Sitting comfortably in his Dubai home overlooking the monumental spire of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, entrepreneur and philanthropist Eitan Neishlos, one of the world’s young Jewish leaders, reflects on his recent move to Dubai and what it means to him. “The Abraham Accords have been a tremendous gift from the leadership in the UAE and the State of Israel,” he says. “In many respects, I feel like I am sitting under the shaded palm of the Abraham Accords. I feel very safe here, both as a Jew and as an Israeli.”
A little less than a year ago, Neishlos, a pioneering businessman and philanthropist with over twenty years of experience working and investing in the fintech and financial industries in South Africa, Australia, and Israel, moved to Dubai. “I came to Dubai to grow and expand Neishlos Capital,” he explains, “because the Emirates is a professional home for companies and entrepreneurs and is a wonderful place to expand my businesses and their activities. I am very impressed with the business environment here, with the climate and conditions provided by the government of the UAE.” Reflecting on a recent meeting that he held with Israeli Ambassador to the Emirates Amir Hayek, Neishlos explains, “Ambassador Hayek told me about the remarkable uptick in bilateral trade relations this past year with new records reached. There are unlimited opportunities for investments and cooperation between Israel and the UAE and it’s exciting to recognize that this is only the beginning.”
For Neishlos, his move to the Middle East has also enabled him to further the activities of the Neishlos Foundation, which by providing meaningful engagement and education, inspires people not to stand by idly when they encounter racism and discrimination, but rather to take action, and, as he puts it, “to be upstanders.” When he lived in Australia, Neishlos developed these principles through his leadership of Courage to Care, a B’nai B’rith program that educates Australians about the dangers of prejudice, racism and discrimination. Neishlos served as chairman of the organization, which educated over 200,000 school students about the lessons of the Holocaust and encouraged them to call out and combat racism, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry.
His inspiration for his charitable work stems largely from the experiences of his grandmother, who grew up in Belarus during the Holocaust, and was saved by the Chodosevitch family, a Christian family who hid her from the Nazis. Eitan’s grandmother never forgot the heroism of the Chodosevitch family and ensured that Yad Vashem and the State of Israel recognized them as Righteous Among the Nations. Inspired by his grandmother’s life and the dedication of the righteous Chodosevitch family, Neishlos established the Neishlos Foundation.
“My grandmother’s story inspires the way that I do business, and what I learn from business is applied to philanthropy. Businesses can be socially responsible. We can give of our time and our skills. I plan to take all of my experience and dedicate more of my time and money to introduce my skills and professionalism of payment solutions and fintech into the philanthropic world and into new ways of fundraising.”
Recently, the Neishlos Foundation has become involved in commemorative events surrounding Holocaust remembrance. Neishlos participated in last year’s March of the Living and lit the Torch of Hope at a special ceremony held on Holocaust Remembrance Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau, together with H.E. Ahmed Obaid AlMansoori, founder of the Crossroads of Civilizations Museum in the United Arab Emirates, which includes the Arab world’s first and only Holocaust memorial gallery. In September, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, made a historic visit to Yad Vashem. Just two months later, the Neishlos Foundation partnered with the Museum and the International March of the Living to produce a historic event in Dubai commemorating the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, where a Holocaust survivor who was a child during “the night of broken glass” spoke to Emirati children and a crowd of Muslim and Jewish Emirati dignitaries about the horrors she endured, another first. “The remarkable outcome of this,” he notes, “is that Holocaust education is now being introduced into the educational curriculum of schools in the United Arab Emirates. I think that this is very inspiring, and it’s wonderful to be a piece of that puzzle.”
Neishlos says that education and engagement of youth are two fundamental pillars of the Neishlos Foundation. “We have done a lot, and we are going to be continuing in the spirit of what we are doing in bigger and better ways.”
In November, Neishlos participated in a panel discussion that discussed the synergy between philanthropy and business at the Jerusalem Post Global Investment forum 2022 in Marrakech, Morocco. Recalling the experience of addressing Moroccan attendees, he says, “The results were remarkable. After I spoke, many people reached out asking for cooperation regarding both Neishlos Capital and Neishlos Foundation. A highlight for me was when I was approached by a Moroccan waitress who warmly received me and recognized me as a Jew and Israeli, and a minute later, I received the same sort of warm embrace by a Moroccan executive. I discovered the warmth and openness of the Moroccan people from all walks of life, the same openness and embrace which I enjoy as a Jew and Israeli in the United Arab Emirates.”
During the panel discussion, Neishlos, together with Revital Yakin Krakovsky, Deputy CEO of the International March of the Living, and Wojtek Soczewica, director-general of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, introduced “Soul to Sole,” a joint project of the March of the Living and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation to restore 8,000 children’s shoes at Auschwitz that are rapidly decomposing. Neishlos Foundation was the first principal donor for the project.
The shoes of the children are among the most direct and poignant reminders of the Holocaust that visitors to Auschwitz encounter. “We’re now promoting engagement with young adults around the world,” says Neishlos, “to not only participate in restoring the shoes, but to adopt the stories so that the memories survive.”
‘There are unlimited opportunities for investments and cooperation between Israel and the UAE’
At the Morocco conference, Neishlos described the philosophy of his foundation. “I had the opportunity to explain about the ethos of the Neishlos Foundation, that we put money into campaigns either with social impact and/or where we yield an outcome for the beneficiary. In “Soul to Sole,” we put in seed money, and now we are raising additional funds. We are doing it by engaging young adults around the world, so that they will donate money to preserve the shoes, adopt a story, and tell the story of the shoes at their Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. We managed to call on the young generation to participate and to take the lead in this international fundraising campaign in Morocco under the shade of the Abraham Accords. It was amazing.”
Dubai is less than four hours by air from Tel Aviv, and Neishlos says that the proximity will provide greater access for him to Israel as well. “The nexus between the two countries is wonderful, and the accessibility to business infrastructure and government is wonderful in both countries,” he enthuses. “I see many similarities between Tel Aviv and Dubai. As a businessperson and as someone in fintech, I love it. Both countries have small populations but have a lot to give. There’s a great deal of innovation. When I am based in Tel Aviv and in Dubai, I am able to think about solutions for the world. This environment is conducive for this kind of thinking.”
Put in Box
Help preserve the shoes of the children at Auschwitz. The International March of the Living and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation have joined in the campaign to preserve 8,000 children’s shoes at Auschwitz that are beginning to decompose. Donate here.
This article was written in cooperation with the Neishlos Foundation.