Looking forward

Israel’s historical foundations are firmly established, but it is always remarkable to see how much of Israel’s weekly good news relates to the future and has the potential to give huge benefits to our planet.
Last week’s medical news certainly fits that category. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a computerised genome-scale model of cancer cell metabolism, which can help predict which drugs will be effective. And Type 1 diabetes sufferers will be anxiously awaiting the completion of Israel’s Andromeda Biotech’s Phase III tests of its synthetic peptide. DiaPep277 can preserve the few remaining insulin cells of diabetics.
Preserving and improving the environment will definitely grant our descendants a better future. The Israeli government has allocated NIS 151 million for projects that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support Israel’s commitment to the Dec 2009 Copenhagen summit. At the annual Israel CleanTech exhibition in Tel Aviv, twenty thousand visitors flocked to see the ideas in green energy advances coming out of Israel. Companies presented their latest innovations utilising solar energy, wind power, water recycling and natural gas. One example of this technology is the Bware from Israel’s a2design. It not only shows how much water you have used, but on the LED display, it can also help detect different kinds of leaks. 
A stork flies by a wind turbine in the Golan Heights
Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun
One Israeli company, Enlight, is harnessing the power of the wind, building six wind farms in the Golan. Another company is utilising the wind for a different purpose. During the cold war, Anatoly Cohn was deported from Russia for building micro-light aircraft. Today, his Apco Aviation in Caesarea is internationally famous for 15 world records and its life-saving parachutes. Still in the air, we saw an example of where environmentally friendly techniques can also promote understanding between different sections of our society. Israeli Arabs used to believe that owls were bad luck. But with dialogue and sensitive seminars, they now realise that they are important assets for organic farmers to keep rodent pests under control.
Our children are our real future, so improving life for Israel’s youth is a main priority. The Rashi Foundation in Beersheva, Ofanim in the Galilee and the Israel Sci-Tech Schools Network are increasing the prospects for young students in the periphery of Israel. During the school holidays, there have been many entertainment opportunities for children. Three musicals for children and a game show with questions from the audience, will feature at the 2011 Beit Lessin Open Stage festival of Israeli plays in Tel Aviv in September. Meanwhile, Jerusalem’s 4th International Film Festival for Children and Youth has some big screenings for little people. In Israel, disadvantaged children don’t have to miss out on the fun. Members of ZAKA - Israel’s primary non-government rescue and recovery organization - took sick and disabled children on an adventure jeep trail to a fun day in the Jerusalem hills.
Israel’s Meged Oilfield
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Israel’s economic future is still strong. In just six weeks from 1st July, Givot Olam Oil produced 35,000 barrels of oil from the Meged 5 well. There are at least another 2.6 million barrels to tap and probably another 7.9 million. The USA and Canada are firmly partners in Israel’s endeavours. The Maryland/Israel Development Centre connects Maryland companies with Israeli partners to promote trade. It also invests in Israeli start-ups through a new venture capital fund. Whereas students from the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business and Ben Gurion University are on an exchange with lectures and workshops in three cities across Canada and Israel. In the UK, Israel’s Eden Water Company wants to expand its distribution of water coolers to include coffee brewing machines. So it has bought up the Shakespeare Coffee Company.
Kai the Labrador retriever will have a much more relaxing future. After a successful career guarding the Knesset, Kai has reached the age of seven where duties, such as sniffing out explosives have started to put a strain on his fitness. So it’s now time to put his paws up!
Finally, Meir Dimri didn’t think that he had much of a future when he suffered a heart attack last week. But he was recovering nicely in hospital, being visited by his wife, when a Gaza rocket hit his Beersheva home. Although his dog died when the missile struck, Meir’s 18 year-old son had left the house to get a pizza just 10 minutes beforehand.
Who knows what the future may bring, but I’m looking forward to seeing you here next week. 
La’Atid – to the future!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.