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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Israel and Ireland – a funny couple

Last June, I was thrilled to meet up with the rep of Teeling’s Distillery at Whisky Live Tel Aviv. Based in the heart of Dublin, Eire, this brand of alcohol has a very welcome place amongst the growing whisky connoisseurs in the Holy Land.

With this still in mind, I was perplexed – to put it politely – to read that the Irish President, Michael Higgins, has just met Omar Barghouti, the founder of BDS. Ostensibly, BDS is a campaign to promote a cultural boycott of Israel, until it changes its policies over the Palestinians. Practically, this is a hate campaign directed against the Jewish state.

So is the praise of Higgins for Barghouti going to result in his boycott of all things Teeling? Well, somehow, I think not.

And then I begun to wonder. Intel has announced that it is about to expand its workforce in Israel by another 1,500 employees. (Remember – Israel is the country where for years Intel’s chips have been developed and then end up in computers all over the world….including Ireland). However, this is the same Intel that employs over 4,000 people in the Emerald isle itself.

Surely, Mr. Higgins is not about to throw out all of his computers? His Foreign Minister, Simon Coveney, seemingly finds this approach unhelpful, as expressed during his visit to Jerusalem this week.

And that is my point. BDS is a misnomer. Again, ostensibly it is about boycotts and sanctions. Every now and again, an artist does not visit Israel. What the campaign is really about is denigrating the one democracy in the Middle East and the one country in the region where the Christian population is actually growing. BDS is the antithesis of peace and rapprochement, whatever face Higgins may pull on that statement.

Is there a way out of this hypocrisy for Higgins? On his next trip abroad, he is hardly likely to fly Ryan Air, because of their expanding operation in Israel. Maybe he could try Wizz Air……that is before they too open up a full operations’ base in Tel Aviv.

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