Israel: A Light Unto the Nations
During Hanukkah, the festival of lights, we are reminded of Israel’s role as an ohr l’goyim—a “light unto the nations.” Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of a small flask of oil burning for eight days. At its core, this is the story of a people with limited resources, who were still able to thrive. Yes, as Maimonides taught, “A miracle cannot prove what is impossible; it is only useful to prove what is possible.” Today, Israel, despite a historic dearth of natural energy reserves, proves that with ingenuity, creativity and a little bit of chutzpah, miracles still happen.
Until the recent discovery of large natural gas reserves off the Israeli coast, Israel relied on imported oil, coal and natural gas for her energy needs, placing her in a precarious situation should those imports ever be cut off. Therefore, the Jewish state, like the Maccabees of old, developed innovative solutions to achieve maximum output from its limited energy supply.
These efforts resulted in a range of unique energy solutions benefitting not only Israel, but also the entire world.
Here are but eight examples, representing each of the eight days of Hanukkah:
In 1949, an Israeli government-funded research lab developed the first solar water heater—technology that is now commonplace throughout the world.
Today, 90 percent of Israeli homes use solar-powered water heaters. In 2014, then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said, “Israel currently ranks at or near the top of countries in the region in terms of installed solar capacity…the United States takes great interest in Israel’s energy innovations from both an economic and strategic perspective.”
The newly-discovered natural gas reserves have allowed Israel to assist Egypt and Jordan with their energy shortages, and to strengthen peace treaties with these neighbors. Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, also credits energy cooperation for recently improved relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus.
Innovation: Africa, an Israeli non-profit organization, is bringing creative solar and water technologies to remote African villages. Currently operating in 147 villages across eight countries, the group has provided one million Africans with access to vaccines, light and water.
In 2015, the Israeli government set a target of using renewable energy to deliver 17 percent of annual electricity generation by the year 2030. To help reach this goal, Israel is building the world’s tallest solar tower—820 feet tall.
The world’s largest solar thermal plant, located in the Mojave Desert, utilizes Israel technology. The plant supplies power for more than 200,000 California homes and prevents 3,800 tons of pollution per year.
In June 2016, Israeli solar company Energiya finished construction on a 22-megawatt solar project in Glynn County, Georgia, which will produce enough renewable electricity to power 8,500 homes. The U.S. government partnered with Energiya to expand energy access in sub-Saharan Africa through the Department of Energy’s “Beyond the Grid” initiative.
Tesla Motors is collaborating with Herzliya-based SolarEdge Technologies Inc. to create Powerwall, a cost-effective rechargeable battery. Fueled by solar energy, the Powerwall will provide inexpensive electricity to homes.
Israel’s important energy innovations, born out of the need for a miracle, make a positive impact on the world, and enable the Jewish state to be a “light unto the nations.”
Watch a inspiring video on how Israel captures the power of the sun.
To learn more about Israel’s New Horizons, visit the AIPAC Publications area on the AIPAC.org website. Or click on one of the image to download the PDF:
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