Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board
By David E. Kaplan
This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!
Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.
This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.
Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform withMellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”
Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”
Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”
The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers – every major cloud service provider and computer maker.
Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.
Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.
Billion Dollar Man
Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.
This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company GalileoTechnology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.
A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:
“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”
Eyal Waldman is living testimony!
The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”
Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”
The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.
While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.
Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – “a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”
By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.
“I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, wehave employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.
The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.
“We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at MellanoxTechnologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”
Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.
Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.
Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts
“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.
Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.
Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.
‘Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.
Says Al Masri:
“We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”
Israel is the “land of Milk and Honey” – and I am not speaking about biblical references! It is all about the single malt whisky. Known as “the water of life”, Israel is about to join a small, elite group of countries that is licensed to distill whisky. Not bad for a desert dwelling country!
Buying the cow?
Distilling whisky is quite a unique and specialised skill, and there are four main producing centres in the world. Scotland, Ireland, Japan and the USA have traditionally been responsible for sharing some of the finest scotches, whiskies and bourbons (yes, there major differences) but a tiny, powerhouse may be ready to challenge them.
Enter the Milk & Honey Distillery. Neatly nestled amongst the warehouses and buildings of Tel Aviv, this veritably hidden gem was borne out of the dream of six hi-tech entrepreneurs whose passion for whisky spurred them on to open their own distillery.
Speaking in an interview with a leading hi-tech publication, CEO Eitan Attir quipped “Founding the distillery was like buying a cow when you want milk.” The next logical step was to set up a company which they established in 2012. Construction of the distillery began in 2014 and the actual distillation started in 2015.
In order to comply with strict Scottish standards, the Milk & Honey Distillery must ensure that they are involved in the distilling process from start to finish and that their single malt spirit matures for a period of three years.
The Milk & Honey team spent two years studying the intricacies of producing top-notch whisky. Master Distiller, Dr. James Swan, who is also an expert on producing whisky in warm climates recognized the exciting possibilities that Israel has to offer and helped the team come up with a truly winning formula.
While in colder climates in can be claimed that a wee dram can warm the cockles of your heart in icy weather, Israel’s summer climate (and hair curling humidity!) presented a whole new challenge.
This dedicated distillery did the research and discovered that maturation happened much faster that their colder climate dwelling counterparts.
Israel also offers five geothermic regions, allowing for the opportunity to experiment with maturation in other areas, such as the mountains, the desert, and of course – The Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.
Couple this with opening a distillery in Tel Aviv – the city that never sleeps and is a vibrant hub of good food and booze appreciation – and the result is a winning formula.
While Milk & Honey may offer other products, it is the whisky that occupies a point of pride and in May 2017, they launched Israel’s first single-malt.
This marked quite a historical moment not just for Israel but for appreciators of fine single malts around the world.
Sadly, no whisky was imbibed while writing this article.
The lyrics of the Frank Sinatra classic resonated throughout the Jewish world this February 2019 as Israel soared to the heavens –to the moon and amongst the stars at the Oscars
By David E. Kaplan
It was that kind of week in Israel.
It began with the news headline:
ISRAELI SPACECRAFT LAUNCHES, BERESHEET HEADS INTO ORBIT TOWARDS THE MOON
“All I can say is farewell Beresheet,” said an emotional South African-born Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, who donated more than $40 million to the project. “Our hopes are with you, make us proud.”
Kahn, who hails from Benoni in South Africa where he had been a member of the socialist Zionist youth movement Habonim, made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 1956 to kibbutz Tzora.
From starting out manufacturing bicycles at a factory in Beit Shemesh in partnership with kibbutz Tzora, Kahn’s trajectory soared establishing companies that grew into commercial behemoths such as Golden Pages Israel, Amdocs, the Aurec Group and Coral World and is now reaching out to the heavens.
A former underwater diver whose Coral World International, established aquariums around the world from his first in 1978 in Eilat, Israel to Maui, Hawaii; Perth, Australia; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Coral Island Nassau, The Bahamas; Oceanworld in Manly, Australia and elsewhere.
Transitioning his GPS, Kahn recalibrated his sights from below to above – from the deep depths of the earth’s sea to outer space.
Over The Moon
Israelis of all ages were wound-up at the countdown as the country’s non-profit organisation SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become only the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon.
Weighing in at 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, the unmanned craft, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.
All of Israel stands animatedly behind this project and was involved even in choosing the name of the spacecraft.
A public vote was conducted on the SpaceIL’s facebook page, and ‘Beresheet’ – a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning” – won the most votes.
Apart from the technical support from Israel Space Agency, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Systems and Elbit Systems, SpaceIL was also supported by some of Israel’s top universities, including the Technion, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Most of the multitude of people associated with SpaceIL are volunteers – including 250,000 students at schools across the country.
For decades, the moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the United States landed Ranger 4 on the moon and it would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to execute a soft moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did so in 2013.
