ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Inbal Arieli of the Gammado high-tech incubator.
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

ISRAEL21c feature stories star in AIPAC Innovation Showcase

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Inbal Arieli of the Gammado high-tech incubator.

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin with Inbal Arieli of the Gammado high-tech incubator.

The three remarkable Israeli inventions demonstrated to 1,600 delegates at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) National Summit in California earlier this month had been revealed to the world in their earliest stages by ISRAEL21c.

AIPAC’s Innovation Showcase featured Elie Isaacson, co-founder of Agilite, maker of revolutionary portable rescue equipment used across the world; serial biotech inventor Prof. Oded Shoseyov, inventor of the Paulee CleanTec device that scoops up dog droppings and turns them into odorless, sterile ash within seconds; and Gideon Ben-Zvi of award-winning video surveillance synopsis company BriefCam, whose technology helped Massachusetts police find the Boston Marathon terror attack perpetrators quickly.

ISRAEL21c President Amy Friedkin was among the attendees, and proudly notes that AIPAC relies on the website to find exciting new Israeli inventions to present to its members.

This was the NGO’s second Innovation Showcase; the first one stole the show for 13,000 participants at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC, last March.

Session moderator Brian Abraham of AIPAC was brought to the stage carried on a helper’s back with the aid of Agilite’s Injured Personnel Carrier. Primarily meant for rescue situations, the device is also being used by people with disabilities the world over, Isaacson told AIPAC delegates.

“He read a letter from a parent of a disabled child in the US who thanked him profusely because now the family can take their child on hikes,” Friedkin recounts.

Isaacson told her that after ISRAEL21c broke the initial story on the new company, Agilite received inquiries from across the world.

Agilite’s Elie Isaacson with Amy Friedkin.

Agilite’s Elie Isaacson with Amy Friedkin.

Startup maven Inbal Arieli, most recently the CEO and founder of elite tech incubator Gammado, was on hand during the Innovation Showcase to offer insights as to why Israelis are such great innovators. Tolerance for failure, a need to improvise, and being permitted to play with “junk” from an early age are among the secret ingredients to later success, she said.

AIPAC member Dr. Katie Rodan tells ISRAEL21c that she had never heard of the three showcased companies before, and her main reaction was: “Those Israelis are damn smart!”

In the larger picture, Rodan adds, the showcase “helps to frame Israel beyond the conflicts of the region. It makes me very proud to witness the innumerable ways Israel is making the world a better place.”

Water fun
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

Winners of the Great Outdoors Photo Competition

We asked you to send us your best photographs of the great outdoors in Israel, and that’s exactly what you did.

We received some fabulous pictures reflecting virtually every different area of life in Israel’s great outdoors, from pictures of the sea, the fields, the mountains and the desert to beautiful shots of animals, plants and birds.

Out of the top 10 scoring photographs, ISRAEL21c staff chose the winning pictures.

We are pleased to announce that the winners of ISRAEL21c’s Great Outdoors Photo Competition are:

1. Rosh Hanikra, by Ethan Weg

Rosh Hanikra

2. Sunrise over Shiloh, by Devo Kessin

Shiloh sunrise

3. Run Forest Run, by Ludmila Sklyar

Waater fun

4. Camel ride in the Negev Desert, by Darren Dublet

Camel ride

The winners will be contacted by ISRAEL21c and will receive a unique aerodynamic sunshade developed by Israeli company Otentik as their prize.

There were many other great photographs entered into this competition and we will feature the best of these in our Photo of the Week section in coming weeks.

Thank-you all for taking part.

Big Bad Wolves scene
Art,Israel in the Spotlight

Film director Tarantino calls Israel’s revenge thriller best of the year

Will the next big cult film be from Israel? Big Bad Wolves, a revenge thriller film by Israelis Navot Papushado and Aharon Keshales has won glowing praise by one of the greatest directors of our time. Speaking at the South Korean Busan International Film Festival last week, during a public question and answer period, the Academy Award-winning director Quentin Tarantino said that Big Bad Wolves, a sadistic film about revenge against a murderer of children, is the best film of the year.

Tarantino said: “Not only is this the best film in Busan, this is the best film of the year.”

Considering we’re already in mid-October and not the beginning of January, this is a very good sign.

Tarantino is known best for the cult films Kill Bill and Pulp Fiction.

His comment about Big Bad Wolves has created a swarm of interest in the Israeli film and Israel in general among Tarantino fans.

One commenter on the official trailer site for Big Bad Wolves writes: “Just saw the film in AIFF [Aruba International Film Festival] last night…This one is like a poisonous candy, you’ll probably enjoy every great directed minute of it, but be warned about the consequences.”

Other commenters say they are surprised that the film is from Israel.

Israel has several, but two particularly outstanding, film schools: the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem and the film school at Tel Aviv University.

Big Bad Wolves has already won several awards at the Ophir Awards in Israel – the country’s version of the Academy Awards.

It was the Official Selection for the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival (TFF) this year, arguably the most important tastemaker festival before films make it to the Academy Awards. With access to film darlings graduating from nearby film schools like NYFA, it is a growing phenomena that Israeli films are grabbing the attention at international screenings and events, especially due to the limited budgets that Israeli filmmakers work with.

