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A Herzliya high-tech company scores big with amazing new fiber optic 'Wipe-o-Lenses' - is the end of the Israeli Palestinian conflict now in sight?

hi tech biz 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
hi tech biz 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Towering above Herzliya's dynamic high-tech industrial zone is the glittering new glass and steel headquarters of InSpite-tex, whose meteoric rise has had industry and stock market analysts literally gaga and tongue-tied throughout much of the past year. A mere start-up in late 2006, InSpite-tex is currently rumored to be worth over a billion dollars in net assets, with nowhere to go but up. In search of the secret of InSpite-tex's extraordinary success, Metro recently paid a visit to the company and its 24 year-old founder and CEO, David "Dudu" Ben-Zona. The waiting room in front of Ben-Zona's office is immediately across from what company insiders call the "Playpen," a spacious enclosure about the size of a normal corporate conference room, painted in kindergarten colors, festooned with pictures of Disney cartoon characters, and designed to look and feel like a large baby's crib. Glancing in, we see several young men either sitting or crawling around the crib, dressed in baby bonnets and disposable diapers, and being spoon-fed jars of Gerber's baby food by motherly-looking female caregivers. One of the young inmates is being powdered and changed. "The Playpen is reserved for our creative staff - mostly Research and Development people and a few executives," explained a helpful young receptionist. "We find that helping these guys get in better touch with their 'inner baby' allows them to see the high-tech world with the same open-minded wonder and curiosity with which they saw the whole world when they were infants. It really gets their creative juices flowing." As our hostess speaks of flowing juices, a young software engineer throws his rattle across the crib and begins to bawl, signaling his need to be changed. At this point, we are ushered into the office of InSpite-tex's visionary young commander in chief. Sitting behind his large glass-topped desk, Dudu Ben-Zona looks, to all the world, like any one of a million young professional men in this first decade of the 21st century. His hair is cut close to the scalp, almost shaved. A tiny pair of eyeglasses - set in rectangular little rainbow-colored plastic frames-sit perched at the top of his narrow, bony nose. His mouth smiles easily; his eyes - darting around restlessly behind his eyeglasses - do not. A self-described "metrosexual," Ben-Zona ambiguously wears a small gold stud in both of his ears. "I haven't quite worked out yet whether I'm basically straight or gay," he says, spreading his hands apologetically. "So, in the meantime, I'm wearing earrings in my left and right ears." He slams his hands down on his desk and laughs, the laughter soon turning to wheezy coughs. With these opening pleasantries out of the way, Ben-Zona gets down to business. Opening a small cabinet behind him, he draws out what appear to be a pair of eyeglasses and drops them with a flourish onto the desk. "These are what we make here," he says, sitting back comfortably in his plush leather chair. "Yep, these glasses are what we're all about." With one lens red and the other a light blue, they appear strangely like the special glasses people wore when viewing 3-D horror movies back in the 1950s. "No, they're not for watching Creature from the Black Lagoon or Cat Women of the Moon," Ben-Zona says laughing, apparently reading our minds. "And they're not 3-D glasses. They're more like one-dimensional glasses, because they only let you see one kind of human being. They are, among other things, the solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict." Sensing our utter lack of comprehension, Ben-Zona presses a button on his desk phone and calls out to his secretary, "Osnat? Shalom, motek. Is Jawad out there? Sababa! Send him in." As he replaces the receiver, he leans forward and says quietly, "Here comes our token Arab." A neatly dressed young man enters the room, a look of bored resignation on his face. Ben-Zona says, "Jawad is going to help me demonstrate how our patent-pending new fiber optic 'Wipe-o-Lenses' glasses work, right Jawad?" Almost grudgingly, Jawad raises his eyebrows a couple of times in agreement, letting out a long, soft sigh. "Now keep looking at Jawad while you slowly put on the eyeglasses," Ben-Zona instructs us. We focus on Jawad, put on the glasses and observe with a jolt that he has disappeared. We remove the glasses, and there is Jawad, standing right in front of us, just like before. Put on the glasses again, no Jawad. Remove the glasses, Jawad reappears. "Welcome to the brave new world of InSpite-tex," Ben-Zona bellows, "and say hello to 'Wipe-o-Lenses,' the eyeglasses for today's crowded world. This model, red and cyan, is for the Israeli market. You put them on, and Arabs are virtually wiped away. A similar model, with the colors reversed, is for Arabs. The Jews put their red and cyan glasses on and - bada-boom, bada-bing - they're in an Eretz Yisrael without a single goddamn Arab. The Arabs put on their cyan and red lenses and - abra-cadabra - they think they're in a Palestine with no Jews - from the river to the sea, ha-ha! Oh… thank you, Jawad. You can go." Yawning, Jawad leaves. "Now, we expect certain minor problems with these, like people bumping blindly into each other in mixed communities like Lod and Ramle, but otherwise we're very optimistic," Ben-Zona enthuses. "What's more, we've got about 5 million of these glasses on their way to Northern Ireland - green and orange Protestant-erasing glasses for Catholics, orange and green 'Catholic-wipes' for Protestants. A couple million Albanian-erasing glasses are on their way to Kosovo Serbs, with an equal number of Serb-removing glasses headed for Kosovo Albanians. French-speaking Belgians are getting glasses that will free them of Flemings, and the Flemings will soon receive glasses that will wipe away Walloons! The potential market for these glasses is vast and almost endless - although we did take a bit of a beating from the recent power sharing agreement in Kenya. You know anyone who might want to buy around a million glasses that wipe away government-supporting Kikuyu, and another million that blank out opposition-supporting Luo?" An attractive young woman enters the office with a tray of coffee and little chocolate smiley-face cookies. Ben-Zona reaches for one and says, "Thank you, Osnat," as she steps quietly out of the office. Crunching on his cookie, his eyes gazing off into the distance, Ben-Zona is reflective. "If you think about it, there's really no end to the number of applications for this technology. Radical, man-hating feminists put on our glasses and no longer have to see men. Crazy-assed misogynists slip on a pair of 'Wipe-o-Lenses' and voila! - no women. Boston Red Sox fans put our special glasses on and no more New York Yankees. Coca-Cola executives sport the appropriate 'Wipe-o-Lenses' and never have to see a Pepsi sign again. The possibilities just go on and on…" What lies ahead for InSpite-tex? "X-ray glasses!" says Ben-Zona with fresh excitement, his blood sugar spiking from the cookies. "You put them on, and people's clothes disappear!" Noting our look of incredulity, he reaches back into the cabinet and pulls out two pairs of electric pink glasses. "These are the prototypes," he says. "They've just been developed! Shall we give them a little 'test run'?" Tossing a pair of the new glasses in our direction, Ben-Zona puts his pair on, punches a button on his desk phone and says, "Osnat, would you mind stepping in here for just a moment?" For more information about InSpite-tex, call (09) 555-6666, e-mail [email protected], or visit their Web site