in one of the most arid strips of land on Earth.
The conditions haven’t gotten any easier. As a result of climate change, Israel’s rainfall has been cut in half since 1948, while its population has increased tenfold. Still, Israel’s story represents a drop in the bucket of the world’s cataclysmic water crisis, a global issue reaching apocalyptic proportions, even in the developed world. This past summer, Cape Town, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, came within weeks of its self-imposed Day Zero — a day when all of the city’s taps would be shut off and emergency rations would be imposed nationwide.
The crisis was averted, thanks to urgent regulations on water use for baths, flushing toilets and washing clothes. Timely rainfall also helped restore reservoir levels by 20 percent. The South African tourist board now estimates that Cape Town’s Day Zero concerns can be pushed into 2019. Regardless, the situation remains dire. Cape Town’s actions will soon be the new normal. According to the World Health Organization, half of the global population will be facing water scarcity by 2025.
As a result, Israel increasingly finds itself in a unique situation. By the 1980s, Israel had largely conquered most of its water problems. Its water sector progressed through transformational conservation methods, reuse of wastewater (Israel reuses more than 90 percent of its water; next in the world is Spain at 20 percent), and the pioneering of such methods as drip irrigation. Israel made its desert bloom into a fruitful agricultural powerhouse. More recently, it added desalination of the Mediterranean to the mix to shore up supplies of urban drinking water. By 2014, the same year California declared a state of emergency while reckoning with its region’s worst drought in 1,200 years, Israel became a water-surplus nation, able to export water to neighboring Jordan and Palestinian territories.
“I think in order to solve the crisis, the people of the world need to work together, and a country like Israel needs to be brought into that discussion more and more because of Israel’s vast experience,” Micah Smith, director of “Sustainable Nation,” a new Israeli documentary that follows three Israelis who are bringing sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet using solutions developed in Israel, said in an interview.
As showcased at a United Nations conference for International Water Day this past March, Israeli water sector entrepreneurs are integral participants in the global water conversation. The conference highlighted how Israeli-developed water technology services were being used in more than 100 countries worldwide. A noticeable absentee from that list was South Africa, due to its frayed diplomatic relations with Israel, which were marred by Pretoria leveling apartheid charges at Jerusalem.
“South Africa is the negative example in all this,” Smith said, referencing the country’s refusals to accept Israeli aid in the face of its water crisis. A 2016 Johannesburg conference aimed at dealing with the water crisis in South Africa was scrapped because of boycott, divestment and sanctions-backed pressure and other criticism concerning Israel’s inclusion. “It’s tragic to see that people are putting lives at risk rather than bringing people together to solve the world’s water problems,” Smith said. Smith said he made “Sustainable Nation” to tell Israel’s water story, one that people the world over can learn from. That story, as Clive Lipchin, a South African-born Middle East drought expert puts it in the film, is one of “a people unwilling to accept the status quo.”
“Sustainable Nation” follows some of the change-makers exporting Israeli water ingenuity to the rest of the world. Produced by Jerusalem U, the nonprofit creative team behind “Beneath the Helmet,” the 2014 documentary about Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Smith’s film intimately portrays several Israeli water-sector innovators attempting to bring their expertise to water-starved or water-challenged parts of the world such as South Asia and Africa. Sivan Yaari, CEO of Innovation: Africa, an Israeli NGO, is one of them. Her organization has brought solar-powered water pumps to hundreds of rural African villages. “No one should die of thirst,” Yaari says almost pleadingly in the film. “It’s not just.”…
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PRAGMATISM DRIVES THE SINO-ISRAELI PARTNERSHIP
Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos
BESA, Nov. 5, 2018
Chinese VP Wang Qishan, who came to Israel at the end of October, was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel since 2000. The visit was indicative of the Chinese government’s interest in bolstering Beijing’s relationship with Jerusalem. Innovation is key to the relationship. President Xi Jinping’s vision is to develop his country into a world leader in science and technology as it strives for prosperity and rejuvenation. Foreign experience and know-how are therefore needed. Wang Qishan and Benjamin Netanyahu co-chaired the fourth joint committee on innovation, which was established four years ago to facilitate communication among ministries, government agencies, universities, and research centers.
