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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

McCain: Lets Move The American Embassy To Jerusalem

It looks as if Senator McCain (who previously toured Israel) is promising to move the American Embassy in Tel Aviv towards Jerusalem if he is elected President. But the question remains--will he?

(Israel National News) Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has categorically stated he will move the American embassy in Israeli from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem if he is elected president in November. [...]

A Congressional law mandates the move but includes allows the president to exercise a clause every six months to postpone the move for six months if there is a fear that it would harm American interests.

Many Americans have heard this "song and dance" before, previously from both former President Clinton and President Bush. Senator Obama has not declared whether or not he would move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city (which may be a sign that the status quo will stand underneath him).

Hopefully John McCain is a man of his word, as having Jerusalem recognized as Israel's capital would go a long ways towards strengthening the ties between America and Israel (not to mention send a signal towards the Jewish state's "rowdy" neighbors).

Adobe Looking For Some Israeli Tech

Adobe, a software company best known for creating (or at least responsible over) Acrobat reader, Photoshop and Flash (note: which I am hoping that they will bring over towards the iPhone) is now looking towards the Jewish state to help them create even more beautiful software.

(Globes Online) "We'd like to develop our market in Israel, but we have no concrete plans at the moment," Adobe Systems director of corporate development Yaniv Vakrat told "Globes" during his visit to Israel last week. "Our acquisitions or collaborations aim to complement the company's business. The technology that interests us must be related to our fields, especially on the user side." [...]

Israel is one the few locations where Adobe has little strategic presence. It is the only top-five Wall Street technology companies - after Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT), Oracle Corporation (Nasdaq: ORCL), SAP AG (NYSE; XETRA: SAP), and ahead of Symantec Corporation (Nasdaq: SYMC) - with no strategic activity in Israel.

Adobe already has a small presence in Israel, although they distribute most (if not all) of their software through Quicksoft (which is sort of like how Apple uses iDigital to distribute their goods Israel side).

There is no word on who Adobe is eying to purchase (or partner with) in the holy land--although they better decide soon before Microsoft gobbles up even more companies (as they have already launched a competitor to Adobe Flash called Silverlight which should give Adobe a run for their money).

Monday, July 28, 2008

More Good News From The Israel Baseball League

It looks as if the Israel Baseball League is preparging to kick off their season this August after a brief hiatus (which they thankfully ended so the sport could live on).

(Israel Baseball League) The Israel Baseball League, which inaugurated the first season of professional baseball in Israel last summer, has officially announced its plans for this summer season, a week-long baseball festival starting on August 14th that will pit an IBL All-Star team against a team made up of premier Israeli players.

The baseball festival, which will go from August 14th through August 21st, will take place at the Yarkon Sports Complex at the Baptist Village. The Baptist Village field, Israel’s state-of-the-art baseball and softball facility, is located in Petach Tikva, about seven miles outside of Tel Aviv. Games will start at 7 p.m. and are scheduled to be played on Thursday night, August 14th, and then each night from Sunday August 17th through Thursday night, August 21st.
“Our players are going over to put on a show. They are going over to run clinics in various communities. They are going to visit hospitals and hand out gifts. And most of all, they are going over to play some baseball,” said David Solomont, who has stepped into the role of president of the IBL.

The aim of the Israel Baseball League (or IBL for short) to not only promote baseball in the Holy Land (and attract tourism), but to also eventually join the major leagues (as several of their players were eventually picked up by the major leagues due to their involvment with IBL).

Even though the franchise could not play "all out" this year, hopefully they will draw enough attention (and money) to make 2009 a grandslam success. Pun intended. ;-)

Update (7/31): An anonymous reader has pointed me towards a story on the Jerusalem Post with some troubling news. Since there is always two sides to every story, I've emailed the IBL to see if I can find out what happened from their perspective.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rotating Skyscrappers? (Israeli Architecture)

For the past six thousand years of recorded history, humanity has be fascinated with building impressive objects. From the tower of Babel to the pyramids of Egypt, humanity it seems is focused on creating impressive structures, whether or not they are needed for our survival.

Now it looks as if one Israeli designer has decided to go one step further by designing a skyscrapper that not only allows residents to park their cars near their appartments, but also rotate as well.

( Israeli-born architect David Fisher is building the world's first 'four-dimensional' rotating skyscraper in Dubai.

The 'Dynamic Tower' to be completed by 2010, will have 80 floors, at a height of 420 meters. The building will incorporate offices, apartments and a luxury hotel. Residents will be able to drive their cars directly up to their apartments and park them in the space provided inside the apartment.

The structure will contain giant wind turbines between each floor, providing power to the entire building. Each floor will rotate at different speeds, allowing residents to enjoy Dubai's spectacular skyline from every angle. 

