The Water of Life

Jewish tradition connects the five books of Moses (the Torah) with water.  For a healthy life, our sages say that you cannot go three days without either.  Recently there have been many news stories from Israel on the theme of water – all focusing on the Israeli priority of saving or benefiting human life.

The main inspiration for this blog was this summary of the miracle of how the drought-ravished Jewish State overcame a full-blown water crisis by investing $4 billion between 2002 and 2010 to develop water technology that keeps its population and industries alive.  Israel’s latest desalination plant, in Sorek, is now at full capacity, producing 627,000 cubic meters of drinking water daily. With the lowest rate of energy consumption in the world, its water is the cheapest and most efficient of any large-scale desalination plant.  Israel has exported this knowledge worldwide.  The San Diego desalination facility uses the reverse osmosis developed by Israel’s IDE Technologies, which has just opened a new office in the drought-ravished state of Texas.  The Norwegian company, EnviroNor, is recruiting Israeli expertise to provide the water-processing technology necessary for its project to convert secondhand oil barges into floating desalination and wastewater treatment plants.

International interest in Israeli water technology has encouraged joint research between the USA’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev.  And Sir Mark Walport - chief scientific adviser to the British Government mentioned the many Joint UK-Israeli water science projects being conducted at UK universities.  And the National Sanitation Foundation International (NSF) has certified the major product lines of Israel’s Amiad Water Systems.  The NSF evaluated that the water produced by Amiad’s automatic self-cleaning screen and microfibre technology is safe for human consumption across the USA and Canada.

Locally, Israeli water technology is restoring the Besor-Hebron River flowing through Beer Sheva, which for decades had been polluted by untreated wastewater from Palestinian Arab towns.  Now a 3-year project has been agreed between Israel, the PA and the Bedouin community to clean up the river. And please read about the water projects of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and its work with Bedouin communities, in its response to slanderous accusations in the New York Times.

You may also have missed the news that Israeli authorities helped alleviate flooding in Gaza from recent rains by transferring four pumps from the Palestinian Authority into the Gaza Strip (contrary to a fictitious report by the AFP news agency that Israel had opened dams).  Israel has also doubled its supply of water to Gaza from 1.3 to 2.6 billion gallons, and was praised for doing so by visiting inspectors from the European Union. 

There was little international recognition of the historic agreement signed by Israel and Jordan for the Red Sea-Dead Sea rescue pipeline project.  The $800 million agreement authorizes the construction of a 65 to 80 million cubic meter capacity desalination plant in Aqaba, Jordan that will produce fresh water to benefit both nations.  Nor much fanfare for Israel’s Water Authority opening of a new treatment facility for wastewater from the city of Tiberias that will allow Christian pilgrims to baptize themselves in clean Jordan River water.

Israel also is involved in countering some of the dangers associated with water.  Cyclone Pam has devastated the remote islands of Vanuatu, but already a multi-sector emergency response team from Israel-based IsraAID has arrived and is distributing drinking water.  More Israeli aid teams are on their way.  And should terrorists try to sabotage water systems, Jerusalem’s regional water & wastewater utility, Hagihon, has developed and installed one of the world’s most sophisticated security systems.

Israeli ingenuity has even developed medical treatments from water. IceSense3, developed by Israeli biotech IceCure Medical, uses frozen water (“cryoablation”) to destroy targeted tumors in less than 15 mins, with no pain.  IceCure has just received a $21 million injection of funds from Epoch Partner Investments to speed up the sales and distribution of its IceSense3 system to treat breast cancer.  And only Israeli scientists could have developed a “safe” virus to kill antibiotic resistant bacteria, from the wastewater of Jerusalem’s sewage system!

Water has also made a major contribution to Israel’s modern economic success.  Israel’s underwater natural gas discoveries are now well known.  However, you may not have realized that Israel’s location between two major oceans has given it a pivotal trading role in providing China with outlets to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.  And who would have thought that Russia would be importing large quantities of high-quality Israeli sea salt from Israel’s Salt of the Earth to make the salt water for tinned tuna and salmon produced in Russia’s Vladivostok and Korsakov regions.

To conclude we dive beneath the water to wish a “mazel tov” to the members of the scuba diving club in Caesarea that discovered the largest trove of gold coins ever found off Israel's Mediterranean “gold” coast.  The Israeli Antiquities Authority said the find of 2000 gold pieces, dating back more than 1000 years, was "so valuable that it's priceless". 

And finally, even underwater, Israel’s life-changing scientific ingenuity surfaces - as demonstrated by the laying of the cornerstone of the new deep-sea research labs for Haifa’s Mediterranean Sea Research Center.  The lab will develop underwater robots, vehicles, optics, acoustics and propulsion systems.
Israel – keeping humanity afloat!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

What is Israel fighting for?

As Israel’s political parties fight another election and form alliances in its aftermath, here are some other perhaps more constructive battles that the Jewish State has been fighting recently.

