Friday, February 19, 2016

From Ian:

Melanie Phillips: Two cheers for Britain’s BDS ban
The British government has done something in support of Israel, and the progressive intelligentsia is in shock. Prime Minister David Cameron is taking action against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
New government guidance will prevent any public body from imposing a boycott on a member of the World Trade Organization to which Israel belongs.
Local boycotts breach the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, which demands that all suppliers are treated equally.
The guidance aims at preventing publicly funded bodies such as municipal councils or National Health Service trusts from boycotting goods produced by what they believe to be “unethical companies,” such as firms involved in arms trading, fossil fuels or tobacco products as well as companies based in Israel.
Matthew Hancock, the British government’s Cabinet Office minister, revealed the development on a visit to Israel this week. Such boycotts, he said, were divisive, potentially damaging to the UK’s relationship with Israel and risked fueling anti-Semitism.
The enemies of Israel are beside themselves in fury.
BDS: censorship disguised as justice
Central to the demand that academic justice should dominate higher education is a critique of the principles that have shaped scholarship in general and academic freedom in particular. To engage in a meaningful power struggle, BDS-supporting academics argue it is necessary to have concerns that go beyond academic freedom and encompass political positions on a range of issues. Questions as to whose view of justice should prevail and which views are unacceptable are rarely raised.
Qualifying academic freedom with caveats of political judgement negates all that is universal and progressive about the demand. Abandoning objectivity and establishing a political position not only prevents academics from aspiring to contest truth claims — it also enforces a consensus and encourages political conformity in a way that curtails questioning and criticality from the outset. Academic work undertaken to pursue politics rather than knowledge is just propaganda.
Those who believe in scholarship and academic freedom need to call out BDS for what it is: an illiberal, censorious and sometimes anti-Semitic movement. Lecturers who are happy in some circumstances to preach the rhetoric of academic freedom must lead by example in showing students how to engage critically with ideas, policies and politics, rather than resorting to censorship.
Telegraph removes ‘Shylock’ references from article on Jewish hedge fund manager
Last Tuesday (9 February) the Daily Telegraph published an article about the role played by Elliott Management hedge fund, and its founder and President Paul Singer, in ongoing negotiations over debt relief for Argentina. The article was changed following a complaint by CST about its use of antisemitic cultural references from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
The article, written by Daily Telegraph assistant editor Jeremy Warner, was critical of Singer for refusing to join other creditors in accepting a deal on debt relief, arguing that “His case for more may be legally watertight, but it is also morally indefensible.”
In its original version, the article opened with this sentence:
“Latter day Shylocks at Elliott Management allowing, Argentina will soon have renewed access to international capital markets.”
Warner returned to this theme near the end of the article, writing:
“Debt restructuring provides a fourth option, yet as both Argentina and Greece have discovered, the trouble with borrowed money is that adjusting its value takes difficult negotiation, frequently obstructed by aggressively litigious hedgies such as Mr Singer demanding their pound of flesh.”
Paul Singer is widely known in Argentina and the United States to be Jewish. His philanthropic and political engagement includes public support for Jewish causes.

Julie Burchill: Reasons why Muslims are not 'the new Jews'
Muslims are not the new Jews - Jews are the new Jews and sadly Muslims now number greatly among their chief tormentors.
But there is a greater issue at stake here, far beyond the different standards of behaviour displayed by Jewish refugees in the past and Muslim refugees now. Wherever the Jews have gone, they have enriched and opened up the host culture far beyond the extent even to which they have enriched and opened up themselves.
Their gifts to us - Christianity, Marxism, Hollywood - are almost solely responsible for the freedom and dynamism of the Western world. Without these gifts, we would still be inarticulate semi-beasts who belonged to others and dreamed no dreams. (In parts of the Muslim world, this is still the lot of women.)
In my opinion, mass Muslim immigration - and specifically, pandering on the part of vote-hungry politicians - is not only not likely to help us progress further but, in the areas I have outlined, is likely to actually take us backwards.
