The International Herald Tribune is noting Israel's new emphasis on nanotechnology not only as a tool of economic recovery, but also of "national importance." I'd probably change that wording to "national survival."
The paper mentions Israel's focus on nanotech for water desalination. Despite the media's almost-complete focus on the religious and nationalist struggles in the Mideast, the Israeli-Arab conflict is also about competition over scarce natural resources such as fresh water.
I'm under no illusions that nanotech could create a true oasis of peace in the Middle East, but it could not hurt for this little-publicized element of the conflict to go away. (My credentials: In a previous journalism incarnation, I was managing editor for JTA, a Jewish news service that covered, among other things, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.)
Tim Harper of Cientifica told the Herald Tribune that while smaller nations like Israel cannot hope to compete with the U.S., EU and Japan, they can become leaders in specific applications of nanotech by "focusing on solving local issues, water and energy being a case in point."
Here are some of my previous rants on Israel and nanotech, but keep your eyes on Small Times for an upcoming exclusive interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who is remaking himself in his golden years from peacemaker to nanotech prophet.