Update – 16 November 2011

Posted by Emily Gian on 16 November 2011 at 2:40pm:

Dear All,

As a lover of Israeli literature, I am constantly amazed at the contrasting perspectives of the country created by some of the nation’s most celebrated and well-known authors.

A novelist can paint rich and beautiful landscapes of mountains and wadis, but these can be overshadowed by the dark and depressing nature of politics, conflict and war. This often relates to our everyday perception of a country like Israel, a place which is constantly under the microscope of a diverse media some of which is only too keen to portray the negative so that we rarely get to understand and appreciate its true wonders.

With these things in mind, I begin this week’s update.

Yes, Israel has been in the pages of the international news this week. A blast at an Iranian missile base killed 17 members of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard including Major General Hassan Moghaddam, who is said to have been the ‘architect’ of Iran’s missile program. While the blast was said to have been an accident, newspapers such as the Guardian are still publishing stories that Mossad was involved, and the likes of the Melbourne Age are still willing to reproduce these reports despite there being no credible evidence to support the claims (see more). A virus that hit Iran’s defence network has also been blamed on Israel.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen articles about flotillas seeking to break Israel’s blockade of weapons hungry Gaza with a boat alleged to carrying $30,000 worth of medical equipment (organisers finally and sheepishly admitted they had no aid at all). As they are being taken to the port in Ashdod, their friends at Hamas fired rockets on nearby Ashkelon. The irony of that was missed by the media.

I wanted to express my outrage that the Age constantly publishes stories such as these, while conveniently ignoring stories such as one about a Kassam rockets narrowly missing an Israeli kindergarten, but then my eyes turned to an article entitled ‘Hi-tech rescues Jewish texts’.

The article refers to software developed by professors at the Tel Aviv University which joins together fragments of centuries old Jewish texts. The story was told in an apolitical manner.

I wonder why the Age can publish this story showcasing an amazing Israeli innovation, why does it not also avail its readers of this one about the revolutionary new treatment for cancer called ImMucin, being developed by Israeli scientists which could be applied to 90% of cancers? Clinical trials are taking place at the moment and the vaccine could be on the market by 2016 (see more).

Such innovations are rarely discussed in the media and when the BDS movement urges people to boycott Israel or divest from their universities, it is innovations such as these that they are targeting.

Forget the petty boycotts against chocolate shops (which faced a major setback last night when Junior Masterchef, one of Australia’s most popular shows, featured Max Brenner the chocolate man himself!), those who propagate for a boycott against Israel are saying “no” to technology and innovation that will benefit mankind.

I would much prefer to keep reading wonderful stories about Israel’s contribution to the world. For example, at this very moment 30 heads of state and ministers as well as 150 business delegations from all over the world are in Tel Aviv for the 3rd International Conference on Water Technologies, Renewable Energy and Enviornmental Control.

There, they will learn about ‘Israeli ingenuity in desalination, drip irrigation, gray-water recycling, water metering and management (see more).

Yesterday, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon opened the Conference by saying, “Israel is among the leading states in the world in water technologies and is willing to share its knowledge and experience with other countries so that together we can provide for the increasing needs of the world’s every-growing population”. In terms of peace with Israel’s neighbours he declared, “Israel will benefit from a peace agreement, but you will also gain a genuine partner for development and the assured welfare of future generations in the region… Unfortunately, many times in the history of the region, water was a reason for conflict and bloodshed. Today, I want to change this equation, together with you to turn water into a bridge to peace” (see more).

This is the picture of Israel and the way to peace that some in the media are only to keen to suppress and by doing so, they fail their readers and deprive them of a very rich and beautiful picture of the country I know as Israel.

Please join the Zionist Council of Victoria tonight for the Inaugural Event for Australian Friends of Israel, where there will be a panel discussion on the topic “Unmasking Anti-Zionism”. The event will take place at the Beth Weizmann Community Centre tonight at 7:30pm (see more).

Best wishes,