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Posted by On 5:47 AM

Al Pacino reportedly dating Israeli actress

Actor Al Pacino has a new lady in his life - she's half his age, and she's Israeli.
According to a report in The New York Post's Page Six, Pacino, 78, is dating Meital Dohan, 39. The article, published over the weekend, said that Pacino and Dohan have been seen eating out together several times and attending events as a couple over the past few months.

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On Monday, the Daily Mail published photographs of the pair shopping at a furniture store in Los Angeles. Dohan, a native of Givatayim, is best known for her 2006 role on the hit TV show Weeds, when she played Yael Hoffman, the head of a rabbinical school.
In Israel, Dohan has appeared in a long series of TV shows, films and theater productions. The actress has been nominated twice for Israel's Ophir Award, for her role in the films Girafot (2 001) and Tahara (2002).
In 2010, Dohan was active in the group Artists 4 Israel, which brought a group of graffiti artists to Sderot to decorate its bomb shelters.
Oscar-winner Pacino, who is well-known for his role in The Godfather series, Scarface, and many more films, has three children, but has never been married.

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Source: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel


Posted by On 5:47 AM

Russia Promises Advanced Missiles to Syria After Rift With Israel

  1. Russia Promises Advanced Missiles to Syria After Rift With Israel New York Times
  2. Russia upgrades Syria's defense system in blow to Israel CNN
  3. Russia Warned Israel Before Downing of Plane: Attacking Syrian Targets Harms Moscow's Interests Haaretz
  4. What next for Russian-Israeli relations?
  5. In a blow to Israel, Russia says it will send Syria powerful antiaircraft missiles Washington Post
  6. Full coverage
Source: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel

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Posted by On 10:36 PM

Israel's tech scene is red-hot, but there are few Arab-led startups â€" a top venture capitalist thinks he knows why

  • Israel is often called the "Startup Nation" due to the sheer number of entrepreneurs and tech companies in the country of 9 million people.
  • While Arabs make up 21% of Israel's population, they currently only make up about 3% of the tech workforce.
  • Itzik Frid, a longtime Israeli tech entrepreneur and the CEO of a startup incubator focused on Arab-led startups, thinks that the lack of Arab representation comes down to four factors, including geography.
  • Most Arabs in Israel live far from Tel Aviv, Israel's tech hub. But he thinks that could be starting to change.
  • This post is part of Business Insider's series on Better Capitalism.

Israel produces an impressive number of highly successful tech companies for a country with just 9 million people, from social navigation app Waze, which sold to Google in 2013 for $1.15 billion, to autonomous driving company Mobileye, which sold to Intel last year for a whopping $15.3 billion.

Israelis have long lovingly referred to the Middle Eastern country as the "Startup Nation," thanks to the sheer number of entrepreneurs building businesses there, particularly in cities like Tel Aviv.

But, there's one group in Israel that hasn't truly benefited from the red-hot tech industry: Arab-Israelis. While Arabs make up 21% of Israel's population, they currently make up 3% of the workforce in the tech industry. There are likely even fewer Arab entrepreneurs.

Itzik Frid, a longtime Israeli tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist, is trying to change that. He is the CEO of Takwin Labs, a venture capital firm and startup incubator focusing on Arab-led startups.

"We don't invest in [Arab-led startups] because of philanthropy. T here's nothing wrong with philanthropy," Frid told Business Insider. Investing is about business.

"We're not sitting here saying, 'Oh those poor Arabs, we screwed them for so many years, and we need to make it up to them,'" Frid said. "Yes, they were screwed, and they were discriminated against, but you cannot start a startup company from this. Nobody will care when you release a product to the market whether the one who programmed it was screwed, or his parents were screwed in 1948 or 1967."

A view in Takwin Labs in Haifa, Israel.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

There are many proposed explanations for why there aren't more Arab-Israelis in tech. Some suggest the insularity of the Israeli tech scene, which draws heavily from army units, puts Arabs at a disadvantage. By law, all Israelis must serve in the Israel Defense Forces, but few Arabs do.

