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December 8, 2016 / 8 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘global’

Surging Overseas Investment in Israel Defy Global Downtrend

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

1. According to KPMG, one of the four largest global auditing firms, Israel has become a leading hothouse for FinTech companies. 9 out of 100 globally-promising FinTech companies are from Israel, an improvement from 8/100 in 2015. One of the Israeli companies, Payoneer digital payments company, raised $180MN on Oct. 6 in a round led by the Silicon Valley-based Technology Crossover Ventures and the Bala Cynwyd, PA-based Susquehanna Growth Equity (Globes Business Daily, Oct. 27, 2016).

2. In defiance of the global financial downtrend – but as a derivative of Israel’s cutting-edge technologies – Israeli hightech companies raised $1.19BN during Q3 2016, the second highest quarterly amount in ten years. During the first nine months of 2016, Israeli hightech companies raised $4BN, 27% above the $3.15BN raised during the first nine months of 2015. However, the third quarter of 2016 has recorded a 24% decline compared with the third quarter of 2015, although the total for September was higher than August (Globes, October 26).

3. Boston Scientifics acquired Israel’s EndoChoice for $210MN (Globes, September 28). Israel’s Ormat Technologies concluded a senior-unsecured-bonds tender for $204MN (Globes, September 11). The NY-based $14BN CA Technologies acquired Israel’s BlazeMeter for $100MN, CA’s 13th Israeli acquisition (Globes, September 22).

4. The $3BN US cyber giant, ProofPoint, acquired Israel’s FireLayers for $55MN, which has become the research and development center of ProofPiont. FireLayers is the third startup developed and sold by its two co-owners (Globes, Oct. 26). eBay acquired Israel’s Corrigon for $30MN, eBay’s 6th Israeli acquisition (Globes, Oct. 7). The Lexington, MA and Dublin, Ireland-based, Shire, a biopharmaceuticals giant, extends its strategic partnership with Israel’s plasma-derived protein therapeutics company, Kamada, which is expected to yield a minimum of $237MN in revenues during 2017-2020 (Globes, Oct. 7).

5. According to Forbes, September 22 issue: “Since 2011, there has been a 50% year-on-year growth of Chinese investment in Israel…. The business relations between Israel and China is growing…. For example, Li-Ka-Shing, the Hong-Kong-based tycoon, has invested – privately and via his venture capital fund, Horizon Ventures – in 30 Israeli companies. China’s $3BN Neusoft IT co-established a $250MN investment fund with Israel’s Infinity Capital Equity Fund, targeting Israeli digital pharmaceutical equipment companies (Globes, September 26). Baidu, the Chinese Internet giant partnered with Israel’s Carmel investment fund, invested in three Israeli companies and opened an office in Israel. China’s Innovative Medical invested $30MN in Israel’s Pluristem (Globes, October 26). About $15BN have been invested in Israel, by Chinese giant companies such as ChemCina (acquired Adama, a crop protection company, for $3.7BN), Bright Food (acquired Tnuva, a dairy producer, for $2.5BN), Fosun (acquired Ahava, a cosmetic producer, for $77MN), Shanghai Giant Network Technology, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma and additional Chinese investors (acquired Playtika, an online company, for $4.4BN), etc.

Yoram Ettinger

Global Competitiveness Report Gives Israel High Marks for Innovation [video]

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

Each year, the World Economic Forum releases its Global Competitiveness Report, examining data on the soundness, resilience, sophistication and innovation of businesses in each country to compile evaluations of the economy of 138 countries, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity.

The 2016-2017 edition highlights that declining openness is threatening growth and prosperity. It also highlights that monetary stimulus measures such as quantitative easing are not enough to sustain growth and must be accompanied by competitiveness reforms. Final key finding points to the fact that updated business practices and investment in innovation are now as important as infrastructure, skills and efficient markets.

“Declining openness in the global economy is harming competitiveness and making it harder for leaders to drive sustainable, inclusive growth,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum.

On the Global Competitiveness Index for 2016–2017, Israel is ranked in 24th place, behind Switzerland, Singapore, the US, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the UK, Hong Kong and Japan, and directly behind Ireland in 23rd place. In last year’s report, Israel was ranked 27th. UAE in 16th place and Qatar in 18th are the other two Middle Eastern countries in the top 25, but for Qatar the ranking represents a 4-point drop from last year’s report.