But of all the issues that I have believed I was right about over the past four decades as a public commentator, there is none I wish more fervently to be wrong about.
In fact, I pray with all my heart that India Knight is right. And there's a sentence I never thought I'd write.
A Disaster called Obama’s Middle East Policy
With each passing day, it gets more and more difficult to ignore the monumental disaster that Obama’s foreign policy actually is. Nowhere is its utter failure more glaringly evident than in the Syrian Civil War.
But first, let us not underestimate the pathologies of the Middle East that have led to the present disaster in Syria, but Obama administration’s policies have created perils that we would be dealing with, in decades to come.
The geopolitical vacuum created by President Obama’s push to shrink America’s footprint in the Middle East has quickly been filled by Comrade Putin’s soviet-style jackboots. And President Obama-backed Nuclear Deal has single-handedly contributed billions of dollars to Islamic Republic of Iran’s war chest geared at funding global terrorism and regional adventures.
Five years into the conflict, Syrian Dictator Assad is only hanging on to his power thanks to the massive military and political backing from Moscow and Tehran. With the help of Russian military support, Assad is now redrawing the frontline to his own advantage. As Assad lays sigh of rebel stronghold Aleppo, the “moderate” rebels now look to be on their last legs. So far, Assad has been more inclined squeeze the “moderate” rebels, whom he considers as soft targets, than to go after the evil of Islamic State.
By betting on his stooge Assad, Russia’s Putin is looking more and more like a winner. Putin’s gains comes at a cost to the U.S. and its Western allies. The debacle is so great that even the mainstream media cannot afford to ignore it any longer.
Trump: What Obama has done to Israel is a disgrace
Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump lambasted Barack Obama for his Middle East policies, telling Fox News that what the president has done to Israel is a “disgrace.”
Talking to Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Trump said that it was a wonder that the Jewish state would still even talk to the White House, given what he said was shoddy treatment at the hands of the Obama administration.
“Israel is so important,” Trump said in response to a question about the Middle East, before launching into fierce criticism of the president’s policies.
“What Obama has done to Israel is a disgrace. How they even talk to us is hard to believe. How do they talk to Obama? I have friends, they support Obama and I say, ‘How do you do it?’ It’s almost like they do it out of habit. They agree he’s been terrible,” he said.
“You look at what he’s done to Israel, with just this Iran deal, which is such a terrible deal. He has been the worst thing that’s ever happened to Israel,” Trump continued. “Now, a lot of my friends that are Jewish do not support him any longer. But I still have some that do. I say, ‘How can you do it?'”
FBI Confirms Act of Terror in Ohio: Muslim Machete Attacker on Terror Watchlist, Came to U.S. on Green Card
Police soon arrived on the scene, but the suspect lunged at them with a knife, at which point they fired their service weapons hitting him and killing him.
But the media quickly claimed that the motive for the attack was “unclear,” while the FBI compounded the confusion by initially refusing to characterize the attack as terrorism.
But this week, the reticence to properly characterize the attack dissipated, and authorities admitted that it was being investigated as an act of terror.
The FBI also announced that Barry was in the U.S. on a green card and had been on the terror watchlist.
Tragically, the owner of the restaurant, Hany Baransi, has announced he will permanently close his restaurant.
Some of the victims of the attack, all of whom are expected to make a successful recovery, recently returned to the restaurant for a celebration of life.
2 Muslim Women Enter Miami Beach Synagogue, Ask Questions, Scare Everyone
Here’s one thing ISIS has contributed to religious discourse: inquiries by strangers about one’s religion are no longer welcome. A case in point has to do with two Muslim women wearing hijabs, who entered a Miami Beach Orthodox synagogue this week and asked many questions, saying they were on a spiritual quest, and scared some members of the congregation who called police, as WSVN Miami Beach, Fla. Reported Wednesday.
The two women approached Shay Zamora, a member of the synagogue who was sitting outside the sanctuary and started to interrogate him. “The questions basically were, ‘What are the lecture times here and when do people come for lectures?'” said Zamora. “It was very odd. They actually, eventually, conveyed to me, that they were Muslim.”
