First order of concern: We must stay in touch with news of significance, even – or especially – if it is unsettling or worse.
There is no way I will ignore the situation in the US; I will continue to deal with it going forward, as I see the need. I am an Israeli first, but care deeply about the US, and, additionally, recognize that what happens there will have a significant impact on Israel.
However, for the sake of our health, indeed our souls, we must also look for the positive and the beautiful in our lives.
And so I begin today with an assortment of good news items.
Winter here in Israel, which will be drawing to a close soon, has brought us the blessing of much rain. Beautiful Lake Kinneret, a major source of water for us, is almost full.
With that rainfall, comes snow on Mt. Hermon, the highest peak in the Golan Heights, adjacent to the Lake. Beautiful now, and good for skiing, it will provide additional run-off into the Kinneret in the spring.
And how do we know winter is almost over? This week I saw an almond tree in bloom. The almond is the very first tree to blossom, and an interval of warm sun brought the first flowers out. How welcome they are! In coming weeks we will see them all over.
During this long winter of corona (and in some instance especially because of it) there have been Israeli technological and medical advances that merit attention:
“Israeli air-conditioner manufacturer Tadiran just introduced Air Care 02, a unique internationally patented technology that wipes out 99.999% of viruses, germs and bacteria from indoor environments.
“Tadiran’s first-of-its-kind technology, based on hydrogen peroxide, is being installed in its Sense Inverter series of mini central air conditioners available in Israel. Several global air-conditioning companies are in negotiations with Tadiran about incorporating Air Care 02.”
Canario, an Israeli startup, recently started marketing a canary-yellow device that can be clipped onto a shirt, belt or bag. It lights up when it detects high levels of air pollution or UV radiation within a one-meter radius of the user.
Canario CMO Itzik Baabur explains that the device was originally developed to determine air quality…This past year, with the development of corona, the startup worked on trying to identify the droplet sprays that carry the virus.
“This droplet spray has a behavioral profile in the air, and we learned how to identify this profile.”
Canario cannot locate Covid-19 specifically. Rather, it can identify and warn of droplet sprays that may contain viruses, including the coronavirus.
Haifa resident Jamal Furani, 78, became the first patient to receive the KPro artificial cornea from CorNeat Vision on January 3. He had gradually lost most of his vision over the past decades because of corneal disease; four donor transplants had failed.
Dr. Irit Bahar, chief of ophthalmology at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, said she was shocked at how well Furani was able to read a vision chart and to recognize family members, the day after he had received the implant.
“The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment…”
“The innovation here stems from the ability to take something totally synthetic that has no cells or tissue and implant it in the wall of the eye so that it essentially becomes part of the body,” Dr. Gilad Litvin, inventor of the KPro explained.
This is not news about something that happened in Israel, but it is so inspiring that I wanted to share it. Lily Ebert, a 97 year old survivor of the Nazi death marches, has recovered from Covid-19 in London.
“I appreciate life, because I know I get a second chance to be alive,” she said. “As long as you have hope, you have life…Whatever difficulties you have in your life, never, ever give up. Fight. Fight.”
Actually, I think this was her third chance. Her second chance to be alive came when she left Auschwitz.
And more good news, of a political nature:
It appears that President Trump and his advisors have decided not to participate in the establishment of a new right wing party. Focus will be on helping the Republican Party win back the House and the Senate in 2022.
A good decision, I believe. I will be looking at this in the course of coming months, with a prayer that America can yet be turned around.
On Monday, Trump opened an office in Palm Beach, Florida, which “will be responsible for managing President Trump’s…official activities to advance the interests of the United States and to carry on the agenda of the Trump Administration through advocacy, organizing, and public activism.”
Other marks of hope:
“Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) got 45 Republicans to side with him and vote on Tuesday that the second impeachment trial against former President Trump is unconstitutional. The motion was voted down 55-45, meaning the trial will proceed. But, as Sen. Paul notes, 45 senators will be more than enough to acquit Trump, meaning that this trial is ‘dead on arrival.’”
It is also becoming apparent that with some of his initiatives, announced almost immediately on taking office, Biden is going to encounter significant push back.
