We began the day by visiting David Fisher at the American Center, a part of the US Embassy, after an early wake up of 730. There he talked a lot about his job and the many problems facing Israel geographically and politically, which was a nice set up for the meeting with Mark Regev later.
After, we traveled to the Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) headquarters where we met with Kobi Rozengarten and a few other people. The office of JVP itself takes up a small part of the whole building, whereas the rest is saved for the incubators. The partners at JVP talked about their process of selecting the companies, some of the companies they are currently investing in, and some other aspects of how they operate. After the meeting, we went down to have a look at one of the companies in the incubator. This company focused on breaking down a video into its elements and forming an index so that advertisers can pop up ads during specific parts that relate to their product. For example, a clothing company would want to pop up their name when a character in a video goes to buy a shirt.
Later we had back-to-back meetings with Netanel Oded of the National Economic Council and Mark Regev, the international spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office. With Netanel Oded, he spoke extensively about the ongoing and worsening Orthodox problem in Israel. They have the highest birth rate of any group, meaning they will comprise an even bigger percentage of the population, and among those with the lowest education levels, so it will be very tricky to integrate them into society. However, the problem needs to be addressed soon before it gets out of hand. He also talked about the high housing prices, another main problem that Israel faces, especially in Tel Aviv. While most think it’s a bubble, he claimed that the high prices are not a bubble due to the presence of the fundamentals that support high prices.
The meeting with Mark Regev after was very interesting. There aren’t many chances that we will be able to meet a man of such high stature. He delved into a multitude of subjects, ranging from Iran and their potential nuclear weapons to future peace talks. With Iran, he explained the many scenarios that could occur should they get a nuclear weapon or should Israel attack, and the decision of whether to attack or not will be ultimately be based on limiting the amount of damage. With the peace talks, he mentioned the three things that will be necessary to agree are 1. There must be iron-clad security boundaries 2. They must acknowledge Israel and the Israeli people 3. They must give up all future claims, meaning they can’t ask for anything after the agreements have been made. At one point, he even made us put our pens down and talked about a conversation he had with Benjamin Netanyahu about Syria, information that very few people knew about yet which was very cool.
We ended the day with a visit to the Old City of Jerusalem and a tour of the Kotel Tunnels underneath the Western Wall, a place that can be considered more holy than the wall itself because parts are closer to the Holy of Holies, the central focus of the old Temple Mount. All in all, it was a very good, successful day.
Marc – Olin Business School, Class of 2016, New Jersey