Israel Wings It

Israel Aerospace is flying high and is set to manufacture over 800 F35 wings by 2034.

By David E. Kaplan

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) is Israel’s  major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian usage.

Founded in 1953 under the initiative of the late State President and Nobel Peace Laurette, Shimon Peres – when Israel was under threat of annihilation by all its neighbours in the region –  IAI today, designs and builds civil aircraft, drones, fighter aircraft, missiles, avionics and space-based systems no longer exclusively for itself but also for export.

Renowned for its state-of-the-art electronics –  IAI’s products are in hot demand by foreign militaries.

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Dream Machine. The F-35 stealth fighter jet on the tarmac at Berlin Air Show. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

A case in point is the joint collaboration of  IAI and Lockheed Martin that this month marked the delivery of the 100th advanced combat aircraft  F-35 stealth fighter  wing delivered by IAI at a ceremony held at the company’s wing assembly line.

Established in November 2014, the wings manufacturing center of IAI’s aviation division has established a solid reputation in making wings for the F-16 and T-38. The centre is now expected to manufacture over 800 pairs of F35 wings by 2034 using state-of-the-art technology which includes a unique composite layer of materials called AFP (Automatic Fiber Placement). The 3mm. thick threads that eventually become one unit, give the wings the ability to evade radar detection.

On December 2018, IAI inaugurated an innovative line for production of F-35 wing skins, expanding the collaboration between the two companies.

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Israel Spreads Its Wings. The wing designed and manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries in collaboration with Lockheed Martin for the advanced combat aircraft F-35 stealth fighter.

Out Of This World

Israel Country Executive of Lockheed Martin, Joshua Shani, said that the delivery of the 100th wing signals “a significant milestone” for the F-35 programme. “We take this opportunity to mark the broad cooperation Lockheed Martin holds with the local industries as a whole and IAI in particular, who play a major role in the global F-35 programme. The F-35 is the leading 5th Generation fighter jet in the world, manufactured by the highest standards along the supply chain. We look forward to deepening the fruitful, strong cooperation of today and in future programmes, with both the Ministry of Defense and Israeli defense industries.”

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Shaking On The Future. Joshua (Shiki) Shani (left), country executive of Lockheed Martin Israel and Nimrod Sheffer, IAI President and CEO (Photo: IAI)

Global leader

Nimrod Sheffer, the president and CEO of IAI, said that “IAI’s collaboration with Lockheed Martin has major business and strategic importance for us. We regard it as a vote of confidence on behalf of Lockheed Martin and the US administration in IAI’s capabilities as a global leader. We are excited to deliver the 100th wing and believe our collaboration will expand even more in the future.”

Having invested multiple resources in the most advanced systems and technologies, IAI has established a production line characterized by the utmost of precision.

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Delivery On Time. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivered its 100th F-35 stealth fighter’s wing to Lockheed Martin’s wing assembly line and has announced that it would manufacture over 800 units by the end of 2034.

The production line, which will last around 20 years, is expected to generate revenues of more than $2.5 billion during the next 10-15 years

At the launch in December 2018, IAI vice-president Shlomi Karako said that “the opening of the production line constitutes a significant milestone in the realization of the company’s strategy for building advanced capabilities in the field of composite materials manufacturing technology. Thanks to this move, IAI will belong to a ‘limited club’ of companies with these manufacturing capabilities.”

I am reminded when interviewing Shimon Peres for Haaretz when he became State President in 2007, and him saying:

 “When in the 1950s Israel was mostly an economy based on agriculture and I pushed for industry,  people said, “What; you’re crazy, the country can’t even build bicycles!” Look who’s crazy; where are those people today and where is Israel.”

From the days when Israel failed to “build bicycles”, Israel today is a world leader in converting ideas into reality.

 

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Two of three new F-35 fighter jets land on an airstrip in the Israeli Air Force’s Nevatim base in southern Israel on June 24, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli Devices Revolutionize Breast Cancer Surgery

By Rolene Marks

Tatas, boobies, knockers, bazooms, tits, the twins, breasticles or whatever you like to call them, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A whole month has been dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer but this is something that we should be aware of everyday. Did you know that one in eight women will develop this and it is the most common type of non-skin cancer?

