Sunday, 12 February 2017

Strictly come Israel-bashing

It’s hard to blog about the BBC’s bias without straying from the narrow remit of the BBC’s bias and gravitating to the bias of the interviewees and participants in programmes like TBQs and Andrew Marr’s Sunday morning annoyingfest.

I’m going to use the anti-Nigel Farage manoeuvre to say that I don’t see why we have to see so much of Rachel Shabi on our screens. She’s shrill, biased and irritating. (Maybe that’s why?)

Laura Perrins (and Kathy Gyngell) must have invented some kind of skin-toughening technique as they’re always going to be in a minority on the BBC, and will have to be subjected to boos and heckles, and endure the subsequent fall-out on social media. But someone’s got to do it, and luckily for those of us who want to hear the other side of the story, the BBC is marginally more interested in creating theatre than total consensus. 

You can tell how this plays out in the way they frame TBQs. For starters, today’s Big Question about Israel . “Should the UK Trade with Israel now settlements are recognised?” is as imprecise as it is inflammatory. What do they mean “Now settlements are recognised”? Well, the term ‘settlements’ is almost enough on its own, even without the “are recognised” bit. Red rag to a bull, especially when the bull consists of the average panel, the average TBQs audience and yer common or garden average  BBC viewer. 
My guess is that the BBC saw the controversial (in Israel too) new bill to retroactively legalise settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land as an ideal excuse to do a bit of Israel- bashing. 

Never mind, this is the BBC and we know what to expect. Our loins are girded and our breath bated.
If we’re sticking strictly to the BBC’s bias, we have to confine ourselves to what Nicky Campbell did or did not say, and how he chaired the debate. I imagine he must have given a stern warning to the participants before they got started. Don’t get physical or something?

We already know that War on Want is much more of a pro-Palestinian campaign group than a charity  dedicated to addressing “want”,  so nothing Rivka Barnard was going to say should have been surprising. Her hypocrisy was challenged fairly robustly by Nicky. 

The audience member with the red jumper was confused. I’d hazard a guess that he was a Pakistani Muslim who had been informed that something (Gaza? the PA?  Israel? ) was the biggest concentration camp in the world.  From the Naz Shah school of philosophy, perhaps. 

Although Nicky let Paul Charney from the Zionist federation respond, I do feel that this would have been a good time for the chair himself to intervene over the slanderous and demonstrably false ‘concentration camp’ allusion, which he could easily have done, rather than leave it to the lone defender of Israel to whom the bulk of the audience might be subconsciously applying the Mandy Rice Davies response. 

I found Professor Hogwash predictably devious, (But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?) full of the usual inaccuracies and pleas of victimhood  - and then setting that sneaky little trap, asking Paul Charney “Do Palestinians exist as a people?”  which Charney neatly side-stepped and let pass.  Not even worth getting into that one.

Tom Wilson was the other panel member who was drafted in to defend Israel, (double brownie points for not being a Jew) and he duly did, making some indisputable points and posing some difficult questions.
I won’t even mention the BBC’s go-to Moderate Muslim Imam whose diatribe seemed to fizzle out without the finale.

On the whole the studio audience was less hostile to Israel than usual, and I do wonder if the viewers at home might be starting to see the light. At any rate I do believe people are getting tired of seeing and hearing about the Palestinians. 

“How do you feel when you use Google?” Nicky asked Rivka Barnard, who wishes to boycott products from Israel. 

It’s not just Google you’ll have to forego, though, if your anti-Israel feelings are that passionate. For example, here’s just one week’s worth of Good News from Israel. Good News from Israel / not such good news for BDS fanatics. Good luck with that, as they say.


New treatment to fight cancer.  (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (Sep 2013) that Dr. Sarit Larisch of Haifa University discovered ARTS - a protein missing in tumors that regulates apoptosis (cell death). Israeli biotech ARTSaVIT is developing a treatment based on this research and has just received $6.3 million of funds.

Diagnosing early cancer from blood tests.  I reported on Israel’s Medial EarlySign previously (May 2015) when it was MedialCS and trialing its colon cancer early-warning algorithm (now called Colon Flag) with Israel’s Maccabi Health company. EarlySign is now designing and validating models for upper GI cancer, lung cancer, and epilepsy.

Positive results in trials of Alzheimer’s treatment.  (TY Atid-EDI) In latest trials, the NeuroAD cranial device from Israel’s Neuronix (see here) slowed the progression of the disease in 85% of patients suffering mild Alzheimer’s.  The treatment is now being used commercially in the UK (London, Berkshire, Chester and Manchester).

