Israel's Good News Newsletter to 8th Dec 19



·         Israeli researchers have discovered a new way to destroy pancreatic tumors.
·         A Tel Aviv conference featured the latest life-saving Israeli medical technology.
·         Israeli technology has been positively recognized at the United Nations.
·         An Israeli system can land planes safely after total engine failure.
·         Derelict parts of South Tel Aviv are to be redeveloped.
·         A new English-speaking theater has opened in Ra’anana.
·         Israelis save animals and animals save Israelis

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ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Another breakthrough in pancreatic cancer research. Israeli scientists and doctors have induced the self-destruction of pancreatic cancer cells in mice. A small molecule, PJ34, normally used to treat stroke victims, reduced cancer cells by up to 90 percent a month. There were no adverse effects. Normal cells were unaffected.

US approvals for AI image analyses. Israel’s Zebra Medical has received several approvals from the US FDA. They include detecting heart disease, (see here) pneumothorax (lung trauma – see here), intercranial hemorrhages (brain bleeds – see here). It has just received another for detecting fluid on the lungs.

Green light for finger prick blood test. As predicted previously, (13th May) the OLO finger prick blood test device from Israel’s Sight Diagnostics flowed through the US FDA approval process.  It enables use of the CBC (Complete Blood Test) device in laboratories run by hospitals, diagnostic providers, and outpatient clinics.

Israeli doctor runs Canadian AIDS clinic. (TY Robert) To coincide with World AIDS day, Robert Sarner wrote this article about Israeli-born Dr Neora Pick. As medical director of Canada’s only multidisciplinary clinic for women and children with HIV, she treats some of the 63,000 (and increasing) Canadians with HIV.

Increasing US-Israeli medical cooperation. (TY Janglo) 21 bipartisan US lawmakers have requested that the US establishes an FDA office in Israel to facilitate collaboration in life-saving research. They wrote that Israel’s world class medical research programs have positively impacted the global health system.

Teva partners Israeli universities for new cancer treatments. (TY Nocamels) Israel’s Teva and Tel Aviv University have signed an R&D agreement in the fields of cancer and brain studies. Teva has also partnered with Israel’s Weizmann Institute to identify the next generation of innovative antibodies for cancer treatment.

Showcasing Israeli digital health tech. Over a thousand participants gathered in Tel Aviv for the second annual Digital.Health.Now conference. It focused on showcasing advanced Israeli innovations in telemedicine, digital healthcare, and general wellness aided by technology.

How blind people use Smartphones. One Israeli startup at the Digital.Health.Now conference was RightHear. (see here). This video shows how the blind use its technology to access the functions on a Smartphone. Also, (TY Jacques) RightHear is supporting the first official blind-friendly street in Israel, and possibly the world.

Calm down. Another Israeli product showcased at Israel’s Digital.Health.Now conference was Calmigo. Its advanced technology provides immediate, drug-free relief for moments of distress, anxiousness, and stress by regulating your breathing patterns and stimulating your senses.

Reducing injuries. Zone7, founded by IDF veterans, uses AI to foresee and prevent injuries to sports people. It advertises an 80% reduction in injury days and provides coaches, trainers and sports scientists with intervention strategies. Zone7 is partnering its platform with global medical company Garmin Health.

A day in the life. Last week 50 members of our synagogue were privileged to be given a tour of Emergency Service United Hatzalah’s headquarters in Jerusalem.  United Hatzalah’s volunteer EMTs arrive at the scene of an incident within three minutes, often saving lives in Israel.  Click the link to read a recent typical example.


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

Accessibility plans for Tomb of the Patriarchs. As reported previously (see here) the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron is to be made accessible for disabled visitors.  Here are more detailed plans and artist impressions of the new elevator and bridge connecting the elevator to the main entrance.  

Haredi teens train as emergency responders. There are many ultra-orthodox men and women serving as emergency responders in Israel.  Here is one article about 15 yeshiva students who have completed the MDA course in Yavniel, lower Galilee, to become Emergency Medical Responders in the Yarden Region.

UN adopts Israeli resolution. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution proposed by Israel on "Agricultural Technologies for Development" to eradicate poverty and hunger worldwide. It targets agriculture, water management and youth job creation. 147 countries voted in favor; the Arab League abstained.

Making the UN more accessible. On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the Israel mission to the UN donated to United Nations Other Groups Director-General Tatiana Valovaya, three pediatric wheelchairs made by the Israeli NGO ‘Wheelchairs of Hope’ (see here).