Among other areas, the World Economic Forum looks at innovation, taking into account the quality of scientific research, company spending on Research and Development, ties between academia and industry, the number of patents, and the number of engineers and scientists in each country. In the index for innovation and sophistication factors, Israel is ranked in 2nd place (the US is 4th), with Switzerland in first place.

In innovation capacity, Israel is 9th, Switzerland 1st, the US 6th.

In business dynamism, Israel is ranked 19th, right behind Canada (the US is in first place, Germany 10th).

The most problematic factors for doing business in Israel, according to the report (in descending order): inefficient government bureaucracy, high tax rates, policy instability, an inadequately educated workforce, problems in access to financing, excessive tax regulations, and restrictive labor regulations.

Israel’s least problematic issues: little corruption (who would have thunk, right?), capacity to innovate (there’s plenty), work ethic in national labor force (Israelis work like horses), crime and theft (very low), inflation (non-existent), and public health (Israel has one of the best public health programs in the West).

According to the International Monetary Fund, Israel’s GDP is $296.1 billion, GDP per capita $35,343.3

The Middle East and North Africa region continues to experience significant instability in geopolitical and economic terms as spillover effects from the conflicts in Libya, Syria, and Yemen are undermining economic progress in the entire region.

Instability is also being created by the uncertain future of energy prices after recent falls, which affect the region’s countries in different ways. Oil-exporting countries—which include Algeria (87th), Bahrain (48th), the Islamic Republic of Iran (76th), Kuwait (38th), Oman (66th), Qatar (18th), Saudi Arabia (29th), the United Arab Emirates (16th), and Yemen (138th)—are experiencing lower growth, higher fiscal deficits, and rising concerns about unemployment. Growth in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies averaged 5.2 percent between 2000 and 2012, but fell to 2.5 percent in 2015. The forecast for 2016 is also 2.5 percent, and rising oil supplies are  expected to keep prices low and limit growth expectations for the coming years.

JNi.Media

Raids, Arrests Show 9/11’s Lessons Are Global

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

{Originally posted to the IPT website}

They are known as “the 102 minutes that changed America.”  Fifteen years later, it is increasingly clear that the 102 minutes of the Sept. 11 attacks also reshaped and changed the world.

Indeed perhaps even more than Americans, Europeans now feel the strongest aftershocks, having been shaken by more than 10 Islamist terror strikes in the past 20 months alone.

Hence as America commemorates the 15th anniversary of 9/11, several European countries are intensifying their intelligence activity. In the process, they are discovering more and more terror cells, resulting in multiple arrests Europe-wide just this past week. More are likely to come, particularly in France and Belgium, judging from a recent CNN report which found that the plotters of the Nov. 13 Paris attacks had intended them “to be far worse, to occur in other European countries as well, and, investigators believe, had planned to follow them up with strikes in several locations.”

CNN also uncovered signs that ISIS was planning to increase its activity in the UK – which may explain the Sept. 8 arrests  of two West London men suspected of preparing an act of terrorism and funding terrorist activity. A third man arrested in East London the same day was also taken into custody on another terror-related charge. The arrests follow other raids in Birmingham and Stoke in late August, in which four men were taken into custody on charges of planning a terrorist attack.

But ISIS is doing more than planning attacks. It appears also to be exploring new strategies and weapons, according to the 17-year-old son of Belgian imam Shayh Alami. The boy has called for the death of Christians in the past.  After his arrest late last month, according to the Mirror, the youth (who has not been named) told police that the terrorist group has begun inciting a kind of Islamist chainsaw massacre, encouraging its European followers to take chainsaws to Christians in shopping centers.

And in France, four days after a car loaded with gas cylinders was spotted parked near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, police arrested three women, ages 19, 23, and 39, also on charges of planning a terrorist attack. The arrests, which coincidentally also took place on Sept. 8, soon led to the arrests of four other suspected “radical Islamists,” according to the prosecutor’s office. At least one of the three women, Ines Madani, reportedly wrote a letter pledging allegiance to the Islamic State and spoke on the phone about plots to bomb Paris train stations. Hence, while the parked car appeared rigged to explode, the New York Times reports, officials clearly found its presence suspicious. In short time, they traced its ties to that phone conversation: the car belongs to Madani’s father.

