Israel’s recent medical advances, humanitarian activities and technological achievements have again put the Jewish State firmly in the centre stage, with its work to make the World a better place.
The big medical story this week was that Israeli researchers at the Technion and Rambam hospital in Haifa became the first scientists to reprogram healthy stem cells from the skin of heart patients and turn them into heart cells. It is now only a matter of time (and hard graft) before Israeli medicine will enable a person’s own body to repair his/her own damaged organs.
The world’s scientists were baffled as to the purpose of non-coding RNA and labelled it “junk DNA”. Israeli researchers delved deep into the heart of the mystery and proved that our creator would never have filled our genetic material with “junk”. Dr Noam Shomron of Tel Aviv University discovered that when infected with a virus, ncRNA gives off biological signals that indicate the presence of an infectious agent, known as a pathogen. This result provides scientists with a vital new avenue for fighting off infections.
The world famous Israeli humanitarian organisation with the big heart, Save A Child’s Heart, has won this year’s Israel Presidential Award for Volunteerism. Of the 32 children being treatedcurrently, 14 children are from Africa, three are from Iraq and another 14 are from the Palestinian Authority. Events like “Bowl Your Heart Out” raise vital funds for SACH’s work. Here, $85,000 raised will fund surgery for seven children. Back in 2005, Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek medical centre began pre-screening the eggs of IVF patients for genetic diseases. The hospital is now directly responsible for the heartbeats of two hundred healthy babies of “at risk” Jewish and Arab mothers.
Staying with children, many countries recognise Israel’s pivotal role as an innovator. Finland, with one of world's best education systems, has adopted the kindergarten program of 90-year-old Bar Ilan Professor Reuven Feuerstein. "The secret is that we do not teach content, rather we impart learning and cognitive thinking strategies," said the Professor. Meanwhile, Ben Gurion University of the Negev is collaborating with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to create medical devices for children. Paediatric devices all over the world are merely inadequate, miniaturised versions of adult devices. Israeli scientists will develop devices that are tailor-made for children.
Now, here are two contrasting, heart-warming news items that highlight Israel’s moral character. The male giant sea turtle only visits Israeli shores once in ten years. So when one was caught in Israeli fishing nets last week, it was returned quickly to the ocean, with the addition of a tracking transmitter, specially flown in. Next, this video describing the moral dilemmas facing the Israeli armed forces should go straight to your heart.
Israel is at the heart of many global companies. Proctor and Gamble has been exhibiting its “Israel House of Innovation” R&D hub proudly in Tel Aviv. And the Jewish State really means business to the 70 global companies represented at The Israel Conference in Los Angeles on 31st May and 1st June. Microsoft, CISCO, Oracle, Verizon and many others are all reliant on Israeli research and development.
A swappable battery with a 160km capacity is at the heart of the groundbreaking electric car system from Israel’s Better Placecurrently undergoing final infrastructure tests. With the world desperate to ditch its dependence on oil, Israel is working on a super battery to last 500km and has just founded the National Center for Electrochemical Propulsion to research and develop new technologies that can store electricity more effectively.
Jerusalem is the capital and the heart of the Jewish state. Thousands took part Sunday in the annual Jerusalem Day Parade Flag March, to celebrate the city’s reunification in 1967 after 19 years of division. And its position as a global tourism centre will be enhanced following the Israeli cabinet’s approval of funds to develop the city’s infrastructure, open spaces and renovate major tourism sites. Meanwhile, here are some suggestions of locations in Israel to go for a stroll in order to exercise your heart and enjoy our beautiful country and weather.
Leon Arusi Medalia found where his heart lay following an unfortunate sequence of events. Leon had everything he wanted in Mombassa, Kenya – until his Israeli father and Kenyan mother were killed in a car crash. After being refused a Kenyan ID he came to Israel and joined the army. “Here I got everything I needed and I’m so glad this is my country.” In comparison, the members of the Bnei Mensashe tribe of India have always been focussed on the destination of their hearts. As the leader of the Beit Shalom community in Manipoor, Northern India expressed it with emotion, “We’ve been waiting for so very, very long.”
Finally, our heart goes out to Israeli mountaineer Nadav Ben-Yehuda who abandoned his attempt to climb Everest just 250 meters from the summit. The reason – he saw Turkish climber Aydin Irmak lying in the snow and in 200km/hr winds, without Oxygen, gloves or mask, Nadav saved his life by carrying him back to camp.
Israel, you are all heart.
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.