Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NY Times: Tel Aviv's Technology and Economy

In his New York Times Op-Ed piece David Brooks reiterate the Jewish-American view of Israel as a complete opposite for everything Jews have been. His opinion of Jews as being:

"Milton Friedman used to joke that Israel disproved every Jewish stereotype. People used to think Jews were good cooks, good economic managers and bad soldiers; Israel proved them wrong."

This quote pretty much sums up the Jewish-American view of Israel. But like most stereotyping and sweeping generalizations, Americans view Israelis in terms of who they are not. Israel had two universities, The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and The Technion Institute of Technology, before the state was founded. Then the Weitzman Research Institute was founded. Israel's academic development has been attributed to the suppressed opportunity in Europe and Arab countries before Jews had their own state. It took a few decades until Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva became a large institution, today the biggest undergraduate university for engineering and science. Haifa university is a large humanities school and Bar Ilan university in Ramat Gan is focused on Jewish studies, religion and has a large law school. Add to this over a dozen mid-size colleges from Ariel just across the green line to the Open University which focuses on non-traditional students in business and computers. I almost forgot the Interdisciplinary Business and Government school in Hertzelia and finally Tel Aviv University, a private school with a well known Medical and Business schools.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

Israel's Urban Green Line: Parks, Spaces and Boulevards

      Israel's green line is one of the most controversial and best known artifact of this little country. Politically it is used world wide as a term for the 1948 borders. Ecologically and environmentally it is truly a green area outlining Israel's borders, a testament to Israel's hard work. From the air, Israel is green patch of land, in contrast to the states around which are brown. If you look closely at aerial photographs the green areas are made up of tiny patches in shades from light green to deep purple-green. At the south, beyond Beer Sheva the land is brown again, Israel simply does not have the water to turn all desert green. The green patches are made up of farms, cities, sparsely populated villages and forests, yes, forests in the desert. Looking carefully at the cities, they are just as green as agricultural lands. Obviously cities have buildings and roads. Here, gardeners work hard to keep trees and lawns thrive. From the air, cities look more green than black.

      Israel's cities are dark green patches because of gardening along roads and in apartment building yards. Parks in neighborhoods are small but still help in making cities green from above. Blending economical watering techniques like drip irrigation with careful plant selection, Israeli cities look more like tropical or northern hemisphere cities than the sandy desert places. While all over the middle-east sands of the desert are eating into green ares, here people are pushing the sand back. Tel Aviv's older sections, with century old trees, surprise visitors. In newer cities like Raanana, Hertzelia and Cesarea younger, smaller trees and bushes are more common. Israeli cities invest time and resources in making them green. In a semi-desert climate living in a cultivated green environment makes for a good place to live.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Israel's Mad Scientists: Business Hackers, Programmer Bloggers, Recruiting Networkers

Israel's new mad scientists are following in the path of the 1980's hackers, 2000's bloggers and 2005's social networkers. Mad scientist is the best term I can come up with right now. Hacker, blogger and social networker are also just analogies. It is certainly a mad gold rush to establish the "NEXT THING". Sharp changes in technology, business situations, political status and even personal work preferences are sprouting ideas for Internet and real world products. Technology is pushing innovators into WEB2.0, SaaS, Social-Networking, iPod accessories and apps, Face Book / Linked-IN / Twitter plug-ins, portable computing (NETbooks and more) and all sort of cloud computing unimagined even a year ago. Culturally and financially Israel's "turn to the East" is also pushing entrepreneurs in Israel in a different direction than before. The sharp business cycles in the US and Europe has been pushing Israelis to look east for business partners and markets, this shift is starting to yield results. Unlike the European and American counterparts, central and far-east Asians are much less concerned about Israel's security and political issues. They see Israel's ability to innovate and produce technology. To Koreans, Taiwanese and Indian businessman and bureaucrats the situation in Gaza is an unfortunate media blemish seem "just unfortunate". Also Asians have more experience with national and racial clashes.

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