Perspectives from two Arab journalists: the first on on the concern of the Lebanese economy imploding due to Hezbollah’s policy of “crazy adventurism” and confrontation, and the second on recognising that time is now ripe to honour the late Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat’s for his pursuit of peace with Israel that was both risky and right.
HEZBOLLAH IS BRINGING DOWN LEBANON’S FINANCIAL SYSTEM
By Tony Abi Najem
Nida Al-Watan, Lebanon, November 25
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was not joking when he threatened that if Iran was attacked, Hezbollah would be ready to set the entire region on fire in its defense. But now a new kind of war is being waged by Washington against Tehran: an economic and financial one revolving around sanctions and which has proven to be less effective than a traditional war. Since announcing its withdrawal from the  nuclear deal, the Trump Administration has imposed successive economic sanctions on both Iran and Hezbollah.
From the very first moment, Tehran realized that the battle would be unconventional, harsh and long, and that precautionary measures had to be taken, notably the reduction of Hezbollah’s reliance on Iranian money. This necessitated trying to secure alternative sources of funding for Nasrallah, and at this point, the game became clear to him as well. Just like he’s done so many times in the past, Nasrallah responded by doing what he does best: hide behind civilians. Hezbollah itself began hiding behind the people of Lebanon and their banks, financial institutions and economy. Hezbollah members of parliament took it upon themselves to obstruct any attempt to reform the economy.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah members upped their illegal smuggling of goods into the country while circumventing the formal banking system. It is for this reason that Hezbollah refuses to capitulate to the people’s demand to form a technocratic government that would protect the Lebanese national interest. Instead, it seeks to take the country and its economy hostage in the Iranian-American confrontation, even at the cost of a complete collapse of the Lebanese financial, banking and economic system!
Simply put, all Lebanese people pay the price for Hezbollah’s decision to engage in a confrontation with the United States from Lebanon in the service of Iran. This crazy adventurism is coming at the expense of the Lebanese people’s livelihoods, savings and financial stability.
Certainly, those who have declared their readiness to ignite the entire region, including Lebanon in defense of Iran will not hesitate to destroy Lebanon’s economy and financial system in the current financial war in an attempt to defend the mullah regime!
Tony Abi Najem
ANWAR SADAT’S HISTORIC VISIT TO ISRAEL
By Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi
Al-Arabiya, Saudi Arabia, November 23
Forty-two years ago, on the evening of November 20, 1977, Egyptian president Muhammad Anwar Al-Sadat stood at the Knesset podium to deliver a speech demonstrating his remarkable ability to eliminate Israeli resistance to peace and the restoration of Arab land occupied by Israel in the 1973 war. In my estimation, this unprecedented step could only have been reached by a self-confident fighter willing to make great sacrifices for his country and his nation.
Sadat’s bold personality was exactly that. It was the same vision and conviction that pushed him, during the 1940s, to resist the British occupation of Egypt – making him lose his career as an army officer. With his historic visit, Sadat was able to achieve a huge political gain by breaking many barriers that prevented the Israelis from responding to calls for peace and withdrawal from the occupied Arab land in the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights and West Bank. He also helped Israelis overcome their mistrust of outsiders, specifically their inherent fear of, and hostility to, Arab nations. After all these years, I believe it’s our historical duty to recognize Sadat’s huge political accomplishments and to apologize for all those Arab leaders – in places like Iraq, Libya and Syria – who defamed him for his actions.
These leaders waged a harsh campaign against Sadat and, in doing so, prevented other Arab nations from following in his footsteps and seizing the opportunity to liberate all the occupied territories through negotiations. Sadat’s speech ended the political stalemate imposed by the Israelis, with US support after the 1973 war, and shook the expansionist concepts that were implanted in the mind of Menachem Begin, founder of the extremist-minded Likud Party, who claimed in 1967 that “Sinai is an organic part of the Land of Israel.”
President Sadat was the veteran Arab fighter who successfully led the October military battle in 1973. But he was also unafraid to fight for peace by making risky political decisions that others criticized at the time. Now, through the perspective of history, we know he was right. It is time to give Sadat the respect this great leader deserves.
Israel makes the cover of Time as 9 of its inventions feature on the Magazine’s 100 best inventions of 2019
By David E. Kaplan
Every year, TIME magazine highlights the Best Inventions that are making the world “better, smarter and even a bit more fun”. In choosing their 2019 list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender on the list is evaluated based on key factors, including
Here are the nine Israeli innovations that appear in Time’s top 100:
Seeing Is Believing
I was first exposed to this invention over a year ago when I walked into my uncle’s sitting room in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and saw him reading. Reading! He is virtually blind but there he was, wearing his glasses reading the morning paper. Then I saw he had a device and soon leaned it was a MyEye 2.0 by OrCam.
