Tel Aviv’s annual science fiction / fantasy festival Icon TLV has just finished and again demonstrated how quickly the dreams of yesterday’s science fiction writers have become today’s reality. Israeli innovation is bringing that gap even closer. Now that October has been designated Israel Innovation Month, and in light of a number of recent dramatic news items, you may wish to re-evaluate some previously held perceptions about the Jewish State.
The Nobel Prize for Medicine has just been announced. The prize was awarded to two men involved in turning mature cells into stem cells. But the truth is that the process is far from being understood and extremely unreliable. So I was impressed to read that Israeli researchers at the Weizmann Institute have worked out the science involved and are now busy working to make a biomedical breakthrough. Another little known fact is that most patients suffering from acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) can thank Professor Leo Sachs of Israel’s Weizmann Institute for their treatment. Professor Sachs discovered the process of differentiation, which causes the cancer cells to return to their normal function and is helping to cure 70% of all APL sufferers.
“The First Step to Nobel Prize in Physics” contest in Poland may just be a make-believe version of the real Nobel Prize competition but it does provide an insight into the future. Israeli high school students beat 80 other countries to win first prize at the 20th annual event in Warsaw. 14 Israelis won prizes including overall first for Yuval Katznelson, for his research of energy in unique gases found in charcoal fibres. Israeli President Shimon Peres subsequently invited young members of his Future Scientists and Inventors program to display their inventions in his Sukkah.
The festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) has always been a time to highlight Israel’s environmental innovations – but the city of Kfar Saba decided to make a dramatic statement by building a solar Succah. The municipal booth operates on solar energy only. Now please watch the Ein Prat Fountainheads combine imaginative theatrics with some truly great music and scenery, in their latest festive video “Livin’ in a Booth”.
Some home truths were recently demonstrated to a world that continues to fictionalise Israeli treatment of Palestinian Arabs. You may remember that the brother-in-law of Gaza’s Hamas leader chose to have life-saving heart surgery at an Israeli hospital. Well a Gaza woman recently made a similar choice in order to save the life of her newborn infant. Jian Abu Agram is back home with a healthy baby thanks to Israeli doctors in Kfar Saba, after complicated surgery. Jian lost three babies to rare birth defects previously at Egyptian hospitals. Meanwhile, four Arab children from Gaza are receiving kidney treatment in the Children's Hospital at Haifa’s Rambam Health Care Campus. The four kids, suffering from kidney insufficiency, have been hospitalized for several months and are being given lifesaving therapy while awaiting transplants.
In another attempt to disguise the truth, the controversialand flawed UNICEF has bought water purification tablets from Israel Chemicals Limited for use in the organisation’s relief mission in Syria. To mask the origin of “AquaTabs” and hide their purchase from “an enemy state”, UNICEF dealt through ICL’s Ireland-based subsidiary, Medentech. ICL’s tablets save millions of lives every year around the world.
Did you watch the dramatic performance of Israel’s Prime Minister at the UN as he tried to explain the obvious to the world’s unbelieving hypocrites? Before he revealed his “bombshell”, he made an excellent attempt to publicise the truth about Israel’s achievements, including that of Israel’s Technion – one of Israel’s leading hi-tech academic institutions. Some countries might have been listening. Perhaps Sri Lanka, which has just been evaluating Israeli technology at AgriTech 2012 in Colombo. Or maybe Colombia, where Israeli water experts have been demonstrating their solutions at the Acodal 2012 Water Congress in Bogota. And not to mention Nigeria, where Israel’s Solel Boneh has just embarked on a three-year project for the Nigerian government to build a huge road system in the Shgamu-Benin area of Nigeria.
Of course if I was cynical, I could say that the truth will only emerge once Israel becomes an energy-rich state on a par with other Middle East countries. And this may happen sooner than you think, once the 290-meter high production platform for Israel’s Tamar natural gas field reaches its drilling position. The platform - taller than Israel's tallest skyscraper - has just left Texas, after 18 months of construction, and will arrive in Israel on board the largest barge of its kind. Production at the Tamar field is scheduled to begin in March.
Israel’s true worth is of course recognised by millions around the world – especially tourists, who flocked to the Jewish State in record numbers during August. 2.3 million visitors arrived between January and August 2012 – five percent more than the previous record year of 2010. They included thousands of Christians from over sixty countries who paraded down the streets of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, to show their support for the Jewish State. And on the individual level, they also included R&B singer Monique Baines and NYC Rapper Clap Cognac who came to make the record “Finish Line”. As Clap Cognac says, music brings everyone together.
Finally, there could be light at the end of the tunnel. Abdulateef Al-Mulhim published an article in Saudi Arabia’s Arab News. In it he wrote, “Life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers… It is time to stop the hatred.” He was even interviewed on the BBC.
And that is truly unbelievable!
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.