Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

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.

Many argue that we are a slave to technology and the pop up menus of the social media platforms around us. On average, we check our phones 150 times a day. We are afraid of missing something……when we think we already know it all…. and then crave more info.

In a compelling analysis, Tristan Harris recalled that:

Cornell professor Brian Wansink demonstrated this in his study showing you can trick people into keep eating soup by giving them a bottomless bowl that automatically refills as they eat. With bottomless bowls, people eat 73% more calories than those with normal bowls and underestimate how many calories they ate by 140 calories.

This week, wearing my hat as business mentor and coach, I was interviewing people in Jerusalem. In one hour sessions, the aim was to understand their concept, give them some initial advice and then consider how they may approach official agencies to receive additional coaching.

The first customer of the day strutted in. With the briefest of intros, he wanted to know if we could prepare a business plan for him.

A fair request, but I needed more info in order to answer. Very quickly, he interrupted my approach. The questions were declared irrelevant. He demanded a yes / no answer. I tried to explain, but was interrupted. I tried again, but I could that his patience levels were diminishing far quicker than the daily life of my mobile battery.

I was then asked if I could write the plan. I replied that in theory that was possible, but I felt there was not enough chemistry between the two sides. To my surprise, this comment was taken as an insult. On reflection, I suppose that he had assumed that if we were sitting in the same room, we have clicked and thus the next stage will happen automatically.

My point is that I felt that he had been tricked. He had treated me like Google. He had expected to walk in, ask, and be answered on the spot. Who needs an hour? Waste of time. Turn out a biz plan today so that the bank will me the loan tomorrow, no?

Social media is here to stay. However, it has changed thought processes. Those like Harris may argue that it has diminished our ability to think and to help ourselves.

The role of a business mentor is to pose questions that people are uncomfortable with. The success of Facebook et al will not take that power away from me. The question remains if we can retain our ability to realise that the importance of human intelligence.

How will Britain leave the EU? Under what terms? Who will be the PM? I am not placing my bets. What I have found significant is that amongst the hubble and bubble and much trouble, Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has found the time to pop over to Israel. Why?

There are some very significant facts for the UK economy, that Israel’s opponents would have you ignore.

  • Britain’s Department for International Trade said goods worth $9bn were traded between the UK and Israel in 2017, a record year.
  • The number of Israeli companies that set up in the UK after the Brexit referendum increased by 28 per cent, as did Israeli investment in the UK by 33.5 per cent.
  • Israeli-made generic pharmaceuticals are also a major supplier for the NHS.

Earlier this week, yet another seminar was held in Tel Aviv encouraging cooperation between the two countries health sector. And add to that Fintech and a whole series of innovation tech partnerships. In other words, the economic and commercial bonds between the two sides are growing, mutually, for the benefit of all.

Bilateral trade has almost doubled in recent years, despite or in spite of the hate of the BDS movement. Looking ahead, there are clearly plans on the table to resolve expected hiccups from the exit from Europe.

Item One: Last week, several anti-Israel protesters took to the streets of London. As members of the LGBT community, they were protesting against the performance of the Israeli singer, Netta. What a video of the event clearly brought out was the ignorance of the demonstrators, because Netta herself is a proud to associate herself with LGBT.

Netta’s visit to the UK was action packed. She went on to appear at an event on behalf of British Airways. It was only a few months previous that she had been introduced to Prince William, who is just two places away from being the King of England. Imagine boycotting those royal institutions. Bizarre!

Item Two: Where the BDS – boycott movement – against Israel seemingly recorded some success was the threatening announcement of Airbnb. This global brand has a jaw-dropping 150 million users on its mobile app . As senior commentator Tom Gross observed: Airbnb is targeting “Jewish owned” properties in the West Bank. “There are about 200 other disputed regions in the world but Airbnb will not be boycotting any of these others (for example, Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus, Chinese-occupied Tibet, Crimea, Moroccan occupied Western Sahara, and so on).”

In his weekly report, Tom Gross also added with great contrast how a “female BDS activist, Jess Balding, has fallen in love with a female Israeli soldier and converted to Judaism. Balding has now moved to Israel and says she now wants to study to be a rabbi.” Maybe she will meet Netta?

Item Three: Dodging between this hypocritical noise is the not-so-well-known Idriss Deby, the President of Chad. His visit to Jerusalem this week is significant because, he is not just the leader of a country, which is 60% Muslim. HIs territory is full of raw materials such as oil and gold.

Deby has received full coverage. In similar fashion, Prime Minister Netanyahu has openly travelled to Bahrain and Oman in recent weeks. And who knows what is happening behind the diplomatic scenes between Saudi Arabia and the Holy Land?

Which reminds me: Did you hear the news about Saudi’s boycott of………..the Palestinians?