Joining the elite and exclusive club of Russia, USA and China, Israel is by far the smallest country. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive. The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations amounted to $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.
SpaceIL signed with another former South African, Pretoria-born Elon Musk, whose SpaceX launched the Israeli craft on board a Falcon 9 rocket. Beresheet will travel approximately four million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots toward the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11.
One “bicycle man” can feel truly proud!
“This mission that we were talking about was really a ‘mission impossible’,” Kahn told local media.
“The only thing is, I didn’t think it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible.”
The three engineers Kahn refers to are Yariv Bash, a former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and currently Co-founder and CEO of Flytrex, Kfir Darmari, a computer Networking lecturer and entrepreneur, and Jonathan Winetraub, formally a satellite system engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries and currently a biophysics PhD candidate at Stanford.
It may come as a surprise but Israel’s journey to the moon was hatched in a pub. Some ten years ago, a younger Bash, Damari and Winetraub were at the only bar in Holon, a small town just south of Tel Aviv.
As the night wore on, the future space engineer, cyber security expert and drone maker, came up with a daring plan to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. “As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” Winetraub recalled during an interview with local media. “And it never faded away.”
Nearly a decade later, their alcohol-infused idea is making history.
From Holy Land to Hollywood
While it is the ‘dream’ of every film producer, director, actor, screenplay and musical score writer, costume and set designer to win an Oscar, this year the sense was that Israel was literally ‘out of the picture’. That was until the following morning after the 91st Academy Award ceremony, I saw on my Facebook:
“And the Oscar goes to … WIZO!”
What on “earth” – getting now away from the “moon” – did this mean?
First of all, WIZO – for those who do not know – stands for Women’s International Zionist Organization, which was founded in 1920 in direct response to the needs of women and children in what was still then Palestine. With branches all over the world, including South Africa where my mother was an active volunteer, begged the question:
What did WIZO have to do with the Oscars?
Reading further, it turned out that Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, who won the Academy Award in Los Angeles for his short film “Skin” – a bio-drama set in the United States about a neo-Nazi skinhead and his son – is a proud graduate of the WIZO Tzarfat (France) Arts School in Tel Aviv, an iconic high school sponsored by WIZO France . Graduates of the school include world famous artist Nir Hod, Israeli actress Dafna Rechter, South African fashion designer, Chantal Abroand Chairperson of WIZO in the United Kingdom, Ronit Ribak Madari.
Nattiv, who grew up in Israel and now lives in Los Angeles, co-wrote “Skin” with fellow Israeli Sharon Maymon and produced it with his wife Jaime Ray Newman. The film deals with a hate crime and its ramifications from the point of view of two children, one white and the other black.
“I moved here five years ago from Israel,” Nattiv began his acceptance speech before adding in Hebrew, “Good Night, Israel.”
Excited and emotional he stood with his wife and continued:
“My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust, we see that everywhere today—in America and in Europe. This film is about education; it’s about teaching your kids a better way.”
Adding, Newman said that she and her husband “dedicate this to our five-month-old baby who’s sitting at home with my parents watching this. We hope that you grow up in a world where these things don’t happen, because people learn to love and accept each other.”
Congratulations came in from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin who told Nattiv, “…the film is a gift for our children and grandchildren, and for the future that we want for them so they can fulfill their dreams. Proud to be lsraeli. Mazel Tov!”
And how fitting being a graduate of a WIZO school in Tel Aviv, for World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky adding to the long list of congratulations from Israel with:
“Mazal Tov, Guy! This is yet another shining example of WIZO pride. You, and thousands of WIZO graduates over the years taken what you have learned at WIZO and used it to create a better world.”
February 2019, recognises not only Israel’s ‘dreams’ for a “better world” but its pursuit thereof, whether to land a spacecraft on the moon or an Oscar for a movie that fights racism and proclaims love and acceptance.
For those who watched the launch of Beresheet and heard the words, “We have a lift off…” it was a portent of Israel’s destiny.
Contemplating a future Jewish state over 120 years ago Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream…”.
From his iconic concerned look on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, 1897, Herzl can look down today from his ‘celestial’ perch at his ‘state’ about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and smile.
“What, harnessing the blazing sun for cooling instead of heating?” Leave it to the Israelis!
By David E. Kaplan
An Israeli company, SolCold has developed a new paint that convert sun’s rays into cool air-conditioning. The double-layered nanotech coating is a potentially game-changing electricity-free solution for cooling buildings or equipment in intensely sunny climates. This makes it ideal for Central and South America, the entire Middle East and all of Africa – from Cairo to Cape Town.
How does it work?
SolCold’s unique paint – “no thicker than a business card” – is applied to a surface of an object, where the sun’s radiation triggers a reaction in the material. This reaction then converts the heat accumulated on the object it is applied to – into radiation. This radiation is then emitted in a process called ‘anti-Stokes fluorescence’ – invented by electrical engineer Yaron Shenhav, the co-founder and CEO of SolCold – thus providing the cooling effect.