Then one of the women took out a Koran. “I explained the similarities, that Arabic is also written from right to left,” Zamora said.
According to a police incident report, the women asked their Jewish host, “Did you have services already?” and “when are you saying Yizkor?”
Yizkor, a prayer commemorating the dead, is recited only on Torah holidays, usually on the last day of the holiday.
Denmark Institutes New Medal of Valor in Honor of Slain Israeli Security Guard
Denmark’s parliament announced a new medal of civil valor that will honor Israeli security guard Dan Uzan, who was killed last year while protecting the Great Synagogue of Copenhagen during a terrorist attack that took place during a bat mitzvah ceremony.
The medal is for “citizens who demonstrated unusual courage, while risking their lives in an attempt to save the lives of others, and those who lost their lives during this attempt,” and “refers to incidents related to terrorism, crime, and attacks on the open and democratic society of Denmark and the right to freedom,” the Danish Parliament said in a statement.
Uzan, who was a volunteer security guard at the synagogue, was shot and killed by the terrorist, Omar El-Hussein, but still prevented a massacre during the bat mitzvah. Film director Finn Nørgaard, who used his body to block the same terrorist from entering the Krudttønden Cultural Center hours earlier, will also receive the new Danish medal.
With bipartisan backing, Canada to reject Israel boycott
With broad bipartisan support, Canada stands poised to reject the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) campaign against Israel.
The Liberals, who comprise the majority of seats in the House of Commons, said the party will support an opposition motion introduced Thursday calling on the House to formally reject the goals of the BDS movement.
The motion was introduced by two Conservative lawmakers in parliament. Both the New Democratic Party and Green Party have indicated that they will oppose the motion. The vote is set to take place on Monday, the Canadian media reported.
“This is not a partisan issue,” said Tony Clement, the Conservative foreign affairs critic, in leading off the debate. He called BDS a form of discrimination, “just like boycotts that have targeted Jews throughout history.”
New Israel Fund Supports Website That Calls Netanyahu, IDF ‘Terrorists’
Over the past few months, Israel has come under pressure from places it should not have to worry about. We already know how the European Union has ramped up its efforts to boycott Israel with its labeling initiative of “settlement” products. The Obama administration remains a thorn, most recently sending hints that Israel will no longer be secure at the United Nations, and reinterpreting a 1995 proclamation to characterize Israeli products and services from Judea and Samaria as being from occupied territory.
It should come as no surprise that many of the groups targeting Israel receive backing from the New Israel Fund, which supports the boycott of Israel.
It can now be revealed that NIF money supports the alarming stories in the Local Call online magazine as well.
In it, writer Lilach Ben-David published an article on February 7 titled, “The time has come to boot the word terrorist out of the lexicon.” Ben-David then uses the term “terrorist” to describe both Netanyahu and the IDF, and suggests that what Israel does to protect and deter actual terrorists is terrorism, while Palestinians who kill police and military personnel are not committing terrorist acts.
Let’s Stop Being Surprised by Antisemitism
The resignation of Oxford University Labour Club (OULC) Co-Chair, Alex Chalmers, this week has since shed light on what appears to be a culture of antisemitism within the club. Many were rightly shocked and appalled at the reports but something else has been bugging me. While I was angered to learn of this “problem with Jews” within one of the most prestigious Labour clubs in the country, I was sadly not surprised at all to hear a story like this on a UK campus.
The reactions to this incident have been very telling. The standard response to the allegations that have been made by someone unaware of the facts would usually be to acknowledge the severity of the claims and call for it to be properly investigated. This has not however been the case by all.
One common reaction is to assume that these allegations must be about Israel before even reading the allegation. Another is to acknowledge the list of allegations but deny that they are antisemitism and insist it is simply anti-Israel as demonstrated by Ken Livingstone this week. There are also others who acknowledged that this was antisemitism but then ask; what about all the other forms of hate? and say ‘well Jews are not a race, they’re part of a religion so it’s not really racism is it’? These ways of reacting are nothing new but the OULC case has certainly provided a good way for them all to occur at once.
