Israel's Good News Newsletter to 15th Sep 19


·         Two Israelis can walk again thanks to 3D printed implants.
·         Critically ill patients can receive new Israeli liver cancer treatment.
·         Jerusalem lit up the sky to mark 18th anniversary of 9/11.
·         An Israeli-Arab molecular scientist’s amazing inventions.
·         Tel Aviv had a record number of air passengers in August.
·         A 2600-year-old seal of a Jewish government official has been found in Jerusalem.

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ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

3D printed implants to help two women walk. In an Israeli first, two women have each been given a 3D printed titanium alloy implant to replace a broken talus (the main connector between the foot and leg). Doctors at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva are confident that both women will soon be walking normally again.

Skin cancer treatment discovery. Researchers at Tel Aviv University and Sheba Medical Center have linked metastatic melanoma progression to a patient’s lipid (fatty acid) metabolism. Skin cancer is more sensitive to immune T-cells if the lipid metabolism is high. The scientists say the discovery can lead to new therapies.

Patients with Parkinson’s and Fibromyalgia. This is an example of how Israeli medical data helps research into diseases. Ben Gurion University’s Dr Yair Zlotnik has used the database of Israeli Health company Clalit to analyze patients with both Parkinson’s and fibromyalgia. The findings could lead to new treatment options.

Liver cancer treatment available. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (see here) on the Namodenoson (CF102) liver cancer treatment from Israel’s Can-Fite. After Phase 2 testing, a supply of CF102 has been manufactured for “compassionate use” on critically ill patients at Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva.

Intelligent ultrasound. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (Dec 2017) when GE Medical integrated the imaging analysis software from Israel’s DiA into its ultrasound devices. Now, DiA is to provide its artificially intelligent cardiac solutions for the point-of-care devices made by US ultrasound imaging company Terason.

Two-way texting to combat TB. Tuberculosis (TB) kills 1.6 million people a year. Israeli startup Keheala has developed a “low-tech” system whereby Keheala sends SMS reminders to patients in Kenya to take their meds. The patient must respond with an SMS otherwise a Keheala mentor gets involved. Trials were 96% successful.

More funds for cancer research. Every year (see here) the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) awards grants to Israeli researchers working to find cures and treatments for cancer. This year its 69 grants of $4.3 million focus on cancer genetics, targeted cancer therapies and immunotherapy. Read about some of the amazing work.

Unlocking medical data for research. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s MDClone system generates anonymous medical research data from real medical records. Customers include Israeli health companies Maccabi and Clalit and (in the US) Washington University hospital and Intermountain. MDClone has just raised $26 million of funds.

Terror victim becomes MDA paramedic. Dvir Schnerb was released from hospital two weeks after being critically wounded by a terrorist bomb that killed his sister. A few hours later he received his certification as a volunteer EMT for Magen David Adom. He said he will honor his sister’s memory by working to save lives.


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

Ethiopian tech team goes to Addis Ababa. I reported previously (4th Aug) on the recent Tech-Career event for members of the Israeli-Ethiopian community. The winners of the event’s hackathon travelled to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to showcase their initiatives at Ethiopia’s SolveIT Innovation Competition.

Putting female photographers in the picture. Dr Noam Gal is curator of “A Modern Love” - photography between 1900 and 1945 at the Israel Museum. He saw the exhibit lacked examples by a prolific group - female photographers. He then through searched the many gifts to the museum to create a much more balanced exhibit.

Saving the Galapagos iguanas. The diet of the iguanas of the Galapagos islands is dependent on unique algae, native to the islands. But during El-Nino events, the algae die, as do 90% of the iguanas. Scientists from Israel, the US, Germany and Ecuador have found microbes in the gut of surviving iguanas that could save the species.

Training for Nigerians practicing Judaism. (TY Algemeiner) NGO Shavei Israel organized a leadership and Jewish learning week in Onithsa, Nigeria for more than 250 local youth and 20 adults. These Nigerians are members of the Igbo ethnic group of which some 4,000 practice Judaism, professing descent from a lost tribe.

Meet the CEO of IsraAID. If you can get to Hollywood California on 19th Sep, I strongly registering for a lecture by Navonel “Voni” Glick, co- Chief Executive Officer at IsraAID. He will describe how his Israeli humanitarian aid organization responds when disasters strike around the world. Click for details.

Israeli honors memory of 9/11 victims. Israel marked the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks with its annual memorial ceremony to honor those who perished. For the first time, it included the "Tribute in Light" - 2 beams of light, shining up to 300 meters tall over Jerusalem, similar to the "Ground Zero" tribute in New York.

