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January 7, 2011

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 7, 2011 PAGE 17A Yossi Zamir/Flash90 Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem Courtesy of ISRAEL21c Supermodel F, sti Ginzburg in the IDF Courtesy of ISRAEL21c The Amazon Kindle By Nicky Blackburn ISRAEL21c Despite political upheav- al, Israel's economy is booming, the innovations coming thick and fast, and the country's culture win- ning accolades. ISRAEL21c takes a look at the top stories of the year. It has been a year of con- tradictions, opening with an earthquake in Haiti in January, where Israeli aid workers rushed to provide assistance to the belea- guered country, gaining the respect of the world for the speed and scope of its response, and ending with Israel suffering a disaster of its own when a raging forest fire ravaged the northern Carmel region in December. Unable to douse the flames, which killed 44 and destroyed 12.500 acres of some Of the country's oldest forests. Israei called for international aid. and was delighted and heartened when countries from all over the world came to fight the fire shoulder to shoulder with Israeli fire fighters. Even near neighbors like Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority put aside differences to help quench the flames. Itwas the year of the Israel Navy raid on the Turkish flotilla, which led to a break- down in relations with Tur- key-thawed briefly only by the Carmelfire andacrisis in Israel's dealings with the rest of the world. Itwas also a year of faltering peace talks with the Palestinians, threats from the Iranians, WikiLeaks exposures that continue to rock the world, and an increase in calls for a boycott of Israel. Despite these political difficulties. Israel contirkues to flourish. Other countries may still be picking up the pieces after the worldwide recession, but the Israeli economy has grown from strength to strength. In May this year, Israel joined the prestigious Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, while in the fall, the country kick- started its $80 million space program. Technologies that trans- form the world Powering the growth is a long list of exciting innovations from Israel's high-tech industry and de- velopments in technology, health and environment that are already beginning to transform the world. Just this month. ISRAEL21c was the first to announce that the Kindle's operating system was made in Israel. Other significant advances include revolutionary new glasses, self-healing soft- ware invented by IBM Is- rael, a device that enables severely disabled people to communicate, surf the net and even steer a wheelchair by sniffing, interactive mov- ies, and 3DTV--without the glasses. In the field of airport se- curity, Israel has long been seen as one of the leading players, with technologies like-WeCU and MagShoe. This year, after the US introduced unpopular new security measures, atten- tion was increasingly drawn to Israel's successful and alternative airport security approach, which focuses on the passengers, and not their luggage. In health. Israeli scien: tists made a breakthrough in developing a new treat- ment that can kill HIV cells offering enormous hope to sufferers. Scientists also developed a new intuba- tion device, an ear foam. and a revolutionary new imag- ing system for early heart disease diagnosis. With Israel experiencing -one of the hottest summers On record, and what is likely to be the seventh year of drought, it's no surprise that attention here is on clean technologies and alterna- tive energy. From Better Place, the creators of an electric car infrastructure that will go live in Israel next year, to Brightsource Technologies, an Israeli solar company described by U.S. President Barack Obama as "a revolutionary new type of solar power plant." Israeli companies have been at the forefront of clean tech developments. Last month, the United Nations launched a decade to fight desertification, and a top UN official called it "the greatest environmen- tal challenge of our time." Israel has been fighting desertification for decades. Indeed, it is the only country in the world that has suc- ceeded in reducing the size of its desert. As one of the leading specialists, Israel is sharing its vital expertise withthe world. A top 10 destination This was also the year when Israel saw the great- est number of tourists ever recorded in the Holy Land. The country is rapidly becoming recognized as a cultural oasis, with top quality restaurants, wines, music, theater, art and dance drawing people from all over. In November. Lonely Planet ranked Tel Aviv the third top city in the world. praising it as a leisure, en- tertainment and cultural center. National Geographic Magazine named it one of the world's top 10 beach cities and called it "Miami beach on the Med." Courtesy of the IDF Spokesperson's Unit Israeli medical personnel in Haiti On an international level. peace talks may have been disappointing, but down at street level. Jews.and Arabs throughout Israel have con- tinued to make great strides in learning to live together. with projects like the Chefs for Peace. Comet. Windows of Peace and Interfaith En- counter. And around the world. not just in Haiti. Israeli aid workers have been there in times of crisis to support people in distress, from Romania, to Chile, from the Congo to Nepal. Throughout it all, IS- RAEL21c has recorded the highlights. When so many people regard Israel as a place of only trouble and strife, week after week IS- RAEL21c has persistently shown another picture. Here are the stories IS- RAEL21c readers chose as the top stories of 2010. 1. A birth control pill for men In June, ISRAEL21c broke the story about new tech- nology being developed by Israeli biochemist. Prof. Haim Breitbart, that could lead to the creation of a new birth control pill for men within five years. The story swept the Internet and media world like a storm. Breitbart. of Bar Ilan University, is a specialist in fertility and sperm. He has developed a number of novel compounds that can impair the reproductive ability of the sperm without affecting the male sex drive. The new pill, dubbed the Bright Pill, has already been tested on animal models successfully. Breitbart be- lieves the new pill could work for between one to three months, depending on the dose. Unlike the female pill, the male pill wouldn't have to be taken every day. 2. Salt therapy is like a breath of fresh air A father's three-year search for a cure for his son's ear infections led him to found a salt therapy chain in Israel, which is now opening branches in the US as well. Jonathan Kestenbaum. an Americar-born immigrant to Israel, became interested in the therapy after it helped cure his son of repeated ear infections. He created the Israeli Salt Room Association, helped close a deal with Israel's largest health authority, opened salt rooms across Israel. and is now moving into the U.S. market. 