VERY GOOD NEWS ISRAEL -from dark to light

By Michael Ordman, VGNI

In Israel, we’re slowly seeing the country emerge from one of the darkest times since the Holocaust. Evacuees are returning to their homes in the South as the threat from terrorists in Gaza is being eliminated. The transformation from darkness to light is reflected in much of last week’s news.

The dark days of displaced Israeli families have been made a little brighter thanks to donations and kind hosts. A wounded Fauda TV star has been able to see the light of day after being discharged from hospital.  A Hamas terrorist emerging from a dark tunnel shaft with a bomb was seen just in time. And from the dark despair after seeing Hamas murder his wife, a brave, stateless Bedouin and his nine children can have a brighter future as permanent residents of Israel.

The usual weekly Israeli medical breakthroughs give brighter prospects for ALS and PTSD sufferers, heart patients, and pregnant mothers in Brazil. The winter sun is shining on Israeli agricultural innovations with climate-resistant seeds, plant propagation breakthroughs, and sun-dried tomatoes on the vine. Meanwhile, Israeli technology is revolutionizing the taking of photos in poor light.

Finally, Israel celebrated some shining sporting results; a 2,000-year-old unique stone box, found near the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem, is now seeing the light of day; and an Israeli fashion designer played the Israeli National anthem Hatikvah in New York, to accompany the showing of his Autumn collection, aptly entitled “Illumination of Hope”.  Let’s hope that the rest of the world also “sees the light”.

In the 25th Feb 24 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:

 

 

 

 

POSITIVE NEWS DURING A WAR

Airlifting medical supplies. (TY WIN) Yad Sarah, Israel’s largest volunteer-run non-profit organization, is circumventing shipping delays of critical equipment caused by attacks by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis with the arrival of the first airlift to Ben Gurion Airport. Funding was by the Jewish Federations of North America.
https://www.jpost.com/health-and-wellness/article-785799  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOd_HK7oXPA

Fly the flag. Israel’s National airline El Al is granting free tickets to various destinations in Europe, to IDF soldiers who have completed 30 days reserve duty since the outbreak of the war. In addition, they will have priority in boarding flights and be thanked in an announcement on the plane at the beginning of each flight.
https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/385536

Teva donates its computers. (TY Yanky) Israel’s Teva has donated computers from its sites around the world to Israeli families affected by Oct 7. Teva’s offices in the USA, Germany, Spain etc., collected and shipped hundreds of used laptops. These were refurbished and sent to trauma therapists and to displaced families.
https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-786834

Cooking up some home comfort. The Asif Culinary Institute of Israel has helped many displaced families return to some form of normal life, despite being evacuated to hotel rooms. Asif’s Open Kitchen Project has paired 40+ families with host families and their kitchens around Tel Aviv where they can cook meals again.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/program-pairs-displaced-israelis-with-tel-aviv-kitchens-to-cook-up-some-home-comfort/   https://asif.org/en/  https://asif.org/en/the-open-kitchen-project/

Evacuees and exhibits at Bible Lands Museum. After Oct 7, Jerusalem’s Bible Lands Museum removed its ancient artifacts temporarily to make space for displaced families. Local artists and musicians gave creative workshops. It became a school for special needs children. It now hosts the Splinter from the Storm exhibition.
https://www.israel21c.org/bible-lands-museums-new-exhibition-reflects-turmoil-of-war/
https://www.blmj.org/en/Exhibition/splinter-from-the-storm/

Building bridges between funding and volunteers. Since Oct 7th Israel Support Bridge has sent 7 cargo planes worth of assistance to Israelis in need. It aims to build bridges between those who want to fund support efforts and volunteers who bring these services where they are needed.
https://unitedwithisrael.org/watch-israel-support-bridge-brings-supplies-and-hope-to-israelis/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOd_HK7oXPA

The miracle of the Gaza shaft. Click “subtitles” at the bottom of this video to watch an IDF unit describe one of the many incredible narrow escapes that Israeli soldiers have had in the war against evil. A Hamas bomb exploded 10 meters from the soldiers’ tent and the only casualties were temporary hearing loss and a stray cat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwBxUADCzyY

Wounded Fauda star’s two reasons to celebrate. Idan Amedi, singer and actor in the Israeli TV series Fauda, celebrated his 36th birthday – twice 18 (Chai = life), sharing photos of his injuries sustained in Gaza.  He said both his survival and recovery were miraculous. Doctors say he made a 360-degree turnaround (20 times 18).
https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/385517

