Archive for the ‘Hi-Tech’ Category

Intel invests $2.7 billion in its Israeli chip facility

February 9, 2011

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By Karin Kloosterman
February 06, 2011

The 22-nanometer technology that promises to make computers faster, smaller and lighter is coming out of an Intel Israel plant in Kiryat Gat.

Intel Kiryat Gat plant

Intel Israel’s Kiryat Gat chip manufacturing facility.

In an unstable business environment, where US companies are scaling back and weathering bad times, Intel has made a surprising business move. The chipmaker announced in January that it will invest $2.7 billion in its Israeli plant in southern Israel, which will produce next-generation 22-nanometer chips.

It is expected that 22-nanometer technology will make our computers faster, smaller and lighter.

Not willing to elaborate on what exactly this will mean for our everyday lives, Intel Israel’s spokesman Koby Bahar tells ISRAEL21c that “it will be the most advanced technology” available.

The investment is earmarked for upgrading the technology, and not for enlarging the existing fabrication plant, he stresses.

Bahar notes that Intel has also made new investments in the United States and has spent $500 million to re-open a facility in Ireland. Adding Israel to its investment plans just makes business sense.

“Intel decided to invest here because it’s worthwhile,” he says. “Because we have a good record for Israel and Intel.”

US tech trends business magazine Fast Company provides another angle on this development: “The move reduces Intel’s exposure to the vagaries of Far East economies and risk of earthquake interference with production.”

The total amount includes $210 million from the Israeli government. Over the 25 years that Intel has been manufacturing chips in Israel, it has earned $1.2 billion in grants from the Israeli government.

Relying on Israel’s skilled workforce

Currently, Intel produces processors that run more than 80 percent of the world’s personal computers. If you own a PC, chances are a part of it was produced in or developed in Israel.

The core business in Israel is processors that run the central processing units (CPUs) in PCs. “Dealing with advanced technology, we have to hire skilled people. People working here have very high skill sets, education and experience,” says Bahar.

Intel Haifa Development Center

Intel Israel’s “green” Development Center in Haifa.

The employees at Intel Israel, under the supervision of general manager Maxine Fassberg, were reportedly very happy about the news. A strong year for Intel bodes well for them too, with each of the 7,057 employees earning a bonus of 3.2 months’ salary for their work in 2010 – a year in which Intel’s fourth-quarter earnings grew by eight percent from the previous year to $11.5 billion, and net profit grew by 167% to $11.7 billion.

According to news reports, each employee will earn at least a $10,000 bonus, on top of a pay raise. In more good news, Intel Israel expects to hire an additional 1,000 employees over the next year.

Starting Feb 28, the company will move from 45-nanometer to 22-nanometer chips. Fassberg said the Kiryat Gat plant is the second Intel facility in the world to produce these tiny chips.

Powering the next-generation

In other Intel Israel news, the latest “Sandy Bridge” microarchitecture for next-generation PCs, developed at the Haifa R&D center, has drawn a great deal of attention. Sandy Bridge, unveiled at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas following four years of development work by 1,000 engineers, will also help Intel PCs and laptops compete with tablets.

Meanwhile, tech geeks are waiting to see what Intel Israel’s new Netbook processor, the Cedarview, will be like. Developed at Intel Israel’s Jerusalem center, this is expected to lead the next generation of Intel’s Atom processor.

Intel Israel is also working on Light Peak, which will enable a high-speed data transfer rate of 10-gigahertz between computer and screen or between computer and storage device over a single wire. The end result? Thinner computers with fewer connections.

Intel Israel, operating since 1974, was the company’s first development center outside the United States. It has facilities based in Haifa, Jerusalem, Kiryat Gat, Yakum and Petach Tikva.

SDL building Israel’s largest desalination plant – Israel Business, Ynetnews

January 21, 2011

Desalination plant

SDL building Israel’s largest desalination plant – Israel Business, Ynetnews.

New facility, slated to be completed in 2013, will produce 150 million cubic meters of water each year


SDL Desalination Ltd said on Sunday it began construction of the world’s largest reverse osmosis desalination plant, hoping to alleviate Israel’s water shortage. 

The group said the new plant in central Israel will produce 150 million cubic meters of water each year, or about a fifth of household water consumption in Israel, and will be finished in 2013.

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SDL is 51% owned by IDE Technologies and 49% by Hutchison Water, a unit of Hong Kong group Hutchison Whampoa.

Israeli conglomerate Delek Group owns 50% of IDE, with the other half owned by fertilizer maker Israel Chemicals.

