Posted tagged ‘Jerusalem’

New Israeli tech on view in Jerusalem

March 15, 2013

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New articles on business in Jerusalem and mentoring

March 1, 2013

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Michael Horesh

Christmas 2012 in Jerusalem

December 26, 2012

Every year, around about late December, the international media is full of comments about the state of Christianity. Often there is heavy reference to the plight of the various denominations in the Middle East and specifically to those in Israel.

For example, a report from Civitas is concerned that Christians may be wiped out in the Middle East in years to come. As just one example of this trend, ABC Television commentated in July this year of the forcible conversions to Islam in the Gaza region. In Bethlehem, where the situation is complicated by Israel’s security barrier, Christians now number less than 20% of the community.

However, what always evokes emotion is to observe what happens in Jerusalem, a city central to three world religions. This year, I spent 24th and 25th December walking in the area of the Old City. The YMCA was decorated in lights, as were many other churches. Actually, I found the decorations covered Notre Dame, facing St Stephen’s Gate. As Christmas Night approached, the traffic around the ancient Walls simply snarled up. The noise of the tourists – roughly 75,000 are thought to have travelled for the season – were drowned out by the sirens of angry drivers.

Israel’ statistics bureau has been reporting for years that the Christian community in the Holy Land has been growing. They currently account for 160,000 or nerly 2% of the population. This year, the Jerusalem municipality handed out free Christmas trees for those that wanted.

So, if you are looking for some seasonal cheer, and you want to hear church bells ring out in unison, I suggest you book a package deal to Jerusalem for December 2013


Behind the photo pics in Jerusalem

December 9, 2012

Jerusalem – the city of peace, a centre for three major religions – has been dividing peoples and nations for thousands of years. The title of my blog, Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem, shows just how much I care and love and admire the pleasures of the place.

However, my personal passion cannot hide that again Jerusalem has caused more argument around the globe in the past week. At the United Nations, Israel has been lambasted for planning to build extra housing in what she sees as the capital of her country. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas leaders have celebrated twenty five years of armed struggle against Israel, declaring that they will never recognise the modern Jewish state and its capital. Impasse, no?

I remain hopeful. The reason is that away from the news and the mass media, life in the city is really pretty good indeed.

Sharon reminded me of this picture of hope. She runs a growing blog called “The Real Jerusalem Streets”, which uses photography to illustrate the real facts. Take for example her feature earlier this year on Arab women in Jerusalem, working and roaming freely. A similar montage back in August was equally enlightening.

These are no isolated moments captured through a lens. This weekend I read a feature on a small dairy restaurant in the centre of the city called Tmol Shilshom. It is boutiquey, if such a word exists. It is frequented by writers and poets. It has won the 2012 “certificate of excellence” from Tripadvisor. All very nice, but there is one very crucial factor to this success, that is ignored by even the most cosmopolitan of overseas journalists.

The chief chef of this outstanding restaurant is Ma’azan Shwicki, an Arab who started in the culinary profession back in 1982 doing the washing up. Not only is his work now recognised by Tripadvisor. His breakfast is also considered one of the top ten in the world by “Lonely Planet“. And all this effort is soon to be combined with being the Muchtar of Abu Tor in the south east neighbourhoods of Jerusalem.

Jerusalem may not be perfect. It may not have reached the visionary standards of so-called moral politicians around the world. And for all that, despite the stress and the tensions, today’s Jerusalem has much to teach others about how to co-exist together.

Buses, a holy city, and our moral responsibilities

November 30, 2012

Here is a story posted this week on Facebook by a friend of mine. He quotes a lady called Sarah B, who was riding a bus in Jerusalem.

On the number 13 bus this morning. An ultra-Orthodox lady entered the bus from the back door, because she had a stroller with her. She needed to get to the front of the bus to pay, and needed someone to hold her baby so she’d have the use of both hands. She asked the elderly Muslim woman across from me to please hold her baby. The baby continued sleeping, and the Muslim woman was extremely pleased. “I have 31 grandchildren!” she told all those of us around her, and we smiled. The Jewish woman came back and thanked the Muslim woman profusely, and brought the baby back to the middle of the bus where the stroller was, and the Muslim woman got off the bus a couple stops later.

