This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel May 14 2017
The highlights include:
- Israeli scientists discover protein that protects against Alzheimer’s disease.
- An Israeli surgeon saved an Iraqi boy with a heart valve made from a cow.
- The daughter of Filipino workers joined the IDF in gratitude to Israel.
- Israeli-designed hi-tech electric trucks are being built in the UK.
- April was a record month for tourists and air passengers to Israel.
- The Justin Bieber concert was successful in more ways than one.
- UK’s Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi pray together at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Protein protects brain against DNA damage. (TY Eli) Scientists at Israel’s Ben Gurion University have discovered that the protein SIRT6 is key to repairing DNA damage that causes neurodegenerative brain diseases. SIRT6 was almost completely absent in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
New understanding about Parkinson’s. Researchers from Israel’s Technion and Harvard have a new theory on how Parkinson’s disease develops. The responsible toxic protein alpha-synuclein doesn’t spread like an infection but accumulates throughout the body. It could change the way the neurological disease is treated.
Removing lung tumors using AR. Israel’s Body Vision Medical has integrated CT scans with X-rays to help surgeons remove small, early-stage lung-cancer tumors. Pre-surgery 3D CT images are overlaid with 2D X-ray images during the operation to produce high-resolution Augmented Reality maps of the tumors in real-time.
Easier removal of colon polyps. Israel’s Tandem Technologies has developed Tandem Snare – a device for precise removal and retrieval of polyps in the colon. Tandem’s CEO Noam Hassidov described the device on ILTV.
Safe stitches. I reported previously (Jan 29) about Israel’s Gordian Surgical and its safe suturing (stitching) system to assist minimally-invasive surgery. Gordian’s Doni Mayerfield was interviewed recently on ILTV.
Another cure for pelvic prolapse. Israel’s Escala Medical has developed what it describes as “the only non-surgical, incision-free 20-minute solution for patients suffering pelvic prolapse.” It is targeting FDA approval by the end of 2017. (I reported on a similar solution previously.)
Cartilage regeneration aims for FDA approval. Israeli bone regeneration biotech CartiHeal has raised $18.3 million to fund a trial that will help it achieve US FDA approval for its cartilage regeneration technology. CartiHeal already has CE (European) marketing approval.
Cancer biotech launches on NASDAQ. Israel’s UroGen has three treatments for the treatment of cancers of the urinary system (bladder and kidneys). It has just raised $58.2 million on NASDAQ. UroGen’s MitoGel treatment for Upper Tract Urothelial Carcinoma has received Orphan status from the US FDA.
UK medical magazine publicizes Israeli achievements. Newsletter readers may remember (Oct 2014) when UK Lancet editor Professor Richard Horton visited Rambam hospital after writing an anti-Israel article. In his latest publication, Horton has made a complete turnaround, publishing 15 positive Israeli medical articles.
Israel’s first “green” hospital. (TY Eli) Jerusalem’s Herzog Medical Center, Israel’s foremost center for geriatric, respiratory, mental health and psycho-trauma treatment, is opening Israel’s first environmentally-friendly pavilion. The 270-bed 8-floor facility includes a 200-bed underground emergency hospital.
Personalized cancer treatment. Israel’s GeneSort detects specific genetic mutations linked to various types of cancer. Oncologists can then adapt treatments to the patient’s specific genetic mutations, dramatically improving outcomes. GeneSort has just been acquired by Hong Kong investment fund AID Partners for $23 million.
Iraqi boy gets bovine heart valve. Israeli surgeon Sagi Assa from Save A Child’s Heart worked together with his former mentor Dr Stephan Schubert from Germany to implant an artificial heart valve into 11-year-old Iraqi-Kurdish boy Marwan Ghazi Ali. The valve was made from the jugular vein of an Australian cow.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
A home for the homeless. (TY Nevet) A rare positive CNN report. Israeli Mariuma Ben Yosef ran away from home at 14 and lived on the streets. She got her life back on track and set up the Shanti House, in Tel Aviv and the Negev, which has since provided over 46,000 young people with temporary housing and long-term support.
A consumer club for disabled. “Adif,” a special consumer and social club for people in Israel with recognized disabilities, has been launched. It offers monetary and consumer benefits and covers 50 disabled people’s organizations. Adif undertakes to return 50% of its profits through projects benefiting its members.
Israel saved my grandmother. Staff. Sgt. Joana Chris Arpon isn’t Israeli, or even Jewish. She is the daughter of Filipino parents who came to Israel to find work. She enlisted in the IDF because an Israeli army team rescued her grandmother in the aftermath of the 2013 typhoon that devastated the Philippines.
Israel-Arab diplomat gives a tour of Jaffa. George Deek, is the highest-ranking Arab statesman in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His Christian primary school had mostly Muslim pupils and at Jewish high school he was the only Arab in his class. Now he lives between 3 Jaffa mosques and quotes Rabbi Soloveitchik.