The group said in a statement the plant will produce water at a cost of around NIS 2.01 (56 cents) per cubic meter.

Currently, the largest reverse osmosis plant – a technology that requires less energy to desalinate sea water and is friendlier to the environment than thermal-based systems – is in the northern Israeli city of Hadera. It produces 127 million cubic meters of water annually.


Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

December 30, 2010
Photo: Albatros
Tamar drilling site (archives)  Photo: Albatros
Photo: Tal Shahar
Minister Landau (archives)  Photo: Tal Shahar

Leviathan gas well estimated at $45B

Reservoir located off of Haifa coast said to contain 453 billion cubic meters of natural gas, making it decade’s largest gas discovery

Tani Goldstein

Published: 12.29.10, 18:04 / Israel Business


The Leviathan exploration prospect, which is located northwest of the coast of Haifa, contains 80% more natural gas than the Tamar reservoir, which was previously considered Israel’s largest drilling site, a report released Wednesday by Delek Energy revealed.


Raising fish in the desert

December 29, 2010

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By David Shamah
December 26, 2010

With fewer fish in the sea with each passing year, Israel’s Grow Fish Anywhere has found a way to grow them in the desert.

Fish ponds

Biological filters and specially developed bacteria treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything.

“There’s plenty of fish in the sea,” the old saying goes – but that’s not as true as it once was. In fact, says Dotan Bar-Noy, CEO of Israel’s GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) Advanced Systems, there are fewer fish in the sea with each passing year. “Overfishing is a much bigger problem than people realize, and in a few years, many species of salt water fish are simply going to disappear if something isn’t done.”

Bar-Noy and 30 or so others – mostly engineers, marine biologists and other technical folk – have found a solution to the diminishing numbers of fish in the sea. Based on the work of Israeli scientist Dr. Yossi Tal and Hebrew University professor Jaap van Rijn – inventor of the system – GFA has developed an on-land environment where fish can be raised, without having to exchange water or treat it chemically.

“We call this a zero-discharge system,” Bar-Noy tells ISRAEL21c. “We use biological filters and specially developed bacteria to treat the water the fish are growing in, without wasting anything. The system can be set up to raise salt-water fish anywhere in the world – even in the desert, thousands of miles from the ocean,” he asserts.

Fish farms are nothing new. They’ve been around for years, enabling growers to set up controlled environments that can ensure a specific yield of fish, allowing them to guarantee delivery without worrying about dwindling supplies in the ocean, pollution, inclement weather, and other factors that are hard to control.

Fish farm foibles

Still, while they enhance the conservation of fish in the sea, fish farms have problems of their own – mostly due to the need to circulate the water in the pools and tanks where the fish are raised. Most fish farms are located adjacent to a body of water, and their waste-laden water is channeled into the sea, and replaced with “fresh” sea water.

While fish raised in captivity don’t produce an increased amount of waste, at sea it would be dissipated over a much wider area. The fish waste, with its nitrogen and other elements concentrated in a relatively small area, renders the water that it’s dumped into uninhabitable for fish.

As the tanks are generally located near the shore, in relatively shallow water, the wastewater tends to linger there. With the movement of the currents, nearby jurisdictions are liable to find a considerable number of fish floating belly-up in their bays and harbors, having been poisoned by the high concentration of nitrogen and nutrients in the wastewater dumped from the tanks.

Fish ponds

GFA’s New York purification plant opened in 2009 and is already supplying 100 tons of sea fish a year to the US market.

This problem is so serious that in some areas fish farms are banned, despite their being perhaps the only technologically feasible solution available to combat overfishing, says Bar-Noy. Alternative purification systems are based on electrical treatment systems which are expensive to install and run, and are not all that effective, he notes. “Even when they work, the electrical purification systems are too expensive, and fish produced with those systems will cost far more than fish from the sea.”

GFA is currently the only solution that eliminates the environmental problems associated with fish farming. Tanks are filled with water, then with fish – and added to the mix are microbes perfected by GFA to treat the nitrogen and organic waste byproducts of fish production, in the tank.

Water is only added to replace that which evaporates, and the fish can grow through their natural cycle and remain in the tank until they are ready for market. “It’s the most efficient fish growing system possible,” claims Bar-Noy, “There is no pollution, and there is no need to fish at sea. Just set up tanks with GFA technology anywhere in the world, and harvest the fish when you’re ready to go to market.”

