I am not an historian, decent author or a journalist, and the chances are that unless there is a link or reference to somewhere else, the perpetrator is yours truly – Renaud Sarda. I created this blog as a focal point, to arm people with arguments and facts that they can perhaps use to counter biased media reporting and anti-Israel propaganda, and to help counter (BDS) campaign. I am a Zionist/Sephardi/Jew who will fly the Israeli flag, and defend whatever Israel does.
Ken Livingstone speaking at an Overseas Development Institute's event on local government, 11 September 2008. Photo by Antony Robbins. Flickr.
In this meticulous rebuttal of the former Mayor of London’s charge that ‘you had right up until the start of the second world war real collaboration [between Nazis and Zionists]’, Paul Bogdanor, author of Kasztner’s Crime, points to Ken Livingstone’s ‘mutilations of the historical record and of the very sources he cites’ and the politically reactionary character of Livingstone’s version of history which ‘equates persecutors and rescuers, aggressors and victims, the powerful and the powerless, oppressors and the oppressed.’
‘…one of the reasons we make so many mistakes in politics is that so few politicians study history.’ Ken Livingstone (Independent, 2016)
The crisis surrounding antisemitism in the Labour Party refuses to die down. Aside from all the other incidents occurring on a regular basis, Ken Livingstone – the former Mayor of London and one of the party’s best-known members – has been the subject of an internal inquiry for bringing the party into disrepute. Even after being found guilty of this charge in April 2017, he has been given the light sentence of suspension – not from membership but only from holding office in the party for another year, prompting calls from over 100 Labour MPs for his expulsion. The British Jewish community, appalled at his continuing statements that Hitler supported Zionism and that there was ‘real collaboration’ between Zionists and the Nazis, has deserted Labour in droves. (By May 2016, after a series of revelations about antisemitism within the party, only 8.5 per cent of the Jewish community planned to vote Labour. The figure had been 22 per cent a year earlier.)
Livingstone has declined to apologise; he links the Jewish national independence movement with the Third Reich at any opportunity. When challenged, he asserts the existence of a malicious campaign by pro-Israel lobbyists and ‘Blairites’ to silence him. The well-established tactic of diverting attention from the issue of antisemitism by accusing Jews and others of trying to suppress ‘criticism of Israeli policy’ is now known as ‘the Livingstone Formulation.’ (Hirsh, 2010)
The Livingstone scandal began in April 2016. Asked for comment about statements made by his Labour colleague Naz Shah MP – for which she later issued a retraction and fulsome apology – Livingstone exonerated her of bigotry. Then he added, gratuitously: ‘when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.’ (Independent, 2016)
Later the same day, amid the furore over his comments, Livingstone explained why he should not be considered antisemitic: ‘a real antisemite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel, they hate their Jewish neighbours in Golders Green or Stoke Newington, it’s a physical loathing.’ And again: ‘Someone who is antisemitic isn’t just hostile to the Jews living in Israel, they’re hostile to their neighbour in Golders Green, or the neighbour in Stoke Newington. It’s a personal loathing, just like people who hate black people.’ (Independent, 2016) Others did not fail to notice the implication that it was legitimate to hate the six million Jews living in the Jewish state.
Livingstone has a history of insulting Jewish individuals as well as Zionists. In his memoirs, he boasts that Labour Herald, a far-left weekly newspaper which he co-edited, published a cartoon in 1982 showing Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin ‘in Nazi regalia on a pile of Arab corpses.’ (Livingstone 2011: 220) Much of Begin’s family had been murdered by the Nazis.
