This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel Sept. 3 2017
The highlights include:
- Israeli doctors used a minimally-invasive Israeli implant to treat congestive heart failure.
- An innovative Israeli laser can treat glaucoma in one second.
- The first-ever blind person to be accepted to serve in the IDF.
- Israeli aid teams arrive in Texas to help residents of Houston, Austin and Dallas.
- Israel’s first environmental satellite is now in orbit.
- 15,000 Indian farmers will have a harvest, thanks to Israeli drip-irrigation.
- Israeli unemployment drops to a record low of 4.1%.
- An Israeli is the new World Blind 10-pin-bowling Champion.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Patient receives new implant to treat diastolic heart failure. A 72-year-old Canadian at Israel’s Rambam Medical Center is the first congestive heart failure patient to receive a new CoRolla implant from Israeli biotech CorAssist. The device was implanted by catheter and the patient has improved sufficiently to be discharged.
Rabies treatment approved. Israeli biotech Kamada has received FDA approval for its anti-rabies vaccination in the US. US company Kedrion will be responsible for distributing the new product. Kamada is already marketing the anti-rabies vaccine in various countries.
Seeing the signs of Alzheimer’s. I reported recently (30th July) about the research at Sheba Medical Center into the link between Alzheimer’s disease and loss of retina function. Israel’s RetiSpec is already working towards building an ocular scanner for the spectral signature of neuropathological changes due to the disease.
Curing glaucoma in the blink of an eye. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Belkin Laser has developed an innovative laser ray system that can treat glaucoma in just one second every year, instead of daily eye drops. There is no need for direct contact of the equipment with the eye. Belkin recently raised $5 million of funding.
An app to guide the visually impaired. Israel’s RightHear is an iPhone app that enables the visually impaired to find their way through shopping malls, hospitals, universities – any of the 200 locations (mostly in Israel) where Apple iBeacon transmitters have been installed. It’s also integrated with taxi apps Gett, Uber and Lyft.
The elderly can benefit from baby movements. Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have found that older adults use the same exploration-exploitation mechanism that babies use to successfully grasp objects. And as with babies, making “mistakes” helps improve future task performance.
Doctors save child after massive hemorrhage. There were dramatic scenes at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center when a 7-year-old boy arrived with severe stomach bleeding. They quickly removed a large benign polyp in the boy’s colon – a rare occurrence in one so young. The boy recovered and has now been discharged.
Gaza man cured of Tree-man virus. Doctors at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center cured Mohammed Taluli from Gaza of a rare genetic disorder. Epidermodysplasia verruciformis (tree-man disease) is contagious and cancerous. It causes scaly lesions on the feet and hands that resemble tree bark. (See the astonishing photo.)
Returning the smiles to African children’s faces. Israeli surgeons Omri Emodi and Zach Sharony from Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center have been in Ghana correcting facial deformities (e.g. cleft lips and palates) in local children. The mission was managed by US organization Operation Smile.
After treatment, PA official donates recovery room. A senior Palestinian Arab official has donated tens of thousands of shekels to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center after he himself underwent cancer treatment at the Israeli hospital. The money will fund a room for children, pre-and-post chemo and radiotherapy treatment.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
30% subsidy for new Jerusalem employees. (TY Janglo) Jerusalem’s Kivun Center helps the capital’s Haredim find employment. It is currently offering to pay 30% of the salary for new employees for 30 months.
Backgammon finals – co-existence wins. I reported previously (10th Oct) about a Backgammon tournament held in Jerusalem that brought together Jews and Arabs. The games have become a city-wide Championship involving about 500 Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, supported by both private and municipality funding.
Soccer camp unites Israeli Jews and Arab children. 75 Jewish and Arab six-graders attended a 3-day Soccer for Peace summer camp at the Center for a Shared Society in Givat Haviva,
More special IDF soldiers. (TY WIN) I reported previously (three times) on Israelis with cerebral palsy who applied to and were accepted into the Israel Defense Forces. Here is a 4th “Special in Uniform” – Lotan Aroch, who has just completed her 18 months’ service in the IDF. And Daniel Defur became the first blind Israeli to serve in the IDF.
Israeli debating students compete in Indonesia. StandWithUs sponsored the 2017 Israeli High School Debate Team which recently competed in the 29th annual World Schools Debating Championship in Bali, in (Muslim) Indonesia. The team finished 13th in the world, winning 6 out of 8 initial debates.
Wheelchairs for Vietnamese children. (TY Stuart) Israel’s Embassy in Vietnam is donating 100 innovative wheelchairs especially designed for children with disabilities. The Embassy used the budget for Israeli Independence Day celebrations to buy the lightweight wheelchairs from Israel’s “Wheelchairs of Hope.”
