AS WE GO TO PRESS: TERROR AT SARONA MARKET; 4 MURDERED, 16 WOUNDED (Tel Aviv) — Four people have been killed and 16 people have been wounded in a terror attack at the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv. One of the terrorists was neutralized at the scene and taken to hospital in critical condition while the second terrorists was taken into custody. Multiple shots were heard at the open-air shopping center in the heart of Tel Aviv, adjacent to IDF and Ministry of Defense headquarters, The terrorists, two cousins from Yatta in the Hebron area, sat at the popular restaurant Max Brenner before they set out on their shooting spree. Multiple shots were heard at the open-air shopping center in the heart of Tel Aviv, adjacent to IDF and Ministry of Defense headquarters. Of the 16 wounded, four died, and three are still in the hospital. (Ynet, June 8, 2016)
‘Come to Canada’: Ontario Looks to Woo, Learn From Israelis: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, June 7, 2016— When people think of cutting-edge cities, where innovation and new businesses thrive, they generally think of San Francisco, of Boston, Tel Aviv or London. Not many think of Toronto.
Secrets To Israel's Innovative Edge: David Yin, Bloomberg, June 5, 2016 — Eighteen and fresh out of high school, Yossi Matias reported for his first day of military service at the Hatzerim Airbase in the Negev Desert, approximately 100 km south of Jerusalem.
How Israel is Turning Part of the Negev Desert into a Cyber-City: Ellen Nakashima and William Booth, Washington Post, May 14, 2016— Here in the middle of the Negev Desert, a cyber-city is rising to cement Israel’s place as a major digital power.
More Positive Signs for the Israel-China Relationship: Judith Bergman, Algemeiner, May 26, 2016— Welcome to the beauty of Chinese-Israeli cultural relations.
The Real State of the Israeli Economy (Video): Breaking Israel News, Apr. 28, 2016
A Deeper Look at Israel, a Global Medtech Innovation Hub: Arundhati Parmar, Medical Device Business, May 3, 2016
Israel-Greece Relations: Ambassador Arye Mekel, BESA, May 18, 2016
As Old Friendships Cool, Netanyahu Looks East for Support: Jonathan Ferziger, Bloomberg, Apr. 26, 2016
Judah Ari Gross
Times of Israel, June 7, 2016
When people think of cutting-edge cities, where innovation and new businesses thrive, they generally think of San Francisco, of Boston, Tel Aviv or London. Not many think of Toronto. In the world of high-tech, Canada has an image problem, and it’s turning to Israel — the self-described start-up nation — for help.
Toronto and the nearby cities of Hamilton, Waterloo and Kingston feature world-leading research institutions, the Ontario province and the country have a “business friendly” tax code, and Canada has the 15th-largest economy in the world by gross domestic product, according to Gregory Wootton, assistant deputy minister of Ontario’s ministries of Economic Development and of Research and Innovation. “A lot of effort by the province has been put into creating a welcoming business environment where businesses can succeed and be successful,” Wootton, the self-described “salesperson” for the province, said.
Yet despite those advantages, the Great White North has struggled to transform from a resource-based economy — one that is driven by the discovery and sale of timber, oil and minerals — to a knowledge-based economy, focused on intellectual services, scientific advancement and technology. So Canada is asking Israel, a resource-poor but knowledge-rich country, to show it how it’s done. “Israel knows how to be its best,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said. “It punches well above its weight.”
According to Compass, a consulting firm, Tel Aviv is ranked fifth in the top start-up cities, while Toronto comes in at just 17th. To move up that list, Wynne’s government is going on a full-scale push to attract Israelis. “We have a lot to learn from Israel,” she said, “and we have a lot to offer.” In May, the Ontario government brought a handful of Israeli journalists, including this one, to Toronto in order to meet with officials from the provincial government, local businesses and area universities. Later in the month, Wynne, along with a group of over 100 industry, academic and political leaders, also traveled through Israel on a two-week visit during which they signed contracts with Israeli companies and announced a variety of new initiatives and partnerships. “We didn’t have to beat the bushes to get people to sign on for the trip,” Wynne said.
