View of beauty of nature from Rosh Hanikra in the north. (Photo: Wikipedia)
Northern Israel

michael ordman

Supporting Israel is only natural, given the 64-year-old state’s remarkable global contributions in so many areas. This column focuses on natural remedies.

I’m told that sometimes I write about Israeli hi-tech devices and innovations so complex that they are “over the heads” of some of my readers. This week, however, I’ve come down to earth, so to speak, to highlight some of Israel’s natural remedies and activities that benefit humanity by making best use of the natural environment.

Sufferers of some chronic conditions could receive some relief from recent Israeli discoveries.  Asthmatics should check their Vitamin D levels, as those deficient in the vitamin are 25 percent more likely to have an asthmatic attack than those with normal levels.  Israeli researchers have found that diabetics could benefit from drinking whey protein half-an-hour before breakfast to prevent blood sugar spikes and better manage the disease.  Meanwhile, scientists at Israel’s GlassesOff have developed a series of exercises for improving near vision sharpness, by enhancing the image processing function in the visual cortex of the brain.  After 2-3 months of training you should be able to send your old reading glasses for recycling.

Israeli agro-technology is working with nature to help feed a hungry world.  Farmers at Ein Yahav have cut pesticide use by 80% thanks to the natural insect predators supplied by Israel’s “Beauty of Vegetables”.  In the USA, Israeli agricultural innovation has been adopted in Virginia and California to boost productivity.  In Israel, Salt of the Earth has announced that it is the first Israeli globally-sustainable company – one of only 36 worldwide to pass the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) materiality matters check.

Here’s an intriguing variation of Israel’s kibbutz / moshav concept. The Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation has launched the Mara’i Sheep Breeders Cooperative – the world’s first Arab Bedouin cooperative.  Meanwhile, Israel’s food bank network Leket Israel has tripled its donations and reduced natural wastage by the introduction of its Virtual Food Rescue site. Donors can fill up a digital shopping bag with necessities that are then converted to physical baskets and sent to families in need.  Staying with the food chain, students at Israel’s Technion are developing the “Safie” – a biological system that detects very low concentrations of bacteria, unsafe chemicals, toxins, hormones and allergens in food and water.

Israel is working constantly to reduce the amount of fossil fuel used to produce electricity.   Israel’s largest solar energy field – the Timna Solar Park – has just gone out to tender.  Overseas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Israel’s Innovation: Africa is teaming up with NBA All-Stars to bring solar power to a hospital in Kinshasa.  It will help tens of thousands who currently don’t have access to decent medical care. One technical item – Israeli start-up SolarOr has developed Building-Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) panels that convert Direct Current trapped in a building into AC energy that can be used locally or sold back to the electric company.

Appropriately, Israel is one of the few places in the world where you can study for a “green” MBA.  Haifa University’s new MBA program focuses on the subject of Sustainable Business Management.  However the advantage of Tel Aviv University’s Environmental Masters courses is that you will receive your MA or MSc at a ceremony in the brand new Porter School of Environmental Studies Building.

In comparison to most Middle Eastern countries, Israel protects its wildlife, whether in the air, sea or dry land. Israel has just celebrated “International Bat Night” by conducting lectures and tours about the 33 species of bats that reside in the Land.  Down on Israeli beaches, newborn sea turtles are starting to make their way “home,” to the sea, along pathways cleared by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.  And for the first time in 20 years, Ramat Gan Safari has seen the birth of a female baby white rhino.  Once thought to be extinct, the baby rhino will now stay in Israel to hopefully become a mother to more baby rhinos.

Looking after the environment also includes helping it recover from disasters, whether natural or man-made.  Workers from the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid (IsraAid), spent two weeks helping clean up after the destruction from the single biggest wildfire in the US State of Washington’s history.  Cleaning up the planet also includes space debris.  Israeli start-up Effective Space Solutions (ESS) is developing a micro-satellite “tugboat” to maneuver communications satellites that fail to get into their correct orbit.  It will also be able to take satellites into a safe “graveyard” orbit at the end of their life.

Finally, Israeli farmers may be making the desert bloom, but every 7 years is called a “Shmita” year, when the Land of Israel needs to rest.  So for orthodox farmers like Shoshana and Yoni Rappeport the period prior to the upcoming Jewish New Year is a very busy time at their Argan tree plantation.

Israel’s supporters can look forward to a better environment for everyone; or as the Fountainheads sang at the recent “Salute to Olim” Festival in Jerusalem – “Yom Yavo” (a day will come).

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.

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