Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Inventing the inventors

The story begins: the Natural History Museum on South Kensington entered into a partnership with Ahava, a cosmetics company based in an illegal West Bank Settlement.A collection of scientists and film-makers wrote a letter to The Independent in protest, leading to a report.

The story was picked up by the Israeli media, who naturally put their own spin on it. They included a story from South Africa of another protest at the sale of Ahava products (which are no more popular on the rest of the world than they are here). They quote at length the response of the CEO of Dis-Chem, the SA pharmacy chain which was selling Ahava products. Which is kind of them, because it's hilarious: clearly South African Israel-Firsters are no less risible than their American buddies. His name, incidentally, is Ivan Saltzman.

"If it is your intention to boycott Israeli products, you need to be consistent if your gesture is to have any meaning. I hope you don’t use an Intel chip in your computer with which you probably wrote your e-mail because it was invented in Israel."

Well, Intel certainly has a design facility in Israel, Also one in Malaysia, one in India, one in Austin, Texas and probably others. I'm sure we'd all do just fine without the Israsli one. But "it was invented in Israel": LOL. Some aspects of the design of some chips were done in Israel. Does this dolt really imagine that Israel invented the chip? (That would be Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments: both American as apple pie.)

“I hope that you stay in good health because if you need preventative surgery against a heart attack, you will have to boycott the procedure because guess what? The stent was invented in Israel!"

What, the stent invented by Dr Julio Palmaz of the University of Texas in San Antonio?

“Likewise, I hope you are never prescribed any patch for diabetes, to deliver medication and other drugs."

Not even the patch for delivery of insulin, which was invented in Britain?

"If you are an asthmatic you may have to use a new type of inhaler (Spin) invented in Israel. So please check!"

I can't work out which of the literally dozens of types of inhaler he is referring to, but none of the main ones seem to have been developed in Israel.

“Israel has given the world the system of drip irrigation which is being widely adopted in SA with water shortages like many countries. Should you boycott all fruit and vegetables grown by this method?"

Well, we would certainly boycott the ones grown on stolen Palestinian land. In any case, modern drip irrigation was invented in Afghanistan (hah!) in the 19th century; developed further in the University of Colorado; refined in Germany, then in Australia. Finally a little extra tweak was given by two Israelis. So far from Israel giving drip irrigation to the world, the world gave it to Israel. Indeed, while I can't find out when exactly Hannis Thill made the Australian advance, but the three earlier stages of development were complete before Israel even existed!

But the really funny thing is that in his spittle-drenched blurtings of how Israel invented everything of value in the world, he totally fails to notice that the customer was not complaining that he was selling Israeli products. On the contrary, she was complaining that he was selling illegally-produced settlement products: though these may perhaps have been passed off as Israeli (a criminal offense in Europe where we "anti-semites" give Israeli imports reduced tax rates, but perhaps not in South Africa). Maybe he should take another shot at this trick hasbara business. OK, so all his "Israeli inventions" were totally, er, invented, so his credibility is pretty low, but I'm sure we'd all enjoy watching him claim that everything from the wheel to powdered milk was invented in the Occupied West Bank by "Israeli scientists". (Who of course are great at some kinds of invention: computer viruses and machines for murdering people are the main ones that spring to mind.)

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