Indian navy ships arrive in Haifa. Three ships of the Indian Navy docked in Israel’s Haifa Port on a three-day visit to mark 25 years of India-Israel ties. The Indian ships also took part in a joint drill with the Israel Navy. It is the 8th visit of Indian ships to an Israeli port since 2000. Also. an article on those ever-closer ties.
Harnessing the sun for Africa. (TY Avi) Video showing the work of Israeli NGO Innovation: Africa. It is using solar power to provide electricity for Africans to pump water, power medical centers and illuminate homes so that children can read when it gets dark outside.
Exporting the Kibbutz model to Africa. (TY Eli) Israeli architectural and engineering company AlefBet Planners is exporting the Israeli kibbutz model all over the world. These include 12 kibbutz-style villages in Angola and three in Nigeria. The kibbutzim help develop the region and create hundreds of jobs.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israeli tech powers UK electric truck. (TY NoCamels) Asher Bennett – brother of Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennet – has founded Tevva Motors in the UK. The company is building emission-free delivery trucks based on Israeli submarine technology. Tevva has received orders from UPS, DHL and Kuehne+Nagel.
The age of digital farming. Israel’s Taranis has developed a precision agriculture intelligence platform to allow farmers to predict and prevent detrimental threats to their crops. Its systems manage millions of acres of farmland in Argentina, Brazil, Israel, Russia and the United States.
Israeli kids excel at International technology contest. (TY Karen) 15,000 students from 33 countries took part in the FIRST STEM Championships in Houston, Texas. Of the 23 Israeli teams, category wins and awards went to Arad, Emek Hefer, Binyamina (2), Holon (2), Dimona, Misgav, Kfar Yona, Tel Sheva and Herzliya,
Saving money for millions of electricity customers. Dr. Noa Ruschin-Rimin founded Israeli startup Grid4C, which uses Artificial Intelligence to detect problems at both electricity producers and their home customers. Texas’s electric company Direct Energy uses Grid4C’s products for 1.5 million of its customers.
Growing vegetables in water. I featured previously (July 2014) Israel’s LivingGreen which markets “The Living Box” system for anyone to produce up to 30 different organic vegetables using only water (hydroponics) and solar energy. No soil or fertilizer. In this new video, CEO Nitzan Solan describes the system.
Controlling hi-tech production. Israel’s Nova Measuring Instrument makes metrology systems to enable semiconductor, integrated circuit and optical CD manufacturers to develop reliable products.
Innovation award for wearable blanket. A wearable blanket now available on El Al flights has won an innovation award at the TravelPlus Amenities competition in Hamburg, Germany. The blanket was designed Idan Noyberg and Gal Bulka of Israel’s LyLy Design Studio.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Currency reserves soar by nearly $2 billion. Israel’s foreign exchange reserves rose by another $1.97 billion during April, to reach a record $105.14 billion (33% of GDP). It includes $250 million added into the fund set-up to reduce some of the adverse effects of natural gas production on the exchange rate.
All-time-record for air passengers. April 2017 was a record month for Ben Gurion Airport with 1.74 million passengers – a massive 26% more than in April 2016. Over 5 million passengers have passed through the airport in the first four months of 2017 – an increase of 20% over the same period in 2016. Another all-time-record of 349,000 foreign citizens visited Israel in April – 38% more than in 2016.
Direct flights Tel Aviv to Miami. El Al is launching a new non-stop service, three times a week between Miami International airport and Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport starting in November.
More Eilat routes for Ryanair. Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair is adding Bremen and Dusseldorf to its 14 winter routes into Ovda airport, near Eilat. Ryanair has already announced 7 new routes to Tel Aviv.
Largest-ever business delegation to Israel. Quebec Province Premier Philippe Couillard is leading a delegation to Israel of 80 Canadian businesspeople from the aviation, transportation, IT, and medical industries. It is reported to be the largest-ever business delegation to visit Israel.
Program brings US business execs to Israel. (TY Eli) The US and Israel-America Chambers of Commerce have set-up a new program called Business Israel. It will bring executives from all 50 US states to Israel, to expand US markets and collaborate with Israeli companies in water, agriculture, cybersecurity and health.
Smart manufacturing roadshow in Southern China. Eight Israeli companies providing advanced solutions for the manufacturing industry held a roadshow in Taipei, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The delegation comprised ATE, Colibri Spindles, Elbit, Elmo, Frisimos, K&S, LeaderMES and Precognize.
Invest in BDS-banned companies and make money. (TY Bennett) The share prices of eight of the nine publicly-quoted companies on the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) list have done very nicely over the past year. And SodaStream’s share price jumped nearly 300%.
New startup center in Hefer valley. A new entrepreneurship center named Yarok will open on the Ruppin Technology College Campus in the Hefer Valley (Emek Hefer between Netanya and Hadera). One of the founders is Ruppin chairman Eli Barak. Yarok will have an initial investment of NIS 5 million.
