Supporters of Israel can wish many things upon the members of the Green Party and others who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
We should really be wishing them good health.
After all, many of the medical treatments we take for granted, as well as cutting-edge research that could ultimately lead to cures for certain cancers, are the work of Israeli doctors and scientists.
Would Israel’s foes put principles ahead of lifesaving treatments for themselves or their families? Or do they choose to ignore what the “occupying power,” as the Green Party categorizes Israel, has done for science, technology and medicine?
It must be the latter. As countless other sages have pointed out, few in the modern world would be able to function without Israeli inventions.
All you have to do is Google “Israeli inventions, BDS,” and you’ll see page after page of lists of Israeli innovations that have changed the way we live our lives. The Intel processor chip, the Disk-On-Key (USB memory stick), the PillCam (a pill-sized camera used for gastrointestinal endoscopy), micro-irrigation and, of course, the cherry tomato are just a few of these.
And there are some entertaining videos on the issue. One of my favourites is “If You Want to Boycott Israel.” http://tinyurl.com/hzh89rb
Alas, pointing out Israeli innovations and achievements does little to change the minds of those determined to demonize Israel. Indeed, these foes see this kind of promotion as a way for Zionists to avoid the discussion of such issues as settlements, borders and Palestinian independence.
Israel’s advocates are better off educating themselves on these issues so that they can back up their pro-Israel arguments with facts about the conflict and the stalled peace process.
But it’s always worthwhile to keep abreast of the latest health and science news from Israel, especially when it affects someone in your life.
Let’s take skin cancer. Until five years ago, Israel had the dubious distinction of ranking third in the world (behind Australia and New Zealand) in terms of incidence of skin cancer and mortality from the disease.
But, because of an aggressive public awareness campaign and technological advances, Israel has dropped to 20th in the world in terms of incidence, and 13th (for men) and 20th (for women) in mortality.
“Take, track, treat” is the slogan for DermaCompare (www.dermacompare.com), an FDA-approved app developed by Israel’s Emerald Medical Applications. It’s a cloud-based Total Body Photography (TBP) system that allows individuals or doctors to photograph the skin and then track changes in moles every year.
DermaCompare’s tracking uses highly detailed imaging technology, originally developed by the Israeli Air Force and Israeli Intelligence, which is faster, more accessible and more accurate than manual diagnosis.
Early detection is a key factor in survival rates for malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. So this Israeli-developed app could be a game-changer in the way this disease is diagnosed.
And then there’s treatment. One of my friends with malignant melanoma is taking part in a clinical trial of an immunotherapy cancer drug called Keytruda, which is also used to treat a specific type of lung cancer.
It’s part of a class of drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, which allow the T-cells of the body’s immune system to go into overdrive to attack cancer cells. Keytruda doesn’t work for all patients, but, when it works, the improvement is quick and dramatic.
Just ask former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who credits the drug with “curing” his malignant melanoma. My friend’s trial is investigating whether Keytruda can prevent the recurrence of melanoma in high-risk patients who have had successful surgery.
And, guess what? Keytruda was developed jointly by researchers in the U.S. and Israel.
What the BDS movement fails to recognize is that science, technology and medicine no longer have physical or geographical barriers.
That doesn’t just mean that Israeli researchers and doctors are collaborating with their peers around the world. It means that Israeli doctors are treating non-Israeli patients, including Palestinians, who don’t have access to state-of-the-art treatments.
And such Israeli organizations as Save a Child’s Heart (www.saveachildsheart.com), about which I’ve written in the past, train medical personnel in developing countries in life-saving techniques and treatments.
Learning and sharing information about Israeli breakthroughs in medicine and technology isn’t likely to convince die-hard BDS supporters to change their views.
But, the next time you run into someone with an open mind, who is truly curious about the aspects of Israel that don’t make the news, ask them if they’ve checked their moles lately.