War Doesn’t Faze Startup Nation’s Fans In Ireland And India

By David Shamah, The Times of Israel July 27, 2014 Comments

This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

Tech people aren’t overly concerned about the anti-Israel, even anti-Semitic headlines that have been cropping up in places like India and Ireland over the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Relations between the high-tech industries there and the “Start-Up Nation” are just fine, they say. Leading business people in both countries who work to develop relationships between Israeli start-ups and local firms say the tech relationship will survive the hostile Protective Edge-generated headlines.

To observers in the Israeli tech industry, the contrast between the tone before and after the start of the conflict has been stark. If just a few weeks ago the majority of stories on Indian news sites discussed new business deals and the prospects of an India-Israel free trade agreement, sites are now full of stories criticizing New Delhi for failing to speak out loudly enough about “Israeli atrocities.” Mass protests have been held against Israel throughout the country, and India’s sizable Muslim population is even boycotting brand names like Pepsi, Coca Cola, and Nescafe, because they do business in Israel.

Two Irish entrepreneurs make a pitch at an event held last week in Dublin by the Ireland-Israel Business Network (Photo credit Courtesy)

Two Irish entrepreneurs make a pitch at an event held last week in Dublin by the Ireland-Israel Business Network (Photo credit Courtesy)

In Ireland, nary a positive media story about Israel can be found these days. Politicians, both junior and senior, scourge Israel, pull down Israeli flags at events, and call for the arrest of IDF officers and Israeli political officials on “war crimes” charges if they dare to travel to Europe. The decision Wednesday by Ireland to abstain from a resolution condemning Israel at the UN Human Rights Council has only led to louder anti-Israel screeds. Only the US voted against the measure, and Israel denounced it as biased.

While there have been protests against Israel’s operation throughout Europe and Asia, Ireland and India are especially significant because many of the ties between the two are specifically tech-oriented. Both countries see Tel Aviv as a role model to develop a start-up infrastructure, providing jobs and opportunities in economies that need new sources of growth. In interviews with The Times of Israel, dozens of entrepreneurs, CEOs, and government officials in both these countries have expressed admiration for Israel’s tech accomplishments, as well as the desire to emulate them.

It would take very strong ties indeed to overlook the anti-Israel atmosphere in the media and on the streets — and to overlook the perceived dangers of traveling to Israel as Hamas aims rockets at its financial capital, Tel Aviv, which for most tech industry people from abroad is the Israel that they know.

And yet, in interviews with The Times of Israel this week, key figures in the tech relationship between Israel and both countries say they are still “loyal” to the Start-Up Nation — and that Israelis shouldn’t pay too much attention to the media.

 To continue reading this article on the Times of Israel site, click here.This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.

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