This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Aug. 8 2019
The highlights include:
- Israeli scientists have transformed MRI scans to detect brain diseases.
- Israel’s upgrade of neonatal units in Ghana has saved hundreds of babies.
- Israelis take hundreds of sick Palestinian Arabs to hospital every day.
- Four new Israeli innovations are of big benefit to the environment.
- Two new billion-dollar Israeli companies.
- 57,000 Israeli fans enjoyed Jennifer Lopez’s Party in the Park.
- Roman Abramovich is helping make the Negev desert bloom.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Re-igniting cells to kill cancer. Ben Gurion University scientists have discovered a protein in the membrane of cancer cells that helps the cancer to grow by disabling the immune system’s white blood cells. They have also identified a potential antibody antidote and have secured a startup and funding to develop and commercialize it.
MRIs detect molecular changes in the brain. Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have transformed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect microscopic changes in the biological makeup of brain tissue. Doctors can now get an early warning if a patient is developing a disease such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
Analyzing brain cells for Alzheimer’s. Israel’s Quantified Biology uses AI (Artificial Intelligence) to analyze images of those cells in the brain responsible for electrical communication between neurons. The startup helps researchers into Alzheimer’s treatments by identifying their effect on these key cells.
A gene to protect against the Zika virus. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli work to eradicate the deadly Zika virus. Now Tel Aviv University scientists have identified the gene IFI6, which combats the Zika virus by protecting cells from infection and preventing cell death. It can lead to a new anti-viral therapy.
Detecting undiagnosed head injuries. More than 50 million people worldwide suffer traumatic brain injuries (TBI) ever year. CT and MRI scans often fail to detect mild concussions. Israeli neurobiologist Dr. Adrian Harel has founded Medicortex Finland which detects TBI cell damage in a biomarker in saliva and urine.
Hello Heart. Israeli-founded Hello Heart is a Smartphone app that helps users lower their blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, strokes and coronary heart disease. It provides tools to self-manage hypertension by encouraging behavior change in companies’ employees. FDA approved and HIPAA compliant.
Novel diet for children with Crohn’s disease. Israeli and Canadian researchers have developed a diet that in a 12-week put 75% of children with Crohn’s disease into remission. The diet comprised eggs, chicken, potatoes, apples, and mashed bananas and initially excluded wheat, dairy, fish, rice, and other fruits and vegetables.
Live long and prosper. (TY Roc) Israel’s National Plan on Aging includes increased budgets for R&D for healthy longevity; health education and increased awareness about aging-related diseases; better public systems for early detection and prevention of aging-related diseases. See also report “Longevity in Israel”.
Saving babies in Ghana. (TY Arlene) Israel has upgraded neo-natal facilities in the Kumasi South and Suntreso hospitals in Ashanti, Ghana. Israeli medical personnel from Beersheva’s Soroka Medical Center also trained staff at those hospitals. Doctors there estimate that some 700 babies have been saved as a direct result.
Enhancing emergency services in Mexico. Many Mexicans lose their lives each year because emergency calls from mobile phones do not accurately pinpoint the caller’s location. Israel’s Carbyne, is to provide Google’s ELS (Emergency Location Service) in real time. For previous newsletter articles on Carbyne,.see here.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Underprivileged teens startups. Israel’s Unistream operates after-school programs for teens and young adults to learn to be leaders and entrepreneurs. 80 startups from this program competed for business and social impact prizes. Winners were Genie (diapers), Homeet (cooking), Smart Shoes, and Segev Shalom (Bedouin education).
The power behind empowering Access Israel. NGO Access Israel creates awareness of the needs of people with disabilities. Its founder IAF pilot Yuval Wagner was invalided after a 1987 helicopter crash. Accessibility problems drove him to setup Access Israel with support from ex-IAF pilot, then President Ezer Weizman.
Ethiopian-Israelis are a hi-tech bridge. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli NGO Tech-Career that has helped 550 Ethiopian-Israelis get jobs at Israel’s top hi-tech companies. Tech-Career held a recent event to show that the Ethiopian-Israeli community can be a bridge between Israel and the African tech market.
Excavating an ancient church. A couple of weeks ago I reported that Israeli archaeologists had unearthed an ancient mosque, showing that Israel respected the history of all religions. Now, excavations in Israel’s Galilee have uncovered remains of an ancient church said to mark the home of the apostles Peter and Andrew.
