Probiotic yoghurt molecules treat Covid; Earth Day clean up; Rare historical videos released; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Vaccination good news
5 million Israelis have now received two Covid vaccinations – 80% of the adult population. And a new study shows that vaccinations have saved some 6,000 Israeli lives. Finally, Israel’s Beilinson hospital has discharged all its 257 mothers, infected while pregnant, now with their healthy babies.
New Israeli Covid-19 cases have dropped to under 200 a day, allowing the re-opening of all schools, bars, restaurants and indoor gatherings. Israelis no longer need wear masks outdoors in the open air. And UK Minister Michael Gove arrived to explore opening a “green corridor” between the UK and Israel.
Israel was a perfect vaccination model
It was the diversity of Israel’s citizens that clinched the Start-up Nation as Pfizer’s preferred choice for the first rollout of its vaccine. Israel’s population includes immigrants from over 100 different countries. Any rare vaccine side effects would soon show up in Israel’s ethnic mix.
The origin of cytokine storms
Researchers at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University have identified the molecular mechanisms responsible for the deadly cytokine storms in Covid-19 patients. The source are long non-coding RNA molecules (lncRNAs) which in the past were thought part of “junk” DNA – having no function!
Probiotic yoghurt molecules treat Covid
Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have identified new candidate treatments for Covid and inflammatory bowel disease based on molecules isolated from fermented probiotic yogurt. These have anti-inflammatory properties that can heal cytokine storms caused by Covid-19.
Reprogramming the immune system to fight cancer
Scientists at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and Hadassah-University Medical Center, have developed a treatment for multiple myeloma. The patient’s T-cells are combined with a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) molecule. In Phase 1 human trials at Hadassah.
Early detection of skin cancer
Scientists at Tel Aviv University have developed new optical technology that will enable an immediate, non-invasive diagnosis of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. Special optical fibers can distinguish between benign and malignant lesions on the skin, potentially saving many patients’ lives.
Complex surgery saves Gaza boy
Doctors at Haifa’s Rambam hospital performed three almost simultaneous operations to save Madchat Tapash – a 7-year-old boy from Gaza. They reconstructed his bladder, transferred a kidney donated by his mother and connected it all together in an 11-hour operation.
Medics save Arab toddler after heart stopped
A two-year-old Arab boy with chronic heart problems, fell unconscious at his home in Deir el-Asad, northern Israel. Four EMTs (Muslims and Jews) from Israel’s United Hatzalah managed to get his pulse back and transported him and his mother to Haifa’s Rambam hospital.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Druze excel in Israeli medicine
One of Israel’s smallest minorities, Israel’s Druze community, has made a big impact in the Israeli health sector. They include the Director of the Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat and the founder of Vocalis Health (see here previously). Also, Sgayar Shannan of the Galilee Medical Center.
Arabic – an official Israeli language
Great new video showing how Israel provides its Arab citizens with facilities in Arabic. Street signs, bank ATMs, museums, cultural events, music, parliament, phone systems and government downloads. And since the Abraham Accords, Jewish Israelis are rushing to learn it too. Yalla!
Air filters for 10 African ambassadors
Israel’s Aura Smart Air (see here previously) presented ten African ambassadors to Israel with its cutting-edge air purifying system. Aura Air’s CEO said he hoped to bring Israeli technology to Africa to help fight Covid-19 and other diseases associated with polluted air.
The first physical post-Covid diplomatic event
Over 60 vaccinated global diplomats participated in Tel Aviv in the largest non-virtual international reception since the Covid-19 crisis began. They were hosted, without social distancing, by Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, in honor of Israel’s 73rd Independence Day.
Earth Day clean up
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority has launched the 1-Million Clean campaign to mark International Earth Day on 22 Apr. Tens of thousands of volunteers signed up to help hundreds of (previously unemployed) paid workers in a nationwide clean up. Hundreds of thousands more were expected to join them.
Academic center for sustainability
As the world commemorates Earth Day 2021, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) has announced its new Center for Sustainability. The Center is being established to increase environmental research and teaching within the University and to promote sustainability projects across Israel.
Returning the sea turtles to the sea
Israel’s Sea Turtle Rescue Center has cleaned and given new life to several sea turtles that had been covered in oil spilled from a Syrian tanker several months ago. Also, on Earth Day, Israel publicized many of its technologies, startups and activities to solve environmental problems.
Cousins meet up
Israeli and Emirati social media influencers met physically for the first time in history at a conference in the Dubai Youth Hub. They included United With Israel’s David Aghiarian, who had a personal conversation with His Excellency Mr. Saaeed Al Nazari – the UAE’s Deputy Minister in Charge of Youth.