More lost property found in Gaza. An IDF paratrooper has found a bag in an Arab house in Khan Younis in Gaza. It was a souvenir from a Chabad conference of teachers (Kinus Mechanchim) held in Gush Katif over 25 years ago. The paratrooper gave the bag to his uncle, Rabbi Kirshenzaft – the shliach of Gush Katif at that time.
https://anash.org/bag-found-in-gaza-from-kinus-held-in-gush-katif-25-years-ago/

Bedouin hero gets full residency rights. (TY Hazel) Bedouin Arab Abu Ar’ar was born in the Gaza Strip, so wasn’t Israeli. On Oct 7, he hid as Hamas terrorists murdered his wife. He heard them planning an ambush on nearby IDF soldiers and went to warn them, saving their lives. His reward – permanent residency in Israel.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/bedouin-man-who-saved-idf-soldiers-from-oct-7-hamas-ambush-gets-full-residency-rights/   https://www.ynetnews.com/article/bkuhk9x3p

ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

Good results for ALS therapy. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Immunity Pharma had positive results from its Phase 2a human trial with IPL344 in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients. Disease progression compared to placebo slowed by some 50% over 3 years. There were other positive indications and no serious adverse events.
https://immunitypharma.com/news/64-immunity-pharma-announces-positive-top-line-results-from-phase-2a-trial-with-ipl344-in-als-patients  https://immunitypharma.com/technology

More accurate detection of diabetes. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) have developed a new method of analyzing pancreatic cell types and help discover diabetes early. Their DNA methylation-based analysis is far more accurate than current analysis that relies on protein markers.
https://www.afhu.org/2024/02/12/new-study-by-hebrew-university-researchers-addresses-an-alternative-to-traditional-protein-marker-diabetes-detection/   https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38266068/

Breakthrough valve replacement device. (TY Atid-EDI) The US FDA has just granted Breakthrough Device status to Israel’s PI-Cardia (see here previously) for its ShortCut ™ device that facilitates Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) procedures.
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240122184265/en/Pi-Cardia-Receives-FDA-Breakthrough-Device-Designation-for-ShortCut%E2%84%A2

Orphan status for cystic fibrosis treatment. (TY Atid-EDI) The US FDA has granted “orphan” status on BX004 from Israel’s BiomX (see here previously) for the treatment of chronic lung infections suffered by cystic fibrosis patients. Orphan designation is given for rare conditions that have no current treatment.
https://ir.biomx.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/101/biomx-receives-orphan-drug-designation-from-the-u-s-food

Brazil approves self-scan ultrasound. (TY Atid-EDI) Before the Brazilian President’s hateful speech, his country’s medical authorities approved the home ultrasound system from Israel’s Pulsenmore (see here previously) for use in reducing pre-natal fatalities and unnecessary visits to hospital by pregnant mothers.
https://www.prnewswire.com/il/news-releases/pulsenmore-receives-brazilian-anvisa-approval-for-its-prenatal-home-ultrasound-solution-302030148.html

National PTSD clinic. A clinic dealing with post-trauma and related mental-health disorders was planned to be inaugurated in Tel Aviv University in about two years’ time. But due to the urgent need for treatment following Oct7, it has now been launched on temporary premises. Initial patients will be IDF reservists and other adults.
https://www.israel21c.org/tel-aviv-university-opens-national-ptsd-clinic-for-soldiers-civilians/
https://english.tau.ac.il/news/national-ptsd-clinic

Over 5,000 lives saved. Israel-based NGO Ezer Mizion now has over 1.1 million potential donors on its global database. Its stem cell transplants have now saved 5,000+ lives – almost 500 in 2023. Its support services provide hot meals, medical equipment, family and mental support, transportation to hospitals and much more.
https://ezermizion.org/blog/because-you-cared-14/   https://ezermizion.org/donate-now/

ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

A place for Ethiopian Israelis at the hi-tech table. Haile means “within my power” in Amharic. Solomon Geveye recently established the Haile Venture Capital Fund to invest in pre-seed disruptive startups in which at least one founder is from Israel’s Ethiopian community. He also founded MetekuAI to combat fake news.
https://www.israel21c.org/new-high-tech-vc-fund-aims-to-bring-ethiopians-into-the-industry/
https://meteku-ai.com/  https://www.jpost.com/aliyah/article-780964

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

IAI launches US Innovation Center. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel Aerospace Industries is to launch its Washington DC CATALYST accelerator program, operated by Starburst Aerospace. It will provide tech startups with $100k investment plus the resources to develop and scale their products, by leveraging IAI’s in-house capabilities.
https://catalyst.iainorthamerica.com/   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leb6K5V6ci8

