Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel’s 88th Day of War

In political news Monday the Israeli Supreme Court voted eight-to-seven to strike down the “reasonableness clause,” an amendment to Israel’s Basic Law that the Knesset passed in July. The clause imposes some limits on the high court’s purview; by striking it down, the court has granted itself the authority to overrule Basic Laws (which serve as Israel’s de-facto constitution). It affirmed this power in a separate ruling, approved by a twelve-to-three majority. The reasonableness clause was but a small part of a hotly debated platform of judicial reform that the government had introduced in the Knesset at the beginning of last year that three the country into chaos for 9 months until unity prevailed in the wake of the October 7th Hamas massacre.

Hamas terrorists murdered about 100 members of Kibbutz Be’eri and visitors on Oct. 7. Of the 30 who were kidnapped from their homes, 19 have been released and the body of Judith Weiss was recovered. As of this moment, 10 kibbutz members are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. Members of Be’eri who returned from Hamas captivity, returned to the devastated kibbutz this week to pay their respects to their neighbors and friends who were murdered or are still being held hostage.

Oren Sharabi, 13, whose father and uncle are still in Gaza, related: “My name is Oren. This is my first time in Kibbutz Be’eri since Oct. 7. Coming here scared me. It’s hard for me to be here after everything we’ve been through. I am coping with my fear because the scariest thing is that my father is still being held captive in Gaza.”  She described the horrific moments that turned her life upside down that day. “On Oct. 6, dad promised me we’d play soccer together, but on Saturday morning I woke up to a different reality. Dad held the door of the safe room shut and at first, he managed to stop them from entering, but the second time they managed to break in. I heard the terrorists laughing. They led us outside the house.”

On the economic front, local and international VC funds remain bullish on Israeli technology despite two crises that have compounded a funding squeeze in a sector that is the nation’s growth engine.

“The world knows that the impact that Israel has had over the last decades on global tech is very profound,” said Adam Valkin, a managing director at General Catalyst, a US-based venture capital firm that has invested “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Israeli founded companies over the past eight years, including fintech firms Melio, Rapyd and Lemonade and artificial intelligence healthcare company Aidoc. The VC fund has $25 billion in assets under management.

“Israel is a very important part of our global strategy, and will continue to be,” he said in a phone interview. “On a long-term basis, it’s hard not to be very optimistic about Israel tech.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by other VC fund heads and investors interviewed by The Times of Israel and those that participated at a tech confab, “Trends & Forecasts for 2024 – Israel’s VC Landspace,” in Tel Aviv last week. They spoke of the resilience of Israeli entrepreneurs in times of adversity, as they continued to run their businesses even as they sheltered from rockets, were called up to reserve duty, supported spouses and children in the army and mourned the dead from the October 7 Hamas massacre and the subsequent war in Gaza.

A Qatari mediator has reported that Hamas may be willing to agree to the release of 40-50 hostages captured from Israel in exchange for 120 Palestinian prisoners and a 20-day pause in fighting and has dropped its demand for a permanent ceasefire as a pre-condition, according to the Arab World Press, citing sources in Hamas. As recently as last week, Hamas rejected outright a hostage release agreement without Israel agreeing to a permanent ceasefire. There are now ongoing negotiations between Egypt, Qatar, the United States, Israel and Hamas with no agreement yet according to one of AWP‘s sources.

Let us hope that as the new year begins the positive signs that we are seeing will continue to develop further.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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