This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel May 17, 2020
This week’s newsletter is full of Israeli solutions to global problems. They include detection of heart and lung problems caused by COVID-19; preventing rejection of bone-marrow transplants; complex surgery to save lives; peace initiatives, a UN COVID-19 conference; new COVID-19 disinfectants, toxic algae removal, securing websites, monitoring babies and support for those affected by the global pandemic.
The photo is of the river Dan in Northern Israel.
The highlights include:
- Israeli surgeons extracted a long metal rod from an Arab patient’s head.
- An Ethiopian-Israeli woman and a Haredi woman are new Israeli ministers.
- Israel is to lead a United Nations digital conference to tackle coronavirus.
- Three Israeli disinfectant and purification innovations.
- Israel offers incentives for startups to partner overseas medical research.
- Israel re-opens many national parks and nature reserves.
- Discovery in Jerusalem of a 1900-year-old Jewish “freedom” coin.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Detecting heart problems in coronavirus patients. Israel’s DiA Imaging Analysis (reported here previously) uses its AI image analysis of ultrasound scans to detect cardiac problems. DiA has received a NIS 2.5 million grant from the Israel Innovation Authority to roll out its system to hospitals treating coronavirus patients.
Recovered. The 22-year-old critical coronavirus patient (see here) who woke from a 3-week coma in April has now begun rehabilitation at Sheba hospital.
US approves Covid-19 imaging tech detection. The US FDA has allowed the use of previously cleared technology developed by Israel’s Aidoc Medical.to detect lung anomalies in CT-scans that are associated with coronavirus (Covid-19). It provides early detection of infected patients who show no coronavirus symptoms.
How MDA prevented an even larger disaster. (TY Stuart Palmer) Emergency service Magen David Adom and its 24,000 volunteers were critical to Israel’s pandemic strategy. Its trained volunteer call center handled over 100,000 calls a day and it minimized hospitalizations by testing 240,000 patients away from hospitals.
New crisis ICU for Sheba hospital. (TY Hazel) Israel’s Sheba Medical Center has inaugurated a new intensive care unit with hundreds of beds to provide crisis response in future national emergencies. A significant donation for the unit was received from philanthropist Roman Abramovich, a long-time donor of Sheba Medical Center.
Good news for bone-marrow transplants. Israeli biotech Gamida Cell (see here) published positive results in its Phase 3, 50-center trial of NiCord (now called Omidubicel) that aims to increase the success of bone marrow transplants in blood cancer patients. The stem cells were established much quicker than alternatives.
Surgeons save Arab with rod through his head. (TY IsraPundit) Kamel Abdel Rahman fell from the second floor of the apartment he is building. He landed on a metal rod that penetrated his head from left cheek to right ear. Surgeons at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital extracted the rod in two nail-biting operations.
2-year-old Palestinian Arab boy saved. Surgeons at Israel’s Save a Child’s Heart performed open heart surgery on two-year-old Hamza Ali Mohammed, who was born with life-threatening congenital heart disease. He has been hospitalized during the coronavirus pandemic but has now returned to his family in Ramallah.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
First Ethiopian-Israeli woman minister. Pnina Tamanu-Shata is the first Israeli woman of Ethiopian origin to become an Israeli government minister – of immigration absorption. She came to Israel in Operation Moses in 1984 when she was three years old. Benny Gantz was one of the commanders of the operation.
First Haredi woman minister. Omer Yankelevich is the first Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) woman to become an Israeli government minister – of diaspora affairs. She was educated in Haredi schools in both Gateshead (UK) and Bnei Brak. She has a BA degree from Cambridge (UK) and a Masters, in law, from Bar Ilan University.
Arab Muslim twins join IDF. (TY Myer) Twin Arab Muslims Fares and Firas Muhammad spent much of their youth in courts for thefts and violence. Then two separate incidents persuaded them to make new starts. They enlisted in the IDF and are elite troopers in the Golani brigade. Fares is training to become a squad commander.
Celebrating Iftar and Lag B’Omer. Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, celebrated Lag B’Omer and Iftar with local Arab and Muslim leaders. They included Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi of Ramallah, Mohammed Massad of Jenin and other leaders who hid their identities. Some interesting issues were discussed.
Vouch For Each Other. Yoseph Haddad, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, served as an IDF combat soldier and was severely wounded in the 2006 Lebanon war. He has founded a non-profit “Together Vouch For Each Other” for Israeli-Arabs, which encourages the involvement of young Israeli-Arabs in Israeli society.
Helping Gulf states battle coronavirus. Top representatives from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have been in regular contact with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center even before the current health crisis. Now a third (said to be Kuwait) has requested help installing telemedicine solutions to treat COVID-19 patients remotely.
Qatar offers free flights to Israeli medics. Qatar Airways is offering free flights to medical workers in every country. The airline’s CEO Mr. Akbar Al Baker said that “every single country in the world, including our neighboring countries, including the State of Israel, will be allocated numbers of tickets.”