Clues to defeating resistant bacteria.  Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered some surprising characteristics of bacteria.  When phage-resistant bacteria are in close contact with phage-sensitive bacteria, the resistant bacteria lose their resistance. The discovery could help research into antibiotic resistance.

Record number of organ transplants.  (TY Atid-EDI) A record 504 Israelis were saved thanks to organ transplants in 2016, up from 433 in 2015. The number of live kidney transplants (222) was also a record and included 129 donations from friends or strangers.  887,317 Israelis have now signed organ donor cards.

One Weekend in the Life of an Israeli EMS Paramedic. (TY Steve and United Hatzalah) Dov Maisel had six emergency calls during the 24 hours from Friday afternoon right through Shabbat.  Five people were saved.

Lung inflation device is aired on TV.  I reported last week about Israel’s Guide In Medical (GIM) and its innovative tube for inflating collapsed lungs.  GIM’s CEO Ariel Shrem has just spoken about the device on ILTV daily.

A fighting chance. I reported previously (Feb 2016) on Israel’s Intensix and its early-warning analysis of deteriorating Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients.  Intensix has won or come close to winning 3 recent startup competitions.  It has also just received $8.3 million of financing.

Paralyzed UK policewoman walks again. Former British police officer Nicki Donnelly, who was paralyzed in 2009, can now walk again. She received a ReWalk exoskeleton from the Gerald Ronson Family Foundation and the UK Jewish Community Security Trust (CST).  Nicki now wants to visit ReWalk’s Israeli inventor Amit Goffer.


Tech solutions help at-risk Israelis.  American humanitarian assistance organization Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Israel (JDC-Israel) teamed up with Microsoft and HP for a first JDC Social Impact Hackathon. It resulted in 21 practical solutions to help vulnerable Israelis, e.g. the elderly and people with disabilities.

Inventing for the disabled.  Another group of 160 innovators came together for a TOM (Tikkun Olam Makers) 72-hour session at Israel’s Technion. They developed solutions for the disabled including an umbrella for wheelchairs, a coffee-making conveyer belt for people with tremor and a special portable toilet seat.

BBC interviews Israeli blind golfer.  I’ve reported on Israel’s world champion blind golfer Zohar Sharon previously several times (click here).  But I was very surprised to hear him being interviewed on the BBC World Service’s Outlook program. Listen after 26 minutes.

Emergency at evening to honor Arab EMS responders. United Hatzalah held a special dinner to honor its Jerusalem-based Arab Emergency Medical Service (EMS) volunteers. Its newest doctor, Dr. Murad Issam Odeh had to immediately treat a fellow responder who unknowingly ate some fish and suffered a severe allergic reaction.

Real situation of Arab citizens of Israel.  This article contains some interesting statistics.  Between 2005 and 2011, inflation-adjusted Arab net family income increased by 7.4%. Arabs “very satisfied” with their economic conditions rose from 40% in 2005 to 60% in 2011. 4000 work in hi-tech – up from 400 in 2009.

Turkey’s Tourism Minister visits.  Israel’s Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin met with his Turkish counterpart, Nabi Avci, at the International Mediterranean Tourism Market (IMTM) conference in Tel Aviv.  Avci is the first Turkish government minister to visit Israel since the two countries normalized their relations.

Israeli PM meets UK PM.  (TY Hazel) In their recent London meeting, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the steps to prepare the ground for a post-Brexit trade agreement. They also committed to deepen co-operation on intelligence-sharing and cyber-security to keep their people safe. Mrs May also invited Mr Netanyahu to London in November to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.

Pro-Zionist Muslim is Pakistan media editor.  Noor Dahri has been appointed as an editor of Pakistan’s US-based Rabwah Times - the first Salafi and Muslim Zionist to be an editor of the newspaper. He says he will use his position to continue his peaceful mission to promote better understanding between Israel and Pakistan.

Shhh! Saudis use Israeli Internet security services. (TY BIG) Israel’s Shmuel Bar writes how his IntuView system is used by the Saudi Arabian government, to identify security threats on social media and the dark web.

Israeli awards for global success. Israel’s annual Wolf Foundation prize encourages achievers from outside of Israel in the sciences and arts.  This year “Israeli Nobel Prizes” were awarded to eight individuals from the US, UK and Switzerland. They include for anti-tumor immunotherapy and for the discovery of an exoplanet.