The irony of the first response is clear considering that this is an example of what Chalmers stated in his resignation post. As he put it; many dismiss “most accusations of antisemitism [as] just the Zionists crying wolf” and this is too often the case. One clear example was when a member of the National Union of Students (NUS) National Executive Council (NEC) jumped to the assumption that this was about boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel before it became clear that he had not even read the allegations. No one had even mentioned BDS in this case.
Dogan: The 'Unholy Alliance' Comes to Campus
Conservative author David Horowitz has long written about the “Unholy Alliance” that exists between Islamic extremists and the American Left. Now, a new series of photographs of campus propaganda posters reveals how this unholy alliance plays out on American campuses where students are incited to join the Islamic war against the Jews of Israel with appeals to their sense of “social justice” and desire to address historic wrongs such as racism, colonialism and the mistreatment of women.
Many naïve Jewish students are seduced into joining these anti-Israel coalitions out of a desire to help the oppressed but find themselves ensnared in a Hamas-directed campaign to commit genocide against the Jews themselves.
Campus leaders of the Hamas campaign are two groups: Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), as well as its less outwardly political counterpart, the Muslim Students Association (MSA). Both were created by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi has called on Muslims to finish the job that Hitler started. The Brotherhood is godfather to the anti-Israel terror group Hamas, whose charter calls for the extermination of the Jews. SJP and MSA conduct annual anti-Israel hate-fests known as “Israeli Apartheid Weeks” during which they erect mock “apartheid walls” plastered with Hamas propaganda, including claims that Israel is an “apartheid” state which seeks to shed the blood of Palestinian children. A near-omnipresent image on these walls is a series of four false and genocidal maps purporting to show the Jewish infiltration and colonization of the Arab nation of “Palestine” from 1947 to the present.
The Jewish nation of Israel stands alone as a beacon of human rights and liberal democracy in the otherwise repressive and autocratic Middle East. There are over one million Arab citizens of Israel who enjoy the same rights and privileges as do Israel’s Jews, including the right to vote in elections, sit on Israeli courts, be represented in the Israeli legislature and hold tenured jobs in Israel’s esteemed universities. Unlike many Arab nations where they are treated as second class citizens, women in Israel are granted equal rights with men. And homosexuals—who face certain death in most Arab nations if their orientation becomes known—are also protected under Israeli law.
Chicago students turn tables on BDS with new tactic
Students at University of Illinois at Chicago have reframed the anti-Israel divestment debate so that a resolution passed by the student government no longer singles out Israel for criticism. Rather, it calls on UIC to divest from companies contributing to alleged human rights abuses in a wide spectrum of countries.
The modified resolution, passed by the student government Monday evening, which mentions the US, China, Syria, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom and others, still includes Israel, but only on a list with many other countries – successfully watering down the impact.
The tactic was an innovative strategy to try to redirect and water down BDS resolutions instead of fighting all-out against them in universities where anti-Israel elements outnumber pro-Israel elements (at UIC the Muslim population is estimated at 15%or 4,500 students and the Jewish population at 3% or under 1,000 students.) The Coalition for Peace did not endorse the final resolution, but did not oppose it with the changes.
A group of students opposed to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, organized under the moniker Coalition for Peace to blunt the anti-Semitic impact of UIC Divest, the BDS campaign of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter, which aligned with Jewish Voices for Peace and 20 other campus groups.
Chicago billboard: 'Boycott Israel, stop apartheid'
A storm is brewing in the Windy City, as a massive anti-Israeli Chicago billboard has sparked a massive campaign calling for it to be taken down - but the advertising company adamantly refuses to apologize for the discriminatory sign.
The billboard, posted on the major highway I-294 by the Lamar Advertising agency, directs motorists to visit, a rabid anti-Israeli organization.
