On my return flight to Tel Aviv was a friend whom I hadn’t seen for some 40 years. He had made Aliya several decades ago and graduated from the Hebrew University and Weizmann. He now works for Israeli bio-tech Kamada who coincidentally had just announced the latest results of its trial of the protein Alpha-1 Antitrypsin (AAT). This active ingredient in Kamada’s Glassia medication has already been proved able to treat emphysema, lung infections and prevent implant rejection. Now the wonder drug shows that it can halt the progression of juvenile diabetes. In another trial, Israel’s Atox Bio announced the success of its AB103 treatment of Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections (NSTI). NSTIs are life threatening bacterial infections with significant morbidity and high mortality rate.
Having just returned home to Israel from a brief visit to a wintry Europe, I can see that it is not just the weather that is brighter here. The latest innovative developments and research from the Jewish State have really boosted Israel’s role as a ‘light’ to the nations.
Whilst I was in the UK, I was pleased to read more media publicity for Technion’s breakthrough technology that uses stem cells from a patient’s own skin to regenerate damaged heart muscle tissue. Meanwhile, Technion’s Dr Sarit Sivan won Europe’s Marie Curie prize in the ''Innovation and Entrepreneurship'' category. She has developed an innovative treatment for lower back pain resulting from the degeneration of discs in the spinal column. Hebrew University researchers have been working on the brain and have proved that we are able to solve maths problems and read phrases unconsciously. Over at Bar Ilan University, Professor Michal Ben-Shachar has identified that complex changes occur in brain connections, as children learn how to read.
We hope that at least these eight Gaza children will grow to appreciate the Jewish State that saved their lives. Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center is taking care of a baby girl from Gaza in the nephrology department and two other children in oncology. At Tel Hashomer a Gaza girl is in the same ward as a boy injured from a Hamas rocket. And thanks to the Israeli charity Save a Child’s Heart 11-year-old Mohamed Ashgar, six-year-old Salah and twin babies Remas, and Leen all from Gaza are at Wolfson Medical Centre having heart surgery and follow-up care. I wasn’t surprised that the UK media ignored reporting on the hundreds of Israeli trucks loaded with food and medical supplies that entered Gaza even while terrorists fired similar numbers of rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel provided Gazans with five million cubic meters of water and 125 megawatts of electricity from the power station in Ashkelon to keep the lights on throughout Operation Pillar of Defense.
The light has really been shining at several locations in Israel. Three new thermo-solar energy plants are being built in Israel. Israel Corporation is to build a 60MW solar power station at Kibbutz Mashabei Sadeh in the Negev. It comes hot on the heels of announcements of a 120MW thermo-solar energy project at Kibbutz Zeelim nearby and agreement on a 121MW facility at Ashelim. Israeli researchers have really seen the light with Ben-Gurion University scientists designing a radically new concentrator solar cell that could become the most efficient solar power converter ever manufactured. Whilst over at Israel’s Technion a project team is developing a solution that traps the sun’s rays in solar cells and then uses it to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
Some of Israel’s futuristic innovations are literally out of this world. Israel is the top country for the development of research satellites. Israel has launched 13 satellites that have collectively accumulated 66 orbiting years and achieved 100 percent orbit mission successes. And the latest deal for the commercial satellite systems of Israel’s Orbit Technologies reinforces its provision of high-speed broadband communications to billions of people. Back on Earth, Israel’s Advanced Mem-Tech has a solution to the shortfall in global water supplies. Using technology from Israel’s Technion, it has developed a “high permeability” polymer membrane filter that requires far less energy than existing membranes.
The lights will continue to shine in Israel for many years, thanks to our new natural gas resources. The latest discovery - the Karish 1 prospect, offshore from Nahariya, has approximately two trillion cubic feet of gas. Then a very strange comment made by senior Turkish official Mithat Rende may signify a thaw in relations with Israel. “Construction of a pipeline to Turkey is the best way to export Israeli gas”. Remarks by the Turkish government during the recent Gaza conflict were also noticeably restrained.
So as the festival of Hanukah approaches, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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