ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Innovative heart treatment
After 68 years, Yair’s complex congenital heart defect finally caught up with him. Luckily, the years also brought new advances and, for the first time in Israel, instead of open-heart surgery, his irregular pulse could be resolved at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center using cardiac catheterization.
Portable lung tests
Israel’s PulmOne (see here previously) has developed the MiniBox+, a revolutionary lung function device about the size of a desktop computer. It has the potential to help diagnose many of the half a billion people around the world who suffer from lung disease. The MiniBox+ is FDA approved.
Hyperbaric oxygen relieves PTSD
Israeli scientists are the first to have used hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to reduce post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The pressurized pure oxygen treatment successfully relieved IDF veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD that had lasted for at least four years.
Electric pulses to fight cancer
Technion Professor Yoram Palti has been awarded the Israel Prize in the Field of Entrepreneurship and Technological Innovation. Prof Palti founded Israel’s Novocure (see here previously) that developed a groundbreaking cancer treatment (especially brain cancer) using electric pulses.
Using nanotech to create the impossible
Great feature by VeryGoodNewsIsrael subscriber Diana Bletter about Technion Professor Hossam Haick (see here previously). His expertise in nanotechnology has led to 42 patents and the inventions of the cancer SniffPhone, NaNose, molecular sutures, skin sensors and more.
Robots to help rehabilitation
Ben Gurion University’s 46th Webinar Wednesday featured BGU Professor Shelly Levy-Tzedek, who discussed how robots can help in the process of rehabilitation. This includes physical assistance (e.g., post-stroke, Parkinson’s, or aging) and social assistance. The video also stars Pepper the robot.
Relaxation to boost radiation benefits
Neuroscientist Amir Amedi from Israel’s Reichman University, has invented multisensory devices to relax patients awaiting cancer radiation therapy at Israeli hospitals. These include 3D VR glasses, smart tables and chairs, breathing sensors, and in-ear recordings.
Siblings of special needs children may be more empathic
Researchers at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University studied 1,657 families of twins born in 2004/5. In 63 cases, one of the twins had a development delay or disability. The other twin was found to have a higher cognitive empathy than those with a normal twin.
How the immune system sets priorities
Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute discovered some remarkable actions of the immune system when faced with multiple viral or bacterial infections. Two mechanisms – innate and adaptive immunity are deployed and may change vaccines production and autoimmune disease therapies.
Nearly his last shot
Ilan, the official photographer for the Hapoel Jerusalem basketball team, suffered a heart attack shortly before his team’s hoops game with Hapoel Tel Aviv. With only minutes of life left, Gal, an MDA paramedic, used a defibrillator to restart his heart. Great story for National Public Defibrillator Awareness Day.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Helping minorities enter the hi-tech market
The mission of Israeli NGO itworks (see here previously) is to fill some of the 18,500 vacancies in Israeli hi-tech with talented single mothers, Arabs, ultra-Orthodox Jews, people with disabilities and citizens in Israel’s periphery.
Front & Center – Arabs & Muslims in Israel
New video on Israeli Arabs who include 14 members of Parliament, 9% of judges (one in the Supreme Court), 26% of undergraduates, 1,500 Muslim IDF volunteers, and the captain of the Israeli soccer team. NIS 30 billion is budgeted for Arab sector development.
Diversity in the Supreme Court
Israel has appointed four new Supreme Court justices, among them the court’s first Muslim (Khaled Kabub) and first Mizrahi (West Asian) Jewish woman (Gila Kanfi-Steinitz). https://www.timesofisrael.com/muslim-man-mizrahi-woman-picked-to-serve-as-supreme-court-justices-both-firsts/
Minorities champion Israeli co-existence
Israeli-Arab Yoseph Haddad (see here previously) is preparing to present the truth about Israeli minorities at the Parliament of Ireland. Another social activist, Israeli Druze Lorena Khateeb describes how Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Jews enjoy equal rights.
More democratic than 143 countries
The prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Democracy Index ranked Israel at 23 out of 167 countries, ahead of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and the United States. Last year, Israel was ranked 27 and it has improved steadily since 2006. The next highest Middle East country is Tunisia at 75.
El Al pilot lands in UK storm
Plane spotters at London’s Heathrow airport were impressed with the skill of the Israeli pilot who landed his El Al plane during Storm Eunice. Other planes had more difficulty.