It was great, we could argue over politics!
The MyEye 2 is a lightweight smart camera that attaches to virtually any frame of a pair of glasses. Using AI technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface, recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real time. The intuitive device is operated by using simple hand gestures and has more than 20 voice-activated commands. It is designed for all ages, can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection.
The portable, finger-sized device can be discreetly clipped to eyeglasses or sunglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus and can even scan barcodes, identify faces and currency, and tell time even without a watch.
“This is the world’s most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted and have reading difficulties,” OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischertold NoCamels last year. The device is gesture-motivated, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.
“Fitting all this power into such a small device is like “putting an elephant into a small closet,” OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashuatold TIME. Shashua is also famously the co-founder of Israel’s Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver-assistance systems. Intel acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.
Offering CONCRETE Solutions
Man’s love of the ocean and building on its coast is all very well for man – not always for the ocean! The problem lies in the detrimental impact of eco-unfriendly concrete.
Step in an Israeli company ECONcrete – an environmental tech company founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella. Listed in the “design” category of TIME’s list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019, ECONcrete develops sustainable concrete for constructing ecologically active infrastructures in coastal and marine environments as well as in urban landscapes.
The company uses “a technique known as biomimicry, relying on the shapes, textures and size of natural systems to dictate how the company builds its products,” so they blend in with their surroundings and are less intrusive to marine ecosystems.
Earlier in 2019, ECONcrete was listed by Fast Company on its “World’s Most Innovative Companies” of 2019. The company was also featured in an episode of the popular web series Nas Daily.
With nearly half of the human population living along coastlines, coastal development, and increasing coastal urbanization are inevitable. Concrete is the main construction material globally, accounting for over 70% of Coastal and Marine Infrastructure (CMI). Nonetheless, it is a poor substrate for biological recruitment, and is considered toxic to many marine organisms, mainly due to its unique surface chemistry which impairs the settlement of various marine larvae.
Now, ECOncrete, with a suite of innovative, science-based solutions, is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.
Step in an Israeli medical tech company Theranica that has developed a migraine-zapping wearable device Nerivio and featured in Time’s list in the “health care” category.
The device, worn on the upper arm, provides migraine treatment through neuromodulation therapy, altering nerve activity by way of targeted delivery of a stimulus. The treatment is like “a personalized pain-relief programme,” according to the Netanya-based company.
“We are honored to be recognized by TIME and thrilled to see Nerivio listed alongside inventions that are shaping the future,” said Alon Iron, CEO and co-founder of Theranica.
“At Theranica, we believe that migraine solutions should be affordable and accessible. We are proud of the non-invasive, low side-effect and drug-free alternative that Nerivio offers and remain dedicated to bringing effective relief to individuals around the world living with migraine.”
The “health care” category on the TIME list also featured the remote medical examination device TytoHome developed by Israeli tele-health company Tyto Care. A handheld examination device, TytoHome comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, and more.
The device allows users to perform these comprehensive medical exams and send the information to a primary care provider.
The device, at $299, was recently made available to purchase at over 300 Best Buy locations across the USA. It’s also available online.
“Tyto Care’s mission has always been to make high-quality healthcare accessible on-demand, from any location to as many people as possible,” Tyto Care CEO and co-founder Dedi Gilad, said in a statement. “We are honoured to be included on TIME’s Best Inventions list for 2019. This recognition signifies the ground-breaking impact TytoHome is having on people’s day-to-day lives and we are excited to continue to deliver the best virtual care experience to consumers across the globe.”
As reported in NoCamels, “Dedi Gilad was a young father of two dealing with fevers, fussy eaters and his daughter’s chronic ear infections when he did what few exhausted parents of young children do – he launched a startup!”
Tytocare is a telehealth company bringing medical exams to the comfort of our homes. And like all good ideas, it was born out of necessity. Gilad was spending hours day and night at the emergency room with his daughter, getting exposed to germs in hospital waiting areas and losing countless hours of sleep, only to receive the same diagnosis every time.
Retailing at for $1,999,Temi can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. Users can control Temi remotely from any location in the world via the app and command different actions.
