My sadness at the collapse of Better Place - Israel’s all-electric car infrastructure company – was somewhat compensated by the knowledge that failure in the Start-up Nation is not the same as failure elsewhere in the world. Some of Israel’s more radical innovations don’t succeed, but the entrepreneurs (and employees) usually get back on their feet quickly with another venture – all the better from having learned from their previous mistakes. As a former director said, “The dream is not over. It’s only the beginning.”
Whereas Israelis are prepared to see the demise of an ailing business, they will move heaven and earth to make the life of a sick person better. The parents of young Noam Naor, who died in a tragic accident, donated one of his kidneys to save the life of a 10-year-old Palestinian Arab boy at Schneider’s children hospital. And at Rambam hospital in Haifa, Israeli-Arab Mohammed Eckert received a kidney from the son of Israeli-Jew David Ben-Yair, whilst simultaneously David received a kidney from Mohammed’s wife. David said, "Here, in our country, and in the world at large, we have to realize that we have the power to save people, all people."
I read a staggering statistic last week that over a fifth of the world’s biotechnology originated in Israel. This was based on the biotech industry’s annual turnover of $120 billion. But in Israel, commercial interests don’t drive all medical research and treatments. Insurance companies were not prepared to cover expensive insulin pumps. So Israeli biotech Valeritas has developed a cheap, reliable, disposable mechanical pump for delivering insulin to type 2 diabetes patients. And financial factors were hardly the main issue when an Israeli-led international research team discovered a rare genetic disease affecting in-bred Arab families. Five Palestinian Arabs at Sheba Hospital and two Moroccan Arabs in Munich are suffering from a bone marrow mutation, called congenital neutrophil defect syndrome. Now Israeli doctors are working on a potential treatment.
The lives of the victims of the Oklahoma tornado will be a little better thanks to specialist trauma counseling from Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAID. And whilst helping friends is non-negotiable, does the world know that every week Israel delivers tens of thousands of tons of goods into the terrorist-run Gaza mini-state?
Israel’s technological innovations frequently make life better for the less fortunate. Israeli start-up OrCam has developed a camera-based system that will “read” to the visually impaired whilst on the move. So the partially sighted can read a newspaper or a menu, cross the road safely or simply pick up a can of vegetables in a grocery store and read its label.
Israeli children get better educational opportunities, thanks to the proliferation of technology in the Jewish State. Israel’s “Computer for Every Child” project is designed to close the digital gap and allow Israeli boys and girls from families with reduced means to receive the latest technology, such as computer tablets. Over 55,000 computers have been distributed to all sectors of Israeli society: Ultra-orthodox, Arab, Bedouin, Druze, new immigrants, special needs children, etc. Meanwhile, teenagers from the WIZO Nachlat Yehuda School and Youth Village in Rishon Lezion, an agricultural high school that specializes in life sciences, took their agriculture matriculation exam last week. The curriculum covers animal care and dairy cow production. And now Apple Inc. is launching the first entrepreneurship development center of its kind at the Amal High School in Hadera. Sixty students will develop iOS-based apps for iPads and iPhones.
I often report news that proves that Israel’s minorities have a better life in the Jewish State than anywhere else in the Middle East. This week it’s the turn of the Druze of the Golan, who are too afraid of Syrian dictator Assad to become Israeli citizens. However, a recent biased article in an anti-Israel UK newspaper led me to discover that the Mayor of the Druze town of Majdal Shams says that living in the State of Israel “is a privilege”. And that Shefaa Abu Jabal is the first Syrian Druze woman resident of Israel to graduate from an Israeli university.
The future looks better in the Jewish State than in most countries. In recent news, Israel’s growth exceeds most of the other OECD countries and unemployment is one of the lowest at 6.9 percent. Despite having one of the lowest mortality rates and highest life expectancies, Israel spent the fifth least on health (7.7% of GDP). And then there’s the gas… The skies are now open and Ryanair plans to bring 4-5 million tourists to Israel. As Daniel Pipes writes, John Kerry’s statement that Israelis have “a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity” indicates, “Israel’s enemies should give up and find some other country to torment”.
Finally, as Israel’s Mapal bubbles make wastewater clean across the world, I even found a positive news story from the BBC that mentioned that Israel’s work to re-flood the Hula valley had made life better for an endangered indigenous Israeli species – the Hula Painted Frog.
“The dream is just beginning”
You’d better believe it!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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