Waving the flag

October 12, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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Once upon a time, Israelis who chose to live in the diaspora were considered by many to be betraying their country…but today’s high profile Israelis living abroad are assuming the Israeli government encouraged  role of quasi ambassadors.

The Grand Hyatt in Melbourne was the scene of last week’s launch of IBC-Australia.

IBC final logoIn March this year, the Global Israeli Leadership Summit was held in London involving 70 participants from 13 countries…and last week an Australian-only version was launched in Melbourne.

Eitan Drori is the man behind the newly formed Israeli Business Club Australia founded on an idea from AIA, the Association of Israelis in Australia.

Drori told J-Wire: “There was a conference involving the Jewish Agency and the Zionist Federation of Australia  in May last year at which The Jewish Agency called upon its experience with similar conferences around the world at which  Israelis involved in leadership exchanged ideas in developing a relationship between the Israelis living outside Israel and the State of Israel itself. One of the main concerns was the development of future generations focusing on Israeli children losing their identities through assimilation.”

In November 2013 at a meeting in the Knesset, Israeli leadership for the first time ever announced that Israelis living outside of Israel formed an integral part of the Jewish people. He said: “Israel no longer considers them betrayers or calls them by the disparaging name ‘Yordim.'”

DCM Meir Yitzchaki

DCM Meir Yitzchaki

Drori continued: “They are the new backbone of Israel outside Israel in today’s global world in which Israeli companies have met with amazing success around the planet.”

In the United States there are around 20 Israeli companies are in the top 100 on  NASDAQ. In Europe, Israeli companies shine in IT and medicine. In Australia, the Gilat Satellite Network company is making dramatic advances in the country’s communications system.

Drori pointed out that Knesset member and Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett had spent ten years living in New York and the mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat had spent ten years living in California’s Silicon Valley.

There over one million Israelis living outside the country today. Two Israelis who left in the 1970s last year were the recipients of Nobel Peace prizes.

The IBC-Australia founder added:  “Israelis are making an increasing impact in the countries in which they reside. As well as many Israelis acting as CEO in major companies, there are many joint commercial projects in Australia involving both Israeli and Australian companies  in the fields of cybersecurity, the military and medicine, agriculture, desalination, water to name but a few”.

Eitan Drori

Eitan Drori

Drori  told J-Wire: “The Israeli Business Club in London now boasts 250 members. It is time to emulate that model in Australia. They now network together and help develop each other’s companies.

I look forward to participating in an Israeli business network functioning in Australia.

IBC-Australia’s founders include are Noam Rozen who produced a database of 547 Israeli businessmen and women in Australia who are members of LinkedIn group Ausrael.. All have been invited to join the IBC-Australia.

More than 80 business men attended the inaugural event.

Drori outlined the idea behind the club. “The aim of the club is to start a Hebrew language organisation ..it will communicate only in Hebrew. The 547 potentials will network, interact and offer advice to each other.”

He added that after the Melbourne event, potential members remained in the hall for almost an hour. Drori added: “People who had just met went out for dinner. The enthusiasm is incredibly inspiring.”

There organisations similar to the Israeli Business Club Australia in London, New York and Toronto. Drori said: “We hope to eventually expand our network to link in with theirs. This will impact on Israelis from other countries exporting to Australia and Israelis in Australia being able to export to their countries”

We give AIA the credit for bringing this idea to us but IBC-Australia will be stand alone. It will not have any political affiliations and will be totally independent.

Drori opened the Melbourne meeting with a speech detailing the global initiative he had learned about in London, Meir Yitzhaki the Deputy Ambassador at the Israeli embassy in Canberra told the meeting that Israelis living abroad are now very important in the eyes of the State The Israel Trade Commission’s Ethy Levy said it would be an amazing opportunity to establish a club with the planned ideals of  promoting and advocating the  exchange of trade and commerce, Drori told J-Wire: “She sees every one of us as ambassadors for trade, commerce and research and development between Australia and Israel.”

Yitzhaki and Levy warmly endorsed the new venture warmly, promising to be totally involved as representatives of the State of Israel.

Drori is the executive director of the Australian Friends of the Hebrew University in Melbourne and represents Yissum an Israel organisation specialising in effecting the transfer of technology to commerce and business.

Also involved in the establishment of IBC-Australia are Oded Sheshinsky vice president of  Gilt Industries,   Dr Niv Tadmor a senior partner Clayton Utz Melbourne, lawyer Ben Waterson land Sydney accountant  Yohav Lewis.

Drori agreed that IBC-Australia members are Israelis carrying the flag adding “Without successful Israelis outside Israel the politician today cannot develop relations with their respective countries.”

The can make a difference with advocacy, helping businesses to develop, import and export. “Our ambassadors come and go but the Israelis in business are staying.”

Eitan Drori considers Jerusalem home although it has not been his permanent residence for 33 years. He has spent the last 16 years in Melbourne and prior to that spent 2 years in London, 4 years in Hamburg, 3 years in Swaziland Africa and 5 years in Frankfurt .



One Response to “Waving the flag”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    And here’s Argentinian president Cristina Kirchner blamining a “Jewish conspiracy” for their economic woes…. Arutz Sheva Oct. 2014.

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