Help for Austin and Dallas. Israeli humanitarian aid organizations IsraAID and iAID have gone to Texas to help residents of Austin and Dallas suffering from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. IsraAID will offer trauma counseling and help clean up debris and salvage belongings from flooded homes, whereas iAID will support the National Guard.
Trauma support for Houston. The Israel Rescue Coalition has just flown a team of the United Hatzalah Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit to Houston, Texas. It is led by Jerusalem therapist Miriam Ballin, a Haredi woman who founded the pioneering psychological first aid unit.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israel’s first environmental satellite circles the world. The first Israeli-developed environmental satellite, VENµS, was successfully launched at the Guiana Space Center’s Kourou site. The joint Israel Space Agency and French space agency CNES project will allow study of global environment, agriculture and water issues.
Fish farm scientist receives innovation award. I reported recently (2nd July) about Hebrew University Professor Berta Levavi-Sivan’s technology that promotes fish growth – as implemented in Uganda. She has co-founded the startup AquiNovo to utilize the technology and was awarded a 2017 Kaye Innovation award.
UN chief sees Israeli innovation. (TY Sharon) During his visit to Israel, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was shown Israeli technological innovation in the fields of water, energy and malaria tests. These included Water-Gen, Aqwise, Innovation: Africa, HomeBiogas and Sight Diagnostics.
National English Studies program launched. Israel’s Ministry of Education has launched a NIS 70 million initiative to increase English proficiency around the country. Its 4-year goal is for 70% of Israeli students to study high and advanced English (currently 61%). It targets improving verbal skills using non-formal methods.
Also, more on the NIS 12 million ($3.4 million) nationwide training program for English teachers.
Agriculture for Angola and Zambia. Tahal Group – a subsidiary of Israel’s Kardan – is to construct three agricultural centers in Angola worth $145 million. They include farms, irrigation, greenhouses, chicken coops and a training center. Tahal is also to build a $176 million agricultural and water project in Zambia.
Israeli drones deliver goods in Reykjavik. I reported previously (Sep 2015) about Israeli startup Flytrex’s claims to be the world’s first delivery drone that operates over the cloud. Now Flytrex has launched in Iceland what it says is the world’s first commercial food delivery route based entirely on unmanned aerial vehicles.
Israeli drip irrigation transformed SW India. (TY Hazel) Karnataka, a state in southwestern India, has transformed 59,305 acres of drought-stricken land in Hunagund into a fertile green pasture, thanks to Israeli drip irrigation. As a result, by October, 15,000 farmers will harvest their first monsoon season crop in years.
The best cybersecurity product for cars. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (20th Nov) on Israel’s Karamba Security which protects cars against hacking attempt to alter its factory settings. Karamba’s CarWall was unanimously awarded 2017 Best Auto Cybersecurity Product/Service by TU-Automotive.
To catch a (data) thief. (TY WIN) Israeli startup ITsMine has developed technology to protect companies against internal and external data theft. CEO Kfir Kimhi explained his product on ILTV News. Hackers trying to encrypt, copy, change or delete data are immediately blocked.
Protecting things in the Internet of Things. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli-managed Armis has launched its unique security platform that lets enterprises eliminate their IoT (Internet of Things) security blind spots. Armis’s team includes Technion graduates and former members of Israeli Cyber Intelligence Unit 8200.
Science on tap. The Weizmann Institute held its annual “Science on Tap” night where about 60 leading scientists and outstanding PhD students gave informal science talks on the same day, same hour – in bars and cafes around Tel Aviv.
Advertise in ice cubes. Israeli startup Icebow seeks to revolutionize chunks of frozen water by branding them with company logos and images. The technology provides a cool, new way for brands to engage with customers, embossing ads and designs at the center of the ice cubes, using only water, with no additives.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
July unemployment rate at 4.1% – a new low. Israel’s unemployment rate fell to 4.1% in July, down from 4.3% in June. Participation in the labor force for the 25-64 age group rose from 79.8% in June to 80.1% in July.
OECD praises Israel’s growing economy & low unemployment. (TY Atid-EDI) The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a new laudatory report on the Israeli economy. Low unemployment and 2017/8 growth of 3.25% was good and would increase with Finance Ministry budget plans.
US-Israel energy R&D budget triples. The Israeli and US governments are jointly to invest an additional $8 million in energy research and development, in addition to the $4 million already invested through the BIRD Energy Fund since 2009. New research fields include fuels, smart grid, desalination and energy cybersecurity.
Digital Israel. Israel’s cabinet has approved the latest phase of the “Digital Israel” program being promoted by the Ministry of Social Equality. It aims to narrow social and geographical gaps, reduce the cost of living, promote rights in healthcare and welfare, stimulate growth and improve access to government services.
Israel is a cybersecurity powerhouse. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger writes that Israel has 300 cybersecurity startups, exporting $6.5 billion in 2016. Three are among WSJ’s top 25 tech companies to watch. 2017 Israeli cybersecurity investment and exits are huge. Israel and the US have set up a cybersecurity bilateral group.