Toward eliminating world hunger

Because the GFA system uses cheap and easy-to-produce bacteria to cleanse fish tanks, the costs for raising the fish are fully competitive with those for raising fish from the sea, or other farms, Bar-Noy points out. And tank-raised fish are uniformly tasty. “Fish from the sea are subject to the natural weather cycles of cold and heat, while farmed fish can be raised at a constant, ideal temperature. GFA fish have an even greater advantage, since the water they grow in is always fresh, making the fish taste better than fish from other sources.”

The system has already been set up in several locations in Israel, and the company runs a purification facility in upstate New York, which has been operating since 2009. The facility, the largest using GFA technology, produced about 100 tons of fish last year – mostly salt-water fish like sea bream, bass, tilapia, and others.

GFA is currently working on the third generation of its purification system. While the company was formed in 2008, its technology was developed over a 20-year period. “While the ideas were there for awhile, the only viable purification techniques were based on electrical devices. It was only with the rise of biotechnology techniques that we were able to develop the bacteria that enable us to do the purification cheaply,” Bar-Noy explains.

The resulting system allows for high-capacity fish production – as much as 100 kg of fish per cubic meter of water (220 pounds of fish per 35 cubic feet) – along with the ability to grow fish in any environment. Fish farms can be set up anywhere – including in large cities, where fish may be brought to market the same day they’re harvested, thus enabling growers to eliminate transportation time and costs.

After raising funds from several angels, GFA recently raised NIS 18 million (about $126,000) from Dutch private equity fund Linnaeus Capital Partners. The money will finance a number of projects, including expanding the New York facility and further refining the technology.

“As populations grow, more countries are looking to fish as sources of protein, but overfishing threatens to destroy that dream,” says Bar-Noy. “With our system, fish can be grown anywhere – even in the desert – with minimal environmental impact. This is about more than just growing fish,” he adds. “This could help feed millions.”


A moment of Glee for Israel

December 29, 2010

A moment of Glee for ISRAEL21c Bookmark and Share

By Nicky Blackburn
December 13, 2010

A robotic exoskeleton designed in Israel to help paraplegics walk and climb stairs alone, has become the unexpected star of Glee, one of TV’s most popular programs.

When Artie Abrams, the disabled member of West McKinley High School’s Glee club gets up and walks on the program’s Christmas special with the aid of a robotic exoskeleton, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.

“It was invented by some guy in Israel,” says Artie, played by actor Kevin McHale, one of the popular TV show’s most endearing characters, a paraplegic teenager who knows how to belt out a great tune.

It’s a poignant moment for viewers who have watched Artie deal with the pressures of being wheelchair-bound in an able-bodied and deeply prejudiced society. But for Argo Medical Technologies, the Israeli company that created this unique technology that gives wheelchair users the opportunity to walk, climb stairs and meet the world eye to eye, the show, which aired in the US this week, marks a significant turning point in the company’s history.

Artie walks on Glee

Artie Abrams, played by actor Kevin McHale, steps out for the first time.

ISRAEL21c first wrote about Argo Medical in July 2008. It was the first time the company, then a seven-year-old start up, had been featured in the press, and the team behind the quasi-robotic exoskeleton which includes leg braces with motorized joints and motion sensors, a brace support suit and a backpack with a computer and battery, were interested to see what kind of response the device would get.

Standing in line for interviews

Little did they realize what they were in for. The ISRAEL21c story was quickly picked up by popular blogs like MedGadget, Gizmodo, and Engadget, as well as blogs serving the disabled community. Soon after Reuters followed up with a video of the device.

The story exploded on the world’s press, and was reported everywhere from Canada’s National Post, to Italy’s Corriere della Serra. Over 14 TV stations ran their own stories on the technology, from ABC News, to the BBC and CNN. The Israeli company even got coverage in the Teheran Times.

“It all started with ISRAEL21c,” says Uri Attir, who was the CEO of Argo Medical in 2008. “This was the first public exposure of Argo. The article gave way to four or five dozen articles and videos. It led the way to everyone standing in line, literally, to interview or film, or both.”

Since that first wave of interest, the company has been working hard to develop and test the technology with clinical trials at the Moss Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia in the US and at the Rehabilitation Hospital at Chaim Sheba Medical Center – Tel Hashomer in Israel.

The 12-employee company has already received CE approval for Europe, and has FDA approval for use in rehabilitation centers. FDA approval for personal use is expected to follow soon.

An unexpected call from Glee

A month ago, according to Oren Tamari, Argo’s chief operating officer, the company got an unexpected call from the producers of Glee.

