This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel Nov 3 2017
The highlights include:
- Israeli scientists have developed a protein switch to fight cancer.
- An Israeli charity is providing motorized wheelchairs for disabled toddlers.
- Israel has sent medical aid to fight plague in Madagascar.
- A documentary on the Space Station is being made using an Israeli super-camera.
- Three of the world’s most innovative universities are Israeli.
- Israel’s Sodastream is turning water into (sparkling) wine.
- China’s most valuable soccer player is an Israeli.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Protein switch helps immune system fight cancer. Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a protein “switch” that activates the immune system to attack cancer cells. They were able to distinguish cancer cells from healthy tissue by their DNA sequences.
Injection melts fat. Israeli startup Raziel Therapeutics has developed an injectable molecule that apparently melts away fat cells. The new synthetic small molecule was discovered by Professor Shmuel Ben-Sasson of Hebrew University almost by accident. Raziel is conducting phase 2a clinical testing on 32 US patients.
GE imaging to use Israeli technology. I reported previously (twice) on the Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform of Israel’s MedyMatch for diagnosing head trauma and strokes from CT-scans. MedyMatch is now partnering with GE Healthcare to integrate its products with the US giant’s imaging solutions.
Prostate device gets European approval. Israeli biotech Butterfly Medical has received the CE Mark for its novel medical device for non-surgical treatment of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH) or enlarged prostate that affects 105 million men globally. The device is inserted in a 10-minute procedure under local anesthetic.
Autism and the smell of fear. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have discovered that people with Autism react differently to certain odors produced by the human body. Experiments using sweat collected from people taking skydiving classes and from those undertaking normal exercise had remarkably different results.
Cancer patients win golf tournament. I reported previously (twice) on the annual fund-raising “Hole in One” golf tournament of Israeli cancer charity Ezer Mizion. For the first time, a team of cancer patients also competed. The team not only won one of the top awards, but the patients benefited from a wonderful day out.
United Hatzalah founder saves a life. Eli Beer, founder and President of United Hatzalah was flying El Al from New York to Israel when he rushed to save the life of a passenger who was having a hypoglycemia attack. Using a borrowed glucometer, honey and jam he stabilized the patient so the flight could continue to Tel Aviv.
Video shows EMT saving choking drummer. The security camera at a wedding venue captured the dramatic events after the band’s drummer began choking food that he’d swallowed. Luckily, one of the guests was United Hatzalah EMT Mordechai Mammon who used the Heimlich maneuver to save the drummer’s life.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
iPads for Jerusalem special needs teachers. (TY Janglo) Jerusalem Municipality and the Athena Fund is providing 463 special education teachers with iPads, along with special programs and applications designed for students with special needs and various handicaps. It will improve teacher-student communication.
Mini-motorized wheelchairs for disabled toddlers. Israeli charity ALEH is providing disabled Jerusalem toddlers with specially designed motorized wheelchairs, allowing them to take control of their own mobility from the age of one. The small but powerful “Wizzybug” chairs support every part of the child’s growing body.
Diversity award for girls’ tech training program. I’ve reported previously (23rd July) about the QueenB tech and confidence mentorship and training program for girls of middle-school age. QueenB will be able to do more teaching with $72,000 it recently won at the WeWork Creator Awards, which took place in Tel Aviv.
Fighting epidemics together. The National Center for Disease Control organized a six-day program on Applied Epidemiology. Thirty professionals in public health, infectious diseases and Epidemiology took part – both Israeli medical and research personnel, plus their counterparts from the Palestinian Authority.
Another Israeli resolution passes at the UN. An Israeli resolution promoting the utilizing of agricultural technology for sustainable development passed the United Nations (UN) Second Committee by a 141 to 1 (Syrian) vote, with 34 (Arab block) abstentions. A record 117 countries co-sponsored the Israeli initiative.
Israel is a strategic asset of the West. Former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Richard Kemp gives historical and current day examples of how vital Israel is to the security of Western nations. He even suggests a new Balfour Declaration that recognizes the strategic value of the Jewish State today.
How does the UN get aid to Syria? Via Israel. The only safe way that the United Nations can send humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria is through Israel. See these UN trucks entering Syria at the Israeli border.
Emergency aid to Madagascar. (TY Algemeiner) The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the South African branch of Magen David Adom have sent medical aid to Madagascar to help combat an outbreak of bubonic / pneumonic plague. The World Health Organization described the outbreak as the worst in 50 years.
Israel to open embassy in Rwanda. (TY Hazel) Israel is opening a new embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. “This is part of the expansion of Israel’s presence in Africa and of the deepening cooperation between Israel and African countries,” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said after meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi.
