Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Why Halloween Rocks in Israel

Why Halloween Rocks in Israel

Jen Maidenberg is a writer, who blogs about her experience as a new immigrant to Israel…

I had a better blog post planned.

It was about Hurricane Sandy. And fear and acceptance. About climate change and transition.

It was going to be a doozy.

But I got smacked with a doozy of my own — first a bad cold. And then a migraine. ‘Screw the environment. This hurts like hell.’ So instead, I bring you Halloween in Israel. My Israeli friends are laughing right now because they get the joke. Most of my American friends don’t.

Honey, in Israel, there ain’t no Halloween.

No candy corn. No Milky Ways. No Target-bought costumes that smell like plastic. No cozy life-sized polyester teddy bears from Old Navy or Land’s End. No homemade Raggedy Ann dresses that make me feel like the worst mother in the world because my kid is sweating bullets underneath polyester.

Nope. No Halloween.

No plastic pumpkins or recycled sustainable resuable bags filled with candy… and a handful of pennies. No wooden doors with brass handles to knock. No darkened streets to avoid.

Nope. No Halloween.

And the truth is — I don’t know why. It’s something Jewish. I could Google it. But so could you.
It has to do with something about paganism and worshiping graven images. But for me to give you more specifics than that, I would have to go look up what graven means. Instead, I will tell you a secret.
I only miss Halloween a teency weency bit. Hardly at all. Because somewhere after I started having kids, I became a Halloween Grinch. A scrooge. A buzz-kill.

Halloween went from being a fabulously fun excuse to dress up like Madonna circa 1984 (a photo I’d show you if it weren’t at the bottom of a trunk in my mom’s basement in New Jersey, which I hope and pray is still dry) to being a big fat pain in my butt. When I became a mom, Halloween became yet another item on my to-do list. I always wanted to do something extraordinarily creative for my kids, but as working mom, I never felt like I had the time and energy to put into making the holiday as fun and special as I would have liked. You know: Styrofoam tombstones lining the driveway; homemade orange-frosted cupcakes with gummy worms baked into the center.

As a mom, Halloween made me feel kinda like a failure. Then my son developed a nut allergy, and Halloween became yet one more national holiday in which I had to worry about his safety and he had to feel like an outsider.

Finally, when I got more wise to wellness, Halloween turned into just one more reason for you not to like me. I got annoyed with all the attention put into a holiday which was no longer special, now that kids suck down Hawaiian Punch every day of the year, not just October 31. I became the crazy mom who rationed her kids’ booty.

Living in Israel, surprisingly, allows me to once more appreciate Halloween. I don’t have to compete with any Super Moms. At least, not until Purim. I don’t have to worry (today) about my son’s friends plucking from his sack and peeling open a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup before he gets back to his own house.

I don’t have to remind my kids of their very low tolerance for junk. And how that low tolerance often translates into vomit. That I have to clean up. (Dear God, please no vomit. The migraine is enough.)
Instead, I get to surprise my kids. With a yummy homemade cake.

And some funny signs.

And put on a wig, or some fake nails, before I greet them at the door today. Be the mom who remembered Halloween. And feel for a minute like a mom… who is… extraordinary.

Camera ‘sees’ through skin, around corners

Camera ‘sees’ through skin, around corners

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, have discovered a new physics trick. While it’s not exactly Superman vision –– yet — the camera developed by Ori Katz, Eran Small and Prof. Yaron Silberberg sees through objects using a simple light bulb, a standard digital camera and the basic technology found in everyday digital projectors. Their camera can see through nearly opaque surfaces such as skin or frosted glass — even around a corner into another room if the door is open.

Other scientists around the world have produced similar results, but only when using laser technology and not in real time. While the applications are far down the road, the new discovery points the way to non-invasive cancer diagnostics. Katz, a post-doctoral student, tells ISRAEL21c that biopsies could be circumvented if this approach is further developed by the medical imaging industry.

The international press has gone wild over the idea, stirring much exhilaration among the inventors.
“Every time someone wrote on a website that we developed ‘Superman vision,’ it made me more excited,” admits Katz, who will be continuing his research in Paris for the next few years. “Even if it is not applied one day in medicine, we had to do what we did because it’s very cool.”

