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Netanyahu visits Silicon Valley, signs Israel-California pro-business pact

by dan pine, j. staff

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Saying the future “belongs to those who innovate,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Gov. Jerry Brown in Silicon Valley this week to sign an agreement intended to boost high-tech cooperation between Israel and California.

Both leaders said the greatest goal of the memorandum of understanding is to solve problems in the realms of water conservation, alternative energy and cybersecurity threats.

Signed March 5 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, the pact gives Israeli companies access to California’s Innovation Hub program, which is composed of 16 research clusters around the state.

Gov. Jerry Brown (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on March 5   photo/ap
Gov. Jerry Brown (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View on March 5 photo/ap
Each iHub focuses on one or more different areas, such as high-tech, agribusiness, manufacturing, transportation or clean tech. The involved entities — such as technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories — provide a platform for startups, economic development organizations, business groups and venture capitalists.

Israel is first nation to sign this kind of agreement with California, and to be invited to work with the iHub network.

Israel already has strong economic ties with California. Tens of thousands of Israelis live in the region and work in the high-tech sector, while trade between the two tops $4 billion according to the governor’s office.

“What a wonderful furthering of the deep connections Israel has with America, and California in particular,” Brown said to 150 Israeli and American high-tech representatives, politicians and other dignitaries gathered for the signing.

Acknowledging what he called California’s “mega-drought,” Brown said the state has “a long way to go in water conservation, recycling and desalinization. Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be.”

Noted Netanyahu: “Israel does not have a water problem. How is that possible? Our rainfall has declined 50 percent from the days of our founding. Our population has grown 10 times, our GDP 70 times. Israel has no water problem because we are the No. 1 recycler of wastewater in the world — close to 90 percent -- because we have drip irrigation, because we prevent leakage in our pipes and desalinate. California does not need to have a water problem. By working together we can overcome this.”

As for energy, Brown pointed out that California is the only state with a goal of achieving a third of its energy needs via renewable sources by 2020. He said the challenge would be storage of alternative energy for “when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. [Israel and California] have an interest in becoming energy independent, less dependent on fossil fuels. The way to go is renewable energy and storage.”

To cheers from the audience, Netanyahu also expressed his support for a proposed nonstop flight between San Francisco and Ben Gurion Airport. Currently none exists.

“I’ll put my people on this,” Netanyahu said. “If we can get this, there will be an explosion of inventiveness between the innovation nation and the innovation state. Let’s connect the two together. We’re going to do that with this agreement today.”

The signing took place shortly after news broke that Israel had seized a Gaza-bound shop said to be carrying dozens of Iranian missiles. After signing the pact, Netanyahu took to the podium once more to comment.

“What this reveals is the true face of Iran,” the prime minister said. “Iran is smiling, talking soft in the international forums, but it continues unabatedly its aggressive behavior in the Middle East and beyond. It’s sending the deadliest weapons to the most cruel terrorist groups and despots. This regime must not have nuclear weapons capability.”

He thanked Brown for California’s policy of divesting from Iran in its largest public pension funds and for investing in Israel.

Glenn Yago, an economist with the Milken Institute in Southern California, attended the signing and afterward called the pact “the beginning of a true global partnership.” He noted the two leaders’ goal to address the challenges of water, food, agriculture, health and security.

“This partnership with Israel has the potential to be exponentially impactful in terms of what it can produce,” Yago said. “It allows a scaling up. You can’t be a startup forever.”

During his short Bay Area visit, Netanyahu also met with Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, a Jewish Ukrainian immigrant who sold his company to Facebook for $19 billion last month, and executives from Apple, Flextronics, LinkedIn and eBay. In addition to his morning stop at the museum, he also visited Apple headquarters in Cupertino and Stanford University.

The prime minister’s three-day California swing included two stops in Southern California.

On March 4, he attended a screening of “Israel: The Royal Tour” at Paramount Studios on March 4. The one-hour episode stars Netanyahu as he gives CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg a prime minister’s view of Israel from the Red Sea to Masada to Tel Aviv’s hopping nightlife.

Entering a room filled with philanthropists and stars—including football commentator Al Michaels, former CNN host Larry King and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft — Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, and his son, Yair, were greeted with a loud applause.

The prime minister spoke for a few minutes, and opened by joking, “Is this the Oscars?”

He then spoke about why he agreed to do an episode of the series, in which heads of state give tours of their country. “I think it shows you sides of Israel that need to be shown,” he said.

Netanyahu also highlighted the most surprising, and painful scene, shot in June 2012.

“I tore my Achilles heel playing soccer in a game between Jewish kids and Arab kids,” Netanyahu said, referring to a moment captured in the show, in which Netanyahu is shooting a penalty kick in a soccer match, with Greenberg as the goalie.

After following through on the kick, Netanyahu stumbled forward in pain.

“Are you OK?” Greenberg asked the prime minister as he hobbled over to him in pain.

“Something happened,” Netanyahu responded. “Something snapped. I heard it snap.”

That injury cut Greenberg’s trip, and the filming, short. It was almost another year until he could return to Israel to finish shooting footage.

