2013 is the time for some Clear Thinking

Michael Ordman, JPOST

As the world begins another calendar year, I urge all readers to try to open the minds of the international community to the momentous work that Israel is doing.  Israelis certainly have been using their brains and also focusing on making a clean start to 2013.

Beginning with the brain itself, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, together with the Max Planck Society of Germany, is to build a 3 million euro Brain Research Center in the nation’s capital, Jerusalem.  When complete, it should initiate new treatments for destructive neurological diseases.  Even before the new center is complete, Hebrew Uni researchers have discovered a key protein, Calphotin, whose absence can cause Alzheimer’s. Calphotin regulates the amount of Calcium contained in the body’s cells.  Loss of Calphotin (e.g. due to aging) causes Calcium levels to rise and accelerates cell death.  Finally, a study by Israeli neurologist Dr. Rivka Inzelberg has identified an interesting side effect of dopamine-stimulating medication to control symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Patients have contracted artistic or literary creative skills that they never had previously.  Reducing the medication suppresses these new skills.

 Israel certainly does not discourage individuals with brain disorders from coming to the Jewish State.  20 young North American Jews with Asperger’s Syndrome have just experienced Israel together on a special Taglit-Birthright tour.  They also met Israelis with Asperger’s at Shekel, an umbrella organization for Israelis with special needs.


The Hebrew University of Jerusalem wants all Israeli citizens to have the opportunity to expand their minds with a higher education. It is therefore creating an access program for students from minority backgrounds and has appointed Professor Nayef Jarrous as its Minority Affairs Advisor.

At Intel’s Haifa centre, Israeli brains are clearing the route for future technology by pioneering a unique “perceptual computing” platform.  Now they are offering a $1 million prize to for developers to build applications that will allow computers to anticipate the needs of their owners.  Meanwhile, road users are already benefiting from Israeli clear thinking.  Ben Gurion University researchers have analyzed data from Israeli GPS navigation application “Waze “to highlight traffic trouble spots where police can be deployed more effectively.  New technology is one of the reasons why numbers of accidents and fatalities on Israeli roads have reached a 50-year low.
It’s clearly time to move on to the subject of Israel’s work in cleaning up the environment.  Internationally, Israeli start-up Mapal Energy has completed a project inBrazil for purifying water in São Paulo.  Mapal’s units replaced the existing mechanical aerators, saving 50% of the energy while maintaining the quality of the treated water.  Meanwhile, the Israel-US fund for Research and Development (BIRD) has just announced that it will be providing $9 million for ten new infrastructure projects that include water technologies and environmental recycling.
Cleanliness begins at home, of course, so it was good to read that the Israeli Government has increased the budget for rehabilitating polluted rivers and streams.  Two of Israel’s municipalities are also chipping in.  Be’er sheva has chosen trees over houses byrevoking plans to build 16,000 new housing units in the city’s Ramot Gimel neighborhood in favor of planting a new forest.  The urban forest will span across 1,360 acres and serve as the city’s green lung.  In contrast, Netanya has combined nature with urban priorities by clearing out 2.5 million cubic meters of garbage from a disused landfill site.  The result will be a residential area for 2,062 families and 1,100 hotel rooms, whilst at the same time extending Netanya’s famous iris nature reserve, thus enhancing the beautiful seaside resort.


Returning to the topic of education, 2012 showed that increased government funding, longer staff hours and teachers for specific subjects have led to encouraging academic results for Israel’s next generation of clear thinkers.  Let’s also hope that the Jewish State continues to be blessed with educators like Penny Ur from Moshav Amnon in the Galilee.  Penny has just been awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honors List for her work promoting English language-teaching methodologies.


Finally, Israeli clear thinker Yaakov Kirschen has provided 40 years of profound satire and witty commentary on everyday Israeli news and international events with his “Dry Bones” cartoon.  He has traveled to the USA and the Far East, lecturing to the wider community and promoting the Jewish State.  He is now working on a new project toeducate the next generation.

