Tag Archives: Israel

Wine - 12.02.2013

Israeli Wine Reaches Vietnam

Israel’s Golan Heights Winery launches its award winning range of wines in Vietnam reflecting its rapid growth in an ever increasing Asian wine culture.

Wine - 12.02.2013

Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

The Golan Heights Winery, which produces, markets and exports premium wines worldwide, has been selected to be the first Israeli winery to be marketed to Vietnam. As part of a new commercial initiative from Israel’s Ministry of Economy, the winery has begun to introduce Vietnam to Israel’s flourishing wine industry.

In recent years, Asia has seen an expansion of its wine culture. Within South East Asia, Vietnam has one of the highest wine consumptions per capita. While the country has witnessed an impressive development of wine culture over the last century, there is very little internal wine production given unfavorable climatic conditions for vine growing. Vietnam has now become a prominent wine importer and wines from as far afield as Chile, France, Italy, Australia and New Zealand are all readily available.

Wine 2 - 12.02.2013Einat HaLevi-Levine, Director of New Export Industries from Israel’s Ministry of Economy in Vietnam has spearheaded the campaign to expose Vietnam to Israeli wine. Beginning with a wine tasting in Hanoi in 2012, this year a series of wine marketing events were held around Vietnam. Reciprocal visits from Vietnamese wine import professionals were also received in Israel when they attended the Golan Heights Winery’s 30th year celebrations. Following the visit, the winery signed a distribution agreement with a Vietnamese distributor heralding the beginning of the next stage in this exciting endevour.

As November drew to a close, an agricultural cooperation agreement was signed in Vietnam by Israeli Minister of Agriculture, Yair Shamir, and Vietnamese Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Cao Duc Phat. The agreement was signed at a dinner party hosted by the Israeli Ministry culminating with a L’chaim over a glass of the newly imported Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon.

“The Asian market is one of the most interesting and challenging markets for the wine industry,” explained Anat Levi, CEO of the Golan Heights Winery. “The growth in consumption of quality wines here is among the highest in the world and Vietnam now joins the other Asian countries that we export to including Japan and China.”

“We are very proud to lead the process and see the entrance of the Golan Heights Winery to Vietnam,” added HaLevi-Levine. “This achievement signifies an Israeli breakthrough to Vietnam, an accomplishment that should not be taken for granted in this country of nearly 100 million people.” HaLevi-Levine sees the entry of the Israeli wine industry to Vietnam as a significant strengthening of bilateral trade and also of Israel’s positive “brand” in Vietnam.

Pictures: Members of the Israeli and Vietnamese delegations at a party celebrating the signing of the agricultural cooperation agreement.

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Analysis: A Closer Look At The P5+1-Iranian Agreement

There wasn’t a news site by last Sunday morning void of a story about the historic deal — or “mistake,” as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was calling it — which was signed between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France plus Germany) late last Saturday night.

But, according to analysts, many of the headlines that cluttered the Internet were inaccurate and deceptive. There was no “freeze,” “halt” or “stopping” of Iranian nuclear proliferation as many newspapers and websites described. Rather, said Dr. Robert Satloff, director of the Washington Institute, on a Jewish Federations of North America leadership briefing Monday afternoon, “it impedes or limits” nuclear progress.

What does Iran give up? What does it get to keep?

Iran’s key commitment is to limit its enrichment of uranium — the element needed to make a nuclear bomb — to 5 percent, according to a summary of the agreement released by the White House. Iran will dilute its stockpile of 20-percent-enriched uranium down to 5 percent, freeze many of its centrifuges that produce uranium and disable some technical features of some centrifuges. Iran also will stop construction and fuel production for its unfinished plutonium reactor and not expand its enrichment capabilities.

Under the agreement, Iran may continue to enrich uranium and does not need to dismantle any centrifuges or its plutonium reactor — conditions Netanyahu has said are necessary.

What is the significance of different levels of uranium enrichment?

Only a rare and specific type of uranium, uranium 235, can be used for a nuclear weapon. Enrichment, which is conducted using centrifuges, is the process of separating that material from the rest of the uranium supply. Five percent enrichment, for example, means that 5 percent of the uranium stockpile in question is uranium 235.

