Mindsets to Markets

The Stef Wertheimer formulae for Middle East  regional stability where “the battlefield today should only be the market place”

By David E. Kaplan

Reading in the latest Forbes ranking industrialist Stef Wertheimer as Israel’s wealthiest citizen with a net worth of $6.2 billion in its annual ranking of the wealthiest billionaires in the world,  reminded me of my interview with him in 2011.

Israelis in the Pack. Twenty-one Israelis appear in Forbes 2021 billionaires list with  Stef Wertheimer as the country’s richest citizen with a personal fortune of $6.2 billion.

 It also made me think that Israel’s premier industrialist would not have been pleased with the nature of exposure!

Why do I assume this?

Well, before I even began that decade-old interview, Stef said:

I hope you were not planning on asking me about the Buffett deal?”

I was taken back!

Movers & Shakers. Stef Wertheimer showing Warren Buffett (left)  around  Tefen in northern Israel Israel. (Photo by FLASH90)

The “Buffett deal” of 2006 was not just any deal but the most highly publicised one at the time in Israel’s history. Yes, it was when Warren Buffett‘s investment company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc.,  acquired 80% of Wertheimer’s  Iscar Metalworking Companies (IMC) for $4 billion. Not only was it a ‘big deal’  for Israel, but also for Buffett being his largest acquisition outside the USA! This was a huge endorsement of Israel, so yes, I had planned to anchor my article on ‘the Buffett deal’. I had also been  spurred on by Buffett revealing shortly before our interview in 2010 that he   he would like to invest more in Israel, believing that Israel has a sustainable advantage in the global competitive market place, saying:

 “If you are looking for brains – stop in Israel.”

Puzzled, I asked Stef why he was so against discussing the deal, after all, “it made your family and your company household names – globally?”

Man on a Mission. Stef Wertheimer – a warrior for peace and prosperity

His explanation was instructive.

“Why do you think that the Berkshire Hathaway deal is any more important than the first deal I did with my fledgling company operating out of my house in Nahariya in the early 1950s?”

Seeing my perplexed look, he continued:

It you disregard the amounts of money in the equation and focus on impact then the first 1950s deal was far more historically significant than the Berkshire Hathaway deal.”

The message was clear. Beneath the veneer of being bedazzled by billions, Wertheimer was directing the interview to a far more philosophical rather than simple monetary assessment of the word “value”.

Factory Floor. A young highly motivated Stef Wertheimer (center) in his backyard Iscar workshop in Nahariya in the early 1950s. (Photo: private)

Early Days

Stef Wertheimer was born in Kikenheim, Germany in 1926, the son of a musician and decorated war veteran of the Great War. In 1936, with the Nazis entrenched in power, the Wertheimer family fled Germany for Palestine.  “I was 10 years old,” he said, “so they did not ask me.”

Following learning a trade as an apprentice to a refugee, Stef, at age eighteen, joined the newly established Israel Air force flight school. Although he graduated as a pilot, the army was far more interested in his skills in metal processing. Given the important task of developing weapons, no one in those days would have imagined that young Stef was well on his way to becoming a global industrialist and ‘warrior’ for peace.

Rearing to Go. The refugee child from southern Baden, Germany, Stef Wertheimer as a teenager in Tel Aviv.

When the State of Israel came into being and the battles ended, he started his cutting-tool factory from his home in Nahariya – then a small coastal town in northern Israel – with a borrowed lathe and a loan from a local butcher.

“Living in Nahariya, I used to ride my motorbike to kibbutz Hanita where I paid for the use of a machine. I then decided in 1952 to work at home and started with small blade sharpener which cost 40 lirot. My ‘factory floor’ was the balcony off our kitchen. I called my business Iscar and it was a case of family and factory sharing the same premises. As the business expanded and required more space, I invaded the bedroom and shifted the beds into the corridor. In between all this, Irit, my baby daughter was riding around on her tricycle taking bites of food from my workers. That is how she cultivated a liking for harif (hot) cuisine from my Mizrahi (Eastern Jews) workers.”

These were humble beginnings but the makings of what would amount global news in the future.

Battlefields for Peace

Known as the father of Israel’s “Industrial Parks”, establishing his first Tefen Industrial Park in 1982  in the northern Galilee –  “to foster economic growth and job creation and so help create stability in the region” – it became the model for all the parks that followed. He became animated describing then his latest and sixth park, located in Nazareth that “will be managed by Arabs but essentially where Jews and Arabs will work together. It’s a model for coexistence, where people work with each rather than against each other. The battlefield today should only be the market place.”

Aiming High. The ISCAR World Headquarters and Central Manufacturing Facilities located in Tefen in the high hills of Israel.

This argument had added resonance at the time as the Middle East in 2011 was gripped in the turmoil of the Arab Spring that had begun in response of citizens across the Middle East rising up against their autocratic regimes for their low standards of living. This Wertheimer understood well and in a series of articles he penned at the time, was advocating a type of ‘Marshall Plan’ for the Middle East of mass industrialization as a tool for regional harmony. More than ideology or religion, they needed – JOBS and jobs in mass manufacturing

Explaining, he said, “if people are highly skilled, earning good salaries and enjoying job satisfaction, there will be less urge for individuals or nation states to resort to violence to achieve their aspirations. Religious fanatics only flourish where poverty and despair rule. But to achieve an industrial revolution, we need too, a revolution in our educational system to produce a skilled working workforce.”

A portend of things to come, our interview also took place a few months before the Social Justice protests across Israel, when starting in July 2011, hundreds of thousands of protestors from a variety of socio-economic and religious backgrounds opposed the continuing rise in the cost of living – particularly housing.

These were hardly the people with a mindset for factory floors but Wertheimer understood but pressed his case for a change in mindsets.

Sure, we prefer to pursue the ‘clean’ professions because we are pressurized by our parents. This is embedded in our culture where we have an aversion to roll up our sleeves and getting our fingers dirty. For this reason, Jews gravitate to commerce and the professions rather than into industry. This needs to change.”

And to my next question of how we break from tradition if it’s so imbedded in our culture, Wertheimer replied:

“One need look no further for a shining example than one of our revered Zionist pioneers, A.D. Gordon. Was he suited to work in the fields? Definitely not. He was an elderly intellectual, of no great physical strength and with no experience doing manual labour, but he took up the hoe and worked in the fields. By personal example, he provided the inspiration for generations of Zionist pioneers to create a Jewish economy by physically working the land. By personal example, he showed how manual labour, so essential to the creation of the state, was honourable and enriching work.”

His argument was we need that same insight and spirit of A.D. Gordon to move new generations not to the fields but to factory floors. “In the same way that tilling the land in the early days was considered honourable, so today we need to correct the erroneous notion that manual labour is “low”. Nations with the most dynamic economies such as China, India, Singapore, Switzerland, Denmark and France have introduced a dual system of technical education that combines classroom learning with on-sight internships in various industries. We need to do the same.”

Book of Revelations. Says Warren Buffett, “There’s no better way to explain the miracle of Israel than to examine the life of Stef Wertheimer.”

And as to what progress Wertheimer had made so far towards this goal, he explained:

“I have for over 50 years created and run technical education programmes. Along the way, I have established six technical schools, including one in the army and one in the navy. These are schools where young people can learn a trade and acquire skills of a very high standard.  I have also established schools where we teach teachers in vocational training because this is so lacking in this country. I cannot stress enough – we have enough bankers and lawyers; we need people with skills and when they receive the recognition they deserve, attitudes will change. This is the way forward for Jews and Arabs to stand together. Their battlefield is the factory floor, their common enemy – their competitors in the overseas markets.”

Making an Impact. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (right) with Stef Wertheimer at the “Collective Impact” employment project, in Nazareth, Israel, on April 6, 2016.
 

Embellishing on his Marshall Plan for the Middle East that there cannot be real peace in the region unless neighbouring countries enjoy similar economic prosperity, he explained:

“If Israel has been a success story, we could be more of a success by helping our neighbours more than ourselves. They need to believe that they are on the same path to prosperity as us. We need to expend far more of our resources on peace rather than on war. Can you imagine if we built Industrial Parks like we have in Israel all over the Middle East, the impact it would have on regional peace and stability? People don’t know, but the money the government spends on ONE fighter plane could pay for FIVE industrial parks. Think of it – which offers a better return on the investment?”

Imagine if there were hundreds of these “Pockets of Peace” all over the Middle East? “Who would have the time or inclination for war? People would be too busy creating than destroying.”

This vision has been passed onto his son Eitan, today the CEO of Iscar.

Fostering Peaceful Coexistence. At the grand opening in April 2013 of this industrial park in the predominantly Christian-Arab city of Nazareth, Wertheimer and Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jeraisy explained that the industrial park is part of a unique model to promote the advancement of Arab-Jewish Israeli export companies. During his visit to Israel in 2009, Pope Benedict had met with both men at the site of the future park and gave his blessing to the project.

“There are no bad people. There are just people without a future and people with a future. Once you create a future, peace will come. The model is already in place. It only needs to be adapted elsewhere – to build a region of conflict into islands of hope.”