Making sense of the fog

Their trick hinges on the camera’s ability to see through any object that can scatter light – including skin. Though skin doesn’t look transparent, light passes through it. This is more obvious when you hold a flashlight to your hand in the dark. Where you can see the light shining through, this is an example of scattered light.
Katz explains: “Light is a sort of radiation. The general public doesn’t see it that way; they see it as just regular light. We used regular light from a halogen lamp to be able to see through most of the materials that we encounter today. Most of them are not transparent when we look at them, like our skin or an eggshell.

“The problem is that they are absorbing light, and then the light is scattered. Just like when you look at fog. Microscopically, fog is transparent but the movement [of the fog] prevents you from seeing through it,” he explains. Until recently scientists did not fully understand the way the light is absorbed by these objects and then scattered away. But new technologies allow physicists to amplify what they are seeing to find patterns.

They reasoned that if light is scattered in wave patterns when it passes through “turbid” materials (which absorb light but let light pass through, like frosted glass), it should scatter according to the material’s shape and size. Applied in reverse, one could image the object’s appearance by re-creating the original pattern. This is the basis of a new field called “wave front shaping.” “Once we’ve learned the patterns — the way a material or object scatters the light — we can apply the inverse scattering pattern using a big crystal and a small LCD screen,” says Katz. “We are not doing any magic,” he assures. “In the past we didn’t think the scattered light carried any information because it was scattered too many times.”

Spy glasses?

Spies around the globe will be pleased to know this device can be put together for a few hundred dollars by “hacking” a digital projector, says Katz. The equipment he used cost about $10,000, but for novelty purposes it can be done for much less. Which is another appeal to the technology – it’s simple, straightforward and relatively cheap. Katz does not expect wave front shaping to replace an MRI, but theoretically, it could be used to non-invasively “see” through the skin to identify malignancies instead of a surgical biopsy.

Intriguingly, the same approach can provide a peek around corners. “The surface of the wall is not as smooth as a mirror, yet it scatters and scrambles all the directions of the light. We took a small portion of the wall, learned its properties, and now we can use it as a mirror,” he says. But before you quit your day job to take on the next Mission Impossible or superhero job, take note that the team was only able to see through a small patch of material, with poor contrast and fuzzy resolution. “There are still lots of obstacles to overcome using our technique,” admits Katz.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Israel Under Atack

Copied from

My Country is Under Attack. Do You Care?
By: Arsen Ostrovsky

I'm angry.

You see, as most Americans were waking up this morning, and those in Europe and elsewhere around the world were going about their daily routines, here in Israel -- over one million people were running for cover from a hail of rockets being rained down by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. In the space of 24 hours, since Tuesday evening, 80 rockets have been fired on southern Israel. That's more than three rockets per hour. By the time I finish this article, odds are that count will have risen to 85 rockets.

Just to put things in context: one million Israelis is roughly 13 per cent of the population. Thirteen per cent of the U.S. population equates to about 40 million people.

A dozen Israelis have already been injured, with several of them seriously. The only reason more have not been hurt is because Israel has invested millions of dollars in bomb shelters and the Iron Dome defense system, while Hamas has invested millions of dollars in foreign aid in more rockets.

But here is why I'm angry.
I'm angry that in 2012, over 600 rockets have already been fired from Gaza with no end in sight. I'm angry that the world only notices when Israel undertakes its (sovereign) right to defend its citizens. Can you imagine if even one rocket was fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow? No nation on earth can, or should, tolerate such attacks on its people.

I'm angry that while the United Nations never hesitates to call a 'special emergency session' on the 'Question of Palestine' or pass the umpteenth resolution blindly condemning Israel, that I am still waiting for a session on the 'Question of Israel' and Palestinian terror. In fact, 24 hours after the rocket attacks started, I am still waiting for even one syllable of condemnation from the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly or Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I'm angry that Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, could not find a moment to condemn the Palestinian rockets, but did find time to laugh and dance with South Korean rapper Psy from the popular dance craze Gangnam Style.

