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Beyond the Headlines

  • Israel ranked 11th - ahead of the United States, Britain, France and Italy, among many other nations, in the annual World Happiness Report, a survey of global societal well-being that ranks 155 countries by happiness levels using variables such as GDP per capita and healthy life expectancy. The report also includes extra factors such as social support, generosity, freedom to make life choices, and perceived absence of corruption.
  • Two Israeli nano satellites were recently put into orbit, one of which - slightly larger than a milk carton - will study climate change and scientific phenomena from space. It was developed by Ben Gurion University in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industries and the Ministry of Science,Technology and Space.
  • On January 18, USA Today reported that "Unlike other armies, the Israel Defense Forces encourages young adults with a wide range of medical disabilities - from diabetes and cystic fibrosis to Asperger's and cerebral palsy - to volunteer for active duty."
  • An article in the January 14, New York Times noted,"Israel is pushing ahead with an ambitious strategy to tap offshore gas reserves that could transform its economy and its place in a historically hostile region."
  • A January 12 Forbes.com article proclaimed, "Israel has the world's best food scene." The article cited "a mélange of influences from North Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean," adding, "The best restaurants aren't hushed culinary temples but festive rooms full of people having fun." 
  • According to business journal Globes, 2016 was “a year of record financing” for Israeli high-tech companies, raising more than $4.6 billion in capital. The number represents an 11 percent increase over 2015.
  • On November 9, IDF’s emergency medical response team was awarded the World Health Organization’s highest ranking. According to the Times of Israel, Israel will receive official WHO patches noting the new designation, and members of the IDF’s Medical Corpswill meet with the head of the international organization at a formal ceremony in Hong Kong at the end of the month.
  • ​An October 26, 2016 article on InstitutionalInvestor.com notes, “Israel’s Silicon Wadi is bringing in billions from investors.”  The article goes on to call Israel “a hotbed of technology start-ups that’s drawing billions in investment from foreign companies and venture capital firms.” An investment in Israel bonds is your connection to a nation that’s changing the world on a daily basis. Learn more at israelbonds.com.
  • Innovation nation: Israel Bonds applauds Intel’s Haifa development team, which has developed what the company calls “its strongest and fastest (processor) ever.” Ran Senderovitz, general manager at Intel Israel Development Centers, said the Israel team has pushed the boundaries of “global technology to new places.”
  • According to an August 18 article in the Jerusalem Post,“an aggressive campaign predicated upon awareness, identification and research has apparently been responsible for significantly lower skin cancer rates in the Jewish state.”
  • ​Two Israeli startups won first and second place at the Global Innovation Awards 2016, a startup competition featuring 21 startups from around the world.
  • Israel has 261 startup accelerators as of June 2016, according to the IVC Research Center in Tel Aviv, a private research firm tracking trends in Israeli high-tech, venture capital and private equity.
  • According to Scientific American, “Mediterranean seawater pumped from an intake a mile offshore is transformed at Israel's new Sorek desalination plant into enough drinking water to supply 1.5 million people. The plant is the largest reverse-osmosis desalination facility in the world. Just a few years ago, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus.”
  • ​NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, in discussing a manned mission to Mars during a lecture at Bar-Ilan University on June 6, said NASA looks forward to collaborating with Israel to achieve this goal, praising the nation’s “incredibly innovative people on the cutting edge of technology.” Bolden added, ““We are excited about ongoing relations with the Israel Space Agency and what we can do together on the International Space Station.”
  • ​Israel was among the very first countries to send rescue teams to assist victims of recent earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan.
  • The World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Competitive Index ranked Israel third out of 140 countries for "capacity for innovation" and "quality of research institutions."
  • The Times of Israel highlighted Israel’s global leadership in life sciences, noting, "more than one out of every four of the medicines, treatments, and technologies in use today have Israeli roots."  
  • During his March visit to Israel, Vice President Joe Biden declared: "Israel is about to become the epicenter of energy in this entire region, and can have a profound, positive impact on relatiionships from Egypt to Turkey to Cyrpus to Greece to Jordan."   
  • The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported the Middle East is experiencing its worst drought in 900 years, but added the impact on Israel was "significantly dampened by its array of six desalination plants."  The article went on to say, "When the sixth plant in Ashdod goes into full production, Israel's desalination plants will reach 600 million cubic meters of water, which is nearly 70 percent of Israel's domestic water consumption."
  • An article on YnetNews.com reports Apple “has so far invested $1.2 billion in Israel and continues to eagerly recruit new Israeli employees.”
  • A recent survey issued by U.S. News & World Report ranked Israel the eighth most powerful country in the world.  The power rankings were based on the following factors: "a leader, economically influential, politically influential, strong international alliances, strong military."
  • In commemorating the 25th anniversary of Microsoft’s Israel R&D Center, Bill Gates said Israeli technology “is improving the world.”  He added, “I can’t wait to see what they come up with in the next 25 years.”
  • Five Israeli startups are creating new advances in ‘disability tech,’ enabling physically challenged individuals to engage in once unthinkable activities, such as traversing rugged terrain via high-tech wheelchairs.
  • Israeli company WoundClot has created a unique bandage that could save lives on the battlefield or the operating room by stopping severe bleeding within minutes.
  • Oracle acquired Israeli cloud software company Ravello Systems for an estimated $500 million.
  • An Israeli-invested mini-sized manual ventilator is being used to save wounded American soldiers in Afghanistan.  The device has also been utilized to treat thousands of people injured during natural disasters such as the Nepal earthquake.
  • An Israeli company announced development of technology that will extend the lives of brain tumor patients. In clinical trials, the percentage of patients surviving more than two years increased dramatically.
  • Intel made the largest-ever foreign investment in Israel's tech sector, $6 billion for production of the company's next generation chip.
  • An Israeli company has developed inflatable isolation tents that are being used in Western Africa to halt the spread of Ebola.

