Israel is Weird and Wonderful

In this topsy-turvy world, it is common to find positive news about the Jewish State in most unusual circumstances.

Something weird happened at the United Nations General Assembly last week.  Someone spoke the truth.  Due to a faulty open microphone, an interpreter broadcast to everyone her inability to understand why there were 10 resolutions concerning Israel when there was so much else happening in the world.  And then guilty laughter broke out from the delegates.

What was really strange was that the nations were condemning Israel whilst ignoring the mass-murder of Syrian civilians by the Syrian government.  Meanwhile, on the other side of Syria’s border with Israel, Syria’s “enemy” was busy healing wounded from Syria’s civil war. A fact that even an official from the EU couldn’t ignore when he praised Israel’s treatment of “the other”.  The UN also didn’t seem to notice that on the other side of the world, Israeli doctors were among the first international relief teams to arrive in the Philippines following devastating typhoon Haiyan.  Within a short time they had set up a field hospital and were treating over 300 patients a day, including delivering premature babies.

The main story on the BBC World Service last week was that a world crisis is imminent because life-threatening bacteria has become resistant to all antibiotics.  So it was really weird that Tel Aviv University had just announced that some of its researchers have just succeeded in isolating a protein that kills these bacteria. The BBC of course failed to report this, or the strange coincidence that another group of researchers at the same Tel Aviv University have found a way to control an overactive immune response that can trigger allergies and autoimmune diseases. 

Israeli companies have developed some really weird and wonderful medical devices. One of the is the SAGIV, invented by Hebrew University students, that provides 100% accurate insertion of intravenous tubes into a person’s veins.  It is particularly applicable for the tiny veins of sick babies.  I hope you have heard about the EarDoc from Israel’s Kencap Medical solutions. It’s a non-invasive, non-surgical device that can improve the quality of life for sufferers of earache.

Israelis have invented some weird new energy sources.  Israel’s Energy Industries makes electricity from garbage.  It is constructing a power plant in Kumasi, Ghana’s second largest city, to convert the methane gas extracted from a giant landfill.  Back in Israel, Ben Gurion University scientists have developed a revolutionary new method for producing liquid fuel from hydrogen and carbon dioxide - two of the most common substances on earth. 

It will probably seem strange to many readers that the new Dean of Exact Sciences at Bar-Ilan University is a female convert to ultra-orthodox Judaism.  You may also like to watch this unusual performance of one of the traditional songs for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah by five talented students from Israel’s Technion. It will certainly raise a few eyebrows in China, where the Technion is building another Institute of Technology.

Another Asian country where Israel is admired is South Korea.  At the first-ever Korea-Israel Creative Economy Forum, Ambassador Kim Il-soo predicted that the two countries would combine to form an economic powerhouse.  Even now, Samsung’s only foreign R&D center outside of Korea is located in Israel.  Israel’s innovative technology drives the advanced cameras on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.  You can also make some weird gestures to control your Samsung Smart TV thanks to Israel’s PointGrab.  Its award winning gesture technology has also just been selected by TCL Corporation, the third largest television brand in the world.

I will end by returning to the BBC who broadcast a weird interview last week.  The topic of discussion was the disappearance of Christians, due to persecution, from their places of origin.  When the interviewee mentioned one of the problem countries to be Pakistan, the BBC presenter quickly added “and Israel”.  Strange, but the facts show that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is on the increase.

Isn’t it weird how wonderful the truth is?  (Pity we don’t hear more of it.)

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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Israel is the Key to Life

World leaders should let Israel concentrate on its mission of providing technology to save lives rather than trying to impose suicidal political deals on our tiny country.  Last week’s positive news from the Jewish State contained a record number of Israeli initiatives and innovations with the potential to save billions of lives.

Arik Dayan, CEO of Israel’s Amiad Water Systems, explained that Israel’s wastewater recycling expertise is essential in order to increase crop yields by 50% within two decades and feed the 8.3 billion people who will inhabit the world.  His exact words were “Filtration will ensure that life as we know it continues.”  

