This weeks Sanity Report from Israel Dec 31 2017
The highlights include:
- An Israeli scientist has boosted the immune system 30-fold to fight cancer.
- A Syrian baby was airlifted from Cyprus to Israel for emergency heart surgery.
- A Haifa woman is Israel’s first Arab Rhodes scholar at Oxford University.
- Israel has set-up the world’s first innovation lab for senior citizen technology.
- An Israeli company is building a wave-energy power plant in Ghana.
- A record year for tourism triggers a billion-dollar upgrade to Ben Gurion airport.
- Two Israeli Paralympic table-tennis players strike gold.
- 4 embassies are moving to Jerusalem.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
A better cancer immunotherapy treatment. I reported previously (many times) of Israeli scientists who are boosting the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Now Weizmann’s Dr Rony Dahan has developed a cancer immunotherapy compound that is 30 times more effective than existing treatments.
AI software helps decide whether to operate. AI (Artificial Intelligence) software developed by Israeli startup MEDecide is being piloted in several Israeli hospitals, to help doctors decide whether to operate on patients. The software analyzes test results, medical history, medication data and discomfort levels.
AI warns of medical emergencies. I reported previously (twice) on Israel’s Intensix and its early-warning analysis of deteriorating Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients. Now renamed Clew Medical, it has just launched its AI (Artificial Intelligence) platform to prevent life threatening complications in all care settings.
Leukemia diagnosis – don’t delay treatment. Without proper treatment, patients can reach a life-threatening condition within days of diagnosis. Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center has instituted a new protocol to fast-track the treatment, usually starting it the next day. Even health fund payment referrals are arranged.
Knesset workers learn CPR. Israel’s Knesset (parliament) held the first ever event of its kind – a basic life-saving skills course for the workers of the nation’s top governmental building. The CPR and life-saving course was organized by the Knesset Worker’s Committee in partnership with United Hatzalah EMS organization.
International training for mass-casualty situations. 29 senior medical professionals from 20 countries recently attended a two-week course at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center on responding to Mass Casualty Situations (MCS).
Man saved twice at Bar Mitzva party. Dr. Koby Assaf, Head of Emergency Medicine at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, was at a Bar Mitzva celebration where he treated a 60-year-old man who had collapsed. MDA paramedics took the man to hospital, but he returned later after feeling better – only to collapse again! This time Dr Assaf went with him to hospital. http://www.hadassah-med.com/about/news/hadassahs-head-of-emergency-medicine-saves-life-at-bar-mitzvah.aspx
Israeli-Arabs have highest life expectancy. Arab Israelis have the highest life expectancy in the Middle East when compared with the populations of 21 Muslim and Arab countries, a new survey on the issue found.
Syrian baby flown to Israel for heart surgery. A baby boy born to Syrian refugees in Cyprus has been flown to Israel. He is due to undergo emergency surgery at Sheba Medical Center to correct a severe congenital heart defect. The flight was arranged by Israel’s ambassador to Cyprus on request from the Cypriot Health Ministry.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
A truly meaningful haircut. Israeli charity Zichron Menachem spares no effort to collect hair offered by donors or salons and turns it into wigs, supporting children who have lost their hair during cancer treatment.
Children’s peace exhibition comes home. For 15 years, New York art educator Maureen Kushner led children at 50 Israeli schools to draw pictures of peace. When completed in 2009, the resulting “Peace through Humor” exhibit went on an 8-year world tour. It now resides at Yemin Orde Youth Village near Haifa.
Israel’s first Arab Rhodes scholar. 23-year-old Lian Najami from Haifa is Israel’s first Arab Rhodes scholar. She is fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, English, German and Spanish. Her message: Arab Israelis, who make up some 20 percent of Israel’s citizenry, can succeed in the Jewish state. She has held herself up as living proof.
United Hatzalah has 300 Muslim volunteers. This article is about Sanaa Mahameed – a religious Muslim woman who volunteers as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for Israel’s United Hatzalah. She is the only woman of the 300 Muslim volunteers in the organization, but she calls on others to come and join her.
The melting pot of Israeli society. (TY Hazel) David Ben Gurion’s description of the IDF is particularly true of the Nahal Brigade. 100 of 450 recent recruits had a special status. Typical of the ethnic mix are Amir Rav’e – a 19-year-old Muslim, Netanel Mengistu – an Ethiopian immigrant and Jesse Amar from Melbourne Australia.
Coding skills course to go global. The UK Israel Tech Hub set-up the Founders and Coders program in Nazareth to teach computer coding skills in 16 weeks to young Arabs and Jews. It is now exporting the model to Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.
Protecting NATO planes. Israel’s Elbit Systems has won a contract to supply direct infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) self-protection systems to NATO for its Airbus A330 tanker fleet. NATO’s Colonel Jan der Kinderen said Elbit’s systems will “greatly add to the safety and operational flexibility of the total fleet”.