Further investigation also showed that the group planned attacks on police in what French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve described as “new and, moreover, imminent violent actions.”

Apparently, they weren’t the only ones: On Sept. 11, French authorities also arrested a 15-year-old boy on suspicion of preparing “imminent and violent action.” Like the women arrested previously, the boy is believed to have had contact with suspected ISIS militant Rashid Kasheem, who is French. Kasheem is now in Syria, but has regularly called for attacks in France, LeMonde reports.

Not all the activity in Europe of late has been directly related to attacks, however. Among the lessons learned from 9/11 is the importance of terror finance and the insidious methods through which money is transferred to support terrorist groups worldwide.

Tracing those connections remains crucial to counterterrorist intelligence, which explains why Dutch officials last week raided two mosques and several private homes: the mosques and their imams are suspected of laundering money through at least 10 charities.  Those charities, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) believes, help fund other organizations that, in turn, provide financial support to terrorist groups in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Ukraine. According to a FIOD statement, financial transfers to the mosques and the charitable organizations come not only from the Netherlands, but from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

In addition, FIOD asserts, “One of the suspect foundations has received a transfer of hundreds of thousands of euros from a charitable organization from the Middle East which is connected to a charity that the US has placed on a list of sanctioned groups.”

The suspects, believed to be Ahmad Salam, his son Suhayb Salam, another (unnamed) son and a fourth party, are also said to have connections to Kuwait’s Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), which the U.S. Treasury Department designated in 2008 “for providing financial and material support to Al Qaida and Al Qaida affiliates and supporting terrorism.”

Both mosques, the Al-Fitra mosque in Utrecht and As-Sunnah mosque in Tilburg, have come under fire in the past for preaching Salafism, the extremist form of Islam that some European countries – including the Netherlands – have discussed banning. Last December, Utrecht’s mayor also expressed concern about the influence the Al Fitra mosque and Suhayb Salam, its imam, were having on members, and the mosque’s alleged efforts to turn Dutch Muslim children against Dutch society. And in 2013, both As-Sunnah and Ahmad Salam were investigated on charges of abusing and beating children during Quran lessons – accusations Salam strongly denied.

But there is this that can be said about what has changed because of 9/11: we know more about radical Islam. We know more about what is needed to defend ourselves against it, and to fight it where it rises. The raids and plots of these past few weeks confirm that point. The threat may be greater now, but we are far better prepared than we were on that bright September day to fight it.  And we will.

 

 

Abigail R. Esman

Bennett: Israel is World’s ‘Front Post’ Against Global Terrorism

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Herzliya (TPS) – Education Minister and Chairman of the Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett told a counter-terrorism conference Monday that Israel is the world’s “front post” in the battle against terror.

“No nation is as threatened by terror as we are,” Bennett told the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism annual conference. “We’ve got Hezbollah in the north, we’ve got Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, we have ISIS in Sinai, we have Hamas in Gaza – four of our frontiers with the deadliest terror organizations in the world, yet we’re thriving and we’re leading the battle because we’re here and we’re not going anywhere.”

“By being here we collect intelligence, methodologies, lessons learned, and we’re out there fighting day in and day out,” Bennett added.

However, Bennett also said that Israel and its leading role in the battle against global terrorism was being undermined by many in the international community pushing for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

“My one request from you coming from all around the world is don’t push us to divide our country. Don’t try and break us. Back us,” Bennett concluded.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Global Forum on Anti-Semitism This Year in Buenos Aires

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

For the first time, the Global Forum on Anti-Semitism (GFCA) traditionally held biennally in Jerusalem is taking place this weekend (July 16-18) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference this year is organized by the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition (HILC) subsidiary of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Latin American Jewish Congress, the regional chapter of the World Jewish Congress.

Anti-Semitism is rising around the world, and this year’s conference is focused on creating an action plan to respond to the attacks on an international level.

On Monday forum participants are slated to attend a ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. The attack was suspected to have been perpetrated by Iran via its Lebanon-based terror proxy Hezbollah. In that attack 85 people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

“The first GFCA in Latin America presents a unique opportunity to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism in Latin America and develop an action plan that would complement the one drafted at the last GFCA in Jerusalem in June 2015,” the HILC said in a statement.