More aid to the Philippines
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, until recently only three local IsraAID workers were able to help Philippine victims of Typhoon Odette (see here previously). Now five more experts from the Israeli NGO have arrived to help with relief work. Some of this involves cutting-edge Israeli technology.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Israel’s talented scientists
The winners of the 2022 Blavatnik Awards for Israel’s top young scientists are Noam Stern-Ginossar (Weizmann – viral gene profiling), Menny Shalom (BGU – alternative energy sources), and Ronen Eldan (Weizmann – math probability & machine learning). Each laureate also won $100,000.
$1 million for IDF cyber training for women
The Friends of the IDF and the Zalik Foundation have raised $1 million to fund a new program that integrates young women into IDF cyber units. The IDF Mamriot (taking off) program aims to increase the number of women in IDF tech units and in Israel’s tech sector overall.
Growing Israeli talent in the lab
Four times a year, Israel’s AION Labs (see here previously) invites teams of scientists to Rehovot to solve a treatment development challenge. The winning team gets 4 years of funding to set up a startup, plus mentoring. Israelis living abroad are finding this an attractive reason to return home.
New Mediterranean nature reserve
Israel has established the Evtach Marine Reserve, a protected offshore nature reserve, between Ashdod and Ashkelon. The site is 10km wide and extends 7km out to sea. Its purpose is to protect 700 species, including dolphins, rays, and flying fish.
Keeping an eye on wildlife
The ATLAS wildlife reverse GPS telemetry system tracks animals as small as 15g to help reduce conflicts with humans and protect endangered species. ATLAS was jointly developed by Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Professor Ran Nathan and Tel Aviv University’s Professor Sivan Toledo.
Israel’s foresters of the future
Israeli charity KKL-JNF has launched a program “Forester of the Future” that is training young adults (mostly women) in ecosystem management and then putting them in the field. They learn the use of modern tools to prevent, detect fires, and assess and repair damage to the vegetation.
Long-life, vertical Basil for Europe
Israeli-Dutch startup Future Crops (see here previously) is commercially producing high-yielding, long-lasting basil crop at its vertical farm in Westland, Netherlands. The proprietary seeds were developed at Israel’s Volcani Agricultural Research Organization near Tel Aviv.
Good news for Chilean cherries
The automated modified atmosphere packaging solutions from Israel’s StePac (see here previously) are bringing major benefits to farmers in Chile. They require less manual labor, use less plastic, reduce food waste, lower shipping costs, and increase the shelf-life of the cherries.
The fastest possible recovery
Israel’s Salvador Technologies markets a product that provides a 30-second recovery from cyber-attacks (e.g., ransomware) or IT failures. The innovative patented technology, designed for critical systems, is based on sophisticated data corruption detection and “air-gapped” protected storage.
A secure bubble around your network
Israel’s Zero Networks has developed a scalable method to prevent unauthorized access to computer assets. Each piece of equipment is protected with Multi-Factor Authentication that makes them impervious to ransomware attacks.
More reliable vehicles
Israel’s Aurora Labs (see here previously) use machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity to improve car software quality, safety, and security. Its products Auto Detect, Auto Validate, and Auto Update are able to reduce the numbers of vehicle recalls and lower production costs.
Self-driving EV shuttles for the US
Israel-based Mobileye has announced plans to deploy its systems on self-driving electric vehicles in the US during 2024. Mobileye and its partners Germany’s Benteler EV Systems and Florida’s Beep will launch driverless on-demand 12-14 seater shuttles, with no steering wheel or pedal.
Solar power for Spain
Israel’s Solaer Renewable Energies has connected its Alizursun solar power bank, in the Aragon region of central Spain, to the Spanish national electricity grid. Alizursun is the inaugural project of Solaer’s 1,362 MW project pipeline. Solaer expects to generate a GigaWatt of power by the end of 2023.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Still A+ with Fitch
Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed Israel’s A+ rating with a stable outlook. It noted the huge 8.1% increase in GDP for 2021, and a reduced budget deficit from 11.4% of GDP in 2020 to 4.5% in 2021.
Developing trade ties with Morocco
Israel’s Economy Minister, Orna Barbivai, visited Morocco to sign “a historic cooperation agreement”, aiming to establish the economic foundations of trade relations between the two countries. Barbivai (see here previously) is an ex-IDF Major General. Her husband was born in Morocco.
More gas for Egypt
Israel to begin exporting gas to Egypt via Jordan. The new route, in addition to the existing Ashkelon-El Arish pipeline, will increase current 5 billion cubic meters of gas exports to Egypt by more than 50% It will generate an extra NIS 100 million of annual revenue.