Protecting Indian navy. I reported previously (Sep 2014) on the underwater security systems developed by Israel’s DSIT that are protecting European nuclear reactors. Now the Indian Navy has ordered 78 DSIT diver detection sonar devices to protect coastal and offshore sites and vessels from underwater intrusion and sabotage.
A fund to help developing countries that support Israel. According to Hadashot TV news, Israel has established a fund, dubbed “50 on 50,” which will distribute $50 million in government funding among 50 countries that support Israel on the international stage.
Israel goes international on systems analysis. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel has become its newest member of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Israel joins 24 other countries. Representatives from Israeli universities, government ministries, and the public will constitute the Israel Committee for IIASA.
Israel isolated? Think again. (TY Avi) Israel is the “Innovation Nation” and world leaders are recognizing it.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
An innovation lab for senior citizens. (TY Atid-EDI) The Center for Digital Innovation (CDI) is launching in Beersheva what it claims is the world’s first innovation laboratory designed to meet the challenges facing today’s senior citizens. These include prevention of falls, alleviating loneliness and the treatment of pain.
Harnessing nature to make a better world. (TY Myer) Professor Oded Shoseyov of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJ) explains how HUJ research on sequoia trees, cat fleas and tobacco has already led to stronger, more elastic materials and better medical implants and treatments. With endless possibilities.
Monitoring the health of the coral reef. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have “genetically bar-coded”
80% of the 540 species of fish living on Eilat’s coral reef. They can match pictures of the larvae to their DNA sequence. This information will help monitor the health of the reef ecosystem.
Work together – wherever you are. (TY Calcalist) Israel’s XTRMX develops software tools that allow multiple people to edit and review the same video over the Internet simultaneously. It’s as if you are sitting in the same room with the editor. XTRMX is to be offered by Avid Technology, Inc. through their online store.
Voice-activated headphones. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Rubidium has integrated its voice trigger into the 66 Audio® PRO Voice wireless headphones, to produce the world’s first voice-triggered Bluetooth headphones with built-in Amazon Alexa. Users say “Alexa” to start interacting with Amazon’s cloud-based voice service.
Speeding up cybersecurity innovation. The Hessian Israeli Partnership Accelerator for Cybersecurity (HIPA) brings together top talents in cybersecurity from Israel and Germany to jointly work on cybersecurity projects. The partnership is a joint venture of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute.
New Israeli manufacturing center for Flex. I reported previously (30th Apr) that Multi-national electronics manufacturer Flex had opened its new Haifa design center. Flex has now begun building a new production facility at Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut and will take on 200 more staff.
Hyundai to set up Israel smart R&D center. I reported previously (10th Sep) that car maker Hyundai was teaming up with Israel’s Technion to research smart car technology. Now Hyundai is to open a development center in Israel. It will focus on energy, smart cities, artificial intelligence, smart transportation and robotics.
Mellanox to launch startup accelerator. Israeli IT giant Mellanox is setting up an accelerator and support program for startups. It will include over 10 startups and focus on artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, storage, high-performance computing, and cloud computing.
Improved recycling of wastewater. (TY Nevet) Researchers at Ben Gurion University have discovered that treating recycled wastewater using biofiltration is more efficient for irrigation in arid, sandy soils that are found in deserts. It increases the rate of absorption into the sandy soil, thus reducing surface evaporation.
Water training for Swaziland. Deputy ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho, Mauritius and Swaziland Ayellet Black, with two Israeli experts, led a course on drip irrigation and crop management to 19 local trainers in Swaziland. Severe drought almost crippled Swaziland last year.
Wave energy for Ghana. Israel’s Yam Pro is to build a $180 million, 150-megawatt wave-energy power station along a 6-mile stretch of coastline near Accra, the capital of Ghana. Yam Pro’s system captures the energy from breaking waves by converting it into hydraulic pressure, which is then turned into electricity.
Security for East African port. I reported previously (several times) on the perimeter intrusion detection systems of Israel’s Magal Security. Magal has just won a $13 million contract to provide intrusion and cybersecurity systems for an unnamed major international seaport in East Africa.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Great end of year report. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger gives a very upbeat end of year state of the Israeli economy. It includes Israel’s progress since 1987 from the new book “Israel – Island of Success” by Dr Adam Reuter and Noga Kainan.
20% increase in Christmas pilgrims to Israel. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel has broken all previous records for incoming tourism, and are set to end 2017 with 3.6 million tourists – half a million more than the previous record. It includes a 20% increase over the 120,000 Christian pilgrims who visited in Dec 2016.
A $1.4 billion upgrade for Ben Gurion airport. The Israel Airports Authority has announced a $1.43 billion plan to upgrade Israel’s main Ben Gurion airport to cope with an anticipated 50% increase in passenger turnover within the next five years. The airport exceeded 20 million passengers in 2017 – 18% up on 2016.