As head of the Greater London Council, Livingstone compared Catholics in Northern Ireland to Holocaust victims. He accused the Board of Deputies of British Jews of organising ‘paramilitary groups which resemble fascist organisations’ throughout the country. Later, as London Mayor, he issued an invitation to Egyptian extremist cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who had incited the mass murder of Israelis. He compared a Jewish journalist (whose offence was working for the Daily Mail) to a concentration camp guard. He told the Reuben brothers (Jewish property developers born in India) to ‘go back to Iran and try their luck with the Ayatollahs.’ And in May 2014, he informed the BBC that the Thatcher government had won votes in Finchley because ‘the Jewish community got richer.’ (Alderman, 2008; Dovkants, 2008; Dysch, 2014)
Even more sinister than these past attacks is Livingstone’s ongoing campaign to prove the reality of Zionist-Nazi ‘collaboration.’ Here he joins a long antisemitic tradition. The charge that Zionists had been in league with the Nazis was central to Soviet antisemitic propaganda during the Cold War, before being eagerly appropriated by certain Trotskyists in the West (Bogdanor, 2016).
The ‘collaboration’ myth is promoted by the neo-Nazi right as well as the far left. Prominent US Holocaust denier Mark Weber, for example, alleges ‘wide-ranging collaboration between Zionism and Hitler’s Third Reich.’ (Weber, 1993) Other Nazi apologists use far-left material espousing the ‘collaboration’ myth: Lenni Brenner’s Zionism in the Age of the Dictators – source of many of Ken Livingstone’s ‘facts’ – was pirated by a neo-Nazi publisher (Brenner, 1986). None of this should cause surprise. The fiction of Zionist partnership with the Hitler regime helps neo-Nazis to project Hitler’s guilt onto his victims; it also fits their conspiracy theories about global Jewish power.
LIVINGSTONE’S FALSIFICATIONS OF HISTORY
A review of Livingstone’s recent statements about Zionist-Nazi ‘collaboration’ is damning. His claims are mutilations of the historical record and of the very sources he cites. As previous untruths are exposed, he may decide to peddle new ones; nevertheless, the following should be enough to illustrate his methods and motives.
(i) The Transfer Agreement
Stung by widespread criticism of his original comment about Hitler’s support for Zionism, Livingstone doubled down: ‘His policy was originally to send all of Germany’s Jews to Israel and there were private meetings between the Zionist movement and Hitler’s government which were kept confidential, they only became apparent after the war, when they were having a dialogue to do this.’ (Independent, 2016) Previously, Livingstone had written in his memoirs: ‘Labour Zionist Chaim Arlosoroff negotiated a pact with the Nazis to set up a trading company, Ha’avara, to sell Nazi goods, thus undermining the boycott organised by trade unionists and communists.’ (Livingstone, 2011: 221)
It is hard to know where to begin when refuting such a tissue of falsehoods. Hitler’s policy was never to send ‘all’ of Germany’s Jews to ‘Israel’ (i.e., Palestine under the British Mandate) but to terrorise them into leaving the Reich, irrespective of the destination. The negotiations between the Labour Zionists and Hitler’s government were not private, but were fiercely debated within the Zionist movement. The purpose of the Ha’avara or Transfer Agreement was not ‘to sell Nazi goods,’ but to rescue German Jews and to preserve a fraction of their property from being stolen by the Nazi regime. The boycott of Germany was not just ‘organised by trade unionists and communists,’ but was championed by Jews in the free world, including many Zionists. And so on.
This is not to defend the Transfer Agreement. It is legitimate to argue that negotiating with the Third Reich was a mistake, and that it would have been better to maintain the boycott. But German Jews snatched from the claws of Nazism could hardly have been expected to agree.
The Zionist movement undoubtedly saved scores of thousands of lives during the years before the Holocaust. According to Francis Nicosia, the Raul Hilberg Distinguished Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Vermont, ‘The approximately 80,000 German, Austrian, and Czech Jews who were able to immigrate legally and illegally to Palestine between 1933 and 1941 represent 80,000 potential victims of the Nazi genocide who were saved.’ (Nicosia, 2008: 288) This is a major embarrassment to anti-Zionist ideologues, which is another reason for their aspersions on Zionist motives and their manufactured charges of ‘collaboration.’
Livingstone himself recently claimed that he had never meant to condemn the Labour Zionists for the arrangement with Germany. ‘I neither criticised the transfer agreement or [sic] the section of Zionism that participated in the agreement,’ he wrote in his submission to the Labour Party inquiry (Livingstone, 2017a: 11). This would be a strange position to take if he really did see something sinister or ‘collaborationist’ in this Zionist policy.
