Israel Confronts Crisis

If you analyze the news for the most serious problems affecting the planet, they would include disease, hunger, drought, natural disasters and terrorism.  Israel’s superb work to combat these menaces deserves far more publicity.  Here are some recent examples.

The risk of contracting cancer is now estimated at 1 in 2, which puts the deadly disease firmly into the crisis category.  Weizmann scientists have just developed a triple-effect treatment to kill lung cancer cells and prevent them from returning.  The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has designed a tiny antenna that can be inserted into the stomach to detect and treat early-stage gastric tumors too small to be treated by current methods.  Meanwhile, Israel’s VBL Therapeutics reported interim results from its Phase 2 trials of its VB-111 advanced ovarian cancer treatment that reduced tumor size by at least 50% and also extended the survival of patients with aggressive brain cancer (glioblastoma).  And finally, let’s hear it for Israel Prize laureate Dr. Haim (Howard) Cedar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem whose work to detect wrongly reproduced instructions in the DNA may one day not merely cure, but actually prevent cancer from forming.

The media warns us that the next medical crisis will occur when bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics and that there is insufficient research into alternatives.  But almost every week Israeli biotechs announce advances in this area.  Such as the P-1000 optical device from Pocared Diagnostics that performs bacteria tests in minutes and even identifies which antibiotics the bacteria is resistant to.  Or the pulsed light research at Tel Aviv University that kills the listeria bacteria in infected milk products.  In fact using pulsed light once a day may mean that milk no longer requires refrigeration.  Finally, Redhill Biopharma, which has just completed a Phase III successful trial of RHB-105 for H. pylori infections, the major cause of stomach cancer.

According to the World Bank, there is a crisis in food security, with one-third of global child deaths due to malnutrition.  Thankfully, Israel’s agricultural expertise is combatting this crisis.  The new government of India has deployed Israeli technology to feed its growing population in almost every state, the latest being Goa.  Visit the Israeli Pavilion at the Milano Expo to see Israel’s Hinoman, which is cultivating Mankhai, a sustainable vegetable containing more protein than meat or fish.  It is also high in vitamins, low in carbohydrate, fat, sugar and salt and is GMO, gluten and pesticide free.

There is an even bigger global crisis with drought.  So Israel has just signed an agreement to share its best practices on water with the World Bank.  The water crisis affects even developed countries and Israeli water technology experts are busy working in the Californian cities of Sacramento, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.  

Ironically, too much water is one cause of the many crises from recent natural disasters.  Massive floods in Texas killed dozens and impacted thousands.  So the Israeli organization IsraAID sent a team of volunteers to help remove debris from damaged houses.  And in Tbilisi, the east European capital of Georgia, a team of Israeli veterinarians helped rescue wild animals that escaped during severe floods.  Meanwhile, IsraAID also launched its "A Roof for All" program to provide safe and sturdy transitional shelter for thousands of displaced families who lost their homes as a result of the last two devastating earthquakes in Nepal.

Israel is a key player in solving the world’s energy crisis.  Despite its recent discovery of huge deposits of natural gas, Israel is firmly at the forefront of renewable energy developments.  Israel’s latest billion-dollar company, SolarEdge has just released a new solar energy storage system and expanded its commercial products.  And with Israel’s Ecoppia cleaning system, 5 million solar panels are now keeping free of the dust and sand that reduces efficiency by up to 40 percent.  Meanwhile, those companies still having to clean-up after oil-spill crises will be encouraged that Hebrew University of Jerusalem scientists have developed a reagent that converts the oil into carbon dioxide and water.  And a new fast-deployed oil-spill containment boom from Israeli startup HARBO will provide a major improvement on disaster response times.

Israel’s work to combat the world terrorism crisis would take up too much room than I have available here.  Suffice it to say, however, that eleven Israeli companies exhibited products at the recent Paris Air Show.  One new Israeli device will prevent an on-board crisis should a pilot lose consciousness.  The Cannary flight helmet smart system from Tel Aviv’s Lifebeam has sensors that measure the pilot’s vital signs and will take control of the plane in order to prevent disasters. 

Finally, some 150 of the Jewish world’s leading change-makers from 32 countries gathered in Jerusalem for the 2015 ROI Summit.  They will no doubt learn to combat many crises as they seek to build a thriving Jewish future and a better world.

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

What Boycott?

One of my readers suggested that I write another anti-boycott article, to follow up this, this, this, this and this.  So I just took excerpts from Israel’s positive news over the last 3 weeks and will let you make up your minds as to whether or not there is a boycott.