The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sent experts to the conference to participate in a panel discussion on best practices in tackling cyberhate – the spread of anti-Semitism online.

ADL resources which have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese are being presented during a session on identifying and opposing cyberhate and community safety online.

“With the advent of various social media platforms, and the volume of pernicious content, no continent is immune to the growing phenomenon of online hate,” warned Jonathan Vick, ADL Assistant Director for Cyberhate Response.

Hana Levi Julian

One Year in: Does the Iran Nuclear Deal Alleviate Global and Israeli Fears?

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

{Originally posted to the JNS website}

The nuclear agreement signed on July 14, 2015, between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the United States, the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and Germany—was a watershed event in international diplomacy and a key moment for U.S. President Barack Obama, who staked his legacy on the deal’s success. One year later, should world nations, and perhaps most notably Israel, still view the Islamic Republic as a nuclear threat?

“In terms of compliance with the deal itself, I think it is going very well,” Dalia Dassa Kaye, director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the Rand Corporation, told JNS.org. “Basically, the bargain was Iran rolling back of key elements of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief—those two key aspects of the deal have been met.”

In May, U.S. Ambassador and Lead Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation Stephen Mull said in testimony to the U.S. Senate that the Iran nuclear deal “has been implemented by all participants.”

According to Mull, Iran has completed dozens of specific actions to “limit, freeze, or roll back its nuclear program and subject it to greater transparency by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

This includes Iran disconnecting two-thirds of its installed centrifuge capacity, terminating uranium enrichment at its secretive Fordow nuclear facility, reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent, and filling the core of its Arak heavy water reactor with concrete.

As such, Mull concluded that these actions have increased Iran’s so-called “breakout time”—the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon—from two or three months to at least a year.

Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council think tank, told JNS.org that while the deal is “holding for now,” the Iranians “remain within the letter of the agreement but not the spirit of it.”

“They have been a little more transparent in their nuclear processes, but it has not fundamentally changed Iranian behavior,” Berman said, alluding to Iran’s continued military buildup; support for terrorist organizations; and hostility towards Israel, the U.S., and America’s Arab allies.

Many policymakers and analysts also remain concerned about the economic ramifications of the nuclear deal. One of the principle concerns had been the estimated $100-$150 billion in sanctions relief that Iran would receive as a result of the unfreezing of foreign assets once the Islamic Republic met its obligations under the agreement.

According to Berman, the deal has set in motion a “vast sanctions give away that is far more expansive than most people understand.”

“It is not only the $100 billion or so incorporated into the deal, but also measures like the White House’s attempts to facilitate Iranian access to the U.S. dollar and pressure on state governments to roll back Iranian divestment measures,” he said.

“What they set in motion was this grand reorientation of global economics in favor of Iran,” Berman added.

Despite these concerns, there are still a number of non-nuclear U.S. sanctions in place on Iran relating to terrorism, Iran’s ballistic missile program, and human rights violations—creating financial uncertainty for Iran, and making a number of international companies and banks wary of doing business with the Islamic Republic. Those sanctions are in place in large part because the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, is heavily involved in Iran’s economy.

As such, with Iran not seeing the economic windfall that it had hoped for and had promised its people, Iranian leaders have publicly complained that the U.S. has not held its end of the bargain in the nuclear deal.

“On paper, the Americans say banks can trade with Iran, but in practice they act in such an Iranophobic way that no trade can take place with Iran,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in April, while accusing the U.S. of engaging in “obstruction and deception.”

Yet Berman dismissed these complaints by Iranian leaders, saying that it is important to “separate what Iran says from what it is actually doing.”

Just weeks after the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tehran, where both nations agreed to increase bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next 10 years. Meanwhile, Russia used the pretext of the lifting of nuclear sanctions to renew its deal to provide Iran with the advanced S-300 air defense system.

Even India, which has seen significantly warming relations with Iran’s enemy, Israel, under President Narendra Modi, signed a dozen agreements with Tehran during a visit by Modi to the Islamic Republic in May, including a $500 million deal to develop Iran’s Chabahar Port.

