By Michael Ordman

In the 30th Mar 21 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:


Huge drop in coronavirus reproduction. Israel’s “R” factor – the average number of people that one person infects with the SARS-Cov-2 virus – has fallen to just over 0.5 and less than 1% of tests are returning positive. Israel has no “red” (high infection rate) cities for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

IDF has herd immunity. (TY WIN) Israel’s Defense Force was the first army in the world to vaccinate over 80% of its personnel. The whole operation was conducted with military precision in just 10 weeks without wasting a single vial. Currently, no IDF member has died from Covid-19 and only one had a serious infection.

It could have been much worse. Excluding the Negev desert, Israel’s population density is by far the highest in the OECD – a key factor for high Covid-19 mortality rates. But Israeli fatalities were lower than most of the 37 OECD countries. Only South Korea had both less deaths per million and a higher total population density.

The human-cloud interface. Israel’s X-trodes has developed a wireless sensor patch combined with data analysis algorithms that a patient wears on their body. It remotely measures and analyzes the health of the brain, eyes, muscles, or heart during sleep or everyday tasks. The technology was developed at Tel Aviv University.,7340,L-3896277,00.html

Developing an oral Covid-19 vaccine. Israel’s Oramed (reported here previously) has launched Oravax – a joint venture with India’s Premas Biotech to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is administered orally (not injected) and targets 3 virus proteins, so should counter any mutations. Human trials expected soon.

Treating heart & kidney patients remotely. The IPUD (Implantable Peritoneal Ultrafiltration Device) from Israel’s Paragate Medical (reported here previously) removes excess fluid from patients coping with chronic heart and kidney failure at home. Paragate is a portfolio company of Nazareth’s NGT3. Human trials start soon.

Saving lives from snakebites. (TY Israel21c) Some 1.8 million people are bitten by snakes each year – about 94,000 fatally. An international research team including Tel Aviv University’s Eyal Goldstein have designed a model to determine (and so avoid) the probability of a snakebite at specific places, months, and times of day.

Training the brain to see. Israel’s Revitalvision has developed vision training software to improve eyesight in adult amblyopia, eye diseases and vision impairments. The FDA-approved therapy uses Gabor patches with a patented stimulation technique to stimulate the visual cortex and create new neural connections.

Treating diabetics & women in Dubai. (TY Hazel) Doctors from Israel’s Sheba Medical Centre are flying out to Dubai to treat an initial 350 diabetes patients in the UAE army, police, and firefighting services. Sheba is also sending physicians to train medical staff at Medcare Women & Children Hospital in Dubai.

Saved twice by the same medic. When United Hatzalah volunteer medic Alan Malka saved a 30-year-old man who suffered a heart attack in Petah Tikva, he recognized that he saved the same man two months previously. Resuscitation was much quicker this time, and he now should get treatment to prevent a further incident.


Relatively happy. (TY WIN) Israel climbed two spots to 12th in the 2021 World Happiness Report which measured GDP, life-expectancy and opinions in 149 countries. Citizens of 100 countries were surveyed on social support, freedom of life choices, society corruption and generosity. Israel ranked 11th in that survey.

World Water Day. (TY JNF-USA & ILTV) To mark World Water Day, this great video summarizes the work of JNF USA in helping Israel conserve its water. The JNF supports hydroponic farms, wastewater recycling and helped fund Israel’s largest artificial lake that has turned Beersheva in the Negev desert into a water city.

Moshav in Vietnam. (TY Hazel) Four young Vietnamese men have started an organic farm in Khanh Hoa province after training in Israel. It is based on the Israeli Moshav communal farm system. It grows coconuts, pomelos, guavas, grapes, jackfruits, mangos, and herbal medicine plants, as well as raising chickens and sheep.

Most resilient Middle East country. (TY JNS) The Institute of Economics, Society and Peace in the Middle East Studies ranked Israel top of its resilience list of 33 Middle East countries. Military strength was excluded but Israel scored high in economy, social, gender equality, global openness, plus ethnic and religious variance.

Leaders of Tomorrow. (TY UWI & I24 News) Discussion on I24 News about the first Abraham Accords Virtual Social Hackathon (reported here 14th Mar). The 3-day Hackathon began on 23rd Mar.

“Nobel Prize” for Math again. For the second year in a row (see here for last year) an Israeli has won a share of the Norwegian Academy of Science’s Abel Prize – the math equivalent of a Nobel Prize. Israel’s Avi Wigderson won the 2021 prize for contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics.


