Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

Life in Israel

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Israeli commercial life and society

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

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What we can achieve in 65 years

Yesterday, I had the honour and privilege to attend a ceremony at the President’s residence in Jerusalem, where 120 soldiers were presented awards for outstanding service. This is an annual event, traditionally held on Independence Day.

Israel has come a long way since it was founded in 1948. The population has multiplied ten fold. The economy is no longer renowned for Jaffa oranges but the technology behind the production of fruit, medical devices and clean energy. It is the one country in the Middle East with a growing Christian population.

Yes, after 65 years, all is not perfect. Just look at the continuing problem of football violence. Every winter, strategists fret if the Holy Land will receive enough rainfall. And, of course, neighbours such as Iran,  Hamas and Hizbollah still look to remove the country from the world map.

However, these 120 soldiers showed a country which strives for excellence. Just look at the composition of the group

  • Despite the macho environment, around a third were female.
  • Around 10% were born in other countries
  • One was confined to a wheelchair, but remains determined to do “their bit” for their country
  • The religious make up ranged from ultra orthodox Jews to irreligious to Druze.
  • While some served in front line units, others were developing capabilities to secure the defence of the civilian population.

As President Peres reminded the audience in his address, the official name of the army remains the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). It is based on strong humanitarian principles that cannot be hidden by the weapons of its enemies.

And how does this ethic enter Israeli society? Sodastream has seen tremendous success over the past decade. Trading on NASDAQ and with recent adverts at the Superbowl, Sodastream has never hidden the fact that it has a factory on what Palestinians see as their land. That said, I encourage you to watch this video, prepared by Sodastream, which shows how despite 65 years of continuous threats, Israel continues to improve its model for successful integration and pluralism. Happy Birthday!

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