The Israeli prime minister is having a bromance with the increasingly mendacious and duplicitous U.S. president.
Six Israeli settlers are on a hunger strike to pressure the government to build them a new settlement. Jewish institutions throughout North America are receiving bomb threats, and Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized.
And our pals at ISIS are calling for more attacks on Israelis and Jewish targets in the West.
The news that’s making headlines is not good – which is why I’m going to write about some positive things that are worth celebrating.
You know I like to write about interesting Israeli innovations, and I have one to share. But let’s start with two stories of Jews and Muslims doing good things for each other.
After hearing about the attacks on Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia, two American Muslims set up a fund to raise money to help repair the cemeteries.
Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi reached their goal of $20,000 US within three hours of announcing the crowdfunding campaign, and have raised more than $140,000. Whatever is not needed for the cemetery repairs will be used to support any other Jewish institutions that are under attack.
“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” they wrote at launchgood.com, a global crowdfunding platform to support Muslim charity, creativity and entrepreneurship.
Not only is it great to see Muslims helping Jews like this. It’s inspiring to see the range of projects on the Launch Good site, from projects to help individuals and communities victimized by hate crimes (including almost $250,000 raised for victims and families of the Quebec City mosque shooting) to a food hamper project in Calgary and a virtual resource centre for Muslim women to talk about sex.
On the Israeli side, there is good news and bad news about one of its humanitarian efforts. The good news is that, since 2013, four Israeli hospitals have treated more than 2,000 Syrian patients, most of them injured in the civil war.
“They used to tell us the only enemy of Syria was Israel,” a young Syrian fighter named Mohammed al-Souria told CBC News. “But, when we came here and we saw the treatment, everything … everything we were told has changed. And now Israel is 100 times better than [Syria’s president] Bashar al-Assad in the way they treat humans.”
The IDF has a field hospital in the Golan Heights, where patients are assessed before being moved to hospital.
The Ziv Medical Center in Safed also has a clinic where doctors and nurses treat illnesses and injuries not related to the conflict. They also provide vaccinations that aren’t available in Syria because the health care system there has fallen apart.
The bad news is that these hospitals may have to stop treating non-emergency Syrian cases, if the Israeli government doesn’t reimburse them for the Syrian patients they have already treated at an average cost of $20,000 CAD per patient.
It’s a fine balance between providing much-needed humanitarian care and making sure that Israeli patients don’t fall between the cracks. Let’s hope it can be resolved – and that some of the patients whose lives have been saved by Israelis can teach others that the negative things they’ve learned about Israel aren’t true.
OK, I have space for one cool Israeli invention in this good-news column. As usual, I learned about it from www.nocamels.com, a research project and website that highlights cutting-edge Israeli innovations. I just learned that NoCamels is sponsored by Canada’s Asper Foundation.
As I slump over my laptop, I’m excited to read about a wearable gadget called the Upright Trainer (www.uprightpose.com), which trains you to correct your posture. Using an adhesive patch, you attach the device – it’s only 10 cm long and weighs a mere 25 grams – to your lower back. It vibrates when you slouch, so you are constantly reminded to sit up straight.
A study conducted by Upright with Ernst and Young employees in Israel found that 75 per cent of users improved their posture and reduced their back pain.
It’s $174 CAD on the Upright site, and is also available on Amazon. Perhaps it will be my birthday present to myself!
It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all the negative things we read about in the news, especially when it comes to Israel and anti-Semitism. Just for today, let’s give ourselves a break.