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Tzedek-Info from Israel n° 127 Jan-Feb 2018

Awards & performances


– The team of Dr. David Ginat, as part of the Tel-Aviv University School of Education, won two silver and two bronze medals at the 29th International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) , which was happening in Tehran, with the team remotely based in Turkey….

– The 2013 Yarden Malbec wine from Golan Heights Winery won a gold medal at the Citadelles du Vin competition in Bordeaux.

– Dr. Liad Mudrik, from the School of Psychology Sciences at Tel Aviv University, was chosen among the 50 most influential women in Israel for the year 2017 by Forbes magazine. And he named Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as Israel's most influential woman.

– TransWorld SkateBoarding has selected Tel-Aviv alongside cities such as London, Berlin, Shenzhen, Melbourne, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles or Barcelona as the best destinations for skateboarding amateurs or professionals.


High Tech


– A sequenced human genome can represent 200 to 300 gigabytes (GB) of raw data, while an analyzed genome can occupy a terabyte (TB) of disk space. When individual genomes are mapped, there will not be enough room in computing space to store this data. Rafael Feitelberg, Managing Director of Geneformics, from Petah Tikvah: “ if you want a genebank, the sheer size of the data is going to be really, really prohibitive… Geneformics is poised to offer the tools and infrastructure to make genomic data accessible through compression, while facilitating decompression– With a mapped genome available, for example, the age of personalized medicine could flourish. Doctors will be able to develop personalized drugs for patients, guaranteeing that the drug will specifically target the problem raised, without side effects.

- Founded in 2011 by Raviv Melamed, Naftali Chayat and Miri Ratner, the start-up Vayyar has developed sensors capable of detecting and displaying in 3D what is hidden behind any surface. This technology is set to transform the way we interact with the world, and to save lives, as it can detect tumors through skin analysis, look through walls, create 3D images foundations of a structure... The sensors are placed in a small black box that attaches magnetically to the back of a smartphone and connects to the Walabot mobile application already developed by the company.

Unlike MRI rays or ultrasound machines which cost several hundred thousand dollars and are only reserved for certain areas, the sensors used by Vayyar are small and inexpensive.

– Chemotherapy is sometimes more harmful than the cancer it is trying to treat. Prof. Nissim Benvenisty of the Azrieli Center for Stem Cells and Genetic Research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem created the start-up NewStem to develop new practical therapeutic means derived from university stem cell research. He succeeded in separating from the embryonic cells the mono-chromosomal cells called "haploids" which have the advantage over the more common "diploid" cells, of being able to transform into cells of any organ of the body. With the genetic mutation method called "Crispr Cas", he was able to create a library of 180 mutations of 000 genes, or 18 mutations/gene.

President Ayelet Dilion-Mashiah: “ We can thus see whether the chemotherapy treatment is appropriate or not, depending on the degree of survival of the stem cells tested.. If they survive and proliferate, it is because they are resistant to treatment…. By managing to reduce the rate of resistance, we increase the effectiveness of the treatment.




– Dr. Yonatan Adler, professor at Ariel University and director of excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) at Reina in the lower Galilee and his team discovered raw limestone kitchen utensils, dating from Roman times, at the end of the 2nd Temple. According to him, the reasons for the change from pottery utensils to raw stone utensils are religious, as the pottery becomes so “impure” and has to be destroyed frequently. This fact is proven in the Talmud. The team discovered hundreds of pieces in various states of preservation.

– Archaeologist Mordekhay Aviam, of Kinneret College, University Institute of Lake Tiberias, believes that the two excavation campaigns he has completed have uncovered the site of the ancient Roman settlement of Julias, a fishing village on the shores of Lake Tiberias where, according to the Gospels, Peter, his brother Andrew and Philip, three of the 12 apostles, were born or lived. Mordechay Aviam:We brought to light fragments of pottery, coins, as well as the vestiges of a public bath, which tends to prove that it was not a question of a small village, but of a locality which could match Julias »

– A team of archaeologists excavating in the City of David National Park discovered clay seals. These seals sealed the mail (letter for example), and if they were broken, it meant that the mail had been read.

