Tag: Israel Economy

Innovation Nation

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

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

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

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

 

On Topic Links

 

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

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

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

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

 

INNOVATION NATION

Benjamin Netanyahu

Economist, Dec. 1, 2017

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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TEVA’S COLLAPSE – ISRAEL’S BIOTECH RECOVERY

Glenn Yago

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 27, 2017

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

                                                           

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AFTER QUIET 2017, CHINESE INVESTORS SEEN

RESUMING ISRAELI TECH SHOPPING SPREE

Shoshanna Solomon

Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2017

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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THE EMERGENCY MEDICS TAKING ON

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Daniel K. Eisenbud

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2017

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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.

                                                              

 

 

AS ISRAEL BECOMES MAJOR GAS EXPORTER, SECURITY ISSUES IMPOSE BURDENS ON IDF

Israel Faces Gas Export Challenge: Yakir Gillis, Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016— Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors.

Israel Inks Historic Gas Deal with Jordan at Perilous Time: Ari Lieberman, Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016 — Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field.

IDF Battles to Keep its Finest From Defecting to Private Sector: Shoshanna Solomon, Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016 — The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer.

Spies in Space: The Story of Israel's Ofek Satellite Program: Barbara Opall-Rome, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016— If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon.

 

On Topic Links

 

World’s Largest Desalination Plant Turns Mediterranean into Drinking Water (Video): Breaking Israel News, Oct. 26, 2016

Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016

 

 

 

ISRAEL FACES GAS EXPORT CHALLENGE

Yakir Gillis                                                          

Forbes, Sept. 28, 2016        

 

Israel has been looking to develop its huge offshore gas resources after a period of regulatory uncertainty, but the challenges surrounding the construction and security of export pipelines may put off all but the most forward-looking investors. Israel has one of the biggest gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean basin, the Leviathan field, which could in time turn it into a major regional energy player. However, getting the gas out of the ground has been dogged with problems. Chief among them was an antitrust ruling stemming from concerns that the two main exploration companies, Texas-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek, stood to monopolise the country’s natural resource sector.

 

The subject was addressed in protracted production agreement negotiations between the government and the investors. The process was held up by persistent claims that the latter were being offered too generous a deal. Eventually approved by the Supreme Court in May, the so-called “Gas Framework” offers exploration companies a friendly regulatory and tax environment, exempting them from royalties until they achieve a 150% return on their investment.

 

Early this month, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources held an event in London aimed at encouraging international oil and gas companies to submit bids for several new exploration blocks off Israel’s coast. The Minister, Yuval Steinitz, alongside the ministry’s Director General and its Chief Scientist, gave a presentation underlining both the high likelihood of a major natural gas discovery and the attractive production terms offered by the government. It was the second leg of a roadshow that has also taken in Houston and Singapore. But while there is no doubting the commercial potential of the 24 blocks up for auction, Israeli officials may find them a tough sell.

 

One of the main reasons is the slump in the price of natural gas, which many believe will be long term because of excess supply. There is intense competition between exporters over a limited number of major consumer markets. Since sale to Israeli consumers alone would not be sufficient to offset the costs of production, the commercial success of companies exploring Israel’s offshore reserves will rely on their ability to export to other countries in the Middle East and beyond.

 

This would require close cooperation between four major actors— Israel, Turkey, Egypt and Cyprus— to create a regional export network. The centrepiece of a plan being discussed in diplomatic and business circles throughout the region is an underwater pipeline running from Israel through Cyprus to Turkey. Turkey is one of the fastest growing energy markets in the world and, more importantly, a gateway to Europe, which has been heavily reliant on gas from Russia. An existing pipeline would connect Israeli offshore sites to Egypt, which is developing substantial LNG infrastructure, and could offer a shipping gateway for LNG exports. This pipeline runs through the volatile Sinai Peninsula and previously transported gas from Egypt to Israel. At that time, its reliability was questioned because of repeated sabotage by terrorists.

 

The diplomatic challenges involved in getting these countries to cooperate on a gas export project of this scale are formidable. Turkey has only just restored diplomatic relations with Israel after years of heightened tension, and still does not officially recognise the Cypriot government. Relations between Turkey and Egypt have also been strained ever since the July 2013 coup, which ousted former Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi, who was supported by Ankara. While Egypt and Israel have been on relatively good terms under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s administration, open cooperation with Israel would leave him facing accusations of ‘selling out’ the Palestinians. All of which undermines the business rationale for launching a major exploration operation in the eastern Mediterranean basin.

 

But while geopolitical conditions might be difficult, they have never been more favourable than now. The Israeli government is keen to promote regional stability, particularly to make the point that it can be achieved without major concessions to the Palestinians. Turkey’s adoption of a more pragmatic foreign policy and a desire to diversify its energy resources could see it building bridges with regional foes, which was certainly a factor in its rapprochement with Israel. As part of the reconciliation agreement between the two countries in June, Turkey committed to entering negotiations with Israel over the purchase of Israeli gas. The US, meanwhile, would be keen on cooperation between its Middle East allies on pipeline projects, and to see Turkey and Europe shift away from buying Russian gas. Indeed, many observers regard gas exploitation in the eastern Mediterranean as a possible driver of stability and cooperation in the region.

 

It is hard to predict whether many potential investors will look beyond the present geopolitical obstacles to the proposed pipeline projects, which is why the Israeli government is offering such a favourable regulatory and taxation framework. That should prove to be attractive, but only to those with a significant risk appetite. For exploration companies who believe that countries in the region could in time pull together to export gas to the Middle East and beyond, it might be a gamble worth taking.          

 

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ISRAEL INKS HISTORIC GAS DEAL WITH JORDAN AT PERILOUS TIME                                                        

Ari Lieberman                                                                                                      

Frontpage, Sept. 28, 2016

 

Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field. The deal is worth a reported $10 billion and has instantly transformed the Jewish state into an energy exporter. In addition to the obvious pecuniary benefits to the Israeli economy, the agreement promotes regional stability by creating an energy and economic interdependence.

 

Israel is now looking to sign energy deals with two other regional players of import, Greece and Cyprus. Israel’s energy minister plans on traveling to Athens on Wednesday to cement agreements. The Israeli plan centers on laying a network of pipes so that natural gas can be shipped to these nations as well as other European countries. Currently, much of Europe relies on Russian gas and an alternative source would be welcome. Even Turkey, which recently exchanged ambassadors with Israel after a long hiatus, has expressed interest in cooperating with Israel in the energy sector.

 

Israel currently operates and lays claim to four gas fields off its coast. Two small ones are located off the shores of Ashkelon while the two larger ones – called Tamar and Leviathan – are located in the north, approximately 90 miles west of Haifa. Leviathan should be fully operational within a few years while the other fields are already supplying Israel with natural gas. Israel derives approximately 60 percent of its electricity needs through natural gas. Energy officials estimate that since the gas began flowing just over a decade ago, Israel has saved approximately 35.5 billion shekels which translates to $9.6 billion.

 

The welcome news however, comes with cost. Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, which in turn receives its marching orders from Iran, has laid claim to Israel’s energy finds. Lebanon’s maritime and territorial claims are wholly without merit and it is a virtual certainty that they were made at the behest of either Hezbollah or Iran or both. While Lebanon’s navy is negligible and poses no threat to Israel and its off-shore gas platforms, Hezbollah does pose a more significant threat. Hezbollah possesses a number of Chinese C-802 radar guided anti-ship missiles. A missile of this type damaged an Israeli corvette, the INS Hanit, during the 2006 Lebanon War (the ship was repaired and returned to service 3 weeks later) and sunk a civilian Egyptian ship cruising some 37 miles from shore.

 

The C-802 can be defeated through electronic counter measures (ECM) and point defense systems like the Barak-8 anti-missile, anti-aircraft system and the Phalanx. In the case of the Hanit, its captain had turned off the ship’s ECM systems because he did not believe that Hezbollah had such missiles. Of greater concern is the Russian Yakhont missile which is considered more accurate and less susceptible to ECM than the C-802. Israel considers these missiles game-changers because they significantly enhance Hezbollah’s anti-ship capabilities. They also quite naturally pose a threat to Israel’s offshore gas platforms and related infrastructure. In the past few years, Israel has launched several successful attacks on Syria aimed at interdicting the flow of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah but it is believed that notwithstanding these efforts, Hezbollah has taken possession of a limited number of Yakhont missiles.

 

In addition to the missile threat, Israel must also prepare for other contingencies such as suicide speed boats and remotely piloted drones packed with explosives. Israel can also not discount the possibility that Hezbollah may attempt to seize an offshore platform with shock troops. While Hezbollah is fully engaged in Syria and the threat level remains relatively low for the moment, Israel is not resting on its laurels. It is significantly enhancing the Navy’s tactical and strategic capabilities.

 

The Israeli Navy had once been considered the orphan child of the armed forces. Priority went to the ground and air forces with the Navy getting the leftover hand-me-downs. That perception changed during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when the Navy was the only branch of the armed forces not taken by surprise during the initial Arab onslaught. Its fleet of Israeli and French designed missile boats decimated the entire Syrian navy and severely mauled the Egyptian navy while keeping the shipping lanes free for maritime traffic. The Navy’s role in securing Israel’s defense has come to prominence ever since.

 

In the next war with Hezbollah, the Navy will be tasked with neutralizing the Hezbollah menace and securing the eastern Mediterranean. Israel’s naval capabilities are indeed formidable. Its large fleet of Sa’ar 4.5 missile boats and Sa’ar 5 corvettes pack powerful punches and are equipped with Harpoon and Gabriel anti-ship missiles, torpedoes, an array of cannon, point defense missile systems and state-of-the-art ECM. The Sa’ar 5 is also equipped with a helipad and hangar to accommodate the Atalef helicopter. Complementing the corvettes and missile boats are some 45 patrol and fast attack craft, some of which are equipped with missiles and the highly regarded Typhoon stabilized cannon system. Rounding out the surface fleet will be a pair of F124 Sachsen-class frigates from Germany and the Sa’ar 72, an 800 ton vessel currently under construction by Israel Shipyards.

 

The Navy has also taken possession of its fifth submarine, the INS Rahav. The craft can deliver Israeli designed nuclear tipped missiles called the Popeye Turbo and can remain submerged for significantly longer periods than conventional submarines. It will be tasked with carrying out covert operations and remains a powerful deterrent against those who seek to harm Israel.  Israel’s naval commandos are continuously training for scenarios in which they’re called upon to retake gas rigs seized by terrorists. The complex operation would be made more difficult by the fact that the terrorists could conceivably seize hostages and a firefight on the rig could set off an explosion or fire due to the presence of highly flammable materials.

 

The challenges involved in protecting Israel’s gas rigs and related infrastructure are daunting but it appears that Israel is more than ready for the task and the Navy will serve as the nation’s tip of the spear.                                                            

 

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IDF BATTLES TO KEEP ITS FINEST FROM

DEFECTING TO PRIVATE SECTOR                                                  

Shoshanna Solomon                                                                         

Times of Israel, Oct. 27, 2016

 

The Israeli army is fighting a battle it knows it can only partially win: to preserve the best of its talent within its ranks, even as the likes of Google, Apple and Facebook entice them with salaries as much as five times what the army can offer. With Israel’s startup scene flourishing and multinationals setting up research and development centers, a shortage of engineers is heating up the competition for skilled personnel, with companies offering fatter and fatter salaries to recruit talent.

 

A reliable pool of skills — and one that has been fueling the so called “startup nation,” has traditionally come from the army. The IDF recruits 18-year-old women and men for a compulsory two-to-three-year service imposed on most citizens and allocates them to combat or other units, including intelligence and tech units. After intensive training, these soldiers are put in highly sensitive, secret and responsible jobs, developing and using cutting edge technologies. After their service, many stay on to become career soldiers while others venture out into civilian life and are either snapped up by high-tech corporations or set up their own start-up.

 

“The army has a very real problem” because the salaries it offers cannot compete with those offered by the private sector, said Giora Eiland, a retired major general of the IDF and a former head of the Israeli National Security Council. A son of a friend, he related, who recently graduated from the elite 8200 technology intelligence unit received a number of offers to work for private companies for around NIS 30,000 a month (around $7,800), which was four times the salary the army was offering him to stay on. “If you love your job, salary won’t make much of a difference,” Eiland said. “But if the salary they offer is 100 percent higher or, as in this case, 300 percent higher, then for sure you will leave. There is no dilemma whatsoever.”

 

Demand for army graduates has been fueled by the surge in startups operating in Israel and multinationals that have set up R&D centers in the country — all of which are scouting for talent. The intensity of their need has been compounded by the shortage of skilled engineers the nation is facing. The number of active high tech companies operating in Israel has jumped from 3,781 in 2006 to 7,400 in mid-2016, according to figures compiled by Tel Aviv-based IVC Research Center, which tracks the industry. In addition, companies from Google to Apple, Deutsche Telecom to Bosch have all set up research and development centers in Israel, with 278 multinational companies operating a total of 327 R&D centers around the country today, compared with about 250 such centers three years ago, IVC data shows.

 

Meanwhile, Israel’s high-tech industry will suffer a shortfall of more than 10,000 engineers and programmers in the coming decade if the government doesn’t take immediate action to prepare students to enter these fields, the Ministry of Economy and Industry’s chief scientist Avi Hasson warned in a report in June. So there is more demand for these skilled workers than supply, leading to a salary rise of around 10 percent in the past five years with workers changing jobs on average every 20 months, according to data compiled by Workey, which has developed a job search engine for Israeli startups. Starting monthly salaries in high-tech for soldiers who have completed their army service are around NIS 20,000, Workey data shows.

 

Data released by the IDF shows that a career officer with the rank of lieutenant in a technological position can earn roughly NIS 5,800-9,100 per month, pre-tax, while a captain could earn roughly NIS 8,600-11,200 per month. Salaries are determined by several factors including training, educational background, location and risk level. IDF data also shows that in the years 2011-2015, the number of outstanding officers leaving the army rose from under 17 percent in 2011 to a peak of almost 27% in 2014 before dipping to just over 25% in 2015 . The army defines outstanding officers as those who served as officers for at least two years and rank in the top third of officers in their unit, following a peer evaluation over a period of two years or who have shown outstanding abilities.

 

So the army decided to fight back. Not with salaries, an area it knows it cannot compete in, but by emphasizing the contribution these soldiers make to the country, by giving them more interesting jobs and greater responsibility at a younger age, and by putting in place a set of perks, scholarships and bonuses that will make them feel more valued. “We saw a trend in which it was very difficult to maintain our soldiers in service and we checked the reasons why,” said Maj. Meirav Stoler, a spokesperson of the Human Resources Branch in the IDF. Those who stay in the army, she said, based on a survey the army conducted among 21- to 29-year-olds, stay not for the salary, but for the challenge their role offered and because the soldiers found it important to contribute to the state.

 

“We know that the army cannot compete on matching terms with the civilian world,” said Stoler. “But we do not work based on material considerations only. The army needs to provide its soldiers with much more than material things and salaries.” The army’s new plan — which it has been implementing in the past few months — is to make sure that the soldiers who choose to remain “feel they can do more, get more and be more influential,” Stoler said. “Our push to keep the best in the service allows us to give each of them more important and senior jobs, and we see that this is indeed helping people to stay.”…                                   

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

 

Contents           

                                                              

SPIES IN SPACE: THE STORY OF ISRAEL'S                                                                            

OFEK SATELLITE PROGRAM                                                                               

Barbara Opall-Rome                                                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 25, 2016

 

If you’re looking for a story that captures Israeli innovation, cunning and can-do chutzpa, think spy satellites. Look to Ofek, the Hebrew word for horizon. It’s all there in Israel’s military satellite program, the newest of which – Ofek 11 – is struggling to stabilize itself in space after its launch earlier last week.

 

Inserted successfully into orbit by the country’s homemade Shavit launcher, the newest and most advanced satellite is likely to soldier on in space, but with limited lifespan and ability to perform its high-resolution spy duties. White-knuckled technicians and program managers toiling around the clock at Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) ground control station near Ben-Gurion Airport are still hoping for a favorable ending to the latest chapter still unfolding. But like the chapters that have gone before, Ofek 11 represents the highs and lows of a story driven by strategic need and enhanced by its share of diplomatic intrigue. Conceived in secret, it’s a story of battling the laws of physics; and struggling on a shoestring budget to build rockets strong enough to loft satellites small enough into retrograde orbit against Earth’s eastward spin.

 

It’s also a story of fortitude. How the euphoria of reaching space in 1988 was followed by bitter back-to-back failures that saw two satellites swallowed by the sea. And how the heroes of our story finagled their way back from the brink with the 1995 launch of Ofek-3, Israel’s first operational imaging satellite whose progeny continue to fuel the regional power status of the Jewish state. “Small countries can be great only if they dream big,” said former president Shimon Peres. “With Ofek, we penetrated space and skepticism.”

 

Interviewed before the stroke that befell the pioneer of Israel’s aerospace and defense industry, Peres said Israel’s small size makes it uniquely positioned as a “center of excellence” for advanced research and development. “Our advantage is creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who push the boundaries of what was deemed impossible.” But with all due respect to Israel’s senior statesman, this is where our tale takes a cautionary turn. Because the flip side of this story is one of untapped potential and failure to leverage billions of dollars invested in military space to assure commercial competitiveness on the global market.

 

The US Futron Corp. consistently ranks Israel eighth in an annual competitiveness survey based on myriad criteria, including government investment, national space policy, the ability to attract financing and annual sales. In its latest Space Competitive Index (SCI), we have dropped to number nine. “Israel continues to be a leader in space technology, but has limited commercial sales,” Futron reported in its first SCI survey from 2008. The same holds true today. “Although Israeli technology is high quality and generally cost-competitive, Israeli manufacturers have less global scale than their counterparts,” Futron senior analyst Jonathan Beland told the Jerusalem Post Magazine.

 

But let’s go back. Our story begins in the late 1970s. US President Jimmy Carter was proving relentless in prodding Israel and Egypt toward peace. In the run-up to Camp David, the era of Israeli Air Force reconnaissance flights over Sinai was about to end. Plan Treasure was a top-secret forum where US and Israeli officials hashed out compensation to come from the 1978 accord. Among Israel’s requests: access to imagery from US spy satellites. “The Americans didn’t even answer us; they ignored the request,” recalls David Ivry, a retired major general who commanded the Israel Air Force at the time. That’s when the indigenous Israeli satellite program started to gain traction. Ivry said. “We knew after the treaty was signed, we would be obliged not to violate Egyptian sovereignty by overflying their airspace as we used to do,” he added…

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

 

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

 

Israel Should Avoid Turkey, Include Cyprus in Gas Export Projects: Ariel Ben Solomon, BESA, Oct. 7, 2016 —As Israel begins closing deals for its natural gas, it should avoid linking itself to any expensive long-term pipeline deal with Turkey at the expense of allies Cyprus, Greece, or even Egypt. Notwithstanding the recent easing of tensions between the two countries, Israel cannot trust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist regime as a linchpin in its natural gas export strategy.

Israel's Plan to Supply the Arab World With Energy Is Under Threat in Jordan: Natanel Abramov, Newsweek, Oct. 11, 2016—Public protests and civil society campaigns have been gathering pace in Jordan in opposition to the $10 billion deal recently signed by the state-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) and suppliers of Israeli gas, serving as a timely reminder of the limits of overt cooperation, economic or otherwise, between Israel and neighboring Arab states.

Israel-China Ties Bloom with Free Trade Talks Imminent: Iacopo Luzi, Times of Israel, Sept. 29, 2016—Israel and China relations are reaching new heights as investors and entrepreneurs throng conferences in China and Tel Aviv and the two countries gear up for talks on establishing a free trade zone.

India, the UN vote, the Temple Mount and Ayodhya: Souptik Mukherjee, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 25, 2016— Hindu-Jewish ties date back over 2,500 years. It is believed that Jews arrived in India after the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. Jewish waves of migration to India took place after the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 CE.

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL, DESPITE HIGH COURT GAS RULING, EXPANDS REGIONAL ECONOMIC AND MILITARY PARTNERSHIPS

 

 

Natural Gas Follies: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Mar. 28, 2016— The unnecessary High Court of Justice decision on Sunday may visit upon Israel more damage than 10,000 possible BDS campaigns.

Israel's Alliance That Could Potentially Offset Enhanced Russian and Iranian Power: Leslie Susser, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2016— The past several weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity reinforcing the tripartite alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus.

IDF Racing to Restructure for New Middle East Warfare: Yaakov Lappin, Algemeiner, Feb. 24, 2016— The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is in a race against time, and their race is also relevant to how other Western powers will deal with the rise of radical, armed, Islamic groups proliferating across the Middle East.

There’s Only One Country in the Middle East that Could Produce a Soldier Like Me: Major Alaa Waheeb, Jewish News, Mar. 3, 2016— In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week. 

 

On Topic Links

 

PC 2016 – Bob Cohen Remarks and Truman-Jacobson Video: AIPAC, Mar. 27, 2016

Israel’s Democratic Collapse: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 28 2016

Why Israeli Politicians are Turning Against the IDF: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb. 24, 2016

Israeli Military Ranks 9th Most Powerful Globally on Defense Site List: David Daoud, Algemeiner, Mar. 27, 2016

 

                                                                        Contents

          NATURAL GAS FOLLIES

               David M. Weinberg

       Israel Hayom, Mar. 28, 2016

 

The unnecessary High Court of Justice decision on Sunday may visit upon Israel more damage than 10,000 possible BDS campaigns. If Noble Energy and its partners walk away from the gas deal now, Israel will not only lose the direct economic benefits of having natural gas, but also forfeit what might have been an exceedingly valuable tool of Israeli foreign and defense policy.