3. Moving closer to stem cell therapy Stem cell therapy could soon be within the reach of millions after Israeli scien- tists made a breakthrough in methods to grow and cultivate embryonic stem cells in suspension. In May. ISRAEL21c wrote a story about researchers at Jerusalem's Hadassah University Medical Center who have made important strides in manufacturing mass-market stem cell treat- ments for disorders such as Parkinson's. diabetes and age-related macular degen- eration. According to Prof. Ben- jamin Reubinoff, director of the Hadassah Human Embryonic Stem Cells Re- search Center and the lead researcher in the Hadassah study, within the next year or two. companies in the U.S: and Hadassah's technology company in Israel will start clinical trials on humans. 4. Israel's top 10 airport security companies No one understands se- curity like Israelis do, so it's no surprise that some of the world's best new innovative airport security technolo- gies are being developed in Israel. In our March article, ISRAEL21c took a look at some of the 10 top airport security technologies being developed in Israel, from TraceSafe, which offers an alternative .to unpopular body scans; to WeCU. which blends high-tech with psy- chology; to the pen.Acro- P.E.T which can sniff out TATP, a main component in explosive detonators. 5. Is this the end of the iPhone? Sadly for Emblaze, the company that developed the innovative new First Else mobile device, it was the end of First Else, not the ever-popular iPhone. The device, which Em- blaze claimed outsmarted all existing smart phones. created an enormous buzz in the tech community because of its impressive array of fea- tures. Born and bred in Israel and developed by about 30 different Israeli companies, Emblaze planned to keep the product here and to help found a worldwide cell phone industry in Israel. But in June, Emblaze announced that the project was a "no go," due to delays in deliveries and the slow speed of development. Many were saddened by the failure of the device, which had created a lot of positive feedback from us- ers who tried it out at trade exhibitions. Geeks every- where were left hoping that the user interface would be sold on to other established manufacturers. 6. New Israeli treatment kills HIV cells In September, scientists from Israel reported a sig- nificant potential break- through 'in the treatment for HIV and AIDS. when they announced that they had created a new treatment that can destroy HIV-infected hu- man cells without damaging healthy ones. Some 33.4 million people worldwide are carriers of HIV. To date no therapy has succeeded in completely de- stroying HIV-infected cells. but only in delaying the de- velopment of the disease and making it more manageable. The new treatment, de- veloped by scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, causes the HIV cells to self-destruct, inter- fering with their ability to infect new cells. Successful in cell culture trials, Yissum, the HU technology transfer company, is seeking a com- mercial partner to take it through animal and clinical trials. 7. Israeli supermodel Esti Ginzburg joins the army Already making the head- lines for her promise as an international stipermodel, Esti Ginzburg created even more when she decided-- mid-career--to join the Israel Defense Forces. The 20-year-old from Tel Aviv has modeled for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and designer names like Tommy Hilfiger, Burb- erry and Pull & Bear. Now she is over halfway through her two-year military ser- vice and still takes on mod- eling jobs. Her job in the army is to talk to high-school stu- dents about their options in the service. It's a far cry from photo shoots in exotic locales, but for Ginzberg it was an obvious choice. "It's the values I grew up on," she tells ISRAEL21c in this video story. 8. Amazon's Kindle: a made-in-Israel story ISRAEL21c broke this story recently, and the hits on its'website are still rising fast. We all know that Israeli engineers are behind some of today's most significant new technologies, but few were aware that Amazon's Kindle device was largely developed in the heart of Israel's high-tech center in Herzliya. Four years ago, Amazon asked a team of engineers working for the Israeli di- vision of Sun (which was acquired by Oracle last year), to develop a customized Java platform for the Kindle software. The Herzliya team worked with Amazon for several years to develop a proto- type, and when they were satisfied, manufacturing commenced. "They initially ordered 100,000 pieces, and we were frankly skeptical they would sell all of them," says Eran Vanounou. direc- tor of the Oracle develop- ment office in Herzliya. "But when they sold out a couple of months later, we realized what we were involved with." 9. Israel's top ten technol- ogies that are transforming the Web Israel's success in the technology sector is no secret. Over the years the country has become a key research and development center for multinational companies like Motorola. IBM and Google. Some 3,000 start-ups have been launched in Is- rael, including ICQ--bought out by AOL, and shopping comparison site Shopping. com, which was purchased by eBay. Today Israel is fa- mous worldwide as a start-up nation. In August ISRAEL21c took a look at the top 10 tech- nologies that are now trafls- forming the web, including names like, MediaMind, Incredimaii, iMedix, Outbrain, Fixya and MyHeritage. 10. Israel rushes to Haiti's aid One day after a devastat- ing earthquake in Haiti that killed 230,000 people, and virtually laid waste to the country's capital city, 220 Israeli doctors and relief workers were already on their way to the beleaguered country. While aftershocks con- tinued to rock the Carib- bean nation, Israeli medical teams, search and rescue operatives, relief workers, psychologists and social workers flew to Haiti to help with the relief effort. Within a few days the Israelis had set up the most sophisticated field hospital in Haiti, savin g hundreds of lives and providing inspira- tion to nations throughout the Western world. Nearly one year on, Israeli experts are still in Haiti. of- fering a range of significant aid programs, ranging from education to health, disaster preparedness, and psycho- logical trauma counseling. This article is reprinted with permission from www.