People dressed in costume on Purim 2016 in downtown Jerusalem. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90) (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Purim Jerusalem

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On the Jewish festival of Purim, which will soon be celebrated, we wear masks as a disguise. It reflects the Purim story in which the true nature of the events leading up to Jewish redemption from the threat of annihilation is disguised as a series of apparent coincidences.

In today’s upside-down world, the positive activities of the State of Israel are mostly covered up by the international media. Using some recent examples, I’ll now remove the mask to reveal Israel’s true identity.

Israeli scientists have been responsible for many breakthroughs in cancer treatments. But you wouldn’t know this if your only news source was the British Broadcasting Corporation.  In the past few months, Israeli cures for leukemiamelanoma and prostate cancer were hidden by the BBC until protests by the Weizmann Institute forced them to interview one of the groundbreaking professors.

If the BBC was fair towards Israel, it would have praised the recent joint study by Israeli and Palestinian Arab researchers into the risk factors for B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  After all, it reported in 1999 that King Hussain of Jordan had died of the very same cancer. It should also have heralded Dr. Sarit Larisch of Haifa University who discovered ARTS (a protein that regulates normal cell death but is significantly absent in tumors) and the Israeli biotech ARTSaVIT that is developing a treatment based on her research.  And how could the Beeb have ignored another Israeli biotech, Medial EarlySign, which has developed an early-warning system to expose patients suffering from colon cancer, upper GI cancer, lung cancer, and epilepsy?

I was literally shaking with anger when a recent BBC radio broadcast didn’t even mention that the Exablate Neuro ultrasound machine for treating tremor is made by Israel’s Insightec.  The Beeb then buried the fact deep down in their report on their website.  And not a murmur that, several weeks later, Israeli doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center used Insightec’s MRI-guided ultrasound to cure a 60-year-old Palestinian Arab from Bethlehem from severe essential tremor.  Then, when paraplegic Claire Lomas completed the UK’s 13.1 mile Great North run in a ReWalk exoskeleton, the BBC and many others failed to inform anyone that ReWalk is Israeli.

I’ll now shed light on some other recent “revealing” Israeli medical breakthroughs. Surgeons at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital can now detect and correct abnormalities in the fetus from eight weeks after conception.  Irregular heartbeats, anemia, twins sharing placentas, congenital hernias, damaged spinal cords – Israeli doctors are saving lives before they have even begun.

It can be extremely difficult to identify compression fractures of the spine, but upload your X-ray to Israel’s Zebra Medical Vision and its new diagnostic algorithm can find it or assess your risk of getting one.  Meanwhile, Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have discovered that dyslexics have a shorter implicit memory than non-dyslexics. On hearing a sound repeated sometime later, dyslexics failed to recognize it.  The findings pave the way to early diagnosis and intervention.  And for those people who cannot communicate, Israel’s Medasense has developed a monitor to reveal how much pain they are suffering, allowing doctors to administer the appropriate relief.

To those for whom everything is concealed, due to Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) there is light at the end of the tunnel. Firstly, the US FDA has now approved the Israeli-developed Implantable Miniature Telescope from VisionCare. Secondly, two Israeli companies, Inomize and Nano-Retina have teamed up to build the tiny Bio-Retina, which should be revealed to the medical marketplace in 2019.

Finally, Israel may not always see eye-to-eye with its neighbors in the Middle East, but there is no disguising who can provide the best medical treatment.  In the latest example, top Israeli eye surgeon Dr Ygal Rotenstreich of Sheba Medical Centre flew to the UK in a last-ditch attempt to save the sight of an Iraqi father-of-seven. Turkish doctors had revealed to him that Israel is at the cutting-edge of optical medicine.

On Purim we are commanded to be joyous and drink ad d’lo yadah – until “one cannot tell the difference between the words ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.’”  HAPPY PURIM – “Ad d’Lo Yada” – Until one no longer knows!