US Police Unity Tour in Israel. Nearly 50 high-ranking American police officers came to Israel as part of their annual Police Unity Tour.  During their 9-day visit, they marked the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks and embarked on a 2-day motorbike ride across Israel to honor officers killed in the line of duty.

IAF commander awarded Legion of Merit. The Legion of Merit is the United States’ sixth highest honor. It was recently awarded to Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin for his “exceptionally meritorious service” having “enhanced the cooperation and partnership between the United States and Israel.”


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

More investment into plastic recycling. (TY Atid-EDI) The Israel Innovation Authority has approved the establishment of the CIRCLE consortium, and investment of NIS 30 million, to promote the development of recycling technologies, and the use of recycled materials in Israel’s plastics industry.

Recycling wastewater naturally. I reported previously (Dec 2017) about Ben Gurion University Professor Amit Gross’s natural biofiltration treatment of wastewater. At the Kornmehl Goat Cheese Farm and Restaurant in the Negev desert, Anat and Daniel Kornmehl use these techniques to help make their desert oasis bloom.

Recycling in the Negev. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (Dec 2012) when Israel’s Negev Ecology opened the Harov waste treatment plant in the Negev. It also operates the Negev’s Dudaim Recycling plant and is now building a new NIS 70 million facility there to significantly increase the recycling of waste in Southern Israel.

From the molecular to the macro. Ben-Gurion University Professor Muhammad Bashouti (an Israeli Arab) has used his research into molecular properties to invent some amazing devices. An optical biosensor to diagnose disease; lens filters for diabetics; and molecular solar cells. These are now being commercialized.

New cybersecurity incubator in Be’er Sheva. Israel’s OurCrowd has launched its Labs/08 incubator in Be’er Sheva. Like Jerusalem’s Labs/02, it supports software startups focusing on massive data emanating from 5G. Labs/08 is partnering with Soroka University Medical Center and the Israel National Cyber Directorate.

STEM preschool in Jerusalem. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli initiatives to introduce tech and business skills to children in kindergarten. Now Lockheed Martin, Rashi Foundation, Jerusalem’s municipality and Ministry have launched a new “Madakids” preschool in Jerusalem focused on technology and science.

Using DNA to store data. Researchers at Israel’s Technion Institute and the IDC in Herzliya have significantly optimized the process needed to store digital information. They demonstrated storing ten million gigabytes, in a single gram of synthetic DNA. Further developments could reduce the size of computer server farms.

Electric train test successful. (TY Janglo) Israel Railways has just completed the first full trial run of its new electric train service from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  The line is scheduled to be operational by the end of the year and provide a 28-minute service between Tel Aviv’s Haganah and Jerusalem’s Yitzhak Navon stations.

Israel prioritizes 32 ag-tech startups. 32 of Israel’s best agriculture technology companies are to get more access to Government funds. They will also be showcased to investors looking for innovation in agriculture, especially biotechnology, robotics, sensors, plant protection, aquaculture, animals and IT systems.

Food system intelligence. One of the 32 Israeli Ag-tech startups above is Trellis. It uses Artificial Intelligence to help food and beverage companies optimize their supply chains. Its AI systems neutralize seasonal instability and risk of crop harvests with real time harvest predictions. https://trellis.ag/ 

Find a parking space. I’ve reported previously (see here) on Israeli apps to help find car parking spaces in busy cities. This article describes two more – ParKam and Parknav. ParKam uses CCTV infrastructure and predictions. Parknav uses cell-towers, mobile-payments, car-sharing data, car sensors and satellite images.

Hunting for code vulnerabilities. Israeli cybersecurity startup Snyk helps app developers detect and fix security vulnerabilities in computer code. Snyk has offices in Tel Aviv, London, Boston and Ontario and its customers include Google, Microsoft and Salesforce.  Google has just led a $70 million funding round in Snyk.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Israel’s global economic success. (TY Stuart) Some positive statistics about Israel’s economy. Israeli exports rose 3% to NIS 55 billion in the first half of 2019, despite the shekel’s continuing appreciation in value. Exports to Europe increased by 12% and 30% of all exports were hi-tech.

Ben Gurion airport’s busiest month ever.  Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport in August saw a record 2.8 million passengers - over 2% higher than August 2018.  July’s 2.4 million passengers was 10% more than July 2018. Meanwhile, passenger traffic between Israel and China is up over 23% this year compared to 2018.

