There were so many people who literally put their “heart and soul” into building the modern Jewish State. As recent news stories demonstrate, Israel’s influence nowadays goes far further than just the heart. It has an impact on almost every part of the body.
Starting with the heart, Israeli biotech Pluristem announced that laboratory experiments showed its PLacental eXpanded (PLX) cells improved cardiac muscle function following acute heart attacks. Over 600,000 people suffered heart attacks in the USA last year. Meanwhile, Prof. Ehud Grossman of Tel Aviv University has published an overview of the hypertension impact on the heart, of over-the-counter medicines. His purpose is to alert physicians who may be unaware of the risks of such medication and the harmful effects that may outweigh the benefits. Further down at the cellular level, researchers at the Weizmann Institute have discovered that our bodies have not one, but two pump mechanisms that regulate the balance of nutrients in our cells. ‘Good-times’ and ‘bad-times’ pumps ensure that cells can handle fluctuations in nutrient supply.
Away from the medical arena, several news stories had relevance to our sensory organs. The 10% of Israelis who have hearing difficulties can now “watch” one of the State’s most popular radio programs. Israel’s broadcaster Reshet Bet is videotaping its popular current affairs program “Hakol Diburim” (It’s All Talk). The program is then broadcast live on the IBA website, with simultaneous translation into sign language. Then I was bowled over to read that, despite being blind, Shlomi Lazmy is able to enjoy ten-pin bowling to the full – with the aid of a homemade guide rail. A former competitor in the Para-Olympics, Shlomi is a member of Mishkan HaYazamut, an organisation where about 40 people with disabilities interact with Israeli schoolchildren.
Our taste buds have been enhanced by Israeli farmers near the Dead Sea who grow delicious vegetables from only 2cm of rain a year. They use and modify sophisticated water sensors to ensure their tomatoes and peppers receive the optimum benefits from a miniscule water supply. And please read this story about several delicious varieties of the Vietnamese Dragon Fruit – also known as the Pitaya – that have been developed in Israel. Full of anti-oxidants and vitamins, the Bilu, Venus and Desert King pitaya have a reddish or purple flesh and are sweeter than the original Dragon Fruit. They also have a longer shelf life.
Next – the legs and feet, which were the major concerns of the 1500 athletes who shrugged off rain and wind to compete in Jerusalem’s second international marathon. And there’s no longer a need for religious Jews to stand around waiting for the Shabbat elevator to arrive. Shlomo Friedman has developed ‘BeeOnTime’ tracking device that informs would-be elevator users in their rooms or apartments when it will reach their floor.
It should be stressed that Israel’s holistic treatment of the body does not just benefit Jews. 21,500 Palestinian Arab children were treated in Israeli hospitals in 2011, a 171% increase from 2010. Further away, two senior physicians from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center are in the Ethiopian city of Gondar on a medical relief mission. They are diagnosing sick children using an advanced heart echocardiograph monitor being dedicated for use in the local hospital. And Israel has really gone global with ‘Good Deeds Day’.What began with over 7,000 participants in Israel in 2007 has turned into a worldwide celebration with 160,000 do-gooders last year across the planet volunteering in everything from cleaning nature reserves and donating blood to reading to youth-at-risk.
Israel has some incredible institutions that look after well-being of its citizens. One of them is Hadassah Medical Organization, which has just started moving patients into its new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower at Hadassah-Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, “This is one of the most important buildings in the city.” Another place that is transforming lives is Beit Issie Shapiro. On Israel’s ‘Good Deeds Day’, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro visited this unique Israeli organization that develops and provides services annually for some 30,000 children and adults (including Israeli Arabs) with developmental disabilities.
This blog would not be complete without reference to Israel’s hi-tech industry. Tel Aviv researchers have developed protein-based semi-conductors from organic materials found in the human body. This material could replace silicon and become the basis of a new generation of organic computers that are both flexible and biodegradable. And what would be the logical source of power for this futuristic cyber technology? Well scientists at Ben Gurion University are involved in a project to produce energy from snails and cockroaches. It’s coming along slowly, but once they iron out the bugs I’m sure it’ll start to flow nicely.
Finally, the battle is long and hard for the hearts and minds of those vociferously opposed to the Jewish State. But occasionally we get some news that gives us hope. Irish artist Nicky Larkin admits that he used to hate Israel. He then underwent a total transformation whilst making a film about the Israeli-Arab conflict.
It proves that some “Body” out there must be looking out for us.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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