When I return to Israel from overseas trips I always marvel how fresh and exciting the discoveries and innovations that I collect from the Israeli news are. But last week, even I couldn’t anticipate the vast number of astonishing stories recently reported in the Jewish State.
In the operating theatre at Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Hospital, Israeli doctors performed two groundbreaking procedures.  Firstly, they surgically removed a 15cm long tumor from a woman’s womb midway through her pregnancy without harming either her or the fetus.  Then in a first of its kind event, Beilinson doctors used innovative technology to remove a massive blood clot from the lungs of a 43-year-old woman who was declared clinically dead after suffering an amniotic embolism during a C-section.  Both the mother and her new baby daughter are now doing well.
Would it surprise you to learn that Israeli hospitals are uniting Israelis and Arabs?  A study conducted at Schneider Children’s Medical Center found that parents from the Arab sector, whose children have been treated in Israeli hospitals, feel a stronger sense of solidarity with the State of Israel. 
It really would be unexpected if Hamas senior member Nayef Rajoub’s recent spine surgery at Israel’s Assuta hospital changed his negative attitude towards the Jewish State.  That was indeed the case with Mohammed Dajani, who heads Israel’s tiny Wasatia political party.  He was educated to hate Israelis, but completely changed when his father had his cancer treated in an Israeli hospital.

Israel’s major research breakthroughs often come out of the blue. Israeli bio-tech MeMed has developed a simple blood test to reduce the overprescribing of antibiotics that is the chief cause of resistant bacteria.  MeMed has discovered a protein in blood called TRAIL that dramatically increases in patients infected with viruses but decreases in bacterial infections.  Another Israeli bio-tech, NRGene, together with Tel Aviv University scientists took just 3 months to map out the genome for wild Emmer wheat – a task that had eluded dozens of scientists from 55 countries.  It will now be easier to develop varieties of wheat that will thrive in drier, hotter climates and help relieve world hunger.
Recent unexpected international events include that of Hebrew University Professor Renata Reisfeld accepting an invitation to join the editorial board of the Tehran-basedInternational Journal of Environment, Energy and Waste.  And international plane spotters were amazed to watch the mid-air refueling by an Israeli tanker plane of a flight of Jordanian F-16 Vipers, which were flying together with Israeli Air Force planes on route to exercises in the US.  But hats off to Master’s graduate Haisam Hassanein, an exchange student from Egypt, who defied expectations in becoming the valedictorian of Tel Aviv University. He delivered a remarkable speech, emphasizing that Arabs must question their assumptions about the Jewish State.

Here now are three relatively new Israeli-developed apps that could help you out of an unexpected situation.  Tens of thousands of Israelis have used the app Polly to find a car parking space in Tel Aviv’s congested streets.  Polly uses GPS, crowdsourcing, municipal information and its own algorithm to guide drivers to streets where spaces are more likely to be available.  Polly is now being expanded to Jerusalem.  Next, why should children expect to play on their computer rather than take regular exercise?  Israeli Eylon Porat hooked up his daughter’s computer to an exercise bike that she has to pedal in order to unlock games on the computer for a certain time period.  And if you suddenly get an unexpected problem, Angels Nearby will connect you to somebody who wishes to help.  Angels Nearby uses a search engine to connect people based on the type of help needed, “trust level” (everyone, Facebook friends only, friends of friends), and location.  

To conclude, Felix and Feige Bandos certainly didn’t expect to make Aliya at their time of life.  But at ages 94 and 90 respectively the two Holocaust survivors arrived in Israel to a warm welcome from their family.  “I’m glad I’m here,” Felix said upon arrival. “This is the right place to be.”

Finally, I certainly didn’t expect Israel to host a global UN event next week, but 200 scientists from 40 countries will be in Tel Aviv to attend the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  It coincides with a related unexpected event – Rotem, a rare Israeli sand cat, has just surprised staff at Ramat Gan Safari by giving birth to a litter of three kittens.

Israel – surpassing expectations.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing positive news stories about Israel.
For a free subscription, email a request to michael.goodnewsisrael@gmail.com

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