US approves two Teva asthma treatments, Israel’s largest voluntary organization launched a new initiative to enable disabled individuals and their families to visit Israel, Tel Aviv’s Cybertech is the second largest conference and exhibition of cyber technologies in the world, and much more.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
US approves two Teva asthma treatments
The US FDA has approved two treatments developed by Israel’s Teva, for adolescents and adults with asthma. They are AirDuo RespiClick (fluticasone propionate and salmeterol inhalation powder) and ArmonAir RespiClick (fluticasone propionate inhalation powder).
Combating fatty liver disease
In advance of Phase 2 trials, preclinical data showed the potential efficacy of Namodenoson (CF102) from Israel’s Can-Fite (see Jan 2012). It inhibited the growth and proliferation of liver fibrosis cells, supporting its potential ability to combat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Europe approves focused ultrasound treatment for prostate cancer
I reported previously (several times) on the focused ultrasound treatment from Israel’s Insightec to cure shaking and remove uterine fibroids. Now Insightec has been given the CE mark to use focused ultrasound to treat prostate cancer.
Patching up the brain after surgery
Israeli biotech Nurami Medical is developing the ArtiFascia, a biodegradable nanofiber patch that protects brain tissue and spinal cord damaged during neurosurgery. Nurami, founded by Jewish and Arab graduates, has just secured NIS 2.5 million ($650,000) of funds.
Diagnosing sleep apnea by smartphone
Ben-Gurion University researchers have developed a system to assess obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity by analyzing the patient’s speech using his or her smartphone. It also records and evaluates overnight breathing sounds and has been tested successfully on 350 subjects.
A shining example
Former Lieutenant Colonel Yossie Cohen made many life and death decisions in the IDF. But he never thought that filling in a form at the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registration Station was one of them. Ten years later he received a phone call. He donated some cells and gave another man the gift of life.
Universal flu vaccine – latest news
Knowing many sufferers of the current flu bout, it is timely to report positive preliminary results in the Phase 2b trials of the Universal Flu vaccine from Israel’s BiondVax. And thanks to a $2.8 million investment (see Jan 15), BiondVax is to “proceed confidently into Phase 3 as planned.”
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Everyone can visit Israel
Yad Sarah – Israel’s largest voluntary organization – has launched a new initiative to enable disabled individuals and their families to visit Israel. They arrange airport pick up in special vans and transport to hotels or specially prepared apartments. Tour guides and tours are also available.
Women feature on new bills
The design of new Israeli currency notes features two famous Israeli women. The poet Rachel is on the new NIS 20 bill. Poet, author and playwright Leah Goldberg is on the NIS 100 bill.
Mass-emergency drill for women
89 women simulated the first ever all-female mass casualty incident of its kind in Israel. The women (many ultra-Orthodox) replicated a terror attack on a Jerusalem girls’ high-school, under the guidance of trainers, paramedics and doctors from United Hatzalah.
The Israeli Knesset has inaugurated the Jewish-Muslim Ties Caucus, alongside religious leaders from both faiths. The initiative, led by MK Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) and MK Yehudah Glick (Likud) started with a session about the value of life in Judaism and Islam.
The Christian Empowerment Council
I have reported previously (4 times) about Father Gabriel Naddaf and his work to promote Israel and integrate Christian citizens. He heads the Christian Empowerment Council and their annual conference was attended by IDF and police officers, Jewish and Arab municipality heads and Muslim and Druze sheikhs. http://cecisrael.og-en.co.il/
More ultra-Orthodox at university
Between 2008 and 2014 the number of Haredim newly enrolled in academic learning institutions increased from 1,122 to 3,227.
Israel is the most popular embassy in China
Many foreign embassies in China have an Internet presence on Sina Weibo – China’s most popular social media platform. And the most popular embassy – with over 1.9 million followers – is Israel! Next are Canada and the US with just over 1 million followers.
Israel welcomes foreign entrepreneurs
Israel has launched an “Innovation Visas” program to allow foreign entrepreneurs to reside in Israel. They will be able to stay in Israel for 2-5 years while receiving support from the Authority’s Tnufa program, which exists specifically to help inventors with good ideas.
25 years of diplomatic ties with China and India
Israel just marked 25 years of diplomatic relations with China and India. India’s ambassador to Israel announced the 2017 visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And trade with China (currently $11 billion p.a.) is expected to grow significantly once negotiations conclude on a new free trade zone. http://www.thetower.org/
UK’s partnership with Israeli Intelligence
The Director General of British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) praised the “strong partnership with our Israeli counterparts in signals intelligence”. He said the relationship “is protecting people from terrorism… not only in the UK and Israel but in many other countries.” https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-
Designing Canadian stamps
Israeli-born graphic designer Avi Dunkelman has a key role in Canada Post’s five-year stamp program honoring Canada’s towering hockey stars. The Canadian post office has issued a new collection of hockey stamps each year, all based on Avi’s designs.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
10,000 visitors to Cybertech 2017
Tel Aviv’s Cybertech is the second largest conference and exhibition of cyber technologies in the world. Over 10,000 visitors heard from the experts in many of Israel’s 450 cyber companies – 65 more than a year ago. Israel’s PM also announced a new National Center for Cyber Education.
