October 6, 2005
Spectator - The Holy Land of Progress
The Israeli firm, M-Systems, developed flash technology that allows huge amounts of computer data to be stored on a key chain. Given Imaging Ltd. created a miniature, disposable video camera that can be fitted into a capsule and swallowed, giving doctors thousands of images of a person's intestines. Nemesysco invented voice-sensitive technology that reveals, over the telephone, whether someone is telling the truth.
The achievements of these Israeli companies aren't the kind that are likely to make headlines, especially coming from a region long dominated by violence and political turmoil. But for British philanthropist Trevor Pears -- who conceived and funded the 2005 book, "Israel in the World: Changing Lives Through Innovation" (Orion Publishing Group, Limited) -- they were just the kinds of stories he wanted to share.
"Other books tell you how to argue for Israel," he said. "They don't tell you why you should.... [So I] figured perhaps I might make that happen."
Eventually journalists Helen and Douglas Davis signed on to write the book, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch wrote the forward.
"From media and telecommunications to ... banking, Israeli technological advances are key contributors to the progress and strength of the global economy," Murdoch wrote.
Pears' favorite "Innovation" story is about Yoel Margalith, an Israeli scientist known worldwide as "Mr. Mosquito." Margalith, a Holocaust survivor, is credited with saving millions of lives through his discovery of a naturally occurring bacteria that kills disease-carrying mosquitoes without harming the environment.
Researcher Yossi Leshem saves lives in a different way. His pioneering use of unmanned aerial vehicles has tracked the flight paths of hundreds of species of migratory birds so airplanes can keep away from them. Leshem provided the United States government with information on the birds' migratory patterns during the 1991 Gulf War; he now works closely with other Western governments, as well as the Jordanian and Turkish air forces.
"It's breathtaking how broad Israel's innovative genius has become in the 21st century," said Larry Weinberg of Israel21c, which works to give a fuller picture of Israel beyond the Palestinian conflict. A number of the stories in the book are from his organization's archives, Weinberg said: "People look at this book and go, 'Wow! Even Jews don't know what Israel has become in the 21st century."