Israel's Good News Newsletter to 20th May 18


In the 20th May 18 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:

·         An Israeli blood test is proved to eliminate 90% of unnecessary antibiotic use.
·         Israel has appointed its first female Druze judge.
·         An Israeli camera has produced the first 3D video footage from outer space.
·         Israeli hi-tech exports increased 26.8% in the first three months of 2018.
·         An Israeli-founded insurance company gives its unused funds to charity.
·         The US and Guatemalan embassies have opened in Jerusalem.

·         Click here to see the 13th May newsletter on IsraelSeen, Ruthfully Yours, Janglo and United With Israel. Also (TY Sandra) in German.

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ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Reprogramming cancer cells.  I reported previously (9th July) that Ben Gurion University Professor Varda Shoshan-Barmatz had discovered that suppressing the protein VDAC1 inhibits tumor growth. Her team’s latest research shows that small interfering ribonucleic acids (siRNAs) can reprogram the cancer cells back to normal-like cells.  Ointment for pre-skin cancer is in Phase 2 trials. http://in.bgu.ac.il/en/bgn/pages/news/cancer.aspx

Improved fertility treatment. Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University are developing a new, single-dose fertility treatment based on a new telomerase-activating compound, which can improve both male and female fertility. It can also help protect the fertility of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy.

US Government funds Israeli flu vaccine trial. The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is sponsoring a US-wide Phase 2 trial of the M-001 Universal Flu vaccine from Israel’s BiondVax.  A 9,630-person, EU-financed Phase 3 trial is already scheduled.

Reducing overuse of antibiotics.  I reported previously (see here) on Israel’s MeMed which has developed ImmunoXpert – a fast test to determine whether an infection is bacterial or virus. ImmunoXpert is now EU approved and a recent study shows it can reduce unnecessary antibiotic use by nearly 90%.

Treatments for rare diseases.  Five Israeli bio-techs at Israel’s MIXiii-Biomed 2018 are developing new therapies for “orphan” (rare) genetic diseases. They include ART Bioscience (Duchenne’s), Eloxx (cystinosis), SpliSense (Cystic Fibrosis), NewStem (Fragile X Syndrome) and Minovia (mitochondrial diseases).

Analyzing the genes for better treatments.  Israel’s Genoox employs machine learning algorithms to analyze large amounts of genetic data, helping doctors and clinicians to personalize treatment and researchers to develop new therapies. Genoox was selected by Israel’s Ministry of Health for its 100,000 Genome Project.

DIY ultrasound for pregnant mothers. (TY Hazel) Israeli startup PulseNmore.is completing development of a revolutionary handheld ultrasound device that will allow pregnant women to check on the health of their baby using a smartphone. On its website, PulseNmore says it’s in stealth mode, so shhh! this new “baby” is asleep.

AI to treat brain disorders.  Israel’s BrainQ is developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies to treat neurological disorders. These identify high resolution spectral patterns in a patient's Electroencephalogram (EEG) that can be used to treat patients after strokes or spinal injury with tailored electromagnetic therapy.

Stimulating the brain to relieve migraines. I reported previously (Oct 2016) on one Israeli bio-tech that had developed a non-invasive neural stimulation device to reduce the pain from migraines.  Here is another – Neurolief’s neuro-modulation stimulates the brain stem, preventing secretion of agents that can trigger pain.

Wiping out mosquito-borne viruses. (TY ToI) Israel’s Senecio has invented and implemented innovative technology for the mass releases of sterile mosquitoes to disrupt the breeding of the virus-spreading insects. It is a vital part of the battle to end diseases such as malaria, Zika virus, yellow fever, Chikungunya etc.

A robot that rehabilitates patients.  (TY TIP) Scientists at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have designed a robotic arm that plays tic-tac-toe. Patients can play against the robot to exercise upper limbs following surgery or strokes. Patients were more motivated to compete against the robot than against computer-controlled lights. 


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

Israel’s first female Druze judge. (TY Hazel) Israel’s Judges' Selection Committee has selected attorney Sausan Alkassem as a judge in the Haifa District Labor Court.  Alkassem will be the first Druze judge in Israel. She was previously senior deputy to the legal advisor of the National Insurance Institute.

Ramadan Kareem. Watch Israelis send season’s greetings to Muslims celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in Israel, the Middle East and the world. Their wishes include “an easy fast”, “blessed celebration”, “a good month” but, even more importantly, “Peace!”

