The Silicon Valley of the Middle East

17 07 2013

start-up-With more than 600 tech startups in its 20 square miles, Tel Aviv is second only to California’s Silicon Valley, attracting investment and guidance from giants including Google and eBay.

It’s all about an ecosystem of talented people eager to work together and tackle tough challenges. “You have everything you need and all the people who can help you get a startup going and make it successful,” says Roy Man, founder and CEO of DaPulse, which offers a new approach to internal corporate communications.

Click on the video to find out what makes Tel Aviv a startup city:

Thanks for the story

An Historical Commitment to Israel – Happy July 4th!

3 07 2013

israel_usa_flagToday, the United States and Israel are the closest of friends and allies. The continued strength of the U.S.-Israel alliance is rooted in the shared values of the two nations.

During more than six decades of state-building, Israelis have looked to the United States for political inspiration, financial and military assistance and diplomatic support. Americans, in turn, have viewed Israel with a special appreciation for its successful effort to follow the Western democratic tradition, its remarkable economic development, and its determined struggle against its uncompromising enemies.

If one were forced to reduce the explanation for the unique relationship between the United States and Israel to one sentence, it was probably best expressed by Lyndon Johnson who, when asked by Soviet Premier Aleksei Kosygin why the U.S. supported Israel when there are 80 million Arabs and only three million Israelis, the President replied simply: “Because it is right.”

The recognition of shared values has been a consistent theme in statements by American Presidents ever since Harry Truman.

John F. Kennedy declared: “This nation, from the time of President Woodrow Wilson, has established and continued a tradition of friendship with Israel because we are committed to all free societies that seek a path to peace and honor individual right. In the prophetic spirit of Zionism all free men today look to a better world and in the experience of Zionism we know that it takes courage and perseverance and dedication to achieve it.”

Said Lyndon Johnson, “The United States and Israel share many common objectives…chief of which is the building of a better world in which every nation can develop its resources and develop them in freedom and peace.” The roots of Johnson’s feelings, like those of many other Americans came from the Bible. As he explained in a speech before the B’nai B’rith organization: “Most if not all of you have very deep ties with the land and with the people of Israel, as I do, for my Christian faith sprang from yours.” The President explained that “the Bible stories are woven into my childhood memories as the gallant struggle of modern Jews to be free of persecution is also woven into our souls.”

Richard Nixon asserted that the United States stands by its friends and that “Israel is one of its friends.” His successor, Gerald Ford, reaffirmed his “commitment to the security and future of Israel is based upon basic morality as well as enlightened self-interest. Our role in supporting Israel honors our own heritage.”

“The United States,” Jimmy Carter said, “has a warm and a unique relationship of friendship with Israel that is morally right. It is compatible with our deepest religious convictions, and it is right in terms of America’s own strategic interests. We are committed to Israel’s security, prosperity, and future as a land that has so much to offer the world.”

Ronald Reagan was the first President to state explicitly that Israel was a strategic asset to the United States, a belief he expressed even before he was elected: “Only by full appreciation of the critical role the State of Israel plays in our strategic calculus can we build the foundation for thwarting Moscow’s designs on territories and resources vital to our security and our national well-being.” But Reagan also understood this alliance sprang from shared values: “Since the rebirth of the State of Israel, there has been an ironclad bond between that democracy and this one.”

 Shortly after taking office, George H.W. Bush said: “The friendship, the alliance between the United States and Israel is strong and solid, built upon a foundation of shared democratic values, of shared history and heritage, that sustains the life of our two countries. The emotional bond of our people transcends politics. Our strategic cooperation—and I renew today our determination that that go forward—is a source of mutual security. And the United States’ commitment to the security of Israel remains unshakeable. We may differ over some policies from time to time, individual policies, but never over the principle.”

Bill Clinton took the relationship to another level during his administration. “Our relationship would never vary from its allegiance to the shared values, the shared religious heritage, the shared democratic politics which have made the relationship between the United States and Israel a special—even on occasion a wonderful—relationship.”

After assuming the presidency, George W. Bush echoed the sentiments of nearly every President that came before him. “We will speak up for our principles and we weill stand up for our friends in the world,” Bush said. “And one of our most important friends in the world is the State of Israel.”

President Barack Obama stated that “we [America] stand with Israel as a Jewish democratic state because we know that Israel is born of firmly held values that we, as Americans, share: a culture committed to justice, a land that welcomes the weary, a people devoted to tikkun olam.” Furthermore, “We’re going to keep standing with our Israeli friends and allies,” he said.

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Israeli doctors save Syrian lives

27 06 2013

injured-syrianIn critical condition with severe shrapnel injuries to their torso and limbs, bullet wounds from head to toe and open fractures — this is how Syrian patients arrive at Israeli hospitals in the north of the country. And they are all treated like any other patient.

“It’s our duty as a regional hospital, where we are located along the Lebanese border on one side and the Syrian border on the other side,” Dr. Amram Hadary, director of the trauma unit at Ziv Medical Center in Safed (Tsfat), says. “We cannot ignore that the Syrian conflict is happening behind our door. We cannot close our eyes, ears and hearts to what is happening there. It’s a catastrophe.”

The Israeli medical staff has no idea who the Syrian patients are. They could be civilians caught in cross-fire, part of the military or members of the rebel forces.

Hadary says: “We don’t know who we’re treating, armed or not armed, wearing uniform or not wearing uniform. Because of the critical condition in which many of them arrive, we don’t question who they are. It is irrelevant. They are patients and are treated with the best measures we have in the hospital. Everyone gets the same treatment.”

