By Michael Ordman
NETANYA, Israel — In the 13th Dec 20 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
• A new Israeli stem cell treatment can halt and reverse MS.
• Israel has received its first deliveries of coronavirus vaccines.
• An Israeli-Ethiopian immigrant has won a scholarship to Oxford University.
• Over 130 Israeli hi-tech companies have been exhibiting in Dubai.
• New investment in Israeli startups is at record levels.
• An Israeli has won the NASCAR European championship for the 3rd time.
• Morocco and Israel are to establish diplomatic relations.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Stem cell treatment can help MS patients. (TY Nevet) Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Medical Center and Israel’s NeuroGenesis have developed a stem cell treatment for patients with progressive multiple sclerosis. A Phase II human trial not only halted progression of the disease but led to improvement in neurological ability.
Hope for stroke and dementia patients. Israel’s BrainsGate (reported briefly here previously) has developed a technology for the treatment of ischemic strokes and vascular dementia. The Ischemic Stroke System is based on an implantable electrode stimulator that increases blood flow to the brain. Clinical trials are in progress.
Hackathon for autism. Israeli innovators and entrepreneurs participated in Hackautism 2.0 – a virtual tech marathon to create innovative technological solutions for the challenges of children and adults on the Autism Spectrum. The winning teams addressed sleep quality, non-verbal communication and job finding,
Israeli blood tests for the Gulf. The OLO finger-prick blood tests from Israel’s Sight Diagnostics (reported here previously) will soon be available in medical centers across the Gulf region. The Israeli company is partnering with Dubai’s Phoenix Capital who will install OLO initially in the UAE and then other Gulf states.
Games to fight diabetes and cognitive decline. Israel’s Maccabi Healthcare Services research and innovation center has initiated KSM Playzone – focusing on the field of health gaming. KSM has awarded $25,000 to the developers of two health education games – Diabattle (for diabetics) and Memento (cognitive rehabilitation).
Israeli doctors in Gaza. (TY Hazel) Israeli-Arab orthopaedists, neurologists, heart surgeons, and mental health experts are in the Gaza Strip relieving the strain on hospitals fighting coronavirus. They are conducting urgent (previously postponed) surgeries on non-Covid-19 patients and training up Palestinian Arab medical teams.
First vaccines arrive in Israel. An end to the coronavirus pandemic is in sight as hundreds of thousands of doses of Pfizer vaccines were flown into Tel Aviv. Vaccinations are due to begin on Dec 27. Israel is scheduled to receive 4 million doses of the vaccine by end Dec.
Israel’s vaccine is vital. Progress has been made with the Israeli-developed vaccines and treatments. The MigVax oral vaccine is ideal for developing countries as it easy to transport and distribute. It is also much safer, e.g., for those who have allergies or compromised immune systems.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Restarting after injury. Israeli NGO Restart’s project “Makers for Heroes” (reported here previously) has volunteer professionals build devices so wounded IDF veterans can restart their lives. Here, one of the injured soldiers tells how Restart helped him restore his musical skills after shrapnel tore the nerves in his hand.
Joining with UAE to improve access for disabled. Michal Rimon, CEO of Access Israel, attended the virtual two-day Tolerance & Inclusivity Week at Dubai’s Expo 2020. She participated on the panel “Accessibility Spotlight: The Value of Difference”. She is working with Ayesha Hussaini of Manzil, her UAE equivalent.
First female IAF Bureau Chief. (TY JNS) In a first, a female officer will serve as bureau chief to the Israel Air Force. Maj. N., currently deputy commander of the 119th Air Force Squadron, will be the first female officer to serve in the role, for which only the corps’ top officers are selected.
Israelis donate medical fees for Gaza boy. (TY Hazel) Surgeons at Israel’s Schneider Hospital saved the life of 4-year-old Ahmad from Gaza with a hemorrhaging tumor. The Palestinian Authority refused to pay for his treatment in an Israeli hospital. Now generous Israelis are funding an account set up for Ahmad by the hospital.
Israeli-Ethiopian goes to Oxford University. Eden Amare Yitbarek is one of two Israelis selected for the Rhodes scholarship program that offers exceptional international candidates the opportunity to study at Oxford University in England. Eden was raised in Ethiopia and completed her BA at the IDC Herzliya.
Israeli scientist’s revelation. Prof. Haim Eshed was head of Israel’s security space program (1981 to 2010) and received the Israel Security Award 3 times (twice for confidential technological inventions). But in his latest book “The Universe beyond the Horizon” and interviews, he may have gone too far. Make your own minds up!