Before the nuclear deal, Iran “didn’t lack for global ambition, but lacked resources,” said Berman. Now, he explained, “the powers of global politics are such [that] the Iranians can start thinking about what it looks like to not just be a participant in Middle East politics, but a key driver of it, [and] not just be a partner of rogue regimes like North Korea or Venezuela, but to actually be a patron of them….That’s a fundamentally new dynamic for the Iranians.”

For Israel, the nuclear agreement represented a major blow to the efforts of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke out strongly and regularly against the pre-deal nuclear negotiations and has argued that the deal does not fully dismantle Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

Yet a year after the deal was signed, there appears to be less concern about Iran’s nuclear ambitions within Israel’s leadership and more of a focus on Iran’s regional ambitions, its involvement in Syria, and Iran’s support for its terror proxies.

This sentiment was clear in recent remarks by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who stated at the Herzilya Conference in June that Iran’s nuclear program “has been frozen in light of the deal signed by the world powers and does not constitute an immediate, existential threat for Israel.”

Similarly, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said during a speech in January that a current “decline” in existential threats to Israel comes due to a variety of emerging trends, including the Iran nuclear deal.

The Rand Corporation’s Kaye, who recently returned from a trip to Israel, said that “there is a wide consensus among Israeli analysts that the Iranians are likely to adhere to this agreement.”

But Israeli military officials are now more deeply concerned about the possible economic and military consequences that a richer and more emboldened Iran will bring forth, especially through its support for its terror proxy nations. Kaye cautioned that for Israel, attention “has really turned to Iran’s role in Syria and its relation with Hezbollah as well as a permanent Iranian presence along Israel’s northern border in southern Syria.”

Berman said that “even if you take away the existential question of Iran getting a nuclear weapon later, which is where they (Israeli security officials) still think Iran is headed. What you are looking at is a very negative cycle of economic attrition. [Israelis] expect all the proxies that Iran is funding —Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad—to have a greater resources in the near future as a result of the nuclear deal.”

As a consequence, Berman said, Israel will need to step up its security and deterrence, and spend more money on defensive weapons and technology such as the Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems or anti-tunneling technology.

Nevertheless, Kaye contended that by taking the nuclear threat off the table for the time being, Israel might have more of a chance to act boldly against Iran’s terror proxies without the concern of potentially igniting a nuclear conflict with Iran.

“One of the motivations [of the deal] to begin with was to ensure that Iran would not be engaging in this type of behavior under a nuclear umbrella. I think in that context, there is some relief that Iran is at least hemmed in on the nuclear front,” Kaye said.

While it appears that Iran’s compliance with the letter of the deal has so far reduced the likelihood of a nuclear-armed Iran in the short term, there is continued concern among policymakers and analysts over Iran’s aggressive behavior moving forward.

“I think the focus will now only increase towards implementation as well as planning and preparation for what might happen once some of the key elements of this deal start to expire in 10 years,” Kaye said. “The only exception to that will be increased momentum and focus on the missile front. There won’t be a renegotiation on the existing agreement. But there may be a push to expand on the current agreement to include more restrictions on Iranian missile testing and development in exchange for further economic relief.”

Sean Savage

Cisco Highlights Global Confidence in Israel

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

1. During January-June, 2016, Israeli companies were acquired by global companies for $2.4BN, compared with $3.4BN during the whole of 2015. For example, the California-based $60BN Cisco, the largest networking company in the world, acquired Israel’s cyber technology Cloudlock for $293MN, Cisco’s 2nd Israeli acquisition in 2016 (Leaba Semiconductor – $375MN) and its 13th acquisition in Israel, since 1998, totaling $2.2BN….

2.  According to Cisco’s Chairman, John Chambers: “Israel is the most innovative country, producing the best startups…. Cisco invested $150MN in 30 Israeli startups, $60MN in four Israeli venture capital funds and acquired 13 Israeli companies since I became Cisco’s CEO….”

3. Bill Gates made his first investment in Israel, along with Boston Scientific….

4.  June, 2016 highlighted the appeal of Israel’s startups to foreign investors. For example….

5.  The terms of Israel’s acquisition of the F-35 – which is the most expensive military transaction in Israel’s history –  underline Israel’s unique  role as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US defense industries, and Israel’s contribution to the US national security and economy….

Yoram Ettinger

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/business-economy/cisco-highlights-global-confidence-in-israel/2016/07/05/

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