What do you most often hear in the news regarding the Jewish state of Israel? Isn’t it typically about violence, contention, controversy and terrorism? But beyond the headlines, how much have you heard about the many amazing accomplishments and innovations that citizens of this tiny yet remarkable country have made in today’s world?
Israel is a free, democratic and technologically advanced nation, and its citizens enjoy political, social and economic freedom and opportunity to learn, grow and prosper. Israeli society is highly developed in terms of education, life expectancy, per capita income and other advancement indicators. For example, Israel was ranked 19th out of 188 countries evaluated on the 2016 Human Development Index of the United Nations Human Development Report (placing it just outside the top 10 percent). In comparison, the United States ranked 10th and the United Kingdom 16th.
Also, of the 138 nations assessed on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2016-2017, Israel ranked 24th. The report’s subcategories showed Israel had phenomenal strength in innovation (ranked 2nd), venture capital availability (2nd) quality of research institutions (3rd), company spending on research and development (3rd), and university-industry research and development (R&D) collaboration (3rd).
Since 1966, 12 distinguished citizens of Israel have been awarded Nobel Prizes in the fields of chemistry, economics, literature and peace. And consider this remarkable statistic concerning the wider Jewish population around the globe, which makes up less than 0.2 percent of the world’s inhabitants: Out of the 892 Nobel Prizes awarded over more than a century, from 1901 through last year, 201 (or 22.5 percent) were awarded to Jews!
Now, in considering contributions from Israeli citizens to the world, let’s examine a small fraction of the many inventions and innovations they have generated over recent years and how those achievements have made significant differences around the globe.
Baby breathing monitor saves infants’ lives
Babysense is a non-touch, no-radiation, highly-sensitive baby-breathing monitor designed to detect respiratory cessation (apnea) in babies. Its purpose is to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (commonly known as SIDS and Crib or Cot Death). SIDS is a major cause of death among normally healthy babies up to one year of age. In the United States and Europe alone, the average death toll reaches 5,600 infants annually.
The device was invented in 1991 by Haim Shtalryd, founder and CEO of Hisense Ltd. of Le Zion, Israel, and is distributed globally by Babysense USA.
Babysense monitors a baby’s breathing and movements continuously through the mattress during sleep. It has an audio and visual alarm, which is activated if the baby stops breathing for more than 20 seconds or if his or her breathing rate slows to fewer than 10 breaths per minute. The alarms give caregivers crucial time to intervene. Babysense monitors are used in hospitals and private homes and have helped protect more than 600,000 infants worldwide from SIDS.
Advanced solar cell ends need to charge or change batteries
Manufacturers of low-power wireless devices and their customers have felt displeased by the need to regularly charge them or replace their batteries. An Israeli company, 3GSolar Ltd. in Jerusalem, has developed a method of generating power from indirect, indoor lighting using an advanced form of dye solar cell (DSC) technology. DSC is similar to a battery or supercapacitor but performs like the natural process of photosynthesis by converting any light to electricity.
When manufacturers integrate 3GSolar cells into their wireless devices, it eliminates the need for charging or changing batteries. It therefore offers maintenance-free operation for the lifetime of devices such as wireless mice and keyboards, watches, small surveillance cameras, medical implements and more.
3GSolar was founded in 2003 by Dr. Jonathan Goldstein, who serves as company president and chief scientist. Dr. Goldstein is a world expert and consultant in the areas of batteries, fuel cells, electroplating materials and energy conversion. He has been awarded 38 U.S. patents and has published over 30 scientific papers.
Pill-sized video camera helps doctors diagnose disorders
Since 2001 when PillCam™ Capsule Endoscopy received certification for use, millions of patients worldwide have experienced its benefits. By employing this unique, painless technological device, physicians can clearly visualize a patient’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract by use of a small, vitamin-size, swallowed capsule with a disposable video endoscope (camera). By transmitting its images, doctors can monitor and diagnose disorders of the esophagus, stomach and colon without sedation or invasive endoscopic procedures.
PillCam™ was invented in 1998 by Israeli Dr. Gabi Iddan. At that time he and a colleague, Dr. Gavriel Meron, established Given Imaging Ltd. with corporate headquarters, laboratory and manufacturing facilities in Yokneam, Israel. The launch of PillCam™ technology revolutionized GI diagnostics by creating the entirely new medical diagnostic category of “capsule endoscopy.” PillCam™ became the gold standard for intestinal imagining.