I'm angry that while the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton slammed Israel last week over the building of several hundred apartments (in an area that will arguably remain part of Israel anyway), that I am still waiting for her to slam the Palestinians for firing 80 rockets in one day.

I'm angry that there are those who continue to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the Jewish State, but are silent in the face of Palestinian terror.

I'm angry that ships and flotillas continue to set sail for Gaza to show 'solidarity' with the Palestinians, but where is their solidarity with the people of southern Israel?

I'm angry that while human rights organizations like Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, Oxfam and others do not waste a single opportunity to condemn Israel for human rights violations against the Palestinians, the human rights of Israelis are seemingly not important enough for them. Is Jewish blood really that cheap?
I'm angry that mainstream newspapers like the New York Times, lead their stories about the rocket attacks with such headlines as "Four Palestinian Militants Killed in Israeli Airstrikes," and not "Palestinian Terrorists Rain Down Over 80 Rockets against one million Israelis."

I'm angry that so many people are blind to the fact that Iran, which has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and now seeks to obtain nuclear weapons, is the primary funder and supplier of arms to Hamas. I'm angry at the fact that all civilians in southern Israel today were instructed not to send their kids to school and stay in bomb shelters. What sort of inhumane way is that for children to live?

I'm angry when people continue to say that 'settlements' are the main impediment to peace, and not Hamas, a terrorist group which does not recognize Israel's right to exist and seeks its destruction. I'm angry when I see pictures like this, of a home in southern Israel hit by a rocket from Gaza today, yet have the audacity to say "ah, but they're just like toys; what damage can they do?"

I'm angry that there is someone out there who does not know me and has never met me, yet still wants to kill me -- for no other reason than being Israeli.

I'm angry when I hear residents in southern Israel say "we just lie on top of our children and try to protect them with our bodies" or that "we're living on borrowed time" -- yet the world seems oblivious to their desperate cries for help.

No, I am not angry. I am outraged.

Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and freelance journalist living in Israel.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hot air ballooning across the scenic skies of Israel.

Tourists and Israelis alike are discovering the romance and adventure of hot air ballooning across the scenic skies of Israel.

Hitchhiking in Nevada after his Israeli army days, Amir Shemer was picked up in a four-wheel trailer hauling a hot-air balloon. Later, while traveling in Africa, the shadow of a passing hot-air balloon woke him up one morning. “Balloons were all over the place somehow,” Shemer tells ISRAEL21c.

At the tender age of 25, Shemer owns Israel’s newest hot-air ballooning company, SkyTrek

This colorful and adventurous way to see Israel from above is gaining fast in popularity among both Israelis and foreign visitors. During the weeklong Sukkot holiday in the autumn, there are now two annual hot-air ballooning festivals to choose from.

Most flights in Israel end with a champagne toast or breakfast, so it is not surprising that many Israelis are willing to spend roughly $250 per person to celebrate a special occasion in the air. Marriage proposals are a frequent occurrence aboard Israel’s hot-air balloons, owners tell ISRAEL21c.

Shemer, who received his pilot’s license at a school in Utah, worked for three other hot-air balloon companies in Israel before launching his own. “I grew up in a family where everybody skydives or rock climbs or surfs,” Shemer relates. Hot-air ballooning with a professional pilot is a tame activity by contrast, safe enough for just about anyone over age six. But the wind’s unpredictability adds an element of chance.  “When you fly a balloon, you need to give up some control because it has no steering wheel or brakes. There is a famous phrase that when you don’t know where you’re going, the road leads itself,” Shemer says.

Floaters and pilots

Manned hot air ballooning began in France in 1782. The balloon, also called an “envelope,” lifts passengers in its attached basket with the aid of trapped air heated by an open flame powered by propane gas. Balloons fly only when there is good visibility and a wind of less than 10 knots, with the pilot controlling the altitude and direction by entering air masses moving in different directions.
“Some pilots are floaters and some are pilots,” explains Shemer. “Floaters go up and let the wind take them where it likes. Pilots can navigate the balloon using the winds to go where they like.” 

