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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Israeli patch saves baby born with intestines outside body

Ibtihaj (Arabic for ‘Joy’) was the first infant to receive a plastic-surgery patch invented in Israel. She's expected to have a full, normal life.

Ahmed and Tamam, a couple from the Arab village of Kfar Kassam 12 miles east of Tel Aviv, named their baby girl Ibtihaj (Joy) and it’s not hard to understand why.

Ibtihaj was born with a rare defect, omphalocele, in which the intestines and sometimes other organs develop outside the abdomen in a sac. The condition was noticed on a prenatal ultrasound and their local doctor advised them to have an abortion.

“We were devastated,” said Ahmed. “The doctors we saw in other big centers also recommended an abortion. While we were absorbing this news, we happened to see a TV program about a baby with a similar problem who had been saved at Hadassah Hospital. We drove to Jerusalem. Dr. Dan Arbell, a pediatric surgeon, showed us photos of children with worse conditions who were now preteens and doing fine. It turns out that our baby was not in such desperate straits as the doctors had said. He gave us hope.”

A month before Tamam was due to give birth, they came for a check-up at Hadassah’s Ein Karem campus. At the exam, the staff determined that the baby needed to be delivered immediately. 

Only 17 hours after her birth, she underwent surgery during which Arbell and his team put the organs back in place. They had done this type of procedure before but this time they closed the wound with TopClosure Tension Relief System, a patch invented in Israel originally for wounded soldiers on the battlefield. 

“The real challenge is the two-inch hole in the abdomen,” said Arbell. “Sometimes the hole can’t be closed at the time of the initial surgery, and frequently numerous surgeries are required. We decided to make use of a plastic surgery patch called TopClosure invented in Israel by Israeli surgeon Dr. Moris Topaz, but never used on a newborn.”

TopClosure stretches out the skin around the wound to avoid the need for skin grafts, and enables the wound to heal in an aesthetic and healthy fashion.

“We asked Dr. Topaz to join us for the surgery because we wanted to see if his invention would nurture the baby’s skin to close by itself. It worked! We are delighted and optimistic that future surgery won’t be necessary,” said Arbell. 

“We are known for being willing to try to save babies whom some think are best aborted,” he added. “Hence, we get three to five babies a year with serious disorders like this one. We’ll be further pioneering the use of this terrific Israeli invention.”

The baby remained in the hospital for three weeks of intensive care and is expected to have a full and healthy life.

Ahmed said in a statement: “‘Thank you’ isn’t a big enough word to express how we feel about the staff at Hadassah. You have saved our little girl and brought joy to us, our families and our whole community.”

Ahmed holding his baby, Ibtihaj, after her lifesaving surgery in Jerusalem using a surgical patch invented in Israel for battlefield use. Photo courtesy of Hadassah Medical Center
Ahmed holding his baby, Ibtihaj, after her lifesaving surgery in Jerusalem using a surgical patch invented in Israel for battlefield use. Photo courtesy of Hadassah Medical Center

So You Want to Move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Here’s How.

A blueprint for fulfilling the Trump administration’s promise without wrecking hopes for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It never failed. In five years serving as U.S. ambassador to Israel, whenever I spoke before an Israeli audience, the first or second question was always: “When will the United States move its embassy to Jerusalem?”
My answer invariably wove through Jerusalem’s unique history and American interests in the two-state solution. It culminated in Congress’s 1995 passage of legislation requiring the transfer of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — but only after the inclusion of a waiver authority permitting the president to delay the move for six months at a time, if he determined it was in the U.S. national security interest. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama exercised the waiver like clockwork, citing the need to prevent damage to ongoing efforts to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I supported all three presidents’ use of their national security waiver authority to delay the move in the interest of pursuing Middle East peace. But I have never believed that arguments for moving the embassy were groundless, or that it must await a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. I’m influenced by my love of Jerusalem — an emotional attachment born of decades studying its history — and sense of justice for Jewish claims to the city that are far too often called into question. The presence of a U.S. Embassy in parts of Jerusalem no one disputes are Israeli territory is one way of acknowledging the centuries of history that link the Jewish people to the city, the questioning of which is closely linked to the denial of Israel’s very legitimacy.

