A Happy State of Mind

The Jewish festival of Purim begins on Sunday and is one of the happiest events in the Hebrew calendar.  No surprise then that this week’s blog takes an even more cheerful view of the Israeli news than usual.

Israelis have become experts in formulating treatments that keep the brain in a happy and healthy state.  Professor Marta Weinstock-Rosin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem just received the Israel Prize for developing Exelon, currently undergoing Phase II trials for treating dementia related to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.  Meanwhile, Israeli biotech D-Pharm has announced successful interim results in the Phase IIa clinical trial of its drug THR-18 for the treatment of cerebral stroke.  Investors in D-Pharm were happy to see the share price double, despite the treatment trials taking place in the Ukraine.

One Israeli charity - Life’s Door - Tishkofet focuses on returning happiness to the bereaved and family members of seriously ill patients. In its ten years it has helped more than 10,000 individuals.  Professor Ben Corn of Tel Aviv University founded the organization after losing his father to cancer and finding no one to help with the trauma.  The elderly and the infirm can happily stay in their own homes now that Israeli life-science company Essence has launched the in-home care monitoring solution Care-at-Home.  The system learns a person's everyday routine and detects any deviations, such as skipped meals, reduced activity or unusual events.


Arabs have a happier and healthier lifestyle in the Jewish State than anywhere else in the Middle East.  In fact, Israeli Arabs live longer than Americans.  As the new book “Liberal Oasis: The Truth About Israel” by Joshua Muravchik states, “Israel has done better in evening out the differences between its Jewish and Arab citizens than most countries encompassing sharply diverse nationalities.”  Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will be happy to endorse that, having just inaugurated the “Center for Excellence You-niversity” – an academic center for Arab girls in Beit Hanina, East Jerusalem.  Hundreds of Syrians are happy to admit that their leaders misled them about Israel.  Just as Israeli hospitals start to receive wounded Ukranians, Dr. Massad Barhoum, Director General of Israel’s Western Galilee Hospital (and a Christian Arab) spoke at the AIPAC conference about treating casualties from Syria’s civil war.


Anyone concerned with the environment will be happy to hear that a delegation of 15 Israeli energy and water companies is headed to San Francisco and Chicago.  The solutions they present address some of the world’s biggest challenges such as energy storage, smart management of electricity networks, production of oil and gas from unconventional sources and more.  Back home, Israeli start-up Valentis is developing a thinner, greener packaging material that has a strength-to-weight ratio 8 times greater than stainless steel.  The material is based on nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), a biodegradable, transparent material made from plant pulp waste. 

Israeli sweets and toys can trigger a happy state of mind.  First, anyone with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance or following a gluten-free lifestyle will be happy with the new chocolate/yoghurt clusters from Israel’s Carmit Candy Industries.  These healthier sweets contain combinations of gluten-free cereals and dried fruits or nuts.  And who can resist watching children playing happily with their toys?  The innovative toys manufactured by Israel’s TinyLove have an added bonus as they also promote children’s development skills.


Two Israelis will be feeling particularly happy following their successes in the Hollywood Oscars.  Niv Adiri added to the BAFTA he’d won previously for his team’s work on the sound of the multi-award winning film "Gravity."  Also celebrating was Arnon Milchan who co-produced “12 Years a Slave” which won the top prize of Best Picture.  Another happy couple is IDF Captain Ziv Shilon and his girlfriend Adi Sitbon.  One year ago, Ziv lost an arm in a Hamas attack but bravely returned to duty shortly afterwards.  I’m happy to report that at a “Friends of the Israel Defense Forces” event in Florida, Ziv proposed to Adi, and she was very happy to accept.


This year, the Jewish festival of Purim takes place within a week of Israel’s “Good Deeds Day”, which aims to make millions of Israelis happy by encouraging cooperation between Israel’s different communities.  Whatever you decide to do for Purim, take a moment to watch Israelis dance to the sounds of Pharrell Williams’s song “Happy” with background scenes of Tel Aviv / Yafo.


Finally, if you stare hard at the full moon during the night of Purim, don’t be surprised if you see a smiling face emerge.  It probably will only be an illusion, due to too much of the traditional Purim “happy juice”, but you never know - it just might be a celestial appreciation of the planned attempt by Israel’s SpaceIL to place its 140kg LunarX satellite on the heavenly body and win Google’s $30 million prize.  The project is being publicized nationally and is having a happy effect on thousands of Israeli schoolchildren.

