Seeing is believing

There were quite a few visual-related news items last week within Israel’s many exciting achievements. I almost called the blog “Out of sight!” – both an exclamation of amazement, but also a sad reflection that the foreign press ignored most of these world-shattering events.
We start with researchers at Ben Gurion University who have actually discovered the short-sightedness gene. They identified a mutation of the gene LEPREL1 by studying a Bedouin tribe where the defect is the cause of hereditary myopia. Next, we no longer need to cut up dead bodies in order to determine the cause of death. Assaf Harofeh Hospital has installed a new MRI (Magnetic Resonance Image) scanning device that can perform ‘virtual’ autopsies. The system allows doctors to view the inside of the body and observe the detailed condition of organs and other internal components. The final medical breakthrough is due to Israeli scientist Dr. Inbar Friedrich Ben-Nun who is leading a US team that has produced the first stem cells from endangered species. From his team’s work we may soon see the return to the wild of whole species that were almost extinct and exist only in captivity. The news even made it onto the BBC but omitted any mention of Dr Ben-Nun or the Israeli connection!
Israel’s medical support for Palestinian Arabs happens continually, but is just as impressive, to those who want to look. Israel treated over 50,000 Palestinian Arabs in the first six months of 2011, like 29 year-old, mother of five, Baraa Inhabi. This is a “must-see” film clip, in order to appreciate what really goes on.
Many people arrived last week to see the Jewish State for themselves. Belgium Prime Minister Yves Leterme is here to open the “new look” Belgian embassy in Tel Aviv. World leaders have come to Tel Aviv to attend the International Conference for Economic Regional Cooperation and open their eyes to the possibility of boosting Israel''s work with the Palestinian Arabs and the Arab world. A survey of thousands of Arabs has proved that one needs to be close to Israel to see the advantages of better relations. 85% of Palestinian Arabs want to co-operate with Israel on joint projects. This compares to 40% of Jordanians and only 20% of Moroccans.
It will be eyeball to eyeball at this year’s annual TechCrunch Technology conference and exhibition. So many Israeli start-ups are featured that they will have their own branded arena. If you want to see someone at crowded event, you need to install Bizzabo’siPhone application.  Theinteractive attendee list and networking software won the Peer Award for top demoat Tel Aviv’s TechAviv Founders Club. In another development, a group of Israel Technion students have designed Bookit! to help you see your name in print. You enter the subject of your choice and the software “looks” through vast resources of web information to extract and produce your book automatically.
Israel’s military certainly needs to keep their eye on the ball. Unlike our football team, they will not lose control of the defence thanks to Rafael Industry’s new MIC-AD system that displays on a single screen all the threats that air defences need to deal with. Another powerful video from Israel’s Technion highlights visually the Institute’s cutting-edge counter-terrorism work. Search & rescue robots and 3D face-recognition all clearly seeking to make the world into a safer place.
The nation understands the importance of vision when building for the future of the Jewish State. It may be several years before we see the results of the biggest construction project in Israeli history, but when finished, the expanded port of Ashdod will double its cargo capacity. Another project, for completion in 2014, is the Tel Aviv courthouse. The architects have had the foresight to design the new 20,000 square meter justice centre to be built from eco-friendly materials. The environment will also benefit from further development of Timna Park. The 66,000 sq meter park, north of Eilat, has already been transformed into an oasis. Further plans include 400 new trees and a modern tourist centre. Finally, when major renovations are completed, the Museum of the Jewish People – Beit Hatfutsot – will reveal a new Core Exhibition that will take visitors on a journey of discovery and exploration into our ongoing story.
Archaeologists help us to see our historical links to this land. Researchers exploring caves near Jerusalem expressed their amazement on becoming the first people in 2000 years to uncover tunnels where Jews hid while fighting the Romans. A few miles to the south, archaeologists have now exposed the entire base of King Herod’s temple and will soon be able to unveil a complete architectonic picture of the whole fascinating site.
Finally, it is important to stress that it is not sufficient simply to watch events unfolding and do nothing. A bad news story became a good story when a Tel Aviv gangland hit-man was spotted by a basketball player and then an entire football team who chased and cornered the murderer. Similarly, when two Beersheva residents were badly injured from exploding Grad missiles, 17-year-old Arina Shestopolov Censor did not look away. Her actions saved both men and she was rewarded with a certificate and a full scholarship to Ben Gurion University.
You can also do your part. Tell everyone what you’ve seen in my blogs and make them sit up and TAKE NOTICE!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.