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Tag: israel technology

ISRAEL’S INNOVATIVE HIGH-TECH & START-UP CULTURE HEADING TO THE MOON & BEYOND

No Man on the Moon: Samuel Thrope, Tablet, Jan. 25, 2017— During the Holocaust, Yariv Bash’s grandfather was forced to build V2 rockets for the Nazi army.

‘Startups as Far as the Eye Can See, all the Way to the Sea’: Sharon Udasin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2017— Entering the 14th-floor hotel lounge following a morning stroll along the Mediterranean Sea, an enthusiastic Randall Lane grabbed a glass of water and sat down at a small table, his trademark fedora still perched on his head.

How Do Israel’s Tech Firms Do Business in Saudi Arabia? Very Quietly: Jonathan Ferziger and Peter Waldman, Bloomberg, Feb. 2, 2017— Over the course of 30 years working in Israeli intelligence, Shmuel Bar immersed himself in the hermeneutics of terrorism.

Drafting Up Innovation: Dan Senor, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2017— Israel is a country of eight million people that at its narrowest point is 9 miles wide.

 

On Topic Links

 

First Israeli Research Nanosatellite Launched into Space From India: Anav Silverman, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 15, 2017

Apple Buys Israel’s Facial Recognition Firm RealFace – Report: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2017

Can a Desert Nation Solve the World's Water Shortage? (Video): Seth Siegel, PragerU, Oct. 17, 2016

Execs from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Explain Why They Use Israel for Their R&D: Sam Shead, Business Insider, Oct. 6, 2016

 

NO MAN ON THE MOON                               

Samuel Thrope                                 

Tablet, Jan. 25, 2017              

 

During the Holocaust, Yariv Bash’s grandfather was forced to build V2 rockets for the Nazi army. Now Bash has his eyes on a rocket of his own: one that will take the first Israeli spacecraft to the moon. Bash is one of the three co-founders of SpaceIL, the Israeli entrant in the Google Lunar Xprize, an international competition to send the first civilian mission to Earth’s nearest neighbor. The first team to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, which then travels 500 meters and broadcasts images back to Earth, will take home a purse of $20 million. With the strong support of the Israeli government and the backing of generous private donors, including billionaire investor Morris Kahn and casino magnate and political kingmaker Sheldon Adelson, SpaceIL is poised to make Israel the fourth lunar nation.

 

The planned SpaceIL mission, if it comes off, will also conduct a joint UCLA-Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the changes in the moon’s magnetic field. The end of December was the final cutoff for the competitors—scientists, engineers, and private entrepreneurs from around the world—to secure a launch contract on a rocket bound for orbit. Of the 29 teams who registered for the competition in 2010, five remain: the American Moon Express, Team Indus from India, Hakuto from Japan, the international Synergy Moon, and SpaceIL.

 

SpaceIL was the first team to obtain its ticket to the moon and will be launching its spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket produced by billionaire investor Elon Musks’s private aerospace company, SpaceX , by the end of 2017. As SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman explained, the agreement with SpaceX represents more than just a means of transport. “The fact that a serious company signs a contract with a group like us means that we know what we’re talking about,” he said. “That we’ve passed all their tests and that our craft stands up to all their requirements.”

 

However, SpaceIL’s moon mission almost didn’t happen, according to Bash, a bespectacled and balding 35-year-old electronics engineer and entrepreneur who recounted the story in the Tel Aviv offices of his drone-delivery startup, Flytrex. Having learned of the competition only in November 2009, two years after it began and only a few weeks before the deadline to register, he posted an invitation on his Facebook page: “Who wants to go to the moon?” Kfir Damari, 34, a friend and telecommunications engineer, answered the call. The next Saturday, the two met in a bar in Holon, just south of Tel Aviv, with aerospace engineer Yonatan Winetraub, and started plotting a way to the moon. On Dec. 31, the very last day to register, the three wired in the $50,000 entry fee and joined the competition.

 

“Space is the ultimate thing,” Bash said when asked what inspired him to join the Xprize moon race. “It’s something that is so hard to do, even today. In 2016, rockets still blow up; it’s still rocket science. This is one of the ultimate technological-engineering challenges.” Despite other teams’ head starts, SpaceIL quickly advanced. It was the first team to design a landing craft, provisionally nicknamed “Sparrow,” that could use its engines to “hop” the required 500 meters over the moon’s surface rather than rely on a separate lunar rover to cover the distance. Seeing the elegance of this solution, Bash said, other teams followed suit.

 

One of the most important measures of SpaceIL’s success is its strong financial backing. Between government support—limited by competition rules to 10 percent of the project’s overall budget—and private donations, SpaceIL has raised $50 million of the $70 million that it estimates it will take to complete the mission; the launch alone costs $20 million. “Spacecraft don’t fly on hydrazine,” a common rocket propellant, Bash explained. “They fly on green fuel. If you look at the competition, we’ve raised more than double the next team.”