Temi has won a number of prestigious awards over the past year, including 1st prize in the field of robots and drones at the Shanghai CES Asia 2019 Exhibition, a Gold Award in the Personal Robot category at the prestigious Edison 2019 Awards, and the best robot in CES Las Vegas according to Tom’s Guide and the International PC Magazine Award for Best of MWC 2018.
Founded in 2015, Robotemi is headquartered in New York City, has an R&D lab in Tel Aviv and a business and manufacturing location in Shenzen, China. Earlier this year, the company announced that world-renown Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard was joining as chief brand officer (CBO).
Out Of Thin Air
If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites strike water from the air.
Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.
The Israeli company Watergen, which hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or lack of accessibility to safe drinking water, developed a patented technology that makes drinking water “out of thin air”. It is its at-home appliance called the Genny that featured on the TIME magazine list in the “social good” category.
In the aftermath of the raging fires that wiped out much of Paradise, California, a truck pulled up to a group of residents and rescue workers, parched after a day of cleanup. The driver came out, pointed to a machine in the back and said that the device could pull water out of thin air. He flipped a spout and out came clean, drinkable H20.
“They literally walked around the truck and they kept on trying to figure out where this water is coming from, what magic are you guys doing?” recalled Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA.
The device, which looks like a water cooler, is a generator capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day using the company’s heat-exchange GENius technology. The generator first collects water vapour in the air and then cools the air at its dew point, after which the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.
The Genny retails at an estimated $1,500, according to TIME. Watergen’s generators have been used in countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan, and the US.
Come Fly With Alice
While “These are the largest windows in a commercial aircraft,” noted one observer, that is not what won it its listing in the Time magazine list in the “sustainability” category.
In June 2019, Israeli aerospace company Eviation Aircraftdebuted “Alice” – a prototype of the first all-electric commuter aircraft. Alice is a battery-powered nine-seater which Eviation hopes will help transform urban aerial travel through a “flying taxi” concept. CEO Omer Bar-Yohay has called it “Uber meets Tesla in the sky,” with commuters of the future travelling at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners ushering in a new era “of flying that is quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective.”
Regional trips will be “cheaper than a train ticket” and far more considerate for the environment. The idea of curbing carbon emissions by half by 2050 – an eco-friendly pledge by the aviation industry – is another reason many of the major airlines are exploring electric options.
Alice is “capable of flying with nine passengers at 240 knots and a range of up to 650 miles [1046.07 km],” says Bar-Yohay.
“It’s basically a huge battery with some plane painted on it,” Bar-Yohay told reporters.
“This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it’s electric,” he said, “You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space.”
In 2018, the company was selected as the winner in the transportation category of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.
Alice is sure going places!
Hello, Meet ElliO
Making the “special mentions” category on the TIME’s list is ElliQ, is a robotic companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics.
Designed to help the elderly “stay engaged, independent and connected to family and friends,” the tabletop social robot mimics human movements and responds to voice, gaze, and touch. ElliQ offers tips and advice, responds to questions, engages throughout the day, makes appointments, reminds those in its care about medications and can suggest content to watch and set up chats with friends.
Useful for those who cannot easily operate a smartphone, ElliQ is meant to address the issues of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens by reading out messages, displaying photos, and answering video calls.
Also in TIME’s “special mentions” section was Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade with its “Giveback” charity component.
Lemonade’s concept was coming up with a fresh brand that through the use of technology rather than relying on brokers, it could break into the huge and rather staid insurance market.
Customers answer a set of simple questions through a chat with the company’s bot, “Maya,” and, in seconds, can get their home insured. It takes 90 seconds to get insured – says the company’s website – and three minutes to get paid, if and when a claim is made.
Unlike traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a flat fee — one that would normally go to the insurance brokers — and sets aside the remaining funds for claims. In a good year, when there’s money left unclaimed, the company does not pocket the money but donates it to causes their customers choose.
Founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, the Lemonade Giveback’s mission is “to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.” They have designed Lemonade to bring out the best in people, while giving society a push for the better.
When users sign up, they choose a charity or non-profit organization they care about, and once a year, Lemonade tallies up unclaimed money pooled from policyholders who chose that same cause and donates it to the organization.
Tens of thousands of members are supporting causes they care about, simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. As the Lemonade community grows, the social impact emerges stronger.