Driverless in Las Vegas
At CES 2017, Israel’s Mobileye and its UK partner Delphi demonstrated their latest autonomous technology with a 6.3-mile driverless journey through the streets of Las Vegas. The car self-drove smoothly, handling “with aplomb impolite drivers cutting in … like a good driver was behind the wheel.”
Stopping a thief from using your smartphone
Researchers at Ben Gurion University have developed a method of distinguishing between the genuine owner of a smartphone and a thief, by how the user presses the touch screen. It takes just 35 touches to reveal an imposter – long before he/she can steal valuable information.
Images from space
Ben-Gurion University and Israel’s ImageSat International (owner and operator of the EROS satellites) are developing a high resolution hyperspectral imaging system. The cameras have been miniaturized and require only 10% of the data previously needed to produce high-resolution images.
Radiation protection suit is heading for the Moon
I reported previously (Aug 2015) on the cosmic ray protection suit developed by Israel’s StemRad. The suit will be tested in 2018 on the next trial flight to the Moon of NASA’s Orion satellite. If successful, the suit will be used on the first manned flight to Mars in 2021.
A virtual “security camera” for your business
Israeli cyber security company Intezer has developed a virtual “security camera” for a company’s computer processing. It maps all the active programs, down to each code fragment and highlights any unrecognized software. Intezer has just raised $2 million in funds. http://www.globes.co.il/en/
Protection from email overload
Israel’s Knowmail is building “personalized Artificial Intelligence” to help employees manage email and other messages better. It studies your email habits, time management and personal preferences and automatically prioritizes your emails. Knowmail has just raised $3.5 million in funds. https://techcrunch.com/2016/
Customize your app in minutes
Israel’s Insert is the first automated in-app marketing platform. It puts “inserts” (videos, banners, messages, surveys etc.) into any live app in minutes, with no coding. Insert is partnering with Mobiquity of the US, a digital engagement provider to Fortune 500 companies.
Nano-packaging to prolong shelf life
The European Union has invested 7.7 million Euros in the NanoPack project, led by Israel’s Technion, to develop nanotech food packages for perishable foods. Polymers based on Halloysite Nanotubes (HNTs) release antimicrobial and anti-fungal oils to inhibit microbes and increase shelf life. http://nocamels.com/2017/01/
Israeli tech fuels Uruguay security center
I reported previously (July 31) that Israel’s Elbit Systems (and Noa) were working on the Safe District project for the Maldonado District of Uruguay. The $20 million security center has just opened in the presence of the Israeli ambassador to Uruguay and the Israeli companies.
Inside the Aquarius engine
The future is here
Ben Gurion University looks forward to celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020 with this entertaining and inspiring video, depicting’s BGU’s vision of medicine and science in 2050.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Unemployment at new record low
Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 4.3% in December, from the previous record low of 4.5% in November. Most of the increase was in full-time jobs. More women joined the labor force. The average salary rose by more than 2.5% over the past year.
Over $100 billion in currency reserves
Ahead of the official announcement, foreign exchange analysts have calculated that the Bank of Israel’s foreign currency reserves have exceeded $100 billion for the first time ever. Last month’s value was $98.361 billion and the BOI added at least $2.75 billion in January.
Record electricity production from natural gas
69% of all electricity produced in Israel now comes from natural gas – a new Israeli record. The Israel Electric Corporation reported electricity production at 11,936 megawatts, of which 8,258 MW was produced by gas-driven turbines. The rest is from coal and other sources.
Air fares fall 15% thanks to Open Skies
Air fares from Israel to Western Europe have fallen 18% in the five years since Israel signed the Open Skies airline competition agreement with the EU. Fares to North America have also dropped – by 14%. 110 foreign airlines now fly to Israel, and passenger traffic has increased by 40%.
More foreign tourists stay in Israel
Some 970,000 tourists stayed at least one night in Israel in Nov 2016, an increase of 38% compared to Nov 2015 and 23% higher than Nov 2014. The revenue generated from foreign tourists in Nov 2016 was more than 1.5 billion shekels ($390 million).
Up to 100 startups on show
More details of the world’s largest equity crowdfunding conference taking place in Jerusalem on Feb 16. 5000 delegates from 80 countries including 200 multinationals. Most of OurCrowd’s portfolio of 110 startups will participate. They include Consumer Physics, MedAware, VocalZoom, Freightos and Zebra Medical. http://blog.ourcrowd.com/
Facebook community for Israeli startups
Israel’s Startup Stadium is a non-profit venture that maintains a Facebook page with almost 40,000 friends and a variety of other activities. It provides a network of connections between entrepreneurs, investors, and representatives of international corporations.