Four of top 50 entrepreneurial universities are Israeli. The Pitchbook Research Institute ranks the top 50 undergraduate programs globally that produce the most VC-backed entrepreneurs. Its latest list has Tel Aviv University (8), Technion Institute (14), Hebrew University of Jerusalem (34), and Ben-Gurion University (49).

Helping small businesses grow. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli startup vCita claims to have everything a small business needs. Appointments, customer relationships, payments and marketing. And a very effective customer-friendly web app interface. With around 100,000 clients, vCita has raised $15 million of funds to grow itself.

Baxter catches Cheetah. I reported previously (Mar 2012) on Israel’s Cheetah Medical and its systems for monitoring patients in hospital. Cheetah’s systems are now used in 400 hospitals in 30 countries.  Cheetah’s fast growth has caught the eye of Baxter International which has acquired Cheetah for at least $190 million.

McDonald’s eats Israeli speech recognition startup. Israeli-founded Apprente develops AI and speech-based conversational customer service automation technology for use in noisy environments such as drive-throughs. It had just the ingredients that fast food giant McDonald’s wanted to establish its new McD Tech Labs.

Fieldin looks to grow its field. I reported previously (Oct 2016) on Israel’s Fieldin and its technology that reduces use of pesticides on crops. Fieldin now monitors over 1 million dunams of crops in California alone and has just raised $12 million of funds for R&D and to expand its sales and client management teams.

MyHeritage expands its family. Israeli genealogy company MyHeritage has acquired Utah-based River Road Bio (RRB). This means MyHeritage inherits RRB’s SNPedia website and its Promethease DNA report analyser. SNPedia explains the effects of variations in DNA.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

Oud festival celebrates 20 years.  (TY Janglo) The annual Oud Festival marks its 20th year with ten days of 13 events, from Nov 21 - 30, in a number of Jerusalem venues. Performers include musicians from Turkey, Armenia, the USA, India and Israel, many of whom have roots in Arab countries.

Clogs & Camels. (TY Robert) VeryGoodNewsIsrael subscriber Robert Barzelay is the editor of Klompen & Kamelen (Clogs and Camels). 48 short stories by 30 Dutch and Flemish authors about life and survival in Israel. Proceeds go to two Israeli charities - IsraAID and Aleh. Please pass on these details to Dutch readers.

Potentially shattering, but not speed records. Israeli artist Boris Shpeizman’s childhood dream was to own a motorcycle. Now he has built one - entirely out of glass. Shpeizman works with “hot glass,” a technique where glass is heated to a liquid so it can be blown into shapes like the wheels and handlebars of a motorcycle.

New Israeli stamps. (TY Jacob Richman) New Israeli stamps issued for September 2019 include Honey flowers (for Rosh Hashana), the Sehrane (Khurdistan Jews) festival, Fighting breast cancer, Autumn flowers, 25-years of Israel-Vatican relations and Israeli Air Force jets. https://jr.co.il/stamps/index-2019.html


THE JEWISH STATE

First Temple bulla found in Jerusalem. (TY Zev) A 2,600-year-old bulla (imprint of the seal) of a Judean King’s senior officer has been uncovered in dirt excavated near the Western Wall. The bulla is inscribed with the name of "Adenyahu Asher Al HaBayit," meaning "Adenyahu by Appointment of the House".

Where was the Temple scroll written? (TY UWI & ILTV) A new study of the 2000-year-old Dead Sea Temple Scroll shows that it was additionally protected by a layer of inorganic material that was used by the Babylonians and Greeks. The minerals comprising it were not available in the Dead Sea region.

Underprivileged boys celebrate at Kotel. (TY UWI) 15 boys from underprivileged families celebrated their Bar Mitzvot at the Kotel (Western Wall). The families were financed by the municipality of Rishon Letzion and the regional religious council.

Dutch Christians donate huge menorah to Sderot. Dutch Christian Zionists have donated Europe’s largest Hanukkah menorah to the Israeli city of Sderot. They wanted to show solidarity with Sderot’s residents’ in their plight over rocket attacks from Gaza. The 36-foot menorah is shaped like a Star of David and has a 6-ton base.

The largest Birthright event outside Israel. 2,500 Birthright alumni attended a mega-event in Odessa, Ukraine, designed to encourage potential candidates to sign up for a trip to Israel. The festivities included a performance by Ukrainian band Boombox and was attended by Odessa’s deputy mayor.

Our common destiny. 30 global Jewish scholars met Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem before preparing a “Declaration of Our Common Destiny” on the shared values and principles by which world Jewry will abide by. It includes being a “light unto the nations,” and to help develop and improve the world.