(JNi.Media) In Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian,” which depicts the events of the life of a man named Brian who is mistakenly thought to be the Messiah in ancient Judea, an argument breaks out among a revolutionary group, the People’s Front of Judea (or is that the Judean People’s Front?) along the lines of “What have the Romans done for us?” The conclusion is that, aside from roads, aqueducts, sanitation and sundry other benefits that improved the quality of life dramatically, the question remains, “What have the Romans done for us?” The skit could be redone, but instead of ancient Judean radicals, it could be depicted as an argument among members of BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Picture a college campus in which a BDS group says Israel is the pits, it is the worst country on Earth, and aside from life saving drugs and medical procedures, the technology that powers PCs, handheld devices and the internet itself, cutting edge security and even a life-saving mask for a sick rhinoceros, “What has Israel done for us?” So to, educate the BDS crowd on what they are missing, and to give the rest of us something to kvell about, here are 53 amazing gifts Israel gave the world in 2015.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt visited Israel this past summer and praised the country for its advancements in high tech. He gave credit for the tech successes to the Israeli attitude, or, as we’d call it in these parts—chutzpah—in the positive sense: “Israel is booming in terms of Entrepreneurship, because you have a culture to challenge authority and to question everything. You are not going by the rules.” Thinking outside of the box also gives Israel an edge in medical advancements, and patients brave great personal danger to travel from all over the Middle East, even from war torn countries hostile to Israel, to seek medical treatment in the Jewish State. Last spring, Israeli doctors were able to perform innovative, lifesaving surgery on an Iraqi Christian girl whose family was fleeing the onslaught of ISIS. The girl’s heart was on the right side instead of the left and had malfunctioning ventricles, and it was a challenge, but the operation was a success.
Researches at Ben Gurion University of the Negev have discovered a link between HIV and Leukemia in the way the cells reproduce and are expressed. It is hoped that this could lead to clues for improved treatment and perhaps a cure for HIV from what is known about Leukemia treatment. Lifebond, which specializes in improving tissue repair post surgery, raised $27 million Series D preferred equity investment. The company is dedicated to solving various post-surgery complications, such as preventing leaking following bariatric surgery. EyeOn, which develops contact lenses to treat diseases of the cornea, successfully raised $3.6 million.
With increased awareness of autism, the Weizmann Institute of Science may be close to developing a test that depicts Autism simply by evaluating the way a patient sniffs. Noam Sobel, a scientist at the Institute, said, “The difference in the sniffing pattern between the typically developing children and children with autism was simply amazing.” Apparently, children with Autism don’t stop sniffing as quickly as others when detecting smells.
Cancer patients might not have to wait until tumors grow before seeking treatment; Hebrew University is developing micro-antennae to direct radiation against tumors in the body. The device can be inserted through endoscopic ultrasound and eliminate the tumors. An additional indication for a drug to treat cancer was discovered by accident, to also help cure alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes baldness. Previously, steroids were used to treat alopecia, but the drugs hamper the immune system and have other side effects. A 16-year-old cancer patient with alopecia found that, when given the cancer drug, his hair started to grow back.
Nobel Prize winner Aaron Ciechanover, President of the Israel Cancer Society, along with a team of researchers at the Technion, has isolated certain proteins that can potentially be manipulated to control cancer cell growth. Analyzing sleep quality can be less invasive and less complicated with the analysis of breath and sound patterns rather than relying on polysomnography. Examining breathing patterns has been found to be a reliable way to identify and treat sleep problems. Last February, Check-cap announced its IPO on the Nasdaq. The company is engaged in developing a tiny pill with low dose X-rays for screening of colorectal cancer. Also involved in colorectal cancer screening is GI View Ltd, which received FDA approval for the Aer-O-Scope Colonoscope System, the only one with 360 degree multi-directional view for more efficient and comfortable screening.
