This Weeks Sanity Report From Israel Mar 12 2017
The highlights include:
- An Israeli shielding device protects surgeons from X-rays.
- The Israeli Government is funding pre-paid credit cards for needy families.
- SodaStream is promoting Israel and co-existence on its packaging.
- An Israeli-built hi-speed network will stretch from London to Moscow.
- Israeli-developed Facebook lite has 200 million users.
- Jan/Feb tourist traffic to Israel is 25% higher than last year.
- Israel won all its World Baseball Classic group stage games.
- The Christian Friends of Israel interviewed your VeryGoodNewsIsrael editor.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Patient hypnotized to overcome fear of MRI. The MRI-focused ultrasound brain treatment from Israel’s Insightec is used at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center to cure patients of tremors. One of the patients was afraid of being enclosed in the MRI machine. He underwent hypnosis therapy, had the treatment and now he’s cured!
More good news for Parkinson’s treatment. Israel’s NeuroDerm has released positive preliminary results for the final Phase II trial of its ND0612H treatment on 38 patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. NeuroDerm will now proceed with Phase III trials on 240 patients prior to requesting CE (European) Certification.
Two awards for NovellusDx. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s NovellusDx (see Jun 2016) has received a $900,000 BIRD Foundation award to identify and design personalized cancer therapies for the Delaware-based Gene Editing Institute. NovellusDx also won 1st prize in the international Quality Innovation Award competition.
Protecting surgeons from radiation. Israel’s RadiAction has developed an innovative shielding device to protect surgeons from radiation. Its technology will help increase in the number of image guided procedures performed annually. RadiAction has just raised $5.7 million of funding.
New treatment for ALS. Israel’s NeuroSense Therapeutics is developing a treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. It is based on a discovery by Weizmann Institute Professor Eran Hornstein of a micro-RNA molecule lacking in the muscles of ALS patients.
Israeli roots of leukemia treatment. I reported previously (Sep 26) that Israel’s Teva had launched a generic version of the cancer treatment Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). What I didn’t realize that Gleevec itself had Israeli origins, being based on work by Weizmann researcher Eli Canaani. In 2003 Gleevec saved the life of Jewish hockey player and leukemia sufferer Sam Field. http://www.jta.org/2017/03/08/arts-entertainment/miracle-drug-with-israeli-roots-saves-jewish-hockey-player-hit-with-cancer
Human airbags protect elderly from falls. (TY Hazel) Every year nearly 3 million seniors suffer life-changing hip fractures from falls. Israel’s Hip-Hope is a smart waist-belt that senses an impending collision with a ground surface and deploys two large airbags instantly from each side of the belt to cushion the hips.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
National initiative for food security. (TY Russell) I reported previously (Apr 24) the Colel Chabad prepaid credit card for needy Israeli families to use to buy food with dignity. Now, the Israeli Government is adopting the scheme and awarding NIS 500 per month to 10,800 families via the prepaid card.
Israeli tech to tackle disability. The video “Tackling disability” is by Medill School of Journalism student Iacopo Luzi and The Times of Israel. It features the founders of assistive technology startups, Sesame, Listenapp and UpNRide, showing how their products can potentially help thousands of people.
Helping special needs kids celebrate. 600 youth volunteers for Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency service entertained 70 special needs children on Tu Bishvat – the Jewish New Year for trees. The program takes place annually in cooperation with the Jewish National Fund.
First Israeli-Arab trainee IAF pilot. (TY IsraelSeen) In a first-ever for the Holy Land, an Israeli Christian Arab has become an Israeli Air Force (IAF) cadet. Israeli Arabs can volunteer for the IDF and the new trainee pilot has just passed the required rigorous medical, physical and mental abilities tests.
Arab leaders support National Service. Israeli-Arab MKs have for the first time agreed to support a new civil national service program for Arab students leaving high school. The program is similar to that performed by many Jewish and Druze women who are able to work in hospitals or schools instead of serving in the IDF.
