Avi Jorisch’s book offers a unique contribution to the growing literature on Israeli’s technical prowess and its global impact. Jorisch begins with two chapters that deal with Judaism’s commitment to tikkun olam, the idea of helping to repair the world and also on how from the very beginning the young state of Israel embraced the need to provide technological assistance to many of the newly independent African nations that emerged with the end of European imperialism. While in part this resulted from the self-serving need to build diplomatic relations with these countries to avoid international isolation, there was also a powerful sense that the new Jewish state should be a light upon the world. Between these chapters and a concluding section dealing with his own interest in the subject, are fifteen chapters dealing with how Israelis are changing the world for the better through remarkable technical innovations.
While some of his stories may be familiar to readers, such as Israel’s notable contribution in drip irrigation, others such as the Grain Cocoon invented by Shlomo Navarro, which helps farmers in the developing world stave off the serious loss of grain caused by insects, are less well known. Some of the companies he writes about (and part of the story he tells reveal the unique government/private partnerships in Israel that provides seed money from the government, leading to the formation of private companies) are on the cusp of making it big. Among these are ReWalk, a firm that makes an exoskeleton allowing for paraplegics to enjoy enhanced mobility, which sadly will not benefit its remarkable creator, Amit Goffer, because the ReWalk requires full control of one’s upper body, which Goffer’s own injury left impaired. Part of the appeal of the book is that it provides examples of cooperation between Israel’s often contentious Jewish, Arab and Christian citizens. Alpha Omega, the largest Arab led high-tech company in Israel, an innovator in devices for deep brain stimulation, makes devices that are used around the world in the treatment of epilepsy and other neurological diseases. Eli Beer’s clever transformation of motorcycles into mini-ambulances has led to volunteers from every segment of Israel’s population, including the Druze and Bedouin and ultra-Orthodox, racing to come to those in medical need. Avi Jorisch’s book is a fascinating look at how Israeli technology is changing the world for the better, while also showing that technology can build bridges between communities, perhaps offering a glimmer of hope for a more peaceful future in the Mideast.