 

The Sparrow spacecraft is being designed and built at Israel Aerospace Industries, the country’s leading aviation and defense manufacturer. IAI, founded in 1953 by American Jewish pilot and engineer Al Schwimmer, can be considered Israel’s Lockheed Martin or Boeing, although, unlike the American companies, it is entirely government-owned. IAI produces Israel’s drones, aircraft, and satellites, as well as the Iron Dome missile-defense system.

 

Rather than the bright, white-booted, and sterile workspace one might imagine, though, SpaceIL’s electronics- and software-testing lab at IAI’s campus in the city of Yehud, just north of Ben-Gurion Airport, sits in a modified trailer on a dusty patch of ground near the parking lot. While the body of the craft will be assembled in the same high-tech clean room used for Israel’s Amos communication satellites, Sparrow’s computing and navigational guts are put through their paces here.

 

On a sunny winter day, SpaceIL software manager Asaf Lewin demonstrated some of the craft’s components: the 15-year-old computer, a three-tiered, functional stack of processors some 6 inches high, originally designed for a nanosatellite; a sensor to ensure the craft’s solar panels are always facing the sun; and a star tracker for navigation. It amounts to several million dollars’ worth of proven equipment that has already been tested in the radiation and cold of outer space.

 

The lab’s makeshift vibe is a perfect metaphor for SpaceIL’s upstart approach to the lunar mission. As Damari, the telecom engineer, explained, in order to keep costs down SpaceIL has decided to forgo IAI’s usual exhaustive checks and double checks on cameras and other non-mission-critical systems, building faster and cheaper than many had thought possible. This success has shown the potential for a civilian space industry in Israel. In the wake of SpaceIL, several local companies have established the Israeli presence in this growing field, including Effective Space Solutions, which is developing technology to return wayward satellites to their correct orbits, and Spacepharma, which offers zero-gravity space labs for scientific experiments.

 

“Showing that you can send a deep space probe for less than $100 million, that’s breaking a glass ceiling,” Bash explained. “It’s not only NASA and the European Space Agency that can do deep-space missions but also smaller countries, maybe large organizations. It’s opening up space a bit more to the Wild West.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

 

‘STARTUPS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE, ALL THE WAY TO THE SEA’

                                                            Sharon Udasin

                                                                            Jerusalem Post, Feb. 22, 2017

 

Entering the 14th-floor hotel lounge following a morning stroll along the Mediterranean Sea, an enthusiastic Randall Lane grabbed a glass of water and sat down at a small table, his trademark fedora still perched on his head. After prodding the reporter with questions – as any lifelong journalist is wont to do – the editor of Forbes magazine was eager to discuss a country that has “invented and is reinventing itself.” “When you look at the world’s great entrepreneurial cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are way, way up there, and it’s apparent to anyone who spends any time here,” Lane said. “We were able to see that the Start-Up Nation reputation is true. The Start-Up Nation ethos is pervasive.”

 

The Forbes editor spoke with The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, ahead of the magazine’s upcoming Under 30 Summit – an event expected to draw hundreds of the most promising young innovators to Israel this April for the second year running. In Lane’s mind, Israel provides a “very natural” environment for the summit, due to the country’s position as a leading entrepreneurial hot spot combined with its unique cultural ties and history. “It’s an amazing event that happens to be in Israel but also does an amazing job showcasing the Israeli start-up and tech ecosystem – which is why we’re here,” Lane said.

 

After launching its popular 30 Under 30 lists in 2011, Forbes began hosting Under 30 summits for its American honorees in 2014, with the first event occurring in Philadelphia that year. As these US events proved increasingly successful, the magazine decided to begin organizing such conventions abroad, holding the first such event – the Under 30 Summit EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) – last year in Israel, followed by the Under 30 Summit Asia in Singapore.

 

For the second year in a row, Lane will be hosting the Under 30 Summit EMEA in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, from April 2 to April 6. In addition to holding panels with leading global innovators, the summit promises amenities such as regional food and drink, bar crawls and group tours. Approximately 750 young entrepreneurs from 35 countries and 25 industries – 40% of whom are CEOs and founders of their ventures – are expected to attend. “They come early and they stay late and they don’t sleep,” Lane said.

Like last year, approximately one-third of the participants at this year’s summit will come from the US, one-third from Europe and one-third from Israel and the rest of the Middle East and Africa region. While that latter third will mostly include Israelis, Lane stressed that there will be some representation from African countries, as well as Palestinian entrepreneurs. This year, Forbes is working with the Portland Trust, a British nonprofit that works to foster peace between Israelis and Palestinians through economic development, to host a mentoring track for Palestinian entrepreneurs during one of the middle days of the convention. “We want to be able to leave here having been a strong force for entrepreneurs in the whole region,” Lane said.

 

In addition to the special track for Palestinian mentorship, the summit this year will also include other small group opportunities, like a visit to archeological sites, a cybersecurity gathering and a venture capitalist meeting. While last year’s events only took place in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, this year all the participants will also have the chance to go to the Dead Sea and Masada on the final day. “We’re just going to go all night,” Lane said. “Think about ending this thing with the metaphorical new beginning – one of the best places for sunrises in the world.”