Shortly after the Syrian civil war erupted, the Israeli army set up a field hospital on the border to treat victims. The IDF grants special permission of entry to Israel for the critically injured, and escorts them to and from the hospital.

“Our policy is to help in humanitarian cases, and to that end we are operating a field hospital along the Syrian border,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in June. “In cases where there are badly wounded, we transfer them to Israeli hospitals.”

Whether the cooperation between the medical communities will influence the political situation remains to be seen.

“We’re saving lives, not with expectations for the future. We’re doing it because it’s our job,” says Hadary. “Let’s hope for peace and be realistic at the same time.”

For the full story please click here

Tel Aviv ranks among world’s top 10 beach spots by National Geographic

19 06 2013

Google buys Israel’s Waze to keep mobile maps lead

12 06 2013

waze_logoGoogle Inc.’s $1.03 billion purchase of Israeli navigation software maker Waze marks an important milestone for the country that affectionately calls itself “Start-Up Nation.”Google’s acquisition ranks among the largest purchases of an Internet company this year.

The acquisition is not only among the largest-ever purchase prices for an Israeli start-up. It also cements a recent push by the local high-tech industry into the fast-growing consumer market.

“I think it’s a big step forward,” said Erel Margalit, a leading Israeli entrepreneur and opposition lawmaker in parliament. “Israel is no longer just a R&D center. It’s a creative hub.”

Waze is a company that makes a popular and fast growing mapping app available for iOS and Android devices. The snappy official description is as follows “Waze is the world’s fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.” The company points out that real people providing real-time info on road conditions is of great utility for navigation and can help you “outsmart traffic” every day.

Four-year-old Waze was the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with a degree in philosophy and computer science from Tel Aviv University, who hit upon the idea when he realized commercially available GPS software could not reflect real-time conditions speedily enough, or provide certain useful data – such as speed traps.

According to Waze’s website, Shabtai teamed up with entrepreneurs Uri Levine and Amir Shinar to found Waze in 2008. It now has 47 million users, raising $67 million in funding to date from firms including: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures and semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc.

Sources: 1 2 3

See for Yourself

4 06 2013

home-mobilityOrCam was founded in 2010 with a clear mission – to use advanced computer vision to help the visually impaired and blind regain the functionalities that were lost.

For the past three years, the system was developed, tested and refined in Israel by a team of engineers, most of whom came from elite technological units of the IDF and academia.

OrCam harnesses the power of Artificial Vision to compensate for lost visual abilities. It is a sensor that sees what is in front of you, understands what information you seek and provides it to you through a bone-conduction earpiece.strip-product-closeup-2000x321

OrCam can read, recognize faces, identify objects, products and places, locate bus numbers and monitor traffic lights. It does all that with the most intuitive user interface you can imagine.

The device currently recognizes English-language text and beginning this week will be sold through the company’s Web site for $2,500, about the cost of a midrange hearing aid.

Can’t use the hotel reservation? Sell it online

28 05 2013

Two Israeli startups, Roomer and Cancelon, help find a buyer for your cancelled room reservation so you won’t lose on fees and no-refund deals.
If you have to cancel a hotel reservation and stand to lose money, two Israeli startups will help you find a buyer more than happy to take the reservation off your hands.
Both Roomer and Cancelon arose from the same situation: Out of every 100 hotel reservations in the United States alone, six incur a cancellation fee for a last-minute change of plans. Plus, many discounted advance reservation deals are non-refundable. These online services, which differ from one another slightly in the details, help the reservation-holder recoup losses; offer buyers attractive deals on rooms even in fully booked hotels; and boost occupancy rates in hotels. “We are proving the concept that there are enough cancellations every day to create this market,” says Gon Ben-David, 26, co-founder of Roomer. “It happens all the time — 86 million times per year in the US”. Like many good ideas, Roomer and Cancelon both started from personal experience.


Israeli attorney Efrat Kaul and veteran high-tech executive Omer Granot launched their website in autumn 2011. “We were the first to have a marketplace for non-refundable hotel reservations,” Kaul tells ISRAEL21c. “We were both living in the US, where people travel a lot and use online travel agencies, and if you cancel you’re stuck with a reservation you cannot use, and lose your money.”

Cancelon founders Omer Granot and Efrat Kaul.

Cancelon founders Omer Granot and Efrat Kaul

It’s free to post and search. “Once we find you a buyer for your reservation, we take a handling fee of 10 percent,” she explains. Cancelon’s team is based in Ra’anana in central Israel, and handles reservation transactions in countries worldwide. One of the recent deals was a six-night reservation at a five-star Cannes hotel, listed by the hotel at $13,000, bought for $7,200 and resold through Cancelon for $3,000.

“The advantage of using such a platform for buyers is not only that you get the best price, because often people are willing to give you a big discount, but also you can get rooms at pre-booked hotels.” You can negotiate if you think the seller’s asking price is too high. “I haven’t seen a seller who did not agree to a reasonable offer,” says Kaul.

Both Cancelon and Roomer had listings for hotel rooms for Super Bowl Sunday 2013 in New Orleans, even though all hotels in the area were booked solid.

Kaul estimates that 30-40% of transactions on the site (with a mobile app soon to follow) are for the upcoming week. However, many are for months in the future. That’s because many travelers make non-refundable advance reservations to get a lower price, taking the risk that their plans may change.

“Competition in the travel industry is immense, so everyone is doing what they can to reduce prices, and cancellation policies are prevalent,” she says. Cancelon has an alert feature for users interested in specific destinations. “We see our business as a service to the public, and as part of the social trend,” says Kaul.

Thank you Israel21c for the story