Tag: high tech


Israeli Moon-Bound Craft to Carry Holocaust Survivor Story, and Best of Humanity: Times of Israel, Dec. 17, 2018— Israel’s Declaration of Independence and national anthem.

How Silicon Makes Israel’s Desert Bloom: Economist, Jan. 12, 2019— Pink bollworms are the scourge of cotton farmers.

Why This New Innovation Hub In Israel Decided To Welcome Startups And Enterprises: Jennifer Kite-Powell, Forbes, Dec. 18, 2019— Israel’s position as a startup nation has been on the rise since 2009.

How Israel is Turning its High-Tech into Global Political Power: David Rosenberg, Fathom, Nov. 2018— Israelis are justifiably proud of their country’s high technology industry.

On Topic Links

NASA Reveals First-Ever Image From Inside Sun’s Atmosphere Snapped With Israeli Tech: NoCamels, Dec. 19, 2018

Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield: Matan Tzuri, Ynet, Jan. 10, 2019

New Israeli Technology Could Revolutionize Surveillance: Media Line, Dec. 7, 2018

Wisdom From 70 of Israel’s Tech Wizards: Inbal Arieli, Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2018



Times of Israel, Dec. 17, 2018

Israel’s Declaration of Independence and national anthem. The Bible. The memories of a Holocaust survivor. Children’s drawings of space and the moon; art, science, literature and technology; the Traveler’s Prayer and a note from former president Shimon Peres containing a verse from the Book of Genesis. All of these — three discs containing hundreds of digital files — were inserted Monday in a time capsule scheduled to head to the moon sometime next year, when Israel hopes to launch and land its first ever spacecraft to the moon.

If all goes well, the unmanned spacecraft worked on by the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface. The capsule was the last component to go into the vehicle, before it is shipped to Florida to be launched from Cape Canaveral in the coming months.

The pictures, along with art, science and history books, “we will be taking with us to the moon,” said Yonatan Winetraub, one of three engineers who founded SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization set up in 2011 with the aim of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. “It is quite symbolic that the people of the book are going to take this library and put it on the surface of the moon,” he said, speaking at IAI’s Space Division in Yehud, some 40 minutes from Tel Aviv, at an event as the capsule was loaded onto the spacecraft. The craft was scheduled to originally launch this month and land on the moon in February 2019, but was delayed.

“Today, we are putting all those dreams in the spaceship, like you would take an note and put it in the Western Wall, wishing for a bright future,” Winetraub added. The cracks between the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, considered the holiest site Jews can pray at, are filled with notes conveying the requests of its visitors.

In early 2019, the spacecraft, recently named Beresheet — the Hebrew word for Genesis — will launch alongside other satellites as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The precise launch date remains undetermined, as SpaceIL awaits final confirmation from the launch company, said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby at the event. “The Israeli public chose the name Beresheet,” said Anteby. “It expresses the hope of the start of a new stage of Israel’s space industry.”

After the launch, the craft is expected to first orbit the earth and then the moon, where it is expected to land four to five months after the launch. Winetraub said that the team that built the spacecraft, which, if successful will be the first ever commercial landing on the moon, was inspired by Ilan Ramon, a 48-year old Israeli fighter pilot and the first Israeli astronaut for NASA, who died in 2003 on the Columbia space mission in a re-entry accident.

“He went where no Israeli had gone before. Therefore, the first picture that we are going to take of the Earth will be dedicated to Ilan, a true Israeli pioneer venturing into the unknown,” said Winetraub. “This is a very emotional moment,” he added. “We do not know how long the spacecraft and the time capsule will remain on the moon. It is very possible that future generations will find this information and want to learn more about this historic moment.”

SpaceIL is a nonprofit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. It was founded by three young Israeli engineers, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, competing for the international Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to build, launch and land an unmanned lunar spacecraft. The project has been conducted together with IAI.

SpaceIL’s vehicle is two meters (6.5 feet) in diameter and 1.5 meters tall standing on four legs. It weighs 600 kilograms, which would make it the smallest craft to touch down on the moon. Carrying the Israeli flag, the spacecraft will conduct a Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the moon’s magnetic field, finishing its mission within two days.

The landing mission will be “very challenging,” complicated and risky, said SpaceIL’s Anteby at the event. To save costs and energy, the craft will not fly directly to the moon, but take a circuitous way. Once launched, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX launch rocket when it reaches 60,000 kilometers from Earth’s surface and begin orbiting the Earth in elliptical orbits. It will circle the Earth, widening its circumference each time, while saving fuel by only starting its engines at the end of each cycle. Then, at the right time, it will leave Earth’s gravity and enter the gravity of the moon…

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



HOW SILICON MAKES ISRAEL’S DESERT BLOOM                                                                Economist, Jan. 12, 2019

Pink bollworms are the scourge of cotton farmers. The insect is less than an inch long, but it has a voracious appetite for the plant’s seeds. As a child living on Kibbutz Ginosar, in Israel’s north, Ofir Schlam would wake up at dawn to inspect leaves for the pest. “They were really hard to find,” he recalls.

Spotting the enemy has become much easier. Four years ago, Mr Schlam co-founded Taranis, a company that uses high-resolution imagery from drones, planes and satellites to diagnose problems in the field—among them bollworms, diseases, dryness and nutrient deficiencies. Investors are joining the effort: in November, Taranis raised $20m.

Faced with unfriendly neighbours and an arid climate, Israel has had to innovate to survive. Taranis is the poster child of its stunning rise in agritech. Over 500 companies operate in the field, nearly twice as many as in the better-known cyber-security sector. A third of them did not exist five years ago. Israeli agritech firms attracted $171m in equity investment in 2017, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organisation, considerably more than those in bigger farming countries, such as Australia and Brazil.

Other countries have bet big on agritech, but Israel is ahead of all but America, say investors. Large countries with big appetites are taking notice. When Wang Qishan, China’s vice-president, visited Israel in October, he toured agritech exhibits. “Agricultural parks” using Israeli technology have mushroomed across China. Indian and African officials have also made recent trips to Israel seeking inspiration.

Because it trades little with its neighbours, Israel long relied on the kibbutzim and other collective farms to grow food for its rising population. That heritage is providing rich pickings today: 54% of Israel’s agritech ventures are managed by someone who grew up in a kibbutz. Conditions forced them to be creative. The southern part of the country often receives less rainfall in a year than England gets in a day. That led to an early breakthrough in water management. In the 1950s Simcha Blass and his son, Yeshayahu, greatly reduced water use by applying it directly to the roots of plants. They helped form Netafim, the world’s leading maker of drip-irrigation systems, worth nearly $1.9bn.

Newer companies are exploiting technological advances in areas such as plant biology and artificial intelligence. Startups founded in Israel last year include Sufresca, which is developing edible coatings that extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables; Beewise, which uses artificial intelligence to automate beehive maintenance; and Armenta, which is working on new therapies to treat sick dairy cows. Other firms are targeting trendy sectors like pharmaceutical crops and alternative proteins.

The new firms benefit from an oversupply of produce worldwide, which has led to lower margins for farmers and greater demand for tools that increase productivity and boost profits. After an unprecedented round of mergers in 2016, farming giants have been looking to cut costs. Shareholders are also looking for new ways of doing things (six out of the ten biggest food companies have replaced their CEOs in the past three years). Many firms see external innovation as faster and cheaper than in-house research and development (R&D).

Israel’s overall civilian R&D spending, measured as a share of GDP, is more than that of any European country. Agritech gets a chunk of this cash. The government supports universities and labs; it has also invested in venture-capital funds and directly in startups. The country is good at turning ideas into profits. The Israel Institute of Technology (known as Technion) earns over half as much licensing patents as MIT in America, despite spending much less on research. Next year, for the first time, the government plans to sponsor pilot projects that connect startups with farmers, so that technology can be tried and tested locally before being introduced to international markets.

The state also helps in other ways. Military service is mandatory in Israel, where bright young conscripts spend years developing equipment or software that does well in unpredictable environments. Such skills have direct applications in agritech. Nadav Liebermann, the chief technology officer of CropX, a company that uses wireless sensors to measure soil moisture, served in a unit that created hardware for special forces, including devices placed underground in enemy territory to gather intelligence. His software chief, who learned to code in the army, ran a team of 50 developers at the age of 23. Two branches are particularly good at churning out tech entrepreneurs: Unit 8200, the army’s signals-intelligence arm, and Unit 9900, which specialises in gleaning intelligence from geospatial imagery.

Small is not always beautiful

The next challenge for Israel’s agritech firms will be scaling up. Limited farmland means they must look for partners abroad early on. So does the need to understand distant export markets with a different climate, like Brazil or the American Midwest. Founders of startups are often quick to sell up, rather than building their ventures into big global companies. Many reinvest their riches in new startups and buyers often continue to use Israel as their base for R&D. The danger is that, without bigger home-grown firms, many less-skilled Israelis—including kibbutzniks—will be cut off from the booming tech industry.





Jennifer Kite-Powell

Forbes, Dec. 18, 2019

Israel’s position as a startup nation has been on the rise since 2009. In 2017, in addition to more than 350 multi-national research and development centers, there were also more than 6,000 startups, more than 70 VC funds and more than 200 startup accelerators. OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved says Israel’s startup ecosystem is set to achieve new records this year, with an estimated $6.5B invested in Israeli startups in 2018.

“Over 80% of this capital comes from overseas, and Israeli venture funds are performing well, even in comparison with Silicon Valley,” said Medved. “The venture market here has grown considerably in size and in quality, with Israel regularly producing market-leading companies emerging in a variety of exciting investment sectors. These companies are not just growing fast, and have tons of promise, but are actually out ahead of their competitors worldwide.”

On October 9, 2018, Amazon Web Services (AWS) opened a new office in Tel Aviv, Israel which encompasses the teams working across Alexa Shopping, AWS, Prime Air, and Annapurna Labs. It also happens to be the location of Floor 28, a unique co-working space designed to help both enterprise companies and early-stage startups accelerate the process of building a minimum viable product that is ready for scale and enable venture-backed companies to achieve their next technological milestone or launch a new product.

Harel Ifhar, Head, AWS Israel said that when AWS launched in 2006, Israeli technology companies were among the first to adopt the services and leverage the AWS cloud to support their inventions, accelerate growth, and reach global markets. “After rapidly acquiring customers in the early days, in 2014 we opened the first office in Israel to support the growing customer base of start-ups and enterprises. Some of the ‘early adopters’ of AWS in Israel operate in a variety of areas, such as AdTech, web applications, analytics and business intelligence, and include LivePerson, My6Sense, Sisense, Viber and Wix,” said Ifhar.

Ifhar emphasizes he believes that AWS cloud has opened up new opportunities for Israeli companies of all sizes pointing out the global success of Amdocs and startup IronSource, a monetization platform with $105 million in funding. Ifhar notes that the new office also has a research and development side. “In this space, our engineers are working on cameras for mobile devices, technologies for Amazon PrimeAir working how to safely get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less, and the Alexa Shopping group which is working on technology that is core to the Alexa Shopping experience, solving problems in areas of natural language and high-precision search,” said Ifhar.

But Ifhar always circles back to startups and the strength of the Israeli startup scene. “In 2009, in Israel, Information and communication technology (ICT) sector amounted to $19 billion, contributing 17.3% of the business sector GDP and the demand for high bandwidth was rising [..] which drove the introduction of new mobile, social, and internet applications, such as instant messaging, VoIP, video conferencing, IPTV, and content apps,” said Ifhar. “Ten years later, leading the high tech sector are two main areas, cybersecurity, in which Israeli companies have shown a wealth of services and applications, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), [..] with more than 950 active startups in Israel utilizing or developing AI technologies.”

On the healthcare front, Israeli startup MobileODT has raised $9.9 million in funding to create a small, intelligent smartphone-enhanced medical diagnostic tool that enables point-of-care (POCT) diagnosis of cervical cancer which the company believes will simplify the diagnostic process. According to Ariel Beery, CEO, MobileODT, cervical cancer screening involves typically a visit to the gynaecologist for a Pap or HPV test to detect abnormal cells, and if pre-cancerous changes are detected, a more thorough examination of the cervix is performed, using a unique optical system.

“Early detection leads to easy and inexpensive treatment, hence the importance of enabling access to screening tests and treatment options in the precancerous stages of the disease to women everywhere,” said Beery. “Using MobileODT’s solution allows any health professional, anywhere in the world, to perform an initial cervical cancer screening via a mobile device, and immediately determine the need for biopsy, saving precious time for patients. Beery says that AWS makes it possible for them to deploy their solution in more than 29 countries around the world.

