Israel Is Over The Moon

about and above Africa

By David E. Kaplan

Cape Canaveral  is synonymous with “We have a liftoff” but the “liftoff” of Israel’s Amos-17 satellite by Ramat Gan-based company Spacecom on the 6 August at Cape Canaveral, Florida was also a “lift off” for Africa too.

AMOS-17’s goal is to beam free internet across sub-Saharan Africa as part of a project with Facebook.

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“We Have A Lift Off”. SpaceX launches Amos-17 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 6, 2019 (Screen grab)

To address the ‘digital divide’, back in 2015, the tech giant launched Internet.org – a non-profit initiative – that would bring together technology leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to provide Internet access to the most remote regions of the world.

 

The Now Generation

It is so easy to take services today for granted that were once thought a luxury. One prime example is the INTERNET that is essential to growing the knowledge we have and sharing it with others.

In almost everything we do today, we use the Internet from ordering a pizza, buying a computer or printer, sharing a precious moment with a friend or sending a photograph over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand in the morning and buy a newspaper reporting what had happened the previous day.

Now everything is instant – emphasis on the – NOW!

While  for many of us it’s a huge part of our everyday lives, in much of the world, many still do not have internet access. Internet.org’s goal  is bringing internet access and the benefits of connectivity to regions in the world that doesn‘t have them – notably AFRICA.

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Imagine the difference an accurate weather report could make for an African farmer planting crops, or the power of an encyclopedia for a child in a remote village without textbooks.

However no less important is what millions across the African continent could contribute when the world can hear their voices.

The more we connect, the better our world.

One is reminded of the  Lionel Richie/Michael Jackson lyrics of the 1985 charity single classic for Africa “We Are The World”:

 “There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
…”

 

 

It’s time the ‘Now Generation’ includes the continent of Africa and Israel is responding in addressing the Digital Divide.

Band Together

Built by Boeing,  AMOZ-17 will be located at 17° East where it will reach across the African continent, providing satellite communication services including broadband and high-speed data services to Africa as well as the Middle East and Europe.

It will be the most technologically advanced satellite over Africa, “providing extensive C-Band HTS capabilities, Ka-Band and Ku-Band to a range of markets and combining broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency,” says Spacecom.

It will change the face of the continent which suffers from snail-pace internet speeds and inadequate infrastructure. According to a 2018 joint report by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women known as UN Women, internet penetration across the African continent stands at 22 percent.

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Got You Covered. The Amos-17 satellite’s coverage map. Image via Spacecom’s website

Sunny Days Ahead

To get connectivity in Africa via Amos-17, all that will be required said the director of business and technology ventures at Spacecom Eran Shapiro, speaking last month at a conference, is “a simple solar-powered terminal.”

With no shortage of sun, all of Africa will be ‘connected’.

Quoted in the Times of Israel, Shapiro said “Africa is a huge continent with the fastest growing population in the world, forecast to reach 2.5 billion in 2050. It also has the highest percentage of young people, with about half of its current population under 18. The continent has a growing demand for content, with the number of households using digital TV growing some 20% year over year to 2022.”

However, the continent suffers from a lack of internet access infrastructure with vast areas either underserved or completely not connected to any communication infrastructure.

This is set to soon change and it will be as easy as
“a simple solar-powered terminal.”

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Snail Pace. With greater connectivity soon, the next image for Africa should be the cheetah on the keyboard!

The Israeli satellite will be the first over Africa that will provide “high-throughput satellite services (HTS) as well as C-band frequencies, which allow high availability of service,” said Shapiro. It will be suited to the African climate and send a single beam per country, as opposed to numerous narrow beams provided by other common HTS satellites. “Its digital payload will provide higher service availability and easier customer adaptation and expansion,” the company said, and will be able to adapt to existing C-Band terminals on the ground, so there will be no need to upgrade equipment.

The Israel Connection

The $250 million Amos-17 is expected to operate for at least 20 years. Spacecom CEO David Pollack told reporters last week that the company hopes to recover that cost  “in about six or seven years. And then, because it’s 20 years, we have hopefully a long life to make profit,” according to a CBS News report.

Spacecom has a number of already signed agreements with various African broadcasters, notably  Nigeria-based IDS Africa. IDS Africa will use the satellite to broadcast Channels TV news programming throughout Nigeria as well as to the Nigerian diaspora in Europe.

Founded 23 years ago in Israel, Spacecom is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The $250 million Amos-17 weighs 6.5 tons and will be the length of three buses.

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Israel In Space. The Spacecom team. Photo via Spacecom’s Twitter page

Evolution On A Treadmill

From the onset of the agrarian revolution many thousands of years BC, “it took took 6,000 years to double the world’s GDP,” writes Jean Philbert Nsengimana in Forbes. With the Industrial Revolution kicking in around 1760, it took less than 100 years and with the computing revolution in the latter half of the 20th century, the time was reduced to less than 15 years.

The Fourth  Industrial Revolution, continues  Nsengimana, “digitally smart factories, cities and entire economies connected to the Internet – has demonstrated that the rate of change will only accelerate.”

While Nsengimana laments that while much of Africa may have missed the opportunities of the earlier revolutions, the  continent that is home to 16.3% of humanity but also home to only about 4% of  global GDP, “cannot afford – nor does it have to – miss out on the possibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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Hungry For Change. Young people at an internet café in Africa. More than 4 billion people, mostly in developing countries, still don’t have access to the internet. This means that over half of the world’s population is missing out on the life-changing benefits of connectivity, from financial services to health and education, being brought about by the increasing pace of innovation known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution,

“We Are The World”

With a unity of purpose, if the African continent connects everyone and empowers the young generation, experts believe it could bridge the development gap with the rest of the world in around a decade.

By 2030, Africa will have the largest potential workforce. What if every one of them was connected, digitally skilled and an empowered digital consumer and or producer?

With Amos-17 in the sky above, Israel has its eye on Africa and ready to extend its hand.