Though Israeli political leaders constantly warn of the looming threat of boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Jewish state, the issue the delegation appeared to address was not encouraging Canadian companies to take an interest in Israel, but encouraging Israeli companies to take an interest in Canada. Canadians, it seems, are interested in working with Israel; it’s Israelis who are less interested in Canada, according to Henri Rothschild, the head of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, which works to bring together Canadian and Israeli companies by offering grants of $400,000 on average.
“We realized our problem in bringing Canadians and Israelis together was not going to be in Canada. Initially we thought Canadians don’t know much about Israel, there might be biases or it might not be a natural place,” Rothschild said. “In 20 years, I have to say, I have only once had a Canadian prospective partner tell me they wouldn’t want to work with Israel,” he said. “However, in Israel, I found many more who said they wouldn’t want to work with Canada,” Rothschild said, explaining that Israelis see Canada as the “B-team” compared to the United States.
Despite that apparent Israeli bias against Canadians, during Premier Wynne’s visit some $140 million in business deals were signed, according to the delegation, alongside renewed and expanded collaboration agreements between Canadian and Israeli universities. Wynne also met with a number of Israeli politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though those meetings were almost entirely overshadowed by the political upheaval that was rocking Israel at the same time. “Israel is one of the top innovation economies in the world, and a priority market for Ontario. Israel and Ontario are both leaders in the fields of research, innovation, and life sciences, making us natural partners,” Wynne said after meeting with Netanyahu. Most of those contracts, however, were worked out long ago. Those initiatives were similarly agreed upon long before the delegation’s plane touched down. Some networking and impromptu contacts may be made, but the visit may have been more of a public show than a business-only trip.
When it comes to starting businesses — generating so-called seed capital — Canada has been successful, according to Bill Mantel, an assistant deputy minister in the Ontario government’s Ministry of Research and Innovation. “There’s always a few places in the top tier, then there’s a big gap and then there’s the second tier. We’re at the top of that second tier,” Mantel said. But when it comes to turning those little start-ups into full-blown corporations, Canada has had less success, he said. “Canada has tremendous expertise in generating the knowledge, but we’re not as good as Israel at commercializing and bringing things to market,” Dr. Barry Rubin, a leading vascular surgeon and Canadian medical leader, told Israeli journalists, specifically referencing the country’s biomedical innovations.
This sentiment was repeated by many industry and government representatives. “Israel is a country that has thrived by focusing on innovation, and that’s something that Ontario aspires to be like,” William Charnetski, Ontario’s chief health innovation strategist, said. “Countries that innovate thrive; those that don’t do not,” he added…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Forbes, June 5, 2016
Eighteen and fresh out of high school, Yossi Matias reported for his first day of military service at the Hatzerim Airbase in the Negev Desert, approximately 100 km south of Jerusalem. As a reward for passing several rounds of standardized tests and a six-day selection test involving problem solving and disaster management exercises, Matias had been selected to train as a pilot for the Israeli Air Force, widely considered one of the most prestigious positions in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The program was intense, with only one out of six trainees completing it. But the next phase – operational missions in a volatile region in constant turmoil – was even more challenging. “I was responsible for flying airplanes in pretty demanding situations,” recalls Matias. “These challenges make later challenges in life look smaller.”
After six years as a pilot and obtaining a doctorate in computer science from Tel Aviv University, Matias began his career as a research scientist, first at Weizmann Institute and later at Bell Laboratories. His name appears in thirty patents and a hundred journal papers. Yet, rejecting a cushy life in academia, Matias went on to co-found Zapper Technologies, where he pioneered customized and contextual search technologies, and worked as CTO and Chief Scientist of HyperRoll, an enterprise software company that was later acquired by Oracle…In 2006, while thinking about his next venture, Matias received a call from Google … to set up an R&D center in Israel. “This was an opportunity to take up a start-up-like challenge, to build a team and decide on projects with maximum impact,” explains Matias, who has since grown the team to 500 engineers.