Satellite orbit launch closes the circle. Professor Pini Gurfil of Israel’s Technion Institute is the mastermind of the project to launch 3 nano satellites into orbit from Kazakhstan. Ironically, Kazakhstan is where USSR dictator Stalin had exiled Prof. Gurfil’s father and grandparents to, just because they were Jewish.

3D printed communications in space. The first 3D printed integrated radiofrequency (RF) circuit from Israel’s Nano Dimension has been sent to the International Space Station (ISS) for space effects studies. The circuit will be used to transmit data to and from the ISS, to assess if such components can withstand the rigors of space.

30-second baggage disinfection. The AirFort machines from Israel’s WarpUV use a 3D array of UV lights to disinfect travel bags and packages. They will help stop the spread of bacteria, spores and the viruses that cause, seasonal influenza, Covid-19, and viruses yet to come. WarpUV plans to start delivering AirForts this year.

Turn your smartphone into a 3D studio. Israel’s TetaVi (reported here previously) is developing a system to transform a regular smartphone into a portable broadcast-quality video studio. It will enable users to create 3D holograms of themselves and project themselves into a video game, on a concert stage or anywhere they want.

A new Industrial Revolution. The flagship product, DataMind AI from Israel’s Razor Labs transforms heavy industrial machinery into smart machines. The manufacturing process is transferred to the cloud, integrating with the machine’s sensors remotely, reducing resources and the CO2 footprint.

Generating simulations. Israel’s Datagen Technologies develops visual simulations and recreations of the real world. It allows machine learning models to be trained more efficiently and at a far greater scale. It eliminates current bottlenecks of relying on manually collected real-world imagery.,7340,L-3899272,00.html

Sporting success is all in the mind. Israel’s iBrainTech (reported here previously) was runner up in the Israeli round of the Startup World Cup 2021. A sports player uses a brain sensory cap to control a screen avatar just with their mind. Training the brain improves co-ordination etc. and results in better performances on the field.

Solving sustainability challenges. (TY JNS) Sapir Academic College and the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council hosted ECO-thon to help companies reduce their environmental impact, while helping the population of the western Negev. ZutaCore won the competition section with its “energy from computer cooling” solution.

Israel’s hi-tech election. (TY JNS) Israel employed several hi-tech innovations for the 2021 elections. They included “Vote & Go” polling stations with taxi transport for coronavirus patients and quarantined citizens. Incoming air passengers could vote at Ben Gurion airport and drones redirected voters stuck in traffic jams.

Google’s Israeli microchip development center. (TY JNS) Google is expanding in Israel by establishing an Israeli team to develop microprocessors for computer servers. These will comprise Systems on Chip (SoC), where multiple functions sit on the same chip, or on multiple chips instead of the traditional motherboard.

Next-gen semiconductors. Israel’s Teramount has developed the Photonic-Plug, for connecting optics to silicon. Silicon-photonics is the process that sees ‘speed-of-light data transfer’ at low power consumption. Teramount’s breakthrough will ease bandwidth challenges from 5G rollout, sensors, and mobility systems.,7340,L-3899311,00.html


Economy improves. Israel’s Composite State of the Economy Index for February increased by 0.4 percent, due to the easing of restrictions in the third lockdown. Positive factors were more job vacancies, services revenues, building starts and retail trade revenues.  A survey also showed increased optimism amongst business leaders.

Didn’t they do well. The Bank of Israel grew its reserves of foreign currency deposits by some $47.3 billion in 2020. It bought foreign currency to keep Israel’s shekel from soaring in value, which damages Israeli exports. The Bank invested these reserves and, despite low interest rates, made 4% profit – its highest in 5 years.

Look who is flying to Israel. Passengers with travel exceptions can travel to Israel using several airlines. They include El Al, Israir, United, Delta, Lufthansa, Swiss, Ethiopian, Wizzair, Air Canada, Air France, Belavia, Ryanair, Austrian, Turkish, AirMoldovia, Aegean, Europa, Pegasus, Easyjet, Ukraine and FlyDubai.

A socially aware cell phone company. Israeli cell phone company Partner and the 8200 Impact accelerator have partnered to solve social problems of equality, empathy, inclusivity, and doing good to help emerge from the financial crisis. Their aim is to support builders of solutions to social problems using technology.,7340,L-3899652,00.html

Twitter acquires Reshuffle. Israeli startup Reshuffle, which develops an integration platform for developers, has been acquired by Twitter to help build its new Twitter API. Reshuffle has built an integration platform that lets developers easily build workflows and connect systems using any API.,7340,L-3901231,00.html

Fyber exits for $600 million. Digital Turbine, Inc. is set to acquire Israeli-founded Fyber N.V. for $600 million. Fyber says its platform helps app developers monetize their products and optimize profitability through quality advertising, with its technology infrastructure reaching more than one billion monthly active users.

