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Israel Action Committee

tzofimThis committee keeps us up-to-date on action we can take to support Israel. The committee sponsors events and hosts the Tzofim Friendship Caravan.

For further information and to get involved, please contact the synagogue office at 203-268-6940.

Good News from Israel

The following are highlights of good news out of Israel.  To stay up-to-date follow along at the Good News Israel blog.

In the 29th Apr 18 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
 

  • Israeli scientists have mapped the role of each human gene and its mutations.
  • An Israeli program will generate thousands of hi-tech jobs for Israeli Arabs.
  • Twin Israeli teens have devised a system to help prevent wildfires.
  • An Israeli startup makes no-sweetener chocolate and ice cream for diabetics.
  • An Israeli company operates the 5th most convenience stores in the US.
  • Tel Aviv has opened a 1 km interactive Independence Trail.
  • A paralyzed man used Israeli technology to complete the London Marathon.

 

 

 

 
 
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
 
New pathway to treat Parkinson’s.  An Israeli-led international study has discovered that proteins called BMP5/7 are essential for the latest stem cell replacement therapy for Parkinson’s disease. The proteins help to stimulate the production of dopaminergic neurons, which Parkinson’s patients lack.
https://www.israel21c.org/cell-discovery-holds-out-promise-for-parkinsons-therapy/
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/38/7/1662
 
New vaccine for Alzheimer’s. Professor Eitan Okun at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has developed a vaccine that primes the body to attack amyloid beta protein accumulations in the brain, one of the signature signs of Alzheimer’s disease. He is also working on early diagnosis using MRI detection of amyloid protein in the brain.
https://www.israel21c.org/israeli-scientist-working-on-alzheimers-vaccine/
 
US approval for stroke detection. I reported previously (28th Jan) that Israel’s Viz.ai had received the CE mark (European approval) for its brain scan analysis system for detecting strokes.  Now the US FDA has also approved the system. http://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736574,00.html
 
Treating bipolar depression. Tel Aviv University researchers have confirmed the effectiveness of bipolar depression sufferers combining mood stabilizers with anti-depressants. 81.7% of patients using both avoided re-hospitalization (for manic episodes), compared to only 57.6% of patients who did not receive the combination.
https://www.israel21c.org/study-identifies-new-method-of-treating-bipolar-depression/
https://www.europeanneuropsychopharmacology.com/article/S0924-977X(18)30030-0/abstract
 
Alerting patients to ALL relapse risk. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli biotech Curewize successfully completed the clinical trial of its lead product ProALLBM on acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients. ProALLBM reveals patients’ risk of relapse with just one bone marrow sample. They can then be given early treatment.
https://www.bizjournals.com/newyork/prnewswire/press_releases/Georgia/2018/04/03/enUK201803265602?ana=prnews
 
An atlas of the human genome.  Scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have generated an atlas of the human genome. It includes the roles that genes play in health and disease, plus the effect of over 180,000 gene mutations.  http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jerusalem/hebrew-u-scientists-use-stem-cells-to-generate-atlas-of-human-genome/2018/04/23/   https://www.nature.com/articles/s41556-018-0088-1
 
Trauma training for South African medics. I reported previously (3rd Sep) on the work of Israeli emergency NGO United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit in Houston Texas.  Now the unit, headed by its director Miriam Ballin, is travelling to Johannesburg, South Africa to train 60 Jewish EMTs there.
https://www.israel21c.org/israelis-to-train-s-african-medics-in-emotional-first-aid/
 
Ovarian failure patient has healthy son. Sigalit suffered from “premature ovarian failure” that typically causes loss of normal ovarian function, resulting in infertility. After many years of suffering she was about to have a hysterectomy. Then she discovered she was pregnant and, aged 40, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
http://www.sdjewishworld.com/2018/04/25/ovarian-failure-didnt-stop-a-babys-birth/
 