There are also practical diplomatic reasons for such a move. As ambassador, I was obliged to travel to Jerusalem several times a week to engage with Israeli officials in their offices.

But if President Donald Trump’s administration is determined to go forward with this move, the question of how it is executed will be critical. Done carefully, it could advance American national goals and interests.Done carefully, it could advance American national goals and interests. Done carelessly, it could cause them grave harm and lead to preventable tragedy.

The fact that the Trump administration has not immediately announced its intention to move the embassy, defying some predictions, suggests it is approaching the question carefully. This is a welcome contrast to numerous off-the-cuff policy pronouncements, from China to Mexico to refugee and immigration policy. If it wants to continue this approach, it should apply the following principles:

Preserve a realistic prospect for a two-state solution. Previous administrations’ opposition to moving the embassy was never about hostility to Israel or delegitimizing Israeli claims or the historic Jewish connection to the city. The opposition was always about preserving the chance to achieve the goal of a negotiated two-state solution. The fear was that a unilateral American move could ignite massive protests and spark retaliatory measures by Palestinians or Arab states, wrecking the chance of progress in negotiations.

Since I agree that achieving a two-state solution remains a critical U.S. foreign-policy interest, moving the embassy should be derivative of, or at least consistent with, that strategic policy goal.

Whether motivated by the importance of preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, a concern for Israel’s and America’s relationships with key Arab partners, or a desire to cut “the ultimate deal,” the new administration shows signs of investing heavily in Middle East peace negotiations. The president has even assigned his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a potential peacemaker.

So an embassy move must demonstrate that it will not prevent a Palestinian capital in the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem from emerging through negotiations — a necessary element of any final status deal — or change the status quo at the city’s holy sites. U.S. statements should make explicit that our embassy’s presence in West Jerusalem — likely housed initially in one of our existing consulate facilities — is not an endorsement of Israel’s claim of sovereignty over the entire city. Additional statements making clear the U.S. commitment to the status quo of the holy sites can assuage both Muslim sensitivities about the Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount) and Jewish sensitivities about the Western Wall.

Both Israelis and Palestinians may not welcome every aspect of such statements, but we should be honest with them. Done properly, such a move could actually advance the prospects for a two-state solution by shattering self-defeating myths on both sides.

Consult with key allies and neighbors. Before moving the embassy, the new administration should begin a conversation with the PalestiniansBefore moving the embassy, the new administration should begin a conversation with the Palestinians, who jealously guard their claims to Jerusalem. Add the Jordanians, whose King Abdullah has a special role, acknowledged by Israel, in safeguarding the city’s Muslim holy sites. Continue with the Saudis, whose legitimacy is tied to their leadership of Islam’s holiest sites, and the Egyptians, who will be key players in any effort to resolve, or even manage, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ask how an embassy move will affect them. How severe will the popular blowback be? What steps can help mitigate it? Each of these leaders will express opposition to the move, and some may threaten diplomatic retaliation, as the Palestinians have. But each also wants to get off on the right foot with the Trump administration, and several have common strategic interests with Israel. None of them should learn about the decision from the media or a White House announcement. Prior consultation, while not ensuring a quiet response, shows respect, may dampen the blowback, and can inform the administration’s decision on when and how to announce and execute the move.

Watch out for the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War. In May and June, history will meet politics and emotion as the world marks five decades since Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank in a war of self-defense. Israeli officials and citizens will celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem with oratory and pageantry. But Palestinians and much of the rest of the world — and some Israelis as well — will mark a half century of a seemingly entrenched occupation, which seems unlikely to give way to a two-state solution.

Although the current waiver expires on June 1, tying the move of our embassy to these events would be highly provocative. It would seem to link our decision to the Israeli claim to the entire city, risking blowback among Palestinians and in the Arab world. It would drag the United States into a historical argument that is not ours, and undercut our interests by making us a target of 50-year protests.