In 2013 the company was purchased for $860 million by Covidien PLC, an Irish-headquartered global health care products company and manufacturer of medical devices and supplies. Covidien PLC was itself purchased in 2015 by Medtronic PLC, another Irish company, a global leader in medical technology and services.
Computer flash drive transformed data storage and transfer
The computer “flash drive”—also known as a thumb drive, pen drive, jump drive, disk key and memory stick—is a removable data storage and transfer apparatus containing an integrated USB (Universal Serial Bus) interface.
This small, portable storage device is used for connection to personal computers. It was invented in 1989 by Dov Moran who founded M-Systems Ltd. located in Kfar Saba, Israel. Following development and patenting, the device was marketed in 1995 as DiskOnChip. M-Systems’ first product was launched in September 2000 under the name DiskOnKey. The company was purchased for $1.5 billion in 2006 by the Israeli-American manufacturer SanDisk.
Since then, countless millions of the tiny drives have been manufactured, and they’re commonly found around the world.
Revolutionary treatment for severe acne
Acne is a chronic, inflammatory skin disorder resulting from the action of hormones on the skin’s oil glands which leads to the plugging of pores and outbreaks of inflamed blackheads and pimples. Approximately 85 percent of young people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne. Although acne is not usually a serious health danger, it can be distressing for those affected by it. Plus, severe acne can lead to permanent blemishing.
A groundbreaking treatment for this condition was invented by Israeli dermatologist Dr. Yoram Harth in 1998. As a co-founder of CureLight Medical Ltd. of Hefa, Israel, he developed the ClearLight™ acne phototherapy system, which produces high-intensity, narrow-band blue-violet light. This results in the destruction of acne-producing bacteria without damaging surrounding tissue or skin.
In 2002 ClearLight™ was accepted for use in the United States by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of moderate-to-severe inflammatory acne. Of the various methods that have been approved for the treatment of severe acne, phototherapy is the only method proven to be highly effective. Treatments at dermatologist offices are painless, and patients have no disruption of their regular activities.
Agricultural irrigation system helps feed billions
Since Israel is 60 percent desert, its farmers and scientists have worked diligently to make agriculture substantially more efficient. For example, the world’s first “drip irrigation” system was invented in the 1960s at Kibbutz Hatzerim near Beersheba by Israeli engineer Simcha Blass. He sought to design a system that would release water in controlled, slow drips to provide precise crop irrigation.
In 1972 the water technology firm Netafim Ltd. of Tel Aviv hired Rafi Mehudar, an award-winning Israeli inventor, to further develop its drip irrigation technology. Mehudar has since created more than 50 related products and holds more than 400 patents for his technological developments.
When first employed by Netafim, Mehudar began working with its three employees. Today the company employs more than 4,000 people who work in 13 factories in 150 countries, and in doing so they help feed nearly a billion people annually.
In an April 2015 interview with The Times of Israel, Mehudar said, “Netafim has sold over 150 billon drip irrigation devices, which cuts down water use by up to 90%, allowing farmers to spend less on water and more efficiently use their resources.”
While Netafim’s products have been sold all over the globe, their greatest impact has occurred in the developing world, which includes many projects in Africa and Asia. According to Mehudar, “In India alone, the company has over 250,000 customers, most of them smallholder farmers who are eking out a living from their plots, in large part thanks to the fact that they do not have to spend a lot of money on expensive water” (ibid.).
Microprocessor, the computer’s amazing “brain”
Intel Corporation is the second-largest semiconductor chip maker in the world. Its 8088 computer microprocessor, the “brain” of the first personal computer, was invented in July 1979 at its Haifa laboratory by Israeli engineers.
When Intel established its facility in Haifa in 1974, it began with only five workers. Today Intel employs 10,000 personnel in five cities in Israel and indirectly supports the employment of 30,000 workers in other businesses throughout the country.
This is just a small sample of the many exciting and encouraging accomplishments in Israel that are contributing to the enrichment of people’s lives throughout the world!
Indeed it seems that there is something quite special about the Israelis and the Jewish people overall—these who have played such an important role in the world, being known as the chosen people of God.