Doubling the size of Acre / Akko. Israel is to double the size of the Northern city of Akko (Acre) by building 17,000 new housing units, hundreds of classrooms, plus daycare centers, synagogues, libraries and sports centers. The NIS 3 billion project will attract young families, revitalizing the city and the entire western Galilee.
Cheaper coffee for polite customers. Customers of Israeli coffee chain Café Café who say “please” and “thank you” when they order an ordinary sized cup of coffee will pay NIS 6, instead of NIS 8. Cafe Cafe owner Ronen Nimni says he wants “to encourage more respectful conversation in Israel society.”
Medtronic to open two Israeli R&D centers. US medical device giant Medtronic is to open new Research & Development centers in Jerusalem and Yokneam. Medtronic already has a major presence in Israel with 750 employees following acquisitions Given Imaging, superDimension, Oridion Systems and PolyTouch.
Water companies merge. Israeli wastewater treatment company Emefcy (eight previous articles) is to merge with RWL Water, which is controlled by World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder. The new company, renamed Fluency, will accelerate Emefcy’s operations in China and other key markets.
Yokee Music goes for a song. Israel’s Yokee Music has been bought by Canada’s Stingray Digital for an estimated $30 – $40 million. Yokee’s social music apps Yokee, Yokee Guitar and Yokee Piano are ranked in the music category’s top ten in 100 countries, with over 80 million downloads and 4 million monthly users.
More multi-million exits. April takeover news includes Dutch game developer GamePoint buying Israel’s Luck Genome for £12.5 million; Israel’s WalkMe acquiring Israeli analytics startup Jaco; US-based Magento buying Israel’s Shopial and U.S. ticket marketer SeatGeek taking over Israel’s TopTix for $56 million.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Justin Bieber delivers in Tel Aviv. King of Pop Justin Bieber enthralled 50,000 fans at Park Hayarkon in Tel Aviv. The 90-minute performance included 25 songs, accompanied by lasers, fireworks and acrobats. His first song also helped a pregnant fan (three-weeks overdue) go into labor and later give birth to a healthy baby girl.
Other May events. Upcoming concerts this month include Aerosmith, Paul Young and Jose Gonzales.
Eurovision contestants visit Israel. Eurovision artists from 28 different countries visited Israel to perform their original songs live for Israeli fans as a part of Israel Calling 2017. The participants also toured Jerusalem’s must-see cultural and religious sites. See other links to Israel’s entry “I Feel Alive” with Imri Ziv.
Israel’s beautiful beaches. With the start of the swimming season, Israel has life guards supervising 144 beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), the Dead Sea and the Red Sea. This article describes some of them.
Dowitcher makes a rare stop in Israel. International birdwatchers in Eilat were delighted to spot a long-billed dowitcher in the salt ponds off Israel’s southern coast. Last seen in Israel in 1984, the dowitcher normally migrates to South and Central America but probably took a wrong turn and headed for Africa instead.
Israelis are world wheelchair tennis runners-up. Israel narrowly lost 2-1 to Great Britain in the finals of the wheelchair tennis World Team Cup in Sardinia. Israel had won four world championships previously.
THE JEWISH STATE
Israeli Arabs are more positive than Jews. (TY Ron M) A poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index found 66% of Israeli Arabs are satisfied with life in Israel, whilst only 43.9% of Jewish-Israelis were satisfied. They need to start reading my newsletters!
Happy Independence Day.
From Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
From Israel’s Technion Institute
UK religious leaders pray at Western Wall. (TY Eli) The UK’s Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was joined by UK Chief Rabbi Ephaim Mirvis for prayers at the Western Wall. Mirvis described “a unique moment in history,” as the two religious leaders toured the Old City of Jerusalem and visited Yad Vashem.
Bible quiz winner is from secular school. On Israel’s Independence Day, 15-year-old Sagiv Lugasi, from the ORT Sci-Tech high school in Maalot, won Israel’s annual contest – the first secular contestant to win since the 1980s. The Bible in Israel is a shared national document. Each soldier gets a copy upon joining the army.
Jacob sheep are doing well. I reported previously (Jan 15) about the return to Israel of the Biblical breed that Jewish patriarch Jacob originally reared when he worked for his uncle Laban. Here is a recent video showing the sheep thriving in their new / old homeland.
What Israel children say about their country. (TY Avi) Israel’s future is bright with children such as these.
240 Ukrainians arrive on Freedom flight. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) has brought another 240 new immigrants (62 families) from Ukraine to Israel. The IFCJ provides the air fare plus financial assistance, in addition to that provided by the Israeli Government to all new immigrants.
Israel’s first interactive hiking path. Israel is constructing the “Sanhedrin Trail” – its first “smart” hiking trail – between Tiberias and Beit Sheʽarim National Park in the Lower Galilee. It will feature an augmented reality-based smartphone app that will reconstruct heritage sites and bring to life historical biblical scholars.