Whenever I visit Israel, I feel a new perspective on life, values, Judaism and the world. Some random inspirations from a recent visit:
The Israeli economy seems to be flourishing, with VC and private equity funding everywhere. A friend of mine is a serious entrepreneur in his mid-30s. After he saw the Facebook movie, “The Social Network,” he took two months off to travel Europe and the Far East. Intent on starting new technology companies, to cash in on the next digital wave, my friend attended conferences and met with smart people.
He returned to Israel and quickly succeeded in raising $5 Million for three new businesses (together with a few million of his own capital investment) and is off and running. This isn’t uncommon in Israel. (Could one imagine how rare it is in the U.S.?) He also started a fund of his own to incubate Israeli companies. As he says, the Israelis have great technologies but don’t know how to monetize them. So he helps raise money, finds employees, accountants, law and PR firms and other services that will enable these companies to grow. One cannot imagine how much innovation I saw during a visit to two entrepreneurship forums at two different Universities at which I spoke; encouraging.
I was inspired by a recent breakfast I had with Naftali Bennett, the 39-year-old director general of the Yesha Council, the umbrella group of Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria (“West Bank”). He lives in Ra’ananah, an upscale Israeli city, and felt the need to become actively involved in politics after his best friend was killed in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon.
He asked himself: “What does the world want from us; what do the Arab nations want from this small Jewish State?” Concerning the Israelis, he commented, “Israelis born in the 1970s never questioned our existence,” and he felt the need to become involved. He views one of his tasks as doing all he can to change the uber-liberal institutions in Israel, which are fundamentally opposed to the views and beliefs of many people in Israel. These include the media, court system, and universities.
Bennett is also among the rare Zionists who care about the PR brand of Israel – he started “Israel Sheli” (My Israel), a network of pro-Israel activists committed to spreading Zionism online. It is dedicated to digital media work – from Wikipedia to Twitter to Facebook – to present a balanced view online of Israel and Israeli PR. Kudos to Naftali Bennett.
And I, at the age of 36, do all I can professionally and personally to grow and become better and stronger and when I visit the State of Israel, I am always inspired on so many fronts.