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 worldwide audience in seconds. Given its longevity, the lie will long outlive the pandemic itself.

Fortunately, as Justice Louis Brandeis 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, open-minded 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 X-ray 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

Rabbi Richard Block is past president and chairs the past presidents Council of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, senior rabbi emeritus of The Temple-Tifereth Israel, in Beachwood and rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, Calif.

How do you feel about this article?

Choose from the options below.



Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

Recommended for you