The war against cancer is one that Israel is determined to win and each week brings a new breakthrough in Israeli treatments.  Israel Technion scientists, with their US allies at MIT and Harvard have discovered that chemotherapeutics, delivered in tiny silicon containers with nano-sized holes are able to destroy malignant tumors, whilst avoiding adverse effects on healthy tissue.  Then chemotherapy developed by Professor Dan Peer of Tel Aviv University that previously fought ovarian cancer has now been engineered to target Glioblastoma multiforme - the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

Fighting heart disease will become much easier now that researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have revealed that heart disease causes individual heart filaments to lose synchronization.  Replacing diseased cells in a structured manner can re-establish a regular rhythm. The battle against brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s will benefit from the results of the Tel Aviv University research study into how brain neuron networks preserve memories.  Meanwhile Israeli biotech Kadimastem is winning a war on two fronts with the recent success in pre-clinical tests of its stem cell treatment for the brain disease ALS.  Kadimastem has also formed an alliance with Tel Aviv University’s technology transfer company, to use the same technology to induce pancreatic cells into producing insulin and attack diabetes.

In clinical tests, Israeli biotech, Pluristem, is winning the fight against radiation sickness. Pluristem’s stem cells enable recovery from bone marrow failure following total body exposure to high doses of radiation. And another Israeli biotech Advanced Inhalation Therapies has received a major support boost in its mission to beat the effects of cystic fibrosis by being granted Orphan Drug status from the US FDA for its nitric oxide treatment.  But if all you want to do is fight the flab, you may want to know that Israel’s Tulip Medical has successfully completed its first clinical trial of its pill that expands in the stomach, inflates like a balloon, and creates a sense of fullness.

Israel is a major force in the war against world hunger and thirst.  In India, Israel is well underway in its campaign to open 30 agricultural centers of excellence for Indian farmers.  And the US Agency for International Development has just refueled the funding of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s research into boosting crop yields.

The Governor of Embu County in Kenya received an army of Israeli entrepreneurs who will introduce water technology to revolutionize agriculture into the arid, yet fertile soils of Embu.  And Israel’s TakaDu is saving billions of liters of water in Australia’s battle against severe drought with its unique leaks and faults detection technology.  Yet another Israeli water-tech company, CropX, has just launched its advanced adaptive sensors and software service that increases crop yields whilst saving up to 25% of the water and energy used in irrigation.

Israel goes far beyond the call of duty in the fight to save and restore life.  Hundreds of Syrians injured by the fighting in their civil war have been treated in Israeli hospitals - including a 13-year-old boy who was seriously injured by a mortar in the Quneitra region three months ago. He has now been fitted with a prosthetic leg that will allow him to walk again.  One battle that Israel will probably lose is that of welcoming the Queen of England to the holy land; however at least her grandson Prince William did meet recently with IsraAID workers who are still in Japan, helping victims in their long fight to recover from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

My own personal war is against media bias.  It is a constant battle to get the international press to recognize Israeli efforts to win equal opportunities for all its citizens.  To publicize disabled kids completing the Jerusalem marathon, using Israel-developed Upsee mobility harnesses and trained by 20 police officers.  To acknowledge that the brain-damaged, autistic or minorities (e.g. Moslems or even Catholic Filipinos) can – if they want to – serve their country in meaningful and useful ways.  To highlight praise from European Union inspectors of Israel's actions to promote reconstruction in Gaza and ease the humanitarian crisis in the Strip. And not to ignore examples of Israeli inclusiveness, such as the press conference featuring the Israeli-Arab Chairman of Israel’s Election Committee where the only International or English language news reporter was Sharon from The Real Jerusalem Streets.

Finally, let’s celebrate the announcement that this year’s ceremony to mark Israel’s victory in its 1948 War of Independence will feature 14winning Israelis who have been chosen to light the ceremonial torches at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.  They include hi-tech developers, entrepreneurs, Israeli-Arabs, top women achievers and aid workers.  Next year we will be joined by thousands of young French immigrants who want to win the fight to live as Jews.

Israel - fighting for what is right!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

What do Palestinian Arabs need Israel for?

Last week the PLO Central Council decided to end security co-operation with Israel.  So I decided to retrieve from my newsletter archives just a few of the hundreds of examples of news articles showing Israeli cooperation with Palestinian Arabs.  Here are some of the enormous benefits received in the past year that Palestinian Arabs will be missing out on, if their leaders end security co-operation and once again abandon their own people.


Without security cooperation, it would have been extremely dangerous for the IDF medical personnel on routine patrol in Hebron in November to perform CPR to save an unconscious Palestinian Arab youth with no pulse, due to having accidentally electrocuted himself.  Or the other IDF medics to treat 20 Palestinian Arabs who were injured in April when their mini-bus crashed into a car.  Or to rescue 4 Palestinian Arabs, whose speeding vehicle flipped over and fell into a wadi in March.  And then to evacuate the severely injured and a two-year-old child by helicopter to hospital.  It is highly unlikely that Magen David Adom and IDF paramedics would be on hand to resuscitate a six-month-old Palestinian Arab baby after he suffered a heart attack on the way to Jordan. No more scenes of delight as on his parents’ faces at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital.