New UK-Israel defense agreement. Israel and Britain have signed an agreement for further cooperation between the IDF and the British Armed Forces that will see the two militaries cooperate in a variety of fields, including training and defense education. Cooperation will include defense-oriented medical training
Israel to join International Energy Agency. The State of Israel has been accepted into the International Energy Agency (IEA) after members of the agency voted unanimously in favor of the move. It recognizes Israel’s role in regional and international energy and gives it access to important sources of industry research.
What the IDF did in Albania. Last year, the IDF dispatched a humanitarian aid delegation to Muslim-majority Albania after a 6.4-magnitude quake devastated the capital city of Tirana. See and hear one of the IDF soldiers describe how the operation helped some 1,600 Albanian families return to their homes and saved many lives.
Israel launches new Moon project. Israel has begun Beresheet 2, the country’s second lunar project. In 2024, SpaceIL, the Israel Space Agency and others plan to launch a mission to put a spacecraft in lunar orbit and two landing craft on the Moon’s surface. Seven countries including the UAE want to participate in the project.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Israeli hi-tech on display in Dubai. For the first time, Israel participated at Dubai’s Gitex exhibition – the world’s largest digital exhibition. Export Institute Director Gadi Arieli called it “a milestone in building a platform for developing economic relations between us and the Emirates.” 130+ Israeli companies exhibited.
Smart city winner. Israel’s Zencity (reported here previously) has won the governance and economy prize at the 2020 Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC). SCEWC awards are granted to “pioneering projects,” innovations, ideas and strategies that make cities more livable, sustainable, inclusive and economically viable.
Cultivated meat – who can tell? Israel’s Prime Minister tasted cultivated steak at Israel’s Aleph Farms (reported here previously). He said it was “unbelievable, delicious and compassionate.” He could not tell the difference from animal-produced meat. He saw Israel at the forefront of a global alternative protein ecosystem.
Autonomous driving to Tel Aviv. Tech business analyst Hillel Fuld posted a video clip of his morning ride to Tel Aviv. It was no ordinary commute, due to the self-driving system that was piloting his vehicle along the Ayalon’s fast lane. https://unitedwithisrael.org/watch-self-driving-suv-takes-the-fast-lane-to-tel-aviv/
Six robotic projects. Israel’s SixAI has six projects involving robotics. They comprise inspecting parts for defects, autonomous transport by forklift, autonomous microchip manufacture, goods delivery, recruitment and perimeter security.
Arcade games go online. Israel’s Gigantic is behind the game Clawee, which enables virtual playing of claw machines through live video streaming. Prizes are delivered to the winner’s doorstep. Players operate one of 220 real claw machines located at Gigantic’s Petah Tikva studio. Other games include soccer, hoops and golf.
Solving the problem of textile waste. Israeli organization Re-born Textiles is piloting its solutions for preventing unwanted clothes ending up in landfills. New/nearly new are returned to retail for ReUse; older products are “ReMade” into new clothes; those in poor condition are “ReCycled” into industrial products.
Antimicrobial fabric for new cars. Israel’s Sonovia Tech, makers of the facemasks that neutralize the Covid-19 virus, has partnered Italian car component manufacturer Adler Group. Sonovia will develop textiles using their antimicrobial fabric, to be used by Adler in carpets and other interior features for many makes of car.
Manage security in the cloud. Israel’s Wiz provides companies with complete visibility of the security of its computer infrastructure in the Cloud. It enables risk management of networks, identities, applications and vulnerabilities. Easy to install, focusing on the critical issues and providing speedy analysis of the root causes.
Fast analysis of data. The high-performance technology from Israel’s Firebolt allows companies to analyze much larger volumes of up-to-date data than previously possible. Firebolt combines the simplicity, elasticity and low cost of the cloud with the latest innovations in analytics.
An AI marketing assistant. Israeli-founded Exceed.ai uses Artificial Intelligence to work alongside sales reps. It emails and web chats with prospective customers, handling the mundane tasks 24×7 while reps close deals. It personalizes answers to queries just like a human assistant, books meetings for the reps and ensures follow-up.
Monitoring 50 million trees. Israel’s SeeTree (reported here previously) now monitors over fifty million trees globally for their health and productivity. SeeTree extracts data using high-resolution, multi-dimensional sensing imagery obtained from drones, paired with ground sensors and samples taken by forest rangers.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Investment up 20% with a month to go. Start-Up Nation Central reports that capital raised by Israeli startup companies is breaking records in 2020 despite the Covid-19 crisis. Israeli companies raised $9.5 billion in the 11 months of 2020, eclipsing 2019’s $7.7 billion total for the whole 12 months.
New record for currency reserves. Israel’s reserves of foreign currency soared again last month. At the end of November, Israel held nearly $167 billion of foreign currency – over $6 billion more than at the end of October.
Lower housing costs. The Israeli government has approved plans to lower housing costs throughout the country. Housing units subsidized by the government will be listed alongside properties on the free market. It will create competition and lower the cost of living for eligible Israelis on low income.