Taking sick Palestinian Arabs to hospital. 900 volunteers in Israeli NGO Road to Recovery take Palestinian Arabs (around 150 every day) to get lifesaving treatments in Israeli hospitals. The NGO recently won the IIE Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East. It also arranges beach days and has saved Israeli lives.
British army adopts Israeli electric motorbikes. British Special Forces have reportedly adopted an electric motorcycle developed in Israel. In a recent exercise, the British Army parachuted the motorcycles from a helicopter together with soldiers, who then traveled 10 miles on the silent vehicles.
Connecting teachers to Israel. Hundreds of Jewish and non-Jewish educators visited Israel for a World Education Conference organized by KKL-JNF. The aim of the trip was to strengthen the teachers’ connection to and understanding of Israel, in order to teach about Israel in a more informed way.
Birthright for academics. I reported previously (see here) on Ido Aharoni when he was publicizing Israel’s achievements in his work at the Israeli embassy in New York. Now at New York University, Professor Aharoni is still “changing the conversation” with his “Birthright for academics” program to positively rebrand Israel.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Africa’s most advanced satellite. Israel’s SpaceCom is shortly to launch its Amos 17 satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center. Its main aim is to improve TV, cellular and Internet services to Africa. SpaceCom already has $53 million of orders for services. The satellite will operate for up to 20 years.
Jerusalem to revolutionize waste recycling. (TY Janglo) Jerusalem Municipality has begun to replace its current recycling facilities whereby residents were required to sort waste into paper, bottles, glass, plastic etc. In future, sorting will be done centrally, by GreenNet situated in the Atarot Industrial Area, north of Jerusalem.
Smarter garbage trucks. Israeli startup GreenQ uses sensors on garbage trucks and big-data analytics to optimize schedules and routes for trash collection. It helps avoid collecting empty bins or missing overflowing ones. GreenQ says it can save 30-50% of a city’s costs for refuge collection and reduce traffic congestion.
Recycling waste into recycling bins. I reported previously (Apr 2018) on Israel’s UBQ which is turning garbage into reusable thermoplastic building material. It is shipping 2,000 recycling bins made from UBQ’s material to the Central Virginia Waste Management Authority, for delivery to Virginia residents.
Sustainable villages. Israeli entrepreneurs Jonathan Haran and Victor Hajaj are founders of the Sustainable Group. They plan to build the first carbon-negative village in a kibbutz near Mizpe Ramon. They are also developing AI software for cities to manage food, water, energy and waste for humans and the environment.
An all-seeing eye. Israeli-founded Mobileye demonstrated its new EyeQ4 camera in London. It can track and analyze masses of data including traffic lights, bus stops and even manhole covers. It can calculate rush hour traffic volumes, detect muggings and accidents. Data is uploaded to the cloud in real time.
Waze’s new Israeli carpool feature. Israeli-developed Waze has released a new carpooling feature in Israel. Drivers will now be able to invite multiple passengers to join their carpool, and if the car has at least three passengers, their route will be adjusted to include High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes.
Making light work of broadband. Israel’s Juganu has developed “Digital World” that combines smart street lighting and advanced connectivity for municipalities. It enables intelligent traffic control, security and accident monitoring, rescue coordination, support for smart cars and of course lighting and more – all without cabling.
Putting Israel in the shade. (TY Janglo) Israel’s National Planning and Building Commission is eliminating bureaucracy preventing artificial shade in public spaces. It estimates the cost of shading a street at around NIS 1000 per square meter – trivial, compared to the NIS 800,000 cost of one person’s treatment for skin cancer.
Leading the way in computer vision. Rare positive (video) article on Israeli imaging technology from the UK Financial Times. Extracts from the video – “This technology’s impact is being felt in fields from medicine to self-driving cars and even shopping.” “There’s one small nation at this industry’s forefront, Israel.”
Tomato-picking robot. Israeli startup MetoMotion is developing a robotic system for labor-intensive tasks in greenhouses. The company’s robot can pick tomatoes, using 3D vision and machine vision algorithms to identify and locate ripe tomatoes. MetoMotion states that the robot can also prune and de-leaf.
Defending against the unknown. (TY OurCrowd) I reported previously (see here) on Israeli cybersecurity startup ThetaRay. It has just launched Version 4.0 of its advanced analytics platform to help global banks detect and prevent “unknown unknown” cybercrimes that are hard to spot with older cybersecurity products.
