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Facts Regarding Israel

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

The Middle East has been growing date palms for centuries. The average tree is about 18-20 feet tall and yields about 38 pounds of dates a year.

Israeli date trees are now yielding 400 pounds/year and are short enough to be harvested from the ground or a short ladder.

Israel, the 100th smallest country, with less than 1/1000th of the world’s population, can lay additional claim to the following:

The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel.

Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed and produced in Israel.

The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

Israel has the fourth largest Air Force in the world (after the U.S., Russia and China). In addition to a large variety of other aircraft, Israel’s air force has an aerial arsenal of over 250 F-16’s. This is the largest fleet of F-16 aircraft outside of the U. S.

Israel’s $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security. US officials now look (finally) to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin – 109 per 10,000 people –as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

In proportion to its population,Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world, except the U.S. 3,500companies mostlyin hi-tech).

With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies in the world apart from the Silicon Valley, U. S. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the U.S.

Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.

Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East.

The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

Twenty-four per cent of Israel’s workforce holds university degrees, ranking third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland and 12 per cent hold advanced degrees.

Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.

In 1984 and 1991, Israel airlifted a total of 22,000 Ethiopian Jews (Operation Solomon) at risk in Ethiopia, to safety in Israel.

When Golda Meir was elected Prime Minister of Israel in 1969, she became the world’s second elected female leader in modern times.

When the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, was bombed in 1998, Israeli rescue teams were on the scene within a day — and saved >three victims from the rubble. Israel has the third highest rate of entrepreneurship –and the highest rate among women and among people over 55 – in the world. Relative to its population, Israel is the largestimmigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity (Hundreds of thousands from the former Soviet Union).

Israel was the first nation in the world to adopt the Kimberly process, an international standard that certifies diamonds as “conflict free.”

Israel has the world’s second highest per capita of new books.

Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees, made more remarkable because this was achieved in an area considered mainly desert.

Israel has more museums per capita than any other country.

Medicine… Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.

An Israeli company developed a computerized system for ensuring proper administration of medications, thus removing human error from medical treatment. Every year in U.S. hospitals, 7,000 patients die from treatment mistakes.

Israel’s Givun Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill. Used to view the small intestine from the inside, cancer and digestive disorders.

Researchers in Israel developed a new device that irectly helps the heart pump blood, an innovation with the potential to save lives among those with heart failure. The new device is synchronized with the camera, helps doctors diagnose heart’s mechanical operations through a sophisticated system of sensors.

Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce, with 145 per 10,000, as opposed to 85 in the U.S., over 70 in Japan, and less than 60 in Germany. With over 25% of its work force employed in technical professions. Israel places first in this category as well.

A new acne treatment developed in Israel, the Clear Light device, produces a high-intensity, ultraviolet-light-free, narrow-band blue light that causes acne bacteria to self-destruct — all without damaging surrounding skin or tissue.

An Israeli company was the first to develop and install a large-scale solar-powered and fully functional electricity generating plant, in southern California’s Mojave desert.

All the above while engaged in regular wars with an implacable enemy that seeks its struction, and an economy continuously under strain by having to spend more per capita on its own protection han any other county on earth.

Video: The Churches of Jerusalem

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Though there are many sacred sites peppered around Israel, Jerusalem has a magic no other place can produce. Jerusalem is home to beautiful churches and other sacred and historical sites

Israel has more than a million specifically Christian visitors each year. Many of them spend most of their time in Jerusalem – where pilgrims from all sects of Christianity can pray at the city’s sacred sites.
One of the churches that stand out is the gold topped Church of Mary Magdalene – a distinctive Jerusalem landmark on the Mount of Olives.
There’s also the Church of All Nations, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives next to the Garden of Gethsemane. According to Catholicism, a section of stone in the Garden of Gethsemane is believed to be where Jesus prayed on the night of his arrest. Protestants, however, believe this to be the site of Jesus’s crucifixion.
Above all, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City, attracts the bulk of tourists. Within the walls of this enormous church it is believed that Jesus was stripped of his clothes, nailed to the cross, crucified, and buried. The energy in this church is exciting even for non-believers.
In addition to their historical significance, many of the churches are architecturally interesting as well. Visitors will delight in the Gothic-style stained glass windows, the 19th century mosaics, and the structural design of the churches.