“SolCold’s material functions as if it were a thin layer of ice that gets thicker and cooler as the sun gets stronger,” explains Shenhav. “We are focusing first on homes and shopping malls, but it can be applied on the roofs of cars and this can help save gasoline.”
“When applied to the rooftops of buildings, the material can help save up to 60% in energy costs,” says Shenhev, “which translates into annual cost savings of +$10,000 per building.” There’s also a major positive impact on the environment – saving on these energy costs means a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. “We are not just saving costs, but also helping protect our environment at the same time.”
SolCold’s product is generating interest for coating anything from chicken coops to cargo ships, malls to stadiums, cars to planes, satellites to hothouses, military equipment to apartment houses.
How did such an early-stage company receive so much attention already?
SolCold first made the news in June 2016, when it was one of six Israeli companies handpicked by the US State Department and the White House to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California.
And then, in October 2017, SolCold was a finalist in the deep tech competition at the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris.
Addressing the summit to an excited audience, Shenhav began:
“Yes, we are in Paris, the City of Lights, and above all these lights that we admire, there is the greatest, strongest light – the SUN. And while the sun is our greatest source of light, it is also our greatest source of heat on this planet. And whether here in Paris or in Tel Aviv, my home town, or LA, Beijing and practically everywhere on this planet, when the sun shines it emits radiation, which is absorbed by everything around us from buildings to cars, and in return it creates heat. So, this is the equation we know today – the stronger the sun, the hotter it gets. But we at SolCold have an alternative equation. We have a material that actually harnesses the suns energy into active cooling; meaning for us the equation is: the stronger the sun, the cooler it actually gets.”
Sunny Side Up
Potential imitators do not concern SolCold’s super cool team because the technology is so complicated. “We gathered a unique combination of knowledge in the worlds of thermodynamics, nanotechnology and quantum physics,” says cofounder GadiGrottas, “and have been working on it for the past four years. We have also registered a PCT patent, which is pending before being published.”
Grottas expects the product to be affordable and to offer a quick return on investment.
He reveals that the materials used in the coating:
– all exist in the market
– are 100% “green”
– free of carbon emissions
– are activated by free energy from the sun.
When tested in a lab using a sun simulator, SolCold’s double-layered coating cooled an object by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) using the equivalent of only 1% of the sun’s energy.
“The paint could decrease electricity consumption by up to 60% and is expected to last for 10 to 15 years before needing a new coat,” says Grottas.
This is no “sugar coating” it – this coating is for real and is transformative.
In hot weather, electricity grids become strained as people use their air conditioning day and night. In Israel, the national electric company frequently issue warnings during summer — when temperatures soar over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) — to use air-conditioners more sparingly, lest the grids shut down. Inevitably, electricity bills skyrocket.
The idea came to Shenhav sitting in his Tel Aviv apartment one sweltering summer over fours ago. “My air-conditioner was barely functioning – it was struggling to cope and came up with an idea which initially involved optic cables.” This he later abandoned in favour of harnessing the sun’s radiation for cooling.
“Now imagine what would happen for example,” says Shenhav, “if all the buildings in Tel Aviv have this coating on the roof. The entire city would consume 60 percent less energy in the hottest days of summer, and when that happens, our power plants would need to produce 60 percent less electricity – meaning much less CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be released into the air by the power plants.”
This is an enormous environmental benefit, asserts Shenhav.
The big question then is what happens in winter with less sun? While “the cooling effect would be reduced by 50% due to more rainy days when clouds hide the sun,” cooling will nevertheless still occur. At present, SolCold is targeting warmer climates such as the sun belt in the US, Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East, parts of China, Oceania and Africa.
Playing It Cool
Grottas has visited South Africa as part of promotion where there was interest among egg farms “because hot weather stresses laying hens and greatly reduces their productivity.”
It would also be extremely beneficial in rural South Africa for schools and hospitals.
Vision for Africa. This could be a game-changer in rural South Africa.
But Shenhav envisions entire cities in hot climates using SolCold to coat residential and commercial buildings, which would consume less energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
“Our technology can cool anything under the sun,” he says.
With the material able to be applied to most surfaces, SolCold’s potential is infinite.
The Herzliya-based startup is currently raising funds and has begun trials. Commercial and residential buildings in Israel and Cyprus are waiting to get the trial SolCold treatment.
Meanwhile, says Grottas, the company has received hundreds of inquiries regarding orders and distribution rights — which he estimates to be worth around $100 million — from places including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey and the United States.
Out Of This World
SolCold also has its sights on cargo, automotive, space and military markets, estimated at a total of almost $100 billion.
“Satellite and space applications especially could prove a huge market for us,” says Shenhav.
“In space, there is the problem to cool down equipment where there is no air to conduct heat and so expensive internal systems are used to isolate and ventilate,” he explains.
