Israel Innovations Mark 65 years of Statehood
by Marcy Price
special to the paper
Israel is a land of contrasts – ancient and uber-modern, dotted with biblical sites and high tech corridors of innovation.
Israel archeologists continue to explore and uncover layers of history and artifacts from biblical days, and the younger generation dance to the hip beat of Tel Aviv, recently listed as one of the top ten cities in the world. At the end of April, Israel will mark 65 years of statehood, 1948-2013. The day before the celebrations begin, Israeli sirens sound, and throughout the country, drivers stop their cars and stand by the side of the road, as citizens mark Yom HaZikaron, a day of mourning, a day of remembrance for their fallen soldiers – young lives lost while defending their country. The following day, Yom HaAtzma’ut, Israel Independence Day, Israeli’s transition to a day of celebration! When Israel was founded 65 years ago, it was a barren country with no natural resources, little water, and more than half of its land mass desert. The only natural resource that the new country had was the creativity, diversity and imagination of its people. More than six decades later, Israelis have transformed their country into a launch pad for technology and innovation. With the most startups per capita worldwide, and the third highest number of patents per head, Israel has become one of the leading players in the world from health breakthroughs to agricultural advances.
Did you know that technologies developed in Israel to recycle the country’s precious water resources are being used to help save India’s Noyyal River? Did you know that Israelis invented drip irrigation and natural pesticides that now helps feed the hungry in the developing world? Did you know that the PillCam revolutionized the world of gastrointestinal diagnosis by developing a miniature camera that can be swallowed in a pill?
Most people do not know that Israel is on the cutting edge in developing new apps for the mobile world. Do you use a flash drive? Did you know that the Disk-on-Key was developed by M-Systems, a company founded by three Israelis? The data storage device was launched in September 2000, and since then has become almost as ubiquitous worldwide as the paper clip. In December last year, TIME magazine named a new MRI technology developed by a Haifa company as one of the best 50 inventions of the year. The non-invasive, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery system allows surgeons to safely destroy tumors inside the body. The device has huge potential to address a wide variety of medical problems, including many diseases that currently have no treatment. In a land of contrasts, media coverage of Israel typically focuses an inordinate amount of attention to the political issues and conflicts rather than highlighting the amazing scope of Israel’s contributions to the world of art, music, dance, fashion, film, television, agriculture, health, technology, security, archeology, research and rescue. NOTE: Marcy Price is program director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City. Visit israel21c.org/