 

Although Lane had done backpacking in Israel about two decades ago during his twenties, his interest in the country was rekindled only a couple years ago, when he was invited to speak at an ROI Summit, an annual convention held in Israel for young Jewish innovators. A particularly memorable portion of that trip for Lane was a visit to the SOSA (South of Salame) Tel Aviv start-up hub. “I was just absolutely struck by the entrepreneurial ethos here, and it’s hard to describe if you’re not here,” he said. “The feeling, the eureka moment, was in SOSA. I spoke there and I went up to the roof there, and you could see start-ups as far as the eye can see, all the way to the sea. It has that Silicon Valley feel but with this incredible location and history.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

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HOW DO ISRAEL’S TECH FIRMS DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI ARABIA?

VERY QUIETLY

Jonathan Ferziger and Peter Waldman

Bloomberg, Feb. 2, 2017

 

Over the course of 30 years working in Israeli intelligence, Shmuel Bar immersed himself in the hermeneutics of terrorism. Using techniques of literary analysis more familiar to Koranic scholars and Bible critics, he came to recognize the distinctive language and religious phrases that suicide bombers used in their farewell videos. “Victory is with the patient” appeared frequently in the martyrdom declarations of Hamas recruits. Al-Qaeda adherents favored the call “God, count them, kill them, and don’t leave any of them.”

 

Bar, a tousle-haired 62-year-old with a wry sensibility, emerged from government service in 2003 amid the proliferation of global terrorism, and in the rising sense of doom he saw a business opportunity. He founded a company called IntuView, a miner of data in the deep, dark web—a sort of Israeli version of Palantir, the Silicon Valley security contractor. Tapping engineering talent in Israel’s startup hub of Herzliya, he adapted his analyst’s ear for language to custom algorithms capable of sifting through unending streams of social media messages for terrorist threats. He sold his services to police, border, and intelligence agencies across Europe and the U.S.

 

Then, two years ago, an e-mail arrived out of the blue. Someone from the upper echelons of power in Saudi Arabia, Bar says, invited him to discuss a potential project via Skype. The Saudis had heard about his technology and wanted his help identifying potential terrorists. There was one catch: Bar would have to set up a pass-through company overseas to hide IntuView’s Israeli identity. Not a problem, he said, and he went to work ferreting out Saudi jihadis with a software program called IntuScan, which can process 4 million Facebook and Twitter posts a day. Later, the job expanded to include public-opinion research on the Saudi royal family. “It’s not as if I went looking for this,” Bar says, still bemused by the unexpected turn in a life spent confronting Israel’s enemies. “They came to me.”

 

Bar says he meets freely these days with Saudis and other Gulf Arabs at overseas conferences and private events. Trade and collaboration in technology and intelligence are flourishing between Israel and a host of Arab states, even if the people and companies involved rarely talk about it publicly. When a London think tank recently disinvited Bar from speaking on a panel, explaining that a senior Saudi official was also coming and it wasn’t possible to have them appear together, Bar told the organizers that he and the Saudi gentleman had in fact been planning to have lunch together at a Moroccan restaurant nearby before walking over to the event together. “They were out-Saudi-ing the Saudis,” he says.

 

Peace hasn’t come to the Middle East. This isn’t beating swords into plowshares but a logical coalescence of interests based on shared fears: of an Iranian bomb, jihadi terror, popular insurgency, and an American retreat from the region. IntuView has Israeli export licenses and the full support of its government to help any country facing threats from Iran and militant Islamic groups. “If it’s a country which is not hostile to Israel that we can help, we’ll do it,” Bar says. Only Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq are off-limits. The Saudis and other oil-rich Arab states are only too happy to pay for the help. “The Arab boycott?” Bar says. “It doesn’t exist.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents                                                               

DRAFTING UP INNOVATION

Dan Senor

                      Wall Street Journal, Feb. 3, 2017

 

Israel is a country of eight million people that at its narrowest point is 9 miles wide. It is surrounded on all sides by enemies who would like to see it wiped off the map: Hezbollah to the north, Hamas to the south, plus Bashar al-Assad’s regime, Islamic State and Iran to the east. It wouldn’t take a particularly pessimistic person to bet against this besieged slice of desert. Yet this tiny nation has also built an air force, anti-missile defense system and intelligence apparatus that is revered around the world—and relied on by the U.S. military, among many others. And it’s done it with a minuscule fraction of the budget available to larger nations.

 

How has Israel pulled it off? In “The Weapon Wizards” Yaakov Katz and Amir Bohbot tell the story of how the Jewish state’s military and defense sector became one of the most cutting-edge in the world. In chapters focused on particular technologies and weapons, such as drones, satellites and cyber warfare, the authors make the case that the same factors that have made Israel a tech giant have also allowed it to become a “high-tech military superpower.” The country’s military, its schools and its extracurricular institutions inculcate in its young people tenacity, insatiable questioning of authority, determined informality, cross-disciplinary creativity and tolerance of failure.