 

 

 

Meeting Of Minds

Aiming on future cooperation following SA academics visiting Israel.

By Benji Shulman

An enlightening tour took place in July where academicians from universities across South Africa visited Israel. Organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University, the participants came from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, University of Venda, University of the Free State, University of Stellenbosch, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria as well as government research agencies, and were closely exposed to Israel’s unique business culture.

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Oasis Of Excellence. Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem.

With South Africa’s economy shrinking by a worrying 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, experiencing sky-high unemployment and attracting little investment, it was important for the SA participants to learn how such a small nation like Israel, with few natural resources, engineered an economic miracle earning the enviable moniker of the “Start-Up Nation’.

The tour began at Hebrew University’s Jerusalem Business School of Administration where they heard a lecture on Israel’s “DNA” – a mixture of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. In other words – the success mode of Israel innovation technology.

From theory to practice, the group’s next stop was the University’s Technology Transfer company known as Yissum.

Founded in 1964 to market ideas and innovation of university researchers and employees, Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting amazing Israeli innovations into commercial solutions that address the world’s most urgent global challenges. It was important for our South African academics to hear how Hebrew University’s top researchers at Yissum were successfully “bridging breakthrough academic research with scientific and commercial applications.”

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Get Real. Yissum impacting on society by transforming excellent ideas into reality.

Such successes included working with Jerusalem-based Mobileye that was bought out for $15 billion by Intel. Mobileye safety technology is increasingly integrated into new car models from the world’s major automakers providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation.

Hearing about Israel’s understanding of ‘entrepreneurship’ and how to grow businesses was high on the group’s agenda and HUJI Innovate provided the perfect vehicle to learn all about it.

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Glowing Global. Illuminating the path ahead, HUJI Innovate, the Hebrew University’s innovation platform, encourages students, faculty and alumni to develop new solutions for real-world problems while fostering a vibrant ecosystem that helps accelerate the creation of new ventures.

HUJI-Innovate

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is the Hebrew University’s platform to encourage and assist students, faculty and alumni to develop their Innovation and Entrepreneurship capabilities.

To meet the increasing challenges of an ever-changing workplace, our South African group heard how HUJI supports its students and faculty in the development of new solutions for real-world problems and in this way,  create new and exciting ventures. This is something South African universities would do well to emulate.

Students of the 21st Century need to navigate a more challenging workplace than their predecessors and for the South African academics to  learn how to  boost a student’s perception of innovation and entrepreneurship with the aim to help them maximize their potential was most instructive.

And what could be more inspiring than the chance to view the personal papers of the 20th century physicist Albert Einstein at the University’s treasured Albert Einstein Archives.

As an aside, we learned that Einstein was a member of the university’s first board of governors and in 1925, the original 46-page manuscript of “the general theory of relativity” ended up at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Einstein Stands In Jerusalem. Although much later being offered the post of President of Israel, Einstein was satisfied in helping establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served on its founding Board of Governors. It is now the home to his official archives where a statue of the physicist greets visitors.

‘Innovation’ was what this visit to Israel was all about and no less ‘innovative’ was the event organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University in partnership with Wits’ Israel Alumni Association. Hosted at the World Mizrachi Hall and supported by Telfed (the communal support organisation for the Southern African community in Israel), the main speaker for the evening was Sivan Ya’ari whose Innovation: Africa organisation has been bringing Israeli water technology into Africa and effectively changing lives.

The event was attended by many ex-pat South Africans living in Israel, as well as Israelis interested in environmental challenges on the African continent. Other special guests included former Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, editor of the Jerusalem Report, Steve Linde, veteran radio broadcaster, Walter Bigham, and several Holocaust survivors. Our university professionals found the talk most insightful and spoke about water-related challenges in South Africa.

Not all work and no play

The group had the opportunity to tour the Old City of Jerusalem as well as one of the world’s oldest port, vibrant Jaffa; meet with members of Israel’s ethnic minorities, sample Israel’s famous night life and of course eat lots and lots of local delicious cuisine!

The group was most impressed of the visit to the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv. Founded in 1996 by the late President of Israel, Shimon Peres, the group heard how the Centre develops and implements programmes with a focus not only on promoting a prosperous Israel but of paving the way for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.

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Living Legacy. The Peres Center for Peace & Innovation shows how technology and innovation can be put to the service of peace and act as a hub for innovation and peace. (credit Efrat Sa’ar)

Celebrity weatherman and science communications expert, Simon Gear, who accompanied the group said that “as South Africans, engaging Israel is crucial both from a perspective of the incredible technology there and from a view of supporting peace initiatives for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The guests were able to see a side of Israel that many do not, and this included various engagements with Israeli government departments; meeting with NGO’s who are working in innovation and development and mingling with other members of the academic community. There was a broad consensus that both countries had much to learn from one another, and that finding ways to broaden the conversation in different sectors was a key to making collaboration a success. Already by the end of the tour, there was interest in specific projects.

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Working For A Better Tomorrow. Africa and Israel share similarities in its past and can join hands in facing the future – together

 

This tour was made possible with the support of the South African Friends of Hebrew University. Yes, it was a journey from South Africa to Israel, but as we learned at Hebrew University, the journeys ahead are really those from:

Ideas to Ventures

 

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Focus On Africa. The South African group of 11 senior lecturers & researchers attended an event on the 8th July in Jerusalem where they heard Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation speak on the nature and scope of her work and how it can help meet the challenges of Africa. Steve Linde, Editor of the Jewish Report moderated the discussion . Seen here at the event are (l-r): Steve Linde, Jonny Lipczer from World Mizrachi, Dr Les Glessman, Chairman of Wits Israel Alumni, Benji Shulman, Director of South Africa Israel Forum, Roy Scher Telfed Jerusalem Chairman, Carmel Krawitz Executive Director S.A. Friends Hebrew University and Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation Africa July 8th World Mizrachi King George Jerusalem

 

 

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Benji Shulman Benji Shulman is a board member of the South African Friends of Hebrew University, newly appointed Head of Public Policy as the SAZF and organises educational group visits to Israel.

Good Vibrations

Not the Beach Boys’ classic but Israeli Researchers develop vibrating vests to wordlessly communicate with dogs

By David E. Kaplan

Tel Aviv is arguably one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world and walking down any street in the city it is easy to see why. I often wonder, “Who is taking who for the walk?”

In fact, the municipality of Tel Aviv says that the ratio of dogs to residents is 1:17, meaning there is one dog to every 17 people in Tel Aviv!

It is not uncommon to see dogs not only in restaurants and cafés, but sometimes even sitting at the table among diners. Most cafés are very diligent to make sure that Tel Aviv dogs are treated properly often serving dog biscuits and treats and ensuring there is a doggy dish of water available outside for man’s best friend to rehydrate along with their owners.

There are also designated dog beaches in Tel Aviv where they are permitted to run off leash, such as in the north at the Hilton Beach, as well as in the South at Alma beach – both a dog and dog-lovers paradise.

While for Tel Avivian’s it’s all about love and companionship, for the most part throughout the world – and for over the millennia – canine owners and handlers have trained hounds for a variety of functions, such as: herding, tracking, hunting, detection, search and rescue, security, as well as the more personal services to their owners like like guiding, hearing, and seizure response.

Traditionally, the training focuses on the dog learning to obey commands and cues VOCALISED from an owner or handler. Now, a research team from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) has developed an entirely new way to train canines using haptic  – related to the sense of touch – vibrations.

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Command Performance. Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers training a dog wearing a commercially available fabric vest-modified with vibration motors, to sit, lay down, go to their handler, or retrieve an object, depending on the vibrational command. The technology may be useful for delivering remote commands to dogs for use in search and rescue, assisting disabled handlers, and other service animal applications. Photo: Ben-Gurion University

Haptic technology – also known as kinaesthetic communication -refers to any technology that can create an experience of touch by applying forcesvibrations, or motions to the user.

The word haptic, from the Greekἁπτικός (haptikos), means “pertaining to the sense of touch” and simple haptic devices are common in the form of game controllersjoysticks, and steering wheels.

Incorporating haptic technology, the BGU team developed a mesh vest ‘tailormade’ for hounds to wear. The vest contains four small, painless vibrating motors that operate via remote control and according to PhD student Yoav Golan, who is leading the research, “a dog wearing the vest will learn to associate different vibrations with different commands…one vibration will cause the dog to turn around, while another will cause him to come to you.”

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Canine Connection. PhD student at BGU Yoav Golan, connected by remote with his dog Tai wearing a vibrator vest.

Golan says their study – called “Vibrotactile Vest for Remote Human-Dog Communication”  – was the first to explore haptic technology and dog commands, and its findings were presented at the World Haptics Conference on July 12 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. The conference covered leading scientific findings, technological developments, algorithms, and applications in the field.

‘Touch’ Of Genius

To date,  communication with working dogs that perform tasks ranging from search-and-rescue to bomb detection, remains mostly “visual and audial” with little use of technology.

It should be self-evident that in certain scenarios, non-vocal communication would be preferable, such as in security situations where handlers need to operate quietly and hence the need for discreet contact between dog and handler.

Another situation could be where search-and-rescue dogs are working in rubble at a distance from the handler, and possibly even out of sight.

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This technology will also help reconnect with run-away pets or with communication by speech-impaired handlers.

The research results showed “that dogs responded to these vibrotactile cues as well or even better than vocal commands,” said Professor Amir Shapiro, director of the Robotics Laboratory within BGU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The haptic vest would prove ideal when vocal communication is not possible, such as in a noisy environment or with an owner or handler who has a speech disability. In these scenarios, using a haptic vest is easier and more effective “than clapping when alerting a dog,” they say.

Who’s The Boss?

Actually Irrelevant. A dog typically bonds with its handler and favours its voice when given vocal commands. However, the haptic vest offers what Golan referred to as “handler independence.”

As the vest’s remote control requires only a ‘neutral’ touch of a button, the dog will not be dependent to a particular handler: “Anyone could press the button, and the dog would still complete the task,” assures Golan.

While the test was conducted with five handlers on Golan’s own dog – a Labrador and German Shepard mix named “Tai “- future research will test the haptic vest technology on different breeds, ages and training experience.

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Remote Control. “Good doggie” – Israeli scientists invent haptic vest to allow handlers to control dogs remotely.

Professor Shapiro, who has been fielding calls since the announcement of the study, says he wants people “to use the vest wisely.”

Interest really spiked following the National Geographic article, he says, specifically from companies “that utilise service dogs for individuals with PTSD or speech disabilities.”

Watching with fascination the video clip, ‘Tai’ turned, backed up, lay down, and came,  all on command responding to remote-controlled vibrations in the vest.  And it made no difference that it was not his “boss” giving the commands.

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

 

 

Am Yisrael High

Medical Marijuana – Israel’s growing “HIGH-tech” leader

By Rolene Marks

Israelis are renowned for being high on life. In fact, Israelis rank very high on the UN’s happiness index, coming in at number 11, far higher than our US and British friends.

Could it be that there is a secret to being happy and chill in the most volatile region in the world?

“Doobie”, “blunt”, “chronic”, “wacky baccy”, “Mary Jane”, “dope”, “ganja”, “weed” or whatever you call it, cannabis is inspiring one of the fastest growing industries in the world and Israel is leading the way.

In 2016, the Israeli government announced that it will expand the number of doctors trained and authorized to prescribe medical marijuana. In January of 2017, the government announced plans to decriminalize personal marijuana use and in February a government committee approved cannabis export.

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Israel Riding High. Israel’s blooming medical marijuana industry. (photo by Kobi Gideon/FLASH90)

In April 2019, Israel’s largest medical cannabis company, Breath of Life filed their preliminary prospectus for listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).

