Grapevine: Israeli innovation – big time

Two years ago, both Rivlin and Netanyahu lauded Peres as the trailblazer of Israeli innovation.

PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin (left) and former president Shimon Peres look to the future in July 2016.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
PRESIDENT REUVEN Rivlin (left) and former president Shimon Peres look to the future in July 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In July 2016, only two months prior to the death of former president Shimon Peres, President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid their first visit to the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa for a preview and renaming ceremony marking the center’s expanded scope. Now known as the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, its latter role will be inaugurated on October 25, as part of the 70th anniversary celebrations of the state and within the framework of the Prime Minister’s Innovation Summit taking place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on October 24 and 25.
Two years ago, both Rivlin and Netanyahu lauded Peres as the trailblazer of Israeli innovation. And Rivlin, after listing a string of Israeli initiatives in which Peres had played a leading role, also credited him with enabling Israel’s nuclear capability.
Netanyahu said at the time that Israel’s scientific and technological edge, plus its record for dealing with terrorism, had brought the world to Israel’s door.
Indeed, senior executives of global companies invited by the Culture and Sport Ministry, which is in charge of the 70th anniversary celebrations, have responded positively to attendance at the summit. Many of them were present two years ago at the Peres Center, and several met with Peres during his presidency and afterwards.
Among those who have indicated that they will be in Israel next week are the founder of the Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, Jack Ma; former Google CEO and founder of the hedge fund Innovation Endeavors, Eric Schmidt; entrepreneur and former British Minister for Internet Safety and Security, Baroness Joanna Shields; senior vice president at Facebook, David Marcus; researcher Dr. David Agus; venture capitalist and investor Yuri Milner as well as hundreds of entrepreneurs, researchers and senior managers from around the globe.
The opening gala will take place in Jerusalem on October 24, where for the first time the “Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation” will be presented to three ground-breaking Israeli start-ups that are making significant contributions in their respective fields.
The Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation will for the first time convey under one roof the remarkable story of Israel as a nation of innovation. Spectacular displays of the cutting edge of Israeli technological developments that have changed the world will be seen in exhibitions spanning four floors, and will showcase the innovative genius that transformed Israel into the Start-Up Nation so admired throughout the world. Representatives, models, prototypes of Israeli inventions, as well as iconic entrepreneurs appear as interactive holograms telling their stories. The exhibition includes a floor dedicated to current start-ups presenting the latest innovations in their fields, as well as a floor that simulates a time capsule where visitors can explore future Israeli inventions that are in the beginning stages.
■ PERSONAL TRAGEDIES often propel families of victims into the public eye, especially in cases where soldiers in enemy captivity are concerned. Parents and siblings, in their efforts to gain public support for their quests to bring home their loved ones, come close to developing celebrity status. Israelis have unfortunately too often experienced situations in which negotiations to have soldiers returned to Israeli territory, be they dead or alive, are protracted for years, and sometimes with no end in sight. Typical examples are Ron Arad, Zvi Feldman, Yehuda Katz, Zecharia Baumel and Guy Hever. In some cases, there were reports that one or more of the missing soldiers were seen in Syria, causing both hope and anguish to their families. More recently, the Goldin and Shaul families have sought the return of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oren Shaul, who fell in action in Gaza four years ago. The Goldins have been somewhat more vocal in this regard than the Shaul family, and Prof. Simcha Goldin, in particular, has become the nemesis of Prime Minister Netanyahu in the many talks he gives on leadership and what he believes to be Netanyahu’s failure to bring home the bodies of the two missing soldiers. He somehow fails to realize that there are at least two sides to negotiations and that if the other is Hamas, the negotiating process is tough and long. Last week Goldin was the guest of the Socio-economic Club of the Israel Diamond Exchange, where he spoke of leadership development and the growth and of what he and his family are doing in their mission to have Hadar’s remains returned to Israel. Prior to the address, Diamond Exchange president Yoram Dvash hosted an intimate reception for Goldin to introduce him to Eran Zini, the CEO of the Diamond Bourse, and various members of the executive.
■ ARMISTICE DAY, regardless of whether or not it fell during a milestone anniversary year or not, has traditionally been
commemorated by the British Embassy, British ex-service men and women living in or visiting Israel and Hitachdut Olei Britannia, the Association of British Immigrants. For some inexplicable reason there has been particular interest on the part of British ex-pats living in Netanya, and this year they will have even greater cause to visit the Military War Graves Cemetery in Ramle on November 11, because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice agreement which put an end to the hostilities of the First World War. A bus will be placed at the disposal of Netanya HOB members who are interested in attending the ceremony. They are asked to contact Netanya HOB chair Jackie Phillips at 050-7447411, or email Many of those attending the armistice ceremony, including British Ambassador David Quarrey, will have seen each other at another British event a few days earlier on November 7, when the Israel and Commonwealth Association (IBCA) will host its annual Balfour Dinner at the Tel Aviv Hilton.
■ APROPOS THE Balfour dinner at which there are two speakers – one from Israel and one from Britain, the original invitation listed Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog as the Israeli speaker. Given his family background, Herzog was a particularly suitable choice, but it appears he is now no longer available and instead, the Israeli speaker will be Herzog’s predecessor in office, Natan Sharansky, who is always a drawing card, and who has kept a relatively low profile since stepping down from office.
■ THE TEL Aviv Salon whose various programs include meetings with top decision-makers, sometimes includes visiting dignitaries, which will be the case on Monday, October 22, when the guest speaker will be Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey. The Tel Aviv Salon caters primarily to young professionals who are relatively recent immigrants. The idea is to familiarize them with different aspects of life in Israel and with Israel’s relations with other countries. In this instance, the event has been organized in cooperation with the Sanhedrin Forum and the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The venue is Zuzu at 32 Rothschild Boulevard.
Murphy, who is the 56th governor of New Jersey, is a former partner at Goldman Sachs. Among his various roles there he served as president of Goldman Sachs Asia. He also has diplomatic experience, and was the US ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013. Although Israelis who are interested in American politics are more inclined toward Republicans these days, it’s unlikely that Tel Avivians will hold it against Murphy for being a Democrat. He is a former finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee. Murphy put himself through college with student loans and part-time jobs. He attended Harvard University, where he was president of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals and aspired for a time to a life in musical theater. He graduated with a BA in economics and then earned an MBA from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Murphy and his wife, Tammy, have four children.
■ THOUGH NOT exactly the most fashionable city in the world, but certainly one with great charm, Jerusalem has attracted Eva Cavelli. One of the fashion plates of Europe, whose photographs can be seen in many fashion publications, Cavelli chose to celebrate her birthday in the holy city – not Rome, but Jerusalem. She did so at the Mamilla Hotel, which overlooks the majestic walls of the Old City. If the name Cavelli sounds familiar, it most certainly is to fashionistas. Cavelli is married to famous Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavelli, who came to Israel in 2012 for the Fashion Week revival. What used to be Israel Fashion Week and was long dormant became Tel Aviv Fashion Week, and Cavelli was invited to come and give it star quality. Not only did he bring a collection with him – he also brought his wife. Together with a group of fashion writers who had come to cover Fashion Week, they took a tour of Jerusalem with Emanuel Shapira Rabbanian, who deals with super VIP guests at the Mamilla Hotel. After exploring east Jerusalem, the Western Wall and looking around the hotel, everyone congregated in its famed Mirror Bar and later the rooftop restaurant which provides several different perspectives of the city, depending on where someone is sitting or standing. Eva Cavelli was so enchanted by what she saw that she promised to return. This time she came not with journalists, but with several friends to celebrate the next year in her life. In so doing, she also made new friends for Israel and its capital.