Cornerstone laid for new Zaka HQ. The cornerstone has been laid for a new ZAKA volunteer organization’s world headquarters in Jerusalem. ZAKA’s volunteers assist ambulance crews, aid in the identification of the victims of terrorism, road accidents and other disasters, and ensure proper burial where necessary.
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jerusalem/zaka-lays-cornerstone-for-jerusalem-world-headquarters/2018/04/24/
 
 
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
 
Annual Israeli-Druze festival. (TY WIN) Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and many Israeli politicians joined in the annual Druze festival celebrations. Many Druze traveled from afar to visit the Tomb of Jethro near the Sea of Galilee. Jethro (father-in-law to Moses) is one of the main prophets of the Druze religion.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/amoUTjg0i5A?rel=0
 
$5.6 million for Israeli-Arabs hi-tech jobs. (TY UWI) Israel’s parliamentary committee for Arab affairs has allocated $5.6 million (NIS 20 million) to a new program that will provide thousands of Israeli-Arabs with jobs in the local tech sector. The funds will be used to establish tech workspaces and improve roads in Arab towns.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736640,00.html
 
Israeli Arab lights Independence Day torch. I reported previously (Aug 2014) on Israeli Arab Professor Ahmed Eid who is Head of General Surgery at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. Professor Eid proudly lit one of the twelve torches at the 70th Anniversary Independence Day ceremony.
https://unitedwithisrael.org/watch-meet-the-israeli-arab-doctor-who-is-one-of-israels-top-surgeons/
http://www.hadassah-med.com/doctors/prof-eid-ahmed
 
A new lease of life. Another talk by Sivan Yaari, CEO of Innovation: Africa, this time at UK’s Manchester Grammar School. The solar electricity and water generating facilities provided by the Israeli NGO means no more famine in poverty-stricken African villages – and has even kick-started an entrepreneurial spirit.
http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/africa-gains-from-israels-solar-system/
 
Israeli solar power is vital to Liberia. I reported previously (Nov 2016) that Israel’s Energiya Global is to install Liberia’s first ever solar field. I hadn’t realized that the 10MW plant will supply 25% of the country’s generation capacity. Following its civil war, Liberia is rebuilding its power infrastructure from scratch.
https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/06/06/israels-energiya-global-to-build-liberias-first-10-mw-plant-invest-1-billion-to-african-pv/
 
250 US delegation for Embassy opening.  A huge delegation of 250 American dignitaries will arrive in Israel to attend the official dedication ceremony for the US Embassy in Jerusalem on 5th May. They include Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham.
https://unitedwithisrael.org/massive-us-delegation-to-attend-jerusalem-embassy-dedication/
 
 
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
 
Israeli gas and oil exploration.  Geologist Eitan Aizenberg discovered Israel’s giant natural offshore gas field, Leviathan. He reveals that talented Israeli graduates are now exploring for oil and gas in South America, Malta, Ireland and the Philippines, using Israeli supercomputers to analyze 3D seismic tests.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/octogenarian-geologist-behind-israels-giant-gas-field-eyes-foreign-waters/
 
Preventing the spread of forest fires. 17-year-old twins Gilad and Neta Drori have developed a system to identify wildfires before they spread. Their system takes aerial photos taken by satellite or cameras attached to observer balloons, which then analyses and compares them using an algorithm for image processing.
https://www.jpost.com/Jpost-Tech/Israeli-students-develop-tech-to-identify-wildfires-before-they-spread-552514   https://www.youtube.com/embed/-kDTIzAngGU?rel=0
 
Israel’s involvement in Orion space project.  The launch date for EM-1 – the first of NASA’s Orion deep space exploratory missions – has been moved to Dec 2019 when it will test the innovative radiation protection suit from Israel’s StemRad. EM-2, scheduled for 2023, will use over 100 parts 3D printed by Israel’s Stratasys.
http://nocamels.com/2018/04/nasa-to-test-israeli-made-radiation-protection-space-vest-on-orion-em-1-flight/
http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-stratasys-to-provide-3d-printed-parts-for-orion-spacecraft-1001232359
 