SodaStream’s inclusive packaging. SodaStream is a proud Israeli company, and keeps its Israeli identity at a high profile. Its new packaging will include a picture of the Israeli flag, accompanied by the caption: “This product is made by Arabs and Jews working side by side in peace and harmony.”
Canadian special needs trip to Israel. A group of 10 Canadian adults with special needs went on a 10-day “Inclusion Journey to Israel” trip. It featured not just the usual tourist sites, but also Access Israel’s Motek Shel Teatron inclusion theater group, the Knesset Disability Rights Caucus and even an archaeological dig.
Israelis in Ghana. A delegation of African American journalists saw how Israeli development aid is helping Ghana. In Winneba post-army Israelis teach children literacy and life skills; in Kumasi its early childhood learning by playing; in Accra they see the cutting-edge Israeli-built 675-bed Ghana University Medical Center.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Eilat is now a 4.5G city. Israel’s Hot Mobile and Partner have completed deployment of their technology to make Eilat the first Israeli city to have a 4.5G LTE Advance cellular network. Customers can now obtain speeds around 100 Mbps.
50% electricity from solar at Ramon Airbase. (TY Atid-EDI) The IDF is soon to inaugurate its largest solar project yet when it begins running a solar farm, built by Israel’s Enlight Renewable Energy, at its Ramon Airbase. The 16,000 solar panels will produce 5 MW – half of the base’s electricity.
A network from London to Moscow. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s PacketLight Networks is partnering with Russia’s Avelacom to build out their high-speed network from London to Moscow with PacketLight’s optical transport solutions. The 1100 km long-haul network will provide speeds of 100G.
The next generation of cyber experts. Israel is teaching its children the basic building blocks of the web. Sagy Bar of the Rashi Foundation, a philanthropic group running Israel’s new cyber education center said “first grade they learn the letters, then how to read and how to write. We are building the next level of knowledge – how to code”. http://www.timesofisrael.com/in-israel-teaching-kids-cyber-skills-is-a-national-mission/
Cybersecurity training for Japan. Cyberbit – the cybersecurity subsidiary of Israel’s Elbit – is to launch a unique cybersecurity training and simulation center in Tokyo. The Israeli system will contribute to Japan’s cyber readiness for the 2020 Olympic Games and beyond.
On the salad trail. Uri Alon is the founder and owner of the Salad Trail – the educational food farm at Moshav Talmei Yosef. He teaches about some of the amazing vegetables, fruit and herbs that Israel has developed. Purple carrots, flying strawberries, edible flowers and, of course, cherry tomatoes – all growing in the Israeli “desert”. Please also listen to the interview.
Facebook Lite has 200 million active users. Facebook says its Israeli-developed Facebook Lite app for low-end phones serves more than 200 million monthly active users globally – double that of last year. The app supports 55 languages and is popular in countries such as Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and the Philippines.
The world’s thinnest charger. Israeli start-up Kado has raised $1.2 million to complete development of what it says is the world’s thinnest wall charger that fits in your wallet. Kado has two chargers: one for smartphones and tablets and one for laptops. The founders sold their previous disposable charger mobeego (reported here) for $6 million.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Economy grew by 4% last year. Israel’s economy grew 4% in 2016, up from 2.5% in 2015. Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics published revised figures, showing GDP growth in the fourth quarter was 6.5%.
Currency reserves continue to rise. Israel’s foreign exchange reserves at the end of Feb stood at $102 billion – an increase of $420 million from their level at the end of Jan, and another all-time record.
Best-ever February for Incoming Tourism to Israel. Latest statistics show this is the best ever start to the tourism year in Israel. Between January and February 2017, 467,000 tourist entries were recorded, representing a 25% increase on the same period in 2016.
Global Venture Capital slowdown – but not in Israel. (TY Nevet) Venture capital investments in Israel last year bucked the downward trend elsewhere because (a) realistic values of Israeli companies; (b) Israel’s focus on frontier technologies; (c) the growth in Israel of late stage funding rounds; (d) a new influx of Asian capital.
Investment treaty with Japan. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed a bilateral investment treaty, in another move to strengthen diplomatic and trade ties between the two nations.
