Questions and Answers

We’ve now concluded the Jewish festival of Passover - a time when we encourage children to ask questions related to the historic events that occurred at the time of the Exodus. In today’s world, humanity frequently asks some hard questions of society, and Israelis continually come up with innovative solutions to answer them.
Starting with health issues, hospital Emergency Rooms have had few answers to the “superbugs” that have become resistant to most forms of antibiotics. However, 90-year old Professor Nathan Citri has used many of the skills he acquired over a long medical career to develop a novel kit, enabling the speedy analysis of which drugs will be effective in healing a particular infected individual. Next, a common question amongst diabetics is whether they are also susceptible to heart disease. Now Professor Andrew Levy of the Israel Technion has not only developed a simple blood test to discover the answer, but he has also developed a treatment using Vitamin E that has a dramatic effect on survival times for affected individuals.


In responding to the question of how to prevent blindness, Israel’s Can-Fite BioPharma has reported successful pre-clinical trials of CF101 for the treatment of both forms of uveitis – the inflammation of the iris and of the retina. Meanwhile, the very smart drug delivery platform ‘V-Smart’ from Ben Gurion University has been licensed for the treatment of brain diseases such as Parkinson''s, Alzheimer''s and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s).
Medical practitioners in the United States may be asking why 2010 statistics show that 16.2% of Americans die shortly after suffering a heart attack, whereas in Israel the rate is a mere 2.2%. The simple answer is that in Israel lives are saved due to expanded treatment facilities plus the use of catheter angiographies, to determine the need to unblock arteries immediately on admission. In another intriguing study, researchers at Hadassah University Hospital have discovered why Orthodox Jewish women age slower than those in other groups. The reason is that four genes trigger an anti-aging effect in women who conceive naturally after age 45.
Thousands of agricultural questions have been asked of Israeli experts and many have been answered. Israel’s Oplon has recently solved a really tricky one – how to keep produce fresh without refrigeration or preservatives. Oplon has developed packaging coated with a special set of molecules, which creates an electrical charge and destroys bacteria. A less technical Israeli innovation is keeping bugs from vegetables. Petah Tikvah-based Meteor’s anti-virus SpiderNets feature a web of tiny micro-fibres that insects cannot penetrate. By keeping the bugs out, the nets are able to prevent the spread of diseases that until recently have caused major financial losses for farmers. Customers include several Arab countries.
In the hi-tech arena, the Israeli IT company CloudOn has answered the call of those who want to run Microsoft’s Office products (WORD, Excel and Powerpoint) on their Apple iPads. These two normally non-communicating companies have been brought together by downloading CloudOn 2.0 at App Stores in the US, Canada and UK. There have been almost one million downloads of the application in the last three months. And thanks to a well-rounded idea, Israel’s RotaryView has been short-listed to participate in Microsoft’s first-ever incubator program for early-stage start-ups. RotaryView allows even the smallest businesses to present a 360-degree view of their product, by simply photographing the subject from all angles and uploading.


We head to the high seas next, to read that the water filters from Amiad Filtration Systems have been chosen by Calgon Carbon Corporation to clean ships'' ballast water. Amiad’s unique automatic self-cleaning technology answers the question of how to protect the marine environment from invasive species transported in ballast water. While we are sailing, Israel’s team of Gidi Klinger and Eran Sela won the silver medal in the 470 Class competition at the World Cup in Spain. They will now challenge for a medal at the 2012 London Olympics. And Israel’s Davis Cup squad answered all the questions asked of it when it defeated Portugal 3:0 to advance in the World Group playoffs, where it will contend for a spot in the coveted World Group.


Officials from many countries frequently consult the Jewish State to get answers to problems. The Chinese government is going through political and technological changes. Israel has become important to solving both issues and has transformed the relationship between the two countries over the last 12 months. More of a surprise was the arrival of a delegation from Singapore who visited Kadima Mada – the Israeli branch of World ORT. Singapore is well known for its high academic standards, yet they requested a demonstration of E-Scape - an innovative learning environment being implemented in three Israeli high schools.
Finally, please read this heart-warming vision of Israel by David Siegel - the Israeli Consul for the South Western United States. It may answer the question as to why, for the first time in many years, more people made Aliya from the USA in 2011 than left Israel for American shores. 4,070 US-born Jews came to live in Israel during 2011.
Is Israel the best place to be? 
For me, there’s no question.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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