It shows that when it comes to making a better future, Israelis clearly can
Think outside the box.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com


January 9, 2013 | 17 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

17 Comments / 17 Comments

  1. @ ArnoldHarris:

    “[W]hat do you propose is the central and more or less universally-accepted moral ethic of the modern American Republic?”

    Finding a name for it is no easy task. But there has always been something special about America

    — possibly because, unlike virtually anyplace else, it is the product of an idea.

    Tocqueville, as acute an observer of the American scene as ever took pen to paper, found the essence of America, as early as the Jacksonian 1830’s in the dominant & self-renewing — indeed self-correcting — communitarian ethos & voluntaristic associations of her people. And neither that people’s instincts nor its national Constitution (which has in many respects shaped those instincts) will, I suspect, long be denied

    — NOTWITHSTANDING the skullduggeries of mischief-makers high & low.

    But we’ll see.

    FWIW, I personally believe the Tea Party is a clear representation of what de Tocqueville had in mind. I don’t think it was a flash in the pan; it’s here to stay.

    “Is the refusal to live within the limits that should be imposed on expenditures by an overwhelming debt burden a ‘moral ethic’?”

    No, that’s the looney part, to be sure. It’s prominent these days, but only because the other half — which would normally hold it in check — is, as I noted, depressed. A moment of contraction & recovery from disappointment. Not permanent.

  2. Well argued, Dweller. But in connection with your reference to the lack of a moral ethic in the ancient Roman Republic, what do you propose is the central and more or less universally-accepted moral ethic of the modern American Republic? Is the refusal to live within the limits that should be imposed on expenditures by an overwhelming debt burden a “moral ethic”?

    And if half the modern USA is looney and the other half momentarily depressed, a contention which I can neither disprove or even argue against, then on what basis of political theory can you argue that this country’s political and social frameworks are markedly different from those of Rome in the falling years of the republic — the century of Sulla, Marius, Caesar, Pompey, Anthony and Octavius?

    Yes, by all means keep your powder dry. One day, you may have to use some of it for purposes of saving your own life and that of a large group of school children by shooting dead an American version of one of the numerous suicide bombers of the Middle East.

    One is reminded here almost daily of the purported Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times”.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  3. @ ArnoldHarris:

    Keelie, your awareness is growing.

    Hmmm… damning with faint praise, eh?

    I live by the axiom, “If you want something done, and done well, do it yourself.” It doesn’t always work; my expertise only stretches so far, but my first inclination is to assess whether I can do something myself rather than ask someone else to do it for me. It seems to me that in general, America used to be like that, but of late most people – certainly in urban situations – have lost this independence. “The government should…” or “There should be a law…” seem to have replaced what was a very admirable quality. Then of course, a huge portion of the population has abdicated even its thinking in favour of letting the media think for them… I could go on and on, but you get my drift.

  4. @ ArnoldHarris:

    “That idea [democracy] didn’t work for long in ancient Greece.”

    A misleading observation.

    Ancient Greece had very little experience with representative democracy — only DIRECT democracy.

    But direct democracy is inherently unstable:

    It invariably leads to “mob-ocracy”

    — followed sooner or later (but inescapably) by dictatorship of one stripe or another.

    The attendees of the 1787 Constitutional Convention were acutely aware of the shortcomings of direct democracy

    — and they deliberately steered clear of it.

    “It never worked at all in ancient Rome.”

    Well, again, that’s a misstatement of the reality.

    What you designate “ancient Rome” actually consisted of TWO ‘Romes’ — not one.

    — the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.

    The Republic came to see the weaknesses of Greek direct democracy, and for a season it experimented with representative democracy.

    The character of the people, however — lacking in a central moral ethic — degenerated with time

    — such that by the time the power of the state had grown to a certain point, the people saw no problem in cooperating with the transition from a Republic to an Empire.