A simple robot to pick fruit and more.  (TY Hazel) Researchers at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have developed a low cost, low energy robot resembling a snake. It has applications from picking fruit to search and rescue to repairing satellites. https://www.israel21c.org/new-snake-robot-could-pick-fruit-or-fix-satellites/
https://www.youtube.com/embed/HEHuoeMLV_o?rel=0
 
Israeli agricultural novelties. Comedian Yuval Haklai takes us on a light-hearted tour of some of the latest Israeli agricultural innovations on show at the Arava 2018 Agricultural Exhibition. They include natural pesticides and pollinators, the world’s smallest tomato, winter-grown raspberries and medicinal plants.
https://www.israel21c.org/21see-explores-israels-latest-agricultural-novelties/
https://www.youtube.com/embed/ntSL-BOtKwQ?rel=0
 
Visual artificial intelligence.  I reported previously (Aug 2012) about Israeli startup Cortica which had developed an image analysis system with marketing potential. Cortica has since applied its self-learning visual intelligence technology to autonomous cars, drones, media, robotics, smart cities and medical image analysis.
http://nocamels.com/2018/04/cortica-autonomous-tech-elon-musk/
https://www.youtube.com/embed/1cZAAMk2GkI?rel=0 https://www.youtube.com/embed/a3qsoevtDiU?rel=0
 
Detecting when students cheat. Israeli startup Copyleaks Technologies has developed a system to help identify plagiarism (i.e. where students copy material and try to pass it off as their own without attributing the sources). Copyleaks’ system understands the ideas behind the texts – i.e. not just an exact word comparison.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3735323,00.html
 
Monitoring cargo in transit.  Israel’s Contguard provides real-time data analysis for managing cargo in transit. It provides IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled shipment monitoring, real-time data and business intelligence to manufacturers and suppliers who ship goods globally. Contguard has just received funds from Citi Bank.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3735345,00.html
 
We deliver in 15 minutes. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli startup GetPackage offers delivery services inside Israel within 15 minutes after the order is made.  The company monitors each delivery and the route taken. It is now setting up infrastructure on the US East Coast, with a database of 7,000 registered delivery people.
http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-2m-invested-in-home-delivery-startup-getpackage-1001231022
 
Tools to develop AI products.  Israel-based Allegro.AI offers a development and management platform for artificial intelligence (AI) technology. It simplifies the process of developing and managing AI-based services such as autonomous vehicles and drones, security, and logistics, with a special focus on computer vision.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736776,00.html
 
Chocolate and ice cream for diabetics. Israeli startup A1C Foods develops chocolate and ice cream that do not impact blood sugar levels. Instead of substituting real sugar with artificial sweeteners, traditional ingredients like flour and sugar, are mixed with a patent-pending formulation that lowers their glycemic index.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736497,00.html
 
3D-printed veggie burgers. (TY WIN) Israeli startup Chef-It is developing a 3D printer that can “print” and grill/bake/fry a hamburger made of cellulose plus plant-based proteins, fats and flavorings. Chef-It co-founder Professor Oded Shoseyov of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University has already made a prototype of the printer.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736700,00.html
 
 
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
 
At 70 – Israel’s economy exceeds expectations. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger compares Israel’s situation now to that earlier in its history.  The statistics are quite staggering. Population, GDP, employment, national debt, exports, foreign investment, inflation, life expectancy, women in work and much more.
http://theettingerreport.com/Overseas-Investments/At-70-%E2%80%93-Israel-s-economy-exceeds-expectations.aspx
 
Israel – Island of Success.  Promotion video for a new book “Israel – Island of Success” by Noga Kainan and Adam Reuter. It asks and answers questions such as, “Why is Israel a success?”, “Is this success sustainable?” and “What is Israel’s probable future? “  https://www.youtube.com/embed/MnNEO9DIf1o?rel=0
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israels-economy-Reasons-to-be-cheerful-and-some-for-concern-452550
https://www.amazon.com/Israel-challenge-mechanism-sustainable-probable/dp/1979817170
 
