Good News Israel

Compliments of Anglo Saxon Ra’anana Real Estate

Youth are at a disadvantage because all the older generations have been there and done that and as distance lends more and more enchantment to the view, the older generations genuinely believe that they did it a whole lot better than the ‘younger generation’. Speaking for ourselves we don’t agree. A few examples:

Academics – and how! Israeli students won five medals, one gold and four bronze, in the 52nd International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), which concluded in Amsterdam on Friday. Following the impressive achievement, Israel jumped 30 spots in the global ranking of 101 countries which took part in the event. This is Israel’s best accomplishment in the past seven years. This enviable performance came hard on the heels of an equally impressive success by the Israeli schools physics team which won two gold, two silver and one bronze medal at IPO for high school students in Thailand. Israel climbed to 13th in world.

Teenage tennis titans – Israel’s national under-16 tennis team has advanced to the semifinal of the European Summer Cup in France, after taking an unassailable 2-1 lead over Germany in the quarterfinal. Igor Smilansky and Or Ram-Harel both won their singles matches, after Germany had taken a 1-0 lead when Alon Elia was forced to retire midway through the doubles rubber.

A budding Bill Gates? Revealing the secrets of successful business to kids in the peripheral [for peripheral read disadvantaged] areas of the country, a group of top entrepreneurs give hands on experience to groups of young people in developing and marketing a product, finding investors, money management and a lot else over a period of three years. Some of the products this time around; a toilet seat cover for improving hygiene, they’ve started manufacturing it in China and have found an Israeli distributor; for do-it- yourself disasters like us at GN, a contraption that protects your fingers when hammering in nails, a personal mini-hygiene kit which the Eilat municipality has already started selling and more.

Taglit-Birthright Bash-This special organization will be bringing 20 000 young people this summer on an all expenses paid trip to discover the Holy Land, their Homeland. 3 000 of them had a ‘little get-together’ on the Bar Ilan University campus last week. There was lots of fun, lots of solidarity and who knows how many of them will be back soon and how many of them will be back permanently. In the meantime the total number of these special visitors to come here since the program began in 2000 has topped 300 000.

Our swimmers make a splash – Our young swimmers gave their all in Shanghai at the World Championships and still the medals eluded them but they broke Israeli records and perhaps even more important than that, four of them at least will be packing their bags for London and the Olympics in ’12.

Of soldiers and sport – We heard this story and we’re still not sure whether it tells us more about our army or about the young men and women who serve in it. A young combat soldier of our acquaintance was selected to play cricket for Israel in the European Championships so he turned to his commanders for time off and explained why he needed it. They listened as they always do and the answer came back negative. Now we are positive that the reason for this was that they couldn’t believe that such a game existed or that people would actually play it. But with a little more cajoling here and a little more explaining there they agreed and this young soldier is on the Isle of Man scoring sixes, we hope, with the best of them.
And so it goes.

What is it about June that makes foreign investors feel more than comfortable about putting their money in Israel? Could be that the economy looks really healthy and here are some figures from that venerable institution the B of I to illustrate the current state of foreign investment. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) grabbed a goodly portion and purchase of stocks totaled $440 million in June well above the $240 million monthly average in the first half of the year. Most of the investments were in banks and pharmaceuticals. Direct foreign investment totaled $500 million in June, mostly in high tech, above the monthly average of $410 million in the first half. A nice display of confidence.

We remember when the choice of coffee in Israel was between [undrinkable] instant coffee and equally undrinkable Turkish coffee also laughingly referred to as botz which is the Hebrew word for mud, apt we used to say, very apt. How things have changed, with a wide range of local coffee shops offering a delectable menu of the aromatic bean, with many of them operating successful branches overseas. Israel’s main supplier Strauss is now the fifth largest purveyor worldwide and they have just extended operations in Russia and the CIS by acquiring Ambassador Coffee for €10.4 million substantially increasing their reach in Russia, the Ukraine and Moldavia. Strauss has 6,000 employees, had €675 million revenue in 2010 and is one of the fastest growing coffee companies in the world. We’ve come a long way.

Like them or not they’re a part of the urban scene so architects have their work cut out to make them as graceful as possible. Two new residential high rises in Tel Aviv have been nominated for the Best Tall Building Award This is a first for Israel, presented annually by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat based in Chicago, Illinois. It looks like we’re going higher but better and that’s GN.

A few brief [but important items]:

    Exports to Europe rose in May-June to 10%, compared with March-April, to $2.8 billion. Exports to Germany rose 11% to $337 million. Exports to Asia rose 1% to $1.4 billion.

    The Tel Aviv comics store Comics & Vegetables received an Eisner award – the comics industry’s equivalent of the Oscar – at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego, California for doing an outstanding job supporting comics as an art medium within both the community and the industry at large.

    You may not have heard of the Volcani Institute but they amazing things with creating ‘new’ fruit and vegetables and they’ve just produced intensely aromatic white, red and black grapes and they’re seedless and they’ve got a longer shelf life. What more could one want?

    ValueClick Inc.a US company, has acquired digital marketer Dotomi Inc based in Israel, for $295 million.

    That amazing organization, Save a Child’s Heart has scored a first by doing pediatric open heart surgery in Tanzania. Those kids who can’t be operated on in their home country will be brought to Israel for care.

    The Safari park, a noted breeding zoo, announced the birth of a tapir an endangered and very cute animal. The notable thing about it is it doesn’t look anything like its parents. No it’s not what you’re thinking, all tapirs are like that but they transform with time.

And now a heart warmer to end. Holocaust survivor Jerry Feldman marked his bar mitzvah exactly 70 years after the original date. He celebrated together with his grandson, while marking a personal victory over the Nazis: At the age of 13 he was forced to run for his life, and now he arrives at the capital city as a winner.

August 7, 2011 | Comments »

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