While political scandals continue to hog the media headlines the good news tends to get buried. Here are some of the latest positive developments from the Promised Land… courtesy of Michael Kuttner.

MALARIA BREAKTHROUGH 

Israeli scientists at the Weizmann Institute have discovered a new possible defense against malaria after a research study revealed how the life-threatening disease, for which there is no vaccine, tricks and deceives the immune system to keep its life cycle going.

Nearly half of the world’s population is at risk of contracting malaria, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes infected by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite.

Last year, the WHO recorded over 200 million cases of malaria across the world with an estimated 445,000 people dying of the disease, a majority in Africa which is disproportionally affected. Persons infected suffer from a host of symptoms including high fever, chills, abdominal pains, diarrhea, and vomiting.

The study showed how the parasites communicate with each other to send out a misleading message to the infected person’s immune system, causing it to attack decoy cells as the real infection penetrates the bloodstream initially unhindered. By the time the immune system recovers from its mistake, the infection will have spread significantly.

When the scientists “knocked out” a gene created by a molecular sensor that triggers the false alert, the process was interrupted, offering a possible path toward new treatment.

TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM BEING INSTALLED

Israel is installing a tsunami warning system along its Mediterranean coastal beaches. The Mediterranean tsunami early warning sensors have been spread out so as to span the entire coastline.

In a few more months, they will be connected to the Home Front Command Red Alert siren system, which will trigger in case of an impending tsunami. Early warning systems for tsunamis are crucial in order to protect power stations in Tel Aviv and Ashkelon, and desalination plants that could be damaged.

A similar natural earth movement sensor project called “Truah” is being installed along Israel’s eastern border in the region adjacent to the Great Rift Valley. The 120-sensor earthquake early-warning system will provide a safety window of anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes’ notice, depending on the location of the epicenter of the temblor. “Truah” is expected to be operational by 2019.

FINANCIAL RATING MAINTAINED

Standard & Poor’s, the provider of independent credit ratings, said it was reaffirming Israel’s credit rating at third highest investment grade with a positive outlook, saying it expects Israel’s economy to stay strong. The ratings firm held Israel at A+/A-1. The ratings are an indication of the credit-worthiness of a nation that issues debt and how likely it is to repay the debt.

The authors forecast Israel’s economy will expand by about 3.1 percent on average in the years 2018-2021, with economic growth stemming from private consumption, corporate investments and strong exports of services, all supported by an easing monetary policy.

“We note that the projected growth comes on top of Israel’s already remarkable economic performance since the global financial crisis started in 2008. For example, GDP in U.S. dollar terms has increased by 50% compared with that in 2010, and the unemployment rate is at historical lows.”

WINDS OF CHANGE IN JERUSALEM

While the rest of the world (except the USA) obsesses with Israel’s Capital, facts on the ground are reshaping Jerusalem.

The number of employed east Jerusalem Arabs is rising, salary gaps with the city’s Jewish population are narrowing, more are learning Hebrew—6,000 currently study the language in classes—and registration at higher education institutions in the western sector is up. City Hall has established an employment center in east Jerusalem and plans a second one. There are even growing applications for citizenship, said the mayor’s adviser for east Jerusalem affairs.

“It is dripping into the consciousness that Israel is a reality and that if east Jerusalemites want to improve their lives, they might be willing to pay the price of integration,” the Mayor’s adviser said, adding that the city is doing what it can to improve infrastructure and lives in the Arab areas.

ISRAELI INNOVATIONS SAVING LIVES

This short video reveals how Israeli innovations are saving the lives of countless individuals worldwide. Send it to anyone you know who advocates BDS so that they do not mistakenly take advantage of Israeli technology.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7wMHmKHDiJI?rel=0

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel. 

[This article was originally published on J-Wire and is reproduced here with permission from Michael Kuttner.]