Once again, Israel stood up to its nickname, Startup Nation, when two weeks ago Intel paid the awesome sum of $15.3 billion to acquire Mobileye, an Israeli company leading in computer vision for autonomous driving technology. While I’m proud of this accomplishment of my country, it nevertheless leaves me with mixed feelings.
On the one hand, it is good to know that, like Waze before it, the Israeli GPS that made driving much simpler for millions of people, Mobileye will enhance safety on the roads and guide future autonomous and driverless cars, the next quantum leap in transportation.
On the other hand, perhaps Israel itself is some kind of an autonomous car.… Seguir leyendo »
A time-bomb called Gaza is sitting Israel’s back yard. The question is not whether it will explode, but when.
Caught between Egypt and Israel, and ruled by an oppressive terrorist organization, Hamas, the 1.85 million Gazans are in a dire situation. One third of the population is under 30, and two out of three of these young people are unemployed. With no hope over the horizon for this generation, an explosion is only a question of time. And we know from past experience what form this explosion might take: attacks on Israel. These attacks have already invoked three major counter-attacks by Israel — Operation Cast Lead (2008), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012) and Operation Protective Edge (2014) — which brought devastation to Gaza, but couldn’t stop the cycle of violence.… Seguir leyendo »
In his last press conference before leaving office, President Obama reiterated his support for a two-state solution as the most viable way to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I don’t see how this issue gets resolved in a way that maintains Israel as both Jewish and a democracy if there are not two states,” he said.
Then, with his subtle sarcasm, he added: “We’ll see how Trump’s approach plays out.”
On Thursday, at the joint press conference of President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, we were treated with a taste of the Trump approach. “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state,” Trump quipped between smiles, “and I like the one that both parties like.… Seguir leyendo »
For years I have been warning that the ongoing Jewish settlement in the predominantly Arab West Bank will lead to one, bi-national state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, where Jews might eventually become a minority. In that case, Israel might either lose its Jewish character or its democracy.
In theory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his speech in 2009 at Bar Ilan University, seemed to have recognized that, when he said that he endorsed a two-state solution. Except that the current Israeli government under his leadership, pressed by the ultra-right wings of his coalition, is leading us in the opposite direction.… Seguir leyendo »
Earlier this month, our neighborhood grocery in Jerusalem celebrated its 20th anniversary, and we were all treated to a lavish party, with barbeque, beer and wine.
Why would the three owners, Shai, Eli and Nir, care about us so much? Because we care about them. Twenty years ago they came to our neighborhood, Beit HaKerem, took over a lousy, sleepy grocery, changed its name to Market, and turned it into an institution.
If Israel is a Startup Nation, then Market is a social startup. The three energetic Jerusalemites discovered the secret of all startups — a special need — and then went on to find the perfect solution for it.… Seguir leyendo »
If you are planning to visit Israel in the near future, take an extra 30 minutes for a remarkable exhibition. On the wall of the corridor leading to departures hall at Ben Gurion Airport, you will find large pictures of Israeli scientists and their inventions. Arriving last week as always at the last moment, I almost missed my flight because of it.
Flying many years in the Israeli Air Force made me different from the other travelers who were watching the exhibition with me: Unlike most of them, I knew how air traffic worked. When they made it to their seats inside the plane, they just relaxed, while I — unconsciously — asked myself if all the aircraft systems will perform smoothly, if the radar monitoring the heavy air traffic will not fail, and more such annoying thoughts.… Seguir leyendo »
Recent events in Germany, where Muslim immigrants harassed local women, generated more doubts about Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door policy, which let some million immigrants enter Germany in 2015. Most vocal were spokesmen of Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident), who have been warning that the new immigrants would “destroy” Germany.
However, these doomsday prophecies ignore an interesting, positive effect of the recent wave of immigration to Germany. According to the Guardian newspaper (Jan. 6, 2016), this influx of people stopped the constant decline of the German population and rejuvenated its workforce. Indeed, Chancellor Merkel, in her New Year address, asked Germans to see refugee arrivals as “an opportunity for tomorrow” and urged doubters not to follow racist hate-mongers.… Seguir leyendo »
It seems that everything wise has already been said about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, scheduled for March 3. Opponents, both in Israel and in the United States, claim Netanyahu harmed the interests of Israel by poking President Obama in the eye and by making the support of Israel — always a bipartisan issue — a partisan one.
Supporters of Netanyahu, on the other hand, claim that nuclear Iran is a life-and-death issue for Israel, and therefore it is Netanyahu’s right, indeed his duty, to raise his voice whenever he can against what he believes is a bad deal the administration is cooking up with Iran.… Seguir leyendo »
“Right now, the peace talks are based on only one thing, only on peace talks. It makes no sense at this point to talk about the most contractible issue. It’s Jerusalem or bust, or right of return or bust. That has led to failure and is likely to lead to failure again.”
So said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, except that he said it not now, when the last round of talks between Israelis and Palestinians came to a dead end once again, but back in 2008, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were close to a deal.… Seguir leyendo »
In light of a ship caught carrying aggressive weapons, aimed at terrorizing his fellow countrymen, the leader delivered a firm message, warning that neither his country “nor the world community of nations can tolerate deliberate deception and offensive threats on the part of any nation, large or small. We no longer live in a world where only the actual firing of weapons represents a sufficient challenge to a nation's security to constitute maximum peril”.
He went on to explain to his worried viewers and listeners that the missiles which had just been found, once reaching their destination and being deployed, could have hit any target, including the nation’s capital.… Seguir leyendo »
John Kerry is not the first U.S. secretary of state trying to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Nor the first to be rewarded with angry Israeli response for his efforts.
James Baker, for one, is still perceived today as one of the secretaries most hostile to Israel. Kerry, on the other hand, has always been an ardent supporter of Israel. That he should receive a negative, even vicious, reaction from Israelis for his Herculean labors, is wrong.
The prevailing Israeli attitudes toward Kerry’s current mission are threefold. The public is by and large apathetic; the political leadership is split between giving him a cold shoulder and publicly denouncing his ambitious plan; and the settlers are virulently attacking him.… Seguir leyendo »
I have lived all my life in Israel, and I consider myself to be quite knowledgeable about Israeli matters. Yet last week, it was in New York that I found out how much I still have to learn.
The event I was invited to was The Israel Summit, the brainchild of Joseph Hyman, president of the Center for Entrepreneurial Jewish Philanthropy (CEJP). When I was asked by the officer at the passport control at Newark what was the purpose of my visit, being an Israeli and jet-legged, I mispronounced that long title, which almost got me into trouble.
Yet I remembered what Hyman had told me, and I managed to explain to the officer that the summit was a forum modeled after Venture Capital Investment Conferences, where philanthropists and foundations gathered to hear some outstanding pro-Israeli organizations showcasing their innovative work and financial needs.… Seguir leyendo »
As these lines are written, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for eight years, is fighting the last battle of his life. This time it seems the fearless warrior has met the one fight he is going to lose. Sadly for Sharon, and for us, this is a dead end indeed.
Until now, dead end was not something you could find in Sharon’s vocabulary. Maybe it was the robust farmer in him, toughened by rough weather and aggressive Arab neighbors; or the general, who always knew how to maintain the initiative and surprise the enemy; or the shrewd politician, who managed to turn temporary defeats into long-term successes.… Seguir leyendo »
Twenty years ago to the day on Friday, I stood at the South Lawn of the White House and saw history in the making. Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli general who had been fighting the Arabs all his adult life, and Yasser Arafat, whose Palestine Liberation Organization had worked to destroy Israel, shook hands in front of an amazed and jubilant world.
To say that the Oslo agreement came as a surprise to me would be an understatement. It was a shock. Like all other Israeli officials (I was the government spokesman), I had been parroting the mantra that we would never speak with the P.L.O.… Seguir leyendo »
People in Beersheba, the major city in southern Israel, became used to harsh realities in the last several years, when rockets launched on them from Gaza disrupted their lives. Mayor Ruvi Danielowitz won a lot of respect then, when he led his city through the rough period, encouraging his fellow residents to remain calm.
Nobody, however, could remain calm last week in Beersheba or anywhere else in Israel. On Monday, death struck the southern city from totally unexpected direction, when a man named Itamar Alon entered a branch of Bank Hapoalim in Beersheba, killed four people and held one hostage, before killing himself.… Seguir leyendo »
Hardly had the excitement over President Obama’s visit subsided when Secretary of State John Kerry followed up with what seems here as a surge of fresh energy. If the president talked in general terms about the need to move forward toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Kerry, already on his second visit to the Middle East and Israel, seems anxious to turn words into actions.
Like many secretaries of state before him, Kerry brings to the region the all too familiar American blend of vision with pragmatism, idealism with can-do resolution. Except that most of his predecessors wore out their shoes in their countless shuttles to the region, and have accomplished very little.… Seguir leyendo »
People who know something about Israel and the Israelis are often puzzled by this paradox: How come a country titled “Startup Nation,” famous for its innovative spirit, is so conservative when it comes to making peace with the Palestinians?
Recently, the world, through the U.N. General Assembly, expressed in no uncertain terms its support of a Palestinian state. In objecting to the move, Israel, together with its unwavering American ally, managed to mobilize the support of only a handful of small countries. Yet it was the same Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who denounced the U.N. resolution, who in his speech at Bar Ilan University in 2009 had expressed his consent to a Palestinian state.… Seguir leyendo »
Have you ever gone through the sad experience, when your old, beloved neighborhood is deteriorating? Neighbors become unfriendly, your house is frequently burglarized, your kids are harassed, and the police are worthless. What do you do then? Most people, those who can afford it, just leave.
Somehow, the recent eruption of violence in the southern part of Israel and in Gaza reminded me that we, Israelis, live in a bad neighborhood indeed. Except that we are not going to move out. And when there is no rule of law, and the City Council (U.N., for the sake of analogy) always rules against you, and you still insist on clinging to your home and defending your family, then you have to carry a big stick and once in a while use it.… Seguir leyendo »
With summer drawing to its close, people here are wondering whether they have really managed to take a rest from the hectic Israeli pace, or, on the contrary, they come out of the vacation season more exhausted than before.
Speaking for myself, I have just returned from a heavenly vacation in Italy, where the tranquility of the countryside, the sublime music and the great food and wine all made me forget the mayhem at home. That is, until I boarded the El Al plane in Rome and was offered one of the Israeli newspapers. I took a look and my heart sank.… Seguir leyendo »
Israel has become a prime travel destination for American politicians recently. Last week, Gov. Mitt Romney made a much publicized trip to Jerusalem, which left some people happier than others. He was preceded by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had frequented us a week before him, and succeeded by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who has just concluded a visit this week.
Right now, many Israelis are vacationing abroad, and the miserable ones who have stayed at home are agonizing under the terrible August sun, their brains turning into jelly so they can’t anymore tell who is coming and who is going, and why.… Seguir leyendo »