 

Because of its hostile neighborhood, Israel has had the unlucky distinction of being the first target of the newest terrorist innovations—which has forced it to become a kind of laboratory for militaries across the globe. Israeli commercial airline passengers, for example, were among the world’s first victims of international hijacking campaigns. But elite Israeli commando units conducted the first successful airline hostage rescue in 1972, and then again at Entebbe in 1976. America’s Delta Force was founded partly in response to what the U.S. learned from the IDF’s operation in Uganda.

 

Two decades later, in the 1990s, Palestinian terror groups began deploying suicide bombers against civilians. By the time of the Second Intifada, the bombings were an almost daily occurrence. Israel responded by adapting: It built a security fence along the West Bank, equipped with sophisticated surveillance technology, which, alongside stepped-up security operations, helped drastically curtail the frequency of the bombings. It also boosted its focus on human intelligence, redeveloping sophisticated networks to track and apprehend planners and perpetrators inside the West Bank.

 

The Pentagon studied the IDF tactics used during the Intifada and applied lessons about effective urban warfare and the use of dogs in combat to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel also pioneered the use of attack helicopters and UAVs, both of which have been critical in America’s targeting of terror cells in Pakistan and Yemen.

 

The authors, both longtime national-security reporters and IDF veterans, are particularly interested in the army’s system of reserves and how it has bolstered the country’s military innovations. Many other countries have reserve forces that augment the standing army, but because Israel is so territorially small and its population so outmanned by its adversaries, no standing army could ever be large enough to defend the country. Thus in the IDF reservists not only man whole units but also serve as commanders.

 

Messrs. Katz and Bohbot argue that a straight line can be drawn from this unique reserves system to the success of Israel’s defense industry. “Israeli engineers’ experiences from the battlefield, as well as their continued training and combat in the reserves, help them better understand what the IDF requires for the next war as well as how to develop it,” they write. This is different from the U.S., where, the authors explain, the Pentagon “installs military officers in development teams at defense contractors, but they are often viewed as outsiders.” In Israel, “the outsiders are the insiders. Military experiences become lifelong experiences. This dual identity is a national asset.”

 

This was a big factor in the rapid development and deployment of the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, designed to intercept rockets launched by Hezbollah from Lebanon and by Hamas from Gaza. Iron Dome was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems; the company’s missile factory is in the Galilee, not far from Israel’s border with Lebanon. Many of Rafael’s engineers live in northern Israel, fought in reserves during Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah or spent 34 days in bomb shelters during that war. In other words, they had far more than an academic understanding of the threat that they were developing technologies to defend against.

 

Israel’s defense industry also has a unique, export-oriented business model. For the past 30 years, for example, the country has been the world’s No. 1 exporter of drones, responsible for 60% of the global market (the U.S. share of global exports is less than half that).

 

For its willingness to sell its drones and many other defense technology products abroad, including to China, the country has been criticized. But Israel argues that this is an existential matter. The IDF has never been a sufficiently large buyer on its own to incentivize local companies to develop new weapons or technologies, write Messrs. Katz and Bohbot. This means Israeli defense tech start-ups and larger companies need the economies of scale that can only come from selling into foreign markets to “keep production lines open and prices down for the IDF.”

 

While “The Weapon Wizards” can be a bit technical for the lay reader, the authors have skillfully conveyed a key component of the dynamic innovation culture that has made the Jewish state one of the most important entrepreneurial and technology-driven economies in the world. Not bad for a country 9 miles wide.

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

First Israeli Research Nanosatellite Launched into Space From India: Anav Silverman, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 15, 2017—Israeli academia’s first research nanosatellite was launched into space on Wednesday, February 15. Ben Gurion University’s BGUSAT nanosatellite was among the record 104 nanosatellites from five countries, which were launched on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan launching pad in India today. The Israeli nanosatellite will study climate change and scientific phenomena from space.

Apple Buys Israel’s Facial Recognition Firm RealFace – Report: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Feb. 19, 2017—Apple Inc. has acquired Israel’s Realface, a cybertechnology startup whose facial recognition technology can be used to authenticate users. This is Apple’s fourth acquisition in Israel, the financial website Calcalist reported Sunday, and the deal is estimated to be worth a couple of million of dollars.

Can a Desert Nation Solve the World's Water Shortage? (Video): Seth Siegel, PragerU, Oct. 17, 2016— From California to Africa, we are facing a global water shortage. But one tiny country, in the middle of a desert, has found remarkable solutions. Which country? And can we replicate its success? Businessman and New York Times bestselling author Seth Siegel explains.

Execs from Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Explain Why They Use Israel for Their R&D: Sam Shead, Business Insider, Oct. 6, 2016— Born just 68 years ago, Israel has developed a reputation as one of the world's most innovative tech hubs. Silicon Valley multinationals in particular have cottoned on, setting up offices in the region and acquiring numerous Israeli startups.

 

ISRAEL’S HIGH-TECH MIRACLE VS. IRAN’S NUCLEAR THREAT

 

 

Bibi’s Win, Trumping Israeli Left,

Gives Obama a Fit of Pique —

And Now Comes the Hard Part:

Dealing, Alone, with Iran

Frederick Krantz

 

After an election worthy of the American 1948 Presidential campaign, in which the media overwhelmingly proclaimed Thomas Dewey the victor over Harry Truman well before the vote was taken, the people of Israel surprised the pollsters and gave Bibi Netanyahu, Likud and the center-right a renewed electoral mandate.