Yes, it is stupid. Actually, it is worse. BDS is malicious and hateful. But could you imagine what would happen if the movement was really successful?

Item Four: Sniffphone“. I kid you not with the name. You see………..

Israeli Professor Hossam Haick of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was awarded the European Commission Innovation Prize last week for his invention of the SNIFFPHONE, a device that uses nanotechnology sensors to analyze particles on the breath and is able to pinpoint to exact diseases, like certain kinds of cancer, pulmonary and even the early stages of neurodegenerative diseases.

Haick is not Jewish. And while the country may not be perfect, as far as possible, Israel practices pluralism. Thus its citizens come up with these invention that can have a truly positive global impact.

However, BDS would have you believe that this life-saving product should be boycotted, like Netta. Strange? Funny? Bizarre? Or just downright anti-Semitic, the very antithesis of pluralism.



It’s over a decade ago now, when a workman turned up an hour late. He briskly entered, telling me off for deliberately giving him the wrong address. I was too bemused to object.

Yesterday, a gentleman arrived 40 minutes late for an interview, complaining that the place was very difficult to get to. Hmm, as I considered all the others in the office. However, what should I respond and when?

I decided to hold back, looking for a more appropriate moment. And my reasoning was very clear to me. For most of us when we are late, it is because we have not left nearly enough time to arrive on time. Why? Usually it is because we are unnerved by what is in front of us or we do not belief it is of value.

Thus, we drag out that cup of coffee. We miss the earlier bus. We sneak in an extra phone call. And all of this is done, while we try to fool ourselves that we are seriously trying to be ‘on time’ for our appointment.

And in the end, the only people we really fool are….. indeed ourselves.

Back to my critical gentleman friend. We sat and discussed. As a business mentor, did I believe that he could set up this concept  – it is a service based venture – in the Jerusalem area? Yes, I responded very categorically, and his eyes lit up. “But on one condition!”

Panic swept across his face. I continued. “You need to change. You are seeking to provide a service for others. You cannot blame them for your mistakes.”

The moment he asked me to explain further, he realised his mistake. “If you want to be late for a meeting, I don’t mind. You pay for my time. However, don’t you expect a higher standard from yourself?”

To drive home the point, I did not say anything else. I let my facial expression exclaim ‘do not blame me for you not valuing my time with the respect it deserves’.

Our hero of the story signed up for a series of sessions on how to develop his new business.




Israel is a country replete with conservative religions. It is located in the Middle East. Therefore, women do not have a key role to play in its society, correct?

That is certainly what liberal critics of the country would have you make believe. Just last week, a leading rabbi was kept under house arrest for harassment of young women. Known cases in the army – the largest bureaucracy in the country – total about 1.000 annually. Wages of women compared to men in similar jobs regularly lag behind. And the rest seems to be a familiar story…..

….or maybe not. The days of Prime Minister Golda Meir are four decades behind us. The outgoing governor of the Bank of Israel and at least the leaders of two major banks in Israel are women. Of the 120 members of the Israeli Parliament, 35 are female, a ratio that is improving consistently. Two of the country’s growing stars in TV journalism are women (and neither are Jewish).

I was particularly fascinated by three articles on women in Israeli society that have featured in the press recently.

Karin Eibschitz Segal is the head of Intel’s R&D in Israel. That means 7,000 jobs and an annual revenue of around US$30 billion has a lot to do with how she is ‘feeling every morning’. For the record, Intel has made around 18 purchases of Israeli companies since 1974. 20% of its r&d team are estimated to be women.

Returning to politics, Aliza Bloch and Einat Kalish Rotem were recently elected as mayors of the cities of Beit Shemesh and Haifa respectively. Both where considered ‘dark horses’, ousting male incumbents who were considered safe bets just weeks before the polls opened. Interestingly, the former was the head mistress of a school, whose ex pupils are considered to have voted for her en masse.

And finally, and maybe surprisingly, is Hannah Ziad. I had never heard of her until last week. With over 700,000 followers, she is the country’s leading YouTube blogger. The vast majority of her fans are from Arab countries, looking out for her latest fashion tips. Now aged 25 and developing her own brand with a designer from Bethlehem, she has been active in social media for over a decade.

Does all this make Israel a ‘Garden of Eden’ for women to live in? Unfortunately not. However, it is an indication how the country is progressing, beyond the traditional religious restrictions. It also show how others can learn from these changes.

Just under a decade ago, my wife and I visited Prague.

A beautiful, fascinating city, I recall that it had around six million visitors a year. One key site was the Jewish Quarter and its rich history. At that time, Israel’s tourism industry had posted a new ‘high’ of about 2.5 million tourists annually. In other words, ironically more foreigners were exposed to Jewish cultural interests via The Czech Republic than from the Holy Land itself.