The company, also known as BOL Pharma, would be the first Israeli medical cannabis firm to list its shares on the TSX. Kalytera Therapeutics Inc., also an Israeli medical cannabis firm, has shares listed on the TSX Venture Exchange, Canada’s public venture capital exchange for emerging companies.

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High Profile. An agricultural engineer inspects quality marijuana plants at the BOL (Breath Of Life) Pharma greenhouse at medical cannabis plantation, near Kfar Pines in northern Israel. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Cannabis can do’s!

Israel is a world leader in cannabis technology for a variety of reasons. When it comes to medical marijuana research, Israel is one of the leading cannabinoid centres, attracting interest from around the world and experts are descending on the tiny state to learn more.

Am Yisrael high?

Israel is a start-up and hi-tech powerhouse so why should adapting this to suit the needs of cannabis tech be any different?

What is the secret that Israelis have cottoned on to that is making medical marijuana a fast-emerging market that many want to invest in?

Israeli scientists are among the world leaders in modifying marijuana’s molecular structure to tailor cannabinoids to specific receptors for treating symptoms of disease.

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Top Grade. Inside the greenhouse of Israeli medical marijuana company Seach, Israel, January 30, 2019. (photo Eyal Toueg)

Agricultural technology such as drip irrigation is being tested and used successfully in the growing of cannabis crops before being used on other similar plants.

The decriminalization of personal marijuana use has also allowed the Israeli government to regulate medical marijuana and make it more accessible and available by prescription at pharmacies.

“Cannabis should be considered, so far as possible, in the same manner as any other medicinal product, requiring supervision and regulation in order to protect public health and welfare, even when taking into account its special characteristics — being a plant rather than a product manufactured in a laboratory or factory,” according to the Health Ministry’s Medical Cannabis Unit.

 It turns out that the munchies can prove to be medicinal!

There are many ways to take your medicine. Short of the traditional way, Israeli tech experts have devised new and creative ways to take your daily dose. A variety of delivery systems have been invented such as tablets, a patch, a nasal spray or a cigarette making it easier to regulate dosage.

Major pharmaceutical companies are also getting in on the medical marijuana action and have come up with solutions or devices to help patients.

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How Green Is My Valley. Yuval Landschaft, head of the medical cannabis unit of the Israeli Health Ministry, shows marijuana plants growing under tightly controlled climate and light conditions, at a farm in central Israel. (Tracy Wilkinson / Los Angeles Times)

* Teva Pharmaceutical Industries agreed to market medical cannabis for pain management in Israel with a revolutionary selective-dose pharmaceutical-grade medicinal plants inhaler from Tel Aviv-based Syqe Medical.

*Israel-American company Cannabics Pharmaceuticals is working to put the medicinal compounds of cannabis into a sustained-release capsule in standardized doses.

* Australia-based PhytoTech Medical is developing an adhesive patch with medical cannabis, based on Hebrew University technologies.

Different strains treat different conditions, and did you know that you can even grow your own. For medicinal purposes of course…

The blooming cannabis industry is expected to grow exponentially in the years to come. In the United States, the industry already boasts a $5.7 billion market.

Israel’s growing marijuana high-tech industry proves that the grass is greener on the other side – even in the desert!

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Thai High. Senior Thai officials visit Israel in February 2019 to learn about medical cannabis cultivation (Photo: Israeli Economy Ministry)

Israel’s “Iron Dome” For Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying, they spread killer diseases and are often called one of the most dangerous animals on the planet

By David E. Kaplan

Many Israelis are alive today ONLY because of the country’s penchant for finding solutions to existential problems. A classic example is the ‘Iron Dome’ – a mobile all-weather air defense system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets  from 4 kilometres to 70 kilometres away and whose trajectory would take them to an area populated with Israeli civilians. 

Its success has been proven in battle. The Iron Dome hits 90% of rockets aimed at populated areas.

However, there are “populated areas” all over the world  under daily threat for incoming aerial attacks of a totally different kind – the dreaded mosquito, and Israeli ingenuity have these critters now firmly ‘in their sights’.

Mosquitoes have killed many more humans than all wars in history.

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The Mean Machine. Mean and deadly, the mosquito about to penetrate human flesh.

It is the most dangerous creature in Africa responsible for killing more Africans than any other through the spread of malaria, dengue and other diseases. Malaria kills over a million on the African continent every year, most of these are children under the age of five.

While the threat in Israel is less lethal, they are super annoying. Who is unfamiliar with them buzzing around your bed keeping you awake all night with their infernal whining sound as they dive into attack like the once-feared WWII German Stuka dive bomber! For those that penetrate your ‘Home Guard” defense system – from protective clothing,  mosquito repellents, mosquito killer lamps to even eating garlic – the aftermath of an assault results in bites, itches, endless scratching, and finally sores  or what I describe as “my battle scars”!

The best defense against mosquitoes is making sure they can’t get to your skin and an Israeli start-up Bzigo has developed a device that scans and locates the biting insects in a room, sending a message to a phone app allowing you to easily kill them.  A future model will be capable of eliminating them as well!

This is like a computer game  but for real!

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Fighting Back. Taking down the enemy mosquitoes are Israeli startup Bzigo cofounders, Saar Wilf and Nadav Benedek.

Action Stations

Developed over the three years, the Bzigo device looks like a box the size of a compact smartphone that can be connected to the wall or stand-alone on a flat surface. It uses  infrared camera that marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands providing the essential ‘intelligence’ to the disgruntled humans to kill them.

Although the current model only helps locate the mosquito, Bzigo CEO, Nadav Benedek says “we are working a future model that will be able to eliminate the mosquito on its own. In reality, killing a mosquito is the easy part – the real challenge is in detecting them. Mosquitoes are adept at avoiding human vision, attacking us when we don’t notice them. But once you know a mosquito is in the room and see where it landed, killing it is simple.”

