This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel July 9 2017
The highlights include:
- Israelis have discovered an entirely new mechanism to defeat cancer.
- An Israeli device is the first to instantly measure dehydration levels.
- Over twice as many women than men work in the Israeli medical industry.
- India’s Prime Minister made an historic and successful visit to Israel.
- Israel has a new research center for the science of quantum mechanics.
- Israel’s Mazor Robots has just sold 16 robot surgery systems.
- Britney Spears’ first Israeli concert was the biggest by a female artist.
- Listen to VeryGoodNewsIsrael interview on the radio.
- New Muslim Tanzanian ambassador to Israel recited Jewish prayer of renewal
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
The protein that kills cancer cells. Professor Varda Shoshan-Barmatz of Israel’s Ben Gurion University has developed many new treatments to kill cancer cells by targeting the protein VDAC1 that controls cell death. A new Israeli biotech, Vidac, is trialing these treatments. VDA-1102 ointment for pre-skin cancer is in Phase 2.
New treatment for Huntington’s disease. Israeli biotech Mitoconix Bio is developing a new treatment for Huntington’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. It works by inhibiting mitochondrial splitting. Mitochondria contribute to important brain functions, including regulation of cell growth.
Early diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Suaad Abd-Elhadi has won a Kaye Innovation Award for a new tool to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. Her lipid ELISA detects the cellular secretion of the protein alpha-Synuclin, present in the pathways that Parkinson’s disease travels along.
Preventing epileptic attacks. (TY Nevet) Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben Gurion University have discovered that high levels of a micro-RNA called miR-211 reduces the brain’s susceptibility to epileptic seizures. Therapeutics that increase miR-211 production can lead to new treatments for epileptics.
Israel can wipe out Hep C. Israel’s Health Basket of treatments for Health funds includes protein and polymerase inhibitors that are effective in curing patients from Hepatitis C. The treatment costs $100,000 per patient, but that cost is reducing. Experts say that the treatment will wipe out the disease within a decade.
The first medics course in sign language. I regularly include (see here) articles to show how important Israel regards sign language for communicating with the deaf and the hearing-impaired. Now United Hatzalah has organized Israel’s first-ever course to teach sign language skills to volunteer United Hatzalah medics.
“Respect” for MDA. The family of Sacha Baron Cohen (alias Ali G) has donated two medicycles, costing £15,000 each, to Israeli emergency service Magen David Adom. Daniella Baron Cohen dedicated them to her late husband Gerald (Sacha’s father). On the back of one of the vehicles is Ali G’s famous slogan “Respect!”.
EMET prize for cancer research. Professor Zelig Eshhar of Israel’s Weizmann Institute and Professor Alexander Levitzki of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University shared the EMET Life Sciences award for their cancer research. Eshhar’s award was for his adaptive immunotherapy treatment; Levitski for his protein kinases inhibitors.
Check you’re not dehydrated. Currently, dehydration can only be formally identified in hospital using blood tests or urinalysis. Now a non-invasive device from Israeli startup sZone can measure your hydrations levels at home or even whilst running. sZone is vital for athletes, the elderly, children, and the chronically ill.
Cured of tremors during Israel visit. Parkinson’s sufferer Yocheved Mintz was part of a group visit to Israel’s Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. One of Rambam’s doctors mentioned the hospital’s cutting-edge work on curing Parkinson’s patients of their tremors. Yocheved asked for the treatment, and now she is cured.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Women lead in Israeli Life Sciences. (TY Jacques) The percentage of Israeli women (70%) working in the field of Life Sciences (medical research, bio-techs, medical device companies) far exceeds that of men (30%). Women are filling roles, not just as employees but as entrepreneurs, investors, head researchers and CEOs.
Women top VC funds. Women have top positions in Israel’s Venture Capital industry. Anat Naschitz is managing partner at Orbimed; Michal Geva, founded Triventures; Anat Segal founded Xenia; Ronit Segev Gal founded TLV Partners; Fiona Darmon is a JVP partner and Merav Rotem Naaman is MD of Verizon Ventures.
Marathon world record for Israeli amputee. (TY Nevet) Israel’s Eitan Hermon set a world record of 2:56.53 hours in the marathon for single-leg amputee runners in Vienna. Hermon is supported by Tikvot, a non-profit, volunteer-based organization which rehabilitates Israeli victims of terror and wounded soldiers through sports.
New ambassadors. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin received new ambassadors from Nepal, Honduras, Brazil and (for the first time) from Tanzania.
London Mayor gets Israel’s help. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan said he has sought advice from Israel about how to better combat urban terrorism such as the Manchester and London Bridge attacks. He said police visit Israel and are in regular touch with their contacts.