Jump forward to November 2018. Yesterday, I attended a seminar hosted by the Israeli Tourism Ministry. In attendance were several prominent business mentors and coaches such as myself, listening to the Director General (in picture), senior academics in the profession and others.

The message? Times are a changing. The ministry is supporting a massive programme of building hotel rooms around the country. Tourists – especially those with deep pockets – are flocking in. This year is likely to conclude with about 4 million visitors for the first time.


So what has happened whereby that last month alone there were 60,000 extra visitors compared to October 2017?

A much heralded stat is that there are over 300 local start ups involved in the area of travel tech. Could this be one of the key reasons why flights to Eilat have risen tenfold in two years.

The ministry would also argue that much is to do with their change of policy. Instead of just passing out funds via local authorities, the mandarins today are deliberately targeting specific sectors. Those who win out are often seen to be enterprising and innovative.

For example, for the recent royal wedding in England, the ministry pulled a great ‘out-of-the-box’ stunt. They ran an advertising booth not far from Windsor Castle.

Israel is now on the map not just for religious tourists, travelling to holy sites in Jerusalem and around the Sea of Galilee. It provides a spot of relaxation for business vacationers. There are health resorts, medical tourism, wine tasting tours and much more. Geopolitical issues are now longer the handicap of the past. 2019, spurred on by the Eurovision Song Contest, looks as if it will see more records broken.


This week’s monthly meeting of the networking group “Jerusalem BioCity” showed just how much the city has emerged commercially. Once, the domain of bureaucrats and tourists, Israel’s capital now hosts venture capitalists with significant clout, in addition to world class working spaces and financial support from the public sector, all dedicated to the health community.

The meeting ‘s key speaker was Dr. Zvi Karni (middle of the picture), the CEO of Alma Lasers, who delivered an excellent summary of his company’s successes.


He was preceded by four leaders of Jerusalem-based medical or bio start ups, each offering a new solution in their individual fields. What I found fascinating is that most had created a solid business model and had found financing, despite being lodged in the supposed commercial backwater of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem BioCity is at the fulcrum of a change that has global impact. If you google the phrase ‘Jerusalem bio / pharma’, you discover an amazingly vast spectrum of IP. Two of the key factors in this development are the city’s leading hospitals and its multi-campused university. For example:

ITEM ONE: Asana Bio Group Ltd. has invested $2.3 million in the Lumir Lab, located at the Hebrew University, that will provide clinical trial services to companies that are developing a wide range of medical cannabis-based products in a bid to help them get widespread legitimacy.

ITEM TWO: An new HIV drub, developed by Zion Medical in Jerusalem, appears to be “99% effective”.

ITEM THREE: Now at Phase 3 stage for its leading product, Gamida has filed for a US$69 million IPO on NASDAQ.

What next? Keep googling. Blink and you could miss it.


I was looking at a summary of the week’s news. There were a series of amazing reports coming out of Israel, which were just ignored by the international media. It would interesting to understand why, but here’s your chance to catch up on what you missed and put out the word yourself.

IsraAID has a proud reputation for responding to international crises, such as in Haiti. German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has just presented to its “German branch the German government’s highest honor for integration. The award was for giving psychological support in Arabic to at-risk refugee women and others affected by gender-based violence living in shelters, in addition to training and counseling for shelter staff. “

On the high-tech stage, ‘brand Israel’, a.k.a., the start-up nation, continues to steam ahead. In the third quarter of 2018, Israeli companies raised $1.55 billion in 131 financing rounds. So no surprise that Jack Ma, champion of Alibaba, made yet another trip to the Holy Land last week. He observed: –

Most people innovate for success, but Israel innovates for survival. You have no diamonds, but you have a large diamond industry. You have no car industry, but you are a leader in auto technology. You have no water, but you export vegetables to Europe.

Boeing is the latest company to throw off the shackles of the past. It is poised to enter a US10 billion defense contract with Israel.

Similarly, in the automotive industry, Israel is now the core for global manufacturers rather than the pariah. According to research from Roland Berger, “investment in the Israeli smart mobility sector reached USD 22 billion over the past five years.

London and Tel Aviv could not be more different. The home of cricket, where it is supposed to rain 11 months of the year, or the sweltering humidity of costal Israel, where people are constantly on their mobiles. Take your pick.

When it comes down to business, London has the historical advantage. Last week, it emerged that London houses 36 of UK’s 60 Unicorn startups, representing more than a fifth of all unicorns in Europe at a total valuation of $132bn. In comparison, Berlin holds the second biggest city spot with just eight unicorn startups, worth $32bn.”

Impressive. Yet two days previously, I was reading an article in The Sunday Times newspaper, which asked who are the alternative Silicon Valleys in the sun. At the top of their list appears Tel Aviv. And the reasons?

