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Times of Israel: A4BGU CEO Pens Op-ed on Israel at 75

Times of Israel: A4BGU CEO Pens Op-ed on Israel at 75

April 18, 2023

CEO Op-Eds, Israel Studies, Culture & Jewish Thought, Leadership, Awards & Events

The Times of Israel — Many supporters of Israel in the U.S. and around the world are asking themselves: How should we celebrate the modern state’s milestone 75th anniversary, especially this year in a time of historic controversy?

The truth is that at a moment like this, celebrating Israel is more important than ever.

Indeed, the days when people supported Israel “just because” are mostly behind us. For Zionism to survive and for Israel to thrive, we need a fresh, compelling rallying cry to mobilize a new generation around a vision for 21st-Century Zionism.

Doug Seserman, CEO of Americans for Ben-Gurion University

Amid today’s heated discourse about what’s wrong when it comes to Israel, celebrating the Jewish State doesn’t have anything to do with avoiding controversies. Those issues must still be discussed robustly. Rather, this new approach centers on rallying around what’s right, and celebrating the remarkable aspects of Israel.

Take, for instance, Israel’s contributions to achieving the medical breakthroughs that will help humanity live longer and live healthier. A new study from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers sheds light on this longevity-oriented thinking. The study found that nearly 20% of those who use statins — the most commonly used medication in lowering blood cholesterol, prescribed to tens of millions in the West like myself — develop muscle symptoms called “statin myopathy” that include weakness and pain. Now, the same research team is seeking collaboration with the pharmaceutical industry to push forward standardized production and licensing of a medication that would treat statin myopathy.

Therein lies Israel’s hallmark of ingenuity. Israeli researchers helped us discover a problem that we didn’t even know we had — in fact, one that arose from a drug we took to solve a different problem — and then in the context of the same study, they’re already seeking the solution to the newly discovered problem.

This is precisely the kind of breakthrough innovation that defines Israel at this month’s milestone anniversary. At its core, the start-up nation of Israel isn’t simply about the next unicorn company. It’s about a future where Israel is living up to the nation’s promise of being a “Migdal Or”— a beacon of light to the world by helping to solve some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

Envisioning Israel’s future also hearkens back to the modern state’s roots — namely, the pioneering spirit of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founder and first Prime Minister. Ben-Gurion was a visionary who essentially saw the future amid his quest to effect change in the present. He foresaw that Israelis could thrive in the arid desert environment of Negev. Today, Israel’s success story in that southern region presents a replicable model for not only inhabiting but thriving in desert environments worldwide.

With this sentiment in mind, Americans for Ben-Gurion University (A4BGU), a community of like-minded individuals that supports the university bearing Ben-Gurion’s name and raises awareness around his legacy more broadly, is celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary this month by amplifying the modern scientific technologies that will be shaping the future of Israel and the world.

The truth is that at a moment like this, celebrating Israel is more important than ever. On April 23, A4BGU’s third annual signature virtual experience, “Celebrating the Remarkable,” will spotlight the medical science innovations and other breakthroughs that embody David Ben-Gurion’s pioneering spirit.

Celebrating the Remarkable 3 participants will discover the cutting-edge work of BGU’s Prof. Galit Katarivas Levy, whose research focuses on the development of biomedical materials using different 3D printing technologies, and whose lab is involved in developing an implant for controlled release of a chemotherapy drug treating brain cancer. They’ll also learn about Dr. Moshe Elkebets, whose laboratory focuses primarily on performing translational experiments on targeted therapeutics and immunotherapy for gynecologic and head and neck cancers.

The fact that the event will be hosted by Dr. Mike Varshavski (aka “Dr. Mike”), a board-certified family medical physician and social media influencer who has amassed more than 20 million followers across digital platforms, acknowledges the importance of coming together to envision Israel’s future. With his gift for identifying and exposing medical misinformation, and making complex subjects more understandable, Dr. Mike meets younger generations where they are. American Jewish organizations can stand to take a page from that playbook as we begin to imagine an Israel over the next 75 years when it turns 150.

Through advancing 3D printing, AI, and other emerging technologies, Israel plays its natural role as a pioneer — creating knowledge and sharing it with the world for all of humanity.

As we look to the future, let’s carry with us the spirit of David Ben-Gurion, the visionary who set us on this path to begin with. And especially in this time of controversy, let’s celebrate in a way that’s consistent with both our Jewish and human values. Let’s rally around what’s right — by celebrating the remarkable that is Israel.

Read this op-ed by Doug Seserman, A4BGU CEO, in The Times of Israel and don’t forget to register for Celebrating the Remarkable 3: Pioneering Medical Science!