The Texas-Israel Alliance trade mission to Israel is certainly closing out with a bang. On Wednesday, February 20 we had several meetings at OurCrowd, a $1 billion venture capital firm that has invested in hundreds of Israeli startups, predominantly in life sciences and technology firms, particularly cyber security. We also visited the Friends of Zion Museum, which details Christian support around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries for establishment of a Jewish state in British Palestine, as well as a visit to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Second Temple Era Model of Jerusalem. In the evening, we had an small group dinner with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was down to earth, funny, frank, patriotic, and grateful to be in service to his country at a historic time – when the US Embassy formally moved to Jerusalem for the first time. On Thursday, February 21, we journeyed to Beer-Sheva, where we toured Dell/EMC’s cyber incubator, Elbit System’s cyber operation, Ben Gurion University’s cyber center, and cyber command for the Israel security and defense forces within the Israeli government.
The day closed with sunset over Masada. Masada is a fortress built 2,000 years ago by King Herod the “Great”. Overlooking the Dead Sea, it served as a vacation spot for Herod until he perished. In the Jewish Revolt against the Romans of 66 A.D., a remnant of Zealots fled to Masada and lived in isolation until the Romans came hunting for them in 773 A.D. The Roman army built a ramp up the sheer cliff face of this “impenetrable” fortress, and instead of surrendering into a life of certain slavery, the 1,000 or so Jews within the falls of the fortress committed suicide. Freedom or death. Masada is the Hebrew Alamo, and a symbol to the Jewish people that they can overcome anything for freedom and independence. “Masada shall never fall again”. Masada at sunset could not be a more poignant representation of the history, culture, faith, and resolve of Israel, in Biblical times and in the present day. Hopefully some of that Jewish spirit and resolve will spill over in to heightened contacts and business with another spirited peoples, we Texans.