American company RegenRX purchased the patent rights to a unique therapeutic peptide developed in Israel, for preventing, inhibiting and reducing heart tissue damage and deterioration. Mapi Pharmaceuticals is in Phase II development on a drug to treat relapsing, remitting multiple sclerosis. The drug, called GA Depot, is longer acting, and needs to be injected on a monthly, rather than a daily or thrice weekly basis. If your mother is not available to remind you to stand or sit up straight, try the Israeli device UpRight, which coaxes correct posture and can prevent or eliminate back pain. Cell Source has developed a Megadose Drug Combination that is expected to increase the success and survival rates of bone marrow transplants. Pharmaseed brought scientists together from Switzerland, Jordan and Israel to develop a treatment for a parasitic disease transmitted by sand flies. NeuroDerm has made progress with tests of its treatment for Parkinson’s Disease, an illness that results from reduced dopamine levels and is characterized by impaired motor and non-motor functions. Micromedic Technologies saw improvements in cervical cancer detection and has been producing test kits with its strategic partner, Biomics in China. IceCure received a $21.2 million investment in February from Epoch Partner Investment to develop its use of extreme cold to target and destroy breast cancer cells. While BDS doesn’t seem to get what they are telling people to boycott, even a rhinoceros can understand the value of Israeli medical technology. A rhinoceros named Tanda was suffering from an incurable eye infection that was exacerbated by flies constantly swarming and laying eggs on Tanda’s eyes. Neta Gueta, of the Zoological Center in Ramat Gan, developed a mask that would enable Tanda to see but would prevent insects from swarming around the big girl’s eyes.
Environmental damage has been blamed for the worldwide decline in the honeybee population. Fewer honeybees means less pollination, which reduces yields of fruits and vegetables. To combat its bee shortage, Japan, along with other countries, has imported Israeli bumblebees from the company Bio Bee, based on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu. Each hive contains a pregnant queen bee and minion of worker bees. Hishtil nurseries helps reduce the need for pesticides by growing hydroponic lettuce on a bed of foam plastic. Since the plant does not have to expend energy on lengthy roots, it can grow larger leaves that contain more vitamins and minerals. Wine Enthusiasts gave top awards to Golan Heights Winery, and its 2011 Merlot made the Editor’s Choice list. The Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 got a rating of 93/100. MIT named IDE Technologies, an Israeli water desalination company, as one of today’s 50 smartest companies. Tesla Motors made it to number one, and others on the list included Google and IBM. Water desalination technology has been a major area of expertise for Israel, given its own challenges with water. Israel has been exporting this technology at an amazing rate, with a 170% increase in water technology exports from Israel between 2007 and 2013.
Environmental Services Company has taken plastic recycling to a whole new level, and has designed a facility to turn plastic waste into fuel. The process breaks down plastic into polymer which is the basis of fuel. WERPO has signed an agreement with Beijing Capital Group to study and develop sea wave energy systems. WERPO director Shmuel Ovadia said that China is the ideal location for research and implementation of the technology, given its exposure to the sea and large population. With the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of World War II, as huge numbers of displaced persons from Syria and other war torn countries find their way to Europe, Israeli NGO IsraAID is lending a hand. Shachar Zahavi, head of IsraAID, said, “We are running a campaign with the goal of inspiring the Jewish people to help the hundreds of thousands of refugees washed up on the shores of Europe.”
NRGene is decoding the genome of wild emmer wheat, the progenitor of most cultivated varieties, for information that will aid in resisting disease and improving yields. Israel has jumped into the medical marijuana game with its home grown Therapix, Cannabics, Breed It and One World Cannabis trading on Wall Street. Fighting fires can be done from the air, as Elbit Systems develops firefighting aircraft to supplement emergency procedures on the ground. What to do with extra currency left over when traveling? TravelersBox will collect it and produce gift cards or make charitable donations with the extra coins that can’t be exchanged. Travelers might not realize how much exhaust is burned by a plane when it is on the ground and moving around before takeoff. Exhaust from the planes can damage the terminal and create pollution. Israeli Taxibot is a robotic airplane tow vehicle that can be powered by remote control and cuts down on toxic fumes that are normally produced prior to takeoff. Computer scientists at the Technion are making volunteering easier with technology that brings volunteers to people in need. The platform uses “wisdom of crowds” and information exchange to make an ideal match between volunteers and projects. Fixico provides a little guy on your PC who “never eats, never sleeps, and is always making sure that your computers are running effectively, efficiently and safely.” Fixico uses cloud technology to ensure that nothing is amiss on your computer, and can install applications and tell you if your computer is secure from viruses. Nano Dimensions is facilitating 3D printing for the electronics industry, and raised $12 million this summer in a private placement.