Bolivia renews ties with Israel. Following recent elections in Bolivia, the foreign minister of the country’s transitional government, Karen Longaric, announced that Bolivia will renew ties with Israel, after a break of more than a decade. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Bolivia-renews-ties-with-Israel-609316

Transforming India’s water supplies. (TY Hazel) Excellent write-up of Israel’s role in helping India’s goal of providing water to all citizens. It includes some 32 Israeli-led water projects in 13 states; water management training in 28 Centers of Excellence; and seven coastal desalination plants use Israeli desalination technology.

Ethiopians meet medics who saved their lives. Over 100 Ethiopian young adults met 30 surgeons, nurses and technicians from Israeli NGO Save A Child’s Heart in Addis Ababa.  Decades earlier, SACH doctors performed heart surgery on them as young children to save their lives. The medics saved another 31 children on this visit.

Israel’s rescue mission to Albania.  This video has been released to highlight the work of the Israeli Defense Forces team that responded to Albania’s plea for help following its devastating earthquake (reported last week). It also highlights Israel’s previous responses to requests for help after global natural disasters.


SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

See Israel’s best inventions.  Last week’s newsletter (link here).included news of the nine Israeli innovations included in Time Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019  Here is a short video compilation featuring all nine.

Olympiad medalists meet the President. (TY Sharon) Many Israelis won medals at the 2019 International Olympiads in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematical and Informatics. They were congratulated by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz at a ceremony held at the President’s Jerusalem home.

Safe landing. (TY Hazel) Engine shutdown is one of the major causes of flight accidents. Students at Israel’s Technion Institute have built a safe landing guidance system for aircraft with disabled engines. The system (algorithm, interfaces with pilot display, sensors etc.) was successfully tested on an actual flight in Israel.

Transforming pathology. Israeli startup Augmentiqs has developed software and hardware to turn existing microscopes into smart connected instruments. The innovative system enhancements use Augmented Reality (AR), digital overlays and computer connectivity to generate a whole new hi-tech pathology environment.

One step at a time.  Israeli startup Selfit has developed a robot and augmented reality-based system to facilitate rehabilitation for many physical and neurological conditions. It also aids physical therapy and slow down the deterioration in cognitive functions for a variety of chronic conditions, including aging.

IBM partners Israeli imaging analysis startup. As reported previously, (see here) Israel’s DiA is marketing its AI ultrasound imaging analysis systems with US giants GE Medical and Terason. Now, IBM Watson’s new Imaging AI Marketplace will offer DiA’s software to help clinicians analyze cardiac images automatically.

Training bacteria to eat CO2. Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have genetically engineered bacteria to live on carbon dioxide rather than sugar. Over a 10-year period, the researchers induced evolutionary changes in E. coli bacteria so it can survive on CO2. It could eventually be used to reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

Jerusalem is a smart transportation city. Jerusalem was one of 28 finalists out of 450 entries for the smartest transportation city in the Smart City Expo competition in Barcelona, Spain. It was also runner-up for the Mobility Award for integrating the light rail train system with Axilion’s AI-based traffic light system.

Protecting NYC emergency security networks. (TY UWI) The New York City Police Department (NYPD) and the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) will be using security software from Israel’s Indeni to protect their computer networks. Indeni customers include Mastercard, Bloomberg, Boston Scientific and soon NASA.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Upbeat assessment from Moody’s.  (TY Janglo) International credit rating agency Moody's has reaffirmed Israel’s A1 sovereign debt rating with a positive outlook. Its report went even further, stating, "Israel's economic growth has outpaced most other advanced industrial countries over the past decade.”

Currency reserves at new record. The Bank of Israel increased its reserves of foreign currency by a massive $1 billion last month.  Their value at the end of November was over $122 billion – a new record.

Urban renewal of South Tel Aviv. (TY Jacques) The Tel Aviv-Jaffa Local Planning and Building Commission recently approved an urban development plan for the derelict area of South Tel Aviv. It will add many apartments and offices, plus large amounts of public and open space.

Hundreds attend GoForIsrael conference. Over 700 participants from across the world, including 100 from China, attended the 2019 GoforIsrael conference in Tel Aviv. The business summit brought together global investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs for investment and collaboration opportunities in Israel.

Olympus Corp to open Israeli innovation office. Japanese life science company Olympus Corp is to open an innovation office in Tel Aviv. Olympus is looking for Israeli technologies and startups in the digital health and med-tech fields, particularly in prostate stent technologies. Over 70 Japanese companies have offices in Israel.