On the agricultural front, startup ConsumerPhysics, which has $19.7 million in funding, makes one of the smallest spectrometers which enables the agriculture and food industries to collect and act upon real-time data in dairy farms, coffee fields, and in factories. Netafim, founded in 1965 and acquired by Mexichem in 2018, uses AWS Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create a precision irrigation and fertigation management system. The irrigation system provides farmers with real-time recommendations through all stages of the lifecycle of the crop and helps to improve profitability by increasing yield while saving water, fertilizers, and other inputs.

Ran Maidan, CEO and President, Netafim says that the system uses an intelligent decision support algorithm which processes real-time data from multiple sources (plant, soil, weather conditions and more) that help farmers optimize their irrigation and fertigation planning. “We are using Amazon Redshift data warehouse and the AWS IoT system that collects data from devices deployed in the field, and analyzes it in the cloud to develop our state of the art Digital Farming system,” said Maidan. “By the end of 2018, we hope to have deployed our new system in farms in Israel, USA, India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and China.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





David Rosenberg 

Fathom, Nov. 2018

Israelis are justifiably proud of their country’s high technology industry. It is a testament to their entrepreneurial abilities and a source of well-paid employment. It has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and is environmentally friendly. It’s the industry of the future in which Israel is not only globally competitive but, in terms of pure innovative prowess, one of the world’s leading countries. ‘Start-Up Nation,’ as the sector has come to be called, is the envy of much of the world.

What most Israelis don’t appreciate is that technology is also a source of global political power in a way that was unimaginable a decade or two ago. That is most obviously manifested in Israel’s growing relationships with the world’s up-and-coming powers, including China and more recently India. In addition, Israel’s research and development capabilities, and the presence of some 300 multinational companies in Israel, has put the country in a central position in the global technology supply chain that makes the efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement all but hopeless. Israel’s powerful technology assets are also expressing themselves in military terms – a role will only grow as cyber-warfare becomes a bigger and bigger component of a country’s offensive and defensive capabilities – and intelligence gathering.

Technology and Power

Technology has played a role in power relationships since the dawn of civilisation. David’s slaying of Goliath aside, the Philistines were able to prevail over the Israelite tribes because they had access to iron weapons. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the (mostly European) countries that had the ability to mass produce were able to dominate and even conquer more traditional societies still reliant on agriculture and handicrafts. It wasn’t just the ability of industrialised countries to deploy more effective weaponry but to create a material culture, infrastructure and level of wealth that overwhelmed rivals.

By the second half of the 19th century, the role of technology – or more precisely industry, as it was seen in those days – was well understood by world leaders. Understanding its dangerous weakness vis-à-vis the Western world, Meiji Japan undertook a massive industrialisation drive starting in 1868. The Ottoman Empire in its waning days sought to do the same by importing Western experts, weaponry, and machinery – alas only with the idea of strengthening its armed forces rather than to foster an industrial or technological revolution. In more recent times, a major element of the Cold War was the race for a technological edge – a process that in the US led to the space programme, the internet and, via government contracts, the first Silicon Valley companies.

In the 21st century, technology has become even more important and is changing more rapidly than ever before, leaving countries perpetually at risk of falling behind. It has penetrated all aspects of economic life and in an interconnected world has become increasingly unavoidable. One small though critical example is the automobile industry, which was focused on technologies whose core was the internal combustion engine, a late 19th-century technology. Digital technology was marginal to the workings of an automobile. Now, however, between the demand for electric vehicles and the advent of autonomous cars, digital technology is becoming a key focus of automotive development. Veteran car makers don’t have that expertise and so they have turned to the high-tech industry to fill the gap in the form of partnerships and mergers and acquisitions. The revolution in auto-making is so deep that Israel, a country with no automotive industry but powerful innovative capabilities, has drawn vast interest from the world’s automakers…

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



On Topic Links

NASA Reveals First-Ever Image From Inside Sun’s Atmosphere Snapped With Israeli Tech: NoCamels, Dec. 19, 2018—NASA has released the first image from inside the sun’s atmosphere and it is ground-breaking. The photo was taken by the Parker Solar Probe, which is fitted with Israeli-engineered sensors that are helping capture these first-ever high-resolution images.

Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield: Matan Tzuri, Ynet, Jan. 10, 2019—Israeli farmers from communites bordering Gaza will have some 16,000 dunams of agricultural land allocated to them once the IDF clears landmines from an area, dubbed “firezone,” from landmines and unexploded bombs. Swathes of Israeli farmland has been scorched by incendiary airborne devices launched into Israel by the militants in Gaza.

New Israeli Technology Could Revolutionize Surveillance: Media Line, Dec. 7, 2018—Imagine jumping out of a helicopter, seeing what an outfit looks like before trying it on, or becoming a leading character in a favorite video game. The latest technology from high-tech companies Photuro and Mantis Vision is bringing consumers one step closer to realizing these visions

Wisdom From 70 of Israel’s Tech Wizards: Inbal Arieli, Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2018—In recent years, we keep celebrating and admiring the success of the Israeli tech entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, and its position as a global leader.




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



                                                 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.



          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.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]




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.



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…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link]



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.



Israeli Spacecraft Aims for Historic Moon Landing… Within Months: Stuart Winer & Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, July 10, 2018— Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon…

A Match Made in Hi-Tech Heaven: Israel and South Korea: David Lee, The Media Line, July 5, 2018 — Israel and South Korea top the list of countries that spend the most on science and technology R&D.

IDF’s Cyber Defenders Prepare Their Responses for the ‘Unknown Threat’: Yaakov Lappin, JNS, July 4, 2018— The cyber defenders of the Israel Defense Forces are preparing to deal with future unknown threats that will not resemble the dangers known today, a senior cyber officer has told JNS.

Is Desalination the Answer?: David Brummer, Breaking Israel News, July 11, 2018— Over the last two decades, desalination has appeared to be the answer to Israel’s urgent potable water shortfall, but in reality it has produced damaging and problematic unintended consequences.

On Topic Links

Israeli Technology Providing Vital Communications Link to Cave-Trapped Thai Boys: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 5, 2018

Israel’s Ladder to Space: Andy Blumenthal, Times of Israel, July 12, 2018

Israel70 | Innovation: Africa: Sivan Ya’ari, Fathom, July, 2018

8 Israeli Startups On World Economic Forum’s 2018 Technology Pioneers List: NoCamels, June 21, 2018



MOON LANDING… WITHIN MONTHS                                    

Stuart Winer & Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, July 10, 2018

Save the date. On February 13, 2019, an Israeli-built unmanned spacecraft is expected to land on the moon, having blasted off from Earth two months earlier, project managers said at a news conference Tuesday. If all goes well, the SpaceIL spider-like craft will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface.

The probe will be launched sometime in December from Cape Canaveral aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, officials said during the media event, held at an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) space technology site in Yehud. It is scheduled to land on February 13, 2019. The project, begun seven years ago as part of a Google technology contest to land a small probe on the moon, was conducted together with IAI. “We will put the Israeli flag on the moon,” said Ido Anteby, CEO of SpaceIL.

“As soon as the spacecraft reaches the landing point it will be completely autonomous,” Anteby said. “The motor will brake the craft and it will reach the ground at zero speed for a soft landing.” “In the first stage the Israeli flag will be put on the moon,” he said. “During the landing the craft will photograph the landing area with stills and video and even record itself.”

The spacecraft will carry out a Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the moon’s magnetic field, finishing its mission within two days. SpaceIL’s vehicle is just two meters in diameter and 1.5 meters tall standing on its four legs. It weighs 600 kilograms, making it the smallest craft to touchdown on the moon.

Israeli billionaire philanthropist and SpaceIL President Morris Kahn, who donated some $27 million to the project, told a gathering of journalists: “We are making history.” The idea, he said, is to inspire youth in Israel to take up science studies and to have the impact the Apollo lunar mission had in 1969, when astronauts landed on the moon, with people remembering forever where they were on that day. “This is a tremendous project,” Khan said. “When the rocket is launched into space, we will all remember where we were when Israel landed on the moon.”

The Israeli government has promised to fund 10% of the project, he said, but the money still has to come. “The government should recognize that space is very important for the future,” he said. “This is national history,” said IAI director Yossi Weiss. “The path to the moon is not easy. It is a very complicated route.” “The cooperation between SpaceIL and IAI is an example of the amazing abilities that can be reached in civil space activities — activities that combine education, technology, industry, knowledge and a lot of initiative.”

Whereas other previous moonshot spacecraft have taken just days to reach their target, SpaceIL will be fired into an elliptical orbit to gradually bring it closer to the moon, a journey that will take two months but will save on carrying the fuel needed for a quicker passage. Even so, the craft will travel at a speed that is 13 times faster than the maximal speed of an F-15 fighter jet, steering itself to the moon, which is some 384,000 kilometers (239,000 miles) from Earth, about 10 times the distance between Earth and communication satellites orbiting it. Through its elliptical journey, the Israeli spacecraft will cover some 9 million kilometers, the project managers said.

The Falcon 9 launch rocket’s primary load will be a much a larger communications satellite. The craft itself — the very same one that will land on the moon — was displayed in a so-called “clean room” on site. Journalists and visitors had to don white robes and hats and cover their shoes before accessing the space. Shiny gold insulating paper covered its spiderlike legs. The gold paper will cover the whole of the craft once it is finally ready, the creators said.

The spacecraft’s design and development is all Israeli, the organizers explained. The fuel is contained in balloon-like devices within the lightweight metal frame of the craft, with one engine at its center, and smaller engines on the side. The craft is equipped with solar panels, avionics, electronics and a control system – all of which were developed in Israel. It is also equipped with cameras and communication equipment so it can continuously be in touch with its operators on Earth.

The project is making “the moon reachable, which it never was before,” said IAI’s  Weiss at the event. “Going to the moon was a hugely expensive government-run mission. And this is going to be the first privately run mission to the moon.” This is the first time an enterprise, not a country, has gone to the moon at a reasonable cost, and it is “going to show the way for the rest of the world on how space is much more than just satellites.” Humanity is looking for ways to make it easier to get to the moon and other planets, he said, and this mission paves the way for that.

In the coming months the spacecraft will undergo a series of intensive checks and tests at IAI, including with the use of simulators, to prove that it will withstand the launch, flight and landing conditions, said SpaceIL’s Anteby at the event. In November the spacecraft will be sent to Cape Canaveral to ready it for the launch in December.

SpaceIL began in 2011 when engineers Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub decided to compete in the Google Lunar XPRIZE, an international contest with a $20 million prize for the first privately funded team that puts a small, mobile craft on the moon. Although the Google contest was eventually scrapped in March 2018 after none of the teams managed to launch their probes before the deadline, the SpaceIL group kept going with its project, gaining funding from various donors including Kahn and the Adelson family. In total the project has cost some $95 million.

Only three countries have made soft landings of craft on the moon — Russia, the US, and China. The Russians were first in February 1966 with their Luna 9 probe followed by the US in June the same year with Surveyor 1, and then the Chinese with the Chang’e 3 craft in 2013. Other countries have succeeded in crashing scientific probes into the surface. Only the US has landed people on the moon, with the first human steps on the surface taken by Neil Armstrong on July 21, 1969, when he famously declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”




A MATCH MADE IN HI-TECH HEAVEN: ISRAEL AND SOUTH KOREA                                                         David Lee

                                                               The Media Line, July 5, 2018


Israel and South Korea top the list of countries that spend the most on science and technology R&D. Israel and South Korea have more in common than one would expect. Both are democratic countries that declared their independence in 1948 – the former gaining it only three months before the latter. Both countries also oversee some of the world’s most militarized borders.

They furthermore have strong economies supported by thriving hi-tech industries. According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel and South Korea spend the same proportion of its GDP towards Research and Development (R&D) – 4.2 percent, the highest in the world.

For the past three to five years government ministries and companies around the world have been eyeing hi-tech’s steady march forward in the two countries, which have also not been shy about working together. Indeed, some would say it’s a match made in heaven. The Israel Innovation Authority reported that more than 140 joint Israeli-Korean technological innovation projects were launched in 2016 involving a total sum of $54 million. “Israel is the fourth-leading exporter [among Middle Eastern countries] to South Korea,” said Cho Kyung Jin, a senior manager at KOTRA, an agency that promotes South Korean trade and investment with other countries.

Cho’s office – a branch of KOTRA based in Tel Aviv – provides buyer and market information to companies in Israel and South Korea. “We observe the Israeli market for Korean companies so these companies can make appropriate adjustments to the local Israeli market,” Cho told The Media Line. He explained that the main Korean exports to Israel included automobiles, mobile phones, and household appliances. In fact, one of five cars sold in Israel is reportedly from Korea. Additionally, Korean mobile phone sales gained more than 50% of the Israeli market.

Korean companies, by contrast, were interested in about 3,500 Israeli venture groups in the areas of bio-tech, medical equipment, renewable energy and aerospace. Itzik Yona, the CEO of Yonaco, an Israeli consulting agency for businesses that are eyeing South Korea, told The Media Line that “Koreans cannot work without face-to-face interactions; the country has a very unique business culture.”

Yona got the idea of starting his own consulting firm when many Israeli businessmen came to him for help on how to navigate South Korea’s business culture. “For the last 15 years with Yonaco I’ve been negotiating transactions and promoting businesses in Korea. It started with Israeli companies wanting to do business and invest in South Korea. Now we have clients in Europe, Singapore and the United States,” said Yona.

He added that Israel was a powerhouse for innovation in medical devices, green technology, pharmaceuticals and robotics. Yet, Israelis face some setbacks after the innovation phase. “People in Israel are building companies to do one of two things: either to sell them or take them to an IPO [an initial public offering]. This means that after these companies reach a certain maturity and other interested parties step in, their technologies often exit Israel, the place where they originated.” He continued, “Koreans know how to take core technologies and make them into a product. The capabilities in South Korea are to design a product, execute quality control over the product and order the production chain in a very efficient way.”

While both countries have their strengths and weaknesses, Yona said they complement each other almost perfectly. “South Korea knows how to take core technologies and make products, while Israel knows how to make core technologies.” There are others avenues through which this type of joint cooperation runs. Korean conglomerates make investments in Israeli startups through venture companies. Another popular option for big names in South Korea, such as Samsung and LG, is to open up accelerators in Israel.

“Accelerators are [investment and support] initiatives that provide small companies with about $50,000 to examine their technology for six to eight months. They can screen technology and get closer to it,” explained Yona. Samsung Next and the LG R&D Center are examples of these accelerators which directly involve Israeli startups that want to work under the umbrella of tech-giants such as Samsung.

South Korea’s heavy investment in Israeli technology in the past few years may have been influenced by the aggressive investment strategies from its neighbors China and Japan towards the global market. Yet South Korea has a smaller stake of interests in Israel than do China, Japan and India. “While South Korea is not among the countries doing the most trade with Israel, I think this economic partnership will continue to grow exceptionally,” said Yona.

Sageworks, a company that provides financial analysis to hi-tech firms, reported that information-technology was the fastest-growing industry in the US. With businesses relying heavily on the fast pace of information exchange, it seems that this sector – which is dominant in both Israel and South Korea – will expand much more in the future. “Some industries in South Korea consider it a crucial strategy to trade in technology, consumer electronics, mobile technologies and networks. So, these Israeli companies will do business with South Korea for a long time to come,” said Yona…

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






Yaakov Lappin

JNS, July 4, 2018

The cyber defenders of the Israel Defense Forces are preparing to deal with future unknown threats that will not resemble the dangers known today, a senior cyber officer has told JNS. Military assessments place cyber warfare on par with the potential damage that conventional weapons can incur. In some cases, cyberattacks can surpass the damage caused by known threats like missiles. A cyber arms race rages between Israel and its foes, parallel to the conventional arms race that is under way.

At a cybersecurity conference late last month in Tel Aviv, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the challenges Israel and all developed countries face from adversaries now bent on cyberattacks. “We cannot go back to the world of levers, pulleys and couriers. Since we are going forward, we are absolutely vulnerable,” he said. “Our airlines can be brought down; our fighter planes can be brought down.”

Netanyahu—who said that Israel receives about 20 percent of the global investment in the sector, and who noted Israel’s cybersecurity center in Beersheva that combines military, business and high-tech know-how—added that there is “no silver bullet” against cyber threats. “This is a supreme test for our civilization. It’s going to be tested not only by criminal organizations, by terrorists, but by other states. We have to combine forces,” said Netanyahu.

Sgt. 1st Class M, the head of the Cyber Department in the IDF’s Hoshen Unit, leads personnel that defend the military’s sensitive communications networks, without which the Israel Defense Forces could not function. Whether wireless, wired, or using satellites and phones, the Hoshen Unit is involved in enabling military communications, and its personnel are aware of the fact that Israel’s enemies are keen on being able to shut down the IDF’s networks if they could.

“One can naturally understand that the IDF has been marked as a priority [target],” M said. “We are the focus of enemies. So we must act all day and night proactively, to defend and track, and be able to intervene in case of an incident.” As part of that effort, the unit invests a great deal of thought into meeting threats that do not currently exist, he stated. “I can say that we are, all of the time, thinking about what will arrive tomorrow morning, about the non-trivial things. We use red teams [personnel that simulate the enemy] to attack ourselves, and we conduct surprise exercises on ourselves, at 2 a.m. on a summer night, when incidents come as a surprise. That is how we know what our defense levels are,” the officer said.

Last month, Hoshen’s Cyber Department organized a competition for all of the military’s cyber defenders to get them to think out of the box and prepare for tasks they are not used to carrying out. The “Capture the Flag” competition was hosted by Cisco Systems, an American networking hardware giant, at its offices in Netanya. Cisco works closely with the Hoshen Unit, as its association with the event symbolizes. “We took a whole day and brought personnel from across the whole of the military, split them up into groups and gave the participants cyber riddles with varying difficulty levels,” M said. “The goal was to win as many points as possible.”

The event included the participation of classified units, as well as cyber personnel from the Israeli Air Force and Navy. The goal was to get them to develop new abilities, M said. “Everyone has their forte—some are experts on the web, some do programming. Our goal was to take them out of their routine and expose them to things they don’t usually deal with on a day-to-day basis, so that they won’t be weak in those areas.” The event also took IDF engineers who don’t work directly in cyber warfare and gave them a crash course in the world of cyber defenses. “They came out of this on a higher level,” said M, “and that’s what matters.”




David Brummer

Breaking Israel News, July 11, 2018

Over the last two decades, desalination has appeared to be the answer to Israel’s urgent potable water shortfall, but in reality it has produced damaging and problematic unintended consequences. It is time to rethink Israel’s water strategy, especially in light of the April 2018 storms when millions of cubic meters of urban runoff simply flowed into the sea, rather than being redirected to replenish diminishing natural underground water reserves (aquifers). And beyond re-thinking the strategy, there are challenging questions about why Israel is proceeding with hugely expensive and energy-inefficient desalination rather than a proven cheaper and better alternative.

For at least the last five years, an acute lack of rainfall in drought conditions and an accelerating water deficit has been overtaxing Israel’s desalination and wastewater treatment plants. The received wisdom is that the only answer lies in the construction of more desalination plants, and indeed Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry has announced its intention to build two further such plants, which would be the sixth and seventh respectively – at a cost of approximately US$400 million each. Is this the most efficient and cost-effective response?

With the political and military temperature rising, and a standoff with Iran now teetering, investment in less targetable and more energy efficient water purification and storage sites would seem logical and appropriate. So why, when there is growing and significant evidence for more effective, cost-efficient and equitable solutions to the water crisis is there a myopic focus on the perceived impregnability of water desalination?

For Dr. Yaron Zinger, from the Center for Water Sensitive Cities in Israel (a unique platform, cooperating with Water Sensitive Cities Australia and headed by KKL-JNF, in collaboration with the Hebrew University, the Technion in Haifa and Ben-Gurion University), a number of pilot programs and field studies point to the efficacy and potential widespread implementation of biofiltration, which converts wasted urban runoff into a new secure water resource.

Biofiltration is the process of using selected plants and different soil densities to remove impurities from rain or storm water.  And it is an Australian model that provides the inspiration – Australia leads the world in biofiltration with thousands of bio-filtration systems in the city of Melbourne and many more in the city of Adelaide where hundreds of Dunams use biofiltration to create drinking water.

Zinger and Prof. Ana Deletic, a world-renowned academic and expert in water engineering, were part of a team that conducted a case study in Melbourne, and found that growing plants in certain areas and filtering rain and drainage runoff water through them, resulted in several positive outcomes: primarily, the treated water was cleaned, purified and stored; and secondarily, the ambient temperature surrounding biofiltration sites was reduced, and the vegetation and foliage at the sites enhanced the attractiveness to residents of nearby areas. A 2010 agreement between Water Sensitive Cities Australia and KKL-JNF to establish a joint Australia-Israel research center also led to examining broader questions about urban planning and use of water…

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




On Topic Links

Israeli Technology Providing Vital Communications Link to Cave-Trapped Thai Boys: Stuart Winer, Times of Israel, July 5, 2018—Rescuers working to save a Thai youth soccer team trapped deep inside a flooded cave are using an Israeli technology to maintain communication with the 12 boys and their coach.

Israel’s Ladder to Space: Andy Blumenthal, Times of Israel, July 12, 2018—Wow, what an unbelievable announcement in the last day that Israel is planning a lunar landing from aboard a SpaceX rocket taking off from Cape Canaveral towards the end of the year.

Israel70 | Innovation: Africa: Sivan Ya’ari, Fathom, July, 2018 —Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited African three times in the last 18 months, with the continent increasingly being perceived as a strategic asset. BICOM CEO James Sorene spoke to Sivan Ya’ari the founder of Innovation: Africa, a New York based non-profit that brings Israeli solar, agricultural and water technologies to rural African villages.

8 Israeli Startups On World Economic Forum’s 2018 Technology Pioneers List: NoCamels, June 21, 2018—June 21, 2018 | Eight Israeli startups were on the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers cohort of 2018 list, which was unveiled Thursday.


Tapping into the Brilliance of Israel and the Zionist Dream: Asaf Romirowsky, JNS, May 13, 2018—As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, the global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement has been propagating the idea of ”anti-normalization,“ advocating for complete and total isolation of Israel…

Business Ties to Arab World Skyrocketing, Says Venture Capitalist Margalit: Max Schindler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 22, 2018— As Israel marked Independence Day, the country was benefiting from ever-growing business ties with the Arab world, according to one Israeli executive who has helped paved the way for the budding rapprochement.

Israeli Startups Lead the Way in Car Tech Revolution: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, May 24, 2018— Throngs of investors and entrepreneurs hobnobbed at the EcoMotion conference in Tel Aviv this week at the nation’s largest smart-transportation event on Wednesday.

Kosher Travel and Israeli Technology: A Match Made in Heaven: Carl Hoffman, Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2018— Okay, now here’s something you don’t read about every day. Indeed, you have probably never read about anything quite like this before.

On Topic Links

Three Myths About Israeli Startups Busted – and One Confirmed: Ruti Levy, Ha’aretz, May 21, 2018

Vroom, Vroom: Israeli Tech Is At The Forefront Of The Newest Mobility Trends: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, May 24, 2018

The Future of Greek-Israeli Relations: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, April 8, 2018

Netanyahu Celebrates Growing Trilateral Ties With Cyprus and Greece: Breaking Israel News, May 8, 2018



Asaf Romirowsky

JNS, May 13, 2018

As Israel celebrates its 70th birthday, the global Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement has been propagating the idea of “anti-normalization,” advocating for complete and total isolation of Israel, rejecting any interaction between Arabs and Jews, and underscoring that Jews cannot be or have a nation-state.

At every stage of normalizing Palestinian relations with Israel, especially during the Oslo years, extremist factions opposed the very idea of talking with Israelis. This is now the core mission of the BDS movement. Moreover, at every juncture where Israel tries to highlight its global contributions and humanism, it gets slapped for hiding its true “evil nature.” One example is highlighting Israel’s enlightened treatment of gays by declaring it “pink-washing.”

Overcoming the anti-normalization is not a simple task, but it begins with demanding normalization and acceptance. This necessity is illustrated in Avi Jorisch’s latest book, Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World. Jorisch selected 15 technological innovations and their entrepreneurs from such fields as pharmaceuticals, solar power, defense, agriculture and cyber-security. Through personal stories, Jorisch is able to share compelling individuals who are the ingenuity and tenacity of Israel and Israelis.

What makes this book unique is that it is a clear departure from the author’s previous work. Jorisch, a seasoned Middle East analyst with an expertise in Hezbollah and Iran, is no stranger to the Middle East or its threats. The book was born in the summer of 2014 during “Operation Protective Edge,” when Israel was fighting Hamas in Gaza. Jorisch had a firsthand experience with Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system, which intercepted the missiles while Jorisch was carrying his son to a shelter. This led him to tell the Iron Dome tale and the race to create other systems throughout the country.

He tell the story of Eli Beer from the United Hatzalah ambulance service, who created “ambucycles”—motorcycles equipped with first-responder apparatus enabling EMTs to evade traffic and arrive on the scene in the first critical moments—what Jorisch correctly calls “the Uber of Ambulances.” In another example, the author shares the Israeli-made Emergency Bandage that saved the life of Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot back in 2011 in a parking a lot of supermarket in Tucson Arizona where she was to address a crowd. The uniqueness of the bandage, developed by Bernard Bar Natan, consists of a sterile pad that medics apply to the wound with a special built-in handlebar that can provide up to 30 pounds of pressure to firm the bleeding. The bandage has saved countless lives all over the world, and is a required instrument in the tool box of the Israel Defense Forces, the U.S. Armed Services and the British Army.

Israelis crave being seen as a normal people and country, and to share their experience with the world. At the same time, the reality of being a tiny country with few natural resources—though abundant human capital—has driven innovation. Highlighting normalization and innovation are functions of not wanting to be defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict, while at the same time demonstrating how they excel despite it. Israelis are burdened with the need to fight for survival as well as excellence. The Zionist dream did not end in 1948; its redefinition seven decades later depends on finding a happy medium between defeating its strategic threats and advocating its ability to be an active contributor to community of nations. Innovation is key to this process.

The book is a welcome addition to goals of appreciating the Zionist dream and the increasing the normalcy of Israel, while underscoring the abnormal conditions in which these inventions came about. It highlights Israel’s current reality. At the end of the day, Jorisch correctly states that “Israel does not have a monopoly on good ideas or proper execution. All countries would benefit from tapping into their own cultures in order to apply their own lessons to the industries and professions they have excelled in for centuries. With this said, the Jewish state’s achievements for the benefit of mankind should be celebrated and emulated by the global community.” Internalizing this message may help combat growing anti-normalization and overcome BDS. It will certainly bring important innovations to the rest of the world.

Asaf Romirowsky is a CIJR Academic Fellow




Max Schindler

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 22, 2018

As Israel marked Independence Day, the country was benefiting from ever-growing business ties with the Arab world, according to one Israeli executive who has helped paved the way for the budding rapprochement. “It’s taken 70 years but we’re starting to see signs of normalization,” said former Labor MK and venture capitalist Erel Margalit, who travels often throughout the Middle East to meet with emirs, monarchs and Arab business leaders. “We saw it in the beginning of the ‘90s with Oslo, it [normalization] crashed and now it’s reemerging.”

Both Israel and Sunni Arab states are seeing a convergence of threats, mainly stemming from the shared menace both face from Shi’ite Iran and its proxies. Yet geopolitical interests may not fully explain burgeoning ties with the Arab world. “When I go to Europe, and I was just in Brussels, I meet with key Arab leaders, both in their countries and in other parts,” said Margalit. He chuckled that it is easier for him to meet in a business capacity than in his previous role as parliamentarian to discuss economic projects in water, food security and cybersecurity.

Globally, with the digital economy taking over brick-and-mortar shops, Israel’s stature as the “Start-Up Nation” could play a key role in disrupting key industries – healthcare, retail, automotive, food and agriculture. Other countries are clamoring for those technologies. “In the last 20 years, Israel has taken the technology developed in defense, in universities, and transitioned that into the hi-tech world,” said Margalit, who founded Jerusalem Venture Partners, which invests in many of these tech firms. “In the communications industry, Israel is the single-most influential country, to change telephony… to data, to video, to fiber-optics, wireless. The technologies that changed the battlefield are changing the world.”

Outside of the Middle East, Israeli technology is propelling diplomacy with sometimes-erstwhile European allies. Israeli expertise in big data, business intelligence and artificial intelligence is of great interest to European and Arab countries. In meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and other European leaders, Margalit has often made that point. “Innovation is becoming the name of diplomacy as well. If France wants to compete with Germany for hegemony in Europe – and Germany is very strong in industry – the only chance France has is to bring innovation to the table, and Israel can help unlock that.”

In the Middle East, Margalit publicly named Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Dubai, Abu Dhabi as countries that seek to incorporate the Israeli homegrown tools. The executive has also met with leaders from Oman and Tunisia. Margalit recently visited Qatar to participate in a regional development conference, the first appearance of an Israeli leader in 10 years. With Saudi Arabia now developing a $500 billion smart city mere kilometers from the southern city of Eilat, Israeli companies are in a prime place to bid for contracts and services.

A number of Israeli companies are talking to the Saudi sovereign wealth fund – the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – about developing the proposed 26,500-sq.km. “smart city” zone, Margalit previously told The Jerusalem Post. Nicknamed NEOM, the smart city plans to host hi-tech companies working in a range of fields, including solar energy, water, biotechnology, robotics and food technology, all of which are fields where Israeli start-ups and firms are more established than competitors in Arab countries.

Another sign of the incipient normalization was Saudi Arabia recently allowing Air India to cross its territory in flying to Tel Aviv. For Margalit, burgeoning business ties will pave the way for political opportunities to reach a regional peace agreement with Arab countries.

WHAT TROUBLES Margalit lies outside of hi-tech – the large swaths of the local populace that are being left out in the cold. “Thirty percent of Israel’s kids are not getting attention, are sometimes not bringing sandwiches to school, are not standing by the criteria of the basic tests in the schools,” said Margalit. “They don’t have a chance to finish the bagrut [high school matriculation exam] – to be a part of the 21st century and economy.”

Margalit stepped down from the Knesset last fall after losing the primary to lead the left-leaning opposition Labor Party. Despite being out of the political realm, Israel’s social inequalities continue to nag at him. That has led Margalit as an executive and philanthropist to promote subsidizing Israeli hi-tech firms to set-up in the country’s periphery.

The Israeli government has adopted parts of Margalit’s idea. While Beersheba is focusing on cybersecurity in the South and Haifa is specializing in healthcare IT in the North, Margalit’s pet project is food-tech for the northernmost city of Kiryat Shmona. “It has a chance to position Israel as the food-tech center – turning the food-tech category into a startup investment in the Galilee,” said Margalit. “That would create 15,000 to 20,000 jobs if we do it right in the next several years.” That represents what Margalit calls “centers of excellence,” sprinkled around the country.

“The young woman who graduated from Kiryat Shmona is just as talented as one who graduated from a top school in Herzliya,” Margalit said. “But she doesn’t have a chance to succeed there, up north, she must go to New York or San Francisco. So why not bring the Technion and University of Haifa to her?”



ISRAELI STARTUPS LEAD THE WAY IN CAR TECH REVOLUTION                                         Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, May 24, 2018

Throngs of investors and entrepreneurs hobnobbed at the EcoMotion conference in Tel Aviv this week at the nation’s largest smart-transportation event on Wednesday. Technologies were debated and cards exchanged as talk of opportunities and joint ventures filled the packed hall on Wednesday. In just a few years, Israel, which has no car manufacturing activities to speak of, has become an unlikely leader in technologies that look set to transform the vehicles we know.

The Startup Nation’s foray into the field started with the electric car company Better Place, which in spite of its high-profile bankruptcy in May 2013, is credited with putting Israel’s automotive tech scene on the map. Google bought the Raanana-based mapping company Waze for a reported some $1 billion in 2013. And in March last year, Intel agreed to acquire the self-driving car technology powerhouse Mobileye, located in Jerusalem, for a whopping $15.3 billion. BMW, Ford, General, Honda, Motors, Uber, Volkswagen and Volvo are all paying attention, and have been investing in Israeli technology since 2016.

On Tuesday, Germany’s Volkswagen Group officially opened its “innovation campus” in Tel Aviv, which will be the focus of its research and development activities in Israel. And BP Ventures, the venture arm of the British multinational oil and gas firm BP plc, said, also on Tuesday, it has invested $20 million in Israeli startup StoreDot, which is developing ultra-fast battery charging technology that can be used for electric vehicles.

“We recognize Israel as a top innovation hub in the world where we will find some of the technology that will build the car of the future,” Matthieu De Chanville, the deputy head of Alliance Ventures, the venture arm of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, which is scouting for Israeli technologies, said in an interview with The Times of Israel on Wednesday.

There are 423 active companies in Israel in the field of automotive, autonomous-cars, connected cars, transportation and mobility, according to data provided by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization. There were just 207 in 2011. Israel’s auto-tech industry raised $814 million in 2017, triple the amount it raised in 2015, and $182 million in the first quarter of 2018, in line with last year’s pace, according to Start-Up Nation Central.

Gett, Via, Innoviz Technologies, Valens and Moovit are the startups with the largest funding rounds, while the most active investors in the sector in Israel include OurCrowd, Maniv Mobility, Magma Venture Partners and Aleph, according to Start-Up Nation Central data.

Among the foreign visitors to the EcoMotion event is an Italian delegation of mobility industry representatives looking for Israeli automotive technologies, especially in the fields of autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) in cars, new materials and alternative fuels. The Italian delegation is led by Italy’s second largest bank, Banca Intesa San Paolo.

On Wednesday, the innovation center of the bank signed an accord with Jerusalem-based crowdfunding venture capital fund OurCrowd to increase cooperation between Israeli and Italian startups and boost commercial opportunities in Europe in the areas of automotive, fashion technologies, food technologies and manufacturing, OurCrowd said.

Here are some of the revolutionary things that the Israeli startups are doing: Alerts for forgotten babies in cars: Tel Aviv-based startup Guardian Optical Technologies has developed a car sensor that it says is capable of saving lives of infants accidentally left in cars, by detecting the smallest heartbeat. The company’s sensor uses optical motion analysis to detect the tiniest movement within the car, including an infant heartbeat. When it detects motion, it can notify a driver who has already left the car and automatically turn on the air-conditioning.

In addition, said Gil Dotan, the CEO of Guardian, the startup is working to make the sensor, which is placed on the inside of the car roof, a collector of such data as number of people in the car, their size, position and posture, so as to enable the monitoring of what is going on in the car. This information can be used to trigger alerts about violence within the car or bus, or about forgotten items to help fleet managers of autonomous cars monitor their fleet. It will also allow insurance companies to better tailor their policies based on data of how and when and who uses the car, he explained.

The sensor is at the pilot stage and the startup is working with automakers in Europe, Japan and the US and with Tier 1 companies that supply systems to car makers, to try out the product, which Dotan hopes will be commercialized in 2021. The company has raised $8.5 million to date from investors including Maniv Mobility and Mirai Creation Fund, marking the first time that Toyota Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. have invested in an Israeli company…

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





Carl Hoffman

Jerusalem Post, May 17, 2018

Okay, now here’s something you don’t read about every day. Indeed, you have probably never read about anything quite like this before. An Israeli travel agency that caters primarily to Orthodox Jews – which organizes things like “kosher cruises” and annual Passover programs in several hotels throughout Israel – decides one day to install a solar-powered electrical system in a poor African village’s elementary school, raises money for the project, visits the village for the inauguration of the school’s electrical system, fixes the school’s classroom floors, and plans to remotely monitor the project from Israel to make sure the solar-powered electrical system continues to work properly.

Strange as it may seem, the story is true. The travel agency is Eddie’s Kosher Travel – specializing, they say, in serving “the discerning observant Jewish traveler”; the village is Dembo, in the poverty-stricken African country Malawi; and the project is being conducted in conjunction with Innovation: Africa, a Herzliya-based NGO that has thus far impacted the lives of over 1,000,000 people by bringing innovative Israeli solar and water technologies to remote African villages.

HOW DID this come about? Says David Walles, Australian immigrant and CEO of Eddie’s Travel, “We run annually numerous Passover programs at five hotels around Israel in which hundreds of families from around the world join us. Every year, we look for ways to enrich these programs by having guest speakers come to give inspirational talks. These are guest scholars, rabbis, lecturers, etc.

“One of the speakers who came to Hotel Hacienda in Ma’alot last Passover was the founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, Sivan Ya’ari. My wife and I were very impressed by her story and what she has achieved out there. She spoke with no view to take it any further. It just filled a slot on a main evening of Passover, where we had 350 people listening to her talk. She captivated our audience.

“People kept coming up to us over the course of the rest of Passover and asked, ‘What can we do? How can we get involved here?’ So we sat down with Sivan, and she told us that, through our business, we can adopt a village school in Africa.” Ya’ari told the Walleses that for no more than $20,000, Innovation: Africa would install a fully functioning electrical system, powered by solar panels, sponsored by Eddie’s Travel and dedicated to it. “She said we’d be changing the lives of hundreds of people in that village,” Walles says.

Ya’ari recalls, “Eddie’s Travel decided to adopt a school. So we gave them a list of many schools that are waiting for light. Children that have never seen light at night. We are operating in eight African countries, and as you can imagine, we have many, many villages waiting. David, his wife, Chana, and their kids decided to adopt one in Malawi. I was very happy about this because Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. They decided to bring Israeli solar technology to power the school, to power the house of the teachers, to bring enough energy to run computers.”

And having decided to do that, the Walleses went to work. “So we put the idea out there, and the response was overwhelming. We put in some significant seed money of our own, and we encouraged others to do the same. And we raised that money,” David says…

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



On Topic Links

Three Myths About Israeli Startups Busted – and One Confirmed: Ruti Levy, Ha’aretz, May 21, 2018—The hype around Israel’s high-tech sector is real, but the true story is often in the details. That’s what the Central Bureau of Statistics report on the industry for the years 2011-16 that was released Monday showed.

Vroom, Vroom: Israeli Tech Is At The Forefront Of The Newest Mobility Trends: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, May 24, 2018—Tel Aviv is on track to become a capital of mobility, placing Israel as a leader and trendsetter on a global scale in the automotive tech and smart transportation sector.