From university idea, to startup success
I reported previously (Aug 2013) about the GuideIN Tube designed by students at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center to help inflate collapsed lungs. Guide In Medical is now a startup company and has just raised two million shekels ($529,000) for further development of the device.
Israel’s first student-run venture fund
Fresh.fund is Israel’s new student-run venture fund. Its aim is to invest in early-stage companies and ventures run by students and others. The new fund has raised $1 million from an angel investor in Jerusalem and intends to invest $20,000 to $50,000 per venture.
Cimagine exits for $30-$40 million
I reported previously (5 times) on Israeli augmented reality startup Cimagine Media. Now Image messaging app Snapchat is buying Cimagine for an estimated $30-$40 million, marking Snapchat’s first acquisition in Israel. Cimagine will become Snapchat’s R&D center in Israel.
$250 million for Israeli plastics company
US Celanese Corporation has acquired the nylon compounding product portfolio of Israel’s Nilit Plastics for an estimated $250 million. Nilit, however, will retain ownership of its worldwide nylon fibers and polymerization businesses, including facilities in Israel, US, China, and Brazil.
Online cash advances. Israeli fintech startup Behalf has provided millions of dollars of short-term loans to US companies to pay their suppliers. Borrowers apply on the Behalf website, which uses databases and algorithms to decide if the borrower is a good risk. Behalf pays the supplier, and collects from the borrower on pay day.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Rescued Picasso sketch of ex-Jerusalem mayor
The children of ex-mayor of Jerusalem Teddy Kollek found a picture of their father doodled by the artist Pablo Picasso in a catalog to a 1965 Israel Museum exhibit of Picasso’s art. The catalog was nearly thrown away, but has now been donated to the Jerusalem Foundation. http://www.timesofisrael.com/
Things to do in Israel in February
Israeli events in February include Eilat Chamber Music festival, Bonnie Tyler, Crazy Horse Paris Show, Red Sea Jazz festival and the Tel Aviv Marathon. Later, on April 6, Jean Michel Jarre is to perform a concert at Masada.
Levi Eshkol House to open in Jerusalem
Levi Eshkol was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, from 1964-1969. His former official Jerusalem residence at 46 Ben Maimon Street has been renovated and should be fully open to the public shortly. From these humble surroundings, the Six Day War was commanded.
Tears For Fears
One of the most iconic bands of the 80s, Tears for Fears, has lined up a July 5th concert in Tel Aviv’s Menora Arena (the old Nokia Arena). The video is of their hit. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”! https://www.youtube.com/embed/
Birdwatching in the Hula Valley
The Hula Valley in northern Israel is where ornithologists and “twitters” watch hundreds of bird species rest during their winter migration. Scientists estimate that some 42,500 Gray cranes stayed this winter in the Agamon Hula Lake. To protect crops they are fed with corn.
Beersheba qualifies for European soccer finals
Israeli soccer team Hapoel Beersheba drew 1-1 with UK’s Southampton FC to win a place in UEFA’s Europa League knockout competition stages. Beersheba finished second in the group stage with two wins and two draws – enough to clinch a spot in the next round.
THE JEWISH STATE
Discovering a vineyard for the Temple wine
Whilst Yaakov Berg was planting his vines in Psagot, Judea, he discovered a cave containing a 2000-year-old wine press. Their “new” vineyard was exactly on the site where wine for the ancient Temple in Jerusalem had been made.
2000-year-old street is dedicated
Jerusalem has re-dedicated “Pilgrim’s Way” a 2000-year-old street currently being excavated in the City of David. During 2nd Temple times, pilgrims would immerse in the Siloam Pool and then walk up Pilgrims’ Way to enter the Temple. http://www.jns.org/news-
Report the good news too!
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin told delegates at the recent international Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem to report not just the bad that happens in Israel, but the good as well. “I urge you all: be sure you give a voice to those working for a better future.”
Israel’s biblical dog
New article about the Canaan dog – Israel’s national dog breed. It has been around for at least 2,500 years as evidenced by first-century rock carvings in Sinai. And in 1987, the largest dog cemetery in the ancient world, with 700 Canaan dog skeletons, was unearthed in Ashkelon.
An indigenous people returns home
A short, yet powerful video, “If you will it, it is no Dream” – produced by Israel-advocacy organization StandWithUs. It shows that Israel has, and will always be, the home of the indigenous population – the Jewish people. https://www.youtube.com/embed/
VeryGoodNewsIsrael goes to Rehovot
Thanks to Marlene for arranging my presentation to the T.E.A.M. (Together English-speakers Achieve More) group in Rehovot. I am now available to talk about my newsletter to groups elsewhere in Israel. Meanwhile, please read about our discovery of family history in Rehovot.
For last week’s Good News from Israel, click HERE.