Part I: Observations from Israel

So we’ve finished two breathtaking days in Israel on the Texas Trade Mission, to increase business between Texas and Israel.

The first evening we spent with Avi Dichter, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, and former director of Shinbet, the Israeli internal security service.  We then had a behind the scenes tour of the Peres Center for Peace, former President Shimon Peres’ master stroke upon leaving office, which houses incredible technology and memorabilia, including his Nobel Prize for Peace.

First full day began with a breakfast meeting with Chemi Peres, the Prime Minister’s son, who is founder and Chairman of a $2.5 billion Israeli venture capital firm and Chairman of the Peres Center for Peace.  We then had tremendous meetings with AT&T, Microsoft, and Team8, one of the most elite cyber security investors and incubators of cyber companies in the world.  We also had lunch with Marius Natch, founder of Checkpoint Software, Israel’s largest technology company.  Mr. Natch is now a prominent venture capital investor.  We closed the day with meetings at the start up venture capital incubator, SOSA, and briefings by several start up businesses.  A whirlwind day.

Day two was no less dynamic.  We took off by helicopter from Tel Aviv to Haifa, home of Technion, Israel’s MIT or Cal Tech.  At Technion we were briefed by the water expert on faculty, as well as General Jacob Nagel, who runs Technion’s defense research & technology practice.  General Nagel just entered academia a year and a half ago, after a 42 year distinguished military career capped off by service as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s National Security Advisor.  After Haifa, we took off for the Golan Heights, to survey Israeli Defense Force (“IDF”) positions across the Syrian and Lebanese borders. We also were briefed by Lieutenant Colonel Marco Moreno on the IDF’s two year mercy mission on the border of helping hundreds if not thousands of injured and homeless Syrian refugees displaced by the Syrian Civil War receive medical care, food, clothing and shelter.  One doesn’t often hear of Israeli benevolence towards its neighbors, so this was a refreshing bit of information within a very sad situation.

We closed the day at the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of the Beatitudes, Capernaum (the Apostle Peter’s home on the Sea of Galilee), and a moonlight helicopter ride across the Sea of Galilee, Mount Tabor, the West Bank, the Mediterranean Coast, and back to the Tel Aviv airport.  A resounding, energetic, fruitful first two days for the trade mission.

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