Sometimes the world’s media portrays Israel as if it was an alien planet. But last week we had sufficient evidence that Israel still has plenty of loyal supporters. Also, Israelis have been working side by side with some unlikely partners.
Long-standing supporters are particularly valuable morale boosters in these difficult times. The Taglit/Birthright organisers have been responsible for bringing 300,000 young Jews to see Israel at first hand. So the charity’s 12th birthday was an emotional affair for its founder Charles Bronfman and his 150 fellow guests. Another philanthropic organisation – the Moskowitz Foundation provided another $100,000 of emergency medical equipment, which volunteers from Hatzalah distributed to the cities suffering from Gaza rocket attacks.
Some famous non-Jewish individuals arrived to show their support for the Jewish State. The Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight (father of Angelina Jolie) visited rocket attack victims who were being treated at the Soroka Hospital in Beersheva. Glenn Beck’s key phrase at his Caesarea event was “See the miracle of Israel”. So I recommend that you don’t read about his Jerusalem ‘Restoring Courage’ event but that you see it for yourself.
Many people will remember Paul Newman’s love for our country. So it was fitting that a camp belonging to the deceased actor opened last week to Israeli kids who are terminally ill, or suffer from genetic or chronic diseases. It is the first of its kind in the Middle East. The Swedish friends of Magen David Adom provided more medical support by donating a specially designed ambulance to take terminally ill patients to any desired destination in the country, in the utmost comfort.
Our own people were doing a fine job themselves to promote the Jewish State. 400 people boarded ‘The Blue and White Flotilla’ - a small fleet of four ships, including the ‘Gilad Shalit’ - and set sail on Sunday afternoon from the Ashkelon Marina on a mission to show solidarity with Israel. In London a brave Israeli artist, Noam Edry, held a solo exhibition at Goldsmiths College as part of the MFA Fine Art Degree Show. In it she challenged the relentless campus demonisation of the Jewish State. Finally, we had super-hero support when Superman, Spiderman, Batman, X-men, Captain America and Wonder Woman were just some of the characters brought by comic artists Joe and Adam Kubert to the Cartoon Museum in Holon.
We had plenty of international business support last week. Analyst support came in the shape of the giant US financial company Morgan Stanley who stated that the Israeli economy "remains one of the most robust and well managed among both the developed and the emerging market economies." The specialised fertilisers manufactured by Israel Chemicals are so popular with farmers in India that the current single Indian factory is to be increased by two more. And the Chinese government are so keen on Israel’s high-tech companies that they have put $5 million into a fund to encourage 10 Israeli companies to do business in Harbin – China’s 10th largest city. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan may sometimes appear to hate Israel, but his government''s policy appears to be ‘business is business’. Trade has risen to $2 billion over the last six months – an increase of 26% compared to the same period in 2010.
There was also a fair amount of Arab and Muslim support for Israel last week. Egypt’s deputy ambassador dined with Israeli President Shimon Peres, who hosted to a Ramadan dinner following the terrorist attacks near Eilat that resulted in the deaths of 8 Israelis and 5 Egyptians. We read that Israeli Arab Dr Abu Hamed is bringing Jews, Mulims, Druze and others together. Dr Hamed is director of the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, based at Kibbutz Ketura. And Iranians and Israelis sang together in each other’s languages at an Internet event organised from Holon.
Maybe an Israeli company’s technological breakthrough can bring everyone closer together. WhoIsLive has developed software that can allow two people who visit the same website simultaneously to chat with each other. And parents of small children now can support their offspring’s first attempts to get to grips with the Internet using this safe social network from Israel. Targeting ages 3-12, Vikido has been designed visually to be operated using the most basic skills.
Finally, Israel has made many connections in Africa thanks to the organisation Save A Child’s Heart and its supporters. Fundraisers for SACH have reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in their attempt to raise $1million towards the cost of further heart surgery for African children. Readers may wish to support their efforts.
Save a Child''s Heart supporters at the summit of Kilimanjaro
Photo included by permission of SACH
It’s good to have friends out there.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.