Therefore, “opportunities arise in space for our cooling coating that emits the heat via radiation.”
The same cooling principle may have huge potential for the military, in its application on specific hardware. There may also be an added advantage that the paint could in theory “also serve as a camouflage against infrared detection.”
No ‘camouflage’ can hide the sheer genius of Israel’s coolest new invention. Wherever its hot in the world, leave it to the Israelis to cool things down!
Israeli consortium bids for South African food & beverage behemoth
By David E. Kaplan
Contrary to those half-witted South African politicians who advocate keeping their distance from Israel, are the astute in the country’s business community who think the positive opposite. The operative word is “THINK” as this week reveals a proposed marriage of South Africa’s beverage giant Clover with Israel’s Coca Cola.
Of course, a deal is only a deal when all is signed – but why keep this news ‘bottled’ up – when the champions for enterprise and entrepreneurship in both South Africa and Israel are so enthused to see ‘golden’ opportunities above ground rather than the usual mineral subterranean variety.
Heading a consortium called MilCo, Israel’s Central Bottling Company (Coca Cola Israel) submitted a bid to acquire control of Clover, in a deal that values the South African public traded company at $359 million (NIS 1.3 billion). The consortium is offering the SA food producer’s shareholders R25 per share, which will amount to 59.5% of the SA food producer.
Interestingly, while Clover traces its history back to 1898 with farmers meeting in the lush pastures of the Natal Midlands to discuss the establishment of a butter factory, only a year earlier in 1887, 208 delegates met at a hotel in Basel Switzerland where the modern Zionist movement was birthed under the chairmanship of Theodor Herzl.
Trajectories of both affirm that with determination, passion, grit and self-belief, the impossible becomes possible.
While Clover Industries produces milk and juices, has 8,000 employees and owns 13 production facilities throughout South Africa, the Central Bottling Company is the fourth largest manufacturer of consumer products in Israel. It owns a number of leading brands, headed by Coca Cola Israel, Tara Dairy, and other beer and soft drink brands.
Eran Elsner, who manages the Central Bottling Company’s overseas business, said, “The Central Bottling Company group believes that its activity is synergetic with the activity of the company in South Africa. There is a reciprocal contribution of knowledge and experience between the Central Bottling Company group and the overseas companies, which is channeled towards innovation and business development, while providing added value to consumers, who are always foremost in our considerations.”
Other members of the MilCo consortium are Ploughshare Investments, which will buy 10.9%, and IncuBev, which will buy 8.3%. The latter is an international business focused on the food and beverage sectors in sub-Saharan Africa.
A barometer of the excitement following the announcement, Clover’s share price jumped 19% to R23.80 on Monday morning after the JSE opened.
At the same time in Israel, CBC, whose subsidiary companies serve more than 160-million consumers worldwide, made the following press release:
“CBC is Israel’s leading manufacturer and distributor of beverages and, through its foreign subsidiaries, has manufacturing and distribution operations in Turkey, Romania, and Uzbekistan. CBC, which is also the owner of the Tara dairy, Israel’s second-largest milk processing dairy, produces and distributes its own brands and Müller brands, and it operates the license for the Müller brand in Romania.”
CBC also owns Gat Foods, a “grove to table” juice operation with customers in more than 70 countries. In addition, CBC works closely with its international franchisors, including The Coca-Cola Company, Carlsberg, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Müller Group and Diageo.
Further South African participation in the bid is Brimstone Investment Corporation (Brimstone) cementing its plans to further expand into the food sector.
“In addition to a long history of being one of South Africa’s most popular brands,” says Brimstone CEO Mustaq Brey, “Clover runs South Africa’s largest chilled and frozen goods distribution network and is well placed for further expansion. This made it an attractive investment proposition for the foreign direct investment which South Africa desperately needs if we wish to achieve the economic freedom our country deserves.”
Brey added that all of Brimstone’s investments are geared towards transforming the South Africa’s economy by creating shareholder value on a sustainable and responsible basis. “In this transaction, MilCo is adopting an owner-operator approach and a long-term investment horizon with a view to grow the dairy category as a whole, thereby benefiting local farmers and other suppliers throughout the value chain.”
Building for the Future
Clover has a “strong portfolio of brands and best distribution system in South Africa,” said Richard Izsak, CBC’s chief of staff and Israel Country Manager and Strategic Planning Director for The Coca-Cola Company’s Eurasia Group. “We want to build the company for the long term.”
While foreign takeovers of South African listed-companies have been a rarity in recent years, State President Cyril Ramaphosa has made clear that international investment is a centerpiece of his plans to revive the economy. The challenges are immense – weak economic growth and high unemployment and as warned by the US and the UK, “ongoing corruption scandals are a barrier to investment” as recently reported in South Africa’s Sunday Times.
This is not deterring Israel that has faith in South Africa.