TWO ISRAELI COMPANIES WIN GE CLEANTECH CHALLENGE

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Two Israeli start-ups, WinFlex, a wind-energy company, and GridON, which outfits electric grids, were among the five winners of the GE Ecomagination Challenge.  

Selected out of more than 4,000 entries from around the globe, each winner received $100,000 to further develop their ideas, which had to fall into three broad categories: Renewables, Grid and Eco Homes/Eco Buildings. 

GridON, based in Givatayim, was rewarded for its current-limiter device, which protects the electric grid from disruptions and power outages, increasing the grid’s reliability and enabling it to handle the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources better. The technology was developed in collaboration with Bar-Ilan University.

WinFlex, a Kiryat Yam-based company, won based on its inflatable wind turbine made from inexpensive cloth sheets. The lightweight wind turbine is said to reduce installation costs by at least 50 percent.

Amazon’s Kindle: A Made-in-Israel Story

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

As reported in Israel 21C: They made Java “cool” again by using it to develop a device for reading the Kindle, and once again a major tech invention emanates from Israel.

Windows; ICQ (known today as AOL Chat); anti-virus software; cell phone technology – you name it and Israel has had a hand in the development, if not the outright invention, of many of the most important tech components of modern life. And Israel’s high-tech brain trust is still brimful of ideas. This may come as a surprise, but one of today’s newest, hottest, up-and-coming gadgets, Amazon’s Kindle, was largely developed in the heart of Israel’s high-tech center in the Herzliya Industrial Zone on the central coast.

“Four years ago, Amazon contacted Sun (which was acquired by Oracle last year) in California and said they wanted a small device that could be used to read e-books,” says Lilach Zipory, the leader of the team that helped to develop the Kindle application. “They had already acquired the software to run it, but were looking for the right technical design, and especially a platform to run the software on. My team in Herzliya is in charge of developing Java for small non-cell phone devices, so they gave us the project.” And the rest, of course, is history.

It’s a history that wasn’t well known until recently, since Oracle chose not to reveal too much about its role in the development of the Kindle. Now, however, the company has come clean – and in the process, Zipory’s team is receiving some much-deserved credit.

Israel gets credit for Kindle performance

Not that the team was aware of the far-reaching implications of the project when they took it on. “We see a lot of small devices here, and they’re all very nice. But I would never have expected an e-book reader to take off like the Kindle did,” she confides to ISRAEL21c.

Perhaps that’s because the Kindle was not the first e-book reader, and as a technical expert, Zipory may not have realized the extent of Amazon’s willingness to invest in marketing the device. Still, the Kindle would not have succeeded as it did if it wasn’t such a top-functioning, high-performer. And the credit for that performance success is based on the customized Java platform written in Israel by the Herzliya team.

Zipory’s group has worked on a wide range of devices, from industrial valves to set-top boxes, so they took the Kindle development in stride. One of the main goals was to develop a version of Java that would support the Kindle’s electronic ink, one of the device’s greatest charms, says Eran Vanounou, director of the Oracle development office in Herzliya.

“We were impressed with the business model for the device and the e-ink technology, and we decided to develop a version of Java to specifically support the Kindle,” he says. A flexible platform, Java supports devices of all sorts, including most of the world’s cell phones, PC software, printers, industrial equipment and much more.

Most devices use “off-the-shelf” versions of Java, with programmers applying the components needed to run the device they are supporting, but in the case of the Kindle, several deeper, driver-level adjustments were needed, Zipory says.

“We had to adjust the refresh rate of the operating system software to accommodate grayscale screens, which require more unique refreshing methodology than the normal color screens that most devices use today, and which the most up-to-date versions of Java are designed to support.”

Oracle’s status rises

The Herzliya team worked with Amazon for several years on developing a prototype, and when they were satisfied, manufacturing commenced. “They initially ordered 100,000 pieces, and we were frankly skeptical they would sell all of them,” Vanounou says. “But when they sold out a couple of months later, we realized what we were involved with.”