Israeli-founded biotech exits for $11.9 billion. US giant Gilead has just bought Kite (a biotech founded by Israel’s Arie Belldegrun) for $11.9 billion. Kite’s CAR-T technology was developed by Weizmann Institute’s Professor Zelig Eshhar. A patient’s own immune system T-cells are genetically engineered to attack tumors.
Mazor Robotics strengthens alliance with Medtronic. Israel’s Mazor Robotics entered into a strategic agreement with US giant Medtronic in 2016. Medtronic is now assuming exclusive worldwide distribution of the Mazor X surgical assurance platform for spine surgery. It is also investing a further $40 million in Mazor.
Racing for cheaper sports goods. 6,000 Israelis attended the opening of a huge Decathlon sporting goods chain branch in Rishon Lezion – its first in Israel. Decathlon’s business model is to provide good value prices, mainly through private brands and own-name sporting goods, rather than through leading well-known brands.
Build your own mobile app in a snap. Israeli startup AppsVillage is the Wix of smartphones, helping small businesses build an app quickly. AppsVillage has already attracted some 1,000 customers in the past three months, mainly in Israel, and is now launching its service in the US.
Diamond tech is priceless (almost). Israeli ecommerce and diamond technology company R2Net has been bought by Signet – the world’s largest diamond jewelry retailer – for $328 million. R2Net’s Segoma Imaging Technologies has developed 360° diamond display, the virtual ring sizer and the ring try-on mobile app.
Skoda opens Israeli tech office. Car maker Skoda is to open an Israeli Digilab office, to search for advanced smart car technologies and investment opportunities that can be included in the brand’s technological systems. Skoda said its Israeli presence will give it direct access to innovative projects, high-tech startups, and IT talents.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
The world’s largest Jewish soul festival. The city of mysticism, Safed (Tzfat) is one of Judaism’s four holy cities. It is also home to the world’s largest festival of klezmer music. This year is the 30th that the city has hosted the festival.
See the Dead Sea differently. (TY Avi) One benefit from the lowering of the level of the Dead Sea is that it has exposed some amazing salt crystal formations.
Cliff Richard to perform in Tel Aviv. British singer, musician, performer, actor and philanthropist Sir Cliff Richard is scheduled to give a concert on October 10 at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena. The day before, he will visit the Freddie Krivine Foundation, which fosters young Arab and Jewish tennis players.
Why did the chicken enter the monkey cage? Niv – a crested macaque monkey at Israel’s Ramat Gan Safari – has adopted a chicken that wandered into his enclosure. Zoo officials say that the unlikely pair are inseparable.
Israeli in FIBA Hall of Fame. Miki Berkovich is the first Israeli player to be inducted into the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Hall of Fame. Berkovich, now aged 63, helped Maccabi Tel Aviv win its first European Championship in 1977 and is widely considered to be the greatest Israeli basketball player ever.
Israeli judoka wins bronze in World Championships. Israeli judoka Tal Flicker earned a bronze medal in the under-66 kilo class at the World Judo Championships in Budapest. He beat Ukraine’s Georgii Zantaraia, who had previously won the gold medal at April’s European Championships.
Israeli blind bowler is World Champion. Shlomi Lazmy, a blind Israeli veteran, won first place in the 2017 International Blind Sports Federation Tenpin Bowling World Championships for the blind in Fukuoka, Japan. 60-year-old Shlomi was blinded in the Golan in 1986. He has been playing the sport for eight years.
THE JEWISH STATE
3 days in Basel. 120 years ago, on 25th Aug 1897, the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland began a Jewish transformation. The sheheheyanu blessing was read, thanking God for bringing the Jews to this time. “We are coming home,” Herzl declared in the Congress. and famously stated later: “At Basel, I founded the Jewish state.”
120 Herzls celebrate in Herzliya. To mark the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress that Theodor Herzl organized, 120 men and women named for him gathered in Herzliya, Israel, to celebrate his legacy.
50 seconds of Jerusalem. (TY Avi) Multicultural, energetic, inspiring. So much is happening in Jerusalem you will be amazed to see it packed in to 50 seconds.https://youtu.be/Jxt3-VIi-W4
How King David conquered Jerusalem. (TY Avi) 3000 years ago, the Israelite King David used Israeli “outside of the box” thinking to penetrate the seemingly impossible defenses of the Jebusite city that would become Jerusalem – the capital of the Jewish State.
Inspiring documentary. “Operation Wedding” a film by Israel’s Anat Zalmanson-Kuznetsov is currently showing in Israel and will shortly tour the USA. The film portrays Anat’s parents and 14 others who were jailed for planning to escape Soviet Russia by plane in 1970. World protests led to the mass Aliya of Soviet Jewry.