Tapping into the Brilliance of Israel and the Zionist Dream: Asaf Romirowsky, JNS, May 13, 2018—As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, the global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement has been propagating the idea of ”anti-normalization,“ advocating for complete and total isolation of Israel…
Business Ties to Arab World Skyrocketing, Says Venture Capitalist Margalit: Max Schindler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 22, 2018— As Israel marked Independence Day, the country was benefiting from ever-growing business ties with the Arab world, according to one Israeli executive who has helped paved the way for the budding rapprochement.
Israeli Startups Lead the Way in Car Tech Revolution: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, May 24, 2018— Throngs of investors and entrepreneurs hobnobbed at the EcoMotion conference in Tel Aviv this week at the nation’s largest smart-transportation event on Wednesday.
Kosher Travel and Israeli Technology: A Match Made in Heaven: Carl Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2018— Okay, now here’s something you don’t read about every day. Indeed, you have probably never read about anything quite like this before.
On Topic Links
Three Myths About Israeli Startups Busted – and One Confirmed: Ruti Levy, Ha’aretz, May 21, 2018
Vroom, Vroom: Israeli Tech Is At The Forefront Of The Newest Mobility Trends: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, May 24, 2018
The Future of Greek-Israeli Relations: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, April 8, 2018
Netanyahu Celebrates Growing Trilateral Ties With Cyprus and Greece: Breaking Israel News, May 8, 2018
TAPPING INTO THE BRILLIANCE OF ISRAEL AND THE ZIONIST DREAM
JNS, May 13, 2018
As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, the global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement has been propagating the idea of “anti-normalization,” advocating for complete and total isolation of Israel, rejecting any interaction between Arabs and Jews, and underscoring that Jews cannot be or have a nation-state.
At every stage of normalizing Palestinian relations with Israel, especially during the Oslo years, extremist factions opposed the very idea of talking with Israelis. This is now the core mission of the BDS movement. Moreover, at every juncture where Israel tries to highlight its global contributions and humanism, it gets slapped for hiding its true “evil nature.” One example is highlighting Israel’s enlightened treatment of gays by declaring it “pink-washing.”
Overcoming the anti-normalization is not a simple task, but it begins with demanding normalization and acceptance. This necessity is illustrated in Avi Jorisch’s latest book, Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World. Jorisch selected 15 technological innovations and their entrepreneurs from such fields as pharmaceuticals, solar power, defense, agriculture and cyber-security. Through personal stories, Jorisch is able to share compelling individuals who are the ingenuity and tenacity of Israel and Israelis.
What makes this book unique is that it is a clear departure from the author’s previous work. Jorisch, a seasoned Middle East analyst with an expertise in Hezbollah and Iran, is no stranger to the Middle East or its threats. The book was born in the summer of 2014 during “Operation Protective Edge,” when Israel was fighting Hamas in Gaza. Jorisch had a firsthand experience with Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, which intercepted the missiles while Jorisch was carrying his son to a shelter. This led him to tell the Iron Dome tale and the race to create other systems throughout the country.
He tell the story of Eli Beer from the United Hatzalah ambulance service, who created “ambucycles”—motorcycles equipped with first-responder apparatus enabling EMTs to evade traffic and arrive on the scene in the first critical moments—what Jorisch correctly calls “the Uber of Ambulances.” In another example, the author shares the Israeli-made Emergency Bandage that saved the life of Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot back in 2011 in a parking a lot of supermarket in Tucson Arizona where she was to address a crowd. The uniqueness of the bandage, developed by Bernard Bar Natan, consists of a sterile pad that medics apply to the wound with a special built-in handlebar that can provide up to 30 pounds of pressure to firm the bleeding. The bandage has saved countless lives all over the world, and is a required instrument in the tool box of the Israel Defense Forces, the U.S. Armed Services and the British Army.
Israelis crave being seen as a normal people and country, and to share their experience with the world. At the same time, the reality of being a tiny country with few natural resources—though abundant human capital—has driven innovation. Highlighting normalization and innovation are functions of not wanting to be defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict, while at the same time demonstrating how they excel despite it. Israelis are burdened with the need to fight for survival as well as excellence. The Zionist dream did not end in 1948; its redefinition seven decades later depends on finding a happy medium between defeating its strategic threats and advocating its ability to be an active contributor to community of nations. Innovation is key to this process.