World’s first boutique Bedouin hotel. Israel is to establish the first-ever boutique Bedouin hotel - a 120-room, four-star hotel in Shibli-Umm al-Ghanam, Northern Israel. The Ministry of Tourism is granting up to 33% of the building cost and has also approved a budget for the establishment of a tourism infrastructure in the village.

March of Life The three-day March of Nations conference culminated in the March of Life’s annual parade of over 3,000 Christians from approximately 40 countries who filled the streets of Jerusalem.

Forbes brings 700 entrepreneurs to Israel.  For the first time, this year’s Forbes Under 30 events centered on one venue – Tel Aviv – and all 700 selected under-30 entrepreneurs from 38 countries came to Israel; many for the first time. They heard from business leaders and superstars, pitched to VC companies and saw the country.

What did Ma say? (TY Nevet) I reported previously (6th May) that Jack Ma, CEO of Alibaba, was making his first visit to Israel. He called the country “inspirational” and its history mirrored the struggles and success of Alibaba. Israelis never gave up, despite few resources; its most valuable asset is the human brain.

Health tech for Northern England.  The UK’s Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and UK Israel Tech Hub are to bring Israeli health and medical technology innovations to the North of England. NHSA’s Suzanne Ali-Hassan and UK Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey signed an agreement at Tel Aviv’s MIXiii Biomed.

World Bee Day.  I’ve reported previously (see here) on how Israel is saving the bee from Colony Collapse Disorder and re-populating bee populations in other countries. The UN has now declared May 20th as World Bee Day. Here is a video of how Israel helps maintain and increase its own bee community.

Bringing Israeli tech to Indian farmers.  Tel Aviv University and Indian philanthropic organization TATA Trusts have launched the Indian Centre for Agri & Allied Tech (I-CAT).  The advanced research and development center will bring Israeli expertise and innovation to farmers of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Free trade deal with Panama. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and presided over the signing of a free trade agreement that the prime minister said held “phenomenal potential” for both countries. It will reduce or eliminate bi-lateral customs duties.


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

EcoMotion 2018. Israel’s sixth annual Ecomotion smart transportation conference is attracting an impressive list of auto industry VIPs. They include Volkswagen’s heads of Audi, SEAT and Skoda; a senior delegation from Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and senior execs from Toyota’s AI Ventures and Research Institute.

Fast and accurate subtitling. Israeli startup VerbIT produces a transcription of video content. This can be to add subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, enhancing educational courses, converting podcasts to text etc. VerbIT uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human monitoring to achieve a 4-hour turnaround. See ILTV video.

It’s how you say it.  Israel’s Voicesense has developed a speech analytics program that can predict behavior from speech patterns. It has applications for sales systems, call centers etc. It also recognizes changed patterns which can give early warning of a medical condition.  Watch Voicesense’s CEO Yoav Degani on ILTV.

Protecting crops against insects.  (TY NoCamels) Israel’s Evogene’s partnership with US Marrone Bio Innovations Inc. (MBI), has identified microbes with genes that can protect soyabeans, corn and cotton against insects. Selected genes are now being advanced to soybean validation in greenhouse and field trials.

Vegan, dairy-free, soy-free yoghurt. (TY NoCamels) Israel’s Yofix Probiotics produces yoghurts for those who cannot tolerate lactose or soy. They’re made from grains, seeds and fruits with prebiotics and probiotics.  They’re now adding yoghurt drinks, desserts, frozen yoghurt and ice cream to the range.

Turning seaweed into a superfood. (TY NoCamels) Israel’s Seakura is one of a few companies that grows seaweed on land (in purified seawater). Seakura’s “superfood” Sea Lettuce and Red Seaweed contain more protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber and anti-oxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. Available in the UK.

Security for Boeing’s 3D printing.  (TY Nevet) There are several Israeli companies (see here) using 3D printers to print airplane parts and many more globally. Now Israel’s Assembrix has been contracted by Boeing to protect Boeing’s intellectual property during the 3D print manufacturing of parts.

Try on clothes on-line.  Israeli startup Zeekit’s innovative technology maps your image and then superimposes onto it garments from on-line stores to show you wearing them. It even has Artificial Intelligence “Styler.ai” to recommend items to you. Works with Amazon fashion, Topshop, H&M, Bloomindales and many more stores.

