Israel is at the Cutting Edge

Over the 65 years that the modern State of Israel has been in existence, the sharp minds of its scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs have been responsible for developing thousands of cutting-edge innovations that are still making a huge impact on our lives.  They include the solar water heater, amniocentesis testing, drip irrigation, desalination, Intel computer chips, instant messaging, the flash memory drive and a whole lot more.  Latest news shows that this creativity continues.

The first three recent medical items are intended to reduce surgical cutting to a minimum.  The area of medicine known as cell therapy has already begun to regenerate organs and repair diseases without traditional surgical methods.  There are 18 Israeli companies developing or marketing cell-based treatment products - and they all attended this week’s Israstem Conference in Ramat Gan.  Next, Israeli start-up Lev-El Diagnostics has teamed up with Sheba Medical Center researchers to create a mathematical algorithm that could save lives.  Normally patients with heart disease have to wear heart monitors for 24 - 48 hours before the results can be analyzed. The algorithm can diagnose problems in just one hour.  Finally, Israeli start-up Oxitone has developed a blood-oxygen monitor that can be worn on the wrist by those “at risk” to warn of any sudden deterioration in their condition. 

When there is no option other than to perform major surgical operations, Israeli help is of course available.  Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital were extremely grateful to the Israelis that helped set-up their disaster team two years ago.  Following another terrorist incident, Asael Lubotzsky knew exactly what he was cut out to do. When he finally recovered from the horrendous injuries caused by a Hezbollah rocket attack in 2006, he became an Israeli doctor.

Most of the beneficial results of medical science come at the end of years of cutting-edge research and development. Israel’s BiolineRX announced positive results from the Phase IIa clinical trial of BL-7040, an oral treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect as many as 1.4 million individuals in the US alone.  Sometimes a sudden breakthrough occurs, as happened when researchers at Tel Aviv University gave high-frequency “bursts” of electrical stimulation to rats and produced the same destructive plaques as found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. 

The Israelis working at the cutting-edge of Israeli medical science are the product of the Jewish State’s top Universities and scientific institutions.  46 per cent of Israel’s population has a college degree - only Canada has more.  So it was gratifying to read a rare positive article in the New York Times about Israel’s Technion Institute.  It also featured one of the 20 percent of students at the Technion who represent Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority.  Students at nearby Haifa University are busy promoting the State.  A Muslim Bedouin girl, several Druze, a Pole and 26 Israeli Jews are training to represent Israel as unofficial ambassadors.  Muslim Ayat Rahal said, “I want to show a true picture of Israel. It’s not all protests.”  And dozens of Haifa’s 800 overseas students from 40 countries wanted to let the world know that they share the desires and ambitions of local Israelis.

Dozens of multinational companies have established cutting-edge research and development (R&D) centers here in the Jewish State.  Israel’s high-tech industry - in the form of the Israel Advanced Technologies Industry group brought together representatives of 17 R&D labs of multinational companies, including Intel, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo, HP, Oracle, Philips and GE, who talked about the innovations and contributions they make to their parent companies.  And when Israel builds an industrial park you know it is going to be something special.  Such as the new industrial park in Nazareth, built to promote economic cooperation between the region’s diverse Jewish, Christian and Muslim citizens.  It is modeled on nearby Tefen Industrial Park, designed to bring together industrial, educational and cultural facilities all in one space to foster innovation, growth and peace.

Eight Israeli companies received the 2013 Red Herring's Top 100 Europe Award, given to Europe's leading private companies in recognition of their cutting-edge innovations and technologies.  Next year’s awards are likely to include the emergency response system from Israeli start-up NowForce, that cuts response times down to under 3 minutes at the fraction of the cost of traditional call center systems.  And the smartphone application, which dynamically displays almost everything you may need at the push of a button.

Finally, thanks to all these innovations, Israel’s $91 billion annual exports make Israel the 38th largest exporter in the world, although it has only the 97th largest population in the world.  And these exports are likely to improve further following the new Free Trade Agreement between Israel and India. This will expand the market for Israel’s cutting-edge healthcare, agriculture, irrigation, renewable energy, aviation, IT and water management products.