Israel and NATO to share classified info. Israel and NATO have signed an agreement on the protection of classified information. The agreement will help expand the sharing of intelligence between Israel and NATO.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israeli VR camera films life on space station. International Space Station astronaut Paolo Nespoli is making a National Geographic documentary “One Strange Rock” using a virtual reality (VR) camera developed by Israeli startup Human Eyes. The camera will take 3D, 360-degree shots of life and work aboard the ISS.
A prolific inventor. Assaf Natanzon, Vice President of advanced technology and investment evaluation for Europe, Middle East and Africa at Dell EMC, is the top Israeli on Wikipedia’s list of Prolific Inventors. He has 205 registered patents as at the time of writing (up from 202 in the Israel21c article).
The supermarket in your kitchen. Israel’s Freshub has already developed a voice-activated smart kitchen device that allows you to order groceries, search recipes, setup cooking timers and play music. Freshub has now partnered with China’s TCL to integrate Freshub’s software into TCL’s Xess mini tablet kitchen assistant.
Why didn’t they buy? I’ve previously reported on two Israeli companies that try to reduce the numbers of customers who abandon on-line purchases at the checkout. Now Israeli startup Datacrushers uses algorithms, data and analytics to help Internet vendors correct problems with their site and boost sales by up to 40%.
First marine station launched. Israel’s experimental Deep-Sea Research Station (Deeplev) has now been made permanent. The station is moored in the Mediterranean Sea, 50km west of Haifa. Its team of scientists are from Bar Ilan University and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute.
Navy Iron Dome is now operational. The Israeli Air Force and Navy have announced that the missile defense system Iron Dome had been declared operational for use at sea, following 18 months of testing. The ship-based system will be used to protect marine targets, such as Israel’s natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean.
Three innovative Israeli universities. Israel was the only Middle East country mentioned in Reuters’ annual list of the World’s 100 most innovative universities. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem was 82nd, up 12 spots from last year. Tel Aviv University was ranked at 88 and the Technion Institute of Technology was at 89.
German-Israeli program to boost cybersecurity. The Hessian Israeli Partnership Accelerator for Cybersecurity program will unite teams of cybersecurity experts from Israel and Germany in projects that will “trigger the creation of innovation and businesses in cybersecurity” in the two countries.
Protecting medical devices from cyber-attack. Israel’s Medigate develops a platform that protects medical devices such as patient monitors, MRIs and CAT scanners from cyber-attacks once the devices are connected to a healthcare provider network. Medigate has just raised $5.35 million of funding.
New US-Israel scientific exchange. The first Zuckerman U.S.-Israel symposium was held at Tel Aviv University, promoting academic exchange between the two countries. Zuckerman STEM Scholars presented their research, including 3D color microscopes and echolocation used by bats to find food in the dark.
Innoviz wins CES 2018 Innovation Award. Israel’s Innoviz Technologies has won the CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree recognition in the Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology category for its groundbreaking InnovizPro™ High Definition Solid State LiDAR (Light Imaging, Detection, And Ranging).
Genome sequence of wild lentils. Israel’s NRGene, in partnership with the University of Saskatchewan, has successfully sequenced two wild lentil genomes – the largest legume genomes ever assembled. The research is expected to empower future breeding efforts aimed at enhancing yield and quality of this vital protein source.
Israel launches 1,600 MW rooftops solar project. The Israeli government has privatized electricity production, enabling home consumers, local authorities, and businesses to produce solar electricity. The project aims to produce 1,600 megawatts, helping Israel reach its 2020 target of 10% of its electricity from renewables.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Economic growth continues. Highlights of Ambassador Yoram Ettinger’s latest report include 3rd quarter GDP at 4.1% (Q2 was 2.5%). Record $1.7 billion worth of Israeli companies acquired by foreign investors. $1.4 billion raised by Israeli startups in Q3 (up 14% on Q2).
Brexit is good for UK-Israel trade. Business contacts between the UK and Israel are soaring, stimulated by Brexit issues and the current relative low value of Sterling. Recent activity includes the Innovate Israel 2017 conference in London and the UK Israel Business chamber of commerce’s largest delegation to Israel.
Israeli universities help get better jobs. 3 Israeli universities have climbed up the London Times’ Higher Education ranking of graduate employability. The Technion came top for digital skills and third in corporate links. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv University both improved on their 2016 rankings.
Two Israeli startup accelerators in Beijing. The Israeli Ministry of Economy is working with Chinese venture capital firms DayDayUp and ShengJing360 to launch two accelerators for Israeli startups in Beijing. The Ministry of Economy has already announced the ten startups selected to participate in the program.
