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Israel’s Entrepreneurial and Innovative Power Can Help Overcome This Crisis

An aerial view shows vehicles on fire as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip, in Ashkelon, southern Israel October 7, 2023. REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

Numerous testimonies clearly illustrate that crises and catastrophic events — and the period of uncertainty that often follows them — are the most opportune times to abandon a “business as usual” approach, and to opt instead for innovation and entrepreneurship as a lever for renewal and growth.

Recent crises such as global pandemics, financial crises, and wars demonstrate that the most effective way to navigate successfully in crisis situations is through entrepreneurial thinking, which stimulates creative solutions, the development of new products, and the establishment of innovative processes.

What is entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial thinking?

Some define it as the ability to identify or create high-potential opportunities to increase existing value through smart utilization of resources. Others call it the relentless pursuit of opportunities that require resources not readily available. Regardless how it is defined, entrepreneurship is clearly the driving force behind the tremendous growth of the economy and technology in recent decades.

In the rapidly changing landscape of the 21st century, economic growth and prosperity are propelled by the ability to innovate and foster entrepreneurship. In the contemporary business world, innovation serves as a means to create value. Over the past decades, entrepreneurial start-ups have emerged as major drivers of global markets.

A defining characteristic of these start-ups is their remarkable ability to grow rapidly and disruptively innovate. A brief glance at global statistics in the field of start-ups reveals that there are currently around 150 million worldwide, with approximately 50 million more added each year. This averages to about 137,000 new startups established every day. While only about 10% survive, the numbers speak for themselves.

In rare cases, a brilliant idea is enough to spark a process that will turn it into a genuine solution to a pressing problem. But without courage, perseverance, determination, and true belief in the goal, even the best ideas are unlikely to evolve into successful products or processes. These attributes are not only the most prominent characteristics of the successful entrepreneur but are also essential for overcoming and emerging strengthened from crises.

The strong connection between crisis management and entrepreneurship has proven itself throughout history, particularly in recent decades. Examples like the recovery of Japan and Tokyo from the devastation of World War II highlight the role of entrepreneurs in the revitalization process. Visionaries like Konosuke Matsushita, founder of Panasonic; and Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda, represent the entrepreneurial spirit that drove the recovery. Emphasis on innovative production methods, commitment to quality and revolutionary approaches to mobility and transportation contributed significantly to the revival of Tokyo’s industrial base and laid the foundations for Japan’s economic resurgence after the war, illustrating how entrepreneurship can act as a powerful force for recovery and change.

Another example is the recovery of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which turned large parts of the city into islands of devastation. Economic and social entrepreneurs were the driving forces behind the city’s recovery, rebuilding social and community infrastructure. Social initiatives such as the Make It Right Foundation sought not only to provide housing options but also to address systemic issues and create sustainable solutions, focusing on the community’s recovery. Initiatives that included unique business models, such as Community Land Trusts and public-private partnerships, highlighted the role of entrepreneurship not only in the reconstruction of buildings but also in the reconstruction of the community itself. The establishment of the Idea Village accelerator, which supported local entrepreneurs, also contributed to the city’s recovery by fostering economic resilience and creating a sense of community capability in the rebuilding process.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic presented the world with new challenges that required revolutionary initiatives and rapid responses to the new situation. Many entrepreneurs worldwide, including in Israel, mobilized to address these challenges.

Many companies redirected their planning and production capabilities to meet the growing demand for personal protective equipment. Numerous technological start-ups emerged and provided innovative solutions for remote work and online education. The pandemic emphasized the need for agility, adaptability, problem-solving skills, and the ability to innovate. Many governments recognized the potential of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and implemented measures such as grants, loans, and fast-track regulatory processes to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in various fields, such as the rapid development and distribution of tests and vaccines.

These efforts demonstrated how entrepreneurial initiatives serve as a significant catalyst for recovery and resilience in the face of unprecedented challenges. The key takeaway from these cases is that nurturing an environment that encourages and supports entrepreneurship is crucial for building sustainable and resilient communities capable of adapting, recovering, and thriving after disasters.

On October 7, 2023, Israel experienced a catastrophe. The murderous attack by Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas on the southern communities left the region devastated and the communities shattered and scattered across the entire country.

In response, the Israeli government declared the establishment of a “Resurrection Administration” that will focus on the recovery of the region. The administration will operate for a five-year period and will report directly to the Office of the Prime Minister. The initial budget allocated to it stands at one billion shekels. Its object is to restore residents to their homes and strengthen the social and economic infrastructure of the region.