Israel’s innovations continue to keep us at the edge of our seats.

Keep tuned for another slice of the action.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

At the Dawn of a New Age

As we leave behind the celebrations of Israel’s independence, it is important not only to look back at what Israel has achieved in the past, but also at what Israel is doing right now!  Both indicators show that the Jewish State is leading mankind into a future that is vastly different both medically and technically from our current environment.

The world we are beginning to see is one where humans no longer suffer from dementia.  The research by Professor Michal Schwartz and her team at the Weizmann Institute highlights the changes in the brains of the elderly that prevent immune cells traveling to repair brain trauma. It opens up the possibility of new treatments to prevent brain degeneration.  Similarly, Parkinson’s will be cured – maybe using the sugar substitute mannitol that researchers from Tel Aviv University found to protect the brain against the disease. 

The “Big C” will one day be a thing of the past, thanks to specialists like Israel’s Professor Alexander Levitzki of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  The American Association for Cancer Research has just awarded him its 2013 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Chemistry in Cancer Research. Other problems with the immune system will be resolved.  Professor Rifaat Safadi’s team from Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem has already identified the way the system’s Neuroliglin 4 protein can either fight fatty liver disease or exacerbate it. 

Whilst on the subject of medicine, Israel’s Teva is the world’s largest producer of generic medications.  In the US, one in six prescriptions are for Teva products. CEO Jeremy Levin recently stated, "We are an Israeli company, and we will remain an Israeli company. At our Ashdod plant, whilst people (in Gaza) fire rockets, we make medicines.”

In the new golden age, no one would dream of accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.  Everyone will know how Israel’s hospitals employ Arab Muslims alongside Jews at all staff levels.  For example, 57-year-old cardiologist Dr. Aziz Darawshe from the Arab village of Iksal, near Nazareth is the new director of the emergency department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem, and chairman of the Israel Society for Urgent Medicine.  Everyone will hear that Israeli hospitals treat thousands of Palestinian Arab children every year.  Like siblings Ahmad and Hadil Hamdan from Gaza, who both suffer from chronic kidney disease and receive dialysis treatment at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.  Now just sit back and enjoy some beautiful images of Israel’s diverse population and cultures.

Israel is the world’s third most innovative country, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology survey of 61 experts from 20 countries.  Israel’s agricultural technology is starting to eliminate hunger in Africa, India and China.  The latest innovations include a low-cost robot milking machine from Israeli start-up MiRobot, which is marketed as “the greatest thing to happen in dairy farming in 100 years”.  MiRobot is embarking on a road show of the US with four other Israeli agri-tech start-ups including SolChip (solar powered livestock tracking sensors) and EdenShield (natural herbs to prevent insect infestation of plants).

Storage of electricity will soon become far more efficient than at present.  Two Israeli companies are at the forefront of this technology.  First, Tel Aviv’s Enstorage has produced the first ever Hydrogen-Bromine flow battery to be connected to the national grid. It is the cheapest, smallest and most powerful flow battery on the market.  The second company, Phinergy, impressed US President Obama with its evolutionary aluminum-air battery.  It can power an electric vehicle for up to 1,000 miles (1600 km) before needing a recharge – three times longer than any competitor.

There will be no drought or water shortages in tomorrow’s world.  Israel - the world’s most efficient user of water - invested NIS 3 billion in water infrastructures in 2012.  Israel is marketing its desalination and recycling facilities across the world.  Israel will also be an economic powerhouse.  Already its currency is the strongest in the world.  Of the 31 currencies monitored by Bloomberg, Israel’s shekel had the best performance in the first three months of 2013.  Reasons include Israel's stable growth and anticipation of the favorable economic impact of new natural gas flowing from the Tamar field.

But financial strength and technological advances alone are not enough.  “What the world needs now is love” and the composer of that song, Burt Bacharach, is coming to the Jewish State in July to perform some of his 70 top 40 hits.  We all should “Say a little prayer” and maybe we will receive a few “Magic Moments” to inspire us towards a better future.  Meanwhile our homegrown vocal group “The Fountainheads” has used the translation of the title of our National Anthem (Hatikvah) to energetically express this “Hope”.