David Fisher's design may not make world history (assuming it does not spark off a global trend), but it may become popular among five star hotels, as it would give them an opportunity to show off the surrounding region (not to mention justify for charging their customers a hefty fee).

Israel: Helping Paraplegics Walk Again (Via Exo-Skeletons)

(Hat Tip: Gizmodo and Medgadget)

While most people on planet Earth take such items as walking, running and standing for granted, their are many people unable to do these basic three actions due to being paralyzed (whether from birth or from an incident).

However one company called Argo Medical Technologies has developed an exoskeleton that may enable those paralyzed from the legs down (also known as paraplegics) to finally ditch their wheelchairs for good.

(Israel 21st Century) ReWalk is an Israeli-developed quasi-robotic ambulation system developed by ARGO Medical Technologies that provides a viable, upright day-to-day alternative to wheelchair users. The wearable upright mobility system was specially designed for individuals with lower-limb disabilities. By restoring upright mobility, the developers say, ReWalk delivers benefits on the health, economic, and societal levels.

"What we want to do is have the person wake up in the morning, put on clothes, put on the ReWalk, go to work and go throughout the day, wearing it," Dr. Amit Goffer PhD, founder and director of Argo, and ReWalk's developer, tells ISRAEL21c. [...]

ReWalk comprises a light wearable brace support suit which integrates DC motors at the joint, rechargeable batteries, an array of sensors and a computer-based control system. It fits the body snugly to detect upper body movements, which are used to initiate and maintain the walking process. Wearers also use crutches for stability and safety. "The main issue was triggering and marinating gait. We tried it on three paraplegics the first time and the results gave me the confidence that it worked," recalls Goffer. 

This technology was ironically conceived by Goffer, who himself is a quadriplegic after a terrible accident. Even though he is unable to use the technology he built (mainly because he is unable to use his hands), this exo-skeleton may help pave the way for people like him to eventually walk again (without the need of cell therepy).

Although ReWalk is currently not available for the market--at least for Americans (as it has to be approved by the FDA), this product has the potential of enabling paraplegics to help live a normal life again.

Note: Users interested in contacing the company about this product can visit this webpage.

More Jews Making Aliyah?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Plant Whisperers: Using Algae To Detect Water Contamination

Water is an important element that most (if not all) organisms need in order to remain in the "alive category." Unfortunately not just any water will do, as some animals (not to mention people) depend upon clean fresh water in order to survive.

While some people turn towards technology in order to help filter out their water, these scientists are using algae to alert them to whether its contaminated in the first place.

(Israel 21st Century) By analyzing the rate of photosynthesis (the process of converting sunlight into energy) of plants growing in the water, the researchers, Prof. Zvy Dubinsky and Dr. Yulia Pinchasov, can discover whether the plant realizes its full photosynthesis potential. [...]

The researchers radiate a green laser beam on the aquatic plant. A plant that hasn't realized its full photosynthesis potential will use part of the laser light, converting it into energy, with the rest being converted into heat. This heat causes the water to expand and therefore produce a change in pressure, which is actually a sound wave that can be picked up by a hydrophone - a special microphone designed for the water. [...]

A plant suffering from lead poisoning, discharged as waste into water sources from battery and paint manufacturing plants, will produce a different resonance to that of a plant suffering from lack of iron, or to that of a healthy plant.

Even though there are other scientists are using bacteria to detect the purity (or rather toxicity) of water, these algae may be able to tell scientists exactly what is polluting the water sample, allowing them to come up with solutions to counter the contaminants.

Note: Hopefully the Faculty of Life Sciences (at the Bar-Ilan Univeristy or BIU) algae research receives more attention from the international community, as it has the potential to help governments in third world countries determine what is polluting their water supplies--especially after a country is hit by an earthquate or a hurricane.

(Image Credit: Nicky at BIU, via Israel 21st Century)

More Polish Citizens Visiting Israel?

It looks like the Chineese are not the only ones visiting Israel in increasing numbers, as Poland's citizens are decending upon the holy land in greater numbers as well.

(Globes Online) Tourism from Poland to Israel has grown, and Poland is now the fifth largest European country of origin for incoming tourists.

About 12,700 Polish tourists entered Israel in May 2008, a 96% increase over May 2007. In the period January May 2008, about 55,500 tourists arrived from Poland, representing an increase of 100% over the corresponding period of last year. The Ministry of Tourism hopes to boost by at least 30% the numbers of Polish tourists entering Israel in 2008. 

Other countries like Italy are also increasing flights towards the Jewish state, which may be a testament towards people tuning out the television in order to experience Israel for themselves.