The decision to establish the administration is undoubtedly a major step in the right direction towards revitalization. A statement by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Edri, who heads the administration, made clear that its mission will not end with the rehabilitation of all infrastructure and the return of the residents to their homes, but will also include strengthening and developing the local economy, creating new job opportunities, and expanding growth into new dimensions.

To achieve this complex vision, the healing power of entrepreneurship and innovation must be enlisted. The administration should turn to entrepreneurship and innovation as a primary tool that will enable the rapid healing of the region. It should do so by putting mechanisms in place that will encourage entrepreneurs and capital owners to invest their time and money not only in reviving but also in further developing the infrastructure, economy, and local communities of the region. This will support the reconstruction process and attract visionaries and skilled workers to the region who can help transform the local economy, currently based mainly on agriculture, into a booming hub of hi-tech and innovation.

The State of Israel is unique in that it has maintained economic growth while remaining embroiled in a prolonged military conflict ever since its inception. Over the years, Israel’s growth strategy was, and still is, directly tied to its level of investment in innovation and entrepreneurship. In the Global Competitiveness Report for 2018/19, which ranked 141 countries, Israel was ranked first in entrepreneurial culture. Israel’s risk capital-raising rate is among the highest in the world per capita and it is often referred to as the “Start-Up Nation”.

Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship is more than capable of rising to the challenge created by the October 7 catastrophe, but words alone will not suffice. The Israeli government must put its money where its mouth is and actively push towards turning the vision into reality.

Nir Reuven is a researcher at the BESA Center, an engineer, and a former officer in the Merkava development program (the main Israeli battle tank). He has held several management positions in the Israeli hi-tech industry and is an expert on technology. Currently he is co-manager of the Sapir College Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. He is working on his Ph.D. and lectures at Bar-Ilan University. A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.

The post Israel’s Entrepreneurial and Innovative Power Can Help Overcome This Crisis first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters

Posters slamming Israel and decrying Canada’s suspension of funding to UNRWA were found at the Thornhill, Ont., offices of Melissa Lantsman, a pro-Israel and Jewish Conservative MP who serves as deputy leader of the Official Opposition.   “Blood on Your Hands,” “Stop Arming Israel” and “Fund UNRWA Now” were among the messages found taped to […]

The post ‘The mobs will not silence my voice’ says Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman after her Thornhill office is plastered with anti-Israel posters appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed

FILE PHOTO: Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi speaks during his transition ceremony with the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, and the outgoing chief, in Jerusalem, January 16, 2023. Maya Alleruzzo/Pool via REUTERS

IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi called on the ultra-Orthodox public to mobilize for the current and future wars, a position at odds with their historic role in the state, in which they enjoy near blanket exemptions from military service.

“In these challenging days, there is one thing that is very clear: Everyone should mobilize for the defense of the homeland,” Halevi said.

He added: “This is a different era, and what was before it will certainly be re-examined. The IDF has always sought to bring into its ranks from all sections of Israeli society. This war illustrates the need to change. Join the service, protect the homeland. We have a historic opportunity to expand the sources of recruitment for the IDF at a time when the necessity is very high. We will know how to create the right solutions and conditions for any population that will join this noble mission.”

The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF has been a hot button issue since the state’s establishment in 1948 and, in more recent years, the cause of wide scale backlash against the community. As part of an agreement when the state was founded, the ultra-Orthodox public was exempted completely from service. However, as the years progressed and the population grew exponentially, critics of the policy decried the unfairness of it.

A bill last week was introduced by the ruling Likud Party that called for an increase in military service time, particularly for reserve forces, yet failed to discuss the ultra-Orthodox issue. Backlash from both opposition and coalition members was swift.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich at the time said, “The ultra-Orthodox public is dear and loved and contributes a lot to the State of Israel, and it is now essential that it also take a more significant part in the tasks of defense and security. This move should happen out of dialogue and discussion and not by coercion or, God forbid, by defamation. Religious Zionism proves that it is possible to combine Torah study and observance of minor and severe mitzvot together with military service at the front. My ultra-Orthodox brothers, we need you!”

Halevi’s comments were his first on the highly contentious issue.

The post IDF Chief Weighs in on Ultra-Orthodox Military Service, Week After New Draft Bill Proposed first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas

A legal brief documenting the kidnapping, rape, torture and executions of Israelis who are being held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza has been filed at the International Criminal Court by the Canadian-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights. The 1,000-page dossier documents the brutality of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, which killed […]

The post Israeli victims of the Oct. 7 attacks present their case to the International Criminal Court, hoping for arrest warrants against Hamas appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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