Indians experience Israel. Smita, Kandlarp and Roy are from India and are currently studying and working in Israel. They share their Israeli experiences, ahead of the visit of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Taking India-Israel relationship to a new level. (TY IsraPundit) Even before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Israel, he was talking positively about India’s deep ties with Israel. He believes the two nations are soulmates. They share the same a spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation.
India’s PM arrives. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the first visit to Israel by a sitting Indian premier. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Modi at Ben-Gurion Airport, along with the top tier of Israel’s leadership – an honor afforded to only a few select leaders, such as US presidents and popes.
USS George H.W. Bush arrives in Israel. Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush docked in Haifa for a visit intended to enhance US-Israel relations. It is the first visit of a US aircraft carrier to an Israeli port since 2000. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu landed by helicopter on the ship and hailed it as a symbol of freedom.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Top positions in Arab rankings. (TY Nevet) UAE-based Center for World University Rankings, judged Israel’s Technion first in the world in the field of aerospace engineering. It also came 4th for Computer Science – Theory and Methods and 8th for Information Systems. Tel Aviv University also achieved two top 10 places.
A truly great scientist. Professor Jacob Ziv of Israel’s Technion faculty of Electrical Engineering received the 2017 EMET Prize for Exact Sciences. He previously won the 1993 Israel Prize and in the video he receives the 2009 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award. His data-compression work was vital for data communications.
A Quantum leap. Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has opened its new center, the Quantum Entanglement in Science and Technology (QUEST) for research and development of quantum technology. Its applications include secure quantum networks, cryptography, quantum computation and biomedical sensors.
Texas welcomes Israel water industry. The first Israel-Texas Water Conference in Austin, Texas was attended by 200 key players from the Texas water industry and government. It featured five innovative Israeli water companies: Elbit Systems, Amiad Water Systems, BioPetroClean, Master Meter and Netafim.
Gold award for innovative suitcase. (TY Nevet) I reported previously (Nov 2015) about the Israeli-developed G-RO suitcase with its large wheels that roll over any terrain. G-RO has just won a gold medal for innovative luggage at the 2017 International Edison Awards. G-RO has literally re-invented the wheel for world travelers.
Another smart suitcase. (TY Nevet) Israeli startup Samsara’s smart case is made of aluminum and contains a power supply to charge your laptop and smartphone. It also alerts you if it gets separated from you or someone opens it without your permission. Samsara wanted to raise $15,000 on Kickstarter. It raised over $248,000
Ashdod to be lab for smart transport systems. Ashdod, Israel’s sixth-largest city, is setting up a joint venture called “Living Lab” with Mobileye, MIT and Microsoft. Its database will be available to startups, government and academics working to build smart transport systems. Ashdod already has “Reway” – its smart bus program.
EcoMotion 2017. (TY Hazel) The 2017 EcoMotion Conference in Jaffa featured 200 companies, representing Israel’s growing smart vehicle community. Most interest was centered on autonomous cars, the Chinese impact, electric power supply and startups of every kind.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Reserves now at $108.7 billion. Israel’s foreign currency reserves increased by $1.3 billion in June to an all-time-record of $108.706 billion. The natural gas reserve fund increased to $11.39 billion.
UK-Israel Tech Hub model vital to Britain. (TY BICOM) London’s City AM reports that strong digital growth in Tel Aviv is a benefit to the UK, and praises the UK-Israel Tech Hub created in 2011. The article notes that this model is “more important than ever as we leave the EU”.
Virtual currencies to support local businesses. Israeli startup Colu’s digital wallet allows customers to pay local businesses instantly in a virtual currency (e.g. Liverpool local pound) from their smartphone. Starting with Tel Aviv, Haifa, London, Liverpool and Barbados, Colu has instigated a true “peer-to-peer” economy.
IAI is on the acquisition flight path. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has launched a buying program for cybersecurity companies. It has invested millions of dollars in Holland’s Inpedio BV and Hungary’s Cytrox. Esti Peshin, general manager of IAI’s Cyber Division, said IAI is planning further cybersecurity acquisitions.
WSJ features six Israeli startups. (TY Janglo) Of the 25 leading startups selected by “The Wall Street Journal,” in its article “Tech companies to watch,” six – almost one quarter – are Israeli. Furthermore, three of the four cybersecurity companies on the list are Israeli.
Intel spends NIS 5.76 billion in Israel. In 2016 Intel Israel procured NIS 5.76 billion of goods and services, 75% of it from small and medium-sized suppliers. Intel currently has 10,200 employees in Israel. It recycled 270,000 cubic meters of water in 2016 and reduced its production of greenhouse gases by 16,000 tons.