The technology is based on an algorithm that can detect the movements of a mosquito with a wide-angle high-resolution camera that constantly photographs the walls and ceiling of a room to locate the pest, before sending a message via Wi-Fi to the homeowner’s smartphone.

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Fighting Back. Taking down the enemy mosquitoes are Israeli startup Bzigo cofounders, Saar Wilf and Nadav Benedek.

The brains behind this potential “Iron Dome” against mosquitoes is Saar Wilf, 45, and company CEO Nadav Benedek, 38, both of whom served in the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200. They are trained to zero in on the enemy and firmly in their crosshairs is the mosquito.

To date, we have carried out hundreds of tests with live mosquitos,” says Benedek. “At first, Saar would spend hours trapping them with containers and nets, but then we found a supplier from the Emek Hefer region.”

Asked by YNet.news.com why they chose to focus on mosquitos, Wilf replied that “anyone with a technological inclination, has at some point in their life thought to find a technological solution to this annoying problem; we were just persistent.”

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Caught Red Handed. The Bzigo device monitors a room using an infrared camera and marks the mosquito’s exact location with a red laser once it lands. (Photo: Courtesy)

Benedek described how growing up in the central Israeli town of Pardes Hana, the home was surrounded by netting and recollects how “my Dad always checked my room before bedtime in summer for ten minutes to find and kill mosquitos.”

The Tel Aviv based start-up assures that its device is safe to use near children, food and in hospitals and although the initial model is made for home use, the plan is to produce a model suitable for industrial use, such as to kill pests on farms and in hothouses.

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Most Willful. Bzigo cofounder, Saar Wilf explaining the device programmed to take out mosquitoes. . Photo: Orel Cohen

The device is expected to be available on the market in 2021 and will sell for about $170.

Mosquitoes don’t play fair: They target some people more than others and I am one of them and welcome any addition to my arsenal to take on these critters.

Whatever it takes, the battle is on.

Cleansing Experience

Two Young Israeli engineers introduce clean water to Ugandan community

By David E. Kaplan

 

Israelis have their eyes on Africa, not to exploit but to enrich.

Such was the motivation for two 26-year-old water engineering graduates Selda Edris and Mayes Morad, both from the Galilee who as students were shocked on discovering the level of poverty in rural Uganda.

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Dirty Water. A major cause of children’s illness and death in Uganda.

“We were amazed by the living condition of the children,” said Morad. “We were exposed to horrible poverty and were shaken to see children shivering when it got cold, barefoot or with torn shoes.”

It was one thing to be “shocked”, but both asked the question:

Can we do something about it? Can we make a difference?”

Following their graduation it was not the exotic beaches of the far east that attracted these idealistic engineers. Armed with their education, they wanted to volunteer and knew exactly where. The calling was clear;  they wanted to help provide a specific Ugandan community with clean drinking water.

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“Clean Water”. Young Israel engineering graduates Selda Edris (left) and Mayes Morad providing water solutions in Uganda (Photo: Gali Margalit)

So, soon after graduating, Edris, from the Circassian village of Rehaniya, and Mayes from the Druze village of Beit Jann on Mount Meron in northern Israel, joined the HELPAPP organization and set off for a community in Uganda that pulled at their heartstrings. “There were 900 school children from the region that drank water  from a nearby swamp that filled up in winter,” said Edris.

Although the three schools in the community boiled the swamp water before drinking, “this was  hardly a safe solution” to the young Israelis.

Finding “a solution” proved challenging to the enterprising and innovative young engineers. However, Edris and Morad were finally able to install sinks and taps in the schools and connect them to a proper purification facility. When complete, 900 children had running clean water.

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Normal Life. Extracting dirty water from swamp in rural Uganda.

The reality of what they achieved struck home.

When I saw how happy they were when they just turned on the tap and water came out, I thought to myself,” says Morad, “what in the world would make me, or my nieces and nephews who are the same age as these schools kids, feel so happy?”

The joy in the children’s eyes when they opened a tap to wash their hands and water came out stayed with her. “It’s difficult to imagine that there are children in this world who don’t have the most basic commodity – drinking water – only because they weren’t fortunate enough to be born in the right place.”

For Edris and Morad “Clean water is a basic right for every person in this world – regardless of where you were born.”

After providing a solution to supplying the schools with running water, the two Israelis initiated a Facebook fundraising campaign to buy shoes for many the children who ran around barefoot on the hard-arid African terrain.

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“I feel beautiful for the first time”. Every day Helen had to choose how to use the little water she had. Now that she has a steady source, she says she feels beautiful for the first time.

We Shall Return

“We’ve helped hundreds of children, but we know there are so many others in other parts of Uganda, who don’t consider drinking water a given,” says Edris. “We want to come back to Uganda and initiate a larger scale operation.”

Ask a young teenager in Israel, the USA or Europe what they most want? The answers would not be even close to the answer a 13-year-old girl gave Edris. “All she wanted was clean water, clothes and an electrical light at home to light up the house when it gets dark. What we take for granted isn’t taken for granted in so many places around the world, and that’s sad. She broke my heart.”

It also broke Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1950s. When the future Prime Minister was appointed Israel’s second Foreign Minister in 1956, Golda announced that a cornerstone of her foreign policy was to reach out to the African states emerging from colonial rule. The rationale for this was lost to many at the ministry. After all, the new countries were often poorer than Israel and facing greater security, environmental and other problems; what could they possibly help Israel with?

She explained:

Independence had come to us, as it came  to Africa, not served up on a silver platter, but after years of struggle. Like them, we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together and how to defend ourselves…. The main reason for our ‘African Adventure’ was that we had something we wanted to pass on to nations that were even younger and less experienced than ourselves.”

That “African adventure” continues today inspiring young and talented Israelis like Selda Edris and Mayes Morad who could not stand idly by in the face of suffering.

 

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A refugee camp in Uganda, 2018 (Photo: AP)

 

The Israel Brief – 15-18 April 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 15 April 2019 – Coalition building! Trump Peace Plan! Eli Cohen’s remains to return? Israel heads back to the moon!!