Two other Israeli companies were simultaneously contributing their vital efforts to achieve this goal.  Israeli drip-irrigation pioneer Netafim is leading the United Nations FIGARO project - an international consortium to develop new precision irrigation management technologies to increase water availability for Europe’s water-intensive crops. Meanwhile, several Dutch water and paper industry companies are about to test the groundbreaking wastewater recycling system from Israel’s Applied CleanTech, which is planned to be implemented across the Netherlands and provide huge environmental benefits.

Europe’s recognition of Israeli water technology continued when the French Ministry of Agriculture awarded the National Order of Agricultural Merit to Professor Pedro Berliner of Ben Gurion University for his research into agro-hydrology in desert regions.  Then visitors came from around the world to Tel Aviv in order to see Israeli innovations first hand at The Water Technology and Environment Control (WATEC) Exhibition and Conference.  There was much interest in Israel’s Curapipe, which showcased its Trenchless Automated Leakage Repair (TALR) Solution.  No need anymore to dig up the street to mend a leaky mains water pipe.

Israel reacts quickly, however, to disasters caused by too much water.  A lead IDF team has already left Israel for the Philippines, which was hit by a devastating typhoon over the weekend.  The IDF Home Front Command delegation included experts in the fields of search, rescue and medicine.  IsraAID is also sending a relief team.  The typhoon has also reached Vietnam, which will thank the timely agreement to establish a joint agriculture research and development fund and free-trade accord with the Jewish State.

Israel’s life-giving medical news last week was exceptional – yet again!  Two contrasting new Israeli medical devices will change the lives of patients and surgeons.  The most dangerous time for diabetics is when they are asleep as sudden drops in blood-sugar levels can lead to a life-threatening hypoglycemic event.  The non-invasive Hypo-Sense watch from Israel’s Night-Sense will wake the sleeper well in advance as it can detect problems with pulse and heart activity by analyzing subtle changes in the movement of the hand.  But “life as we know it, Mr Spock” will surely change forever thanks to the amazing 3-D medical holograms produced by Israel’s RealView Imaging. Its interactive visualization holographic system allows physicians to work with the patients’ true anatomy appearing as precise volumetric holograms floating in mid-air.  The system was demonstrated at the world’s largest cardiovascular conference TCT-25 in San Francisco.

After that, just imagine what advances in Israeli medicine will emerge thanks to a $50 million donation from Nancy and Stephen Grand to Weizmann’s Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine.  The INCPM focuses on genomics, protein profiling, bioinformatics, and treatment discovery to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.  But let’s not forget that Israeli medics save lives every day.  In one case last week, United Hatzalah volunteer medic Itzik Hillel rescued a one-month-old baby girl who had been left in a hot car. He used a device called ResQme that shatters the car window without causing any risk to the child. Miraculously, the device had been distributed to the Hatzalah medics only the night before.

There’s just enough space left to mention that one of the Syrians rushed to Israel’s Ziv Medical Center in Safed last week gave birth.  The 20-year-old woman was brought to the hospital in active labor by the IDF during the night from a village near Kuneitra, which was under Syrian military curfew with no access to a Syrian hospital.  The hospital also treated three Syrians with shrapnel wounds.  Meanwhile, Arab-Israeli Imad Younis relates how he founded Alpha Omega in Nazareth in 1993 thanks to funding from Israel’s Chief Scientist program.  Today Alpha Omega employs Moslems, Christians and Jews and ships its life-saving brain surgical guidance systems to 500 hospitals and laboratories across the world. 

Finally, one Israeli has even proved that there is life after death.  Five years ago, in an explosion in Gaza, newlywed Aharon Karov was momentarily declared dead. Now he’s raising money for OneFamily Fund, the organization that helped him get back on his feet. He has just completed the New York Marathon in 4hrs 14min 31sec.

Just one week in the “life” of the Jewish State.

Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.

For a free subscription, email a request to

Israel through the Ages

This week I am focusing on how Israeli technology, innovations and humanitarian work touches the lives of young and old and everyone in between.