The largest group of tech investors to visit Israel.  A delegation of 300 international Kauffman Fellows to their Annual Summit is the largest contingent of global VCs ever to come to Israel as a group. The venture capitalists represent the likes of Microsoft, Intel, Google, BlackRock etc. and are invested in some 500 startups.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/global-vc-execs-flock-to-israel-to-study-tech-ecosystem/
 
New health fund raises $200 million. Israeli life-sciences venture capital firm aMoon Partners has raised $200 million for a new fund aMoon II that will invest in digital health life-science companies. The final target for the fund is $500 million. The $200 million fund, aMoon I, was set-up two years ago and is invested in 16 startups.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/billionaire-nachts-new-israel-healthcare-fund-raises-200-million/
 
Amsterdam to Eilat. Air France – KLM subsidiary Transavia Airlines is to fly twice weekly during the winter months from Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport to Ovda, north of Eilat. 17,700 Dutch tourists entered Israel in the first quarter of 2018 – a 37% increase on 2017 and 80% up on 2016.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736273,00.html
 
Lab for food-innovation startups. Israel’s Frutarom is setting up FoodNxt, a lab for startups and ventures specializing in food innovation to address obesity and diabetes, to find protein alternatives, natural, healthy foods and more. The lab in Migdal HaEmek will provide financing, advanced equipment, and a support team.
http://www.frutaromnatural.com/frutaroms-food-innovation-lab  
 
Smart videos for Chinese soccer teams. Israel-based startup Pixellot has sold its video production systems to Chinese Premier League’s Jiangsu Suning Football Club as the first of its deal with China Sports Media. Pixellot’s automated multi-camera system gives a panoramic view of sports events for coaching purposes.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3736585,00.html
 
The US’s 5th largest convenience store business. Israel’s Arko Holdings has completed a complex deal for the purchase and lease of 267 US fuel stations and convenience store sites, including E-Z Mart. Arko’s GPM subsidiary now controls 1,224 sites and fuels another 138 stations in 22 states – the US’s 5th largest operator.
https://www.globes.co.il/en/article-arko-holdings-further-expands-us-fuel-station-business-1001232594
 
 
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
 
Front row at Israel’s birthday show.  My friend Sharon was in the Press stand at the 70th Anniversary Yom Ha’Atzmaut show on Mount Herzl Jerusalem.  Here are her photos of the event and afterwards.
http://rjstreets.com/2018/04/23/best-of-independence-day-israel-at-70/
 
Tel Aviv’s new Independence trail. (TY Janglo & Jacques) Tel Aviv’s new day/night interactive 1km Independence Trail uses a unique mobile app to guide tourists past 10 heritage sites. A map is also available in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Chinese and Russian.
https://www.israel21c.org/a-walk-down-tel-avivs-new-independence-trail/
http://israelbetweenthelines.com/2018/04/26/follow-tel-avivs-new-yellow-brick-road/
 
Israel loves The Backstreet Boys.  (TY Hazel) Following their successful Israel concert in 2015 (see here)The Back Street Boys performed again in front of 15,000 enthusiastic fans in Rishon Lezion Live Park.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/backsteets-back-in-israel-and-15000-fans-want-it-that-way/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyE6NsQ8-0g
 
19 more Israeli summer concerts. Up-coming Israeli performances include Jamiroquai, Azealia Banks, Milky Chance, Enrique Iglesias, alt-J, Matisyahu, Jessie Ware, Sofi Tukker, The Stranglers, Ringo Starr, Avenged Sevenfold, Gilberto Gil, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice in Chains, Ziggy Marley, Beach Boys and Grandmaster Flash.
https://www.israel21c.org/19-must-see-concerts-in-israel-this-summer/
And (hot off the press) it’s certainly not “ironic” that Alanis Morissette is returning to Israel on 30th July.
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Culture/Alanis-Morissette-returning-for-Israel-concert-552665
https://www.youtube.com/embed/Jne9t8sHpUc?rel=0
 