The Future of Greek-Israeli Relations: Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, April 8, 2018—The deterioration of relations between Israel and Turkey that began at the end of 2008 led the Israeli leadership to look for alternative alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Netanyahu Celebrates Growing Trilateral Ties With Cyprus and Greece: Breaking Israel News, May 8, 2018—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the growing trilateral ties between Israel, Cyprus and Greece, during a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and before a trilateral summit including Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.


From 1950s Rationing to Modern High-Tech Boom: Israel’s Economic Success Story: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Apr. 18, 2018— From a war-torn nation struggling for survival and lacking natural resources, the biblical land of milk and honey has become a technological powerhouse which has seen economic growth for 15 consecutive years.

Israeli Space Team Still Shooting for the Moon: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, Apr. 2, 2018— The Google Lunar X Prize competition expired on March 31 with no winner.

The Satellites of Chelm: Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 29, 2017 — In 1977, a young officer in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps came up with what seemed at the time, like a crazy idea.

Israel At 70: Top Venture Capitalists Offer Their Take On Future Innovation: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, April 19, 2018— Israel is marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern state with a theme that centers on “A Legacy of Innovation.”

On Topic Links

Pioneers of Innovation: 13 Israeli Startups Making Their Mark On The World: Ido Levy, NoCamels, Apr. 18, 2018

A Big Chunk of Israel’s Tech Scene is Actually Not Based in Israel: Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg, Mar. 29, 2018

Israel is One of World’s Leading Economies, OECD Report Finds: Ariel Whitman, Israel Hayom, Mar. 12, 2018

Behind Israel’s High-Tech Reputation Is a Low-Tech Economy: Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2018



Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Apr. 18, 2018

From a war-torn nation struggling for survival and lacking natural resources, the biblical land of milk and honey has become a technological powerhouse which has seen economic growth for 15 consecutive years. “We can stop and look back with satisfaction” at the “amazing achievements made by the Israeli economy in the 70 years of the State’s existence,” Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug said at a press conference in Jerusalem in March.

Israelis’ standard of living has risen from 30 percent of Americans’ standard of living at the time of the state’s founding to 60% today. Israel’s economy has experienced a yearly average growth of 3.3% since 2000, higher than in many OECD countries, partly driven by a strong population growth. Its labor market is close to full employment and the unemployment level is the lowest it has been in decades. Israeli tech firms raised record funds in 2017 and the year saw $23 billion worth of company exits, defined as merger and acquisition deals and initial public offerings of shares. The nation has some 94 companies listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

The country’s population surged from 806,000 at the founding of the nation to 8.84 million today, and the state has absorbed some 3.2 million immigrants over the years. Life expectancy for Jewish men jumped to almost 81 years from 65 in 1949, and for women to just over 84, compared with just below 68 in 1949. The nation is ranked the 11th-happiest country in the world, and, to top it all, it has also found natural gas reserves off its shores, which will help lead the tiny country to energy independence…

If you look at the “big picture, at the perspective of 70 years,” the Israeli economy by and large “clearly did very well,” said Omer Moav, professor of economics at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK, and at the IDC Herzliya, in a phone interview. The country has gone from a “chronic balance of payments,” huge debt, and runaway inflation to “a balance of payments surplus, a surplus of assets over liabilities, and inflation that we would like to be a little higher,” Flug said.

And all of this has taken place while absorbing and resettling huge waves of immigrants and fighting off hostile neighbors. How did this come to pass? Israel’s economic success is due to a number of factors that have merged to bring the nation to its current state. A lack of natural resources pushed its dwellers to find alternative ways to cope, leading to the development of drip irrigation and water desalination plants — technologies that are now sold globally. The wars the country has fought have led the nation’s military to develop cutting edge technologies that have also permeated the civilian sphere, creating the basis of Israel’s thriving tech scene.

The country has also managed to absorb huge waves of immigration, and this population surge has contributed to a mix of cultures and languages — from Russian to Arabic and Ethiopian and English — that have remained distinct as much as they have melded, creating friction at times but also a fertile ground for innovation. The impact of the immigration was such that “there had to be rationing of resources in the early 50s, like oil and food,” said Prof. Eytan Sheshinski, an emeritus lecturer in economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in a phone interview.

This rationing continued well into the 60s, with the government deeply involved in the economy. From 1950 through 1955, Israel’s economy grew by about 13% each year, and just under 10% in the subsequent years into the 1960s, according to “Start-Up Nation,” a book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer that documents the story of Israel’s “economic miracle.” The government provided jobs and set up infrastructure projects using money from overseas, mainly from Jews abroad but also from German reparations given as compensation for Nazi crimes. “These were critical to the economy” and helped build roads, ports and trains, Sheshinski said.

Then, in the 70s, inflation started. The 1973 Yom Kippur war forced the country to recruit most of the labor force to the military effort for up to six months, bringing business activity to a halt. Government policies that artificially propped up salaries led to ballooning debt, and tax rates were raised. Hyperinflation hit in the early 80s and in 1984 it reached 445%. This “disrupted the function of the economy — and there was a large deficit in the balance of payments,” Sheshinski said. In 1985 a stabilization plan led by finance minister Shimon Peres together with US secretary of state George Shultz and IMF economist Stanley Fischer, was set up to reduce public debt, curb government spending, and start a spurt of privatization of government-owned companies.

The program “froze prices and wages and stopped inflation,” Sheshinski said. “The privatization created a competitive industry and continued well into 1990s.” At the same time the government undertook a program of liberalizing the economy, opening the Israeli markets to imports and lifting curbs on the currency. “Israel became part of the global economy,” Sheshinski said. Because of the small size of the economy, the industry focused on foreign markets, boosting Israel’s exports. In the 1990s the government also had the foresight to set up a program called Yozma, which helped create a local venture fund industry that invested in burgeoning Israeli technologies.

Then, the boom of the internet broke down geographic barriers and Israeli entrepreneurship mushroomed. “The internet very much suited the Israeli character and many young people entered the field,” said Yossi Vardi, an Israeli entrepreneur and investor who backed Mirabilis, the founders of ICQ, the first instant messaging program for the web. It was sold to America Online in 1998 for some $300 million. “Israel is a small country with no local market, and the barrier to entry for the internet was very low; some managed, others failed, but it inspired people,” Vardi said in a phone interview.

A wave of immigration in the 90s brought with it more than 900,000 new immigrants, many of them engineers, professors and scientists from the former Soviet Union who fed Israel’s nascent tech scene with much needed professional skills. “Our ability to absorb immigrants and integrate them is something not many other countries have done,” said Yaniv Pagot, an economist and head of strategy for the Ayalon Group, an Israeli institutional investor. “This is an achievement that has huge economic implications and also long term social impact.” It was a combination of venture capital money, the internet, an influx of engineers and scientists, hardheadedness and determination, and years of thinking out of the box to finding solutions to pressing needs that has led to Israel’s thriving tech industry.

The main achievement of Israel’s economy is that “we have gone from being a very poor weak and small country, 70 years ago, to an innovation powerhouse, globally known as a center for startups and innovation,” said Saul Singer, the co-author of “Start-Up Nation.” Not only does Israel have “the highest density of startups of any country in the world,” he said, “Israel’s startup ecosystem continues to grow and attract more investment and large companies from all over the world, who are buying up Israeli technologies and are setting up research and development centers locally.”…

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




Abigail Klein Leichman

Israel 21C, Apr. 2, 2018

The Google Lunar X Prize competition expired on March 31 with no winner. Yet Israel’s team, the nonprofit SpaceIL, is continuing its mission of landing an unmanned module on the moon – with plans to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 via Spaceflight Industries in the fourth quarter of 2018, even if Lunar X does not find another major sponsor.

“We are moving forward with the project, regardless of the terms or status of the Google Lunar X Prize,” said newly appointed SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby, formerly of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. “SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries are committed to landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, and we plan to launch before the end of this year.” So far, only three world superpowers, the United States, Russia, and China, with their tremendous resources, have achieved controlled lunar landings.

“Our mission was never about winning the prize money – although $20 million would have been nice,” said Anteby. “It’s about showing the next generation that anything is possible – that even our small country can push the limits of imagination. “The impact of our spacecraft’s launch and its historic weeks-long journey to land on the moon will resonate for years to come, and we hope to inspire new forays into science, technology, and space exploration.”

SpaceIL was Israel’s entry in the Google Lunar X Prize Moon Race, started in 2007 to inspire innovators from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration. To win the $20 million grand prize, a privately funded team had to have been the first to successfully place a spacecraft on the moon’s surface, travel 500 meters on the moon, and transmit high-definition video and images back to Earth – all before the competition’s deadline, March 31, 2018. SpaceIL was the first of 16 competitors to sign a launch contract and one of only five teams to proceed in the contest.

The mission’s scientist, Prof. Oded Aharonson of the Weizmann Institute of Science, has helped the team determine that the spacecraft should aim to land on Mare Serenitatis, (Serene Sea) an area in the moon’s northern hemisphere. This site has a strong magnetic field that will allow the magnetometer aboard the spacecraft to take measurements and collect data about its characteristics during the landing, and transmit these back to Earth.

The engine and fuel tanks were recently integrated into the spacecraft’s body inside the “clean room” at IAI’s space facility. “In parallel, we are making progress with our simulator system, with the navigation control software development, with the ground control stations and with the preparations for testing the spacecraft and its subsystems,” Anteby reported.

The craft’s cameras successfully passed an environment test in which they were placed in a vacuum chamber simulating the extreme temperatures that the spacecraft will encounter during its voyage. They’re now being integrated into the craft. SpaceIL has signed a contract for satellite communication services to keep track of the location of the spacecraft on its journey to the moon. Members of the team also went to Cape Canaveral in Florida to begin coordinating with all the entities taking part in the launch, particularly SpaceX, and to see the large hangar where the spacecraft will undergo its last pre-launch tests and will be fueled.

As for SpaceIL’s mission to inspire young people to explore STEM subjects, the nonprofit is telling its story to 500,000 children nationwide through a volunteer network, and has chosen 100 schools to take part in “Moon Games,” a unique educational program in collaboration with the Israel Space Agency. SpaceIL recently sponsored an activity at the Holon Technological Fair for 30,000 Israeli ninth-graders, “Do you have what it takes to build a spacecraft that will land on the moon?” that presented the young visitors with various challenges involving creative thinking, spatial vision, mathematical thinking and more.

Israeli kids flying on El Al during the Passover season will receive the third issue of SpaceIL’s fun workbook series, Who Wants to Reach the Moon? on the theme of “Women in Space.” And for children from any country, SpaceIL has introduced its Moon Kids website in English, chock full of fun interactive content about the moon and outer space.      Contents



Yaakov Katz

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 12, 2017

In 1977, a young officer in the IDF’s Intelligence Corps came up with what seemed at the time, like a crazy idea. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat had made his historic visit to Jerusalem and it was clear that if peace was going to happen, Israel would need to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, the territory it had captured a decade earlier during the Six Day War.

The problem was that Israel needed Sinai. The peninsula served as a buffer between pre-1967 Israel and Egypt. If Egypt launched another surprise invasion like it did on Yom Kippur in 1973, it would first have to reconquer Sinai and Israel would have time to prepare. Israel couldn’t withdraw before finding a way to keep eyes on the ground. As the head of the research and development division in the Military Intelligence Directorate it was Col. Haim Eshed’s job to come up with technological solutions for operational problems. His idea for keeping an eye on the Sinai? Build a satellite.

Convincing the government to invest in satellites was a long shot. Space was supposed to be off limits to small countries like Israel and was, at the time, the sole domain of superpowers. Only seven countries had launched satellites into space. The last to do so had been the United Kingdom in 1971. The idea was bold for another reason as well. Until then, Israel’s space experience was limited. In 1961, the country launched a meteorological research rocket called Shavit (Hebrew for comet), but it was far from being able to place a satellite in space. And then in 1965, Israel considered establishing a space program but the government rejected the proposal, citing budget and technological constraints.

Eshed knew all of this but he was determined. He first approved the idea with his boss and together they brought it to IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Rafael Eitan, who initially dismissed it as “Luftgesheft”, a Yiddish expression used to describe something as a waste of time. Israel, Eitan argued, needed to begin focusing on the withdrawal of military bases and towns from Sinai and their relocation inside the country. A satellite would be a waste of money. Anyhow, the chief of staff said, the air force had told him that its aircraft could provide all of the aerial reconnaissance the country needed even after a withdrawal.

Eitan also claimed that once there was peace, Israelis could simply drive into Sinai to look around and see if the Egyptians were preparing for war. But Eshed and his commanding officer pushed back. “That’s impossible,” they said. “We would need to look inside every single Beduin tent to really know what is going on.” Reconnaissance flights over Egypt, they argued, were also out of the question, since Israel wouldn’t be able to violate Egyptian sovereignty after it had reached a peace deal. The only viable option was to build a satellite.