In massive letters it calls to: "Boycott Israel Until Palestinians Have Equal Rights."
In response to the blaring anti-Israeli sentiment a massive campaign has been launched, with many Jews and Israelis in particular posting one-star reviews of the Lamar Advertising agency's Facebook page.
One Facebook user Uri Pilichowski on Thursday called on locals to call the company and protest, writing, "how do we get this taken down? Simple. If the billboard company, Lamar Advertising gets enough phone calls that it isn't worth it for them to keep it up, they'll take it down."
When enemies fight
Schadenfreude is a magnificent German word that I am fairly confident ninety-nine percent of Germans have never used in a conversation. It means taking pleasure in your enemy’s discomfort. When two of Israel’s loudest and richest enemies, Iran and Iraq, are at loggerheads, is it good for the Jews?
Should we echo Henry Kissinger and hope they both lose? What does that say about us?
Iran’s hardline Shiites and Saudi Arabia’s hardline (Is there any other kind?) Sunnis, Islam’s two major divisions have been slaughtering each other on and off since the seventh century.
At present they are fighting by proxy. When the Saudis executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr they were sending a harsh message to both their own Shiite minority and to Teheran. The war in Yemen, against the Shiite Houthi; the war in Syria – Saudi money to the ‘opposition’ and Iranian fighters AND money to the ‘Shiite’† Assad regime; the war against Daesh – Sunni competitors to the House of Saud and enemies to Muslim heretics, a category in which they without hesitation place Iran and other conflicts fall to greater or lesser degree into the same Sunni-Shiite model.
Iran Training Children for War With United States, Israel
Iranian officials have organized the “Sixth National Children’s Memorial,” an event to train children for possible war against the United States and Israel.
Around 1,200 children, as young as six years old, in military apparel run around the fields with weapons. They participate in obstacle courses and gather around bonfires.
This camp aims for the “conquering of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” One picture shows a boy before burning the Israeli flag.
“According to the teachings of the Quran and Islamic tradition, whatever is planted within a child’s heart will be manifested,” explained one officer.
Iran has a history of using child soldiers in their wars. They used many child soldiers during the long Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The Iraqi government established a prisoner camp specifically for the Iranian child soldiers they captured. The Christian Science Monitor wrote about the camp as early as 1987.
White House: Sale of Russian Fighter Jets to Iran Would Violate Security Council Resolution
The Obama administration said that the proposed sale of Russian fighter jets to Iran would violate the United Nations Security Council resolution that supported the nuclear deal, the Associated Press reported on Thursday.
State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said that the purchase of the aircraft as part of an $8 billion Russian arms package would constitute a breach of U.N. Security Council resolution 2231, which stipulates that transfer of “combat aircraft” to Iran is prohibited unless it is approved by the council “in advance on a case by case” basis. Russia’s Su-30SM jets, which Iran seeks to buy, are similar to American F-15E fighter bombers.
Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan said last week that the Islamic Republic intends to upgrade its air force and purchase an as of yet undetermined number of Russian jets. There was no specified timeline mentioned for the delivery of the planes, which Dehghan indicated Iran would be involved in manufacturing.
Video that Iranian state TV claimed showed a sniper shooting six ISIS soldiers dead is in fact game play from Medal of Honor
A short video that was circulated on Iranian state TV allegedly showing a sniper shooting six ISIS soldiers is in fact footage from the game 'Medal of Honor'.
Iranian and Saudi Arabian TV stations have been playing the clips, claiming the sniper is a member of Hezbollah and the enemies are ISIS soldiers.
It has been published with outlandish headlines such as 'six Daesh combatants are killed in 2 minutes by a Hezbollah sniper'.
One Iranian news outlet even went so far as to claim the gun used was the Iranian-made 'Arash' weapon.
In fact, the footage is virtually identical to the game play footage uploaded to YouTube in 2012.
In addition, the video briefly shows an icon at the bottom of the screen that signifies a successful head shot.