Israeli police & NYPD liaise on Covid-19. (TY UWI & I24 News) Watch Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfield and Charlie Ben-Naim – the NYPD representative in Israel – update each other on the activities of their agencies. Charlie said the NYPD was learning from the Israeli police’s handling of the crisis.
New Allies. The network of parliamentary Israel Allies Caucuses (see here) has expanded with the addition of Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Congo Brazzaville. Each caucus is chaired by a leading parliamentarian who is passionate about strengthening legislative support for Israel.
Jerusalem commemorates VE Day. In Jerusalem, veterans of World War II, Jewish leaders and diplomats marked the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day. They laid wreaths at the Memorial Candle Monument in Jerusalem to commemorate the Allies’ victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Israel to lead UN innovation conference. Israel and Ghana are the new heads of the United Nations Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Forum. Although the UN cancelled all forums due to the pandemic, Israel’s UN ambassador, Danny Danon, has initiated a digital conference on innovation to combat the coronavirus.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
New epidemic research center. (TY Hazel) Tel Aviv University is to establish a new multidisciplinary epidemic research center – the first of its kind. The “Center for Combating Pandemics” will bring together experts from medicine, biology, mathematics, physics, economics, engineering, education and psychology.
The data analysis that helped re-open Israel. Interesting article explaining how Israel-based Qualitiest (reported here previously) was able to help the Israeli Government determine how and where to focus its response to the coronavirus pandemic. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3819351,00.html
Monitoring virus spread without compromising privacy. The app from Israeli startup Duality collects data and warns people who were exposed to coronavirus (Covid-19) patients, without having to reveal who they are. It can collate statistics about the location where people were infected and make recommendations.
A 1-minute coronavirus test. Ben-Gurion University Professor Gabby Sarusi is developing a test that identifies carriers of the COVID-19 virus in less than a minute. A swab sample is placed on a chip – the virus, if present, resonates in the terahertz spectral range, which a spectroscope detects.
Socrates collects coronavirus data. Israel’s Omnisol has developed Socrates – an Artificially Intelligent research tool, originally for security agencies. It has now been converted for use by Israeli hospitals to advance coronavirus research. Socrates saves researchers the labor of manually gathering data from multiple sources.
3D-printing of tiny parts. Israel’s Nanofabrica develops 3D printers that manufacture electronic and optical parts. Nanofabrica’s nanoscale technology enables digital mass-manufacturing of complex precision parts. It is now working to adapt its ultra-precise printing to support efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Spray kills viruses for weeks. (TY WIN) Israel’s Bio-Fence has developed an anti-microbial surface coating that kills bacteria and effectively destroys viruses. It is effective against the Herpes simplex virus which is much tougher than Covid-19. The treated surface (including walls, floors) actively kills pathogens for many days.
Another coronavirus disinfectant. Israel’s Tera Novel is distributing a state-of-the-art disinfectant developed by Israel’s Institute for Biological Research. Its high concentration of hypochlorite, with special ingredients, was originally developed for the IDF and later to the US army. It was trialed successfully in Israel’s Bnei Brak.
Destroying toxic algae. (TY UWI) Lake Guard from Israel’s BlueGreen Water Technologies (reported here previously) has removed toxic algae from most of Israel’s 600 water reservoirs. BlueGreen recently purified the previously polluted 4.4-sq km Roodeplaat Dam Reservoir near Pretoria, South Africa. It took only a few days.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT5DoDQS2CM (Amazing video)
Three new waste to energy plants. Israel has approved the building of three plants to convert waste to energy. The Israeli government will invest 70% of the NIS 4 billion cost. It is part of Israel’s plan to reduce the current 80% of waste sent to landfill down to 26% by 2030.
No need for passwords. Israel-based Secret Double Octopus offers a solution that replaces passwords with multi-factor authentication such as fingerprints and facial recognition. The company has just raised $15 million.
Protecting from cyberattacks and disasters. Israeli-American cybersecurity startup Semperis helps government agencies and global companies continuously monitor for security vulnerabilities, intercept cyberattacks in progress, and quickly respond to breaches and operational errors. Business demand is high.
Making websites accessible. Israeli startup AccessiBe develops an artificial intelligence tool for automating the process of making websites accessible to people with visual, hearing, and motor impairments. It scans websites and automatically makes changes to send data and content formatted to disability standards.
An AI baby monitor. Israel’s Nanit (also known as Udisense) develops a machine learning and computer vision-based monitor that tracks and analyzes babies’ sleep. Its camera monitors and analyzes sleep patterns in real-time, offering sleep insights, behavioral analysis, expert advice, and nightly video summaries.
