Business delegation shows Israel still open for business

IT was business as usual for an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC) trade delegation among the sirens and rockets in Israel last month.

Led by National Australia Bank CEO Cameron Clyne, the group of 30 business executives was in the Holy Land to explore business and investment opportunities, as well as understand Israel’s unique entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem and see first-hand its prowess in technology innovation and cyber-security.

“Our delegates experienced a few occasions where they were required to seek shelter; however, they were not intimidated by the sirens and missiles and felt confident in the ability of the Israel Defence Forces,” AICC head of trade Ori Danieli said.

“They were particularly impressed by the capability of the Iron Dome missile defence system, which in fact demonstrates Israeli ingenuity at its best. The situation also provided a small taste of what life is [like] for many people living in the region.”

Through the course of the week-long mission, delegates gained access to some of Israel’s most important business and community leaders, including Check Point Software founder Gil Shwed, Bank of Israel governor Dr Karnit Flug, Our Crowd founder Jon Medved and others.

The group also met with several entrepreneurs, academics, venture capitalists and other contributors to the start-up landscape.

Commented Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis: “I visit many countries and communities, but you don’t often meet as many inspirational entrepreneurs and business leaders in the one place.”

There was also a focus on geopolitics, with briefings from former IDF chief of staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi and former head of the Shin Bet head Carmi Gilon.

The visit included a reception hosted by Australia’s Ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma and a performance by the Bat Sheva Dance Company, one of the world’s leading contemporary dance groups.

The delegation also took in iconic tourist destinations, including the Old City of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Masada, Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jaffa, Caesarea, and the Baha’i Temple in Haifa.

“At a time when there are massive rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, Gaza civilians are being used as human shields by Hamas, Christians are being persecuted across the Middle East and dozens of Muslims are dying each day at the hands of each other in sectarian violence, the conference’s focus on Israeli settlements is particularly troubling, if not perverse.”

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Trade delegates on the AICC mission enjoy Jerusalem.