Happy landings!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com

Things can Only get Better

Things can Only get Better

As readers of my weekly positive newsletter will know, there has been a huge surge in the volume of Israel’s medical discoveries, scientific advances, agricultural innovations, water technology and humanitarian activities recently.  Despite the chaos in many other countries, I believe that better times are on their way for the rest of the world.

Israel’s medical innovations are making a better life for everyone.  The announcement of Israel Technion’s plans to establish an International Center for Cardiovascular Innovation will lead to better ways to treat heart disease – the world’s leading cause of death.  For Israeli Danny Oberman, his 2013 cardiac “incident” led him to develop the GPS-based CathMaps plus - a better method for Android and iOS smartphone users to find the nearest catheterization lab and share their medical history with cardiologists.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has better knowledge than most of what visiting foreign Heads of State want from the Jewish State.  As he told delegates at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, their three requirements are “Israeli technology, Israeli technology and Israeli technology.”  For example, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen cites as his model Israel's success as a "start-up" nation brimming with high-tech innovation.  Finland has been purchasing millions of Euros of Israeli technology.  Similarly, relations between Israel and Cyprus have never been better, according to Cyprus’ Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulines.  There is good cooperation on security, energy, water management, science and technology.

Over 70 young Israeli entrepreneurs showed United Nations representatives better solutions for global problems at the Israeli Designed International Development (ID2) conference in Caesarea.  Innovations demonstrated included plants that give off light at night.  Meanwhile, Israel’s Evogene has launched PoinTar, a computationally based target discovery platform for generating better herbicides.  It identifies key molecules that can be chemically targeted to prevent weed growth.  Staying with agro technology, India’s Dr. Akhilesh Kumar came to work at Israel’s Vulcani Agricultural Research Institute in order to develop better strains of potatoes and solar-powered storage in order to feed India’s hungry population all year round.

Angola’s population will appreciate the better quality drinking water that will flow from fifty filtration systems to be supplied by Israel’s Amiad Water Systems. Amiad also just won one of Israel’s Outstanding Exporter awards.  California, in the grip of its most severe drought since 1977, will be far better off once it completes the Israeli-designed desalination plant near San Diego. Israel’s IDE Technologies is one of the main engineering contractors building the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere.

Israel has been proficient recently in developing better battery technologies.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has boosted the power of sodium-ion batteries with a new type of anode.  Also Israel’s EnStorage received nearly 1 million dollars as a BIRD Foundation grant for its Hydrogen Bromide flow battery development.  Meanwhile Professor Doron Aurbach of Bar Ilan University won the prestigious 2014 International Battery Association Yeager Award for advancing battery technology, especially rechargeable magnesium batteries.

Israeli apps are currently rated better than ever.  Israeli cyber-security companies received eleven awards at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco, including Votiro, which won gold in the “Innovations in Next Generation Security” category.  At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Israeli companies picked up five awards.  Israel’s PointGrab’s CamMe won “most innovative app” with EverythingMe one of five finalists.  Wibbitz won “best mobile publishing product or service” for its unique text-to-video technology.

There is just enough room to wish Mazel Tov to my friend, Tel Aviv Radio TLV1’s DJ Antithesis who has found his “better half” and is getting married this week.  There should be some great music at his wedding.  And Israel’s soccer fans will hope for better results from its national team with its favorable draw in the qualifying stages of the 2016 European Nations Cup.

I want to leave you with the knowledge that it is the dedication of the people of Israel that makes life better for everyone.  The staff at Israel’s Beit Issie Shapiro are bringing a better tomorrow to those born with both severe mental and physical disabilities. You would hardly believe that children like Roni, Eytan, Nevo and Liora could, for example, learn to use iPads to help them develop to their full potential.  You can also help Beit Issie and Eytan by sponsoring his dad in the London marathon.

Finally two mature Israeli professors have been busy throughout their lives making a better world for all of us. Whilst at Israel’s Weizmann Institute, molecular geneticist Professor Michel Revel developed treatments for MS, ALS and diabetes.  Now at 75 years of age, he works at his own biotech company Kadimastem developing pluripotent stem cells as a regenerative medicine solution for all three diseases.  And I hope that you will find a new biography about renowned Israeli cardiac surgeon Professor Joseph Borman particularly heartwarming. “Open Hearts: A Memoir” describes how during the 1967 Six-Day War he saved the life of critically injured soldier Doron Lancet.  Doron eventually went on to lead the Israeli team that helped map the human genome to give us a better understanding of the causes of genetic diseases.
Are we on the way up? 