A new report published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics states that the average life expectancy in Israel, has increased by 2.6 years over the last decade.  Israeli males can now expect to live to the age of 80 and females to 82.6 - both being two years longer than the OECD average.  Almost every day there is news of another Israeli treatment that promises to extend life even further.
Cancer is now the biggest threat to longevity.  The IceSense3 tumor-freezing technology from Israel’s IceCure is already destroying breast cancer and clinical trials will test if this can be extended to lung cancer tumors  New treatments for blood clots and strokes will also save millions of lives, so we eagerly await the outcome of new Phase II tests of THR-18 from Israel’s D-Pharm.  In a groundbreaking development, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have effectively reversed time by being the first in the world to transform adult cells into the earliest form of stem cells.  Stem cells have been re-engineered previously but those were limited to be specific to certain parts of the body.  The new Israeli stem cells have been completely “reset” and have the potential to be grown into any organ whatsoever.
The “age of innovation” makes it possible to manage patients’ health more effectively by using technology such as digitized health records and distance medicine.  These were among many solutions discussed at the Mobile Health Israel Conference in Tel Aviv.  One innovation in this space is the Tyto, a personal diagnosis device that can gather information straight from a patient’s mouth and throat, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and skin. It includes a camera and microphone to take measurements, uploading the results to a doctor or health management organization.
Wounded Syrians of all ages have been brought to Israeli hospitals for treatment.  Ziv Medical Center in Safed treated a 9-year-old boy injured in his eyes as the result of an explosion.  Also two Syrians were brought to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya in moderate and critical condition, with head, chest and limb injuries.  Also in the Galilee, Israelis are fostering coexistence between young Arab and Jewish citizens. Nazareth is to be the site of a new campus of Texas A&M University to be known as the "Peace University".  Meanwhile, Israel’s Technion is a key member of the iPodia Alliance, which is implementing a new age of learning.   This new video describes the aims of “Classrooms without borders” – i.e. learning together for a better world.
Israel is full of young talent.  One of the latest innovations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has just been commercialized.  It is a clay-based mineral developed by Dr Yael Mishael.  The mineral is modified with polymers to absorb organic polluting chemicals and is even better than active carbon.  Multinational companies have been quick to recognize Israeli business opportunities.  Facebook’s Vice President Nicola Mendelsohn told Israel’s President Peres, “It was a momentous decision for Facebook to open its first Research & Development center outside the US.  We chose Israel in the knowledge that the best talent is found here.”  AOL is also hiring employees for its Israeli development center. And IKEA is assembling its 3rd Israeli site, near Haifa.  No wonder Israel’s unemployment rate fell again to 6.1% in the third quarter, from 6.8% in the second quarter.  Participation in the workforce went up, as did the percentage of full-time employees.
Even the international celebrities visiting Israel recently crossed the age spectrum, comprising Rihanna, Paula Abdul and the ageless Tom Jones who treated the baby-boomers in the audience to a rendition of  “My Yiddishe Momme” during his two concerts at the Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv.
Rounding off our journey through the ages, thousands of Ethiopian Jews gathered in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, last week to celebrate the festival of Sigd that links their historical connection to the Jewish State.  The Biblical holiday was originally observed in Ethiopia 50 days after Yom Kippur to repent for sins, pray for their return to Jerusalem, the coming of the Messiah and a Third Temple.  On a lighter note, an Israeli entrepreneur has conceived an original and entertaining use of our heritage to attract young and old. Grant Crankshaw is using Crowdfunding to raise funds to build a Bible-themed mini-golf park in Raanana.  You apply for discounted tickets and your contribution is only collected if the campaign reaches its investment target.
Finally, in a young, modern State it is recommended to listen to those wise old heads that have had an excellent track record.  Aged 78, Dr. Eli Fischer doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. He is a scientist, successful industrialist, philanthropist and head of the international “Dr Fischer” brand. Having just published his autobiography, he now wants to do more in the area of anti-aging. His most important tip - “Do not stand still. You will learn all the time and even if things look pretty good, still strive to improve.”
Timeless advice that we should all follow – whatever our age.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to

A Question of Honor

Israel is full of citizens and organizations that deserve to receive an honor.  Not a political honor such as the Nobel Prize for peace given to an unrepentant terrorist leader, nor an award from the British Foreign Office for services that undermine the legitimacy of the Jewish State. Respect can only be given to those who enhance Israel in the eyes of the world.  Here are some of the most recent examples.