 

 

The Israel Brief – 16 April 2019 – Solidarity with Notre Dame. Bibi to form coalition. Abbas to meet Bibi?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 17 April 2019 – SpaceIL investigates Beresheet landing. Palestinian PM says US waging financial war. Hamas and Roger Waters aim to ruin Eurovision party.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 April 2019 – IDF “Readiness and Change”. Israeli official meets Lebanese FM. Netanyahu starts to form coalition.

“Action Stations – All aboard”

Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board

 

By David E. Kaplan

This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!

Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

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Success Story. Mellanox headquarters in Yokneam in the lower Galilee, Israel. Yokneam is known as Israel’s “Startup Village” because its high-tech hub is surrounded by forest and small communities.

This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform with Mellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”

Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”

Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”

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Eyeing The Future. A technician works in a Mellanox lab in Yokneam, Israel, March 4, 2019.\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers every major cloud service provider and computer maker.

Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.

Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.

Billion Dollar Man

Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.

This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company Galileo Technology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.

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California Dreaming. ‘Sailing into the future’ is the design of Nvidia’s Santa Clara headquarters in California. (Courtesy).

A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:

“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”

Eyal Waldman is living testimony!

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In The ‘Genes’. When in Israel, hi-tech visionary Eyal Waldman wears jeans to his Mellanox office in Yokneam.

The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”

Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”

The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.

While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.

Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”

By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.

I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, we have employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.

The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.

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Six Billion Dollar Smile. Mellanox CEO Eyal Waldman (left) is beaming as he shakes on the deal with Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia.

Building Bridges

We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at Mellanox Technologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”

Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.

Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.

Pulsating Palestine

Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts

“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.

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Roaring Rawabi. Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank. Over $1.4 billion has been invested in the city by developer and Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri.

Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.

Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.

Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.

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Men On The Move. Looking to plot Palestine trajectory into a prosperous future are CEO of Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunication Public Shareholding Company, Dr. Durgham Maree ( left) and Bashar Al Masri (right) in the new city of Rawabi in the West Bank, June 2018. Courtesy

Says Al Masri:

 “We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

 

 

“Fly Me To The Moon…Let me play among the stars”

The lyrics of the Frank Sinatra classic resonated throughout the Jewish world this February 2019 as Israel soared to the heavens –to the moon and amongst the stars at the Oscars

 

By David E. Kaplan

 

It was that kind of week in Israel.

It began with the news headline:

ISRAELI SPACECRAFT LAUNCHES, BERESHEET HEADS INTO ORBIT TOWARDS THE MOON

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Countdown. The Falcon 9 before the launch. (Photo courtesy)

“All I can say is farewell Beresheet,” said an emotional South African-born Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, who donated more than $40 million to the project. “Our hopes are with you, make us proud.”

Kahn, who hails from Benoni in South Africa where he had been a member of the socialist Zionist youth movement Habonim, made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 1956 to kibbutz Tzora.

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‘Hand’ It To The Israelis. Israeli philanthropist, visionary and major sponsor Morris Kahn (centre) with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Space Division general manager Opher Doron (first right) during a news conference to announce the launch of a spacecraft to the moon. Kahn is a former South African who immigrated to Israel in 1956 and began manufacturing bicycles with kibbutz Tzora.

From starting out manufacturing bicycles at a factory in Beit Shemesh in partnership with kibbutz Tzora, Kahn’s trajectory soared establishing companies that grew into commercial behemoths such as Golden Pages IsraelAmdocs, the Aurec Group and Coral World  and  is now reaching out to the heavens.

A former underwater diver whose Coral World International, established aquariums around the world from his first in 1978 in Eilat, Israel to Maui, Hawaii; Perth, Australia; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Coral Island Nassau, The Bahamas; Oceanworld in Manly, Australia and elsewhere.

Transitioning his GPS, Kahn recalibrated his sights from below to above – from the deep depths of the earth’s sea to outer space.

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We have liftoff! Israel makes history with Moon launch

Over The Moon

Israelis of all ages were wound-up at the countdown as the country’s non-profit organisation SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become only the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon.

Weighing in at 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, the unmanned craft, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

All of Israel stands animatedly behind this project and was involved even in choosing the name of the spacecraft.

A public vote was conducted on the SpaceIL’s facebook page, and ‘Beresheet’ – a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning” – won the most votes.

Apart from the technical support from Israel Space Agency, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Systems and Elbit Systems, SpaceIL was also supported by some of Israel’s top universities, including the Technion, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Most of the multitude of people associated with SpaceIL are volunteers  – including 250,000 students at schools across the country.

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Flaging The Future. PM Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife Sara and philanthropist Morris Kahn (2nd left) watch the launch of the Beresheet spacecraft from the Yehud command center, Feb. 22, 2019. (SpaceIL) An upbeat Prime Minster exclaimed: “There is great inspiration and daring here, and as of now great success as well. We look at the clock, another 60 days or so. We will meet on April 11.”

Moonstruck

For decades, the moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the United States landed Ranger 4 on the moon and it would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to execute a soft moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did so in 2013.

Joining the elite and exclusive club of Russia, USA and China, Israel is by far the smallest country. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive. The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations amounted to $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.

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From Holon To The Moon. SpaceIL founders (left-right) Yonatan Winetraub, Kfir Damari and Yariv Bash recreating the experience from a decade earlier in a Holon pub when they conceived the idea of creating an Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon. (Photo: courtesy)

SpaceIL signed with another former South African, Pretoria-born Elon Musk, whose SpaceX launched the Israeli craft on board a Falcon 9 rocket. Beresheet will travel approximately four million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots toward the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11.

One “bicycle man” can feel truly proud!

This mission that we were talking about was really a ‘mission impossible’,” Kahn told local media.

“The only thing is, I didn’t think it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible.”

