Tag: israeli history

On Sunday, June 21, Anna, Becki, Jessie and I went to visit Anna’s Great Uncle, Shlomo Hillel. She gave us a brief background that he was somewhat important in Israeli history and a cute old man that lives in Ranana, outside of Tel Aviv. Our research paper topic is Immigration and Government and little did we know our visit to Ranana would enable our paper to, for lack of better words, come to life.

Guest blogger: Rachel is a  sophomore a the University of  Michigan

Shlomo Hillel, an Iraqi Jew, who came to Israel as a teenager to join his brothers, was the momentous figure to aid the immigration of thousands of Iraqi Jews to Israel, through Operation Ezra and Nehemiah.

From 1950 to 1952, Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlifted between 120,000 and 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. The massive emigration of Iraqi Jews was among the most climactic events of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. By 1968, only 2,000 Jews remained in Iraq.    – Wikipedia

He went on to tell us his experience in the government.

As a Knesset member and then Speaker of the Knesset by the end of his career, Hillel played a large role in the formation of policy under great Prime Ministers, such as Golda Meir. The four of us were consumed with what Hillel had to say and his thoughts about Israeli business, immigration and government. Shlomo continued to name his partners and friends when describing all the operations and policies he was involved in. This demonstrates the value of respect and teamwork that this country was built upon.

One of the best parts about Israel is the ability to meet people who have single-handedly shaped the country to be what it is today. In America, George Washington is not walking around the streets of Washington D.C. On the other hand, we had the opportunity to meet a man who saved the lives of thousands of Iraqi Jews and lead the Knesset to create change in the 1980s.

Image: Police minister Hillel inspects his troops in the 1970s ;  (photo credit:COURTESY SHLOMO HILLEL)  Jerusalem Post

The spring semester is well underway and that means the Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Israel course has started. We are asking the undergrad students in this class to reflect on their takeaways while they prepare for their immersion trip to Israel during spring break. Keep up with the students’ thoughts by clicking the “Business in Israel” feature tag in the right hand column of the Olin Blog.


Reflections from Samuel Blumkin, Arts & Sciences, Class of 2016

After talking about Israeli history and culture for the past two classes, today, we discussed the fundamentals behind Israel’s booming startup sector.  We learned the possible routes a company can take to become a startup, each involving large amounts of capital.  A startup can receive funding from “Angel” Investors (individuals lending money), banks, self-funding (a.k.a. Boot Strapping), or from Venture Capitalists.

Since it is rare for individuals to fund risky companies, and by the same token, it is risky for a bank to lend out that much capital to a potentially risky investment, startups look mostly to Venture Capitalist (VC) firms to receive funding.  VC’s are made up of individuals looking to find companies in need of funding, providing that funding, and then receiving a piece of each company’s equity once it is either bought or goes public.

However, given the statistic that most startups fail, VC’s invest in multiple companies, and calculate the risk that out of 10-20 companies, two or three will fail, and two or three will be the VC’s jackpot, while the remaining companies don’t experience nearly as extreme an outcome.

Israeli startups receive a lot of funding from private VC’s, but it wasn’t always that way.  Israel’s economy hasn’t been the strongest since its founding, experiencing the effects of widespread boycotts over the past few decades.  Arab nations would make companies choose between trading with them and trading with Israel, and many would choose the former.  France led another boycott against Israel in the 1970’s, and Israel really wasn’t able to fully recover until the very end of the century.

Israel has always had the brainpower to begin startups, but they really haven’t had the money or the manpower.  In 1996, the Israeli government set out to change this, and established its own VC, Yozma.  Its goal was to energize the startup industry and it did just that.  By 2001, Yozma ceased being a government-owned VC and went private, still in operation today.  Despite the fact that there have been failed projects since started by the government, Yozma laid the foundations for an economy with a booming startup sector.  It successfully took Israel’s military and human capital as well as its population’s education and translated it into enormous sources of income for the country, and some might say, a culture.

Yozma’s success truly interested me because we seldom hear of a government stimulus to the economy that experiences the results that Yozma did.  I believe it is one of the factors responsible for not only restoring Israel’s economy, but also inspiring a country of innovators.  A unique characteristic that Israelis have is that they are not afraid of failure.  This characteristic is essential as an entrepreneur, so that one day, he or she might be successful.  This is truly a trait that separates Israel from any other country.