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One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Israeli scientists hope to improve the odds. (Photo by www.shutterstock.com)

Men are not immune to breast cancer either and reports of diagnoses are not uncommon. Early detection is imperative and the good news is that if diagnosed early enough it can be beaten!

Gents, you should also be doing the routine checks for lumps as well!

Although breast cancer seems to be more prevalent in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Northern Europe, Israel has taken a leading role in researching causes, diagnostics, and treatments – with groundbreaking results!

Let’s explore some of the ways that Israel is leading in this field.

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True Colours. Israeli Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (photo credit: ISRAEL HADARI)

MarginProbe

Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumour is removed. It can be quite a long (and stressful) process waiting for results. This device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.

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Dune Medical’s MarginProbe reduces amount of follow-up breast cancer surgery (Courtesy)

The MarginProbe device consists of a hand-held gadget that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument and a console. After the tumour is removed and while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a further signal – both visual and acoustic – is then reflected back, indicating either positive, i.e. there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.

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With MarginProbe, surgeons can assess the tissue in the operating room to give them greater confidence that they successfully removed all the cancer in the first lumpectomy surgery.

We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumour, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” General Manager of Israeli Operations, Gal Aharonowitz, told The Times of Israel.

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Chief Operation Officer and General Manager Israel, Gal Aharonowitz, leads R&D, manufacturing and worldwide logistic activities of Dune Medical Devices. An industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience in leading product development and engineering teams, Gal earned a BSc degree in mechanical engineering from Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

IceSense 3

The IceSense is a medical device that is used to freeze tumours. Made by IceCure, the device is already being used by US doctors to destroy benign lumps.

The cryoablation process takes five or ten minutes under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center. No recovery period or post-care is necessary and there is no scarring!

Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers embarked on a research project aimed at trying to block a cancer cell’s ability to change shape and move. In their research, they delivered microRNAs (small RNA molecules) to primary tumours in mice to halt the spread of cancer. Cancer cells spread by altering their structure in order to squeeze past other cells, enter blood vessels and travel to organs like lungs, the brain or others.

The researchers explored the mutations in a tumour to identify precisely which ones to target. The scientists then procured an RNA-based drug to control cell movement and created a safe nano-vehicle with which to deliver the microRNA to the tumour site.

U.S. Embassy Illuminated in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness
Global Issue. US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and his wife Tammy (right) stand before the USA Embassy building in Tel Aviv illuminated in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Of Mice And Men

Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their rodent “patients”, the researchers injected a hydrogel into primary tumor sites that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites. Two days after this treatment, the primary breast tumours were destroyed.

The mice were evaluated three weeks later using CT imaging, fluorescent labeling, biopsies and pathology. The researchers discovered that the mice that had been treated with two different microRNAs had very few or no metastatic sites, whereas the control group — injected with randomly scrambled RNAs — exhibited a fatal proliferation of metastatic sites.

If it could be successful in mice, imagine how it could be adapted to humans!

These are just a snapshot of the many ways that Israel is contributing in the fight against Breast Cancer.

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Code Pink. Israeli jet fighter painted pink to bring attention to the ‘battle’ against breast cancer.

So, wear your pink ribbon with pride this month and make sure that whatever you decide to call them, you check your breasts regularly.

 

 

South Africa Israel Academic Outreach

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship

By Benji Shulman and Terri Levin

South African campuses face an organised campaign of boycotts. It is time to push back by showing the beneficial aspects of education and knowledge sharing between two world-renowned universities. It is about building bridges through engagement and academic collaboration.

Two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, the phenomenal opportunity to attend an invaluable 3-month research scholarship at their esteemed institution in Israel. This once in a lifetime scholarship will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.

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Enriching Next Generation. University Of Cape Town, South Africa where two students have been offered a 3-month research scholarship at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences and over the years, its researchers have been the recipients 6 Nobel Prizes, as well as 3 Turing Awards.