The morning after the screening, Netanyahu flew to the Bay Area and spent several hours in Silicon Valley, then returned to Los Angeles later March 5 for a fundraising dinner.  On March 6, he visited the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which is run by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. While there, he was expected to address local Jewish leaders.

Netanyahu’s trip west followed several days in Washington, D.C., where Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama and gave a speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference.


The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles contributed to this report.


Posted by gitelsura
03/06/2014  at  11:51 PM
No water problems

How nice to hear from Bibi that Israel has no water problem.  Maybe California can learn from Israel how to “conserve” water by stealing it, and then allocating it according to whether or not you belong to a privileged ethnic group, or an oppressed one.

The occupied West Bank’s mountain aquifer and the Sea of Galilee give Israel about 60% of its fresh water, a billion cubic metres per year.

Israel, and Israeli Jewish settlements, take about 80% of the aquifer’s flow, leaving the Palestinians with 20%.  For more on disparity of water allocation under Israel’s apartheid regime, see the report from Bet Tselem, Israel’s Human Rights Center.

In 2012, Governor Brown signed historic legislation, wherein the state recognized that access to water is a “human right” for all people.

Now, thanks to its partnership with Israel,  California can unlearn all that human rights nonsense. 

Progress - ain’t it grand?

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Posted by paul
03/07/2014  at  04:13 PM
My respond to all those who are against Israel.

Gitelsura, Israel didn’t steal any water from the Palestinians. Israel give them water and all every thing else such us, food, medicine, money, education,etc. And, the settlements didn’t occupied the West Bank. The settlements give to the Palestinians more then 20% of water, period. What about the Soda Stream Company in Israel? This company has about 1,500 Palestinians employees who’s salary is equal to the Israelis. Tell me Gitelsura if the Palestinians would earn more income in the PA? I don’t think so. Because of the Soda Stream, Palestinian employees, doesn’t want to have the State of Palestine, period. I’M glad that Netanyahu was here and made a good contact between California and Israel. Gitelsura, you fight against Israel and I, will continue to fight against your policies against Israel. Tell me Gitelsura, what would the Arabs do without Israel? Who would supply them food, water, medicine, money, education,etc? If not Israel, the Arabs woudl have to get up their asses and go to work. Israel support them,period. They need to appreciate Israel. In a good time and bad time, in time of peace and time of war, Israel supply every thing to Gaza? And, after all, they sent the rockets to kill Israelis. I respond to you exactly as I should. No one country of the world would tolerate terrorism. People were disagree with Bush when Bush launched the war against Iraq. People didn’t call Bush for it’s destruction. But, when it’s come to Israel’s right to exist and to defend the State of Israel then, people call it for it’s destruction. Tell me Gitelsura, how did Israel occupied the land? From whom? The Land of Israel was occupied by Arabs in 1948. I want two States solution,period. And, you want war. It’s time to boycott all those who wants to destroy Israel, including you. AM ISROEL HI!

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Posted by Michael Harris
03/08/2014  at  05:26 PM
The water libel is the new blood libel

Having tried and failed at many previous lies aimed against Israel (the apartheid lie, the al-Dura hoax, staged news photos of “casualties” who are up an walking a few moments later, even Hanan Ashwari’s actual blood libel) the newest installment from Pallywood (and its enablers here) is the water libel.
There’s an extensively documented report here that sends the water libel down the drain: . This report documents not only how the Palestinians refuse to abide by their water obligations under the Oslo agreement, but have turned down international efforts to improve their water management. Far better to do without and blame Israel—which has been their philosophy for decades.

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Posted by gitelsura
03/09/2014  at  10:22 PM
Blood Libel?

Painstakingly researched and documented reports from such esteemed organizations as Bet Tselem, World Health Organization, Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, and Amnesty International come to entirely different conclusions than the BESA report cited by Michael Harris:  in practice, and Oslo agreements notwithstanding, Israel severely discriminates against Palestinians in allocation of water in the West Bank.  As for the BESA report’s focus on Palestinian failure to meet Oslo obligations such as treatment of their own sewage, the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, for example, points out that “the ability of the Palestinian Authority to address these issues is significantly limited by the need to obtain Israeli approval for repair of the existing water networks or the development of new infrastructure to treat their own sewage. ...Furthermore, settlers in the West Bank confiscate, destroy and hinder access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructures in their vicinity, including water springs”
Dr. Harris calls it akin to “blood libel” to criticize Israel’s discriminatory water policies in
the land it has unlawfully occupied by military force for 47 years He portrays Palestinians as so morally bankrupt,  and so influential on the international stage, that they deliberately let their lands and their children go parched just to make Israel look bad.

When the facts, and international law, are against you, make hysterical and racist accusations, and see if they will win the day .

They will not.