The success of the Kindle has of course been a source of pride for the Herzliya team – and a boon for Oracle whose Java, first developed by Sun, and now proudly bearing the Oracle brand name – has seen its status rise among developers. “Of course Java was well-known before,” says Vanounou. “But the Kindle gives us something new to show potential customers who are looking for an easy-to-use and develop platform. It’s made Java cool all over again.”

Now when they travel, Vanounou and Zipory proudly look on as passengers on planes pull out their Kindles and start reading. “As a platform technology, Java runs in the background, and it powers many important devices,” Vanounou says. “We know there are many devices out there using our technology. Each device we develop and each partnership brings new successes, and new connections based on those successes. But the Kindle is different, because it’s such a phenomenon.

“I was recently on a flight when a woman told me how her Kindle kept her entertained while she flew,” says Vanounou. “I didn’t let on how much we in Oracle Herzliya were a part of her experience. But when she said ‘I love my Kindle,'” says Vanounou, “I could have sworn I felt a tear in my eye.”

Ready to reap a potential windfall

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

As reported by Israel21c:

While gas and oil exploration rigs have been dominating the energy news headlines in Israel of late, at least one man and his company think Israel should try to catch the wind to meet the country’s ever-increasing energy needs.

Zahal (also the Hebrew acronym for IDF – Israel Defense Forces) Harel, general manager of Mei Golan’s Green Wind Energy and the newer Clean Wind Energy companies, says he was so named because “I was born on Independence Day.” A pioneer of wind farming in Israel, he has a vision: he sees dozens of wind farms on the Golan Heights and in the Galilee, providing Israelis with renewable, clean energy.

read more here

Desert Challenge at the Dead Sea

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The annual Veolia Desert Challenge will take place on 17 and 18 December 2010 at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth and one of the finalists in the New7Wonders of Nature global campaign..

The Desert challenge, which attracts thousands of mountain bike riders and runners, is not just about racing. It offers the opportunity for everyone to celebrate the uniqueness of the area, with its moon-like landscape, dry, desert air and enchanted evenings

The PRO:SPORT Desert Challenge offers runners the chance to race and run in the challenging terrain of the Judean desert along one of two moon-lit courses: 14 km or 24 km. Participants will run the circular routes at night, illuminated by the full moon and their own headlamps. The Ride – a spectacular mountain biking marathon in two-rider teams: 23 km / 46 km / 69 km. The teams ride through the winding creeks and experience some of the best- and the lowest – desert routes in the world. After the races participants will be invited to relax and chill in the specially-prepared festival zone in the heart of the desert

For more information: www.desertchallenge.co.il

New renewable energy research center

Friday, October 15th, 2010

As reported by Israel21c:

A renewable energy research center is to be established in southern Israel. It will be operated by the Arava Group, initiated by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and the Eilat-Elot municipality.

The Arava Group recently won a tender from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to establish and operate the center.

Read more here

Changing the way we chat

Monday, October 4th, 2010

As reported by Israel21c  a Revolutionary new Israeli Videochats program means you can chat directly from Facebook, while Website owners can chat directly to customers and enhance sales.

Video chatting – communicating through an instant messaging program via a webcam – is nothing new, but a novel application created by Israeli entrepreneur, mathematician and linguist Jacob Zoarets is set to fundamentally change our video chats.

Zoarets’ new program, called Videochats, can be used directly from Facebook, the world’s most popular Web application. “All other chat solutions require that you download a dedicated application in order to conduct a video chat,” Zoaretz tells ISRAEL21c. “Videochats is the first video chat application that works in conjunction with Facebook, which has become the premier method of communication for many people, and you can access Videochats directly from within Facebook.”

Videochats, which had its beta introduction in early August, brings another radical innovation: The program allows owners of websites to communicate directly with the people who visit their site, in real time.

“Imagine this,” enthuses Zoarets, “If you’re running a shopping site, you’ll be able to reach out and communicate with customers, offering them help or shopping ideas. Videochats is the first and only application that enables website owners to become active participants in how people who surf to the site experience it, as opposed to the passive role they have taken until now.”

Are you talking to me?

Indeed, according to Zoarets, both sides of the Videochats equation – the Facebook app and the website component – are revolutionary, and it’s all thanks to the latest edition of Adobe Flash, which allows peer-to-peer connections and bandwidth allocation.

