Israel is full of surprises

I woke up on Tuesday morning to hear that Israel’s 4th September elections had been called off. It’s often like that in the Jewish State. You never know what is going to happen from one day to the next. It’s the same with the type of news stories that I regularly feature here.
Although I reported most of Israel’s latest surprising medical advances earlier this week, there is one other related item that may surprise you. The Israeli Foundation for Handicapped Children was founded only four years after the State of Israel was declared. Now, celebrating its 60th anniversary, IFHC performs miracles for the less fortunate members of Israeli and our global society. It gives hope to those with Down’s syndrome, spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s sufferers and even the victims of Chernobyl.
Israel’s concern for the unfortunate extends even to our enemies.  Israeli border lookouts report that large groups of armed Syrian soldiers have been seen deserting their Golan bases and prowling for water and food, after their regular supplies were stopped. They don’t ask Israeli soldiers for food, but parcels thrown across the fence vanish in an instant.
Some disadvantaged Israelis don’t need much in the way of assistance in order to succeed. Israel’s Moran Samuel won a pre-ParaOlympics rowing competition for the disabled in Italy. She wasn’t even concerned when the organisers surprised her by admitting that they had forgotten to bring the CD with the Israeli national anthem, "Hatikvah," to the awards ceremony. Moran simply took the microphone and sang “Hatikvah” to great applause from the spectators.


Staying with sport, the Star of David was on show during the London Marathon. Three athletes were running to raise money for Magen David Adom and one even surprised many spectators by carrying the Israeli flag. Then sixteen days later the last competitor, paraplegic Clare Lomas, walked across the finish line wearing her ReWalk exoskeleton – or as UK TV channel called it – her bionic suit. For some reason, the ITV interviewers chose not to surprise viewers by mentioning that ReWalk was actually an Israeli invention.
It may also surprise you that an Israeli was responsible for the development of the iPod. Guy Bar-Nahum’s journey took him from being a Yemenite boy at a Bat Yam yeshiva school, to the IDF’s prestigious Talpiot program; then to Philips, Apple and finally to Samsung. On the way, he assembled Apple’s team that put “1000 songs in your pocket”. After years of ignoring the Jewish State, Apple certainly has surprised everyone by building a new development centre in Haifa. Not surprisingly it is now looking for hi-tech engineers to expand its operations. Ben Gurion University had a nice surprise with a $3million donation and will use it to help build a new atom chip and quantum optics research and development facility. This will contain advanced nanotechnology equipment, including sophisticated optics and lasers, high level computing capabilities and complex electronics.
Bono was last month’s surprise visitor to Israel and according to his message in the guest book of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, Bono likes Israel’s capital city. He also left a thoughtful poem to share his hopes for future peace. 711 members of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation surprised staff at Ben Gurion airport by arriving in the largest single group from the United States in the last 13 years. A quarter of the group have never visited the Jewish State before.   And over 1,000 college graduates from North America will be pleasantly surprised when they join Masa’s new internship program. This unique program will provide students with crucial experience, and a closer relationship with Israel. And this new video shows some of the sights and sounds that all these visitors might experience while they are in the country.


Here are couple of recent news items that surprised me personally. Firstly, there is a new pro-Israel Arab party. The party’s founder, Sarhan Bader said that the tentatively named Israeli-Arab Nationalist Party will serve the majority of Arabs inside Israel who want to live here in peace. It would even join a coalition government, which no Arab party has ever done. Secondly, the United Nations has awarded Israeli advertising company Baumann Ber Rivnay a gold medal for its campaign, Blood Relations. The campaign brought bereaved Israelis and Palestinians together for a blood drive.   Blood donated from Israelis went to Palestinian patients and vice versa.


To finish, here is a surprise double package for those who deny Jewish roots with the land of Israel. Archaeologists digging under Robinson’s arch have discovered a seal inscribed with the name “Matanyahu” similar to that of Israel’s current Prime Minister. The semi-precious stone seal was found in a location close to the foundations of King Solomon''s Temple. 
And yet another group of visitors really sealed the historical link between the Jewish people and the Jewish State. Thirty young aboriginal leaders of the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada have been here on a mission. Their chief, Ron Evans proclaimed, “The Jews are Israel’s indigenous people. Israel''s story demonstrates how an ancient people can maintain their heritage while embracing the modern world, and in so doing achieve self-determination.”
I’m surprised that anyone should think otherwise.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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