gil kerbs 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Chinese believe Jews are good with money, strong in science and exert a
tremendous amount of influence on the world – all Jewish stereotypes, but meant
in a positive way, said Laura Kam, executive director for global affairs at The
Israel Project, who just returned from a visit of the country last
In an interview at her office in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Kam spoke
about the lessons she learned from her recent visit to Beijing, which she said
was the first destination in the pro-Israel advocacy group’s bid to expand its
mission to engage audiences in China, India and Russia.
“They think every
Jew is a genius,” she said. “Every stereotype that is a negative in the Western
world is a huge positive in China. The Chinese are extraordinarily forward
thinking and entrepreneurial right now, and want to learn the secrets of the
Jewish community worldwide. In their mind, there’s no difference between Jews
Kam was accompanied on her trip to Beijing by Gil Kerbs, an
Israeli venture capitalist who is fluent in Chinese and does business in the
During their week-long stay, Kam helped set up interviews for
Kerbs with media outlets like the People’s Daily, the state-sponsored newspaper
which has a circulation of between three to 4 million readers, with the aim of
raising awareness to the benefits of doing business with Israel.
India and China we’re going to push Israel’s high-tech prowess, Israel’s skill
in growing food, in dealing with water, because for example, there are parts of
China that are deserts and their people need water,” she said. “Israel has a
company called Persay, and 20 percent of the water in China is lost in pipes,
and this company uses nuclear magnetic traces technology to figure out how much
water is leaking from a pipe.”
If Israeli businesses are flourishing in
China, and public opinion is so favorable towards the Jewish state and the
Jewish people, one might wonder whether The Israel Project might not put its
resources to better use elsewhere.
“The world changes very fast,” said
Kam. “In a sense it’s the Hippocratic oath: First do no harm. I take that to
heart, but clearly, as more and more business is done in the world it’s
important for the Chinese to know Israel is a good plan, and to enhance
At the moment, details of what the organization’s programs in
India and Russia would entail – besides speaking tours by Israeli politicians,
businessmen and artists – are still unclear.
Mark Sloman, The Israel’s
Project’s director for India Affairs, said the organization would have a better
idea of how to reach out to Indian audiences in June, when they receive the
results from a survey.
In the meantime, he cited the results of a poll
conducted on behalf of Israel’s Foreign Ministry in India several years ago, as
an indicator of what he expects to find.
“India was found to be the
friendliest country towards Israel in the world, except the US,” he said.
“Pakistan is to them what Iran is to us, but that doesn’t shape the
It’s a Hindu country and there’s no history of