Netanyahu Condemns ‘Disgraceful Rampage’ on Capitol, Hails Trump: Deborah Brand, Breitbart, Jan. 7, 2021 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the “disgraceful rampage” on the Capitol Building on Thursday morning, saying it was the “opposite” of American and Israeli values before going on to praise President Donald Trump.
WATCH: Zionism: An Indigenous Struggle Webinar– CIJR, YouTube, Jan. 6, 2021 – Machla Abramovitz and Nathan Elberg discuss their recently published book on CIJR’s first-ever Zoom webinar. _____________________________________________________________________________
Small Wonder: How Israel Rolled Up Its Sleeves And Became Vaccination Nation
Nathan Jeffay Times of Israel, Dec. 31, 2020
Millions worldwide prayed for widespread vaccination by Christmas. Israel, where the day largely goes unmarked, got the closest. Nurses are giving shots at turbo speed, and Israel tops the global table for the proportion of the population that is vaccinated, and is fourth in total shots given. In less than two weeks, nearly 800,000 people have received their first of two shots, which represents more than 9 percent of the population. This is almost three times the next most needle-happy nation, Bahrain, and several times the population share of that in Britain, which started giving shots two weeks before Israel. Companies were apparently keen to rush supplies to the small country, where a relatively small slice of the available doses, placed in the hands of a highly-professional health service, could quickly transform life and create an international poster child for vaccination. Now, politicians, officials and doctors alike are predicting that this will be the first country in the world to achieve herd immunity — and inviting others to emulate it. “We hope we’ll be a model for the entire world,” said Arnon Afek, deputy-director of Sheba Medical Center and former director-general of the Health Ministry in a press briefing on Sunday. “Because once we do it, other people can learn from our experiences; they don’t have to start from the beginning.” Feeling a sense of deja vu? Just eight months ago, Israel’s leaders were more-or-less declaring victory over COVID-19 and suggesting they could show the world how to do it. This came after a lengthy spring lockdown full of self-congratulatory statements by politicians on how quickly and effectively they acted. But soon enough, they found themselves fighting a vicious second wave and becoming the first country to reimpose a nationwide lockdown. Instead of looking to Israel for tips on how to subdue the virus, doctors around the world started using the country as a reference guide on how not to act. So should the deja vu make us suspicious of the triumphalist talk now, and fearing hurdles in our race to herd immunity? Or is it just a nagging sense of post-trauma by a nation reeling from false hope back in the spring? The short answer to both: Maybe. Efficiency and fear of being a sucker Caveats aside, there seems little doubt that Israel is in a stronger position than most people imagined. It’s due to a mixture of factors: good supplies, excellent logistics and strong community medicine. The campaign is also benefitting from traits in the population: it’s tech-savvy, haunted by fears of missing out (also known as being a sucker), and the few anti-vaccination people are keeping mostly quiet. Supplying Israel early was an attractive proposition for vaccine companies, firstly because Israel has shown a willingness to pay top dollar, and then some, to get the vaccine earlier than elsewhere. Some reports have put the cost at more than double what the US or European Union is paying for the Pfizer vaccine. But Israeli officials have also said the pharma firms saw Israel as an excellent marketing tool for their vaccine, providing a mix of conditions that can showcase the power of their products. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
Unicorn Sightings: 15 Israeli-Founded Firms Join The Billion Dollar Club This Year
Eliyahu Korn NoCamels, Dec. 30, 2020
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first quarter of the year sent Israel, like other countries across the globe, into a scramble. While the country has experienced considerable economic damage, there are some that have reached new heights this year. Of the 45 Israeli companies that have reached “unicorn” status – privately-held companies valued at over $1 billion – 15 have joined the list in the last year. The term has become a universal benchmark of glory in the world of tech and a topic of much research and admiration. Yaron Samid, a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of Tech Aviv, a global network of top Israeli startup founders and investors, has been shining a spotlight on these unicorns for a number of years. When he compiled his annual list of Israeli unicorns in 2018, there were just 18 in total founded by Israelis. The 45 unicorns on the list today have a combined value of $92.6 billion and have raised more than $41 billion to date. Of the 15 unicorns that broke into the list this year, all but one have offices in Israel. Together they employ over 2,500 Israelis, according to data from these firms on LinkedIn. Samid was excited to note the variety of this year’s new unicorns. “As a tech ecosystem matures, founders emerge from multiple disciplines. Traditionally we had mainly deep tech experience stemming from military careers in fields such as cybersecurity, networking, telecommunications and semiconductors. Today we have founders with design, UX, marketing, finance, gaming and healthcare backgrounds,” he tells NoCamels. Some investors even believe that down the line, the coronavirus pandemic will emerge as one of the driving forces behind a reinvigorated tech ecosystem. Nicole Priel, vice president at Ibex Investors, a firm that recently raised a $100 million fund to invest in Israeli tech, notes that the years following the last major recession in 2008 “were fantastic vintage years for tech and venture investing.” Priel mentions public companies like Airbnb, Uber and Slack, that were founded in the midst of the Great Recession as examples of startups that were born and grew into unicorns at times when others were cautious and defensive. “If you consider that some organizations used to ban employees from working remotely or on Wi-Fi, you can see why some solutions have seen demand skyrocket in the last year,” she says, referring to the tremendous shift in cybersecurity needs as a result of COVID-19. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
Israeli Radar Revolution Aims to Fuel Safer Cars
Sara Toth Stubs Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2020
