Freedom Begins Here

Recent news is full of examples of how freedom continues to be championed by the Jewish State, where the concept began.  This is particularly appropriate at this time of year, in the lead-up to Passover - the Jewish festival of freedom.

Every week, Israeli discoveries and developments gives freedom to many suffering from deadly diseases.  March is Israel’s colon cancer awareness month, highlighting the decline of fatalities due to early diagnosis.  Genetic diseases Progressive Cerebro-Cerebellar Atrophy (PCCA and PCCA2) can now be detected in prospective parents thanks to a simple blood test developed by Dr. Ohad Birk of Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva.  And further breakthroughs in fighting neurological diseases are almost certain, with the establishment by the Weizmann Institute and the Max Planck Society of a new laboratory for Experimental Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurogenetics in Rehovot.

Arabs in Israel have more freedom than in any other country in the Middle East.  20 percent of students at Israel’s Technion are Arab. 100 have graduated from Technion’s NAM (Outstanding Arab Youth) program since 2006 and are now embarking on successful careers in hi-tech and engineering.  And as Chairman of “Druze for Israel” Mendi Safadi explains, Arabs, Christians, Druze and Jews are all equal in Israel. Mendi was born in the Golan Heights on the border with Syria and highlights Israel’s humanitarian aid to the beleaguered civilians of Israel’s neighbor.

It is significant that Israeli cooperation with the “Land of the Free” continues to go from strength to strength.  The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act.  The bill promotes bi-lateral military, energy, water, science, homeland security, and agriculture co-operation.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also signed a Research & Development agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown, focusing on water, energy, storage and cyber security.  Then, over 1,000 senior executives from around the world came to Israel Dealmakers Summit 2014 in New York to hear about Israeli innovation in Digital Media, Cleantech, Mobile, Internet, Big Data, Semiconductors, Software, Healthcare and Telecom. But the message really came home when it was announced that America’s symbol of freedom - the Statue of Liberty – is to incorporate Israel’s BriefCam in its state-of-the-art surveillance system. Briefcam’s unique Video Synopsis software solution enables law enforcement and security personnel to review hours of video in minutes.

Freedom of trade is bringing Israeli innovations to other parts of the world too.  Japanese companies Takeda, Rakuten, Samurai Incubate and now the Japan External Trade Organization are investing in the Israeli startup market in search of new technologies to expand their businesses.  Over in Europe, Israeli biotech Insuline has announced a new distribution agreement for marketing its InsuPad product in the Netherlands and Belgium.  InsuPad gives more freedom to diabetics by increasing the effectiveness of Insulin injections, lowering the required dose and allowing flexibility on timing the injections.

One of the most powerful aspects of liberty is “Freedom of the Mind”.  The Israeli education system encourages its citizens to aim for the highest level of achievement.  For example Israel’s National Science Day celebrates the birthday of Albert Einstein with the scheduling of hundreds of events at universities and research institutes.  And Israeli students were in free flight at the 54th Israel Annual Conference on Aerospace Sciences. It included a competition for students to build unique aircraft, which resulted in a mechanical bird, a short take-off drone, an electric passenger plane and an autonomous cluster of satellites.  Israel freely shares its educational developments with the world.  Israeli accelerator MindCet incubates education technology start-ups in Tel Aviv and in the Negev.  Its founders went to SXSWedu in Austin Texas, along with start-ups CodeMonkey, Simlisco and RoadStory to explain how technology can significantly change teaching and learning processes.

Some sections of the community will benefit from Israeli support and technology in order to achieve maximum freedom in today’s society.  The UpWest Labs Female Entrepreneurship Program, funded by Google, is establishing a network of mentors in Silicon Valley and Israel.  Its co-founder Shuly Galili said, “Israel leads the world in empowering women to take command.”  Meanwhile, delegates at the recent AIPAC conference saw a demonstration of EyeMusic – a tool developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that provides visual information for the blind.  Shapes, colors and locations are converted to music in order to give an audible “picture” of objects.

Finally, here is an opportunity for those who want the freedom to become independent, self-sufficient and resilient.  In this “life-changing experience”, Naale Elite Academy enables students to complete their last three years of high school in Israel. The program, co-funded by the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency, provides a full scholarship with all expenses paid until graduation.

Israel – for the freedom to be yourself.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
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