The medical profession is overflowing with worthy individuals who put Tikum Olam (repairing the world) far above financial recompense.  Kol Hakavod (all the glory) to the team of 20 Israeli doctors and medical staff from Save a Child's Heart (SACH) that has just flown to Tanzania to provide free heart surgeries.  And to the team of 11 cardiac surgeons and nurses from Israel’s Sheba Medical Center that performed 10 complex heart operations over 4 days in Nigeria.  SACH doctors can also take credit for restoring the sight of 10-month old baby Dennis from Romania who lost his vision shortly after birth.

The paramedics working for Israel’s emergency service Magen David Adom deserve recognition for having saved countless lives during the life of the modern state.  MDA just unveiled their latest hi-tech mobile command vehicle designed to direct rescue operations on the most difficult terrain and during cellular network failure.  Another organization, Yad Sarah, employs the largest number of volunteers in Israel, providing services and equipment to help the elderly and disabled lead fuller, more comfortable lives.  One of Yad Sarah’s thousands of volunteers, Dr. Marjorie Kenyon, finally retired from serving the organization, in her 100th year.  Here are some of the innovative devices and gadgets that Yad Sarah is currently demonstrating to the public.

It is a great honor to the Jewish State that so many of its scientists have developed apps and devices that can save lives.  Tel Aviv University researchers have just developed a website and smartphone app that sends your Genome (your individual Genetic DNA sequence map) for analysis.  You can then identify the most effective medications with the least side effects - or prior to pregnancy, you can use it to check for birth defect risks.  Another TA University graduate, Eugene Jorov, co-founded Seraphim Sense and developed the Angel sensor in honor of his father who died from a heart attack.  The Angel is a biofeedback wristband that monitors the motion, acceleration, skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation and heart rate of at-risk individuals and sends an alert if their medical condition changes.

Foreign heads of state often treat the Jewish State with more respect than many of Israel’s own citizens.  In the past few weeks we have had been honored with the first ever visits from the sitting Prime Ministers of Malta and Papua New Guinea. Both arrived with large delegations and cooperation plans.  And President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit was the first time in the history of Nigeria that a sitting President went on pilgrimage to Israel.  He took the opportunity to sign a bilateral air services agreement between Nigeria and Israel.

Despite its flawed politics, the United Nations regularly turns to the Jewish State to solve issues of international concern.  The UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has granted ‘Special Consultative Status’ to 13 Israeli NGOs and is currently considering including a two more.  Similarly, all European Union political arguments were put aside in order to welcome Israeli scientists onto the Galileo project.  Israeli academics and companies have been given security clearance to work on the EU’s prestigious project to launch 30 satellites and become Europe’s alternative to the US GPS system. 

International stars from Rihanna to Tom Jones continue to honor Israel with their performances.  However, many pop fans will have missed that October 27 was the 30th anniversary of when Bob Dylan released his up-tempo Zionist anthem, the ironically-titled “Neighborhood Bully”.  Meanwhile brothers Arie and Gil Gat, explain that there is no conflict of honor between being devout Jews and covering rock hits on Israeli TV.

Israel’s sporting heroes have certainly been awash with medals, including windsurfer Shahar Zubari who cruised to a gold medal at the Sailing World Cup in Qingdao, China.  Maayan Davidovich won bronze in the women’s division.  Israeli swimmer Amit Ivri even won medals at FINA World Cup events in Dubai (UAE) and Doha (Qatar) although Qatar dishonored itself by blanking out the Israeli flag on its TV broadcasts.

There is no greater honor than when people volunteer to serve their country, despite physical disabilities.  At the closing ceremony for their special basic training the 150 graduates of IDF’s Ofek course used the deaf sign language to accompany the Israeli National Anthem – “Hatikvah”. 

Finally, for the first time in the history of the Israel Defense Forces, an officer from Israel’s Druse community is to serve as the chief of the elite IDF Golani Brigade. Colonel Ghassan Alian was previously deputy commander of the Golan Division.  He follows fellow Druse Imad Fares who was chief of the IDF Givati Brigade.

Let’s honor those that deserve honor.

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