Good News, Israel

Quote for the Week

    Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.

    George Halas 1895-1983 (Legendary gridiron football player, coach and owner. [See sports items below])

* We’re starting this weeks GN ISRAEL in the billions and first on the list is that iconic Company Zim, a shipping line that used to run luxury liners and is now confined to shifting cargo from port to port, most of it neatly packed in containers. After a fairly long spell in the red there’s been a change of color and the firm is back in the black and here are the figures; revenue in 2010 came to $9.86 billion down from $12.5 billion in 2009 but wait – and this is the important part – net profit jumped to $474 million last year from $6 million the year before, obviously a leaner and better managed enterprise. Good for the shareholder and good for the country we would say.

* Now we don’t know what fuel Zim runs its ships on but if they switch to natural gas there’ll be enough to go round with a whole lot over. The partners drilling at the deep-sea Leviathan field in Israel territorial waters yesterday, raised their estimates for the amount of goodies down there. The latest projection, by an expert third-party, puts the gas reserves in that field alone at as high as 21.1 trillion [we’re up from the billions] cubic feet. 21 trillion!! There hasn’t been that much hot air around since Wagner composed Parsifal –we don’t know why we wrote that but it sounded good at the time.

* And what about the folk who actually have a net worth of a billion dollars and more? Well 16 Israelis made this year’s “Forbes” The World’s Billionaires list – and we have no reason to doubt so reliable a source -, up from 10 last year. At the top of the heap none other than Mr Sammy Ofer and his family, with its controlling interest in Israel Corporation and global shipping interests, including Zim, see item above, and they have a fortune estimated by “Forbes” at $10.3 billion, from a mere $6.5 billion in 2010. While Morris Kahn at the other end is only worth $1bn. What does it feel like to be the poorest among the billionaires? We can only guess, but, we’d say, pretty good, yes, pretty good. As far as we’ve been able to ascertain all these special folk are more than generous in their charitable giving.

* They may not have a net worth of a $bn but they’re worth their weight in gold for their contribution to science. Prof. Cedar and Prof. Razin who are both members of the HU Faculty of Medicine’s Institute for Medical Research will receive the 2011 Canada Gairdner International Awards in October. The prize is considered as a possible predictor to becoming Nobel laureates seeing as how seventy- six of the awardees have gone on to win the ultimate honor. Their research is far too complicated for us to explain or understand for that matter, so suffice it to say that their work contributes significantly to improving the quality of human life. Incidentally they have both won the prestigious Israel and Wolf Prizes as well as a whole string of other awards.

* We wouldn’t be exaggerating if we said that this week was a dream week for Israeli sport; starting with the International marathon run in Jerusalem last Friday. Not only did the 10 000+ participants, more than a thousand of them from overseas, cover the requisite distances, 42, 21 and 10 kilometers respectively but they ran through 3000 years of Jewish history. The brain child of Hizzoner, the Mayor of the Holy City, Nir Barkat, who was also one of the runners, it was described by a participant Polish runner Wioletta Kryza as ‘a spiritual event but one of the most difficult marathons in the world and I’ve run 72 of them in my life.” London, Boston and New York eat your hearts out, well, almost. PS. and we weren’t going to mention this, just two days before the race there was a terrorist attack in the city and no one, not one of the runners withdrew.

* Needless to say there wasn’t a hotel room to be had during Marathon time but in fact 2010 was an all time record for overnight stays in Israeli hostelries and we won’t bore you with the figures except to say that it brought NIS 8.7bn into the countries coffers. But that’s not all, there was a 16% increase in hotel stays in the first two months of 2011 and as we’ve already mentioned 2010 was a record year, according to figures courtesy of the Central Bureau of Statistics. Could we be “enjoying” the results of the recent problems in Egypt and tensions in Jordan, which may have caused many tourists to change their plans and book rooms in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, instead of in Cairo or Amman? Why not? As the saying goes, ‘‘tis an ill wind that blows nobody good’.

* Back to sport and the International football [as in soccer] squad was on show this week – twice. The first match was against Latvia which ended in a 2-1 victory for the blue and whites. The second outing against a strong Georgian side would decide whether we remained in contention in the 2012 European Championships, our first ever, or not. Once again the national XI didn’t disappoint, emerging victors by one goal to nil. So with dreams of Europe 2012 still very much alive the side can look forward to their next challenge, a return match against Latvia on the 4th of June.

* Nano Retina Inc is developing an artificial device to replace retinas [the retina is a light-sensitive layer at the back of the eye that converts light energy into signals that are carried to the brain by the optic nerve and allows us to see the complete picture – in Technicolor], damaged by glaucoma, cataracts, AMD, and other nasties. The device incorporates nano-size – read smaller than microscopic – bits and pieces in a flat implant that is inserted via a small incision and then “glued” to the damaged retina. The sensors in the contrivance transform light into electrical signals that send the pictures received by Bio-Retina to the brain. This will be an amazing break through in sight restoration and it’s not the first ‘miracle’ mechanism produced by the Company, they’ve also developed an implantable telescope for the eye for patients with AMD.

* In the third game of the best out of five Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball side beat Spain’s Caja Laboral in cavalier style, with an iron wall defense and the inability to do anything wrong at the other end of the court including sinking eleven from outside the paint. The score stood at 24 – 23 at the end of the first quarter and it looked as if it was going to be a long night but from then on it was all Yellow and Blue ending in a resounding win 81-60 to David Blatt’s boys. A victory in tonight’s – Thursday – game will take them through to the quarters of the EuroCup.

* But it was left to the ladies to put the cherry on the top of an outstanding sporting week. In a first for women’s’ basketball Israel’s top ladies club, Elitzur Rramle won the Eurocup title beating Arras of France 61 -53, after having drawn their first match 61-61. That the match was exciting goes without saying –Ramle was down early on and Arras came back strongly in the second half but after that it was a rampant Ramle all the way – but it was even greater excitement after the match as the girls held a very handsome trophy high.

April 1, 2011 | Comments »

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