“We need people like Stef, who live for their ideas and bring them alive through commitment and pragmatism,” expressed the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Wolfgang Schaeuble in 2008 on presenting  the Buber-Rosenzweig Medal to Wertheimer for his contribution to Christian-Jewish understanding.

Possibly the accolade that best sums up Stef Wertheimer’s contribution to the State of Israel came from his good friend, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who said, “Stef, hopefully, if there were more people like you, not many, maybe just 20, the country would be completely different.”

Laughing all the Way to the Bank

A few years after Israel’s War of Independence (1948-1949), Stef found himself sitting on a bus with a young woman he had met in their days in the Palmach, the pre-independence, elite fighting force.

So Stef, what you doing with yourself now? Any plans?”

Yes, to go into industry; I want to start my own business.”

 “What?” she asked and laughed so loud everyone on the bus stared at them. After all, the country was poor; many foodstuffs were hard to come by.

However, six decades later, what began from a loan from a butcher and a borrowed lathe working in his backyard, grew into one of the world’s largest manufacturers of metal cutting tools, which are used by carmakers, shipbuilders and aerospace industries.

Who had the last laugh?







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Israel Sends Vaccines to Palestinians

By Rolene Marks

Israel is currently the world leader in rolling out the vaccine and it is predicted that nearly all adults will be vaccinated by next month. Along with this great achievement, has come a certain level of criticism focusing on whether or not Israel is responsible for vaccinating the neighbouring Palestinian populations in Gaza and the West Bank. It is extremely important to understand what the situation on the ground is before making accusations like the one in the article “Israel violates international law by blocking vaccines to Gaza”.

Since the start of the global pandemic, Israel has been cooperating with  our Palestinians neighbours, ensuring that they receive much needed testing kits, PPE, training and other medical necessities through the relevant authorities, NGO’s and COGAT, the IDF unit responsible. This effort was lauded by UN Special Envoy to the region, Nikolay Mladenov.

People waiting in line to get vaccinated against the coronavirus in Jerusalem. (Ammar Awad/Reuters)

In an official statement dated November 26, 2020, issued to the residents of the Gaza Strip by Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, IDF Maj. Gen. Abu Rukun stated:

   “We find it important to emphasize clearly that neither I, nor the organization that I head, nor any other representative of Israel, has obstructed any request or requirement for the entry of medical aid of any kind. We welcome all assistance from all the various sources. In light of the situation, COGAT is allowing assistance from the international community to the health system of the Gaza Strip.

IDF Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun chief Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)

So far, many dozens of ventilator machines have arrived, as well as many PCR machines, which have increased the pace of testing from 200 to 2,500 tests a day.    Dozens of oxygen generators have arrived, and hundreds of inhalers for hospital use and home use. Hundreds of hospital beds have been added, and with our coordination, approximately 600 tons of essential medications and medical equipment have been allowed entry, including tens of thousands of coronavirus testing kits.

    All that assistance can help the health system to provide care and save lives. COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge, and it behooves all parties to strive for a solution to that challenge.”

The Gaza Strip is governed by Hamas who is recognized internationally as a terrorist organization.

Distributing Covid aid and vaccines has not been without its challenges. Two plane loads of Covid aid from the United Arab Emirates was summarily rejected by the Palestinian Authority “because it was coordinated with Israel and landed at Ben Gurion airport”. This aid was subsequently distributed with the help of the World Health Organisation and UN. The rationale for refusal according to a Palestinian government source was that “Palestinians refuse to be a bridge [for Arab countries] seeking to have normalised ties with Israel.”

In May 2020, Palestinian Authority rejected UAE aid sent via Israeli airport giving its reason  that it would be seen as a ‘cover for normalisation’ of ties with Israel”.
 

The Israeli government moved decisively and quickly to procure vaccinations as soon as they were able, in order to inoculate our citizens. The roll out has been an exceptional achievement, applauded by many around the world. At the end of December 2020, a Palestinian Health Ministry official stated “we do not need or require help from Israel to procure vaccines. We have our own health ministry and are not an extension of the defense ministry (of Israel).” Israel is on record as stating that while vaccinating our citizens remains the priority, we will help the Palestinians as needed.

Is Israel legally responsible for vaccinating Palestinians?

Israelis and the Palestinian Authority are both signatories to the 1995 Oslo Peace Accords, which awards Palestinians autonomy with their healthcare, including responsibility for vaccines. For Israel to take responsibility for vaccinating the Palestinian population, it would be a violation of this autonomy.

In article 17 of the Third (Civilian) annex to the Oslo 2 accord, the Palestinian side assumed full powers and responsibilities in the field of health care. They undertook in paragraph 2 of article 17:

 “…to continue to apply the present standards of vaccination of Palestinians and shall improve them according to internationally accepted standards in the field, taking into account WHO recommendations.”

In paragraphs 6 and 7, they agreed that:

   “Israel and the Palestinian side shall exchange information regarding epidemics and contagious diseases, shall cooperate in combating them and shall develop methods for exchange of medical files and documents.”

Similarly:

    “The health systems of Israel and of the Palestinian side will maintain good working relations in all matters, including mutual assistance in providing first aid in cases of emergency, medical instruction, professional training and exchange of information.”

This is a clear case of Israel is damned if it does – and damned if it doesn’t. The Palestinian Authority  have received Russian Sputnik vaccines as part of the international  Covax scheme. Israel began vaccinating over 120,000 Palestinian workers who enter the country daily with legal permits as well as sent vaccines to the Palestinian Authority to vaccinate healthcare workers. By admission from PA officials, some of these vaccines did not go to healthcare workers as intended but rather to the Palestinian soccer team and government officials. Perhaps corruption and cronyism is more to blame than the convenient finger pointing at Israel.

A Palestinian health worker is vaccinated against COVID-19 after the delivery of doses from Israel in West Bank city of Bethlehem. (REUTERS – MUSSA ISSA QAWASMA)

Israel has sent vaccines into the Gaza strip and while there is a  legal maritime blockade in place that is recognized by the United Nations, it has not prohibited Israel in ensuring aid and vaccines continues to enter the strip. Israel, the West bank and the Gaza strip share the same epidemiological footprint and so Israel has ensured that vaccines continue to be distributed to our neighbours. Epidemiological and moral responsibility require both Israel and the Palestinians to act responsibly and to cooperate with a view to reducing the risk of COVID-19 spreading between their respective territories and as such regardless of not being legally bound, Israel continues to send vaccines. Accusations of such as the one made in the above mentioned article are extremely unproductive, unhelpful and devoid of fact. In the interest of a global triumph over a pandemic that has already destroyed so much, please do not let it further erode the integrity of responsible reporting.

A health worker prepares to vaccinate former Palestinian health minister Jawad Tibi against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine in Gaza City February 22, 2021. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem





While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Fast Times at IDC Herzliya

Aspiring like their male counterparts for pole position in Israel’s hi-tech revolution, an increasing number of women students are enrolling at IDC Herzliya’s Efi Arazi School of Computer Science

By David E. Kaplan

I want to be part of changing the world and the way we live life,” says Liat Shaer, a student from South Africa at the IDC Herzliya’s Efi Arazi School of Computer Science. Such words would make the late Israeli hi-tech pioneer and visionary proud. Efi Arazi was a fearless larger-than-life role model who showed how to build global high-tech startups, long before the word high-tech was invented!

School for Success. Students at the Efi Arazi School  of Computer Science receive an average of three job offers from the biggest high-tech companies during their last year of studies.

Israel has well earned the nickname “Startup Nation” for its outside-the-box entrepreneurship. With a population of approximately nine million, it has the largest number of startups per capita in the world – around one startup per 1,400 people. This “WOW” phenomenon increasingly catches the eye of companies with global reach and aspirations and preparing tomorrow’s  leaders in this field are many of today’s students gravitating towards Computer Science.  

Many more of them today  – are young women!

This exciting trend is all too evident at Israel’s first and only private university – the IDC Herzliya – proud of its high percentage of female students studying at the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science.

From a high of 30% in the 2019-2020 academic year, it has risen to an unprecedented 37% in the 2020-2021 year. 

Deputy Dean of the Efi Arazi School, Prof. Anat Bremler-Barr, attributes the increase in the number of women at the school to two main factors:

  • Attracted by the availability of well-paid jobs – a global trend –  in the field of Computer Science
  • A successful outreach by the Efi Arazi School and IDC Herzliya to encourage more female students to enroll in Computer Science as part of a policy of supporting woman empowerment in the market place.

Not only are events held annually that are targeted towards encouraging women to join the school, says Bremler-Bar, but in addition,  “30 percent of faculty members are women, a significantly higher percentage than in other universities, which helps attract more female students.”

Many of these are foreign students who are studying Computer Science in English at the IDC Herzliya’s Raphael Recanati International School.

Lay Of The Land spoke to some of these young women students to understand what steered then to a field once so dominated by men.

