On the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Law) we read how the universe was created – starting with the four words “Let there be light”. Today, Israeli solar energy projects light up countless homes. However, the Jewish State also has found another way to illuminate millions of lives – by removing the darkness itself.
It is sad to see the shadowy effects of aging on previously brilliant minds. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute may therefore have opened up the promise of a brighter tomorrow. They have discovered that the protein interferon beta impairs the cognitive ability of the brain – common in old age. New treatments that block or remove this protein may one day prevent or reverse cognitive decline and rejuvenate the brain. Israeli biotech Compugen has discovered another “murky” protein, codenamed CGEN-15049 that prevents the immune system from destroying tumors. Attacking CGEN-15049 could prevent cancers of the lung, ovaries, breast, colon, stomach, prostate and liver. A new treatment may already be underway thanks to FutuRx - a new Government-funded incubator for Israeli bio-techs.
Watching someone being treated successfully for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is like seeing a dark cloud lifted. So we hope for only blue skies from now on, now that the US FDA has fast-tracked the NurOwn ALS treatment developed by Israel’s Brainstorm. On the other hand, those suffering from the dry form of age-related macular degeneration (dry-AMD) may develop dark areas on the retina of the eye, causing progressive blindness. OpRegen, developed by Israel’s CellCure NeuroSciences is hoping to become the first approved therapy for dry-AMD.
Irrespective of whether the forces of darkness are biological, social or man-made, Israel will try to defeat them. The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Mashav department is sending three Israeli-manufactured mobile emergency clinics to West Africa to help try to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading. Meanwhile, at home, the Israeli Government has approved a budget increase of NIS 1.7 billion to fight poverty. And then Israeli surgeons toiled for hours in order to save the life of a Syrian boy who was shot in the neck during Syria’s civil war. The doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center removed a bullet, just millimeters from the main blood vessels in the five-year-old’s neck.
Scientists believe that a mysterious Dark Matter comprises much of the known universe, but cannot prove it. Dr Ran Budnik of Israel’s Weizmann Institute is lead scientist on the project to build the prototype of a device to detect the result of dark matter particles colliding with liquid xenon. In a more practical context, Mekorot, Israel’s national water company doesn’t want its engineers to work in the dark. It is the first firm in the world to equip its field workers with smart glasses – Epson’s Moverio BT-200 devices. It’s also the first to be deploying a commercial app - by Israeli startup FieldBit - to receive specific guidance and instruction when they repair high-tension electricity installations at Mekorot’s facilities.
Israel leads the world in defending against criminal forces. Two products of Israel’s Magal-Senstar won awards at the 2014 ASIS Accolades Competition: Security’s Best Award. Its RoboGuard robot patrols security fences and its CyberSeal protects against cyber attacks. Meanwhile, Russian software giant Kaspersky Lab, known for its popular anti-virus system, is to open a development center in Jerusalem next year - one of its few outside of Russia. Then Israel’s CyberSpark initiative received a boost when Carole and Marcus Weinstein donated $5 million to sponsor the building of a new Cyber Security center at Ben Gurion University. But it was a low-tech Israeli security solution that caught the eye when Israel’s Seatylock announced its neat way to turn a bicycle saddle into a bike lock.
The forces of darkness have nothing to match the force protecting the Jewish State from above. Readers, however, may be amused to know that Israel even has a law for Angels. The Government is amending the Angel Investors Law, granting tax incentives to those investing in start-ups at the seed stage of research and development. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said it “will ensure that the New Year will be one of entrepreneurship and encouragement of investment in high tech.” That should demoralize the dim-witted Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions thugs even further. The UK’s evil BDS losers are already distraught over the latest economic news that bilateral trade between Israel and the UK rose by 28% between January and August, reaching record levels. Israeli exports to the UK were worth £1.6 billion, up 38%.
Finally, the light dawned on 19-year-old twins Fatima and Zukra Islambakov who were born in Uzbekistan and even attended Muslim schools. Then they discovered their Jewish roots, immigrated to Israel and joined the IDF where they are currently helping to protect the Jewish State against the forces of darkness.
Israel – everyone's best hope for a bright future.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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