Regarding the economy, says Izak, “CBC is investing for long term, even if there are some ups and downs in the short term.”
It’s the more the “downs” than “ups” that are keeping away much foreign investment, however Israel is ready and willing to invest.
Despite political currents and the diplomatic obstacles, the “Startup Nation” continues to enjoy a prosperous relationship with South Africa.
“South Africa is a country of unquestionable business potential,” said the head of the Israeli Economic Mission to Southern Africa Amit Lev in 2018 to the SA Jewish Report. “While it can be difficult at times, the trade relations between South Africa and Israel are mutually beneficial and have potential to improve both countries significantly.”
Noting that Israel’s trade with South Africa is low relative to business engagements with other countries – accounting for only 1% of overall trade – Lev expressed that “with the right approach and resources, there is an opportunity to make a difference in the markets of both Israel and South Africa.”
Lev discounts the impact of BDS as a challenge for business. While these threats must be addressed, “our success stories outnumber such problems.”
There are many advantages to carrying out business in South Africa. “Besides being a portal to the rest of Africa,” said Lev, “the country has a growing economy, a sophisticated banking system which is compatible with Israel’s, and it is a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) group.
“Also, the country is a top agriculture producer, and the issues it is currently facing regarding water are ideal for the implementation of business infrastructure and solutions from Israel. Israel has so much to share with South Africa in the water, hi-tech and agriculture sectors, and the opportunity for Israel here is immense.”
Reflecting on the economic achievements Israel has notched up in the past 70 years, “Now is the time for Israel to mature its economic sector and move into its next 70 years of success. By creating multinational corporations, growing its trade network around the globe, exposing itself to more opportunities and inviting others to be a part of the growth, Israel can be enhanced and make giant steps in this magical movement of economy.”
While the business relationship between South Africa and Israel is promising, the Coca Cola bid for Clover indicates that the future could be even more promising.
A Call to Doctors in Israel – are you ‘game’ to enjoy the best of South Africa’s superlative nature while volunteering your medical expertise?
By David E. Kaplan
They say, ‘South Africans may leave South Africa, but it never leaves them’. This was so for Neil Tabatznik originally from Johannesburg and today living in Toronto who has “returned” with a difference, offering doctors across the world an experience of a lifetime.
“Imagine a luxurious five-star lodge where you can braai (barbeque) under a star-filled sky and watch game having a drink while relaxing in the pool after your day at the hospital or a clinic,” said Alan Epstein of Tel Aviv and head of Tshemba PR in Israel.
You don’t have to imagine!
“Whether you are a GP, a gynecologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, endocrinologist, orthopod, optician or dentist – you name it – whether in practice or retired, you can take up this offer of a lifetime of enjoying in luxury the incomparable beauty of the Limpopo region, what used to be known as the Eastern Transvaal, a stone throw from the Kruger National Park and close to Blyde River Canyon.”
For a minimum of two weeks or six months or more, this is available to doctors by volunteering their expertise at a nearby hospital or local clinics. “And of course, this includes doctors bringing their spouses or partners.”
It all began when Alan’s lifelong friend, Neil Tabatznik, on a trip some years ago to South Africa from Canada, visited a game lodge in the Hoedspruit area.
It introduced an awakening that transformed his life from successful businessman to inspired philanthropist and fulfilling the ancient aspiration in Judaism of Tikun Olam (“Correcting the world”).
Out On The Range
While sitting up front in a Range Rover and mesmerised by the beauty of the terrain and wildlife, Neil was also struck that beneath the veneer of this beauty there were also serious challenges in this exquisite region. As if reading his thoughts, the game ranger enquired whether Neil would consider building a school for young children.
“He explained the community had built a room and found a headmaster but was far from adequate,” reveals Neil.
Following the school being built and flourishing with young pupils, Neil felt the need to do more and sat down with the local tribal chief and asked:
“How else can I help?”
“We need drastically to improve our health services in the area,” replied the chief. “To say it’s inadequate would be an understatement and because we are far from the major urban areas, my people are suffering from being denied access to specialised medical treatment.”
Visiting a local dental clinic, the chief’s word struck home. “The clinic was a fine facility but there were no dentists!”
This was a microcosm of the problem – while there were sufficient structures there were too few qualified medical practitioners to staff them.
So the idea was conceived not to build unnecessary structures but to recruit qualified personnel.
What Neil witnessed in his extensive touring of the region “was so tragic”, the more so because much of the tragedy was preventable – “its man made and can be man corrected.”
Failing to provide access to adequate medical services “meant that people’s health was always at risk and getting sick or injured could so easily lead to tragic consequences – a result that would not happen in a city,” lamented Neil.
This he was determined to change!
And so, the Tshemba Foundation was established on the premise that if a patient could not get to a health service in a faraway urban area the health service will come to the patient.
