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Invented in Israel: A lot more than you realize

Most people are aware of the state of Israel – good, bad, or indifferent. Most know the basics. All would agree that 99 percent of what we hear about the Jewish state is negative, whether it be news of war, or failed peace talks or potential boycotts from hostile groups.

What almost none of us are aware of is the extraordinary innovations brought about by Israeli technology. Medical breakthroughs, cultural benefits, “techie” inventions and more all make, frankly, for a much better world. It all adds up to a much different and, I think, truer picture of just what Israel is all about.

For example, in the realm of humanitarian relief, how many of us are aware that Israel was the medical first responder to Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake? Who knew that Israel sent teams to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina? Were you aware that Israel sent a team of trauma experts to Boston after the recent terrorist bombings, to help the recovery process for Watertown schools?

No, this is not what you hear in the mainstream media. Which is why Marcella Rosen’s terrific new book, “Tiny Dynamo: How One of the Smallest Countries Is Producing Some of Our Most Important Inventions,” is so important.

This thin little volume is chock-full of stories of Israeli innovation that improve the quality of life globally. Think about that: A beleaguered country the size of Delaware brings all sorts of relief and modern convenience to the four corners of the earth.


Yossi Fisher of Solaris Energy realized that the chief drawback to solar panels was the amount of land needed to make it worthwhile. After all, environmentalists, farmers and builders have an obvious problem with it. Enter Fisher’s breakthrough moment: moving solar panels to bodies of water, while at the same time improving the panel technology itself to become more efficient.

Dr. Dov Rubin, CEO of Itamar Medical (located in Caesarea), has helped develop a new method for dealing with the dreaded sleep apnea: “The WatchPAT, an extremely nifty little device that represents a 180-degree pivot – and dramatic upgrade – from the way sleep apnea has traditionally diagnosed.”

The field of spinal surgery is obviously fraught with danger, because neither the human eye nor the human hand is designed for the precision needed in ultra-delicate spinal surgeries. Enter Prof. Moshe Shoham. A mechanical engineer and founder of Mazor Robotics, Shoham has developed the SpineAssist surgical robot.

Aside from profiling a dizzying array of inventors, Rosen also makes this a fun read.

Notice her humorous writing style, describing Shoham’s breakthrough: “If you’re like me, when you think of a medical team turning to something called the SpineAssist robotic surgical assistant, you expect something like a sterilized Tin Man to come tottering out of an operating room closet with a tray of scalpels and a mop.”

Funny stuff, but Rosen is also deadly serious about making known the amazing inventions produced by Israelis. Her Untold News project (UntoldNews.org) is an astonishing site featuring a side of Israel that few know. It’s especially helpful, too, for combating the inane “BDS” (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement, which seeks to marginalize the Jewish state by boycotting it economically. What seems lost on BDS proponents and leaders, among other things, is that the technology that makes their social media rants possible came from … Israel.

Oh, well. The idiocy that promotes the idea of sidelining the very country that provides life-saving treatment, agricultural breakthroughs, and technological gizmos most of us have come to depend on is itself sidelined in the light of “Tiny Dynamo.”

As a book junkie and reviewer, I always look at the entire package of a book – sort of like Native Americans efficiently using the whole carcass of an animal. OK, bad analogy, but the point is, I see no weakness with “Tiny Dynamo.” The cover design is memorable and striking, it’s a very quick read, the information stays with the reader, and best of all, of course, it sets the record straight about an issue distorted by much of the media, especially Israel’s Arab detractors.

As Rosen writes in the preface: “While everyone has been focused on the country’s decades of military conflicts, Israel has quietly become the most energetic, ambitious, go-go incubator of entrepreneurialism and invention the planet has ever seen.

“I could give you statistics: Israel is home to more start-ups, inventions and patents than the entirety of the EU; Israel attracts easily twice as much venture capital per capita as the next nearest recipient (the USA).”

On and on this remarkable story goes. You’ll read about it all in “Tiny Dynamo.”

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