  • 6-12% corporation tax for tech companies
  • Well regarded research universities on hand, with multilingual students in abundance.
  • Young population.
  • Highly cosmopolitan scene.
  • Great rentals available, even if prices are not the cheapest.

Neither item is a conclusive statement as to where you should go to open up your start up. That said

Israeli high-tech companies raised $1.55 billion in 131 financing rounds in the third quarter of 2018, according to a quarterly report on high-tech financing rounds by IVC and ZAG. This is a slight decline in comparison with the $1.65 billion raised in the second quarter and the $1.6 billion raised in the third quarter of 2017. $4.54 billion was raised in 444 rounds in the first three quarters of 2018, the most ever raised in Israeli high tech during a nine-month period.

I have just spent 10 days walking around London and the English countryside. Even in the most obscure places, you find that somebody is shouting out an interesting message about their business.

On one particular day, my wife and I strolled for miles, through forests, up and down rolling grassy hilltops. And then we unexpectedly came out to a clearing to be greeted by a coffee house, doing a roaring lunchtime business. Home made pies and cakes, at seemingly reasonable prices. About the only thing they had not sold out of was coffee and tea.

This was not ‘passing-by’ custom. People had deliberately come here.

The reason I mention this is that on my first day back, apart from writing this blog, I have to give a talk on creating a winning business model. So as a Jerusalem-based business mentor and coach, let me just offer two insights that came my way, while on holiday.

We found a place to stay in London, using Great location in the city, the one room studio looked inviting on the website, even alluding to a balcony where you could sit outside. In fact, the entrance hall smelt of damp, the doors creaked, the fan in the bathroom sounded as if it was about to launch with NASA, and I could go on.

We will complain. The place will be graded accordingly. However, compare all that to the small flat that some friends of mine place on Airbnb. Their location in Israel is residential, neither close to business nor tourist centres, and yet they have an over 80% occupancy rate.

Why? Because they care about their customers. They have placed much thought into why people want to stay in such a lodging. As I suggested a few weeks ago, they have considered, in depth, why people want to buy.

We also discovered that travelling to and from Luton Airport is never a problem. Their are several buses an hour, multiple routes, 24/7, at amazingly attractive rates. You wonder how taxis can compete? They do. I know of one person who specializes in customers to and from Israel. His fees are a touch less than his competitors, but still way above those charged by the buses.

And how does he ‘get away with it’? His car is clean. He turns up punctually. He is polite. It is a service worth paying a bit extra for.

Meanwhile, the bus service from the airport in Israel to Jerusalem is not brilliant. For decades, one taxi service has dominated the roads. The shuttle fills up with ten people and then drives off. If you speak to their offices in Jerusalem, you are often left with that feeling of wonder what you have done to annoy them.

My wife and I waited for 50 minutes on last Friday morning – after an overnight flight – for the driver to pull out. He insisted on hanging around until his vehicle was full. He claimed that the rules allowed him to wait a full hour.

And as we were sitting there, helpless and clinging on to the last piece of patience we could muster, and waiting for others to pile aboard, many other travelers sauntered by with their luggage on their trolleys. You see, they were heading for the new railway line from the airport…to Jerusalem. Clean, still getting over a few teething problems, and none of the ‘unsubtle driving techniques’ of Israeli taxi services.

Your business model is often the base for an executive summary. Guess which model above would and would not appear to have a future. Be specific in your reasoning. And then, work out how these answers will have you summarise your business to a prospect.





The Israel Britain Chamber of Commerce is one of those old fashioned chambers, where a smile and firm handshake takes you a long way.

This week, it organised the 8th Annual UK Real Estate Convention, kindly hosted at the home of the ambassador David Quarrey. In his welcoming speech, Quarrey rolled off the numbers to perfection. For example, 2016 and 2017 saw record trade between the two countries. 2018 is not far behind.

What struck me was that roughly two billion shekels – say £0.45bn – is invested every year by Israelis in the British property market. As if to prove the point, David Fattal delivered a presentation as guest of honour. Just this week, the Fattal Group announced the purchase of the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

The Midland …… will be a significant addition to the Fattal group’s portfolio of properties in the UK, which will number 9,309 rooms in 44 hotels when the deal is completed.

With a touch of ironic timing, earlier this week, Graham Stuart, who is Britain’s Secretary of State for International Trade, declared that:

The UK and Israel have a strong and important trading relationship, and we are committed to strengthening it. The commercial team in our Embassy in Tel Aviv actively promote UK-Israel trade in the medical sector and are sponsoring a delegation of 6 Israeli importers of medical devices to meet with UK companies at the upcoming Medica Trade Exhibition this year.   There is also extensive bilateral collaborative medical research between the UK and Israel. The UK-Israel Tech Hub, based at the Embassy, helps to create tech and innovation partnerships across several sectors, including healthcare.
Next month, the Embassy is organising a visit by a delegation of senior NHS officials to Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli healthcare companies who are looking to invest in the UK.