In most other cities around the world, that incident would barely command a snort of interest. However, this is Jerusalem. This is a city where the only known issue that the leaders of the three great religions cooperated in recent years was when they protested of a gay rights’ march. This is a city where its unity is opposed by most world leaders. And it is the place that journalists flock to in order to learn how Jews, Christians and Muslims bicker with each other, while ignoring the often larger divisions within each individual community.

For all the simplicity of the above tale and the hope it raises, it is not a solitary incident. This spirit can be found elsewhere in Israel, daily. Consider the micro-algae educational project at Kibbutz Ein Shemer, where school children of different backgrounds learn together in order to protect the environment. There was the programme sponsored by the Prime Minister’s office in June 2012 to encourage employers to hire workers from minority groupings. And the Max Rayne  School in Jerusalem is one of three bilingual schools in the project, ensuring how kids of all religions can learn together in this challenging city.

Last night, President Mahmoud Abbas secured Palestine’s upgraded status at the United Nations.  Analysing the text of his speech in the Palestinian media, at no stage did the Palestinian accept the State of Israel, under any borders or circumstances. The Jewish state was referred to hate and loathing.

It is not just that Abbas has now effectively rejected these successful projects of cooperation. The UN exists to encourage mankind to welcome each other. The international body demands that all members actively embrace such a responsibility. Yet the means and  the language of Abbas reveal how and why he rejects the core raison-d’etre of the United Nations.

C’est la vie for the proponents of peace and for safe bus journeys in Jerusalem.

Why consider using a business mentor

November 24, 2012

As I was contemplating writing this posting, somebody asked me why they should consider using a business mentor.

Sometimes, it is difficult to give a direct answer. And much depends on where your issues are centred – sales, production, admin, manpower – or at least where you consider them to be. Certainly, a mentor can be that professional shoulder to lean on, when you are searching for direction from a neutral source. Some argue that the mentor becomes a member of your board, forcing you to consider issues that you have preferred not to ask or have tried to avoid.

A recent case study illustrates what I mean.

A couple of months ago, a bank asked me to take on a growing client of theirs in Jerusalem, who effectively greeted me with the line: “I have built up this business for 25 years. It is something that you know nothing about. What on earth can you do for me?” He was right, it was the kind of operation that I have no clue about.

Well, we shortly established that his cash flow planning was ineffective. This was forcing him to take loans and at bad rates. Further, his time management was poor, leading to spend too much effort being spent in his office rather than creating new sales. Not a bad start, but not the “wow factor” that he was looking for.

So, I suggested a trip to his accountant, who knows all teh numbers. The company has been using the same expert for decades, but ususally only meets up once or twice a year. Our CEO agreed, although without much faith. The accountant himself was also initially sceptical and tried to put off the meeting. As for the result of this 60 minute encounter……………?

After some polite introductions and light questions, I threw out a ‘tester’. Turning to the man of finance, I merely asked him what our CEO could do to improve his income. The slightly sarcastic response referred to better sales. However, I persevered. Cautiously, the accountant suggested two technical adjustments to how specific costs are registered in the books.

And the value of these brief sentences? It is estimated that over twelve months, these changes will lead to tens of thousands of dollars entering the pockets of our CEO rather than donating them to the tax man as in the past. Not a bad return for the CEO for some prodiing from a man he had never met until recently.

Life Sciences, Israel, Biotech – what’s the link?

May 30, 2012

Three headlines from Israel’s financial press in the past week: –

There are plenty more stories like that out there. Bottom line, the Israeli life science and biotech industry is thriving, consistently achieving medical and commercial breakthroughs.

It should be no surprise that the annual Biomed conference, which took place last week in Tel Aviv was quite awesome. By taking a rather arbitrary measure of noise and buzz, it was way up on the previous year. And the reasons speak for themselves.

  1. Israel prides itself with over 700 active companies in the field, 6th in the Euro league
  2. Israel ranks second globally in bio-pharma patents per caipta.
  3. Teva, Jerusalem, is the 15th largest pharma in the world and largest generic manufacturer.
  4. The country is a pioneer and leader in cell therapy.
  5. Aside from Burrill, Clal and Orbimed have major new investment funds in the pipeline.

 I am personally acquainted with a story of one senior overseas exec, who visited the Holy Land for the first time during Biomed. To paraphrase what he said: you can read all you want about Israel being a start up nation and being the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. However, when you actually see the activity unfold before your eyes, you know that you have to engage hands-on.