    The point here is that it simply isn’t correct to say that democracy (i.e., of the representative variety) “never worked at all in ancient Rome.”

    It’s closer to the truth to acknowledge that the people of Rome ultimately proved unworthy of it. . . .

    “And it [democracy] sure as hell does not work in the modern USA.”

    That remains to be seen.

    Half of “the modern USA” is looney.

    The other half is momentarily depressed.

    I’d be keeping my powder dry about making pronouncements at this juncture as to where that will in fact lead.

  5. Keelie, your awareness is growing.

    I know more than a little about the Constitution of the United States, having studied the history of constitutional law, at least up to the early 1960s. I also undertook to read much of the Federalist Papers, which are sort of a secular American Talmud to the Constitution, which, of course, is the secular American Tora. That, plus a reading interest in the history of the machinations that took place to get the Constitution ratified by the first 13 states.

    Now, as you hint, American society is starting to devolve. We have gone through these cycles before, especially in the crisis that led up to the American Civil War. But now there is no great empty American West to exploit and settle, and other societies, possibly better organized than this one, are beginning to overtake. In fairness, not all this is the fault of democracy as Americans think to define it. But democracy has brought us more or less permanent paralysis of government and its ability to pay for itself, while everything here that is to be governed rots around us, like the great bridges and the once finest railroad system in the world.

    Nobody maintains supreme world power on a permanent basis. That truth shall be better understood after the initial shock at the passing of our presumed omnipotence sets in.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  6. @ ArnoldHarris:
    No – I understand full well why you despise democracy. Unfortunately most of the world has been hoodwinked into believing that democracy is either a Law of Nature or a sure sign of superior morality. The folks who designed the American Constitution (not that I know a great deal about that) were surely intelligent enough to understand that the implementation of democracy would be relatively easy where those members of society who could think clearly were concerned. Problems arise, as you imply, when society – in all of its aspects – begins to devolve…

  7. @ keelie:
    I see that I mis-spelled democratic as ‘deomcratic’. It would have been a more suitable and accurate typographic error to have termed it ‘deimocratic’, referring to the Greek meaning of the word ‘deimos’, which translates to fear and dread. Democracies last only until the lower classes learn that they can dominate the elective process to empower feckless leaderships that will loot the national economy to provide that class so-called entitlements to which they are entitled only so long as they loot the pocketbooks of others.

    Just in case you are wondering why I have come to despise democracy.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  8. To quote the late George Carlin:

    We all know how dumb the average person is, so think about the fact that 50 percent of the population is even dumber than that.

    So a plethora of Nobel Prizes is nothing compared to a good glass of beer.

  9. ArnoldHarris Said:

    stop the bullshit of what Israel can offer the rest of the world.

    their interests, like mine, were on rebuilding a tough and independent Jewish national commonwealth, not endlessly trying to prove to a non-caring world how deomcratic, polite and useful we are.


  10. @ ArnoldHarris:

    …their interests, like mine, were on rebuilding a tough and independent Jewish national commonwealth, not endlessly trying to prove to a non-caring world how deomcratic, polite and useful we are.


  11. @ Canadian Otter:

    But the main focus of study should be Israeli universities themselves, which for decades have been creating pathological states of Jewish self-loathing and denial of reality among their students, particularly those taking history, political science, and similar courses in the humanities departments.

    Just like in York University, in Toronto, which is not far from where I live. The mindset you speak of appears to be a “University Disease,” caused in part by (a) having aged hippies teach the kids, (b) parents who have no idea what’s going on in the social studies departments of universities (and have a mindset that says, “just get a degree”) and (c) these kids have too much time on their hands; social studies courses are far less demanding in all respects than “professional” courses such as Engineering.