Eight days have passed since a Palestinian kidnapped, handcuffed and shot two Israelis in a factory in the industrial zone of Barkan in the heart of the West Bank.

A few days later, this form of ‘self-defense” was justified by yet another resolution from the British Labour Party, this time emanating from the area of Brighton. Personally, I find this form of argument repugnant. It is barely discourse. Rather, it represents a set of statements based on hatred, whose design is the very opposite of peaceful coexistence.

I am not going to argue that the relations between most Jews and most Arab in the West Bank is like a rose garden on a summer’s day with birds twittering in the background. However, Israel’s weekend newspaper cobbled together some facts that are worth copying here and analyzing.

There are about 100,000 Palestinians working in Israel on a daily basis, and roughly 2/3 have a license to do so. Another 30,000 work in places like the Barkan area. If the average monthly wage in the Palestinian territories is around 2,500 nis, a typical Palestinian will bring home about 6,500 nis (about US$1,800) from an Israeli employer.  Of the 8,000 or so workers in the Barkan district, about 3,500 are Palestinians with a license.

Let us be clear. Since 2010, the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, has officially banned its followers to work for Jewish enterprises. These are the same companies that by Israeli law have to pay the Palestinians full social security contributions, which are negligent under Ramallah law.

In some factories, Palestinians do climb up the tree of management, although rarely to senior levels. That said, incidents of murder or lesser violence have barely been reported since the industrial zone was established 36 years ago.

The BDS movement, prominently supported by much of the Labour Party, would put an end to this creation of mutual wealth and trust. In other words, the Israelis should be boycotted and sent packing. In their place would be……….well, I suppose fewer Palestinians, earning less than half their previous wages, and without the social benefits that a Labour Party demands for its own membership in the UK.

I suppose this is where hatred is so valuable, as it is required to help to cover up the malignant contradictions of the BDS thought process. And in the meantime, the local authorities are constantly preparing more space for factories in the West Bank, which looks to be an economic win-win policy for all parties, who care.





I have been asked to give a series of lectures in the Jerusalem region on creating a killer business model. And when considering what makes a strong selling package, I came across a series of massive failures by those who should have known better – remember how Hoover UK promised a free trip to America if you bought £100 of products?

As a business coach and mentor, I find myself asking a question: Why is it that sophisticated executives make such blunders? What is it that they ignore?

I am fascinated by the practical, if not obvious, approach of Mark Banschick.

…. the buying decision is the result of both how well information was transferred from the business to the buyer, and the believability of the information…….customers need constructivist support, i.e. things that make the product or service personally meaningful. (My emphasis).

Interestingly, in this age of Amazon selling, Banschick makes the point that sales are often secured when a potential customer can touch or feel a product.

Cole Shafer takes this argument one stage further.

People buy to move closer to pleasure or further from pain (or in some rare instances both)

Shafer explains that sales are concluded for a wide range of different reasons; emotional, need, herd mentality to name but three. It is the job of the seller to understand what makes their target community tick and what message delivered by which medium is the most effective.

Again, all fairly obvious. However, why do so many of us – corporate and SMEs – miss this? The answers vary from laziness to arrogance through to the ‘fear factor’. What they all have in common is a lack of attention to detail.

So my question to you is what have you ignored in preparing your latest sales campaign? And have you ever considered how much you will benefit from just another 1% growth in sales?

I have written before about the growing trade between Israel and the UK. The numerous jobs gained at Rolls Royce in Derby is just one indication of this trend. In fact, “exports from the UK to Israel skyrocketed in the first six months of this year to £2.6 billion, an eyebrow-raising 75 percent increase on the eve of Brexit”.

In light of the hatred exhibited at the British Labour Party’s conference last week, it was suggested that I pursue the theme one step further. What follows are three items that I have come my way in the past week alone.

  1. The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) is to hold its 3rd annual conference in Israel next month. Nearly 30 Israeli companies are already listed in London with a market capitalization approaching US$9 billion.
  2. In a totally different sphere – and I never thought that I would be writing this – Israel is about to commence large scale commercial exports of whisky to the UK. Yes, whisky, the “water of life” from the Milk and Honey distillery in the Holy Land, is to be imported by Maverick Drinks, a serial award winning distributor in London.
  3. And in the world of real estate, it is well known that Israelis have shown considerable interest in the British market in recent years. For example, the Fattal empire is the second largest hotel group in the UK , employing thousands. In two weeks time, the Israel Britain Chamber of Commerce (IBCC) will hold its 8th annual conference on the British property market. This is near guaranteed to raise investment into the UK.

