Israelis are known to be resourceful individuals. There is no better person to help you out of a crisis, solve a problem or design something useful that nobody else had thought of. Many of last week’s news stories highlight the results of Israelis’ caring qualities and their drive to fix or improve society.
Every week an Israeli discovers or develops a drug or treatment to fix serious medical problems. Last week Israel biotech Intec Pharma announced positive trial results for its treatment of Parkinson''s disease. Next, a team of researchers from Ben Gurion University has developed an early test to determine whether someone is suffering from an infection or a virus and therefore whether to use antibiotics. It is no good using standard antibiotics, though, if it’s an MRSA infection. Israeli biomedical company Eldan is pioneering the distribution in Israel of the most technically advanced MRSA screening test available today.
Treating the deterioration of inter-vertebral discs of the spine will one day be easier thanks to research by Tel Aviv University Professor Gregory Livshits. But nothing surpasses having the right person in the right place when it matters. When Zevulun Shalom had a heart attack on an Uzbekistan Airways flight, the head of Rehovot’s Emergency Room, Dr. Yael Dinai, was on hand to resuscitate him. Israel understands how distressing it is for couples not to be able to have children. Which is why Israel is the world leader in IVF treatment and provides free, unlimited treatment up to age 45.
Dr. Zvi Bentwich has spent a lifetime saving lives in Africa and has now won a Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in eradicating common parasitic infestations that contribute to Africa''s AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics. Delegates from Ghana, Uganda, Thailand, Russia, Indonesia and the Philippines were particularly appreciative of Israel’s work when they were interviewed at the American Cancer Society conference in New York. No wonder that people live longer in Israel than in the USA and Europe. In the last decade, mortality rates have plummeted, especially for cancer, strokes, respiratory disease and diabetes.
Before we leave the medical field, remember that in Israeli hospitals doctors regularly save the lives of Palestinian Arabs. Last week it was a baby from Gaza who underwent open-heart surgery. Sometimes it is too late to save people, but three Texan children, orphaned and injured in the car crash that killed their parents, benefited from funds raised by the Israeli consulate in Houston. Finally, Israeli veterinary neurologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem pounced on the opportunity when they were asked to treat a paralyzed lion in Brazil.
Israelis will go to any lengths or heights to find out how to fix things. High above the earth, one of the final space shuttle experiments was to test an Israeli biomedical water purification device that removes bacteria and viruses from polluted water. Slightly lower, Israel’s Elbit Systems are to provide the wing flaps to help get the US Air Force’s stratotankers off the ground earlier and at lower speeds.
Repairing the environment is probably too big a task for Israel alone, but it still can do its share to develop renewable energy. The Israeli cabinet has raised the maximum quotas for rooftop solar energy, biomass and wind energy facilities. The target is 10% of Israel’s energy from renewables by 2020. More people may decide to leave their cars at home if they are keen to show off the new concept in modular shoes as designed by Jerusalem student Sharon Golan. Each pair can be re-assembled into 256 different styles.
Is it possible, however, to care too much? According to UK’s Sky News journalist Tim Marshall, “Palestinians are among the most foreign-aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money.” Who needs to fix anything if the world throws cash at you for doing nothing?
Israelis, on the other hand, demonstrate that they are able to repair themselves and make important contributions to their country despite personal difficulties. Critically wounded by Hezbollah, following a long recovery, Major Shlomi Biche is back in uniform as an urban combat instructor in the Israel Defense Forces. Dave Scott Barr, despite having no legs, is a non-Jewish Vietnam veteran, ex IDF soldier, record-breaking biker and parachutist and continues to care for Israel. Dave Goodman had a life-changing experience when he visited Israel with Birthright. When he returned to Canada he quit his job and decided to fully devote himself to fundraising for Israeli social causes.
Let’s finish with a song. Paul Simon’s recent Tel Aviv concert certainly gave his audience a performance to remember. Another Paul Simon song sums up Israel’s ability to fix the world, in spite of all adversities. It’s a ‘Bridge over Troubled Water.’
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel. www.verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com