Sodastream launches sparkling wine. Israel’s Sodastream has launched ‘Sparkling Gold,’ a fine alcoholic concentrate to be added to sparkling water. The new alcoholic beverage contains 10% alcohol and resembles the taste of a fruity Riesling wine. Sparkling Gold is being piloted in Germany and feedback is very positive.
Amazon to deliver in Israel.? (TY Janglo & ILTV) Amazon.com is in talks to set up its first shipping center in Israel. The world’s largest online retailer will hopefully soon begin operations in Israel, in a move that would lower shipping prices, waiting times, and import fees for Israeli consumers.
Dropbox expands in Israel. US cloud storage company Dropbox is expanding its activity in Israel and moving to new offices at Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Sarona tower. Dropbox aims “to attract the leading talent in Israel and allow our teams to work together seamlessly”. Amazon and Facebook have offices in the same building.
Lloyds Insurance offers Israeli service to customers. London-based insurance market Lloyd’s has signed a deal with Israeli maritime data provider Windward. Windward will provide Lloyd’s member companies with software that forecasts accidents and dangerous conditions like hostilities breaking out in a specific area.
UK Stock Exchange uses Israeli intelligence. The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has partnered with Israel-based startup Zirra.com. Zirra will provide the LSEG’s fundraising program ELITE with company research tools powered by automated signals, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data.
Israeli video ad companies merge. Israeli video marketing platform Innovid today announced it has agreed to acquire Israeli real-time data intelligence company Taykey (see here). Innovid will gain access to Taykey’s big data platform and 14 patents including natural language processing and AI-based machine learning.
Alibaba’s first Israeli acquisition. I reported previously (May 2015) that Israel’s Visualead was helping Chinese online retailing giant Alibaba from trading counterfeit goods. Obviously, Alibaba must have been so impressed, that they bought the company – its first Israeli acquisition.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Tel Aviv Jazz Festival. The Tel Aviv Jazz Festival (Dec 6 – 8) features premiere productions, live shows, free performances and tributes to the great Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Thelonious Monk. The 20 performers from Israel and abroad include Ravi Coltrane, Daniel Jobim, Ester Rada and Dee Alexander.
“Take That” performs in Tel Aviv. (TY CUFI) The band, “Take That” rolled back the years at Tel Aviv’s Menora Mivtachim Arena with the group’s first ever, long-awaited visit to Israel. The 90-minute concert featured 1990’s hits from the band’s current line-up, including Gary Barlow, Howard Donald and Mark Owen.
Jerry Seinfeld returns on Dec 30. (TY Janglo) Legendary comedian Jerry Seinfeld will be returning to Israel on 30th Dec for two shows in Tel Aviv. Seinfeld, who did 4 sold-out gigs in Israel in 2015, will perform at Tel Aviv’s Menorah Mivtachim Arena. El Al Matmid club members can get a NIS 100 discount.
View of Jerusalem’s cable car. (TY Janglo) I reported previously (4th June) that the Israeli Government had approved the plan to build a cable car from Western Jerusalem to the Western Wall. Now here is a video depicting what the new service will look like.
The most valuable player in China. (TY Algemeiner) Israeli soccer star Eran Zahavi was named this year’s most valuable player in the Chinese Super League (CSL). Zahavi has scored 27 goals for Guangzhou R&F, just one short of the league record. His $7 million annual contract ends in 2020.
THE JEWISH STATE
A message from a Muslim Arab. (TY Avi) Mohammad Kabiya is a Bedouin, Muslim Arab. He loves his country. He is prepared to die for it, which is why he served in its army – voluntarily, because his country is free, diverse, vibrant. His country is Israel.
From UAE student to IDF soldier. Michael Bassin now works for Israeli startup FirstImpression.io and has written a book “I Am Not a Spy”. It tells of his time studying in Sharjah United Arab Emirates, also in Cairo, Lebanon and finally in Israel.
Will Smith visits the Western Wall. Actor Will Smith, star of Men In Black and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, was “chillin” by the Western Wall in Jerusalem. He found it to be “a very spiritual, very powerful place” and was “very honored to be here.”
Miss Israel’s kosher diet. (TY Janglo) I wrote previously (23rd July) about Rotem Rabi, Israel’s contestant in this month’s Miss World competition in China. But it isn’t easy, as she keeps kosher. “I’m having difficulty with the food,” she said, “almost nothing here is kosher. I’m living on pineapple and cookies”.
Drones discovers ancient Edomite temple. Drones flying over Israel’s Lachish region have discovered the remains of a 2,200-year-old Idumean (Edomite) palace or temple. Dating from the Hellenistic period, the structure was partly dismantled, probably by the Jewish Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus I around 112 BCE.