The Weizmann Institute also enjoys an enriching history with South Africa and UCT starting with Israel’s first state President Chaim Weizmann, of whom the Weizmann Institute is named after. Weizmann made an important visit to South Africa in the 1932, where he met with the leadership of the various Jewish communities across the country.

Israel’s finest diplomat, Abba Eban – the esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to the UN and Vice President of the UN General Assembly  and who was President of the Weizmann Institute of Science  from 1959 to1966, was born in Cape Town on the 2 February 1915 to Lithuanian parents.

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Creative Campus. Searching for answers on a campus parading exquisite beauty.

More recently and exemplifying an enriching academic nexus between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Johannesburg born Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz but who obtained his BSc. in Electrical Engineering from UCT, was awarded in 2016 the Israel Prize for ‘Chemistry and Physics’ with Prof. Meir Lahav.  Israel’s most prestigious award was awarded to Prof. Leiserowitz for his work in the field of ‘Crystallization” that tries to answer questions like:

How and why do artery-blocking chunks of cholesterol form?”

What happens at the very first stage of the transition from water to ice?”

What can be done to prevent the formation of gallstones or the crystals in the joints that cause pain in gout?”

Finding solutions to problems is what science is about, and these are the challenges of our universities and future generations of students.

There is much that can be gained by strengthening the academic relationship with South Africa’s premier university UCT and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science which is constantly in the vanguard of scientific breakthroughs that have resulted in a wide range of patented technologies that make the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

More specifically with South Africa that needs to confront the challenges in both water management, entrepreneurship, health and improved methods of agriculture for a large rural population, the Weizmann Institute is well positioned to serve South Africa’s specific needs.

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Confronting The Future. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multi-disciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute’s research efforts include searching for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Established in 1934, 14 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Weizmann Institute has been in the forefront of research to optimise its land mass, most of which is dry and much of it desert. The role it has played in increasing crop yields with the latest in scientific methods and of contributing to the greening of its desert is exemplary.

South Africa can benefit from its experience and expertise.

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Walk In The Park. Away from the lecture halls and laboratories, the Weizmann Institute’s parkland offers areas to appreciate as well as contemplate the challenges of nature.

Education, dialogue and the strengthening of ties between Israel and South Africa are at the epicentre of the South Africa Friends of Israel (SAFI) mandate, which gels perfectly in facilitating the partnership between these two outstanding universities. A flagship initiative of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), SAFI engages with other faiths, cultural and ethnic groups in the interests of building a broader grass roots support base for Israel in South Africa.

So important is this initiative being valued that the Weizmann Institute has pledged to match our contribution, if we raise the required amount of funds. So, we are appealing to YOU, for support, which will enable and empower these two deserving students, thereby helping UCT and South Africa in the field of science research.

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Under The Dome. Brilliant sunlight combined with brilliant ideas prevail in this EcoSphere in the Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute which is designed to raise the ecological consciousness of the public. The dome contains land and water plants, fish and algae and the energy for all the natural processes comes from the sunlight streaming through the panes of the dome.

By pledging R50 or more, you are supporting the SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship. DONATE HERE and you can save Academic Freedom

Please include as a reference: “your name” and “SAVEUCT” 

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship is an independent initiative that aims to support academic collaboration in Israel and South Africa. The convening committee has academics from both countries and members of the community. All monies collected are to be spent directly on the beneficiaries.

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Man With A Mission. Visionary Dr. Chaim Weizmann, an organic chemist, founder and president of the Weizmann Institute, later became the first President of the State of Israel.

As Dr. Chaim Weizmann so astutely noted:

Miracles sometimes occur, but one has to work terribly hard for them.”

Let us all work “harder” to bring this exciting collaborative project to fruition for Israel and South Africa.

 

 

 

 

headshot1 (1).jpgBenji Shulman, Executive Director  South Africa Israel Forum, is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a master’s degree in Geography and has worked in a range of fields in the Jewish community including education, advocacy, environment and outreach. He loves radio and has a hosted numerous shows on 101.9 ChaiFm in the last decade.