Videochats exploits both features, allowing users to benefit from the technology and establish a no-hassle video link in any program that supports Flash (including most Web browsers), and to adjust the quality to take maximum advantage of their computer and network resources.

By utilizing the Adobe Flash technology, Videochats can perform tricks that none of its competitors (like Skype), can pull off – like not requiring a dedicated program to conduct chats.

In addition, Zoarets says, you can use Videochats to talk to as many people as you like, at the same time. You can conduct, say, a dozen different conversations in separate chat windows, or you can integrate that dozen into a single conference call. It’s also easy to switch the microphone on and off with a click, if what you’re saying isn’t for everyone’s ears.

The most outstanding feature of Videochats (and there are plenty of similar programs out there) is that Zoarets’ program is the only one that lets you communicate in real time with the people visiting your website.

The Web component of Videochats has two parts: The first is a component that allows you to observe the activity of a user on your site, and then open a dialog box with them. The second grants you the ability to initiate a video chat, if the other party is agreeable. And there’s no need for the user to install anything, since the Videochat app is embedded on the website.

Sales up “dozens of percent”

“Web retailers we’ve spoken to are very enthusiastic,” Zoarets reports, “For the first time, they can reach out and work with customers, giving them suggestions and ideas, and answering questions, meaning that there is less of a chance that they will lose sales.” In case studies conducted on live websites, Zoarets tells ISRAEL21c that sales increased “dozens of percent” when the Videochats technology was used.

No newcomer to high-profile and highly-productive applications, Zoarets’ previous venture was an application called Twitter Analyzer, established two years ago. It’s one of the more popular tools to measure user effectiveness and reach on the Twitter social network.

“I started that application as my first foray into social networks, which is where the most exciting applications are being developed, using my experience as a mathematician and linguist,” he says.

Zoarets is a unique entrepreneur. Dropping out of college to make money, he worked for years in information retrieval, developing the technology used in many of the major search engines.

Videochats, based in the center of the country in Rosh Ha’ayin, is essentially funded as a spin-off of Twitter Analyzer. The company is privately financed and has about 10 full-time employees, with freelancers kicking in on several projects. While the basic functions of Videochats on Facebook are likely to remain free, Zoarets expects to earn money from ads, and from licensing fees for websites using the application.

In the few weeks that the app has been available on Facebook, thousands of users have embraced it. And Zoarets promises that this is just the beginning, “It’s a revolution in communication and marketing. We could be looking at a new standard here.”

BIRD Energy to Invest $4.2m in 5 US-Israel Projects

Monday, August 30th, 2010

As reported in IVC: The projects’ total aggregate budget is $12.8 million.

Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD-F) unit BIRD Energy will invest $4.2 million in five new joint renewable energy projects by US and Israeli companies. The projects’ total aggregate budget is $12.8 million.

The projects are a system for energy efficiency in chip equipment, the production of biofuel from cellulose, a commercial building energy management system, a system for variable-speed wind turbines, and an improved combined thermosolar system.

Israel’s man on space

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

As reported in Israel 21C: It’s men like Dr Zvi Kaplan who are leading Israel, one of only eight nations in the world to launch an indigenous satellite into space, into the billion-dollar space industry.

An Israeli has yet to moonwalk – and the country’s only astronaut Ilan Ramon perished on a tragic NASA mission in 2003 – but Israel has big ambitions to jump into the billion-dollar space industry.

One of only eight nations in the world to launch an indigenous satellite into space, Israel’s government recently announced an $80 million boost to its space activities in research and development, which should jibe well with the country’s established defense and high-tech communications industries.

While the space industry is commonly associated with the development of space-related defense technologies, according to Dr. Zvi Kaplan, director general of the Israel Space Agency, its civilian applications are also extensive, and in some cases critical. For example, the monitoring of global warming from earth to space or from space down to earth is vital for studying the phenomenon and potentially mitigating risks.

ISRAEL21c met with Kaplan to learn more about the man and the Space Agency he has stewarded for the past six years, which is leading Israel and the Middle East toward this new frontier.