Five-percent-enriched uranium can be used for civilian purposes such as nuclear power; to be used for a nuclear weapon, uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent. Iran has long claimed that its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.

The agreement aims to curb Iran’s uranium enrichment at 5 percent. However, getting uranium from 0 to 5 percent is the hardest part of enrichment; jumping from 5 to 90 percent is easier. So by allowing Iran to enrich to 5 percent, the agreement allows Iran to continue clearing the biggest enrichment-related hurdle to bomb-making capacity.

Iran also possesses “next-generation” centrifuges that allow it to jump from 5 to 90 percent in a matter of weeks — what Israelis call a “breakout capacity.” The agreement freezes those centrifuges but doesn’t require Iran to fully dismantle them.

In exchange, most of the sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors will stay in place, including $100 billion in holdings that Iran cannot access, but there will be $7 billion in relief, including the release of funds from some Iranian oil sales and the suspension of sanctions on Iran’s auto, precious metals and petro-chemical industries.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is calling the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran a “historic mistake.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is calling the agreement between the P5+1 and Iran a “historic mistake.”
(Haim Zach/ GPO/FLASH90)

And this is why Israel is calling the deal a “historic mistake,” as Netanyahu put it during his Sunday cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said, “Today the world has become much more dangerous because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step to getting the most dangerous weapon in the world.”

“If a nuclear suitcase blows up five years from now in New York or Madrid,” said Naftali Bennett, chairman of the Jewish Home party and a government minister, “it will be because of the deal that was signed [in Geneva].”

Several American congressmen and senators — as well as analysts — are seconding that notion.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in a statement that she feels the agreement reached with Iran “leaves unfulfilled our ultimate objective: a complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program and related activities. … The agreement … simply does not go far enough to ensure our national security interests and those of our allies, like the democratic Jewish State of Israel.”

Opponents of the deal were spewing off terms like “worried” and “suspicious” in blogs and on social media, as well as in official statements disseminated to supporters and the media. Concern came from those in official capacities, as well as Jewish citizens in the area.

“I have serious concerns,” said U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) in a statement.

“I am deeply concerned,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

“I have little trust in the Iranian regime,” noted Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), a senior member of the Intelligence Committee. “We will need to scrutinize Iranian behavior to ensure they do not cheat.”

Dr. Arthur C. Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said he is not confident. He said, “I am suspicious, suspicious, suspicious.”

In Baltimore, Israel Orange of Israel Orange Studios, told the JT, “I am worried,” and asked, “How can this be good?”

Shimmy Rosenblum from Silver Spring, now living in Israel, said, “It will work well for Iran bombing its enemies. [President] Obama has shown a new low in world diplomacy.”

Added the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s Peter Telem, “Substitute the words ‘Nazi Germany’ for Iran, then think again about how this will turn out.”

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Friedman ‘Starts Up’ With MIDC

MIDC’s hiring of Ilan Friedman comes at a time of new growth  for the organization. (Provided)

MIDC’s hiring of Ilan Friedman comes at a time of new growth for the organization. (Provided)

The Maryland/Israel Development Center has made a new hire. But you won’t see him too often at the MIDC office in the Department of Business and Economic Development in Baltimore City. That’s because his office is in Netanya, Israel.

Ilan Friedman will now serve as the connector between Maryland and Israeli companies and the MIDC. His role replaces a years-long relationship between MIDC and Trendlines, which, according to executive director Barry Bogage, had become less effective because of Trendlines’ focus on seed-stage startups that were not ready to enter or collaborate with the American market. Friedman will focus on more mature high-tech companies with the capability to expand into the U.S. arena.

Friedman comes to the MIDC after more than a decade of working with a similar organization out of Atlanta and then with assisting Israeli companies through his firm, Ncompas International Market Development, in their marketing and sales initiatives to better prepare them for international growth. Born in New York but raised in Israel since the age of 2, Friedman has spent time in both countries and has a deep understanding of the two economies. Now that he signed an agreement with MIDC, which became official at the first of the month, he will focus solely on Maryland-Israel economic relations.

“The whole idea is to promote MIDC and Maryland, and I can’t be working with competing groups or states,” Friedman said.