 

Terri Levin

Terri Levin, Media Liaison Officer of the South African Zionist Federation

 

 

Cow’working to Co-working

Digital Generation makes its MOO’ve to kibbutz

By David. E. Kaplan

I can just hear my late father reverting to Yiddish with “Voz iz dos?” on hearing about “co-working”. As a steel industrialist he knew all about a factory floor.

The actual use of the word “co-working” in relation to a shared office environment was first coined by Brad Neuberg in 2005. He was an intrepid entrepreneur with big dreams who created the first co-working space in San Francisco.

It was called the “San Francisco Co-working Space” and was open only two days a week – Mondays and Tuesdays – but sat empty for the first month as nobody had ever heard of a “co-working space” before.

Today, “Co-working Spaces” are the new normal with some 2.2 million people sharing office spaces worldwide.  Co-working spaces have grown at an astounding rate of 200% over the past five years, with the number of co-working members estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2022 thanks to the huge increase in jobs offering remote working.

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Bring To The Table. A far cry from downtown New York, London, Sydney or Johannesburg but the work at this rustic table is no less – if not more – productive. Courtesy of Gather

 

Freelancers, contractors and younger companies are choosing co-working spaces over home offices and coffee shops for a range of reasons, including the productive atmosphere, affordable rates, excellent software and good networking opportunities.

Israelis love it and it’s available – especially in the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv – all across the city.

Joining this trend but with the added gain  of bringing VALUES  to “a generation of instant gratification” is one of the founding enterprising institutions of the state  – the KIBBUTZ.

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Point Of View. Situated on a beautiful mountaintop in the Western Galilee and boasting breathtaking views, Kibbutz Tuval was established in 1981 by ideological groups of young people from South Africa, Britain and Israel.

Field Of Dreams

It should come as little surprise.  Ideologically and conceptually there are similarities between the kibbutz – a co-operative Israeli farming community – and co-working in so far as shared working space in a collective and congenial atmosphere.

Both aspire to the common goal of increased productivity.

The Kibbutz was traditionally based on agriculture and although many of them have in recent years privatized and branched out to include industrial and high-tech enterprises, they still maintain an enviable community atmosphere hardly found elsewhere.

It is little wonder that Israel’s city dwellers flock to kibbutzim guest houses for weekend retreats and increasingly, young families from urban environments are taking advantage of kibbutzim that have opened up their land for private dwellings. These young couples with kids are opting to live in the countryside and take advantage of the kibbutz’s excellent communal services.

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Office Break. Gather participants can spend their lunch hour enjoying the natural surroundings of a kibbutz. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Come Gather ’round

Enter Gather – a new entrepreneurial project that aims to attract “remote workers” to Israel’s kibbutz communities.

A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. A company might have a team that is a mix both those that work on and off site.

In an interview with NoCamels.com,  a news website focusing on Israeli innovation in technology, 30-year-old entrepreneur Omer Har-Shai, co-founder of Gather explains that while “the world has changed,” there’s a trend today “to be part of a community, to belong, and to find meaning,” and that “the idea behind the kibbutz is all the more relevant again.”

Har-Shai came up with the idea to tap into the unique potential of Israel’s kibbutz structure– with its onsite accommodation, mess hall, lush surroundings, community atmosphere, and WiFi – and create a connection with today’s digital generation.

Gather has put out a call for professionals from across the globe to come and stay, work remotely, and experience kibbutz life for a one-month period.

“Over 100 people – graphic designers, writers, freelancers, programmers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and even full-time employees – have written to us so far,” says Har-Shai. “They are from all over the world: Canada, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, different European countries.”

As a former South African, whose first enriching experience of Israel in the early 1970s was volunteering on a kibbutz – inspired by the ideology of the labour Zionist youth movement  ‘Habonim’ –  I look with keen interests if  professionals in South Africans will  be attracted to the project.

While once kibbutz communities across Israel attracted tens of thousands of volunteers from abroad, today only a trickle of 20-somethings still come to volunteer and experience the uniquely Israeli communal living style.