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Monumental Moment. SpaceIL holds a press conference in Florida, immediately before the launch. (left-right) Philanthropist Sylvan Adams, a Canadian immigrant who brought the Grand Start of the 2018 Giro d’Italia to Israel and is contributing to Israel’s’ mission to the moon; SpaceIL cofounder Yonatan Winetraub; Spacecraft Project Head, Yigal Harel; GM and Executive VP of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Systems, Missiles & Space Group, Boaz Levy, and SpaceIL cofounder, Kfir Damari. (Photo courtesy)

L’Chaim (“cheers”)

The three engineers Kahn refers to are Yariv Bash, a former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and currently Co-founder and CEO of Flytrex, Kfir Darmari, a computer Networking lecturer and entrepreneur, and Jonathan Winetraub, formally a satellite system engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries and currently a biophysics PhD candidate at Stanford.

It may come as a surprise but Israel’s journey to the moon was hatched in a pub. Some ten years ago, a younger Bash, Damari and Winetraub were at the only bar in Holon, a small town just south of Tel Aviv.

As the night wore on, the future space engineer, cyber security expert and drone maker, came up with a daring plan to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. “As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” Winetraub recalled during an interview with local media. “And it never faded away.”

Nearly a decade later, their alcohol-infused idea is making history.

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Far Out. Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division, addresses the press beside the SpaceIL lunar module at the facility near Tel Aviv in July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Ilan Ben Zion)

From Holy Land to Hollywood

While it is the ‘dream’ of every film producer, director, actor, screenplay and musical score writer, costume and set designer to win an Oscar, this year the sense was that Israel was literally ‘out of the picture’. That was until the following morning after the 91st Academy Award ceremony, I saw on my Facebook:

And the Oscar goes to … WIZO!”

What on “earth” – getting now away from the “moon” – did this mean?

First of all, WIZO – for those who do not know – stands for Women’s International Zionist Organization, which was founded in 1920 in direct response to the needs of women and children in what was still then Palestine. With branches all over the world, including South Africa where my mother was an active volunteer, begged the question:

What did WIZO have to do with the Oscars?

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Night At The Oscars. Israel filmmaker Guy Nattiv and his wife , actress and producer Jaime Ray Newman, celebrate their win at the 91st Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Reading further, it turned out that  Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, who won the Academy Award in Los Angeles for his short film “Skin” – a bio-drama set in the United States about a neo-Nazi skinhead and his son – is a proud graduate of the WIZO Tzarfat (France) Arts School in Tel Aviv, an iconic high school sponsored by WIZO France . Graduates of the school include world famous artist Nir Hod, Israeli actress Dafna Rechter, South African fashion designer, Chantal Abro  and  Chairperson of WIZO in the United Kingdom, Ronit Ribak Madari.

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Wonderful WIZO. Spanning five continents and four generations as one of the largest women’s networks in the world, WIZO, established in 1920, is supported by over 250,000 volunteers in 50 federations worldwide with tens of thousands of volunteers in Israel.

Nattiv, who grew up in Israel and now lives in Los Angeles, co-wrote “Skin” with fellow Israeli Sharon Maymon and produced it with his wife Jaime Ray Newman. The film deals with a hate crime and its ramifications from the point of view of two children, one white and the other black.

“I moved here five years ago from Israel,” Nattiv began his acceptance speech before adding in Hebrew, “Good Night, Israel.”

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Joy & Jubilation. From left to right: Sharon Maymon, Jaime Ray Newman, Guy Nattiv and Andrew Carlberg accept the Best Live Action Short Film award for ‘Skin’ onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Excited and emotional he stood with his wife and continued:

My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust, we see that everywhere today—in America and in Europe. This film is about education; it’s about teaching your kids a better way.”

Adding, Newman said that she and her husband “dedicate this to our five-month-old baby who’s sitting at home with my parents watching this. We hope that you grow up in a world where these things don’t happen, because people learn to love and accept each other.”

Congratulations came in from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin who told Nattiv, “…the film is a gift for our children and grandchildren, and for the future that we want for them so they can fulfill their dreams. Proud to be lsraeli. Mazel Tov!”

And how fitting being a graduate of a WIZO school in Tel Aviv, for World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky adding to the long list of congratulations from Israel with:

Mazal Tov, Guy! This is yet another shining example of WIZO pride. You, and thousands of WIZO graduates over the years taken what you have learned at WIZO and used it to create a better world.”

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Emphasis On Education. Presiding over World WIZO – a network of 800 projects serving hundreds of thousands of children, youth and women across Israel – chairperson Rivka Lazovsky visits a WIZO day-care centre on the first day of school. (photo credit: KFIR SIVAN)

February 2019, recognises not only Israel’s ‘dreams’ for a “better world” but its pursuit thereof, whether to land a spacecraft on the moon or an Oscar for a movie that fights racism and proclaims love and acceptance.

For those who watched the launch of Beresheet and heard the words, “We have a lift off…” it was a portent of Israel’s destiny.

Contemplating a future Jewish state over 120 years ago Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream…”.

From his iconic concerned look on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, 1897, Herzl can look down today from his ‘celestial’ perch at his ‘state’ about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and smile.

 

 

Cool It

“What, harnessing the blazing sun for cooling instead of heating?” Leave it to the Israelis!

By David E. Kaplan

An Israeli company, SolCold has developed a new paint that convert sun’s rays into cool air-conditioning. The double-layered nanotech coating is a potentially game-changing electricity-free solution for cooling buildings or equipment in intensely sunny climates. This makes it ideal for Central and South America, the entire Middle East and all of Africa – from Cairo to Cape Town.

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Coating materials that protect against fire, water or extreme temperatures are nothing new. But an Israeli high-tech paint doesn’t just protect surfaces from the sun. SolCold actually uses the sun’s power to activate a cooling mechanism, effectively providing air conditioning without electricity.

How does it work?