Climate-smart seeds. Breakthrough non-GMO seed treatment from Israel’s SaliCrop (see here previously) transforms arid terrain into flourishing arable farmland. The seeds are resilient to abiotic stresses from extreme climate challenges. SaliCrop has saved Spain’s tomato industry and is now doing field trials in 3 continents.
https://www.prnewswire.com/il/news-releases/salicrops-novel-seed-enhancement-tech-makes-deserts-bloom-302060421.html

Breakthrough in plant cultivation. Tel Aviv University researchers and the Volcani Institute have developed new compounds that significantly increase the success rate for getting plant cuttings to root. It can help develop new, high-quality, hardy varieties that survive climate challenges, and reduce costs to farmers and consumers.
https://www.aftau.org/news_item/tau-develops-significant-improvement-to-process-of-genetically-cloning-plants/   https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-023-02065-3

Sensors for irrigating cereal crops. Israel’s SupPlant (see here previously) is expanding into Morocco and the UAE, it is also adapting its irrigation sensors for grain and cereal plants. These are the most common crops, but they are generally only irrigated by rain. The threat to world hunger if these crops fail is now too high to ignore.
https://nocamels.com/2024/02/smart-watch-for-plants-keeps-crops-irrigated-as-climate-changes/

Sun dried as they grow. Israel’s Supree, a subsidiary of NRGene (see here previously) produced a strain of the (Israeli-created) cherry tomato that dries itself on the vine as it grows in the sun. Instead of selectively breeding fruit and veg to be plump and juicy, Supree has enhanced their microcracking trait to dry them out.
https://nocamels.com/2024/02/israeli-cherry-tomatoes-that-dry-themselves-in-the-sun/
https://supree.co/press-release/supree-tomato/

Then there will be light. Israel’s low-light imaging startup Visionary.ai (see here previously) has partnered with leading chipmaker Qualcomm to produce stunning visuals in low-light conditions. This technology, shown at CES 2024, will be available in the next generation of Android smartphones – perhaps as early as next year.
https://www.israel21c.org/low-light-wont-limit-your-pics-and-videos-anymore/

Storage product of the year. (TY Atid-EDI) The Infinibox SSA II F4316T from Israel’s Infinidat (see here previously) has just been named Storage Product of the Year 2023 in the Disk and Disk Subsystems category by TechTarget. It has a phenomenal capacity of 6.635 petabytes. (There are 1,024 terabytes (TB) in a petabyte.)
https://www.infinidat.com/en/news/press-releases/infinibox-tm-ssa-ii-named-storage-product-year-2023-disk-and-disk-subsystems

Using their heads. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Silynx has making ruggedized tactical communication headsets for industrial and military use for over a decade. The IDF and Israeli police have purchased $550,000 of them since Oct 7. One international customer has bought some $4.5 million of them. It has just launched on the NYSE.
https://www.silynxcom.com/silynxcom-received-550000-in-orders-from-israel-defense-forces-and-israeli-police-forces-since-beginning-of-year/   https://www.silynxcom.com/silynxcom-receives-400000-follow-up-order-from-a-leading-global-defense-company/

More smiles please. US-headquartered Align Technology manufactures the Invisalign teeth alignment system for a perfect smile.  The scanners used to map the patient’s mouth are made in Israel where they have launched the iTero Lumina intraoral scanner. It has a 3X wider field of capture but is 50% smaller than previous models.
https://investor.aligntech.com/news-releases/news-release-details/align-technology-announces-new-itero-luminatm-intraoral-scanner  https://www.aligntech.com/  https://www.invisalign.co.il/

Out of Syte. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Syte (see here previously) has announced the launch of its AI Styling and Product Description Generator solutions, combining visual AI with generative AI. Syte’s upgraded technology improves the ability for the public to instantly find online and buy the items they want.
https://www.syte.ai/blog/company-updates/syte-pioneers-generative-ai-solutions/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5gjQolsP6E

ECONOMY & BUSINESS

Europe invests in green Israel. (TY Atid-EDI) The EU’s European Investment Bank (EIB) is expanding its agreement with Israel’s Bank Leumi for “green” investments. EIB will inject €250 million to finance projects for small and medium-sized businesses. Finance has already been provided to Israel’s Solegreen and Teralight.
https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-eib-to-invest-250m-in-israeli-green-projects-via-leumi-1001469237

Ohio buys more Israel Bonds. As it has since 2003 (see here previously), the US State of Ohio has bought Israel Bonds – $30 million this time. Ohio is one of the country’s largest buyers of Israel Bonds, now holding $262.5 million. Ohio’s treasurer, Robert Sprague, said the bonds were good for Israel and good for Ohio.
https://www.jns.org/ohio-buys-30-million-in-israel-bonds/