(ii) Medals bearing ‘the Swastika and the Poale Zion star’
Livingstone stated: ‘Of course it was support, in exactly the same way that medals were printed, were made, which had the Swastika on one side and the Poale Zion star on the other, literally there is such a history of collaboration.’ (Livingstone, 2017c)
Poale Zion was a movement advocating Zionism and socialism. Livingstone is claiming that Nazi Germany ‘supported’ Jews who were not only Zionists but also socialists.
In 1933, during the first months after Hitler’s takeover, Nazi policy on the ‘Jewish Question’ was in flux. The Zionist Federation of Germany asked Kurt Tuchler to identify moderate Nazi officials and win them over. Tuchler contacted SS official Baron Leopold von Mildenstein and accompanied him to Palestine. Von Mildenstein wrote a 12-part series about the trip for the Goebbels newspaper Der Angriff, which ran the series from September 26 to October 9, 1934 (Boas, 1980).
To commemorate von Mildenstein’s articles, Der Angriff struck a coin-shaped medal with a swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other. The inscription on the medal read: ‘Ein Nazi fährt nach Palästina und erzählt davon im Angriff’ (‘A Nazi travels to Palestine and tells about it in Angriff’). (Boas, 1980: 38)
The medal was pure propaganda, created by the Nazis to pretend that they wanted an ‘honourable’ solution to the ‘Jewish Question’ and that Jews were their equal partners in finding such a solution. In citing this medal as proof of ‘collaboration,’ Livingstone is giving credence to a propaganda ruse by Goebbels.
(iii) ‘The SS set up training camps’ for German Jews
Livingstone stated: ‘the SS set up training camps so that German Jews who were going to go there [i.e.Palestine] could be trained to cope with a very different sort of country when they got there.’ (Livingstone, 2017b)
The SS did not set up the training camps for German Jews. Livingstone is referring to the hachschara farms, which Zionists set up even before Hitler’s takeover in order to retrain German Jews for life in Palestine.
A thorough study of the hachschara farms has been made by Francis Nicosia (Nicosia, 2005; Nicosia, 2008). Nicosia makes it clear that Zionist and non-Zionist Jews alike, realising the urgency of extricating as many Jews as possible from Nazi Germany, used occupational retraining centres to prepare Jews for a new life abroad. The Zionist centres prepared Jews for Palestine; the non-Zionist centres prepared Jews for other destinations (Nicosia, 2005: 368; Nicosia, 2008: 211, 221, 225-6, 242).
Occupational retraining won the support of the SS in the 1930s, but Nicosia records how the centres were strictly monitored and regulated: ‘Nazi authorities also imposed specific rules that prohibited singing, whistling, smoking, and any undue noise in work areas; mandated absolute cleanliness in washrooms and in toilets; and prohibited unauthorized visits from friends and relatives. The rules required strict work schedules and provided for breaks, vacation times, and the promise of harsh punishment, including expulsion from the program, for breaking the rules.’ (Nicosia, 2008: 229)
When the war began, ‘the regime used Jewish trainees to help meet its labor shortage by folding the occupational retraining programs and the young Jews engaged in them into its forced labor programs.’ (Nicosia, 2005: 382) Finally, ‘As emigration faded from Nazi policy and gave way to genocide, untold thousands of Jewish workers, including those from the Zionist Hachschara programs, would become part of Nazi Germany’s wartime “labor force” prior to their mass murder.’ (Nicosia, 2008: 244)
In short, Livingstone’s claim that ‘the SS set up training camps’ for German Jews is a fabrication. It was Jews, not the SS, who founded the vocational retraining centres for those hoping to emigrate. The SS initially approved of the Zionist and non-Zionist centres alike, while imposing the strictest controls on them. During the Second World War, the trainees who had not succeeded in escaping from Germany were first exploited by the Nazis as slave labour and then murdered.
