I have had just about enough of listening to navel-gazing analysts discussing whether the result of the US Elections will be a problem for Israel. If you really believe that four years is going to change the close collaboration between Israelis and Americans in any of the topics that I blog about, then I suggest you go read another blog. The following are just the news stories from the last 30 days.
In the last 30 days, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Israeli focussed ultrasound treatment for bone cancer patients. The FDA also gave clearance to an Israeli system for treating patients with degenerative disc disease of the spine. And following FDA approval of Syneron’s patented Intense Pulse Light (IPL) and Radio Frequency (RF) energy technology, Americans will soon be able to buy ''cutting-edge'' Israeli hair-removal kits over the counter.
50 US medical centers are currently testing an Israeli electrical heart stimulation device on 200 patients at risk of heart failure. Over at Harvard, a trial of an Israeli system of computer exercises was successful at treating Alzheimer’s sufferers. And an Israeli-inspired and supported simulator is helping to train US surgeons. But the most heart-warming sight I thought was to see paraplegic Vietnam veteran Sgt Theresa Hannigan walk again, thanks to her ReWalk exoskeleton from Israel’s Argo Medical.
Israel is a leading contributor to America’s eco-programs. Israel and the USA have just expanded their 21-year-old environmental Memorandum of Understanding to include research development, information sharing, green technology development, water sources management, land rehabilitation, air quality and ecological economy ventures. Arizona is to be one of the latest sites for Israel’s solar tulip – the solar energy tower shaped like a flower that Israel has built in the Negev desert. And Weizmann Professor Brian Berkowitz was awarded the 2012 M. King Hubbert Award by the US National Ground Water Association for major science contributions to the knowledge of groundwater.
Israeli technology is busy working away for NASA on the planet Mars and Israel will be the venue for the International Astronautical Federation’s Conference in 2015. Meanwhile Israeli scientists are prized assets at US Universities. For example Technion graduate Maria Chudnovsky at Columbia University has just been awarded a $500,000 ''genius grant'' from the US MacArthur Foundation for her work on graph classification theory.
A delegation of 10 senior US counter-terrorism experts from NYC, LA, Houston, Austin, Oakland and Montgomery County (MD) have just visited Israel through an educational institute of AJC. The program will showcase Israeli technological and operational advances in counter-terrorism tactics.
Economy & Business
US-Israel bilateral trade is at new record levels. Exports between the two countries was $36.9 billion in 2011 – up from the 2007 pre-economic crisis high of $33.8 billion. Israel is one of America’s top 25 largest export markets (top 10 by capita). The two countries also held a high-level economic policy meeting in Washington and signed a mutual recognition agreement so that telecommunications product tests performed in one country will satisfy the regulations of the other.
Major projects with specific US States include the massive production platform for Israel’s Tamar natural gas field, which left Texas, after 18 months of construction, and will arrive in Israel on board the largest barge of its kind. The American-Israel Chamber of Commerce organised a “big data” event at IBM in Atlanta to explore Israeli innovations relating to data warehousing and large databases. The Maryland-Israel Exchange agreement is unique in that it proactively finds partners for Israeli companies. Meanwhile Three Israeli designers showed their collections at New York’s Coterie trade show.
Takeovers and mergers
The famous quote from Microsoft’s boss was that Microsoft was as much an Israeli company as an American company. And so many of Israel’s successful start-ups now report to the boards of top US corporations. In the latest acquisitions, Boston Scientific bought Israel’s Rhythmia Medical - a leading manufacturer of cardiac electrophysiology devices – for a ''hearty'' $265 million. The US Stryker Corporation purchased Israel’s Surpass Medical and its brain aneurysm stents for $135 million. And IBM is looking to buy Israel’s Red Bend (mobile software) for $250 million.
The connection between the USA and Israel goes very deep. Irene Pollin, founder and chairman of Sister to Sister, announced that she is donating $10 million for a heart centre in Jerusalem. She announced her donation at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America in Jerusalem. The new cardiovascular wellness institute will counter heart disease - the leading cause of death among women. Meanwhile, Nefesh b’Nefesh certainly strengthened the bonds between US and Israeli Jews at its “Think Israel” conference in New York City.
Israel is forever on the map as a venue for US musicians and the visit of R&B singer Monique Baines and NYC Rapper Clap Cognac to make the record “Finish Line” is typical of this connection.
But maybe there could be a cloud on the horizon. It just depends how upset Americans will get if Tel Aviv beats New York in the final of the on-line competition to select the World’s most Innovative City!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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