I suppose that I should declare that I do possess one of the first bottles labelled by Milk and Honey, and also that I am on the board of the IBCC.

That said, can you imagine what would happen if the Labour Party was given a chance to implement its policy of hate? How many jobs would be lost on both sides of the equation? How much mutual investment would be lost? And in the name of …..?


It is generally accepted that Israel will be burdened by a general election in the first quarter of 2019. Thus, the top ministers of the various partners of the coalition are rushing to give interviews as to how much they have done for their supporters and how their policies have made these groups better off.

And yes, the politicians and bureaucrats in Jerusalem have been doing a reasonable job. For example, the rating agency, Standard & Poor, raised its grading of Israel to AA- this summer.

But, I have been very concerned just recently. The Finance Minister, Moshe Kahlon, an opponent of the Prime Minister and one of the shrewdest players on the political court, is advocating 90% mortgages for young, first-time buyers. In other words, on the 10th anniversary of the global credit crisis, Kahlon is rejecting one of the most key lessons learnt from the financial meltdown.

Significantly, Kahlon has had more than his fair share of arguments with the Governor of the Bank of Israel, Mrs. Carmit Flug. A few months ago, Flug realised that her tenure would not receive an ‘automatic renewal’ for a second term, and so she announced her resignation.

Flug’s deputy, Dr. Nadine Bodo-Trachtenberg, gave an interview to “The Marker” newspaper in Hebrew last week. Yes, she complained that she has not been considered for the top job, despite what she sees as he excellent pedigree. And she appreciates that she is as ‘marked’ as a supporter of her immediate boss. That said, Bodo-Trachtenberg clarifies issues that Kahlon would not necessarily want others to here.

First, Israel was extremely well prepared to meet the crisis of 2008. Banks were not exposed and the Minister of Finance at the time refused to budge to the needs of interest groups.

However, in 2018, the threat is external. Israel’s balance of trade has improved significantly by building up strong relationships with the likes of China, Brazil, the UK. Each of these countries and others are now facing the threat of an economic slowdown. This shift will probably impact adversely on Israel. Bodo-Trachtenberg argues that Israel should not continue in a vacuum, unprepared for the worst.

Second, compared to other countries, Israel has brought down its GDP-to-debt ratio from around 80% to 55% since the year 2000. The OECD average stands at about 100%. Above 120% or so, and you end being compared to former basket-cases like Greece and Ireland. The problem is that the populist demands for monies from the coalition partners in the Israeli government, combined with the necessary demands of the defense sector and the Prime Minister’s weak position in the Kenesset, means that the success of debt reduction is under threat.

And when that is at risk, Standard & Poor could revise their estimates back downwards. This in turn would make it more difficult and more expensive for the country to raise money on the international money markets.

I have no idea who will replace Flug. I do know that the best central banks in history are able to maintain their independence from the grubby hands of politicians. Israel needs that protection just as much as anyone other country. Let us hope that Kahlon and Netanyahu have the skill and courage to maintain their distance from one of the key elements of any civil society.


Today, Thursday, nearly 7,000 Christians marched are openly and proudly marching through the streets of Jerusalem. About 24 hours earlier, Jeremy Corbyn, the controversial leader of the Labour Party in the UK, spoke to his annual conference. Regarding Jews and Israel, he said:

I believe we are all stronger from listening and learning from each other.
The Jewish people have suffered a long and terrible history of persecution and genocide. I was humbled to see a memorial to that suffering two years ago, when I visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin.
The row over antisemitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party. But I hope we can work together to draw a line under it.
I say this to all in the Jewish community:
This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms.
We are your ally.
And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks.
We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate antisemitism, both from our party and wider society.
And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess.
Anti-racism is integral to our very being. It’s part of who you all are, and it’s part of who I am.

……. And let me next say a few words about the ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people. Our Party is united in condemning the shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli forces and the passing of Israel’s discriminatory Nation-State Law.
The continuing occupation, the expansion of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of Palestinian children are an outrage. We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state.
But a quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords we are no closer to justice or peace and the Palestinian tragedy continues, while the outside world stands by.
As my great Israeli friend Uri Avnery who died this year put it: “What is the alternative to peace? A catastrophe for both peoples”.
And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office.

Promising, but as with much of the speech, great words and little substance. To find out if the deeds can match the words, it is worth referring back to the debate on Tuesday, when the conference voted to ban arms’ sales to Israel. The reasoning is that because Israel is deemed a goliath of an aggressor against the Palestinians, it should only be allowed to defend itself against terror with one hand tied behind its back.

