Happy 60th to Israel

Israel is celebrating its 60th anniversary, and let me take this opportunity to wish my Israeli readers a happy anniversary. The Middle East is always viewed through the lens of politics and strife, but having lived and visited a lot over there I’d like to suggest that it is forgotten how few people are actually actively involved in politics. And while there is strife in some times and places, there is also a lot of cooperation and forgiveness and mutual help.

The Israelis have come from mind-boggling adversity to build a country. But more than that, they have helped to build our modern world. Israeli science and technology has played a powerful behind- the- scenes role in the development of pivotal inventions such as computer chips. All human beings benefit from such advances, and we should all be grateful for the contributions the Israelis have made to improving the quality of human life.

For instance, it was reported just a couple of weeks ago that an Israeli team at Tel Aviv University

“claim they have found a way to construct efficient photovoltaic cells costing at least a hundred times less than conventional silicon based devices, and with similar or better energy conversion efficiency. The reactive element in the researchers’ patent pending device is genetically engineered proteins using photosynthesis for production of electrical energy.”

If this claim proves true, it is a big step toward saving us all from massive climate change and from the economic disaster of depending on ever more scarce and expensive hydrocarbons. Certainly, it is likely that the Israelis will play a big role in such alternative energy breakthroughs, since their own survival depends on them.

And here are some good news stories from Israeli medicine:

Israeli medical invention helps Palestinian boy with Cerebral Palsy (VIDEO)

Israeli Team Develops Robots to Save Lives:

‘ Leo Joskowicz, a scientist and professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has developed a special robot able to assist surgeons with the positioning of needles and other medical tools during procedures. . . Especially in the realm of neurosurgery, doctors have come a long way in their ability to heal and repair certain areas of the brain. However some openings that must be accessed are too small for the naked eye to make an accurate entry point. If a surgical tool is misplaced, the brain may start hemorrhaging or permanent brain damage can occur.

Now that the robot is designed with its image-guided system, surgeons are able to remain non-invasive while carrying out successful surgeries. Patients’ pain is now much more minimal and chances for full recovery are likelier than ever. The robot was developed over a two-year period through funding from the Israel Ministry of Trade and Industry. Thanks to Joskowicz and his team, people all over the world have a second chance at life.’

“Drop Foot gets a Lift, Thanks to Israeli invention:

‘An Israeli-developed and manufactured wireless, computer-controlled device that enables safe walking for people with a foot paralyzed due to stroke, brain injury, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The heart of the system, developed by NESS of Ra’anana, is a sensor in the shoe which identifies the walking stage of the paralyzed foot. It then transmits a wireless signal to a microprocessor attached underneath the knee. The NESS L300 system releases a suitable and perfectly-timed electronic pulse to the nerves and muscles that activate the paralyzed foot so as to facilitate the user’s next step. The electronic stimulus replaces the nerve signal that would otherwise have arrived from the brain. ‘

The below list of inventions is written in technicalese and so not very useful for public information purposes, but but it has the virtue of offering a lot of information in one place.

My warm greetings to my Israeli friends on this auspicious anniversary, and my hopes that before too long a just and equitable peace can be achieved among all the peoples of the region. Israelis, like their neighbors, deserve to live productive lives in conditions of security. Periods of strife, after all, do eventually tend to pass. Europe was in turmoil for much of the first half of the twentieth century, but for some decades now has lived in peace. The same thing can happen in the Middle East.

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