Latest Unicorns. Israel’s Yotpo (see here) has just raised $230 million to give it a market valuation of $1.4 billion. Simultaneously, Israel’s Orca Security (see here) raised $210 million for a $1.2 billion valuation.,7340,L-3901012,00.html

Fast companies. Israel’s Surgical TheaterTheator TytoCare made Fast Company’s 2021 world list of most innovative companies. Beewise was the most innovative company in Europe, Middle East & North Africa with Quantum Machines 4th. Identiq (2nd) and PerimeterX (7th) were top innovative security companies.

Investment in Israeli startups: Yotpo raised $230 millionOrca Security raised $210 millionIncredibuild raised $140 millionVeev raised $100 millionStarkWare raised $75 millionAxis Security raised $50 millionSCADAFence raised $12 millionUtilis raised $6 million;


Virtual tours of Israel. For those currently unable to physically visit Israel, Israel is Beautiful offers instant access to original and informative virtual tiyulim (tours) in Israel.

Laughter and Music in Ra’anana. Celebrate spring and freedom with comedy and song. One of Israel’s top stand-up comedians, Yohay Sponder performs live at Center Stage in English on 1st & 17th April. Also, Evan Kent’s Musical “Shards, Putting the Pieces Together” on 21st April.  Plus, “On Cue” Interviews on Zoom.

CBS to remake Shtisel. CBS Studios says that it is developing an American adaptation of the popular Netflix-distributed Israeli drama “Shtisel.”  It is described as a modern take on “Romeo and Juliet” and will be a TV directing debut for Oscar-winner Kenneth Lonergan. Fremantle is the co-studio.

Israel to host world flag football championship. Israel will host the Flag Football World Championships in Jerusalem from Dec. 6-8, 2021. More than 40 teams from up to 30 countries will compete for the world title that was postponed in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic.  Jerusalem hosted the 2019 European Championships.

Nigerian female basketball star’s Israel tours. (TY UWI) Nigerian international basketball player Rosalyn Gold-Onwude has a Russian Jewish mother and a Nigerian father. She toured Israel with Birthright and then as a staff member on her sister’s tour. Rosalyn loved Israel and spent Shabbat with her mother’s Jerusalem family.

Two gold medals and more. Israeli gymnast Linoy Ashram won the all-around gold medal in the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria. She then won a second gold medal in the ball event a day later. To round off the tournament, Linoy won a bronze medal in the hoop event.


Unleavening the playing field. (TY UWI & JNS) Two Israeli matzah world records. 200 residents in the city of Modi’in built a 5.4-meter tower of 950 matzahs and chocolate spread (recycled into chocolate balls). Then the Matzot Aviv factory in Bnei Brak baked the world’s largest single matzah, some 6 meters by 1.06 meters.

One of the safest places in the world. Every month. Bloomberg calculates the best places to be during the pandemic based on a series of statistics. In time for the Passover festival, Israel became the first new entrant into the top five since the ranking began in November.

All who are hungry come and eat. This Passover, even more than previous years, Charity Colel Chabad is fulfilling the mission to feed and clothe Israel’s poorest citizens – Jews, Arabs, Druze, and Christians alike. Its dozens of programs include Pantry Packers, 23 soup kitchens, lunch-bags for kids and Passover Seder-in-a-Box.

A glimpse of Passover in the Holy Land. (TY UWI & I24 News) In Israel, the Passover holiday is particularly special as practically the entire country celebrates. And (TY Sharon) Jerusalem came back to life, just in time for Passover.  Hopefully, it will be “Next Year in Jerusalem” for many more visitors and new immigrants.

March 31, 2021 | 2 Comments »

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  1. @Edgar G:All thanks to one man’s advanced music degree.

    On World Water Day a JNF video shows desert city Beersheva is now a water city.

    Leonard Bernstein in Beersheba, Israel, November 20, 1948
    by Susan Gould

    Leonard Bernstein made musical history over and over throughout his lifetime, but only once did he also indirectly bring about unanticipated military history, when a concert of his put fear of a country’s army into the armed forces of its enemy.

    Among his many enthusiasms, even obsessions, the State of Israel and the Israel Philharmonic were right up there with music, peace, justice, human rights and love for all mankind – as well as being part and parcel of those central, undying passions. From 1947, for almost every year of his life, Bernstein donated his services to the orchestra, both in Israel and on tour, helping to mold it into a truly outstanding ensemble.