A week later the episode was filmed and on Tuesday of this week, American audiences saw Artie walk using the device, called ReWalk. “It’s Christmas magic,” Tamari tells ISRAEL21c. “They approached us and it all happened very fast.”

ReWalk goes on sale in January, and is expected to cost about $100,000. “We’re going to start sales very slowly, one customer at a time, so we can give everyone good service,” says Tamari.

In January, he says the company expects to sell four units, then will move up to six, and so on. “We will grow slowly, slowly,” he says.

Aside from enabling users to walk, using crutches for stability and support, the seven-pound device also treats some of the cardiovascular, digestive and circulatory health complications which many wheelchair users suffer.

Designed by a quadriplegic

The exoskeleton has a moving story of its own. It was the brainchild of an Israeli electrical engineer, Dr. Amit Goffer who was left quadriplegic after an accident. He decided to develop a system that allows wheelchair users to walk, climb stairs and meet the world on the same level.

After intensive rehabilitation, Goffer began developing the ReWalk prototype in his home, funding it privately and with a Tnufa – Startup Promotion Program grant. He later entered the Technion Incubator, TechnionSeed for a two-year stint and got financing from VC funds, Vitalife, ProSeed, TechnionSeed, the Technion R&D Foundation, and the Office of the Chief Scientist.

“What we want to do is have the person wake up in the morning, put on clothes, put on the ReWalk, go to work and go throughout the day, wearing it,” Goffer, the founder and director of Argo, told ISRAEL21c in 2008.

Now based in Yokneam in Israel’s north, the company’s target market is the community of wheelchair users in the Western world, of which 300,000 are spinal cord injury sufferers (125,000 in the US and 175,000 in ROW) who are physically able to use crutches as a stabilizing tool.

Mad About You star, mad about ReWalk

Aside from the massive press interest, the ReWalk has also attracted the interest of other Hollywood stars. In April 2009, Paul Reiser, the star of 1990s hit TV show Mad About You, saw ISRAEL21c’s article and was intrigued enough to follow it up with a visit to the company with his family.

While ReWalk holds out hope for thousands of people, sadly the man who devised the system still cannot benefit from his own invention. Goffer has partial use of his hands, but it is not enough to operate the ReWalk.

In his interview with ISRAEL21c in 2008, Goffer said: “This isn’t the first company I’ve founded. My incentive to develop it was a business opportunity. When I was injured the first thing I was offered was the only thing: a wheelchair. I do believe that in the future, in many cases, the ReWalk – or its competition – might be offered. I don’t see any reason for the wheelchair to be the sole solution. There hasn’t been a real change [in the technology] for centuries.

“We’re taking a safe business approach, starting with paraplegics, and the time for a quadriplegic like me will come,” he added.

Back at Glee, some attribute the generous present to Artie as a present from Beast, the high school football coach. Others are calling it a Christmas miracle.

Boycott Israel!

December 11, 2010


If you are among those who joined the boycott to Israel, you have surely forgotten these products. Let me remind you about them… – Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say

December 10, 2010 – Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say.


Stuxnet Worm Still Out of Control at Iran’s Nuclear Sites, Experts Say

By Ed Barnes

Published December 09, 2010


EXCLUSIVE: Iran’s nuclear program is still in chaos despite its leaders’ adamant claim that they have contained the computer worm that attacked their facilities, cybersecurity experts in the United States and Europe say.

The American and European experts say their security websites, which deal with the computer worm known as Stuxnet, continue to be swamped with traffic from Tehran and other places in the Islamic Republic, an indication that the worm continues to infect the computers at Iran’s two nuclear sites.

The Stuxnet worm, named after initials found in its code, is the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever created. Examination of the worm shows it was a cybermissile designed to penetrate advanced security systems. It was equipped with a warhead that targeted and took over the controls of the centrifuge systems at Iran’s uranium processing center in Natanz, and it had a second warhead that targeted the massive turbine at the nuclear reactor in Bashehr.

Stuxnet was designed to take over the control systems and evade detection, and it apparently was very successful. Last week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after months of denials, admitted that the worm had penetrated Iran’s nuclear sites, but he said it was detected and controlled.

The second part of that claim, experts say, doesn’t ring true.

Eric Byres, a computer expert who has studied the worm, said his site was hit with a surge in traffic from Iran, meaning that efforts to get the two nuclear plants to function normally have failed. The web traffic, he says, shows Iran still hasn’t come to grips with the complexity of the malware that appears to be still infecting the systems at both Bashehr and Natanz.