InvestiNation. Israel’s InvestiNation is a new equity crowdfunding platform, offering accredited US investors access to Israeli early-stage startups in fintech, ed-tech, construction and property technology.
eToro value soars. An unnamed US institution just bought $50 million of shares in Israel’s eToro (reported here previously). It values the company at a staggering $2.5 billion, turning it into another Israeli Unicorn. eToro’s clients now number over 16 million, who use eToro’s platform to trade stocks, commodities, FX etc.
Reacting to Covid-19. Israeli medical AI triage platform Diagnostic Robotics (reported here previously) used the coronavirus pandemic to successfully change its focus and operations. It split its workforce into two, to reduce the risk of infections and formed a digital health partnership with Israel’s Ministry of Health.
Predicting property values. Israel’s Propdo AI develops technology capable of predicting residential real estate property prices. Its algorithm and data-based tools produce a projected valuation of a prospective purchase. The company will initially operate in the Israeli real estate market.
Hiring staff? Watch the video. Israel’s myInterview allows companies to see and hear recruitment candidates without the need for face-to-face meetings – useful in these coronavirus times. Candidates record videos to promote themselves and the recruitment team can watch, review and agree whom to invite to a live interview.
Investment in Israeli startups: Wiz raised $100 million; Firebolt raised $32 million; Salt Security raised $30 million; SeeTree raised $30 million; Biosight raised $27million; Brainsgate raised $14 million; Gigantic raised $7 million; Cylus raised $7 million; SixAI raised $5 million; myInterview raised $5 million; Exceed.ai raised $4 million; Propdo AI raised $2 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Music for Peace in Eilat. The Music for Peace Festival in Eilat celebrated Israel’s normalization deals with UAE and Bahrain. Its location was significant – next to the pillars of Solomon, whose Hebrew name means Peace. The event, on UAE’s National Day, was uniquely broadcast live on an Abu Dhabi TV channel.
Endings and Beginnings. Center Stage – the only permanent English language theater in Israel – is holding a live music online event on Dec 27. It is entitled “Endings and Beginnings” and features songs from the stage and charts that celebrate endings and beginnings.
Imagine – John Lennon sang about Jerusalem. (TY Hazel) On the 40th anniversary of his death, a recording has surfaced of ex-Beatle John Lennon. He is singing in Hebrew, “Jerusalem, we have all sworn for eternity, we will not abandon you from here and forever”. Although an anti-religionist, he did claim to have a spiritual side.
Israel Philharmonic on Chanukah. (TY Hazel) Just a few more evenings to watch the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra perform at 5pm Israeli time (10am ESD, 3pm UK time) every night of Chanukah.
New role for Israel’s wonder woman. Israeli actress Gal Gadot (reported here previously) is to play a James Bond type super spy in the upcoming movie Heart of Stone. Meanwhile, her latest acclaimed movie Wonder Woman 1984 is now to be released on Dec 25 on the HBO Max live streaming service.
NASCAR record win & championship. Israeli NASCAR driver Alon Day has won the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Championship for the 3rd time in 4 years. He won a record 23 races this season with two still to go. Day is looking for a partnership so he can compete in NASCAR’s premier division, the Cup Series, in 2021.
THE JEWISH STATE
Israel wins award for skillful archaeology. The International Tunneling and Underground Space Association (ITA) normally awards prizes for railroads and road construction. But it was so impressed with the way Israel carefully constructs tunnels to uncover its history, that it gave Israel the “Oddities of the Underground” award.
Map of the Land of Israel. Israeli researcher Michal Eshed has developed a map in Hebrew and English of the settlement of the people of Israel in the Land of Israel. It contains some 700 ancient Israelite settlements and holy sites across the entire historic Land of Israel. It highlights that the Jews are indigenous to the land.
https://eretzil.net/english.html#!/home-english (Then click on “The Map” to preview before registering.)
Be a light. Great new song for Chanukah from Raanana Capella group Kippalive. They teamed up with Raanana-based charity Beit Issie Shapiro – one of the world’s leaders in the field of helping people with special needs and disabilities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isSSA0fBMj0
Hasmonean oil lamp discovered. Just in time for Chanukah. A City of David archaeologist has discovered an intact oil lamp from the Second Temple Hasmonean period, over 2,000 years ago. It was found while excavating Jerusalem’s ancient Pilgrimage Road, adjacent to the Western Wall.
Chanukah miracle. Morocco has agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. At the Kotel Chanukah lighting, Israel’s PM said, “The light of peace has never shone brighter than today”. Each country will open diplomatic offices in each other’s country. There will also be direct flights between the two countries.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel. www.verygoodnewsisrael.blogspot.com and a searchable archive www.IsraelActive.com For a free subscription, email a request to [email protected]