Escaping fires and stopping poisonous gas leaks. (TY ToI) Israel’s Salamandra Zone has developed technology that can contain poisonous gas leaks.  It can also generate high pressurized air to ventilate lift shafts and allow elevators to be used in the event of a fire in a high-rise building. https://www.salamandra-zone.com/

The view from Heaven. (TY NoCamels) I reported previously (3rd Dec) about the Israeli 3D virtual reality (VR) camera on board the International Space Station. The first episode of “One Strange Rock” aired in the US on March 26, 2018.  It is the first ever 3D VR film seen from space. Click the navigation arrows n the top left.

In-car AR navigation.  The Israeli iOnRoad team of Harman International (a subsidiary of Samsung) has developed augmented reality (AR) navigation for the next generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class vehicles. It will be the first time AR technology is used in vehicles, displaying the car’s actions in real-time to the driver.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS

GDP up 4.2%. Israel's economy remains robust with the latest figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics showing that Gross Domestic Product grew at an annualized rate of 4.2% in the first quarter of 2018. Most areas of the economy showed huge growth, with exports of software and communications products up 26.8%.

70 Awesome things about the Israeli economy. (TY Janglo) The “Living Financially Smarter in Israel” group has listed 70 ways that Israel’s economic and financial system works to benefit its citizens. They include Aliya money, free ulpan, free savings for children, cheap health care and 66 others. Click for more.

Incubating AI. Israel’s Shin Bet Security Agency and Tel Aviv University (TAU Ventures) are launching Xcelerator – for startups working in Artificial Intelligence (AI), primarily natural-language processing (NLP) technologies, robotics, and data science. Initially, six startups will receive $50,000, workspace and mentoring.

Joining Google in the Cloud.  (TY NoCamels) I reported previously (May 2016) about one Israeli startup that says it can migrate a company’s data center onto the Cloud in minutes. Here is another, Velostrata, which had been an Israeli startup, until it was recently bought by Google and has now become part of Google Cloud.

Intel’s $5 billion factory expansion. I reported previously (27th Feb) that Intel planned a $5 billion expansion of its Kiryat Gat factory.  It has now submitted a detailed plan to the Israeli Government which granted a $380 million incentive. Intel Israel exported $3.6 billion of tech products in 2017 and its 2018 plans are impressive.

Insurance with a heart. Israeli-founded, US-licensed insurance company Lemonade relies on automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to keep costs down. It processes new business and claims in minutes and at the end of the year any surplus funds set aside for claims that is unused gets donated to charity. 

Office space in six countries.  I reported previously (Mar 2017) on Israel’s Mindspace – one of the growing number of Israeli companies leasing shared office space globally. Mindspace has just acquired Dutch shared space provider KleinKantoor, taking Mindspace’s operations into its sixth country.

Credit Suisse’s $250 million for medical investment. Credit Suisse is injecting $250 million into Israeli life-sciences Venture Capital fund aMoonII. The fund invests in mid- to late-stage life science companies in the field of digital health and bio-techs that operate in Israel, the US and Europe.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

New Tel Aviv nature museum.  The new Steinhardt Museum of Natural History in Tel Aviv has five floors of exhibits displaying 3,000 items, including Israel’s last bear (1916), cheetah (1911) and crocodile. All animals displayed died of natural causes, often coming from Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo or the nearby Ramat Gan Safari.

Art is transforming Jaffa.  Jaffa now has several new art galleries to attract tourists. They include Magasin III,  Gordon Gallery’s South Tel Aviv site, Beit Kandinof, Cuckoo’s Nest, AlamacĂ©n and Galerie Charlot.

The sands of time.  (TY Pamela Levene) For Israel Independence Day, non-Jewish sand artist Kseniya Simonova produced this beautiful 7min video installation depicting the 20th century history of the Jewish people. It has an inspiring message at the end. “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" is sung by Ofra Haza

Thou Shalt Innovate.  Scott Richman of AJC Westchester/Fairfield is a great Israel advocate.  On the Israel@70 edition of his twice-weekly radio show he interviewed (among others) Avi Jorisch, author of “Thou Shalt Innovate” - a book I highly recommend.  Listen from 20 minutes.

Concert for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.  Daniel Italiaander is an entrepreneur who made Aliya from Holland 20 years ago.  Then his son was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Daniel now is on the board of The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Israel which has organized a benefit concert in Ra’anana on May 28.