Companies also offer tethered flights, where passengers float in the balloon basket 100 meters (328 feet) in the air while anchored to the ground in a scenic spot such as the shores of the Dead Sea orSea of Galilee. “This is a great and affordable way to get in the air above the Israeli desert at the South or the amazing Gilboa Mountain area at the North,” says Almog Amir of Touch the Sky, based in Kibbutz Beit Hashita at Mount Gilboa. “You can really see half the country, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Gilead mountains of Jordan in the east.”

Passengers are in the air for about 60 minutes, but the entire experience lasts four to five hours because it begins with inflating the balloon with the staff, lifting off at sunrise or sunset, gliding at an altitude of up to 2,000 feet and ending with an optional gourmet picnic.

Depending on their size, hot-air balloons can carry four to 18 people. Rize Up, at Moshav Betzet in the Jezreel Valley, can send a group of about 30 up in the air simultaneously in its three balloons. It also offers illuminated nighttime tethered “Fiesta Flights” for large groups, and a workshop where participants can construct and launch miniature hot-air balloons made of colored paper.

Symbol of freedom and peace

Moran Itzckovich founded his hot-air balloon company, Over Israel, based on a dream in which he saw a giant balloon. A couple of months later, he took off for Utah to get certified as a pilot. “I bought a used balloon and shipped it to Israel and came back, but it took about two years till that balloon was up in the air,” says Itzckovich, now 32. The company started in 2003, and has flown about 3,000 passengers so far this year. “A balloon is a symbol of freedom and peace,” he says. “It’s very related to nature, it’s clean and it’s sexy.” It’s also quite eye-catching, which makes a hot air balloon a perfect canvas for promotional campaigns.

SkyTrek festooned its balloon at the Gilboa Regional Council’s recent hot-air balloon festival with a banner publicizing the Jordan River Village camp for seriously ill children. Actor Haim Topol rode in the basket with kids from that week’s camp session.

“During the year we hope to do some more events with them,” says Shemer. “The balloon in very much is synch with the idea of taking kids higher than they can imagine.”

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Combating the perversion of Jewish life and identity

Dear Friends:

Once again we deal with the absurdity of women being detained by Israeli police for the apparent “crime” of expressing their Jewish identity.

Every Rosh Hodesh, Women of the Wall conduct services at the Kotel in Jerusalem. They daven shacharit in the women’s section, making no effort to infringe in any way on the much larger section reserved for men. Leaders of Women of the Wall include many from Masorti, and each month Masorti has a delegation of men and women (including members of the NOAM youth movement) at the Kotel with Women of the Wall.

This morning, once again, two women were detained by police for the offense of wearing their tallit the way we all typically do, rather than making it look like a scarf or item of apparel. One of those detained was Rachel Cohen Yeshurun, a leader of a Masorti kehilla. She told me how she was brought in for questioning and fingerprinted. She, and all those involved, deserve a kol hakavod from us.

Last night, while with a group of women from Hadassah and not specifically davening for Rosh Hodesh, Anat Hoffman, the leader of Women of the Wall, was detained and kept overnight in jail. Why? Apparently while at the Kotel she was too enthusiastic and loud in her rendition of Shema so it was deemed she was disturbing the peace.

Yizhar Hess, Executive Director of the Masorti movement in Israel, put it well when he said: “In all honesty it must be said we have misunderstood our own history. The Kotel was never liberated, rather, it was handed over to the Ministry of Religion and to the Haredim who fully control the area. In a process of exclusion, this national symbol has been turned into an Orthodox synagogue. The women of Hadassah may be good enough to build hospitals but not good enough to pray and sing.”

Help us combat this perversion of what Jewish life and identity should mean. Support the work of the Masorti movement and urge others to do so. Share this email with friends by using the share function in the top right corner. Share it via social media. Support the work of Masorti in Israel by making a donation online at, or by mailing a check to us at: Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832, New York, NY 10115-0122. In Canada, please visit


David H. Lissy
Executive Director & CEO

To learn more, please contact:
Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
(212) 870-2216; 1-877-287-7414;

Monday, October 15, 2012

An Israeli (cardboard) bicycle that could change the world

An Israeli (cardboard) bicycle that could change the world

Izhar Gafni's lightweight, cheap bicycle, made almost entirely of cardboard, can be given to poor for free and recycled if broken.

Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni rides his cardboard bicycle in Moshav Ahituv, central Israel

A bicycle made almost entirely of cardboard has the potential to change
transportation habits from the world's most congested cities to the poorest reaches of Africa, its Israeli inventor says. Izhar Gafni, 50, is an expert in designing automated mass-production lines. He is an amateur cycling enthusiast who for years toyed with an idea of making a bicycle from cardboard. He told Reuters during a recent demonstration that after much trial and error, his latest prototype has now proven itself and mass production will begin in a few months.

"I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions. But this was the culmination of a few things that came together. I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard's weak structural points," Gafni said. "Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right," he said. Cardboard, made of wood pulp, was invented in the 19th century as sturdy packaging for carrying other more valuable objects, it has rarely been considered as raw material for things usually made of much stronger materials, such as metal. Once the shape has been formed and cut, the cardboard is treated with a secret concoction made of organic materials to give it its waterproof and fireproof qualities. In the final stage, it is coated with lacquer paint for appearance.

In testing the durability of the treated cardboard, Gafni said he immersed a cross-section in a water tank for several months and it retained all its hardened characteristics. Once ready for production, the bicycle will include no metal parts, even the brake mechanism and the wheel and pedal bearings will be made of recycled substances, although Gafni said he could not yet reveal those details due to pending patent issues. "I'm repeatedly surprised at just how strong this material is, it is amazing. Once we are ready to go to production, the bike will have no metal parts at all," Gafni said. Gafni's workshop, a ramshackle garden shed, is typically the sort of place where legendary inventions are born. It is crammed with tools and bicycle parts and cardboard is strewn everywhere.

One of his first models was a push bike he made as a toy for his young daughter which she is still using months later. Gafni owns several top-of-the-range bicycles which he said are worth thousands of dollars each, but when his own creation reaches mass production, it should cost no more than about $20 to buy. The cost of materials used are estimated at $9 per unit. "When we started, a year and a half or two years ago, people laughed at us, but now we are getting at least a dozen e-mails every day asking where they can buy such a bicycle, so this really makes me hopeful that we will succeed," he said. A ride of the prototype was quite stiff, but generally no different to other ordinary basic bikes.

Game changer

Nimrod Elmish, Gafni's business partner, said cardboard and other recycled materials could bring a major change in current production norms because grants and rebates would only be given for local production and there would be no financial benefits by making bicycles in cheap labour markets.

"This is a real game-changer. It changes ... the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to be built everywhere instead of moving production to cheaper labor markets, everything that we have known in the production world can change," he said. Elmish said the cardboard bikes would be made on largely automated production lines and would be supplemented by a workforce comprising pensioners and the disabled. He said that apart from the social benefits this would provide for all concerned, it would also garner government grants for the manufacturers. Elmish said the business model they had created meant that rebates for using "green" materials would entirely cancel out production costs and this could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries. Producers would reap financial rewards from advertisements such as from multinational companies who would pay for their logo to be part of the frame, he explained.

"Because you get a lot of government grants, it brings down the production costs to zero, so the bicycles can be given away for free. We are copying a business model from the high-tech world where software is distributed free because it includes embedded advertising," Elmish explained. "It could be sold for around $20, because (retailers) have to make a profit ... and we think they should not cost any more than that. We will make our money from advertising," he added. Elmish said initial production was set to begin in Israel in months on three bicycle models and a wheelchair and they will be available to purchase within a year.
"In six months we will have completed planning the first production lines for an urban bike which will be assisted by an electric motor, a youth bike which will be a 2/3 size model for children in Africa, a balance bike for youngsters learning to ride, and a wheelchair that a non-profit organisation wants to build with our technology for Africa," he said.

Cheap and light

The bicycles are not only very cheap to make, they are very light and do not need to be adjusted or repaired, the solid tires that are made of reconstituted rubber from old car tires will never get a puncture, Elmish said. "These bikes need no maintenance and no adjustment, a car timing belt is used instead of a chain, and the tires do not need inflating and can last for 10 years," he said. A full-size cardboard bicycle will weigh around 9 kg (about 20 lbs) compared to an average metal bicycle, which weight around 14 kg.