Biden had issued an executive order freezing the deportation of illegal immigrants. This was quickly challenged by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who took the matter to court. “Border states like Texas pay a particularly high price when the federal government fails to faithfully execute our country’s immigration laws,” Paxton said…an “attempted halt on almost all deportations would increase the cost to Texas caused by illegal immigration.” He further said that the DHS [Department of Homeland Security] had failed to consult with Texas before making its immigration policy changes, as is required per an agreement between Texas and the agency.
On January 26, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order blocking Biden’s policy nationwide.
Then there is the matter of Biden’s cancellation, by executive order, of an extension to the Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipelines were designed to transport Alberta tar sands oil to refineries on the US Gulf Coast, at the rate of 830,000 barrels of per day.
This has generated fury across the country among unions representing workers who were involved. The charge is that 10,000 jobs will be lost, representing $2.2 billion in lost wages. This affects not only the individuals directly involved but the fiscal stability of a number of communities. What is more, energy costs will rise nationwide.
Here in Israel the campaign remains chaotic, with a sense of unity still eluding us.
Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) held its primary last week, and for the very first time a woman was selected to head the party: Hagit Moshe, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, defeated Nir Orbach.
Had Orbach, who is close to Naftali Bennett, won, it is likely that Habayit Hayehudi would have joined with Yamina. But now Hagit Moshe is negotiating with Bezalel Smotrich (National Union) to form a national religious bloc. Hopefully this will happen so that there will be sufficient vote-drawing power to cross the threshold. But right now there is still discussion as to which slots will go to which party, who will lead, and more. Their success in coming together is important.
Netanyahu had encouraged this merger, and it is clear that his goal is coalition support.
Speaking of Netanyahu, right now he is showing at 31 or 32 in the polls, and there is no right wing bloc sufficient to form a coalition without Likud. The New Hope (Sa’ar) and Yesh Atid (Lapid, who is center-left) seem to be vying for second place with Yamina (Bennett) coming in after them.
Blue & White is sinking fast, especially as Moshe Ya’alon (Telem) pulled out of that faction and is sinking even faster.
Infuriating but hardly unexpected:
Richard M. Mills Jr., newly appointed United States Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, has addressed the UN Security Council for the first time.
The US, he indicated, frowns on such Israeli steps as “annexation of territory, settlement activity [and] demolitions.”
With regard to the PA, the US discourages “incitement to violence [and] providing compensation to individuals in prison for acts of terrorism.”
The bottom line here: “The US will urge Israel’s government and the Palestinian Authority to avoid unilateral steps that make the two-state solution more difficult.”
So, here we are again, back to promotion of a “plan” that is totally unacceptable with regard to both Israel’s rights and Israel’s security. It never goes away, no matter how overwhelming the evidence that the Palestinian Arabs want to destroy Israel, not establish a peaceful state at Israel’s side.
The notion that the PA will stop incitement and halt payment to imprisoned terrorists and their families is a joke. Abbas is committed at all cost to continuing those terrorists’ salaries, although there is an attempt made to hide them.
So, the fact that the Biden administration will take this seriously is both wearisome and, yes, infuriating.
We’ve got a tough fight to wage over the next few years, as attempts are made to whittle down Israel’s legitimacy. It is to be regretted that Netanyahu, knowing that this might be coming down the road, did not act more decisively.
Right now, what is perhaps most enraging is the reference by Mills to refraining from “demolitions.” Here, too, our government has been remiss in not acting more stringently against illegal Palestinian Arab building in Area C. It’s all a matter of establishing facts on the ground.
“…But there is a notable lack of [Israeli] determination on the issue of settlements.
“…What’s more…Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refrained from regulating the status of dozens of young settlements that are under threat of destruction, construction freezes, evacuation and even of being declared illegal.
“…the Biden administration must hear a clear statement from Israel that Judea and Samaria are not ‘occupied territories.’ The settlements are not illegal…
“Jews are not occupiers in our land. We are linked to it by ties of love, the Bible, heritage, nature, landscape, religion, history and holiness. When dealing with the new administration in Washington, we need to invoke the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Resolution, the U.N. Declaration, the League of Nations’ British Mandate and every other document relevant to our historic rights in Judaea and Samaria.”
This is the task of all of us, individually, and what we in Israel must demand of our government.