Prepare to be Transformed
One of the most startling pieces of news last week was the passing of an Israeli-sponsored resolution in the United Nations. By an overwhelming majority, the UN General Assembly voted for the motion "Entrepreneurship for Development", marking the first time that the U.N. has formally recognized that entrepreneurship can transform whole societies by reducing poverty, creating sustainable development, and reinvigorating the environment. Here are some more recent examples of Israeli activities and innovations that could transform the planet.
During its 60 years, the 1000 graduates of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School have been transforming medical science. In the latest research into brain degeneration, Hebrew University scientists have uncovered important details about the origins of brain diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS and Huntington’s diseases. The discovery could lead to new methods of preventing toxic proteins in the brain from causing damage and even death. In another Hebrew Uni study, researchers have discovered that extracts inside the edible Oyster mushroom contain molecules that bind themselves to cancer cells and kill them.
The Israeli Ministry of Health has recognized the important work of the Hebrew U, by designating its Sanford Kuvin Center for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases as Israel’s National Laboratory for Leishmaniasis – a parasitic disease affecting an estimated 12 million people worldwide. Meanwhile, the latest developments at Israel’s Morflora have been written up by Israel21c. Morflora’s revolutionary technology (originating at the Hebrew University) delivers genetic traits to a seed, without transforming the genome of the treated plant. The new strain boosts crop yields and helps battle world famine.
Other transforming medical innovations include Israel’s Advanced Inhalation Therapies trials of nitric oxide to treat infectious lung diseases and IceCure’s innovative treatment for breast cancer (and maybe other cancers) using a super-cooled needle to inject balls of ice into the tumor. We have already seen Israeli treatments transforming individuals suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s). Now Israeli non-profit organization Prize4Life has set-up a database called PRO-ACT that will help develop viable Phase II and Phase III treatments for ALS.
We may have to wait some time before Gaza is transformed into a peaceful community. If only more residents of the terrorist state would be like 17-year-old Qsuy Imran who has become best friends with 17-year-old Tal Zilker from Southern Israel. Both have the same type of cancer and are patients at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center where they play together on their playstations. Belaynesh Zevadia’s life certainly has been transformed. Nearly three decades after immigrating to Israel, Belaynesh returned to her village in Ethiopia, this time as Israel's ambassador.
Two Israeli non-profit organizations are transforming lives. In our capital city, Jerusalem Village is connecting young immigrants to Jerusalem’s resident young adults. It arranges Shabbat dinners for 200 people and organizes Hebrew-speaking activities centered on photography, urban gardening, cooking, and even training for the Jerusalem Marathon. Meanwhile, over in Tel Aviv, 80 young professionals have paired up with some of Israel’s 200,000 Holocaust survivors in a unique volunteer effort called “Adopt-A-Safta”. Volunteers chat, play games, and go for walks, to movies or cafés with their adopted grandparents and do odd jobs for them.
You could say that Hurricane Sandy transformed East Coast US companies for the worse. But Israeli disaster recovery company Zerto prevented many from going out of business altogether by storing their vital information safely, several thousands of miles away from the danger area. Another Israeli company BT9 protects temperature-sensitive products from being transformed into rotting waste. BT9’s “Cold Chain Management” sensors monitor perishables being transported around the world and send out alerts when there is a problem.
The life of Israeli rower Jasmine Feingold was transformed twice. Three years ago an accident on the Yarkon River left her near to death and on a respirator. She spent a year at the Loewenstein Rehabilitation Center in Ra’anana – one of the best such facilities in the Middle East, if not in the world. Now Jasmine has just won the 2,000-meter event at the Israeli Rowing Championships and is working towards competing in the 2016 Olympics.
Finally, much has been written recently about the transformation of Israel’s 8th Grade schoolchildren’s performance in recent international math and science tests. In math alone, Israel’s position rose from 24th in 2007 to 7th in 2011 and Israel is now top of the western world. “What about Israeli-Arabs?” came the cry from the pessimists. Well the answer is that Israel’s Arabs achieved the highest scores of Arabs anywhere in the Middle East.
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Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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