 

The 1,400 billion cubic meters of natural gas that lie offshore in the Tamar, Leviathan, Tanin and Karish fields constitute one of Israel's most important geopolitical assets for the future. The gas fields are of critical strategic value. They were about to revolutionize Israel's standing in the region and transform our relations with neighboring countries. Handled wisely, these exports were supposed to be an exceedingly valuable tool of Israeli foreign and defense policy. Handled shrewdly, Israel could have solidified its centrality in the region via stable regional partnerships for gas production and supply.

 

But the High Court's refusal to leave good-enough alone; its decision to cancel the 10-year price stability clause in the gas deal — is mangling the gas bonanza. In one fell swoop, the court gave substance to fears that Israel is not a stable regulatory system for big business. The court may scare away, once and for all, most potential investors. And without very big investors, the gas will remain buried uselessly underwater and underground, or it will be so expensive as to be unattractive and ineffectual.

 

Remember how we got here. Between 2003 and 2009, Noble Energy, alone among the major offshore drilling companies of the world, responded positively to an Israeli government invitation to search for natural gas in Israel's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone. It invested $200 million in discovering Tamar (taking a 70% chance of failure), and it has invested a whopping $4 billion so far to develop the larger and much farther-offshore Leviathan field. Today, 40% of Israel's electricity production is fueled by natural gas from Tamar.

 

The complications began with environmental groups that blocked construction of a main natural gas receiving facility near Furadis and forcing its relocation, delays that cost Noble $1.8 billion, and cost the State of Israel much more. Then the Israeli government changed the rules of the game in terms of taxation and profit-sharing on the gas sector, via a Finance Ministry committee headed by Eitan Sheshinsky. That is when the global gas giant Woodside of Australia withdrew its interest in partnering with Israel or with Noble to develop our gas deposits. Israel is an unstable regulatory environment, the company said.

 

Under growing public pressure to wrest an even better deal, the government then re-negotiated the terms of business again with Noble, for a 60% government, 40% company split of the profits. Noble would still have to pay the multi-billion-dollar development costs, and the heightened insurance costs (in a situation where Iranian hegemony is on the ascendancy alongside Iranian threats against Israel's gas facilities at sea). Yet even that iteration of the government-corporate partnership was unacceptable to critics on the left wing of the political spectrum. They sought to cap the amount of gas that can be exported to low levels, and cap the price of gas to Israelis at even more ridiculously low levels. That would have nearly nationalized the gas fields and made the venture far from viable.

 

Now the High Court has weighed in by striking down the "stability clause," a key part of the framework that commits the Israeli government not to impose any regulatory changes on the gas industry for at least 10 years. This was inserted because the gas companies contended that the cost-benefits calculations required to make the $6 billion or more needed to develop Leviathan would be too risky otherwise. A government in the future could opt to change tax policy and other regulations that would affect the return on their investment.

 

Seems logical, no? Well, the court says that the government can't do this without new legislation. My main concern here isn't the public-corporate-constitutional side of the dispute. Perhaps Noble and the government can yet work things out, again — although it won't be easy with an emboldened Knesset opposition nipping at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's heels. What is of even greater concern is international perceptions of Israel as a stable business environment. At stake is Israel's global reputation as a reliable place to make money. Without that, foreign direct investment in Israel will crash. Investors are scared away from places afflicted by extreme over-regulation, confused policymaking, constantly changing tax rules, splenetic politicians, and overly ambitious judges.

 

Furthermore, if this country continues to muck around in internal disputes over the gas sector, Israel will fritter way the diplomatic and strategic opportunities offered by the gas finds. Gas must be considered a fundamental security issue. Israel already has agreements to sell Jordan enough gas for almost all of its electricity production, a diplomatic coup that helps solidify a vital security partnership with the Hashemite Kingdom. Cyprus wants to partner with Israel in selling massive amounts of gas to the Egyptians, and that would help stabilize the Sissi regime. Greece, and even Turkey, want Israeli natural gas pipelines or liquid natural gas shipments to run through their countries. Russia's national giant, Gazprom, is also seeking partnership with Israel.

 

In other words, Israel's natural gas sector presents a unique opportunity for partnership between local and foreign companies, between government and the corporate sector, between Israel and its Arab and Mediterranean neighbors, between Israel and Europe, and even between Israel and Asia. Natural gas can be an Israeli strategic geopolitical tool of the highest order. But not if Israel acts with inconsistency, short-sightedness and never-ending legal wrangling.

Contents

ISRAEL'S ALLIANCE THAT COULD POTENTIALLY OFFSET

ENHANCED RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN POWER

                 Leslie Susser                           

    Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2016

 

The past several weeks have seen a flurry of diplomatic activity reinforcing the tripartite alliance between Israel, Greece and Cyprus. On January 28, the three leaders, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a summit meeting in Nicosia; the day before Tsipras brought 10 of his cabinet colleagues to Jerusalem for a government to government session with their Israeli counterparts; and the day before that Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon held security talks in Athens and a month later in Cyprus.

 

The three countries share obvious economic interests in what they call the “energy triangle” in the Eastern Mediterranean, where both Israel and Cyprus have discovered huge natural gas deposits. One of the more ambitious joint projects is to build an undersea gas pipeline from Israel to Cyprus to Crete to mainland Greece to facilitate gas exports to Europe; in parallel there are plans for a 2000 megawatt undersea electricity cable, the “EuroAsia Interconnector,” which would follow much the same route, linking the Israeli electricity grid to those of Cyprus, Greece and mainland Europe, thereby providing Israel’s currently isolated power system with strategic backup.

 

There are common military interests too: primarily defending the “energy triangle,” but also joint military exercises and additional training space for the Israel Air Force after the loss of Turkish skies in 2010. The close ties are based on a confluence of strategic interests in a turbulent war-torn region. All three have a common interest in keeping the chaotic Syria situation from spilling over into their domain; in other words, keeping Islamic State (ISIS) and the newly dominant Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis at bay. All three recognize the need for new local alliances given the decline of American influence in the region. Their tripartite partnership is also a counterweight to Turkey’s hegemonic regional ambitions.

 

But at the same time, all three declare willingness to widen the alliance to include other key players like Egypt and Italy and, in certain circumstances, perhaps even Turkey itself. The goal would be a wide moderate front made up of non-Arab Eastern Mediterranean/Middle Eastern countries and moderate Sunni states, backed by the US, despite its perceived regional pullback. The Israel, Greece, Cyprus alliance, therefore, has solid foundations and could form the basis for something bigger. But, in itself, it is hardly a substitute for relations with more powerful players.

 

The joint economic interests, however, are of potentially major significance. In August 2013, the three countries signed a tripartite energy memorandum providing for the laying of the EuroAsia Interconnector, set to be the longest undersea electricity cable in the world. It will run from Hadera in Israel 329 kilometers to Vasilikos in Cyprus, 879 kilometers from Cyprus to Crete and 310 kilometers from Crete to mainland Greece, a total of 1,518 kilometers or 950 miles. From Greece the cable will fork northwest to Italy and Switzerland and northeast to Serbia and Bulgaria.

 

The project, which will cost an estimated 1.5 billion euros, has EU backing as part of its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) program. The work will be carried out by a Cypriot-led consortium including Cyprus’s DEH-Quantum Energy Group and Greece’s state-controlled Public Power Corporation, with the target date for the Israel-Cyprus leg, 2019, and completion of the project as a whole set for 2022. Electricity will flow in both directions, enabling significant energy savings. Importantly for war-threatened Israel: it will provide the local electricity grid with crucial backup if its own production facilities are damaged…

 

It was the rupture of the close ties between Israel and Turkey in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident in May 2010 (in which Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish-operated vessel threatening to run the naval blockade of Gaza) that spurred Israel’s burgeoning military cooperation with Greece and Cyprus. In July, less than two months after the incident, then Greek prime minister George Papandreou flew to Israel to discuss alternative military cooperation. In August, Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Athens. And by October, the Israeli and Greek air forces were conducting joint exercises in Greece.

 

A year later the IAF hosted Greece’s Hellenic Air Force at the Ovda base in the Negev, carrying out simulated dogfights and ground attacks as well as mid-air refueling. Similar exercises took place the following year over the Peloponnese. In November 2013, Israel significantly upgraded the joint air force training with operation “Blue Flag,” the IAFs biggest ever air maneuver, including seven Israeli squadrons and one each from the air forces of the US, Greece, Italy and Poland. The large-scale exercises, which included simulated attacks on enemy bases while avoiding anti-aircraft missiles and detection by enemy radar systems, were repeated in late October-early November 2015.

 

The two countries have also conducted significant joint naval exercises. In 2011 Turkey, in a calculated snipe at Jerusalem, pulled out of the annual “Reliant Mermaid” maritime maneuvers with Israel and the US. The following year Greece was invited to replace Turkey, the name of the annual exercise was changed to “Noble Dina” and the focus switched from search-and-rescue to attack-and-defend scenarios, including anti-submarine warfare and repelling attacks on offshore natural gas rigs.

 

Israel and Greece signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in January 2012; Cyprus followed suit in February. The Cypriot agreement allows the IDF use of Cypriot air space and territorial waters around the island for training purposes and to protect vital energy resources. Dubbed “Onisilos-Gideon,” the ensuing joint exercises were upgraded in 2014, with dozens of IAF fighters and support aircraft participating in training over Cyprus, simulating firing at targets on land and sea from Limassol to Paphos. The two countries have also conducted a series of joint naval exercises focusing on protection of offshore gas installations. So far there has been only one known genuine incident testing the Israel-Cypriot alliance: In September 2011, IAF planes overflew Turkish Northern Cyprus as a warning to a Turkish seismic research ship that had entered Cypriot waters in what was seen as a deliberate provocation over Turkey’s offshore gas exploration dispute with Cyprus…                                                                                                         [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

                    IDF RACING TO RESTRUCTURE FOR NEW MIDDLE EAST WARFARE                        

                                                                Yaakov Lappin                                                                       

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 4, 2016

 

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is in a race against time, and their race is also relevant to how other Western powers will deal with the rise of radical, armed, Islamic groups proliferating across the Middle East. As the IDF’s commanders look around the region, they see heavily armed, hybrid, Islamic sub-state foes that are replacing states. The traditional threat of hierarchical armies is fading quickly away, into obscurity.

 

The Sunni and Shiite jihadist entities on Israel’s borders — Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS-affiliated groups in Syria, Jabhat Al-Nusra, as well as elements of Iran’s IRGC forces — are all building their power and preparing for a future unknown point in time when they will clash with Israel. The IDF is preparing, too, but it is not only counting how many soldiers, tanks, fighter planes, and artillery cannons it can call up in the next round. The IDF is in a race to adapt to 21st century Middle Eastern warfare, which bears no resemblance to how wars were fought in the 20th century.

 

In this new type of conflict, enemies appear and vanish quickly, use their own civilians as cover, bombard Israeli cities with projectiles, seek out the weakest link in Israel’s chain, and send killing squads through tunnels to attack Israeli border villages. In this type of clash, the enemy looks for a ‘winning picture’ at the start of any escalation. This means landing a surprise blow that will knock Israeli society off balance, at least for a short while. To be clear, all of the hostile sub-state actors currently are deterred by Israel’s considerable firepower and are unlikely to initiate a direct, all-out attack. The price they would pay for such action is deemed too high, for now. Yet, opportunities and circumstances can suddenly arise that would alter these calculations, and put these terrorist organizations on a direct collision course with the IDF. Israel has fought four conflicts against Hamas and Hezbollah in the past 10 years, and emerged with the conclusion that the era of state military versus state military warfare is over.

 

Acknowledging this development is one thing; the organizational transformation that must follow is quite another. Israel did not want to enter any of the past four conflicts that were forced upon it, but since they occurred, they have aided in the IDF’s adaptation process, which has been as complex as it has been painful, and is far from over. “What you have to do against an enemy like this, and it is a great difficulty for militaries, including the IDF, is to operate in a combined, cross-branch [air force, ground forces, navy] manner, and to keep it [operations] focused. Focus the ground maneuver and firepower, on the basis of the intelligence you get,” a senior IDF source said earlier this month in Tel Aviv, while addressing the challenges of adaptation.

Take southern Lebanon, the home base of Hezbollah, as an example — the area has well over 100 Shiite villages that have been converted into mass rocket launching zones. With one out of every 10 Lebanese homes doubling up as a Hezbollah rocket launching site (complete with roofs that open and close to allow the rocket to launch), Hezbollah has amassed more than 120,000 projectiles — some of them GPS guided — with Iran’s help. This arsenal, pointed at Israel, forms one of the largest surface to surface rocket arsenals on Earth…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

Contents

THERE’S ONLY ONE COUNTRY IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT

COULD PRODUCE A SOLDIER LIKE ME

           Major Alaa Waheeb                                                                       

       Jewish News, Mar. 3, 2016

 

In the last few weeks, students across the UK have been involved in Israeli Apartheid Week.  Some have supported it. Others have opposed it. Invited by the Zionist Federation UK, last week I was able to attend campuses up and down the country specifically to address and counter some of the claims involved. These fall into roughly three categories. First, that Israel is an inherently racist, and therefore unacceptable country, comparable to Apartheid South Africa. Second, that its army defends this racist status with acts of illegal and immoral violence. And third, that the only solution to this problem is through the isolation tactics of boycotts.

 

Like many I met during my visit, I oppose these views. But perhaps more than most people on either side of the debate, I am better placed to argue against them. Because I am an Israeli, an Arab, and the highest ranked Muslim in the IDF. Is Israel inherently racist, an apartheid state? Well, do you think that such a country would tolerate a person like myself getting to the position I am today? Forget for a second (BDS supporters would like you to forget permanently!) that 20 percent of Israelis are non-Jewish, have full rights, and are represented throughout society. It’s one thing, after all, to have Arab politicians, Christian voters, and Muslim doctors – although we do have them, and quite a few at that.

 

But a non-Jewish army Major? Someone who has not only fought alongside Jewish soldiers, but now trains them too? Would a truly racist state allow me to play such an integral role in our nation’s defences? And while we’re on the subject of those defences, let me tackle accusation two: that the Israel army is a particularly immoral one. I am not particularly religious, but as the Holy Quran says, “if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of mankind.”

 

I do not serve in the army to kill people – I serve in it to save people. When Hamas fires rockets, or Fatah encourages stabbings, we are here to protect the lives of all Israeli citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish. And so on to the last point – that the best way to resolve violence and conflict is through the kind of tactics advocated by the Boycotts movement. Namely, isolation and intimidation. For me, this is the most important issue, and the one which makes me shake my head with anger and sadness the most.

 

Like I said, I visited the UK to combat Israeli Apartheid Week, to challenge the lies and mistruths hurled at the country I am proud to call home. But what hurts me the most is not how unbelievable they are. The opposite, in fact. They are all too believable, and I should know – because I once believed them too. The reality is that the town I grew up in did not recognise the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. While Arabic is an official language, I did not learn Hebrew until I was 17. I was raised to believe the worst things about Jews, and, had I not eventually met and worked alongside them, I might still believe those things today.

 

In my role as a soldier, I have met all kinds of people both in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Jews, Arabs, Religious, Secular, Left-wing and Right-wing. I have met Israelis who were prejudiced against me. But I have also met Palestinians who appreciate the work that I do to maintain some sort of peace and stability in the most dangerous part of the world. Forget slogans and shouting. Peace – real peace – will only come when people talk to each other. Not necessarily agree – just agree to listen. But the irony of Israeli Apartheid Week is that it wants individuals to focus on differences, not similarities. Instead of building bridges between communities, it wants to build walls.

 

During my time in the UK, I spoke alongside a fellow soldier, a medic who has treated both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian terrorists without distinction. We were the Muslim who protects Jewish lives, and the Jew who saves Muslim lives. There’s only one country in the Middle East that could produce a couple like that – and it sure as hell isn’t an apartheid state.

 

On Topic

 

PC 2016 – Bob Cohen Remarks and Truman-Jacobson Video: AIPAC, Mar. 27, 2016—Before there was AIPAC, before there was Israel, one man’s friendship with President Truman helped change history.

Israel’s Democratic Collapse: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 28 2016—Israeli democracy is in critical condition. Sunday, the High Court of Justice ruled that the government’s natural gas policy is unlawful.

Why Israeli Politicians are Turning Against the IDF: Ben Caspit, Al-Monitor, Feb. 24, 2016—Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot is an experienced officer with a long list of achievements under his belt. Nevertheless, on Feb. 17, he found himself caught in a political crossfire.

Israeli Military Ranks 9th Most Powerful Globally on Defense Site List: David Daoud, Algemeiner, Mar. 27, 2016—Israel’s military is the 9th strongest in the world, according to the international defense site Global Firepower (GFP), which released its annual list on Friday.

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

AMID IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH TURKEY & GREECE, AND A BOOMING TECH INDUSTRY, ISRAEL EYES MOON LANDING

A Gas-Powered Rapprochement Between Turkey and Israel: Keith Johnson, Foreign Policy, Dec. 18, 2015 — Turkey’s quest for new sources of energy to escape Russia’s clutches may have helped power the latest push for reconciliation with Israel, five years after the two countries acrimoniously split.

Israel’s Emerging Relations in the Eastern Mediterranean: Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman, BESA, Dec. 8, 2015— Two events, apparently unrelated, yet interwoven in unpredictable ways, demonstrated last month that regional dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean are at a new and possibly formative stage.

End-of-Year Reports Rank Israel High on Tech, Low on Infrastructure: David Shamah, Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2015— A plethora of year-end reports peg Israel as a pretty good place to do business, rated among the top countries for higher education and research, and with excellent technology.

He Drove Cars on Mars – Now He's Trying to Put Israel on the Moon: Tali Heruti-Sover, Haaretz, Dec. 14, 2015 — Prof. Oded Aharonson had a comfortable life in the United States, to which he had moved from Israel when he was 13.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israeli Medical Apps Dominate International Competition in Germany: Algemeiner, Dec. 9, 2015

Recent Linkups By China-Israel VCs And Tech Startups Spell More Opportunity Than Risk: Rebecca Fannin, Forbes, Nov. 19, 2015

An Israeli Gas Pipeline to Turkey? Bad Idea: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Dec. 20, 2015

Panama and Israel Sign Free Trade Agreement: Times of Israel, Nov. 25, 2015  

 

 

 

                               

A GAS-POWERED RAPPROCHEMENT BETWEEN TURKEY AND ISRAEL                                           

                                Keith Johnson    

Foreign Policy, Dec. 18, 2015

 

Turkey’s quest for new sources of energy to escape Russia’s clutches may have helped power the latest push for reconciliation with Israel, five years after the two countries acrimoniously split. But a full restoration of ties between Ankara and Jerusalem, which has proven elusive before, requires further concessions on thorny issues like the future of Gaza, and concrete energy ties between the two nations are likely years away at best.

 

Israel and Turkey said on Thursday that secret diplomatic talks in Switzerland had paved the way for the long-awaited reconciliation. Both sides mapped out steps that will need to be taken to restore ties that were broken when Israeli commandos stormed a Turkish vessel bringing relief supplies to Gaza in 2010.

 

According to Israeli media reports, Israel will pay Turkey compensation for that raid. Turkey, in turn, has agreed to crack down on Hamas terrorists operating from Istanbul. The two sides then need to reach an agreement about Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which has torpedoed past efforts at rapprochement. Once ties are restored, the two countries said they planned to “explore” cooperation on natural gas, with Israel exporting some of its offshore bounty to Turkey.

 

“I think the reconciliation was a long time in the making, and security cooperation between the two sides had already deepened over the last year,” said Brenda Shaffer, a Georgetown University expert on eastern Mediterranean nations. She said the detente is “about politics and security, not gas” — although Turkey is also happy to quench its energy needs from sources other than Russia, given Ankara’s ratcheting tensions with Moscow over the last month. “Ankara has an interest now in showing the Russians it has other options to get natural gas,” Shaffer said.

 

Indeed, while both sides had come close to making amends before, especially in 2013 and 2014, leaders in both countries recently had signaled a possible thaw. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers last week his government had been in talks with Turkish officials regarding exports of natural gas. Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that a restoration of ties between the two embittered countries would be good for “the entire region.”

 

The deteriorating situation in Syria, and especially Russia’s sudden leap into the ongoing civil war there, appears to have landed like a cannonball in the middle of the diplomatic dance between Turkey and Israel. Both sides are concerned about security threats boiling out of a disintegrating Syria, especially the Islamic State. And with Russia throwing its military might behind Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and behind groups hostile to Turkey and Israel, the two countries saw grounds for common cause. “Both countries see Russia’s presence and Russian-backed groups in Syria as a threat,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

 

The final catalyst seems to be Turkey’s newfound need to find an energy supplier other than Russia, from whom it imports more than half of its natural gas. In October, after the Russian military jumped into Syria, Turkey warned it could harm ties between Ankara and Moscow. After Turkey shot down a Russian jet that invaded its airspace in late November, relations took a nosedive. Russia slapped economic sanctions on Turkey, cancelled a high-profile natural-gas pipeline, and threatened further reprisals.