Har-Shai says he hopes Gather will revive that legendary kibbutz experience of the 1970s with the adaptations catering to the digital millennial generation.

While still enticed to the uniquely communal agricultural experience of a kibbutz, Har-Shai hopes that Gather will attract new participants “toting laptops and drones instead of shovels and hoes.”

Back To Basics

“The kibbutz experience is still a brand name,” says Har-Shai. “Kibbutzim have gone through economic and social transformations during the past four decades, but the unique atmosphere, scenic surroundings, and communal facilities still exist today. So, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel, just make the most out of these wonderful communities that already exist.”

There are just over 270 kibbutzim peppered around Israel. In December 2019, Gather will launch its first cohort of up to 25 international professionals in a month-long programme on Kibbutz Kfar Blum, in the Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley.

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Dream Office. Gather participants could work at Bluma Café on the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Blum. Photo by Almog Gurevich

This will be followed a month later when a second group of some 25 participants will move into guesthouse accommodations at Kibbutz Tuval, in the Galilee on a mountaintop overlooking the town of Karmiel.

That these two kibbutzim were selected resonates with the writer as both attracted over the years, members of the Habonim youth movement from South Africa. They were a hardy and ideologically passionate lot like the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban) who arrived in Palestine from South Africa in the mid-1940s as a law student and trained nurse. Rona had been a member of Habonim in Durban, and “by the time I was 15,” she told the writer in 2005 on the 75th anniversary of Habonim South Africa celebrated on Kibbutz Yizreel, “I was determined to make Aliyah and bear a child in the Land of Israel whose mother tongue would be Hebrew.”

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Muddy Waters. The mud on Kibbutz Kfar Blum which Habonim member Rona Moss-Morris from Durban, South Africa describes on arriving in 1946.

Making her way to Kibbutz Kfar Blum that had been established in 1943  by her Habonim comrades, Rona recalled how “we rode in the back of a lorry carrying rocks for the approach road. I was lucky I came with my gumboots because the place was underwater, and the mud came to our knees. There were only a few buildings on the kibbutz and two families had to share a room.”

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Take The Plunge. Sweating at your computer, feel free to dive in at the pool at Kfar Blum.

Asking how she felt about living in these conditions, Rona answered with a shrug:

We came to build a country. No one promised us anything. We shared everything. Material things just didn’t mean anything to us then.”

Today it’s a different world where “material things” are paramount but nevertheless, the atmospherics of that bygone lifestyle and its concomitant values still have appeal and are at the core of today’s kibbutz revival.

“People want to travel, see new cultures, but they don’t necessarily want to quit their jobs and leave everything behind,” says Har-Shai. “Today, it is very easy to keep your job and see other places. There are digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Even people who don’t usually work remotely can ask for a month to try working from another place.”

While the Gather project is geared to the 25-35 age group, “interest has also come from GAP year college-age students and people in their 50s,” says Har-Shai. “It’s not about age or being from a specific country. We’re looking for people who are open-minded and curious, people who are looking for this kind of experience.”

Here’s The Deal

It’s the vibe but without the socialism. While foreigners used to volunteer in return for accommodation and board, with Gather, participants pay a fee that covers accommodation and shared office space; daily lunch in the kibbutz Hadar Ochel (Dining room); access to kibbutz facilities, often including a swimming pool or tennis courts. Organised activities may include hiking, yoga, lectures and weekend trips to places including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Har-Shai reminds that participants in Gather’s kibbutz experience are not on vacation but to pursue their work with increased vigor in a highly motivated milieu. “They can sublet their apartments and come live in this community for a month. I think people will be more productive on the kibbutz. There is no traffic, no errands, you live on-site and walk three minutes to the office.”

In support of the  assertion of “being more productive”, studies out of North America and Europe have revealed that remote work improves productivity.

Over and above impressive levels of productivity of people who work from home, a recent two-year study by Stanford University concluded that people who worked remotely were less likely to leave the company for other employment. The study found there was an overall 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers.

Remote.co – a resource for companies – reports that the number of companies with a remote workforce is growing all the time. In 2019, according to Remote.co, 66% of companies allow remote work and 16% are fully remote.