Finally, to celebrate Israel’s 65th Independence Day, here is Israel21c’s list of the top 65 solutions that Israel has provided to some of the world’s most pressing problems.  Plus 65 things we love about Israel in 65 seconds.  See how many you agree with. 

From my blogs, you can probably find about 65,000 more! 

Enjoy the Sunrise.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

Happy birthday Israel - Presents for all

On Tuesday Israelis will be celebrating the 65th anniversary of Israel’s independence.  It is usual for people to be honored with presents on their birthday, but the Jewish philosophy is that it is better to give than to receive.  Here, therefore, are some of the Jewish State’s most recent contributions to the world.

Israel constantly bestows gifts to medical science. Researchers at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have just discovered the mechanisms that the body uses to shut down the immune system.  This knowledge may soon help patients with cancer and HIV.  Nearby, at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, scientists have found the genetic cause of PCD (primary ciliary dyskinesia), responsible for lung infections, sinusitis, frequent ear infections and fertility problems. In half of these cases, the heart, liver, stomach and spleen grow on the wrong side of the body.  Early diagnosis can reduce risks of subsequent damage.  Hadassah is also helping establish a new medical center in Varna, Bulgaria for bone marrow transplantation.

Israeli renewable energy technology could soon be used to fuel celebrations everywhere.  Ben Gurion University and the University of Michigan have just announced that they are to forge a research partnership on developing renewable technologies.  The program will research advanced vehicle fuels, solar energy and thermoelectric materials, which convert heat to electricity.  And a simple innovation by Sergey Biryukov at Ben Gurion University’s National Solar Energy Center could generate even more power from solar panels.  To remove dust from frequent storms Sergey came up with the idea of using an electrical field to “charge” the dust particles and repel them from the panels.  It looks just like someone blowing out birthday candles!

Many countries are already receiving benefit from Israeli clean technology.  One example is Israel’s Ormat Industries, which transforms energy from underground heat sources into electrical power.  Ormat has designed a 330-megawatt geothermal power plant in Northern Sumatra and will supply it with two geothermal energy converters.  About 2000 miles to the North East, China’s Guangdong Province Water Company is currently installing 75 water analyzing and control units supplied by Israel’s Blue I Water Technologies.

Two companies with close ties to Israel have also been celebrating recently.  Computer giant IBM Israel has enjoyed 40 years at its Haifa center where it developed the RS/6000 computer, ultrasound equipment and a HIV database.  Meanwhile, can you imagine how many “happy birthday” greetings have been sent via mobile phones in the 40 years since Martin Cooper of Motorola made the very first cell phone call in 1973?  Much of that technology was developed at Motorola’s development center in Haifa.

If you enjoy live rock music, then the Rock Independence Party on April 15 will be right up your street. The Rishon LeZion Park Amphitheater will be the venue to some of Israel’s biggest names in rock including Aviv Geffen, Barry Sacharov, Balkan Beat Box, Hadag Nahash, Mashina and Elisha Banai.  Alternatively you could simply relax on Tuesday with a bottle one of Israel’s award-winning wines.  I imagine that their taste is far superior to those that were produced in the 1500-year-old wine press discovered during the construction of a wedding hall near Hamei Yoav, east of Ashkelon in southern Israel.

If you live overseas, why not make a plan to visit Israel during its 66th year?  Don’t make excuses. Follow the example of 104-year-old Eleanor Hall from Richboro, Pennsylvania who is making her first pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  We can even provide luxury accommodation for your dog.  KelevLand will pamper your pooch with the best possible treatment – from mineral water on tap, to tummy rubs and acupuncture.  It also includes Israel’s DogTV television channel of course.

Finally, anyone suggesting that Israel doesn’t have sufficient international friends to celebrate its birthday with should read the new extensive report by Bar-Ilan Professor Efraim Inbar. It states that Israel’s international status has improved thanks to its social, economic, technological, financial, and diplomatic achievements. With its new energy reserves, water and agricultural technologies, things can only get better.

So let me wish everyone - Many happy returns to Israel.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to