Liat Shear who matriculated at Yeshiva college in Johannesburg, South Africa, says she chose to study Computer Science as “an excellent degree which develops and teaches skills that are very relevant in 2021 and will continue to be so in the future. It allows its students to enter a wide variety of fields and prepares them for the many technological challenges being faced worldwide. For me personally as a woman, studying Computer Science will hopefully help change the perception of women in the STEM fields. I chose the IDC specifically as it is an international, world class institution located in Israel, which exposes me to many brilliant and renowned lecturers.”

Computer Science student Liat Shear from Johannesburg hopes to help change the perception of women in the STEM fields.

She praises the opportunities it has provided in “helping me to meet peers and future colleagues from all over the world,” and plans after graduating, “to be part of one of the many Israel-based hi-tech companies that are changing the world and the way we live life.”

Sun Fun and Study. Like the warm embracing Israeli sun, the IDC Herzliya warmly embraces students from all over the world .

For Arora Attenborough from Melbourne, studying Computer Science or Entrepreneurship “never crossed my mind until coming to Israel. Growing up in Australia, I had always been passionate about technology and computers but, the importance of degrees in technology fields still hadn’t been fully recognised, and I originally thought I would most likely study Business. It wasn’t until I landed in Israel and started working in a Hi-Tech Company as an Executive Assistant, did I realise the importance of Computer Science and Entrepreneurship. From ‘Day 1’, I knew this was the environment that I wanted to work in.

Computer Science student Arora Attenborough from Melbourne, Australia

She says she is thankfulthat she was fortunate “to be able to see inside of both the roles of the Executives and the roles of the Software Engineers and the main thing that I deduced is that if I want to be successful in high tech I need to have the knowledge as a Computer Scientist and the skills of a good Entrepreneur.”

That is when she decided to study at the IDC Herzliya.

“Only when I started having discussions with my colleagues, mentors and friends about my degree choice did I fully realise that not one of my executive colleagues were female, and in 2 years of working in high tech, I had listened to hundreds of business calls, read over a plethora of different companies investor decks, and made coffee for many executives and not once did I meet or read about a female tech CEO. The realisation of diving into a male dominated sector and the challenge of becoming a leading woman in the tech industry is a big reason why I want to study Computer Science and Entrepreneurship so much.”

Imbued by the passion and the motivation she recognises within herself and her female Computer Science friends at the IDC, “I predict that very soon, smart and capable women will make a big impression on the technology industry, changing the way we see the high tech environment by bringing forth revolutionary companies and products.” 

Young and Adventurous. Preparing for tomorrow’s challenges, students from all over the world walking between classes at the IDC Herzliya.

Another Computer Science student from South Africa but born in Israel is 22-year-old Stav Hazan, who moved to Johannesburg, at the age of twelve. “Throughout high school, I consistently pushed myself to work towards a degree that would take full advantage of my skills and intelligence, but I never actually considered Computer Science as a path that could do that. This is because I had always pictured myself doing something meaningful or revolutionary in the medical or biological field, without realising the strong and important role Computer Science plays in these areas. Now, the vision I have for my career is to contribute to the Biotech industry by working with startups that bring together AI technology and software developers with doctors and other major players of the medical field.”

Stav says she would like to use this stage at the IDC to “encourage young women not to be intimidated by the Computer Science field, or to be influenced by external opinions and cultural beliefs. I initially did not view Computer Science as the most meaningful choice out of potential scientific degrees, as I wasn’t fully aware of the power these skills would give me. When I joined IDC, I didn’t know what to expect in terms of the proportion of women to men in my degree, but my journey has been surrounded by the most driven and hard-working women, whether it be my good friends or the lecturers I am inspired by.”

Computer Science student Stav Hazan from Johannesburg, South Africa.

A second-year Computer Science student originally from Boston USA, Ilana Sivan, says  “Women are generally not encouraged to pursue STEM subjects at school, and if they find those subjects difficult, they are not encouraged to try harder but rather to change directions altogether.”  Despite “more of the risk associated with studying Computer Science” Ilana says because of “the innovative and welcoming environment IDC,” the faculty encourages “us to try new ideas and forge new partnerships,  and make us feel part of the community regardless of our gender.”  

Ilana Sivan, USA, 2nd year Computer Science student (photo credit: JENNY SCHWEBER)

The words of these women students are inspirational and aspirational and well befitting the man whose name graces and characterizes the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science. In 1965, while studying at MIT, Efi Arazi designed a camera for NASA, which was used by the Apollo 11 space mission to transmit the first images from the moon. At the age of 25, Arazi invented a revolutionary auto-focus mechanism, thus cementing his position as one of the leading figures in the global electro-optic industry and upon returning to Israel in 1968, he founded the Scitex Corporation, which developed the first digital prepress computer and CCD scanner in the world.

Lasting Legacy. High-Tech pioneer and visionary, Efi Arazi (1937–2013).

Little wonder that Jonathan Davis, Head of the RRIS and Vice President of the IDC Herzliya, likes to refer to the Raphael Recanati International School as  an “island of opportunities”.

Today and Tomorrow. Prof Uriel Reichman, IDC founder and president (left), and Jonathan Davis, Head of the RRIS and Vice President of the IDC Herzliya, with two new graduates  and two future graduates.

For more information about IDC HERZLIYA




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Seeing is Believing

The English expression “long time, no see” took on a quite literal meaning with Israeli medical science restoring sight to the blind

By David E. Kaplan

It was like a miracle out of the Bible when an Israeli resident from Haifa “saw the light”!  However, it was all about science, not divine intervention.

And yet there was something majestically “biblical” about the scene played out at the Rabin Medical Center when a 78 year-old BLIND man from Haifa on the 3rd of January was able to see his youngest grandchild – only three months old!

An Arab from Haifa, Jamal Furani had gradually lost most of his vision over the past decade due to corneal disease.

If someone resembling a friend or neighbour stood in front of him, “I would not be able to tell the difference,” he said. His cause had seemed lost following four donor transplants to try to restore his vision. All had failed!

That was until the 3rd of January 2021 when he became the first patient to receive the KPro artificial cornea from CorNeat Vision in Ra’anana.

A Sight to Behold. Jamal Furani reading a vision chart a day after receiving the KPro artificial cornea from CorNeat, surrounded by his surgeon, Prof. Irit Bahar (left) and CorNeat cofounder Dr. Gilad Litvin and Furani’s daughter Khulud. (Screenshot from Channel 13)

Prof. Irit Bahar, Chief of Ophthalmology at Beilinson Hospital of Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva who performed the implant surgery, explained that “each successive surgery has less chance of success,” however, “the synthetic cornea changed all that. The surgical procedure was straight forward and the result exceeded all of our expectations.”

The day after the operation, Prof. Bahar said that even she was “amazed”, “surprised” and “thrilled” at how well Furaniwas “able to read a vision chart and to recognize family members.” And of course Furani’s family had changed over the years but the absolute thrill was seeing for the first time the new members who he had spoken with and touched but now could see!

It has been emotionally tough for medical practitioners all over the world over the last year with COVID-19, so this was a thrill. “The moment we took off the bandages was an emotional and significant moment. Moments like these are the fulfillment of our calling as doctors,” said Prof. Bahar.

To which an exuberant Furani replied, “As much as you are happy, I am even happier. It’s my treasure to be able to see.”

So what is this artificial cornea that can now restore sight to the blind?

Seeing Eye to Eye. CorNeat’s artificial cornea fits into the wall of the eye without the need for any donor tissue.

CorNeat co-founder and the inventor of the KProDr. Gilad Litvin, told Channel 13 news that “The innovation here stems from the ability to take something totally synthetic that has no cells or tissue and implant it in the wall of the eye so that it essentially becomes part of the body.”  Litvin who sat in on the operation, revealed to the Times of Israel the sensation of “Unveiling this first implanted eye” and “being in that room was surreal. Witnessing a fellow human being regain his sight the following day was electrifying and emotionally moving. There were a lot of tears in the room.”

You bet!

The Insightful A-Team. The CorNeat Vision team with Almog Aley-Raz, and Dr. Gilad Litvin seated centre. (Courtesy of CorNeat Vision)

It was only last July, the first in-human trials of the CorNeat synthetic cornea were approved at Beilinson. This is only the start of a procedure which will undoubtedly impact the lives of millions.

A Welcome Sight. Israeli startup has successfully carried out the world’s first artificial cornea transplant, restoring the sight of a 78-year-old man who had been blind for 10 years.

First Step

CorNeat Vision’s Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer and VP R&D, Almog Aley-Raz, noted that theCorNeat KPro’s first-in-human implantation is just the first step in a multi-national clinical trial, geared toward attaining CE Mark, FDA Clearance and China NMPA approval. “A total of 10 patients are approved for the trial at Rabin Medical Center in Israel with two additional sites planned to open this January in Canada and six others at different stages in the approval process in France, the US, and the Netherlands. Our first trial includes blind patients who are not suitable candidates for- or have failed one or more corneal transplantations. Given the exceptional visual performance of our device, the expected healing time and retention, and the fact that it cannot carry disease, we plan to initiate a second study later this year with broader indications to approve our artificial cornea as a first line treatment, displacing the use of donor tissue used in full thickness corneal transplantations.”