Commercial success for Mazor robot surgeons. (TY Aviram) Israel’s Mazor Robotics has received sixteen purchase orders for its Mazor X system from customers in the U.S. It expects to report record revenues for the second quarter of 2017.
$250 million exit for cybersecurity startup. International cybersecurity giant Symantec is acquiring Israeli cybersecurity company Fireglass for an estimated $250 million. Fireglass was founded only in 2014 and its 40 employees have a cyber solution that eliminates ransomware, malware and phishing threats in real-time.
Israel’s first all-vegan supermarket. Israel’s first 100% vegan supermarket HaGal HaYarok has opened in Tel Aviv’s Shuk HaCarmel. Besides well-known vegan brands, it stocks baked goods of all kinds, plus hard-to-find and exotic ingredients. It also sells its own HaGal HaYarok private label products.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Weizmann’s House is “iconic”. Weizmann House in Rehovot, home of the first president of the State of Israel, has re-opened after extensive restoration and conservation. Due to its unique features, the international organization “Iconic Houses” has added Weizmann House to its ranks – the first Israeli building to be included.
Britney’s record-breaking concert. US pop star Britney Spears gave her first-ever concert in Israel, performing in Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park in temperatures of around 28° Celsius (82.4°F). With 60,000 tickets sold, it was the largest concert ever for a female artist in the history of Israel.
Jerusalem’s giant solar-powered radio. (TY Janglo) To mark Jerusalem’s 50 years of reunification, a three-meter-high solar-powered Panasonic digital radio has been installed on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall. Broadcasting from 10am until 10pm, one of its five channels features recordings from the 1967 six-day war.
Jerusalem Light Festival. (TY Sharon and Janglo) ‘Interactive’ was the theme of this year’s Jerusalem Light Festival. There were 39 installations, some with live musicians. Highlights included the Hurva synagogue, Horizontal Interference, Impulse seesaws and Interactive Shadows where images changed when visitors moved.
Radio Rabbi interviews VeryGoodNewsIsrael. This Newsletter’s editor was interviewed on the Radio Rabbi (Barbara Aiello) program, broadcast in Florida USA on 9th July at 08:30 EST. Please check the link below for the July 9th show later today, during the week or afterwards.
Israeli 3-year-old trick shots. (TY Janglo) Nice video of Israeli 3-year-old Matan Shaulov doing trick shots with a soccer ball. He could be the next Ronaldo, Yossi Benayoun or Eyal Berkovic.
The Maccabiah Games. The Maccabiah is the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition, taking place every four years in Israel. The 2017 Maccabiah is from July 4 – 18 and features about 10,000 athletes from more than 80 countries, plus around 22,000 additional fans.
US Football Hall of Famers in Israel. 18 Pro Football Hall of Famers came to Israel on a weeklong goodwill visit sponsored by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. They attended the dedication of Kraft‘s sports complex in Jerusalem, with a regulation-size football field, and visited the Old City, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea.
THE JEWISH STATE
Revisiting the land of his captivity. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, a former Prisoner of Zion, became the first Israeli to address the Russian parliament. In Hebrew, he told of his imprisonment by the Soviets 33 years ago for teaching Hebrew. In Russian, he praised diplomatic and economic ties between Israel and Russia.
201 Olim arrive on 4th July. (TY Jacob Richman and Janglo) 201 North Americans became citizens of Israel on July 4th when their El Al Boeing 777, chartered by Nefesh B’Nefesh, landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. The 201 passengers on the first Aliya flight of the summer included 34 families and five sets of twins.
Hallelujah – the return to Jerusalem. (TY Janglo) The City of David has launched “Hallelujah” Nighttime Presentation – the story of the Jewish return to rebuild ancient Jerusalem. The thrilling, outdoor cinematic experience features cutting-edge video mapping technology that reveals a story, 3,000 years in the making.
Tanzanian Muslim ambassador says Hebrew prayer. Job Daudi Masima, Tanzania’s first-ever ambassador to Israel, is a Muslim. But he put on a kippah to greet Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with the Shehecheyahu prayer (the blessing said on new occasions) in Hebrew to mark the beginning of closer ties between the two countries.
Indian PM meets little Moshe. India’s Prime Minister Modi met 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, whose Chabad emissary parents were murdered by terrorists in Mumbai in 2009. Moshe declared his wish to visit India and one day direct Chabad’s mission in India. PM Netanyahu said he would take Moshe on his next visit to India.