The book is a welcome addition to goals of appreciating the Zionist dream and the increasing the normalcy of Israel, while underscoring the abnormal conditions in which these inventions came about. It highlights Israel’s current reality. At the end of the day, Jorisch correctly states that “Israel does not have a monopoly on good ideas or proper execution. All countries would benefit from tapping into their own cultures in order to apply their own lessons to the industries and professions they have excelled in for centuries. With this said, the Jewish state’s achievements for the benefit of mankind should be celebrated and emulated by the global community.” Internalizing this message may help combat growing anti-normalization and overcome BDS. It will certainly bring important innovations to the rest of the world.
Asaf Romirowsky is a CIJR Academic Fellow
BUSINESS TIES TO ARAB WORLD SKYROCKETING,
SAYS VENTURE CAPITALIST MARGALIT
Jerusalem Post, Apr. 22, 2018
As Israel marked Independence Day, the country was benefiting from ever-growing business ties with the Arab world, according to one Israeli executive who has helped paved the way for the budding rapprochement. “It’s taken 70 years but we’re starting to see signs of normalization,” said former Labor MK and venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who travels often throughout the Middle East to meet with emirs, monarchs and Arab business leaders. “We saw it in the beginning of the ‘90s with Oslo, it [normalization] crashed and now it’s reemerging.”
Both Israel and Sunni Arab states are seeing a convergence of threats, mainly stemming from the shared menace both face from Shi’ite Iran and its proxies. Yet geopolitical interests may not fully explain burgeoning ties with the Arab world. “When I go to Europe, and I was just in Brussels, I meet with key Arab leaders, both in their countries and in other parts,” said Margalit. He chuckled that it is easier for him to meet in a business capacity than in his previous role as parliamentarian to discuss economic projects in water, food security and cybersecurity.
Globally, with the digital economy taking over brick-and-mortar shops, Israel’s stature as the “Start-Up Nation” could play a key role in disrupting key industries – healthcare, retail, automotive, food and agriculture. Other countries are clamoring for those technologies. “In the last 20 years, Israel has taken the technology developed in defense, in universities, and transitioned that into the hi-tech world,” said Margalit, who founded Jerusalem Venture Partners, which invests in many of these tech firms. “In the communications industry, Israel is the single-most influential country, to change telephony… to data, to video, to fiber-optics, wireless. The technologies that changed the battlefield are changing the world.”
Outside of the Middle East, Israeli technology is propelling diplomacy with sometimes-erstwhile European allies. Israeli expertise in big data, business intelligence and artificial intelligence is of great interest to European and Arab countries. In meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders, Margalit has often made that point. “Innovation is becoming the name of diplomacy as well. If France wants to compete with Germany for hegemony in Europe – and Germany is very strong in industry – the only chance France has is to bring innovation to the table, and Israel can help unlock that.”
In the Middle East, Margalit publicly named Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Dubai, Abu Dhabi as countries that seek to incorporate the Israeli homegrown tools. The executive has also met with leaders from Oman and Tunisia. Margalit recently visited Qatar to participate in a regional development conference, the first appearance of an Israeli leader in 10 years. With Saudi Arabia now developing a $500 billion smart city mere kilometers from the southern city of Eilat, Israeli companies are in a prime place to bid for contracts and services.
A number of Israeli companies are talking to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund – the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – about developing the proposed 26,500-sq.km. “smart city” zone, Margalit previously told The Jerusalem Post. Nicknamed NEOM, the smart city plans to host hi-tech companies working in a range of fields, including solar energy, water, biotechnology, robotics and food technology, all of which are fields where Israeli start-ups and firms are more established than competitors in Arab countries.
Another sign of the incipient normalization was Saudi Arabia recently allowing Air India to cross its territory in flying to Tel Aviv. For Margalit, burgeoning business ties will pave the way for political opportunities to reach a regional peace agreement with Arab countries.
WHAT TROUBLES Margalit lies outside of hi-tech – the large swaths of the local populace that are being left out in the cold. “Thirty percent of Israel’s kids are not getting attention, are sometimes not bringing sandwiches to school, are not standing by the criteria of the basic tests in the schools,” said Margalit. “They don’t have a chance to finish the bagrut [high school matriculation exam] – to be a part of the 21st century and economy.”