Dr. Joe Uziel and Ortal Chalaf, who lead the excavations for the IAA, explain that dozens of seals are found in the City of David that prove a high level of administration in Jerusalem at the time of the 1er Temple. The oldest seals contain an image rather than letters or a name. The inscriptions are in ancient Hebrew and a seal has been discovered bearing the name of “Achiav ben Menachem” who appears to be a king of Israel Ahab, according to the prophet Elijah.


Did you know ?


– The most powerful laser in the Middle East has been set up in the laboratory of Dr. Ishay Pomerantz at the Faculty of Engineering of Tel Aviv University. It emits 20 terawatts of radiation, a thousand times Israel's total electricity consumption, and will be used to promote innovative cancer treatments as well as security solutions for the protection of strategic infrastructure. Dr Pomerantz "The power of this laser is so strong that it cannot travel through the air; thus our entire system and all our experiments are carried out under vacuum, in large stainless steel containers. Each container is used for an experiment conducted by a group of students. The laser pulse penetrates inside the container and irradiates the object we want to examine…. The particle accelerators currently in use are non-laser based, and they are very large, expensive and impossible to move. With laser particle accelerators, we can, for example, ensure the protection of ports against the smuggling of certain products transported in maritime containers. »

- Michael Cordonsky and youA multidisciplinary team from the University of Tel Aviv have developed a homemade multispectral camera (5000$ instead of 100$) that can read texts that had disappeared on ancient ostraca. Thus on the ostracon N° 000 of the AAI, taken from an excavation in Tel Arad, dating from – 16, they were able to complete and double the content of the known text with 600 characters or 45 words. Thus each excavation team will be able to carry with it a multispectral camera. In Tel Arad, 20 coins were found with inscriptions mainly concerning orders for supplies or military orders, coming from the Judean military leaders in the fortress of Arad.





Elbit Systems Ltd successfully carried out a first simulation in the field of anti-submarine warfare. This is a new unmanned mini-frigate, called Seagull, capable of performing various missions. This small building barely 12 meters long was remotely controlled by a control console via the Satcom satellite system, at a distance of more than 3.500 km! The frigate drew up in real time a cartography and a precise catalog of all the objects which were on the surface and in depth, within a certain radius. Thanks to this system, the building can detect, but also repel, any underwater enemy threat. It can be used against submarines, mines, in electronic combat, in coastal surveillance and in various other missions at sea. The Seagull can be sent from the coast, but also transported by boat and dropped at a point . It has an autonomy of action of 4 days.


Inventions and Discoveries


- Teacher. Doron Shabat of the School of Chemistry at the University of Tel Aviv has developed a technology of sensors, called AquaSpark, which makes it possible to emit a large quantity of light in a liquid medium, to locate and highlight tumors cancer cells, including tiny metastases, with a very high level of precision. Ramot, the technology transfer company of Tel Aviv University, has just signed a licensing agreement for these sensors with Biosynth, a Swiss company specializing in the development and manufacture of chemical substances for medical diagnostic purposes. .

– Dr. Alex Golberg, of Tel Aviv University, has developed a new technology that controls the proliferation of collagen cells, which are responsible for the healing of severe burns. The method uses the pIRE (Partial Irreversible Electroporation) technique, i.e. the exposure of the skin to high voltage electric fields, with very short pulses. This helps to lessen the formation of the scar, as well as the pain in the healing process.

– Prof. Zeev Zalevsky is one of Israel's most prolific inventors, with more than 50 patents filed in his name. In particular, he has developed a technology that could allow people who were blind from birth to regain their sight, thanks to high-tech contact lenses. He helped found the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) and became director of the Nano-Photonics Center. He has focused on creating ultra-small applications that harness the power of light for high-speed information processing, especially in medicine and high-resolution imaging. His optical studies on light and its interactions with matter at nanometric scales, evolve in particular in the development of devices capable of processing optical information, without having to convert it into electrical data.

