How far can we go

Recent achievements of the Jewish State highlight once again that Israel’s contributions to the world are out of all proportion to its size and population. Distance is also no problem – either you come to us, or we will come to you.
We’ll begin with a short trip to our nearest non-Arab neighbour, Cyprus. The first ever visit by an Israeli Prime Minister to the island resulted in the signing of several agreements including to launch a joint natural gas and oil exploration venture. In the opposite direction, we had European visitors in the form of a delegation of 20 top French agricultural professionals. Organised by the France-Israel Foundation, their specific interest areas included Israel’s innovations in irrigation and in milk production.
Israel’s leading-edge water technology has been in much demand recently. It certainly is a “tonic” to India, which has just signed a key agreement with Israel on water treatment. The deal includes the development of joint research and development ventures in the fields of resource management, sewage and drainage. Almost simultaneously, Israel’s Amiad Water Systems was awarded $10 million projects in Australia. Amiad’s automatic, chemical-free, self-cleaning screen filters will be installed in Perth and Queensland. The video publicises Amiad’s previous project in Singapore. 


Our industrious entrepreneurs have also been jet-setting off to the Americas, China and Russia. The Actimize Enterprise Risk Case Manager from Israel’s NICE Systems is now fighting financial crime for the First Hawaiian Bank. Meanwhile, Israel’s Ceragon’s wireless solutions have been purchased by Telefonica to support its 25 million subscribers in Chile, Panama and Venezuela. Next, Israel’s Objet Ltd has signed up with Digital China and Shanghai Chengmei Technology to market, distribute and support its 3D printing products in North and East China. And finally, Israel’s Micro Components Ltd (MCL) is turning on the lights in Russia by commissioning the first Russian-based factory for manufacturing components for Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). 
Ben Gurion airport’s departures hall will soon be filled with hundreds of Israelis heading off to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – the most important showcase for the mobile industry. As confirmed in fellow JPost blogger Levi Shapiro’s article, Israel will have the 4th largest delegation at the event - one in every 13 booths will be Israeli. Let’s hope that their luggage doesn’t get mixed up with the Israeli companies and bands featuring at SXSW 2012 in Austin Texas. South By SouthWest is an interactive technology, music and film show that attracted over a quarter of a million visitors last year. 
Ben Gurion’s arrivals include those Israelis returning from the 4th Georgia Logistics Summit in Atlanta. The sponsored “Israel booth” was a focal point of meetings and the Xsense quality monitoring system for goods on the move from Israel’s StePac attracted much interest. And we look forward to welcoming back home the 100 Israelis from different sectors in society who represented and defended the Jewish State in 13 international cities during Israel Apartheid Week. The “Faces of Israel” mission included settlers, Arabs, artists, experts in national security, gay people, and immigrants from Ethiopia.
Israelis certainly have made an impact in the United Kingdom. First, if you look carefully at the competitors in April’s London Marathon you will see Claire Lomas. Paralysed in a horse-riding accident in 2007, Claire was told by doctors that she would never walk again. But she plans to complete the 26-mile run wearing Argo’s ReWalk exoskeleton invented by Technion graduate Dr Amit Goffer. And can you see the similarity between the Duchess of Cambridge’s coats and those of Hassidic Jews? Kate’s designer, Katherine Hooker, has revealed that she has based several of Middleton’s slim, close-fitting wool coats on a black silk frock coat that she bought years back in an Israeli second-hand store.
One Israeli has travelled virtually trillions of kilometres, using the data from NASA''s Kepler satellite. Professor Tsevi Mazeh of Tel Aviv University was part of the NASA team that has discovered planets circling around twin suns, over 5000 light-years away. Slightly closer to home, Israel’s New Zealand supporters were getting in the mood for the forthcoming Jewish festival of Purim by performing the haka - the traditional Maori greeting / war dance. But can you translate the fearsome Hebrew chant? 


I’ll finish by reference to Saul Singer – co-author, with Dan Senor, of “Start-up Nation”. Saul’s international promotional tours have convinced him that Israeli skills are in high demand throughout the world. Countries are desperate to learn how they can also become start-up nations like Israel. 
One thing is certain – the baggage conveyor belts at Ben Gurion airport are going to be very busy this year.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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