THE JEWISH STATE

The US Embassy opens in Jerusalem, Israel. Here are my favorite highlights from this historic event.
US Ambassador David Friedman’s opening speech: https://www.youtube.com/embed/y7czrlktzlQ?rel=0
US President Trump’s speech and unveiling ceremony: https://www.youtube.com/embed/f_iokRz9bkE?rel=0
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech: https://www.youtube.com/embed/pW8oixA-LG4?rel=0
Pastor John Hagee’s speech: https://www.youtube.com/embed/gaD-MNUuhaI?rel=0

Welcome Guatemala to our capital.  In 1948, Guatemala was the 2nd country (after the USA) to recognize the State of Israel.  On 16th May 2018, Guatemala became the 2nd country (after the USA) to move its embassy to Jerusalem - capital of the State of Israel.  (Open link to see United with Israel at the opening ceremony).

Next week Paraguay.  I reported two weeks ago (6th May) that Paraguay’s President hoped to relocate his country’s embassy to Jerusalem before the end of his term in mid-August.  Well, he’s certainly beaten that target as it will be moving this coming Tuesday – 22nd May.

Jerusalem capital of Israel.  As it says at the end of the video “Then, Now and Forever”.

$17 million extra to excavate in Jerusalem. (TY WIN) Israel Antiquities Authority has allotted an additional $17 million to the ongoing excavations in the City of David, just south of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Israel – the center of Jewish life.  (TY Nevet) 140,000 Jewish children are born in Israel every year.  In the Diaspora - 80,000 pa.  Israeli Arabs - 41,000 pa.  Plus, net Aliya - 20,000 pa.  It’s a demographic miracle. It was underlined when Ezer Mizion found an Israeli bone marrow DNA match for an Italian Jew with Leukemia.

Bearing Fruit to Those Who Want It



The Jewish festival of Tu B’Shvat (New Year for Trees) inspired me to look back over the year at the agricultural and environmental benefits Israel and Israeli companies have provided internationally. But I was only motivated to write this blog when I heard that my cousins in Cape Town, South Africa have been ordered to ration their water usage and from April will have their water cut off.  Why?  Because South Africa has refused Israel’s offers to help solve their water management problems.  As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.”

Down the road from South Africa, Israeli experts in drip irrigation and crop management trained nineteen educators in Swaziland, which was almost crippled by drought last year. In the same continent, but at the other end of the scale, Israeli NGO “Innovation: Africa” has been providing clean water and aid to millions of Africans, including tens of thousands of refugees living in the war-torn Central African Republic.  The NGO also saved the whole village of Akuyam in Karamoja, Uganda where many hadn’t eaten for three days.




Ironically, in late 2016 (before the South African boycott), Israel’s Fluence installed a potable desalination system to solve dire drought conditions in KwaZulu-Natal – a semi-autonomous region in South Africa. No wonder the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithinii, monarch of 12 million Zulus urged (fruitlessly) the country’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) to retain close ties with Israel.

On the other hand, those countries that have accepted Israel’s help are reaping the benefits. Take water, for example. In India, Israel’s WaterGen has launched a pilot with India’s Tata to generate water out of thin air.  




Israel’s water systems are certainly appreciated by the US State of Wisconsin, and by water professionals from Canada, China and the Czech Republic. In Ghana, Israel’s Yam Pro is using water to produce 150 megawatts of wave energy. Meanwhile, Israel’s TaKaDu is preventing major water leakages from Australia to Vietnam, not forgetting Spain, the UK and the USA.




Appropriately, for the Jewish New Year for Trees, here are just a few agricultural items. Israeli charity KKL-JNF was asked by Kenya to help turn its deserts into forests, using Israeli technology that can conserve soil, capture rain runoff, monitor precipitation and promote conservation. Then, just over a month ago the municipality of Jerusalem (Israel’s capital) gave away free fir trees to those Christian residents who wanted them. Finally, take a look at the FarmZee app from Israeli startup Farmster, which is saving Tanzania’s crops from going to waste.by providing farmers (without Internet access) with a special SMS link to buyers for their crops.




There are many South Africans that speak the truth about Israel’s work to benefit humanity. They agree with what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in his recent speech to the United Nations.  “So many countries around the world have woken up to what Israel can do for them.” “Israel is the place for cutting-edge technology, in agriculture, in water… You name it, we’ve got it”.

And it won’t cost the earth.