 

Turkey, fearing that Russia could use its control over energy exports as a geopolitical bludgeon, quickly started scouring the region for other sources of gas. Israel made a huge discovery of gas off its coast years ago, but has been struggling to figure out just who to sell it to. “I think the tension between Russia and Turkey is what makes Israeli gas even more desirable from the Turkish side,” Cagaptay said. “If Russia decides to put Erdogan in a difficult situation, they could limit the sale of Russian gas.”

 

That doesn’t mean that Israeli gas will be fueling Turkish power plants anytime soon, even if the two sides manage to normalize relations. For starters, the development of Israel’s offshore gas fields has been held up for the past year due to domestic issues. Even preliminary deals that Israel appeared to have reached with friendly neighbors have gone south in recent months. Plans to export Israeli gas to Egypt and Jordan — the two Arab states with which Israel has a peace accord — have both foundered on domestic political opposition there.

 

What’s more, planning, financing, and building a natural-gas pipeline can take decades, even when there are few political or diplomatic complications, let alone the daunting technical challenges of laying pipe on the deep Mediterranean seabed. For example, Azerbaijan made a huge gas find in 1999, but took 14 years to secure a final decision on an export pipeline through Turkey, and gas won’t start flowing until 2018, Shaffer noted. “While this reconciliation will give impetus to a lot of ‘energy diplomacy’ between Turkey and Israel, and that is a good thing to help smooth relations between Ankara and Jerusalem, it will not bring in the short term a concrete deal on natural gas supply,” she said.

 

There are also domestic political complications, especially in Israel, where both the left and right jeered the rapprochement. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog said reconciliation could have happened earlier, but Netanyahu dragged his feet. Conservative Avigdor Liberman, a former foreign minister under Netanyahu, slammed the accord as a sellout to a “radical Islamist regime.” All those hurdles to actual energy trade — diplomatic, domestic, commercial, and technical — are real. But Russia’s unbridled fury at Turkey — Moscow has decried Turkey’s “stab in the back,” has accused Erdogan of being in bed with the Islamic State, and has taken potshots at a Turkish fishing boat — could nevertheless end up steamrolling those challenges and paving the way to turn Israeli gas exports from dream to reality.

 

In Israel, Netanyahu last week pointed to the diplomatic dividends of energy trade to justify overriding Israeli technocrats and pushing for the controversial development of Israeli gas fields. He said that exporting energy to neighbors was crucial to safeguard Israel’s future security. Turkey, for its part, sees itself acutely vulnerable to any sudden interruption of Russian gas supplies. “Earlier, diversifying energy supplies was a long-term need that Turkey had. With the crisis with Russia, this has become a pressing need,” Cagaptay said. “A pipeline would be a huge deal, meaning the next time the Turkish-Israeli relationship faces a political shock like in 2010, that pipeline would keep them together, given its political, economic, and commercial ramifications,” he said.    

                                                                       

Contents

              

ISRAEL’S EMERGING RELATIONS IN THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN                                                   

Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman

BESA, Dec. 8, 2015

 

Two events, apparently unrelated, yet interwoven in unpredictable ways, demonstrated last month that regional dynamics in the eastern Mediterranean are at a new and possibly formative stage. Turkey downed a Russian fighter operating in Syria, which raised fears of a broadening conflict, and placed two of the world's most headstrong leaders on what seemed like a collision course. Meanwhile, despite his roots in the country’s traditionally anti-Zionist left, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras paid a short and warm visit to Israel. So did Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades. When visiting Israel, Tsipras went so far as to recognize that Jerusalem is, and will continue to be, "the eternal capital of the Jewish People" (while offering similar recognition to the putative Palestinian "state").

 

Both these visits, as well as the Russian conflict with Turkey, reflect – directly or by inference – aspects of the growing cost of Turkey's vaulting ambitions under President Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu. Whether or not the term "neo-Uthmanism" serves any explanatory purpose, there was clearly an open bid by Ankara in recent years to use the regional turmoil, the so-called "Arab Spring" (perhaps the mother of all misnomers…), as a springboard for the assertion of Turkish leadership and even hegemony. This was shaped by the ideological imperatives of the AKP leaders and their sense of affinity and obligation towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, such as the Hamas regime in Gaza.

 

As Syria descended into civil war and disintegrated, Erdogan – who once upon a time tried to position himself as Bashar Assad's friend – turned into a stern supporter of the insurgency. Even if one doubts the claims of Turkish-Islamic State connivance now put forward by the Russians, there is reason to believe that the relevant Turkish agencies were not too choosy when offering help to Assad's various enemies (including the buying of oil and gas from rebel-held areas). Meanwhile, Turkey sustained her traditional nationalist stance towards the Cyprus question, and tensions with Greece did not abate.

 

The results are now very much in evidence. As has been said all too often, from Davutoglu's promise of "zero problems with the neighbors" the road led very quickly to "zero neighbors without problems." However, the escalation of Russian-Turkish tensions need not be taken too far. Neither President Vladimir Putin nor Erdogan seem to desire war, despite the bravado and the sanctions. Some opportunities for sober dialogue are now being set up (despite Putin's refusal to meet his Turkish counterpart in Paris).

 

But the shooting did demonstrate just how far apart Ankara and Moscow are on the future of Syria, making it quite unlikely that the current multilateral diplomatic efforts can come to fruition. This may change only if Turkey will be isolated and ignored by the other key players (which would be a dangerous game to play) – or alternatively, if she is given other good reasons to change, and at least modify, her strategy and her priorities. Otherwise, it will continue to be very difficult to bring about even an interim reduction in the intensity of the Syrian conflict, let alone resolve it.

 

Neither Israel nor Greece was necessarily looking at the Turkish challenge alone when they embarked on a trajectory of intense cooperation in recent years. There are excellent reasons to improve relations, not the least of which is the hope for joint energy projects, which is scheduled to be the key item at the planned tripartite Greek-Cypriot–Israeli summit. The two countries have helped each other at times of forest fires and natural disasters, and have drawn closer in military matters too. The Israeli government stood by Greece at her hour of need, willing to encourage Israeli investment and tourism. There is a broad scope for technological cooperation, in vital fields such as renewable energies and water conservation.

 

Indeed, in Athens this proved by now to be an enduring aspect of national policy, across party lines, including  PASOK (social-democrats), ND (conservatives), and Syriza left-wing  leaders alike. As the positive interactions of Tsipras with young Israelis during his visit made manifest, there is also an underpinning of cultural and historical affinity to this sense of partnership. (The Israeli liberal daily newspaper Haaretz even dedicated the leading essay in its cultural supplement to the long-lasting love affair of Israelis from all walks of life with modern Greek music).

 

The long shadow of Turkish policies, however, is never too far away. Israeli awareness of the potential benefits of closer association with the Hellenic world grew exponentially after the collapse of Israeli-Turkish relations. The same could be said for the other side of the coin: For many years, Israel's image as Turkey's friend and military ally did little to endear her to Greek and Cypriot public opinion…

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

 

                                                            Contents

                                       

                                           END-OF-YEAR REPORTS RANK ISRAEL HIGH ON TECH,

                      LOW ON INFRASTRUCTURE   

David Shamah                                                     

           Times of Israel, Dec. 27, 2015

 

A plethora of year-end reports peg Israel as a pretty good place to do business, rated among the top countries for higher education and research, and with excellent technology. But the country scores only so-so marks for government-fostered bureaucracy, economic freedom, physical infrastructure, and labor efficiency. The reports — by business magazine Forbes, the World Economic Forum, and the Heritage Foundation — all rank Israel as one of the 30 best economies in the world to do business. But they point out that, with reforms, Israel could be doing much better.

 

Israel ranks as the 25th-best country in the world to do business, according to the Forbes Best Countries for Business rankings for 2015. With a “technologically advanced market economy,” the economy has good prospects, especially when the country starts reaping the benefits from the Laviathan gas field later this decade. However, over the long term, the magazine said, Israel faces structural issues, including low labor participation rates for its fastest-growing social segments — the ultra-orthodox and Arab-Israeli communities.

 

While Israel can be proud of its “globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector,” Forbes points out that many Israelis are not benefiting from it. The tech sector “employs only 9% of the workforce, with the rest employed in manufacturing and services — sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition,” said Forbes. Israel’s closest competitor in the Middle East is the United Arab Emirates, which ranked in 40th place…

 

A much more extensive report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) places Israel as the 27th most-competitive economy in the world — “competitive” used in the sense of being most likely to succeed. The WEF report ranks 144 countries around the world on 12 “pillars of success,” including the effectiveness of institutions (government and private), quality of infrastructure, economic environment, health, education, financial markets, innovation, and “technological readiness,” which measures an economy’s ability to absorb and utilize new technologies.

 

On that parameter, Israel ranks as fourth best in the world, and it scores even better on “capacity for innovation” and “quality of scientific research institutions.” Israel also does well on other components of the “innovation pillar,” including availability of scientists to tackle issues, per-capita patent applications, university-industry collaboration, and more. Israel also ranks close to the top in health (10th overall), and is the fourth-best place to get venture capital for a start-up.

 

The country receives only middling scores for other important areas of competitiveness. It ranks 43rd worldwide for the quality of its government institutions, 44th on the quality of its ethics, 55th in transport infrastructure, 70th in port infrastructure quality, and so on. In this study, the US ranks far better — the third-most competitive economy — as opposed to its rank on the Forbes list. The most competitive economy in the WEF report is Switzerland; Denmark, first in the Forbes ranking, is No. 12 on the Forbes list.

 

In terms of economic freedom, Israel ranks No. 33 in the world. “A democratic and free-market bastion in the Middle East, Israel has entrenched the principles of economic freedom during its development,” reported the Heritage Foundation. “A small, open economy, Israel relies on its competitive regulatory environment and well-established rule of law to attract international investment. While government spending is sizable, the government has not interfered heavily with industrial activity.”                              

                                                                       

Contents                       

                                 HE DROVE CARS ON MARS –

                                 NOW HE'S TRYING TO PUT ISRAEL ON THE MOON

Tali Heruti-Sover

           Haaretz, Dec. 14, 2015

 

Prof. Oded Aharonson had a comfortable life in the United States, to which he had moved from Israel when he was 13. At 21, with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in physics from Cornell University, he returned to Israel for two years to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. At 23, he began his Ph.D. in physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As soon as he completed his doctorate he started working at California Institute of Technology in planetary science, his area of specialization.

 

The close cooperation between Caltech and NASA allowed Aharonson to be involved in most of the U.S. missions to Mars, he says. “It was my baby.” Aharonson was a senior member of the Mars Exploration Rovers’ science team. The vehicles, which NASA sent at a cost of $1.2 billion and which recently found apparent evidence of water on the red planet. Aharonson says that to simplify matters, he often just says he was “the driver of the Mars rovers.”

 

Aharonson brought all his enormous knowledge and experience back to Israel, when he was appointed the head of the newly established Center for Planetary Science at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot in 2011. He is determined to make it an active part of international efforts to crack the secrets of the universe.

 

“The rovers landed on Mars in 2002, and since then there is a team that receives the pictures from them every day, looks at them and argues: ‘Is it worth photographing this part, that mountain.’ Every scientist has his own agenda and you need to reach a decision. This is not one meeting a day, but a series of meetings, at the of which a mission plan is formulated. My job was to take that plan and along with the engineers translate it into the language of the rover in order to send the orders that would help the rovers drive, photograph, send data — and do the same thing the next day.”

 

For almost a decade Aharonson “drove” the rovers on Mars, until he felt he needed to return home. “I had a wonderful job, tenure, a house and a car, but I felt that all the people I cared about, and who cared about me, are in Israel.” While he was thinking things over — “because it meant giving up a lot” — he took a business trip to Moscow. At one point he went to a restaurant with a Russian colleague.

 

“He looked at me and said: ‘All of your friends are very focused on their joy, on the question of what will make them happy, but it’s possible to look at happiness a different way: If you go to Israel, another physicist will come and drive the rovers, because at Caltech there are many talented people; but if you remain in the United States, whatever it is you would do in Israel won’t happen.’ This was a Soviet perspective, not personal but general rather. He didn’t measure my value by my level of personal happiness, but by the effect on the state; I, wanting to advance the area of planetary sciences in Israel so that Israel can become involved in a field that doesn’t exist, recognized that he was right.”

 

Four years down the road, Aharonson says that while he sometimes misses the comforts of the United States, but is happy about his decision to return, moving in the opposite direction of the “brain drain.” Aharonson is 42, unmarried and living in Tel Aviv. “Maybe I won’t have one-time opportunities to control spacecraft on Mars, but here there are other one-time opportunities,” he says. Not at a billion dollars per project. “Our scale is $50 million, projects that are not small but are small relative to the big NASA missions, and are nonetheless a breakthrough in the well-known Israeli method — smaller, cheaper, faster.”

 

Aharonson’s flagship project is the establishment of the planetary sciences center at Weizmann. He is also the mission scientist on the SpaceIL project to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. SpaceIL is a nonprofit organization established to compete in Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30-million competition to land a privately funded robot on the moon. Google is offering a $20 million prize to the first nongovernment team to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon, have it travel 500 meters on the lunar surface and transmit high-definition images and video from the moon. The original deadline of December 2015 has been extended to the end of 2017.

 

Asked if SpaceIL will succeed, Aharonson says “certainly,” and explains why. Of the more than 30 teams from throughout the world that entered the competition, 16 remain. Israel is leading in many ways and the team has a launch contract that has been approved by Google, which is very important, he says. “We have a budget that allows us to sign a commitment for a launch, one of the hardest tasks in this process. We still need to build a spacecraft and it needs to work there. You must understand that we are not doing it for the $20-million prize,” explaining that it will cost around $50 million to put the Israeli robot on the moon — all from donations.”…

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

 

 

 

On Topic

 

Israeli Medical Apps Dominate International Competition in Germany: Algemeiner, Dec. 9, 2015—Four Israeli companies were among the 10 winners in the 2015 Medica App Competition, held in the German city of Dusseldorf.

Recent Linkups By China-Israel VCs And Tech Startups Spell More Opportunity Than Risk: Rebecca Fannin, Forbes, Nov. 19, 2015—It’s long been said that Chinese and Israeli culture is alike – entrepreneurial, hard-working, family oriented and spiritual. Now these two leading startup nations are coming closer together in the venture capital and technology innovation world and advancing the potential for disruptive breakthroughs.

An Israeli Gas Pipeline to Turkey? Bad Idea: Daniel Pipes, National Review, Dec. 20, 2015—News that the Turkish and Israeli governments are about to renew full diplomatic relations after years of tensions causes me to smile cynically — and to worry again about Israeli gullibility. The two states enjoyed close relations in the 1990s, when a common world outlook led to a strong military bond, growing trade, and exchanges of people and culture. Writing in 1997, I characterized this bilateral as having “the potential to alter the strategic map of the Middle East, to reshape American alliances there, and to reduce Israel’s regional isolation.”

Panama and Israel Sign Free Trade Agreement: Times of Israel, Nov. 25, 2015—Panama signed a free trade agreement with Israel, its first with a Middle Eastern nation. The agreement was signed on Saturday in Panama City to seal a set of negotiated deals including access to markets, customs, services and investments, intellectual property, trade obstacles, institutional issues and conflict resolution.

 

                   

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

ISRAEL, THE “START-UP NATION”, ISN’T DERAILED BY “BDS” OR CURRENT ECONOMIC CRISIS

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

The BDS Movement’s Failure to Derail Israel’s International Relations or Economy: Mitchell Bard, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 12, 2015 — The press is full of dire warnings that Israel is isolated and growing more so, and that the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement is having a devastating impact on the Israeli economy.

The Startup Scene in Israel is Going Bonkers, and the Chinese are Swooping In: Julie Bort, Business Insider, Aug. 13, 2015— This summer, it’s raining unicorns — tech startups valued at more than $1 billion — and as a result the Israeli tech scene is going absolutely crazy.

India Seeks Israeli Help to Become Next “Start Up Nation”: Legal Insurrection, Aug. 18, 2015 — While Europe has been busy targeting Israeli researchers, artists and filmmakers in recent days, Asian countries like India, China and Japan are taking tangible steps strengthening its ties with Israel.

Driven by the Mother of Ambition: Tycoon Yosi Vardi on the Culture That Forged £25bn Pharma Deal: Rupert Steiner, Daily Mail, July 29, 2015 —He is known around the world as the godfather of the start-up industry. Angel investor Yossi Vardi made £250million selling instant messaging application ICQ to AOL in 1998 at the height of the dotcom boom.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel’s Cabinet Approves Regulatory Scheme for Gas-Field Development: Sara Toth Stub, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16, 2015

Israel Turns to Kurds for Three-Quarters of its Oil Supplies: David Sheppard, John Reed & Anjli Raval, Financial Times, Aug. 23, 2015

Israeli Geneticists Offer Exam to Presage Cancer 15 Years Prior to Earliest Symptoms: Jewish Press, Aug. 17, 2015

Improving Ties Between India and Israel: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Aug. 6, 2015

                  

                  

THE BDS MOVEMENT’S FAILURE TO DERAIL ISRAEL’S                                        

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OR ECONOMY                                                                             

Mitchell Bard                                                                                                     

Jerusalem Post, Aug. 12, 2015

 

The press is full of dire warnings that Israel is isolated and growing more so, and that the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement is having a devastating impact on the Israeli economy. It’s no mystery that Israel is politically at loggerheads with much of the world over the disastrous Iran deal, settlements and inaction on the peace process; nevertheless, diplomatic ties remain intact. Moreover, despite the desperate hopes of the BDS campaign, economic ties are flourishing.

 

Overall, Israeli exports have grown from around $5 million in 1948, to more than $47 billion in 2014. Israel’s largest single trade partner remains the United States, despite political tensions between the political leaders. The total volume of trade in 2014 was $36 billion. In addition, each of the 50 states benefit from their ties with Israel. In 2014 alone, 21 states exported more than $100 million worth of goods to Israel, led by New York with exports of more than $5 billion.

 

Israel’s relations are even more strained with the European Union and yet trade with the EU exceeds that of the U.S. Roughly one-third of Israel’s imports and exports are a result of trade with the EU. Moreover, total trade with the EU has grown from approximately $21 billion in 2003 to $34 billion in 2013. Countries outside of the EU, the EFTA-bloc countries such as Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, have taken, or seriously considered economic sanctions against Israel. Still, Israel enjoys a free trade agreement with EFTA-bloc countries and business with these nations remains robust.

 

The central hub of the BDS movement is in England, but the various votes by academic and trade associations for boycotts have had virtually no tangible impact. In fact, total bilateral trade amounted to a record $6 billion in 2014, an increase of more than 7 per cent from the previous year.

 

The biggest economic story is the exponential expansion of Israel’s trade with Asia, which will overtake the U.S. as Israel’s second biggest export destination this year. China is already Israel's third-largest trading partner; in fact, since formally establishing diplomatic relations with China in 1992, trade has increased 220-fold from $50 million in 1992 to $11 billion in 2014. In addition, total trade between Israel and Japan reached $2.3 billion in 2014.

 

Israel’s relations with India have been steadily improving, as evidenced by the planned 2015 visit of Narendra Modi to Israel, which will make him the first Indian prime minister to go to Israel. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel in 1992, bilateral trade and economic relations have grown from $200 million in 1992 to $6 billion in 2013. Between Modi's election in May 2014 and November 2014, Israel exported $662 million worth of Israeli weapons and defense items to India. This export number is greater than the total Israeli exports to India during the previous three years combined.

 

Israel is also expanding ties with Latin America and has been granted observer status in the Pacific Alliance, an economic trade organization of several major Latin and Central American countries. One country that Israel has had testy relations with because of the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992, and the government’s failure to bring the perpetrators to justice, is Argentina. Still, economic relations are growing as evidenced by the Argentine army’s $111 million contract with Israel in 2015 to upgrade 74 tanks made in Argentina.

 

Israel’s discovery of a large reserve of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast has also opened new opportunities for expanding trade with its neighbors. Jordan, for example, signed a $15 billion deal for Israeli natural gas, and a $1.2 billion agreement was struck with Egypt. A good example of how politics does not always interfere with economics is the ongoing trade relationship between Israel and Turkey. While once close, ties between Ankara and Jerusalem grew strained as Turkish President Erdogan became more stridently critical of Israel. Nevertheless, the free trade agreement between the two countries is still in effect, and trade with Turkey hit a record of more than $5 billion in 2014, a 50 percent increase over 2009.

 

One of the countries hostile toward Israel that nevertheless engages in trade is Malaysia. The trade is largely one-sided, almost entirely Israeli exports, but the overall value of trade exceeds $1.5 billion, nearly double what it was as recently as 2012. Similarly, although the amount is relatively trivial, the fact that the value of Israel’s trade with Indonesia is as much as $250 million is another reflection of business trumping politics.

 

In addition to trade, foreign investment in Israel has grown rapidly despite a brief downturn in 2014. More than 10,000 U.S. companies do business in or with Israel, including all the major high-tech companies. Intel, for example, which already has a large presence in Israel, invested $6 billion in its plant in Kiryat Gat.