It took some pushing, guts and creativity, but Eshed ultimately succeeded and Israel launched its first satellite into space in 1988, gaining membership in the exclusive club of nations with independent satellite-launching capabilities, joining the US, Russia, France, Japan, China, India and the United Kingdom. In the years since, Israel has grown into a satellite superpower. As with the other military platforms it specializes in developing, Israel has shied away from building big satellites and instead designs what are known as “mini satellites,” which weigh about 300 kilograms in comparison to America’s “mammoth” 25-ton models.

By 2016, with the launch of the Ofek-11, Israel had nearly 10 spy satellites in space, most of which use electro-optical sensors, cameras that can take high-resolution photos. In addition, Israel has a number of communication satellites of the Amos series, almost all of which have been designed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                                          Contents




Simona Shemer

NoCamels, April 19, 2018

Israel is marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the modern state with a theme that centers on “A Legacy of Innovation.” But while much of the country has been focusing on the groundbreaking and innovative achievements of the past 70 years, what the future may hold is just as compelling.

While celebrations for Israel’s 70th birthday are underway, NoCamels has interviewed experts from six of the top venture capitalist firms in the country, picking their brains about the future of Israeli innovation across industries, and what startups are catching their eye in automotive, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, digital health, agritech, and retail. Here’s what VC leaders from OurCrowd, Bessemer Venture Partners, Jerusalem Venture Partners, YL Ventures, Maniv Mobility, and Vertex Ventures had to say.

“People always ask me how Israel maintains its edge,” Jon Medved, CEO of equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd tells NoCamels, “Israel is particularly strong in its multidisciplinary nature. This is the culture of Israeli tech. Of course, the Israeli army is the most multidisciplinary system, but it checks all the boxes and we make it work.” Israel is made up of people with skills and experience in many different areas sectors, like for example, a doctor who also knows how to code, Medved says. Israelis also know how to put together the right multidisciplinary team, he adds, bringing together a machine learning specialist with a group developing a new product for the automotive industry, or an imaging tech expert with a farmer to work on a forthcoming project.

Adam Fisher, a founder and partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, echoes Medved’s sentiment, telling NoCamels, “Other countries are often too dependent on one type of expertise. Israelis are experts across many sectors and we continue to see that through their curiosity and diverse interests.” Israel is also full of multidisciplinary teams that don’t come from the same background, he says, noting like Medved that while the origins of tech are in the military, there are now enough independent companies in the country to sustain it. Fisher calls the Israeli character “fearless and naive,” and says the next decade will see tech penetrate every aspect of business in Israel,” explaining that he believes Israeli startups will soon disrupt unexpected industries, like shipping and insurance.

Yonatan Machado, a co-head of the Jerusalem Venture Partners early stage investment vehicle JVP Labs and co-founder of JVP Play, the platform matching early-stage Israeli startups with leading multinational companies like PepsiCo, Tesco, and Barclays, also predicts this disruption, telling NoCamels that tech will pour into retail, even more so than today. “In Israel, a big part of the focus of innovation was happening in the digital space, not something that the average person would understand. Now, much more tech affects our physical lives and affects the average person. What we’re going to see is more disruptions to the physical experience.”

What does this mean for the Israeli innovator? Ofer Schreiber, a partner at YL Ventures, a global VC firm with offices in San Francisco and Tel Aviv focusing on seed-stage and deep-technology B2B (business to business) companies in cybersecurity, enterprise software, and autonomous vehicles, puts it boldly saying that “Israel is turning into ‘scale-up nation,’ meaning that in the future we will see more leading global companies founded in Israel, together with a healthy M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity.”…

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


On Topic Links

Pioneers of Innovation: 13 Israeli Startups Making Their Mark On The World: Ido Levy, NoCamels, Apr. 18, 2018—Israel has over the past two decades soared to become the nation with the highest number of startups per capita in the world. With over 8,000 currently active startups and established companies, and innovation across a number of fields including medical, agricultural, automotive, cloud computing, cybersecurity (and much more), Israel is a powerhouse for pioneering tech and has certainly earned its moniker “Startup Nation.”

A Big Chunk of Israel’s Tech Scene is Actually Not Based in Israel: Gerrit De Vynck, Bloomberg, Mar. 29, 2018—Last year, Ben Fried pitched a fintech startup to Israeli investors — and got nowhere. The venture firms wanted to see if he could sell the idea in the U.S. first. “I’ve heard it from many investors,” says the former Israeli Air Force captain. “They push you out the door as soon as possible.”

Israel is One of World’s Leading Economies, OECD Report Finds: Ariel Whitman, Israel Hayom, Mar. 12, 2018—A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has found that the Israeli economy is one of the strongest economies in the world today.

Behind Israel’s High-Tech Reputation Is a Low-Tech Economy: Gwen Ackerman, Bloomberg, Feb. 14, 2018—When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasts about his country’s powerhouse technology, he glosses over the fax machines that banks still use, the homes that take nearly three years to build and the classrooms that don’t have a single computer.


2017 Brought a Few Signs of Hope in an Otherwise Brutal and Dreary Year: Terry Glavin, National Post, Dec. 27, 2017— When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts.

The Conflict Over Jerusalem Is All Obama’s Fault: Alan Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017 — The Teva collapse resulted in a “lost year” for Israeli equities compared to other Developed Market indexes.

Discretion in Dealing with Europe’s Populist Parties: Isi Leibler, Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017 — Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country.

13 of the Biggest Health Breakthroughs in Israel in 2017: Nicky Blackburn, Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017— 1: An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize.


On Topic Links


The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017





Terry Glavin

National Post, Dec. 27, 2017


When Islamic State marauders roared across Iraq’s Nineveh Plains in July, 2014, they burned the churches, desecrated shrines, toppled crosses and destroyed ancient manuscripts. About 200,000 Christians fled, and most of them ended up in displaced persons’ camps in Iraqi Kurdistan or in makeshift refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. In Mosul, St. Paul’s Cathedral remained standing, but it was turned into a jail.


In one of the few hopeful moments of 2017 — an otherwise brutal and dreary year — a Christmas Eve mass was celebrated for the first time in four years at St. Paul’s. Local Muslims joined the Chaldean Catholic congregants in the service. Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako delivered a homily on interfaith peace and toleration.


By last October, Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a U.S.-led anti-ISIL coalition which includes 850 Canadian Forces personnel, had routed the Islamic State from its last major strongholds in Iraq and Syria. Now, Christians are beginning to trickle back to the ash heaps where their churches once stood in Mosul, and to all their ancient parishes in the surrounding towns and villages. That’s one useful thing the civilized world managed to accomplish in 2017. There’s not much else to crow about.


Syria remains a nightmare of human desolation. With half the population displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Khomeinist Iran continue to arm and bankroll the criminal regime of Baathist mass murderer Bashar Assad, who goes on dropping bombs on civilians while a peace-talks parody continues in Geneva.


The United Nations continues to prove its bloated uselessness, perhaps nowhere more obscenely than in Yemen, which is currently in the throes of the worst outbreak of cholera in human history: nearly a million people are now infected. Another eight million people are on the verge of starvation. More than 10,000 people have been killed by bullets and bombs in a Saudi-Khomeinist proxy war that erupted in Yemen two years ago, and yet it took a tournament of backroom arm-twisting competitions last September just to get the UN Human Rights Council to agree to look into the disaster. Meanwhile, at the UN General Assembly, the thing everyone has been setting their hair on fire over lately is the Trump administration’s pledge to make good on a Clinton-era promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which just happens to be the capital of Israel.


And while Chaldean and Assyrian Christians were putting on a brave face for Christmas in Iraq this year, Xi Jinping’s police state was marking the holidays in its own way in Beijing. On Boxing Day, the satirist Wu Gan, famous for his flamboyant street protests against corrupt officials and the Communist Party’s abuse of power, was sentenced to an eight-year jail term on charges of subversion. Amnesty International’s Patrick Poon points out that Beijing has established a tradition of sentencing human rights activists while foreign journalists, diplomats and international observers are distracted by the holidays.


On Boxing Day last year, human rights champion Dhen Yunfei was dragged before a court on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for organizing a memorial tribute to the victims of the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. It was on Christmas Day in 2009 that Nobel peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail for his part in composing a pro-democracy manifesto. Liu died last July of multiple organ failure due to a liver cancer that prison authorities claimed they didn’t know about until just weeks before he succumbed. At the time, Reporters Without Borders’ Secretary-General Christophe Deloire disputed the official story: “We can clearly state that Liu Xiaobo was murdered by the lack of care,” he said.


A low point in Canada’s year on the “world stage” in 2017: at exactly the moment Liu died under heavy guard in a hospital in the northeast city of Shenyang, Governor-General David Johnston was hamming it up and smiling for the cameras while shaking hands with Xi Jinping at a formal dinner in Beijing. Another low point: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s obsequious pleadings for “free trade” favours during his visits in Beijing last month, tarted up in the usual pretty lies about “strengthening the middle class” and “growing the Canadian economy” and “regular, frank dialogue on human rights issues like good governance, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.” Upbraided for his impudence, Trudeau was instructed to mind his own business and was sent on his way.


Another one: In his address to the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in September, Trudeau said nothing about the crisis in Yemen, or about China’s increasingly totalitarian thuggery and its perfection of artificial-intelligence thought control and its persecution of Uyghur Muslims, Christians, feminists and human rights lawyers, or about Myanmar’s bloody ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people. Instead, Trudeau enumerated Canada’s long and dismal history of trespasses upon the dignity and the rights of Canada’s indigenous peoples. In another context, that would be all well and good. But the point of it at the UN General Assembly was to say nothing to cause any of the UN’s 193 voting member states to take offence and hold a grudge and fail to cast a vote for Canada in the contest with Ireland and Norway for a useless non-voting chair around the UN’s disgraced Security Council table for the 2021-22 term. It is in this fashion that the liberal world order recedes into barbarism and imbecility…

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





Alan Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2017


The US acted properly in vetoing a misguided UN Security Council resolution designed to undo President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. First, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the United Nations to tell a sovereign nation what it can and cannot recognize. If Turkey, for example, were to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of “Palestine,” there is nothing the UN could or would do. (Of course, most UN members would applaud such a move.)


Second, the resolution fails to recognize that it was the December 2016 Security Council resolution — the one engineered by lame duck President Barack Obama — that changed the status of Jerusalem and complicated the efforts to achieve a compromise peace. Before that benighted resolution, Jerusalem’s Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital were widely recognized as part of Israel — or at worst, as disputed territory.


Everyone knew that any peace agreement would inevitably recognize that these historically Jewish areas were an indigenous part of Israel. They were certainly not illegally occupied by Israel, any more than Bethlehem was illegally occupied by the Palestinian Authority (PA). Both Jerusalem and Bethlehem had originally been deemed part of an international zone by the United Nations when it divided the British mandate into two states for two people — a decision accepted by the Jews and rejected by all the Arab nations and the Palestinian Arabs in the area. Jordan then attacked Israel and illegally occupied the Western Wall and Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem, prohibiting any Jewish access to these holy areas, as well as to the university and hospital. Jordan also illegally occupied Bethlehem.


In 1967, Jordan illegally attacked Israel. Jordan shelled civilian areas of Jerusalem. Israel responded and liberated the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, thereby opening these sites to everyone.


That has been the status quo for the last half century, until Obama engineered the notorious December 2016 Security Council resolution that declared the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the access roads to be illegally occupied by Israel, thus changing the status quo. This unwarranted change — long opposed by United States administrations — made a negotiated peace more difficult, because it handed the Jewish holy places over to the Palestinians without getting any concessions in return, thus requiring that Israel “buy” them back in any negotiation. As the former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority once told me, “If we have the Wall, we will demand much to return it to Israel, because we know Israel will give much to get it.”


By declaring this disputed territory illegally occupied by Israel, the Security Council enabled the Palestinian Authority to hold the sites hostage during any negotiation. That vote changed the status quo more than the declaration by President Trump. The Trump declaration restored some balance that was taken away by the Obama-inspired Security Council resolution of a year ago.


Why did Obama change the status quo to the disadvantage of Israel? Congress did not want the change. The American people did not support the change. Many in the Obama administration opposed it. Even some members of the Security Council who voted for the resolution did not want the change. Obama did it as lame duck revenge against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he hated. His motive was personal, not patriotic. His decision was bad for America, for peace and for America’s ally, Israel. He never would have done it except as a lame duck with no political accountability and no checks and balances.


Before that Security Council resolution changed the status quo, I did not support a unilateral recognition of Jerusalem by an American president, outside the context of a peace process. But once that resolution was passed and the status quo changed, I strongly supported President Trump’s decision to restore balance.