Perhaps it is because of the Israeli housing crisis, or perhaps because it’s just that they like Finland, but four Israeli investors have purchased an island off of Finland for a mere $500,000. The island is called Petajasaari, but now it is being called “The Israeli Island.” A local historian, Seppo Kononen, said excitedly “We don’t have any Jews in Kuopio, and we never have had any.” The mayor added, “We always wanted foreign investors here, and the Israelis’ reputation precedes them.”
Drones are fun for hobbyists, but they can soon be personal delivery boys. Flytrex, an Israeli producer of commercial drone technology, is designing a drone that delivers drinks, sandwiches and other items and can operate with cloud technology. These drones are not just fun, but they could save lives through the delivery of much-needed medicines. Many of Israel’s tech geniuses came from Russia, and now Israel is giving technology back to the old country. RADWIN developed a Wifi project for the Moscow Metro, which will serve 650 cars and up to 9 million passengers daily. Superbowl fans last year could text excitedly and send selfies from the game thanks to Israeli-Canadian technology in the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals. The antennae were made by Galtronics and a Canadian company, for high quality internet delivery.
In Mea Shearim, Orthodox Jews are likely to put a coin in a pushka devoted to the fund of Rabbi Meir Baal ha Ness if they lose something, but one can add technology to the power of prayer with Pixie Points, an app that helps users locate misplaced items. LucidLogix has developed technology that extends the life of batteries and reduces energy consumption by smartphones. WhipClip, which allows users to share music clips and videos, raised $40 million in its Series C funding this summer. Music Messenger has been a big name in music sharing. As of April, the Israeli company had a million new users a month and was Number 20 in Apple’s App Store. Stesco has been developing a device that allows iPhone 5/5S or iPhone 6 users to take, edit or share photos or videos. The device can connect two phones so videos can be shot at different angles and uploaded to social media. People who still like to write with a pen may enjoy using the Israeli digital pen N-trig, which has a chip that allows digital pen-to-screen interface. Microsoft liked it so much, it bought the company, and shelled out $200 million for N-trig. LifeBEAM makes biofeedback during a workout easier with visors and hats that can collect data on heart rate, calorie consumption and body temperature and transmit the information with Bluetooth connectivity.
Planning a vacation on Saturn and wondering what time Shabbat will start? There may not be a Chabad House yet on Saturn, but with the help of Israeli scientists, you’ll be able to calculate when Shabbat begins and ends. Scientists have concluded that a day on Saturn lasts 10 hours, 32 minutes and 44 seconds. Saturn’s rotation period had always been a mystery and so the scientists created a method for determining the planet’s rotation.
Israel is known for its defense, and since it is surrounded by hostile countries, it needs to have state of the art technology to prevent physical and cyber attacks. Elbit Systems developed advanced fiber laser technology for aircraft to protect against Manpads or ground-to-air heat seeking portable missiles. The thermal cameras can detect missiles on the ground aimed at planes. The US army decided to purchase the Skysystem 180 at the annual AEWE or Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment. The Skysystem 180 is a mobile aerostat designed for surveillance, police and military applications.
Microsoft made its largest Israeli acquisition with the data security startup Adallam at $320 million. Adallam is a security solution that audits activities involving SaaS applications and provides IT security. Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Security (SIT) has decided it will build a Cybersecurity Innovation Center in Israel.
Did you know computers can communicate through heat? That is what Ben Gurion University of the Negev researchers discovered with a method to breach air-gapped computer systems with BitWhisper that enables communication between close but unconnected computers using heat technology. So they’re never really off the grid, not even in, say, Iran. Agata released its Forensics Suite 3.0, a fast DPI or Deep Pocket Inspection engine. Identity thieves have another reason to be worried with BillGuard, which helps spot and prevent identity theft and recovers money that has been stolen. BillGuard uses crowdsourcing to find false credit card charges. In 2014, the company helped customers recover $17 million in stolen money.
Why is it that everything seems so advanced, but deodorant applicators have not kept pace with technology? Gilad Arwatz and Carla Bahri, two Israeli students at Princeton, were wondering about the lack of innovation in personal care products. Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, they developed Clickstick, a “smart, Eco-friendly deodorant applicator (gives another meaning to app) that helps people stay fresh with just one click. It eliminates the need for plastic applicators and applies just the right amount of deodorant to prevent waste.
Have a wonderful 5776, and get ready for your next gifts, which will begin arriving immediately after Rosh Hashanah.