Plan it properly. One proposal for the move suggests merely hanging a sign on a Jerusalem consulate facility declaring it the embassy, and carving out some work space for the ambassador and a few staff. But that absurdly minimizes the complexity of the task. The embassy in Tel Aviv employs some 800 Americans and Israelis, spread across seven locations.The embassy in Tel Aviv employs some 800 Americans and Israelis, spread across seven locations.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem means moving much of those staff, and building the facilities required for them to do their work. It will require not just the construction of a new embassy building of the required size and security standards, but finding new housing for embassy diplomats, providing schooling for their children who currently attend a school north of Tel Aviv, addressing attrition of local staff who will not make the move, and ensuring no degradation of the embassy’s top-notch security standards.

A conservative estimate is that it will take a decade and hundreds of millions of dollars for such work. In the interim, the current inefficiencies of U.S. diplomats traveling regularly to Jerusalem would be magnified. The ambassador would be separated from the bulk of his or her staff, making coordination, management, and consistency of message more difficult. And the ambassador will need to visit Tel Aviv regularly to engage with leading Israeli economic and security institutions based there.

It will be even more complicated to ensure that the United States maintains its ability to conduct diplomacy with the Palestinian Authority. These discussions are managed by our consulate general in Jerusalem, an independent mission whose diplomats travel regularly to Ramallah. Will the consulate be subsumed under the embassy?

If so, it is unlikely that Palestinian officials will deal with them. They will aim to avoid any suggestion of a downgrade in their ambitions for sovereignty by addressing the U.S. government only through diplomats accredited to Israel. Without viable channels of communication with both sides, U.S. chances of leading successful negotiations shrink to nil. Can the consulate remain independent in the same city as the embassy? This arrangement may require waivers of existing law and policy.

There are potential answers to all of these questions, and a proper planning and budgeting process should commence to deal with them — not treat the initial announcement as the end of the story.

Be honest about the risks. The United States should never be intimidated from pursuing its interests by the threat of violence. And I have no doubt that Israeli security services can effectively protect the embassy, wherever it is. But we also should not pretend that the risk of violence does not exist. Jerusalem has often been the site, and the spark, of violent upheavals, especially when the holy sites are at issue.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presided over one such crisis in 1996 when his government opened an entrance to an archaeological tunnel near the Haram al-Sharif. The last two years have witnessed a wave of stabbings and car rammings inspired by largely false claims that Israel threatened the status quo of the Muslim holy sites. An embassy move could be seized upon by Jewish activists who, against their government’s policy, are advocating for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, a radical change in the status quo. That, in turn, could contribute to an even wider explosion of violence in other Muslim countries, possibly threatening U.S. diplomatic missions and personnel.

Terror and violence can never be justified, but any significant policy change should be accompanied by a professional assessment about the risks of violence and the ability to contain it. Lives may well be at stake if an embassy move is handled cavalierly, and it is simply denial to say otherwise.

For nearly seven decades, the United States and the international community have avoided declaring a view on Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital. In such a sensitive area, caution is understandable. No one wants to trigger violence or sabotage the chances for a negotiated peace. But if Trump wants to change this long-standing approach, he should pursue it with care — mindful of the risks and the need to mitigate them, realistic about the challenges and need to plan for them, and savvy about using the move to advance American interests.

JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Israel trains Bahrain's riot police

  • rce : Mirror Bahrain

The IsraelValley website reported from the Tribune Juive newspaper "Speaking about economic and security relations with Bahrain, an Israeli Minister said that a group of Bahraini anti-riot forces is being trained in Tel Aviv."

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The IsraelValley website reported from the Tribune Juive newspaper "Speaking about economic and security relations with Bahrain, an Israeli Minister said that a group of Bahraini anti-riot forces is being trained in Tel Aviv."
Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation, stressed "Bahrain is one of the Arab countries which have close economic and security relations with Israel," adding that "Bahraini riot commanders are being trained in Tel Aviv."
Hanegbi, who has close ties with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that this training is part of private course.
"Israel is seeking to expand relations with the Arab countries" he added, indicating that "the Bahraini authorities have good relations with us."
Tzachi Hanegbi pointed out that "Israeli economic groups visited Bahrain last month with the American and European passports. They had discussed different topics with Bahraini officials and businessmen."