The urban bicycle, similar to London's "Boris bikes" and others worldwide, will have a mounting for a personal electric motor. Commuters would buy one and use it for their journey and then take it home or to work where it could be recharged. He said that as bicycles would be so cheap, it hardly mattered how long they lasted. "So you buy one, use it for a year and then you can buy another one, and if it breaks, you can take it back to the factory and recycle it," he said. Gafni predicted that in the future, cardboard might even be used in cars and even aircraft "but that is still a way down the road." "We are just at the beginning and from here my vision is to see cardboard replacing metals ... and countries that right now don't have the money, will be able to benefit from so many uses for this material," he said.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy

Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy


Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.
I decided to write this article after I saw photos and reports about a starving child in Yemen, a burned ancient Aleppo souk in Syria, the under developed Sinai in Egypt, car bombs in Iraq and the destroyed buildings in Libya. The photos and the reports were shown on the Al-Arabiya network, which is the most watched and respected news outlet in the Middle East.
The common thing among all what I saw is that the destruction and the atrocities are not done by an outside enemy. The starvation, the killings and the destruction in these Arab countries are done by the same hands that are supposed to protect and build the unity of these countries and safeguard the people of these countries. So, the question now is that who is the real enemy of the Arab world?
The Arab world wasted hundreds of billions of dollars and lost tens of thousands of innocent lives fighting Israel, which they considered is their sworn enemy, an enemy whose existence they never recognized. The Arab world has many enemies and Israel should have been at the bottom of the list. The real enemies of the Arab world are corruption, lack of good education, lack of good health care, lack of freedom, lack of respect for the human lives and finally, the Arab world had many dictators who used the Arab-Israeli conflict to suppress their own people.
These dictators’ atrocities against their own people are far worse than all the full-scale Arab-Israeli wars.
In the past, we have talked about why some Israeli soldiers attack and mistreat Palestinians. Also, we saw Israeli planes and tanks attack various Arab countries. But, do these attacks match the current atrocities being committed by some Arab states against their own people.
In Syria, the atrocities are beyond anybody’s imaginations? And, isn’t the Iraqis are the ones who are destroying their own country? Wasn’t it Tunisia’s dictator who was able to steal 13 billion dollars from the poor Tunisians? And how can a child starve in Yemen if their land is the most fertile land in the world? Why would Iraqi brains leave Iraq in a country that makes 110 billion dollars from oil export? Why do the Lebanese fail to govern one of the tiniest countries in the world? And what made the Arab states start sinking into chaos?
On May 14, 1948 the state of Israel was declared. And just one day after that, on May 15, 1948 the Arabs declared war on Israel to get back Palestine. The war ended on March 10, 1949. It lasted for nine months, three weeks and two days. The Arabs lost the war and called this war Nakbah (catastrophic war). The Arabs gained nothing and thousands of Palestinians became refugees.
And on 1967, the Arabs led by Egypt under the rule of Gamal Abdul Nasser, went in war with Israel and lost more Palestinian land and made more Palestinian refugees who are now on the mercy of the countries that host them. The Arabs called this war Naksah (upset). The Arabs never admitted defeat in both wars and the Palestinian cause got more complicated. And now, with the never ending Arab Spring, the Arab world has no time for the Palestinians refugees or Palestinian cause, because many Arabs are refugees themselves and under constant attacks from their own forces. Syrians are leaving their own country, not because of the Israeli planes dropping bombs on them. It is the Syrian Air Force which is dropping the bombs. And now, Iraqi Arab Muslims, most intelligent brains, are leaving Iraq for the est. In Yemen, the world’s saddest human tragedy play is being written by the Yemenis. In Egypt, the people in Sinai are forgotten.
Finally, if many of the Arab states are in such disarray, then what happened to the Arabs’ sworn enemy (Israel)? Israel now has the most advanced research facilities, top universities and advanced infrastructure. Many Arabs don’t know that the life expectancy of the Palestinians living in Israel is far longer than many Arab states and they enjoy far better political and social freedom than many of their Arab brothers. Even the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip enjoy more political and social rights than some places in the Arab World. Wasn’t one of the judges who sent a former Israeli president to jail is an Israeli-Palestinian?
The Arab Spring showed the world that the Palestinians are happier and in better situation than their Arab brothers who fought to liberate them from the Israelis. Now, it is time to stop the hatred and wars and start to create better living conditions for the future Arab generations.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

