I have just returned from an intensive ten day marketing trip talking to high net worth individuals, Family Office Investors, Bank Investment Directors and Funds all based in the Middle East. The purpose was to review their Investment requirements , monitor past performance, propose asset allocation and present my companies credentials. The following weeks will determine how successful or not the visit was.
My experience of commerce in the Middle East is extensive having worked in Egypt, Abu Dhabi , Dubai and Israel and having serviced clients from the area for over thirty years. This visit was remarkably different.
Apart from business development ( and food ), regional politics is the subject which every meeting contains and when being entertained or entertaining the Israel, Palestinian issue is the one which is debated for the most time – historically a disproportionate amount of time. Not so this trip.
In equal measure , Syria, Iraq, Yemen , Iran and Turkey were the topics of conversation. Hamas, Israel, Settlers, Zionists, Palestinians and so on were hardly mentioned. In fact when the subject did arise , my clients ( all being Arab and Muslim – maybe a couple were Christian ) showed some signs of anti Palestinian emotion. Given the increasing rapport Israel has made with the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt, this was still surprising albeit encouraging.
I was naturally delighted and yet in some way ashamed. Clearly Israel’s pariah status is dwindling among the dinner party chat of the wealthy elite. The price for Israel falling down the social chat, league tables is as a result of the horrors currently occurring in certain Arab countries. The anecdotal evidence is there .Even at the time of writing I note that Rouhani of Iran and President Abbas were speaking at the United Nations and giving their standard anti-Zionist and anti-Israel rhetoric. This would be given high media profile on the news. Not so this time.
Initially I thought – long may this continue. Should I feel this way and do many of you feel the same, I ask myself. The lowering of the anti-Israel news agenda is directly as a result of the hoorific scenes we are seeing in Syria , Yemen and Iraq. Would our learned Rabbis be pleased with this , what would they say?