HARRISON, N.Y. -- After a tumultuous summer for Israel, Knesset member Erel Margalit offered hope for his country's future as an economic engine during a recent talk at the Jewish Community Center of Harrison.
Margalit, a 53-year-old global venture capitalist, is an architect of Israel becoming the "Start-Up Nation,'' helping start more than 100 companies.
Elected last year to Israel's parliament, the Knesset, as a Labor Party member, some think Margalit might run for Israeli prime minister. The founder of Jerusalem Venture Partners, a billion dollar firm, Margalit said economic development is becoming an important theme for Israeli along with rebuilding security alliances.
For example, farmers in the Galilee region to the north who are producing healthy foods with the capacity to heal and ward off disease could turn a global profit. "Invention is free. Invention that is monetized is jobs,'' he said. Margalit has been in the United States the past two weeks raising money for Israel Initiative 2020, seven regional centers he is building across Israel to start new industries and reduce Israel's socioeconomic inequality The initiative is rooted in Margalit’s creation of Jerusalem’s Media Quarter and Beer Sheva’s Cyber Park.
Margalit, who served in combat with the Israeli Defense Forces in Lebanon in 1982, said he's very humbled, worried and proud to be the father of three daughters serving in Israel's military: two in special forces and one in its Navy. "I am proud of the Israeli Army, but I don't like the idea of being an occupying force forever,'' he said. "We don't have Canada as our neighbor.. We have different neighbors."
He said Israel has been united in defending itself against extremism and the instability heightened by ISIS creates "somewhat of an opportunity" and renewed alliances in the Middle East.
Margalit also said he was energized to watch 150 young entrepreneurs working on a cybersecurity project the day after this summer's ceasefire. "You see why Israel would not be defeated. We're not bombers. We're builders." "I'm looking for joint ventures like you have between Cornell and the Technion,'' Margalit said of the Israel Institute of Technology.
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