Room at the inn

If you can see through current sensationalist media reporting, you will realise that the modern day Jewish State is one of the most inclusive countries in the world. At this time of year, I will share with you some of the most recent news stories involving Israel and Israelis showing peace and goodwill to its minorities, the underprivileged and those suffering throughout the world.
I begin with the results of a major operation on a pregnant Arab woman at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. Surgeons successfully separated her unborn conjoined twins whilst still in her womb. The babies shared the same placenta and were near to death when their 25-year-old mother arrived at the medical centre. They were saved through a procedure that penetrated the uterus and separated the twins’ shared blood vessels.
Peace of mind for many pain sufferers is likely to be relieved by two recent Israeli drug trials. One ofIsrael’s NASDAQ listed bio-techsBiolineRX Ltd. reported positive results for its Phase 1a clinical trial of its drug, BL-1021, for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain due to damaged nerves. It is associated with conditions including shingles, diabetes and cancer, affecting 1-3% of the world’s population. And Israeli biotech Proteologics Ltd. announced successful results in its pre-clinical trial of the PRT0467 drug candidate for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Our Arab neighbours are receiving plenty of goodwill at this time. The IDF is issuing thousands of entry permits to allow Palestinian Christians to travel between Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria for the entire holiday season. Meanwhile, Israel’s Alpine soldiers this year again took Palestinian Arab children suffering with cancer on a fun trip to the snows on Mount Hermon. 
Bedouin Arabs in the Negev are particularly pleased now that the cornerstone has been laid at their new eco-village site. The Negev and Galilee Regional Development Ministry will contribute NIS 6 million to the total NIS 22m cost of project Project Wadi Attir – a future ecological community that combines Bedouin values with modern renewable technology and farming expertise. And it was all smiles during the joint earthquake disaster simulation between crews of Magen David Adom and the Jordanian Red Crescent. In the words of one spectator, “if they didn’t wear different uniforms we would not have noticed that these were two different teams, and would have thought that this is one team working together“.  And MDA is also helping with the training in Israel of 160 volunteers from Bnei Akiva, the religious-Zionist youth movement, which has launched a program to allow young Diaspora Jews to learn how to save lives.
Joint MDA / Jordanian earthquake disaster simulation
Photo – courtesy of Magen David Adom
The Israeli government has put into place an initiative to help low-income Israelis save money and energy. It is financing up to 60 percent of the cost of 25,000 new refrigerators, to encourage use of higher-efficiency appliances that curb both spending and pollution. In 2012, the scheme will extend to air-conditioners, light bulbs and hopefully TVs, washing machines and boilers.
Israel’s capital Jerusalem, the eternal city of Peace, features prominently in these next stories. Team Saxo Bank (the world''s best cycling team) and Alberto Contador (one of the world''s top cyclists) have just completed the Tour de Jerusalem bicycle race (won unsurprisingly by Contador). Saxo Bank has built a cycling school in Acre for Jewish and Muslim children. Next, the first 10km Jerusalem Night Run has just completed. The 1000 competitors included Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and his wife.   The run was advertised to be a warm up to the Jerusalem Marathon in March. And we have been celebrating the “barmitzvah” of the Jerusalem film festival. Now in its 13th year, the festival at the Jerusalem Cinematheque included a wide variety of feature films, documentaries and short films from Israel and abroad.
Finally, good news for all those in need of filling up with goodwill and fried foods this Chanukah. “Latkes are healthy” (-ish). Well, the traditional high-fat potato and onion fried delicacy for Chanukah is not quite as bad for you as you may think. The potato ingredient apparently fights colds, reduces cancer, heart and anaemia risks, helps digestion, lowers blood pressure, calms stress and protects bones. So have one and enjoy it!
Chanukah Sameach!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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