Americans and other foreign investors do not invest in Israel because they are Zionists; they do it because it is a great place to do business with a creative and highly skilled pool of talent. Consider just a few of the deals concluded by American companies:

 

Warren Buffet invested $6 billion to buy Iscar – his first major acquisition outside the U.S. Cisco paid $5 billion for software developer NDS. Pratt & Whitney spent several hundred million dollars to buy Blades, one of the world’s largest producers of machine blades. Google paid $1 billion for the Waze mapping company. IBM bought Trusteer, a fraud prevention company for approximately $800 million.         Facebook paid $200 million for a startup called Onavo. Between 2003 and 2012, 772 Israeli startups were acquired for $41.6 billion. Furthermore, despite boycott threats, Israelis are not hiding their identification with Israel. According to Economy Ministry figures, 760 Israeli manufacturers labeled their products marketed abroad as “made in Israel” in 2013; that number increased to 1,024 in 2014.

 

Kristin Lindow, senior vice president at Moody’s Investors Service and Moody’s lead analyst for Israel, told Forbes in February that “the impact of BDS is more psychological than real so far and has had no discernible impact on Israeli trade or the broader economy.” In fact, Moody’s chief economist, Dr Mark Zandi, told Globes in May that Israel has “one of the world’s best economies.” Elaborating, Zandi notes that Israel’s “fiscal situation is better than ever, the debt-to-GDP ratio is low and continues to fall, your economy has been growing for 15 straight years, and there's almost no unemployment.”

 

So who is being hurt by the BDS movement? The Palestinians, of course. “The sanctions do run the risk of hurting the Palestinian economy,” Lindow noted, “which is much smaller and poorer than that of Israel.” The campaign against SodaStream, for example, may have made activists abroad feel good, but it was devastating to the hundreds of Palestinians who will probably be fired when the company moves its factory from Maale Adumim to the Negev.

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                          

  

THE STARTUP SCENE IN ISRAEL IS GOING BONKERS,

AND THE CHINESE ARE SWOOPING IN

Julie Bort                                         

Business Insider, Aug. 13, 2015  

 

This summer, it’s raining unicorns — tech startups valued at more than $1 billion — and as a result the Israeli tech scene is going absolutely crazy. Business Insider just spent a week in Israel meeting with over a dozen tech companies and VCs. They all told us: Everyone is dreaming of becoming the next unicorn. Instead of selling their startups for $1 million to $30 million, founders are turning down multimillion acquisition offers, wanting to build big companies.

 

2015 is a record-breaker for VC funding. For the first half in 2015, 342 companies have attracted $2.1 billion, up from 334 companies nabbing $1.6 billion in the first half of 2014. The private-equity bankers have arrived in droves, including Blackstone, SilverLake, KKR, Apax Partners, TPG, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley, and they're writing huge checks. Chinese investors are swarming the country, joining Israeli VC funds as limited partners as well as doing a lot of huge, direct investments into startups, too.

 

"If we're going to do $4 billion in venture in 2015, the estimate I heard is that at least $500 million of that will be Chinese money, and that’s direct investment not including the LP stuff," Israeli powerhouse VC Jon Medved told Business Insider. "And I think that’s probably underestimated.” Medved, founder of investment startup OurCrowd, is widely known as one of the fathers of Israel’s tech-startup scene.

 

Chinese investors are “at all the parties” a startup founder told us. The joke here is that Israeli border control needs to open up a special customs line “just for Chinese investors with bags of money that they can just get in the country for free,” Medved quipped. This hot economy has led to … Big, well-funded Israeli companies starting to acquire other Israeli companies for big sums of money, too. The first crop of Israeli serial entrepreneurs, such as Avigdor Willens, who sold Annapurna to Amazon earlier this year for a reported $350 million to $375 million. Willens sold his first company, Galileo, for $2.7 billion in stock back in 2000 to Marvell Technologies.

 

When Google bought Waze for $1 billion in 2013, it was a milestone event for the country, says Medved.

“Billion-dollar companies are now all over the place. Waze was the first and most important,” he told us.

Waze cofounder Uri Levine explained to Business Insider, “This was the first time a billion-dollar app, and a consumer app, came out of Israel,” and it set “a new beacon for Israel” telling entrepreneurs to aim higher than a quick exit.

 

The next year, Japan's Rakuten (the eBay of Japan) acquired Israeli messaging app Viber for $900 million, and unicorn fever in the country began. Over and over, startup founders told us they had no interest in selling their successful companies — some of which were doing millions of dollars in revenue, and some of which were doing hundreds of millions in revenue. They wanted to grow their companies past $1 billion to many billions.

 

“Israel entrepreneurs are obsessed with building unicorns,” Hillel Fuld, CMO of Israeli startup Zula told us.

Billion-dollar startups include … Taboola (who raised $117 million in February, $157 million total),  IronSource (who raised $105 million in two rounds from private-equity funds run by JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley), Outbrain (who filed confidential SEC documents for an IPO at a reported $1 billion valuation),    Conduit, who said it was the first Israeli internet unicorn, in 2012

 

There’s also a new crop of public tech companies worth $1 billion: MobileEye: IPO’d in 2014, $12 billion market cap today, CyberArk: IPO’d in 2014, market cap of about $2 billion, Wix: IPO’d in 2013, market cap of about $900 million, And there are some half-unicorns, like Varonis Systems, which IPO’d in 2014 and has a market cap of nearly $600 million — nothing to sneeze at. "The Asia stuff is very dramatic, very real and very new," says Medved. "China is the big story. But Japan, for example — there had never been a visit of a Japanese prime minister to Israel before, in all the years of Israel’s existence. What did they have to come here for? This year, the Japanese prime minister shows up for four days, all tech.”

 

Meanwhile, Korea’s Samsung Ventures has now made "eight investments here over the last year," says Medved. Plus, "there are now Israeli companies going to list on the Singapore exchange." Israel will also be hosting the Indian prime minister for the first time. In February, Indian company Infosys (now run by SAP’s former US CTO Vishal Sikka) bought Israeli company Panaya for $200 million. India has plans to build a research and development center here.

 

Still, China overshadows them all. Investments are pouring in from Baidu, Fosun, Alibaba, Tencent, RenRen, and others. Famous Chinese angel investor (and billionaire) Li Ka Shing and his Horizon Ventures fund are all over the country. Horizon was an early investor in Waze. And he’s invested in about 29 Israeli startups, including Waze founder Levine’s latest baby, FeeX, (raised $9 million).

 

If there's a downside to all of this, it's that Israel is starting to experience a severe talent shortage. They are now poaching each other's employees and trying to keep employees from leaving by offering better and better Valley-like perks. IronSource, for example, flies its 550 employees to one exotic off-site meeting every year. The whole company just got back from Greece. "Once a year, we party," CEO Tomer Bar Zeev told us. "That builds culture. It's one of the best investments we can make, investing in the company."

 

If that fails, Chinese billionaire Li Ka Shing has an answer. He also donated $130 million to Israel’s Technion, the Israeli Institute of Technology (like the MIT of Israel), one of the largest ever donations received by an Israeli university.

                                                                       

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INDIA SEEKS ISRAELI HELP TO BECOME NEXT “START UP NATION”                                                

Legal Insurrection, Aug. 18, 2015

 

While Europe has been busy targeting Israeli researchers, artists and filmmakers in recent days, Asian countries like India, China and Japan are taking tangible steps strengthening its ties with Israel. Last week Norwegian Film festival rejected an Israeli film dealing with disability on the grounds that it “did not deal with occupation” or “discrimination of Palestinians.” In Spain, a music festival barred the Jewish-American reggae star Matisyahu for refusing to comply with the demands of the organizers to publically denounce Israel and endorse the “Palestinian cause” — in keeping with the best traditions of Spanish Inquisition. In Paris “peace activists” threatened and harangued visitors attending a day-long festival celebrating Tel-Aviv’s culture with music and gourmet.

Meanwhile in India, thousands gathered to see the opening on yet another Israeli Agriculture Technology Centre in Gujarat State.

Israel runs 30 such centres across India, training farmers in latest agriculture technology and farming techniques. On the occasion India’s 69th Independence Day on August 15, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the initiative “Start Up India, Start Up India”, aimed at encouraging individuals to start new ventures and businesses — not just in technology sector. Israel’s Ambassador to India H.E. Mr. Daniel Carmon expressed his country’s support in helping India achieve those aims.

 

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed India’s initiative to promote start ups, and attributed growing India-Israel ties to the entrepreneurial spirit of both people. Talking to an Indian television channel PM Netanyahu said: Speaking exclusively to NDTV [PM Netanyahu] said the countries are forming “a wonderful friendship”. Days after Mr Modi announced “Start Up India, Stand Up India” as a mission to launch and nurture entrepreneurs, Mr Netanyahu, whose country is known for its start-up culture, said, “As far as the ‘start up-nation’ (goes), I think this has a lot to do with entrepreneurial spirit. I have noticed that in Silicon Valley… You hear Indian dialects and you hear Hebrew… There is a lot of spirit for enterprise in both our countries.”

 

Israel is India’s key partner when it comes to start ups, academic and scientific research. This year alone, Indian multinationals have invested millions in Israeli start up and innovation ecosystem, hoping to hires the best talent and acquire cutting-edge technology. India’s private sector involvement in Israel also includes setting up technology incubators and investments in Universities. Israel too has launched programmes for Indian students, innovators, researchers as well as corporate executives. Every year selected Indian start up founders get a chance to attend the prestigious start-up event “Start Tel Aviv 2015” and connect with Israeli and international leaders in the field. Israel’s Council for Higher Education offers hundreds to scholarships to Indians interested in pursuing higher education in Israel.

 

Israel-Asia Centre also offers scholarship and leadership programmes to Indian students. The Jerusalem-based centre also runs a MBA and leadership-program exclusively dedicated to Indian women entrepreneurs, giving them skills and exposure to become future leaders in Corporate India. For a developing country like India, unlocking entrepreneurial potential will be key to its prosperous future. The ‘good old capitalism’ still remain only viable way of reducing poverty and misery known to man. Hundreds and millions have been lifted from extreme poverty in India and China alone, since these two countries shifted from state-controlled socialist economy to open market capitalism.

 

India has a long way to go, overcoming its 5 decades-long socialist legacy. Bloated bureaucracy and absurd regulations still stifle country’s entrepreneurial spirit, technological innovation, and industrial growth. But giving credit where it’s due, Prime Minister Modi has taken right steps by cutting regulations and reducing state control on the economy. He is also the driving force behind India’s recent pivot to Israel.        

                                                                       

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DRIVEN BY THE MOTHER OF AMBITION:   TYCOON YOSI VARDI ON                             

THE CULTURE THAT FORGED £25BN PHARMA DEAL                                                                         

Rupert Steiner                                                                                                               

Daily Mail, July 29, 2015

 

He is known around the world as the godfather of the start-up industry. Angel investor Yossi Vardi made £250million selling instant messaging application ICQ to AOL in 1998 at the height of the dotcom boom. Since then, he has invested in 86 firms and his career is seen as a model for entrepreneurs and investors across the globe. But his recipe for business success might be impossible to replicate in the UK. The ingredients, he says, include having a pushy Jewish mother, a defiant attitude to authority and being conscripted into national service in the army.

 

Israel’s business sector has been electrified this week by the £25billion deal by local firm Teva Pharmaceuticals to buy the generic drug unit of rival US firm Allergan. But in Vardi’s eyes this is not a one- off – he says Israel is a crucible for entrepreneurialism. He is certainly an authority, having served as a strategic adviser to online giants AOL and Amazon and co-founded Alon – Israel’s largest energy company. He is also a member of the prestigious World Economic Forum.

 

The tycoon, 73, says: ‘I sold 25 of the 86 start-ups. That makes me the most successful angel investor in Israel, but 27 went bust which also makes me the worst.’ An expert on the technology sector and an accomplished speaker, Vardi says Israel spawns 1500 new firms a year with 10 per cent of the workforce involved in start-ups. Are there any lessons there for the UK, which is keen to foster a more entrepreneurial culture? A key factor is that there is more investment in research and development in Israel as a percentage of gross domestic product than in any other country, at 4.5 per cent. South Korea is second at 4 per cent and Finland, third, is slightly below that. Here in the UK we invest just more than 1.5 per cent.

 

Ambling into a meeting room overlooking the Tel Aviv seafront, the septuagenarian takes his place at the head of the table, casually dressed with a silver chest-rug bristling through his open necked shirt. Alone and without any flunkies he eschews the trappings of wealth and comes across as more like a stand-up comedian than business leader. The country’s army of difficult-to-please Jewish mothers is what he claims is behind Israel’s success in propagating more driven and determined entrepreneurs than anywhere else in the world. ‘The phenomenon of the Jewish mother is our secret sauce,’ he says. ‘There seems to be some kind of genetic disorder that means from the age of five we are told unless you are able to win at least one Nobel prize you will heap disappointment on the family.’

 

It is one of the most unlikely factors behind the start-up phenomenon and it is also impossible for any other government to emulate. ‘Jewish mothers are never satisfied and nothing is ever good enough,’ he continues, adding that his mother used to compare him with his cousins and conclude that he was ‘an idiot and for most of my life I have been trying to show her I’m not. I keep on trying even now’. Vardi’s mother died 15 years ago. A high proportion of entrepreneurs the world over have been driven by proving to a teacher or parent, who had put them down, that they were wrong.

 

Many also suffered bereavement at an early age and have spent their life hopelessly trying to prove their worth to the dead parent. A former civil servant, Vardi previously served as Israel’s youngest director general of the Ministry of Development, having been appointed at the age of 27. He is often asked ‘what is it that you put in the water’ in Israel, what’s the spark for start-ups? He says: ‘Culturally everyone is motivated – and everyone wants to become an entrepreneur – it’s almost genetic.’..

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

 

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On Topic

                                                                                                        

Israel’s Cabinet Approves Regulatory Scheme for Gas-Field Development: Sara Toth Stub, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16, 2015—Israel’s cabinet Sunday approved a regulatory framework that will allow the stalled development of its large offshore natural gas fields to resume.

Israel Turns to Kurds for Three-Quarters of its Oil Supplies: David Sheppard, John Reed & Anjli Raval, Financial Times, Aug. 23, 2015 —Up to three-quarters of the oil supply in Israel was reported from Iraqi Kurdistan, a Financial Times report said Sunday.

Israeli Geneticists Offer Exam to Presage Cancer 15 Years Prior to Earliest Symptoms: Jewish Press, Aug. 17, 2015—A genetic analysis laboratory in Katzrin, in the Golan Heights, has announced a new development allowing the identification of an inherited predisposition to prostate and other cancers in families with a history of cancer—a full 10 to 15 years before any symptoms of early cancer are presented.

Improving Ties Between India and Israel: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Aug. 6, 2015 —Relations between India and Israel are changing and improving. It was recently announced that Indian president Pranab Mukherjee will hold a state visit to Israel in October, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to visit – the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Israel – early next year. In February 2015, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India, during which the two countries finalized a major defense deal worth more than $1.5 billion.

                                                                      

 

              

WHILE THE ECONOMY EMERGES AS A KEY ELECTION ISSUE— ISRAEL ’S START-UP & HIGH-TECH SECTORS PROSPER

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

NB: THE CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH ANNOUNCES A REMARKABLE ONE-DAY INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE & 27TH ANNIVERSARY GALA showcasing Israel’s remarkable High-Tech achievements and investment opportunities and underlining Canada’s dynamic role in the democratic Jewish state’s contributions to mankind’s well-being. Panels & booths covering aspects of Nanotechnology & Water; Medical-Pharmaceutical Research; Security & Defense; Academic & Technical Cooperation; Investment Opportunities, Start-ups & Venture-Capital will be the highlight of the international conference.    

 

The conference’s outstanding confirmed speakers, to date: Prof. Isaac Ben-Israel: Chairman, Israel National Research Council, Israel Space Agency, Head Yuval Ne’eman Workshop for Science, Technology and Security, Tel Aviv University; Pierre Boivin O.C.: President and CEO of Claridge Inc., former President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, the Bell Centre and Evenko;  Barry Fishman, Past President, Teva Canada; Dan Vilenski, former Chairman of Applied Materials (Israel);  Feridun Hamdullahpur, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Waterloo, Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Guy Breton,  Rector, l’Université de Montréal;  Matthew Price-Gallagher, President and CEO of Watercluster Scientific Inc.;  Haim Rousso, Executive VP, Elbit (Israel), member Israel National Research Council; Prof. Nahum Sonnenberg, James McGill Professor, Department of Biochemistry McGill University.

 

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Location: Montreal, QC

For more information (Pricing/Packages, Hotels; Registration):

cijr@isranet.org; (514) 486-5544; toll free: (855) 303-5544

 

Economics Will Decide the Israeli Elections in Netanyahu’s Favor: Gidon Ben –zvi, Algemeiner, Feb. 6, 2015 — Forget Hezbollah, Hamas, Abbas, and Iran: the primary driver in Israel’s upcoming elections is the high cost of living.

Crowdsourcing the Real Israel: Brian Blum, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 25, 2014 — Pick up any international press these days, and you might think Israel is on the verge of catastrophe – with sanctions from Europe just around the corner, boycotts being adopted by academia and beyond, terrorism back in vogue on the streets of Jerusalem and tourism in a tailspin.

Israel’s Splendid Isolation: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2015 — Despite the conventional claim that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated, the multinational accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers determined that 2014 was a record year of overseas investments in Israel’s high-tech industries…

China’s Emergence as a Middle Eastern Power and Israel’s Opportunity: David P. Goldman, BESA, Feb. 1, 2015— China’s “New Silk Road” might become history’s most ambitious investment in infrastructure.

 

On Topic Links

 

Netanyahu’s ‘Bibi-Sitter’ Ad Draws Praise From U.S. Conservatives: Robert Mackey, New York Times, Feb. 6, 2015

3 Israeli E-Commerce Startups to Watch in 2015: Avishai Sam Bitton, Times of Israel, Jan. 31, 2014

Israeli High-Tech Exits Doubled to a Record $15 Billion in 2014: Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2014

Under Modi, Israel and India Forge Deeper Business Ties: Tova Cohen & Ari Rabinovitch, Reuters, Nov. 23, 2014

                

 

ECONOMICS WILL DECIDE THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS IN                                                   

NETANYAHU’S FAVOR                                            

Gidon Ben –zvi                                                                                                    

Algemeiner, Feb. 6, 2015

 

Forget Hezbollah, Hamas, Abbas, and Iran: the primary driver in Israel’s upcoming elections is the high cost of living. Recent polls have consistently shown that domestic policy and economics, rather than security and Palestinian peacemaking, are what most Israelis will be thinking about when they cast their votes on March 17. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bedrock issue, national security, no longer the focus of many voters, the Zionist Camp smells blood. The left-center bloc led by opposition Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni is campaigning hard to persuade stressed out Israelis that the era of sky-high rents, stagnant salaries, and limited job opportunities will end once Netanyahu is sent packing.

 

Beyond the populist blather that passes for political discourse, it’s the staleness of the Zionist Camp’s ideas on how to fix Israel that voters should be wary of. For example, outraged members of the Zionist Camp recently lashed out when it was revealed that the Netanyahu government has pumped one-third of the country’s funding for subsidized housing into settlements: 35% of the funds for less than 5% of Israel’s population, while engaging in a campaign of diplomatic suicide. Blame Israel’s economic troubles on the settlements. It’s an old leftist canard that delegitimizes the very real trials and tribulations of more than 400,000 Jewish men, women, and children – Israelis – who happen to be living over the Green Line. In addition, the Zionist Camp believes that the current government’s policies vis a vis West Bank settlement activity has unleashed a potent anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement that is growing stronger by the day.

 

If Benjamin Netanyahu is re-elected, we are warned, Israel will inevitably find itself economically and politically isolated. In fact, it’s the Israeli left’s socialist and statist heritage that bred an inefficient economic system that is only now beginning to be reformed. Hertzog and Livni claim to be the heirs to Herzl and Ben-Gurion. Hilik Bar, the Secretary General of the Israeli Labor Party recently wrote, “The Labor Party, which together with Hatnuah is running as the Zionist Camp, founded and built the State of Israel.” As such, a quick history lesson is in order. Israel’s Zionist founders, on whose ideological shoulders today’s Zionist Camp stands, asserted that World War I was caused by the failures of capitalism. After Israel’s independence in 1948, Socialist Zionism established a highly centralized economic system dominated by political cronyism. While the statist policies of Israel’s successive labor governments failed to create a socialist paradise, they did succeed in building monolithic, unresponsive bureaucratic institutions that retarded the country’s economic growth for decades. Israelis learned to live in a perpetual state of impoverishment.

 

However, Labor economic policies do much more harm than merely restrict competition and stifle productivity. A recent Jerusalem Post piece by Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies Director Corinne Sauer noted that a series of studies drew one conclusion: countries considered anti-business are also the most corrupt. This grim economic landscape began to be overhauled in 2003, when Benjamin Netanyahu was appointed Israel’s Finance Minister. Netanyahu initiated a series of pro-market economic reforms that Israelis are only now beginning to benefit from. Don’t look now, but Israel’s economy is actually showing signs of robust growth. Exports to Europe are on the rise, with nearly 10 percent growth in the past year alone; Israel’s hi-tech industry is having a record year, with a number of Israeli companies going public and a record amount is being invested in Israeli companies.

But surely, these successes are few and far between. Certainly, ‘ordinary’ Israelis are worse off today, no? Truth is, Israel has enjoyed virtually uninterrupted growth for over a decade. The worldwide Great Recession has largely bypassed the Start Up Nation. While debt crises and bank bailouts have hobbled European economies to this day, Israel hasn’t just persevered, but prospered. And while the cost of living has undeniably increased, household income has also grown since the percentage of homes with two wage earners has risen from just 30% a decade ago to 44% today. Wages growth has been slow, but it has grown faster than in Europe.

 

For these positive trends to continue, Israel needs to improve its labor productivity to ensure sustained and higher levels of economic growth. Does the Zionist Camp’s platform encourage a climate of freedom, competition, and entrepreneurship critical to helping Israel realize its full economic potential? According to Secretary General Hilik Bar, Israel’s ongoing challenge of developing an economy in which the country’s wealth stimulates domestic innovation and prosperity can best be addressed if the government does not “pump your taxes into wealthy settlements in the West Bank while ordinary Israelis are suffering.” Oh Labor, there you go again…                               

 

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CROWDSOURCING THE REAL ISRAEL                                                                                            

Brian Blum                                                                                                                    

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 25, 2014

 

Pick up any international press these days, and you might think Israel is on the verge of catastrophe – with sanctions from Europe just around the corner, boycotts being adopted by academia and beyond, terrorism back in vogue on the streets of Jerusalem and tourism in a tailspin. You wouldn’t be faulted for assuming that businesses around the world would certainly soon be pulling out of the Start-up Nation – after all, who wants to fly into a war zone or consort with an international pariah? That assumption would be very wrong, judging from the turnout at the first conference put on earlier in December by OurCrowd, the Jerusalem- based crowd-investing platform.

 

OurCrowd makes it possible for individuals to jump into the once-exclusive venture capital game, as long as they have a minimum of $10,000 to invest. The company identifies promising start-ups; its investor members decide where to spread their money. OurCrowd has generated plenty of buzz since it launched in early 2013, in no small part due to its energetic founder, Jon Medved – who has been either leading or backing Israeli hi-tech companies for close to 30 years. (Among his better-known ventures: the VC firm Israel Seed Partners, and mobile social applications maker Vringo.) OurCrowd, though, may be Medved’s biggest success yet; in less than two years, the company has made it possible for 6,000 individuals to invest more than $80 million in 55 companies, with more on the way. Make that $84m.: At the conference itself, some of the nearly 1,000 participants must have been doing some serious tapping on their smartphones; another $4m. was invested before the day was over. Some of the receiving companies were on hand at the conference, which I attended.

 

Below are some of the most exciting up-and coming Israeli start-ups. – VocalZoom has built a technology that filters out background noise so that when you talk on your cellphone in a loud public place, the call will sound crystal clear. VocalZoom works by picking out the vibrations coming from your face when you talk, in order to isolate just the voice. Already working with Apple as well as Toyota, the company’s been around since 2010 – but recently received an additional $700,000 from OurCrowd.

 

– Cimagine allows shoppers to place a 3D picture of a piece of furniture from any website into an “augmented reality” version of their own living room. Cimagine does this by adding a “Visualize” button next to that sofa you’re interested in. Click it, then aim your phone’s camera at the spot you imagine the sofa should go; on your phone screen, Cimagine shows you how the sofa will look in the space. You can move to another part of the house, click Visualize again, and the furniture appears there; you can also swap out different pieces of furniture, change colors and more.

 

– Pixie: You might have heard about “beacons,” little plastic devices that broadcast where they are so you can track your luggage, phone, keys or kids. Pixie one-ups that by adding “distance” and “direction” – you won’t just know your car is nearby, but by using the accompanying cellphone software, you’ll be directed right to it. A physical device about thumb-size, Pixie will cost $10-$15, has a battery that lasts 18 months and, most importantly, works indoors – which GPS can’t do. The beta is coming next month.

 

– Up-n-Ride is a new take on the wheelchair. The trick: It rises up into a vertical position, so the person in it is essentially standing. That’s not only healthier than sitting all day, it also allows access to kitchen or bathroom counters, for example, where the disabled person can participate more normally in everyday activities. Up-n-Ride is a friendly spin-off on another Israeli innovation, the ReWalk wearable “exoskeleton,” also backed by OurCrowd (which went public at the end of September). But while ReWalk can only be used by about 10 percent of wheelchair-bound people, Up-n- Ride is appropriate for anyone who using a regular wheelchair. The first prototype will be out in February, with full production starting in 2016…

 

– eVigilo started as a warning system for the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip; eVigilo manages the alerts, primarily text messages to your phone. Now they’ve started selling it to civilian customers – for example, to alert people of a potential tsunami after an earthquake. In this way, in 2010, exactly such a tsunami killed 600 people in Chile. This year, an earthquake and tsunami in the same location killed only five people– because the eVigilo alert system was in place. Other potential clients include gas and chemical plants where residents living nearby need fast alerts. The system uses the location of cell towers, not your phone number – so if you’re out of town, you won’t get an emergency alert about something happening hundreds of miles away.

 

– Consumer Physics is the closest thing to science fiction I’ve seen in many years of technology reporting: It’s a molecular scanner that fits in the palm of your hand. This little black dongle – the smallest spectrometer ever built, the company says – uses light waves to analyze the chemical property of physical things. Aim it at the pesto pasta on your plate, and it can tell you the ingredients and number of calories. It can be used to sense what’s in pharmaceutical packages (great for drug stores and law enforcement); really, anything other than metals. Connected to a cellphone, the device sends what it scans to the cloud, where it’s matched to Consumer Physics’s massive and growing database. You’ll be able to pick one up as early as next year, for around $50.

 

And those are just companies OurCrowd is backing; the start-up ecosystem in Israel is a hundredfold larger. Some of these companies may make it to the big time while others will fail; that’s the nature of venture capital. But collectively, they represent the continuing vitality of Israel’s hi-tech sector; a mass of brute brainpower that international business cannot – and does not – avoid. Gonzalo Martinez de Azagra may have said it best. De Azagra heads Samsung Ventures in Israel; in the closing panel at the conference, he was asked why Samsung had opened an office in Israel only five months ago. De Azagra looked sheepish. “We were already late in the endgame,” he told the audience, which was still packed after nine hours of pitches, panels and ever-replenishing snacks. But after arch-rival Apple acquired Israeli flash memory design firm Anobit for $500m. in 2011 and 3D sensor maker PrimeSense in 2013, Samsung had to follow. In the last two years, first from Korea and now from Tel Aviv, Samsung has invested $30m. in seven start-ups. There is just too much talent to not be here, de Azagra said, “and today we are coming in strong.” That ought to be the real headline when reporting on Israel.

                                                                       

                                                                       

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ISRAEL’S SPLENDID ISOLATION                                                                                    

Yoram Ettinger                                                                                                                                        

Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2015

 

Despite the conventional claim that Israel is becoming increasingly isolated, the multinational accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers determined that 2014 was a record year of overseas investments in Israel’s high-tech industries: $15 billion in acquisitions of 52 Israeli startups (compared to $7.6 billion in 2013), in addition to $9.8 billion raised by 18 Israeli companies in overseas stock exchanges (compared to $1.2 billion in 2013). Once again, Israel’s impact on global medicine, health, agriculture, irrigation, energy alternatives, science, cyber, homeland security and defense, as well as Wall Street, outweighs the impact of the Gaza Strip. But, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated.

 

Since 1948, a recycled assumption (e.g., the 1975 “Zionism is racism” UN resolution) has maintained that an anti-Israel global tsunami is about to drown the Jewish state, triggering unprecedented isolation, the collapse of its international standing and the breakdown of its ties with the US, unless it promised — in the unpredictable, unstable, violent Middle East — to redivide Jerusalem, uproot over 500,000 Jewish settlers, and retreat to a 9-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean dominated by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. However, the collapse of the USSR (which facilitated the 1991 revocation of the USSR-sponsored “Zionism is Racism”), the affirmation of the US as the dominant super power, the upgraded, mutually beneficial US-Israel relationship and the emergence of Israel as a global commercial and military high tech power, have all enhanced Israel’s global standing, dramatically expanding Israel’s global networking beyond Europe into India, China, Russia, the former Muslim republics of the USSR, Latin America — all irrespective of diplomatic setbacks.

 

Thus, the Israel-India trade balance catapulted from $200 million in 1992 (following the 1991 establishment of diplomatic ties) to $5 billion in 2014. According to the Jan. 3, 2015 issue of the London-based Qatari daily, Al Araby al Jadid, the substantial improvement in the attitudes of Africa and India toward Israel reflects the growing benefits they reap from Israel’s advanced civilian and military technologies. “The shift in India’s position will have an impact on the behavior of other countries. Technology has also played a key role in the development of relations between Israel and China, which is interested in Israel’s advanced technology to boost its economic capability, especially in industry and agriculture. … Israel’s advanced technology developments have boosted its diplomatic ties and enhanced its security.” According to Bloomberg, Israeli exports to Asia have soared significantly, from 13 percent in 2000 to 23 percent in 2014, equaling exports to the US. But, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated.

 

The Israel-China trade balance has surged from $51 million in 1992 to almost $11 billion in 2013, with China rising to become Israel’s second top export destination. Free trade agreement negotiations will be launched in 2015. On Dec. 4, 2014 The Wall Street Journal reported that Chinese investors had joined American, European and Russian investors who regularly visit Israel’s high tech parks in search for companies, startups and investments. Giant Chinese insurance group Ping An Insurance, which has already invested in eight Israeli startups, considers the US and Israel as the two key arenas for venture investments. In 2011, ChemChina acquired Israel’s Adama, a pesticides manufacturer, for $2.4 billion. In 2013, China’s Fosun Pharma acquired Israel’s Alma Lasers for $240 million. In 2014, China’s Bright Food Group acquired a majority stake in Israel’s Tnuva Food Industries for $960 million. But, Israel is becoming increasingly isolated…

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

                                                                                   

 

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CHINA’S EMERGENCE AS A MIDDLE EASTERN POWER                                                                                

AND ISRAEL’S OPPORTUNITY                                                                                       

David P. Goldman                                                                                                       

BESA, Feb. 1, 2015

 

China’s “New Silk Road” might become history’s most ambitious investment in infrastructure. Some Chinese strategists predict an Israeli role in the project on par with, or possibly even more important, than that of Turkey. China calls the project “One Belt and One Road,” referring to a belt of railroads, highways, pipelines and broadband communications stretching through China to the West, and a “maritime Silk Road” combining sea routes with port infrastructure from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean.

Israel’s location makes it possible for the Jewish state to “play the role of bridgehead for ‘One Belt and One Road’ with the completion of the ‘Red-Med’ rail project,” said Dr. Liu Zongyi at a November seminar at Remnin University. Dr. Liu based at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies, spoke of a $2 billion, 300 km rail line linking Ashkelon with the Red Sea. The “Red-Med” project is usually presented in more modest terms, as a way of absorbing excess traffic from the Suez Canal, or an alternative route in the event of political disruption. What China calls “One Belt and One Road” proposes that China, with the Mediterranean on the East-West axis, will have the opportunity to create high-speed rail lines in Southeast Asia, India, and Africa. China aims to double its 12,000 kilometers of railway track by 2020, with high-speed lines comprising most of the expansion. It is building a rail network south through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia to Singapore, and west to Istanbul.

 

Some Chinese strategists see “Red-Med” as emblematic of a more ambitious design for the region. For example, Sino-Israeli collaboration aims to include counterterrorism and anti-piracy operations, as well as economic support for Arab countries. Israel can provide advanced technologies, such as in agricultural, to support the industrialization of the Middle East in the context of “One Belt and One Road.”  The Chinese have even pointed out to Israel that their navy is conducting anti-pirate missions in the Indian Ocean and The Gulf of Aden that Israel can participate in. The project implies a radical shift in China’s perceptions of regional security in the Middle East. China’s net oil imports have nearly tripled in the past decade, from 100 million tons per month in 2005 to nearly 300 million tons today, and most of the increase has come from the Persian Gulf. China’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil will continue to rise. Until recently, China was content to follow America’s lead on Gulf security. After the collapse of Syria and Iraq, however, China’s complacency has turned to concern, and China is seeking ways to enhance its regional security presence without, attempting to play a superpower role in the region.

 

There is a new consensus in China that the world’s second superpower will have to play a more central role in the Middle East. But the suddenness of America’s decline in the region has left China unprepared and unsure of its next steps, as Chinese analysts are quick to acknowledge in private conversations. China has joined the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and offered to become a fifth member of the Quartet (UN, US, Europe, Russia), but these are pro forma proposals to assert China’s interest in the region rather than a policy per se. In the past, China has voted with the Palestinians at the United Nations, and it will not alter its diplomatic position in the foreseeable future. There is an overarching theme to Chinese policy, though, and it stems from China’s economic strengths. The transformation of the Eurasian landmass by high-speed transport and communications will lift large parts of the continent out of backwardness, China believes, and make long-term political stability possible. Building the New Silk Road, though, demands the suppression of security threats that could disrupt trade flows. In both respects Beijing is sizing up Israel as a strategic partner…                                                                                                                                                           

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

 

Contents                                                                                    

 

On Topic

 

Netanyahu’s ‘Bibi-Sitter’ Ad Draws Praise From U.S. Conservatives: Robert Mackey, New York Times, Feb. 6, 2015—As campaigning intensifies ahead of elections next month in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making his case to stay in office by playing the role of the nation’s babysitter in chief in an online comedy sketch posted on Facebook and YouTube.

3 Israeli E-Commerce Startups to Watch in 2015: Avishai Sam Bitton, Times of Israel, Jan. 31, 2014 —Among the many successful Israeli startups of recent years there are 3 e-commerce ones that stand out as having massive promise.

Israeli High-Tech Exits Doubled to a Record $15 Billion in 2014: Shiryn Ghermezian, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2014—Israel experienced its best-ever year in 2014 for the high-tech and biomed sectors in terms of exits, the Globes business daily reported on Tuesday.

Under Modi, Israel and India Forge Deeper Business Ties: Tova Cohen & Ari Rabinovitch, Reuters, Nov. 23, 2014—At the UN General Assembly in New York last September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set aside time for a critical meeting. But it wasn't President Barack Obama he was keen to see. It was Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
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CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

DESPITE KERRY & CO., ISRAEL’S ECONOMY IS BOOMING— “OCULUS”, WATER & MEDICAL TECH, OIL & GAS, ETC., ETC…

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Israel’s Economy Is Booming – Sorry, Boycotters & John Kerry: Ronn Torossian, Frontpage, Feb. 7, 2014— Anti-Israel elements threatening boycott are encouraged by the pressure of American Secretary of State John Kerry…

Arabic High-Tech Made in Israel: Niv Elis, Jerusaelm Post, Mar. 17, 2014 — Six months after Clalit Health Services released a series of instructional Arabic-language videos about breast feeding on YouTube, the health fund was shocked by their popularity – the combined million views they racked up eclipsed the number of breast-feeding women among the country’s 1.7 million Arab citizens.

A Taste of Israeli Tech in Facebook’s $2 Billion Buy: David Shamah, Times of Israel, Apr. 1, 2014 — One of the top technology engineers in Oculus, the virtual reality headset maker that was recently bought out by Facebook, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University — an institution that prepared him very well for the work he is doing now.

Israeli Water Tech Reaching America’s Biggest States: David Shamah, Times of Israel, Mar. 9, 2014— While the major snowstorms in parts of the US and Europe this winter have gotten a lot of the headlines, a much bigger story is the ongoing drought in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States, Asia, Australia, and elsewhere.

 

On Topic Links

 

S&P: Israel Now a ‘High-Income’ Country: David Shamah, Times of Israel, Mar. 28, 2014

Israel’s Fortune is Putin’s Horror: Arthur Herman, New York Post, Feb. 9, 2014

Israeli Company Reinvents The Wheel – Literally: Avner Meyrav, No Camels, Feb. 23, 2014

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No! It’s The World’s First Mechanical Bird: No Camels, Mar. 3, 2014

                  

ISRAEL’S ECONOMY IS BOOMING –

SORRY, BOYCOTTERS & JOHN KERRY    

Ronn Torossian

Frontpage, Feb. 7, 2014

 

Anti-Israel elements threatening boycott are encouraged by the pressure of American Secretary of State John Kerry, who says, “For Israel there is an increasing de-legitimization campaign that has been building up. People are very sensitive to it, there is talk of boycott and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?” Yet, boycott supporters should be better aware of how vibrant Israel’s economy is, and that the days of the Jewish State wiltering because of threats is not viable in the year 2014.

 

Israel has continued economy growth – even during a worldwide economic meltdown – along with a conservative, well-regulated banking system.  Israel has approximately the same number of companies listed on NASDAQ as the next three countries combined, and, as one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, is rightfully known as the “start-up nation.” Israel is no banana republic, and remains one of the most thriving economies in the Middle East.

 

The Israeli economy is booming, as can be seen from the comments of a very wide variety of sources and experts (which John Kerry and many others should read and recognize):

 

• “Technology companies and global investors are beating a path to Israel and finding unique combinations of audacity, creativity, and drive everywhere they look. Which may explain why, in addition to boasting the highest density of start-ups in the world (a total of more than 3,850 start-ups one for every 1,844 Israelis) more Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ exchange than all companies from the entire European continent.”  – Dan Senor and Saul Singer

 

• “Israel, the land of milk and honey, is now also the home of business success, opportunity and major growth.”   Hedge Fund BillionaireHenry Swieca

 

• “If you’re going to the Middle East to look for oil, you can skip Israel.  However, if you’re looking for brains, look no further. [Israel] has a disproportionate amount of brains and energy.” Warren Buffet

 

• “[Israel is] the most important high-tech center in the world after the US.” – Eric Schmidt

 

• “Tel Aviv has been named the second best place in the world in which to launch a high-tech startup company.” – Viva Sarah Press

 

•  “Israel has an enormous cash reserve of some $80 billion.” – Hezi Sternlicht

 

• “Science and technology in Israel is one of the country’s most highly developed and industrialized sectors. The percentage of Israelis engaged in scientific and technological inquiry, and the amount spent on research and development (R&D) in relation to gross domestic product (GDP), is amongst the highest in the world.” – InvestInIsrael.gov

 

• “So why Tel Aviv? The city is overflowing with software developers and venture capital. Larger companies, including Google, have set up offices there. Facebook is now there, too, after acquiring facial-recognition developer Face.com in June.” – Bloomberg.com

 

• “The Israeli startup scene needs little introduction. Tel Aviv is rapidly becoming one of the most innovative tech hubs on the planet, vying with London, New York and Berlin as Silicon Valley’s second.” – Monty Munford

• “Israel has a highly educated entrepreneurial community (40% with Masters/PhD vs. 42% in Silicon Valley).” – Zack Miller

 

• “We find ourselves in an age when both data is bursting forth via the Internet, and the economy continues to become more globalized than ever. For us it is a challenge, but even more, it is an opportunity.” – Benjamin Netanyahu

 

• “Steve Ballmer [Microsoft's CEO] calls Microsoft as much an Israeli company as an American company, because of the importance of its Israeli technologies. Google, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, eBay…live and die by the work of [their] Israeli teams…. Israel, a tiny nation of immigrants torn by war, has managed to become the first technology nation….” – Wall Street Journal

 

No matter what detractors of the Jewish people there have been throughout history, the Jewish people have survived.  The economy of Israel will continue to thrive and grow – and when there is a will, there is a way. Indeed, as my mother used to say: “This too shall pass.”                                            

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ARABIC HIGH-TECH MADE IN ISRAEL     

Niv Elis                                                                                            Jerusalem Post, Mar. 17, 2014

 

Six months after Clalit Health Services released a series of instructional Arabic-language videos about breast feeding on YouTube, the health fund was shocked by their popularity – the combined million views they racked up eclipsed the number of breast-feeding women among the country’s 1.7 million Arab citizens.

Clalit found the solution to the mystery in the analytics: More than half of the views had come from Saudi Arabia, 16 percent from Egypt and 9% from Iraq. Only 4.5% were from inside Israel, while the vast majority came from countries that boycott its goods and refuse to establish diplomatic ties.

 

Arabic, which accounts for some 3.5% of online content today, is the fastest growing language on the Internet. It is projected to become the fourth-largest in 2015, up from seventh place at the end of 2012.

The growing market has created a unique opportunity for Israel’s Arab citizens. As native Arabic speakers with access to the flourishing hi-tech ecosystem that has earned Israel the moniker “start-up nation,” they are uniquely positioned to fill the market void. As a result, the country has become home to a wave of hi-tech start-ups creating Arabic-language apps, Web content and programs for consumption in neighboring states.

 

“It’s very hard to find good content in Arabic, and I think that’s the case for many Arabs on the Internet, so there’s potential in this area,” says Bader Mansour, a Nazareth- born entrepreneur who runs a portal for sharing videos, pictures and articles in Arabic. His website has already accumulated more than 1.5 million hits. Omar, an Arab-Israeli entrepreneur who asked that his real name not be used to protect his business interests, founded an educational start-up that has already created more than 70 Arabic-language mobile apps. “It was my dream that a big company would come and buy me, that it would be the first [Arab-Israeli] company to make an exit,” he says, using the Israeli term for foreign acquisition. “Today in the Arab sector we haven’t heard of such a company.” Raised with 12 siblings in Maghar, northwest of Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee), Omar credits his family for pushing him to study. “We’re a family that was raised either to study or to work. I always excelled in my schooling,” he says. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, where Arabs comprise 17% of freshmen undergraduates.

 

Just 2% of Arabs who study hi-tech end up working for Jewish employers in the field. Half ultimately become teachers instead. Omar was among the lucky ones, finding work in several big technology companies, including Amdocs, where he gained experience in mobile applications. Noticing a dearth of Arabic apps, he decided to put his skills to use in his own company. With the 130 million smartphones in the Middle East and North Africa region expected to double in number in the next two years, he says that “slowly, slowly, people are starting to understand that the potential is huge there.”

 

It is illegal for Israelis to sell to enemy states (Lebanon, Syria and Iran), but trade between Israel and the Arab world is not unheard of. Selling to Egypt and Jordan is legal, and a 2011 study by Tel Aviv University’s Yitzhak Gal estimated that Israel exports more than a half-billion dollars worth of products to Gulf states each year, though always through third-party countries. Unlike the goods trade, which necessitates cross-border agreements, trade commissions and merchant shipping, digital commerce can easily cross political lines. When customers buy a game in an international app store or click on a website, they seldom consider where the content was created.

 

“It’s complicated doing business with the Arab world from Israel,” says Mansour. “It’s no secret that there is an [Arab] boycott on Israel because of the Israeli-Palestinian issue, so they don’t want to do business with Israel. The Internet opens some ways to do business with countries you couldn’t do business with before. We get ads from Google ads, so you get paid from Google.”

 

But in most Arab countries, trade with Israel remains banned or taboo. Just as the US accuses China of using hi-tech companies such as Huawei as conduits for cyber-spying, in the Arab world even an Israeli-Arab company might be seen as a tool of the Mossad. In March, the Saudi Gazette reported that local authorities seized Israeli persimmons that somehow had made their way to a Saudi market. “There are some Arab organizations or countries that do not want to do business with Israel, and Israeli Arabs are Israel,” says Gai Hetzroni, director of corporate social responsibility at Cisco Israel and Ma’antech, a Cisco-funded organization that promotes Israeli-Arab entry into the hi-tech sector through mentorship and training. “Even if the owner is named Muhammad, they don’t want to do business with a company that’s registered in Israel,” Hetzroni says.

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

 

                                                                         

Contents
                                        

A TASTE OF ISRAELI TECH IN FACEBOOK’S $2 BILLION BUY            David Shamah

Times of Israel, Apr. 1, 2014

 

One of the top technology engineers in Oculus, the virtual reality headset maker that was recently bought out by Facebook, is a graduate of Tel Aviv University — an institution that prepared him very well for the work he is doing now. “I studied at TAU as an undergraduate and got a degree in computer science and electrical engineering,” Israeli-born Dov Katz told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview. “Israel’s educational system is excellent, and what I learned in university gave me an excellent background for the work I am doing now on virtual reality (VR) systems.”

 

As a Senior Computer Vision Engineer for Oculus, Katz is an integral part of the team that developed the Oculus Rift headset, a 3D virtual reality device that, when worn, puts users “in” a game — providing an approximately 100° field of view and stretching the virtual world beyond peripheral vision to provide an immersive experience. The Rift is the first harbinger of a major revolution that is coming to computing in all forms, with gaming — the device’s original purpose — just the first of many different kinds of applications that will eventually come to depend on VR.

 

“Some people try to compare the Rift’s VR experience to a 3D movie,” said Katz. “While there are elements of 3D involved, the effect and experience are far different, because in the movies, the effect is external — meaning that you are just watching it — while with VR you are totally immersed in what is going on.” How the Rift does its magic is a secret that Katz cannot reveal, but it has a lot to do with 3D cameras and vision engineering, two specialties of his. “There are many companies developing VR technology, and Israel is a world center of this research, but I can tell you that Oculus developed its technology without outside help,” he said.

 

The Rift is currently available only for developers, mostly game publishers who are developing versions of their applications to work with the device. “Our original goal was to create a device for gamers, but now people are talking about a lot of other uses for the device,” said Katz. “It could be used in medicine, to allow doctors to perform virtual operations before cutting into a patient, or to teach drivers how to properly parallel park a car without having to get into the car. “It could even be used for communications,” said Katz. “Instead of just talking on the phone or seeing an image on a screen, you could actually ‘be’ in the same virtual room as your interlocutor, with your avatars sitting together and talking.” Where the technology will go, and how far it will be taken, remains to be seen. “It depends on what developers come up with, but the technology to do a lot of these things already exists,” he added.

 

To buy Oculus, Facebook shelled out some $2 billion — a princely sum for a company that just a year and a half ago was raising money by crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. It’s not yet known what Facebook’s plans are for Oculus, but according to Israeli tech expert Nir Kouris, it’s unlikely Facebook would have spent that kind of money on a device that could be used only for gaming. “Recently Facebook held a major wearable technology hackathon in California, in which developers came up with all sorts of devices that utilize Facebook apps for health, messaging, and other purposes,” said Kouris. “Mark Zuckerberg has said that he sees wearable technology as an important industry in the coming years.” Of course, said Kouris, Oculus VR technology will be deployed in games — but it will also be deployed in devices that will allow the company to expand its reach.

 

After graduating TAU, Katz went on to do his graduate (University of Massachusetts Amherst) and post-graduate (Carnegie Mellon University) work in the US. “I left because it sounded like an interesting and exciting thing to do,” Katz said. “I know that people in Israel are very concerned with ‘brain drain,’ and how the lack of opportunities is driving promising students out of the country, but I didn’t find that to be the case.” Had he stayed in Israel, Katz said, he is sure he would have gotten into a challenging program that would have utilized his talents fully. “It’s been a very enjoyable adventure, but home is home, and I plan to return at some point.”

 

And as a senior member of the Oculus team, Katz would presumably get a fair amount of the $2 billion the company is getting from Facebook — perhaps enough to come back to Israel and open his own start-up? “Interestingly, a lot of people have been asking us about that since the sale was announced,” he said. “It’s a very tempting idea, but I think we still have a lot to do in VR, and in Oculus specifically. With the acquisition, we will be able to move much more quickly, and our work will have an impact on a lot more people. All of us on the team got into this because we believe in it, and not necessarily for the money — and for most of us, that hasn’t changed.”

                                                                                                 

Contents
                                  

ISRAELI WATER TECH REACHING

AMERICA’S BIGGEST STATES           

David Shamah                                                                                          Times of Israel, Mar. 9, 2014

 

While the major snowstorms in parts of the US and Europe this winter have gotten a lot of the headlines, a much bigger story is the ongoing drought in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States, Asia, Australia, and elsewhere. In California, for example, authorities have imposed emergency measures to deal with what some scientists have called the country’s worst drought in 500 years. On his visit to California last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown to, among other things, export Israeli water technology to California to help the state better cope with drought. “Through this agreement, California and Israel will build on their respective strengths in research and technology to confront critical problems we both face, such as water scarcity, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Brown. Of the seven areas the agreement specifies for cooperation, water conservation and management is listed first.

 

What does Israel know about water technology that could now help California? For one, it’s not facing a water shortage, as a little-noticed news release by Israel’s Water Authority revealed several weeks ago – despite the driest winter in decades. With winter almost over and no substantial precipitation falling since December’s snowstorm, Israelis should by rights be facing a major water crisis. But thanks to good planning of the water economy – including use of desalinated and recycled water – the country’s natural water stores, such as Lake Kinneret are, if not full, at least in good enough shape to last until next winter without falling to dangerously low levels.

 

And California won’t be the first location in the US to use Israeli water technology to help with the ravages of drought, or to prevent water waste. Ohio, for example, has long used Israeli water tech to save water and prevent waste. In 2012, the City of Akron signed a deal with Mei Netanya, the water distribution company in the city and its surroundings, for the development of joint projects. A number of Israeli water technology companies have set up operations in an incubator run by the city. Among the Israeli companies working with Akron is Mekorot, Israel’s national water company, which in 2012 signed a deal with the city bring the company’s water monitoring and conservation methods to Akron. One of the Israeli companies working in Akron is Innovative Communications Solutions (ICS), which is developing a water security system for the city, in conjunction with another Israeli firm, Whitewater Security. The two Israeli companies have already developed a similar solution for Jerusalem’s water system, using cameras and sensors to ensure that unauthorized personnel do not approach reservoirs, and that the water is safe to drink.

 

Massachusetts is another major “customer” for Israeli water technology. Massachusetts is home to hundreds of water technology companies, one of the leading states in the U.S. when it comes to developing innovative water tech. And Israel is, said Massachusetts governor Duvall Patrick, the world’s top location for water tech start-ups, with innovative technology in fields such as water reuse, wastewater treatment, desalination, energy efficiency, and drip irrigation. The state recently held a major contest for innovative water technology, which pitted 32 of Israel’s top water tech companies against each other for a slew of prizes, including a free trip to Massachusetts and meetings with top industry officials. The winner was TACount, which has developed a technology that detects and counts microorganisms in food and water in minutes, instead of the days that are usually required for scientists to test for bacteria using the usual methods. The system, based on identifying a specific cellular activity in bacteria that had not previously been known, can also be used to detect bacteria in electronics, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. By detecting a microbial infection in minutes instead of days, the company says, it significantly reduces the response time to such an event, and can prevent incidents of mass poisoning from bad food or water.

 

The agreement signed by Netanyahu and Brown will expand cooperation on water technology that already began several years ago. In San Diego, Israel Desalination Enterprises (IDE) is building the largest desalination plant ever to be built in the United States – indeed, in the Western Hemisphere. When it is completed in 2016, the plant will produce up to 54 million gallons of fresh water per day. The plant, which will cost nearly $1 billion, will be located near the Encina Power Station in Carlsbad, California. The company has also signed a contract directly with Poseidon Resources for Operation & Maintenance (O&M) of the plant for a period of 30 years. The treated water will be delivered into San Diego County’s water system. The project will create 2,300 jobs during construction and will support more than 575 jobs for the life of its operations. The money for the project was raised by Poseidon and the San Diego County Water Authority (SDCWA).

 

Last June, Illinois became the latest state to draw up a water technology cooperation agreement with Israel, when Ben Gurion University and the University of Chicago signed a water research agreement. According to Eilon Adar of BGU, Chicago has come to realize that “in spite of the fact that they have plenty of water, the quality of water has been deteriorating very fast.” The project, he said, would examine and develop solutions for “everything associated with improving water quality. It could target surface water, below surface water, ground water, streams, ponds, rivers, lakes.” Netanyahu said in California last week that his country had a lot to offer that state, or any other US state in need of improving its water economy. “Israel has no water problems because we are the number one recyclers of waste water, we stop water leaks, we use drip irrigation and desalination,” Netanyahu said. Those technologies, the Prime Minister added, meant that neither California nor any other US state needs to have a water problem.

 

                                                                          

S&P: Israel Now a ‘High-Income’ Country: David Shamah, Times of Israel, Mar. 28, 2014 —Israel’s economy is doing well enough that the country can now be considered “high-income,” according to ratings company Standard and Poor’s (S&P) in its latest evaluation of the country’s fiscal state.

Israel’s Fortune is Putin’s Horror: Arthur Herman, New York Post, Feb. 9, 2014 —If you think Vladimir Putin has enough worries on his plate dealing with the Sochi Olympics debacle, the turmoil in Ukraine and Russia’s sputtering economy, think again.

Israeli Company Reinvents The Wheel – Literally: Avner Meyrav, No Camels, Feb. 23, 2014—Wheeling down a flight of stairs may no longer be a formidable challenge for those confined to a wheelchair.

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! No! It’s The World’s First Mechanical Bird: No Camels, Mar. 3, 2014—When Orville and Wilbur Wright took flight for the first time in human history in 1903, they were obeying the laws of aerodynamics.

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

INNOVATION CONTINUES TO DRIVE ISRAELI ECONOMIC GROWTH DESPITE IDLE ULTRA-ORTHODOX SECTOR

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 Download an abbreviated version of today's Daily Briefing.

 

Innovation Nation: Megan Scudellari, The Scientist, July 1, 2013—In 2010, Daniel Teper, a New York-based biotech consultant and former executive with GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, approached Simon Benita, dean of the School of Pharmacy and head of the Drug Research Institute at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

 

CoreBone Implants Corals as Human Bone Replacements: Avner Meyrav, NoCamels, July 23, 2013 — “A few years ago, a friend of mine, who grows corals for decorative purposes, approached me. He asked me what could be done with the corals, other than putting them in an aquarium,” explains Ohad Schwartz, CEO of CoreBone, which manufactures bone-replacements from corals. “Though I came from a background in consumer products and high-tech, I love nature and the sea, so I dived into it, proverbially, and discovered a magnificent world.”

 

Lapid Criticizes Idle Ultra-Orthodox for Hurting Israeli Economy: Nadav Perry, Al-Monitor Israel Pulse, July 25, 2013—The most frightening man in the state of Israel is probably professor Dan Ben-David of Tel Aviv University. Ben-David, a renowned economics lecturer, is actually a pleasant and affable individual, but the message he bears should be disquieting for any Israeli concerned with the future of his country.

 

On Topic Links

 

How to Bolster ‘Natural Killer’ Cells Against Flu: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c, July 22, 2013

Sol Chip Creates The Everlasting Solar Battery: Johnathan Leow, NoCamels, July 22, 2013

Israeli Company Creates Solar-Panel Windows To Power Buildings: David Allouche, NoCamels, March 20, 2012

Business Is Personal: Why the EU's New Guidelines Could Hurt Israel's Economy: Bernard Avishai, The Daily Beast,  July 17, 2013

 

INNOVATION NATION

Megan Scudellari

The Scientist, July 1, 2013

 

In 2010, Daniel Teper, a New York-based biotech consultant and former executive with GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis, approached Simon Benita, dean of the School of Pharmacy and head of the Drug Research Institute at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Teper was interested in commercializing Benita’s new drug-delivery technology. The two entrepreneurs had worked together previously to start the successful France-based ophthalmology biotech, Novagali, but this time, Teper decided to establish the new venture in Israel.

 

“I was familiar with the environment of innovation and entrepreneurship in Israel,” says Teper, an American who had worked with Israeli companies in the past. He knew that Israel had low start-up costs compared to the United States or Europe, and a thriving community of angel investors. “In Israel, the amount of venture capital available per capita is phenomenal,” says Teper. “People in Israel have done it before and want to reinvest in other entrepreneurs.”

 

Within months, Teper founded IMMUNE Pharmaceuticals in Herzliya-Pituach, a high-tech beach town just north of Tel Aviv, with $5 million raised primarily from Israeli investors, and licensed Benita’s technology. Today, the company has a thriving pipeline of monoclonal antibodies and a lead drug candidate for inflammatory bowel disease in a Phase 2 clinical trial. “When doing research in Israel, it’s just more efficient,” says Teper. “For every dollar that we invest, we get more for our money.”

 

Indeed, Teper isn’t the only one feeling the pull of Israeli biotech. According to the State of Israel’s Ministry of Industry, the number of life-science companies has grown from 186 in 1996 to more than 1,100 in 2012. “That’s enormous compared to the 7 million population of Israel,” emphasizes Yaky Yanay, chief financial officer of Pluristem Therapeutics in Haifa. Medical-device companies make up almost 50 percent of that pool, and Israel is number one worldwide in medical-device patents per capita. It is also a close second to the United States in biopharma patents per capita….

 

Israel’s biotech roots go back to 1901 with the founding of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, then a small business that distributed imported medications around Ottoman-controlled Palestine using mule and camel caravans. Today, Teva is Israel’s largest pharmaceutical company and one of the top 10 pharma companies in the world. While Teva is known for generic medicines, it has also brought novel made-in-Israel compounds to market, including the blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone and the Parkinson’s disease treatment Azilect.

 

Teva’s success has had a profound impact on the country. The company has brought local biotechs under its wing, for example, and groomed local management talent. But because the company remains focused on generics, it is unlikely that Teva executives will change their strategy to “become the next Roche or Pfizer” with a pipeline of novel compounds, says Yaacov Michlin, president and CEO of Yissum, the technology-transfer company of Hebrew University. Instead, he says, the key to success for biotech in Israel is starting a small company, then catching the attention of Big Pharma. “When I go and speak to colleagues, everybody wants to innovate. Everybody wants to create something new,” says Adi Elkeles, chief technology officer of Micromedic, a cancer diagnostics company based in Tel Aviv. “The amount of small companies that exist in Israel is phenomenal.”

 

Jerusalem-based BioLineRx, for example, has only 50 employees, but boasts a pipeline of six clinical-stage therapeutics. Pluristem, with a staff of 140, has several placenta-based cell therapies in Phase 2 trials, including two for orphan drug indications, and hopes to begin Phase 3 trials soon. The source of the innovation that seeds these companies, entrepreneurs agree, is the medical centers and seven universities in the country that offer advanced degrees, including Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Weizmann Institute of Science, and Tel Aviv University. These institutions have become factories of novel life-science technologies and medical treatments. In fact, Weizmann, Hebrew, and Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, located within a mere 1.5-hour drive of one another, have among them seven blockbuster drugs on the market, notes Michlin.

 

But savvy businesspeople are also needed to commercialize good ideas from academia. In this, too, Israel is not lacking. In 2009, a best-selling book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer christened Israel the “Start-Up Nation,” a title that Israelis have fondly embraced. As the book chronicles, the country has experienced unparalleled success in the high-tech sector, founding hundreds of software and communications businesses, many of which have flourished. “When you look in the paper and every week you read about another company that’s been sold, it creates a certain atmosphere that you just want to join,” says Nadav Kidron, CEO of Oramed Pharmaceuticals, a lawyer who had no biotech experience prior to starting the company.

 

…[M]ost important to its success, the Israeli biotech sector has had a steady infusion of government money. A federal incubator program offers fledgling entrepreneurs, even those with just an idea, seed money of $425,000 to $680,000, to be paid back only upon the company’s success. Protalix BioTherapeutics, one of Israel’s oft-cited success stories, was the recipient of such a grant. Overall, the Office of the Chief Scientist, the government agency that distributes R&D funds, has an annual budget of $300 million distributed to an average of 1,000 projects proposed by 500 companies. “The combination of government, academia, and industry has built a microenvironment to take so many ideas forward,” says Yanay. “We are on the way to building a strong and advanced biotechnology industry.”

 

Like a good son, Oramed Pharmaceuticals’ Nadav Kidron wasn’t afraid to take advice from his mother. A senior diabetes researcher at Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Miriam Kidron was part of a team that developed a technology for the oral administration of insulin. Nadav Kidron recalls the time, a few years after he’d finished law school, that she came to him with an idea: “One day, she tells me, ‘Listen, son. We’ve had a breakthrough in the work we’ve been doing for years, and finally we’re at a point where this technology can be commercialized.’”

 

Nadav Kidron, a savvy businessman, negotiated with Hadassah to take the technology out of the university and founded Oramed to bring the product to market. The company received more than $1 million in start-up funds from the Office of the Chief Scientist, then raised an additional $20 million from investors. Today, the company has completed Phase 1 and 2 trials, conducted primarily in Israel, and in May received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin a Phase 2 trial in the U.S But like most Israeli biotech CEOs, Kidron does not plan to take the drug all the way to the market. “At the end of the day, we’d like to partner with someone who has better marketing ability than ours, and we’ll stay behind the scenes with the R&D,” he says.

 

This is a common theme among Israeli biotechs, which, though strong in innovation, do not have the funds or expertise to get drug candidates through Phase 3 and onto the market. One of Israel’s most-cited biotech success stories exemplifies this trend. Last year, the FDA approved Protalix’s enzyme therapy for Gaucher disease, the first pharmaceutical to be made in a plant-cell culture manufacturing system. But to develop and commercialize the drug, Protalix partnered with Pfizer—and has already made a cool $98 million as a result. “We are good at taking compounds into clinical stages 1, 2a, maybe 2b, but that’s it,” says Michlin. “We don’t currently have the capability, funding, or management experience to launch a full Phase 3 trial and to market a drug worldwide.”

 

“Israelis are serial entrepreneurs,” adds Teper. “They’re great at starting companies, but maybe they have less patience to scale up companies.” While an Internet company, for example, can go from a garage to international market in just a couple of years, biotechs require much more time and larger financial commitments. And though Israel has a booming venture capital community, Israeli investors are used to short- to mid-term investments, like those done for high-tech companies, says Michlin. Overall, there is a lack of late-stage funding to pay for expensive Phase 3 clinical trials or the costs to market a drug internationally.

 

Despite working on different timelines, Israeli biotech executives do look to the country’s successful high-tech sector for ideas about how to improve. Israel is home to large research centers for monster tech companies such as Google, Intel, General Motors, and more. Apple’s R&D center in Herzliya is the company’s only research site outside of the United States. The same model does not exist for biotech—at least, not yet.

 

Similar international research centers, established by large pharmaceutical companies, could make a big difference for Israeli science. “We really need the pharma companies to establish R&D centers in Israel, so the scientists and engineers here in biotech will learn how it’s done in large companies,” says Zeevi. As cochair of IATI, Zeevi is working with colleagues and the Israeli government to set up programs to attract these companies to the country, he says. “It would be another key component of building the life-sciences industry in Israel. We need that experience and knowledge.”

 

But while Israel boasts a well-educated and experienced workforce, large pharma companies may be turned off by its distance from the U.S. or by the perception of a hostile political environment, says Teper. However, if Israeli entrepreneurs can lure pharma representatives to the country for a visit, he adds, that misunderstanding is quickly dispelled. “You could be in California; it’s not that different,” Teper says. “I actually feel more secure sometimes [in Israel] than in the U.S. or Europe. There is no tension on a day-to-day basis.”

 

And Big Pharma is showing some interest. Four years ago, Roche partnered with Pontifax Funds, a life-sciences venture-capital fund in Israel, to identify ventures and technologies to add to Roche’s R&D portfolio. Last year Merck Serono, a division of the German pharma giant Merck KGaA, invested $13 million in a biotech incubator called Inter-Lab in Yavneh, Israel. While not necessarily the R&D center Zeevi was hoping for, Inter-Lab includes lab facilities and business support for 5–6 companies, Merck reported, and more than 130 biotech start-ups have applied for the program. “Although we are a small country and not in Europe or the U.S., we are still on the map with all the big pharma companies,” says Michlin. “Once we have a good product or technology, we can find a partner and get it to the market.”

]

Contents

 

 

COREBONE IMPLANTS CORALS AS HUMAN BONE REPLACEMENTS

Avner Meyrav

NoCamels, July 23, 2013

 

“A few years ago, a friend of mine, who grows corals for decorative purposes, approached me. He asked me what could be done with the corals, other than putting them in an aquarium,” explains Ohad Schwartz, CEO of CoreBone, which manufactures bone-replacements from corals. “Though I came from a background in consumer products and high-tech, I love nature and the sea, so I dived into it, proverbially, and discovered a magnificent world.”

 

Schwartz had first gotten acquainted with the world of biomedical entrepreneurship during his time at Vacia (a drug delivery management company) and Aspect AI (an MRI company). He started studying the field and found that the idea for using corals as bone substitutes had already been suggested 30 years before.

 

He approached Professor Itzhak Binderman, former Head of Dental Department and Hard Tissue Laboratory, at the Sourasky Medical Center and the School of Dental Medicine and Department of Bio-Engineering. ”It turned out that Binderman had already dealt with using corals to build bone tissue, and was even the scientific consultant for an American company called Interpore, which was sold for $270 million and was in that market,” Schwartz says. “So he said ‘it’s nothing new.’ I answered that by harvesting the corals ourselves we could control the coral’s quality. That caught his interest.” Binderman became a co-founder and the company’s head scientist.

 

When treating injured bones or bone implants when the bone is missing, it is customary to use bone replacements, which act as a scaffolding for real bone to grow on. The scaffoldings contain different substances – minerals, drugs and growth factors – that can “convince” bone to grow fast, efficiently and effectively. This is especially important in older patients, whose bones are slow to rehabilitate themselves. Most bone replacements today are synthetic or made of different types of polymers, to which growth factors or stem cells are added. Another option is harvesting real bone from cadavers or animals.

 

Corals are already being used commercially as bone reconstruction scaffolding. However, harvesting them from the ocean is tricky, both legally and logistically and there’s little control over the source or quality of the coral. CoreBone is growing corals in a way that enables it to adapt them so they can be used as bone replacements. “On the one hand, a coral is perfect for growing bone. It is made of calcium, which is a main component in human bones and is also as strong as human bone, and on the other, it is porous, so blood vessels can grow inside it,” says Schwartz.

 

“Companies which harvest corals from the sea take them to a lab and manipulate them.” The bone replacement market is worth $3.5 billion and coral-based replacements that have reached the market already constitute $100 million of it. “We grow the corals on a bioactive mineral diet. These are the substances that can attract bone cells to them when the coral is implanted in the body. When the new bone cells attach to the coral, they digest it at the same rate as the bone grows,” Schwartz says. It’s important to specify that a coral is actually a living creature that builds a calcium structure that serves it as a home. When talking about “coral” transplant, it is actually the calcium frame without the living creature. Schwartz aads: “It is more complicated to manufacture a coral than a polymer, but it’s worth it. At the end of the process, a coral grown by us is cheaper than polymers that had cells attached to them.”

 

So far, the company has done several animal trials in cooperation with Tel Aviv University, using Ramot, the university’s technology commercialization company. “We received terrific results – the bone grew within 21 days of transplant, and there was even marrow growth. After one year of activity – we have a product,” says Schwartz.

 

The company, which grew out of the Mofet incubator, part of the TrendLines Group, is planning to enter the dental market, where barriers to entry are lower. Next, they plan on going to the larger, more complex orthopedic market. “We’re seeking a $2.5 million investment, over a period of time, by the end of which we will have products for the dental and orthopedic markets and full manufacturing capabilities for the corals,” Schwartz estimates.

Contents

 

 

LAPID CRITICIZES IDLE ULTRA-
ORTHODOX FOR HURTING ISRAELI ECONOMY

Nadav Perry

Al-Monitor Israel Pulse, July 25, 2013

 

The most frightening man in the state of Israel is probably professor Dan Ben-David of Tel Aviv University. Ben-David, a renowned economics lecturer, is actually a pleasant and affable individual, but the message he bears should be disquieting for any Israeli concerned with the future of his country. As executive director of the Taub Center of Social Policy Studies, Ben-David goes around the lecture circuit and meets people all over the country, illustrating with the help of diagrams and dry statistical data the extent to which the survival of the state of Israel cannot be taken for granted.

 

The data reveals the annual rate of increase in the number of Israelis who do not participate in the workforce. They are not listed as unemployed because they're not even looking for work. Most of them are ultra-Orthodox. As the percentage of ultra-Orthodox in the population grows — and it has been growing steadily and speedily — the percentage of productive Israelis participating in the workforce grows smaller. Ben-David concludes that given the current state of things, the Israeli economy will soon no longer be able to continue to support the non-working ultra-Orthodox population. Quality of life in Israel is relatively high, but it could have been far higher had there not been an entire sector that has — for years — refrained from joining the job market out of a rigid religious ideology. Unless a radical change takes place, Israel is marching toward the edge of an abyss. The system that has been in place for 65 years simply cannot be viable for much longer.

 

The public debate in Israel regarding the integration into society of the ultra-Orthodox Jews hardly deals with this issue. The focal point is always “sharing the [military] burden” — the same worn slogan that has long since become a sure springboard for any secular politician wishing to gain popularity. The last one to make use of it was the Yesh Atid chairman, Finance Minister Yair Lapid. Since forming his party at the beginning of 2012, Lapid was careful to declare that he has nothing against the ultra-Orthodox and that, unlike his late father — former Knesset member Tommy Lapid, who headed the Shinui party in the previous decade — his party would not be anti-clerical. The plan for drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the army, which he presented at the start of the election campaign, focused first and foremost on getting the ultra-Orthodox into the job market and only then integrating them into military and national service.

 

But then — somewhere in the middle of the campaign — Yesh Atid faced a crisis. The polls indicated a decline in support and the strategic advisers decided to hone the message. Lapid, who up until then had spoken about a variety of issues on the agenda, started focusing on the ultra-Orthodox and repeating the “shared burden” refrain. This move paid off when he raked in 19 Knesset seats in the elections in January 2013, becoming the head of the second largest party, after the Likud. Today, too, even as he is attacked for an austerity budget which he has been pushing as finance minister, Lapid still gets positive feedback whenever he criticizes the ultra-Orthodox. In virtually every speech he delivers from the Knesset podium, a significant part of his comments is devoted to attacking the ultra-Orthodox. That’s his comfort zone.

 

On July 23, the Knesset gave initial approval to the government’s plan, led by Yesh Atid’s cabinet member, Minister of Science and Technology Yaakov Perry, for drafting ultra-Orthodox men into the military. Public attention was focused on the blatant provocations acted out by some ultra-Orthodox Knesset members during the stormy debate. But all the shouting notwithstanding, data presented in his Knesset speech by ultra-Orthodox Shas Party Chairman Aryeh Deri stood out. According to his data, since the beginning of the year, the rate of ultra-Orthodox enlistment has dropped 30%. After years of a slow, quiet increase in the number of ultra-Orthodox who don uniforms, the trend has turned around. This occurred at the same time as the public debate on the issue was heating up and Yair Lapid was enjoying his meteoric rise. The more Lapid spoke about ultra-Orthodox enlistment, the more the number of recruits declined.

 

In recent months, since the formation of the new government which raised the “shared burden” banner, there has been a rise in attacks by members of the ultra-Orthodox community on those among them who decide to trade in their religious studies at the yeshiva (religious institution) for military service. In several recent incidents, policemen were forced to extricate soldiers wearing kipas (skullcaps) who were attacked while walking around ultra-Orthodox neighbourhoods. These phenomena did not exist a year ago. The “shared burden” campaign benefited Yair Lapid, but diminished the chance that equality would be achieved….

 

The ultra-Orthodox have earned the Israeli street’s hostility toward them after decades of isolation and seclusion. There’s no justice in their continued refusal to take part in efforts to sustain and advance the State of Israel. But an attempt to resolve a generations-old problem by brandishing a sword, and with forcefulness, will achieve the opposite result.

 

Instead of fighting them, it would have been better to move forward slowly, in cooperation with the ultra-Orthodox, to achieve the declared goal. The alternative of the continued ultra-Orthodox isolation and the status quo is simply too dangerous for Israel.

 

Contents

 

On Topic

How to Bolster ‘Natural Killer’ Cells Against Flu: Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel21c, July 22, 2013—Our immune systems are equipped with “natural killer” (NK) cells that recognize and eliminate influenza-virus-infected cells in order to keep the virus from spreading. If NK cells always worked perfectly, nobody would get sick with the flu. Obviously, something can go wrong because many people do get flu.

 

Sol Chip Creates The Everlasting Solar Battery: Johnathan Leow, NoCamels, July 22, 2013

A battery with infinite power. Has the Israeli company Sol Chip found the way to do it? The Haifa-based company has developed the world’s first solar battery that is able to recharge itself to power wireless sensors and mobile electronics devices. Operable in sunlight and low-light environments, the batteries are a result of the cross pollination of solar cell and microchip technologies.

 

Israeli Company Creates Solar-Panel Windows To Power Buildings: David Allouche, NoCamels, March 20, 2012 —An Israeli startup is trying to implement solar power in crowded urban places, by generating it from the windows of buildings and skyscrapers. According to Pythagoras Solar, buildings are the largest consumers of energy worldwide and are also the least energy-efficient.

 

Business Is Personal: Why the EU's New Guidelines Could Hurt Israel's Economy: Bernard Avishai, The Daily Beast,  July 17, 2013—The European Commission's decision to condition Brussels’ future agreements with Israel on the recognition that East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights are "occupied territories" is a major development, not because of what it does, but for what it dramatizes.

 

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ISRAËL, PAYS PROSPÈRE

 

 

 

Israël, pays prospère

Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 5 juin 2013

Adaptation française: Johan Bourlard

 

 

Dans une déclaration typiquement maladroite, le Secrétaire d'État américain John F. Kerry a récemment déploré le fait que les Israéliens sont trop heureux pour mettre fin au conflit qui les oppose aux Palestiniens : « En Israël, les gens ne se lèvent pas chaque matin en se demandant si la paix sera pour demain car il règne dans le pays un sentiment de sécurité, de réussite et de prospérité. »

 

Si M. Kerry ne comprend pas les Israéliens (c'est la politique palestinienne du refus, et non la prospérité, qui les a poussés à abandonner la diplomatie), il a tout de même raison quand il dit que les Israéliens éprouvent « un sentiment de sécurité et… de prospérité » car ceux-ci sont d'une façon générale des gens heureux. Un sondage récent a révélé que 93 pour cent des Juifs israéliens sont fiers d'être israéliens. Il est vrai que l'armement nucléaire iranien constitue une menace et qu'une confrontation avec Moscou n'est pas impossible. Toutefois, la situation n'a jamais été aussi bonne. Faisons ici un état des lieux, non sans remercier Efraim Inbar de l'Université Bar-Ilan à qui nous devons une partie des informations données dans cet article.

 

Pour maintenir le renouvellement de la population d'un pays, les femmes doivent donner naissance à 2,1 enfants. Avec un taux de natalité de 2,65 enfants par femme, Israël est le seul pays avancé dépassant le seuil de remplacement (la France vient juste derrière avec un taux de 2,08 ; Singapour est le dernier avec un taux de 0,79). Alors que les Haredim et les Arabes expliquent en partie cette vitalité, les juifs laïcs en sont la clé.

 

· Pendant la récession des années 2008-2012, Israël a bénéficié d'une croissance de 14,5 pour cent du produit intérieur brut, enregistrant ainsi le taux de croissance économique le plus élevé de tous les pays de l'OCDE (les économies avancées ont au contraire connu dans leur ensemble un taux de croissance de 2,3 pour cent, avec 2,9 pour cent pour les États-Unis et moins de 0,4 pour cent pour les pays de la zone euro.). Israël investit 4,5 pour cent de son PIB dans la recherche et le développement, soit le taux le plus élevé de tous les pays.

 

· En raison des découvertes de gaz et de pétrole, Walter Russel Mead observe que « du point de vue des ressources naturelles, la Terre promise pourrait être … progressivement le pays le plus précieux et énergétiquement le plus riche au monde. » Autant de ressources qui renforcent la position d'Israël au niveau mondial.

 

La Syrie et l'Égypte étant confrontées à des problèmes internes, la menace que ces deux pays représentaient à une certaine époque pour l'existence d'Israël, a pour le moment pratiquement disparu. Grâce à des stratégies novatrices, les attaques terroristes ont été pratiquement éliminées. L'armée de défense d'Israël possède des ressources humaines exceptionnelles et se situe à l'avant-garde des technologies militaires. Quant à la société israélienne, elle a prouvé qu'elle était prête à affronter un conflit de longue durée. M. Inbar, qui est expert en stratégie, conclut que « l'écart entre la puissance d'Israël et celle de ses voisins arabes ne cesse de grandir ».

 

· La question diplomatique palestinienne qui a dominé la politique nationale pendant des décennies après 1967, a rétrogradé dans l'ordre des priorités. Ainsi, seuls 10 pour cent des Juifs israéliens considèrent les négociations de paix comme une priorité absolue. M. Kerry s'obstine sur cette question alors que, pour reprendre les termes d'un politicien, « débattre du processus de paix équivaut, pour la plupart des Israéliens, à débattre de la couleur de la chemise que vous porterez quand vous atterrirez sur Mars. »

 

· Même le dossier nucléaire iranien s'avère moins terrible qu'il n'y paraît. Étant donné la puissance tellement plus destructrice de l'arsenal nucléaire israélien et son système de missiles défensif en pleine croissance, Anthony Cordesman, spécialiste des questions militaires, prédit qu'un échange de tirs nucléaires causerait de lourds dommages à Israël mais détruirait la civilisation iranienne. « Le redressement de l'Iran est impossible, dans le sens normal du terme » L'obsession du gouvernement iranien conduira-t-elle celui-ci à risquer le tout pour le tout ?

 

· Les succès remportés par le mouvement du « boycott, du désinvestissement et des sanctions » sont plutôt maigres (Stephen Hawking a décliné l'invitation du président israélien ! Un organe des Nations Unies a adopté une nouvelle condamnation absurde). Israël entretient des relations diplomatiques avec 156 des 193 membres des Nations Unies. Considérant plusieurs paramètres, M. Inbar trouve que, globalement, « Israël est plutôt bien intégré. »

 

· Dans des enquêtes d'opinion publique aux États-Unis, première puissance mondiale et principal allié d'Israël, Israël bat régulièrement les Palestiniens à 4 contre 1. Et alors que les universités sont effectivement hostiles, je pose aux esprits torturés cette question : Où seriez-vous les plus forts, au Congrès américain ou sur les campus ? Poser la question, c'est y répondre.

 

· Les tensions entre Ashkénazes et Séfarades ont baissé avec le temps en raison des mariages mixtes combinés aux interpénétrations culturelles. La question de la non-participation des Haredim est finalement en cours de traitement.

 

· Les Israéliens ont apporté une contribution impressionnante sur le plan culturel, particulièrement en musique classique, ce qui a conduit un critique, David Goldman, à qualifier Israël de « superpuissance artistique de poche ».

 

Écoutez bien, antisionistes et antisémites, Palestiniens et islamistes, partisans d'extrême droite et d'extrême gauche : vous êtes en train de mener une bataille perdue d'avance. C'est l'État juif qui est en train de gagner. Comme le dit très justement en conclusion M. Inbar, « le temps semble jouer en faveur d'Israël ». Abandonnez donc votre lutte et cherchez un autre pays à tourmenter.

 

 

Crise en Syrie :

Israël se transforme en carrefour commercial du Proche-Orient

Zvi Tenney

identitejuive.com, 9 juin 2013

 

On apprend de sources douanières israéliennes que les combats en Syrie ont contraint les exportateurs de la région à éviter tout transit par ce pays. Désormais, les bateaux en provenance d’Europe ou de Turquie déchargent dans le port de Haifa les conteneurs destinés à la Jordanie ou à l’Irak.

 

Chaque jour, des centaines de camions immatriculés en Jordanie ou en Turquie, escortés de voitures de police israéliennes, circulent sur les routes du nord d’Israël, effectuant des allers-retours de 80 km entre Haïfa et un terminal à la frontière jordanienne.

 

Leur mission : transporter des marchandises jordaniennes, irakiennes et des pays du Golfe, qui sont ensuite acheminées par bateau vers la Turquie, assurant également le trafic en sens inverse.

 

Pendant les premiers mois de la guerre civile en Syrie, les entreprises de la région ont envisagé une voie de contournement par l’Irak, mais cette alternative a été abandonnée en raison, là aussi, de l’insécurité générale régnant dans ce pays. Le passage par l’Égypte s’est révélé, lui, trop long et trop coûteux.

 

Les responsables jordaniens et turcs se sont alors discrètement adressés à Israël pour ouvrir un corridor. Après quelques hésitations, en raison de possibles trafics d’armes ou d’infiltrations de commandos islamistes, Israël a donné son feu vert sous réserve de contrôles de sécurité très stricts.

 

“Ce système est désormais bien rodé. Si nous continuons au rythme actuel, nous pourrions arriver à 12 000 camions par an”, estime un responsable des douanes israéliennes, précisant :”C’est là une opération, très rentable. Les revenus tirés des taxes portuaires, des assurances, de la vente de carburants, pourraient atteindre l’équivalent de 50 millions d’euros par an “.

 

Mais, pour les diplomates israéliens, le principal bénéfice est avant tout politique, soulignant : “Nos voisins de la région, y compris des pays qui n’entretiennent pas de relations diplomatiques avec nous, tels que l’Irak ou l’Arabie saoudite, se rendent compte qu’Israël peut leur être utile, et c’est là pour nous, un constat inappréciable” .

 

ISRAËL AU 21e SIÈCLE : LES ENJEUX POLITIQUES DU GAZ OFFSHORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Les enjeux géopolitiques du gaz offshore

David Wurmser

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 20 avril 2013

 

Le 30 mars dernier, le flux du gaz naturel en provenance du réservoir Tamar situé en Méditerranée a été inauguré en grande pompe, marquant ainsi le début d’une ère nouvelle.

 

Désormais, Israël est indépendant en besoins énergétiques, mais surtout il pourra devenir un exportateur mondial de gaz maritime, notamment en direction de l’Europe.

 

Tout a débuté le 17 janvier 2009 lorsqu’une équipe dirigée par une société texane, Noble Energy, a découvert du gaz dans le champ Tamar à l’est de la Méditerranée. Elle estime sa découverte à 9,7 trillions de cubes (TCF) de gaz naturel de pure qualité. Deux ans plus tard, la même équipe, forant à quelques dizaines de kilomètres à l’ouest, a découvert un gigantesque gisement de gaz nommé à juste titre “Léviathan”. Ce nouveau forage est estimé contenir plus de 18 TCF et pourrait commencer à fournir du gaz à partir de 2016.

 

Le site Tamar n’est que le début de l’exploration en Méditerranée car l’ensemble de la quantité de gaz découvert suffit pour une consommation pouvant durer plus d’un demi-siècle. Pour comparer avec l’Europe, le gisement représente plus de la moitié de ce que les 27 pays de l’Union européenne consomment chaque année. 

 

A court terme, la Jordanie semblerait être un pays pour l’exportation du gaz car il s’agit d’une entreprise relativement simple et peu coûteuse. Toutefois, en raison de sa proximité géographique, l’Europe pourrait devenir un marché attractif. En effet, elle traverse une crise majeure d’approvisionnement de gaz en raison de l’instabilité en Afrique du Nord et particulièrement en Algérie. Mais l’Asie, et en premier lieu la Chine, pourra devenir une destination préférentielle. La compagnie australienne Woodside, qui a déjà acquis un tiers des droits du site “Léviathan”, souhaite orienter la commercialisation du gaz vers l’Asie et envisage la construction d’une usine de liquéfaction.

 

Suite à l’amère expérience d’Israël avec l’Egypte, dont la moitié de son approvisionnement en gaz naturel a été définitivement rompu juste après la chute du régime Moubarak, Israël devrait prévoir de nouvelles infrastructures au sein de son propre territoire mais aussi au-delà des frontières, avec la Jordanie, Chypre, ou la Turquie.        

 

Les responsables israéliens perçoivent le nouveau gazoduc traversant Israël et reliant la mer Rouge et la Méditerranée comme une alternative au canal de Suez. Cependant, une nouvelle structure fonctionnant directement d’Eilat vers les marchés asiatiques pourrait être confrontée à un grave problème stratégique, à savoir : le renforcement de la présence navale iranienne en mer Rouge.   

 

Le “printemps arabe” et ses retombées ont prouvé que les gazoducs internationaux étaient particulièrement vulnérables et les armées arabes sont désormais incapables de les protéger ou peut être ne sont pas disposées à le faire.