Israel-UAE innovation task force
The UAE Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed al Khaja, visited Start-Up Nation Central Headquarters in Tel Aviv to launch an official partnership for innovation and entrepreneurship between the two nations. A joint task-force will share ideas and generate economic value for both countries.
The world’s oldest living journalist
Israel’s Walter Bingham, 97, was inducted into the Guinness World Records for being the oldest living journalist. He hosts the weekly “Walter’s World” on Israel National Radio and “The Walter Bingham File” on Israel Newstalk Radio. In 2018 he was awarded France’s Legion of Honor.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Lowering air pollution
Israel’s Ministry of Energy has published a new plan designed to significantly reduce air pollution in the energy market. Its aims include reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in the electricity sector by between 75 – 85% by 2050; reduction in energy consumption and priorities for solar energy and hydrogen.
Intel’s fastest server chip
Intel has unveiled its highest performing data-center processor, optimized for the cloud and high-end computing. It promises performance 46% higher than the previous generation of products. The processor’s core, Ice Lake Server, was developed in Haifa and produced at Intel Israel’s Kiryat Gat plant.
Nvidia’s Israeli next gen chip
Israel’s Mellanox (see here previously), which was acquired by Nvidia in 2019, has just launched the BlueField-3 DPU next-generation processor. It delivers powerful software-defined networking with accelerated cybersecurity capabilities for data centers.
ECOncrete wins ecology award
Israel’s ECOncrete (see here previously) has won one of Bloomberg’s 2021 NEF Pioneer Award for game-changing companies leading to a low-carbon economy. ECOncrete manufactures sustainable fish and environment-friendly concrete for building coastal and marine infrastructure projects.
Keeping your sales team on the right track
To be compliant with regulations, financial companies must prevent their marketing employees from being too eager to sell the company’s products and services. Israel’s Sealed.ai provides technology to monitor outgoing sales calls to ensure that customers are not being mis-sold.
Security for open-source code
Israel’s WhiteSource helps hi-tech developers build secure apps while using the IT industry’s freely available software, known as “open-source”. WhiteSource provides real-time alerts on vulnerable and problematic components, customized reports, automatically enforces policies and more.
A train on wheels
The first Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) train-on-wheels system outside China will carry up to 500 passengers from Tel Aviv to the heart of Samaria. The ART follows a virtual track on a normal road, powered by advanced fast-recharged batteries. The driver just controls braking and accelerating.
Say goodbye to car keys
Israel’s Cobra (see here previously) has launched its Mobile-Key technology It enables car doors to be opened and closed and the engine to be turned on and off, all controlled from a smartphone app. It is installed at a customer’s home and works with both new and many older vehicles.
Communicate with your grandchildren
Israel’s Zoog allows anyone to create content that their young grandkids would enjoy. Users record themselves reciting a story directly in the app and then send it to the mobile device of anyone in their phonebook. It is then delivered via an SMS or message link.
Bedouin startup connects devices to the cloud
Israel’s Siraj Technologies, led by two Israeli-Bedouin entrepreneurs, streamlines the connection of Internet of Things (IoT) edge devices to cloud platforms. Using Siraj’s AI and deep learning algorithms, what used to take weeks can now be done in minutes.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Welcoming more flights from the Gulf
The first flight from Abu Dhabi to Israel brought the UAE ambassador and the CEO of Etihad Airways, who said he has never received a warmer welcome anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, Gulf Air is starting direct flights from Bahrain to Israel on June 3.
The next to be ignited
10 more Israeli companies have started Intel’s Ignite accelerator in Tel Aviv from 392 applicants. The previous 28 graduates (see here previously) have since raised more than $200 million of funds. The success of the Tel Aviv accelerator has encouraged Intel to expand the program to Munich, Germany.
$100 million takeover to prevent phishing
US cybersecurity giant Cofense is acquiring Israel-based startup Cyberfish, which uses computer vision and machine learning technology to prevent phishing attacks. Following the acquisition, Cyberfish in Beersheba will become Cofense’s first R&D center in Israel.
Expanding software testing to medical systems
Israeli-based Qualitest (see here previously) has acquired Israel’s Comply, which provides software testing services to the digital health sector. Qualitest’s customers will now include Teva, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, GE Medical and AbbVie.
