2015-12-23 / Voice at the Shore

Israel is a world leader in cybersecurity and other startups, says Israel 21C editor

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER
Voice shore correspondent


Viva Sarah Press spoke about Israeli technology startups at the Margate JCC on Dec. 6. Viva Sarah Press spoke about Israeli technology startups at the Margate JCC on Dec. 6. “People are not afraid to fail in Israel; failure is seen as a stepping stone to success.” That is one of several factors accounting for Israel’s incredible number of successful technology startups, according to Viva Sarah Press, associate writer/editor for Israel 21C, a non-partisan, nonprofit publisher of an online news magazine about 21st century Israel.

Press spoke to a crowd of roughly 30 people at the JCC in Margate on Sunday, Dec. 6, the first night of Chanukah, in an event co-sponsored by the Federation’s Israel Center, the Israeli Investment Club of Atlantic County, Golda Meir Hadassah, and the Downbeach Deli in Margate. After lighting Chanukah candles and eating latkes, attendees learned how incredible technological innovations coming out of Israel are lighting the way for the rest of the world.

Press, who began by saying how much she loved sharing information on innovations coming out of Israel, is an expert in writing about cybersecurity.

In explaining cybersecurity to her audience, she told them: “When you left your home, you locked it up, didn’t you? But have you done the same with your online personal information?” According to Press, this information is much easier to steal than your personal belongings, and the damage resulting from the theft of this information by internet hackers can be more costly and catastrophic than a home invasion.

Every time you use a smart phone, an ATM, online banking or a credit card, you are leaving yourself open to the theft of personal information by hackers.

According to Press, cybersecurity is currently a $106 billion industry that is expected to become a $170 billion industry by 2020. Israel is a dominant player in this market, just behind the U.S., which leads.

There are over 300 cybersecurity startups in Israel, noted Press, and dozens of these have been bought by larger, more established companies looking for cybersecurity solutions. Among those is Cyactive, started in 2013, which came up with an algorithm for predicting and preventing future cyberattacks. Cyactive was recently purchased by Paypal, which is now opening offices in Beersheba as a result, said Press.

“Beersheva is the cybercapital of the world,” she added, noting that the move of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) technology units to this area is helping to solidify Beersheva’s position as a worldwide mecca for hightech companies.

The IDF is largely responsible for Israel being on the forefront of cybersecurity, added Press. In Israel, the IDF’s need to be on the cutting edge of all types of security has fueled and inspired the abundance of cybersecurity startups in Israel. “Constant security threats have pushed Israelis to do what everyone says can’t be done. Israelis are brilliant at out-ofthe box thinking because they have no choice,” said Press.

The fact that Israel is a hotbed of innovation is “not a fluke,” she stressed. The survival instinct is only one of several drivers. Others are a culture that nurtures curiosity and creativity, and encourages relentless research.

Israelis also revere entrepreneurship. “Israelis like the idea of having a dream and following it,” she explained. The newest startups are regularly featured on the news and are a common topic of conversation among Israelis.

Israel’s diversity also fuels innovation. As a country of immigrants from all over the world, many of whom are highly educated, Israel is a place where diverse groups of brilliant people share ideas—which makes it a breeding ground for innovative, creative thinking, said Press.

Although Press specializes in cybersecurity, she noted that Israel is perhaps even better known as a leading innovator in medical and health technologies. “With over 1,000 life science and med-tech companies, Israelis are working on every illness,” noted Press.

All of these innovations, as well as a host of other topics, are addressed regularly in Israel 21C’s weekly online newsletter. Anyone can sign up for this free newsletter on the 21C website, www.israel21c.org. Founded in 2001 by Israeli-American technology executives, 21C seeks “to broaden public understanding of Israel beyond typical portrayals in the mainstream media,” according to the website.

The website also has a repository of more than 10,000 original articles, videos, images and blogs “uncovering the country’s rich and diverse culture, innovative spirit, wide-ranging contributions to humanity, and democratic and civil society,” the website stated.

The Israel 21C website also offers a free e-book, “How to invest in Israel: The smart investor’s guide to investing in Israel.”

Jerry Savoy, a stockbroker who guides the Israeli Investment Club of Atlantic County (which meets monthly at the JCC in Margate), is a longtime follower of Israel 21C’s e-magazine. “I read Israel 21C to get ideas for the Investment Club, as well as for my clients,” he said. Notably, the investment club was a cosponsor of Press’s talk.

Like many of those who attended Press’s talk, Jean Kohl of Atlantic City would like to see Israel do more to get the word out about its innovations. “Israel has to promote all this innovation. People don’t realize all that’s going on there,” said Kohl.

Golda Meir Hadassah presibombing dent Denise Borisch agreed, saying that Hadassah plans to do what it can to inform as many people as possible by encouraging members to tell their children and grandchildren about Israel’s cutting-edge accomplishments and about Israel 21C. “We were thrilled to be a sponsor of this event,” she added. .

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