– Technion researchers have developed a technology that allows a new understanding of the nocturnal landscape, ranging from the office to the whole city, thanks to the flickering of electric lights. The approach of Professor Yoav Schechner and his team combines different research fields, including optics, computer vision, image processing and power grid engineering. The reason for the flickering of light lies in the fact that electrical networks operate in alternating current (AC), where the current of electrons constantly reverses its direction.

Sparkling photography is a challenge. On the one hand, identifying flicker dynamics requires a very brief exposure. On the other hand, night photography requires a long exposure to gather enough light to create an image. To address this discrepancy, the researchers developed an electro-optical camera called ACam to detect alternating current flicker. This technology paves the way for further research in many fields, including that of controlled illumination of objects, measurement of three-dimensional objects, their texture, their surface according to their shadow, and the analysis of the properties of the electrical network remotely, by optical methods.

– According to Prof. Eli Eisenberg of Tel Aviv University's School of Physics and Astronomy octopuses and octopuses know how to reprogram their DNA. This discovery is likely to provide new knowledge to control genomic information and develop drugs against genetic diseases.

The cells of our body are made up of proteins, produced according to the instructions written in the DNA. DNA is a huge molecule made up of a chain of small units. The specific organization of these units, called DNA sequence, composes the code that determines the structure of proteins. Each DNA molecule (chromosome) can contain hundreds of thousands of genes, which are like “instruction sheets” for building the protein.

In the cell occurs a process of transcription of DNA into similar molecules called RNA, which are finally translated into proteins. In most living beings the sequence of proteins present in cells is unequivocally determined according to the genetic information encoded in DNA, which determines the structure and function of proteins.

Octopuses and squids have the extraordinary ability to effect genetic modification by making changes in RNA molecules so that there is no exact transcription of the genomic sequence. So they can produce different versions of the protein from the same original "instruction sheet" stored in the DNA.

DNA manipulations can be complicated and dangerous, and lead to unwanted side effects. The RNA editing mechanism, on the other hand, gives researchers another, less dangerous way to influence proteins in the human body through a kind of "RNA engineering".

– Under the leadership of Pr Asaph Aharoni from the Department of Environmental and Plant Sciences of the Weizmann Institute, a team has succeeded in producing “betalain” pigments in plants and flowers that do not have them. He stated : “Our results could in the future be used to fortify a wide variety of crops with betalains to increase their nutritional value. – You should know that purple and yellow pigments contain antioxidant properties and purple tomatoes contain 60% more oxidants. Betalain pigments also protect plants against gray mold. We can also create ornamental plants with colors that can be changed on request.

- The average life expectancy of American men is 79 years, but Israeli researchers have discovered a genetic mutation that would increase the life of men by an average of 10 years. Researchers have identified a genetic variation that alters growth hormone function and promotes longevity in men, the absence of exon 3 — part of a gene — of the growth hormone receptor. Dysfunction of biological pathways associated with growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) had previously been found to contribute to longevity. Thus in nature, shorter strains of the same species usually survive longer. For example, ponies live longer than horses, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger ones.

Gil Atzmon from the University of Haifa: Our goal now is to understand the mechanism of variation that we found, so that we can implement it and enable longevity, while maintaining quality of life. ».

- A team of student researchers, Rony Laor-Maayany and Rotem Amar-Halpert, under the direction of Dr. Nitzan Censor at Tel-Aviv University has identified a rapid and efficient brain learning mechanism that may in the future provide us with tedious memorization process "by heart". Several exposures to short flashes, several days apart, have the same effects on memory as hours of repetition.

70 healthy participants over the age of 18 were exposed to a variety of visual stimuli displayed on a screen in flashes of a few milliseconds, and were then questioned about what they saw. The short flashes reactivated the memory mechanism in the brain, thus producing learning without long and tedious practice. In addition, insofar as the exposure took place several days apart, the brain will have had time to assimilate the learning, including during sleep.

The results were surprising: the learning curve and the performances of the subjects exposed only to short flashes, several days apart, were in no way inferior to those of the participants who practiced this same task for hours, day after day. In both cases, the performance improved by about 20% to 30%!