You’d better believe it!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com

It Happened Here First

You probably already know about the most famous of Israeli “firsts”. Such as Intel’s microchip breakthroughs, SMS technology, the digestible camera and cherry tomatoes.  But every week there is news of exciting discoveries and innovations from the Jewish State. Last week, there was even more than usual.

Dr. Itai Amir of Israel’s Maayanei Hayeshua hospital discovered a new strain of bacteria when examining a patient’s blood culture. The microorganism – named Eisenbergiella Tayi - assists in digestion and has attracted major scientific interest.  And in another discovery, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have identified the cause of the dreadful intestinal inflammation side effects of chemotherapy.  The scientists isolated the protein Interleukin-1 (IL-1 beta), and are confident that its effects can be blocked.

Three “first of their kind” Israeli medical devices were in the news recently.  Israel’s BioControl Medical has developed the first device to treat chronic heart failure using neuro-stimulation.  It works by stimulating the vagus nerve on the right side of the neck. Trials are currently being conducted at 80 medical centers in the US, Europe and Israel.  Next, CerOx from Israel’s Ornim is the first and only non-invasive device on the market monitoring blood flow to the brain in patients with severe brain trauma.  It uses ultrasound and near-infrared light to measure oxygen saturation and prevent brain damage.  But pride of place goes to Israel’s Brainsway, which has launched a new era in the treatment of brain disorders such as Parkinson’s and Schizophrenia. Brainsway’s Deep Brain Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has also received CE approval to treat depression and its systems have just been installed at Stockholm's Karolinska University Hospital.  Sweden has one of the highest rates of depression in the world.

Israel is always the first to respond to international humanitarian disasters such as in Haiti and the Philippines.  But it has also become the first State that countries call on to request all sorts of assistance.  For example, a team of Israeli scientists has just gone to Bhubaneswar in India, to test a pilot program called “phyto-remediation” that uses plants to remove pollutants from contaminated wetlands.  In another venture, Israel and Germany are launching “The Africa initiative" - a joint project for humanitarian relief in those developing countries.  And the Greek charity Bouroume has made its first visit to Israel to see how Leket Israel organizes 50,000 volunteers to pick, rescue and distribute fresh produce to the needy.  No wonder 170 countries nominated Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, for his first role since Israel joined a UN Human Rights group.  Ambassador Prosor was chosen to run the elections for the UN Human Rights Committee!

When Israeli cleantech company Energy Industries is called on to implement environmentally friendly energy solutions for its customers it always looks first for local natural resources.  So in Ghana it extracts methane from a local landfill site, and in Georgia, hot springs are used to power greenhouses.  Over in California, the 392-megawatt concentrating solar power (CSP) plant built by Israel’s BrightSource Energy has commenced operations.  The five-square-mile Ivanpah solar energy generating system in the Mojave Desert is generating nearly 30 percent of all of the US’s solar power.  It has even inspired a pop music album – and that must be a first for a solar power station.

Three new Israeli innovations provide “first-contact” alternatives for computer users.  You can use the gesture technology from Pointgrab and become one of the first to operate your Lenovo computer from up to two meters away, even in low light conditions.  Or obtain a first-class degree by using the N-trig active pen to write over electronic lecture notes on your Intel Educational Tablet. But first prize must go to the UpSense Super Keyboards from Israel’s Inpris.  They are the first-ever invisible keyboards to enable fast typing by either blind or fully sighted users.  You can even help finance their launch and be the first to receive one.

Before you answer any accusation that Israel always puts its Jewish citizens first, first read my weekly newsletter.  Every week it contains news stories about Israel’s minorities, such as the Israel Education Ministry’s national program to encourage Arab children to read at home.  Maktabat al-Fanoos (“Lantern Library”) will deliver 4 first-stage books free to over 45,000 children at 1,750 pre-school kindergartens in Arab communities.  Over the border, Jordan is the first foreign country to purchase supplies of Israel’s new natural gas deposits.  And one year after Israel first started treating Syrians wounded in their civil war, Israeli doctors at Rambam Medical Center discharged a six-year-old Syrian boy who had first arrived six weeks earlier in a coma. His father was overjoyed, as his son was the last surviving member of his family.

Not for the first time, I’ll finish with an animal story.  Achziv is the first ever beach on Israel’s Northern Mediterranean coast to be declared an internationally recognized protected dolphin habitat.  Achziv offers deep waters for the dolphins to feed in.  I suspect, however, that these intelligent creatures are not the first to recognize that the Jewish State is a safe haven from troubled waters.

Please spread the word about Israeli innovation.

And remember - you read it here first!

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com