Toddlers need to know who is boss. A study of 120 toddlers aged 17 months by researchers at Bar-Ilan and Illinois universities shows that they have a well-developed understanding of social hierarchies and power dynamics. They reacted differently to situations where misbehavior was dealt with compared to when it wasn’t.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Massive demand for shares in TASE. Shares in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange company have been floated on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). Demand for the 31.7% stake on offer has outstripped supply by a factor of five to one. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3767242,00.html
Brazilian & EU support for low sugar Israeli juice. I reported previously (7th Jan) on the reduced sugar juice technology of Israel’s Better Juice. Better Juice has since won a 50,000 Euro grant from the EU’s Horizon 2020 program and is setting up a pilot plant thanks to Brazil’s Citrosuco, the world’s largest orange juice producer.
Stay on top of your work. Israel’s Monday.com is used by 350,000 people in 80,000 organizations, from 76 countries to manage and track projects, manufacturing lines, and schedules. It has just raised $150 million, valuing the company at nearly $2 billion. So how is it that I’ve never reported on it? I need Monday.com!
Lightricks is now a Unicorn. I reported previously (see here) on Israel’s Lightricks – developer of Facetune, Enlight and Swish. The startup has just raised $135 million of funds to value the company at $1 billion and give it the financial title of a “Unicorn”. Lightricks revenue in 2018 was $150 million – 3 times that of 2017.
Boosting business at McDonald’s. (TY Nevet) I reported previously (31st Mar) that McDonald’s had bought Israel’s Dynamic Yield for $300 million. The purchase is already making a big return on investment as the burger chain has seen large increases in sales thanks to the Israeli-developed AI personalized digital menus.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Window wonderland. (TY Janglo) Jerusalem’s “Window Stories,” is a towering palace made of 550 windows salvaged from across the city, in a variety of shapes and styles from different eras. It is free to the public until 21st Sep in Gan HaSus (Horse Garden) on King George Street. At night it becomes a glittering lighthouse.
J.Lo knocks it out of the park. Jennifer Lopez’s “It’s My Party” concert to celebrate her 50th birthday in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park was acclaimed as one of the best ever. The singer/dancer brought a 100-person crew, including dancers, musicians and 45 tons of equipment for the 90-minute show in front of 57,000 fans.
Film debut for Oscar-winning film. (TY Benyamin) I reported previously (2nd Mar) when Israeli director Guy Nattiv won an Academy Award (Oscar) for his Live Action Short film “Skin”. Skin has just opened at US theatres and will be shown at October’s Haifa International Film Festival. (See 1st link to interview with Guy.)
World premier of flamenco romance. Spanish flamenco star María Juncal is to premiere her latest work, Life is Romance (La Vida es un Romance), on 9th Aug at the Suzanne Dellal Center as part of the Tel Aviv International Dance Festival. Juncal performs annually in Israel. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Tel-Aviv-dance-festival-to-host-world-premiere-of-flamenco-romance-597189
Summer night of two hugs. (TY Sharon) Two recent emotional encounters in Jerusalem included ex-Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau and the son of the chaplain of the US Army unit that liberated him from Buchenwald. Also, President Rivlin greeting Dr Ruth Westheimer at the Jerusalem Film Festival’s documentary of her life.
Whale shark returns to Israeli coast. For the fourth time this year, the largest species of fish – a whale shark – has been tracked swimming up the Gulf of Eilat. Israel is a haven for this endangered species, due to warm waters and the absence of shark fishing. (N.B. the only reported shark attack in Israeli waters was in 1974.)
THE JEWISH STATE
Herzl inspires forever. I briefly mentioned previously (Nov 2015) the Israel Forever Foundation. It has just launched the “My Herzl International Youth Essay Competition,” to mark the anniversary of Theodor Herzl’s passing. Teens worldwide, aged 13 to 17, are invited to write about their vision for continuing Herzl’s dream.
Awards for three inspiring women Zionists. The World Zionist Organization honored Ilana Metzger, Joy Wolfe (StandWithUs UK President and VeryGoodNewsIsrael supporter) and Ruth Jacobs for their Zionist activism by awarding them Golden Golda Awards – named after former Israeli premier Golda Meir.
Abramovich helps turn back the desert. Russian-Israeli billionaire Roman Abramovich has made a large donation to KKL-JNF to help afforestation, forest rehabilitation and fight desertification in the Negev. The gift will also fund a new forest dedicated to Lithuanian Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.
Israel welcomes 121 Ukrainian Olim. A special flight, organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, brought 121 new immigrants to Israel from the Ukraine. They were welcomed at a special ceremony attended by Israel’s Prime Minister, the Absorption Minister and the president of the IFCJ Yael Eckstein.