Going Against the Flow

In this fast-moving world, you don’t get anywhere just by standing still and you achieve little if you simply “go with the flow”.  Israeli entrepreneurs, innovators and those concerned with the welfare of others recognize that to succeed they need to steer their own course and overcome major challenges to arrive at their destination.

In the 1970s Israeli citizens Arieh Warshel and Michael Levitt overcame the challenge of combining physical chemistry with quantum theory when they developed computer models for predicting the flow of chemical processes.  Their work won a share of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, an honor that has been awarded previously to four Israelis. Both Professors had strong links to Israel’s Weizmann Institute’s in common with an (unnamed) high-flyer nanotechnology doctoral student whose challenge is to juggle five days a week behind a microscope with one day as a reservist fighter pilot soaring across Israeli skies.


Jewish student David Fintzi found himself up against the flow of electricity when he leaned out of a train window in Romania. He struck an electric cable and 27,000 volts flowed through his body. He was close to death when the Jewish Agency flew him to Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital, where a medical miracle took place.  David’s was just one of 137,142 emergency cases that Hadassah has handled during the last 12 months.  The total flow of patients reached almost one million, including 10,971 newborn babies.  Meanwhile, Israeli hospitals continue to struggle with the flow of wounded Syrians.  Last week the IDF brought in the 124th victim to the Ziv (Sieff) Medical Center – over 300 having been treated in Israel overall.
A flow of light illuminated World Sight Day with Israel21c’s summary of the 10 top contributions that the “Light to the Nations” has made towards alleviating the challenges of the visually impaired. They include implants, keyboards, a smartphone for the blind, electronic spectacles and cameras.  We should see a tremendous flow of brainwaves at the first-ever International Brain Technology Conference in Tel Aviv. President Shimon Peres will present a check for $1 million to whoever can demonstrate the most exciting neuroscience development in order to win the Global B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) contest.  The finalists have all initiated projects that will ultimately benefit humanity.


Israel is literally overflowing with companies and innovations that have overcome the challenge of the world’s limited water resources.  Israel’s latest water technology breakthroughs will be publicized at Tel Aviv’s internationally acclaimed WATEC 2013 conference later this month.  An example of Israel’s success in water conservation is seen from the 20 percent increased yield of this year’s date crop in the Arava desert region.  The 7,500 tons has been achieved with a corresponding 20 percent reduction in water consumption.  
Brian Sandoval, governor of the US State of Nevada, has already consulted Israel’s national water company, Mekorot, and has just visited Israel’s Negev desert to learn how using Israeli technology could rejuvenate Nevada’s farming industry.  I hope Governor Sandoval meets Yoni and Shoshana Rappeport who are making the Negev desert bloom with Argan trees. They have already planted 1000 trees that will eventually produce fruit from which rich, nutritious Argan oil will flow.  Yoni and Shoshana are now preparing the land for planting another 1000 saplings in the spring.
Drivers frequently have to struggle against the flow of busy city traffic. They are then faced with the problem of parking their car.  Israel’sAnagog helps with this challenge by monitoring mobile phone sensors to detect parking spaces that are about to be vacated – in real time.  Anagog is now working with Finland’s PARX, the owner of Easy Park, which has users in 130 countries.


Staying on the road, when Shai Rishoni was a fast-flowing Israeli cyclist he decided to bring the Italian endurance cycle race Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia to Jerusalem.  Then in 2011 Shai had to struggle with another challenge when he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).  He continued his quest and on 11 Oct 2013 it all happened.  The event also raised funds for ALS research.  I hope Stephen Hawking reads this.
Israel’s economy has its ebbs and flows, but last week there were at least four pieces of positive news:
-         A net inflow of foreign currency resulted in an all-time record for the Bank of Israel’s reserves.
-         Oil flows from Israel’s Meged 5 well have led to a 60 percent increase in estimated deposits.
-         Increased flows of Canadian tourists to Israel are expected following a new aviation agreement.
-         Funding for Israeli start-ups continues to flow thanks to the US Israel Business Council’s latest New York City road show.
Finally, Private Or Meidan went against the flow in an Abrahamic kind of way when she left her Ugandan birthplace to follow her Israeli stepfather to Israel in 2011.  She is joining the IDF’s Nativ program to convert to Judaism and operates the Iron Dome missile defense system to save the lives of all citizens of Israel.
Israel’s positive news continues to flow.  Our challenge is to get it to the right destination.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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