Lights to the Nations

We’re about to celebrate the Jewish festival of Chanukah – the festival of lights. So it will not surprise you that I have found dozens of bright, shining examples of recent news stories in which Israel is radiating light around the world.
Let’s start in the sunlight. Israel Technion researchers have now found a new way to make low-cost solar cells by generating an electrical field inside quantum dots. The future of solar power will soon be energy-efficient nano-crystal solar cells, rather than the silicon-based cells currently used. Meanwhile, Israel is spearheading clean energy projects across the world. Israel’s Evogene and Brazil’s SLC Agricola are developing bio-diesel from castor seed, suitable for sustainable and commercial production in Brazil. The fuel will cost substantially less than oil and is expected to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by over 75%.
In the Netherlands, The Israeli engineering and energy organisation, Ludan, is sharing the build of a two-megawatt biogas power plant with a Dutch company. Back in South America, Israel Corporation has bought 75% of Chilean power company Central Tierra Amarilla SA including its power station. IC Power already owns power stations in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Panama, El Salvador, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic.
Israel’s light will soon spread to one of our neighbours on the Mediterranean. Minister of National Infrastructures Dr. Uzi Landau announced that Israel and Cyprus were in advanced discussions about linking electricity grids in order to provide mutual backups in the event of a supply failure in either country. And in another report about linking across water, Israel’s oldest construction company Solel Boneh International Ltd. has won a contract to build a 2.1-kilometer bridge over Nigeria’s Benue River and its access roads. The following video features the huge hydroelectric dam that Solel Boneh constructed in Guatemala.
Staying in the water, DSIT Solutions has won a NIS 45 million deal from a government oil company to protect the coastline of an undisclosed Asian country, using its AquaShield sonar system.   Back at home, there was a breakthrough agreement during the discussions about water between Israel and the Palestinian Authority at the recent Ashdod Sustainability Conference. And I must send Mazel Tov greetings to Israel’s latest water champion. Lee Korzits has just won the second gold medal of her career in the ISAF World Windsurfing Championships in Perth Australia.
Israel is often consulted about water by countries that hardly acknowledge her existence. At the United Nations conference on Climate Change in Durban, representatives from Iraq, Afganistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Tunisia visited the KKL-JNF booth to seek advice. The UN is also grateful to Israel for its work in preparing their UNAIDS team for their five-year program to circumcise an estimated 20 million African men in order to prevent the spread of the AIDS virus.
Israel is one of the leading lights in cancer research, so it was good to see that Bar Ilan and Miami universities are together setting up a new cancer centre and developing a state-of-the-art graduate program in cancer biology. And the big hi-tech news is that Apple computers has seen the light. In the past week it has decided to open a development centre in Israel focusing on semiconductors. It will be Apple’s first and only R&D centre outside its California headquarters. The US giant is also in advanced talks to make its first purchase of an Israeli company, Anobit, which provides flash memory solutions for smartphones, tablets, and music players.
The warm winter sunlight attracted 316,000 tourists to Israel last month - the highest ever number of tourists for any November. The Government is also investing funds in building and renovating hotels. Israel already has some bright stars in the hotel business. Jerusalem hotels Inbal (4th) and David Citadel (7th) were voted into the top 10 best hotels in the Middle East by Conde Nast Traveller and described as being among the ”pinnacles of luxury”.
Time to sign off now and prepare for lighting the Chanukah candles. This year why not follow the singing of the traditional festival tunes with this great new song “Light up the night” from the Ein Prat Fountainheads.
But I will finish with two of Israel’s brightest news stories. In the first, Israel’s Spacecom Satellite Communications launched its Amos 5 communications satellite on 11th December from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Spacecom has already signed contracts for the Amos 5 to provide satellite communications services to half of Africa. 
And lastly, President Shimon Peres unveiled an Israeli project to land an unmanned spaceship on the moon by 2014. If all goes to plan, Israel will be only the third country ever to land a spacecraft on a heavenly body.  Just imagine it; in Chanukah 2014 we will be over the moon and then can really publicise the miracle of the Jewish State.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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