Some 650 Christian business people from 50 countries will arrive in Israel next week for a business matchmaking conference.
The second annual Arise Business Matchmaking Summit, this year running under the theme “Israeli Innovation for Humanity,” brings together Bible- and Israel-loving Christians to invest in Israel. The event, which will take place on December 4 in Rishon Lezion, is sponsored by Arise, in cooperation with the Israel Export Institute, Israel Federation of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce, Israel Manufacturers Association and Israel Innovation Institute.The conference follows a two-day “Miracle of Israel Innovation Tour,” which connects participants to both biblical and modern-day Israel.
“The most effective solution to the BDS epidemic is to continue bringing more business to the State of Israel,” said Calev Myers, founder and chairman of Arise.
He said the conference is particularly important in the aftermath of the European Union’s decision to label goods produced in Judea and Samaria, effectively boycotting what Christians consider Israel’s biblical heartland.
“The food factories in the settlements employ thousands of Palestinians with dignity, and are an exemplary example of fruitful coexistence,” Myers explained. “They must not be harmed, as any such injury can result in the dismissal of hundreds of Palestinian workers. I am pleased that our December 4 conference will feature lots of Israel-loving businessmen from abroad, who come here to look for business opportunities and connect with the Israel economy, including businesses in Judea and Samaria.”
Myers said that last year’s conference led to around $13 million in “aggregated economic impact,” and an expected $80 million over the next few years, predominantly on the small and medium business levels.
This year, the delegation includes not only members of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce, but a delegation of American businesspeople from the “OCEAN” network in Cincinnati and one from the “Karunya” network in India. Among the more interesting delegations are those from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Nigeria.
The largest group is from Sweden.
“There is a growing BDS movement in Sweden on a political level and this upsets Christians,” said Myers. “They say, ‘We need to do something about this,’ so they do the opposite [of BDS] and show support for Israel.”
In addition to the matchmaking aspect of the event, the conference will include a shark-tank business competition with a $10,000 prize.
David Parsons, vice president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, told The Jerusalem Post that Christians are motivated to bless Israel by the Bible, specifically Genesis 12:3, which describes how those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed.
In 2005, ICEJ founded “Christian Friends of Yad Vashem,” and since then, according to Parsons, many more Christian philanthropic groups have developed, supporting Israeli NGOs through faith and funds. A few years ago, the crowdfunding giant OurCrowd appointed someone to specifically be tasked with recruiting Christian investors.
“These Christians see Israeli innovation and the country’s high-tech wizardry, and they want to be a part of it like everyone else,” Parsons explained.
Myers said that while Arise has an online platform to connect these companies, “all business has to end with a handshake,” hence the importance of the conference.
Ultimately, he said, he does not believe his efforts will end on December 4, or even with a similar conference next year.
“We are laying the groundwork for the most exciting project,” Myers told the Post. “The goal is to open a Global Trade Center in Jerusalem by 2022.
“I believe,” he continued, that “a full-functioning global trade center in Jerusalem is the best answer to BDS.”