“The effort has been stunning,” Byres said. “Two years ago American users on my site outnumbered Iranians by 100 to 1. Today we are close to a majority of Iranian users.”

He said that while there may be some individual computer owners from Iran looking for information about the virus, it was unlikely that they were responsible for the vast majority of the inquiries because the worm targeted only the two nuclear sites and did no damage to the thousands of other computers it infiltrated.

At one of the larger American web companies offering advice on how to eliminate the worm, traffic from Iran has swamped that of its largest user: the United States.

“Our traffic from Iran has really spiked,” said a corporate officer who asked that neither he nor his company be named. “Iran now represents 14.9 percent of total traffic, surpassing the United States with a total of 12.1 percent. Given the different population sizes, that is a significant number.”

Perhaps more significantly, traffic from Tehran to the company’s site is now double that of New York City.

Ron Southworth, who runs the SCADA (the Supervisory Control and Data Access control system that the worm specifically targeted) list server, said that until two years ago he had clearly identified users from Iran, “but they all unsubscribed at about the same time.” Since the announcement of the Stuxnet malware, he said, he has seen a jump in users, but few openly from Iran. He suspects there is a cat-and-mouse game going on that involves hiding the e-mail addresses, but he said it was clear his site was being searched by a number of users who have gone to a great deal of effort to hide their country of origin.

Byres said there are a growing number of impostors signing on to Stuxnet security sites.

“I had one guy sign up who I knew and called him. He said it wasn’t his account. In another case a guy saying he was Israeli tried to sign up. He wasn’t.”

The implication, he says, is that such a massive effort is a sign of a coordinated effort.

Ralph Langner, the German expert who was among the first to study and raise alarms about Stuxnet, said he was not surprised by the development.

“The Iranians don’t have the depth of knowledge to handle the worm or understand its complexity,” he said, raising the possibility that they may never succeed in eliminating it.

“Here is their problem. They should throw out every personal computer involved with the nuclear program and start over, but they can’t do that. Moreover, they are completely dependent on outside companies for the construction and maintenance of their nuclear facilities. They should throw out their computers as well. But they can’t,“ he explained. “They will just continually re-infect themselves.”

“With the best of expertise and equipment it would take another year for the plants to function normally again because it is so hard to get the worm out. It even hides in the back-up systems. But they can’t do it,” he said.

And Iran’s anti-worm effort may have had another setback. In Tehran, men on motorcycles attacked two leading nuclear scientists on their way to work. Using magnetic bombs, the motorcyclists pulled alongside their cars and attached the devices.

One scientist was wounded and the other killed. Confirmed reports say that the murdered scientist was in charge of dealing with the Stuxnet virus at the nuclear plants.

Horizon’s AEROPAK fuel cell proves itself on Skylark I-LE UAS test flight

December 10, 2010

Horizon’s AEROPAK fuel cell proves itself on Skylark I-LE UAS test flight.

Horizon’s AEROPAK fuel cell proves itself on Skylark I-LE UAS test flight

By Darren Quick

22:11 December 8, 2010

Skylark I UAV from Elbit Systems flies on AEROPAK fuel cell power in simulated battlefield...

Skylark I UAV from Elbit Systems flies on AEROPAK fuel cell power in simulated battlefield conditions (Image: Business Wire)

The latest test of Horizon Energy System’s AEROPAK fuel cell power system has seen it fitted aboard an Elbit Systems Skylark I-LE UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) and put through its paces. Although the AEROPAK has been put to the test in other UAS aircraft, the official test flight recently carried out in Israel marked the first time a fully operational system using the AEROPAK – including take-off and recovery with an operational payload integrated onboard – has been tested.

The Skylark I-LE is an electrically-propelled, tactical, silent, man-portable UAS that entered operational service in 2004 and is currently used by several countries for close range surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Elbit says equipping the aircraft with the AEROPAK fuel cell system will double the current flight duration of the UAS.

Horizon’s AEROPAK power system is designed as a drop-in replacement for battery packs used in small electric UAS aircraft and delivers 900 Wh net usable energy per liter of fuel.

To test the limits of the system, the test flight simulated real battlefield conditions and an actual payload. The Skylark’s AEROPAK-enabled propulsion engine was subjected to a number of operating scenarios including repeated take-offs and abrupt landings on various terrains to determine if the fuel cell was able to withstand high levels of shock. The UAS was also flown in windy and turbulent weather to gauge the AEROPAK’s capability to sustain continuous high power drain from the aircraft’s motor.

Elbit says the AEROPAK fuel system passed the tests with flying colors, proving it is rugged enough for military use.