Smart mobility for top vehicles
The Italian unit of automaker Stellantis has signed an agreement with Israel’s Innovation Authority to develop identify and develop smart-mobility systems. Stellantis’s vehicles include Maserati, Alpha Romeo, Dodge, Jeep, Lancia, Fiat, Chrysler, Opel, Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen,
The business of intelligent information
Israel’s Affogata offers businesses a customer intelligence platform. It collects, analyses, and sorts data from the web, review sites, social channels, niche forums, community and customer conversation platforms. It then provides actionable reports to help businesses grow.
Simplifying tax audit compliance
The increasing burden of tax audits requires companies to deploy advanced technology to ensure compliance across multiple jurisdictions. Israel’s Blue dot digitizes the complex, costly and risky process. Blue dot has offices in Israel, the US, UK, France and Germany.
Giving your business a competitive advantage
Israel’s DataRails has developed a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) system for enterprise companies. It allows the financial department to transform its Excel spreadsheets into a smart and powerful system that integrates with the organization’s data infrastructure.
10 million green dots
X5 Retail Group, Russia’s largest food retailer, is now rolling out the Green Dot labelling system (see here previously) for monitoring product freshness. Ten million labels will be placed on items from the X5 Smart Kitchen assortment of ready-to-eat and ready-to-cook foods.
Already 9 Unicorns in 2021
The Startup Nation may soon be known as the Unicorn nation. A Unicorn is a startup, which is still a privately held company, that has already reached a billion-dollar plus valuation. Israel has had nine startups hit Unicorn status so far this year. The rare, mythical Unicorn is not rare in Israel.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Innoviz raised $371 million; Redis Labs raised $310 million; TipRanks raised $77 million; WhiteSource raised $75 million; RapidAPI raised $60 million; Nucleix raised $55 million; Blue Dot raised $32 million; Perception Point raised $28 million; Breezometer raised $25 million; DataRails raised $18.5 million; DoControl raised $13.35 million; Affogata raised $5.5 million; Jeeng raised $5 million; TransAlgae raised $2.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Building bridges with music
With family hailing from Algeria and Tunisia, Israeli Riff Cohen is a one-of-a-kind musician, whose eclectic tunes are connecting people all through the Middle East. She has performed in Jordan and Turkey. She was even hailed in Paris by Moroccans who called out “Hey Riff Cohen!”
Rare historical videos released
The Jerusalem Cinematheque has released rare historical videos, documenting Israel’s visual history in newsreels, home movies, and rare films from the late 19th century till the present day. The new free website includes 7,000 topics and is accessible in both Hebrew and English
The first baby langur at Biblical zoo
Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo has just celebrated the birth of its first baby langur monkey. It hasn’t been named yet because its mother is being very protective, and zookeepers still do not know its gender. The zoo’s collection includes most of the 130 animals mentioned in the Bible.
Jerusalem celebrates back to normal
What a difference Yom Haatzmaut (Independence Day) was in Jerusalem this year compared to last year! Israel 73 was a time for celebration after a year of lockdowns and isolation.
Judoka medals at Euro Championships
At the European Judoka Championships in Portugal, Israel’s Tohar Butbul won the silver medal in the men’s under-73kg event, while Israel’s world champion Sagi Muki won bronze in the under-81kg. Israel’s Gefen Primo won bronze in the women’s under-52kg.
THE JEWISH STATE
We Believe in Israel (WBII) and the Zionist Federation (ZF) are promoting Zionism month from Apr 19 – May 14. Its aim is to give a simple core understanding of Zionism to audiences outside the Jewish Community who have only heard the word Zionism used negatively by Israel’s enemies.
A country of contrasts
Heavy rain and low temperatures on the weekend of 10-11 April resulted in 15-20 cm of snow on Mount Hermon. Then on 19th Apr temperatures in the center of the country exceeded 40 degrees centigrade. Israel’s facemask regulations were relaxed just in time for citizens to catch their breath!
The oldest pottery inscription
Archaeologists have discovered a 3,500-year-old inscription on a pottery sherd at the ancient town of Tel Lachish, about 40km from Jerusalem. It has been described as the “missing link” of early writing in the Southern Levant, which most, if not all, alphabetic scripts can be traced back to.
World Bible Quiz winner
Gilad Avrahamoff, of the Yeshivat Bnei Akiva, Netanya won the World Bible Quiz for Youth 2021 in Jerusalem. He received his award from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education.
Grandson follows survivor into the IDF
Chaim Luviner, escaped the Nazis and eventually arrived in Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces’ Armored 7th Corps. Today, his 22-year-old grandson, Lt. Ran Shaked, serves as a team commander in the elite reconnaissance unit of the IDF’s 401st Armored Brigade.