The European center of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is in the British Isles (Ireland and the UK).  But you wouldn’t be able to infer that from the close relationship that Dublin’s Trinity College has with Israel’s Weizmann and Technion Institutes.  Their joint research into treatments for cancer and inflammatory diseases is phenomenal.  And as British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Sajid Javid said, during the annual British Israel Business Awards event, “The past few years have been a golden era for Anglo-Israeli business”.  Mr Javid, a “proud British-born Muslim”, told the audience “I share Israel’s love for freedom and democracy.”  So it is no wonder that British Airways is upgrading its service between London Heathrow and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion by operating its new wide-body Boeing 787 “Dreamliner”.

There is definitely no boycott in the field of Medicine. For example, the Joint Accreditation Committee of the International Society for Cellular Therapy & European Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation (JACIE) has recognized the Bone Marrow Transplantation departments of Israel’s Hadassah and Schneider medical centers.  It will increase opportunities for international research.  However, don’t listen to the BBC if you want to know what’s really going on in the world.  The biased corporation gave fanfare to a Belgium ovary transplant story, but made no mention of a similar Israeli one two weeks earlier.  And the BBC totally ignored the vital teamwork of Professor Jacob Schachter from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center when reporting the melanoma treatment breakthrough at UK’s Royal Marsden hospital.

Staying in the medical arena, Canada is definitely one of Israel’s best friends.  Scientists at Israel’s Bar Ilan University have been working with Canada’s McGill University and have made a breakthrough in the treatment of addiction.  By administering a DNA methylation inhibitor, they have removed the cravings that occur during an addict’s withdrawal process.  Meanwhile, Canada’s Azrieli Foundation has donated $10 million to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for researching genetic disorders.  But Israeli-Canadian cooperation went literally “out of this world” when the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the Israel Space Agency (ISA) agreed to develop advanced applications in satellite communications. Two research projects have already been initiated.

Israel and the USA have always enjoyed an excellent valued relationship, as former Arkansas Governor and US Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee wrote recently.  This year, 65 students from Israel and the US will become Fulbright Scholars and will study in each other’s country.  And we were privileged to see at least 100,000 people line up on both sides of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to watch another 40,000 march in support of Israel at the Israel Day Parade in New York City.

Other recent Israeli Government international activities include:
-          Signing an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) Agreement with China.
-          Launching a joint irrigation project in Kazakhstan.

New international activities involving Israeli companies include:
-          Bram Plastics, Caesarstone and Avgol building or expanding operations in the USA.
-          Integrity’s banking consultancy support for Belarus.
-          Algatechnologies distributing its AstaPure astaxanthin antioxidant ingredients to Japan.
Despite the anti-Israel rhetoric from South Africa, when it comes to building there the largest radio telescope in the world, it is noticeable that Israel’s Mellanox will supply the telescope’s multicast network.  Similarly, all the pressure on Israel to reveal its nuclear secrets hasn’t prevented the International Atomic Energy Agency from ordering 400 million nuclear-sterilized flies from Israel’s BioBee. These flies repel the Mediterranean fruit fly, a pest that has been wreaking havoc on citrus trees in the Balkans.  (The IAEA wants to promote peaceful uses of nuclear technology.)  Another fair-weather friend, the EU, is eagerly looking forward to purchasing supplies of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) sourced from the new Israeli natural gas fields.  Finally, practically every country on the planet wants advice and technology from Israel that will help make best use of limited water supplies.

So despite BDS plots to hurt it financially, Israel, as confirmed by Moody’s chief economist Dr Mark Zandi, has one of the world’s best economies.  Its fiscal situation is better than ever, the debt-to-GDP ratio is low and continues to fall, its economy has been growing for 15 straight years, and there's almost no unemployment.  The future also looks rosy, as investment in Israeli startups continues to increase. 

Some 280 global high-tech giants have now established R&D centers in Israel.  These include IBM, where Israeli scientists have turned IBM’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) system (known as “Watson”) from quiz-show expert (in 2011) and master chef (in 2014) into a medical advisor (today).  High-tech giants now include Visa Europe, which has just opened a start-up center in Tel Aviv.

Exports of Israeli cyber security products doubled in 2014 to $6 billion.  The free world is reliant on Israel’s expertise in cyber security.  Following a cyber attack on Germany’s Bundestag, Europe’s largest private organization for applied scientific research in Europe, the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Security, has decided to establish a cyber-security innovation center in Israel.