Now, when Haifa grandpa Jamal Furani says to someone “I’ll be seeing you” he sure means it!







While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Under Lockdown, Israeli University Unlocks Ingenuity

Educating through a Global Pandemic, IDC Herzliya turns Challenge into Opportunity

By David E. Kaplan

They say when the “going gets tough, the tough get going,” but in the Start-Up Nation of Israel that is never quite enough, you also need to be SMART.

Tough, smart and add in entrepreneurial,” asserts  Jonathan Davis, Vice President for External Relations at IDC Herzliya, and head of the university’s Raphael Recanati International School. “This is how the IDC has come through 2020 with the Corona pandemic. We have put IDC philosophy into practice by welcoming the challenges of Corona as opportunities. Overcoming hurdles and obstacles is what we teach here. It’s in our DNA.”

Flying Colours. Flags representing the international students’ countries of origin wave along the ‘Raphael Recanati Avenue of Flags’ (Photo: Herschel Gutman).

Nurtured in a country that has survived and thrived in adversity, Israel’s first private university, the IDC Herzliya was founded in 1994 by its President, Prof. Uriel Reichman to train the future leadership of the State of Israel via “a unique model of excellence in research and teaching” alongside an emphasis “on social responsibility and community involvement”.  

“Wonder Woman”. Famed Israeli actress Gal Gadot and Miss Israel 2004 studied law at the IDC university , while building her modelling and acting careers.

Its students are trained to “Dream Beyond” and its former students can be found at the pinnacles of their professions fulfilling their “dreams” in fields all over the world. Look no further than Hollywood’s “Wonder Woman”  Gal Gadot, who after serving two years in the Israeli Defense Forces as a combat trainer, studied law at the IDC Herzliya before she began her modelling and acting career. Even with 2020 being the year of the Corona, Gadot is ranked in the top three highest paid actresses in the world – quite a leap from the once young girl from Rosh Ha’ayin!  

Impact on the World. “It is our responsibility to shine hope and light for a better future for our children,” says IDC former student famed film star, Gal Gadot.

While the supernatural powers of a “Wonder Woman” could have come in hand in 2020,  the IDC dug into its own innovative talents and optimized its abundant expertise to come up with solutions.

Meeting of Young Minds. A regular day at the IDC before Corona. Students at the international school who study in English, hail from over 90 countries from all over the world.

When the Corona pandemic struck in March 2020, “We rapidly responded to the new educational realities,” explains Davis who has been responsible for the health and welfare of eight hundred international students from over 90 countries. Having to adjust to a world knocked off its proverbial axis, it has been non-stop for Davis and his energized “A-team” arranging transportation for these mostly foreign students, ensuring that health regulations were strictly adhered to, quarantining the foreign students upon arrival in Israel, and remaining in touch with anxious parents.

Time Out.  The outdoors coffee shop is the social hub on campus. (Photo D.E. Kaplan)

We held frequent Zoom conferences with as many as six hundred parents at a time, from the Far East, Europe, North America, and Latin America,” says Davis. “Felt like the United Nations but with one big satisfying difference – we resolved issues!”

Corona Connectivity. A IDC Zoom meeting of students from all over the world with international school head, Jonathan Davis (centre top)

Countering Corona

Confronting the pandemic as if it were a war, the IDC set up on its campus an “Operations Room”, which maintained constant contact with representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior and Ben Gurion International Airportto ensure that things went smoothly,” says Davis. Running 24 hours a day, “We had to field requests from North and South America, South Africa, Australia, across Europe and even China; after all, we have students here from over 90 countries. As we were bringing these students into Israel, the regulations and rules of Corona were changing from one minute to the next. It reminded me of Mohamed Ali – it was not good enough to carry a touch punch; one had to be nimble on the feet – to adjust to constantly changing conditions.”

One of the many overseas students the IDC assisted in returning to Israel during Corona was Jessica Rubens from Belgium. Stuck at home because of the pandemic, this Communication’s student was finding it frustrating studying from home. “I had been trying since March to return to Israel; it was not easy but finally, the IDC knowing the right levers to pull, helped me get back safely. This is where I need to be. It’s been quite amazing.”

Studying Communications is Jessica Rubens from Belgium.

Responsible for quarantining over 800 students,  many of whom went either to the IDC’s new dormitories or apartments off-campus and “We had to check those apartments to make sure that everything was according to the rules and regulations.”

Campus Beat. The IDC’s new dormitories on campus before Corona (Photo: Hershel Gutman)

Tapping into Talent

Ensuring the health and wellbeing of the students, the focus shifted to education, and what proved “smart”  was to tap into the talents of its students. To ensure the IDC was able to continue effective teaching, meant training hundreds of lecturers and professors in the art of online teaching in the most innovative and creative way.  “We took two hundred students from the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science, who became the mentors and tutors of these professors and lecturers, to assist them with technical aspects,” reveals Davis.

If one is tempted to raise an eyebrow at the sudden upside-down practice of students counseling lecturers, it is well known that IDC computer science students receive an average of three job offers from the biggest high-tech companies during their last year of studies. “They are trained to perform, and perform they did during Corona,” says Davis. “These guys were the cavalry.”

As 2021 dawned, and Israel became the first country in the world to vaccinate 10% of population, it is understandable that its universities are the breeding ground of its superlative successes. It needs to be!

Through entrepreneurial and innovative ways, we found ways and means to make lectures more interesting,” says Davis who directed the writer to interview a number of students.

Top Diplomat. Priding itself on having lecturers and professors active in their disciplines, seen here on campus is Israel’s top diplomat, the former Ambassador to the UK and the UN, Ron Prosor and today head of the Abba Eban Institute of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya with Jess Dorfan (L) from San Diego and Kelly Odes (R), Argov Fellow alumni, from JHB two students in 2017. (photo D.E. Kaplan)

I began with a group from South Africa, a country facing increasing isolation as more countries ban travel there over the discovery of a new variant of the coronavirus.

For Noah Marks from Johannesburg, being under lockdown did not mean “my mind was ‘quarantined’.” Studying Business and Entrepreneurship, Covid-19 allowed Noah to use his time “profitably” as he began to work “on a number of venture ideas I had been toying with for some time.” He says it made him think “how crises are not to be seen as all negative but rather that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Throughout this Covid-19 pandemic, I have been exposed to new ways of creative problem solving and these lessons have indeed helped me to further become the entrepreneur that I wish to be.”

The  IDC could not be better geographically situated to suit Noah and his aspiring hi-tech peers. Located between Ra’anana and Herzliya, in the midst of Israel’s ‘Silicon Wadi’, with the most hi-tech companies per capita of any region in the country, “the IDC enjoys a very strong connection with these companies,” says Davis. “They provide cooperative hands-on education as well as offering internships.”

From South Africa (Left to Right ) Jordi Rubenstein studying Psychology, Tali Kadish Psychology student, Noah Marks Business and Entrepreneurship.

While for second year Psychology student returning to Israel and leaving her family behind in Johannesburg was “a daunting and emotional experience,”  Tali Kadish says she knows “I made the right decision.” At least surrounded by classmates in the dorms “allowed the online lessons to feel somewhat ‘normal’.”

In agreement is her compatriot and also Psychology student, Jordi Rubenstein who says the IDC “has gone to special efforts to make our online lectures interesting and productive. This period has no doubt been difficult, but the extra resources laid on has ensured that my education is on track and enriching.”

From ‘Down Under’, Computer Science student, Arora Attenborough from Australia’s Gold Coast, is up and energized being back in Israel. Using underwater parlance to describe learning ‘under lockdown’, Arora is looking forward “to start deep diving into my Computer Science and Entrepreneurship courses knowing that the skills we are acquiring and the challenges we are overcoming today will make us better and more prepared for the changed world after Corona.”

Warmly welcomed back to the IDC is Arora Attenborough from the Gold Coast, Australia studying Computer Science.

There is an understandable sense among the students that the post-Corona world will be different and that the education they are receiving at the IDC is preparing them for that proverbial, ‘Brave New World’.

This phenomena came from one man’s dream – Prof. Uriel Reichman and after whom the IDC will soon be renamed.  It was this esteemed Law Professor who during the early 1990s – without any state financial support – deflected the skeptics and transformed a crumbling British Mandate military base into an educational oasis in the center of the country. That short saga from decay to enterprise, encapsulates the spirit of the IDC. As students walk through the picturesque, verdant grounds of their campus, they can look upon the artifacts and masonry of bygone Empires from Rome to the British and marvel at modern day Israel’s accomplishments.

Men with A Mission. Founder and President of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Prof. Uriel Reichman (left) and Jonathan Davis, Vice President for External Relations at IDC Herzliya and head of the university’s Raphael Recanati International School.

With the shackles of past rulers an artwork on their pathways to lecture halls, “We train our students,”says Reichmann, “to free themselves from the shackles of convention and take responsibility for their future. We encourage them to pursue their dreams and not to succumb to the status quo.”