    Probably no concert by Bernstein and the Israel Philharmonic, or by anyone else, for that matter, had the extraordinary impact of the one on November 20, 1948, in the midst of the tiny new state’s War of Independence, when just about the entire Arab world was attacking.

    Back in April, 1947, within two days of his first arrival in what was then still Palestine, Bernstein had already felt a profound sense of having come at a crucial juncture in the history of the Jewish people. He was deeply affected by the Jews of Palestine and their longing – and determination – to have the independent Jewish state promised them by the British thirty years before in the Balfour Declaration. He wrote to Serge Koussevitzky: “There is a strength and devotion in these people that is formidable. They will never let the land be taken from them; they will all die first. And the country is beautiful beyond description.”

    In October 1948, a month after he returned, he wrote again to his beloved mentor: “How to begin? Which of all the glorious facts, faces, actions, ideals, beauties of scenery, nobilities of purpose shall I report? I am simply overcome with this land and its people.” In a postscript, he said: “I feel that I shall spend more and more time here each year. It makes running around the cities of America seem so unimportant – as if I am not really needed there, while I am really needed here!” Of the triumphant concerts, and wildly enthusiastic audiences, who all but worshipped him as a musical messiah, both as pianist and conductor, he described “the greatest being special concerts for soldiers. Never could you imagine so intelligent and cultured and music-loving an army!”

    On November 19, the UN ordered Israel to withdraw its troops from the strategically situated Negev-desert town of Beersheba, which had been captured by the army in October as one of many military steps in the new state’s struggle to survive, ongoing since its official establishment in May.

    The Beersheba troops defied the UN and stayed put. The very next day, they faced an unexpected invasion: thirty-five members of the Israel Philharmonic, led (across the desert, Moses-like, as well as musically), by Leonard Bernstein, arrived from Jerusalem by armored bus. Bernstein, as “musical adviser” of what had been the Palestine Symphony Orchestra when he conducted it the year before, had been touring the war-ravaged country with the ensemble for two months, performing for long-time citizens, new settlers and soldiers alike, a grueling schedule of forty concerts in sixty days. It was not unusual to experience nearby artillery fire mid-concert, and at one performance at Rehovoth, he was called offstage mid-Beethoven piano concerto and told of a possible air raid. According to the Palestine Post, “he returned to the piano as if nothing had happened.” The outwardly unflappable Bernstein said: “I never played such an Adagio. I thought it was my swan song.”

    Despite hope and undaunted perseverance, the country was the scene of great suffering, which Bernstein also observed, and in the course of Israel’s fight for independence, some six thousand Jews died and some twenty thousand were wounded. So it was only natural and logical for him to request orchestral volunteers for another concert for the troops – those defiantly dug-in at Beersheba.

    There in the desert, an archeological dig served as the concert venue, its high walls creating a three-sided amphitheater, and a makeshift stage was constructed. As reported by the South African writer Colin Legum: “The well of the amphitheater is alive with chattering soldiers – men and women of the front-line army, Jews from Palestine and the British Commonwealth and U.S., Morocco, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, the Balkans, the Baltic, even one from Lapland.” Local residents arrived, and some wounded soldiers were transported by ambulance from the hospital nearby. At 3:30 PM, the concert began. Bernstein played three concerti in a row, not only a bonanza for his listeners, but also a first for him: Mozart’s K. 450 in B flat, Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, a most extraordinary and ambitious encore! A violinist supported Bernstein’s chair when it began slipping along the precarious platform.

    Estimates of the audience-size ranged from one to five thousand, but in any case, when Egyptian planes reported sighting troops massing in large numbers in Beersheba, Egypt withdrew its troops from a position menacing Jerusalem in order to re-deploy them for what seemed an imminent Israeli attack in the Negev. Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who would become the President of Israel, explained the Egyptian reaction: “Who would take time in war to listen to a Mozart concerto?”

    Fast-forward to 1969, not far from the site of that historic concert, when the University of the Negev was founded, inspired by David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, whose vision it was to promote development of the Negev desert. His statement became the university’s motto: “Israel’s capacity for science and research will be tested in the Negev” and the university was renamed Ben-Gurion University of the Negev upon his death in November 1973. The university, which is public, has an enrollment of 17,400 as of 2008, with faculties in Natural, Engineering and Health Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences; Management and Desert Research. It also offers several English-language programs including a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies; International Health (in collaboration with New York’s Columbia University); and BA and MA courses in the Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics.