The owners of the BIG Shopping Centers have seen the future and it is online, apparently – at least, according to corporate vice president Hay Galis.
“We intend to stand on the shoulders of giants and we believe in Israel we can be as strong as they are, as we offer a physical, financial and marketable platform that will be a significant player in e-commerce,” Galis told the Globes business news site.
BIG announced its new online shopping platform will be called BIG+ and will offer the various items available at its current malls. However, it will also offer international brands not currently sold to Israeli consumers.
The virtual mall expects to launch at the start of next year, and will make available a myriad selection of brands and retailers both from Israel and abroad.
There are troubling signs that in the waning days of his presidency, Barack Obama may be ready to make one last all-out push for a Middle East settlement at Israel’s expense.
For better or worse, Mr. Obama has made what in his eyes are major breakthroughs in problem areas that have eluded his predecessors for decades. Immigration, health care, trade, Cuba, and Iran come immediately to mind. But together with Russia, North Korea, and China, the Middle East is an area where he has come up decidedly short in terms of what he had hoped to accomplish from the outset of his presidency.
Significantly, though, there is precious little leverage the president has with Russia, North Korea, and China. Not so with Israel, which is vulnerable to U.S. pressure. So while he may be resigned to having failed to move events involving Russia, North Korea, and China, Mr. Obama seems disinclined to give up on the Middle East.
There has been speculation for weeks now that the president intends to substantially reduce the heretofore extraordinary level of U.S. military aid to Israel that has until now characterized Mr. Obama’s time in office.
According to sources cited by the Wall Street Journal, this would be part of a White House effort to reenergize negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians that would include unprecedented administration support for a UN resolution outlining steps toward an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians and would call on both sides to make specific compromises on key issues.
Another initiative said to be under consideration is U.S. support for a joint statement by the Quartet critical of Israel’s settlement policy.
Particularly disturbing was a speech Vice President Biden recently delivered to J Street in which he spoke of “overwhelming frustration” with the Israeli government and said:
I firmly believe that the actions that Israel’s government has taken over the past several years – the steady and systematic expansion of settlements, the legalization of outposts, land seizures – they’re moving us and more importantly they’re moving Israel in the wrong direction.
To be sure, Mr. Biden also criticized Palestinian leaders for not condemning acts of terrorism against Israelis, but his ultimate point was inescapable: Israeli policies had made peace impossible at this point and Israeli concessions were therefore the key to peace.
The signs are all there: In the waning days of his presidency, Mr. Obama will try to press Israel into locking itself into a process he wants to jumpstart as a means of buffing his foreign policy legacy.
The Israeli government plans to import foreign hi-tech workers, according to a report by Channel 10 television news.
The current shortage of available hi-tech talent in the country, particularly in the area of software engineers, is behind the move.
Phase One in the plan involves issuing hundreds of employment visas by the Ministry of Economy and Industry for overseas specialists, according to the report.
In Phase Two the number of visas will increase to thousands, swelling the current ranks of hi-tech workers in Israel and possibly lowering their salaries as well.
In the final quarter of 2015, the average hi-tech salary began to drop by four percent from the previous quarter to end the year at a starting gross monthly salary of NIS 23,650, according to the Globes business news site.
Daphna Meir, z’l, was laid to rest Monday morning in the Har HaMenuchot cemetery in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood after a funeral that began in Otniel.
As drastic as the ban may sound, it is unlikely to last very long.
This is not the first time the IDF has imposed such measures on Arab workers in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Last July (2015) the IDF issued a region-wide ban out of concern that some Arab employees might take revenge on their Jewish coworkers or employers over the arson murder attack on a family in the Arab village of Duma.
A similar ban on Arab workers in the region was also ordered in November 2015: that edict was issued after 21-year-old Hadar Buchris was stabbed to death in an attack at the Gush Etzion junction.
The attack on Buchris had been the third attack of the day in the region, and the second at the junction in four days – but the ban was temporary, as is obvious by the fact that Daphna Meir, z’l, was laid to rest today.