 

What this means is that Israel’s serious, widespread, and growing security concerns—from the IS terrorists in Syria and Iraq to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon (and now Syria), to the al-Qaeda-linked anti-al-Sissi terrorists in Sinai, and above all to the Iranian Islamist regime’s nuclear drive—trumped social and economic concerns. In the wake of Bibi’s victory. however, Barack Obama and his Administration have “gone viral”. This began with their negative reaction to Netanyahu’s powerful “bad deal” Congressional critique of Obama’s imminent nuclear pact with Iran, and, and now after, continued with an Administration-led anti-Bibi campaign during the Israeli elections.

 

When the favored leftist Zionist Union lost, the Administration and its major-media chorus jumped on Bibi’s campaign observation—commonsensical enough, given Palestinian divisions and “peace-process” rejectionism—that there would not be a Palestinian
state if he were re-elected. It focused too on his statement that the Arab parties were going to the polls “in droves”…

 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is President of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

and Editor of its ISRAFAX journal and Daily Isranet Briefing.)

   

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBER/ZACHOR: DANIEL PEARL Z”L, STALINGRAD; THE JEWISH GOLAN, ISRAELI SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Download Today's Isranet Daily Briefing.pdf 

 

Contents:                          

 

(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

Remembering Daniel Pearl  z”l: October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002Daniel Pearl was kidnapped on January 23, 2003 while working as the South Asia Bureau Chief of The Wall Street Journal, based in Mumbai, India. He had gone to Pakistan as part of an investigation into the alleged links between Richard Reid (the "shoe bomber") and Al-Qaeda. He was subsequently beheaded by his captors.

 

Lest We Forget: January 31, 1943, Russian Victory at Stalingrad: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Feb. 1, 2013We sometimes forget the key historical importance of war, and of the decisive tuning-point battles associated with wars.  Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the great Russian victory over Nazi Germany at Stalingrad (today Volgograd), a decisive turning-point in the Second World War.

 

Israel 21C’s Top Ten Science & Technology Stories of 2012: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Dec. 24, 2012—If you read the world’s newspapers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only things happening in Israel this year were security related: the looming threat of a conflict with Iran, missiles from Gaza and unrest on Israel’s borders. The pages of ISRAEL21c, however, tell a completely different story.

To Whom Does the Golan Heights Belong?: Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2013—Referred to as “Bashan” in the Bible, the Golan Heights was considered part of the Land of Israel. Its main city, “Golan in Bashan,” (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27) was designated a “City of Refuge” (for those who had committed involuntary manslaughter). The area was assigned to the tribe of Menashe (Joshua 13:29-31).

 

On Topic Links

 

Watering a Thirsty Planet: I.C. Mayer, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feb. 20, 2011

Good News for Knees: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Jan. 15, 2013

Top Ten Israeli Advances Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c,  Sept. 2, 2012

Top Ten Facebook Apps From Israel: Brian Blum, Israel 21c, August 29, 2012

Israeli Pharmacologist Kick-Started Marijuana Research: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, May 14, 2012 

 

 

REMEMBERING DANIEL PEARL   z”l

 

October 10, 1963 – February 1, 2002

 

“Civilized society, so it seems,

is so numbed by violence that it has lost its gift to be disgusted by evil.”

 

Judea Pearl, Father

 

Top of Page

 

 

LEST WE FORGET: JANUARY 31, 1943, 

RUSSIAN VICTORY AT STALINGRAD

Frederick Krantz

CIJR, Feb. 1, 2013

 

We sometimes forget the key historical importance of war, and of the decisive tuning-point battles associated with wars.  Today is the sixtieth anniversary of the great Russian victory over Nazi Germany at Stalingrad (today Volgograd), a decisive turning-point in the Second World War.

 

    On January 31, 1943, as his troops, under-supplied and out-gunned, froze to death in -45 degree C. temperatures, German Field-Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrendered to Soviet forces after what has been termed the “most desperate battle in history”, the Russians’ six-month struggle against von Paulus’ 280,000-strong Sixth Army.

 

   Fought at Stalingrad, in southern Russia, near the Caspian Sea and the gateway to the Caucasus’ rich oil fields, along a 25-mile long Volga River front, the contending armies fought a desperate, six-months’ long battle. Both dictators, Hitler and Stalin, locked in personal as well as political-military struggle, had proclaimed “death until victory”.

 

    Stalingrad cost a total of some two million mostly-Russian lives, military and civilian, from its beginning in July-August 1942 to the final surrender of the complete Sixth Army on February 2, 1943 (one Soviet division of 10,000 men was reduced, in a few weeks of fighting, to 320 survivors; and NKVD security troops, on Stalin’s orders, shot  13,500 fleeing soldiers and civilians).