Viewing his IDC academic experience through a Corona prism, Government and Sustainability student Lee Ortenberg from Newton, Massachusetts is quite philosophical:

 “I came to IDC to have an international community surrounding me during my studies. I think one of the most amazing things about IDC is the diversity you find among your peers and professors; everyone has completely different life experiences to offer! Oddly enough, the coronavirus aligns almost perfectly with what we study in Government and Sustainability. From the nature of the virus, to how globalized economies handle shutdowns, to how cities and governments may come out of this pandemic greener and more resilient, it all has to do with our degree, making it a truly interesting time to be studying. Our professors share so much passion with our students, which is so inspiring to be around, and have been there for us every step of the way during the pandemic.” 

Lee Ortenberg from  Newton, Massachusetts USA is studying Government & Sustainability

While praising the administration and faculty in providing “an excellent job in adapting to online teaching,” Business Administration and Economics student Eitan Dooreck-Aloni from Miami, Florida articulates what all the students are hoping for”

Eitan Dooreck-Aloni, from Miami, Florida in the USA is studying Business Administrations-Economics

 “I can’t wait for life to get back to normal, so that we can all enjoy IDC’s vibrant life on campus.”

Now that’s a sentiment that everyone, everywhere can truly relate to!

Pathway to the Past.  Walking to classes, students pass the artifacts and masonry of bygone Empires from Rome to Great Britain.





*For more information about the IDC, please contact Stephanie Miller at smiller@idc.ac.il Or 972-9-9602841. 




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs (0&EO)

Reach for the Stars

Israel preparing to send its second astronaut into space

By David E. Kaplan

Today, you become the envoy of everyone. Go in peace and return in peace, and do not forget to wave to us from up there. We are waiting for you here at home,” so spoke Israel’s State President

Reuven Rivlin at a special ceremony to announce that 62-year-old Eytan Stibbe, a former IDF fighter pilot is preparing to be Israel’s second astronaut in space.

Next Year in Space. Message from Jerusalem at the president’s residence, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announces that a second Israeli astronaut will be sent into space in 2021. (Mark Neyman / GPO)

Stibbe, who is scheduled for takeoff from Florida at the end of 2021, will spend 200 hours at the International Space Station where he will perform a number of experiments using Israeli technology and scientific developments thus fulfilling the dreams and aspirations of the Start-Up Nation, resolute on pursuing its path in space.

Announcing the name of the second Israeli austonaut to visit space in 2021. (L-R) Chair of the academic advisory committee Inbal Krais, CEO of Ramon Foundation Ran Livne, austonaut Eytan Stibbe, President Rivlin, Minister of Science and Technology Yizhar Shai, Tal Ramon, DG of Beit HaNasi Harel Tubi (Photo: Mark Neyman /GPO).

At the special ceremony at the State President’s residence, Rivlin continued:

 “My dear Eytan, up there, beyond the seventh heavens, you will do Israeli technological experiments, some of which have been developed by our young people. You will be the envoy of those brilliant brains, the present and future generations of Israeli research, and will help them understand how the world works when we look at it from afar. You will be Israel’s representative in a human effort to understand the wonderful workings that allow life on this planet and uncover the secrets of the universe.”

Rocketman. Eytan Stibbe, set to become Israel’s second astronaut in space, speaks at the president’s residence on November 16, 2020 (Mark Neyman / GPO)

To the Heavens and Back

Rivlin’s choice of words “RETURN in peace” was not lost on Israelis who were traumatized by the loss of their first astronaut, Ilan Ramon 17 years earlier. In 2003, this nation was unprepared as they joined billions of people staring in disbelief at their television sets as the Columbia space shuttle – with Ilan Ramon on board –  disintegrated in flames as it reentered the earth’s atmosphere.

Space Heroes. Ilan Ramon (far right) and the crew of the Columbia that perished on reentry into the earth’s atmosphere  in 2003.

After 16 days of almost constant news coverage about “our Ilan’s” exploits in space from how he spent Shabbat (Sabbath), the various experiments he was conducting in space and what special mementos he took with him such as a prayer book to recite the Kidush (blessing)as well as a Kidush cup, a picture drawn by a 14 year-old boy who perished in Auschwitz and a Torah scroll that survived the Holocaust – Israelis felt they knew him personally.

He was family!

As one newspaper at the time expressed it:

“He represented us all – our country, our people, our past and our future. He was our hero at a time when we sorely needed one.”

Face of the Nation. Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut to go on a mission to space, a huge accomplishment for the country’s relatively young space programme.(NASA)

The son of Holocaust survivors, he represented a nation’s rebirth – the young, proud modern Israeli rising from the ashes of the Shoah (Holocaust) to a child of a new nation, reborn in its ancestral homeland and who in one generation was seeking answers to earth’s problems in the heavens.

Nearly two decades later in 2020, how perceptive and prophetic were Ilan’s words from space:

The world looks marvelous from up here, so peaceful, so wonderful and so FRAGILE.”

In an age today, when the world’s peoples are living in fear and under restrictions due to the Corona pandemic, Ramon’s observation of “FRAGILE” was poignant and prescient.

This was clearly on Rivlin’s mind when he embellished with: “Because of the VIRUS, we have come to realise how many great concepts – like science, medicine and research – can fundamentally shake our lives. We have come to realise how much we do NOT know, not only about distant planets and infinitely huge galaxies, but even here on our small planet.

Reach for the Sky. Former fighter pilot, future astronaut Eytan Stibbe.

“Dealing with this microscopic virus, in an effort to find a vaccine, we must work together – scientists from different countries and peoples. This is the power of science. It reminds us that we are part  of something much bigger that speaks to the human spirit that is within us all.” 

Stibbe to the Stars

It has taken more than 17 years to reach a decision to send another Israeli into space following the disintegration of the Columbia space shuttle in February 2003 as it reentered the earth’s atmosphere. Stibbe, who had been a close friend and colleague of the late Ilan Roman, said to his widow, Rona Ramon following the tragedy, that he would like to continue her husband’s dream.

In an exclusive interview I had with the late Rona Ramon in 2014 for Hilton Israel Magazine,  she said of her husband:

He has never left us – his spirit, his values and his message to future generations lives on for all time.”

Rona could so easily as well have been referring to her beloved son Assaf Ramon, who followed in his father’s footsteps becoming a pilot and was tragically killed in an Air Force training accident in 2009. Sadly, as the news later broke in 2018  that Rona too was taken before her time – at age 54 from cancer – the Jewish world could have said also about Rona, “her spirit, her values, and her message to future generations lives on for all time.” In the years following the deaths of her loved ones, she showed the same bravery, determination and grit as her husband and son as she spearheaded the perpetuation of the family legacy through the Ramon Foundation, which promotes academic excellence in Israel.

Following in his Father’s Flight Path. Israeli President Shimon Peres (left), embracing Assaf Ramon at his Israel Air Force pilot’s graduation ceremony in June 2009. (IDF)

All this was evident after the first anniversary of her husband’s death, when she received the programme of the first anniversary ceremony of the Columbia tragedy to be held in 2004 at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. She saw that it did not include Hatikvah – the national anthem of Israel – so she called her friend at NASA who explained to Rona that the protocol at such ceremonies allows only for the American national anthem.

In which case, I will not be attending,” Rona replied.

There was silence at the other end of the phone “and my friend replied he would call back. It apparently went all the way to President Bush who approved. It was the first time a foreign national anthem had ever been played on such an occasion. I felt truly proud when I stood at Arlington Cemetery listening to Hatikva.

The personal legacy of Ilan for me is his wonderful smile. I suspect he was looking upon me that day for having stood my ground defiantly and smiling.”

And so it was left to the musician of the Ramon family, Tal Ramon, to represent the Ramon family at the State President event who said of the family friend Eytan Stibbe:

“I’m very excited because I know if my mother were standing here she would put up her hands in victory like this, and speak very proudly about our friend, a friend I remember from my very first memories.” The Stibbe family, he continued,  “escorted us through the years through everything we went through, the good and the bad, and their family has become our family.”

Pursuing the Dream. Arms outstretched imitating what his late mother would be doing to embrace Eytan Stibbe for pursuing the dream, Tal Ramon, son of the late Ilan and Rona Ramon, speaking in Jerusalem on November 16, 2019 (screen grab: Israel Government Press Office).

He said it was very moving that Stibbe had chosen to make this “contribution” to the citizens of Israel.

President Rivlin became poetic in expressing the loss of Ilan, Rona and Assaf:

their absence reverberates in the heavens.”

Addressing Stibbe directly, he continued, “You are joining a family that is a shining example. A family that is a source of true Israeli inspiration and pride. The family never stopped talking about the stars, even when they fell from the skies. I am proud to stand with you today on this emotional day.”

Emphasizing the role that his mission will play in enthusing Israeli kids about science and technology, Rivlin said

You’ll conduct a series of experiments in Israeli technologies, some of which were developed by Israeli boys and girls. You will be the messenger of those brilliant minds, present and future generations of excellent Israeli research.”