(iv) ‘Selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army’
Livingstone stated: ‘And then of course they [i.e., the Nazis] started selling Mauser pistols to the underground Jewish army, so you had right up until the start of the Second World War, real collaboration.’ (Livingstone, 2017b)
This, presumably, is based on a couple of sentences in an early paper by Nicosia: ‘The Eichmann-Polkes talks in Berlin also reveal that the Hagana had received shipments of Mauser pistols from Germany in 1935 and 1936. The exact source of these weapons within Germany is difficult to determine; it is certain, however, that some agency in Germany did provide the Hagana with Mauser pistols, and that the police authorities were aware of it.’ (Nicosia, 1978: D1266; see also Nicosia, 1985: 63-4)
Nicosia cited two sources: a Nazi report on a conversation between Adolf Eichmann and Feivel Polkes in May 1937, and a book by Efraim Dekel.
Polkes was a Haganah member who offered to spy on his fellow Jews for the SS. When his activities came to light, he was dismissed from all positions in the Haganah. In his meetings with the SS, he pandered to their antisemitism, proposing to supply all sorts of intelligence on the imaginary worldwide Jewish conspiracy. His reported statements to the SS are not a credible source for any historical fact.
Dekel was in charge of Shai, the Haganah Information Service. In his book, he writes that the Haganah received Mauser pistols from a fictitious exporter in 1935. The pistols were hidden in barrels of cement. According to Dekel, ‘the consignment was shipped from Belgium.’ (Dekel, 1959: 53)
So the allegation that the ‘underground Jewish army’ received Mauser pistols from the Nazis comes from two sources: one a would-be Nazi informer of zero credibility who was trying to impress potential SS paymasters, and another who mentioned that the pistols came from Belgium, without even hinting that the arms were sent by the Nazis. The Haganah had agents all over Europe at the time, and the pistols could have been sent by any number of suppliers. Livingstone’s claim is not based on any serious evidence.
(v) Permission to display the Zionist Flag
Livingstone stated: ‘They passed a law that said the Zionist flag and the Swastika were the only flags that could be flown in Germany.’ (Livingstone, 2017b) Specifics are found in his memoirs, where he alleged: ‘To encourage Zionists, the Nuremberg laws in 1935 allowed only two flags to be flown in Germany, the Swastika and the blue and white Zionist banner.’ (Livingstone, 2011: 221)
In September 1935, section 4 of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour provided: ‘1. Jews are forbidden to hoist the Reich and national flag and to present the colours of the Reich. 2. On the other hand they are permitted to present the Jewish colours. The exercise of this authority is protected by the State.’ (Nuremberg Laws, 1935)
‘The Jewish colours’ were not specified. That the Nazis did not have the official Zionist flag in mind is evident from their reaction when a young German Jew, Martin Friedländer, hung a makeshift blue and white banner out of his window in protest against the law. Der Angriff labelled it ‘the Jewish national flag,’ which was being displayed ‘for the first time,’ adding: ‘This finally puts an end to the speculation on how the Jewish flag actually looks.’ (Berlin Jewish Museum, n.d.)
On December 31, the authorities decreed that until the Jewish community decided what the Jewish colours were, the Zionist flag would suffice, and would be ‘enjoying State protection.’ (JTA, 1936a) But the decree was a dead letter; ‘State protection’ was nothing of the kind. The Nazi press openly threatened Jews who dared to display the Zionist flag (JTA, 1936b).
(vi) Stopping sermons in Yiddish
Livingstone stated: ‘When the Zionist movement asked, would the Nazi Government stop a Jewish rabbi – the rabbis – doing their sermons in Yiddish and make them do it in Hebrew, he [i.e., Hitler] agreed to that.’ (Livingstone, 2017b)
A Jewish Telegraphic Agency report filed on December 6, 1936 read in full: ‘The Gestapo (State secret police) today notified synagogues that sermons in connection with the Jewish festival of Chanukah, beginning Dec. 9, must not be in the German language, as had been the custom of Liberal synagogues.’ (JTA, 1936c) So the Gestapo banned Chanukah sermons in German, not Yiddish, and the report makes no mention of any Zionist request.