UAE bank buys Israeli anti-fraud tools
Mashreq Bank in the United Arab Emirates is to use the fraud detection tools of Israel’s ThetaRay (see here previously) to secure cross-border payments between financial institutions. Mashreq is the Emirates’ oldest private banking institution and ThetaRay’s first UAE customer.
Google to help diversify Israeli workforce
Google is investing $25 million over 5 years, to extend its existing initiatives for attracting minorities to Israel’s hi-tech sector. They include Adva, a two-year computer science training program for Jewish seminary girls, and a new Tsofen program to integrate Arab engineering students.
Israel’s Innovation Authority has awarded a total of NIS 500 million to five Israeli incubators operating in the fields of health tech, food tech, space tech and energy. Startups operating in each incubator will each receive up to NIS 6.5 million per project. It will promote early-stage technical projects.
Incubating space-tech startups
Israeli satellite communications provider Spacecom and its partners are investing NIS 400 million to launch its “Earth & Beyond” incubator to support Israeli startups developing deep tech space technology. The Israeli government will also fund up to 85% of the costs of those startups.
Lego to open its first Israeli store
Danish toymaker Lego has announced plans to open its first store dedicated to Legos in Tel Aviv “before the summer”. There are 628 Lego stores worldwide, planned and designed by Lego in a consistent way. Israeli stores will be identical to those overseas.
The latest Israeli Unicorn
Israel’s Cheq (see here previously) has joined the Unicorn club by raising $150 million at a valuation of $1 billion.
Investment in Israeli startups to 27/2/22:
Cheq raised $150 million; Pontera (FeeX) raised $45 million; anecdotes.ai raised $25 million; Aporia raised $25 million; Zero Networks raised $20.3 million; Valerann raised $17 million; Astrix Security raised $15 million; Kenbi raised $5 million; Varos raised $4 million; Salvador Technologies raised $3 million; Island.io raised 0.5 million.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
The Israel Museum
There is so much to see currently at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. In addition to those reported previously, you can visit exhibits on Divine food, Abstract art, Market Day in Europe, works by Dani Karavan, Painted eggs by Hilla Havkin, Islamic art, Gold & gemstones, and works by Jasper Johns.
Israeli industrial designers Adi Azar and Yotam Shifroni have created quirky, but useful, upcycled and repurposed household objects. The collection, including light fixtures, musical instruments, toys, furniture and accessories, can be seen at the “Very Mature” exhibit at Holon’s Hava Gallery, Feb 19 to May 31.
The 2022 Season at the Israeli Opera includes Pagliacci (Feb-Mar), Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (Mar-Apr), Handel’s Alcina (May), and Verdi’s Aida (Jun-July) and La Traviata (July/Aug).
A mature young spirit
Whisky magazine has just named Israeli whisky distillery Milk & Honey (see here previously) as Brand Innovator of the year (Rest of the World) in its Icons of Whisky 2022 awards. Last year, Milk & Honey won the magazine’s Craft Producer of the Year award.
THE JEWISH STATE
Key U.S. support
Good article about the USIEA and its role in establishing Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. The US Israel Education Association, comprised of non-Jews, aims to educate, and serve government leaders who are directly involved in advancing important dialogue between the United States and Israel.
Shipwreck reveals ancient trade
Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers examining a shipwreck off the Israeli coast have been able to trace 3,200-year-old trade links. Lead ingots show that Cyprus imported metals from Western Mediterranean ports 1,500+ miles away, to create luxury goods for sale throughout the Levant.
Look what the rains uncovered
Two Israeli policemen spotted an object protruding from the Ashdod beach after recent heavy rains. What eventually emerged was an impressive, 1,500-year-old marble pillar that was probably part of a Byzantine church originally on that site.
The most US immigrants in decades
2021 saw 4,000 US Olim (new immigrants to Israel) – the most since 1973. The 3,500 arrivals from France were the most in the last 4 years. Other large increases were from Russia (7,500), Ukraine (3,000), Ethiopia (1,636), Argentina (900) UK (650), Brazil (550) and South Africa (550).
Preparing to save lives in Ukraine
Due to the current tense security situation, Israeli emergency NGO United Hatzalah is strengthening its volunteer teams in Kyiv, Uman, and Odessa, to provide a continuous medical response in the Jewish communities as the needs arise. Israel’s SmartAID is also flying in relief
Here is the write-up of VeryGoodNewsIsrael’s visit to the “Hadar Young Ambassadors” at Haifa’s Hebrew Reali School. The “ambassadors” previously had visits from Dr Noga Cochavi of Haifa University and IDF Spokesperson Kelly Odes, each promoting positive images of Israel around the world.