A Global Innovation Leader 

Israel is an internationally recognized leader in creative technologies. The World Economic Forum's 2016 Global Competitive Index placed Israel third out of 140 countries for "capacity for innovation" and "quality of research institutions."

Israel is ranked*:

  • First globally for highest rate of R&D expendintures as a percentage of GDP
  • First globally for innovative capacity
  • First globally for highest density of startups 
  • Second on the Bloomberg Global Innovation Index
  • Second miost listed companies on Nasdaq outside the U.S.

* Israel Ministry of Finance, January 2016

The Historical Perspective

During a post-World War I visit to Palestine, Winston Churchill declared: "We think it will be good for the world, good for the Jews, good for the British Empire, but also good for the Arabs who dwell in Palestine...they shall share in the benefits and progress of Zionism." *In 1939, he observed, "far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied until their population has increased more than . . . the Jewish population."

Over the ensuing decades, the work first started by the Zionist pioneers has resulted in a fully developed, modern nation benefiting all its citizens, Jewish and Arab alike.

*March, 1921
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In his 1869 travel memoir The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain wrote: "A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action....We never saw a human being on the whole route....There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country."

Today, Twain would be astonished by a nation of 8.1 million, with a dedication to the land that has resulted in extensive greenery stretching from the Galilee in the north to even the arid Negev desert in the south.

*The Innocents Abroad (American Publishing Company, 1869)
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French writer Pierre Loti described his 1895 visit to Palestine thusly: "I traveled through sad Galilee in the spring, and I found it silent. . . . As elsewhere, as everywhere in Palestine, city and palaces have returned to the dust. This melancholy of abandonment weighs on all the Holy Land."

As Israel celebrates its 65th anniversary, the land Loti described as “sad” and “silent” is now a vibrant nation of innovation, culture and a diverse population of more than 8 million citizens from over 100 countries.

*La Galilee (Paris, 1895), pp. 37-41
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In 1835, French poet Alphonse de Lamartine offered this description in his book Recollections of the East: "Outside the gates of Jerusalem, we saw indeed no living object, heard no living sound. We found the same void, the same silence as we should have found before the entombed gates of Pompeii or Herculaneum… a complete, eternal silence reigns in the town, in the highways, in the country….The tomb of a whole people."*

Today, in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, one can find vibrancy, culture, the arts and hubs of innovation creating landmark advances in science and medicine – a far cry from the “complete, eternal silence” described by de Lamartine.

*London, 1845, pp. 268, 308
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In his 1925 work, Israel, Ludwig Lewisohn wrote: ‘The ruin and desolation of the land was and is to us its glory and opportunity. Here the creative effort of the Jew must build first the very soil he is to dig, bring the very water that is to make it tillable . . .’*

Lewisohn’s words proved prophetic, as first the Zionist pioneers and then the citizens of the sovereign Jewish state, turned ‘ruin and desolation’ into a flourishing, forward-looking nation - an example to the entire world of how challenge and adversity can become promise and opportunity.

*Israel, 1925, p. 167
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In 1881, English cartographer Arthur Penrhyn Stanley surveyed the forbidding landscape of Judea and wrote this bleak assessment: ‘It is hardly an exaggeration to say that for miles and miles, there was no appearance of life or habitation.’*

The dramatic reclamation of the land, beginning with the Zionist pioneers and dramatically accelerated following Israel’s independence, has resulted in a transformation that would astonish Stanley. Dynamic cities, abundant greenery and vibrant cultural centers have replaced the once- barren surroundings.

Jerusalem’s evolution has been especially significant. Today, Jerusalem is a dynamic world capital, center of spirituality and a hub of innovative science and technology, as exemplified by Har Hotzvim, the city’s high-tech industrial park.

* Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, (London: John Murray, 1881), p. 118

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In 1857, British Counsel in Palestine James Finn offered a bleak assessment to the Earl of Clarendon: “The country is, (to) a considerable degree, empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is that of a body of population.”*

Counsel Finn would be astonished by today’s strong, forward-looking Jewish state with a population of more than 7.5 million. That population, including over 3 million successfully absorbed immigrants, is providing an exceptional resource – brainpower – that continues to change life as we know it.

*Letter to Earl of Clarendon, September 15, 1857; British Foreign Office Documents 78/1294 (Pol. No. 36)