A member of IsraAid helping out local residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Photo courtesy of IsraAID.
11. Israel is the only country that permanently opens its arms to children sick from radiation caused by the Ukrainian nuclear disaster in Chernobyl over 27 years ago. More than 2,755 affected children, ages eight to 15, have been brought to Israel for treatment and resettlement.
12. Israeli researchers and farmers have combined the best of Israel’s agri-tech and clean-tech innovation to create a new artificial desert oasis that could help feed millions of desert-dwellers.
The oasis was developed by researchers from Ben-Gurion University and the Central and Northern Arava Research and Development center, and uses Israel’s expertise in growing salt-resistant crops in the Negev desert with little rain under a harsh sun. The oasis uses low-cost desalination technology that runs on solar power to turn brackish water into sweet water.
13. An Israeli company is developing a new contraceptive with the potential to provide a safer, long-acting, non-invasive solution for women in developing nations. Hervana recently won a $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its accessible, cheap and socially acceptable LJ-102 suppository, which has to be applied only once or twice a month via a non-hormonal vaginal preparation.
According to the World Health Organization, there are at least 220 million women who don’t have access to effective contraception, and some 50 million abortions per year in the developing world.
14. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) called on Israeli company Waze to use its real-time traffic navigation updates in an effort to bring fuel to New Jersey residents suffering from shortages at the gas pump.
15. An Israeli company has developed an alternative seed treatment that could revolutionize farming, protecting vegetable seeds from infestation, fungus, bacteria and even drought, without the side effects of genetic engineering (GMO).
Morflora’s product, TraitUP, “inoculates” any seed from foreseeable challenges without altering its genetic makeup in new generations — just like a mumps or measles shot in humans. The product has won international awards and goes on the market this year.
16. Doctors from Israel are restoring the gift of sight to hundreds of people in developing countries thanks to Israeli non-profit Eye from Zion.
The organization sends eye doctors from Israel to do free cataract removal operations in places such as Vietnam, China, Myanmar, the Maldives and even Muslim countries including Azerbaijan. The doctors are all volunteers, and most of the people arriving at their mobile clinics are blind in either one or both eyes. The organization also brings doctors from developing countries to Israel for training.
17. Overfishing and pollution are seriously depleting the number of fish in the sea and threatening some fish species with extinction, but now an Israeli company, Grow Fish Anywhere (GFA) has found a way to raise saltwater fish anywhere, even in the desert, without any of the usual problems of pollution. The company has facilities in Israel and New York.
18. An international charity is building a $6 million factory in Africa to build cardboard wheelchairs designed and developed in Israel. The wheelchairs are the brainchild of Israeli entrepreneur Nimrod Elmish of I.G. Cardboard Technologies, and are made entirely of cheap, recycled materials. The charity, which is dedicated to providing free wheelchairs for the disabled in developing nations, spends more than $6 million annually on buying metal wheelchairs from China and sending them to Africa.
19. With its plentiful year-round sunshine, it’s no surprise that Israeli companies are leading the way in creating viable and successful new solar energies that are already helping reduce the world’s dependence on pollution-causing oil.
Israel has become a startup nation for the sun with dozens, if not hundreds, of companies operating in this field, many of them driven by the early solar pioneers Zvi Tabor and Levi Yissar, and then later ones David Faiman, Jacob Karni and Avi Kribus.
20. Israeli educational entrepreneur Shai Reshef founded University of the People, the world’s first tuition-free, online academic institution offering a recognized bachelor’s degree. More than 3,000 professors from major universities volunteer as lecturers and tutors for students from many countries, including China, Pakistan, Haiti, Rwanda, Mali, Peru, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and South Sudan. “I believe that if you educate one person, you can change a life; if you educate many, you can change the world,” Reshef says.