Margalit stepped down from the Knesset last fall after losing the primary to lead the left-leaning opposition Labor Party. Despite being out of the political realm, Israel’s social inequalities continue to nag at him. That has led Margalit as an executive and philanthropist to promote subsidizing Israeli hi-tech firms to set-up in the country’s periphery.
The Israeli government has adopted parts of Margalit’s idea. While Beersheba is focusing on cybersecurity in the South and Haifa is specializing in healthcare IT in the North, Margalit’s pet project is food-tech for the northernmost city of Kiryat Shmona. “It has a chance to position Israel as the food-tech center – turning the food-tech category into a startup investment in the Galilee,” said Margalit. “That would create 15,000 to 20,000 jobs if we do it right in the next several years.” That represents what Margalit calls “centers of excellence,” sprinkled around the country.
“The young woman who graduated from Kiryat Shmona is just as talented as one who graduated from a top school in Herzliya,” Margalit said. “But she doesn’t have a chance to succeed there, up north, she must go to New York or San Francisco. So why not bring the Technion and University of Haifa to her?”
ISRAELI STARTUPS LEAD THE WAY IN CAR TECH REVOLUTION Shoshanna Solomon
Times of Israel, May 24, 2018
Throngs of investors and entrepreneurs hobnobbed at the EcoMotion conference in Tel Aviv this week at the nation’s largest smart-transportation event on Wednesday. Technologies were debated and cards exchanged as talk of opportunities and joint ventures filled the packed hall on Wednesday. In just a few years, Israel, which has no car manufacturing activities to speak of, has become an unlikely leader in technologies that look set to transform the vehicles we know.
The Startup Nation’s foray into the field started with the electric car company Better Place, which in spite of its high-profile bankruptcy in May 2013, is credited with putting Israel’s automotive tech scene on the map. Google bought the Raanana-based mapping company Waze for a reported some $1 billion in 2013. And in March last year, Intel agreed to acquire the self-driving car technology powerhouse Mobileye, located in Jerusalem, for a whopping $15.3 billion. BMW, Ford, General, Honda, Motors, Uber, Volkswagen and Volvo are all paying attention, and have been investing in Israeli technology since 2016.
On Tuesday, Germany’s Volkswagen Group officially opened its “innovation campus” in Tel Aviv, which will be the focus of its research and development activities in Israel. And BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British multinational oil and gas firm BP plc, said, also on Tuesday, it has invested $20 million in Israeli startup StoreDot, which is developing ultra-fast battery charging technology that can be used for electric vehicles.
“We recognize Israel as a top innovation hub in the world where we will find some of the technology that will build the car of the future,” Matthieu De Chanville, the deputy head of Alliance Ventures, the venture arm of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which is scouting for Israeli technologies, said in an interview with The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
There are 423 active companies in Israel in the field of automotive, autonomous-cars, connected cars, transportation and mobility, according to data provided by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization. There were just 207 in 2011. Israel’s auto-tech industry raised $814 million in 2017, triple the amount it raised in 2015, and $182 million in the first quarter of 2018, in line with last year’s pace, according to Start-Up Nation Central.
Gett, Via, Innoviz Technologies, Valens and Moovit are the startups with the largest funding rounds, while the most active investors in the sector in Israel include OurCrowd, Maniv Mobility, Magma Venture Partners and Aleph, according to Start-Up Nation Central data.
Among the foreign visitors to the EcoMotion event is an Italian delegation of mobility industry representatives looking for Israeli automotive technologies, especially in the fields of autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) in cars, new materials and alternative fuels. The Italian delegation is led by Italy’s second largest bank, Banca Intesa San Paolo.
On Wednesday, the innovation center of the bank signed an accord with Jerusalem-based crowdfunding venture capital fund OurCrowd to increase cooperation between Israeli and Italian startups and boost commercial opportunities in Europe in the areas of automotive, fashion technologies, food technologies and manufacturing, OurCrowd said.
Here are some of the revolutionary things that the Israeli startups are doing: Alerts for forgotten babies in cars: Tel Aviv-based startup Guardian Optical Technologies has developed a car sensor that it says is capable of saving lives of infants accidentally left in cars, by detecting the smallest heartbeat. The company’s sensor uses optical motion analysis to detect the tiniest movement within the car, including an infant heartbeat. When it detects motion, it can notify a driver who has already left the car and automatically turn on the air-conditioning.
