Sometimes I truly believe that Israel was created just to solve the world’s problems. There were some huge success stories last week in the fields of medicine, overseas aid, global cooperation, ecology, technology, security, and interfaith relations.
There were three separate announcements of successful medical trials. Israeli bio-tech CureTech released the results of their Phase II trials for its CT-011 stem cell treatment of Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma. Another biotech, Pluristem Therapeutics, reported that initial animal studies found that its placental stem cells can treat Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS). Then Israel’s Alcobra (now part of Teva Industries) published its report of the effectiveness of its MG01C1 drug for treating ADHD sufferers. And the balloon really has gone up at another of Israel’s medical innovators, BioProtect. It has raised $700,000 to help expand its cancer treatment product – ProSpace – a biodegradable balloon that creates a physical separation between tumours and healthy tissues during radiation therapy, thus reducing damage to healthy tissue.
Israel’s efforts last week to address humanitarian problems in the medical sphere have been phenomenal. It included the arrival in Israel from Luanda of five Angolan children who are to undergo heart surgery by surgeons from the superb organisation ‘Save A Child’s Heart’. Next, Israel’s unique Hibuki (‘hug’ in Hebrew) trauma program will soon start to help Japanese children recover from the psychological effects of the tsunami. Hibuki is based on the principle that children who actively confront their stressful situations can alleviate their fears and better adapt to life after a trauma. Finally, the Kenyan Ministry of Health has decided to adopt the Israeli model for its emergency medical system. A chain of emergency centres similar to Israel’s Terem clinics is to be set-up throughout Kenya.
International relations were improved when Greece and Israel signed a security cooperation pact. Greek Defence Minister Panos Beglitis met with his Israeli counterpart Ehud Barak in Jerusalem. And similar good relations will emerge from the joint venture between Brazil and Israel’s Elbit systems to develop unmanned aircraft systems, avionics and simulators in Brazil’s capital city Brasilia.
Technology and the ecology combine with these next two news stories. Firstly, the National Infrastructure Ministry will be allocating NIS 13 million to entrepreneurial projects in renewable energy. The aim is to encourage pioneer projects that will steer Israel toward energy independence by utilising solar, wind and biogas resources. Secondly, an Israeli start-up has implemented an idea that won’t qualify for funding but can certainly help the environment. Ridefrog, offers a new perspective on carpooling, by integrating its feature with Facebook events. People can see exactly who is travelling between locations and how those people are connected to them.
Next we combine ecology, and social innovation. More than 50 Israelis use the Tel Aviv Hub to network and adapt technological ideas for a social purpose. In just one example, Israel’s Adam Le’Adam has used the hub to help launch its backpackers program which develops small, profit-making organic farms for the poorest sections of the South Indian population.The Tel Aviv Hub - an innovating network to solve social problems
Staying with the environment, three faiths have united in Israel to help heal the planet. Jews, Muslims, and Christians from the Jerusalem-based Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development held an Eco-forum to confront environmental degradation.
It was interesting to read the results of a new survey that shows most of East Jerusalem’s Arab population seems quite content to enjoy the fruits of Israel’s prosperity. In fact 40 per cent would rather move than become citizens of any PA state. And thanks to The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) we were able to read praise about Israel from two Saudi Arabian writers. While Fawaz Al-''Ilmi wrote that Israel''s prosperity was due to its investment in education and science, Khalaf Al-Harbi reasoning was far more astounding. He suggested that the secret to Israel''s success lay in its democratic regime and its respect for the human rights of its citizens,So let’s end on two stories that illustrate Israel’s work in these areas. Firstly, the final chapter of Ethiopian Jewry’s exile is finally coming to an end. 82 Falash Mura (Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity to escape persecution) have asserted their Jewish ancestry and are returning to join their brethren in the Jewish State.
Then we have the ultimate message of hope that all races may one day work together for mutual benefit. It began with sadness when Arab-Israeli Nabil Hourani from the village of Deir Hannah died of a cerebral haemorrhage. But thanks to his family and the skills of Israeli surgeons, Nabil saved the lives of Arabs and Jews when he donated his heart, both lungs and both kidneys. Nabil’s brother said. ‘My brother now lives on, in both Arabs and Jews, and this is very important to me.’
The final word we will leave to ‘wonder’ Rabbi,Ashdod’s Yoshiyahu Pinto who is venerated by the secular, the rich and the famous. His common sense message is simple – ‘People create their problems. The rabbi''s job is to explain, with love, that these problems are only small things. People think these things are great, but they are not.’
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.