Under Matias’ leadership, Google’s R&D center in Israel has developed several of the company’s most prominent innovations in search. These include Google Suggest (which provides autocomplete suggestions in the search box), Google Trends (which tracks viral search terms), and Google Live Results (which delivers more direct results to popular enquiries, such as foreign exchange rates and sports scores). Starting from a project that aimed to put the Dead Sea Scrolls online, the center has also led Google’s digitization efforts, which have since expanded to thousands of historic documents globally.
Google is not alone in setting up camp in Israel. As early as 1974, Intel had already recognized the country’s strengths in innovation and built its first R&D plant outside of the United States there. Over the next forty years, it became Israel’s largest tech employer and exported a billion processors. Many of these processors were developed at Intel Israel, such as the 8088 (the first PC processor), the Pentium MMX (which became the most popular processor of the 20th century), and the Centrino (the first laptop processor with wifi).
More than 250 global companies have R&D labs in Israel today, with 80 of them being Fortune 500 companies. Two-thirds are American tech giants such as Facebook … and Apple …, but there is an increasing presence by Chinese and Korean players such as Huawei and Samsung. Some build greenfield operations, while others acquire smaller companies which they build upon – out of HP ’s eight R&D facilities in Israel, seven evolved from buyouts. “If you’re a multinational company today, one of your assets would be a R&D center in Israel,” says Yair Snir, a director of M&A and business development at Microsoft … “Especially if you’re looking for an innovation hub and adding an extra mile to do things differently.”
Over the past few decades, Israel has cemented its reputation as the “Start-up Nation”, a nickname popularized by a 2009 book of the same title by Saul Singer and Dan Senor. Between 1999 and 2014, Israelis started 10,185 companies, with half of them still in operation and 2.6% having annual revenues of over $100 million. Several became billion-dollar unicorns and were subsequently bought over by foreign tech giants, such as Viber and Waze (acquired by Rakuten and Google, respectively). Others sought listing on foreign stock exchanges, with over 250 Israeli companies going public on the tech-focused NASDAQ since the 1980s. After the U.S. and China, Israel is the most represented country on NASDAQ. Despite its size, Israel clearly has a disproportionate impact on global innovation.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2013 best seller David and Goliath, he describes the famous battle at the Valley of Elah. Though confronted with a much larger and better armed opponent, David (the future king of Israel) reacted with speed and agility, ultimately killing the towering Goliath with a slingshot. Gladwell continues by arguing that seeming disadvantages can prove to be hugely favorable in other situations. Like David, Israel is a living example of turning weaknesses into strengths and triumphing over the odds. At first sight, it appears limited by its small size, precarious geopolitical environment, and lack of natural resources. But what seems like weaknesses can also be translated into strengths.
Israel’s innovative sectors are in part the result of its numerous vulnerabilities. With almost no resources, it has limited potential for resource-intensive primary and secondary industries. As a result, it was necessary for Israel to invest heavily in education and maximize the intellectual capacity of its people. Its economy naturally gravitated towards knowledge and innovation-heavy industries. It was able to overcome its lack of freshwater and become a leader in desert agriculture by developing world-class technologies in drip irrigation and desalination – an example of Israel’s penchant for turning limitations into assets. Today, swaths of desserts in Israel have been converted into dates and olives orchards, with such produces forming a sizable portion of the country’s agricultural exports….
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Ellen Nakashima and William Booth
Washington Post, May 14, 2016
Here in the middle of the Negev Desert, a cyber-city is rising to cement Israel’s place as a major digital power. The new development, an outcropping of glass and steel, will concentrate some of the country’s top talent from the military, academia and business in an area of just a few square miles. No other country is so purposefully integrating its private, scholarly, government and military cyber-expertise.