Without security cooperation, how could doctors at Haifa’s Rambam hospital in February deliver twins to a Gaza woman with a severe blood clot disorder and then deliver a baby to a Gaza mother in a critical condition due to Rh incompatibility and then fix the baby’s congenital heart condition?  How could surgeons at the same hospital in September perform a unique kidney transplant on a 14-year-old boy from Gaza?  I’m sure that the wife of PA president Mahmoud Abbas and the mother-in-law and granddaughter of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya would have complained if their operations in Israel last year had been cancelled due to lack of security co-operation.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israel demonstrated time after time that ordinary Gazans are not its enemies.  During the fighting, the IDF set up a field hospital including a delivery room at the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.  Those that were prevented by Hamas from travelling to Israel for treatment were evacuated by Magen David Adom to Turkey.  But around 100 Gazans were brought for treatment to Israeli hospitals every month.

Although her hometown Ashdod was under constant missile attack from Gaza, Irena Nosel, pediatric ICU head nurse for Israel’s Save A Child’s Heart (SACH), cared for critically ill Gazan children at Israel’s Wolfson Medical Center in Holon.  Whilst the three murdered Israeli teenagers were still missing, SACH doctors saved five Palestinian Arab children, plus four-year-old Muath from Hebron who was born with the same congenital heart disease that killed two of his brothers previously.  Not only did SACH save the brother of
Palestinian Arab anesthesiologist Wafiq Othman, but they then trained Wafiq, who subsequently returned home to co-ordinate the training of Arab doctors.

Without security co-operation, how can Dr. Yitz Glick, an orthodox Jew from Efrat in Judea, make his weekly personal house calls to Wadi Nis, providing medical treatment free of charge to Palestinian Arab patients?  How can the Efrat Emergency Medical Center that Dr Glick founded in 2000, continue to treat PA residents?  Will Israel continue to comply with PA requests for medical equipment, such as screening tools for diagnosing the Ebola virus among Arabs entering via Jordan into PA-controlled towns?  Will Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center physicians continue to perform complex cardiac surgeries on Palestinian Arab children and train Palestinian Arab physicians?

Without security co-operation, we will see an end to the measurable improvements that Israeli policy has made to Palestinian health and welfare in terms of higher life expectancy, lower mortality (infant, maternal, perinatal), better immunization coverage, nutrition etc. etc. etc.  Facts that even the Arab media has been publicizing.

Humanitarian Aid

Without security co-operation, how will Israel continue to ensure the weekly supply of thousands of tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza?  Even during the summer conflict, the Israel Electric Company transferred 10 generators to hospitals in Gaza.  The PA will have to hope they can do without Israeli help in clearing snow blocking roads to Ramallah, or dealing with flooding in Tulkarem and in Gaza, or help alleviating the subsequent water crisis.

Economic Support

Without security co-operation, how can Israel continue to support the construction and growth of the new PA city of Rawabi which is installing Israeli wastewater treatment systems and planting JNF trees?  Will Israel continue every year to fund 1200 Palestinian Arab farmers to study in Israel and upgrade their facilities? 

Do you expect Israel to facilitate the establishment of new industry in Gaza as it did with the new Coca Cola plant last year?  If you had any doubts, just see what happened to SodaStream – called by its Palestinian Arab employees as “the greatest company” where “you wouldn't get treated like this anywhere in the Arab world”.  Despite the workers’ cries of “don’t boycott us”, it closed down thanks to the PA and its crazy BDS allies.  Such a pity, as a survey conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, funded by the European Union, showed that Palestinian Arabs who work in Israel or for Israelis in Judea and Samaria are paid more than double the wage of those employed by the Palestinian Authority and triple those working in Gaza.

Good relations

So goodbye to projects like the joint team to promote community preparedness and emergency response.  And the religious Jews of Beitar Illit will probably stop visiting the nearby Palestinian Arab town of Husan where they have been shopping and receiving services from for years (to the benefit of both communities).  And who would risk organizing the travel of hundreds of Palestinian Arab kids to attend Shimon Peres’ Twinned Peace Soccer Schools which build friendships between Jews and Arabs? Or joint teams such as the wheelchair basketball team, comprising disabled athletes aged 15 to 25 from the PA town of Beit Jala and from Israel’s Ramat Gan.

Here are the links to two video clips of examples from last year that show Palestinian children getting on extremely well with IDF soldiers.  You may be amazed to see them, and you won’t see any more once the PA stops security co-operation with Israel.

What the Arabs Say Themselves

You don’t have to take my word about any of these facts.  The Arab media praises Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian Arab workers.  Al-Hayat Al-Jadida commended Israeli employers for much higher wages, job security and other benefits.  In Judea and Samaria 15,000 Palestinian Arabs work side by side with Israelis.

Finally, in a debate on the Al-Jazeera’s Arabic service, the presenter and a guest question an Assad supporter as to why the Syrian army, Hezbollah and other Islamic military groups cannot be more humane like the Israeli army.

What the PA leadership really needs - is to see sense!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to