Holocaust-denying WWII vet buried in Arlington National Cemetery
A US soldier wounded in World War II who later became an outspoken Nazi sympathizer and Holocaust denier was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Willis Carto, who died at 89 in October, was interred at the military cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday, The Huffington Post reported. He founded the Liberty Lobby, a white supremacist group, and the Institute for Historical Review, a group that promotes Holocaust denial.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Holocaust research and awareness organization, told the Post that Carto’s burial in the cemetery was a “national disgrace.
“For a person who supported a man responsible for the greatest mass murder in the history of mankind to be buried in the sacred ground where service members who fought to do everything to defeat this man, it profanes the cemetery,” Hier said.
Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld, 77, gets Israeli citizenship
German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld, 77, has been granted Israeli citizenship.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri presented Klarsfeld, who is not Jewish, with the citizenship in a ceremony Monday at the Interior Ministry in in Jerusalem.
“It is an honor for me to confer upon you Israeli citizenship,” Deri said at the ceremony, according to the French daily Le Monde. “You are a hero who has dedicated her life to the Jewish people.”
“As a German who is not a Jew, it is an honor for me to receive this citizenship,” Klarsfeld said.
A German journalist, Klarsfeld is the daughter of a Wehrmacht soldier, while her husband Serge, 79, is the son of French Jews deported from France during the Holocaust.
Israeli Study Shows that Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Possible with Blood Test
Alzheimer’s disease affects some 35 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 115 million by 2050, yet it is not currently possible to detect the disease before it has caused loss of memory and function. Even then, the tests available are invasive and/or expensive.
The quest to develop a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s is therefore a top priority. The Israeli company NeuroQuest is working with the University of California-San Diego on clinical trials of its blood test for very early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, based on award-winning research led by Prof. Michal Schwartz of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot.
Now, researchers from Harvard and three Israeli institutions—Tel Aviv University, the Technion and Rambam Medical Center— have published a study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that proposes testing a novel biomarker in the blood for Alzheimer’s. The marker, called activity-dependent neuroprotective protein (ADNP), is essential for brain formation and cognitive function.
‘World-class’ cyber-detective Cynet raises $7 million
Israeli cyber-security firm Cynet, which in recent weeks uncovered and publicized not two major security flaws in products used by millions of people, has gotten the attention not just of cellphone and router manufacturers but of investors as well. On Wednesday, the company announced that it had received a $7 million investment from Lazarus, a US-based hedge fund.
Two weeks ago, a team led by researchers Liran Segal and Shachar Korot of Cynet announced that it had discovered a hardware breach in LG G3 devices. Called the SNAP vulnerability, the breach allows hackers to use a flaw in the device’s built-in to inject unauthenticated malicious code into apps. Because the vulnerability is in the built-in Smart Notice application, any app that uses it – and almost every app that gets messages does – is a potential vehicle for hackers to use to reach an individual’s device, stealing data, sending revealing photos stored on the device to social media, and grabbing saved credit card information and other sensitive data, said Idan Cohen, CTO of BugSec, an affiliate of Cynet.
The vulnerability allows hackers to use a JavaScript routine to run server-side code, allowing them to extend the reach of code to take control of a device. In a blog post, the researchers detail and demonstrate how they were able to grab phone numbers and ID information out of a phone’s memory, access a phishing site with a device’s browser to download malware, and even run a denial of service hack attack against a website directly from the device, without its owner even being aware of what was going on.
150 Israeli Companies to Be Featured in Barcelona Telecom Expo
Some 150 Israeli companies will be featured in the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next week, one of the world’s top telecommunications exhibitions. The Israeli companies make up the conference’s fourth-largest delegation, after the US, the UK, and France.
Scheduled for Feb. 22-25, the Mobile World Congress will feature more than 2,200 exhibitors. Organizers expect some 100,000 visitors, including global mobile industry leaders, high-tech companies, and cellular service operators and providers, as well as the general public.
The Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute’s pavilion will feature 140 of the companies, and overall, one of every 13 booths will be hosted by an Israeli telecom company.
