Israelis took time out last week from their normal activities to celebrate the nation’s 64th birthday. But even the celebrations gave an insight into the unique character of the Jewish State. Then, barely had the barbecues been put away, before the nation resumed its social, humanitarian and innovative hi-tech activities.
Around the country, volunteers and donors from the charity Standing Together provided food and their time to put on Independence Day barbecues for Israeli soldiers and those civilians who have been attacked by Israel’s enemies. Overseas, at Los Angeles’ festival to mark Yom Ha’Atzmaut, there was plenty of evidence of Israel’s achievements at “Celebrate Israel”. Israel’s leading innovations showcased included Given Imaging’s PillCam, ReWalk’s exoskeleton, Pythagoras Solar and The Arava Institute for renewable energy and energy conservation. And the “Water is Life” theme, for the Mount Herzl Independence Day event in Jerusalem, publicised Israel’s world-leading water technologies, and celebrated a rare abundance of annual rainfall.
There has been very little respite during the holiday period for the nation’s medical experts. Surgeons at Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital undertook a 48-hour operation, to save the life of a 30-year old woman from Cyprussuffering from an ectopic pregnancy. Her non-viable foetus was discovered behind a kidney and had already damaged blood vessels, causing major bleeding. Meanwhile, doctors at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Centre (Ichilov Hospital) fought to revive 25-year-old yeshiva student, Aharon Alexander Goncharov from the Ukraine, who had been in a coma for two weeks after he was beaten up in Kiev on the second night of Passover.
The IDF has also been busy. At the Binyamin regional base, battalion medics treated and stabilized a 12-day-old Palestinian Arab baby suffering from severe breathing difficulty. In just two weeks, they have treated three emergency cases including a Palestinian Arab girl suffering from meningitis and another PA patient with a severe cerebral haemorrhage.
On a recent tour, I met one of the leaders of Tikvot - a non-profit volunteer-based organization that rehabilitates Israel's victims of terror through sport. Tikvot ("Hopes" in Hebrew) has proved that sport provides our heroes with hope, literally rebuilding the lives of paraplegics and amputees and giving them the power to restore self-confidence and dignity. Another Israeli charity, ALEH, promotes the message that a strong society is judged by the way it cares for its weakest members. Not only did ALEH celebrate Israel’s Independence Day, but also the 30 years that ALEH has been managing residential facilities for children with severe physical and cognitive disabilities. Today ALEH provides over 650 children from around Israel with high-level medical and rehabilitative care to help them reach their greatest potentials. This video highlights ALEH’s recent march across Jerusalem’s bridge to raise awareness of their work.
The pace of Israel’s hi-tech industry has certainly not slowed down. Intel Corporation has launched its 3G Ivy Bridge processor, which it developed in Israel and the US. The Ivy Bridge is a quad-core processor, designed to offer substantially improved graphics and computer processing speed. The processors are embedded in all PCs now being shipped. Meanwhile, The Innovation Labs (iLabs) team at Microsoft Israel have developed a technology called “Alice” (through the looking glass) that allows for any mirror or reflective surface to become a three-dimensional display. Separately, at its Think Next event in Tel Aviv, Microsoft revealed no fewer than 40 new projects being developed at its labs and development centres in Israel.
Israel’s sportspeople have been busy gearing up for the upcoming London Olympic Games. Israel's Arik Ze'evi made history by winning his 4th gold at the European Judo championship in the under 100kg category. Israeli sharpshooter Sergey Richter won the silver medal in the 2012 Shooting World Cup held in London. And Israel’s para-triathlon athletes Adi Deytsch (amputee) and Oren Blitzblau (blind) won bronze medals in the European Championships' competitions in Eilat.
Finally, we can be assured that Israel’s maternity wards were running smoothly on Yom Ha’atzmaut. When we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Jewish State, we should reflect on, and be proud of, the fact that a record 161,000 babies were born to Israeli citizens during the last 12 months.
Happy Birthday Israel!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.