Richard Block
A Leading American Rabbi

120 inspiring Israel headlines in 2020

It’s almost a law of nature. Today’s media fixation displaces the prior one and bad news drives out good. In 2020, COVID-19 and the US presidential election sucked the oxygen from other topics, large and small, including Israel. Its historic, region-transforming breakthroughs in relations with Arab states drew only brief attention, and even negative depictions, like those the New York Times has long trafficked, seemed muted or eclipsed.

One pandemic story, however, has gone largely unreported: the vile anti-Semitic falsehoods that flourish on the Internet — accusations that Israel, Zionists, Jews or all three created, carry, or intentionally spread the coronavirus. The Contagion Libel is centuries old, but today’s versions, however demented and absurd, can reach a world-wide audience in seconds. Given its longevity, the lie will long outlive the pandemic itself.

Fortunately, as Justice Louis Brandeis z”l wrote, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” The same media exploited by extremists can be employed in service of veracity and decency. Anti-Semitic conspiracy fictions may mislead the gullible, persuade the predisposed, and titillate the bigoted, but there are far more sensible, openminded people who may not be well-informed about Israel, Zionism or Jews, but care about the difference between truth and falsehood, reality and delusion, information and deception.

The same is true about Israel generally. Its life-changing advances in medicine, science, technology, agriculture, culture, and civil society, and its worldwide humanitarian efforts deserve to be well known. Those who care about Israel have a particular responsibility to share them widely and proudly. These remarkable achievements do not negate Israel’s flaws or exempt it from legitimate criticism, but they reveal essential aspects of the real Israel. Portrayals that disregard these accomplishments and the altruistic impulses that motivate them are, at best, caricatures, or worse, travesties.

Needless to say, in many ways, 2020 was an awful year. All the more reason, then, to celebrate its good happenings. So, here are 120, a happy number in Jewish tradition and its customary birthday wish: Ad meah v’esrim! – May you live to 120! When Moses reached that ripe age, the Torah recounts, his vision was undimmed and his vigor was unabated. May it ever be so for Israel.

Israel anti-coronavirus mask 99.999% effective

Israel-based SmartAID masks millions of U.S. kids

UV LED light kills Covid quickly, efficiently and cheaply

Israel, India pursue joint water, irrigation ventures

Transforming colorectal cancer screening

Jerusalem wins international award for “tunneling in service of archeology”

Revolutionary Israel bone marrow transplant method

Israel and UAE to establish full diplomatic relations

Israel establishes diplomatic relations with Bhutan

Israel and Morocco to establish full ties

Israel and Sudan normalize ties

Israel and Bahrain establish diplomatic relations

Stem cell treatment helps 73% of MS patients in trial

Antimicrobial fabrics going into new cars

Treating enlarged prostate without surgery or drugs

Unique Women’s Health Center opens in Israel

Special needs adults find meaningful work on farm

Novel nanotechnology to treat brain cancer

Tulsa partnering with Israeli startups

Training Ethiopian farmers to save crops from locusts

Beersheva: World hub of desert technology

6 Israeli inventions on Time’s Top 100 of 2020 list

Israeli medical team to help Italy fight Covid

Nanosatellites aim to democratize space

Israel to send millions of Covid vaccine doses to Palestinian Authority

Real dairy products without cows, cholesterol or lactose

Israel’s next satellite: A “cellphone in space”

Mastercard: Israel best country for female entrepreneurs

Jewish-Arab Innovation Hackathon in Jerusalem

TAU online Islam course a global hit

1st oral insulin starts final trials

Tel Aviv University world champion in genetic engineering

World’s 1st lab grown meat restaurant

Green packing that won’t pollute

New method to predict risk of suicide

Reversing the Aging Process

Solving a billion dollar German jewel heist

New, healthier alternatives to sugar

Saving Florida’s waterways

Compassion for the Turkish people despite the Anti-Semitism of its prime minister

New frontier in treating brain aneurysms

Firefighters without borders

Diagnosing retinal disease using AI

Changing the global landscape of cybersecurity

Forecasting flu outbreaks years in advance

Advance warning of epileptic seizures

Pioneering findings about hearing loss

No More Ripoffs: Bandages that dissolve

Aid to 12,000 flood victims in Chad

Transformational solutions in health, education and welfare

Medical tourism from UAE

Breakthrough in melanoma treatment

Emergency assistance after devastating fire in Greece

Helping the world fight forest fires

Reducing the rebound after weight loss

Device discerns why a baby is crying

Animation app wins major design award

Helping California battle devastating fires

Four green companies that are changing the world

Detecting heart attacks before they happen

World’s 1st trial of COVID antibody drug

Inclusivity for speech impaired persons

Offering humanitarian assistance to Lebanon

Instantly prediction metastases

IA-based software to spot breast cancer

Insights on metastases causes and prevention

Restoring eyesight with synthetic corneas

Lifesaving time reduction finding leftover cancer cells

Making beaches safer

One minute Covid test

Testing drugs on 3D printed hearts

Self-healing artificial skin

Sonovia masks confirmed effective against Covid virus

Leading the world in cybersecurity

Developing medicines in outer space

Lifesaving surgery for a Syrian infant

Cause of Corona blood clots discovered

Celebrating soldiers with special needs

Technology-transforming microscope invented

Disinfectant from water makes public events safer

Keeping global organ transplants alive

Muslim Arab singer an Israeli pop star

Understanding why skin cancer spreads

Smart disinfectants remain active over time

El Al plane collects Covid virus aid for U.S.

Israeli-Ethiopian women become border police officers

Significantly boosting ventilator survival

Revolution in helping babies sleep

Self-sterilizing face masks

Advances in battery safety

Israeli tech protecting African villages

Saving the world’s honeybees

Protection for medical caregivers

30 tech solutions to fight coronavirus

Revolutionizing xray technology

Israel donates potential Covid-19 treatment to U.S.

Compassion at dying Covid patient’s bedside

Lung removed, cleansed and returned to cancer patient

Robotic standing wheelchairs for quadriplegics

Helping young burn victims in Haiti

Remarkable advance in cough treatment

Preparing for the femtech revolution

Israeli nurse breastfeeds baby of injured Palestinian woman

Israel sends protective coronavirus gear to China

NYC launches Israeli-run cybersecurity lab

New cancer treatment with 100% tumor shrinkage rate

Tech allows planes to fight fires 24/7

Safeguarding the Tokyo Olympics

Speeding up drug testing

Israel begins supplying gas to Egypt

Aiding Albanian earthquake victims

Israeli device freezes liver and kidney tumors

Palestinian, Israeli cyclists find harmony

Arab-Jewish coexistence in the Galilee

A pill that might fix the cause of diabetes

Revealing the complexity of plants

Aiding animals injured in Australian wildfires

Energy Efficiency: Making water from air

Palestinian nurses hone skills at Israeli hospital


About the Author
Rabbi Richard Block is Past President and Chairs the Past Presidents Council of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism, Senior Rabbi Emeritus of The Temple - Tifereth Israel, Cleveland, OH and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA. Newsweek Magazine has recognized him as "one of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in America."
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