Livingstone’s claim is not based on anything in the two academic papers mentioned in his submission to the Labour Party inquiry (Livingstone, 2017a: 11). It appears to be drawn from the Trotskyist writer Lenni Brenner, who quoted from a January 1937 report in the left-wing US Zionist magazine Jewish Frontier (Brenner, 1983: 86). The passage quoted by Brenner read: ‘The attempts to seclude the Jews in the cultural ghetto have reached a new height by the prohibition to rabbis to use the German language in their Chanukah sermons. This is in line with the effort made by the Nazis to force the German Jews to use the Hebrew language as their cultural medium. Thus another “proof” of Nazi-Zionist cooperation is seized on eagerly by the Communist opponents of Zionism.’ (Duker, 1937: 28)
Neither Brenner nor Jewish Frontier alleged that the Gestapo ban was imposed at the request of Zionists. Moreover, Brenner was selective in his use of the Jewish Frontier report, for he omitted the very next sentences from his quotation: ‘A number of leading Zionists including Rabbi Leo Prinz and the philosopher Martin Buber were deprived of their passports by the Gestapo. The number of “captives of Zion” in Germany is thus on the increase. The ransom price is not as yet known.’ (Duker, 1937: 28)
In summary, the Gestapo banned German-language Chanukah sermons in December 1936, but Livingstone’s apparent source, Brenner, did not claim that this was done at the request of Zionists. Brenner himself dealt deceitfully with the report he quoted, suppressing information in the same report indicating that the Gestapo was taking action against Zionist leaders at the time.
(vii) The July 1937 Nazi conference
Livingstone stated: ‘And when, in July 1937, many senior Nazis gathered at their foreign office, saying “we should stop sending Jews to Palestine because it could create a Jewish state,” in the middle of that meeting a directive comes specifically from Hitler saying “no, we will continue with this policy.”’ (Livingstone, 2017b)
Livingstone is referring to a Nazi ministerial conference held on July 29, 1937. The background was the recent report of the Peel Commission recommending a two-state solution in Palestine. As Nicosia’s paper explains, when the conference was under way, ‘The representative of the Interior Ministry reported that Hitler, after carefully weighing the various options in emigration policy, had decided that Jewish emigration from Germany was to be promoted by all possible means, and that all destinations, including Palestine were to be utilized to this end.’ (Nicosia, 1978: D1270)
So Hitler’s directive called for emigration of German Jews to all destinations, not just to Palestine. Nor did Hitler express any sympathy for the Peel report’s proposal for a Jewish state, as Livingstone implied. Nicosia’s paper made the Nazi position on Zionism at the time perfectly clear. On June 1, 1937, he wrote, Hitler’s Foreign Minister, Baron Konstantin von Neurath, stressed the Nazi regime’s ‘opposition to the creation of an independent Jewish state in Palestine. It was asserted that such a state would serve as a political base for international Jewry, much as the Vatican was for Catholicism and Moscow for the Comintern.’ (Nicosia, 1978: D1269)
Somehow, Livingstone ‘overlooked’ this passage.
(viii) ‘The Gestapo worked with Israeli agents … to secretly migrate 10,000 German Jews’
Livingstone stated: ‘After Britain banned Jewish migration to Palestine, the Gestapo worked with Israeli agents in Mossad to secretly migrate 10,000 German Jews to Palestine. I would say, when you add all that together, that is a clear element of support for Zionism, because the Zionists were the one group of Jews that Hitler was prepared to work with.’ (Livingstone, 2017c)
Livingstone is referring to illegal immigration to Palestine organised not by the Israeli intelligence service Mossad – the State of Israel, of course, did not yet exist – but by Mossad LeAliyah Bet, a Haganah body operating from 1938. Livingstone’s source, the aforementioned paper by Nicosia, explained: ‘In the summer of 1939, Mossad agent Pino Ginsburg concluded an agreement with the Gestapo in Berlin to move 10,000 Jews by ship from the ports of Emden and Hamburg to Palestine. The outbreak of war in September forced the cancellation of that scheme.’ (Nicosia, 1978: D1279; see also Nicosia, 1985: 161; Nicosia, 2008: 275)
So the agreement to send the 10,000 German Jews to Palestine was never carried out. Had it been implemented, however, the plan would have saved 10,000 lives. It is odd to choose such a non-event as an example of ‘collaboration’ with the Nazis against the interests of German Jews.