Hub Etzion is a new, vibrant and exciting coworking space located in the burgeoning “Industrial Park” nestled in the Gush Etzion hills just across from the town of Efrat, and 5 minutes from almost every community in Gush Etzion. As coworking hubs go, Hub Etzion is pretty standard – even modest. At 3000 sq. feet, it’s quite small compared to the 15000+ sq. feet WeWork locations in Tel Aviv and Herzliyah.
Yet in the mere two months since opening, Hub Etzion has been receiving national – and international attention. Including, a special visit today from MK and Former Israel Ambassador to the US Michael Oren.
Why such inordinate attention? As any real estate agent will tell you, the answer is location, location, location.
While Gush Etzion has been in the news lately as the address for increased terror attacks, and notably the vicious murder of American yeshiva student Ezra Schwartz, z”l one month ago, it is also the home to a large, independent-minded community of Olim, many of whom live in Israel while owning or consulting for companies overseas, from the comfort, or shall we say, the discomfort of home.
Hub Etzion aims to meet this strong and current market need, providing a sophisticated, professional space in which to work for those who telecommute, run their own businesses, work from home or all of the above.
At the same time, the founders of Hub Etzion perceive their business as a response to the ongoing terror attempts – and to BDS.
“Yesterday, I went to a memorial ceremony at Oz V’Gaon Park in memory of Ezra Schwartz, z”l” Hub Etzion co-owner and founder Rachel Moore told JewishPress.com. “Racheli Fraenkel [JP: mother of Naftali Fraenkel one of the three boys kidnapped and murdered last year] spoke and tried to give comfort to Ezra’s family, who had flown in from the US to be with us, here, in Gush Etzion. She spoke about how the Jewish people respond to a culture of death and destruction by celebrating life and rebuilding. We at Hub Etzion believe that the response to BDS is the same; rather than divestment and negative attacks, we need to build up and ‘INvest’; in people, in enterprise, in technology and advancements for all of the residents of Gush Etzion. That is the only way to bring about progress and solutions. We face the current situation – and our ongoing situation by increasing prosperity and success – locally and proudly.”
This approach to the current attacks on Israel, from terrorism to the rhetoric on campuses and in cities around the world, seems to resonate a great deal with thought leaders.
During today’s visit, it was clear that MK Oren already understood the Hub culture, and the need for a coworking space in Gush Etzion.
But what he wanted to talk about was the decision of the Hub – and more importantly the businesses that reside there – to remain in Gush Etzion, clearly, unapologetically.
As the coworkers gathered for a photo opportunity with Oren, he addressed the crowd and said (in Hebrew) “People have been trying to remove the Jewish presence from this area throughout the history of Israel. Those of you working here, this amazing place, Hub Etzion, is as important to the long term success here as the soldiers out there working hard at the junction and checkpoints, protecting us”
Hub Etzion was also called out recently at a new Lobby at the Knesset for Startups and Hubs, started by MKs Yoav Kish and Yoel Hasson. MK Kish, of the Likud Party, specifically mentioned Hub Etzion as an example of the “need for more Hubs and tech eco-systems outside of the mercaz [Tel Aviv] and in the rest of the country.”
Alan Weinkrantz, “Product Ambassador” from Rackspace, the world’s largest provider of managed cloud storage, has also brought international attention to Hub Etzion. In a recent post, he wrote that “It’s interesting to see workspaces and hubs like…Hub Etzion that are no more than 30 minutes from Jerusalem, and dot landscape and the periphery of the Nation’s Capital. These communities and workspaces are sort of like being in Fairfax, VA or Chevy Chase, MD, but with a slightly longer time line that go back to the cradle of civilization.”
Coinciding with MK Michael Oren’s visit, Weinkrantz came to Hub Etzion today for a day of consultations and help for the co-working /start-up community of Gush Etzion. He had an opportunity to personally present MK Oren with a Rackspace poster that points an arrow at Israel as “The Five-Thousand Year Old Startup”.