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Posted by paul
03/11/2014  at  12:12 PM
Gitelsura, I will respond to

Gitelsura, I will respond to you exactly as I should. Your glorious Palestinians, can’t do any thing without Israel. They can’t build a thing. All they know is, how to throw the stones at Israelis and IDF. You don’t say any thing against Russia and Russian President Vladimir Putin who is a real dictator. You don’t say any thing about Ukraine, a country that is in the civil war. You don’t say any thing about the Ukrainian Government. You don’t say any thing about countries that doesn’t support the human rights. For example, South Africa. We Jews, gave the Arabs East Jerusalem. Do you know what they did? They took it and destroyed it. We gave them Gaza in order to exchange for peace. Did we get the peace? Gaza was beautiful territory with the water fountains, fruit gardens, trees,etc. Do you know what they did? Together with Hamas, they took it and destroyed it,period. We shouldn’t give them any thing and,including water. It’s all ours. It’s a time to boycott the Palestinians. Time to boycott Hamas and people like you. It’s a time to stand up for Israel.

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Posted by gitelsura
03/12/2014  at  10:23 AM
Paul doesn’t pretend to be

Paul doesn’t pretend to be a rational observer, but a man impassioned beyond reason with love of Israel.

To believe that Palestinian people are so inferior that they could not even feed themselves without the benevolence of their Jewish conquerors is to endorse profoundly racist views.  Such supremicist attitudes in our current climate of Islamophobia are dangerous, not only to Muslim people, but to Jews around the world. 

Paul, and those who endorse his views in perhaps a more sophisticated wrapping,  bring disgrace to our faith that, up until the emergence of nationalist zionism, was often distinguished for its commitment to inclusivity and equal rights for all.  This was a commitment that grew in part out of our own experience of being a despised and marginalized people. 

It’s so tragic that now, when we are largely a safe and privileged group, we are encouraged to revert to theories of racial superiority that we know first-hand lead to catastrophe

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Posted by paul
03/12/2014  at  11:37 AM
Your aren't honest.

Gitelsura, at least be honest. Let be honest that you hate Israel. Yes, I love Israel because, Israel is the only homeland for us, Jews. You are undemocratic person. Let me tell you, I’M not racist. I’M proud Jew and proud to be zionist. What do you know about Judaism? What do you know about Torah? Do you know how to chant the Torah and Halftarah? Do you know any Yiddish, Ladino, Hebrew or Arabic? Do you know whata Toraha says about Israel? Torah allow Israel to go and to defend itself and defend its people. Do you know what a Koran says? Koran says,Oh Muslimi! There is
a Jew behind that tree,come and kill him. Korana doesn’t mention Jerusalem not a single time while Bible does 600 times. I’M proudly support Israel’s right to exist and,I’M for two states solution. Gitelsura, what do you stand for? You stand for terrorism against Israel. And, if you don’t stand for Israel then, you and our Jewish Community don’t stand for nothing. Israel, is the only democracy state in the Middle. The Israeli Arabs, serve Knesset and Supreme Court. Israel treat the Arabs and Palestinians with the human rights. Where else in the Middle East they can get the same? Because of Israel, the Palestinians economy bloom. They have their own cities, their banks, their restaurants and every thing else. They also have their Government which denied the Holocaust and will never recognize the State of Israel as the Jewish State. Gitelsura, why are you hiding? What is your real name? Are you Cecily Surasky or Wendy Kaufman from the so-called Jewish Voice for peace? Are you Rae Abileach from the Code Pink and so-called Jewish Voice for peace? Let come out and argue within that page. I will continue to love and to support Israel no matter what you say. Do you know why? Because, I’M for two states solution. Because, I’M a proud Jew and zionist and, I can speak,read write and understand Hebrew. I had my Bar Mitzvah. I love my Jewishness. And, I’M for the human rights for all the citizens of the State of Israel because, I love and support the State of Israel.

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Posted by paul
03/12/2014  at  01:41 PM
Israel was attacked last night.

Gitelsura, did you know that, Islamic Jihad from Gaza, attacked Southern Israel last night? Tell me Gitelsura, what Israel need to do if someone attack Israel? We all know the answer. Let me provide you the answer if you don’t know what to tell me: Israel has the right to defend its self from the rockets attack. Gitelsura, you are exposed yourself among those who seek destruction of the State of Israel such as your lovers from Hamas, Hezbollah and so-called Jewish Voice for peace.

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Posted by Michael Harris
03/12/2014  at  10:00 PM
Sorry, that statement doesn't wash.

“He portrays Palestinians as so morally bankrupt,  and so influential on the international stage, that they deliberately let their lands and their children go parched just to make Israel look bad.”

After all, it’s not as if some Palestinians—including Mahmoud Abbas—are so morally bankrupt that they will honor those who murdered Jewish women and children in cold blood as heroes. It’s not as if some are so morally bankrupt that they will openly admit to raising their children to be mass murderers of Jews. It’s not as if some are so morally bankrupt that they will air TV broadcasts characterizing Jews as “sons of apes and pigs”. So how could they possibly lie about water?

Nobody’s “parched”, Gitelsura.  Nobody’s dying of thirst—at least not in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinians in Syria whose life Abbas just signed away might be a different story—but since you can’t blame Israel they’re not worth your attention. So please let your hyperbole go down the drain.  But are they influential? Sure, given that media, propaganda groups and useful idiots will just swallow those unpurified lies without question.

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