Tel Aviv joins global driverless car program. (TY NoCamels) Tel Aviv is one of 10 cities in the prestigious “Global Initiative on Autonomous Vehicles.”. It joins London, Paris, Helsinki, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires and five US cities, each aiming to incorporate driverless cars into its public transit system.

Molecular sensing smartphone. Remember (see here) the SCIO scanner from Israel’s Consumer Physics Inc?  Now SCIO’s technology has been built into the Changhong H2 to produce the world's first molecular sensing smartphone. It was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The most innovative startup at CyberTech.  I wrote recently (Dec 11) about Israeli cybersecurity startup Aperio and its ability to detect attacks against critical infrastructure.  Aperio was selected as the most innovative startup in the Cybertech 2017 Startup Competition, winning a trip to the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Keep head lice treatment under your hat.  Using technology from Israel’s Weizmann Institute, Israel’s TechCare has produced a cap that treats head lice. It is worn on the head and releases a natural material in gas form that kills lice and their eggs. The hat is designed for multiple use, as is the capsule containing the material.

The first study of insect migration.  An Israeli-led study over 15 years reveals that 3.5 trillion insects, weighing a total of around 3,200 tons, migrate hundreds of kilometers every year.  This is one of the first comprehensive studies that examines the phenomenon of insect migration.

More effective crop breeding.  I reported previously (Nov 2015) about Agrochemical giant Syngenta using Israel’s NRGene to map the genomes of crops and develop hardier, higher yield varieties of seed. Syngenta has now signed a deal to use NRGene’s GenoMagic software to save time in its crop breeding program.

Protecting pedestrians from cars.  (TY Atid-EDI) Vehicles equipped with the V2X chipset from Israel’s Autotalks (see Sep 2013) will soon “talk to” the OMEN system from China’s RoyalTek. OMEN alerts pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and people with disabilities when vehicles get dangerously close.

Voice-controlled cars.  I reported previously (Jan 2016) on the joint project between Israel’s VocalZoom and Honda to help its goal to build intelligent cars.  A year later and the voice-control technology was on display at CES Las Vegas.

How we remember directions.  Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have discovered how bats (and possibly humans) navigate.  A network of cells encodes the direction of one’s destination. The findings may help explain how memory loss and “getting lost” tend to go together in Alzheimer’s patients.

Making security managers happy.  The biggest problems for managers in charge of responding to computer security incidents are lack of both time and skilled resources. So, Israel’s Demisto provides an automated platform to handle the whole incident response lifecycle.  Demisto has just raised $20 million of funding.

Measure with your smartphone.  (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (Dec 2015) on MysizeID which measures your body for clothes with the sensors of your smartphone. Now MysizeID has been upgraded so that it can measure almost anything.  Helps with packaging, choosing furnishings, kitchen equipment etc.


Israel’s credit is good in Europe.  Israel’s sale of its largest-ever euro-denominated bonds was more than four times oversubscribed.  The Israeli government sold 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) in 10-year debt and 750 million euros in 20-year bonds. Investors, however, were prepared to buy 9.8 billion euros of bonds.

Budget deficit is well below forecast.  (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s budget deficit was only 2.1% of GDP at the end of 2016 compared to a target of 2.9%.  The reason was a NIS 9 billion under-estimate of state revenues.

NIS 15 billion for developing the north.  (TY Atid-EDI) The Israeli government has put forth a NIS 15 billion plan to revamp northern Israel. It includes upgrading schools, improving health care, grants to businesses, road schemes, expanding Haifa’s bus system and a light rail between Haifa and Nazareth.,7340,L-4899253,00.html

Multinationals invest in ex-IDF cybersecurity fund.  Microsoft and Qualcomm join the international investor partners of Israel’s Team8 – the venture fund formed by ex-IDF cybersecurity experts.  In addition, Citibank is becoming a non-investing partner. Existing partners include Cisco, AT&T, Accenture, Nokia and Mitsui.

Checkmarx to list on NASDAQ.  I reported previously (here) about Israeli security code checker Checkmarx and its massive revenue growth.  Now Checkmarx is preparing an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the US NASDAQ.  It has grown to 300 employees from 180 a year ago, and plans to recruit another 100.

Israel’s Stratoscale buys US company. Israeli cloud infrastructure company Stratoscale has acquired Tesora, a database-as-a-service (DBaaS) provider, based in Massachusetts, USA.  Tesora’s database will help Statoscale customers move onto cloud-based systems.

Its savory and sweet in South Africa.  Israel’s Frutarom has made another acquisition in South Africa, buying Pretoria-based Unique Flavors for $6.7 million.  Unique’s African customers include in Ghana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Unique’s operations will be merged with Frutarom’s existing Pretoria site.