Netanyahu, Trump to Talk Joint Cybersecurity Push

TEL AVIV – Flagging Israel as a global cyber power “right up there” behind the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will propose augmented bilateral cybersecurity cooperation when he meets with President Donald Trump in mid-Feburary.

“Iran attempts to hack critical infrastructure in the region and in the countries of the West. The Internet of Things can be hijacked by nefarious actors for dangerous purposes with dangerous results …. That’s why I intend to raise the subject and discuss the subject of cooperation in cybersecurity in my upcoming visit in Washington with President Trump,” Netanyahu said.

Speaking to a crowd of thousands here Tuesday at the annual CyberTech international conference and exhibition, Netanyahu said he met late last week with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s special adviser on civilian cybersecurity issues.

“Israel and the United States are two leading powers; the United States obviously [is] the leading power in the battle for cybersecurity, but Israel, I would say, is right up there. I think it’s critical that we augment whatever each of us is doing alone by our cooperation both on the government-to-government level and what we can do with our cyber securityindustries,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu acknowledged that the two governments have already held “important discussions” on the issue, but hoped to build on cooperation under the new administration. “The more we work together, the stronger and safer we’ll become.”

Full Article Bellow

IAI Debuts GPS Anti-Jamming System

January 31, 2017 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of IAI)
TEL AVIV — Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will debut at the upcoming Aero India exhibition in Bangalore an export-approved system to defend against GPS jamming.

Called ADA after the special adaptive antennas developed by the firm’s MALAM division, the system is operational in Israel and is slated to be installed in yet another Israeli Air Force manned platform in the coming months under a contract estimated at “tens of millions of dollars,” IAI executives said.

Measuring about 20 centimeters by 20 centimeters, the laptop computer-sized system is based on the firm’s multichannel Controlled Reception Pattern Antenna (CPRA) technology designed to render avionics systems immune to direct electronic attack from GPS jammers or other methods of interference. The system consists of two major elements: a GPS antenna array built from multiple antennas and an advanced digital processing unit.

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“This unit features the most advanced signals processing using the CRPA method, which is the leading anti-jamming method. It’s a stand-alone product that can be integrated into any airborne or maritime platforms,” said Alex Levite, ADA project manager.

He noted that the firm can miniaturize the system based on customer requirements. “We have different packaging solutions. Generally speaking, it’s a relatively small unit, but we can go smaller if needed.”

Amit Haimovich, director of marketing and business development for IAI’s MALAM engineering unit, noted that IAI has been heavily involved in the anti-GPS jamming business for more than a decade, and has authorization by Israel's Ministry of Defense to export the ADA system to approved customer nations. “We’re launching this now, but we’ve been in this world for many years.”

Haimovich estimates hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for ADA and its related product portfolio in three to five years. “We’re coming to the market, which is still emerging, in a calculated way with a very mature system,” he said.

According to the IAI executive, the system is designed to thwart jamming of all Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), including the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS, the European Galileo and the Chinese BeiDou. Moreover, he maintains that as users move to next-generation encode transmissions, IAI’s ADA system will require “only minor software changes” to render it effective against future jamming threats.

“When our customers start moving to encode receivers, we’ll be there to support them,” Haimovich said.

Jacob Galifat, general manger of the MALAM Division, said capabilities provided by his firm’s ADA system are imperative at a time when avionics systems are increasingly vulnerable to proliferating jamming threats. "Facing today's threats to GNSS, these systems are a must, for any platform using GPS, or any other Global Satellite Navigation Systems. Our operationally proven systems will ensure the availability of GPS- and GNSS-based systems, even in the most contested, [electronic warfare]-saturated battle-space.

“Considering the operational challenges, we believe this system has considerable export potential for many air forces and armies who experience GNSS jamming in combat zones.” 

Monday, 30 January 2017

Quebec’s dirty secrets unveiled

Confronting the darker side of Quebec’s history has not been easy, particularly for that province’s small but influential elite, dominated by nationalistes. Every society has produced popular historical myths that leave some dirty laundry buried in the past. What is unique about Quebec is a certain ingrained and overly defensive siege mentality when it comes to facing up to the odd soiled linen in the closet of modern Quebec nationalism.