Israel is a nation of 8 million people with little in the way of natural resources. But in global private investment into cybersecurity firms, it is second only to the United States, with half a billion dollars flowing to the sector annually. Israel has not only vowed to repel the thousands of daily hack attacks against targets as diverse as the electric grid and ATMs, but it has also promised to build its commercial cybersector into an economic powerhouse.
More quietly, the Jewish state is also at the cutting edge of cyberoffense, developing stealthy computer weapons to penetrate its enemies’ networks. The United States and Israel, working together, launched the world’s most destructive cyberweapon known to date, Stuxnet, which was let loose on Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility to devastating effect.
But where the two countries diverge is in Israel’s apparent ability, because of its size, history, geography and culture, to organize itself to defeat cyberthreats. Different sectors of society — that in the United States do not have a tradition of collaborating — appear willing in Israel to work closely together under a strong centralized authority. “You will not find it in the United States,” said Eviatar Matania, the head of the National Cyber Bureau. “First, we have more enemies than others. We understand that the cyberthreat is here and now. Second, a lot of Israel’s high-tech and innovation culture is in cyber. This is where we can gain an advantage over other countries in defending ourselves. And thus, we see cyber not just as a threat to mitigate, but also as one of our economic engines.”
That strategy is the foundation of Beersheba. A cyber emergency response team, which was launched in 2014 to respond to cyber crises, will be housed in the midst of this booming development. It is part of the National Cyber Security Authority, which is mandated to protect all private-sector systems. Nearby, next to a new advanced technology park that already houses cyberfirm incubators and global companies such as PayPal, Lockheed Martin and Deutsche Telekom, backhoes are preparing a construction site that will become the headquarters of the Israeli military’s cyberdefenders.
Eventually, the nation’s secretive, elite cyberattack branch — the army’s Unit 8200 — will also burrow in here. The two branches are scheduled to merge next year. They in turn will work closely with the National Cyber Security Authority. Joining the effort will be the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, which as well as its role in Israel and the occupied territories, has been a key cyber player for more than a decade. And completing the complex is Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, which is the nation’s top school for cybersecurity. The university will also work with the cyber-response team.
“What you get out of that is the research capabilities that academia brings, the real-world knowledge that the [tech firms] bring, the hands-on experience that the military brings, alongside the entrepreneurial ability that the start-ups bring,” said Nadav Zafrir, a former head of Israel’s Unit 8200, who is himself now a tech entrepreneur. “You put all that together, it sparks magic.” Israel will never achieve a cyberespionage network on the scale of the United States. But it wants to be feared in the region, and its computer hacking and spying skills are sophisticated and innovative. “The United States has more capabilities than Israel in cyberspace,” said Gabi Siboni, director of the cybersecurity program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “But we are small. We are very anxious, and it’s the difference between a speedboat and an aircraft carrier. We go very fast.”
So central is security seen for the state’s survival that every citizen — men and women alike, with exceptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews and the Arab population — is required after high school to complete a term of military service. The cream of the computer science and math crop are scouted by the elite military cyber-units when they are as young as 14. “If you ask me what’s the biggest secret of the Israeli high-tech system, it’s the military’s ability to look at people when they are in high school,” Zafrir said…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Algemeiner, May 26, 2016
Welcome to the beauty of Chinese-Israeli cultural relations. Seen against the backdrop of solid loathing of all things Israeli that so dominates the European cultural establishment, the relations between China and Israel almost seem like something out of a dreamlike alternate reality. The good news is that there is nothing imaginary about them. The story of popular Israeli children’s writer Yanetz Levi, author of the series “Adventures of Uncle Arie,” which has sold more than 700,000 copies in Israel, is a good example of this.