Social issues


– A poll conducted by the Tami Steinmetz Center at Tel Aviv University of 1.200 Palestinians and 900 Israelis showed that only 53% of Israelis and 52% of Palestinians support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel . The trend is a slow and gradual decline of the two-state solution among Israelis. Lack of trust was the main factor influencing the position of the opponents, not the ideology. A third of Israeli Jews who expressed opposition to the two-state solution said they would change their position if the deal included mutual recognition by Palestinians of Jewish holy sites in the West Bank. Similarly, a majority of Palestinians opposed to the two-state solution said they were willing to change their position if Israel agreed to release all "political prisoners".

In each category 15% said they were in favor of evicting the other from their land.

The hypothesis of a “confederation”, in which Israelis and Palestinians could live where they want, but each would vote for their own parliament, with a unified capital in Jerusalem, is supported by 61% of Israelis and 25% of Palestinians .

45% of Israeli Jews favor a peace deal, while 18% back maintaining the status quo, 12% say they favor a decisive war against the Palestinians, and just 9% back annexation by Israel from the West Bank.

– In 2015, 53,579 couples got married, 73% of them Jews, or 6,4 per thousand. The average age of 1er marriage is 27,6 years for the groom and 25,2 years for the bride. The celibacy rate for Jewish men aged 25/29 rose from 28% to 62% in 45 years, for women it rose from 13% to 46%; for Jewish men aged 45/49 it went from 3% to 12% and for Jewish women from 2% to 9%.

– Merkaz Lé-Kalkala Médinit (Center for Public Economy) and the Freidrich Abert Foundation conducted an opinion poll among young people aged 15/24 which shows a clear reduction in secularism and a shift to the right on the chessboard Politics. In 20 years the Orthodox have gone from 9% to 15%.

– The Eretz Hemdah Institute, with the assistance of the Pouah Institute, would propose to the Chief Rabbinate to replace the document proving the Jewishness of an individual by a genetic examination looking for mitochondritis in the DNA

– According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel has 8.743.000 inhabitants. In one year the population has increased by 156.000 people. The Jewish population is 74,6% and Arabic by 20,9%.

There are 2.470.200 households, with an average of 3,1 persons/household. The overall fertility rate is 3,11, the highest in the OECD. The average income per household is 18.671 shekels/month ($5) before taxes.

88% of Israelis said they are very satisfied or satisfied with their life, 21% always or often feel stressed, 6%) often feel lonely and 34% find it difficult to cover their monthly expenses

74,2% of Israelis live in cities, 14,9% in urban communities. 5,6% of Israel's land area is built-up, with 20% of the land used for agriculture, 2,4% being water bodies and 7,3% are made up of forests, groves and national parks.




– The National Library of Israel strives to bring together the Jewish written heritage by creating a database that brings together some tens of thousands of Jewish manuscripts digitized throughout the world. That is 50% of the heritage and 4,5 million images which allow you to browse 45.000 invaluable documents, from prayers to literature and scientific treatises. The website Ktiv becomes one of the main databases for the Jewish written heritage.

– The Israeli film "Foxtrot", directed by Shmoulik Maoz, won the Grand Prize at the annual Venice Film Festival, the second most important prize after the Golden Lion, and it rewards the film with the most success with the jury. This controversial film is a criticism of the action of the Tsahal in Judea and Samaria, hence its success abroad



– A clinical study conducted under the direction of Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu from the School of Psychology and School of Neurosciences at Tel Aviv University, showed that a short and simple treatment with existing drugs for stress and pain leads to a reduction considerable risk of post-surgical cancer recurrence. 15% of breast cancer patients and 20% to 40% of colorectal cancer patients experience metastatic recurrence after removal of a cancerous tumor. This rate can even reach up to 96% in the case of pancreatic cancer.