Livingstone’s claim that ‘the Zionists were the one group of Jews that Hitler was prepared to work with’ is also false. As we have already seen, the Nazis were prepared to exploit different Jewish groups, Zionist and non-Zionist, during the pre-war years in order to achieve Jewish emigration from Germany.
Livingstone’s expression ‘work with’ implies an equal partnership. Nothing could be further from the truth. German Jews during the 1930s lived in fear of the Nazi terror, while Jews outside the Third Reich knew that German Jews were hostages of the Nazi dictatorship and desperate to escape.
Ken Livingstone’s examples of pre-war Nazi-Zionist ‘collaboration’ are either distorted or invented. He has taken fragments from a paper by one historian, Francis Nicosia, and from a propaganda tract by a Trotskyist, Lenni Brenner, and twisted them beyond recognition.
The existence of forced contacts between the Nazis and German Zionists (as well as non-Zionists) during the 1930s is no secret. The aim of the Nazis at the time was to terrorise Jews into leaving Germany after stealing their property. The aim of the Zionist movement was to rescue Jews from Nazi control and, if possible, to preserve a fraction of their assets.
Historians, including those cited by Livingstone, dismiss the ‘collaboration’ charge (e.g., Laqueur, 1989: 500-1; Nicosia, 2008: 291; Schulze, 2016; Snyder, 2016). In describing the contacts between Nazis and some Jews as ‘real collaboration,’ Livingstone is mutilating facts; he is equating persecutors and rescuers, aggressors and victims, the powerful and the powerless, oppressors and the oppressed. His record betrays an obsession with attacking various Jewish people, and his campaign of falsification will be grist to the mill of the worst antisemites – both on the totalitarian left and on the fascist right.
Mark Weber, ‘Zionism and the Third Reich,’ The Journal of Historical Review, Vol. 13, No. 4, July-August 1993, pp. 29-37: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n4p29_weber.html. (Author’s note: This ‘journal’ was a neo-Nazi Holocaust-denial publication issued in pseudo-academic format.)
There is no better illustration of the data presented earlier today by The Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) than the decision made yesterday by Israel’s Supreme Court. The court, in a decision too complicated to explain in detail in this article, ruled that the city of Tel Aviv can permit mini-markets to operate on Shabbat. And while the decision was not aimed at changing Israel’s status quo, and was mainly a response to the government’s failure to make its own decisions, it still highlights how Israel is gradually becoming a country of communities that live by their own rules. Put simplistically: Tel Aviv – more open on Shabbat. Jerusalem – more closed.
Is this a situation that Israelis see with trepidation or with approval?
The Jewish People Policy Institute, in which I am a senior fellow, provided a possible answer to this question today when it issued a new study – its annual Pluralism Index. One of its more significant findings is that Israelis, while feeling “comfortable” about living in Israel “the way they are” – that is, they don’t feel a pressure to pretend to be something they are not – don’t necessarily want to mix with people different from themselves. They are comfortable to be who they are within their communities of similar people.
What do I mean by that? One of the things JPPI examined in this wide survey is whether Israelis support the separation of groups or communities, or whether they think that Israelis of all types should live together. For example, we asked: “In your opinion, should Jews and Arabs live in mixed neighborhoods in Israel?” A significant majority say no. 68% of Jews, 73% of Arabs. We also asked Jews and Arabs if they want their children to study together with students from the other group. Here there is a split in the way Jews and Arabs respond: A slight majority of Jews (51%) do not want their children to have Arab children studying together with them, while Arabs, by and large (76%), do want their children to study together with Jewish children.
We asked Jews in Israel if they think it is advisable for secular and religious Jews to live in mixed neighborhoods. Here things get a little more complicated, so bear with me. There are two groups of secular Jews in JPPI’s survey: those who define themselves as “totally secular” and those who define themselves as “somewhat traditional secular.” Among the totally secular, 50% do not want to live in mixed neighborhoods with religious Israelis. They are even less enthusiastic about secular-Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) neighborhoods (53% are against it).