More angels. Israel’s female-led Venture Capital firm iAngels has raised $70 million for its second fund, iAngels Ventures 2. It will invest in early-stage startups, with investments ranging between $2-4 million for seed rounds. iAngels’ previous Israeli investments include Oddity, Hello Heart, BeeHero, WSC & Immunai.
https://www.calcalistech.com/ctechnews/article/bkkfg11bn6

Overland route to Israel. To avoid ships being attacked by Houthi terrorists, Israel-based firms transporting goods from the Far East (China and India) run trucking routes from the ports of Dubai and Bahrain to Haifa. They pass through Saudi Arabia (despite not having diplomatic relations with Israel) and Jordan.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/houthi-bypass-quietly-goods-forge-overland-path-to-israel-via-saudi-arabia-jordan/

Expanding Tamar gas production. The energy companies extracting natural gas from Israel’s Tamar field are investing $24 million to increase production. The additional gas will raise daily output to 1.2 billion cubic feet and by 2025 to 1.6 billion cubic feet, helping to meet Israel’s future energy needs and export gas to Egypt.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/chevron-partners-greenlight-24m-investment-to-boost-gas-production-at-offshore-site/

$5 million US order for railway safety system. Israel’s Rail Vision (see here previously) goes from strength to strength. While it was receiving EU certification for its rail safety systems, it was also winning a $5 million order from a leading US-based rail & leasing services company. And it has just announced AI enhancements.
https://ir.railvision.io/news-releases/news-release-details/leading-us-based-rail-leasing-services-company-orders-rail

A sweet, juicy plan for USA expansion. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Better Juice (see here previously) has partnered with US company Ingredion, a provider of specialty ingredients to the food and beverage industry. Ingredion will lead a funding round for Better Juice, to help it market its reduced sugar technology in the US.
https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-israeli-foodtech-startup-better-juice-teams-with-us-co-ingredion-1001468184

That’s Odd.  Although the takeover of Israel’s hyperspectral imaging tech startup Voyage81 by US-based beauty brand Il-Makiage was reported here previously, the IPO of IL-Makiage’s parent company Oddity wasn’t. Why is that odd?  Because Oddity’s R&D is performed in Israel. And Oddity has a very odd website.
https://oddity.com/

Startup investment – to 25/2/24: BRIA.ai raised $24 millionDustPhotonics raised $24 millionLoora raised $12 millionFaddom raised $8 millionKTrust raised $5.3 millionSilynx raised $5 million (IPO);

CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

The Ivri House. If you are in Tel Aviv and are interested in nostalgia and memorabilia, stop, and have a coffee at the Ivri House, 8 Gedud HaIvri Street. Owner Guy Levy, an interior design graduate of Shenkar College, has amassed and displays Israeli memorabilia and secondhand furniture. Even the staff dress the part.
https://www.israel21c.org/eclectic-cafe-and-shop-serves-up-all-types-of-hebrew-nostalgia/
https://www.instagram.com/cafeivri/

Fashion Week debut’s finale of Hope. (TY Yanky) Israeli American designer Kobi Halperin held his very first own label show for New York Fashion Week. His Fall 2024 collection, entitled “Illumination of Hope,” ended with an instrumental version of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, which translates to “The Hope.”
https://www.timesofisrael.com/this-designer-closed-his-ny-fashion-week-runway-show-with-israels-national-anthem/   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6g1Yr1AOUs

As unpredictable as the weather. (TY Sharon) Israel’s recent wintery weather has included a mixture of heavy rain followed by beautiful sunny days. Jerusalem’s on-going Shaon Horef (Winter Noise) festival on Monday nights includes an unusual mixture of musical street events from DJs, and bands, plus food and “fun”.
https://rjstreets.com/2024/02/19/february-and-time-for-presidents-again-in-jerusalem/

Silver medal in Qatar. Israeli swimmer Anastasia Gorbenko finished runner-up in the women’s 400-meter individual medley at the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Doha, Qatar. She ignored boos from Hamas-supporting spectators and dedicated her medal to a childhood friend, Matan Angrest – held hostage in Gaza.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-swimmer-brushes-off-heckling-in-qatar-after-finishing-2nd-in-400m-race/   https://unitedwithisrael.org/amid-the-gaza-war-israeli-athletes-face-discrimination-but-triumph-overseas/