Hopefully other nations (like Japan) will join the fun, as there is plenty to see in the holy land.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

London Olympics, Secured By Israel

While most of the worlds attention will be focused upon the 2008 Olympics being hosted in Beijing, London is preparing to host the event four years down the road in 2012.

In order to make sure that the event runs "as smooth as possible," it looks as if the British are seeking Israeli advice when it comes to security.

(Israel National News) The Israel-Britain Chamber of Commerce has announced plans to include Israeli security companies as part of the 2012 Olympic Games, to be held in London. [...]

Brosh said a deal to include Israeli companies in the security arrangements for the 2012 games would be worth approximately $150 million.
Israel seems to have a lot of experience when it comes to providing security for events (large and small) which may have something to do with "the love" it receives from its rowdy neighbors. ;-)

Israel is also helping the Chinese secure the Beijing Olympics, which may be a sign of an interesting trend appearing around the world (hint, hint).

Israel Gets A New National Holiday? (Sigd)

(Hat Tip: Israel National News and IsRealli, Image Credit:

It looks as if the Israeli Knesset has voted in a new holiday to honor the Ethiopian Jews, many who made aliyah towards the Jewish state.

(Ynet News) The Knesset plenum decided to formally add the Ethiopian Sigd holiday to the list of State holidays, and will be holding an annual state ceremony for it during the Hebrew month of Heshvan, which usually falls on October or November.

Sigd is a traditional Ethiopian day of fast, dedicated to prayers for the rebuilding of the Temple and giving thanks for the right to return to the Holy Land. The fasting ends in mid-day, in a Seder of sorts. 

Apparently Ethiopian Jews have been celebrating Sigd for quite some time in Jerusalem, although it was not previously observed by the majority of Israelis (at least until this month).

Israel is one of the few middle eastern countries that recognizes the holidays of faiths of different cultures (and religions), and this addition is a testimony to the Jewish state's diversity.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Can Israel's "G.HO.ST" Bring Coexistance Between Jews And Palestinians?

(Image: Screen shot of virtual OS)

When it comes to computer operating systems (or OS for short), Microsoft Windows is king. Despite the fact that it dominates the desktop space, Windows (as well as many of its user friendly OS competitors) are often expensive, making them legally unaffordable for half of the planet.

Worse, accessing ones data while away from the office could be a hassle (especially if your computer is powered off due to human error or a power outage).

A fairly young Israeli startup called G.HO.ST hopes to resolve this issue by providing a free "virtual computer" for all of its users, which is accessible where ever there is an internet connection. But what makes this company unique is the fact that they are hiring Palestinians coders and teaming them up with Israeli marketers.

(Israel 21st Century) Zvi Schreiber's (the Global Hosted Operating System, pronounced "ghost") provides users with a virtual operating system, where they can store files, write and save documents, surf the Web, and even send instant messages to their friends. And he does it with a staff made up of residents of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority - who have to meet and collaborate virtually, through video chats and on-line conferences.

But all that virtual-ness is having a real impact on the lives of people in Israel and the PA, who for perhaps the first time are able to collaborate on high-tech projects, just like people in "normal" places, such as Silicon Valley.

In fact, the 30-strong staff at the Ramallah offices of, even have stock options in the company. "I'm not aware of any other company in the PA that gives out options to its employees," Schreiber tells ISRAEL21c. 

While Israel's may not appeal to the western corporate world, power users or super geeks, it may find enormous appeal for users in third world countries who may not be able to afford a personal computer and must access the web via internet cafes.

Either way, this is a good initiative by, and hopefully more companies will follow.

Update: Edited last text, made sure image was uploaded. Blogger's image uploader is having problems, inserted video instead.

Update 2: Video lacked audio (this is just not my day!). Inserted image since it is functioning again.

Update (7/8): Anton has informed me that the G.HO.ST team has open sourced its light weight client for mobile phones.

Moscow Film Festival: Israeli Wins People's Choice Awards

Last week, Dror Zahavi (an Israeli) won the People's Choice Award (at the Moscow Film Festival) for directing a film entitled "For My Father" (which was in German).

( Israeli filmmaker Dror Zahavi's "For My Father" captured the people's choice award at the annual Moscow Film Festival on Saturday.

The film, which stars Shredi Jabarin, Hili Yalon, and Shlomo Wishinski, tells the story of a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber who falls in love with an Israeli girl who is estranged from her Orthodox family. 

While the subject was grim (and not as humorous as A West Bank Story), its good to see Israeli's breaking into new territory, especially using non-English films.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Video: Israel Corp Invests $15.5 Million Into Project Better Place

With gas prices reaching record numbers, one company called Project Better Place is racing to help push Israeli commuters off of fossil fuels, and on towards electric cars.