In addition, said Gil Dotan, the CEO of Guardian, the startup is working to make the sensor, which is placed on the inside of the car roof, a collector of such data as number of people in the car, their size, position and posture, so as to enable the monitoring of what is going on in the car. This information can be used to trigger alerts about violence within the car or bus, or about forgotten items to help fleet managers of autonomous cars monitor their fleet. It will also allow insurance companies to better tailor their policies based on data of how and when and who uses the car, he explained.
The sensor is at the pilot stage and the startup is working with automakers in Europe, Japan and the US and with Tier 1 companies that supply systems to car makers, to try out the product, which Dotan hopes will be commercialized in 2021. The company has raised $8.5 million to date from investors including Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund, marking the first time that Toyota Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. have invested in an Israeli company…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
KOSHER TRAVEL AND ISRAELI TECHNOLOGY:
A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN
Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2018
Okay, now here’s something you don’t read about every day. Indeed, you have probably never read about anything quite like this before. An Israeli travel agency that caters primarily to Orthodox Jews – which organizes things like “kosher cruises” and annual Passover programs in several hotels throughout Israel – decides one day to install a solar-powered electrical system in a poor African village’s elementary school, raises money for the project, visits the village for the inauguration of the school’s electrical system, fixes the school’s classroom floors, and plans to remotely monitor the project from Israel to make sure the solar-powered electrical system continues to work properly.
Strange as it may seem, the story is true. The travel agency is Eddie’s Kosher Travel – specializing, they say, in serving “the discerning observant Jewish traveler”; the village is Dembo, in the poverty-stricken African country Malawi; and the project is being conducted in conjunction with Innovation: Africa, a Herzliya-based NGO that has thus far impacted the lives of over 1,000,000 people by bringing innovative Israeli solar and water technologies to remote African villages.
HOW DID this come about? Says David Walles, Australian immigrant and CEO of Eddie’s Travel, “We run annually numerous Passover programs at five hotels around Israel in which hundreds of families from around the world join us. Every year, we look for ways to enrich these programs by having guest speakers come to give inspirational talks. These are guest scholars, rabbis, lecturers, etc.
“One of the speakers who came to Hotel Hacienda in Ma’alot last Passover was the founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, Sivan Ya’ari. My wife and I were very impressed by her story and what she has achieved out there. She spoke with no view to take it any further. It just filled a slot on a main evening of Passover, where we had 350 people listening to her talk. She captivated our audience.
“People kept coming up to us over the course of the rest of Passover and asked, ‘What can we do? How can we get involved here?’ So we sat down with Sivan, and she told us that, through our business, we can adopt a village school in Africa.” Ya’ari told the Walleses that for no more than $20,000, Innovation: Africa would install a fully functioning electrical system, powered by solar panels, sponsored by Eddie’s Travel and dedicated to it. “She said we’d be changing the lives of hundreds of people in that village,” Walles says.
Ya’ari recalls, “Eddie’s Travel decided to adopt a school. So we gave them a list of many schools that are waiting for light. Children that have never seen light at night. We are operating in eight African countries, and as you can imagine, we have many, many villages waiting. David, his wife, Chana, and their kids decided to adopt one in Malawi. I was very happy about this because Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. They decided to bring Israeli solar technology to power the school, to power the house of the teachers, to bring enough energy to run computers.”
And having decided to do that, the Walleses went to work. “So we put the idea out there, and the response was overwhelming. We put in some significant seed money of our own, and we encouraged others to do the same. And we raised that money,” David says…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
On Topic Links
Three Myths About Israeli Startups Busted – and One Confirmed: Ruti Levy, Ha’aretz, May 21, 2018—The hype around Israel’s high-tech sector is real, but the true story is often in the details. That’s what the Central Bureau of Statistics report on the industry for the years 2011-16 that was released Monday showed.
Vroom, Vroom: Israeli Tech Is At The Forefront Of The Newest Mobility Trends: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, May 24, 2018—Tel Aviv is on track to become a capital of mobility, placing Israel as a leader and trendsetter on a global scale in the automotive tech and smart transportation sector.
The Future of Greek-Israeli Relations: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, April 8, 2018—The deterioration of relations between Israel and Turkey that began at the end of 2008 led the Israeli leadership to look for alternative alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Netanyahu Celebrates Growing Trilateral Ties With Cyprus and Greece: Breaking Israel News, May 8, 2018—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the growing trilateral ties between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, during a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and before a trilateral summit including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.