   Led by General, later Marshal, Georgi Zhukov (author, later, of the biography “The Man Who Beat Hitler”), Soviet troops first surrounded von Paulus, and then imposed a decisive defeat on him and Hitler’s Germany. German soldiers called it the Rattenkrieg, “rat’s war”, continuous hand-to-hand combat, and Vassili Grossman, the famous Soviet journalist and author of the great novel Life and Fate, who was there,  described “an iron whirlwind howling over the bunkers and slicing through anything living that raised its head above the earth”.

 

    Twenty-four German generals, in addition to von Paulus, were captured, along with the 91,000 survivors of the once-proud Wehrmacht’s Sixth Army invaders (of whom only 9,626 ever made it back to Germany).

 

   Stalingrad (today called Volgograd) was the key turning point of World War II, as Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin understood. It was here, and not in the later 1944 Allied landings in Normandy, that Hitler’s war to make the German ”Aryan” master-race the rulers of the world, was effectively lost.

 

   The Allied campaigns from North Africa to Italy to France, were of course of great importance in the European theater, not least in tying down Wehrmacht divisions and war materiel, including tanks and aircraft. But it was the Russians, suffering ca.20 million casualties, military and civilian, from 1941-45, who bore the brunt of World War II.  From Stalingrad, Marshal Zhukov would lead the great Soviet Western counter-offensive which would, finally, end in Berlin, and Hitler’s suicide in his bunker there, in April, 1945.

 

   It is an unimaginable sacrifice that must never be forgotten.  Had von Paulus and Nazi Germany prevailed at Stalingrad, the entire course of the war might well have been changed, with immense consequences for Western, and indeed, world, civilization.
 

(Prof. Frederick Krantz is Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing,

and Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)

 

 

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ISRAEL 21C’S TOP TEN SCIENCE &
TECHNOLOGY STORIES OF 2012

Nicky Blackburn

Israel 21C, Dec. 24, 2012
 

If you read the world’s newspapers, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the only things happening in Israel this year were security related: the looming threat of a conflict with Iran, missiles from Gaza and unrest on Israel’s borders. The pages of ISRAEL21c, however, tell a completely different story. Imaginative, exciting and dynamic – Israelis were at the forefront of cutting-edge developments in hundreds of different fields this year, pushing the boundaries in art and culture, biotech, medicine, the environment, science and technology.

Already famous for their technological innovations, Israeli companies brought dozens of groundbreaking new technologies to market, from inventive mobile apps to cardboard bikes, invisible keyboards and technology that can protect our runways. Israeli physicians and researchers were just as hard at work, making significant breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, infertility, viruses and asthma. From prizes in medicine and science, to awards for developments in the fields of world hunger, solar energy, desertification and water reclamation, Israeli entrepreneurs gained worldwide recognition.

Israel was also there to help in the wake of global disasters, from Haiti to Kenya, Ghana to Japan. When Hurricane Sandy devastated the US east coast, Israelis were among the few foreigners to send aid. It was also a year when Israel itself came into the spotlight. Tourism rose to its highest level as visitors came to enjoy the country’s hugely varied landscape. National Geographic magazine called the Israel National Trail, stretching 1,000 kilometers from the Red Sea to Israel’s northernmost point, one of the “holy grails of trails across the world.” Lonely Planet chose the Negev Desert second on its top 10 list of regions to visit in 2013.

Tel Aviv won many accolades. Lonely Planet included the beach city on its list of Ultimate Party Cities, and as one of the Top Ten Hedonistic City Breaks. The Huffington Post named it among the eight Best Beach Cities in the world. The Globe and Mail listed it as one of the world’s most creative cities, Master Card named Tel Aviv among the world’s top destinations in 2012, Travelers Digest announced it was home to the most beautiful people in the world, and Condé Nast dubbed it one of the best cities for architecture.

To help you relive an exciting year of development and culture, ISRAEL21c brings you its top 10 most-read stories of the year, giving you a small taste of how a tiny country in the Middle East is helping to change the world.

1. Made in Israel – the Top 64 innovations developed in Israel: To celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday, ISRAEL21c put together a list of the top 64 developments that have come out of Israel since it was founded.  Most people already know that the ubiquitous Disk-on-Key was developed in Israel, but did you know that Windows NT and XP operating systems were primarily developed here? We take a look at some of the country’s best innovations, from Copaxone and Sambucol, to the emergency bandage, Krav Maga, Magshoe, desalination, instant messaging and the Powermat.

2. New Israeli tactic makes deadly viruses commit suicide: In September we ran a story on Vecoy Nanomedicines, a biotech company that has developed a cunning new way to disarm viruses by luring them to attack microscopic, cell-like decoys. Once inside these traps, the viruses effectively commit suicide. Today viruses are considered one of the biggest threats to humankind. In 1918, a Spanish flu outbreak killed 40 million people in two years. A new super virus could wreak even worse havoc in today’s uber-connected world, experts fear. There’s still a long road ahead, but Vecoy may have developed the solution that will keep us safe.

