Israel is a light unto the nations, the world’s first responder and the startup nation. The Jewish state is known for doing more with less and exceeding beyond all reasonable expectations. It made the desert bloom, brought democracy and pluralism to the Middle East, beat back larger and better-equipped enemies, and became a global hub of technological innovation with one hand tied behind its back for 72 years. Now, Israel’s reputation for finding solutions to humanity’s most vexing challenges is shining through in its response to COVID-19.
Americans broadly recognize Israel’s unique character, history and innovative expertise. Our elected officials in Washington need to swiftly advance the bipartisan effort to appropriate $12 million in funds “to enhance partnerships between companies in the United States and Israel to develop innovative medical projects aimed at detecting, treating and curing COVID-19.”
Israel’s private sector, armed forces, government and medical professionals are working in extraordinary partnerships that tap into a joint approach to combat COVID-19.
To speed production of ventilators and ensure availability in the poorest corner of the world, Microsoft’s Israel-based research and development facility is working with one of Israel’s emergency medical services, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, and the Israeli Air Force to develop “a low-cost ventilator that can be mass-produced in labs without the need of dedicated factories.”
To decrease the need for scarce PPE resources, Leumit Health Care Services and the Israeli Defense Forces are working together “to build an innovative testing unit for carrying out COVID-19 tests without the need for protective equipment for the paramedic or nurse administering the test.”
To increase the accuracy of testing, a professor at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev has developed a COVID-19 test “that produces results in under a minute and has a success rate of 90 percent.”
Israel’s Institute of Technology has several projects underway to enhance testing and to develop medicines to win the fight against the virus. The Galilee Research Institute announced in late March “that they expected to begin human testing of an oral vaccine … for the coronavirus in eight to 10 weeks.”
And Hadassah Medical Organization is developing new testing techniques that will increase the number of tests that can be administered and read quickly from 2,000 per day to 100,000 per day.
From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—and all points in between—Israelis were adept in responding to the pandemic because they are conditioned to mobilize quickly in crisis situations. They demonstrate their commitment to serving humanity, no matter the conditions. Because in times of need, Israelis show up no matter whenever and wherever they’re needed.
Israel was on the frontlines after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, contributed directly to helping residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and now the country’s efforts to combat the novel coronavirus are touching the world.
In April, an Israeli airliner landed in Detroit with “3.5 million surgical and KN95 protective masks, face shields and pulse oximeters about to be distributed to Michigan hospitals, senior living facilities, first responders and other professionals.”
Three Arab nations, according to press reports, “are actively engaged in cooperation with Israel’s health system, with one having recently asked for help installing an advanced telemedicine system.” And even the United Nations has acknowledged Israel’s efforts to coordinate with the Palestinian Authority to confront the widespread outbreak of COVID-19.
The Jewish state stands up for Western values, furthers American interests, and has proven itself time and again to be a leader in exactly the kind of selfless and cutting-edge innovation that can defeat the global pandemic. Israel is the right partner for us in the fight against COVID-19.
In the age of multi-trillion-dollar federal budgets, $12 million may not seem like a lot of money, but a small investment in joint U.S.-Israel efforts to combat the coronavirus might just be exactly what the world needs.
Shari Dollinger is the co-executive director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI).