Tag: China

ISRAEL EXPLORES NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN LATIN AMERICA, ASIA, AND AFRICA

Brazil Finds More Than a Friend in Israel: Allison Fedirka, Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018 — The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018.

Israeli-Japanese Friendship: A Potential Yet to Be Realized: Shaun Ho, JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018— In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East.

Israel and North Korea: A New Opportunity?: Dr. Alon Levkowitz, BESA, Dec. 31, 2018— In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel.

China is at a Crossroads: Brahma Chellaney, Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019— Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.”

On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018

 

BRAZIL FINDS MORE THAN A FRIEND IN ISRAEL

Allison Fedirka

Real Clear World, Jan. 6, 2018

The friendly relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, made headlines at the end of 2018. This “budding brotherhood,” as they’ve called it, started when Bolsonaro, then the president-elect, announced plans to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Though he has since revised that promise, relations between the two countries continue to flourish. Netanyahu even attended Bolsonaro’s inauguration Jan. 1, becoming the first sitting Israeli prime minister to visit Brazil. More than a bromance, the close ties between the two leaders are a testament to their countries’ foreign policy strategies.

Alignment with Israel, while often framed as a new development, is a return to form for Brazil. In the late 1940s, Brazil supported the creation of an Israeli state and was among the first countries to recognize the Israeli government. Ties between the two grew closer during Brazil’s military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1985, as they cooperated in areas such as security and nuclear energy. The relationship continued through the 1990s; in fact, Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso received several awards from Israel, including an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, while in office. It was only when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took power in Brasilia in 2003 that Brazil-Israel relations became strained. Diverging from Cardoso’s neoliberal economic policies, da Silva espoused more direct government control of the economy and ushered in a populist era of government in Brazil.

Changes in foreign policy accompanied the economic shifts: Brasilia turned against the United States – and, by extension, against Israel. Brazil formally recognized the Palestinian state, according to the 1967 border, in 2010. Even then, its relationship with Israel persisted. In 2010, Brazil also ratified the free trade agreement that the Common Market of the South, a regional trade bloc better known as Mercosur, had struck with Israel three years earlier. And despite its decision to recognize Palestine, Brazil never upgraded its diplomatic mission there to embassy status. The moves didn’t exactly please Israel, but neither did they derail its relations with Brazil.

Bolsonaro wants to reverse course from the populist policies of Brazil’s recent history. To that end, he’s pledged to roll back government interference in the economy and to reach out once more to the developed countries da Silva eschewed in a bid to promote industrialization and growth among fellow developing economies. And Bolsonaro’s market reforms, like those of his predecessors, will come with foreign policy changes. Where da Silva looked to other countries in the Southern Hemisphere – namely states in South America and Africa, as well as China – for support and cooperation, the new Brazilian president is turning back toward wealthier northern states like the U.S., countries in Northern Europe and, of course, Israel.

For Israel, meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s interest is well-timed. Israel, a relatively small country, depends on trade and collaboration with other states to keep its economy humming. Surrounded as it is by rivals, however, it must look beyond the Middle East to find suitable partners. Latin America is a natural choice. The region’s many developing markets and trade potential make it an attractive destination for Israel, which, according to the latest World Bank figures, derives 30 percent of gross domestic product from exports. South America remains a largely untapped market for Israel, and it boasts a wealth of natural resources and numerous opportunities for investment, technology development and military modernization. Over the past couple years, Netanyahu has paid official visits to Colombia, Argentina and Chile, along with several countries in Central America. But Brazil is a standout in the region. Not only does it have a $1.93 trillion economy – the world’s ninth-largest, by the World Bank’s most recent data – but it also has recently pulled itself out of recession. Now that Bolsonaro has taken office, promises of deregulation and more open markets have made Brazil even more enticing.

The focus on economic ties in Latin America is something of a departure for Israel. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Israel built its relationships with regional states, including Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina and Colombia, on military backing and support for various armed groups. Its ties with Brazil and nearby countries today are broader in scope by comparison. Nevertheless, military equipment still has a role to play in the partnerships.

In Brazil’s case, technology transfer and development are the priority. Brazil began talks with Israel in March 2018 to acquire and exchange scientific and defense technologies, an arrangement that would at once satisfy Israel’s desire to export military goods and services, its area of expertise, and Brazil’s need to acquire more advanced technology. The two also have reached nascent agreements over defense technology, such as missiles, radar and high-tech surveillance cameras, that could help modernize Brazil’s military and law enforcement. (Some recent Brazilian governments have shied away from making these kinds of deals, but Bolsonaro, a champion of the military and security forces, will welcome them.) Space exploration and satellites are other points of mutual interest. Brazil can benefit from Israel’s know-how on the subject, while Israel takes advantage of Brazil’s strategic launch sites near the equator…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ISRAELI-JAPANESE FRIENDSHIP:

A POTENTIAL YET TO BE REALIZED                                                                     

Shaun Ho

JCPA, Dec. 25, 2018

In the past few years, Israel has begun to tilt toward the East. Prompted by declining political support from Europe, Jerusalem gradually turned to non-Western powers such as Russia and China for support. While Israel’s growing relationship with China, in particular, has gained widespread attention in recent years, little attention has been paid to Israel’s relationship with the other Asian economic superpower—Japan. Despite being the third largest economy and one of the most powerful countries in the world, Japan has often been below the radar in Israel’s foreign relations and vice versa. Until the 1990s, Japan avoided trade with the Jewish state because of its strong reliance on oil and gas imported from the Arab states and hence its compliance with the Arab League boycott of Israel. As a result, most Japanese firms were unwilling to trade with Israel until the Arab League boycott ended in the 1990s.1 Although relations between Israel and Japan have improved significantly, especially in trade and economic cooperation, these two countries have yet to develop a close political and economic relationship to the extent that Israel has with its Western allies and even China. Yet there is great potential for the two countries to develop deeper economic and even geopolitical ties, as both Japan and Israel would benefit considerably from increasing economic and technological cooperation, particularly in the field of innovation, and political cooperation on the international stage.

Despite both being developed nations, Japan and Israel have very different economic structures. The former has an enormous and mature economy dominated by conglomerates and other large corporations, while the latter has a relatively small but innovative economy whose growth is largely dependent on the myriad start-ups in “Silicon Wadi.” Additionally, corporate cultural differences between the two countries cannot be any starker. Japanese corporations are known globally for their rigid hierarchical structures and meticulous attention to detail, while Israelis are averse to vertical hierarchies and prioritize innovation over detail. Although it may seem that two countries with such contrasting cultures would not be able to work together effectively, these differences, in fact, would allow Japan and Israel to complement each other and alleviate each other’s structural weaknesses. As Glenn Newman wrote in the Japan Times in August 2018, “Israel and Japan are the yin and yang of countries. And yet, despite — or maybe because of — their differences, they have much to offer each other. Marrying their respective geniuses, Japan and Israel could be a killer combination.”

Following decades of economic boom in the post-war period, Japan’s asset price bubble burst, and its economy slumped into a period of stagnation known as the “Lost Decades” from the 1990s until well into the early 2010s. To reinvigorate the Japanese economy and make it more competitive on the world stage, in 2012 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe initiated a set of economic reforms known as “Abenomics,” which consists of three “arrows” (overarching policies): monetary easing, fiscal stimulus, and structural reforms. As part of the third “arrow” to reform the economic structure, the government is seeking to use innovation and technology to increase Japan’s competitiveness and economic growth. Although Japan is often regarded as one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, it has been falling behind in innovation in recent years and losing its technological edge over countries such as the United States, South Korea, and China. Many critics contend that one major reason for the lack of innovation is that the rigid hierarchical structure of Japanese corporations and the cultural aversion to risk stifle innovation of new technologies and discourage entrepreneurship.

This is where Israel can potentially complement and play a role in Japan’s economy. In contrast to Japanese culture, which values structure, consensus-making, and meticulousness, Israeli culture is more egalitarian, more individualistic, and less risk-averse. As a result, Israelis are much more willing to develop new technologies and to engage in creative entrepreneurship, allowing Israel to become one of the most innovative countries and to have the highest number of start-ups per capita in the world. By investing in and cooperating with Israeli high-tech firms and start-ups, Japanese firms would be able to gain access to Israeli technology. Already, several Japanese corporations, such as Panasonic, NEC, and Ricoh have begun cooperation with Israeli companies in research and development (R&D) programs and plans to establish R&D centers in Silicon Wadi. Japanese automobile giants like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have also started to invest in and cooperate with Israeli start-ups to improve their automotive technologies.789 Japan’s investments in Israeli start-ups would be immensely beneficial to the Japanese economy, not only because it would gain access to technology that it would not have otherwise, but also because many of these technologies would be potentially crucial to the Japanese government’s effort to create sustainable economic growth through innovation.

As part of the Abenomics reforms, for example, the Japanese government has launched an initiative called “Society 5.0,” which aims to shift Japan to an “innovative society” based on the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and big data. [See glossary below for definitions.] As a world leader in AI and big data technology, Israel can contribute toward many areas of this initiative.

One area toward which Israeli firms can contribute is health care. With its rapidly aging population, Japan is seeking ways to increase people’s access to health care, particularly in rural areas where the elderly are concentrated. The “Society 5.0” initiative aims to utilize AI and big data to improve people’s access to medical services and data. Having developed some of the top medical technologies in the world, Israeli firms can play a big role in Japan’s effort to innovate its medical data technologies. For example, Israeli startups such as Genoox and Aidoc, which have revolutionized the use of big data in health care, can complement Japan’s current medical data technology.

Another area in which Israeli technology would assist Japan’s transition into an innovative economy is financial technology (fintech). As one of the largest and most important financial markets in the world, Japan is surprisingly backward in fintech, falling behind most other advanced economies and even China and India. Furthermore, a high proportion of transactions in Japan are still conducted in cash, making Japan one of the most cash-dependent societies in the developed world. Because of the high transaction costs that come with cash payments, the Japanese government is promoting cashless payments and money transfers based on blockchain technology [See glossary below for definitions.] as part of the “Society 5.0” initiative…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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ISRAEL AND NORTH KOREA: A NEW OPPORTUNITY?

Dr. Alon Levkowitz                    

BESA, Dec. 31, 2018

In the early 1990s, Eitan Ben-Zur of the Israeli foreign office tried to explore the possibility of a deal with North Korea to halt its missile shipments to states in the Middle East that pose a threat to Israel. The deal would have included indirect Israeli economic assistance to Pyongyang to compensate it for the financial losses it would incur from the cessation of those sales. The Ben-Zur initiative was supported by Shimon Peres, the Israeli foreign minister.

In the end, the deal was not concluded due to a disagreement between the Israeli foreign office and the Mossad about its feasibility. Another barrier to the initiative was Washington’s objection to Jerusalem’s involvement with Pyongyang at a time when the US was trying to reach its own agreement with North Korea on the nuclear issue. Washington was disturbed by the Jerusalem-Pyongyang contacts despite the fact that Israel’s sole focus – missile shipments to the Middle East – was not perceived by the Americans as a critical issue.

Almost three decades later, Washington is negotiating with Pyongyang on an agreement that will include complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of its nuclear and long-range missile programs. Again, as occurred during the 1990s negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, the agreement is not expected to view military exports to the Middle East as a core issue.

The current improvement in relations among Seoul, Pyongyang, and Washington does not include any mechanisms to verify and prevent the continuation of military exports, such as missiles, from North Korea to Syria and Iran. Israel does not have any leverage over Washington or Pyongyang to force them to prevent the continuation of North Korean military exports to the Middle East. That is why Jerusalem should take the opportunity to try an updated Ben-Zur initiative towards North Korea.

While Moon Jae-in might support such an initiative because it would be congruent with his own North Korea policy, Washington might object on the grounds that it would evade international sanctions and decrease Washington’s pressure on Pyongyang. Israel should therefore offer economic assistance to North Korea in agriculture, medical technology, and green energy on condition that Pyongyang starts to disarm itself. In so doing, Jerusalem could mitigate Washington’s objections and might be able to gain both American and South Korean support.

Israeli economic assistance to North Korea in exchange for a verified cessation of military exports would compensate Pyongyang for the losses it might face as a result of the decrease in military exports to the Middle East. This would help Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in legitimize their request to ease the sanctions on North Korea in order to pursue further joint economic projects.

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CHINA IS AT A CROSSROADS

Brahma Chellaney                                  

Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2019

Four decades ago, the Chinese Communist Party, under its new leader Deng Xiaoping, decided to subordinate ideology to wealth creation, spawning a new aphorism, “To get rich is glorious.” The party’s central committee, disavowing Mao Zedong’s thought as dogma, embraced a principle that became Mr. Deng’s oft-quoted dictum, “Seek truth from facts.” Mr. Mao’s death earlier in 1976 had triggered a vicious and protracted power struggle. When the diminutive Mr. Deng – once described by Mr. Mao as a “needle inside a ball of cotton” – finally emerged victorious at the age of 74, he hardly looked like an agent of reform.

But having been purged twice from the party during the Mao years – including once for proclaiming during the 1960s that “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice” – Mr. Deng seized the opportunity to usher in transformative change. The Four Modernizations program under Mr. Deng remarkably transformed China, including spurring its phenomenal economic rise. China’s economy today is 30 times larger than it was three decades ago. Indeed, in terms of purchasing power parity, China’s economy is already larger than America’s.

Yet, four decades after it initiated reform, China finds itself at the crossroads, with its future trajectory anything but certain. To be sure, when it celebrates in 2019 the 70th anniversary of its communist “revolution,” China can truly be proud of its remarkable achievements. An impoverished, backward country in 1949, it has risen dramatically and now commands respect and awe in the world.

China is today the world’s largest, strongest and longest-surviving autocracy. This is a country increasingly oriented to the primacy of the Communist Party. But here’s the paradox: The more it globalizes while seeking to simultaneously insulate itself from liberalizing influences, the more vulnerable it is becoming to unforeseen political “shocks” at home. Its overriding focus on domestic order explains one unusual but ominous fact: China’s budget for internal security – now officially at US$196-billion – is larger than even its official military budget, which has grown rapidly to eclipse the defence spending of all other powers except the United States.

China’s increasingly repressive internal machinery, aided by a creeping Orwellian surveillance system, has fostered an overt state strategy to culturally smother ethnic minorities in their traditional homelands. This, in turn, has led to the detention of a million or more Muslims from Xinjiang in internment camps for “re-education.” Untrammelled repression, even if effective in achieving short-term objectives, could sow the seeds of violent insurgencies and upheavals.

More broadly, China’s rulers, by showing little regard for the rights of smaller countries as they do for their own citizens’ rights, are driving instability in the vast Indo-Pacific region. Nothing better illustrates China’s muscular foreign policy riding roughshod over international norms and rules than its South China Sea grab. It was exactly five years ago that Beijing began pushing its borders far out into international waters by pressing its first dredger into service for building artificial islands. The islands, rapidly created on top of shallow reefs, have now been turned into forward military bases.

The island-building anniversary is as important as the 40th economic-reform anniversary, because it is reminder that China never abandoned its heavy reliance since the Mao era on raw power. In fact, no sooner had Mr. Deng embarked on reshaping China’s economic trajectory than he set out to “teach a lesson” to Vietnam. The February-March 1979 military attack occurred just days after Mr. Deng – the “nasty little man,” as Henry Kissinger once called him – became the first Chinese communist leader to visit Washington.

A decade later, Mr. Deng brutally crushed a student-led, pro-democracy movement at home. He ordered the tank and machine-gun assault that came to be known as the Tiananmen massacre, according to a British government estimate, at least 10,000 demonstrators and bystanders perished. Yet, the United States continued to aid China’s economic modernization, as it had done since 1979, when president Jimmy Carter sent a memo to various U.S. government departments instructing them to help in China’s economic rise.

Today, a fundamental shift in America’s China policy, with its broad bipartisan support, is set to outlast Donald Trump’s presidency. This underscores new challenges for China, at a time when its economy is already slowing and it has imposed tighter capital controls to prop up its fragile financial system and the yuan’s international value…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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On Topic Links

A Golden Opportunity: Ariel Kahana, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2018—The crowds of people waving Brazilian flags to welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are just one reason for excitement. That President-elect Jair Bolsonaro bestowed Netanyahu – the first foreign leader to officially visit the country since Bolsonaro’s election – with his country’s highest honor is also just part of the story.

How the African-Israeli Rapprochement is About Poetic Justice: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 1, 2019—In the beginning the British had the Bible and the Africans had the land, said once Jomo Kenyatta, the father of modern Kenya. Then, he said, missionaries arrived, had the Africans close their eyes, and when they opened their eyes they saw the Africans had the Bible and the British had the land.

East Mediterranean Partnership Signals an Energy Revolution: Dr. Emmanuel Navon, JISS, Dec. 2, 2018—The announcement in November that Israel, Cyprus, Greece and Italy have agreed to build a natural gas pipeline (the longest in the world) from Israel’s offshore gas fields to Europe, clearly indicates that Israel has chosen the Greek option over the Turkish one.

The U.S. is Right to Worry About Co-Operation Between its Adversaries: Kori Schake, National Post, Nov. 15, 2018—President Donald Trump’s National Security Strategy puts much greater emphasis on the return to great power competition than other American post-Cold War strategy documents.

 

 

PRAYING FOR ISRAEL: INTERVIEW WITH FORMER IDF CHIEF OF STAFF MOSHE YA’ALON

Machla Abramovitz

Community, Dec., 2018              

…To assess the current state of Israel’s security, we sat down with former IDF Chief of Staff General Moshe (“Boogie”) Ya’alon, following  his keynote address at the 30th anniversary gala of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) in Montreal. General Ya’alon, 68, was born in Haifa, joined the Nahal Paratroop Regiment at age 18, and shortly afterward enlisted in Israel’s most elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. Ya’alon then served as Head of Military Intelligence, was later appointed IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff, and eventually was named IDF Chief-of-Staff.

Following his military career, Ya’alon became a politician, joining the Likud in 2008, and serving as Minister for Strategic Affairs and Vice Prime Minister. In 2013, General Ya’alon served as Minister of Defense, and a year later, he presided over Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s major military operation in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas underground tunnels and ending rocket launches. In May 2016, he resigned from his position, and he recently founded a party named Manhigut Acheret (New Leadership.)

When asked about his position on the viability of a two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, General Ya’alon explains that he supports the idea “in principle,” adding that he supported the 1993 Oslo Accords. “However,” he says, “today, nobody takes them seriously. Israelis are overwhelmingly unified on there being no Palestinian State under the present circumstances, and under any foreseeable leadership. The best we can do is give the Palestinians autonomy, help them develop economically, and hope for better leadership to arise.”

Ya’alon is critical of the Obama administration’s Middle East policies. “Yasser Arafat’s duplicitousness didn’t matter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, as they were trying to curry support among the Arabs by propping up Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians. The JCPOA [the deal reached by the Obama administration with the Republic of Iran] is a disaster. President Donald Trump, on the other hand, is doing wonderful things for Israel. Over 80 percent of Israelis support him.” The following is an edited transcript of the rest of our conversation with the General:

CM: Are wars between Israel and Iran, as well as Hamas, inevitable?

Ya’alon: Let’s distinguish between Iran and Hamas. The Iranians are trying to open another front against us in Syria. In 2015, they started launching missiles at Israel. In less than a year, this attempt ended after Israel hit back hard. This February, their units began launching drones and rockets. Subsequently, the IAF destroyed 15 Iranian units. Iran understands that they cannot successfully challenge Israel. Israeli power is superior to theirs militarily and intelligence-wise.

We don’t want Iran to either violate our sovereignty or arm our enemies; any violations on their part contravenes what we call our Red Line Strategy. [Israel prevents the Iranians from shipping arms to Hezbollah by bombing their ammunition depots and highways traveled by convoys.] I don’t see a war with Iran coming soon. Hezbollah’s 15,000 long-range, guided missiles are a problem, which Israel will eventually deal with. I foresee the possibility of a massive Israeli assault in Lebanon. Because Hezbollah installs these missiles in villages and towns and next to hospitals – as they do in Gaza – this will result in a large-scale PR problem because specific civilian structures must be destroyed to root these missiles out.

The challenge with Hamas is different. Since 2014, Hamas didn’t shoot a single bullet; and they arrested any proxy group that did. They don’t want to escalate the situation to a full-scale war. During Operation Protective Edge, we destroyed over 10,000 buildings in Gaza. They’ve been reconstructing Gaza for 20 years. So, Gazans are now releasing dangerous, incendiary balloons and kites, and are demonstrating along the border to express their frustration. The IDF is responding in a limited way. I don’t like this. We should not have accepted this behavior from the onset. It’s impossible to intercept every balloon and every kite. We must confront these terrorists vigorously. It’s the only way to handle things in the Middle East. Still, it’s not deterministic that we are going to war, even though the Middle East can erupt at any time even when it’s not intentional. I hope the government and the IDF will be able to change the rules of the game. The rules as they exist now are not in our favor.

CM: Despite Israel’s ability to manage Iranian aggression in Syria, doesn’t Iran remain a severe threat to its security?

Ya’alon: Iran remains a crucial issue. Still, with enough pressure placed on it, I believe the current regime can be persuaded to act in Iran’s best interests. Iran suspended its nuclear project in 2003 when the US invaded Afghanistan. They were afraid of President George W. Bush. The project was renewed two years later when Ayatollah Khamenei saw that the US lost its stomach for war. In 2012, he decided to re-engage with America because of political isolation, crippling economic sanctions, a credible military option, and a fear of a general uprising among Iranians. His economists told him his regime could not survive another year if he continued with his expansionist policies. Unfortunately, President Barak Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry headed the negotiations. President Trump’s determination to renew the sanctions is an excellent idea. This “irrational” regime becomes very rational when presented with a dilemma, whether to continue with their hegemonic drive or choose to survive [due to the implosion of the economy and fear of a popular uprising.] I believe they will choose to survive. Still, at some point, we’ll have to deal with the Iranians. If the US cancels the JCPOA next month, as President Trump said they would, Iran will crank up its nuclear research again. At that point, Israel must act. It cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. If the US doesn’t act on this; Israel will.

CM: The accidental downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane by the Syrian Air Force resulted in the deaths of 15 Russian troops for which Israel was blamed. It also resulted in Russia’s decision to supply Syria with S-300, an advanced anti-aircraft missile system with a range of 400 miles capable of shooting down planes flying in and out of Ben-Gurion Airport. How do you explain this escalation in tensions?

Ya’alon: Russia and Israel are not on the same page regarding Syria. Despite that, Israel succeeded in establishing an understanding with Russia that they don’t interrupt Israel and Israel doesn’t interrupt them in their military activities there. If the Iranians approach Israel’s border where there are Russians present, Israel warns them before taking any military action.

Still, President Vladimir Putin is very frustrated. That’s why he sparked this latest crisis between Israel and Russia. Since moving into Syria in 2010, he declared victories many times, but Syrian President Bashar al Assad controls less than 50 percent of Syrian soil. Turkey controls less than 50 percent of the north, and the Kurds and Americans are in control of 7 percent of the land [a strip along the northeast border, which contains Syria’s abundant oil reserves.] Russia wants the oil. Subsequently, it launched an unsuccessful offensive using Russian mercenaries against Syrian anti-Assad forces that are supported by the Kurds and the US, which resulted in the deaths of 150 Russians. In this regard, Putin doesn’t benefit from Syria. [The Russians benefit from naval and air bases, which gives them an outlet to the Mediterranean.] The cost of intervention for Russia is very high in terms of money and human casualties. It is, subsequently, seeking an exit strategy. The Russians used the threat of giving the S-300 to Syria, which Israelis didn’t want them to do, as a means of pressuring the Americans to accept Syrian President Bashar al Assad and bring a quick end to the conflict.

CM: The Americans are arguing for Russian non-intervention in Idlib Province, which is the last remaining autonomous Syrian province, and the gathering place of all the anti-Assad forces. Moreover, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton, both hawks, want the US to remain in Syria until Iran and Russia are out of the country. As for the S-300, even if the Syrians already have the missile system, which is not clear, they must be trained to use it. Time still exists for Russia and the US to make a deal. What will Israel do regarding the S-300 should the US and Russia not make a deal?

Ya’alon: Israel has known about these missiles for some time and is working on the electronic jamming of the system. Hopefully, by the time the Syrians are trained to use it, the system will be deemed useless.

CM: Would Russia abandon President Assad and Iran if the Americans made that a condition for a settlement?

Ya’alon: Putin is committed to Putin and no one else. From the very beginning, he was committed to a stable regime, even without Assad. Otherwise, he argued, we would see more and more Islamist factions. Russian intelligence knew of about 2000 jihadists from Chechnya and other places deployed with ISIS in Syria. He told us that he prefers to keep these jihadists in Syria rather than on Russian soil. He also wanted to benefit by demonstrating his partisan allegiance – “I’m loyal to my allies, unlike Obama who abandoned Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak” – as well as demonstrate his military capabilities, to be a player in the game. Considering Russia’s poor economic situation, he played his cards better than Obama did. Regarding Iran, Russia’s interest is not to have Iranian dominance in Damascus. However, he needs them for boots on the ground.

CM: Why is Israel concerned about China?

Ya’alon: China is inserting itself into the Middle East in many ways, least of which is through its control of ports. Over the past few years, they bought majority holdings in ports – in Somalia, Piraeus, Greece – and they administer them. This insertion is significant because the ports are military, and they are building up

their navy there. It’s the first time in their history that the Chinese are moving outwards, which is of some concern. On the other hand, Israel has excellent relations with China – military and technical. The Chinese are investing in Israeli corporations. Still, the relationship remains complicated because they also play up to the Arab States. That can be dangerous for Israel.

Machla Abramovitz is a CIJR Academic Fellow

 

ISRAELI INNOVATION, KEY TO JERUSALEM’S FLOURISHING DIPLOMATIC OUTREACH, IS CHANGING THE WORLD

Israeli Ingenuity Changing the World: Earl Cox, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2018— Israeli innovation was on the front burner during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit.

How Israel Is Helping the Worldwide Water Shortage: Oren Peleg, Jewish Journal, Oct. 24, 2018— More than a decade before David Ben-Gurion declared Israeli independence from the confines of a Tel Aviv bomb shelter, he and other luminaries who envisioned a developed, progressive Jewish state knew that water, as much as war, would determine Israel’s survival and viability.

Pragmatism Drives the Sino-Israeli Partnership: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, Nov. 5, 2018— Chinese VP Wang Qishan, who came to Israel at the end of October, was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel since 2000.

Israel and China Take a Leap Forward—But to Where?: Arthur Herman, Mosaic, Nov. 5, 2018— In March 2017, President Xi Jinping of China hosted two important visitors from the Middle East.

On Topic Links 

Rabbi Lord Sacks – House of Lords Debate on Antisemitism (Video): Rabbi Sacks, Sept. 13, 2018

Many Ways Israel Has Innovated the Health Industry: Jerusalem Online, Oct. 17, 2018

How has Netanyahu Transformed Israel? (Video): Visual Politik, Mar. 20, 2018

Breaking Election Barriers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2018

 

                   ISRAELI INGENUITY CHANGING THE WORLD

                                                 Earl Cox

                                                            Breaking Israel News, Oct. 29, 2018

Israeli innovation was on the front burner during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit. That visit highlighted joint initiatives in water, green energy and agritech. Israel and Germany also agreed to collaborate in artificial intelligence, cyberdefense, water, nanotechnology, electrochemistry, and oceanographic and cancer research. Merkel’s visit is just one example of how Israel reaches out to help and heal the world.

Israeli innovation touches nearly every sector of life: science, business, food, defense, health – even navigating traffic (WAZE is an Israeli-developed app). In medicine, there’s help for mustard gas victims, cartilage replacement, desert plants that combat lymphoma, even a pill-size camera patients can swallow for non-invasive colonoscopies.

It’s been 70 years since Israel started transforming the Middle East’s technology desert, making it bloom and boom with more than 5,000 start-ups and myriad multinational corporations. But what’s most remarkable about this relatively tiny nation is the darkness of the region around her. Yet, despite this darkness, Israel shines bright. Notwithstanding the challenges of draining the swamp, providing for refugees, forging a common language, and facing wars and hostility from day one, Israel’s defense forces, democracy and educational values have driven what some call its “miraculous” economic and social growth.

Israel’s military trains young adults “to lead and manage people, improvise, become mission-oriented and work in teams,” said Start-up Nation authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Plus, being a democracy protects and encourages individual freedom and initiative, unlike authoritarian regimes, which quench knowledge that might upset the equilibrium.

But one of innovation’s greatest drivers is Israeli education, with its seven research universities, 66 institutions of higher learning, and equal educational opportunities for all races and faiths within its borders. As a result, Israel is a global leader in patents, and has the fifth highest number of scientific articles per capita, the highest research and development) output, and an extraordinarily impressive percentage of Nobel laureates. Yet when Israel reached out to Jerusalem’s Arab citizens to offer its curriculum in their schools – opening a door for their children to study at its highly ranked universities – Palestinian educators slammed the offer as “racist.”

Palestinian Authority Higher Education Minister Sabri Saidam called Israel’s offer a “declaration of war against Arab and Palestinian existence in east Jerusalem.” Educator Ziyad Al-Shamali threatened legal action against any schools allowing the “Judaization of education.” The official PA daily accused Israel of “imposing” its elective offer to “control the minds of Palestinian students and falsify Palestinian history.”

Palestinian leaders fear that Israel will teach history like they do – as propaganda and brainwashing. They distrust the West’s educational approach of free thought and inquiry, which could expose students to the truth about Israel’s democracy and history – including Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. Thus the Palestinians’ hatred of Israel has barred their children from a potentially brighter future.

This mentality illustrates why Arabs, who once led the world in science, are dropping behind. Some Arab scholars attribute this to Islam. Pakistani Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy told The New York Times that he attributes the dearth to “an increasing emphasis over the last millennium on rote learning based on the Koran. The notion that all knowledge is in the ‘Great Text’ is a great disincentive to learning. It’s destructive if we want to create a thinking person, someone who can analyze, question and create.’’

The rejection of critical thought and innovation is producing “a great army of young Arabs, jobless, unskilled and embittered, cut off from changing their own societies by democratic means,” according to The Economist. Israel discreetly uses its expertise to help its Arab neighbors. But so long as the Palestinians are blinded by hatred and hemmed in by authoritarianism, they may remain a people of missed opportunities.

The Hebrew Scriptures say, “Choose life.” The first two commandments, cornerstones of Jewish law and the Israel Defense Force (IDF) code of ethics, say to love G-d and your neighbor. But Islam is a religion of war and conquest. This perspective helps explain why Palestinians can’t fathom when Israel extends a helping hand. Some educational and democratic fresh air could help un-trap and train talent and creativity among today’s Arab youth, releasing them into a better future. Spurning Israel, which desires to share its blessings with the world, leads nowhere.

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          HOW ISRAEL IS HELPING THE WORLDWIDE WATER SHORTAGE                                                             Oren Peleg

Jewish Journal, Oct. 24, 2018

More than a decade before David Ben-Gurion declared Israeli independence from the confines of a Tel Aviv bomb shelter, he and other luminaries who envisioned a developed, progressive Jewish state knew that water, as much as war, would determine Israel’s survival and viability. In 1937, well before they had their ancestral homeland, before they had war on their hands, Jews in the region had Mekorot, a national water authority. Tasked with diverting water from sources such as the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River in the wetter north to the more barren south, Mekorot executed plans during Israel’s infancy to lay the groundwork for quenching the future nation’s thirst.

Underscoring the importance Israel has always placed on its water sector is its prioritization over other key infrastructure sectors. Water has been piped from north to south for agriculture, energy and drinking since the 1960s; whereas Israeli drivers got their first true nation-length expressway only 10 years ago. Prioritizing water is one thing. Succeeding in the water sector amid unfavorable elements is another. Nearly two-thirds of Israel is bone-dry desert, long thought unsuitable for bountiful agricultural yields. Rainfall is scarce and devastating droughts are commonplace. The stakes have always been understood: If Israelis were to thrive, they’d have to evolve, fight the elements and provide water security to a people cornered in one of the most arid strips of land on Earth.

The conditions haven’t gotten any easier. As a result of climate change, Israel’s rainfall has been cut in half since 1948, while its population has increased tenfold. Still, Israel’s story represents a drop in the bucket of the world’s cataclysmic water crisis, a global issue reaching apocalyptic proportions, even in the developed world. This past summer, Cape Town, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, came within weeks of its self-imposed Day Zero — a day when all of the city’s taps would be shut off and emergency rations would be imposed nationwide.

The crisis was averted, thanks to urgent regulations on water use for baths, flushing toilets and washing clothes. Timely rainfall also helped restore reservoir levels by 20 percent. The South African tourist board now estimates that Cape Town’s Day Zero concerns can be pushed into 2019. Regardless, the situation remains dire. Cape Town’s actions will soon be the new normal. According to the World Health Organization, half of the global population will be facing water scarcity by 2025.

As a result, Israel increasingly finds itself in a unique situation. By the 1980s, Israel had largely conquered most of its water problems. Its water sector progressed through transformational conservation methods, reuse of wastewater (Israel reuses more than 90 percent of its water; next in the world is Spain at 20 percent), and the pioneering of such methods as drip irrigation. Israel made its desert bloom into a fruitful agricultural powerhouse. More recently, it added desalination of the Mediterranean to the mix to shore up supplies of urban drinking water. By 2014, the same year California declared a state of emergency while reckoning with its region’s worst drought in 1,200 years, Israel became a water-surplus nation, able to export water to neighboring Jordan and Palestinian territories.

“I think in order to solve the crisis, the people of the world need to work together, and a country like Israel needs to be brought into that discussion more and more because of Israel’s vast experience,” Micah Smith, director of “Sustainable Nation,” a new Israeli documentary that follows three Israelis who are bringing sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet using solutions developed in Israel, said in an interview.

As showcased at a United Nations conference for International Water Day this past March, Israeli water sector entrepreneurs are integral participants in the global water conversation. The conference highlighted how Israeli-developed water technology services were being used in more than 100 countries worldwide. A noticeable absentee from that list was South Africa, due to its frayed diplomatic relations with Israel, which were marred by Pretoria leveling apartheid charges at Jerusalem.

“South Africa is the negative example in all this,” Smith said, referencing the country’s refusals to accept Israeli aid in the face of its water crisis. A 2016 Johannesburg conference aimed at dealing with the water crisis in South Africa was scrapped because of boycott, divestment and sanctions-backed pressure and other criticism concerning Israel’s inclusion. “It’s tragic to see that people are putting lives at risk rather than bringing people together to solve the world’s water problems,” Smith said. Smith said he made “Sustainable Nation” to tell Israel’s water story, one that people the world over can learn from. That story, as Clive Lipchin, a South African-born Middle East drought expert puts it in the film, is one of “a people unwilling to accept the status quo.”

“Sustainable Nation” follows some of the change-makers exporting Israeli water ingenuity to the rest of the world. Produced by Jerusalem U, the nonprofit creative team behind “Beneath the Helmet,” the 2014 documentary about Israel Defense Forces soldiers, Smith’s film intimately portrays several Israeli water-sector innovators attempting to bring their expertise to water-starved or water-challenged parts of the world such as South Asia and Africa. Sivan Yaari, CEO of Innovation: Africa, an Israeli NGO, is one of them. Her organization has brought solar-powered water pumps to hundreds of rural African villages. “No one should die of thirst,” Yaari says almost pleadingly in the film. “It’s not just.”…

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PRAGMATISM DRIVES THE SINO-ISRAELI PARTNERSHIP

Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos

BESA, Nov. 5, 2018

Chinese VP Wang Qishan, who came to Israel at the end of October, was the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Israel since 2000. The visit was indicative of the Chinese government’s interest in bolstering Beijing’s relationship with Jerusalem. Innovation is key to the relationship. President Xi Jinping’s vision is to develop his country into a world leader in science and technology as it strives for prosperity and rejuvenation. Foreign experience and know-how are therefore needed. Wang Qishan and Benjamin Netanyahu co-chaired the fourth joint committee on innovation, which was established four years ago to facilitate communication among ministries, government agencies, universities, and research centers.

From an Israeli perspective, China is an important destination for its exports, a source for incoming tourism, and an investor. Last year, bilateral trade volume (including Hong Kong) was circa $16 billion. Figures from the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics show an upward trend in 2018. From January until September, bilateral trade volume reached $14.1 billion, in comparison to $12.1 billion in the same period in 2017. As far as tourism is concerned, approximately 114,000 Chinese visited Israel in 2017, an increase of 41% over 2016. Estimates for 2018 are positive despite a sharp decrease in arrivals in the first months of the year. (This is largely attributed to unrest along the Gaza-Israel border and Chinese concerns about safety following the decision by Donald Trump to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.)

Sino-Israeli relations are also flourishing in the sector of infrastructure works. Several Chinese companies have already invested or will be investing in major projects. China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), for instance, participated in the construction of the Carmel series of road tunnels in Haifa. China Railway Tunnel Group (CRTG) won a bid to help build the first light rail system in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Last year, China and Israel signed a housing construction agreement. Chinese companies are also involved in the construction or management of Israeli ports. China Harbors Pan Mediterranean Engineering Company (PMEC) was chosen in 2014 to construct the new port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean. A year later, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) won a tender to run Haifa Port for 25 years beginning in 2021.

The warming of Sino-Israeli ties and the involvement of Chinese companies in Israeli infrastructure entails a degree of security risk. The transfer of military technology from Israel to China is one area of concern. Several deals were canceled a few years ago, mainly in response to American pressure. Currently, security concerns are centering around the possibility that China might collect sensitive information and intelligence from civilian systems when, for example, SIPG undertakes the management of Haifa Port. While the Israeli government is able to protect key industries and strategic assets, it is not ignoring recommendations for a more comprehensive review mechanism regarding foreign investments.

In addition, China’s expanding presence in Israel – and in other Middle Eastern countries through which the Belt and Road Initiative will pass – is generating debate about possible repercussions. Most Western scholars see a geopolitical vacuum resulting from the American pivot to Asia that could be filled by China. At first glance, such a development would not appear to favor Jerusalem, because Beijing supports the Palestinian cause. During his visit, Wang Qishan went to Ramallah, met with Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah, and called for concerted global efforts to push for a settlement on the basis of a two-state solution. The two sides are expanding their cooperation in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Sino-Palestinian trade volume reached $69.28 million in 2017, up 16.2% in comparison to 2016.

Generally speaking, China wants to move forward on the peace process. In July 2017, Xi hosted Mahmoud Abbas in Beijing and revealed a four-point peace plan. This plan is regularly used by the Chinese delegation at the UN as a reference point. Proactive intervention is not, however, on Beijing’s agenda. It prefers to keep its distance and let others take on the onus of mediating rather than invest its own diplomatic capital. China’s priority is the successful realization of the Belt and Road Initiative, in which Israel, several Arab countries, and the Palestinians are all participating. It is premature to say whether the initiative will turn out to be an integration mechanism to foster peace.

China and Israel are very different in terms of demography and geopolitical orientation, but have found fields in which they can cooperate to mutual advantage. Although an emphasis is placed on economic and security ramifications, culture and history cannot be sidelined. Similarities between the civilizations, as developed in East Asia’s Chengdu Valley and Mesopotamia, are characteristic. A relevant international exhibition, entitled “Bronze Age Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Plain,” is currently being shown at Sichuan University Museum. Objects displayed include artifacts from the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Moreover, the historical relationship among Jews, China, and the ancient Silk Road is starting to be explored.

China’s stance vis-à-vis the Jewish people during the Nazi horrors deserves particular attention. When Netanyahu visited Shanghai in 2013, he hailed the city for having been a haven for Jews fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. Indeed, Shanghai received more than 25,000 Jewish refugees from Europe. This historical experience can be linked to the theme of Holocaust education in China. The country is keen to learn more and is drawing on Israeli lessons about how to remember the Holocaust and combat deniers. By applying these lessons to its remembrance of the Nanjing Massacre, China can honor its past and outline its contribution to peace during WWII.

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ISRAEL AND CHINA TAKE A LEAP FORWARD—BUT TO WHERE?                                                               Arthur Herman

                                                Mosaic, Nov. 5, 2018

In March 2017, President Xi Jinping of China hosted two important visitors from the Middle East. The first was King Salman of Saudi Arabia, whose country’s oil supplies are crucial to China’s energy and economic outlook. The second was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Unlike Saudi Arabia—or Iran, or Iraq—Israel is one Middle Eastern country with no oil to offer China. Nor does it count China among the many customers for Israeli arms exports; to that prospectively lucrative arrangement, a 2005 dispute with the United States closed the door. Nor is there a large expatriate Chinese population in Israel clamoring for good relations with Beijing. Nor, in China itself, is there a Jewish community of any size whose interests an Israeli prime minister might deem a fit topic to bring up with his Chinese counterpart.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu’s appearance in Beijing was more than a courtesy call, or an opportunity to discuss with an interested third party the changing shape of Israel-Arab relations (in which, coincidentally, the growing thaw between Jerusalem and Riyadh was playing a prime role). Instead, the visit was a ratifying event in one of the fastest-growing and most remarkable economic and political partnerships of the past two decades.

In a joint statement after the visit, Netanyahu and Xi pledged increased cooperation in areas including “air-pollution control, waste management, environmental monitoring, water conservation and purification, as well as high-tech fields.” The statement also announced plans to create “a global technology center” and other joint projects in the area of innovation, with a standing invitation to Chinese companies to join in a variety of infrastructure projects within Israel itself. For his part, Netanyahu also expressed interest in Israel’s joining China’s massive multi-billion-dollar One Belt One Road project, and in signing a free-trade agreement between the two countries.

Strikingly, the joint statement said very little about the usual Middle East political issues—this, despite China’s recent announcement of its by no means Israel-friendly “Four-Point Peace Plan” between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead, Netanyahu cordially encouraged China’s quest “to assume its rightful place . . . on the world stage,” adding that, for this effort, “We are your perfect junior partner. . . . I believe this is a marriage made in heaven.”

There is certainly no denying that, in terms of trade and investment alone, the burgeoning economic partnership between Israel and China has at least the potential of transforming not only Israel itself but also Israel’s position vis-à-vis the rest of the Middle East—and most notably vis-à-vis Iran, which happens to be Beijing’s other key partner in the region. Inevitably, it could also have an impact on Israel’s relations with the United States.

But is this a marriage made in heaven? Or is it something else? Weighing the answer to that question involves probing beneath the two countries’ currently successful dynamic of trade and commercial transactions to their respective geopolitical agendas. When it comes to Israel, the acknowledged junior partner, it also requires examining whether and how the relationship with China could become a dependency. Such a change might please Beijing, but it would impose on Israeli national security a new kind of vulnerability, one very different from the challenges it has faced successfully in the past…

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On Topic Links

Rabbi Lord Sacks – House of Lords Debate on Antisemitism (Video): Rabbi Sacks, Sept. 13, 2018—On Thursday 13th September 2018, Rabbi Lord Sacks spoke in a House of Lords debate on antisemitism in Britain.

Many Ways Israel Has Innovated the Health Industry: Jerusalem Online, Oct. 17, 2018—The Health Industry is constantly improving due to advances in Medical technologies. Israel is at the forefront in these technologies, often light years ahead of curing and managing diseases previously deem as impossible.

How has Netanyahu Transformed Israel? (Video): Visual Politik, Mar. 20, 2018—Today we’re talking about Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister and the most powerful politician the country has had in the last 2 decades. Why are we talking about Netanyahu? Why is he so important? Let’s see it!

Breaking Election Barriers: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2018—Three trends were evident after the recent municipal elections held last week across the country. The first is that it is beneficial for the country and its citizens to make the Election Day a day of vacation. More Israelis this year voted than last year and just as important, they were able to enjoy a weekday off with their families, a rare commodity in Israel where school meets six days a week and people don’t have Sunday off.

 

Innovation Nation

Innovation Nation: Benjamin Netanyahu, Economist, Dec. 1, 2017 — The future belongs to those who innovate.

Teva’s Collapse – Israel’s Biotech Recovery: Glenn Yago, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

After Quiet 2017, Chinese Investors Seen Resuming Israeli Tech Shopping Spree: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017— The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017…

The Emergency Medics Taking on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Daniel K. Eisenbud, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017 — In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare.

 

On Topic Links

 

Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017

 

INNOVATION NATION

Benjamin Netanyahu

Economist, Dec. 1, 2017

 

The future belongs to those who innovate. Israel is seizing the future. With 8.5m people, it has more companies on NASDAQ than almost any other country outside North America and ranks third in the World Economic Forum’s ranking of most innovative economies. Israeli startups receive nearly 20% of global private investment in cyber-security, punching 200 times above our relative weight. Israel recycles 87% of its waste water, five times more than the runner-up. Israeli cows produce more milk per animal than those of any other country.

 

People everywhere benefit from Israeli innovations in their mobile phones, car navigation systems, life-saving drugs, medical devices—even the cherry tomatoes in their salads. Equally, Israel’s intelligence services have helped stop dozens of terrorist attacks in dozens of countries. These successes are buttressed by world-class universities and research institutions like the Technion, the Weizmann Institute and the Volcani Agri­culture Institute.

 

Technology without free markets does not get you very far. All national economies are engaged in a race in which the public sector sits astride the shoulders of the private sector. In our case, the public sector got too bloated. Under a policy I called “Fat man/Thin man”, we put it on a strict diet and removed barriers to competition that hampered the private sector, enabling it to sprint forward.

 

We controlled public spending, lowered tax rates, reformed welfare and pensions, removed foreign-exchange controls, dismantled monopolies, privatised government companies and created new capital markets. The result has been 14 years of nearly continuous GDP growth of 4-5% annually, lowering the debt-to-GDP ratio from roughly 100% to 62%. We leverage government spending on military intelligence by encouraging veterans to form thousands of civilian IT and cyber-startups, which we regulate as little as possible. Government investments in roads and railways open up land for housing, which is developed by private contractors.

 

For 50 years government companies searched to no avail for offshore gas. Once we enabled private companies to search, they found gas deposits worth many billions of dollars. The government’s take of these gas revenues will help fund our future needs in education, welfare and infrastructure. Israel became an economic tiger because we chose to be a nimble mammal rather than a fossil. Benefiting from the nexus of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence, we are rapidly developing new industries.

 

Fifty years ago, Israel failed in its effort to develop a car industry. Yet in the past decade we have had 500 startups in automotive technology which receive billions of dollars of investments each year. In 2013 Google bought Waze, a crowd-sourcing navigation system, for $1bn. In 2017 Intel paid $15bn for Jerusalem-based MobileEye, entrusting it to oversee Intel’s worldwide autonomous-vehicle businesses. Our universal digital health database holds great promise for breakthroughs in preventive and personalised medicine. Since technology alone does not guarantee our future, we must keep promoting entrepreneurship and fight excessive regulation. In the past two years I have chaired a cabinet committee that takes a machete to the weeds of overregulation, and Israel has moved from 27th to 16th in the Global Competitiveness Index.

 

What are the lessons of Israel’s economic miracle for 2018 and beyond? The first is: innovate or perish. The second is: innovate to create alliances and advance peace. Our technological prowess has brought us many new friends, alongside our irreplaceable alliance with America. We negotiated economic pacts with Japan and China. Relations with India are booming. Twice within a year I visited Africa. I am the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia and Latin America.

 

But perhaps the most promising change is closer to home. Many Arab countries now see Israel not as an enemy but as an indispensable ally in our common battle against militant Islam. They also seek Israeli technology to help their economies. The potential normalisation with Arab states could help pave the way for peace with the Palestinians.

 

In 1968, in “The Lessons of History”, the great American writer Will Durant wrote: “The influence of geographic factors diminishes as technology grows. The character and contour of a terrain may offer opportunities for agriculture, mining or trade, but only the imagination and initiative of leaders, and the hardy industry of followers, can transform the possibilities into fact; and only a similar combination (as in Israel today) can make a culture take form over a thousand natural obstacles.” In the half-century since those prophetic words were written, Israel has indeed overcome a thousand obstacles. Its ingenuity offers hope for every nation under the sun.                                        

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TEVA’S COLLAPSE – ISRAEL’S BIOTECH RECOVERY

Glenn Yago

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017

 

The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes. More than any other company, Teva’s implosion accounts for the poor performance of all Israeli stock market indexes. Prior to its collapse, Teva comprised 29% of the Tel Aviv 125 Index, now down below 8%. The further planned voluntary de-listing of Mylan scheduled for February 2018 follows another life sciences de-listing, of Mellanox in 2013, creating another big hole in the local capital market and a loss for Israel’s role in this important industry.

 

Clearly, some new approach to financing medical solutions is overdue for Israel, instead of relying solely upon tax subsidies to large companies and the current limitations of our public and private equity markets. What can we learn and how can we prevent this from happening again? Already in 2014, Teva discussed separating its generic from its specialty drug business, but instead (despite unsuccessful pressure from activist investors) it doubled down on the generic side of the business through its catastrophic acquisition of Activis, Allergan’s generics business, for $40.5 billion.

 

Over the past two years, Teva lost $57b. of value, leaving it with a remaining market value of $19b. It owes about $35b. and faces a cliff of debt payments of $9.1b. by 2019 and $17.5b. by 2021. It faces these challenges with a cash flow that is projected to shrink to $3.2b. in 2018 due to heightened generic drug competition and the loss of patent protection for its sole proprietary drug, Copaxone.

 

In an important article last week, Prof. Eyal Winter argued that Teva’s failure “must not make the company that invented Copaxone into a company whose primary business is producing aspirin.” Well, it might be too late to solve that problem for Teva, but not for the Israeli scientific and technology ecosystem that can build life science solutions to global health problems. Under the Law to Encourage Capital Investments, Teva secured over $5.7b. in tax benefits, generating free cash flow and subsidies without any conditions or accountability to Israeli taxpayers. This enabled Teva to move much of its growth abroad and pay out dividends to shareholders and salaries to the executives who managed it into decline.

 

Teva just shut down its R&D facility operating from Israel and slashed its overall research and development budget. Without a creative strategy, this could threaten Israel’s future competitive strength in the biotechnology sector. Teva no longer has the firepower to fund its drug development pipeline and needs to radically restructure its debt. It cannot provide long-term, fixed rate financing to drug development. With guarantees, public and private investment and credit-enhanced, re-searchbased obligations, Israel can.

 

THERE ARE plenty of examples in the world of pursuing new directions focused on biotechnology and accelerating medical solutions. In 2015, London’s mayor proposed a $15.7b. bio-pharma development fund. In 2016, UBS launched a $470 million oncology fund. Bio-Bridge raised a $135m. fund to make smaller investments for early-stage therapies that haven’t made it to human trials. The State of California funded public bonds for $3b. to fund the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine and accelerate therapies through public-private partnerships.

 

The government should use current negotiations it is holding with Teva over tax assessments as a lever to help restructure some of Teva’s huge debt and transform that into a public-private partnership with the government and scientific research institutes in Israel. This could enable Israel to regain some value of the tax subsidy it lost subsidizing Teva’s disastrous buying spree. In doing so, it could reboot a value- added translational medical ecosystem in Israel to solve global chronic and infectious diseases and enable new firms to emerge from the economic and business policy failures associated with Teva.

 

A debt swap of specialty drug patents could also reduce Teva’s current debt burden. Teva could swap out current debt for the value of the remaining specialty drug patents whose development it can no longer support enabling Teva to right-size its reduced generic drug footprint. Those drug patents would become part of a long term public-private drug development partnership focused on specialty drugs, via a new Research Based Obligation (RBO) Bond that would finance the translational medical industry and other intellectual property emerging from technology transfer organizations through Israel’s globally known medical centers, incubators, and the Israel Innovation Authority.

 

This would provide new players with sufficient runway to discover cures, vaccines, and treatment modalities including but beyond pills, where Israel’s knowledge capital can be competitive. Last year, Teva received approval for three innovative drugs (Fluticasone Salmeterol MDPI, Vantrella and Fluticason Propionate MDPI). Another drug is in Phase III clinical trails for migraine headaches. Other drugs in development at various stages include ones for movement disorders and Huntington’s disease.

 

Analyst reports from Citigroup, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley reported potential sales volumes of $3-5b. annually from these drugs. Combined with patents from other technology transfer organizations in Israel, the country could yet achieve great value for the intellectual property it is so heavily invested in by fueling long-term commercialization. In some of our institute’s financial innovations labs, colleagues from MIT, UC-Berkeley, NYU and elsewhere have shown how such financial engineering can increase success in fighting cancer, diabetes, neuropsychiatric disorders, blood disease and infectious diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases as well…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

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AFTER QUIET 2017, CHINESE INVESTORS SEEN

RESUMING ISRAELI TECH SHOPPING SPREE

Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017

 

The sale of auto-technology firm Mobileye to Intel Corp. for a whopping $15.3 billion was by far the most significant Israeli tech moment of 2017, but US President Donald Trump’s tax reform, along with changes in the Chinese investment environment, will also be remembered as defining the year, as they injected uncertainty into past 12 months.

 

At the end of 2016, the Chinese government issued restrictions on outbound investments but then clarified its position in August 2017, setting out a policy that banned certain investments, for example, in the military, gambling and sex industries; restricted investments in other areas like real estate, films, sports and hotels; but encouraged investments in industries that promote China’s technological development, as well as the oil and mining industries.

 

“2017 was a transition year,” said Edouard Cukierman, managing partner of Catalyst Investments L.P., an Israel-based private equity fund that manages over $250 million in investments. “The uncertain regulatory environment in China regarding investments in the first half of the year led to a slowdown in Chinese investment activity. The clarification of the rules in August has now opened up the bottleneck and I believe that in 2018 we will see renewed activity in Israel by Chinese investors.” Catalyst’s third fund, the CEL fund, which raised $200 million in commitments from investors, was set up jointly with Hong Kong-based China Everbright Ltd. More than 50 percent of the funds raised by CEL was from Chinese investors, according to company data.

 

As the Asian giant seeks a stake in the global technology world, shifting its economy from a labor-intensive powerhouse to one driven by technology, Chinese firms have been on a shopping spree for technologies and startups. In the past five years Chinese companies have invested some $16 billion in Israeli firms, not only high-tech, including the $4.4 billion acquisition of Playtika by a Chinese consortium in 2016, the $510 million buyout of medical device firm Lumenis by China’s XIO Group in 2015, Alma Laser in 2013, and food company Tnuva in 2014.

 

The cooling of China’s relations with the US —  as Washington seems to have lost patience with China’s hesitation in making trade concessions and its stance on North Korea — along with the recently passed US tax reform, which will make it more attractive for US companies to invest in local firms and not as many international firms, will also have an impact on Chinese activity in Israel, he said. “Chinese investors will be less keen to do business in the US, where they feel the environment has turned more hostile,” he said. And US firms, which have been traditionally the most active in acquiring Israeli startups, may turn their attentions inward, to their home turf. “This will open up opportunities for Chinese firms to operate in Israel,” he said.

 

Trump’s corporate tax reforms may also lead to US investors requiring Israeli startups to register as US entities, or to move significant operations to the US, so as to make them eligible for the tax rebates. In addition, Cukierman expects 2018 to see increased interest from Latin America in Israeli technology, as seen in the acquisition of Netafim by Mexican group Mexichem. “Abundant available money in the global economy and interest rates close to zero (despite a few hikes) continued to drive the local tech market this year,” consultants PwC Israel said in their 2017 exits report. The mood, however, was overshadowed by the limits imposed by Chinese authorities on foreign investments and by the uncertainty injected into the market by the US tax reform.

 

The total value of exists in the Israeli tech market (M&As and public offerings) was $7.4 billion, up 110% year on year, compared with $3.5 billion in 2016, according to the report published on Wednesday. Seventy exits took place in 2017, up from 55 deals in 2016. This figure represents a return to the levels seen in 2014 and 2015, with 70 exits each. In addition, the Israeli market twice broke the $1 billion mark in 2017, thanks to Mobileye that was acquired by Intel for $15.3 billion and NeuroDerm that was acquired by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma for $1.1 billion. These two deals are not included in the exits report, as they would skew the data.

 

The average value per deal in 2017 was $106 million, or a 66% increase year on year, even when deducting the two mega deals, the report said. Israeli tech companies returned to raising money via initial public offerings of shares on global and local markets: some 11 companies raised a total of $414 million in IPOs this year, the report said. The largest equity issue in 2017 was that of ForeScout, which raised $116 million on NASDAQ, reflecting a market cap of $800 million…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

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THE EMERGENCY MEDICS TAKING ON

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Daniel K. Eisenbud

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017

 

In a country where terrorism and war are endured as a consistent, yet unpredictable, byproduct of a protracted and intractable geopolitical conflict, post-traumatic stress disorder is far from rare. While there is no recent data on the number of Israelis afflicted, Avi Steinherz, clinical director of United Hatzalah’s Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, said approximately 20% of those who experience or witness extreme violence will develop some form of PTSD.

 

“Statistics-wise, what we have found from 15 to 20 years of experience – including the intifadas, wars and incursions from Gaza – is that the majority of the general population has a resilience to traumatic events, and most people exposed to them do get better on their own,” he said on Tuesday. “However, there is 20% of the population that enters into what is called ‘acute stress reaction (ASR),’ in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event, and once you talk about that particular population the statistics flip around completely because among them almost 80% will develop PTSD, which is a condition which they, their families and communities can suffer from for the rest of their lives.”

 

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “our population here in Israel has a huge amount of hyper-sensitive people walking around with PTSD from the numerous, unending amount of trauma we’re exposed to from all the wars, intifadas and the danger of living under the gun and the threat of death at all times.” Steinherz said the country’s first Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit was formed in 2016, at the height of the so-called “stabbing intifada,” following years of germination.

 

“During our experience from the stabbing intifada, we had statistics from Magen David Adom indicating that there were between three and four more times the amount of people who were emotionally and psychologically traumatized than those physically wounded,” he noted. “But, the amazing thing we found, which is the driving force behind our unit, is that if the 20% of the population who enters ASR receives immediate stabilization, 75% of those people will not develop PTSD. So, time is of the essence.”

 

Today, over 600 specialists, ranging from psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and EMTs, volunteer in the unit throughout the country as psychological first-responders following all terrorist attacks, missile incursions, deadly accidents, and violent criminal activity. According to Steinherz, the Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, which has been dispatched over 400 times since its inception, is divided into two segments. “Our Advanced Life Support Unit is made up of 300 mental health professionals at the advanced level,” he explained. “The second team, which also has 300 volunteers, is called the Basic Support Unit, which includes medics and first-responders who have gone through an intensive course to provide immediate psychological first aid stabilization in the field.”

 

Based on the proven efficacy of these highly-trained volunteers, Steinherz said it has since become mandatory at United Hatzalah for all new EMTs to be trained in psychological first aid stabilization. “In the EMT courses, every single new incoming EMT must undergo five hours of psychological first aid training to help the medics themselves develop resilience to be able to deal with the traumatic experiences they are exposed to in the field,” he said. Moreover, Steinherz said that EMTs are trained to rapidly identify psychologically traumatized individuals, be they witnesses or family members of those physically wounded…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Fly Me To The Moon: SpaceIL Launches Funding Plea To Complete Space Race Amid Financial Troubles: No Camels, Dec. 18, 2017—Israel’s race to the Moon may soon have to come to a screeching halt as the Israeli startup SpaceIL, one of five finalists in the prestigious Google Lunar XPRIZE competition with a mission to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, says it’s short of the funds necessary to complete the project and may have to forfeit.

Technion Becomes First Israeli University to Open Campus in China: Shiri Moshe, Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—The Technion — Israel Institute of Technology became the first Israeli university to inaugurate a campus in China on Monday. The Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) is a result of a 2013 partnership between the leading Israeli school and Shantou University in China’s southern Guangdong province.

On Upcoming India Visit, Netanyahu to Gift Modi Israeli Mobile Desalinization Vehicle: Algemeiner, Dec. 19, 2017—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to New Delhi next month, he will bring a special gift for his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi — a Gal-Mobile water desalinization and purification jeep.

Israel Helps Colombia Upgrade its Air Force: Yoav Zitun, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017—Colombian security officials, including the chief of staff and the commander of the Air Force, took part earlier this month in a ceremony marking the completion of an upgrading process of 22 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighter planes belonging to the Colombian army and manufactured in Israel in the early 1970s.

                                                              

 

 

ISRAEL’S HIGH-TECH, SPACE, & BIOTECH FIELDS HAVE MUCH TO OFFER TO THE WORLD

After Imperva and Mobileye, Here's What's Next For Israeli Startups: Peter Cohan, Forbes, Aug. 21, 2017— Israel has taken plenty of companies public on the NASDAQ…

China’s Space Silk Road and the Middle East – The Israeli Perspective: Dr. Eytan Tepper, Space Watch Middle East, Aug. 2017— China’s U.S.$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to establish a network of roads, railroads, and sea routes and ports is underway, and it has a space segment.

Coming of Age, Israel Biotech Sector Gets Ready for Market: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Aug. 17, 2017— The sale of Israeli drugmaker NeuroDerm to Japanese pharma giant Mitsubishi Tanabe for $1.1 billion last month in the largest ever purchase of an Israeli healthcare company…

Latin American Allies: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 2017— Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked Sunday on a whirlwind visit to Latin America, the first of its kind for a sitting Israeli head of state.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel, China Sign $300M CleanTech Deal: Jewish Press, Sept. 11, 2017

SpaceIL Craft on Assembly Line as Race to Moon Nears: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, Aug. 7, 2017

Foreign Investment in Israel’s Strategic Industries: Efraim Chalamish, BESA, July 27, 2017

China in the Red Sea: The Djibouti Naval Base and the Return of Admiral Zheng He: Gideon Elazar, BESA, Aug. 23, 2017

 

 

AFTER IMPERVA AND MOBILEYE,

HERE'S WHAT'S NEXT FOR ISRAELI STARTUPS

Peter Cohan

Forbes, Aug. 21, 2017

 

Israel has taken plenty of companies public on the NASDAQ — including Imperva, CyberArk, and Mobileye — which went public in August 2014 and was bought by Intel for $15.3 billion in March 2017. While many of these startups get acquired by big U.S. companies and most split their teams between the Tel Aviv area and Boston or Silicon Valley, that could be changing according to six experts I interviewed.

 

Before getting into that, let's look at the numbers. In the second quarter of 2017, 157…Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.26 billion… — the second highest quarterly amount in the past five years. For the first half of 2017 — 18% below the strongest period in recent history (the first half of 2016), 312 Israeli high-tech companies attracted $2.3 billion, according to Israel Venture Capital (IVC).

 

Israeli tech exits in 2016 were down — with mergers much higher than IPOs. Total exits last year totaled $10 billion. There were "93 M&A deals, eight buyouts and just three IPOs. The low number of IPO deals, totaling just above $15 million, made 2016 the year with the second-fewest IPOs in the past 10 years. In 2014, by comparison, Israeli tech IPOs reached a record $2.1 billion in 17 deals," according to Start-Up Israel. These declines are not a big surprise since the U.S. IPO market has been in the doldrums since 2014 and is showing no signs of recovery as I wrote earlier this month. After all, tech IPOs like Snap and Blue Apron have mostly cratered. And the biggest unicorns have so much capital that they are in no hurry to brave the public markets.

 

But Israel continues to invest in and create startups thanks to its engineering talent, capital, and investment from U.S. tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Intel and others. What's most interesting to me is that at least one company — run by Israel's most prolific info sec company founder, Shlomo Kramer, is that Israel is beginning to develop enough talent in marketing and sales that his latest company is able to operate out of Israel instead of being run from Silicon Valley.

 

Tel Aviv is the center of Israel's startup scene even though its top talent is educated 52 miles away at Haifa's Technion. As Edouard Cukierman, Managing Partner and Founder of Catalyst Funds, said in an August 10 interview, "When I was at the Technion, the joke was 'What is the nicest place in Haifa? The highway to Tel Aviv.' Entrepreneurs want to be in Tel Aviv — it's a place of fun; whereas Haifa is a serious place for studying."

 

Haifa 's Technion is not investor friendly according to one expert. Shlomo Maital, an emeritus professor of economics there, explained in an August 6 e-mail, "I have a personal ‘beef.' Universities in general, Technion in particular, in my view, cling too tightly to IP developed within the university. This deters investors like citronella deters mosquitos.  MIT let Bose use his Ph.D. results to launch a speaker company — later, Bose willed the whole company to MIT! Technion does not follow this model. I regret it. Technion is a public university, funded in part by government (at least, the operating budget). IP developed within Technion belongs to the people and should be more freely released…"

 

Pillar companies — local, publicly-traded tech companies that supply talent and capital to startups — are not big drivers of the Tel Aviv startup ecosystem. As Cukierman said, "There are 200 Israeli publicly-traded companies and thousands of private tech companies there; but besides Check Point Software, the public companies that help our ecosystem are Google, Intel, Microsoft, HP and others. These U.S. companies buy the private Israeli companies or open incubators here to get access to Israeli R&D talent." Indeed, demand for that engineering talent outstrips supply. "There is a 10,000 engineer shortage in Israel. Companies are setting up engineering operations in Eastern Europe. Most of the engineering talent comes out of the Israeli Defense Force — units like the 8200 — which specializes in information security. But there is a good amount of talent from the University of Tel Aviv, Hebrew University, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev," explained Cukierman.

 

The enterprise marketing talent in Israel generally comes from well-regarded U.S. companies. As Uri Goldberg, an expert on Israel's high tech ecosystem, said, "The vast majority of marketing and sales executives and general managers I know were trained at places like Google, Facebook, or Akamai. VCs want to be able to see that you have the best people — these U.S. brands represent quality. I can feed my family because I am a McKinsey alum." With 272 U.S. IPOs and 101 European IPOs, Israel has generated plenty of capital for startups…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]           

 

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CHINA’S SPACE SILK ROAD AND THE MIDDLE EAST –

THE ISRAELI PERSPECTIVE

Dr. Eytan Tepper

Space Watch Middle East, Aug. 2017

 

China’s U.S.$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to establish a network of roads, railroads, and sea routes and ports is underway, and it has a space segment. Israel has an opportunity to be an important part of the BRI and its space segment, but it does not want to jeopardize its strategic alliance with the U.S., which is suspicious of the BRI. Additionally, there are also concerns emanating from participation of countries hostile to Israel. Israel has much to contribute and gain, and considering the opportunities the BRI and its space segment opens for Israel, it should take an active part in the BRI to the extent that it will not jeopardize its security interests and its strategic alliance with the U.S. Such a path is possible and should be carefully pursued.

 

The BRI, also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR), is comprised of two main segments: the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. There are two less known segments, the Air Silk Road and a space-based Silk Road – the Space Silk Road. The BRI will connect East and West, facilitate trade, and promote development along the routes. The transportation and development along the routes need space-based navigation, communication, and observation services. This is the purpose of the “Space Information Corridor” that will make use of existing as well as new, special-purpose satellites.

 

The latest white paper on space policy published by the Chinese State Council in December 2016 specifically refers to the BRI. The white paper calls for “strengthening bilateral and multilateral cooperation [in space activities] which is based on common goals and serves the Belt and Road Initiative”. It stipulates the goal of “construction of the Belt and Road Initiative Space Information Corridor, including earth observation, communications and broadcasting, navigation and positioning, and other types of satellite-related development; ground and application system construction; and application product development”. It further specifically sets the target for China’s Beidou navigation system to “to start providing basic services to countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road in 2018 [and] form a network consisting of 35 satellites for global services by 2020…”

 

According to the published plans and statements, we can expect an array of existing and new satellites providing a range of services supporting transportation, communications, and development along the routes. The services will include traffic navigation and control and satellite-based mobile phone services with dedicated satellite smartphones. Further applications will facilitate mitigation of natural disaster, climate change tracking and mitigation, environmental sustainable development, smart agriculture, management of water resources, natural resources discovery, and management and preservation of cultural and natural heritage. We may expect further commercial applications that will provide services to residents, workers, and travelers along the routes and connect them with local service providers.

 

To accomplish all that there is a need for new satellites, ground stations, compatible receivers and smartphones, and new software and applications. This opens the door for a variety of private initiatives for applications that will provide related services. According to a report by the McKinsey & Company management consulting firm, the BRI will cover about 65% of the world’s population and about a third of global GDP, which renders the economic opportunities too high to be ignored.

 

There is an opportunity for Israel to be an important player in the Space Silk Road. Israel is already a close trade partner of China, a source of advanced technologies, and a founding member of another of China’s, and President Xi Jinping’s, flagship project – the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which is likely to provide part of the finance for the BRI, along with the Silk Road Fund.

 

Israel, for which high-tech industry is the distinct growth engine that earned it the title “start-up nation”, is also a sophisticated spacefaring nation. Israel joined the exclusive club of spacefaring nations in 1988 and has demonstrated capabilities and products in space infrastructure, products, and services, including leading optical equipment and small satellites. Israel has the eighth largest share of global space services. Furthermore, in 2012 Israel adopted a new Civil Space Policy with plans to boost its civil space industry and place it amongst the top 5 leading nations, making commercial space the next growth engine for the Israeli economy.

 

Potentially, Israel could provide communications and observation satellites, ground segments, receivers, software and applications that are already part of its existing supply. Israel’s bustling app industry can produce new, dedicated apps that will use and support the utility of the satellites serving the BRI.

 

The white paper on the development of China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System published in June 2016 ‎[6] states that “China will jointly build satellite navigation augmentation systems with relevant nations, provide highly accurate satellite navigation, positioning and timing services, improve the overseas [Beidou] service performances, and promote international applications of navigation technologies.” Israeli companies like Gilat and Waze have long been providing receivers, satellite services, and leading applications utilising satellite navigation systems and Israeli companies can develop hardware and software that will utilize the Beidou system and boost its usability.

 

In almost every segment of the Space Silk Road, Israeli companies have proven capabilities of the highest level and can provide hardware, software and applications, existing and dedicated. The economic potential is significant, and can realize the goal of the Israeli civil space policy to be among the top five leading nations in the space sector…

[To Read the Full Article With Footnotes Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                                   

                                                                       

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COMING OF AGE, ISRAEL BIOTECH SECTOR GETS READY FOR MARKET                                                          Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Aug. 17, 2017

 

The sale of Israeli drugmaker NeuroDerm to Japanese pharma giant Mitsubishi Tanabe for $1.1 billion last month in the largest ever purchase of an Israeli healthcare company, has put the spotlight on Israel’s biotech sector, where a number of other firms are gearing up for commercialization of their product. “This is a big deal,” said Anya Eldan, vice president of the Israel Innovation Authority’s Startup Division, about the NeuroDerm deal. “We don’t see this kind of valuation often for a biotech company; it is more typical of an internet company. It shows big support for the Israeli biotech industry.”

 

NeuroDerm develops treatments for patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease, as well as other disorders related to the central nervous system. The firm’s leading product candidate is not even on the market yet, but is in advanced clinical trials in both Europe and the United States. The product could hit the market as early as 2019, Mitsubishi Tanabe said last month.

 

NeuroDerm was founded in one of the Innovation Authority’s technological incubators in 2003 and received the authority’s financial support for seven years, Eldan said. “It is very gratifying that one of our companies has done so well. The company now has a strategic partner that will help bring its product to the market.”

 

Biotechnology firms typically have a long and painful journey to success. Much money and patience and a lot of luck is needed to develop a drug, a process that takes years and goes through identifying a need, getting an idea for a drug, developing the drug and then undertaking clinical trials that may ultimately lead to regulatory approvals worldwide and commercialization. The chances of failure at each of these stages is huge. And little successes bring much joy.

 

“In biotech, it is very difficult to succeed, and building an ecosystem in Israel requires patience,” said Eldan. The NeuroDerm deal, she said, “is the beginning of the coming of age of the Israeli biotech industry, and it is the result of a long-term government policy. We are very happy to see this kind of maturation, and there is still a lot of work to do.” But, she added, “eventually out of these young innovative companies the next big Israeli pharma firm will emerge.”

 

There are some 1,350 life sciences companies active now in Israel, 612 of them having been created in the last decade, 2007-2016, according to a 2016 Life Sciences Report by the Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI) released in May. The IATI is an umbrella organization of the high-tech and life sciences industries in Israel. Some $823 million flowed into the industry last year, accounting for 20% of all investments in Israeli high-tech, the report showed. And the industry is becoming more mature, with some 33% of companies in preliminary revenue phase, and 5% in the revenue growth stage.

 

Indeed, companies like BiondVax, a developer of a universal flu vaccine candidate; Gamida Cell, a maker of cell and immune therapy technologies; RedHill Biopharma Ltd, a developer of drugs for gastrointestinal diseases; and Vascular Biogenics Ltd. (VBL), a maker of drugs that targets blood vessels to stop the spread of cancer are all gearing up toward commercialization of their products.

 

RedHill Biopharma, the biotech company founded by two kibbutz dwellers, Dror Ben-Asher and Ori Shilo, is traded both in Tel Aviv and on the Nasdaq. The firm is conducting late-stage clinical trials for several drugs, including two that aim to tackle Crohn’s disease and H. pylori, the bacteria that is the root of ulcers and a major cause of gastric cancer, respectively. RedHill also has a pipeline of other advanced clinical-stage experimental medications in the works, as a way to spread out risk. RedHill is currently setting up its US commercial infrastructure and salesforce, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, as it waits for its other products to ripen and get the potential approvals needed from the US FDA.

 

Vascular Biogenics, founded in 2000 by its CEO Dror Harats, a professor at Tel Aviv University and a doctor at the Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, develops anti-cancer gene therapies. Its flagship drug, VB-111, targets glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive and difficult to treat type of brain tumor. The company plans to set up a new manufacturing facility in Modiin in central Israel, which will bring the company closer to the potential commercialization of the VB-111 drug.

 

BiondVax, a Ness Ziona-based company whose shares are traded on the Nasdaq and in Tel Aviv, is a developer of a universal flu vaccine candidate. The company said last month it has signed an agreement to lease a space of approximately 1,800 square meters in the Jerusalem BioPark, located in the Ein Kerem Hadassah Campus. The mid-sized facility is expected to have the capacity to annually produce tens of millions of doses of its flagship M-001 universal flu vaccine candidate, either in single-dose syringe or in bulk. M-001 is designed to provide protection against current and future seasonal and pandemic flu strains…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

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LATIN AMERICAN ALLIES             

Editorial                                         

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 2017

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embarked Sunday on a whirlwind visit to Latin America, the first of its kind for a sitting Israeli head of state. It is part of a broader foreign policy push to develop ties with areas of the globe not traditionally on Israel’s diplomatic radar. While in the past the focus of Israeli foreign policy has been the US and Europe, in recent years there has been a concentrated effort to develop ties with countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Israel has much to offer these countries in the fields of agriculture, water management, cyber defense, counter- terrorism, crime fighting and other technologies.

 

Netanyahu’s first stop will be Argentina, where his day-and-a-half stay will coincide with the anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Center attack. He will visit the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, which was the site of a terrorist attack planned by groups connected with Iran that left 85 dead. He will also visit the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, which was targeted by Islamist terrorists in 1992.

 

Netanyahu’s decision to choose Argentina as one his stops is no coincidence. In sharp contrast to the Kirchner government, Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri is a strong supporter of Israel. Macri broke off attempts by the previous administration to improve ties and cooperation with Iran. He has also vowed to do more to get to the bottom of the bombings of the Israeli embassy and AMIA, and he is unabashed in his support for Israel and desire to improve economic and diplomatic ties. Macri faces strong opposition from elements close to the Kirchner political machine and the anti-globalization Left. These groups are expected to hold demonstrations during Netanyahu’s visit, including a protest against the very existence of an Israeli Embassy in Argentina.

 

While in Argentina, Netanyahu will also meet with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes, another strong supporter of Israel. Unlike countries such as Brazil, Peru, Chile, El Salvador and Ecuador – which recalled their ambassadors during Operation Protection Edge – Cartes stood by Israel. Paraguay has also voted for Israel or abstained from Israel-related votes in the UN and other international forums since Cartes was elected in 2013.

 

Netanyahu’s next stops will be Colombia and Mexico. In Colombia, Netanyahu will meet with President Juan Manuel Santos, sign bilateral agreements on science and tourism cooperation, and visit the local Jewish community. In Mexico, the prime minister will meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto and sign joint agreements on space, aviation, communications and development cooperation. While in Mexico City, Netanyahu will also address a forum to encourage bilateral trade and attend an event organized by the local Jewish community. Netanyahu’s travel plans were unaffected by Friday’s earthquake – the strongest to hit Mexico in a century – that killed dozens and was felt in the capital.

 

In the face of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, bias in the UN and other international forums, and the general prominence of antisemitic and anti-Israel rhetoric and sentiment, it is easy to forget that Israel also has quite a few friends scattered throughout the world. Widening our diplomatic efforts to those areas which have historically received less attention is important as part of the ongoing fight against unfounded attacks on the Jewish state.

 

In Latin America, criticism of Israel often goes hand in hand with anti-globalism or anti-American sentiments. But it is encouraging to note and celebrate those Latin American countries which are led by leaders who seek strong ties with Israel, not just out of appreciation for Israel’s democratic values, but out of a strong self-interest. Israel has much to offer. With the passage of time, more countries are beginning to realize this. Old prejudices are being set aside in favor of doing what is right from both a moral and pragmatic standpoint. Netanyahu’s visit reflects this simple fact.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel, China Sign $300M CleanTech Deal: Jewish Press, Sept. 11, 2017—Israel and China signed a $300 million extension of a financial protocol between the two countries in Beijing on Monday, aimed at increasing Israeli exports of clean tech and agricultural technologies to China.

SpaceIL Craft on Assembly Line as Race to Moon Nears: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21c, Aug. 7, 2017—Israel’s SpaceIL, one of only five teams remaining in the multi-million-dollar Google Lunar XPrize race to the moon, is starting to assemble the craft to be launched in 2018, according to SpaceIL CEO Eran Privman.

Foreign Investment in Israel’s Strategic Industries: Efraim Chalamish, BESA, July 27, 2017—The changing map of foreign investment in Israel demands a new balance between market access and investment review. The Israeli government has not yet communicated to the global investment community its vision for foreign investment in Israel, especially in the banking, insurance, commodities and defense markets.

China in the Red Sea: The Djibouti Naval Base and the Return of Admiral Zheng He: Gideon Elazar, BESA, Aug. 23, 2017—On July 11, ships carrying military personnel set sail from the Chinese naval base in Zhanjiang for the Horn of Africa. Their destination was Djibouti, where China has opened its first overseas naval base. According to the Chinese Xinhua news agency, the base is intended to “ensure China’s performance of missions, such as escorting, peace-keeping and humanitarian aid in Africa and west Asia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S BOOMING HIGH-TECH INDUSTRY KNOWN GLOBALLY FOR “BOLDNESS & INNOVATION”

 

Historic Israeli Mini-Satellite to be Launched with French Cooperation: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2017— Israel’s first environmental satellite, named “Venus,” the major project of the Israel Space Agency and the French space agency CNES, will be launched from French Guinea at 4:58 a.m. on August 2.

China is Increasingly Becoming Key for Israel's High-Tech Industry: Ferry Biedermann, CNBC, July 18, 2017— China's investors and markets are becoming increasingly important to Israel's economy, and in particular to its booming high-tech industry.

How Israeli Technologies Improve Water, Food Security In India: Amanda Ngo, NoCamels, July 03, 2017— Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to arrive in Israel this week in a historically significant first visit.

Israel’s Tech Startups are Giving Silicon Valley a Run for its Money: Ed Zwirn, New York Post, May 28, 2017 — Wondering where to find the next tech startup propelling humanity to the next best thing?

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel: Internship Nation: Jeff Seidel, Times of Israel, July 16, 2017

Modi's Visit: The View from Jerusalem: Efraim Inbar, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, July 10, 2017

Modi’s Visit to Israel: Oshrit Birvadker, BESA, July 31, 2017

The Role of Azerbaijan in Israel’s Alliance of Periphery: Aynur Bashirova and Ahmet Sozen, Rubin Center, June 22, 2017

 

         

 

HISTORIC ISRAELI MINI-SATELLITE TO

BE LAUNCHED WITH FRENCH COOPERATION                                                         

Judy Siegel-Itzkovich

                                                  Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2017

 

Israel’s first environmental satellite, named “Venus,” the major project of the Israel Space Agency and the French space agency CNES, will be launched from French Guinea at 4:58 a.m. on August 2. Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis called the upcoming launch an “important national event.” Israel, he said, is “known around the world for its boldness and innovation, which are expressed also in the technological developments of ‘Venus.’ We are so proud to see how work of many years of our best engineers and researchers at the head of the Israel Space Agency, along with CNES, will reach its peak at the launching.”

 

Environmental satellites have become very important in recent years because of problems on Earth resulting from population increase, declining space for agriculture, pollution and natural disasters. The Venus, the world’s smallest satellite of its kind, was built in the last few years by Israel Aerospace Industries. It will observe fields and nature from space for environmental research, monitoring land conditions, forestry, agriculture, the quality of water sources and more.

 

The mini-satellite is equipped with a special camera that can visualize details on Earth that are invisible to the naked eye. It will take photos of set locations in Israel and around the world and provide researchers with scores of images daily, each of which will cover 760 square kilometers. The Venus will revolve around the Earth 29 times each 48 hours and repeat exact photo angles, making it possible to note differences in conditions – characteristics that make the satellite unique, the Science and Technology Ministry said.

 

The Venus satellite weighs only 265 kilograms. It will be launched along with an Italian satellite and reach its position 720 kilometers above Earth within 37 minutes and 18 seconds. The first confirmation of proper position and function should be received on the ground after five-and-a-half hours from launch time, but the initial images will arrive a week later. Processed images will be sent to users three months after launch. The Venus is due to remain in operation for four-and-a-half years, after which time it will be shifted to a lower trajectory. Some 110 different set research areas around the world will be photographed. When the satellite passes over Israel, the Venus will photograph three swaths in the Galilee, the coastal area and the Negev Desert, where most national parks, forests, ecological stations and nature areas exist. The photos will also benefit university, government and state research institutes.

 

Venus will transmit data to a reception station in northern Sweden. From there, the data will be processed initially by the French Space Agency, which will be led by French researcher Gerard Didiot. The images of Israel will arrive at the research center at the Sde Boker campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, headed by Prof. Arnon Karnieli. The research center is an operational arm of the Science and Technology Ministry. One of the first research projects to be used by the satellite simulations – funded by an investment of NIS 500,000 from the Israel Space Agency – will be one designed by high school pupils from Rishon Lezion and Rehovot.

 

Venus is also the first innovative technological mission of its kind to test the feasibility of a plasma-based electric propulsion system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, using an electric propulsion system that saves fuel and satellite weight to increase the weight of the equipment for research purposes. Although the Venus is a joint project of Israel and France, all of the satellite’s hardware components were developed in Israel’s space industries. In addition to IAI, which built the satellite and integrated the components, Elbit developed the unique camera, and Rafael developed the propulsion system, resulting in the entire satellite being the product of Israeli construction and development.

 

Meanwhile, IAI president and CEO Yossi Weiss said that the Italian and the Israeli-French satellites are “the glory of Israeli technology and reflect Israel’s international activities in space and the extraordinary cooperation with Italy and France. The stateof-the-art observation satellites program enables the development and production of local needs and exports, and is supported by clear government policy in the field.” He added, “On the eve of the launch, I call upon the Israel government to make the necessary decisions regarding the future of Israeli media satellites. Since the loss of Amos-6 about 10 months ago, no decision has been made regarding the future of the field, which will eventually lead to the loss of knowledge and accumulated technological capabilities. We are approaching the point of no return that could lead to the elimination of Israel’s capabilities in the field of communications satellites.”                      

 

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CHINA IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING KEY

FOR ISRAEL'S HIGH-TECH INDUSTRY

Ferry Biedermann

CNBC, July 18, 2017

 

China's investors and markets are becoming increasingly important to Israel's economy, and in particular to its booming high-tech industry. The first IPO (initial public offering) of an Israeli high-tech company on a Chinese stock exchange, Hong Kong, is expected within the year and Chinese investments in Israeli high-tech venture capital approached $1 billion in 2016, industry experts say.

 

"The Chinese stock exchange market will become another very viable option for Israeli companies looking for public funding," if the first IPO goes off successfully, Eli Tidhar of Deloitte Israel, told CNBC. Tidhar heads what Deloitte calls its "Israel-China corridor". Israel has laid out the welcoming mat to Chinese companies and investors who may face more troublesome regulations and scrutiny elsewhere.

 

Hardly a day goes by without another Israel-China initiative being announced, whether it's a new Israeli tech incubator in China, new investments, joint ventures, trade conferences or delegations. In May this year, another audit firm PwC led a delegation of Israeli companies to Hong Kong to explore the possibilities of listing on the stock exchange. Deloitte's Tidhar says that a sea change is taking place among Israeli companies looking for funding. Israeli high-tech VC (venture capital) companies raised $500 million from Chinese investors in 2014 and $700 million in 2015 and the amount keeps growing, according to Tidhar.

 

"In the past, Israel used to look mostly at the U.S. and Europe as our source for investment, especially in high tech," he said. But now, "It becomes less and less awkward that a company that would like to raise money would pursue this investment from China." This view is echoed Dorian Barak, who heads the Israeli arm of Kuang Chi, one of the few Chinese conglomerates that has so far actually set up a permanent local representation. Israel's venture capital landscape and its exits were until now largely a matter of Western money, Barak said. But that's about to change. "The rise of China and China's adoption of an outward looking policy of investments and cooperation has the opportunity to have as much of an impact on the local economy as did the massive capital influx from chiefly the United States in the (1990s) and the first decade of the 21st century," Barak said in a telephone interview.

 

Kuang Chi last year set up a $300 million fund, particularly for smart city investments in Israel. It has so far, among other companies, invested in machine vision company eyesight Technologies. Large chunks of Israel's infrastructure projects, including ports, railway lines and tunnels, are being carried out by Chinese companies these days. And some flagship Israeli companies have been acquired by Chinese conglomerates, such as ChemChina's acquisition of Adama and Bright Food's takeover of Tnuva. Reuters earlier this year reported that in 2016 total Chinese investments in Israel jumped to $16.5 billion.

 

But in the high-tech sector, this has not yet translated to the same massive presence of Chinese conglomerates that Western companies have in Israel, whether in R&D (research and development) centers, production or representative offices. Kuang Chi's Barak said that Chinese companies are very slowly coming to the realization that there's an added value to a local presence. He's getting constant inquiries from Chinese local government and private investors.

 

"When you see Chinese names on the sides of buildings in Herzliya Pituah (near Tel Aviv) as you currently see American names, you'll know the Chinese investors have really arrived and the Chinese strategics have arrived en masse. There's a long way to go," said Barak. But it's getting there, is the consensus. One company that has seen Chinese investment is intelligent search company Twiggle. It's received backing from the likes of e-commerce giant Alibaba and MizMaa – a fund specializing in Chinese investments in Israeli high-tech.

 

CEO and co-founder Amir Konigsberg, said that for Twiggle, as for many other Israeli companies, the ties with China are not merely about getting finance. Help with market access is of much greater importance. "Not disregarding the growth in other markets, such as the U.S. and Europe, in terms of e-commerce China and Asia are very dominant markets," he said.

 

Israeli start-ups had been used to working with U.S. and European investors, he said: "The collaboration and the synergy with the China market and the big Chinese companies is more recent. The adaptation to that has been gradual and the Israeli companies like ourselves are learning to work better with the Chinese companies." One potential adaptation to be made was in the differences of expectations that sometimes occurs, said Denes Ban, managing partner at Israeli high-tech crowdfunding firm OurCrowd. Those expectations center around the tension between getting funding and getting access to Chinese markets.

 

"If you look at the term sheet, there's no such thing as free Chinese money," said Ban. Many Israeli companies, who are far from naive, initially misjudge the intentions of the Chinese investors: "What often happens is, 'OK we invest but actually the amount we invest doesn't go into the headquarters in Israel, actually it will only go to a joint venture in China and we own 51 percent of it', so basically they control it. We have seen this."

 

For OurCrowd, Ban is very excited about the emerging interest of large Asian, including Chinese, financial institutions in getting their clients a piece of the pie in the Israeli VC market. "We signed a deal in Singapore with UOB, Shanghai Commercial Bank, Reliance India, these are some of the biggest institutions that are looking to offer these venture capital products to their clients," said Ban. He, like others interviewed by CNBC, sees one crucial Israeli advantage to attracting Chinese investment, apart from Israel's start-up nation image: an openness to Chinese investors where the U.S. and Europe are getting pickier. Deloitte's Tidhar puts it simply: "The restrictions, limitations, barriers that Chinese companies face in other markets, they don't face in Israel."                                                           

 

Contents

HOW ISRAELI TECHNOLOGIES IMPROVE WATER,

FOOD SECURITY IN INDIA

                    Amanda Ngo                                                                         

NoCamels, July 03, 2017

 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to arrive in Israel this week in a historically significant first visit. This trip marks the first time that an Indian Prime Minister has travelled to Israel, and will strengthen what is already a flourishing relationship between the two nations. India’s demand for Israeli tech, particularly water and agricultural technologies, as well as a shared desire to invest money in innovation, research and development, continue to drive the partnership to new heights.

 

Modi’s delegation is expected to include 100 entrepreneurs, including executives from some of India’s biggest companies. He will engage in talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with the goal of promoting strategic partnerships in the areas of water conservation, food security, space technology, defense, and others.

 

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, Israel and India have seen trade between the two countries jump from $200 million in 1992 to $4.167 billion in 2016 (not including defense agreements), according to Israel’s Ministry of Economy. An Israeli-Indian Free Trade Agreement has been in the pipeline since 2010, with observers speculating that this upcoming visit could add momentum to the process…

 

A glance at the strengths and needs of both India and Israel reveals why the partnership has been so successful thus far. With a burgeoning population (currently at 1.3 billion), India is experiencing difficulties with water conservation and purification, and food security. According to the World Bank, around 21 percent of infectious diseases in India are related to unsafe water. Agriculture, too, is a significant part of the Indian economy, representing 17 percent of the GDP and depended upon by 50 percent of the population.

 

Israel is known worldwide for its strengths in water and agricultural technology. For years, Israel has been providing India with world-leading expertise and technology to help the larger nation combat these issues. In return for capitalizing on Israel’s technological expertise, India provides Israel with a huge market opportunity, and endless avenues for business investment. With the second largest population in the world, and a GDP of around $2 trillion (according to the World Bank), the Indian market offers the kind of scale that Israeli businesses need.

 

Over the 25 years of diplomatic relations, the shared initiatives have been wide-ranging. Since 2008, the nations have strengthened their relationship through the joint establishment of ‘Centers of Excellence’ in India, as part of the Indo-Israel Agricultural Cooperation Project. Present across nine Indian states, the 26 centers provide Israeli technology and expertise to Indian farmers. They have been highly successful, and there is suggestion that Modi’s upcoming visit will lead to an expansion of this plan.

 

One of the leading Israeli startups making waves in India is Aqwise. A water tech firm, Aqwise has built a water treatment plant that supplies drinking water to the city of Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. Using an innovative technique of releasing polyethylene biofilm carriers into the water supply, the company provides around 2 million inhabitants and tourists with clean, potable water. Israeli company IDE has also done impressive work in the water conservation industry in India, implementing desalinization methods that have saved millions of dollars and thousands of millions meters cubed units of water. Israel’s Netafim has been implementing drip irrigation technologies that help Indian farmers conserve precious water.

 

WaterGen, an Israeli air-to-water technology company, is a global leader in water purification. By extracting moisture from air, WaterGen is able to generate water that is safe to drink. Earlier this year, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the India solar engineering firm, Vikram Solar. The deal, which is estimated to be worth at least $100 million, will help the company expand in the Indian market.

 

Indian companies have shown an unbridled eagerness to tap into the Israeli tech scene. Aditya Birla, the third-largest conglomerate in India valued at $41 billion, has been targeting Israel to find new investments since 2016. Focusing on clean-tech, cyber security, financial technology, and water tech, the company has reviewed hundreds of startups. Infosys, an Indian conglomerate, bought Israeli cloud tech firm Panaya for $200 million in 2014. In 2007, Indian company Jain Irrigation acquired Israeli firm NaanDan, forming NaanDanJain Irrigation Ltd. The company is headquartered in Israel, and now serves farmers in over 100 countries.

 

Significant amounts of money continue to be channeled into joint initiatives by both governments. In the very near future, the Israeli government is set to approve a proposal to further economic cooperation with India by investing NIS 280 into water and agricultural technology, among other strategies. NIS 140 of that budget will go into an Israeli-Indian fund aimed at encouraging innovation and R&D for Israeli and Indian companies.

 

Indian and Israeli companies have shown a shared desire to foster innovation. Earlier this year, Israeli equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd and Indian private sector company Reliance Industries, together with American data communications company Motorola, set up an incubator in Jerusalem aimed at encouraging innovation in hi-tech in Israel. The incubator will focus on up-and-coming areas such as artificial intelligence, big data, FinTech, IoT, and computer vision. OurCrowd has also formed a partnership with LetsVenture, the largest marketplace for startup funding in India. The partnership will give exposure to Indian startups, and offer deals to Indian investors.

 

India is also an ardent supporter of Israeli defense technology: Earlier this year, Israeli Aerospace Industries revealed its plan to provide India with missile defense systems in what will be the organization’s biggest security contract ever. The contracts amount to almost $2 billion, and will deliver advanced medium-range surface-to-air missiles to the Indian Army. India is currently the largest buyer of Israeli military equipment…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents  

             

ISRAEL’S TECH STARTUPS ARE GIVING SILICON

VALLEY A RUN FOR ITS MONEY

Ed Zwirn                                         

New York Post, May 28, 2017

 

Wondering where to find the next tech startup propelling humanity to the next best thing? Israel’s answer to Silicon Valley is Silicon Wadi, an area around Tel Aviv on the country’s coastal plain with a heavy concentration of high-tech industries that rivals the San Francisco Bay Area’s cluster of innovative firms. There are about 4,300 startups operating in Israel, with about 2,900 of these located within a 10-mile radius, a rate of development second in intensity to only Silicon Valley itself. Even as President Trump was meeting with the Israeli political elite on the Jerusalem leg of his first foreign trip, a huge slice of that country’s brain trust was gathered in Midtown Manhattan to explore the reasons behind this tech wave and showcase some of the developments that have enabled this small country to punch above its weight.

 

Or maybe jumping would be a more apt metaphor. “The cat flea has the ability to jump almost 200 times its height,” Oded Shoseyov, a professor of protein engineering and nano biotechnology at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the crowd at Nexus: Israel, a gathering sponsored by the American Friends of Hebrew University. Shoseyov, who has his name on more than 50 patents and has served as the scientific founder of 10 companies specializing in everything from nanotechnology to production of medical cannabis, says one of the most exciting scientific quests is understanding the jumping power of the flea. That and other marvels of nature are helping spark solutions to real-world challenges faced by humans.

 

CollPlant, one of the companies he helped found, is attempting to bioengineer solutions to these problems by cloning human DNA onto tobacco plants. “I have no doubt that we’ll be able to produce a human heart in the laboratory,” he says. “This heart is not going to be the same as a human heart, it’s going to be better.”

 

One of the more established players in both Silicon Valley and its Middle Eastern rival is Intel Corp., which set up a research and production operation in Israel in 1972. Intel Israel has since grown to the point where it has become Israel’s largest private employer, with more than 10,200 workers on its payroll as of last year. According to Maxine Fassberg, executive in residence and vice president of Intel Capital, the company exported $3.35 billion of chips and other products from Israel last year, accounting for 1 percent to 2 percent of the country’s GDP.

 

In addition to the tech developments fostered by Intel, Fassberg credits both Israel’s defense sector and its academia for propelling this development. “The bottom line is the people and the quality of the education there,” she says. For his part, Dr. Yaron Daniely, chief executive of Yissum, Hebrew University’s technology transfer arm, and himself the driving force behind many Israeli developments in medical technology, credits the amazing performance of Israeli R&D to “chutzpah,” shown in the willingness of the country’s scientists and entrepreneurs to take on risk. “Exceptional people exist everywhere who are more creative than others, but that doesn’t guarantee success,” he points out. “We were arrogant Israelis. We didn’t think that we were stupid.”

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel: Internship Nation: Jeff Seidel, Times of Israel, July 16, 2017— In this day and age, getting a high-quality job is difficult. Since “the internship” has become a prerequisite for being in the race for a good job, the competition for finding one that builds your resume while providing you real-world experience, has only made the process more difficult.

Modi's Visit: The View from Jerusalem: Efraim Inbar, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, July 10, 2017— The visit by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi caused many Jerusalemites, like me, a lot of traffic delays. In retrospect, it was definitely a price worth paying.

Modi’s Visit to Israel: Oshrit Birvadker, BESA, July 31, 2017— From the 1920s until the establishment of official bilateral relations in 1992, Indian-Israeli ties were dictated by the views of Indian Muslims and moves by Pakistan.

The Role of Azerbaijan in Israel’s Alliance of Periphery: Aynur Bashirova and Ahmet Sozen, Rubin Center, June 22, 2017— Israel’s alliance of periphery was formed in the 1950s in order to end the newly established state’s regional and global isolation, which was a result of its conflict with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors.

 

 

ISRAEL’S CULTURE OF INNOVATION IS CHANGING THE WORLD, FROM U.S.A., TO CHINA, AFRICA, & BEYOND

Good Schools Aren’t the Secret to Israel’s High-Tech Boom: Naftali Bennett, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2017— I am often asked how a country the size of New Jersey, with fewer residents than New York City, became a global high-tech force.

Can Israel's High-Tech Sector Make America Great Again?: David Patrikarakos, National Interest, Mar. 2, 2017— Here, in Israel, a joke is making the rounds. How does a Saudi do business with an Israeli? Very quietly.

An Economic Powerhouse and a Rising Hi-Tech Superpower – 25 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between China and Israel: Avi Luvton, Times of Israel, Mar. 23, 2017— This January, Israel and China marked 25 years of diplomatic relations.

From Tragedy to Tech: Israelis and Rwandans Partner to Build the ‘African Start-up Nation’: Shterny Isseroff, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2017— With a modest population of 12 million, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Uganda to the north, Rwanda today is renowned for its green highlands, active volcanoes and rare silverback gorillas.

               

On Topic Links

 

Israel Aims to Become World’s 15th Largest Economy by 2025 — Minister: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Mar. 19, 2017

The Sky is the Limit for China and Israel: Meir Javedanfar, CGTN, Mar. 20, 2017

Tech Talk: Israeli Satellite to be Launched into Space: Ariel Shapira, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017

Trump, China, and the Middle East: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Feb. 7, 2017

 

     

 

GOOD SCHOOLS AREN’T THE SECRET TO ISRAEL’S HIGH-TECH BOOM

                                                            Naftali Bennett

                                                     Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2017

 

I am often asked how a country the size of New Jersey, with fewer residents than New York City, became a global high-tech force. In a dynamic world, where innovation and adaptation are crucial, everyone wants to know Israel’s secret educational ingredient. Despite its small size, Israel lists 93 companies on the Nasdaq—more than India, Japan and South Korea combined. In 2016 investors sank $6 billion into Israel’s more than 6,000 startups. Google, IBM, Apple and Intel all have research-and-development centers located here.

 

Many people look to the Israeli education system to explain this success. During my two years as minister of education I have come to understand that although Israel’s schools are good, our secret weapon is a parallel education system that operates alongside the formal one. This is where our children learn to become entrepreneurs.

 

Israel’s shadow education system has three components. The first is our heritage of debate—it’s in the Jewish DNA. For generations Jews have studied the Talmud, our legal codex, in a way vastly different from what goes on in a standard classroom. Instead of listening to a lecture, the meaning of complex texts is debated by students in hevruta—pairs—with a teacher offering occasional guidance.

 

Unlike quiet Western libraries, the Jewish beit midrash—house of study—is a buzzing beehive of learning. Since the Talmud is one of the most complex legal codes ever gathered, the idea of a verdict is almost irrelevant to those studying. Students engage in debate for the sake of debate. They analyze issues from all directions, finding different solutions. Multiple answers to a single question are common. Like the Talmud itself—which isn’t the written law but a gathering of protocols—the learning process, not the result, is valued.

 

The second component of our shadow education system is the peer-teaches-peer model of Jewish youth organizations, membership-based groups that we call “movements.” Teenagers work closely with younger children; they lead groups on excursions and hikes, develop informal curricula, and are responsible for those in their care. As an 11th-grade student, I took fifth-graders on an overnight hike in the mountains. Being given responsibilities at a young age helped shape me into who I am today.

 

The third component is the army. Because we are constantly defending ourselves from Islamic terror, 18-year-old boys and girls are drafted into the military for stints of two or three years. Young Israeli adults must literally make life-or-death decisions every day. As a 23-year-old officer in 1995, I led 70 soldiers behind enemy lines. The covert mission required me to prepare my troops, mobilize people and equipment, build contingency plans, and function under immense physical and mental pressure. These situations teach a person how to execute plans—or adapt and improvise. Consider a hypothetical 19-year-old soldier in the intelligence corps, analyzing aerial photographs or intercepted communications. She must decide if the material in front of her indicates an impending attack or not. This isn’t a rare occurrence. Thousands of Israeli soldiers experience it daily.

 

Good teachers in vibrant classrooms are necessary for children—and nations—to succeed. Schools provide a base of literacy, mathematics and social interaction. But Israel’s extracurricular system goes further. Peer-led debate and intellectual dialogue enhances learning. Actual responsibilities, like caring for younger children, nurture growth and maturity. Real-life tasks show young adults how much they are capable of achieving. These are the principles that anyone wishing to replicate Israel’s success should emulate.

 

Two qualities are needed to change the world: innovation, to think of new ideas, and entrepreneurship, to turn those ideas into reality. That is the essence of today’s economy. The way to create citizens steeped in the ethos of both is to give children, at a young age, the room to try.

 

Contents

 

CAN ISRAEL'S HIGH-TECH SECTOR MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN?                                      

David Patrikarakos

National Interest, Mar. 2, 2017

 

Here, in Israel, a joke is making the rounds. How does a Saudi do business with an Israeli? Very quietly. Like all the best jokes, it contains an essential truth: that in the face of mounting criticism and the spread of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaign on campuses across western Europe and the United States, Israeli business—notably its high-tech sector—is going from strength to strength. The “start-up nation” is living up to its name, and its benefits are being felt most strongly in the United States.

 

Donald Trump has entered the presidential office vowing to make “America Great Again.” It is hard to discern what this woolly statement—reminiscent of Obama’s “Yes We Can!” in its triumphant yet nebulous tone—means, or indeed what most of his policies actually entail. But it is clear that, as a businessman (albeit one of questionable success), his political ideology is largely economically based. Trump has said he wants to bring jobs back to the United States and to impose tariffs on imports, but this is twentieth-century economic thinking in a twenty-first-century world. As automation will increasingly come to dominate manufacturing and associated industries, technology and innovation will be the true drivers of economic growth. And nowhere are these two areas more prevalent than in the United States and Israel.

 

Jerusalem is cold. There is a biting February wind. Nonetheless, thousands have descended on the 2017 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit near the city center. With five thousand attendees, it’s the world’s largest equity crowdfunding conference. Investors looking for everything from artificial intelligence to robotics have made the trek to Israel’s capital.

 

And it soon becomes clear why. Last year, Eric Schmidt, formerly the chief executive of Google and now executive chairman of its parent company, Alphabet, told an audience at Google’s offices in Tel Aviv that “for a relatively small country, Israel has a super role in technological innovation. I can’t think of a place where you could see this diversity and the collection of initiatives aside from Silicon Valley . . . That is a pretty strong statement.” He also noted that several Israeli technology companies were on their way to being worth $1 billion.

 

Israel, with a population smaller than that of New York, has long punched above its weight in a variety of arenas—and there are reasons for that. Israel is surrounded by a mass of mostly hostile nations, many of which have tried repeatedly to defeat it. The country has had to fight—literally (and the word is used correctly here)—for its survival from its birth. It is also a Middle Eastern country without oil or an abundance of natural resources (though that somewhat changed with the discovery of the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea, just off Israel’s coast). These factors have forced the nation to be innovative—in everything from the military to medicine. It is innovation born of scarcity.

 

And it is innovation that is now bearing ripe and timely fruit. According to Jonathan Medved, a serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, as well as the founder and chief executive officer of the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit, “Israel high-tech is raising capital like nowhere else. Globally, venture-backed exits declined 26 percent in 2016. Israel, however, was the outlier—seeing record growth and a record year with $4.8 billion invested—up from $2.2 billion in 2013; 120 percent growth in three years.”

 

Medved is a large and imposing man. Gregarious and charming, he wore a kippah and a bushy beard at the summit. He spoke with a broad American accent. I asked him about the effect of the BDS campaign, which has sought to exert political—and especially economic—pressure on Israel, lobbying international firms to cease doing business with the country. It’s all the rage in Europe and the United States, especially amongst the youth. Isn’t this, I asked, a huge problem, for Israeli-American cooperation?

 

His reply was as swift as it was unequivocal. “Israeli business is not like Israeli politics,” he said. “In India, China, Japan, Israel is a top brand—BDS is important on college campuses, NGOs and some part of the church, but not in business. And the trend is an upward one. Ten years ago, there was a fear that Asian companies would not do business with Israel because of pressure from Arab states. That no longer exists.” He continued: “I was sitting at my Shabbos table with one of [the] top U.S. hedge fund managers and an Israeli MK—and I asked him about BDS. His response? ‘What is BDS?’” “Look,” he concluded: “Anyone with a brain cannot support BDS. If you do: get off Google, Facebook, your laptop, anything with an Intel chip.”

 

What does this boom in Israeli tech mean to the United States? The answer, according to David Goodtree, who sits on the Board of Directors of OurCrowd, is simple: it creates jobs; it creates wealth. He takes the state of Massachusetts as a case study. “There are over 200 Israeli-founded companies in the state alone,” he said. “In 2015 those companies brought $9 billion in revenue and $18 billion in economic impact to the state, representing almost 4 percent of its GDP. They also brought twenty-seven thousand jobs and $400–500 million dollars of venture capital.”

 

“Israeli companies drive the mass economy in the U.S.,” he continued. “Similar influence can be found in NYC and Florida. Last year, thirty state governors visited Israel, and they came for economic—not political—reasons.” The Florida Israel Business Accelerator is an example of how a U.S.-Israeli partnership is flourishing across the country. The initiative was set up via Israeli inroads into Massachusetts. Meanwhile, in Vermont, Plasan, an Israeli company that pioneers armor technology, is now among the state’s top employers—along with Ben and Jerry’s—with around one thousand, mostly local, employees. Plasan also has a $30 million plant in Walker, Michigan, to mass-produce carbon composite parts for an automotive customer and application. “This country is on fire in terms of innovation,” Medved told me with a wide grin. “People say it will run out of steam but it won’t—it’s about collaboration and Israel is coming to be seen as international hub. And it’s gaining momentum.”

 

The secret to the growing the Israeli-U.S. technology partnership is that each country brings its own unique skill that the other critically lacks. Israeli companies need to hire American talent to compensate for their areas of weakness. At the center of the partnership lies the ability to scale up. Israeli companies have the innovation—the research and the skills to create a great product, often a prototype. Unfortunately, those companies lack the know-how to make that product go “big” by producing it on a mass scale, an American specialty. This phenomenon is seen from the case of Rewalk, an Israeli technology designed to help paraplegics walk again. The product was exceptional, but Rewalk’s creators lacked the knowledge necessary to get the funding to produce it to scale or get FDA approval. Then an American firm stepped in. Technology from Israel combined with management experience from Boston: it was the perfect combination.

 

This scenario is replicated everywhere. Israel is the fastest innovator in the world. Israeli companies start in beta mode back home, shake the bugs out of their products there, get funding and customer testimonials before importing—mid-stage—companies to the United States. The United States then, rather than incubating its own companies and then facing the prospect of possibly watching them fail, gets the cream of the crop. The process is simple yet highly effective. About 80 percent of Israel’s technology companies are majority funded by North America through increased cash flow. U.S. money flows into Israeli companies that then go to the United States to set up shop, employ people and pay taxes, before they are eventually bought out by U.S. companies. It’s the definition of a virtuous circle…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

                                                                       

Contents

 

    AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE AND A RISING HI-TECH SUPERPOWER –

25 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BETWEEN CHINA AND ISRAEL

                                                   Avi Luvton

                                                               Times of Israel, Mar. 23, 2017

 

This January, Israel and China marked 25 years of diplomatic relations. Israel was the first Middle Eastern country to recognize the People’s Republic of China in January 1950, but formal diplomatic relations were only established in January 1992. This move enabled cooperation in a variety of fields, peaking in recent years with joint activity in trade, tourism, healthcare, academia, technological R&D and more. Nevertheless, the great economic potential has yet to be fully realized. Today, trade between the countries stands at over $11 billion, of which only $3 billion come from exports.

 

China is perceived by many as the world’s center of manufacturing, but it is less often considered a center of innovation. We are used to thinking of “Made in China” but vary rarely think of “Designed in China” or “Invented in China.” This may have been true in the past, but China has been working energetically to become a central player in the global innovation ecosystem. Over the past several years, China has invested tremendous efforts in the field of innovation. This is evident in its investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP (2.1%), in research ($200 billion) and in human resources (30,000 PhDs in the sciences and in engineering), annually. This profound transformation in China from a production to an innovation powerhouse – has created an invaluable opportunity for Israeli hi-tech companies.

 

The Chinese government’s goal of turning the country into a global economic leader, in part by harnessing innovation to create a competitive edge in the international arena, has created a range of opportunities for Israel, itself a global innovation trailblazer. China is therefore of the utmost significance to Israeli industry and an important target market for technological exports and business cooperation in fields like cloud computing and big data, medical equipment, artificial intelligence, advanced automotive technologies, FinTech and more. China’s unique interest in Israel is evidenced by the dozens of delegations of senior government officials and businesspeople who have visited Israel in recent years. Representatives of large companies and private investors from China often arrive in Israel in an attempt to crack “the Israeli code,” to understand the local innovation ecosystem and to implement the innovative and entrepreneurial Israeli character into their own DNA.

 

Likewise, China’s involvement in Israel’s economy has grown over the past five years as evidenced in major M&A activity like the purchase of controlling shares in Makhteshim Agan by ChemChina in 2011, the purchase of Alma Lasers by Fosun Pharma in 2013, the sale of Tnuva in 2014 to China’s Bright Food and the acquisition of Ahava Cosmetics by Fosun in 2016. Growing Chinese investment in Israeli hi-tech is further evidence of this phenomenon. At the same time, the interest of Israeli companies in Asian markets, specifically the Chinese market, is growing as well. If in the past Israeli companies were primarily active in Western markets, today they look eastward to seek opportunities and expand their opportunities. This trend is not without its challenges: penetrating this giant market comes with numerous obstacles on the road to success.

 

The Israel Innovation Authority (formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist) has developed tools to help meet these challenges. The Authority offers eight unique funding programs to Israeli industry, in cooperation with the Chinese Ministries of Science and Technology. These programs help Israeli companies find a potential Chinese partner in innovative R&D, and spread the risk inherent in joint projects through Israeli and Chinese government grants…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

                                                                           

Contents

 

FROM TRAGEDY TO TECH: ISRAELIS AND RWANDANS

PARTNER TO BUILD THE ‘AFRICAN START-UP NATION’

Shterny Isseroff

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 18, 2017

 

With a modest population of 12 million, bordered by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west and Uganda to the north, Rwanda today is renowned for its green highlands, active volcanoes and rare silverback gorillas. In the 1990s, the narrative of the Rwandan people revolved around stories of political strife, genocide and war, but today it is one of the safest places in Africa for volunteers, tourists and entrepreneurs alike. Relative to its sub-Saharan neighbors, Rwanda is a small, landlocked country lacking valuable natural resources with a population that does not fit the criteria needed to support a labor-based economy. As a result, the country developed a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, often teaching its students not to “find a job, but to create a job.”

 

At the geographical heart of Rwanda lies its capital Kigali, which has put its start-up scene at the center of its initiative to rebrand itself as a city of tech and creativity. Now two Israeli entrepreneurs, Hezi Bezalel and Guy Cherni, have tagged along for the ride. Their goal? To use all their hometown resources to help support the small African city on its journey to become the African Start-up Nation. “In a lot of aspects, they [Rwanda] are pretty similar to Israel; there is a great commonality that the two countries share,” explains Cherni, who has an MA in global community development from the Hebrew University and in 2012 was one of the first proponents of the Jerusalem start-up ecosystem. “Both grew out of a tragedy; Israel, in Europe, and Rwanda, with its genocide 21 years ago. This has created a link between us.”

 

Bezalel first arrived in Rwanda in July 1994, and has been taking part in the development of the country ever since through investments in fields such as infrastructure and telecom. During his frequent trips to the country, Bezalel, a Ramat Gan native specializing in banking and private equity, began to take notice of the city’s start-up potential. Through chance encounters, the two met and began brainstorming possibilities of what could be done to support the developing ecosystem in Kigali. But to have a real impact on the Rwandan ecosystem, they would first have to understand it – as locals. Next thing he knew, Cherni was on a flight to Rwanda to spend the next month mapping out the start-up ecosystem.

 

He began working on identifying the local resources that were available to the community to assess the key challenges Kigali’s tech scene had been facing. He spoke to everyone and anyone who could provide information, interviewing local entrepreneurs, government officials and existing companies in the region. His findings concluded that there was a thriving local tech scene, including co-working spaces, academic initiatives, and active stakeholders – yet almost no link between them. A start-up ecosystem, according to Startup Commons, is formed by people, startups in their various stages and various types of organizations in a location (physical and/or virtual), interacting as a system to create new start-up companies. “We realized what was missing was an incubator, investments and a way to connect them. Based on this, we decided to build an incubator, invest in some later- stage companies, and work on creating connections between the different parts of the ecosystem,” Cherni explains.

 

Interestingly, his observations in Kigali were quite similar to his experiences when first arriving on the Jerusalem hi-tech scene seven years ago. All ingredients for a successful ecosystem were there but not working collectively with one another. At the time, this led to the creation of Jerusalem’s first start-up accelerator program, Siftech, a grassroots project of the Hebrew University Student Union that is now preparing for its sixth batch of start-ups. Today, the 42Kura project is the outcome of all their planning. Starting its new program this month, 42Kura will accept 10 early-stage start-ups and provide them with Israeli and Rwandan expertise, mentorship and support…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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On Topic Links

 

Israel Aims to Become World’s 15th Largest Economy by 2025 — Minister: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Mar. 19, 2017—Israel aspires to become the world’s 15th largest economy by 2025, Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen said Sunday, arguing that Israel’s power depends on its economic growth.

The Sky is the Limit for China and Israel: Meir Javedanfar, CGTN, Mar. 20, 2017—Looking at the current levels of bilateral trade between Israel and China, it is difficult to believe that the two countries only established diplomatic relations 25 years ago.

Tech Talk: Israeli Satellite to be Launched into Space: Ariel Shapira, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 14, 2017—Duchifat-2, a small satellite built at the science center in Herzliya with the active participation of high-school students, will be launched on the morning March 20 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, toward the international space center along with 28 other small satellites from around the world. The aim of the constellation of satellites will be to map the thermosphere, which will help in the transfer of GPS signals.

Trump, China, and the Middle East: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Feb. 7, 2017—Ever since Donald Trump won the US presidential race, the issue of US-China relations has been high on the agenda of both parties. The subject preoccupies the president more than Islamic terror, Vladimir Putin, and other more pressing issues facing the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL EMERGES AS HIGH TECH INNOVATION LEADER, DESPITE EU, UN & BDS CONDEMNATION

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.

 

On Topic Links

 

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

 

 

 

          ‘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. 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.]

 

 

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SECRETS TO ISRAEL'S INNOVATIVE EDGE

David Yin                                         

                                 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.]

 

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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. 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.]

                                                           

 

Contents

             

MORE POSITIVE SIGNS FOR THE ISRAEL-CHINA RELATIONSHIP                                                    

Judith Bergman                                                  

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.     

                              

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

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.

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST ISSUES: AS U.S. REGIONAL INFLUENCE WANES, RUSSIA, IRAN, & CHINA EXPLOIT THE VACUUM

 

 

Consequences of American Retreat from the Middle East: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Feb. 24, 2016— The US, under President Barack Obama, has signaled its intent to reduce its presence in the Middle East.

The Absence of U.S. Leadership Makes the World More Dangerous than Ever: Joseph I. Lieberman, Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2016— For more than 50 years, national security leaders have gathered annually at the Munich Security Conference, a conclave established during the depths of the Cold War as a meeting place for the Western allies standing against the communist threat.

Shifting Eastern Mediterranean Alliances: Emmanuel Karagiannis, Middle East Quarterly, Spring, 2016 — The Eastern Mediterranean is changing fast with its estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves (the equivalent of 21 billion barrels of oil) already having an impact on regional patterns of amity and enmity.

China's New Grand Strategy for the Middle East: Gal Luft, Foreign Policy, Feb. 5, 2016— At the start of 2016, prospects weren't good for what would later become one of Chinese President Xi Jinping's most consequential international tours.

 

On Topic Links

 

While Obama Fiddles…: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 25,2015

Earthquakes of the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Feb. 24, 2016

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study: Abdelmahdi Alsoudi, Rubin Center, Feb. 23, 2016

ISIS: The Latest Phase of the Jihad: Raymond Ibrahim, Strategika, Feb. 1, 2016

 

CONSEQUENCES OF AMERICAN RETREAT FROM THE MIDDLE EAST

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Feb. 24, 2016

 

The US, under President Barack Obama, has signaled its intent to reduce its presence in the Middle East. The US fought two unsuccessful wars in the region – a frustrating lesson about the limits of its power. At the same time, US dependency upon Middle Eastern energy has been reduced thanks to domestic progress in fracking technology. Moreover, Washington has decided to “pivot” to China, an emerging global challenger, and also to cut defense expenditures, leaving fewer military assets available for projecting power in the Middle East. (For a while during President Obama's tenure, the US had no aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean or in the Gulf at all, an unprecedented situation.) In addition, the American campaign against ISIS has been extremely limited, and has met with little success. Unfortunately, this disengagement signals both fatigue and weakness.

 

Washington also has desisted from confronting Iran, and has gone to great lengths to accommodate it. President Obama's contention is that by completing a nuclear deal with Iran, he resolved one of the outstanding security issues in the region before leaving office. However the deal legitimizes a large nuclear infrastructure in Iran, and ignores the cardinal national security interests of at least two US allies: Israel and Saudi Arabia. The subsequent removal of international economic sanctions – with no reciprocal requirement for any change in Iranian regional policy – positions Iran to reap great financial benefits at no cost. President Obama's Iran policy has occasioned a dramatic change in the regional balance of power, yet Washington appears largely unperturbed.

 

Whereas US policy on Iran has been guided primarily by wishful thinking, the apprehensions of regional actors with regard to Iran's hegemonic ambitions have multiplied in response to the nuclear deal. While Washington claims to be confident that Iran will play "a responsible regional role," leaders in Ankara, Cairo, Jerusalem and Riyadh see Iran as almost entirely unaltered from its pre-deal state in any meaningful political sense, with the potential to produce nuclear bombs in a short time.

 

The gravest consequence of the US policy of disengagement from the region is the increased probability of nuclear proliferation. Powers contending for regional leadership, such as Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will not stand idly by in the nuclear arena, particularly as the US is no longer seen as a reliable security provider. US attempts to convince regional powers to rely on an American nuclear umbrella in an attempt to prevent nuclear proliferation are likely to fail. The emergence of a multi-polar nuclear Middle East, which is a plausible consequence of the American nuclear accommodation with Iran, will be a strategic nightmare for everyone.

 

An emboldened Iran, which traditionally acts through proxies rather than through military conquest, might intensify its campaign to subvert Saudi Arabia, possibly by playing the Shiite card in the Shiite-majority and oil-rich Eastern province. The loss of that province would considerably weaken the Saudi state and might even bring about its disintegration.

 

Iran could use subversion, terrorist attacks and intimidation of the Gulf states to evict the thinning American presence completely from the Gulf. In the absence of American determination and ability to project force, Iranian superior power might ‘Finlandize’ the Gulf countries. We could also see also the ‘Finlandization’ of the Caspian basin, where Iran shares the coast with important energy producers like Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. The Caspian basin and the Persian Gulf form an “energy ellipse” that contains a large part of the world’s energy resources. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are very fearful of growing Iranian influence. It is possible that those countries, which adopted a pro-Western foreign policy orientation after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, might decide to return to the Russian orbit, because Russia appears at present to be a more reliable ally than the US.

 

Russia is fully alive to the potential for a reassertion of a Russian role in the region in the wake of an American retreat. To that end, it has taken the major step of intervening militarily in Syria to assure the survival of Assad’s regime. The Syrian littoral is a vital base for enhanced Russian naval presence in the eastern Mediterranean, and this preceded Russian air participation in the Syrian civil war. In addition, Russia wants to protect energy prospects that depend on Assad's survival. It already has signed exploration contracts with the Assad regime with regard to the recent gas discoveries in the Levant basin.

 

Syria has been an ally of Iran since 1979 – the longest alliance in the Middle East. The preservation of the Assad regime is critical to Iranian interests because Damascus is a linchpin to its proxy, the Hezbollah in Lebanon. Russia's efforts on Assad's behalf thus directly serve the interests of the Iranian regime. If successful, those efforts will further Iranian influence in the region…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents

THE ABSENCE OF U.S. LEADERSHIP MAKES THE WORLD

MORE DANGEROUS THAN EVER

Joseph I. Lieberman                                   

Washington Post, Feb. 24, 2016

 

For more than 50 years, national security leaders have gathered annually at the Munich Security Conference, a conclave established during the depths of the Cold War as a meeting place for the Western allies standing against the communist threat. I have been privileged to attend almost half of these meetings — from the era of hope and excitement that followed the Soviet collapse in the early 1990s through the divisive and difficult wars of the post-9/11 decade — but none has been as troubling as the one held this month.

 

That is because the world has never seemed as dangerous and leaderless as it does now. Only the extremists and bullies act boldly, and therefore they have seized the initiative. It is a moment in history that evokes the haunting words of W.B. Yeats: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” The simple fact is that there is more instability in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. The threats come from emboldened expansionist powers such as Iran, Russia and China, and also terrorist aggressors such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. In short, the enemies of freedom are on the march.

 

At the same time, the United States — which assumed global leadership after World War II to protect our domestic security, prosperity and freedom — has chosen this moment to become more passive in the world. The absence of American leadership has certainly not caused all the instability, but it has encouraged and exacerbated it. For example, while the threat of violent Islamist extremism has existed for several decades, the military and political disengagement of the United States from Iraq after the success of the surge and our failure to intervene to stop the slaughter in Syria have conspired to create a vacuum in the heart of the Middle East. This vacuum has been exploited by the region’s most dangerous anti-American forces: totalitarian Sunni fanatics and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 

The result is the creation of a terrorist sanctuary of unprecedented scale and Iranian domination over multiple Arab capitals. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also moved to exploit the vacuum, first by seizing Crimea and moving into eastern Ukraine in 2014. The United States reacted to that breach of world order with words of outrage and some sanctions against Moscow, but also by refusing to give Ukrainians the defensive weapons that might impose a heavier military cost on Russia for its adventurism. Rather than deterring Russia from further aggression, our hesitation in Ukraine signaled to the Kremlin that the United States itself could be deterred when Russia acted boldly and decisively.

 

Putin soon extended this lesson to Syria, where he dispatched his forces last year in order to turn the tide of war in favor of a weakening Bashar al-Assad. Despite predictions of “quagmire,” that is precisely what Russia’s intervention has achieved — while reestablishing Moscow as a force to be reckoned with in yet another vital region. The U.S. response? To ask for Putin’s help in extinguishing fires that he himself has been feeding.

 

This fits a broader pattern. In too many places in recent years, the United States has treated its adversaries as essential partners to be courted, while dismissing or denigrating its historic allies and partners as inconveniences or obstacles to peace. But as frustrated as they are with the United States, our friends also recognize that they are incapable by themselves of managing the crises that confront them without the United States.

 

In Munich this month, the United States ratified its diminished role by reaching an agreement on Syria that elevates the standing of Russia, pressures the Syrian opposition and stands little chance of ending the campaign of indiscriminate violence being waged on behalf of the Assad regime against the long-suffering Syrian people. Almost no one in Munich thought it would work. At the end of the conference, I shared these fears about the state of the world with an Arab diplomat. “I agree,” he replied, “and when we return to Munich next February, it will all be much worse.”

 

The best way to defy that prediction is for the United States to reassert its historic leadership role — not by acting alone, but in concert with our worldwide network of allies and friends, which is yearning for this. In a conversation with the leader of a European ally, some of us asked what the United States could do to be most helpful to him and his country. His answer was direct: “Elect a president who understands the importance of American leadership in the world.” That would be in our national interest and is also wise counsel to American voters as we decide whom to support in this year’s topsy-turvy presidential election.

Contents

             SHIFTING EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN ALLIANCES

    Emmanuel Karagiannis                                               

Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2016

 

The Eastern Mediterranean is changing fast with its estimated 122 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas reserves (the equivalent of 21 billion barrels of oil) already having an impact on regional patterns of amity and enmity. With Israel and Cyprus well underway to becoming gas exporters, the problematic Israeli-Lebanese and Cypriot-Turkish relationships have been further strained. At the same time, energy cooperation has been the driving force behind the nascent Greek-Cypriot-Israeli partnership, manifested in rapidly growing defense and economic cooperation. Clearly, the development of energy resources and their transportation will have far-reaching geopolitical implications for the Eastern Mediterranean and its nations.

 

Natural gas is the fastest growing source of energy in the world, currently accounting for 22 percent of total global energy consumption. It is both affordable and more environmentally friendly than other commercially feasible options, resulting in an increasing demand even in an era of dropping oil prices. That demand seems likely to be met in large part by the newly discovered gas reserves of the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

Israel, for one, has the potential to become an important regional producer. Its Tamar field was confirmed to have estimated reserves of 9.7 tcf while its Leviathan gas field has the potential of producing up to 16 tcf. Meanwhile, in November 2011, U.S.-based Noble Energy announced a major gas discovery south of Cyprus: The Aphrodite field was estimated to contain 7 tcf. In February 2013, a seismic survey south of Crete indicated that rich hydrocarbon resources may soon be found in Greek waters. Most recently, the Italian company Eni announced the discovery of a huge gas field off the coast of Egypt.

 

For reasons of geographical proximity, these Mediterranean energy resources concern first and foremost the European Union—the world's third largest energy consumer behind China and the United States.[9] While oil is still the dominant fuel, accounting for 33.8 percent of total EU energy consumption, natural gas comes in second at 23.4 percent.[10] The Eastern Mediterranean gas reserves have three distinct advantages for European governments (and companies) and are thus viewed by them as a strategic priority. First, due to their smaller sizes and populations, the needs of Israel and Cyprus are relatively low and most of their gas could be exported. Second, Eastern Mediterranean gas could partly cover Europe's energy needs and thereby decrease its dependence on an increasingly volatile Russia. Finally, since both Israel and Cyprus lack the capital and the offshore drilling technology to develop gas reserves on their own, foreign energy companies have identified them as investment opportunities that could generate significant financial returns.

 

As the Middle East implodes, security of energy supply has become an important policy objective for the EU. Indeed, there is a consensus among European governments that new initiatives are needed to address energy challenges. The EU is already directly involved to some extent in Eastern Mediterranean energy affairs because Greece and Cyprus are member states while Turkey is a candidate for membership and has a customs union with the EU. Although the governments of the EU and Israel are often at odds politically, economic relations between Jerusalem and Brussels are close and multifaceted.

 

The development of Israeli and Cypriot gas fields could help strengthen Europe's energy security. Currently, European countries import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from politically unstable countries such as Nigeria and Algeria. But the Eastern Mediterranean could serve as a third gas "corridor" for Europe, alongside Russian gas and the southeast European pipelines for Azeri gas. The Italian Eni company, the British Premier Oil, and the Dutch Oranje-Nassau Energie have clearly shown interest by bidding in the second round of licensing for natural gas exploration in the Cypriot exclusive economic zone (EEZ), a sea zone prescribed by the United Nations over which a state has special rights. The U.S. administration views Eastern Mediterranean gas as an alternative source for its European allies who depend heavily on Russian supplies.

 

Given the prominence of the Middle East for U.S. energy policy, it is hardly surprising that the gas finds in Israel and Cyprus have drawn Washington's attention as well. Although the U.S. is likely to become the largest gas producer in the world as a result of increased use of shale gas, the administration views Eastern Mediterranean gas as an alternative source for its European allies who depend heavily on Russian supplies. Within the private sector, the American company, Noble Energy, has played a leading role in the exploration process; it has a 40 percent stake in the Leviathan fields, a 36 percent stake in Tamar, and a 70 percent stake in Aphrodite.

 

Not surprisingly, these discoveries have attracted Moscow's interest as well due to a potential, adverse impact on its gas exports to European markets. Russian energy companies, which often act as the Kremlin's long-arm, are particularly active in the region. In February 2013, for example, Gazprom signed a 20-year deal with the Israeli Levant LNG Marketing Corporation to purchase liquefied natural gas exclusively from the Tamar field.[13] Then in December 2013, the Russian company SoyuzNefteGas signed an agreement with the Assad regime to explore part of Syria's exclusive economic zone. One month later Putin signed an investment agreement with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to develop gas fields off the Gaza Strip.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                                   

Contents

  CHINA'S NEW GRAND STRATEGY FOR THE MIDDLE EAST

           Gal Luft              

                                      Foreign Policy, Feb. 5, 2016

 

At the start of 2016, prospects weren't good for what would later become one of Chinese President Xi Jinping's most consequential international tours. The January execution of leading Shite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, the voice of Saudi Arabia's Shiite minority, and the subsequent severing of diplomatic relations between several Sunni countries and Shiite Iran came at a particularly inconvenient time for Xi. His planned maiden trip to the Middle East was to include stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all majority Sunni countries. Visiting Sunni leaders at a time of great tension with Shiite Iran would have created the impression that China supported one of the two major branches of Islam over the other, undermining Beijing's long held policy of staunch neutrality in the Middle East.

 

But postponing the visit for a second time in less than a year would have had consequences too. China had already called off a similar trip scheduled for spring 2015, after a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni states launched a military campaign in Yemen against the Houthis, an Iran-backed Shiite group. Since becoming president, Xi has visited almost every region of the world — but not the Middle East. The same is true for Premier Li Keqiang. Another delay would have signaled that regional spoilers could easily interfere with China's foreign policy. Instead, Xi decided to use the crisis in the Muslim world as an opportunity to raise the curtain on China's new Middle East strategy, one that finally involves China getting off the sidelines and plunging into the Middle East's stormy waters.

 

It has been a busy few weeks for Beijing's Middle East policy. In the past several weeks, even before the al-Nimr execution, Xi has sought ways for China to inject itself into the Syrian crisis, inviting both Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and the head of the opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), to high-level meetings in Beijing in an effort to promote peaceful resolution.

 

Significantly, this meant departure from China's long-held policy of supporting Bashar al-Assad. On Jan. 13, Beijing released its Arab Policy Paper, a vague but seminal document articulating China's interests in the Middle East. After the ransacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Xi dispatched his Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Ming to both Tehran and Riyadh, urging the sides to exercise calm. Xi also rearranged his travel itinerary, replacing his planned visit to the UAE with an unexpected stop in Tehran, thus becoming the first foreign leader to set foot in Iran since the lifting of the sanctions. For balance, he brought the Saudis a consolation gift: a declaration of support for the sovereignty of Yemen's government, whom the Saudis support in the war against Iran's proxy.

 

Such diplomatic hyper-activity may surprise those accustomed to China's tendency to avoid interventionism. Cynics may say that these are all tactical moves designed to secure prime business opportunities for China on both sides. There may be some truth to this. But it would be a mistake to reduce China's latest action to pure economic opportunism. China is no longer willing to sit on the sidelines and watch the region descend into chaos. China has for several months harbored a suspicion that the United States, entering an election year while drowning in domestic oil and gas supply, is not as interested in the Middle East as it has been for the past half century. (At any rate, Washington's relations with Riyadh and Tehran are too thorny to enable it to be an honest broker.)

 

More importantly, Russia has laid down the flag of Middle East neutrality that it carried for most of the post-Soviet era. Moscow once enjoyed equally good relations with Tehran and Riyadh. But in plunging into the civil war in Syria, Russia — despite the fact that most of its Muslim population is Sunni — entangled itself with the Shiite camp, and can no longer be trusted by the Sunnis. With the United States and Russia no longer able to hold the balance between Iran and Saudi Arabia, China, which has solid relations with both, is increasingly tempted to fill the vacuum.

 

There are several reasons why the Sunni-Shiite divide is of particular concern to China. As home to a large portion of the world's conventional oil reserves, the Persian Gulf region is critically important to the China's resource-intense economy. While the world is currently enjoying extraordinarily low energy prices, this could easily change should the rivalry between Sunnis and Shiites continue to escalate. Shiites may be a minority in the Muslim world as a whole, but in the oil-rich Persian Gulf they comprise a majority. If Iran and Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies become embroiled in a regional war involving physical damage to oil infrastructure, crude prices would go through the ceiling, to the detriment of the global economy. With half of China's crude imports coming from the Persian Gulf, such a crisis would likely hurt China more than any other major economy…                                                                                                                              

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

On Topic

 

While Obama Fiddles…: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 25,2015—State of the world, Year Eight of Barack Obama: 1. In the South China Sea, on a speck of land of disputed sovereignty far from its borders, China has just installed antiaircraft batteries and stationed fighter jets.

Earthquakes of the Middle East: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Feb. 24, 2016 —Almost five years after the outburst of the so-called Arab Spring, the Middle East is still experiencing tectonic and dramatic changes that are shaping its landscape into unexpected realities.