Har-Shai himself, is proudly, “office-less”.

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Rush Hour. Your office is a 3 minute scenic walk away on Kibbutz Tuval.

 Digital Nomads

So, how did this idea dawn upon Har-Shai?

Usually working out of a café in Tel Aviv, it was after working in Nitzana, a remote desert community  and youth educational village  in southern Israel near the Egyptian border, that “I decided to create a company that would help others work remotely and enjoy a truly Israeli experience at the same time.”

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Shared Space. Co-working offices in Tel Aviv.

He found the combination of doing physical work on the settlement in the morning “and then on my laptop in the afternoon proved incredibly inspirational and productive.”

He believes that this environment increases productivity because participants will be living “a more balanced life, perhaps starting their day by working in the fields a few hours and eating breakfast in the main mess hall,” before pursuing their professional work.

Searching for the right kibbutzim to meet the needs of remote workers’ needs and finetuning it to a truly revived kibbutz experience for foreign professionals took two years.

Har-shai, who has experience in marketing, sales and business development, shopped around his proposal to 40 kibbutzim across Israel.

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Living The Dream. Gather co-founder Omer Har-shai on Kibbutz Tuval. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Almost all were open to the idea, however, “the two we’ve partnered with to start are both green and beautiful, but different from one another. Kibbutz Tuval is remote and quiet, while Kibbutz Kfar Blum is more traditional with a supermarket and a pub.”

Kfar Blum’s location near the Jordan River at the foot of Mount Hermon has made it a center for outdoor recreational activities including walkinghikingkayakingrafting and bird watching.

As well as the amazing natural landscape that surrounds kibbutz Tuval, heaving with hiking trails, wildlife, and unlimited outdoor pursuits, it is well located for exploring the Western and Upper Galilee regions, within 40 minutes’ drive of Akko, Safed, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, as well as countless historic and religious sites.

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Stay Cool. Part of the activities for Gather participants is kayaking on the Jordan River.

“We’ll help each person find the kibbutz that is right for them,” says Har-Shai.

A third Gather location is planned in the Arava, the northeast strip of the Negev desert in the south of the country.

Har-Shai says, “We’re a private startup with no political agenda. I think that when people are living here for a month, they will see the real Israel. A diverse country, with different people; a beautiful country. It’s an interesting country. We’re offering a new approach for the age of Wi-Fi and remote work – living and volunteering on a kibbutz while keeping your day job.”

And while that “day job” feeds our addiction of our beloved technical appliances of computer and cellphone, seeing a tractor routinely pass by on the way to the fields is an enrichening reminder on the core earthy values of life.

 

 

*​Should you want to spend a month with a group of inspiring professionals from around the world, as you live and work remotely on a beautiful Kibbutz in Israel visit https://www.gatheround.co/ to learn more.

 

Israel Is Over The Moon

about and above Africa

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

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

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

 

The Now Generation

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

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

Now everything is instant – emphasis on the – NOW!

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

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

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

The more we connect, the better our world.

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

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

 

 

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

Band Together

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

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

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

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

Sunny Days Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Israel Connection

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

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

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

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

Evolution On A Treadmill

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

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

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

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

“We Are The World”

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

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

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

 

 

 

Meeting Of Minds

Aiming on future cooperation following SA academics visiting Israel.

By Benji Shulman

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

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Oasis Of Excellence. Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUJI-Innovate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not all work and no play

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Ideas to Ventures

 

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

 

 

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

Good Vibrations

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

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Touch’ Of Genius

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s The Boss?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Am Yisrael High

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

By Rolene Marks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cannabis can do’s!

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

Am Yisrael high?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel’s “Iron Dome” For Mosquitoes

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

By David E. Kaplan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is like a computer game  but for real!

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

Action Stations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever it takes, the battle is on.

Cleansing Experience

Two Young Israeli engineers introduce clean water to Ugandan community

By David E. Kaplan

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The reality of what they achieved struck home.

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

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

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

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

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

We Shall Return

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

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

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

She explained:

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

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

 

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