Israel Shines, Despite All Odds


Sharona Justman, Managing Director of STEP Strategy Advisors had a dream to expose Israeli technology, innovation and creativity to the world and thus bypass political borders. For that purpose she founded The Israel conference, which she now co-chairs.

Along came Yossi Vardi, Chairman of International Technologies and offered to help Sharona in her endeavor. They teamed up, Yossi became the co-chair of The Israel conference, a main hub for Israel-USA entrepreneurship, and together this amazing duo have put together the 7th annual conference that took place last week at the Skirball Cultural Center, in Los Angeles California.

As each year, the two day conference began with a lovely meet and greet evening for all participants, at the home of Daphan Zimman of Cenemoius.

Listening to business Zionism for two days, from the mouths of the best in the global business world of innovation, management, creativity and originality, from Raanan Horwitz, President and CEO of Elbit Systems of America, to Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze, to Jennifer Salke, NBC Entertainment president, Bert Salke Fox 21 president and Avi Nir, the producer of the TV series Homeland and the CEO of Keshet Media Group, to name a few, convinced me that Israel is the not only the one and only Jewish State, it is the one and only genuine leader in making the world a better place, while she is a shining leading star in Tikun Olam – repairing our world.

On March 9, 2014, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with California Governor Jerry Brown for joint research and development. The agreement focuses on a collaboration between academic and research institutes on both sides in the fields of water technologies, energy, storage technologies and cyber security. This has opened the doors wide for business opportunities between the US state and Israel and the collaboration is soon to be factual and active.

When you take people to Israel, Israel speaks for herself. The country is a treasure trove of innovation and a premier of originality and creativity for anyone, whether it is in technology fields, science, security or arts, among many others. And that I heard from the conference speakers, who have vested interest and personal risk in Israel, not from some PR guru.

“When you come seeking any type of opportunity in Israel, by slow osmosis you end up having deeper thinking and soulful cultural experience,” one speaker expressed loudly what so many experienced and think. “And then you spread it around the world, because you get to think deeper, more serious and emotional about your own life.”

L Yossie Vardi Co Chair Noam Bardin CEO of Waze Sharona Justman Co Chair Photo Orly Halevy
Sahrona with Mitch Garber CEO Caesars Acquisition CompanyPhoto Orly Halevy

“Diversity brings creativity and creates business in Israel” claims Avi Nir, “and Hollywood is driven by creativity.”

“If you do not have vision to where you want your product to go you will never get there,” stated by Noam Bardin of Waze, which was sold to Goggle for one billion dollars. “For a start-up company it is all about the religion of the product’s excellence, the success of the product while for a large corporation it is the brand. We chose to maintain our start-up image” he explained what Waze does in order not to have its founding image swallowed by the giant Google’s brand.

One can go on with more speech gems to describe the hub that Israel is fast becoming in many aspects. Maybe it all unfolds along the Prophet Isaiah’s prophecy: 6 “He said: It is not enough, since you are my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the survivors of Israel. Hence, I will also appoint you as light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” ~Isaiah 49:6

In a global economy, being a player holds vital importance. Economic integration between Israel and the world is essential.

There are two questions to be addressed; one, where does Israel see herself? Part of the Middle East or the West, or both? And two, why did we, Jews, wait 2000 years to discover that Israel is inspirationally shining? But it is never too late. We can continue spreading the word and The Israel Conference does just that, amplifies to the world the importance of Israel.

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.