3. Space age rapid transit debuts in Tel Aviv: It sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but if all goes well, within two years Israelis will be the first to try out a futuristic rapid transport system designed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The software-guided personal transport pods, designed for two, drive along a guide rail suspended from existing power lines. Magnets in the vehicle create a magnetic field around the metal coil inside the rail, causing the vehicle to lift up and glide 60 miles per hour on a cushion of air. The system uses very little energy and potentially could be powered entirely by solar panels. The goal is to build a pilot project in Israel, and then take it worldwide.

4. Top 12 ways Israel feeds the world: As the world population soars and food production dwindles, food security is becoming a major global concern. No other country in the world has contributed more breakthroughs in this field than has Israel. From drip irrigation to grain cocoons that can keep water and air out of stored crops, from biological pest control to fish farming in the desert, better strains of crops and the most advanced dairy farming techniques on the planet, Israel is leading the way, pioneering advances that could potentially keep our world from starvation.

5. Cardboard wheelchair to roll out from Israel: The inventor, Israeli entrepreneur Nimrod Elmish, started out with a low-cost cardboard bicycle made from recycled materials, but when a leading charity asked if he could also make a cardboard wheelchair, he realized it was a perfect match for his innovative technique. Now his company, I.G. Cardboard Technologies, has entered into an agreement with an international non-profit to set up a $6 million factory for the production of cardboard wheelchairs in Africa. The cost of these wheelchairs, which are made of recycled cardboard, plastic bottles, and recycled tires, is likely to be in the region of $10 each. What’s next? Cardboard toys, wagons, chairs for airplanes, and yes, even cars.

6. Israeli ice device destroys breast tumors: For nearly two years, a novel Israeli medical device has been changing the way American doctors remove fibro-adenoma tumors – benign breast lumps. Now the device, developed by IceCure Medical, is being tested for small malignant tumors as well. During an ultrasound-guided procedure, the IceSense3 probe penetrates the tumor and destroys it by engulfing it with ice. Needing only local anesthetic, the cryoablation process takes up to 10 minutes in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center, and the patient can get up and leave afterward. No recovery period or post-care is necessary.

7. New blood test offers early cancer detection: Israeli researchers have developed a simple and cheap blood test that was found to provide early detection for many types of cancer in clinical trials. The promising new test, developed by scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheva, can detect minuscule changes in the blood of a person with a cancerous growth somewhere in the body, even before the disease has spread. Early diagnosis of cancer could save thousands of lives. Every day in the United States alone, 1,500 people die of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Early detection greatly increases the chances for successful treatment.

8. Revolutionary Israeli toilet gets Gates Foundation grant: It’s an invention that could transform the developing world. Israeli company Paulee CleanTec has developed a toilet that needs no water, leaves no waste, and is powered by solar energy. The toilet, which won funds from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, turns solid waste – including toilet paper – into odorless, sterile fertilizer in 30 seconds. The fertilizer is automatically dropped into a removable canister and can be used on crops. Liquid waste will be sterilized separately and then used as gray water to flush the toilet. The Gates Foundation believes that a reinvented toilet could save millions of lives. Some 1.1 billion people don’t use a toilet, and about 80 percent of human waste goes into rivers and streams untreated.

9. Israeli medicine goes to pot: Israel today has one of the most progressive medical marijuana programs in the world. Thousands of Israelis suffering from cancer, MS, Crohn’s and chronic pain receive pot as medication. Israel’s inroads into legalizing cannabis for pain relief and managing terminal illness rest on the seminal research of an award-winning professor, Raphael Mechoulam from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His work has inspired generations of research teams around the world to look to marijuana for alleviating medical conditions from chemo-induced nausea to chronic pain. His work also led to the discovery of anandamides, naturally occurring THC-like chemicals in the brain.

10. Non-invasive tool identifies brain disorders: One in three people suffers from a brain-related disorder such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ADHD, chronic pain or depression. But because of the complexity of the human brain, blood tests and imaging are of limited value for diagnosis or documentation of treatment. The Israeli company ElMindA could revolutionize this field by opening a new window into how the brain works. Its non-invasive BNA (brain network activation) technology, which expects FDA approval early in 2013, has shown promise in clinical studies. The procedure is simple and painless. Patients sit at a computer for 15 to 30 minutes, performing a specific task many times while the device maps network activation points in the brain. The result is a three-dimensional image of nerve cell connectivity and synchronization that is highly sensitive, specific and reproducible. The tool is sensitive enough to show subtle differences in the severity of the condition from one day to another. It can also optimize drug dosing by monitoring the changes in brain network activities as the drug takes effect.

 

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TO WHOM DOES THE GOLAN HEIGHTS BELONG?

Moshe Dann

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 30, 2013

 

Referred to as “Bashan” in the Bible, the Golan Heights was considered part of the Land of Israel. Its main city, “Golan in Bashan,” (Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 21:27) was designated a “City of Refuge” (for those who had committed involuntary manslaughter). The area was assigned to the tribe of Menashe (Joshua 13:29-31).

 

King Ahab of Israel (874- 852 BCE) defeated Ben- Hadad I of Damascus near Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan (I Kings 20:26-30), and the prophet Elisha prophesied that King Yehoash of Israel (801-785 BCE) would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik (II Kings 13:17).