This reminded me of what Rona has said to me back in the 2014 interview after quoting from the writings of her late husband and son. From Ilan she read, ““The children and youth are the future of the development and advances in space research, especially since they are open to new creative ideas and not prisoners to old ways and therefore so important to our future in space.”

Ilan and Rona Ramon. “We met on my 22nd birthday party at a friend’s house in Kiryat Ono – this 32-year-old good looking guy with a million-dollar smile. Ilan was my 22-birthday present.”

And from Assaf, she found this note in his diary following his graduation:

My siblings and I were lucky to grow up with parents who helped us to fulfill our dreams and reach our unique potential.”

Humbled and moved when first reading these passages, Rona said these profound musings served as “my Magna Carta in founding the Ramon Foundation.”

A board member on the Ramon Foundation, Eytan Stibbe is ready to pursue the dream.  

Said Stibbe at the event: “As a child, on dark nights I looked up to the stars and wondered what there is beyond what I saw.”

As an adult he is preparing to see for himself.

No doubt Eytan Stibbe will adhere to the warm request of the State President:

 “do not forget to wave to us from up there.”

The people of Israel will be looking up!



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

‘Charging’ Down the Drag

Tel Aviv-Yafo is paving the way for electric roads of tomorrow

By David E. Kaplan

Electric vehicles can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it was previously tried in Israel and literally didn’t “get us far”. The challenges were daunting – high cost of batteries, charging stations were too few and far between, and recharging took far more time than a fill-up at the pump. Israelis are hardly endowed with much savlanut (Hebrew for “patience”), so the electric car ended up going down the proverbial cul de sac!

So it was back to the drawing board whereby reaching higher meant researching lower, resulting in an ‘electric road’ rather than the ‘electric car’.

Transport of Tomorrow.  A bus “charging” along a busy Tel Aviv street.
 

This is the idea of Israeli start-up ElectReon, which is to electrify the roads to recharge vehicles as they are driven.

An ‘electric road’, ‘eroad’, or ‘electric road system’ (ERS) is a road which supplies electric power to vehicles travelling on it but today, in 2020, it is far more than just an idea!

In partnership with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and Dan Bus Company, ElectReon have launched a pilot project to install wireless electric roads for charging public transportation in the city.

The initiative, which aims to reduce pollution and advance urban electric transportation uses wireless technology and requires no charging stations in public spaces.

The first of its kind in Israel, the pilot will be carried out between Tel Aviv University Railway Station and Klatzkin Terminal in Ramat Aviv – a two-kilometer route including 600 meters of electric road.

Revolutionary Road. A vehicle equipped with a charging receiver drives over copper coil charging strips at the Electreon test site in IsraelCredit(Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times)

The Chosen Path

Along this select road of the pilot project, specially-equipped electric buses will travel while being charged directly from an under-road electric infrastructure.

Down the road, following the tests expected to be completed within two months, a Dan Bus Company electric bus will commence regular journeys on the route, serving passengers traveling to Tel Aviv University.

This pilot project is integral in Tel Aviv-Yafo’s municipal policy of attaching monumental importance to electric vehicles and reducing air pollution in the city. Stated in a press release, the City will move forward on “constructing electric roads to encourage energy independent public transportation.”

To this end, Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality signed a recent collaboration agreement with Israeli company ElectReon – the developer and installer of electric road systems – for charging electric vehicles while traveling.

Testing Times. A charging receiver attached to the back of a car at the Electreon test site. (Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times)

Street smart

The construction of an electric road to charge public transportation vehicles will make,“Tel Aviv-Yafo the first city worldwide to roll out the technology for charging buses on a wide scale. In doing so, the city will evaluate the possibility of additional electric transportation, including public transportation, distribution trucks, and private and autonomous vehicles.” asserts the Municipality

Says Tel Aviv-Yafo’s upbeat Mayor, Ron Huldai:

We are constantly working to reduce air pollution in the city, and our strategic action plan to prepare for climate change has placed the fight against pollution at the top of the municipality’s environmental agenda. If the pilot is successful, we will evaluate – together with the Ministry of Transportation – its expansion to additional locations in the city.”

Black & White. An illustration of a bus being charged during travel.

Adds the City’s Deputy Mayor, Meital Lehavi:

We welcome that Tel Aviv-Yafo is a groundbreaking experimental laboratory for Israeli technologies, including electric roads. Transforming a road into an electrified surface and a means for charging, through advanced and effective infrastructure, will enable the acceleration of the transition to electric buses. Relying on direct charging of vehicles from the road itself will remove the need to establish charging stations or be operationally bound to terminals.

With electric transportation assisting municipal efforts to reduce air pollution and noise and assist the transition to green modes of transport, the trend will undoubtedly contribute to improving the quality of life and the environment for residents and visitors to the city. “We have no doubt,” continues Lehavi, “that, if the wide-scale experiment is successful, it will not only benefit the public, but also save resources, improve the operational efficiency of public transportation, and maybe even a new world-class method of electrification will emanate from Tel Aviv-Yafo. This is another milestone in advancing municipal policy on sustainable transportation.”

Behind the Wheel. “This project has the potential to move the electrification revolution to mass implementation,” says Noam Ilan, a co-founder and VP of Electreon. (Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times)

Electrifying News

ElectReon CEO and founding partner Oren Ezer, says “we are delighted” that the first electrified public route is being established in Tel Aviv – a global leader in the field of innovation and smart transportation.

The pilot will be a display window to the world, showcasing the ability to charge urban public transportation.”

And the world is watching.

Noting the challenges – technological and financial – Dan Becker, Director of the Safe Climate Campaign in Washington, says “If it works it could be a real game-changer for electric vehicles.” A strong advocate for lower emission vehicles, Becker  adds “It would free the vehicle from the plug. It would allow smaller batteries, the most expensive component of the vehicle. And it would reduce their weight so there would be less weight for the vehicle to schlep along.”

Going Global

Over time, ElectReon executives aim to go global and make “all-electric city transport” the wave of the future.

This project has the potential to move the electrification revolution to mass implementation,” said Noam Ilan, a company co-founder and vice president for business development.

While the ElectReon system will still require vehicles to carry batteries, these batteries however will be far smaller and lighter because the vehicles will constantly recharge and therefore will need minimal storage capacity.

Executives assure that roads can be easily retrofitted, and nearly two-thirds of a mile or one kilometre of road can be outfitted during a night construction shift.

The Road Ahead. Following the success of public transport, the aim is for private cars to follow the way of public buses.

An asphalt scraper machine can dig a shallow trench in the road, while a second vehicle installs the charging strips and covers them with fresh asphalt. Power is delivered to the road from the electricity grid by power inverters installed on the sides of the road.

Once the strips are deployed, “roads would rarely if ever need to be dug up for repairs,” says Ilan.

And on the question of economic sustainability, Ilan insists that ElectReon has an almost limitless potential revenue stream from tolls on its roads and systems to bill registered vehicle customers for the electricity they use. “Revenues would likely be shared with local utilities,” he said.

Today a pioneer in developing electric road technology, ElectReon has come a long way since it was founded in 2013 by a few engineers from Elbit Systems, a prominent Israeli aerospace company with global operations.

Going Green. A vehicle powered by ElectReon technology ‘charges’ ahead. (photo credit: ELECTREON WIRELESS)

With roughly 20 employees, their lab is “decidedly makeshift”, with the look, as Clifford Krauss of The New York Times described in an October 2019 article “of a high school electronics lab.” He noted amusingly that the charging apparatus for the test track was rigged to the back of a car using a Thule bike rack and metal rods, while “surf boards leaned against the walls for breaks” at a nearby Mediterranean beach.

Is this not typically Israeli and quintessential Tel Avivian – being super ‘charged’ while simultaneously casual in lifestyle? Assures company co-founder,  Noam Ilan, “such breaks SPARK creativity.” 

No doubt!

Whether from surfing waves today to the ‘wave of the future’ of electric roads of tomorrow, Israel’s city of Tel Aviv-Yafo ignites the way forward.

Let’s go for a ride“. ElectReon – Dynamic wireless charging



While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Grow More – with Less!

As India discovered, Israel is leading the way with precision irrigation by getting to the ‘root’ of the problem

By David E. Kaplan

The UAE’s historic deal with Israel made the news like an earthquake broadcasting to the world and the people of the region that Israel is not an enemy but a friend and potential partner.

Its intentions are not to invade but trade.

And proving that the agreement has the potential to foster real co-existence between the peoples of both countries, Israeli pop star Omer Adam has reportedly been invited to perform in the UAE. Adam is one of Israel’s most popular singers, with his single  -“Shnei Meshugaim” – viewed over 61 million times on YouTube.

Shifting Sands. How the political landscape is changing with Israeli pop star Omer Adam set to perform in UAE.

Cultural encounters are always the proverbial “hechsher” – the absolute approval.