The Impact of the Arab Spring on the Political Future of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East: Jordan as a Case Study: Abdelmahdi Alsoudi, Rubin Center, Feb. 23, 2016—Beginning in 2011, the Arab world faced a wave of uprisings leading to the overthrow of four Arab regimes, in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen;  and creating conflict and civil wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq–with less impact on Jordan, Morocco, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and other Arab countries.

ISIS: The Latest Phase of the Jihad: Raymond Ibrahim, Strategika, Feb. 1, 2016—The best way to understand the Islamic State (ISIS) is to see it as the next phase of al-Qaeda. All Sunni Islamic jihadi groups—Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, even Hamas—share the same motivations based on a literal and orthodox reading of Islamic history and doctrine: resurrecting a caliphate (which existed in various forms from 632 to 1924) that implements and spreads the totality of sharia, or Islamic law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

PIVOT TO ASIA: ISRAEL— “INNOVATION HUB OF THE WORLD” —BOLSTERS TIES WITH INDIA, CHINA, JAPAN, LESSENING DEPENDENCE ON WEST

Israel Strengthens Asia Links as European Ties Fray: Frida Ghitis, World Politics Review, Jan. 21, 2016 — Relations between Israel and major Western countries have become increasingly contentious in recent years, owing largely to disagreements over Israel’s approach to its conflict with the Palestinians.

China, Israel Embraces Golden Age for Innovation Cooperation: Song Miou, Xinhuanet News, Jan. 6, 2016— A buzz filled the auditorium as a drone hovered over the heads of hundreds of businessmen attending the China-Israel trade summit in Beijing.

Why India Is Getting Serious About Its Relationship With Israel: Harsh V. Pant, The Diplomat, Jan. 26, 2016— In recent days, India has reached out to its Middle Eastern partners in a major way.

A Roving Ambassador: Suzanne D. Rutland, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2016 — “One day India may discover that her one-sided orientation in the Middle East is neither moral nor expedient.”

 

On Topic Links

 

India’s Foreign Minister a ‘Personal Advocate’ for Strong Ties With Israel: Bradley Martin, JNS, Jan. 20, 2016

India Successfully Tests Missile System Developed With Israel: Times of Israel, Dec. 30, 2015

President Xi Targets Energy, Stability During Debut Middle East Foray: Jeremy Koh, Channel News Asia, Jan. 20, 2016

Latest China Stock Crash Spotlights Urgent Need for Financial Reform: Francesco Sisci, Asia Times, Jan. 5, 2016

 

                  

 

ISRAEL STRENGTHENS ASIA LINKS AS EUROPEAN TIES FRAY      

Frida Ghitis                                                                                   

World Politics Review, Jan. 21, 2016

 

Relations between Israel and major Western countries have become increasingly contentious in recent years, owing largely to disagreements over Israel’s approach to its conflict with the Palestinians. Ties with the U.S. and Europe remain of paramount importance to Israel. But the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made a concerted effort to look toward major Asian countries, if not to replace Israel’s traditional European connections, then at least to lessen the country’s diplomatic and economic dependence on the West.

 

The refocused efforts have started yielding results, most notably in transforming relations with India, China and Japan. To be sure, Israel sees itself as a Western country, one whose culture and values align more closely with the West than the East. But, it also sees itself as a unique state, facing some challenges that are best understood in the East.  The most dramatic and profound change has occurred with India, particularly since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. Modi and Netanyahu, by all accounts, have developed a strong personal connection, and they have done so very publicly, which is a dramatic change from the two countries’ history of bilateral links.

 

India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, who completed a visit to Israel last week, declared that “India attaches the highest importance” to developing the full range of ties with Israel. While reaffirming India’s continuing support for the establishment of a Palestinian state, she spoke of enormous potential for expanded links with Israel. Her visit came just a few months after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee became the first Indian head of state to visit the country. Prime Minister Modi is expected in Jerusalem later this year, and Mukherjee extended an invitation for Netanyahu to visit India.

 

The old joke in Israel was that India treated Israel as its mistress: Their relationship was intimate, but never in public. New Delhi bought billions of dollars of Israeli goods, mostly weapons, and had all manner of deep connections with the country, but on the surface remained cold and distant. That’s not an altogether unfamiliar position for Israel, which has quiet ties with many countries that publicly shun and criticize it, including many Arab states. That makes the changes with India particularly gratifying.

 

Since Modi became prime minister, India is no longer bashful about its ties to Israel. Modi and Netanyahu even proclaim their friendship over social media. When Netanyahu won re-election last year, Modi congratulated him in Hebrew via Twitter. In a separate Tweet, he said it in English for all the world to see. “Mazel Tov, my friend Bibi @Netanyahu,” he wrote. “I remember our meeting in New York last September warmly.” Indians and Israelis, and their respective leaders, see their two countries as having much in common. Both are home to lively democracies in regions where democracy remains fragile, in the case of South Asia, or uncommon, in the case of the Middle East; both face active hostility from Muslim states and Islamist militants; and both view their economies as engines of innovation.

 

While reinvigorated exchanges with China and Japan have focused mostly on expanding economic activity, Israel’s links with New Delhi amount to a full embrace. The newfound boost to ties is not just about technological exchanges and expanded trade, even if those areas have grown at a striking pace. It is also about diplomacy, an area in which Israel is in dire need of international support. Last July, at the United Nations Human Rights Council, India refrained from siding with the Arab bloc in a major anti-Israel vote. Since then, India has twice more abstained when the U.N. held a vote against Israel, reversing what used to be its automatic support for the Arab consensus in international forums.

 

Israel has reciprocated, declaring its support for India’s aspiration to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Not surprisingly, deepening diplomatic and security bonds have coincided with an explosion in trade, which has grown from less than $200 million in 1992 to more than $5 billion now, comprising not only defense equipment, but all manner of technology, in areas such as agriculture, water treatment, recycling and more.

 

Ties with China have expanded at an even more rapid pace. A recent preparedness conference in Tel Aviv included quite a few Chinese military participants in uniform. But the heart of Israel’s relationship with China is not military or diplomatic; it is commercial. While the U.S. and the Europe Union as a whole remain Israel’s top two trading partners, China has climbed to become Israel’s third-largest, accounting for about one-third of Israel’s total trade.

 

In a landmark agreement, Israel and China are jointly developing an ambitious project to build a railway from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. When completed, the “Red-to-Med,” or “Steel Canal,” will allow cargo to bypass the Suez Canal by unloading at Israel’s Eilat port on the Red Sea and traveling by train to the port of Ashdod on the Mediterranean. The two countries also just signed an agreement expanding technology and energy cooperation, as countless large- and small-scale projects come together between Israeli and Chinese firms.

 

Last month, Israel held an event called the Silicon Dragon to promote Israeli firms’ work in China. And last week, Beijing held its first China-Israel Trade Summit, attended by China’s commerce minister and Israel’s minister of industry, trade and labor. Ties with China are not without controversy. Some security experts worry about China’s espionage track record. And former Mossad head Efraim Halevy says deals, particularly in local infrastructure, that have strategic value should be scrutinized more closely. But despite these concerns, the trend remains toward increased economic exchange.

 

Besides growing connections with India and China, there is another, perhaps more striking change in bilateral relations with a third Asian country. Japan, a nation whose reliance on imported oil made it observe the Arab boycott of Israel and keep its distance from the Jewish state, is suddenly effecting a drastic change in its diplomatic stance toward Israel. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who visited Israel last year, is actively encouraging Japanese firms to engage in the Israeli market. Israel recently opened a trade office in Osaka and expanded its trade staff in Tokyo. Amid feverish activity, bilateral trade volumes are reaching new records.

 

Israel still views the West as its ideological and diplomatic home. However, the Israeli pivot to Asia is already yielding dividends that lessen the sting of the barbs coming from Europe and the U.S., and is sure to remain a central feature of Israel’s economic and diplomatic activity.

 

 

Contents

                                       

                            CHINA, ISRAEL EMBRACES GOLDEN AGE

                      FOR INNOVATION COOPERATION                                                             

                                         Song Miou

               Xinhuanet News, Jan. 6, 2016

 

A buzz filled the auditorium as a drone hovered over the heads of hundreds of businessmen attending the China-Israel trade summit in Beijing. Arriving on stage, it dropped a key into the hands of Amir Gal-Or, an Israeli entrepreneur who was presenting his opening remarks. "This key is a symbol of something very small but I hope it opens something very big," said Gal-Or, founder and head of Infinity Group, a China-Israel private equity firm.

 

Gal-Or is referencing the long-term innovation cooperation between China and Israel, two countries that have both viewed entrepreneurship as a key future growth strategy. However different the two nations are geographically and culturally, innovation is bringing the two countries together at an unprecedented pace.

At the first China Israel Technology Innovation and Investment Summit on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6 in Beijing, entrepreneurs lined extra chairs along the back wall of the packed conference hall. Outside the hall, Israeli businessmen were busy exchanging business cards with Chinese counterparts, hoping to find potential partners.

 

The enthusiasm from both sides doesn't come out of nowhere. Chinese investors have begun parking their money in world-renowned Israeli high-tech industries at a stunning pace. About 40 percent of all venture capital flowing into Israel came from China in 2015, according to Ziva Eger, chief executive of the foreign investments and industrial cooperation division at the Ministry of Economy of Israel. "2016 will be much much bigger than that, (the investment from China) will probably double," Eger told Xinhua.

 

But it's not merely money that the fund-thirsty Israeli companies are looking for. Seeing the tremendous market in China, Israel is trying to form a long-term strategic relationship with China through academic exchanges, research and development (R&D) cooperation and incubator programs. About 4,000 miles away from each other, China, with a population of 1.3 billion and Israel, with 8 million, have hardly anything in common. While China is a giant economy with significant manufacturing power, Israel is widely regarded as the innovation hub of the world, with little interest in manufacturing.

 

But it's the anomalies that have made Israel and China the perfect match, said Raz Gal-Or, co-founder of weWOWwe, a startup that tries to connect football fans around the world. "They say opposites attract," the Israel-born, China-educated entrepreneur told Xinhua. Indeed, Israel excels in fields where Chinese technology eagerly looks for breakthroughs. Modern agriculture, medical devices, and cyber security are sectors that brew the most innovation from partnership.

 

Alibaba, for example, made its way into the Israeli startup scene by investing in QR code company Visualead in 2015. It then became an investor of the Israel-based venture fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a venture capital firm known for its investment in cyber security. Fosun International, one of China's biggest private conglomerates, acquired Israeli medical device firm Alma Lasers for 222 million U.S. dollars in 2013. China's major food manufacturer Bright Food closed a deal in 2015 to purchase a majority stake in Israeli dairy giant Tnuva, a deal the Bright Food executive said would creates synergy in R&D.

 

The increase in cooperation between China and Israel is not surprising. Partnerships between the two countries can be traced back to the ancient Silk Road, according to Philippe Metoudi, co-author of the book "Israel and China: From Silk Road to Innovation Highway.” While differences exist, the Israelis and the Chinese still have many in common, Metoudi said. Their views on education, family values and appreciation for history, for example, are all shared philosophies that will help further boost long-term cooperation between the two nations. "We don't speak the same language, but we speak the same 'language' — we have the same ideas, the same values," Metoudi said.

 

As China transforms into a more innovation-driven economy, it's speeding up efforts to partner with Israel to strengthen its own technological might. For Israeli officials, helping create a better startup ecosystem in China also benefits local firms. "It's not only about money," said Ophir Gore, head of the trade mission at the Embassy of Israel in Beijing. "It's getting access to the Chinese market." In the past few years, China and Israel stepped up academic exchanges and R&D collaboration.

 

The recent establishment of Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, a partnership between China's Shantou University and the Israel's Technion, is a prime example of the attempt by the two countries to cooperate in higher education. Platforms such as the Changzhou Innovation Park in southern China provide physical proximity for Israeli firms to get funds and collaborate with Chinese companies in industrial R&D.

 

Israeli officials are further calling for Chinese companies to build R&D centers and set up production lines in Israel, pledging the best platform and grants from the government. With growing academic cooperation, collaborative programs, and shared vision from both governments, "the golden age for Israel-China innovation cooperation has come," said Yin Hejun, China's Vice Minister of Science and Technology.           

                                                                       

Contents                       

 WHY INDIA IS GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL

      Harsh V. Pant

the Diplomat, Jan. 26, 2016

 

In recent days, India has reached out to its Middle Eastern partners in a major way. Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj went to Bahrain to attend the first ministerial meeting of the India-Arab League Cooperation Forum. This was an opportunity to engage with the 22 member countries of the Arab League at a time when the region is going through a major crisis and sectarian divisions are rearing their heads like never before.

 

Further cementing the goodwill generated by the visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to Israel and Palestine some three months ago, Swaraj also visited Israel and Palestine. Her visit has paved the way for a possible visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India later this year and it is also likely that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may pay a return visit to Tel Aviv.

 

A hallmark of the Modi government’s foreign policy has been a self-confident assertion of Indian interests. This is reflected in his government’s moves vis-à-vis Israel, marking a distinct break from the unnecessary and counterproductive diffidence of the past. Despite sharing 24 years of diplomatic ties and working closely on defense, counterterrorism, agriculture, and energy-related issues, no Indian prime minister or president had visited Israel until Mukherjee’s visit last year.

 

There has been a steady strengthening of India’s relationship with Israel ever since the two established full diplomatic relations in 1992. It is a tribute to Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s foresight that he was able to lay the foundation of the Indo-Israeli partnership. In contrast to the back-channel security ties that existed before the normalization of bilateral relations, India has been more willing in recent years to carve out a mutually beneficial bilateral relationship with Israel, including deepening military ties and liaising on countering the threat terrorism poses to the two societies.

 

Over the years, the Indian government has toned down its reactions to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. India has also begun denouncing Palestinian suicide bombings and other terrorist acts in Israel, something that was seen earlier as rather justified in light of the Israeli policies against the Palestinians. India is no longer initiating anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations and has made serious attempts to moderate the Non-Aligned Movement’s (NAM) anti-Israel resolutions. This re-evaluation has been based on a realization that India’s largely pro-Arab stance in the Middle East has not been adequately reciprocated and rewarded by the Arab world.

 

India has received no worthwhile backing from Arab countries in the resolution of problems it faces in its neighborhood, especially Kashmir. There have been no serious attempts by the Arab world to put pressure on Pakistan to reign in the cross-border insurgency in Kashmir. On the contrary, Arab nations have firmly stood by Pakistan, using the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to build support for Islamabad and jihadi groups in Kashmir. If Arab nations, such as Jordan, have been able to keep their traditional ties with Palestine intact while building a new relationship with Israel, there is no reason for India not to take a similar route, which might give it more room for diplomatic maneuvering in the region.

 

In fact, it was recently revealed that since the beginning of 2014, representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have had five secret meetings to discuss a common foe, Iran. Though Saudi Arabia still doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist and Israel has yet to accept a Saudi-initiated peace offer to create a Palestinian state, this has not prevented the two from working together to thwart a strategic threat that they both feel strongly about.

 

Keeping India’s wider strategic interests in perspective, successive Indian governments since the early 1990s have walked a nuanced line between expressing genuine concern for the Palestinian cause and expanding its commercial and defense ties with Israel. India is the world’s largest buyer of Israeli weaponry and was Israel’s third largest trading partner in Asia, just after China and Hong Kong…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

                                                                       

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A ROVING AMBASSADOR

   Suzanne D. Rutland

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 25, 2016

 

“One day India may discover that her one-sided orientation in the Middle East is neither moral nor expedient. She may yet adopt a truly independent policy between the Arab states and Israel; only then will she be able to become a factor working for peace in the area which Indians call ‘West Africa.’” – Dr. S. Levenberg, January 4, 1957, Jewish Observer and ME Review, p.14. Despite the optimism of this hope expressed by Jewish Agency representative Dr. S. Levenberg, it took 35 years before it was realized.

 

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed India’s external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, and the two discussed increasing the already lucrative ties between the two countries. But the road to cooperation between the two democracies was not without struggle. Until 1992, India refused to grant full diplomatic relations to Israel. Even though the two nations shared much in common, and despite efforts made by Jewish leaders, including key Australian figure Isi Leibler, there seemed to be no chance of change. However, in 1991, a number of factors led to a dramatic change. Leibler and Australia’s role in India’s granting full diplomatic statues to Israel has been largely forgotten. With the full realization of Levenberg’s hope – thanks to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – it is worthwhile recalling this history.

 

IN 1947, Jawaharlal Nehru became India’s first prime minister. He was concerned with maintaining India’s neutrality in relation to the Cold War and with building the block of Third World nations. In November 1947, India voted against the partition of Palestine, but in 1950 Nehru granted de facto and de jure recognition to Israel. Yet, for reasons of expediency, he left the question of diplomatic recognition unresolved due to concerns about the Arab world, India’s 40-million- strong Muslim minority and the conflict in Kashmir. Nehru maintained an ambiguous position. In 1958 he stated: “Israel is a fact and I am not one to deny facts… I am not one to say it is altogether a negative fact.” But he did not change his policy.

 

After Nehru’s death in 1964, his daughter, Indira Gandhi, became the dominant figure until her assassination in 1984. She sought to strengthen India’s connections with the Arab world and remained very antagonistic to Israel. During the Six Day War, India supported Egypt, Russia and the Arab world. Commenting later, US B’nai B’rith leader William Korey wrote in The New Leader that the war “unmask[ed] India’s posture of Olympian morality and neutrality – so carefully cultivated among liberals through the world – as sheer pretense. From the start of the crisis on May 18 [1967], the Indian government has parroted the Cairo-Moscow arguments, however contradictory…”

 

Similarly, during the Yom Kippur War, India continued to maintain its anti-Israel policies, largely due to its dependence on Arab oil and trade. In 1978, Isi Leibler was elected as president of Australian Jewry. He had founded Jetset Travel, the largest travel agency in the Southeast Asia/Pacific region, and was keen to build links between Israel and the Asian countries. At the same time, the World Jewish Congress was becoming more aware of the importance of the region and Leibler was appointed as vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, Asia Region.

 

During a business trip in December 1981, Leibler managed to meet with Indira. After a five-minute presentation, when he spoke about Jewish concerns, she responded: “You are politically on dangerous ground here in India. I am under enormous pressure. It is not only Pakistan. I have a potential catastrophe with Muslims.” She then said: “Tell me why the American Jewish dominated press hates me… [and why] Jews concentrate their spite on me as if I were their worst enemy.” She ended by saying that she felt that Israel “hated” her and stressed that she liked Jews…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

 

On Topic

 

India’s Foreign Minister a ‘Personal Advocate’ for Strong Ties With Israel: Bradley Martin, JNS, Jan. 20, 2016—Almost three months after the landmark visit of Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj this week followed suit with a two-day visit to Israel amid increasingly warm ties between the two countries.

India Successfully Tests Missile System Developed With Israel: Times of Israel, Dec. 30, 2015—The Indian Navy overnight Tuesday successfully tested the Barak 8 missile defense system, which was developed jointly with Israel.

President Xi Targets Energy, Stability During Debut Middle East Foray: Jeremy Koh, Channel News Asia, Jan. 20, 2016—Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to focus on energy and negating regional extremist influences during his five-day tour through Riyadh, Cairo and Tehran, which began Tuesday (Jan 19).

Latest China Stock Crash Spotlights Urgent Need for Financial Reform: Francesco Sisci, Asia Times, Jan. 5, 2016— The crash of the Chinese stock market on the first day of trading in 2016 is a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform in China’s financial system in particular and its economy in general.