SolCold’s unique paint – “no thicker than a business card” – is applied to a surface of an object, where the sun’s radiation triggers a reaction in the material. This reaction then converts the heat accumulated on the object it is applied to – into radiation. This radiation is then emitted in a process called ‘anti-Stokes fluorescence’ – invented by electrical engineer Yaron Shenhav, the co-founder and CEO of SolCold – thus providing the cooling effect.

SolCold’s material functions as if it were a thin layer of ice that gets thicker and cooler as the sun gets stronger,” explains Shenhav. “We are focusing first on homes and shopping malls, but it can be applied on the roofs of cars and this can help save gasoline.”

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Cool It With Paint. A special paint will make houses cooler without electricity. (Photo: Chanchai Boonma / Shutterstock)

Energy Saver

“When applied to the rooftops of buildings, the material can help save up to 60% in energy costs,” says Shenhev, “which translates into annual cost savings of +$10,000 per building.” There’s also a major positive impact on the environment – saving on these energy costs means a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. “We are not just saving costs, but also helping protect our environment at the same time.”

SolCold’s product is generating interest for coating anything from chicken coops to cargo ships, malls to stadiums, cars to planes, satellites to hothouses, military equipment to apartment houses.

How did such an early-stage company receive so much attention already?

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THE SUN ITSELF COULD SOON BECOME A LOW-COST AIR CONDITIONER…

Cool Heads

SolCold first made the news in June 2016, when it was one of six Israeli companies handpicked by the US State Department and the White House to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California.

And then, in October 2017, SolCold was a finalist in the deep tech competition at the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris.

Addressing the summit to an excited audience, Shenhav began:

“Yes, we are in Paris, the City of Lights, and above all these lights that we admire, there is the greatest, strongest light – the SUN. And while the sun is our greatest source of light, it is also our greatest source of heat on this planet. And whether here in Paris or in Tel Aviv, my home town, or LA, Beijing and practically everywhere on this planet, when the sun shines it emits radiation, which is absorbed by everything around us from buildings to cars, and in return it creates heat. So, this is the equation we know today – the stronger the sun, the hotter it gets. But we at SolCold have an alternative equation. We have a material that actually harnesses the suns energy into active cooling; meaning for us the equation is: the stronger the sun, the cooler it actually gets.”

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Sunny Side Up

Potential imitators do not concern SolCold’s super cool team because the technology is so complicated.  “We gathered a unique combination of knowledge in the worlds of thermodynamics, nanotechnology and quantum physics,” says cofounder Gadi Grottas, “and have been working on it for the past four years. We have also registered a PCT patent, which is pending before being published.”

Grottas expects the product to be affordable and to offer a quick return on investment.

He reveals that the materials used in the coating:

–  all exist in the market

–  are 100% “green”

–  free of carbon emissions

– are activated by free energy from the sun.

When tested in a lab using a sun simulator, SolCold’s double-layered coating cooled an object by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) using the equivalent of only 1% of the sun’s energy.

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Cool Heads. The SolCold management team, (left – right): Cofounder Yaron Shenhav, technical leader Prof. Guy Ron and Gadi Grottas. Photo: courtesy

“The paint could decrease electricity consumption by up to 60% and is expected to last for 10 to 15 years before needing a new coat,” says Grottas. 

This is no “sugar coating” it – this coating is for real and is transformative.

In hot weather, electricity grids become strained as people use their air conditioning day and night. In Israel, the national electric company frequently issue warnings during summer — when temperatures soar over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) — to use air-conditioners more sparingly, lest the grids shut down. Inevitably, electricity bills skyrocket.

The idea came to Shenhav sitting in his Tel Aviv apartment one sweltering summer over fours ago. “My air-conditioner was barely functioning – it was struggling to cope and came up with an idea which initially involved optic cables.”  This he later abandoned in favour of harnessing the sun’s radiation for cooling.

Cool Idea

“Now imagine what would happen for example,” says Shenhav, “if all the buildings in Tel Aviv have this coating on the roof. The entire city would consume 60 percent less energy in the hottest days of summer, and when that happens, our power plants would need to produce 60 percent less electricity – meaning much less CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be released into the air by the power plants.”

This is an enormous environmental benefit, asserts Shenhav.

The big question then is what happens in winter with less sun? While “the cooling effect would be reduced by 50% due to more rainy days when clouds hide the sun,” cooling will nevertheless still occur. At present, SolCold is targeting warmer climates such as the sun belt in the US, Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East, parts of China, Oceania and Africa.

Playing It Cool

Grottas has visited South Africa as part of promotion where there was interest among egg farms “because hot weather stresses laying hens and greatly reduces their productivity.”

It would also be extremely beneficial in rural South Africa for schools and hospitals.

 

Vision for Africa.  This could be a game-changer in rural South Africa.

 

But Shenhav envisions entire cities in hot climates using SolCold to coat residential and commercial buildings, which would consume less energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

“Our technology can cool anything under the sun,” he says.

With the material able to be applied to most surfaces, SolCold’s potential is infinite.

The Herzliya-based startup is currently raising funds and has begun trials. Commercial and residential buildings in Israel and Cyprus are waiting to get the trial SolCold treatment.

Meanwhile, says Grottas, the company has received hundreds of inquiries regarding orders and distribution rights — which he estimates to be worth around $100 million — from places including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey and the United States.

Out Of This World

SolCold also has its sights on cargo, automotive, space and military markets, estimated at a total of almost $100 billion.

Satellite and space applications especially could prove a huge market for us,” says Shenhav.

“In space, there is the problem to cool down equipment where there is no air to conduct heat and so expensive internal systems are used to isolate and ventilate,” he explains.

Therefore, “opportunities arise in space for our cooling coating that emits the heat via radiation.”

The same cooling principle may have huge potential for the military, in its application on specific hardware. There may also be an added advantage that the paint could in theory “also serve as a camouflage against infrared detection.”

No ‘camouflage’ can hide the sheer genius of Israel’s coolest new invention. Wherever its hot in the world, leave it to the Israelis to cool things down!