On the Right Track

The Hebrew month of Elul traditionally accompanies calls for the return of the Jewish People to the “correct path” in time for the upcoming New Year. Whilst the media speculates about Israel’s political direction, my assignment is to highlight how the Jewish State continues to steer the world on the route to a better future.

Israeli organizations are heavily involved in keeping the rest of the world on the right track. The Executive Director of Israeli charity Beit Issie Shapiro, Jean Judes, spoke at the United Nations about Community Based Rehabilitation and explained some of the organization’s innovations to help children and adults with disabilities in society.  And with the US announcement of the new Power Africa initiative, it is important to highlight that Israel’s “Innovation: Africa” has been powering rural East African schools, medical clinics and water pumping systems with Israeli solar technology for the past five years, benefiting over 450,000 people.  In South Africa, a police interpreter took the only available track to miners trapped following their fight with an illegal rival gang – by means of an instant harness from Israel’s Agilite.  The Israeli device received much praise and was recommended to all South African rescue personnel.
Tel Aviv University Professor Eugene Rosenberg was tracking the damage caused by “white plague” bacteria to the corals in Eilat when he discovered that some corals had immunity.  From this, he extracted the natural therapeutic virus BA3, which can now be used to protect the world’s threatened coral reefs.
                                 Eilat coral reef - Wikimedia Commons (WT-en) Jpatokal
Bringing a child into the world can involve much pain. Successful pain relief from epidural anesthesia relies on the skill of the doctor to find the right track for the needle. Now, Israel’s Omeq Medical’s new sensor-based system eliminates the 30 per cent failure rates and frequent complications by guiding the doctor to the exact spot.  An international team led by Weizmann Institute researchers has engineered another medical breakthrough. It has “turned off” the immune system’s automatic rejection of foreign transplants.  The team manufactured weaker immune cells and introduced the biochemical interleukin-15 to guide them through the body to the lymph nodes.  Meanwhile, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered that flu viruses (including deadly strains) use the protein neuraminidase to disable the body’s natural killer (NK) cells.  The HUJ scientists inhibited the protein and thus cleared the way for NK cells to fight the viruses.
                                Influenza virus particle - Wikimedia Commons
                               (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)
Those of you tracking Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Arabs at grass roots level, should be familiar with the thousands of trucks of goods and materials that drive through the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza each week.  You may, however, have missed reading about the comprehensive agricultural seminar that Israel arranged especially for sixty grateful Gaza farmers to attend, or the hundreds of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs who (mostly in secret) are becoming business partners and colleagues in joint start-ups that are slowly transforming the PA economy.
The right track to a superior world will be laid through a better education for our next generation.  Six-time NBA All-Star (and prospective Israeli) Amar''e Stoudemire called a “time-out” from the Maccabiah games and took to the road to promote science education in areas outside of Israel''s main cities.  Israeli schoolchildren are progressing exponentially in the field of Mathematics. Israel’s team of High school and Junior High mathematicians won 6 medals to reach 13th place out of the 97 countries competing at the International Mathematical Olympiad in Santa Marta, Colombia.  A huge improvement on the 31st place achieved in 2012.
Tel Aviv University has also invested in Israel’s future with its new Student City. The complex covers nearly a quarter mile and has Energy and Environmental Design gold status.  And venture capital guru Jon Medved used the venue of another of Israel’s top educational institutes – The Technion – to give an outstanding analysis of Israel’s innovation success and the direction it now needs to take.


Technologically, Israel is definitely on the fast track.  Israel saw the highest rate of growth in Internet speeds in the world last year, thanks to the investment in infrastructure made by communications companies.  Israel is at the forefront of developments into 5G communications. It will also demonstrate how the Brain-Computer Interface is turning “science fiction” into “science fact” at BrainTech Israel 2013 - Israel’s first ever International Brain Technology Conference in Tel Aviv in October. 
Finally, Israel is visibly on the right track for the world’s migrating birds.  The Israeli government is investing 10 million dollars revamping and expanding birding centers to increase the enjoyment of thousands of tourists that come especially to witness the one billion birds that make the Jewish State a vital stopping place on their bi-annual journey.
Join the Israel track – we’re really flying!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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