 

During the late 6th and 5th centuries BCE, the Golan was settled by Jews returning from exile in Babylon. In the mid-2nd century BCE, Judah Maccabee and his brothers led the Jewish army to rescue Jewish communities in the Golan who were attacked by their non-Jewish neighbors (I Maccabees 5). Judah Maccabee’s grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Yannai (103-76 BCE) later added the Golan to his kingdom.

 

At the beginning of the Roman war against the Jews, the historian Josephus Flavius wrote of the siege and conquest of Gamla, the main Jewish town of the Golan, where he alleges a mass suicide took place. Excavations of the site revealed the oldest synagogue in Israel, dated to the Hasmonean period, around 80 BCE.

 

Twenty-five Jewish villages and synagogues from the Second Temple and Talmudic periods have been found throughout the Golan. Jewish life flourished there until the mid-8th century CE, when an earthquake and/or the Muslim invasion destroyed these communities.

 

Except for a few small Druse villages built during the 15th and 16th centuries, and later, Circassians, the Golan remained desolate until the late 19th and early 20th centuries when Jews bought land between the modern-day B’nei Yehuda and Kibbutz Ein Gev, on the eastern shore of Lake Kinneret.

 

This community survived until 1920, when several of its members were murdered in the anti-Jewish riots of that year; isolated and unprotected, the rest left. In 1891, Baron Rothschild purchased approximately 18,000 acres of land about 15 km. east of Ramat Hamagshimim, in what is now Syria. Between 1881 and 1903 (the “First Aliya”) Jews established five small communities in this area, but they too were driven out by Arab gangs.  In dispute between Britain and France, the Golan became part of the French Mandate after WWI, and was included in Syria when it became an independent state at the end of World War II.

 

There was little significant civilian Syrian presence on the Golan Heights during Syrian occupation; it was used primarily as a military base from which to attack settlements in the Hula Valley and, in 1965, Syria attempted to divert the sources of the Jordan River, Israel’s main water supply, almost provoking war.

 

Conquered by the IDF during the Six Day War (in 1967), it was overrun by Syrian forces in 1973 (the Yom Kippur War), reconquered by the IDF and officially annexed by Israel in 1981. Today, there are nearly three dozen Jewish communities on the Golan Heights, most on or near remnants of ancient Jewish towns. Arguments for retaining the Golan based on its strategic and military importance, or its natural resources may be overcome. Israel’s historic and legal claims, however, are unique and irrefutable.

 

Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 489) discusses performing mitzvot and the relative sanctity of the area east of the Jordan River (territory occupied by the tribes of Reuven, Gad and Menashe) Chazon Ish proves that wherever the 12 tribes conquered and lived is automatically considered Eretz Yisrael, by referring to the laws of shmita, the sabbatical year, which depend on all tribes living in Eretz Yisrael. If Jews living east of the Jordan River weren’t included, then shmita would not apply to any area for anyone.

 

None of the Rishonim wrote that the area east of the Jordan River is not part of Eretz Yisrael. The Ran (Nedarim 22a) writes that certain mitzvot, like omer, did not apply in areas east of the Jordan River – implying less, but not no sanctity.

 

The author is a PhD historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.

 

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Watering a Thirsty Planet: I.C. Mayer, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feb. 20, 2011 Today, the Israeli Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor lists some 166 water tech enterprises, including 91 companies offering water efficiency solutions, 50 companies specializing in wastewater reuse and desalination, and another 25 offering water control and command systems. In addition to serving the local market, Israel's water technologies can also be found throughout the world: Israeli water tech exports now total about $1.5 billion annually and the government is seeking to boost this number to $2.5 billion in 2011.

 

Good News for Knees: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Jan. 15, 2013If you get a cut, break a bone or scrape an elbow, your bloodstream brings the injury all the necessary nutrients for healing. But if your cartilage gets damaged, you’re out of luck. This flexible soft tissue that cushions joints – especially in the knee – has no blood vessels and therefore little ability to heal itself.

 

Top 10 Israeli Advances Against Alzheimer’s Disease: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c,  Sept. 2, 2012The amount and quality of medical research coming out of Israel is quite astounding. Advances in treating cancer, asthma, diabetes, sepsis, neurological diseases such as ALS – Israeli scientists have made their mark in all these areas and many more. So it’s not surprising that some of Israel’s best minds have been tackling the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a fatal and progressive brain disorder that is the most common cause of dementia worldwide.

 

The Top Ten Facebook Apps From Israel: Brian Blum, Israel 21c, August 29, 2012If you can play games, share referrals, recognize friends and purchase gifts through Facebook, it’s probably thanks to an Israeli startup. When Facebook acquired Israeli facial recognition app maker Face.com for an estimated $100 million in June, it highlighted a growing category of made-in-Israel apps specifically built for the Facebook ecosystem.
 

The Israeli Pharmacologist Who Kick-Started Marijuana Research: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, May 14, 2012 If some 7,000 Israelis can fill a prescription for marijuana to ease pain and enhance appetite, it’s only because half a century ago, Hebrew University Prof. Raphael Mechoulam isolated and synthesized THC, the main psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant.

 

 

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