“We are a private enterprise that is focused on empowering the people and businesses of Gush Etzion and Efrat to thrive and grow.” co-owner Amy Shuter told JewishPress.com. “We have so much more to do. We know that as long as our region is an area of controversy we will garner attention to what we are doing. But we are going to help the next huge idea turn into the next huge startup, right out of our modest Hub. This is only the beginning. We hope that the international attention continues, but for the benefit of the businesses we serve. “
Below is a short excerpt (in English) from what MK Michael Oren said during his visit to Hub Etzion.
Arab officials have expressed outrage at the government’s decision to delay by three days a vote on a major five-year plan involving funding in huge segments of Arab municipalities.
The government postponed the vote until Wednesday on a NIS 15b funding plan for education, transportation, housing and employment because the targeted cities did not include mixed Arab-Jewish populations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Social Services Minister Gila Gamliel created the plan allegedly hoping to change the way government allocates its funding for such purposes.
The ministers were reportedly hoping to give a swift economic push for development of Arab society in Israel, thereby narrowing the gaps between the Jewish and Arab populations.
But Likud Science Minister Ofir Akunis and Culture Minister Miri Regev both objected to the plan due to its lack of balance.
“It’s very important to include the mixed cities,” said Regev. “We’re allowed to represent them and we should not apologize because they [the mayors] are from Likud … not all of them are. We’re talking about Haifa, Tel Aviv-Yafo (Jaffa), Ramle, Lod and Akko – these billions of shekels need to serve the Arab public in mixed cities as well,” she said.
If passed, NIS 1.2 billion will be allocated to promote construction in Arab municipalities and NIS 1.4 billion will be used to improve public transportation in local authorities. For example, information about public schedules will be translated to Arabic for the first time and there will be an increase for subsidies to public transportation in Arab communities.
A full 40 percent of the State of Israel public transportation budget will be used in the Arab sector. In addition, 32.5 percent of funding in the economic development and employment sector will be allocated in 2016 to the development of industrial zones in Arab municipalities. Plus, 17.5 percent of the Small and Medium Business Agency budget will be allocated to Arab sector businesses.
The plan also includes significant investment in Arab sector education, particularly in the field of training educators in both elementary and higher education.
But nothing ever seems to be enough: Arab officials were outraged by the decision to postpone the vote three days, till Wednesday.
(JNi.media) Israel is well known as the startup nation with a thriving entrepreneurial spirit, groundbreaking technologies, exceptional workforce, resilient economy, and high investment returns. These are just a few reasons why the world’s leading multinational corporations—more than 200—have set up shop in Israel and are looking to invest and do business with startups. Those companies’ corporate venture arms are becoming increasingly active investors in local startups.
Which is why senior representatives from leading multinational companies including AVG, Ford, GE, Tyco, GM, ProSieben, Mail.ru, Bloomberg, Yahoo, Visa (yes, them too) and many more—see the complete list here—will converge on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange December 16 for the Axis Tel Aviv Corporate Edition 2015, an event aimed at connecting international companies actively looking to invest in Israel with the country’s top startups.
The Corporate Edition’s participating startups will be from a variety of tech sectors including big data, cloud, cyber security, mobile and e-commerce. This is the only event in Israel connecting global entities and Israeli startups, assisting them to break into the local ecosystem and generating optimal platforms for networking and deals.
The one-day event will be broken down into 4 sessions of corporate venture categories (ICT & Big Data/ Fintech & Cybersecurity / Mobile & E-Commerce / IOT). Each session will include pitches from each Corporate panelist, followed by startup pitches and feedback from the panel. In addition there will be a roundtable discussion on corporate investing, keynote speakers, focused networking sessions, and an exclusive lunch for startups, investors, and corporate executives.
Axis Innovation is a boutique advisory firm connecting investors and corporations with the best technology startups globally. Its core services include capital raising and coaching for startups, filtered deal-flow for investors and innovation scouting for corporations, global conferences, and corporate consulting.