While Frid doesn& #039;t dispute that insularity may play a role, he thinks there are four major reasons for why there aren't more Arabs in Israeli tech.

1. Arab cultural and social attitudes around failure

Jewish and American cultures tend to have a high tolerance for failure due to familiarity with the entrepreneurial process. Generally speaking, Arabs don't, Frid said.

"With Arabs, it is often 'failure is not an option' in the sense that if you fail once, you will be stamped with that failure for the rest of your life," Frid said. "You cannot be an entrepreneur if you do not embrace failure. Because you will definitely fail at least once."

2. There are no major success stories of Arab entrepreneurs

While entrepreneurial American kids look up to Mark Zuckerberg and Bill G ates as cultural heroes and Jewish-Israelis aspire to build the next Waze or Mobileye, there haven't been any major Arab entrepreneurs in Israel yet.

Success stories, Frid said, have an amplifying effect, convincing other would-be entrepreneurs to take the leap. Creating those kinds of success stories is Frid's goal with Takwin Labs. All of the companies in Takwin's portfolio come from entrepreneurs with Ph.Ds in highly technical fields and involve deep tech like computer vision, autonomous driving, and nano-technology.

"If we want to create an ecosystem and successful infrastructure of the first [Arab entrepreneur] heroes that will pull everybody after them, we need to create success stories that will be huge on an objective level," Frid said. "Not a local level."

3. A lack of experience

This goes back to that mandatory army service for Israeli Jews. Some army units, like the Unit 8200 intelligence team, have become renowned for providing recruits with high-level cybersecurity skills and producing alumni who have started many of Israel's top startups.

In addition to gaining a large social network and prestige from serving in units like 8200, Jewish-Israelis gain years of invaluable experience in both management or technical skills before ever entering university or the workforce.

4. Geography

It may sound strange, with a country the size of New Jersey, but Frid thinks that the biggest barrier to Arabs entering tech is geography.

Most Arabs live in the so-called "peripheries" of Israel. Nearly all of Israel's tech industry is centered around the city of Tel Aviv on the coast. Most Arabs live either in the north in the Galilee region or south in the Negev Desert. While many Jews grow up far from Tel Aviv, they tend to be more open to the idea relocating to the city if they have an interest in tech. Arabs, not so much, according to Frid.

"Even if an Arab guy finishes number one in his class at the Technion, he will probably still go back to living in his village. He will try to build a house, get married, and find a steady job near his village," said Frid.

Even those who secure jobs at the R&D centers of top companies like Google often end up commuting two hours every day back to their village in the Galilee to stay close to their families.

"That's not the way to build a career," Frid said.

The entrance to Takwin Labs in Haifa, Israel.
Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

That may be starting to change. Frid has headquartered Takwin Labs in the northern city of Haifa to take advantage of its proximity to the Technion, Israel's M.I.T., and the Galilee region where most Arabs live.

Erel Margalit, a legendary Israeli venture capitalist and politician, has made developing the so-called "periphery" of Israel his chief initiative after resigning from the Israeli parliament. His plan involves developing seven "regions of excellence" focused on developing different industries in marginalized areas.

And Arab-Israeli Fadi Swidan has worked with tech entrepreneur and Unit 8200 graduate Ron Aviv to co-found Hybrid, an accelerator program that helps startups with mixed Arab and Jewish teams, in the Arab-majority city of Nazareth.

Source: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel


Posted by On 4:41 PM

What next for Russian-Israeli relations?

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia June 7, 2016 [Reuters/Maxim Shipenkov]
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia June 7, 2016 [Reuters/Maxim Shipenkov]

Russian-Israeli relations are currently going through the worst crisis they have witnessed in recent years. On September 17, an incident involving Israeli F-16 jets resulted in the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane, killing all its 15 crew members.

The Russian defence ministry accused Israel of being responsible for the tragic in cident, saying that the Israeli fighter jets used the Russian aircraft as a shield, when the Syrian air defence system started firing at them. It also claimed that Tel Aviv gave a one-minute warning before launching the operation and did not specify that it was going after a target in Latakia province, which is home to Russia's Hmeimim airbase.