Since creating these vehicles, as well as the electric stations accompianing them is not exactly cheap, Israel Corp has decided to invest an extra $15.5 million to insure that this project is a success.

(Globes Online) Israel Corp. [...] is to inject a further $15.5 million into Project Better Place, the electric car project headed by CEO Shai Agassi. [...]

The company said it would invest up to $100 million in the venture. This follows a presentation to the Israel Corp. board of the Better Place budget, including milestones and a fund-raising plan.
Previously Project Better Place has been experimenting in Tel Aviv, although they hope to expand their project throughout all of Israel (and hopefully the rest of the planet in the future).

The cars are still fairly expensive, with price ranges between $80,000-$100,000 (according to Globes) although $40,000 of that amount is for the cars unique electric battery. Here is a brief video courtesy of Israel 21st Century that highlights what this green company is all about.

Project better place is rumored to be in talks with Portugal, although hopefully they will be able to roll out their invention nationwide before the upcoming hydrogen cars from Israel make their debut. ;-)

Tennis: Shahar Peer Defeats Safina (Go Israel!)

(Image Credit: Tom Dolev via Ynet News) 

Shahar Peer, one of Israel's biggest stars in tennis, defeated Dinara Safina from Russia in an intense battle on the tennis court.

(Ynet News) Israel's top female tennis player Shahar Peer beat Russia's Dinara Safina 7-5 6-7 8-6 on Saturday to advance to Wimbledon's fourth round for the first time in her career.

Peer came back in dramatic fashion to beat Safina, the French Open finalist, after trailing 3:5 in the third and deciding set. 

Peer is one of several Israeli tennis stars to break the scene, although Shahar is by far getting the most attention (which is probably due to her incredible matches, like the last one she faced).

Hopefully Peer will be able to survive long enough to take on one of the William sisters--although it may take a miracle to defeat either one of them (as they place a fierce game).

Update: Inserted source link, corrected quote layout.

From The Red Sea To The Dead Sea (Jordan And Israel)

Last month, President Shimon Peres and King Abdullah II of Jordan met together to discuss constructing a pipeline that would pump life giving water from the Red Sea, and pour it into the Dead Sea which borders both nations.

(IsraCast) After years of study and evaluation, the current plan, as envisioned by Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, is to construct a 112-mile (180 km) partially covered pipeline across the Wadi Araba (Arava), a desert region between Israel and Jordan that stretches from the Gulf of Aqaba in the south to the Dead Sea in the north. [...]

Theoretically, enough Red Sea water flowing into the Dead Sea could restore most of its water level over time. Moreover, hydroelectricity generated from the water coursing down the gradient would power a large desalination plant. Potable freshwater could then be delivered to urban areas, such as Jordan’s capital Amman, to relieve existing shortages. In addition, the canal’s supporters argue that construction could spark more joint Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian tourism and development projects in the Wadi Araba region.

Peres it seems has been promoting cooperation between Jordan and Israel, which has helped ease tensions between the two nations--not to mention help build up dialogue as well as respect.

Despite their past, both Jordan and Israel have been steadily moving closer together (at least economically) which gives hope to the future that Arabs and Jews can live side by side, regardless of their differences.

(Image Credit: IsraCast)

Will Israel's TruMedia Redefine Traditional Advertising?

Online, the internet advertising wars are heating up--especially in Israel with Yahoo! and Walla! declaring war on Google.

But offline, the war between "entities" may be a little bit blurrier to see, which may have to do with the fact that advertisers using billboards, regular signs, television, etc. have a harder time knowing who exactly is seeing their ad.

TruMedia is hoping to change this with some useful technology, without going "big brother" on interested onlookers.

(Israel 21st Century) Called iCapture, TruMedia is able to tell ad owners how many people their ad stopped on the street, in the subway or in the mall, how long they gazed at it, and the approximate age of the person.

The company now has its technology installed in about 30 sites across America, and in partnership with Adspace Networks is testing its system in shopping malls in Chesterfield, Missouri and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. [...]

"We just provide numbers," Cohen-Doukhan assures. "You can't go to look to see who watched. A company will just get numbers."  [...]

TruMedia's iCapture technology is based on a camera and computer algorithms to measure distances between facial features on a person to determine gender and age. TruMedia says its technology: "provides a true count of impressions with an accuracy that surpasses any other direct or indirect measurement technology.  

Even though companies will probably be a little sad that they will not be able to read the facial expressions of the various onlookers, they will probably be thrilled that TruMdia's iCapture will be able to at least have some way of reporting results, without having to conduct expensive polling which may simply "guestimate" how effective the ad was.

Note: I wonder how long it will take before Google snaps up this company? (as it would compliment their print, radio and television ad departments)

Image Credit: TruMedia