Tshemba, which means “believe” in local parlance, recruits doctors and healthcare professionals from all across the world to provide lifesaving medical care to the local community and training to local healthcare providers. A key component of the volunteer experience “is to ensure skill transfer to these local medical providers to provide long-term sustainability,” says Neil. “In this way, every volunteer practitioner creates a lasting legacy – a legacy of saving lives.”
“There are so many South Africans in the medical field in Israel – many also that have retired – who I am sure would relish this opportunity of enriching South Africa and in the process, enrich themselves,” says Alan Epstein, who emigrated from South Africa to Israel in 1978 and who owns and operates Anglo-Saxon real estate in Savyon. Alan is the oldest franchise holder of the Israeli company that was established in 1964 by another South African, the late Dave Blumberg.
“South African doctors have made an enormous contribution to medicine in Israel and I feel many of them would enjoy giving back to South Africa while at the same time enjoying the experience with the 5-star luxury on offer.”
He invites all interested to be in touch with him.
Tshemba needs doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, as well as professionals with healthcare experience and expertise.
All medical volunteers must be fully licensed to practice in South Africa but those who are not, “we will do our best to obtain all necessary permits and licenses on your behalf,” explains Barbara McGorian, the CEO of Tshemba Foundation. “If we receive all the right documentation, the process usually takes only about three weeks.”
“Tshemba will place you where you are most needed,” says Barbara, “whether at the Tintswalo Hospital, a 20-minute drive away, or in one of the many clinics spread throughout the community.” Tintswalo is a 423-bedded acute hospital providing maternity, psychiatric, orthopedic, surgical and general medical care to the community. The hospital is also responsible for providing medical staff to several community clinics in the area.
Tshemba also funded the Hlokomela Women’s Centre – a pioneering healthcare project which provides breast and cervical cancer screening as well as treatment to local farm workers and their families. It is the first of its kind in the region.
Leaving a Legacy
In order to maintain the appropriate level of care once the volunteer experience is over, it is imperative that skills and expertise are transferred to the local healthcare providers.
In pursuit of this aim, says Barbara, “Be prepared to teach and to train the local personnel you work with, encourage training, motivate them to actively continue their skill acquisitions and wherever possible, stay in touch with the doctors or nurses left behind after your departure.”
A visit to the Tshemba website, acquaints one with one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous quotes:
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.”
Well, for voluntary service at Tshemba, the “room” one receives is the ultimate in luxurious accommodation at a scenic hideaway surrounded by the lowveld bush filled with an array of game, bird species, fauna and flora.
The five-star lodge boasts nine stand-alone en-suite chalets that can accommodate up to 18 volunteers in total. Each chalet has a private deck with a breathtaking view of the bush, a tea and coffee nook and a small lounge area. All the rooms are self-catering, although there is also a communal area for dining and socializing featuring two comfortable lounge areas with a fireplace, a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen and scullery and a spacious dining room, a TV room and a gym.
“Best of all,” says Epstein who was there recently with his wife, “you can relax outside by the wooden deck and infinity pool and enjoy the superb views of the Klein Drakensberg Mountains and a watering hole that draws the animals of Moditlo Private Game Reserve.”
Also on offer are:
Self-drive game viewing in the Kruger National Park
Guided expeditions on private game reserves
Wildlife photography tours
The Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre
The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre & Cheetah Project
The Khamai Reptile Park
Hiking, driving, boat or air Blyde Canyon tours
White river rafting
Hot air ballooning
Handcraft curio shops
Best Of Both Worlds
“What motivates doctors to volunteer?” I ask.
“It’s an amalgam of love of medicine, a love of South Africa and the yearning to give back to society,” says the CEO.
The general response from volunteers, many of whom choose to return, is “we get the best of both worlds. We are able to enjoy a beautiful game reserve while at the same time make a difference with our skills and expertise as doctors to a community in need.”
Says Dr. Kate Meyer from the UK, “I loved every moment of it. It was a privilege to have participated in the project, which I think is an incredible gift to the community.”
Volunteers are essentially providing ‘first world’ care to a ‘third world’ area.
“It was a wonderful experience both socially and professionally,” expressed Dr. Paul Deveux from South Africa who worked at the hospital and was also thankful for his hours at the Hlokomela Women’s Centre, “which is an extremely well organized.” Praising the local staff, “I felt I made my best contribution there because I was able to see psychiatric patients with longstanding anxiety disorders, some which could be managed and others who needed further intense assessments.”
For nurse Maureen Dunnett, specialising in Midwifery who traveled with the hardworking Hlokomela Clinic staff to farms and other clinics said, “Every day was a different experience for me. The time spent around HIV-testing and treating was illuminating.”
“I would not change it for anything and would definitely come back,” said Dr. Tienie Theunissen, also from within South Africa.
“All the volunteers find it rewarding,” says Barbara. “We recently had a German couple; she was a gynecologist and he a banker. So while she worked at the hospital, he volunteered teaching math at a local school and found the experience as rewarding as his wife.”
