Hi-tech Zionism in action

By DAVID SHAMAH
December 20, 2010 23:15

Although they have contributed much to Israel’s bottom line, hi-tech folks are often thought of as “yuppies” – in the negative sense of the term – by many Israelis.




A  cell phone user [illustrative]

Cellphone user 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Although they have contributed much to Israel’s bottom line, hi-tech folks are often thought of as “yuppies” – in the negative sense of the term – by many Israelis. Living and working in the “bubble” of Herzliya and Tel Aviv, hi-tech personnel work and play in their own little world, unconcerned with the greater problems facing Israel.

Of course they pay their taxes, and the products they develop help their companies – and hence the country – succeed. But, many Israelis feel, their personal involvement with improving Israeli society is nil; if not Herzliya, the hi-tech crowd could just as easily be working in the various Silicon Valleys, Alleys and Wadis that now dot the globe.

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Lose the stereotype; the reality is far different. And a great example of that different reality comes in the form of Nissim Nisimian, CEO of Eurotech, one of the world’s leading suppliers of equipment and technology for IP telephony gateways that bring together cellphone and landline (PSTN service), allowing service providers to more easily and efficiently connect calls for less money.

Eurotech has worked with all the major Israeli cellphone service providers. It has been instrumental in enabling them to develop various “triple-play” options, where customers can subscribe and flip services between an IP-based “landline,” a cellphone and an Internet connection.

After having worked on several important security projects in Israel, Nisimian (who owns the privately held company) decided about three years ago to move into the export market, and its systems are installed in numerous locations around the world, including the Far East and South America. Considered one of the world leaders in telephony integration, Eurotech has been in business for about a decade.

It sounds like a typical hi-tech success story – without a whit of the social activism alluded to above. But as it turns out, Nisimian and Eurotech have probably done more to help Israel than half a dozen (maybe even a dozen!) hack politicians. By being located in Rosh Pina, in the North, and by having extensive trade ties with nearly every country in the Arab world, Eurotech helps advance two important principles of modern Zionism: developing the Galilee and enhancing ties with countries throughout the Middle East.

'Made in the North'

In “the first interview I have given in 57 years,” the 57-year-old Nisimian said he specifically had decided to open his enterprise in Rosh Pina, far off the radar for Israeli hi-tech. “After spending some years in Los Angeles, I came back to Israel and tried to think about what I could do to help the country. I decided to set up shop in the North, to help provide jobs and increase the level of enterprise in the region. All of the good jobs are in the center of the country. So if we want bright, intelligent people to settle in the North, we have to provide them with a way to make a living.”

“I’m very proud not only that my company’s products are highly sought after, but that these soughtafter products are made in Israel’s North, not usually known for hitech enterprise,” he says.

And indeed, Eurotech’s products and services are sought-after. Not only in Israel’s North and in the center of the country, but in places like Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and – believe it or not – Turkey. This week, a high-level delegation from one of Turkey’s largest phone integrators is due to arrive in Israel to sign an agreement that has been in the works since before the summer to purchase Eurotech integration systems for use in the Turkish market.

The deal was actually set to be signed last May but was delayed because of the Gaza flotilla incident, with both Eurotech and its Turkish customer deciding it would be best to lay low for a while. The contract is valued at €500,000 (about NIS 3 million), and Nisimian is optimistic that the Turks will buy more equipment in the future.

Whether that is a sign relations between Israel and Turkey are improving is a question for diplomats, but it’s clear that business ties, at least in the telephony realm, did not suffer long-term consequences.

'Expanding to Arab states'

Nisimian doesn’t intend to stop with Turkey, either. “We plan on opening an office in Turkey to service our client, and that office will also work with the Turkish company to develop a white-label telephony system for use in Arab countries,” he says.

Actually, the deals Nisimian expects to close with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states and other Middle Eastern countries (except for Syria and Iran, of course) will just streamline a process that has been ongoing for years, he says.

“We’ve been selling to these countries for quite a while, and the operators there all know us very well,” he says. “They like our products, and we have done many deals in these countries already. The new product line in cooperation with the Turkish company will make it easier for us and for clients in Arab countries to buy our equipment.”

If people like Nisimian – and his Turkish, Saudi and other customers – were running the world, it would probably be a much saner place. But unfortunately, the reins of leadership are usually in the hands of politicians – many of whom would be more than happy to jump on a juicy “scandal” to aggrandize themselves. But considering the state of Israel-Turkey relations, Nisimian is far less concerned than a reporter about the possibility of that happening.

“Although IP conversations can be routed through servers all around the world, including servers here in Israel, the only people who have access to logs and real-time information are the service providers,” he says. “So any complaints that someone might have about our being able to ‘spy’ on the conversations that go through the systems we supply are nonsense.”

And, Nisimian says, Eurotech will be working with the Turks, training them to build some of the system’s components in Turkey, thereby providing jobs for the locals, which should mollify any rabble-rousing politicians.

And, he adds, Eurotech is working on new products that will help Israelis, Turks, Saudis and many others as well, with the company recently patenting a new compression process for transmitting video on the Internet.

“We’re constantly innovating and we’re proud of what we do here, but we’re especially proud to be doing it in the Galilee,” Nisimian says. “I’m thrilled that we have a first-class product that everyone likes.”

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