 

Ces turbulences ont également menacé la sécurité énergétique de l’Europe. Il existe cinq gazoducs fournissant du gaz en provenance d’Afrique du Nord, principalement d’Algérie.

 

L’Union européenne a cherché à diversifier son approvisionnement en gaz en construisant le gazoduc Transsaharien. Mais ce dernier, qui transporte du gaz en provenance du Niger, passe par Hassi al-Rim, en Algérie, où il se raccorde aux autres gazoducs concurrentiels. Environ 18% de la fourniture du gaz d’Europe est acheminée à partir de ce site, qui se trouve donc être extrêmement vulnérable.

 

Tandis que la France est intervenue au Mali, la montée des islamistes en Afrique du Nord, dans le Sahara et au Sahel a menacé considérablement la stabilité des pays de la région. L’effondrement des institutions centrales a renforcé le rôle ancestral des tribus, des grandes familles et des bédouins. La présence de puits de pétrole ou de gaz à la portée des tribus prête un énorme pouvoir aux négociations. Par exemple en mars 2013, la production du champ de pétrole de Jalu, en Libye, a été suspendue durant plus d’une semaine jusqu’à ce que la compagnie Waha Oil cède en embauchant des chauffeurs et des gardiens d’une tribu locale. Dans le delta du Nil, la production de gaz naturel a été perturbée et certains champs de pétrole fermés en raison des pressions exercées par la population locale. En outre, des bédouins armés installés dans la péninsule du Sinaï ont kidnappé le patron américain d’Exxon Mobile et son épouse, puis les ont relâchés quelques heures plus tard. En Algérie, comme au Maroc ou en Mauritanie, des intérêts locaux et tribaux prévalent souvent sur les considérations diplomatiques. 

 

Ainsi, le climat de tensions en Afrique du Nord demeure si explosif que des troubles peuvent facilement éclater et dégénérer à partir d’un problème local, insignifiant dans le contexte international et face aux besoins énergétiques extérieurs.

 

Devant cette nouvelle donne et le souhait de réduire la dépendance à l’égard de la Russie, l’Europe pourrait représenter pour Israël une opportunité pour signer des accords à long terme et renforcer ses relations avec son premier partenaire économique.

 

Bien entendu, ce projet ambitieux et grandiose n’est pas sans complications ni risques.

 

Sur le plan politique, les nouvelles ressources énergétiques sont un atout considérable pour le bien des populations mais aussi pour pouvoir favoriser la paix entre Israël et ses voisins. Hélas, l’expérience du passé démontre le contraire. Les efforts dans le développement économique et commercial ont plutôt augmenté la ferveur islamique contre Israël et ont renouvelé les attaques antisémites et populistes concernant le soi-disant “contrôle des Juifs sur les économies arabes”.

 

Alors que certains en Israël espèrent que l’exportation du gaz vers la Turquie aidera à renforcer des relations bilatérales tendues, l’expérience avec l’Egypte et les Palestiniens diminue les espoirs dans ce sens.

 

Enfin, les nouveaux défis stratégiques, le changement de l’ordre régional et les nouvelles ressources énergétiques devront augmenter les dépenses militaires. Ils renforceront certes la position israélienne, mais dépendront aussi de la politique américaine dans cette région du monde qui s’est bien affaiblie ces dernières années.

 

 

Les raisons des raids en Syrie

Stéphane Juffa

menapress.org, 5 mai 2013

 

A la fin de mon article de jeudi après-midi dernier, "Evolutions", je rapportais que j’entendais à la fois des vols de chasseurs-bombardiers et de fortes explosions. Après vérification, il ne s’agissait pas de combats d’artillerie entre sunnites et alaouites, mais bien de frappes aériennes.

 

Depuis la rédaction de Métula, on en compta six ou sept. Elles étaient particulièrement violentes.

 

Ce matin, des sources proches des renseignements occidentaux, des agences de presse, des porte-paroles de la rébellion syrienne, ainsi que des fuites en provenance d’officiels israéliens et américains font état d’un raid aérien d’envergure sur Damas, aux petites heures de ce dimanche.

 

Ces informations évoquent deux attaques – ou séries d’attaques -, dont l’une se serait déroulée vendredi matin, et l’autre, comme nous venons de le mentionner, aujourd’hui.

 

A la Ména nous possédons suffisamment de rapports précis pour nous permettre d’affirmer que si ces deux assauts ont bien eu lieu, il y en eut d’autres, très récemment, qui sont passés inaperçus aux yeux de la plupart des commentateurs, à l’exception de quelques officiers de l’ASL [Armée Syrienne Libre] sur le terrain.

 

On n’en est peut-être pas au stade d’actions militaires ininterrompues de la part de Tsahal mais, assurément, de frappes ciblées à répétition. Les objectifs militaires que poursuivent les pilotes hébreux sont des entrepôts et des cargaisons de missiles sol-sol iraniens de type Fatah-110 (le victorieux), de quatrième génération, à destination du Hezbollah au Liban ; des missiles sol-air de fabrication russe, également destinés à la même milice, des radars antiaériens, russes aussi, déployés en Syrie ; des centres de stockage d’armes de destruction massive, et aussi des brigades syriennes spécialisées dans la mise en œuvre des moyens sol-air, et, finalement, des brigades de Pasdaran, les Gardiens de la Révolution iraniens.

 

Ce qu’il est indispensable de noter, d’un strict point de vue stratégique, est que ces raids n’ont pas grand-chose à voir avec la Guerre Civile syrienne. Ces opérations sont exclusivement liées à la situation prévalant entre l’Iran et Israël.

 

Tout le monde, dans la région, est conscient qu’une attaque contre les infrastructures nucléaires perses est prévue par l’état-major de Tsahal entre la fin juin et le début juillet. La plupart des analystes sont d’avis que si ce conflit devait se déclencher, la "République" Islamique ne riposterait pas directement contre l’Etat hébreu, par crainte de voir la confrontation gagner en intensité sans avoir les moyens de se mesurer efficacement aux ressources militaires de Jérusalem.

 

Dans cette situation, Téhéran mise principalement sur l’ouverture d’un second front à partir du Liban, entre la milice chiite du Hezbollah et Israël.

 

Mais les hommes de Hassan Nasrallah ne disposent actuellement, en grande majorité, que de roquettes de courte et de moyenne portée, pas à même d’opposer un défi crédible à la puissance de feu israélienne.

 

Certes, le Hezb possède des dizaines de milliers de ces engins rustiques, mais, comme on l’a remarqué en 2006, même en en tirant un très grand nombre – on pense que 8000 roquettes avaient été lancées du Liban durant ledit conflit -, l’étendue des dégâts et le nombre des victimes côté hébreu demeura négligeable en termes tactiques.

 

Pour commencer à poser un problème militaire à Tsahal, et justifier ainsi l’ouverture d’un second front, Nasrallah doit impérativement disposer de deux choses : des missiles sol-air dotés d’une technologie avancée, capables à tout le moins de déranger un peu la suprématie absolue de l’aviation adverse, ainsi que de missiles sol-sol précis et porteurs d’une charge explosive conséquente.

 

Ces considérations expliquent les efforts soutenus consentis par l’Iran dans le but d’acheminer des armes de ces types dans le pays des cèdres. En pleine guerre civile syrienne, Téhéran utilise l’aéroport de Damas, même soumis aux bombardements des forces insurgées, non pas pour renforcer l’armée de Béchar al Assad, mais pour préparer sa propre guerre éventuelle contre les Israéliens.

 

En termes stratégiques plus globaux, cela donne une explication satisfaisante aux propos tenus mardi dernier par Gaby Ashkenazi [l’ancien chef d’état-major de Tsahal] à New York : il est dans l’intérêt de Jérusalem de favoriser la victoire des forces sunnites sur celles du régime actuel.

 

Plus les al Assad perdront du terrain, plus la capacité des Iraniens à utiliser la Syrie en qualité de plateforme logistique pour armer le Hezbollah sera réduite.

 

L’objectif des Israéliens, en favorisant le transfert du pouvoir à l’opposition syrienne, consiste, en première finalité, à priver les ayatollahs de l’opportunité d’ouvrir un second front à partir du Liban.

 

S’ils en sont empêchés, par des raids aériens et/ou par une perte de l’aéroport international de Damas, par exemple, le problème tactique de l’Iran face à une éventuelle attaque israélienne de son industrie nucléaire sera pratiquement insurmontable.

 

Une évolution de la situation dans ce sens pourrait, si les dirigeants de la théocratie chiite agissent dans la logique, les pousser à la transaction lors de leurs discussions officielles avec les 5+1, et secrètes, en Suisse, avec les émissaires de Washington.

 

A propos du Fatah-110, nos lecteurs doivent savoir que, contrairement aux roquettes actuellement à la disposition du Hezb, privées de moyens de guidage, il s’agit, dans ce cas, d’une arme efficace et redoutable.

 

Le Fatah-110-D1, soit la quatrième génération du Fatah 100, datant des premières années du XXIème siècle, possède l’avantage d’emporter, à plus de 3 500 km/h, une charge explosive de l’ordre de 250 kilos, sur une distance maximale de 300 km.

 

De quoi atteindre pratiquement n’importe quelle cible stratégique en Israël à partir du Liban et de l’endommager sérieusement. A noter que les Perses affirment que le Fatah-110 peut emporter jusqu’à 650 kilos de charge utile, mais les experts occidentaux ne les croient pas. Reste qu’un quart de tonne d’explosif représente un potentiel destructeur considérable, apte à raser un bloc d’immeubles dans son entièreté, une base militaire ou une usine.

 

Cela explique les risques pris par l’armée de l’air à l’étoile bleue dans le but d’empêcher que ces missiles ne parviennent dans les mains des miliciens chiites libanais.

 

Tôt ce matin, c’est une quantité conséquente de ces missiles et de leurs ogives qui ont été touchés de plein fouet par les salves des F-16 du He’l Avir. La déflagration impliquant des milliers de kilos de charges hautement explosives a transformé le ciel de Damas en décor d’apocalypse.

 

"On aurait dit", confient des témoins oculaires, "l’explosion d’une bombe atomique. Les flammes s’élevaient à une centaine de mètres au-dessus du quartier de Jamraya, dans le nord de la capitale syrienne, et les détonations assourdissantes se succédaient". Sur les images filmées depuis les avant-postes rebelles, on entendait les combattants sunnites admirer la scène, en lançant des Allah hou akbar !, Dieu est grand. [Voir la vidéo de la principale explosion tournée par les rebelles].

 

L’Observatoire Syrien des Droits de l’Homme, l’officine médiatique principale des rebelles située en Grande-Bretagne, de même que des sources combattantes et d’autres s’exprimant depuis Beyrouth, ont annoncé que les frappes des chasseurs-bombardiers ont également visé d’autres dépôts de munitions, des systèmes antiaériens syriens ainsi que deux bataillons de Pasdaran perses.

 

En effectuant des recoupements à partir de nos bureaux de Beyrouth et de Metula, nous sommes d’avis que ces informations sont plausibles.

 

Sorti du domaine strictement militaire, il est loisible d’observer que ces frappes aériennes revêtent plusieurs conséquences largement positives pour Jérusalem. En décidant de se départir de leur neutralité stérile, le gouvernement et l’establishment de la Défense israéliens sont en train de briser l’une de leurs plus mauvaises habitudes : jusqu’à présent, ils remportaient des succès militaires indiscutables mais ne parvenaient pas à les transformer en résultats positifs sur le plan politique.

 

A l’occasion de leurs dernières actions, ils se sont mis à inverser la tendance ; d’abord en renforçant leur capacité de dissuasion démontrée. Car autant les partisans d’Assad, que les combattants de la rébellion, les miliciens chiites libanais, les responsables de la "République" Islamique d’Iran, que les dirigeants et les observateurs avisés du monde arabo-musulmans, vont garder longtemps en mémoire les images vidéo des explosions gigantesques de ce matin.

 

Avec un impact sans doute particulier sur les officiers de l’armée iranienne et sur les mollahs, qui saisissent sans peine que ce que les appareils israéliens viennent de réaliser à Damas, ils pourront le répéter tout aussi efficacement dans deux mois sur leur territoire.

 

Ils savent, entre autres, que les moyens de défense antiaériens dont ils disposent sont identiques à ceux qui sont déployés en Syrie. Lors, la supériorité des Hébreux dans le domaine de la guerre électronique est telle, que la DCA [Défense Contre les Avions] alaouite ignorait jusqu’à la présence des avions dans son ciel et n’a pas eu la possibilité ne serait-ce que de tenter de les intercepter.

 

De ce point de vue, l’on peut conclure que le He’l Avir est techniquement prêt pour une intervention en Perse, et que ses pilotes, du fait de leur avancement technologique, ne courent qu’un risque très mesuré en participant à ces opérations.

 

L’on peut aussi déduire, comme vient de le faire le major-général à la retraite Amos Yadlin, ex-chef du renseignement militaire, que "ce que l’on voit en Syrie démontre un niveau très élevé de renseignement et de performance militaire". Il est vrai que des pilotes entraînés à atteindre un chef terroriste à Gaza au milieu d’une foule, avec une précision de l’ordre de quelques centimètres, n’expérimentent naturellement pas de problèmes lorsqu’il s’agit de détruire un grand entrepôt.

 

Tout cela est prédominant du point de vue du moral et de la dissuasion, mais il y a plus encore. La télévision syrienne a bien fait état du raid de cette nuit, de même que les porte-paroles du régime, mais ils l’ont fait en s’épargnant les menaces de représailles qu’ils profèrent ordinairement.

 

Même les commentaires officiels iraniens sont prudents, soulignant que l’armée de la théocratie chiite, si elle compte entraîner celle des al Assad, ne projette pas de se battre à ses côtés contre "l’entité sioniste".

 

Pour Assad, les termes de l’équation sont simples : toute tentative, ne serait-ce que symbolique, de riposter militairement contre Israël, se solderait par un appui accru des Hébreux à son opposition. Jérusalem se trouve dans une situation confortable, dans laquelle elle peut décider, sans pour cela employer des moyens démesurés, qui des alaouites ou des sunnites remportera la guerre civile. Pour Bechar al Assad, défier Tsahal aurait pour conséquence certaine de se voir renverser de son trône déjà chancelant.

 

Même incapacité de riposter pour le Hezbollah : en ce dimanche, à Métula et à Kiryat Shmona, aussi bien qu’à Nahariyya, Haïfa et Afula, l’état d’alerte n’a pas été décrété et les gens vaquent normalement à leurs occupations professionnelles.

 

Ce matin, par mesure de précaution, deux batteries de Dôme de fer ont été déployées, l’une dans la périphérie de Haïfa, l’autre, dans celle de Safed. Au sein de l’état-major hébreu, l’on est persuadé que les Iraniens et leurs substituts chiites libanais ne prendront pas le risque insensé de tirer quelques-unes de leurs roquettes en direction de la Galilée.

 

La raison à la clé de leur réflexion consiste en cela que la milice libanaise se trouve terriblement exposée à d’éventuels raids supplémentaires de l’aviation bleue et blanche. Le Hezb est traditionnellement une milice agissant selon les règles de la guérilla ; c’est-à-dire qu’elle se fond parmi la population et que c’est ainsi qu’elle se préserve des attaques d’un ennemi qui lui est supérieur dans tous les paramètres de la confrontation.

 

Mais ces jours, le Hezbollah a été amené à modifier sa tactique, intégrant ses combattants à l’armée régulière syrienne et aux brigades de Gardiens de la Révolution. Ses forces n’agissent plus selon les lois de la guérilla mais à l’instar d’une armée régulière, avec des bases exposées et des voies de communication connues, ce qui en fait des proies de prédilection pour les pilotes expérimentés du He’l Avir.

 

Dans les conditions qui prévalent, le prix à payer par le Hezb pour le tir de quelques Katiouchas se paierait, pour les supplétifs libanais d’Ahmadinejad, par des centaines voire des milliers de morts en quelques sorties de l’aviation israélienne.

 

Quant à l’Iran, il ne dispose pas des moyens nécessaires afin de se livrer à une attaque préventive de l’Etat hébreu. Toute offensive de sa part se solderait par une défaite cuisante, additionnée du transfert à Jérusalem de la légitimité internationale de s’en prendre à ses infrastructures nucléaires. Ceci explique la retenue des ayatollahs.

 

Côté occidental, finalement, dans le camp des démocraties qui aimeraient bien en faire plus pour aider la rébellion, mais qui craignent de se mouiller comme en Irak et en Afghanistan, on n’a aucune intention de critiquer les opérations israéliennes. Au contraire, le Président Barack Obama a déclaré, en apprenant l’attaque sur Damas, qu’Israël avait "le droit de se protéger contre le transfert d’armes avancées à destination du Hezbollah".

 

Dans le même cadre, nous devons relever que ces tentatives iraniennes de transférer des missiles au Liban violent de manière flagrante la résolution 1701 du Conseil de Sécurité de l’ONU ayant mis un terme à la Deuxième Guerre du Liban en 2006. Celle-ci interdit formellement à tout pays de livrer des armes à toute organisation armée autre que celle dépendant des autorités légitimes de Beyrouth.

 

 

 

Les arcanes de la position conciliatrice

d’Obama face au nucléaire iranien

Richard Darmon

upjf.org, 17 mai 2013

   

A l’occasion du Nouvel An perse célébré voilà quelques semaines, le président américain a élucidé les trois lignes forces de la stratégie de Washington censée empêcher les mollahs de Téhéran de détenir « l’arme suprême » : persuasion, menaces d’isolement et sanctions économiques aggravées. Mais apparemment, cela ne marche pas du tout avec les leaders iraniens actuels ! Pour la 5ième année consécutive, Barack Obama a tenu à présenter ses meilleurs vœux de réussite et de prospérité au peuple iranien à l’occasion du Nowruz, le Jour de l’An perse célébré chaque année en Iran et dans une dizaine d’autres pays à la fin mars au moment de l’équinoxe du printemps.

 

Comme l’ont relevé les spécialistes des relations américano-iraniennes, le plus intéressant dans ce 5e « discours de Nowruz » d’Obama fut le changement assez perceptible de ton et de vocabulaire dans sa rhétorique appelant les leaders iraniens à ouvrir un « dialogue constructif » avec son pays. Alors qu’en 2010, Obama déclarait que « les USA reconnaissent votre droit à utiliser pacifiquement l’énergie nucléaire », il précisait en 2012 que « l’Iran doit prouver par des mesures concrètes qu’il assume ses responsabilités eu égard à son programme nucléaire ».

 

Or, le grand changement de ton et de « focus » relevé fin mars dernier a tenu à cette phrase d’Obama : « Les leaders iraniens disent que leur programme nucléaire poursuit des buts seulement médicaux et énergétiques. Mais jusqu’ici, ils ont été incapables de convaincre la communauté internationale que leurs activités nucléaires n’avaient que des objectifs pacifiques ». Et de conclure avec des menaces de sanctions économiques aggravées : « Le choix d’un avenir meilleur, avais-je déclaré l’an dernier, est dans les mains des leaders iraniens. Mais ces mots ne sont plus valables aujourd’hui, car ce sont ces mêmes leaders qui ont directement contribué à l’isolement de leur propre pays. Voilà pourquoi le monde est désormais uni pour résoudre cette question et pourquoi l’Iran se retrouve si seul – ce qui n’est d’ailleurs pas bon pour le monde lui-même ! (…) Et s’il poursuit sur sa même voie, le gouvernement de Téhéran doit savoir que l’isolement de l’Iran sera encore accru ».

 

Conclusion : même si le président américain a utilisé de nombreuses fois le mot « sanctions » dans ce discours plus que dans les quatre précédents, et même si une partie de l’opposition iranienne a sympathisé avec ce ton à la fois conciliant et menaçant qui prenait parti pour le « peuple iranien » contre « l’aveuglement » de ses dirigeants actuels – une modération qui lui permet aussi de recueillir le soutien des Américains et de la communauté internationale -, il reste bien clair que Washington est fermement opposé à toute confrontation militaire avec l’Iran : tout simplement parce qu’Obama a fait le choix de la diplomatie et des sanctions, en rejetant toute menace ou rhétorique sur un conflit armé !

 

Ce n’est pas seulement le triple échec patent, en six mois, des trois rounds de négociations entre l’Iran et le G 5 + 1 (il y aura eu en tout cinq essais et échecs de ce genre lors de la dernière année !) qui montre que les mollahs de Téhéran sont prêts à endurer les pires « sanctions aggravées » et un isolement maximum pourvu qu’ils puissent enfin concrétiser leurs « rêves nucléaires » et asseoir, ce faisant, leur volonté tous azimuts d’hégémonie régionale… Même avec une certaine ambigüité, les stratèges américains reconnaissent en effet que la politique d’Obama n’est pas adéquate face au leadership iranien actuel.

 

Ainsi, lit-on dans les conclusions d’une étude de fond qui vient de paraître aux USA, rédigée par les experts officiels de l’« Iran Project », les deux phrases contradictoires suivantes : « Un renforcement du processus diplomatique doublé de menaces de sanctions en échange d’une véritable coopération avec l’Iran pourrait nous faire sortir de l’impasse actuelle et mener à un accord nucléaire. (…) Mais après presque trois décennies de sanctions et de tentatives d’isoler l’Iran, il semble assez douteux que seules des ‘pressions’ de ce genre puissent infléchir les décisions de ses leaders »…