Medals for weightlifters. (TY Hazel) At the European Women’s Weightlifting Championships in Sofia, Israel’s Celia Henna Gold won the silver medal for the Clean & Jerk in the 71kg category. In the 76kg category, Israel’s Nicole Rubanovich also won silver.
https://blog.torokhtiy.com/news/celia-henna-won-silver-at-2024-european-weightlifting-championships/
https://blog.torokhtiy.com/news/european-weightlifting-championships-2024-women-76-kg/

More medals. (TY Hazel) In the Seville Marathon, Israel’s Gashau Ayale finished third in 2:04.53, breaking the Israeli record and qualified for the Paris Olympics. At the Zagreb Kickboxing European Cup, there were gold medals (again) for Yulia Sachkov and Deniz Serebyanikov and another for Karolina Chorny.
https://www.ynetnews.com/culture/article/h18uvdk3p
https://www.instagram.com/followteamisrael/p/C3iJRdOtSkT/?img_index=1

Winning cyclists. The Israel Premier–Tech Cycling Team won the 8-day “Tour of Rwanda” race with Israel’s Itamar Einhorn wining the second stage. It marked one year after the building of Rwanda’s “Field of Dreams” cycling center, with funds from supporters of the team. The team went on to win stage 1 of the Tour des Alpes.
https://www.jns.org/israel-premier-tech-cycling-team-scores-victory-in-rwanda/
https://israelpremiertech.com/ethan-vernon-wins-first-race-in-ipt-colors-at-the-tour-des-alpes-maritimes/

European soccer success. (TY Hazel) Maccabi Haifa beat Gent 2-1 on aggregate to advance to the Europa Conference League round of 16.
https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/maccabi-haifa-advances-in-europa-conference-league/

The most since Moses. Israeli NBA star Deni Avdija scored a game-best and career-high 43 points for his Washington Wizards basketball team. He became the first Wizard to score 40-plus points and 15-plus rebounds in a game since Moses Malone accomplished that feat on Jan. 12, 1987. Despite this, the Wizards lost the game.
https://unitedwithisrael.org/israeli-basketball-sensation-shines-on-the-nba-stage/

NASCAR racer fights anti-Semitism. (TY UWI) Interesting article and interview with Israel’s Alon Day (see here previously), winner of NASCAR’s Whelen Euro Series, in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022. He talks about his career ambitions, but also about his pro-Israel activism. He singles out the support of Christian Zionists.
https://www.jns.org/face-of-israeli-stock-car-racing-searches-for-a-seat-on-big-stage/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHN22Rlzm-4

THE JEWISH STATE

2,000-year-old stone box is historic. An extremely rare stone box, dating back to Jerusalem’s 2nd Temple, was found on the Pilgramage Road in Jerusalem’s City of David. Stone vessels cannot become impure and were often used in Temple times. The box’s burnt exterior fits with Jerusalem’s 70 CE destruction by the Romans.
https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/385572

Thousands of volunteers. Since Oct 7, thousands of Jews from the Diaspora have boarded El-Al planes to show their love and solidarity by volunteering in Israel. The include from Masa Israel Journey, Taglit-Birthright Israel, and Operation Hug. El Al supports these volunteer programs by subsidizing ticket costs.
https://www.jns.org/wire/el-al-brings-volunteers-and-hugs-to-israel/

Purim Katan. Rabbi Doron Perez of Mizrachi describes how Fri Feb 23 is Purim Katan – the day when miracles happen. Like us all he prays that all Israeli hostages are freed –

February 25, 2024 | 1 Comment »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

1 Comment / 1 Comment

  1. https://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/haredim-news/haredi-father-of-six-from-brooklyn-serving-in-the-war/2024/02/23/ Here is another piece of what I think of as good news. A haredi father of six from Brooklyn, 38 years old, has flown to Israel to serve in the IDF. He has been serving in the IDF now for three months, in the Haredi battalion. He apparently has been in the IDF reserves for some time. But this is his first experience with active duty. He says he plans to serve as long as the IDF needs him and other volunteers from the U.S., then return to the reserves when the IDF sends him back to the reserves, while awaiting a future callup. At least , that is what I came away with from reading from reading this story in the Jewish Press. But I don’t understand the intricacies of IDF policy concerning periodic callups of reservists to active duty, so I may not have got this guy’s sitatus in the IDF right. However, it is clear that this haredi is now on active duty in the IDF. He is classified as what the IDF calls a “lone soldier.” meaning a volunteer from abroad with a family in Israel

    The reason I think the story is worth reporting is that it is further evidence of a more positive attitude towards service in the IDF among at least some haredim. Obviously, given the enormous burden of military service on secular young Israeli men who are separated from their families and unable to earn a living duringthis terrible war, a willingness at long last of haredi men to serve is a positive development.