Israel’s most advanced stadium. (TY Janglo) Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem is being upgraded. Its roof will be completed to make it Israel’s largest indoor stadium, with 32,000 seats. Other upgrades include to its sound system, dressing rooms and heating. It is already powered by a 686KW solar energy system.
https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/israel-news/1505159/photos-jerusalems-teddy-stadium-to-be-overhauled.html
 
2.1km tunnel – for cyclists. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat inaugurated Jerusalem’s 2.1km “Gihon” tunnel – Israel’s longest underground cycling tunnel. “We use tunnels for good purposes, such as sports, in contrast to Hamas,” Barkat told reporters. The tunnel connects Ein Lavan (Biblical zoo) to Kerem junction, near Hadassah.
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/jerusalem/israel-gets-its-first-cycling-tunnel/2018/04/24/
 
The London Marathon in an Israeli exoskeleton.  Simon Kindleysides of Norfolk, England became the first paralyzed man to finish the London Marathon when he completed the 26.2 miles in 36 hours wearing an Israeli Rewalk exoskeleton robotic suit. Simon raised £19,000 for charity and won the #SpiritofLondon award.
https://www.jpost.com/International/Paralyzed-man-finishes-London-Marathon-thanks-to-Israeli-robotic-suit-552678  https://www.youtube.com/embed/aB0pfAL6MdU?rel=0
 
 
THE JEWISH STATE
 
How Israel evacuated Ethiopian Jews from Sudan.  Great story on the BBC website about the Israeli scuba diving center on the Sudanese coast that was really a secret base from which Israel’s Mossad ran “Operation Moses” – flying thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel from their temporary camp in the Sudan desert.
http://www.bbc.com/news/stories-43702764
 
The future of Israel looks good.  Professor Efraim Inbar is President of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. He analyzes Israel positively in terms of its security, economy, society, democracy, and international relations.   http://jiss.org.il/en/inbar-future-israel-looks-good/
 
70 years in 2 minutes. Quite amazing to see what Israel has achieved in such a short time.
https://www.youtube.com/embed/HIQedN2QCZk?rel=0
 
Mezuzah for US Jerusalem embassy. As part of the May 14 ceremony to mark the official opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, a mezuzah will be affixed to the embassy building. The U.S. embassy will initially be situated in what is now the U.S. Consulate building, whilst a new building is being constructed.
http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/may-14-opening-of-us-embassy-in-jerusalem-to-include-mezuzah-hanging-ceremony/2018/04/24/
 
Jerusalem embassy for Czech Republic. The Czech Republic is to start moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Czech President Miloš Zeman, ended his speech at a Prague Castle event to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary with “Next Year in Jerusalem”.
http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/czech-republic-move-embassy-jerusalem/
 
$70 million for Taglit-Birthright. On the eve of Israel’s 70th Independence Day, Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson surprised the 650 audience at the 18th annual Taglit-Birthright Israel gala by donating $70 million to the project. Since its inception in 2000, Taglit-Birthright has brought over 600,000 Jewish youths to Israel.
http://www.israelhayom.com/2018/04/17/to-celebrate-israels-70th-anniversary-adelsons-donate-70m-to-taglit/
 
Keeping the Land beautiful. (TY Avi) The Beautiful Land Initiative (BLI) aims to clean up the litter in Israel through the help of volunteers and businesses. Israel is holy and needs to be kept clean and beautiful. Their Pesach video shows them cleaning up the Kinneret shore.
https://israelunwired.com/when-people-of-all-backgrounds-come/
https://www.youtube.com/embed/7gvDgu6U6OY?rel=0

 

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