One of several dominant figures in Israel’s space industry – alongside Haim Eshed, who heads the Israeli space program at the Ministry of Defense and Major General Prof. Itzik Ben-Israel, head of the Program for Security Studies at Tel Aviv University – Kaplan, born in 1944, says he views himself as someone continuing the work of the other prominent men in Israel’s space sphere, “to help create a vision for the new millennium.”

A Jerusalem childhood like ‘Love and Darkness’

His vision to funnel Israel’s existing industries and academic research into “space” will likely be a legacy for future generations. According to Kaplan, a trained plasma physicist who worked for many years at Israel’s Soreq Nuclear Research Center, the development of a space industry has many positive aspects beyond the obvious financial ones. It is his hope that it will help to stem the brain drain, and keep the country’s brightest minds at home in academia, research, corporations and government.

Born in Jerusalem, Kaplan says that the neighborhood where he grew up resembled the one described by leading Israeli novelist Amos Oz in his autobiographical novel A Story of Love and Darkness. “It was one of his best. It describes the atmosphere in Israel for the Ashkenazi Jews that came with nothing before the outbreak of the Second World War in the ’30s and ’40s and during the end of the Second World War and a bit later,” Kaplan reminisces.

Like tens of thousands of other Jerusalem Jews, Kaplan’s family immigrated to Israel from Europe. Both his parents – his dad from Lithuania, his mom from Poland – come from families of Holocaust survivors.

“Those days, between the wars, East Europe’s young Jews were going to study in western universities,” says Kaplan. “My father came to Palestine after studying chemical engineering to work at the Dead Sea when the potassium production began,” he recounts. “My mother came from a very religious family, but which was also very modern, so all the girls got an education. She was a pharmacist, and came to Israel not with a strong Zionist motivation, but to follow some of her family members who were already living in Israel.”

Growing up in Jerusalem, like most of his peers Kaplan served in the army. He was in Nahal, an infantry brigade that at the time combined military service with the establishment of new agricultural settlements.

After the army, he attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to study math and physics, later obtaining a PhD at the Weizmann Institute, where he specialized in plasma physics. He then spent one year in the US at Bell Laboratories under Kumar Patel, a prominent laser physicist from India who discovered the carbon dioxide laser.

Making way for the next generation

For the bulk of his career Kaplan worked at the Soreq center, rising to the position of director. His claim to fame in space is the development of the “electric propulsion” system. In recognition of this and other achievements he was named director of Soreq in 1997.

In Israel, as in the rest of the world, the industry was born during the 1950s, when scientists believed that nuclear science would “control everything – energy, agriculture, medicine – mainly through the production and utilization of radioactive isotopes. But the focus of science went in quite different directions,” Kaplan says.

Now the world looks to silicone chips and information and high-tech communication. Yet despite its lack of popularity, nuclear research is still important, for many reasons. Reminders were the disasters like Three Mile Island and the meltdown at Chernobyl. “It’s a legitimate field, because it’s needed. The energy crisis you cannot ignore; and we cannot make miracles only with the sun and wind,” says Kaplan.

At Soreq, Kaplan benefited from the international movement while working in the field of electromagnetic propulsion, participating in projects initiated by the Reagan Administration. The space applications that he worked on at Soreq helped to prepare him for his current position at the Israel Space Agency, which he’s held for the past six years.

Nuclear science is important in space applications so that space missions can deal with radiation encountered in space, cosmic and particle radiation. “When you send a system to space with electronics it becomes very sensitive to radiation,” Kaplan explains.

Live according to our time

Residing in central Israel in Rehovot, Kaplan relates that so far his two sons and his daughter have provided him with “almost” nine grandchildren. He says that he plans to retire next year, so that a younger candidate can move into his position. That plan dovetails with his belief that “we should live according to the time set aside for us, and let our younger generation take managerial positions at an early stage in their careers, otherwise we are losing something [in society].”

Although older people may be unwilling to retire and many can work well into their 70s and 80s, Kaplan believes that the system should not be asymmetrical. “If you don’t give responsibility to a bright scientist when he is about 40 he will never become a manager,” asserts the man who is hoping to help launch Israel’s scholars and the country’s defense and communications industries into the “final frontier.”