Now this debate was considered the fourth most urgent issue at the conference, as judged by delegates. It was placed higher than the National Health Service or pensions to name a few. In fact, Israel was the only country selected for a foreign policy debate.

Some considered the discussion an empty gesture by an irrelevant force. Judging from the popularity of Corbyn’s own speech, I find this naïve. The debate on Israel had to be carefully orchestrated. And despite the control, many speakers managed to work into their comments anti-Semitic elements. For example:

If you want to know how that orchestration (of alleged antisemitism smears) works you need to watch that Al Jazeera documentary The Lobby.

What really concerned me was the chanting not reported about in the general press. At the beginning of the discussion, many delegates were bellowing out the phrase “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea”.

Sounds innocuous? It is part of the PLO constitution. It refers to the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. The constitution explicitly says that Jews will not be allowed to live in that area.

Nobody took any action to stop these chants. And where exactly are the Jews of Palestine supposed to live? In a Corbynite Britain?

In this context, what do the 360 words of Corbyn’s speech quoted above add up to?

Let me provide an answer in manner that challenges the newspeak of Corbyn. He argues that he talks to the IRA, Hamas, the Iranians, et al because he believes that in order to make peace, you have to talk to the enemy. Sounds potentially plausible.

It is funny how he never talks to his own enemies like leading rabbis in the UK or the Zionist organisations in the UK. Why is that? What do those lack of action signify?


I am currently reading a book called The Holocaust by Laurence Rees. With some ironic timing, his description of Hitler’s manipulation of the economic chaos of the late 1920s and the speeches of the Fuhrer are worringly familiar to a politician of the modern era.

Israel is known as the start-up nation. Its bilateral trade with countries like the UK has never been higher. OurCrowd, based in Jerusalem and a leader in microfunding, is about to reach US$1 billion in crowdfunding.

In recent weeks, the country has seen a stunning list of successes in the acquisitions market.

And so the list goes on. Israel’s place in the international market is well established.

This position is based on mutual trust and growth for all. Today, Tuesday, the annual conference of the British Labour Party is due to vote to reject that prosperity. This issue is considered more important than the failing National Health Service….which is also now benefits from Israeli technology.

Tonight, Tuesday 18th September 2018, the fast of Yom Kippur will commence. Known in English as the day of Atonement, Israel shuts down. You will not see cars on the road. Businesses are closed. Restaurants are shut. Complete tranquility, as the country – at least traditional and observant Jews – dedicate themselves to prayer.

(To put the biblical instruction in terms of 2018, millions learn how to put aside Whattsapp for 25 hours).

Sunday morning, roughly 48 hours previous to my writing this text, Rabbi Ari Fuld was out shopping near the town of Efrat, located between Bethlehem and Hebron. Many around the world know this region as the West Bank (of the Jordan River).

Fuld was stabbed in the back by a 16 year old, Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, from a village south of Hebron. There is a video of Fuld trying to chase the youth and taking a shot at him, before collapsing. I know the medic who tried to treat Fuld on the spot. He described to me the gapping hole in the rabbi’s back. He was declared dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.

The youth was remanded in an Israeli hospital, where he was treated for a mild flesh wound to his hand. His initial “court appearance” was conducted around his bed. The Palestinian Authority (PA) will pay his family about US$400 every month for three years. As the Palestinian ambassador to the UK effectively admitted on a talk-in last week, such funds are available due to the generosity and financial support from European and other governments towards the PA.

The supporters of the Palestinian cause have blasted social media with the argument that Fuld was an armed settler, and thus he was a legitimate target. I suppose the logic of that argument is that if you disagree with somebody’s politics, you can slay them in cold blood.

I guess that mix of hatred justifies 9/11 in the USA, 7/7 in London, Spanish train bombings et al. It is noticeable the many of the proponents of such views hang out with anti-semites. They imply that Jews are a fifth column in their country of living. More hatred, which is rarely found in societies looking to cerate individual growth and development.

What would such people say if a dear and beloved one was randomly slain in the name of a political movement? Would that also become acceptable?

As for the victim, I saw a post from a friend of mine, David Olesker.

In the last week a righteous man, whose public works are known to many, was murdered. Our Sages say that the death of the righteous (especially those who die sanctifying G-d’s name) is an atonement for the generation.
I can’t help but feel that, despite the countless merits of the acts Ari Fuld did in public, his true righteousness probably lay in his private life, known to his family and those closest to him. There are doubtless others, who are not known to the wider world, who stand beside him today, before the Throne of Mercy, where they will plead for their people on the day when we are all judged.
These advocates will not make us ashamed, let us not make them ashamed!

The scenery at this time of year in Israel is exquisite. On the Day of Atonement, Jews pray to be sealed in the Book of Life. I wish everyone – yes, everyone – a healthy, prosperous year ahead. It should be a year full of self-fulfillment and mutual opportunities.