The hospital can deliver anywhere between 13 to 20 babies a day; we brought in thirteen babies on Christmas day.”
Going on ‘Jobbymoon’
Located in what many would describe as one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa, it’s understandable how the sobriquet “JOBBYMOON” has caught on.
If newlyweds go on honeymoons and parents-to-be take babymoons -– so why not a ‘Jobbymoon’ for couples desiring that totally out-of-the-ordinary working holiday in the most idyllic location.
The Tshemba lodge is located midway between the world-famous Kruger National Park and the world’s largest green canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. “Thus, if you or your partner want to go exploring during your downtime, we assure you you’ll find something spectacular to do,” says Barbara. The ‘jobbymooners’ are free to explore Hoedspruit and surroundings, to re-energise before returning home “with a fresh mindset, ready to tackle new challenges, focused and refreshed.”
Says Dr. Hennie Nortje a Diabetologist, “Although the staff is completely overwhelmed by the amount of work, they are hungry for knowledge and incredibly friendly. Even the patients are humble, friendly and unbelievably grateful. The whole experience left me in awe. I’m excited to see how the new diabetic educators are doing and my wife enjoyed teaching at the preschool at Hlokomela.”
Dentist, Maria Pestana felt blessed by the Tshemba experience. “When I saw an article on this unique project, I knew Tshemba might offer a very different experience – to help people in rural areas while at the same time enjoying the bush. It’s a balance between the beauty of nature and the reality of life.”
For former South Africans now living in Australia, Gerrit Burger, a physician volunteered and his wife Diana, a General Practitioner, felt” humbled by the sense that we received so much more blessing from this experience than those we sought to help.”
Gerrit feels convinced that “Tintswalo hospital and district can be developed into a model of healthcare with far-reaching effects, well beyond South Africa itself. Without fear of exaggeration, we see a time when Tshemba and Tintswalo will be ‘ideas’ rather than ‘names’.”
“Amazing things” are happening every day at Tshemba.
Tshemba’s Project Specialist, Lexi Cohen says: “I interact with most of the volunteers and each one has found the experience to be rewarding and very fulfilling whether in patient care, skills transfer or general contact with staff.”
Israeli ingenuity and Innovation are changing the nature of global transportation
By David E. Kaplan
60 seconds – that’s all it took to help change the world!
Sitting in the Hilton Tel Aviv Grand Ballroom amongst 500 invited guests at the opening of Israel’s 2018 Smart Mobility Summit on the 29th October, I could not help feeling proud both as an Israeli for what my country is achieving for all mankind, and as a former South African, for the contribution of its Jewish community in enriching the State of Israel.
A prime example of both is the vision and passion of philanthropists Eric and Sheila Samson.
With the lights dimmed, a movie rolled onto a giant screen accompanied by dramatic music and narration:
“Welcome to the dawn of a New Age – the age of Smart Mobility. We are about to award the world’s biggest prize for innovation in the fields of alternative fuels for transportation and Smart Mobility. The Eric and Sheila Prime Minister’s Prize is awarded yearly to outstanding individuals who have made critical advancements in the field. Eric and Sheila Samson are top international business leaders, philanthropists, they are highly devoted and committed to the State of Israel. For seeing the importance of Smart Mobility, they have devoted an enormous amount of energy to create this outstanding prize that encourages the industry and helps change the world of transportation. In the name of Israel and the world, we wish to express our gratitude for your contribution. This prize and initiative will not only help reduce the world’s dependency on oil but will also help revolutionize transportation as we know it, making it greener and above all, safer.”
Aiming to reduce 60% of Israel’s oil consumption by 2025, the Prime Minister revealed his concerns to the Samsons that “we have to free the world from the stranglehold of oil and the biggest culprit in the consumption of oil is transportation.” Therefore, persisted the PM persuasively, “we have to work on transforming transportation.” In pursuance of this vision, the PM appealed to the Samsons to consider sponsoring an annual prize that would not only help reduce the world’s dependency on oil but would further help revolutionize mankind’s modes of transportation.
Peering upon the large audience from across the globe that included delegations from 36 countries, including all the states of Europe, Israel’s Prime Minister bellowed proudly:
“It took only 60 seconds for Eric and Shelia to answer with one word – YES!”
The result was the 6th Prime Minister’s Sheila and Eric Samson Prime Minister’s Prize for Groundbreaking Innovation in The Field of Alternative Fuels for Transportation. The 2018 co-recipients of the prestigious award were Prof. Doron Auerbach of Bar-Ilan University and Finland’s Dr. Peter Lindfors of Neste Oil. The annual award is the largest prize worldwide in the field of innovation of alternative fuels for transportation. Auerbach was recognised for his contribution to breakthroughs in the field of battery development that included the development of advanced batteries for electric vehicle applications. “Every electric car anywhere in the world is partly powered by our research,” said Auerbach in accepting the prize. “I feel great pride for Israel,” he said, “but it is the storage of power that remains our greatest challenge and our focus is to dramatically improve both the power and storage capacity of batteries to power the cars of tomorrow.”
