On Sunday, Jews across the world celebrate the festival of Purim, which features arguably the most momentous reversal of fortune in the history of the Jewish people since the Exodus. In the last two decades we have also been witnessing the most miraculous period of change in fortune of the Jewish State since Biblical times. Here are just some of the head-spinning events of the past few weeks.
Recent Israeli medical innovations include the ability to turnaround the deformities and blindness caused by ectodermal dysplasia, which affects seven out of every 10,000 babies born in the world. Via in-vitro experiments a team including researchers from Israel’s Technion has used a chemical substance called PRIMA-APR246 to greatly improve damaged cells caused by mutant p63 genes. Israel is also reversing the effects of blood cancer. Israel’s Gamida Cell Ltd. reported success in the Phase III clinical trial of its StemEx treatment for leukemia and lymphoma. And what about this – an Israeli hospital just down the road from Armageddon. The Emek Medical Center is just a few dozen kilometers from Megiddo – the site of ancient battles and which gives its name to the place where some legends say that the world will end. The hospital treats 50% Jews and 50% Arabs.
Contrary to claims to be a racist state, Israel has become the destination of choice for Muslims fleeing persecution in Arab and Muslim countries. Until recently, Tel Aviv’s illegal migrants received medical care only from volunteers. Now, Israel’s Ministry of Health has stepped in to provide emergency care via a staff of doctors, paid by the Ministry from rented offices at the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. And besides having 11 Arab members, the 19th Israeli parliament will have a record 23 percent of women lawmakers – a larger percentage than in either the US Congress (18 per cent) or UK House of Commons (22 per cent).
The joke that Moses took the Children of Israel to the only country in the Middle East without energy resources has been turned around completely with the recent discoveries off the Israeli coast. Israeli firms have even signed an agreement with the Cypriot government to acquire a 30 percent stake in exploration rights for gas and oil off Cyprus's southern shore. And from once relying on sparse rainfall, Israel will shortly obtain most of its drinking water from desalinated seawater. Water filters from Kibbutz Amiad have been selected for the protection of ultra-filtration membranes at the Mekorot Group’s new Ashdod Desalination Plant which soon will be one of the largest such facilities in Israel.
Following approval of the final section of track, Israel will soon be able to connect the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea via the new Tel Aviv-Eilat railway link, which is viewed internationally as a possible replacement for the Suez Canal. It will certainly provide a swifter passage of goods to both Europe and Asia, strengthen international relations, improve tourism to Eilat and significantly reduce air pollution levels. Meanwhile, some two-dozen international bird experts enjoyed watching “a sea of birds” spending their winter home in the Kinneret basin, the Hula Valley and the Gamla Nature Reserve. Migratory routes changed permanently to favor Israel, after Saddam Hussein set fire to the Kuwaiti oil fields during the first Iraq war.
You may be surprised by some other news - that an Israeli company TIGI has won the top prize at Germany’s premier Cleantech Conference in Munich. That Israel’s Spacecom satellite AMOS-5 broadcast to the world the whole of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa – a country that boycotts Israeli goods. That in Jerusalem (contrary to sensationalist media reports) for the first time in history under Israeli sovereignty, Jews, Christians, Muslims, secular, religious, young and old live side by side in harmony.
Using innovative technology and skills training, Israel has been turning famine-ravaged countries in Africa into major agricultural exporters. One of those innovators, Israeli biotech Rosetta Green develops improved genetic strains of wheat, vegetables and other plants such as cotton, bio-fuels and algae with medical properties. US giant Monsanto has recognized its success and bought the Israeli company for $35 million. And on February 14th millions of Europeans turned into romantics thanks to Israel’s exports of roses, orchids, Bonsai trees and other flowers.