Cakes for Chinese home-baking.  (TY Nevet) Having discovered that few Chinese own an oven, Israel’s Ronen Mechanik launched Uga Uga (Uga = Hebrew for “cake”).  Chinese users order cake-baking kits for use in their rice cookers. 4,000 kits have already been sold since the website’s launch - just through word of mouth.

Yet more flights from Tel Aviv.  Israel’s Arkia Airlines is commencing regular flights to London Stanstead, Milan, Salonika and Sardinia. It has already begun flying to Belgrade. Air France is going to Tel Aviv from Nice and Bilbao and China’s Hainan Airlines is offering Beijing flights for $500. And (TY Atid-EDI) Air Transat is to fly direct twice weekly from Montreal between June and October with connections from Toronto.


UNESCO sites on new Israeli stamps.  (TY Jacob Richman) Israeli stamps issued during February feature the ancient Jewish sites of Bet She’arim Necropolis and Bet-Guvrin Caves – both UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Other stamps feature Etsel, Krav Maga, 120 years of the Zionist Organization of America and Aromatic plants.

Shlomo Katz benefit concert.  (TY Sharon) Contemporary religious Jewish singer and guitarist Shlomo Katz is performing in a benefit concert in Jerusalem on Feb 23. The aim is to raise funds for building a Bayit Lehayalot - a Jerusalem home for female Lone Soldiers.

Anti-BDS film in two film festivals.  (TY Laurie) The anti-BDS documentary “Boycott This” from Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), starring Brad Stine. has been selected for two film festivals.  The Chandler International in Toronto and the Hollywood Boulevard. The film has won a 2016 Telly Award and a Gold Award from The Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Tel Aviv festival for dogs.  (TY Nevet) Tel Avivians love their dogs (Kelav in Hebrew) so much that they put on Kelaviv - the ultimate party for dogs and their owners. They served sushi and cakes for canines, provided dog-massages, therapists, stylists and much more.

Israel in a day.  In one day, actress and writer Renny Grinshpan and Jerusalem U director Chloé Valdary make shakshuka, learn self-defense, attend a peace pre-school, taste wine in the Gush, visit a petting zoo, ride a very long zip line, go surfing, attend yeshiva, breakdance, watch basketball, hit the bar and enjoy a live band.

$6 million donation for American Football stadium.  On the heels of his franchise’s latest Super Bowl title, New England Patriots owner and five-time National Football League (NFL) champion Robert Kraft has announced that he will donate $6 million to a new regulation-sized American football stadium near Jerusalem.


The first all-Haredi paratrooper company.  The first-ever all-Haredi paratrooper company of 40 soldiers was sworn in at an IDF ceremony at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem. Rabbis associated with the Nahal Haredi Foundation, which provides support to Haredi soldiers, praised the new paratroopers as trailblazers.

Tu Bishvat – New Year for Trees.  (TY Hazel) Our friend DJ Antithesis broadcast an Israeli Tu Bishvat Music Special on Israeli radio station TLV1.

Plant trees for Tu Bishvat.  Click on the United with Israel link to support Tu Bishvat tree-planting activities in Israel.

Torah is alive in Jerusalem.  (TY Janglo) This new video from the Pardes Institute connects an incident in the Talmud with the sights and sounds of modern day Jerusalem.  Should Torah be taught in the market place?

Recognition for women on Jerusalem streets.  (TY Janglo) Two Israeli activists got Jerusalem’s Municipality to properly recognize the women identified in the street signs for Beruryah Street and Ruth Street. Beruryah’s now says (in Hebrew) that she was Righteous and amazing in Torah. Before, she was just Rabbi Meir’s wife.


  1. Phew! That was a long one!

    I read these blogs and pick up some amazing things the Israelis are doing. Yesterday I read of an app that analyses speech patterns and is able to detect therefrom signs of heart disease (No Camels website).

    We really to need to stay friends with this country. It does appear that most of the Gulf States recognise this and are cooperating with Israel.

    And so of course are companies. How many employees does Intel have in Israel? .... 10,000! Intel in Israel

  2. And as if to prove the GCC/Israel cooperation here is an extract from the Times of Israel - "Qatar’s special envoy to Gaza, Muhammad al-Amadi, said that he maintains “excellent” ties with various Israeli officials, and that in some case it is Palestinian officials who are holding up efforts to better the lives of residents of the Strip." Elder of Zyon

    I wonder if the BBC will report this.