An accurate picture of life in Israel cannot be constructed by focusing only on biased negative reporting and superficial analysis. It requires looking under the skin at what really goes on inside the Jewish State.
Starting inside the human body, Israel’s BioControl Medical has implanted its FitNeS vagus nerve stimulation system into epileptics and reduced fits by 50%, with no side effects. Meanwhile, Israeli biotech Enlivex has developed a treatment called ApoCell that triggers a response from the immune system to reduce adverse reactions during bone marrow transplants. It prevents Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD), which affects around 70% of transplant patients. Also inside the Jewish State, a biotech comprising Israel’s minorities is successfully producing innovative products to guide neurosurgeons to the required location in the brain. Alpha Omega is a Nazareth company of Christian and Muslim Arab graduates of Israeli universities.
Two revealing stories emerged from inside of the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer last week. Firstly, Sheba scientists have isolated cancer stem cells that fuel kidney cancer in children. Antibody medication was then used to target specific molecules in those cells and destroyed the tumors without harming any other cells. But I had to blink hard when I read that US President Obama’s step-grandmother has just undergone emergency eye treatment at an Israeli hospital, far away from Tel Aviv. Sheba hospital also manages the state-of-the-art “Shalom” La Paz Medical Center in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and the local staff includes around 100 Israeli doctors.
Inside the heart of many products you find Israeli technology. Today, if you buy one of Lenovo’s new Ideapad Ultrabooks, it will include the gesture control features of Israeli startup, eyeSight Mobile Technologies. With simple hand movements, from a distance of up to 70cm you can control media player, photo gallery, Powerpoint and PDF reader. And in a further example, Colorado’s Spectranetics has just acquired Israel’s Upstream Peripheral Technologies. Consequently Spectranetics’ medical lasers will soon come equipped with Upstream’s innovative products that reduce radiation exposure to both doctors and patients.
Many of the foods we put inside us are the product of Israeli technology. The latest natural herbal pesticide from Israel’s EdenShield doesn’t even harm a fly. When it is sprayed onto the netting surrounding fruit and vegetables, the bugs smell the aroma of the herb and they turn tail and fly away. More Israeli innovations will be on display at Arava Open Day at the end of January. 250 companies will demonstrate their products to over 30,000 visitors who will also be entertained with a farmer’s market, kids’ activities, and gala evening concerts from top Israeli stars. Meanwhile among the visitors to a recent agricultural exhibition were 30 farmers from Gaza who came to purchase Israeli products and learn from the Israelis.
Staying with the food industry, the popular Israeli drinks-maker SodaStream has become extremely successful simply by putting bubbles inside flavored drinks. It also contributes to the environment by avoiding some of the billions of plastic bottles that we put inside the garbage trucks each year. SodaStream’s latest advert makes this sustainability point very cleverly - however the UK regulators banned it for “denigrating plastic bottle makers”. Judge for yourself by watching the replacement ad below and its original here.
Some of Israel’s beautiful environmental sites can be found right inside Israel’s capital. Jerusalem’s Botanical Gardens are literally blooming. Planned developments for 2013 include a children’s interactive discovery path and an expanded and renovated tropical conservatory. And I fully expect the Secretary General of the United Nations to “bubble up inside” when he reads that Israel plans to turn the 64 acres of Gazelle Valley in Jerusalem into Israel’s first city wildlife park.
I’ll finish with some items featuring some of the residents that live inside our tiny little country. Members of an Ultra-orthodox (haredi) IDF battalion saved the lives of three Palestinian Arabs who were trapped in a car near Nablus in a raging swollen stream during the recent storms. A left-leaning Israeli newspaper was surprised by evidence of the surge in applications by East Jerusalem Arabs for Israeli ID cards; more Arab students taking the Israeli matriculation exams; more enrolling in Israeli academic institutions; and a rising number of youth volunteering for national service. Perhaps less surprising was that dozens of the 600 Christians from the Gaza Strip who arrived in Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas have asked to move to Israel. And then there is Samir – a Muslim Arab who voluntarily enlisted in the IDF. Samir was born in Syria but now lives in Israel. “I love the army”, he said proudly.
Lastly, among the 18,000 new immigrants who in 2012 decided to start new lives inside the Jewish State was 100-year-old Moises Lederman from Brazil. "I''m only sorry I didn''t come to Israel earlier on, but better late than never," he said. But the view of Vivian Hamui from Panama is perhaps even more illuminating. She finds herself living and studying with Ethiopians, Russians, Spanish, English, Chinese, Americans, Dutch, Venezuelans and many Arab girls. She doubts if the same situation could occur inside any other Middle East country.
It really helps to have inside information.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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