From an Israeli perspective, China is an important destination for its exports, a source for incoming tourism, and an investor. Last year, bilateral trade volume (including Hong Kong) was circa $16 billion. Figures from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics show an upward trend in 2018. From January until September, bilateral trade volume reached $14.1 billion, in comparison to $12.1 billion in the same period in 2017. As far as tourism is concerned, approximately 114,000 Chinese visited Israel in 2017, an increase of 41% over 2016. Estimates for 2018 are positive despite a sharp decrease in arrivals in the first months of the year. (This is largely attributed to unrest along the Gaza-Israel border and Chinese concerns about safety following the decision by Donald Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.)
Sino-Israeli relations are also flourishing in the sector of infrastructure works. Several Chinese companies have already invested or will be investing in major projects. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), for instance, participated in the construction of the Carmel series of road tunnels in Haifa. China Railway Tunnel Group (CRTG) won a bid to help build the first light rail system in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Last year, China and Israel signed a housing construction agreement. Chinese companies are also involved in the construction or management of Israeli ports. China Harbors Pan Mediterranean Engineering Company (PMEC) was chosen in 2014 to construct the new port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean. A year later, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) won a tender to run Haifa Port for 25 years beginning in 2021.
The warming of Sino-Israeli ties and the involvement of Chinese companies in Israeli infrastructure entails a degree of security risk. The transfer of military technology from Israel to China is one area of concern. Several deals were canceled a few years ago, mainly in response to American pressure. Currently, security concerns are centering around the possibility that China might collect sensitive information and intelligence from civilian systems when, for example, SIPG undertakes the management of Haifa Port. While the Israeli government is able to protect key industries and strategic assets, it is not ignoring recommendations for a more comprehensive review mechanism regarding foreign investments.
In addition, China’s expanding presence in Israel – and in other Middle Eastern countries through which the Belt and Road Initiative will pass – is generating debate about possible repercussions. Most Western scholars see a geopolitical vacuum resulting from the American pivot to Asia that could be filled by China. At first glance, such a development would not appear to favor Jerusalem, because Beijing supports the Palestinian cause. During his visit, Wang Qishan went to Ramallah, met with Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah, and called for concerted global efforts to push for a settlement on the basis of a two-state solution. The two sides are expanding their cooperation in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Sino-Palestinian trade volume reached $69.28 million in 2017, up 16.2% in comparison to 2016.
Generally speaking, China wants to move forward on the peace process. In July 2017, Xi hosted Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing and revealed a four-point peace plan. This plan is regularly used by the Chinese delegation at the UN as a reference point. Proactive intervention is not, however, on Beijing’s agenda. It prefers to keep its distance and let others take on the onus of mediating rather than invest its own diplomatic capital. China’s priority is the successful realization of the Belt and Road Initiative, in which Israel, several Arab countries, and the Palestinians are all participating. It is premature to say whether the initiative will turn out to be an integration mechanism to foster peace.
China and Israel are very different in terms of demography and geopolitical orientation, but have found fields in which they can cooperate to mutual advantage. Although an emphasis is placed on economic and security ramifications, culture and history cannot be sidelined. Similarities between the civilizations, as developed in East Asia’s Chengdu Valley and Mesopotamia, are characteristic. A relevant international exhibition, entitled “Bronze Age Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Plain,” is currently being shown at Sichuan University Museum. Objects displayed include artifacts from the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Moreover, the historical relationship among Jews, China, and the ancient Silk Road is starting to be explored.
China’s stance vis-à-vis the Jewish people during the Nazi horrors deserves particular attention. When Netanyahu visited Shanghai in 2013, he hailed the city for having been a haven for Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, Shanghai received more than 25,000 Jewish refugees from Europe. This historical experience can be linked to the theme of Holocaust education in China. The country is keen to learn more and is drawing on Israeli lessons about how to remember the Holocaust and combat deniers. By applying these lessons to its remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre, China can honor its past and outline its contribution to peace during WWII.