Even if there are those who refuse to recognise a transforming Middle East landscape, the UAE-Israel deal is a call to look to the future rather than the past.  Only earlier this month, it was seen how to be a prisoner of the past can prove existentially devasting as Lebanon has so tragically discovered.

India, which publicly kept a distance from Israel until the late 1980’s, has long changed its position and is benefiting enormously from Israel’s expertise in so many diverse fields.

In fact, quite literally – in the “field”!

Innovative Irrigation. Manufacturer of irrigation equipment, the Netafim factory at kibbutz Magal in northern Israel. The kibbutz was founded in 1953.

Israeli company Netafim signed this August, a $85 million deal to provide irrigation solution to 35,000 farmers in India. Founded in 1965, today the company specialises in end-to-end solutions from the water source to the plant root and offers a variety of irrigation and greenhouse projects. One of the world’s largest irrigation companies, Netafim produces drippers, dripperlines, sprinklers and micro-emitters. 

Back to the Roots

Precision irrigation feeds the plant, not the soil. That is a big deal  because delivering water and nutrients straight to the roots, the farmer not only reduces costs but also cultivates higher yields of healthier crops.  This is why famers in India are turned onto the deal.

The agreement involves the construction of Netafim’s irrigation systems for three large projects that cover 66 villages on 123,500 acres (50,000 hectares area) in the state of Karnataka in southwest India. The two-year project will include technical and agronomic support for five years. 

Netafim will also train the Indian farmers to operate the advanced systems.

Man on a Mission. Providing water solutions to those in the most challenging terrains and climates, President and CEO of Netafim, Gaby Miodownik (Dror Sithakol)

Field of Dreams

The impact of this deal will lead to a wider range of crops being cultivated to include  – onion, chili pepper, corn, peanuts, beans and sunflowers.

The name of the game is partnership, and to arrive at this deal, Netafim joined forces with the Indian Infrastructure company, MEIL (Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited), which together will execute these projects to fruit’ion.

Improving Yield from the Field. A Netafim training session in India.

This is the way to do business and help people regionally.

Especially in these days of global crisis,” said President and CEO of Netafim Gaby Miodownik. “The uniqueness of these projects is in their community model, which along with local government involvement, enables a huge number of farmers and villages to improve their livelihoods. The Indian government has always been extremely supportive of the agricultural sector, and now more than ever this support is important for securing the economic stability of local farmers and food security in the country.”

Israel to India. Netafim, through its Indian subsidiary, Netafim JV, was chosen in 2015 to participate in the world’s largest integrated micro-irrigation project in the country. The value of the deal for Netafim JV was $60 Million, which covered nearly 30, 000 acres of farmland and about 6, 700 farmers located in the South Indian state of Karnataka.

Deploying NetBeatTM systems for digital farming, enables real-time control of the irrigation systems using cloud technologies and allows access from any mobile device. “We intends to expand the community irrigation project model to other countries characterized by a large number of small farmers,” says Miodownik.

230 million Indians go hungry every day. One of the biggest problems is providing water for crop irrigation. One company stands out in providing the solution – Israel’s Netafim

Changing Climate

Interestingly, despite my native South Africa distancing itself diplomatically from Israel, it paradoxically remains commercially engaged, notably in agriculture and hydrology.

To this point, Netafim is in the vanguard!

If there are some in the ruling ANC government proving cerebrally sluggish,  not so the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa who in October 2019, lauded Israel’s entrepreneurship at the Women in Business Conference saying:

Israel is leading by leaps and bounds, and they are actually innovative in a number of sectors of the economy, in agriculture, in maritime, and a number of other areas. They have shown that they can lead, and we can learn a lot from what they do. I find this very interesting and would like to know more.”

High Praise for Israel Hi-Tech. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa praises Israel’s hi-tech sector during an economic conference in Johannesburg in November 2019.
 

Only a few months before Ramaphosa’s praise of Israel admitting that South Africa would benefit by closer cooperation, Netafim South Africa in June was the platinum sponsor of the 2019 SABI (South African Irrigation Institute) congress where the theme was ‘Climate of Change and Opportunity’. Addressing the Congress, Michael Esmeraldo of Netafim South Africa said:

Modern farming is not always only about new technology, high-tech machines and computers. A modern approach is also about making more efficient use of the resources that we have available. We have to use water, fertilizer and other inputs efficiently to get optimal benefit per unit of input.”

More specifically:

 “a tree does not know how it receives water, it merely requires a certain amount of water daily depending on the phenological stage, age of the tree and the climate.”

What is important:

 “is to find the right fit for each specific situation, in other words choosing the correct irrigation system that will work in synergy with the resources you have available.”

This is Israel’s expertise!

Yet again, South African commerce and diplomacy travel in opposite directions. The ANC government response to the Israel-UAE normalisation deal  – whose main state opponents were predictably Iran and Turkey, both a threat to regional peace- was “one of concern”.

In a SAZF (South African Zionist Federation) press release, its national chairman, Rowan Polovin, exposed the absurdity of South Africa’s position on the deal following it being well received by respected Arab countries Egypt, Oman, and Bahrain as well as South Africa’s major BRICS partners, India and China.

Proving once again how his country is characteristically out of step on the world stage, Polovin wrote:

“We encourage the South African government, to show leadership through positive re-engagement with Israel in ways that would by no means diminish her support for the Palestinians.”

Noting that further normalisation deals are likely to emerge over the coming months between Israel and other Arab and Muslim states, he concluded: “South Africa should be ready to welcome and encourage these positive developments in the interests of peace and stability in the region.”

Rather than “a stab in the back” as described by some detractors of the deal, it is more like “a shot in the arm” in the pursuit of changing the landscape to improves the lives of all in the region.

More Growth Less Water. Netafim’s office and warehouse in Nelspruit, South Africa servicing Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo, North West, Swaziland and the Southern parts of Mozambique.

Ask the Indian farmers using Israeli technology!

To take a page from Netafim’s history of success:

We’re farmers first and innovators second. We started in 1965, in the Negev desert in Israel, trying to grow crops in desert soil. So we know what it’s like to farm in extreme conditions. That struggle taught us how to combine precision irrigation, agronomic expertise and relentless innovation to help farmers grow more of any crop, in any climate, with less.”

Learn from the experts.

While South Africa advocates a “pullback”,  most of the world will be following India and the United Arab Emirates to “partner”.




While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

The severe conditions of COVID-19 that we are living through have made one fact painfully clear – Preventive Care in the ‘best of times’ can reduce health risks in the ‘worst of times’

By Lionel H. Phillips D.O.

Now is the time to be proactive and embrace the power of preventive care. In the same vein of prevention, it is also important to stay as active as possible.

American pharmacologist and 1998 Nobel Laureate in Physiology, Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, describes one of the body’s many natural defenses against pathogens:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections.”

I have requested that health Ministries make a point of questioning each and every COVID-19 virus sufferer, as to whether they are nose or mouth breathers.

I am convinced that a larger percent are mouth breathers.

Nose breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing, increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. Diaphragmatic Breathing – When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward, extending the area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. The diaphragm muscle not only separates the upper from the lower organs, it also acts as a massager tool to both areas. Your nose cleans the air you breathe – The nose helps clean the air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Writes Prof. Louis J. Ignarro, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular & Medical Pharmacology, UCLA School of Medicine, in an article dated 19th June 2020:

Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class – breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections. The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate NO, that increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO (nitric oxide) directly into the lungs, where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of the coronavirus in the lungs”.

It would be surely advantageous for the Health Ministries to take note of the experience and views of Prof. Ignarro.

Air temperature – In the same way as our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like our body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues.

Your Respiratory System

We all know that breathing is a vital necessity, that we do without giving it a thought. In addition, we have been given two options – to breathe through the nose or mouth. We image001 - 2020-07-20T100621.458.jpgbreathe to supply our body with oxygen as we breathe in – inhale, whilst we get rid of Carbon Dioxide plus other elements when we exhale. The Oxygen that we inhale either through the nose or the mouth, will enter your lungs. The diagram illustrates the route. The oxygen inhaled will enter your Pharynx, pass through the Trachea and then enter your Lungs. Research shows that Nose breathing is the correct and most optimal way to breathe. Not only are our bodies designed for nose breathing based on the specific apparatus and the mechanisms by which we inhale and exhale through nose breathing, but there are numerous important health benefits to be had from correct consistent nose breathing. The converse is also true, because mouth breathing bypasses important filtering stages in the breathing process and this method of breathing may lead to many health problems, not the least of which may include snoring and sleep apnea. Our lungs are full of tunnels that end in tiny air sacks called alveoli. This is where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. The oxygen then passes into your blood, which supplies the oxygenated blood to every part of your body.

Diaphragmatic Breathing – The In’s and Out’s

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs that separates the thoracic (chest) from the abdominal cavities. It is the principal muscle of respiration, though you may not be aware of it. When you inhale, through the nose your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward extending the abdominal area. This creates more space in your chest cavity allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity, providing a great massage for both upper and lower organs. All of us are born with the ingrained knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to common poor postural habits, results in shallower, less satisfying “chest breathing.”