In 2018, a Tesla car in autopilot mode crashed into a highway divider in California, killing the driver and fueling doubts about the future of self-driving cars. The vehicle’s inability to identify the divider as a hazard revealed the limits of autonomous cars, especially their ability to recognize objects in the road – a key safety concern as more cars begin to incorporate automated driving features. “Overreliance on Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ and the operational design of Tesla’s ‘Autopilot’ have led to tragic consequences,” National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt said after investigating this and other accidents. Vehicles belonging to Waymo and Uber, which recently sold its self-driving division, have been involved in similar accidents when cars’ sensing systems failed to detect other vehicles, pedestrians or objects in the road. “The sensing system of cars is replacing the drivers’ eyes, and it needs to be perfect,” said Yuval Engelstein, a mobility research analyst at Start-Up Nation Central, which tracks tech companies in Israel. “Getting this perfect is essential.” Israeli startup Arbe Robotics says its ultra-high-resolution radar system can provide this perfect vision for autonomous and semi-autonomous cars. The system recognizes objects, including people, up to 300 meters away, giving a driver – or an automatic braking system – ample time to stop. Unlike other advanced imaging and sensing systems, Arbe’s technology also works in low-visibility conditions caused by bad weather or glaring sun, and can detect cats, dogs and other small objects, as well as hidden and unseen dangers, such as a child walking between closely parked cars. “It can really see and detect in a reliable way,” said Kobi Marenko, CEO of Arbe, whose systems are being developed in partnership with major global automotive manufacturers and will be available in some vehicles from 2022. Traditional radar – which emits radio waves and uses a receiver to create images based on how those waves bounce off objects – has been around for decades, used mainly by the military and air traffic control. More recently, radar has also been deployed in consumer vehicles, working alongside cameras to assist features like warnings when cars swerve out of lanes. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK– Ed.]
268,000 Families in Israel Living in Extreme Poverty Jewish Life Oregon, Dec. 9, 2020A new report presented on Dec. 9 to Israel President Reuven Rivlin, detailed a worrying increase in the depth of poverty, financial hardship, and food insecurity among Israeli households amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The annual Alternative Poverty Report released by the Latet organization, a nonprofit that provides various welfare and food aid services, shows that during 2020, the number of households living in poverty has jumped from 20.1% of households before the pandemic to 29.3% (now a total of 850,000 households), meaning some new 268,000 households now live-in poverty. Unlike the State of Israel’s official poverty report which measures poverty based on income alone, Latet’s Alternative Poverty Report measures poverty according to households lacking in essential needs such as housing, education, healthcare, food security, and the ability to cover the cost of living. However, this year Latet did not calculate the report according to the multi-dimensional poverty index but rather conducted research that enables a broader understanding of the impact of the Covid-19 crisis relating to changes in employment and economic status of Israeli households compared to before the pandemic. According to the new report, today 656,000 Israeli households (22.6%) suffer from food insecurity, compared to 513,000 (17.8%) before the pandemic. Among them, 286,000 (9.9%) live in extreme food insecurity, up from 252,000 (8.8%) before the pandemic (according to the National Insurance Institute of Israel). About 143,000 (+4.8%) households have been newly categorized as food insecure since the beginning of the pandemic, and 34,000 have been newly categorized as dealing with extreme food insecurity. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, 422,000 new Israeli households found themselves in financial hardship. The percentage of the households that suffer from financial hardship jumped from 24.1%, before the pandemic, to 38.6% (an increase of 14.5%). Of the households that reported encountering financial hardship during the pandemic, 77% are Jewish families. In comparison, 58% of the households that reported encountering financial hardship before the pandemic were Jewish. The study also reports that 86% of elderly aid recipients are experiencing loneliness. Of this group, 21.6% fear they might die at home with no one knowing. The Latet Alternative Poverty Report, analyzed by the Rotem AR Institute, is an integrative study comprised of three questionnaires. The study sampled 1,818 Israelis ages 18 and up (including members of the general public, people in financial need, and heads of nonprofit charities) during September-October of 2020. In order to determine the effect of the coronavirus on the financial situation of Israeli households, an additional study was held by the ERI institute and Latet among 1,350 adults (a representative sample of the Israeli general population). This study was based on three components: income, the fulfillment of basic needs and the subjective feeling of economic distress. The margin of error for the Latet Alternative Poverty Report is 2.7%. … [To read the full article, click the followingLINK– Ed.]
FOR FURTHER REFERENCE:
Israel’s AI21 Labs Builds Deep Tech To Reinvent How We Read And Write: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Jan. 7, 2021 — While there has long been a concern – fear, even – that artificial intelligence (AI) could pose a threat to humans, especially in the jobs department, there is still a strongly held belief that the technology’s impact will actually be to further complement and enhance human capabilities, not replace them.
Startups in Israel – Statistics & Facts: Published by Amna Puri-Mirza, Dec 16, 2020 — Startups are business ventures in their early operations. In general, these companies try to approach the market with their new products or services with an innovative angle.
Happy Bat Mitzvah Bitcoin! My How You’ve Grown: Dov Greenbaum, CTech, Jan. 8, 2021 — Sunday, January 3, 2021, was the 12th anniversary of the creation of the genesis block, the first block of the Bitcoin blockchain, the one that started it all. Mazel Tov on your Bat Mitzvah!
Pandemic Will Worsen Already High Poverty, Inequality In Israel, Report Says: Shoshana Solomon, Times of Israel, Dec. 30, 2020 — The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic will be felt for a long time and is likely to increase poverty levels and worsen inequality, two facets of Israeli society that were “exceptionally high” even before the crisis hit, a report by the Taub Center for Social Policy said.