So as the Jewish State looks forward following the celebrations of its first “Unity Day” I’ll play out with the messages of support from mega bands One Republic and Bon Jovi that have totally ignored calls from the pathetic BDS thugs.  But special mention must be given of Art Garfunkel, who enhanced the lyrics of “Bridge over Troubled Water” with “I’m on your side, Tel Aviv”.

Finally, a Chabad poster that had been attached to balloons, drifted from Israel into Lebanon.  The terrorist group Hezbollah probably didn’t realize their implied message of support to the Jewish State when two of their members lifted up the banner and displayed “We Want Moshiach Now” to the world.  Perhaps they thought that they had picked up an Israeli secret weapon?  Perhaps they were right!

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

In Israel You Can Do It

One of the Israelis’ most famous characteristics is a “can do” attitude – “Bitzua” in Hebrew.  It is the concept that nothing is impossible, if you have sufficient determination.  And over the past few weeks, Israel has shown just what can be done in the Jewish State.

The ultimate recognition of “can-do” achievement is the Nobel Prize and six of the 12 Israeli laureates feature in a new film entitled “The Nobelists”, which was screened on Israel’s Independence Day.

The path to these Nobel Prizes began at Israeli universities.  Even a citizen of an Arab country can do a degree in Israel as evidenced by Amer Sweity - the first Jordanian citizen to graduate with a PhD from an Israeli University.  Another PhD graduate is Rivka Ravitz, who is Chief of Staff to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.  She defies stereotyping by showing that she can do her demanding job, whilst at the same time being an ultra-orthodox Jew and a mother of eleven children.

A group of leaders from Miami, Florida’s budding start-up community recently visited Israel to learn from the Start-up Nation.  Appropriately, their number one finding was that they needed to emulate Israel’s “can-do” attitude.  No doubt this attribute is the reason why 5,400 Israeli startups that launched since 1999 are still operating.  It is also the reason why Terra Venture Partners has launched its “Create Tel Aviv” accelerator, which invests in the ideas of Israeli entrepreneurs, even before they are turned into startups. And Visa Europe has simply been “overwhelmed” by the “can do” enthusiasm from Israeli startups that want to partner in Visa’s new Israeli startup hub.

No wonder then that Israel’s hi-tech exports total $18.4 billion and comprise a huge 45% of Israel’s trade.  Israelis prove time after time that they can do almost any kind of technical work.  This includes working in outer space, thanks to the new agreement between Canada and Israel’s Space agencies to develop advanced applications in satellite communications.  Despite this “can do” anything attitude, I expect that the workers at Israel Aerospace’s Bedek were rather surprised on 5th May when a Saudi Airbus landed at Ben Gurion Airport for a scheduled maintenance service!

Other tasks that Israeli companies can do include some spectacular ceramic ink printing on glass.  Israel’s Dip-Tech has built the world’s largest digital flatbed printer, which can print onto a single pane of glass with an area of 64 sq meters.  One expert says that Dip-Tech is the only company that can do the printing for the curved glass “spaceship” that will become Apple’s new California HQ.

Israeli technology can do printing on the largest scale or the smallest scale, as proved by the Technion scientists who engraved the 1.2 million letters of the Hebrew Bible onto a microscopic wafer of gold.  Israel’s advanced 3D printing technology can do items as diverse as full-size automobiles or edible pancakes.

Life in Israel isn’t all work and no play, however.  You can do hiking through historic forests and uncover a 1400-year-old wine press.  Almost every week you can do a concert by top International musicians, such as Robbie Williams, the Backstreet boys, Dionne Warwick or One Republic.  You can do Dragon Boat racing, whilst simultaneously raising money for medical research into curing diseases that could save millions of lives.

If you want to get serious about helping save lives, you can do volunteer work and fly out with IsraAID to nearly every major international natural disaster as part of an Israeli rescue team.  If you have medical training, you can do even more good, as have the Israeli doctors at Haifa’s Rambam hospital and Tel Hashomer’s Sheba Medical Center who have been working in Nepal. 

But the Jewish Talmud states that whoever saves one life, it is considered as if they saved an entire world. And Hadassah hospital doctors from Neurosurgery, ICU, Orthopedics (and more) certainly showed what they can do by putting Shira Klein back on her feet only six weeks after she almost died when run over by a terrorist in Jerusalem.

One final activity that you can do in Israel, is practice your religion in safety.  That’s what a record 1500 young French Jews will see when they arrive in Israel this summer on the Taglit-Birthright Israel program to learn about the Jewish State and their Jewish heritage.

So if you want more news of Israel’s positive achievements. 

Sure - can do!

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