  12. Before America Israel had no superpower (protector) we had France for about 20 years and profited from the relationship but Puff de-Gaulle put a quick end to it. Along with France Israel played the field wherever we could find support like South Africa, Iran and Romania. During that period we experienced fantastically high economic rates of growth and no western country in that dept. could match it. When the French denied us their ‘Mirages’ Israel stole the plans from the Swiss and built our own versions. When the French embargoes missile boats we had bought and paid for we stole them and sailed them from France to Israel. After Munich we hunted them down all over Europe. Then there was Entebbe and the massive airlift of 22,000 Ethopian Jews in 56 hours. We absorbed close to a million Russian immigrants in a short time span, fought war of Independence, Suez in 56, 6 day war, War of attrition, Yom Kippur war all without super power protection and almost no help.

    There has been a progressive regression of our national ethos, confidence and Israeli Chutzpa ever since we attached ourselves to the American LEASH. Israel needs to feel she is alone with our backs to the sea and act accordingly and we can’t do that attached to the Americans. We have drug overdosed psychologically on American dependency and it is deleterious to our national survival.

  13. The clearest possible thinking of significant present and future considerations, in regard to the Jewish nation and the Jewish state, is this:

    Irrespective of the great and sometimes astounding accomplishments of Israel’s science-based medical research, there is not the slightest chance of reaching a permanent or even temporary peace with the Muslim civilization in general and the Arab Muslim states in particular. Therefore, Israel is under ceaseless threat of enemy attacks from all directions, including Iran with its existential threats.

    Therefore, what Israel must have is a greatly expanded land area suitable for building up a population of about 12+ million Jews within about 35-36 years and about 25 million Jews well before the end of this century. That, along with an expanded water supply and greatly-enhanced energy extraction and industrial base, a population large enough to support large-scale armed forces suitable to defend the country over extended periods of the protracted conflict that probably never will end in any foreseeable future.

    It also must be recognized that inventing, testing and putting to use miraculous new medical cures and other scientific achievements buys the Jewish nation little or nothing at all in terms of either international goodwill or much of anything else. I would remind all readers of these comments that in the earliest part of the 20th century, it was European Jewish scientists who were winning perhaps the greatest share of Nobel prizes for their truly amazing scientific achievements. But to the Nazis who were tasked with rounding up all such people for their individual or collective rendesvous with the destiny of one or another of the gas chambers in the extermination camps of Poland, they were nothing more than Jews with numbered indelible ink on their arms, awaiting their final processing schedule.

    The world is almost alive with hatred for Jews yet again. Perhaps it never stopped, or we conditioned ourselves to avert our eyes from it, because of the obvious discomfort involved in thinking out such matters, to say nothing of dealing with them. But, there we are in any case.

    There is only one set of considerations of importance here, and I think that, as always, I have clearly spelled them out. So stop the bullshit of what Israel can offer the rest of the world. Focus all Jewish efforts on building up an Israeli state and Jewish national power base, shucking off increasingly-useless connections with — and dangerous dependency on — the now-shrinking and dying imperial commonwealths of the West and getting much better connections with countries such as China, Russia and India. As a matter of plain fact, these are the states that will dominate Eurasia, East Asia, South Asia and North Africa.

    Are these new powers democracies? Why should any Jew give a damn about that any more than I do? For the religious among you, I never read anything in Tora to indicate haShem having much of any interest in classless and democratic societies. That idea didn’t work for long in ancient Greece. It never worked at all in ancient Rome. And it sure as hell does not work in the modern USA, Thomas Jefferson notwithstanding. And like most of the hardcore secular Zionists I have known, their interests, like mine, were on rebuilding a tough and independent Jewish national commonwealth, not endlessly trying to prove to a non-caring world how deomcratic, polite and useful we are.

    Arnold Harris
    Mount Horeb WI

  14. The need for clear thinking – a national emergency.

    Perhaps some prominent left-wingers and fake-right wingers could volunteer for clinical studies. There must be a cure for what ails them!

    But the main focus of study should be Israeli universities themselves, which for decades have been creating pathological states of Jewish self-loathing and denial of reality among their students, particularly those taking history, political science, and similar courses in the humanities departments.