That Quebec reflex reaction must be fading because Jean-Francois Nadeau, arts editor of Montreal’s Le Devoir, has now produced a full-scale biography of Quebec’s infamous Fascist party leader Adrien Arcand with an alluring title, The Canadian Fuhrer (James Lorimer and Company, 360 pages, $35). Publication of the book in French in 2010 marked a watershed in Quebec nationalist thinking, speaking to the previous silences in Quebec history.

Two decades ago, a feisty Quebec scholar, Esther Delisle, had paid a heavy price for exposing the first cracks in the nationalist armour. In her PhD thesis she offended many by identifying Lionel Groulx, Quebec’s modern patron saint, as a purveyor of anti-Semitism and a nationalist who was remarkably tolerant of right-wing extremism. Her 1998 book Myths, Memories and Lies went public with a shocking account of how some members of Quebec’s elite, nationalist and federalist, supported Nazi collaborator Marshall Philippe Petain and his Vichy government in France during the Second World War and then helped bring war criminals to safety in Quebec after the war ended.

Delisle was strongly chastised for speaking out and when Montreal writer Mordecai Richler took her side, she became a bête noir. After the Quebec premier’s brother Gerard Bouchard attacked her research and rose to defend Groulx against the charges of anti-Semitism, she was essentially blacklisted in French Quebec.

Nadeau’s The Canadian Fuhrer returns to the touchy subject of the emergence and persistence of Adrien Arcand and his Quebec fascist party from August 1939 until the 1960s. It’s a very thorough, authoritative biography with a title that not only projects a strong, powerful image, but conveys the author’s willingness to call a spade a spade.

As a former academic historian, Nadeau brings an impressive array of insight and talent to the task of unravelling the life of Canada’s best known fascist leader. It shows the vital importance to Arcand’s political life of being fired from La Presse for union activities and the founding of his wickedly satirical newspaper Le Goglu in Montreal’s working-class east end. After flirting with Italian-brand fascism, Arcand and his close associate Ajutor Menard chose a different path "paved with Hitler-style swastikas instead of Roman symbols of fascism."

The rise of Arcand’s movement is explained as a radical political response to the hunger, unemployment and war anxieties of the 1930s. Radical ideas gained currency among Canadians along the whole range of extremes from Communism and socialism to the right-wing variants, the Social Credit movement on the Prairies and Maurice Duplessis’ Union Nationale in Quebec. Amid such turmoil, Adolf Hitler cast a spell and one that even fooled Canada’s wily prime minister Mackenzie King.

The most alarming part of Arcand’s story is how he managed, while spouting Nazism and anti-Semitism and operating on a shoestring, to become a significant political force in Quebec throughout the 1930s. His role on the fringes of the Jeune-Canada movement founded by Andre Laurendeau and Lionel Groulx makes for fascinating reading. All of the Jeune-Canada partisans are shown to have shared anti-Semitic attitudes, but Groulx, the rather effete young nationalist, remained uncomfortable with Arcand’s distinctly working-class brand of fascism.

As a Le Devoir journalist, Nadeau is at pains to show how leading Quebec nationalists like Groulx and Jeune-Canada sought to keep a safe distance from Arcand. "Anti-Semitism and xenophobia," he writes, were integral to their thought and program but, unlike Arcand, "blood and race" was not "the primary standard by which everything was judged."

Arcand and his far-right National Unity Party did draw their strength from what is described as "the spirit of the 1930s." Once Canada declared war on Germany and Italy in 1939, Arcand was interned for his political views. After the war, he remained a committed fascist and resumed his political activities, forging alliances with Duplessis and the UN in a futile attempt to stave off so-called "Reds" like Jean Lesage and the Liberals, promoting the Quiet Revolution.

Adrien Arcand, as Nadeau points out, remained a committed fascist. He not only continued to espouse anti-Semitism but denied the existence of the Holocaust. After flailing away for four decades in the world of radical politics, Arcand was left destitute and beset by poor heath before he passed away quietly on Aug. 1, 1967.