“The AEROPAK has passed Elbit Systems tests and is now proven to be a ready drop-in replacement for battery packs currently in use. We are immensely proud of this achievement and believe that the AEROPAK powered Skylark I-LE will be an unparalleled combination,” added Richard Liow, UAS systems manager at Horizon Energy Systems.


aol-buys-its-fifth-israeli-start-up from – StumbleUpon

October 3, 2010

aol-buys-its-fifth-israeli-start-up from – StumbleUpon.

AOL buys its fifth Israeli start-up Bookmark and Share

In its fifth acquisition in Israel, US Internet giant AOL is buying Israeli start-up 5min Media. AOL confirmed the acquisition, which was reported in the technology blog All Things Digital.While the value of the deal was not reported it is estimated at up to $65 million.

AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong said, “… AOL is building a video ecosystem for the next decade. 5min Media is the perfect complement to our powerful video capabilities – it provides a missing piece in the AOL value chain that completes our end-to-end video offering from content creation through syndication and distribution to the consumer experience and monetization.”

5min Media was founded in 2007 by Ran Harnevo, who serves as chairman; Tal Simantov, chief marketing officer; and Hanan Laschover, chief technology officer. It’s a platform for instructional videos in a variety of fields that enables people to share their knowledge by uploading videos lasting up to five minutes.

The company has raised $13 million to date, reportedly from venture capital funds Spark Capital and Globespan Capital, along with private investors. The private investors include Nehama Karpol, Ofer Lazovski, and advertising agency Adler Chomsky’s Grey Interactive Israel.

This latest AOL acquisition in Israel follows ICQ-developer Mirabilis, Relegence, Yedda and Quigo.

Miraculous Pomegranates

September 29, 2010

Foto Friday – Miraculous Pomegranates

September 24, 2010 – 5:56 PM by Rachel Neiman

It was at about 9:30 last night when I spilled the pomegranate seeds on the floor. While picking them up, one by one, I reflected first on the story of Demeter and Persephone, then on the fact that some Jewish schoolchildren are taught that there are 365 seeds in a pomegranate (the number of days in the year) while others are taught that there are 613 (the number of mitzvot or good deeds), and finally (it took some time collect them all) about the long-standing Jewish relationship with the pomegranate as a symbol of fertility and plenty. Well, it has a lot of seeds so you can see why that might be.

© Пётр Рогов

It’s hard to say where Judaism’s connection to this beautiful and fascinating fruit begins; some scholars believe is was the pomegranate, not the apple, that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden. It is mentioned often in the Bible both as a fruitand as a symbol and is one with the Seven Species celebrated at Sukkot.

© RomKri

What is for certain is that the pomegranate has been in this region for thousands of years. According to the California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) site, “The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times.” The pomegranate features prominently in this mosaic fruit basket from the Nabatean city of Mamshit.

Photo: Pikiwiki

Also from CRFG: “The pomegranate widely cultivated throughout India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa, and was introduced into California by Spanish settlers in 1769.” In those days, pomegranates and their juice were valued as much for their medicinal properties as for their beauty, but in modern times they were for decades nothing more than a martini mixer or an exotic decorative item.

Photo: Pikiwiki

And then researchers like Dr. Ephraim Lansky, co-founder of Israel’s Rimonest came along, with proof — as reported by ISRAEL21c — of the pomegranate’s high anti-oxidant activity: “the stuff of potential anti-cancer therapies”.

Israel wasn’t the first country to produce pomegranates for commercial export but — as always — is an innovator. Israel was first, for example to give pomegranate juice an upgrade via wineries such as Azarad and Rimon, which produce varieties such as dessert wine, port style wine and dry wine, all the while touting the fruit’s antioxidant properties.

The rise in global interest for all things Punica granatum has resulted Israel’s doubling its pomegranate growing capacity, and the establishment of companies like Pomeg-Tech that provide expertise to those wishing to get into the pomegranate growing game. Here, in case you’ve never seen it, is a picture of the fruit’s flower:

Photo: Lior Almagor,

And Israeli pomegranate innovations don’t stop there: Shoham, inventors of a new gadget, the ART – Arils Removal Tool (that’s a pomegranate seed plucker to you and me), were recently awarded the 2010 Innovation Award at Fruit Logistica Berlin, one of the major events in the fresh produce industry. Here’s a picture of the happy Shoham team. An instructional video can be found on their website – and while it can’t prevent you from dropping the finished product on the floor, I can vouch that the ART actually does the job.