The philosophy of Lemonade’s Schreiber may apply to all of Israel’s inventions for 2019. “Great digital brands,” writes Schreiber, “transcend borders. Whether in Chicago, Paris, or Singapore, today’s consumers listen to music on Spotify, ride with Uber, and stay at Airbnb. Consumers are increasingly cosmopolitan, socially aware, and tech-native.”
Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs are in tune with this, hence their phenomenal global success.
We can look forward to a no less exciting 2020 for Israeli inventiveness!
There is barely a day that goes by without some iteration of antisemitism rearing its ugly head, somewhere around the world. In every guise you can image – the desecration of graves in Jewish cemeteries, shootings in synagogues, the alt-right, the ultra-left, campus activism, venomous slurs directed at children, rabbis beaten in the street, the new phenomenon of political antisemitism – you name it, this hatred has manifested.
Antisemitism is at a record high and it seems that no corner of the globe is immune. The message seems to be clear – it is open season on attacking Jews – verbally and sometimes physically.
Antisemitism is often referred to as the “oldest hatred” and it metastasizes quickly and in various forms. This ancient hatred has the uncanny ability to adapt to changing times and political climates. It seems that in this age of global uncertainty; where identity politics is becoming more and more prevalent; if you have a divergent opinion you could be “cancelled”, Jews once again, are the proverbial canaries in the coalmine.
In parts of the world where it was taken for granted that the vile tentacles of antisemitism would not reach, this is no longer the reality. It used to be taken for granted that countries like the United States or Australia were immune to this hatred or that Germany and Poland had learnt from their history less than a century ago but sadly, this isn’t the case.
According to recent surveys conducted by organisations like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the AJC (American Joint Committee) who conducted their research on growing antisemitism recently, they both reported an alarming rise in statistics.
The ADL findings reported that these countries had the highest percentages of antisemitism: Poland, South Africa (although the SA Jewish Board of Deputies disputes these findings), Ukraine, Hungary, Russia, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Belgium and Austria.
Australia reported a 30% increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year that included verbal abuse, harassment, and intimidation. This is according to the country’s annual Report on Antisemitism in Australia.
The United States has seen antisemitism spread like a plague across university campuses, Orthodox Jews harassed and beaten up in New York City, and violence has escalated to the point where the community has endured two deadly synagogue shootings and the site of members of the alt-right marching with their tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Like Britain with controversy surrounding antisemitism in the Labour party and the reluctance or stubborn refusal of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to tackle this scourge which leaves many of England’s Jews feeling politically stateless, the United States has seen the same phenomenon rears its ugly head in US politics. 2019 has been the year of the “Squad” – rookie congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and to a lesser account, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who has used their newly minted status and platforms like Twitter to excoriate the Jewish state. This has filtered out into the ultra-left and is evident on university campuses and in movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March.
The irony is that the two seemingly divergent left and right meet in the middle when it comes to opinions on Jews and the nation state of the Jewish people – Israel.
It is social media that is perhaps becoming the most alarming platform for hate. Mediums like Facebook and Twitter have created a space where like-minded haters can band together to create community. In this instance, these communities empower each other to prey upon their targets.
As an outspoken supporter of Israel, I have received my fair share of nasty messages and have summarily reported them to Twitter and Facebook. Apparently wishing me dead does not violate their “community standards”. Pop superstar, Lady Gaga, once commented that social media was “the toilet of the internet” and she could not have been more right.
Actor and comedian, Sasha Baron Cohen, famous for playing some of the most controversial and sometimes tasteless characters in his movies (albeit to prove a point) recently took Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg to task for among many things, not effectively regulating his platform. Cohen rightly stated that should platforms like Twitter and Facebook been around during Hitler’s time, the dictator and his murderous henchman would have used it to full effect to propagate hate. Cohen called these platforms “the greatest propaganda machines in history. “
He went on to take shots at Zuckerberg for allowing Holocaust deniers to go unregulated because of the “freedom of speech”.
“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach,” Cohen asserted. “I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.”
Social media is not the only battlefield for rising antisemitism. The battlefield has moved to the streets, the schools, the corridors of power, the graveyards, university campus, and the holy sanctuaries. It has become pervasive.
The only way to fight this scourge is to speak up. Stand Up – it is important to remember that we have a voice. Social media platforms used for propagating hate can also be used to educate against it. It is important that intolerance is not allowed an environment to flourish. Antisemitism gives a tailwind to those who wish to discriminate against any minority. Martin Niemöller, a Lutheran pastor in his famous poem first they came said the following,
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Speak up. Do not let hatred go unchecked. Don’t let this become the new “normal”.