President Trump has been criticized for vetoing a resolution that has the support of every other Security Council member. That has been true of many anti-Israel Security Council and General Assembly resolutions. The United States often stands alone with Israel against the world, and the United States and Israel have been right. The bias of the international community against the nation state of the Jewish people has been long-standing and evident, especially at the United Nations. Abba Eban made the point years ago when he quipped that if Algeria presented a resolution that the earth was flat and Israel flattened it, the vote would be 128 in favor, 3 opposed and 62 abstentions. Recall the infamous UN General Assembly resolution declaring Zionism to be a form of racism. It received overwhelming support from the tyrannical nations of the world, which constitute a permanent majority of the United Nations, and was rescinded only after the United States issued threats if it were to remain on the books.


This entire brouhaha about Jerusalem — including the staged tactical violence by Palestinians — is entirely the fault of a single vengeful individual who put personal pique over American policy: Barack Obama.          





Isi Leibler

Israel Hayom, December 26, 2017


Populist and nationalist parties are emerging as powerful political forces. They are likely to profoundly influence domestic and foreign policies in virtually every European country. There are many, including a substantial number of Jews, who, recalling the 1930s, now feel an ominous sense of déjà vu. They regard these populist parties as incubators for anti-Semitism, as well as anti-Muslim sentiment. The reality is that, until recently, these parties in France, Austria, Germany and Hungary included a considerable number of neo-Nazis and Holocaust revisionists. Any Jewish cooperation with such groups would have been an unthinkable desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims.


Today the situation has changed dramatically. The main source of support for these populists has come from those who consider the flood of Muslim migrants to be detrimental to the quality of their lives, with a massive increase in crime and social chaos that threatens their entire social order. In addition, there is the increased threat of both imported and homebred terrorists, from which no European city or province is immune.


Some of the voters for these nationalist parties are pro-Jewish and support Israel as a bastion of the free world. Over the past decade, they have begun purging their ranks of anti-Semites and publicly state that they intend to eradicate all anti-Jewish elements. Needless to say, that does not preclude fascists or Nazis voting for them. In the same way, the fact that racists and fascists may support Trump does not mean that his administration is fascist. Nor have far-left anti-Semites or communists taken control of the Democratic Party by voting for it.


The recent election of a right-wing government in Austria highlights the situation. It is noteworthy that Austria failed to prosecute Nazi war criminals, has an unenviable record of anti-Semitism and until recently claimed to be victims of the Nazis, denying any involvement in the Holocaust. The populist right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), a partner in the new coalition, was formed in 1956 by a former SS officer. Until the departure of Jorg Haider in 2005, no self-respecting Jew or democrat would contemplate associating with this party, which openly praised Nazis and was unequivocally anti-Semitic.


In April 2005, Heinz-Christian Strache was elected leader, dramatically transforming the party by focusing on the concept of Heimat (homeland) – its anti-immigration and social welfare platform. In last year’s presidential election, the FPO candidate, Norbert Hofer, won the first round with 35%, and nearly won the runoff election with close to 50% of the vote. When Strache’s party became a partner in the new government headed by Sebastian Kurz, the local community comprising 10,000 Jews and international Jewish communities condemned the party as fascist and racist and called for a boycott. The local Jewish community also objected to the FPO’s anti-immigration platform, despite the fact that the majority of Muslim “refugees” harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs.


Israel found itself in a dilemma: It traditionally supports Diaspora communities facing anti-Semitism but this case is complex because the new Austrian chancellor backs Israel and pledged that his coalition would combat anti-Semitism. Israel decided to maintain relations and direct contact with Kurz and his government but instructed officials to avoid interaction with FPO ministers, including the head of the party, restricting them to liaising with the professionals working in the FPO-controlled ministries.


I have fought against anti-Semitism throughout my entire public life without distinguishing between Left and Right. However, I believe that, despite the FPO’s dubious past, Israel is acting against its best interests by boycotting it. Today, the FPO is essentially a nationalist anti-immigration party which claims that hordes of radical Muslims are making Austrians feel like aliens in their own country. Strache represents a new generation. With the broadening of FPO support, he seeks to distance the party and purge it of the anti-Semites and fascists and concentrate on becoming a popular anti-immigration party. In fact, Strache openly courts Jews and Israel.


The government program published by the FPO and Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party rejects “political Islam” which can “lead to radicalization, anti-Semitism, violence, and terrorism.” It proclaims that combating anti-Semitism in Austria is one of the government’s principal objectives and that Nazism was “one of the greatest tragedies in world history.” The country that, until recently, claimed to be a victim of Nazism, now vows to commemorate those who underwent “terrible suffering and misery” arising from the Anschluss, Austria’s 1938 annexation into Nazi Germany. The new government also explicitly commits itself “to Israel as a Jewish state” – a major departure from previous Austrian policy – and calls for a “peaceful solution in the Middle East, with special consideration for Israel’s security interests.”…

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






Nicky Blackburn

Israel 21C, Dec. 26, 2017


1: Compound kills energy generating system of cancer. An Israeli researcher devised a synthetic compound to disable the enzymes that allow cancer cells to metastasize. When cancer cells leave the primary tumor and spread to other organs, they reprogram their energy-generating system in order to survive in harsh conditions with a shortage of nutrients like glucose.


Prof. Uri Nir of Bar-Ilan University identified an enzyme called FerT in the energy-generating mitochondria of metastatic cancer cells – an enzyme normally only found in sperm cells (which need to function outside the body they came from). When he targeted FerT in lab mice, the malignant cells soon died. Using advanced chemical and robotic approaches, Nir’s lab team developed a synthetic compound, E260, which can be administered orally or by injection, causing a complete collapse of the entire mitochondria “power station.” “We have treated mice with metastatic cancer and this compound completely cured them with no adverse or toxic affect that we can see,” reported Nir, adding that normal cells were not affected. Phase 1 clinical trials are planned over the next 18 months.


2: Personal menu to help avoid diabetes. In 2015, two researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel released a groundbreaking study showing that specific foods and food combinations affect each individual’s blood-sugar level differently. That discovery was incorporated into a made-in-Israel app, DayTwo, which helps pre-diabetics and diabetics who are not insulin dependent choose dishes that can best balance their individual blood-sugar levels. The algorithm predicts blood-glucose response to thousands of foods based on gut microbiome information and other personal parameters. High blood sugar is linked to energy dips, excessive hunger and weight gain as well as increased risk of metabolic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.


To use the app, which went on sale in the US in 2017, users need to answer a questionnaire about their medical history, physical characteristics, lifestyle and diet. A stool-sample kit is then FedExed to the user, who sends it on to DayTwo’s lab. There the microbiome DNA is sequenced and the data is plugged into an advanced machine-learning algorithm. In about six to eight weeks, users receive a microbiome report and a six-month plan of personalized meal recommendations to help balance blood sugar.


3: World’s first bone implants. In August and December, doctors at Emek Medical Center in Afula performed rare bone implants – one on a man missing part of his arm bone and the second on a man missing five centimeters of his shinbone, both as the result of car accidents. Normally, the human body cannot restore bone segments, but revolutionary tissue-engineering technology developed by Haifa-based Bonus BioGroup enables growing semi-solid live bone tissue from the patient’s own fat cells.


The tissue is then injected back into the patient’s body in the expectation that the missing bone fragment will be regenerated in around six weeks without any danger of implant rejection or the complications of traditional bone transplants. “This surgery is truly science fiction; it changes the entire game in orthopedics,” said Dr. Nimrod Rozen, head of orthopedics at Emek, who carried out the experimental procedure. In the future, the Bonus BioGroup regeneration technology could be used for a variety of bone-loss conditions, including bone cancer, for which there is currently no solution…

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


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Happy New Year & Shabbat Shalom!




On Topic Links


The 10 Most Insane UN Anti-Israel Actions of 2017: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 21, 2017—The list you’ve all been waiting for. While there were a myriad of other bona fide anti-Israel resolutions, reports and statements produced in 2017 by U.N. agencies and officials, I regret that I could only include ten.

Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture in 2017: Simona Shemer, NoCamels, Dec. 28, 2017—Israelis are recognized leaders in any number of fields including technology, medical research, innovation and humanitarian aid.

Happy New Year 2018: Dry Bones Blog, Dec. 28, 2017

Goodnight 2017…: Ariella Dreyfuss, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2017—It has certainly been an interesting 2017 in the Israeli Hi-Tech world, here is a rundown of 5 highlights, in case you missed them.




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



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.                                        



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.]





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.]    





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.]




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.





What Canada Can Learn From Israel's Entrepreneurial Ethos: Rick Spence, Financial Post, Nov. 21, 2017— In the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem sits a ruined citadel called David’s Tower.

Why You Should Support Cancer Research in Israel: Benjamin Brafman, JTA, Nov. 15, 2017— As a busy criminal defense attorney with a roster of high-profile clients, I am not known to shy away from a fight.

How President Rivlin Could Revive the Israeli Presidential Conferences: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2017— With the termination of Shimon Peres’ presidency, his initiative of Israeli presidential conferences ended as well.

As Buildings Evolve in Startup Nation, Architects Create Space for Work and Play: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2017— Driving up Route 4 from Tel Aviv to Ra’anana, it is impossible not to notice — especially at night when it is all lit up — a square glass box of a building with vaguely egg-shaped windows that dominates the landscape.


On Topic Links


Israel Successfully Launches First Space Lab (Video): Arutz Sheva, Nov. 27, 2017

87 Global Corporations Flocked To Israel For Tech And Talent In Past Three Years: NoCamels, Nov. 07, 2017

US-Israel Fund Invests $4.8m in Clean Energy: Priyanka Shrestha, Energy Live, Nov. 9, 2017

Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister: Naomi Ragen, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 14, 2017





Rick Spence

Financial Post, Nov. 21, 2017


In the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem sits a ruined citadel called David’s Tower. Fought over by King David himself, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans and Israelis, it’s now a museum spanning 4,000 years of history. But the castle is soon to assume another identity: as home to a startup accelerator specializing in virtual reality.


High tech/Old City is a fitting symbol for today’s Jerusalem. Since the publication of the 2008 best-seller Startup Nation, Israel has revelled in its reputation as an innovation power. But with most of that activity in Tel Aviv, Israel is now creating an innovation cluster in Jerusalem. It’s a city divided by history, faith and politics. But Israel’s innovation leaders hope this ongoing culture clash is a creative cauldron from which edgy, innovative ideas can emerge. Think Austin, Tex., or Boulder, Colo., but with more edge. (And hummus.)


Proof? Three months ago, Silicon Valley goliath Intel acquired Jerusalem-based Mobileye for US$15 billion (equivalent to the combined market cap of Canada’s Shopify and BlackBerry). A leader in computer vision and artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, Mobileye spun out of the computer science department of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University — an institution founded in 1918 (30 years before Israel itself) by such visionaries as Einstein and Freud. (So there’s Lesson 1: To become a Startup Nation, put education first.)


To defend its title, Israel annually selects entrepreneurs from around the world to visit the country to study its startup secrets and meet its coolest entrepreneurs. It also sponsors a journalist from each of those countries to cover “their” entrepreneur’s journey. I joined the tour this month along with Toronto entrepreneur Maayan Ziv, founder of an accessibility app called AccessNow. Although the propaganda was predictably heavy-handed, I came away convinced that Israel has much to teach Canada about innovation. And seeing Israel through Ziv’s eyes revealed how Canadians can better compete.


On Day One of our five-day tour, my group of 22 journalists got some startling stats from Ran Natanzon, head of innovation and brand management (Lesson 2: Marketing matters!) for Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs. Natanzon said Israel ranks first in the world in R&D spending as a percent of GDP. And it’s third, behind the U.S. and China, in the number of companies it has listed on NASDAQ. In 2016, venture capitalists invested US$6 billion in Israeli deals. That’s twice the US$3.2 billion invested last year in Canada (even though our GDP is five times Israel’s). Clearly, Israel breeds aggressive entrepreneurs the way Canada produces hockey players. Natanzon listed numerous reasons for Israel’s entrepreneur surplus. Among them:


Israel has few natural resources, which means entrepreneurs have to create new value;  A limited domestic market means Israelis have to focus on exports; Israelis display can-do attitude and a culture of challenging authority. They also have chutzpah, a unique confidence that Merriam-Webster defines as “flagrant boldness.”; The flip side of Israel’s small market size means it’s easy to connect with influencers, because you already know someone who knows them; Every Israeli youth is required to serve in the military (or another form of national service). Forced exposure to team-building, shared purpose, mission-planning and execution produces focused leaders at an early age.


The rest of our week in Jerusalem was a whirlwind of meetings and open houses. We visited a rehab hospital that’s now commercializing its breakthroughs – such as a $100 wheelchair made of plastic; Hebrew U’s tech-transfer office; and an accelerator that is bringing entrepreneurship training to a downscale neighbourhood, with special programs for primary schools, women and the oft-neglected Arab and ultra-Orthodox populations.