Levi arrived in China this week and was received like a rock star. Fifty thousand copies of his books sold in China before he arrived, and since his arrival tens of thousands more have been sold. In one school alone, 5,000 copies were purchased. While that may not seem like much for a country the size of China, with a population of more than 1 billion, it is still very impressive for a children’s writer from small Israel. The Chinese children greeted him like a superstar, shouting “Lioooshushu” (the equivalent of “Uncle Arie” in Chinese) as he came to their schools. What is there not to love? Evidently, Chinese children are not raised on a BDS-infused diet of lies and hatred.
According to the Israeli Embassy in Beijing, “Israeli culture and its diversity are very popular in China. In addition, culture is an important instrument for deepening relations between the Israeli and Chinese peoples. Bringing Yanetz Levi is an excellent example of the unique connection between the two cultures. The embassy will continue to bring different Israeli artists to increase the Chinese public’s exposure [to Israel].”This is of course what all embassies do, including Israeli embassies in Europe, but there Israel has little long-lasting success to show for its efforts in the cultural fields. Only this week, British professor Catherine Hall refused to accept Tel Aviv University’s prestigious Dan David prize for her work in gender history, after the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement called on her and other recipients to refuse the prize due to “Tel Aviv University’s complicity in the occupation.”
Such pathetic anti-Israeli posturing seems almost inconceivable from a Chinese scholar. Last August, 19 Chinese teenagers came to visit Israel as their prize for winning a prestigious science contest in their country. Given a choice of travel destinations, the teenagers chose Israel, where they attended a special 10-day workshop hosted by Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. That says something about the high standing of Israel in China, but it also speaks volumes about the respect for Israel’s accomplishments, which Chinese children evidently learn and hold from an early age. “For China, Israel is never a small country, but rather, a happy and innovative startup nation with many cutting-edge technologies and rich experience in governing social affairs,” Chinese Ambassador to Israel Gao Yanping said in 2014.
As Levi’s popularity proves, Israeli and Chinese children appear to cherish the same kind of children’s books; there appears to be no brainwashing going on about Israel and the “detrimental effects” of too much exposure to “Zionist” literature, as one imagines taking place among the BDS-infatuated European cultural elites. Already today, there are places in Europe, including Sweden, where classic children’s literature is reviewed by publishing houses for the purpose of altering or deleting potentially “offensive” passages for the more sensitive political palates of the current generations. Several Swedish and Danish writers have even had books taken off the market in Sweden. The step toward limiting other works of litrature simply because of its national origins is a very small one in the current toxic climate of BDS and political correctness.
It is therefore an example of unusual normalcy that China is increasingly proving to be a thriving and growing place for cultural exchange with Israel. The positive ramifications of that relationship can hardly be overestimated, nor should they be taken for granted.
The Real State of the Israeli Economy (Video): Breaking Israel News, Apr. 28, 2016—Financial expert Ronen Avigdor discusses the true, complex state of the Israeli economy compared to the weakening world economy. Is the news good or bad?
A Deeper Look at Israel, a Global Medtech Innovation Hub: Arundhati Parmar, Medical Device Business, May 3, 2016—When it comes to medtech markets, the story is always of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, the so-called BRIC nations. But when it comes to novel healthcare solutions, you can’t ignore the global innovation hub that is Israel. The medtech subsector accounts for a majority of the overall Israeli life sciences industry—53% of all Israel-based life sciences companies active in 2014 were medical device companies, according to Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI), a nonprofit trade group representing the company’s high tech and life sciences industries.
Israel-Greece Relations: Ambassador Arye Mekel, BESA, May 18, 2016—This study, by Dr. Arye Mekel (a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and former Israeli ambassador to Greece) focuses on the strengthening of Israeli-Greek relations, especially since 2010. The enhanced ties between the two countries allows for the emergence of a new pro-Western geopolitical bloc in the eastern Mediterranean.
As Old Friendships Cool, Netanyahu Looks East for Support: Jonathan Ferziger, Bloomberg, Apr. 26, 2016—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to Israel’s international relations is changing. Criticized by U.S. and European leaders over his policies toward the Palestinians, the Israeli leader is cultivating allies in other parts of the world that share economic interests and enemies.