What on Earth are we doing here?

Israelis often ask this existential question when they read how the international media interprets events in the Jewish State. I will try to provide the true answer here using, as always, the news stories from last week that you may have missed.
So what are Israelis doing in the human body this week? A team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute has revealed the exact structure of the neurohypophysis - a crucial brain area in which biochemical commands are passed from the brain cells to the bloodstream, and from there to the body. Next, Israeli biotech Kamada received patent approval for its unique protein technology used in its hereditary chronic emphysema treatment. And Insightec’s Yoav Medan would like to show you some patients who have benefited from their focussed ultrasound system that I featured last week.
End of year statistics revealed that during 2011, the Yad Sarah voluntary organization assisted 420,000 people around the country lending medial equipment from wheelchairs to oxygen-producing machines and saved NIS 1.5 billion that otherwise would have come from public funds.


What are we doing in Japan? Well Israeli therapists are successfully treating children traumatised by the Japanese tsunami using a stuffed sad-eyed toy puppy called Hibuki (Japanese for “huggy”). Traumatized children identify more with a sad animal because it''s easier for them to project their own sadness onto it. Meanwhile many Taiwanese will soon be receiving cancer screening using the Circulating Tumor Cells (CTC) screening device from Israel’s BioView. The system distinguishes healthy cells from tumour cells and can diagnose tumours from very small samples.
Meanwhile, in other humanitarian news, when Pastor Umar Mulinde was racially attacked with acid in Uganda a contact at JerusalemOnlineU.com arranged for him to be flown to Israel and treated for free at Sheba Medical Centre in Tel Aviv. And the Israeli Government has donated 45,000 litre water purifiers to 22 schools and health centres in El Salvador. Torrential storms devastated the country in October, contaminated the water supply and caused intestinal diseases. 
Israel’s relations with India received much publicity recently, with the visit of Foreign Minister SM Krishna. Israel provides technology to its sixth largest trading partner in the fields of nano-technology, biotechnology, space, water management and non-conventional energy sources. Indian Ambassador to Israel, Navtej Sarna then announced that Israel would be including Punjab and Himachal Pradesh in their next action plan in the agricultural sector. This extends Israel’s current projects being implemented in Haryana, Maharashtra and Rajasthan provinces. No wonder that former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf now recommends that ties with Israel would be beneficial to Pakistan.
On Feb 7th, Israel’s AORA Solar, will open its unique hybrid gas-turbine solar thermal power station in Almeria, Spain. At night, the hybrid station runs on bio-fuel, natural gas or diesel. It will also power a desalination facility. AORA’s only previous hybrid solar power station is situated in Israel’s Arava desert. 


Good to see the launch of a new fund investing in Israeli innovators who are helping to feed a world’s population with less water and less arable land. GreenSoil Investments selects Israeli companies whose technology produces unique foodstuffs, additives, seeds, irrigation and agricultural management systems. (N.B. this is not an investment recommendation.)
Among several innovative Israeli hi-tech developments, one of the most interesting to receive publicity last week was the system from WeFi that allows mobile phone users to surf the Internet for free. WeFi’s unique technology automatically moves a user’s data connection from the 3G network to a local Wifi hotspot whenever it finds one. But couch potatoes may prefer the all-in-one phone, TV remote and games console from Israel’s Screenovate that Texas Instruments has been showcasing at CES 2012 in Las Vegas. 


So a hearty “welcome” in advance to the record 4 million tourists that are forecasted to come to see what on Earth Israel will be getting up to in 2012. And “Bruchim HaBaim” to the 1200 Jews on the Taglit (Birthright) program, who landed at Ben Gurion airport on Monday 9th January – the highest number ever in a single day.  They will hopefully hear that Israel provides free education to all Israeli children aged 3-4 irrespective of race, religion, colour or political persuasion. They may learn that Arab Bedouin soldiers are proud to serve in the IDF. They may see disabled Israelis like 24-year old Odelia Lavie taken in a Yad Sarah van in her wheelchair to the hairdresser, makeup artist and bridal gown salon, and then to her wedding ceremony.
Where on Earth could all this happen, except in the Jewish State?
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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