Friedman’s hire comes at a time of new growth for MIDC. According to Bogage, Gov. Martin O’Malley increased the state allocation to MIDC for 2014 by 100 percent, doubling funds available for staff, marketing and projects that can bring jobs to both economies. In addition to hiring Friedman, Bogage added Jennifer Rubin Raskas in Montgomery County to better expand opportunities in that area of the state.

In the last two years, MIDC has scored some big wins, including convincing defense giant ELTA to open its American office in Howard County. Likewise, several Israeli companies are applying to enter (or have already entered) into area incubators, the first step in a Maryland presence. Those companies include Hybrid Security, Roboteam and Zuznow, among a handful of others.

“We already have a lot of new activity, and we expect to keep growing exceptionally,” said Bogage. “After years of doing this by myself, it is fantastic to have great staff.”

Friedman said he believes that Maryland and Israel have the potential for even more and improved synergy. While he is not setting a metric in terms of number of companies he would like to see collaborate, he said he is focused on getting Israeli companies investors, customers and partners in the state. He does not think that Maryland companies could necessarily benefit from having storefronts in Israel, but rather from learning about Israeli technologies and creating partnerships that would enable local companies to use the innovation in Israel to enhance their products and services.

The two primary areas of potential synergy are in the cyber security and the life-science arenas. He said both Maryland and Israel are leaders in these fields, and he expects they could better assist one another.

Concurrently, MIDC has a robust membership of close to 300 companies and/or individuals. Friedman will work with the rest of the MIDC team to figure out how the organization can better tap into its professional network to assist Israeli companies and to look at what more MIDC can offer the professionals in terms of access to Israeli innovations — first and for profit.

One other message that Friedman hopes to convey: “Israel is not in the same position as it was in the past. It is not a needy market. It used to need [economic] support, and it received that support. … Israel today has an extremely powerful economy and is a very influential country.”

He said that while there is much Americans can still do for Israel and things that Maryland can offer the Jewish state, he also hopes that he can use his role to improve the local market. He noted that Israel being the startup nation with the highest concentration of innovation in the world did not happen by accident but was the result of a process put in place by the Israeli government and the private sector.

“We can and should learn from the U.S.,” said Friedman. “But there is a lot the U.S. can learn from Israel.”

 See related article, “Showcase Of Innovation”>>

Maayan Jaffe is JT editor-in-chief
mjaffe@jewishtimes.com

 

Iran, Major Powers Achieve Interim Deal On Nuclear Program

Iran and the major powers achieved an interim deal to freeze some nuclear activity in exchange for some sanctions relief.

“We have reached an agreement,” Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister leading talks in Geneva, said on his Twitter feed early Sunday morning.

According to a White House statement sent to reporters later in the evening, Iran will stop enriching uranium at 20 percent, but will keep enriching at 5 percent or lower.

Iran will neutralize its existing stockpiles of 20 percent enriched uranium and will not install or build any new centrifuges, except to replace damaged machines.

Experts say 5 percent enriched uranium is well below weaponization, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said that Iran’s program is advanced enough that even enriching at low levels brings it closer to the weapons breakout point.

Sanctions relief would amount to about $7 billion out of the $100-120 billion that annually impacts Iran’s economy. the White House statement said.

Although some sanctions relief would affect Iran’s energy sector, the statement said the principal sanctions targeting Iran’s banking and energy sectors would remain in place.

The negotiators now have six months to work out a final status deal.

“The agreement reached today between the world powers and Iran is a positive step forward in the diplomatic effort to roll back Iran’s nuclear program,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a senior Member of the Intelligence Committee, in a statement.

He noted, however, that he has “little trust in the Iranian regime, and we will need to scrutinize Iranian behavior to ensure they do not cheat. … At the same time, if Iran’s new President can make good on his stated intention, the next six months could mark a turning point in our relations with Iran of historic significance.”

Similarly, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has “serious concerns” that this agreement does not meet the standards necessary to protect the United States and its allies.

“Instead of rolling back Iran’s program, Tehran would be able to keep the key elements of its nuclear weapons-making capability. Yet we are the ones doing the dismantling – relieving Iran of the sanctions pressure built up over years,” Royce said in a statement. “This sanctions relief is more lifeline than ‘modest.’ Secretary Kerry should soon come before the Foreign Affairs Committee to address the many concerns with this agreement.”