Nadeau’s The Canadian Fuhrer will go a long way toward extinguishing the trace of stench associated with the heirs of Lionel Groulx, Quebec’s modern-day nationalists. It will quickly be recognized as the standard work on a sordid aspect of Quebec’s 20th-century history. In one particular, perhaps picayune aspect, the book falls short. It’s curious to me why this otherwise fine book contains no direct reference whatsoever to Esther Delisle, the intrepid scholar who first blasted open the larger story. When that happens, all will be well with the world.

Paul W. Bennett is founding director, Schoolhouse Consulting in Halifax, and lived in Montreal from 1997 until 2005.

About the Author


16 Arabs from Israel making a difference on the world stage

Meet some remarkable Druze, Muslim and Christian scientists, media experts, techies, film stars and athletes from Israel.

 JANUARY 30, 2017, 
Prof. Hossam Haick. Photo courtesy of the Technion
Prof. Hossam Haick. Photo courtesy of the Technion

Hossam Haick is trailblazing tomorrow’s technologies for sniffing out disease.

Kossay Omary and Rabeeh Khoury developed one of the smallest computers in the world.

They’re not the only Arab Israelis making waves in the global community. Jamil R. Mazzawi founded Optima Design Automation, a startup developing software for self-driving cars. Mahmoud Huleihel made a breakthrough in the field of male infertility.

“There are so many excellent Arab experts that even many within Arab society don’t know about them,” says Makbula Nassar, manager of the A-List project, an online database of Arab Israeli superstars making strides in culture, sports, medicine, environment, fashion, diplomacy, education and technology.

Makbula Nassar photo via Facebook
Makbula Nassar photo via Facebook

Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin, Baha’i, Circassian and other Arab Israelis make up 21 percent of the country’s population, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

ISRAEL21c highlights 16 of the many Arabs in Israel making a difference on the world stage, listed here in random order. Feel free to add your nominees in the comments section below.

Prof. Hossam Haick

Prof. Hossam Haick with the SniffPhone system. Photo credit: Technion Spokesperson’s Office
Prof. Hossam Haick with the SniffPhone system. Photo credit: Technion Spokesperson’s Office

Haick is a global superstar thanks to his nanotech breath-analysis system, Na-Nose, which uses artificially intelligent nano-array technology to detect biomarkers of 17 diseases including cancer and kidney disease.

Haick, born in 1975, chairs the department of chemical engineering and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. His work has earned him prestigious grants, nearly 50 international awards and a listing on the “World’s 35 leading young scientists” of MIT’s Technology Review.

Haick holds more than 28 patents for his nano-array inventions for screening, diagnosing and monitoring disease, nanomaterial-based chemical (flexible) sensors, electronic skin, breath analysis, volatile biomarkers and molecule-based electronic devices.

In 2014, this Christian Nazareth native designed and developed the first massive open online course (MOOC) at the Technion, and is the first person ever to do this in two languages: English and Arabic. More than 42,000 people have taken part to date.

Prof. Mouna Maroun

Prof. Mouna Maroun, fourth from left, with her lab group. Photo courtesy of the University of Haifa
Prof. Mouna Maroun, fourth from left, with her lab group. Photo courtesy of the University of Haifa

Maroun, head of the Sagol Department of Neurobiology at Haifa University, is the first woman from her hometown, the Druze village of Usfiya, to earn a PhD. She’s also the first Arab woman in Israel to hold a university faculty position in neuroscience.

In her laboratory at Haifa University, Maroun leads a team of researchers studying the neurobiological basis of emotions.

Maroun grew up in a Maronite Christian family of four girls. She is a member of the Al-Maram Association, which promotes education in the Arab community and especially among girls.

In 2013, Maroun was chosen as one of “50 Women in Israel with the Most Influence” by Lady Globes magazine. The following year, Forbes Israel included her on its list “50 Strong Women in Israel.”

Fadi Swidan

Hybrid co-director Fadi Swidan. Photo by Liya Rodriguez Alonim
Hybrid co-director Fadi Swidan. Photo by Liya Rodriguez Alonim

Swidan is the number one cheerleader for Arab entrepreneurs and engineers making their way in Israel’s high-tech ecosystem.