Nasal breathing – as opposed to mouth breathing – increases circulation, blood oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, slows the breathing rate and improves overall lung volumes. image010 (52)The internal nose not only provides around 90% of the respiratory system air-conditioning requirement, but also recovers around 33% of exhaled heat and moisture. Your nose cleans the air you breathe. The air we breathe has all kinds of stuff in it – from oxygen and nitrogen to dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria, viruses, small bugs and countless other things. The nose helps clean image015 (17)that air. On the surface of the nasal tissues, particularly the turbinates, are cells with small hair-like appendages called cilia that trap much of the bad stuff. Once captured, the bad stuff sits in the mucous and is gradually pushed into the throat, where it is swallowed. Our stomachs tolerate bad stuff much better than our lungs. This is lessened by blowing your nose when it feels blocked, rather than waiting until it is swallowed. In your Lungs there are sacs called Alveoli. Blood vessels cover the alveolus that connect to a system of veins and arteries that move blood through your body. The oxygen then spreads into the blood vessels so that the heart can pump it to different parts of your body. The sense of smell is not only for pleasure; it is necessary for safety. We need our smell to detect smoke, spoiled food and toxic gases. People who have lost their sense of smell need to have alarms for these gases and they must be careful with what they eat. Our nose regulates the temperature. Just like our throat and lungs do not like dirty air, they do not like air that is too cold or too hot. The passing of the air through the nose allows the air to become more like the body temperature, which is better tolerated by the tissues. Warming cool air is more common than cooling warm air. That is because we spend more time in environments below body temperature than above it. A clear manifestation of the warming and humidifying effect is the runny nose we get in cold weather, which is related to condensation of the moisture in the nose. Smell plays a key role in taste. We have four primary tastes – bitter, sour, sweet and salty. All of the refinements in taste are in fact related to smell. That is why people feel that food is tasteless when their ability to smell is decreased.

Diaphragmatic breathing techniqueHow to get started

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Lie on your back on a flat surface or in bed, with your knees and head supported with pillows as shown in the diagram. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel the movement of your diaphragm as you breathe in and out. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your abdominal section moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible. Tighten your abdominal muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your upper chest must remain as still as possible. When you first learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, it may be easier for you to follow the instructions lying down, as shown above. As you gain more practice, you can try the diaphragmatic breathing technique while sitting in a chair. To perform this exercise while sitting in a chair: Sit comfortably, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head and neck relaxed. The rest of the breathing process is identical as when lying down. Note: You may notice an increased effort will be needed to use the diaphragm correctly. At first, you will probably get tired while doing this exercise. But keep at it, because with continued practice, diaphragmatic breathing will become easy and automatic. Correct Nose Breathing has a positive effect on every system in the body. Mouth breathing will have a negative effect.

How often should I practice this exercise?

At first, practice this exercise for a few minutes about 2 – 3 times per day. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing this exercise, and perhaps even increase the effort of the exercise by placing a book on your abdomen if lying down.

A change from an ingrained habit of mouth breathing to nose breathing is extremely difficult for many. Please do not give up too easily. In addition, it is understandable that the elderly often find mouth breathing easier for them. Even in their situation, I would encourage them to have patience. You may find children and grandchildren easier to convince before the mouth breathing becomes ingrained.

As for the COVID-19 Virus, allow me to share a thought on the assumption that you have read through the above information on the Respiratory system. During this time, nose breathing becomes even more important and relevant. Nose breathing can reduce dust, pollution, allergens, smoke, bacteria and viruses from entering the lungs. As usual, I welcome your views and comments on the above. Shoot straight from the hip. May you and yours keep safe and healthy.

 

 

About the Author:

Staying Healthy During Corona Crisis6.JPGLionel Phillips is a Doctor of Osteopathy (1975), an International Fitness & Health Instructor, Consultant and Lecturer. He has researched and designed ‘The Needs & Functions of the Human Body’ as an educational subject for inclusion in all School Curriculums World-Wide.

A past Federation Member and Israel Liaison Representative of IHRSA (International, Health & Racquet Sportsclub Association) and member of their worldwide “Panel of Experts”, Phillips is a recipient of the “Prime Ministers Award of Merit” (PM Menachem Begin).

Our mailing address is: global@globalhealth-education.com

 

 

 

 

While the mission of Lay of the Land (LotL) is to provide a wide and diverse perspective of affairs in Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world, the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by its various writers are not necessarily ones of the owners and management of LOTL but of the writers themselves.  LotL endeavours to the best of its ability to credit the use of all known photographs to the photographer and/or owner of such photographs

 

The Organ Courier

Without leaving airport terminals to avoid quarantine, Israeli volunteer organ courier travels the world saving lives

By David E. Kaplan

In every moment of darkness, it seems, there are countless moments of light. Time and again, individuals, communities and organizations have demonstrated that the direst situations tend to bring out the best in people. Literally illuminating this in the ‘Age of Corona’ is Omri Nahmias’ article in The Jerusalem Post (April 13) “The Israeli Who Never Leaves Ben-Gurion Airport”.  Well, not quite –  he does leave but mostly to other airports.

Of all the endless articles on Corona, Omri’s one resonated the most – I read it and then again three times!

While people the world over are rightly preoccupied with the health and wellbeing of themselves, a 47-year-old Israeli family man remains committed to the lives of people he does not even know. Mishel Zrian is a volunteer organ courier for awaiting recipients; whose lives are dependent on such organs arriving “on time”.

The Organ Courier1
Israeli Life Saver. Voluntary organ courier Mishel Zrian on a flight to the USA delivering bone marrow during Coronavirus pandemic (photo credit: Courtesy)

He has been volunteering for 20 years mostly transporting bone marrow to patients across the globe.

Corona now complicates the process and procedure.

When Mishel’s employer told him last month that he was about to be furloughed until the end of April because of countries’ policies of lockdown and isolation, Mishel thought about the lives at stake and decided to take his volunteering work to the next level and “do it full time.”

But with “full time” came immense complications, inconveniences and personal sacrifices like not seeing his wife and children.

Since that fateful decision, he has landed in Israel five times but never left his country’s airport in order to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine!

Explaining to local media, Mishel says he has an agreement with the Israel Airports Authority that he is permitted to stay at the airport lounge “until I need to get back to carry the next bone marrow delivery. Sometimes, I can land in Israel from New York at 5.00 p.m., and by 10.00pm be on a flight in the opposite direction.”

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Confronting Global Enemy. Israeli soldiers are asked upon induction to voluntarily donate bone marrow samples that could be transplanted to recipients anywhere in the world. (photo credit: courtesy Ezer Mizion)

 

This type of selfless travel during a global life-threatening pandemic is proving to be hugely challenging but does not deter the intrepid volunteer.

image005 - 2020-04-24T235143.471
Israeli “ARM”y. An army recruit has his arm out to donate bone marrow.

Something to chew on

One of the many challenges is finding the time to eat – something most folks take for granted.

For this organ courier during Corona, “It’s hard to find an open restaurant when you are traveling,” he explains. “If I’m at the airport and I see an open place, I will eat chicken at ten in the morning. Why?  Because I don’t know when the next time will be to eat.”

In the hotels, “the situation is odd as well,” he continues. “Rooms are not always clean because of different guidelines regarding staff work, and if you need a towel or shampoo, you need to go down to the reception and ask for it. I have been in hotels with no breakfast or even coffee.” It is not uncommon for Mishel, he says:

for me to travel 24 hours without eating!”

But the main challenge, he said, is getting insurance cover.

“I couldn’t find anyone who would allow me to take out an insurance policy for the US,” he said. “I am worried about the possibility that I will get sick; so I do my best to practice social distancing while traveling.”

Bracha Zisser, founder and director of Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Donor Registry and Collection Center, told the Post that before the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals around the world used to send a courier to pick up the bone marrow.

image004 (20)
Ezer Mizion is an Israeli health support organization offering a wide range of medical and social support services for Israel’s sick, disabled and elderly. One of Ezer Mizion’s most important services is its world’s largest Jewish Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

But things got complicated in the past few weeks. It is hard to deliver the bone marrow and to allow couriers to enter the country. So we are now working with Royale – a courier company with whom Mishel is volunteering and with El Al – that are helping us with no cost, in full volunteering,” she said. “They understand that it is about saving lives.”

Zisser revealed that in March 2020, Ezer Mizion was able to deliver 26 bone marrow donations:

– 14 to EU countries

– 10 to the US

–   1 to Argentina

–   1 to Panama.

Mishel says that despite all the challenges, he is determined to keep traveling because he knows that his work saves lives.

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Marvelous Milestone. Omer Babi was the 1 millionth potential stem cell donor in the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry.

The hardest part is to land in Israel without seeing my family. I have a wife and two children. Fortunately, they are supporting me.”

Mishel Zrian hails from the Israeli city of Petah Tikva, which aptly translates from the Hebrew: “Opening of Hope”.

Mishel does his city proud by living up to its name.