Israeli Startups Raise $9 Million in Microsoft Accelerator Program
Graduates of the Microsoft Ventures Israel Accelerator, which operates as part of Microsoft’s R&D center, raised nearly $9 million in funds or investment offers during the mentoring program. The startups are in fields as varied as e-commerce, tourism, advertising, medicine, and agricultural technology.
The Accelerator program is designed to take startups to the next stage in their development and prepare them for the global market. For example, OwnBackup, a cloud backup and recovery vendor, announced the close of a $3.5 million Series A financing round led by Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors on February 4. “We were excited to work with the OwnBackup team over the past four months to help them achieve their vision and connect them with enterprises around the globe,” said Navot Volk, managing director, Microsoft Ventures Israel.
The ratios of capital raised by Microsoft Ventures Israel Accelerator are among the highest in the world, according to a press statement. 58 companies that previously participated in the accelerator raised a total of $136 million—an average of $2.1 million per company. More than 350 companies from Israel and 27 other countries applied for the latest round of the Microsoft Ventures Israel Accelerator, including companies from the U.S., the UK, Singapore, Spain, India, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Mexico, France, Turkey and China.
Israeli start-up presents: The optometrist in your iPhone
Seven of the most innovative Israeli start-ups working in the mobile health space – which “reduces” medical technology to fit into a smartphone or wearable device – were chosen to participate in a start-up contest held Thursday at the 5th annual mHealth Israel Conference in Tel Aviv Thursday.
The start-up contest is always the highlight, said Shapiro. This year’s winner, 6over6, was “a great example of the innovation at work in the Israel mobile health ecosystem.”
The company has developed a technology to enable anyone to figure out whether they need glasses, enabling them to “self-prescribe” a pair via a smartphone app. Using a combination of math, physics, vision technology, and advanced algorithms, said 6over6 CEO Ofer Limon, “we offer a full range of services for consumers, just as good, if not better – more accurate – as they can get at an optician or optometrist.”
Merck, Weizmann Institute sign strategic deal on cancer research
With more than 300 employees at four sites throughout Israel, Merck KgaA, a multifaceted chemical and technology company, has quietly emerged as one of the major multinational firms with a significant presence in Israel.
The company announced this week that it was furthering its stake in Israeli tech by signing a new framework agreement with the Weizmann Institute to research new solutions in the area of biotechnology and cancer research.
“We have focused our healthcare research activities on the highly promising fields of immuno-oncology, immunology and oncology, as we’re striving to deliver new solutions to respond to unmet medical needs,” said Stefan Oschmann, deputy CEO and vice chairman of the executive board of Merck. “We’re excited that the new framework agreement will cover the first two of these three areas, and we are already looking forward to the proposals of the distinguished Weizmann scientists.”
As part of the new framework agreement, Merck will fund each of the two research areas with up to € 1 million per year over the initial three-year period.
Jewish ‘American Idol’ star is in the army now — the IDF
Three years after falling in love with the Jewish state on a Birthright trip, former “American Idol” contestant Brett Loewenstern immigrated to Israel on Wednesday. True to musical form, the exuberant red head plans to join an IDF military band when he enlists in the army this summer.
Loewenstern has already received the Israeli star treatment, when reporters and a TV crew waited to meet him right off his Nefesh B’Nefesh flight with other new immigrants. A snippet about his arrival appeared on the cover of newspaper Yediot Aharonot, with the words, “he’s a star.”
“I came off the plane holding a giant teddy bear in my hand, which I use as a pillow,” said Loewenstern in a phone interview with The Times of Israel from his Tel Aviv apartment. “All of a sudden a TV crew runs up asking to interview me, and my phone rings from a reporter with the IDF magazine,” he said with a laugh.
Currently in search of part-time work, Loewenstern was “shocked” that media wanted to record his arrival. Calling the experience “humbling,” he especially relished being called “the ginger Jew from ‘Idol’” on the Guy Pines entertainment show.

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