The 'Other' side to Israel

Every week the news from Israel includes dozens of stories concerning the work of Israelis in foreign countries or involving minorities and disadvantaged groups within Israel. Last week was no exception – hence the title of this blog which focuses on ‘The Other’.
We start with an article that summarises Israel’s activities designed to stem the Global food crisis. Israeli experts, with their innovative technology, are constantly helping the world’s developing nations face an urgent new challenge. Israel also understands from experience the effect that terrorist attacks have on individuals. So the Indian government was grateful to the Consulate of Israel for running a two-day workshop with doctors in Mumbai on how to help patients cope with trauma in the wake of the recent terror blasts in that city. Finland has a specific problem with counterfeit drugs. So two specially trained Israeli “viagra” sniffer dogs have been sent to help “nose around.”
Even in the commercial world, Israeli products are frequently designed to solve international problems. Israel’s Globe Light and Water (GLW) company has developed Orion - a new standalone light fixture that African countries are using to store solar energy during the day and emit light at night, replacing expensive and polluting generators. Another Israeli firm Avgol is expanding to take advantage of its niche market share of Chinese non-woven fabrics that are used extensively in the production of diapers! A third production line in China is needed to cover the ever-increasing demand.
World businesses often look to Israelis for ideas and opportunities. Heads of top Israeli companies, plus the Bank of Israel and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange impressed leading British businessmen at the Israel Opportunity 2011 conference in London. Senators from the UK Channel Island of Jersey visited Israel to discuss business opportunities in financial services, clean technology and e-gaming. In the Netherlands, the best of Israel’s innovative New Media Technology companies will be exhibiting at IBC 2011 – the leading global media tradeshow in Amsterdam in September. In Serbia’s second-largest city of Novi Sad, Israeli owned Central European Estates is to build a shopping mall. And Israeli construction doesn’t need to be always on such a grand scale. An Israeli writer has commissioned the building of the world’s smallest house. It will be built in a crack between two buildings in Wola, Poland.
Many Israelis recognise the difficulties faced by ‘the other’ in our society. The message ‘How Goodly Art Thou Protest Tents of Jacob’ is reverberating on the streets of our cities. Religious Zionists are distributing to ‘tent city” protesters a new version of the traditional “Blessing of the Home” with a prayer for unity. Another message was sounded in Rehovot with the establishment of a football team that allows disadvantaged young Ethiopian Jews to have hope for a better future. The name of the team is ‘Bene Yechalal’ which means ‘Anything is possible’ in the Ethiopian language of Amharic. The new deputy speaker for the Knesset will certainly understand the significance of this phrase. In 1984, at the age of 16, MK Shlomo Neguse Molla immigrated from Ethiopia as part of Operation Moses.
Israel continually extends the hand of friendship to our Muslim citizens and Arab neighbours. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, wished all Muslims ‘Ramadan karim’. Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat fired the Ramadan cannon last Wednesday to mark the end of that day’s fast. And IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria have been requested not to eat, drink or smoke in front of fasting Muslims. At the Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem 28 artists from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco and Egypt have been given the opportunity to exhibit their works. And the prophecy ‘they will beat their swords into ploughshares” could come true one day if Gazan farmers learn from the Israelis running this recent educational agricultural conference. If only their Arab brethren would treat them in a similar manner to Israel – rather than as this short video demonstrates.
Ending on a lighter note, Israelis even have time to make life better for ‘other’ species. The Monkey Park at Ben Shemen Forest had an exciting day, when it opened an open area for two of its mangabey monkeys.
It’s an ‘Other’ world over here!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.