We met with such companies as Mobileye and its spinoff firm, OrCam Technologies, which uses Mobileye’s vision systems and AI to create an eyeglass-shaped device that reads signs, text and money, reading everything aloud to the wearer, giving new mobility to the visually impaired. (An IPO is in the works.) We also met Jon Meved, the founder of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform for global startups and accredited investors. And within the stone walls of the Tower of David, we met virtual-reality entrepreneurs who are out to revitalize the museum experience and change the way you shop.


Meanwhile, my designated entrepreneur, Maayan Ziv, was on a mission of her own. She is still trying to monetize her AccessNow app, which enables users to rate buildings and locations anywhere in the world on their accessibility to people with disabilities. Ziv herself lives with muscular dystrophy, which has left her needing to get around in a wheelchair. With two Israeli-born parents, she speaks Hebrew and knows the culture, so she was eager to meet potential Israeli partners or investors. Ziv says she was truly impressed by Israel’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. “The thing that struck me most is the way they think globally from day one. They are constrained; even if they want to trade with their neighbours, they can’t. I think that’s why they’re so successful.”…

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






Benjamin Brafman

JTA, Nov. 15, 2017


As a busy criminal defense attorney with a roster of high-profile clients, I am not known to shy away from a fight. It doesn’t hurt that I grew up in Brooklyn, the scrappy son of immigrants and Holocaust survivors. But nothing could have prepared me for the fight of my life, when my wife, Lynda, was diagnosed with breast cancer early on in our marriage. We had two young kids at home, and Lynda had to undergo a radical mastectomy and a year of chemotherapy before she was declared cancer-free and cleared for reconstructive surgery. I credit her oncologist, Dr. Yashar Hirshaut, with saving Lynda’s life.


What I did not realize at the time was that Lynda’s lifesaving treatment was made possible by the yeoman’s work of scientists working long hours in unglamorous labs trying to understand the biological forces that drive cancer – and how to stop them. So when God blessed me with professional success, I resolved to join the fight against this scurrilous disease. I turned to Dr. Hirshaut for advice on where to direct my support. His answer surprised me: Israel.


Though a tiny state with a population of just over 8 million, Israel has made disproportionately large contributions to the fight against cancer. A breakthrough in the 1980s by an Israeli scientist, Eli Canaani, was critical to the development of Gleevec, a drug that has saved the lives of millions diagnosed with leukemia. Velcade, a drug used to treat bone marrow cancer, was based on the research of two Israeli professors, Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover, and their collaborator Irwin Rose, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2004.


Israeli scientists discovered the role that mutations in the p53 gene play in causing cancerous tumors, and how a minor mutation in the RAD51 gene increases the risk of breast cancer in women with the BRCA2 gene mutation. It was ICRF-supported scientists at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah Medical Center who contributed to the platform science that resulted in the development of Doxil, the first drug encapsulated in a microscopic fat bubble for direct delivery to a tumor site. In case after case, significant advances in the science of cancer began in Israel. And then there is this important fact: Because of a lower salary structure and overhead costs, research dollars go much further in Israel than in almost any other developed nation.


So if you want your support to have maximal impact, Dr. Hirshaut told me, invest in Israel. This, too, animates my support of Israeli science. Despite a spirit-rending campaign in some quarters to isolate the Israeli academic and research community, Israelis continue to make remarkable advancements in technology, medicine, and science – advancements that accrue to the benefit of all humankind.


Want to know what goes on at Israeli institutions of higher education? Learning. Insight. Imagination. Discovery. Healing. The best way to improve Israel’s image around the globe? Support its life-saving science.


For me, the question wasn’t whether to invest in Israel, but where? So many Israeli institutions are doing promising cancer research. How could I choose? Put me in a courtroom and I know my way around. A research lab, not so much. Dr. Hirshaut introduced me to the Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), which raises funds to support the most promising scientific and medical research at institutions across Israel.


The idea for the fund came in 1975 from a group of American and Canadian researchers, oncologists and supporters looking for ways to bolster the fight against cancer while combating the problem of “brain drain” from Israeli research institutions. In the four decades since its establishment, ICRF has distributed more than $60 million through 2,300 research grants to scientists at 24 Israeli institutions — from post-doctoral fellows to Nobel Prize-winners.


To identify the most deserving recipients, several dozen esteemed scientists and doctors from throughout North America meet annually in New York for a rigorous two-day proposal review. The decision-making can be wrenching because life and death hangs in the balance. That’s because every year, dozens of promising proposals go unfunded for one simple reason: We don’t have enough money. Who knows whether one of those deserving, unfunded requests could have yielded clues to overcoming the early-detection problem of lung or ovarian cancer, or the stubborn lethality of pancreatic cancer?


The simple fact is this: Israel’s government alone cannot meet the needs of scientific research in Israel. Without extra support from Diaspora Jews, Israel risks losing these scientists and humanity risks losing critical, life-saving advancements in the fight against cancer. At times of crisis, Israel is often among the first countries to step up, from the 2010 earthquake in Haiti to the recent earthquakes in Mexico. Israel even extends a helping hand to Syrians, whose country is hostile to the Jewish state. We need to step up for Israel. There’s no better cause, and no better place to invest in the fight against cancer. I rest my case.






Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 2017


With the termination of Shimon Peres’ presidency, his initiative of Israeli presidential conferences ended as well. Five such gatherings took place between 2008 and 2013. President Reuven Rivlin would do well to reinstate these annual conferences. The potential to benefit Israel is enormous.


To obtain the maximum benefit for Israel, the formula devised under Peres would require significant changes. In the past, the conferences included a strange mix of both topics and invitees. By far the best sessions of the past conferences were those that addressed the newest developments and expectations for the future in several advanced scientific fields. If one did not come early to the sessions there would be no remaining seats. The panels consisted of both foreign and Israeli scientists. In those that I attended, the Israeli presentations were as insightful and impressive as those by scholars from abroad.


On the other hand, there were some sessions on world Jewry in which the panelists were mainly rehashing what one could regularly read in Jewish media. There are enough other gatherings where these issues can be discussed. One also got the impression that the organizers had minimized the number of Orthodox and Center- Right speakers. Once, absurdly enough, an extreme critic of Israel, Peter Beinart, was invited.


Also, some of the goals announced were greatly overstated. Did the discussions at these conferences really – as suggested in 2013 –“engage the central issues that will influence the face of our future: geopolitics, economics, society, environment, culture, identity, education, new media and more”? It would have been much better to have been a bit more modest.


What would be the best new strategy for these conferences? First, it would be important to identify the areas in which Israel is at the world’s forefront. There should be sessions on topics concerning recent advances and possible future directions. The panels should consist of leading foreign and Israeli participants. Determining where Israel is a world leader or co-leader is crucial. Some very diverse areas are obvious candidates. For instance, cybersecurity, water technology, trauma treatment and the setting up of field hospitals. There are, however, many others which do not immediately come to mind. Identifying those areas of knowledge and expertise where Israel is among global leaders would rapidly create a long list.


Once one has identified the fields in which Israelis are among the world leaders, the next step would be to ask the country’s top experts in these areas who to invite from abroad. The conferences would be broadcast in real time to receive as wide an audience as possible. In previous conferences the speakers included politicians, writers, actors, a vulgar American comedian and so on. Such people could also attend, but there would no opening session where well-known invitees express their truisms and platitudes. Distinguished cultural performances could however be a welcome addition.


The conference core of topics in the above categories could be complemented with discussions about crucial world issues. To mention a few almost at random: the future of liberal democracy, sovereignty versus globalization, which type of multiculturalism could be viable, and truth versus fake news. It wouldn’t take much effort to define a few more.


One of the huge advantages for the participants in the panels would be the greatly varied interdisciplinary character of the conference’s speakers. Top people in a certain field usually participate in conferences where the attendees are mainly from professions close to their own. This diversity would increase the attractiveness of the conference for the panelists.


President Peres found generous patrons who financed the conferences he initiated. There is no reason why such a prestigious conference under the auspices of President Rivlin would not find similar donors. His international prestige would be enhanced by these gatherings as well. Regarding the technicalities of the conference, one could learn much from the experiences of staff members who were been part of the organization of the previous conferences.


There are many potential advantages for Israel. With the right public relations these conferences would expose to the world a broad spectrum of Israeli knowledge and inventiveness, including much that was greatly beneficial to people worldwide. As Israel is frequently attacked by a wide range of enemies and opponents, the conferences could, to a certain extent, also be a counterweight to this hatred and defamation. President Peres had a preference for interviewing some leaders of science during the conferences. This however was an extra and the conference could have proceeded easily without it. The important thing is that President Rivlin take the initiative, that the invitations to the conference go out in his name, and that he presides over the conference.                             





Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Nov. 23, 2017


Driving up Route 4 from Tel Aviv to Ra’anana, it is impossible not to notice — especially at night when it is all lit up — a square glass box of a building with vaguely egg-shaped windows that dominates the landscape. It is the new local headquarters of SAP, the German software giant: the name, shining at the top of the structure, serves as a reminder that the so-called Startup Nation is a magnet for tech conglomerates who set up operations in Israel in a bid to tap into its technological prowess.


There are some 286 active multinational corporations in Israel today, according to Start-up Nation Central, a nonprofit that tracks the tech industry in Israel; some 87 have opened shop over the past three years. They mainly operate research and development centers, and most started their activities via the acquisition of local startups. Giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon and Intel are competing for Israeli talent. They draw inspiration from the brash Israeli can-do-it-all attitude and chutzpah, but they also infuse the local tech ecosystem with different management styles, an alternative corporate culture, and a new approach to the way they want their office buildings to look and feel.


These cash-rich technology firms are building or have built bold headquarters in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, flagship symbols of what their firms want to convey to their clients and employees. Apple workers this year started moving into their massive new headquarters nicknamed the “spaceship” in Cupertino, California. It’s designed by UK architect Lord Norman Foster, who worked closely with Apple’s legendary CEO, the late Steve Jobs, to come up with a symphony of glass, steel, stone and trees. Cloud-computing firm Salesforce has also set up a new steel-and-glass headquarters in San Francisco, while ride-sharing firm Uber has designed an entirely see-through head office.


As these multinational tech firm make homes for themselves in Israel, either through designing their own towers as SAP did or by renting office space in new structures, or renovating old ones, they bring with them their different standards, requirements and demands. And this is starting to revolutionize how office buildings are being built and designed. And it’s not only multinationals: homegrown firms, like auto-technology company Mobileye, which was acquired by Intel Corp. in March for a whopping $15.3 billion, are also setting up new headquarters with specifications that are changing the look and feel of local office buildings. And while to some the Israel-designed structures may not embody the beauty and the boldness of London’s Gherkin tower or the Louvre Pyramid and its fellow edifices of the 1980s Grands Projets in Paris, they may be a harbinger of exciting designs to come.


For technology firms, the architecture of their buildings needs to reflect “the spirit of the firm. The trend in general, for high-tech buildings, whether they are rented office spaces or built specifically for that corporation, is to enrich the experience of the workplace,” said Avner Yashar, owner of Tel Aviv-based Yashar Architects Ltd., whose office planned the SAP building and is working on the building that will hold Microsoft’s new office space in Herzliya. The architect was also the designer behind Apple’s R&D center in Herzliya, the US giant’s second-largest center in the world. While SAP commissioned the architect to build its project from scratch, both Microsoft and Apple decided to rent space in buildings already under construction, that were adapted to meet the US giants’ specifications, Yashar explained…

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




On Topic Links


Israel Successfully Launches First Space Lab (Video): Arutz Sheva, Nov. 27, 2017

87 Global Corporations Flocked To Israel For Tech And Talent In Past Three Years: NoCamels, Nov. 07, 2017—At least 87 multinational corporations have opened up R&D or innovation centers in Israel over the past three years, a majority after acquiring an Israeli startup. This is according to a new study showing the scale of foreign interest in Israeli technology and talent by Start-up Nation Central, an Israel-based non-profit that tracks the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

US-Israel Fund Invests $4.8m in Clean Energy: Priyanka Shrestha, Energy Live, Nov. 9, 2017 —A programme funded by the US and Israeli Governments has announced $4.8 million (£3.6m) for five new clean energy projects. The Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy programme is a joint partnership between the US Department of Energy, the Israel Ministry of Energy and the Israeli Innovation Authority.

Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister: Naomi Ragen, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 14, 2017—While the Donald Trump era has brought a new level of hysteria to U.S. political discourse, the attempts to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the seemingly weekly revelation of yet another corruption scandal have only slightly dented his popularity. According to an October 5 poll by Israeli television’s Knesset Channel, when people were asked, “Have the publications on Netanyahu and his family on the various investigations against them changed your opinion of him?” 64 percent said no.




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





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.]           





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.]                                                   



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.]    






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.




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.












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





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.”                      





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."                                                           





                    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.]






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.”




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.