French-Jewish physicist wins Nobel Prize

French-Jewish physicist wins Nobel Prize                                            

A 2009 photo provided on October 9, 2012 by the CNRS shows French physician Serge Haroche, right, and his aide Igor Dotsenko in Paris.
Serge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, has won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States. The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 went to the scientists "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems," the website of the Nobel Prize said. According to the BBC, the pair developed solutions to pick, manipulate and measure photons and ions individually, allowing an insight into a microscopic world that was once just the province of scientific theory.

Haroche, who was born 68 years ago in Casablanca, Morocco, told Le Figaro that he "had a hard time understanding" the news when a representative of the Nobel Prize committee called him on his cellular phone to say he had won what is considered the highest form of recognition of scientific excellence. Haroche, of Collège de France and Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure, will share a $1.2 million grant from the Nobel Prize Committee with Wineland, a researcher at the Maryland-based National Institute of Standards and Technology and at the University of Colorado.

Le Figaro quotes Haroche as saying he was walking with his wife down the street when he received the call from Sweden. He said he had to sit down on a bench before passing on the news to family. Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella organization of France's Jewish communities, told JTA: "The achievement belongs to the scientists, but a small part of me is also proud today." Mutual friends described Haroche to Prasquier as "a truly brilliant thinker, known for his creativity," Prasquier said.

Prasquier noted that Haroche had worked closely with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji - also a French Jew of North African descent - who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1997.

The AlgSerge Haroche, a French-Jewish physicist, has won the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with David Wineland from the United States.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The top 10 latest Israeli advances in breast cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are the top 10 latest Israeli advances in breast cancer. 

One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Israeli scientists hope to improve the odds.

One out of every eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. It is the most commonly diagnosed non-skin cancer in women worldwide, and also strikes thousands of men.

Though the three areas with the highest breast cancer rates are Western Europe, Australia/New Zealand and Northern Europe, Israel has taken a leading role in researching causes and treatments. The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s very first international research grant was awarded in 2001 to Shaare Zedek Medical Center’s Dr. Ephrat Levy-Lahad to do a comprehensive Israeli Breast Cancer Study, now an international model for genetic breast cancer prevention screening.

1. IceSense 3Over the past 12 months, ISRAEL21c has reported on exciting news in cancer research from Israeli laboratories. We present 10 of the most promising advances here with our hope that breast cancer may soon be relegated to history.
IceSense freezes out breast tumors.

The novel Israeli medical device IceSense3, made by IceCure, is already helping American doctors destroy benign breast lumps by freezing them. In June, a leading Japanese breast surgeon started clinical trials using the minimally invasive, ultrasound-guided procedure to successfully obliterate small cancerous tumors as well. Similar trials will soon begin in the United States.

The cryoablation process takes five or 10 minutes in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center under local anesthesia. No recovery period or post-care is necessary, and there is no scarring.


The Israeli company Real Imaging offers a no-radiation, no-contact alternative to mammography pioneered by electro-optical engineer Boaz Arnon and named in memory of his mother, who died of breast cancer in 2004.

RUTH uses a new trademarked platform that enables automatic quantitative analysis of 3D and infrared signals emitted from cancerous and benign breast tissue. Results are interpreted by computer, with unprecedented accuracy in patients of all ages — 90 percent as opposed to 80% for mammography. Thousands of women have been involved in clinical trials for RUTH since 2007. The next step is CE and FDA approval.
Real Imaging’s RUTH device.

3. MarginProbe

Dune Medical, a graduate of the Misgav Venture Accelerator, in June received pre-market approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for MarginProbe, its trademarked system that uses electromagnetic waves to identify possibly cancerous tissue on the edges of a breast tumor in real time. The application was based on data from a 600-patient study conducted primarily in the United States.

MarginProbe is meant to improve on the current rate of 30 percent to 60% of women who must undergo secondary breast cancer surgery after a lumpectomy because the initial surgery failed to get rid of all cancerous tissue at the margins of the tumor.