Swidan is director of the Nazareth Business Incubator Center; co-director and cofounder of the nonprofit acceleratorHybrid for early-stage ventures led by Arab founders; and a cofounder of NazTech, the first technology startup accelerator for the Arab sector.

With an industrial engineering and management background, Swidan mentors young entrepreneurs looking to make a technological and social impact in the Arab world.

Kossay Omary and Rabeeh Khoury

Left: Rabeeh Khoury holding SolidRun computers. Photo: courtesy Right:Kossay Omary. Photo via LinkedIn
Left: Rabeeh Khoury holding SolidRun computers. Photo: courtesy
Right:Kossay Omary. Photo via LinkedIn

Engineers Kossay Omary (CEO) and Rabeeh Khoury (CTO), cofounders of SolidRun, a company producing processing components, have a huge international fan base for their unbelievably small computers including the 2x2x2-inch CuBox-I.

Omary was born and raised in Nazareth. His résumé includes 10 years working in consumer and digital media in Silicon Valley before returning to Israel in 2010. He and Omary, a native of Tarshiha near Nahariya, met while working at Galileo (later acquired by Marvell).

Prof. Ashraf Brik

Brik, 43, is world-renowned in the field of biochemistry for his groundbreaking methods to synthesize homogenous proteins for a variety of structural and functional studies.

He leads an international lab of researchers at the Technion and sits on the editorial boards of Cell Chemical Biology and ChemBioChem.

Brik has won a slew of international awards recognizing his contributions to organic and medicinal chemistry.

Imad and Reem Younis

Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth. Photo: courtesy
Arab Christians Reem and Imad Younis started their own neurosurgery products business in Nazareth. Photo: courtesy

The Nazareth-based startup Alpha Omega– maker of groundbreaking neuroscience medical and research equipment — is the brainchild of Arab-Christian couple Reem and Imad Younis, who met as students at the Technion (she has a civil engineering degree; he has an electric engineering degree).

The Younises started Alpha Omega in 1993, and today have offices in Israel, Germany and the US. Their pioneering products, including a GPS-like system for brain surgeons, are used in hospitals, universities, and research institutions across the globe.

“I think Imad and I are role models for younger people to realize that they can make a change, that they can dare go out and do things that haven’t been done before,” Reem Younis said in a 2015 interview.

Dr. Salman Zarka

Dr. Salman Zarka, director-general of Ziv Medical Center. Photo via YouTube
Dr. Salman Zarka, director-general of Ziv Medical Center. Photo via YouTube

In late 2014, Zarka, a 25-year veteran of the IDF Medical Corps, was tapped as director-general of Safed’s Ziv Medical Center, becoming the first Druze to head an Israeli public hospital.

Zarka, who attained the rank of colonel, was commander of the Military Health Services Department, head of the Medical Corps of the Northern Command and the commander of the Military Field Hospital for Syrians wounded in their civil war.

Since taking his post at Ziv, Zarka has spoken in the United States about Israel’s unique policy to treat any wounded Syrians who reach the Israeli border seeking help.

“As physicians, we have taken an oath to provide lifesaving medical treatment to all of mankind, including patients from enemy states,” said Zarka.

Twenty-three percent of Israeli doctors are Arabs, according to a December 2016 report. In fact, Arraba (also transliterated as Arrabeh), an Arab town north of Nazareth, boasts one of the highest numbers of doctorsper capita in the world.

Other Arab physicians in prominent positions at Israeli hospitals include Fuad Azam, head of the IVF unit at Tel Aviv Medical Center; Ahmed Eid, head of general surgery at Hadassah Medical Center; Rania Elkhatib, senior plastic surgeon at Rambam Health Care Campus and the first Arab-Israeli woman to become a plastic surgeon in Israel; and Suheir Assady, director of nephrology and hypertension at Rambam and the first female Arab physician to head a medical department in Israel; among many others.

Lucy Aharish

Lucy Aharish anchoring the news. Photo by Kfir Ziv Photography
Lucy Aharish anchoring the news. Photo by Kfir Ziv Photography

Aharish is a news anchor, journalist, model, film actress and international public speaker.

In December 2016, Aharish snagged international attention for a scathing message she delivered (in English!) about the situation in Syria.