The amount of Israeli investment in the UK has been growing since a UK government scheme called the UK Israel Tech Hub was launched in 2011……..Anglo-Israeli business deals totalling £85m have now been secured through the hub. Meanwhile, hundreds of British and Israeli companies have been involved in its various activities and events. During 2016-17 this included more than 150 UK and 490 Israeli firms.

Thus, summarised an extensive review by the BBC of the growing tech ties between Israel and the UK.

To give some context, the item comes during an interesting week for relations between the two countries. The British affirmed in the House of Commons that “The UK has announced £17 million of funding over the past four months, in addition to our original budget of £28.5 million, to protect UNRWA’s vital services (for the Palestinians).

And the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has continued to oppose anti-Semitism, while talking the languages of its proponents (sic). This sinister approach was dissected in a satirical rebuke by award winning author, Howard Jacobson, and then in an eloquent speech by former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks in the House of Lords.

(As if to confirm their concerns and to highlight the depth of malicious debate in the Labour Party,  TUC delegate Mark Serwotka has just declared that Israel has tried to “create a story that does not exist”. His words and tone are the plagarised language of the fake ‘Protocols of Zion’ from Tsarist Russia.)

So let us just step aside and see how much each country contributes to the success of each others’ economy and society as a whole.

  • It is less than a month ago that the largest trade deal between the UK and Israel was declared. Rolls Royce is “supplying Trent 1000 engines to power a fleet of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that have been ordered by EL AL Israel Airlines”. That is a lot of work for a lot of British jobs.
  • Staying with flight, the UK’s Effective Space, a startup developing a satellite servicing system (drones), has announced an agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to provide technical and financial support.
  • In the world of finance, the cities of London and Tel Aviv have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding to bolster FinTech and cyber security cooperation between two leading global centres for digital innovation.

And so the list goes on. As a British minister stated in Parliament on 13th September: The UK-Israel Trade Working Group is making positive progress towards transitioning the EU – Israel Association Agreement, to maintain our strong trade and investment relationship with Israel.

I think it is worth concluding with extracts from a debate from the same day led by Dr. Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for international trade. To quote the salient points:

From online banking security to prescription drugs to cherry tomatoes, Israel has become an international technological and trade powerhouse. Every day, millions of Britons are benefiting from Israeli inventions and produce, even if they do not realise it.

Our trade with Israel currently stands at £3.9 billion in goods and services, with our exports up 7% in the past year. The Prime Minister met the Israeli Prime Minister in February 2017 to set up the joint trade working group, and I would like to thank the Israeli Government for their close liaison. We are dedicated to the continuity of trade and, once we leave the European Union, to having an ambitious new trade agreement that will provide even greater benefits than those we currently have.

The tech hub (see above) is there to help British businesses to get access to the innovations that come out of Israel across a range of sectors. It is worth pointing out that Israel is an extraordinarily innovative country and has more start-ups per capita than any other country on the planet. Where we can get UK businesses across a range of sectors to get access to such innovation, it is always a positive outcome.

The latest computers used in the House of Commons use Intel 7 and Intel 8 cores and above, and Shazam, Skype and FaceTime all use technology developed in Israel.

As I (Dr Fox) have already said, the key to that is the UK-Israel tech hub. This relates not only to the area of computers, which my hon. Friend has mentioned, but to FinTech, cyber-security, biomed, retail technology and the creative industries. These are all prime areas for co-operation between the United Kingdom and Israel, and we should celebrate that relationship and the benefits that it brings to both our populations.

Now if Mark Serwotka, a Corbyn ally, would have their way on Jews in Israel, how many British workers would lose their jobs. How much worse would British consumer become?

Israel’s economy is rarely a straight forward case study to analyse. All observations are usually couched with the get-out phrase about the uncertainties of the geo-political context. True, but for almost two decades – and arguably longer, the country and its commercial system has punched higher than expected.

This week, Jews around the world celebrated their new year. Israeli industry ground to a halt, except for those selling ice cream on the beaches. And yet the great stats keep surging through.

  • For the first time in some years, the fiscal debt compared to the GDP – an internationally accepted measure of an economy’s strength – is heading in the wrong direction. It may peak over 3%, but that is still far better than most of the world’s powerhouses.
  • Foreign currency reserves – at over 30% of GDP – remain close to their all-time high.
  • Unemployment has edge up to 4.3% in recent months, yet remains highly impressive for a country that has known far worse stats in living memory.

And as for the image of the ‘start up nation’, the success stories keep rolling in: –

The list of positives goes on. Yes, the downside is rarely far away. However, at this festive time of the year, it is worthwhile concentrating on the successes. Both Israelis and others can be proud, if not also thankful, for them.

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