« When the body is under stress, physiological or psychological, it secretes a large amount of hormones from the family of prostaglandins and catecholamines “, explains Prof. Ben Eliyahu. " These hormones, which decrease the activity of immune cells, indirectly promote the development of metastases. In addition, they directly help cancer cells remaining in the body after the operation to create and develop dangerous metastases. Thus, due to exposure to these hormones, cancerous tissues become more aggressive and metastatics”

– Dr. Gabi Gerlitz of Ariel University is studying the inner workings of melanoma cells that migrate – metastasize – in hopes of figuring out how to block this process. When patients have cancer, 90% of them die from the migration of cancer cells to vital organs, not from the primary tumor. " When we look at cells in motion, we see fibers called cytoskeletons that help cells migrate as well as move and remodel their nuclei says Gerlitz.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. And people who have a mutation in the BRCA2 gene – increasing the risk of developing breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers – are also at increased risk of skin cancer. For patients whose melanoma is detected early, the five-year survival rate is about 98 percent. But the survival rate drops precipitously if the disease has reached the lymph nodes or “metastasizes” and spreads to other organs.

– Dr. Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem compiled 200 studies worldwide, and showed that the amount of sperm in men's semen has more than halved in the past 40 years. Thus between 1973 and 2011, the concentration of spermatozoa in an ejaculation decreased by 1,4%/year, leading to a decrease of 52% for the entire period.

After considering factors like age, the research team calculated that sperm concentration dropped from 99 million per milliliter in 1973 to 47,1 million per milliliter in 2011.

Some of the causes include exposure to chemicals used in pesticides and plastics, obesity, smoking, stress, diet and even lack of exercise. Dr. Levine: " We must act, for example through better regulation of artificial chemicals, and we must continue the fight against smoking and obesity ».

– 100 people suffer from diastolic heart failure. In this pathology, the ventricles can no longer expand after having contracted. They are therefore no longer able to play their role of pumps and redistribute oxygenated blood from the lungs into the body. Dr. Yaïr Peled has developed a new method to treat this pathology, successfully applied at Rambam Hospital in Haifa where a surgical team implanted a small spring in a ventricle of a patient's heart. When the heart contracts, the spring follows its movement and then naturally causes the reverse movement, thus allowing the heart pump to function correctly.

– Resistance to antibiotics developed by bacteria is one of the greatest known threats to modern medicine. Under the direction of Dr. Ido Yosef and Pr. Udi Qimron, teams from the Faculty of Medicine of Tel-Aviv University have developed cutting-edge technology capable of neutralizing the harmful activity of pathogenic bacteria and restoring their sensitivity. to antibiotics. It consists of expanding the range of action of bacteriophages, viruses that attack bacteria in the human body by inserting new DNA into them that disrupts their activity.  Prof. Qimron "In our laboratory, we try to modify the properties of bacteria by changing their DNA. In this way, we can give them the characteristics we choose, and neutralize their harmful functionalities for humans, such as the creation of toxins, the production of diseases and the resistance to antibiotics…. Changing the DNA of pathogenic bacteria using bacteriophages is a promising technology in the fight against many diseases. Among other things, it can help restore the antibiotic sensitivity of bacteria that have developed resistance to common drugs.".

– A Tel Aviv University study reveals that young people with Body mass index (BMI) would be more likely to develop a colon cancer and right later. L'obesity may also be linked to a 71% risk of rectal cancer in men and a doubled risk in women.

- Neta Shlezinger and Prof. Amir Sharon from the Department of Molecular Biology and Plant Ecology at Tel Aviv University discovered the strategy used by immune cells to fight against the mold spores that we breathe in by the thousands every day: they make them commit suicide. According to the researchers, understanding this mechanism will lead to the development of more effective treatments for people with compromised immune systems, due to disease or chemotherapy, for example.

Researchers have created a genetically modified mushroom that produces a large amount of a particular protein capable of inhibiting the process of cell suicide, and therefore more resistant to immune cells. The organism infected with the modified fungus was more affected, and had great difficulty getting rid of the infection. On the other hand, the immune system of the organism infected with the normal fungus was easily able to induce the suicide of the fungal cells, which allowed it to get rid of the invasive fungus quickly and efficiently.


Sources: IsraelValley, SiliconWadi, … — contribution: Albert SOUED

The Tzedek-Info series is online at 


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