Insane. Intense. Divisive.
The list of words to describe events of last week could go on and on. US elections and results have sucked energy and media to extremes. Simple comments on social media are blown way out of proportion.
Meanwhile, the world continues to spin, the sun rose and set, and moon was shining bright last night.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, flash floods took lives. How many noticed?
In the Middle East, fighting seems to be the norm, with new attacks hard to chronicle. One of latest, four Americans were killed on a US military base in Afghanistan.
Kristallnacht, the night of Broken Glass, in Germany and Austria, on this 78 year, went mostly unnoticed. Real time burning and rioting in US cities filled our news feeds.
Veteran’s Day was remembered by families of those who served and are no longer living, but was merely a blip for main stream news. Posting a red poppy on social media garnered no response.
In Israel, the newly established holiday, Aliyah Day, to honor new immigrants, came and went with a major production at the Jerusalem
International Convention Center, attended by a list of Israeli officials,
headed by the Prime Minister and his wife, and those who had tickets and patience to wait in long lines to enter.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sped through the Jerusalem streets with noisy motorcades, but was kept far away from public view.
Then, to top it all off, Leonard Cohen’s passing ended the week on a down note.
With election hysteria, also overlooked was a business mission of Conexx, from November 5-10, to stimulate partnerships between companies and universities in the southeastern United States.
For a week in September, the Governor of Maryland led a trade mission to Israel.
Business mission delegates from Australia and Canada are regular visitors to the Start-Up Nation, always Tel Aviv, and recently Jerusalem and Beer Sheva are on investor guest itineraries.
The Conexx delegation was made up of prominent business leaders, researchers, and economic developers from Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Conexx, a private, not-for-profit organization, helps American corporations identify innovations and R&D opportunities in Israel, as well as help Israeli companies to establish a successful presence in the southeast and beyond. Headquarters are located in Atlanta, GA, with a representative in Tel Aviv.
After spending time in Beer Sheva at Ben Gurion University, the delegation met, with members of Jerusalem’s start-up community, sponsored by the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum, JBNF, and the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, at Lev Academic Center, JCT.
Moderator Michael Horesh, called on Stuart Hershkowitz, vice president of JCT, as the first of long list of speakers. Hershkowitz informed the over 100 visitors and JBNF members filling the school auditorium, “Israel has a shortage of 10,000 engineers.” One of the goals of JCT is to provide education to ultra-Orthodox men and women, in separate courses, and to Ethiopian Israelis, to empower them with technical skills to enter the Israeli workforce and fill that gap.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Ofer Berkovtich explained Mayor Nir Barkat’s plan for changing the image of Jerusalem. First to improve culture and attract young artists and increase tourism, and now to put Jerusalem on the map of “start-up Israel” with incentives provided by the municipality.
Dr. David Morel, Project Manager at Israeli HMO, Kupat Holim Meuhedet, spoke of the digital platform used for Israel medical system, which is “kosher by rabbis.”
Nir Yanovsky, Ministry of Health Digital Implementation Manager presented slides to illustrate impressive Israeli health care strategies.
Conexx President Guy Tessler introduced each of the visiting specialists, Frank Bishop, Dexter Caffey, David Cohen, David Cole, Geert de Vries, Timothy Denning, Jorge Fernandez, Benjamin Fink, Julia Hilliard, Gregory, Kirsh, Shari Neumann, Tal Ovadia, Shannon Pierce, Orna Sharon, Mark Spiegel, Alla Tsitsior, and Binghe Wang.
Other presenters included: Jorge Fernandez, VP Global Commerce, Dr, Tamar Raz, CEO of Hadassit, Jeremy Ben David, and Israeli entrepreneurs, Raissa Hacohen, CareNav, and Evan Spero, Vectored Photonics,
Orna Sharon, Development Coordinator of Conexx, though born in Israel, moved to Atlanta, GA, three years ago, from New York. Sharon commented on what she considered the large number of women present at the JBNF hosted event as compared to most tech-business events she has attended. Making her comment more impressive, the meeting was held from 5:30-8:30 pm, the worst time for mothers of young children to attend.
Though several participants of the business mission had been to Israel before, this was the first trip for Pierce, founder of CareCam Health Services. As a former cardiac and critical care nurse, she came interested in business collaborations, especially in patient care. She was prepared with a bag of business cards from multiple companies back home. Pierce commented, “Israelis much like Southerners, look you in the eye, speak directly, and help each other for the sake of helping.” Being from the southern US, I especially appreciated her remarks and accent.
Recently established JLMBioCity, was represented by Vice-President for Outreach, Vitali Shilo. JBNF’s Joe Van Zwaren was in Geneva representing JLMBioCity, helping Io promote Israeli entrepreneurs and business, specifically in the bio-medical fields.
JBNF, sponsor of hundreds of networking opportunities, was started ten years ago by Joe Van Zwaren, Michael Horesh, and Avigail Frig, and has grown with additional volunteers over the years. Meetings are usually conducted in English to benefit olim wanting to change careers, find a job, start a new business, or find their way in Israeli bureaucracy, and Israeli entrepreneurs who want to connect.
It seems from headlines the world spun out of control last week.
But quietly, once again the growing Jerusalem start-up community showed itself as a model of collaboration, not competition. Guests and JBNF members talked, exchanged cards, information and ideas, and networked after the program, before a bus took the visiting delegation back to their hotel in Tel Aviv. Connexx headquarters are located in Atlanta, GA, but are represented in Tel Aviv by Bracha Shlomo.
Not the stuff of headlines. No fires. No burning flags. No cars going up in flames. But imaginations and expertise and entrepreneurs coming together to light a spark, to improve lives. People connecting to help themselves and others in bio-medical and health fields and more.
Dark, longer nights this week, but a little light from Jerusalem.
And as for those Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions folks, one more huge fail.