A reviewer from TFF writes: “The Israeli horror pioneers have stepped firmly out of the slasher genre with this deftly dark riff on unhappily ever after. An unsettling scenario of men pushed too far in the aftermath of a horrific crime against an innocent child, the film avoids cliché by delivering on its creators’ continued promise of unpredictability.”

While I don’t love revenge thrillers as a genre, and would choose drama or romantic comedy above all (read: chick flicks) I did enjoy the Tarantino film Inglourious Basterds, a revenge fantasy about US Jewish soldiers who kill Nazis.

I think that Big Bad Wolves is one Israeli film I will try. Here is the Facebook page for it. Or catch the clip above.

Postcard from Israel
Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

Postcard from Israel

Postcard from Israel

With Israel a top travel destination the world over thanks to its abundant cultural, religious , historical, archaeological, and technological sights, it was only natural for ISRAEL21c to develop a “Postcard from Israel” video series in which we highlight slices of life from around the country.

These short travel-logs offer a taste of new locations, and tell a visual story about a city or street, or place, and the people who make the destination special

Our newest video in this series shines a spotlight on the Jerusalem Light Rail. It’s not just a ride from point A to B, but rather a short trip through history. The Light Rail brings everyone – Jews, Christians, Muslims, religious, secular — on board and glides past all the Holy City’s main sights including Mount Herzl, the Old City, downtown, Yad Vashem and Mount Scopus. So, hop on board our video and click to watch:

We also focused in on another Jerusalem attraction – the First Station. The newest culture and culinary hub in the capital has given the 130-year-old Israel Railways property a totally new life. Have a look:

Our postcard series also gave viewers a trip down Emek Refaim in Jerusalem. This busy thoroughfare in the city’s German Colony is brimming with eateries, boutique stores and crafts fairs. And the best time to visit – in person or visually – is on a Friday morning:

Haifa was the first video to launch our postcard series. The seaport city known for its spectacular views, religious harmony and the Baha’i World Center is one of the country’s top destinations for international and domestic tourists alike. Israeli musician Yair Yona lent us his beautiful music as the backdrop and the result is a gorgeous mini tour of the city in video. Take a break for two minutes to watch:

We also took a turn onto the road less travelled to Rehovot, home of the world-renowned Weizmann Institute of Science and the innovative school of agriculture of the Hebrew University. This video takes the viewer on a scenic tour of the science city’s parks, shopping areas and even to an underground secret bullet factory. Click to watch:

ISRAEL21c’s video section is already brimming with nearly 700 original clips. Many of our videos have been picked up by other international media organizations including CNN, Discovery Channel and IBA News, among others.

ISRAEL21c has the honor of being the most-viewed non-profit channel from Israel on YouTube. Check in regularly for our other videos, and of course, to keep up to date with our Postcard from Israel series.

If you’d like to see a certain place highlighted in series, please leave a comment below.

Behind the scenes at ISRAEL21c

PBS rewards Israeli innovation

Even before ISRAEL21c partnered with Behrman House to deliver lesson plans, Debbie Sasson – a history teacher at the Epstein School in Atlanta – realized that ISRAEL21c was the “go-to” website for news and information on 21st century Israel.

“Your site has a wealth of information and it is truly inspiring,” Sasson wrote to us, adding that “we might like to know” that she had just been named a first-place winner in the PBS LearningMedia and The Henry Ford Foundation Teacher Innovator Award competition.

Of course we wanted to know! We sent a “mazal tov” to Sasson right away.

“It is very nice to be recognized for my project, but I am most excited that Israel’s innovative character will also get some press,” she answered. “I discovered ISRAEL21c last year when I first developed the classroom project on Israeli innovations. Your site is a research source for my eighth-grade students. Students used the articles to help choose topics and gather information on various innovations.”

The nationwide contest recognized Pre-K-12th grade educators who best used digital media in new and unique ways to improve students’ learning across key subject areas.

Overall, 30 teachers won honors – but only the top 10 (Sasson included) will participate in a week-long “Innovation Immersion Experience” at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, from July 27 to August 2, 2013, and receive a free PBS TeacherLine professional development course.

From agriculture to technology, environment to culture, Epstein’s students explored the revolutionary contributions Israel has made to society. Sasson – who was recognized by the US Department Education as an Education Innovator — introduced her students to Israeli advances with drip irrigation and then “inspired students to examine other areas of innovation in Israel, emerging from its scarcity of resources.”

The students learned about Waze, instant messaging technology, ReWalk, Dream Doctors Project, PillCam, electric vehicles, desalination and argan oil, among others. They then showcased their projects in an “Israel Innovations Expo.”

“Whether it was the group examining OoVoo, a video chatting application, or the students who explored eyeSight gesture recognition technology, they were fascinated about how much innovation from Israel can impact their lives here,” Sasson wrote for the PBS award site.

“Perhaps most rewarding was to see how the students applied new knowledge in the presentation of the innovation. Rather than just report on an exciting piece of art, the students fashioned it themselves.”

Sasson summed up: “I appreciate this recognition and I am grateful that as a result, I will now have the opportunity to participate in a week-long Innovation Immersion Experience at The Henry Ford in Michigan this summer. I am also excited that through the students’ projects, Israel’s innovative character, which was at the core of the winning entry, will receive attention too.”