Lindfors and his team developed innovative methods to produce biodiesel from organic waste, including organic oils and used cooking oils, that produce millions of tons of biodiesel annually to power trucks and boats and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90%.
“We have smart people in Israel and we welcome working in partnership with smart people all over the world,” said the Prime Minister to rapturous applause as he invited the best brains globally to partner Israel.
“It’s the smart way to go in embracing the smart world of tomorrow.”
Computer on Wheels
In classic schoolmaster mode, Netanyahu relished answering his own question: “So what is Smart Mobility?”
The Prime Minister has a knack of simplifying the complicated, so all can understand. Much of the world has discovered this by his eloquent performances in the General Assembly at the United Nations.
“Our great-grandchildren are not going to believe the way we get around today in bulky hulks:
that weigh tons
that 95% of the time we don’t use
that takes up valuable space
that guzzles gas
that pollutes the atmosphere
that drives one crazy stuck in traffic
that can injure us or worse!
They will look at our current modes of transport as we look back at our great-grandparents moving around on a horse and cart.”
Amused, the audience were nevertheless nodding in agreement.
The PM presented a brief overview of Israel’s history in the motor industry. “When I was a young soldier in the IDF fifty years ago, Israel believed it should invest in the traditional car industry and built its first and only car. It was called the Susita.”
Apart from the name of an ancient biblical city, it was also a play on the word Sus meaning ‘horse’ in Hebrew.
“Not a surprise, it failed because we could not compete in building the chassis, the engine and the tires. Now however, fifty years later, the industry has changed, but so has Israel. Very soon, 85% of the cost of a car will be software and its derivatives – meaning a car is becoming more and more a ‘computer on wheels’. NOW ISRAEL CAN COMPETE and explains why today we are literally the driving force behind the cars of tomorrow.
While Israel does not have car manufacturing plants or vehicle assembly lines it is well positioned in providing next-generation technologies for what the Prime Mister refers to “Computer on wheels”.
With the global transportation industry in dire need of innovation, Israeli startups are navigating their way to becoming leading suppliers of next-generation technologies in the mobility market.
“We have about 500 startups engaged in this new technology,” said Netanyahu, “and Israel is now one of the top three great centres in the world for Smart Mobility.”
To the audience’s amusement, “I can also reveal we are not number three!”
The explanation proffered by the PM of Israel’s rapid trajectory is its mastery of ‘The Big Three’:
Capacity to process Big Data, Connectivity and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Eighth Wonder of the World
The Prime Minister was followed by Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, Ofir Akunis who said, “It is not a secret anymore, we can say it out loud – Israel is the Eighth Wonder of the World.” Rattling off a host of countries in Europe, North and Latin America and Asia where Israel is partnering with companies in a vast range of ‘Smart Technologies’, Kunis asserted:
“We are changing the world. Israel is investing in the future and our Ministry could not ask for a better partner in this critical mission than Eric and Sheila Samson who have made this possible through their contribution towards the Prime Minister’s Prize. We know from our history, knowledge is strength and when used properly, we can make the impossible – possible!”
Unfortunately unable to travel to attend – although the Prime Minister endearingly bellowed, “We look forward to seeing you both in Israel soon; this country needs you” – the Samsons were represented by close family associate, Michael Silver, who shares another common passion close to Eric and Sheila’s heart – Beth Protea, a retirement home built by South Africans for South Africans. (See LOTL article ‘South Africa Flower Flourish in Israel’ https://layoftheland.online/2018/10/09/south-african-flower-flourishes-in-israel/). A major donor of this “pride of the Southern African community in Israel”, Silver serves as the retirement home’s’ Chairman, which in 2017 celebrated its 25th anniversary.
In an interview with LOTL after the presentations, Silver responded to the question of what he thought Eric and Sheila would be feeling from their home in Los Angeles if they could have seen how the evening unfolded:
“They would be delighted and proud – not for themselves but for the State of Israel – of how an initiative that began six years ago has emerged into a global phenomenon supported by the government of Israel and attracting the finest brains from around the world to find solutions to a problem that has plagued the world far too long – to find alternatives to fossil fuels to drive the world – excuse the pun – into the future.”
Asked what message he would later be sending Eric and Sheila, Silver answered, “It was an illuminating evening and they were missed dearly.”
In truth, they were only missed in a physical sense as their presence was palpable throughout from what they set in motion.
Israel today is in the vanguard of the innovative field of Smart Mobility, bringing each year to the the mobility sector ever more advanced technology – from connected cars and autonomous vehicles, to alternative fuels, intelligent transportation systems and smart city solutions.
With the vision and support of Eric and Sheila Samson, Israel is in the driver’s seat with its eye fixed on the road ahead.