Plan for 45 regional co-working hubs. The Israeli Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee is investing $25.5 million (NIS 90 million) in the establishment of 45 co-working tech hubs in Israel’s peripheral regions. The ministry said they expect all 45 to be operational by the third quarter of 2018.
Conference promotes profit and positive social impact. I reported previously (here) on TechForGood, an Israel-based startup accelerator, that organized the Scaling Social-Tech conference – to promote the idea that companies can prioritize socially conscious goals and still be profitable.
Israel’s largest investors’ conference. 10,000 people from 80 countries are expected in Jerusalem on 1st Feb at the 4th annual OurCrowd Global Investor Summit. They include 300 startups, 200 Venture Capitalists and 250 multinationals plus entrepreneurs, investors, government officials and the press.
A Chinese-German-Israeli biotech incubator. Explore Bio is a new incubator for Israeli biotech startups that will launch in 2018. Its parents are Merck Serona (a subsidiary of Germany’s Merck KGaA), in partnership with Shanghai’s WuXi AppTec.
Bibi opens the LSE. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the day’s trading at the London Stock exchange at 11am on Nov 3rd, pushing the button to officially open London’s financial market. He recalled the first trade made by Abraham in purchasing the Cave of the Patriarchs 4,000 years ago, in shekels.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Israeli drama is a hit in Hebrew and Arabic. When Netflix bought his show Fauda, co-creator Lior Raz was disappointed that it was not being remade in English. He believed the dual-language Hebrew and Arabic thriller would be too hard for international viewers to follow. But Fauda has had high ratings and much critical acclaim.
Rainbow of Music concert. (TY Janglo) The Keren Malki Foundation has unique and life-changing programs for children with special needs. It is holding a benefit concert of Hassidic, Israeli, Jazz and popular songs on 10th Jan in Ra’anana.
Jerusalem soup festival. (TY Janglo) The Inbal Jerusalem Hotel has launched its 3rd annual soup festival pop-up concept restaurant. The all-you-can-eat soup kosher buffet at reasonable cost from Nov – Apr at the Inbal’s Sophia Café.
The 5 top winter activities in Israel. (TY Janglo and ILTV) Skiing on Mount Hermon, Jerusalem’s Winter festival, Christmas and Chanukah, Eilat’s Red Sea Jazz festival and the Feeling Blues dance festival in Tel Aviv.
Eilat is a fun place. Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat is known for being a city full of fun and excitement. Eilat has something for everyone to enjoy, from world class scuba diving to gorgeous desert hikes. It is also planning a new ecological beach, thanks to the transfer of a section of beach from the Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline firm.
Gold medals for para table-tennis Israelis. Israelis Caroline Tabib and Alon Nigri won gold medals at the 2017 US Para Open Table-Tennis Championship in Las Vegas. Caroline won gold in the singles and also in the doubles, with a Swedish partner. Alon won gold in the doubles with a Korean partner, and bronze in the singles.
THE JEWISH STATE
3 more countries to move embassies to Jerusalem. Just two days after the president of Guatemala became the first Central American leader to decide to relocate his nation’s embassy to Jerusalem, Honduras and Panama announced that they are following suit. Guatemala’s Foreign Minister said it is “returning to Jerusalem”.
Israel is your home. “Wherever you come from, whatever you look like, however you pray, Israel is your home. Israel is your birthright,” PM Netanyahu told thousands of young Jews at an event celebrating 18th years of the Taglit-Birthright program. A record number of participants, 48,000, took part in the program in 2017.
3,633 North Americans made Aliya in 2017. (TY Zev) At least 3,633 Jews from the USA and Canada immigrated to Israel this year, according to Aliya organization Nefesh B’Nefesh. 93 new immigrants arrived at Ben Gurion airport on 27 Dec, joining 103 who were already residing in Israel and made Aliya on the same day.
A new synagogue under the Western Wall. (TY Janglo) A new synagogue has been inaugurated in the Western Wall tunnels – the result of 12 years of structural support, construction, and archeology work. The synagogue is located opposite the ‘Great Stone’ in the Western Wall tunnels, near the site of the Holy of Holies.
Help for IDF veterans to pass matriculation exams. (TY Janglo) IDF combat veterans will receive full scholarships to help them prepare and complete their high school matriculation courses and exams. Israelis need to pass their matriculation exams before they can enter college.
Strangers no more. How can Liron – an Israeli – be a perfect DNA match on Israeli charity Ezer Mitzion’s bone marrow donor database for Jonathan – a South African with leukemia? Even Jonathan’s siblings aren’t a match. When they meet this Pesach they may discover that their Litvak grandparents were not strangers at all.
Ice cream for everyone. After buying ice cream in Jerusalem, David and Tzipporah Speyer WhatsApp’d photos to their parents. Their mum then decided to buy ice cream for Israeli soldiers – 40 of them. Videos and photos were posted onto Facebook and went viral – and became a real “scoop” when they hit the Israeli media.