As the lights of the festival of Chanukah flicker out, it is comforting to know that the modern day miracle of the Start-up Nation will continue to spread its effects far into the future. The Jewish State’s research discoveries, technological innovations, humanitarian efforts, business ventures and social programs will be impacting lives across the world from today until next Chanukah and beyond.
Just take a look at these recent medical achievements. Researchers from Israel’s Technion and Rambam medical centre are the first in the world to create new blood vessels using pre-programmed embryonic stem cells. These cells can be produced from heart patients to treat cardiovascular diseases without fear of being rejected by their immune systems. In another breakthrough, scientists from Jerusalem’s Hebrew University have genetically engineered the “evil” tobacco plant to produce artemisinin – a natural compound that produces large numbers of anti-malaria drugs. Combating malaria is a United Nations Millennium Development goal. Some 250 million new malaria cases occur each year, causing nearly a million deaths.
Scientists at Tel Aviv University have enhanced Israel’s huge contribution to cancer research by developing a radioactive wire, less than an inch long and about the width of a pin. When inserted into a tumour, the wire releases lethal radioactive atoms that irradiate the tumour. and triggers an immune response against the cancer cells, preventing the return of the tumour. Finally, the universities of Haifa and Ben Gurion have launched “MobiGuide” – a four-year project that beat sixty international projects to secure 7 million Euro of funding to develop a computerized system to allow patients to be released from hospital but continue to be monitored by their doctors.
The big story is that Israel’s Technion and Cornell University won the bid to build New York City’s new Technical institute. The two million square feet campus on Roosevelt Island will accommodate nearly 2,000 graduate students and 250 faculty staff and help produce America’s next generation of scientific entrepreneurs.
Building a cohesive inclusive society is vital to the Jewish State. Some 140 Israeli Arabs have been trained as hi-tech engineers and are working at Galil Software, a company in Nazareth. This provides the country with urgently needed sophisticated manpower, instead of outsourcing to engineers in India and Eastern Europe. And volunteers from the religious ZAKA organization have run a course to teach Israeli Arab women about home safety, accident prevention and emergency care. The group intends to extend the program to 12 other Arab towns across Israel.
Israel is always busy developing relationships with other countries. On his first visit to the Jewish State, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said, “I am very moved to be in Israel and to walk on the soil of the Promised Land. Israel has always supported the South Sudanese people. Without you, we would not have arisen.” Israeli PM Netanyahu is sending an Israeli delegation to South Sudan to find out how best to help the fledgling country. Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Israel’s Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz agreed to establish a joint program to bring 100 Indian post-doctoral students to Israeli universities. Steinitz also offered to export to India supplies of Israel’s newfound natural gas. Simultaneously, the partners in the Dolphin 1 field 110 kilometres west of Haifa have announced the discovery of an estimated 0.55 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Israel’s IDE Technologies has developed a transportable clean-tech method of producing up to 10,000 cubic meters of desalinated drinking water per day. The eco-friendly reverse osmosis system uses bio-filters rather than chemicals and is ideal for use in disaster areas. Then we heard that communications giant Vodafone has made its first investment in Israel and in a clean-tech company. CellEra Inc develops platinum free fuel cell technology for storing and converting energy at a significantly lower cost than technologies available on the market.
IDE''s sophisticated water solutions
Finally, a tragedy can motivate some people to go beyond what many would think possible. When Shoshana Greenbaum and her unborn child were killed in the Jerusalem Sbarro restaurant bombing 10 years ago, her husband Shmuel’s response was to take on a mission to teach the world kindness. His free daily newsletter, called "A Daily Dose of Kindness", now reaches two million readers and many stories have been included in a book, which is available at hundreds of public libraries worldwide. As UK Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks wrote – ''This lovely book will restore your faith in human nature and remind us all – for we need reminding – that it is by our acts of kindness that we bring the Divine presence into the world.
And I think that’s beyond question.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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