High-performance electric engines. Israel’s IRP develops energy-efficient high-performance engines and controllers for electric vehicles. The company uses its innovations previously developed for the aerospace industry, to reduce the cost of the new engines and aims to help accelerate the mass adoption of electric cars.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Incentives to partner healthcare projects. Israel’s Innovation Authority is offering Israeli companies 50% of their R&D budget if they partner world-renowned hospitals on healthcare pilot projects. The hospitals include Mayo Clinic, Hartford Healthcare, Thomas Jefferson University and Germany’s Charité – Universitätsmedizin.
SAP incubates more Israeli startups. (TY Calcalistech) SAP.iO Foundry Tel Aviv has launched its second 12-week incubator (see here for previous). This time SAP selected seven consumer products startups. Aiola, Hexa, Pecan, Sampler, SRP, TrenDemon, and TVPage will access SAP tech support, mentors and clients.
Encouraging Israeli startups to focus on Asia. Israeli-based Brilliance Ventures has raised a $20 million fund to focus on Israeli startups with potential for growth in the Asian market. Its initial focus is in the fields of Artificial Intelligence, deep tech, storage, semiconductors, and Industry 4.0 (e.g. smart cities).
Israelis get back to the land. Israeli entrepreneur Nimrod Berger has found paid employment for 100 Israelis who have no work, due to the coronavirus epidemic. He has made them “crop commanders” – mostly ex-IDF, now elite agricultural workers – who are bringing in the harvest in the absence of foreign laborers.
CyberArk’s $70 million acquisition. Israeli cybersecurity company CyberArk has acquired California-based “identity as a service” IDaptive Holdings for $70 million cash. Their technologies will be combined to form a powerful security platform. https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-cyberark-buys-us-co-idaptive-for-70m-1001328476
Recruiting 100 employees. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Israeli-founded Spot.IM is recruiting 100 new staff to add to its 200 Israeli and US employees, as part of its growth plan. Spot.IM is an engagement & community platform for top media companies such as Verizon Media, Microsoft, News Corp and Hearst.
Israeli startups raising funds. This week, Nanofabrica raised $4 million, Udisense (Nanit) raised $21 million, LawGeex raised $20 million, digital health data Alike raised $5 million, IRP raised $17 million, AccessiBe raised $12 million and Semperis raised $40 million.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Drones used to celebrate Lag B’Omer. Israelis were not allowed to light traditional bonfires on Lag B’Omer (33rd day of the Omer), but the Tel Aviv sky was lit up by 36 illuminated drones. They were synchronized to display images of a bonfire, bows and arrows, the Hebrew for the number 33, Sameach (joy) and more.
Israel re-opens 20 National parks. Some 20 national parks and nature reserves all over Israel are now open (for example the ancient Dead Sea fortress of Masada). Tickets must be bought on-line in advance. Meanwhile, an initiative from Olim Mitayalim connects new immigrants to tour guides for special Israel tours.
On-line chess unites Israelis and Arabs. (TY Jacques) 65 players from 10 countries recently competed in an on-line chess tournament. In one match, one team full of Israelis competed against one with players from Syria, Tunisia, and Algeria. It is another sign of warming ties in the Middle East, especially in sport.
Israeli cycling team is back in training. Israel’s cycling team “Start-Up Nation” is the first in the world to return to training for the Tour de France race that is scheduled to begin on August 29th. If the event goes ahead, it will be the first time an Israeli team has raced in the Tour de France.
THE JEWISH STATE
Bar Kochba coin found near Jerusalem. A 132 CE “Freedom of Israel” coin dating back to the Bar Kochba revolt, was discovered between the Temple Mount and the City of David in Jerusalem. Of over 22,000 coins found in the area of the Old City in Jerusalem, only four are dated to the period of the Bar Kochba revolt.
Help needed during the pandemic. The coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on the 18 charities that Myisrael supports. The elderly need virtual support, poor families need food, Ethiopian Israeli students need computers, cancer patients need transport and therapy horses need stabling. Please help if you can.
Protection from above. During the first ever visit by the Vizhnitzer Rebbe to the Israeli Prime Minister’s residence, the Rebbe praised the PM for his handling of the coronavirus crisis. “We see that in Eretz Yisrael we have a special siyata Dishamaya (protection from Above),” the Rebbe said.
More Olim arrive. A second rescue flight this month brought Israeli civilians from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Israel. Of the 89 passengers, there were 25 Olim (new immigrants). Meanwhile, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews worked for months to bring in 53 Olim from Ukraine and 44 from Uzbekistan and Georgia.
NFL legend has touchdown in Israel. All-star Rose Bowl NFL running back Yosef (Calvin) Murray and his wife Emunah (Jeri) were both born Christian. They were youth pastors at a Messianic church but “got too Jewish”. They converted to Judaism through the Chabad, made Aliya and now live in Ma’aleh Adumin.
Israel stands with you. Israel saluted the diaspora by projecting the flags of countries that are home to Jewish communities hard hit by COVID-19 on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Minister of Diaspora Affairs Tzipi Hotovely said, “Israel sends a big hug to our brothers throughout the world”