Lumenis exits for $1.2 billion. Israel’s medical-device pioneer Lumenis (reported here previously) is being acquired by Baring Private Equity Asia for approximately $1.2 billion.  Subject to the customary regulatory approval process, it will be one of the 15 biggest acquisitions in Israeli history.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

New Israeli stamps show Torah scroll in space. (TY Janglo) A new limited set of Israeli stamps shows the first Torah that was flown in space. They also feature Jeffrey Hoffman, the astronaut who first brought the Torah into space in 1985. He was the first Jewish-American man to enter space.

Eight restaurants in 50 Best Discovery list. The World’s 50 Best Restaurants has ranked eight Israeli establishments in its 50 Best Discovery database. They comprise four restaurants and three bars in Tel Aviv and one Jerusalem restaurant. http://nocamels.com/2019/11/israel-restaurants-50-best-discovery-bars/

Tel Aviv in BBC top 10 food destinations. The BBC’s Good Food magazine ranked Tel Aviv 7th in its top 10 destinations for foodies in 2020. It specially mentioned Tel Aviv’s “slick vegan coffee shops” and street food such as hummus, falafel and shakshuka.

Curtain rises on Center Stage. (TY Grant & Daniella) Grant and Daniella Crankshaw’s new, professional theater in Ra'anana - Center Stage - is now open and rolling out quality English theater productions. Against the odds, English theater now has a permanent Israeli home. (Click links below for details of performances)

Maccabi Tel Aviv win again. (TY Nevet) Israeli hoops champions Maccabi Tel-Aviv beat Baskonia (83-113) in Spain, to earn its sixth straight win. It moved Maccabi Tel Aviv up to fourth place in the Euroleague table.

Two Iranian judokas to compete in Israel. Two Iranian judokas have deserted Iran after being bullied into boycotting Israeli athletes. 2018 World Champion Saeid Mollaei and Mohammad Rashnonezhad have signed to compete in January’s Tel Aviv Grand Prix as members of the Mongolian and IJF refugee teams respectively.


THE JEWISH STATE

The ultimate Zionist festival. Thousands of Ethiopian-Israeli Jews traveled from across the country to the Haas Promenade facing the Old City of Jerusalem to celebrate the Sigd holiday. With its roots in the biblical Book of Nehemiah, Sigd rededicates the community’s links to Torah, Jerusalem and Jewish unity.

Israeli EMTs save a family with falafel. (TY Janglo) After United Hatzalah volunteer paramedic Tal was badly injured in an accident, EMT colleagues including CEO Eli Beer worked shifts at Tal’s falafel shop. Their dedication kept Tal’s business going and supported his family while he recuperated.

Four recent archaeological discoveries. This video highlights the excavation in Israel of a 7th century BCE (First Temple) Biblical seal found in Jerusalem; a 5,000-year-old Canaanite city at Ein Azur, Harish; a 6th century CE Byzantine church in Bet Shemesh and a 1,400-year-old hammer and nails at Usha in Kiryat Atta.

Mosaics uncovered in ancient Golan synagogue. Rare colorful mosaic fragments dating back to the third century CE have been uncovered in an ancient synagogue at Majdulia in the Golan Heights. They shed light on the transformation of synagogues, after the Temple was destroyed, from places of study to prayer centers.

It’s never too late to make Aliya.  Michael Okunieff fought the Nazis and rescued 75 Jewish children from Poland during WW2. At the age of 96 he has just fulfilled his dream of making Aliya from Chicago, with a little help from the Ministry of Aliya and Integration and the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization.

Egyptian discovers the truth about Israel.  Please read this article about Egyptian-born Hussein Aboubakr who searched for information about Israel and discovered much of what he had been told previously was a lie. He is now a pro-Israel advocate, living in the United States.  If only there were a lot more people like him.

A sanctuary for donkeys. A previous newsletter article (7th Apr) highlighted Israel’s animal sanctuary at Moshav Olesh, which was caring for a 3-legged donkey. Here is website for an Israeli sanctuary that looks after unwanted and abused donkeys. Its mobile clinic also treats hundreds of working donkeys in the PA territories.

Israeli thanks rescue dog that saved his life. When Daniel was fired from his job, in a lapse of sanity he tried to take his own life. After going missing for two days he was found unconscious by Eishela from the Israel Dog Unit.  Daniel made a miraculous recovery and was finally able to thank Eishela and her handler.

IDF rescues unusual Syrian refugee. In a joint operation, the IDF and Israel's Nature and Parks Authority, extracted a badger, one of Israel’s rarest predators, from the metal border fence between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. It had been trying to escape from Syria and was released near a water source on the Israeli side.