In April 2015, she was one of 12 Israeli personalities — symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel — chosen to light torches in the 67th Independence Day celebrations.

Born and raised in Dimona to Muslim parents, Aharish was the first Arab news presenter on Hebrew-language Israeli television. Now anchoring a current-affairs show on Channel 2, she has worked for all the local TV channels as well as the internationally funded i24news.

Abd Al-Roof Higazi and Nuha Hijazi

Husband-and-wife team Abd Al-Roof Higazi and Nuha Hijazi are the co-inventors behind PamBio, a hot biotech startup in Nazareth that’s developing drug therapy for acute bleeding conditions such as intracranial hemorrhage in the skull.

Hijazi holds a doctorate in neuroscience and is regularly published in leading scientific journals. Higazi, a physician, is a professor at the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School and heads the departments of laboratories and clinical biochemistry at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem.

The couple lives in Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam, a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Arabs between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Hiam Abbass  

Hiam Abbass photo via
Hiam Abbass photo via

Abbass, born into a Muslim family in Nazareth, is one of more than a dozen popular Arab Christian and Arab Muslim actors in Israel today. They have popped up on television and movie screens – as well as on stages – across the world.

Abbass, also a director, is known for her roles in “Satin Rouge” (2002), “Haifa” (1996), “Paradise Now” (2005), “The Syrian Bride” (2004), “Free Zone” (2005), “Munich” (2005), “Dawn of the World” (2008), “The Visitor” (2008), “Lemon Tree” (for which she won Best Performance by an Actress at the 2008 Asia Pacific Screen Awards) and “A Bottle in the Gaza Sea” (2011), among others.

Other Arab-Israeli actors to watch include Mouna Hawa, Sana Jammelieh, Shaden Kanboura, Clara Khoury (Makram Khoury’s daughter), Yousef (Joe) Sweid, Mira Anwar Awaḍ, Elia Suleiman, Hisham Zreiq and Jamil Khoury (Khoury’s son). Director Maysaloun Hamoud is also a name to keep in mind.

Makram Jamil Khoury

Makram Jamil Khoury photo via
Makram Jamil Khoury photo via

Khoury, the youngest artist and the first Arab to win the Israel Prize, had TV roles on “The West Wing,” “House of Saddam” and “Homeland.” In 2015, he portrayed Shylock in the RSC production of “The Merchant of Venice.”

Born into a Christian family in Jerusalem, his numerous film roles include “Wounded Land” (2015), “A Tale of Love and Darkness” (2015), “The Cut” (2014), “Desert Dancer” (2013), “The Physician” (2013), “The Inheritance” (2012), “Miral” (2010), “Munich” (2005) and “The Syrian Bride” (2004), among many others.

Moanes Dabour

Nazareth-born striker Moanes Dabour (also spelled Munas Dabbur was identified by VICE as the “face of a golden generation of Israeli-Arab soccer players.”

The 24-year-old was groomed by the Maccabi Nazareth and Maccabi Tel Aviv youth soccer academies. He played with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Israeli Premier League from 2011-2014 before transferring to Grasshopper Club Zurich of the Swiss Super League.

In 2014, Dabour also was named to the Israeli National Team.

Dabour blossomed at Grasshopper and went on to win Swiss Super League 2015 Best Goal, Swiss Best Striker 2015, and Swiss Super League 2015/16 Top Scorer. He recently joined FC Red Bull Salzburg from the Austrian Bundesliga.

Prof. Taleb Mokari

 Prof. Taleb Mokari in his lab. Photo courtesy of BGU
Prof. Taleb Mokari in his lab. Photo courtesy of BGU

Mokari, a researcher at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Ilse Katz Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, has a Midas touch when it comes to chemistry.

Born and raised in Kafr Kana, he won the 2015 Tenne Family Prize for Nanoscale Sciences for his discoveries of novel synthetic approaches to high-quality semiconductor nanocrystals, hybrid nanoparticles and nanowires.

In the early 2000s, Mokari was one of Israel’s first university students to explore nanoscience as a way to understand energy preservation. Today, the multi-award-winning chemist heads a research group developing new classes of nanomaterials for optical, electrical and energy-related applications.