The Israeli government rejected the accusations and even sent a defence delegation to Russia to provide clarification. Its efforts, however, do not seem to have pacified the Russian defence ministry, which on September 24 announced that it was going to deploy a modern S-300 system to Syria.

This could curb Israel's ability to launch air operations in Syria and exacerbate further the already strained Russian-Israeli relations.

The Tehran problem

When Russia launched its direct military intervention in Syria in September 2015, Israel welcomed it because it saw it as a way to contain I ran.

The two countries reached a mutual understanding not to cross each other's red lines. While Moscow conceded that Iranian proximity to Israeli borders may be undesirable as it could drag Israel into the Syrian war, Tel Aviv acknowledged the security of the Assad regime was not to be compromised.

Because of their close ties, Israel tolerated the expansion of Iranian forces towards its borders in support of Russian operations in Syria securing the success of the counter-offensive against the Syrian armed opposition.

At the same time, Russia gave Israel considerable operational freedom when it came to its national security interests in Syria. To ensure that there are no problems with Israeli airforce operations, from the very start of its direct military intervention in Syria, Russia established a hotline with Israel. And according to former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Tel Aviv did not have to inform Moscow of its operations, as the Rus sian military is able to identify Israeli jets and not interfere in their operations.

Since the beginning of 2018, Israel has intensified its attacks on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria with Russia's tacit consent. Yet the policy of non-interference in Israel's limited and calculated operations in Syria was mistakenly perceived by the Israeli government as a nod of approval by Moscow.

Yet, Russia has not made any major moves to contain Iran. In fact, over the past three years, its military successes have allowed Iran to entrench its presence in Syria, shattering Israel's hopes and straining relations between the two countries. Russian officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, have consistently made it clear to Israeli counterparts that they do not see Iran's presence in Syria as an existential threat to Israel.

Over the past year, Iranian presence in Syria has increasingly become a point of tension between Moscow and Tel Aviv. In February, tensions also escalated after the Syrian air defences downed an Israeli jet near the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. This new development challenged the viability of Russia's red line and risked erasing Moscow's political gains in Syria.

Then in May, Russia managed to secure a deal with Israel (and by extension the US) which allowed Syrian forces to advance onto the southern provinces of Deraa and Quneitra after the US abandoned the opposition groups it was supporting there. In return, Russia agreed to keep Iranian forces at a distance of up to 100km from the Golan Heights, according to Russian officials, and promised to withdraw Iran-led forces from the country.

This agreement provided a short-term relief for built-up tensions but it failed to established trust between Israel and Russia.

Escalating tensions

The diplomatic fallout from the September 17 incident proves how fragile the Russian-Israeli par tnership really is.

The sharp tone of the Russian defence ministry, which is usually cautious when commenting on Israeli activities in Syria, was quite surprising. The statement it released was reportedly first approved by President Putin, who retains personal control over the Israeli diplomatic file.

Russia has been going back and forth on supplying the S-300 defence systems to Damascus for a few months now, fearing Israel's reaction. Israeli officials made it clear a number of times that they do not approve of such a move.

Thus, Russia's decision to go forward with it is the strongest message to date that it has sent to Tel Aviv. This move does very little to limit Israeli operations in Syria, but for the first time in its relations with Israel Moscow puts its words into action.

After the S-300 announcement, the press secretary of the Russian presidency, Dmitry Peskov, accused Israel of "premeditated actions" that led to the down ing of a Russian IL-20 in Syria, while Putin rejected the Israeli version of events in his conversation with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

These are clear signs that Russia is escalating the issue with Israel, which is likely to have long-term implications for bilateral relations.

The current low in Russian-Israeli relations was only a matter of time once Moscow launched its military campaign in 2015. The close ties the two countries enjoyed are increasingly becoming toxic over disagreements on Syria and Iran's role there.

While the deconflicting mechanism between the two countries will continue to function, the risk of unintended confrontation between them is higher than ever before.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial stance.


Yury Barmin Yury Barmin

Yury Barmin is an expert at the Russian International Affairs Council covering the Middle East and North Africa.

Source: Google News Israel | Netizen 24 Israel