Eilat to double in size. The Israeli city of Eilat is to expand massively with the construction of 7,000 hotel rooms, 18,000 new homes, industrial zones, an international sports center, municipal parks, and a waste facility.
Flights to New Delhi. I reported previously (Nov 13) that Air India was commencing flights between Tel Aviv and Mumbai. They have just announced a new service to New Delhi, commencing in May. Air travel between India and Israel increased by 22.8% in 2016 to 158,000 passengers.
Tel Aviv Uni is a startup start-up. Accounting software giant Sage has ranked Tel Aviv University eighth in the world for training the founders of so-called unicorns – startup firms worth more than $1 billion. Tel Aviv alumni have founded seven such companies, including ForeScout, ironSource and Conduit.
Pension policy selection for Aviva customers. Israeli startup Hibob is developing a computer system for UK insurance giant Aviva, whose market cap is $20 billion. The system allows small and medium-sized businesses to simplify the establishment of a pension plan for their employees.
Life’s too short for a boring office. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Mindspace provides beautiful and inspiring office space for startups in prime locations in Tel Aviv and Germany. Mindspace has just raised $15 million to fund the opening of five new locations and expand within Europe and to the US.
Gluten-free vegan chocolate. Israel’s Carmit Candy Industries launched its new vegan “milk” chocolate snacks, coins and buttons at the Natural Product Expo West, Anaheim USA. The product line is fully dairy-free, gluten-free and has no artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives – addressing most allergy concerns.
Servotronix exits for $170 million. Chinese electronics giant Midea Group has acquired control of Israel’s Servotronix at a company value of $170 million. Servotronix develops automation solutions focused on motion control for robotics, printing, medical equipment, renewable energy etc. Development will continue in Israel.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Photos to make you want to visit Israel. (TY Snapshots) Harper’s Bazaar has published 30 beautiful photos of Israel, taken by travel photographer Sharon Zobali.
A vegetarian from India enjoys Israel. (TY Snapshots) India’s food writer Pankaja Srinivasan gets a taste of many of the varieties of bread available in Israel – and the diverse cultures that make them.
Watch the starlings. More beautiful evening displays (“murmurations“) in Southern Israel by thousands of starlings, as they enjoy spending their winter in the Holy Land. http://www.jpost.com/Business-and-Innovation/Environment/Migrating-starlings-swoop-over-southern-Israel-482816
Gold for junior fencer. Israeli fencer Vera Kanevski won a gold medal in the women’s epee competition at the European Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The 17-year-old overcame two opponents from fencing powerhouse Italy before defeating Ukraine’s Inna Brovko 15-13 in the final.
Team Israel wins World Baseball openers. Underdogs Israel beat hosts Korea 2-1 in the tenth innings of the first match of the World Baseball Classic. They then went on to beat Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) 15-7 in their next match and the Netherlands 4-2 to reach the quarterfinals, top of their group. They then beat Cuba 4-1 in their first match of the second-round stage.
THE JEWISH STATE
1900-year-old Roman road discovered. Israeli archaeologists and student volunteers have unearthed a 2nd-century road near Beit Shemesh that connected the Roman settlement at Beit Natif with Jerusalem. Coins were also found including from the Great Jewish Revolt in 67 CE and others from 29 CE and 41 CE.
Fixing a mezuzah to a biotech. Only in Israel – Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh fixed a new mezuzah at the new Jerusalem offices of Israeli biotech NovellusDx. He also spoke about how vital it was to heal the sick.
It’s Purim. (TY Jacques) Whether it’s a gang of small girls dressed like superheroes or a crew of grown men dressed as fairies, it’s a clear sign that Purim is here, and the entire country is celebrating.
Proclaiming the Good News. The Founder and Editor of this newsletter was interviewed by Kevin Howard of the Christian Friends of Israel. The program was broadcast on 200 radio stations in the USA alone. You can listen to it here – Click on the following link and then press [page down] to see the line “Proclaiming the Good News” and then click on the green arrow. http://cfijerusalem.org/web/video/frontpage-jerusalem-radio