4. Monoclonal antibodies

Herceptin, a frequently prescribed drug for blocking the chemical signals that stimulate uncontrolled growth of breast cancer cells, is one of an advanced class of pharmaceuticals called monoclonal antibody drugs. Currently, these drugs must be administered together with chemotherapy.

The two-year-old Israeli company Immune Pharmaceuticals is developing a “guided missile” system, licensed from the Hebrew University, which encloses thousands of chemotherapy molecules inside a monoclonal antibody nanoparticle. The drug payload isn’t released until reaching the cancerous tissue.

In addition, Immune is collaborating with the Weizmann Institute to develop antibody therapeutics targeting a growth factor that causes chemotherapy resistance in many patients with breast and ovarian cancer.

5. Better biomarkers

Tel Aviv University PhD student Livnat Jerby won a prestigious 2012 Dan David Scholarship for performing the first genome-scale study of the metabolic progression of breast cancer — an algorithm that can profile the traits of each individual patient’s tumor. These profiles help in studying the underlining mechanisms of the disease, classifying patients according to their prognosis and identifying potential metabolic biomarkers as a non-invasive, cost-effective means for early diagnosis and monitoring treatment efficiency.

“The Holy Grail of our work is to provide the basis for rational drug discovery, aiming to find drugs that — unlike most conventional treatments — will harm only the tumor, and not the healthy cells,” Jerby tells ISRAEL21c. “We had some success with providing a new potential target for treating renal cancer and published those results in Nature. With breast cancer, we can apply the same computational tools to better diagnose and choose the best treatment for the individual patient.”

6. An HIV approach

Two Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School researchers have patented a protein encoded by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as a treatment to make radiation and chemotherapy more effective.

This small peptide, dubbed 25-39, inhibits a substance involved in repairing DNA damage from cancer therapy. It’s important to prevent such repair in order to wipe out the cancer cells. Now the search is on for investment partners to further develop and commercialize the product that already proved itself in the lab.

7. The gene that can suppress tumors

It’s long been known that the p53 gene produces a protein that can suppress tumors. In 2012, a team at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered that p53 also governs a mechanism that keeps cancer cells from invading healthy epithelial tissue. Most cancers, including breast cancer, spread through epithelial cells.

Investors are being sought for clinical studies on breast-cancer patients. The long-term goal is to boost the group-control function of p53 to keep tumors from developing the capacity to spread.
Gene p53 can stop cancer cells from invading healthy tissue. Illustration by permission of the journal Nature.

8. Immunotherapy

Two therapeutic vaccines against cancer are under development in Israel.

Vaxil BioTherapeutics’ ImMucin, can be tailored to treat 90% of cancers by activating and enhancing the body’s immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells present in the body. The treatment causes no side effects, and can be taken indefinitely, like vitamins. ImMucin could be on the market in about five years.

Vacciguard, another Israeli biomed startup, is introducing a technology for developing vaccines against cancer and a wide range of other diseases that currently have no effective treatments. The technology is based on the research of world-renowned Weizmann immunologist Prof. Irun Cohen.
Vacciguard CEO Anat Eitan.

9. Cancer “family trees”

Israeli researchers from the Weizmann Institute and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology used computational biology to chart a unique “family tree” of cancer stem cells from living patients. The chart will help determine exactly how these cells divide and spread, as well as how they can survive chemotherapy treatments and remain latent in the body only to reappear with a vengeance at a later time.

Preliminary results show that slow-dividing cancer cells are more likely to evade cancer drugs, whereas chemotherapy most commonly targets only rapidly dividing cells. The Israeli research points to a need for devising new treatments targeting slow-dividing cells.

10. Weizmann Breast Cancer Research Program

During 2012, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the US Department of Defense were among overseas organizations awarding postdoctoral fellowships at the Breast Cancer Research Program at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.

Current projects within this program focus on better diagnosis and treatment options, such as using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in an advanced noninvasive method to detect malignant breast tumors without biopsies; and in evaluating the effectiveness of hormone therapy for breast cancer. Another Weizmann team recently revealed new details about a crucial mechanism that controls the first stage of breast cancer metastasis.