However, President Obama, in a statement delivered on TV late Saturday night in the United States, said that he would dedicate the time to solving an issue “that has threatened our security and the security of our allies for decades.”

He appealed to Congress not to pass intensified sanctions, saying that to do so would endanger any deal and unravel the alliance that has kept pressure on Iran through sanctions until now.

Obama also said that the “resolve of the United States will remain firm” and so would “the commitment to our allies” which had reason to be skeptical of Iran, naming Israel among them.

JCPA President and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow released the following statement: “Though Iran has done little to deserve our trust, diplomacy is preferable to military action. At the same time, we support President Obama when he says that no option should be taken off the table. Thus, we believe the interim agreement reached in Geneva today has the potential to serve as a valuable stepping stone to a final agreement that can serve the long term security interests of the United States, Israel, the Middle East and the entire international community. Such a final agreement, which should be negotiated in a tight time frame, must not leave Iran in a position to continue its drive for nuclear weapons capability, or to be able to restart it with ease anytime in the future. The menace of a nuclear armed Iran needs to be eliminated once and for all.”

Said Ori Nir on behalf of Americans for Peace Now: “We congratulate the Obama Administration and its international partners for this important achievement and welcome this demonstration of a new Iranian readiness to seriously negotiate the future of its nuclear program. We believe that anyone who cares about U.S. national security, the security of Israel and stability in the Middle East should likewise welcome this agreement.”

 

 

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Showcase Of Innovation

A crowd of 200 people poured into Howard County Community College on Tuesday, Nov. 19, for the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s Showcase of Innovation, a program celebrating Israeli companies with offices in Maryland and local companies doing business in and with the Jewish state.

The cocktail hour and round-robin dialogues made for an interesting evening, as high-level executives and professionals networked and discussed high-tech, bio-tech and opportunities for growth.

But the event, which ran from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., was highlighted by a keynote address from Thomas Feldhausen, director of international operations for Lockheed Martin International.

“The reality is that today you have to be global. We are connected as one global society,” said Feldhausen. “We realized that if we want to continue to grow internationally, if we want partnership and commitment from foreign governments and businesses around the world, we cannot do it from Maryland. We have to work and live with them day in and day out.”

Feldhausen then spoke about the short list of countries that Lockheed Martin, a company that employs 116,000 people worldwide, considered for such a partnership. Israel was at the top of that list. Earlier this month, the defense giant announced plans to open a major subsidiary in Israel that will employ hundreds of people, while simultaneously looking to purchase Israeli companies and integrate itself into the Israeli economy. Feldhausen said he is confident his company is making a good decision.

According to Feldhausen, Israel and Lockheed Martin have a relationship that dates back more than 40 years, to when Lockheed Martin introduced the general dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon to Israel.

“That relationship has continued through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, with a variety of weapons defense systems, information technology and significant partnerships with Israeli industry,” said Feldhausen, noting than in an average year the company does $3.4 billion worth of business with Israel. He said 25 percent of the content of the F-16 is manufactured in Israel, including 100 percent of the wings.

Feldhausen said Lockheed Martin also does business in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Japan. He said staffing in Israel will grow as business grows, but the company expects at some point to employ hundreds of people on the ground in the Jewish state.


Created with flickr slideshow.

“We recognize Israel has been a great partner, and we want to be a great partner with Israel; I think this is key to our growth,” said Feldhausen. “We have had a four-decades-long relationship with Israel. We see another four decades.”

Other companies that were present at the event included 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc., which develops and commercializes technologies and products to detect early-stage cancer and for personalize cancer therapies, Advanced Defense Technologies, a contract manufacturer of wire harnesses and mechanical assemblies, and Altenera Technology Inc., an early-stage company with the mission to rethink wind- energy-generation technology, among others.

The Maryland/Israel Development Center, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and supported by the Maryland and Montgomery County departments of Business and Economic Development, promotes trade and investment between Maryland and Israel to help create jobs in both economies. To learn more about MIDC, visit marylandisrael.org.