ISRAEL AND CHINA TAKE A LEAP FORWARD—BUT TO WHERE? Arthur Herman
Mosaic, Nov. 5, 2018
In March 2017, President Xi Jinping of China hosted two important visitors from the Middle East. The first was King Salman of Saudi Arabia, whose country’s oil supplies are crucial to China’s energy and economic outlook. The second was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Unlike Saudi Arabia—or Iran, or Iraq—Israel is one Middle Eastern country with no oil to offer China. Nor does it count China among the many customers for Israeli arms exports; to that prospectively lucrative arrangement, a 2005 dispute with the United States closed the door. Nor is there a large expatriate Chinese population in Israel clamoring for good relations with Beijing. Nor, in China itself, is there a Jewish community of any size whose interests an Israeli prime minister might deem a fit topic to bring up with his Chinese counterpart.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu’s appearance in Beijing was more than a courtesy call, or an opportunity to discuss with an interested third party the changing shape of Israel-Arab relations (in which, coincidentally, the growing thaw between Jerusalem and Riyadh was playing a prime role). Instead, the visit was a ratifying event in one of the fastest-growing and most remarkable economic and political partnerships of the past two decades.
In a joint statement after the visit, Netanyahu and Xi pledged increased cooperation in areas including “air-pollution control, waste management, environmental monitoring, water conservation and purification, as well as high-tech fields.” The statement also announced plans to create “a global technology center” and other joint projects in the area of innovation, with a standing invitation to Chinese companies to join in a variety of infrastructure projects within Israel itself. For his part, Netanyahu also expressed interest in Israel’s joining China’s massive multi-billion-dollar One Belt One Road project, and in signing a free-trade agreement between the two countries.
Strikingly, the joint statement said very little about the usual Middle East political issues—this, despite China’s recent announcement of its by no means Israel-friendly “Four-Point Peace Plan” between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, Netanyahu cordially encouraged China’s quest “to assume its rightful place . . . on the world stage,” adding that, for this effort, “We are your perfect junior partner. . . . I believe this is a marriage made in heaven.”
There is certainly no denying that, in terms of trade and investment alone, the burgeoning economic partnership between Israel and China has at least the potential of transforming not only Israel itself but also Israel’s position vis-à-vis the rest of the Middle East—and most notably vis-à-vis Iran, which happens to be Beijing’s other key partner in the region. Inevitably, it could also have an impact on Israel’s relations with the United States.
But is this a marriage made in heaven? Or is it something else? Weighing the answer to that question involves probing beneath the two countries’ currently successful dynamic of trade and commercial transactions to their respective geopolitical agendas. When it comes to Israel, the acknowledged junior partner, it also requires examining whether and how the relationship with China could become a dependency. Such a change might please Beijing, but it would impose on Israeli national security a new kind of vulnerability, one very different from the challenges it has faced successfully in the past…
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On Topic Links
Rabbi Lord Sacks – House of Lords Debate on Antisemitism (Video): Rabbi Sacks, Sept. 13, 2018—On Thursday 13th September 2018, Rabbi Lord Sacks spoke in a House of Lords debate on antisemitism in Britain.
Many Ways Israel Has Innovated the Health Industry: Jerusalem Online, Oct. 17, 2018—The Health Industry is constantly improving due to advances in Medical technologies. Israel is at the forefront in these technologies, often light years ahead of curing and managing diseases previously deem as impossible.
How has Netanyahu Transformed Israel? (Video): Visual Politik, Mar. 20, 2018—Today we’re talking about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister and the most powerful politician the country has had in the last 2 decades. Why are we talking about Netanyahu? Why is he so important? Let’s see it!
Breaking Election Barriers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2018—Three trends were evident after the recent municipal elections held last week across the country. The first is that it is beneficial for the country and its citizens to make the Election Day a day of vacation. More Israelis this year voted than last year and just as important, they were able to enjoy a weekday off with their families, a rare commodity in Israel where school meets six days a week and people don’t have Sunday off.