Israel is attacked continually both physically and politically by neighbouring states and their terrorist proxies. Ironically, this is one of the chief reasons why Israelis have adopted innovative methods in order to prevail against seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Overcoming barriers has become almost instinctive to the “Start-up Nation” as can be seen in the following recent typical news stories.
In the medical arena, there is nothing to stop the flow of incredible discoveries and innovations that emanate from Israel’s hospitals, universities and bio-techs. For example, Soroka hospital and Ben Gurion University are jointly developing a unique blood test to detect various types of early-stage cancers before they can spread. In their first trial, researchers succeeded in detecting cancer in almost 90 percent of cancer patients tested. And there is no longer any barrier to young men that have had chemotherapy from fathering children, thanks to Arab-Israeli Professor Mahmoud Huleihel from Israel''s Ben-Gurion University. He has pioneered an artificial testis.
12-year old Pavel Sadyshev from Kazakhstan suffers from Cerebral Palsy and was unable to walk until the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Assaf Harofeh Medical Centre brought him to Israel. Doctors at Harofeh used their world-recognised expertise to operate on Pavel, who is now undergoing rehabilitation – all at Israel’s expense. And more barriers to understanding the human mind will be removed now that a new school of Neuroscience has opened at the Sheba Medical Centre in Tel Hashomer. Three Israeli Nobel Prize winners attended the official opening as Tel Aviv University inaugurated the Sagol School of Neuroscience - the first of its kind in Israel.
Any barriers to religious freedom are not tolerated in the Jewish State. As you can see here, Ahmadiyya, Bahai, Samaritans, Circassians, Christians, Druze and Muslims are all free to practice their religion in peace, in the only country in the Middle East where this is possible.
Unfortunately, religious freedom was not possible for Umar Mulinde in his home country. The Ugandan pastor’s JerusalemOnlineU.com friends flew him to Israel to get treatment for the horrendous acid burns he suffered in a racist attack.
The Jewish state has always been sympathetic to personal physical challenges. Now, even being deaf doesn’t stop those who wish to serve their country. The IDF’s ''Signs of Change'' course teaches commanders and soldiers the Israeli sign language. And three girls from the religious Zionist kibbutz of Be’erot Yitzchak did not consider National Service in the IDF to be an ideological barrier when they graduated recently as IDF officers.
Israel is a tiny nation, and its athletes certainly overcome barriers when striving for sporting success. Alice Schlesinger all but secured her place in the 2012 London Olympic Games by winning the Judoka bronze medal at the Paris Grand Slam tournament. It will be Schlesinger’s second consecutive Olympic Games. And Maccabi Tel Aviv became Israel''s first volleyball team to smash through to a European quarterfinal after defeating Greek champions Olympiacos.
Israelis have little difficulty of course in surmounting technical challenges. Technion scientists have developed a biological computer, composed entirely of DNA molecules and enzymes constructed on a gold-coated chip. The new computer can accept as many as one billion programs. And if you have only 72 hours to build your new website, then DesignPax will endeavour to smash the time barrier. Google has made the American-Israeli company its "go to" site for banner design. All of the design work is conducted in Israel. Speaking of “time”, youth was no barrier to Ben Lang when he started his first business at the age of 14. Now 18 years old, he has just co-founded Innovation Israel – a business community initiative to help start-up companies.
How about this idea for overcoming trade barriers? Biotechs targeting the Arab world should consider a joint Israeli-Palestinian Arab venture. Whilst the PA leadership self-destructs, good relationships between Israeli and Palestinian Arab entrepreneurs provide excellent opportunities for foreign companies to access the Arab world. And despite terrorists firing dozens of rockets at Israeli civilians, Israel delivered 22,916 tons of goods through the land crossings into the Gaza strip in the seven days to 11th February. In the same week 300 medical patients, including premature triplets and accompanying individuals, crossed from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
My 900-word barrier is rapidly approaching, so I’ll finish this blog with news of some Arabs who have overcome the barriers created by the incitement and propaganda prevalent in their places of birth. Lee Habeeb was born in Lebanon and wants Arab countries “to be more like America and Israel, places where the individual can flourish”. Then there is Mosab Hassan Yousef - the son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. But he is definitely not “like father like son”.
Finally, 24-year old Sherian Kihia from East Jerusalem is the first female (Muslim) Arab to drive a Magen David Adom ambulance. “I came to MDA after hearing for years about its life-saving operations,” she says proudly. I kindly request the JPost Blogs Editor to put a barrier against any comments about women drivers!
In Israel, your imagination is the only barrier.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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