Among “somewhat traditional secular” Israelis – 22% of the Jewish population (totally secular are 35%) – the answer is different. 69% believe that mixed neighborhoods of secular and religious Jews would be a blessing. Religious Israelis – “Dati” (but not Haredi) – agree with them. 81% of them support mixed neighborhoods of secular and religious Jews.
But even the “somewhat traditional secular” Jews in Israel have their limit. Yes, a majority of them do believe in mixed neighborhoods of secular and religious Jews, but this does not extend to the ultra-religious Haredi community. When it comes to mixing secular and Haredi Jews, the majority in both groups of secular Israelis – “totally secular” and “somewhat traditional secular” – are in the opposition. 78% of the totally secular don’t think living together with the ultra-Orthodox is a good idea. 70% of the somewhat traditional secular don’t think it’s a good idea.
And what do Haredis think? This might surprise you, but 49% of them told our pollster (Panels Politics, a survey of more than 1300 Israelis, margin of error 3.1% for Jews, 5.6% for Arabs) that they do believe in mixed secular-Haredi neighborhoods. That’s a plurality of our Haredi respondents. In the discussion we had today with experts hosted by JPPI, the common view was that this result reflects the fact that secular Israelis are more worried about Haredis interfering with their lives than Haredis are worried about secular Israelis disrupting their way of life.
The bottom line, though, is clear: there are things that make Israelis want to separate. Religious affiliation is one of them (Muslim and Christian Arabs in Israel also don’t think it advisable for them to live in mixed neighborhoods). Nationality is also one of them. But this does not mean that all differences make Israelis want to separate. In fact, there are some findings in the Index that point to areas in which differences play less of a role in making Israelis want to distance from one another.
Jewish ethnic origin is one such area. A vast majority of Jewish Israelis (89%) see no reason why Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews can’t live in mixed neighborhoods. This finding extends to almost all Jewish groups, except for one: recent immigrants from the former Soviet Union are the only group of people that is more reluctant to mix people of different ethnic origin. Close to a third of recent Jewish immigrants from the former USSR countries oppose such mixing.
Another thing that is not viewed as cause for separation is the political view of Israelis. 75% agree that leftist and rightist Israelis should live in mixed neighborhoods. And, by the way, on this question the group most tolerant of others – that is, the group whose members want mixed neighborhoods for rightists and leftists – is the one of “moderate left” (9% of Jews, 10% overall). The least tolerant group is the “right” (22%). Maybe, as someone suggested in our discussion, this is the result of the harsh view that Israelis in general have of what they call “Smolanim” – people of the hard left. Our survey shows that when asked about the contribution of different groups to the success of Israel, the groups of “leftists” is ranked near the bottom, next to Haredis, Arab Muslims, and Bedouins.
What can we make of all this? There is good news here, and disturbing news. Israel, in some ways, is a polarized country of groups willing to live together comfortably yet separately. In a way, this could make life easier for everybody. In Tel Aviv, as the court decided, more stores will be open on Shabbat. In cities with a religious or traditional majority, more stores, maybe all stores, will be closed on Shabbat. Live and let live.
But, of course, this has its down side. It will further accelerate the tendency of Israelis to live among like-minded people. It will further alienate the communities. It will necessarily erode the ability of people to coexist by making compromise and not by moving apart. It could weaken Israel’s sense of a shared destiny.
If it has been a long time since you’ve waited for a bank teller, called your stockbroker or mailed a check, you can thank financial technology (fintech). And much of that innovation in how we move and protect our money is coming from Israel.
According to The Floor fintech startup hub in Tel Aviv, at least 430 Israeli fintech companies are developing products for needs ranging from digital banking to fundraising.
Israel’s reputation in deep data science has lured some $650 million in venture capital for the fintech sector. Financial institutions including Citibank and Barclays have established innovation labs and accelerators in the startup nation.
“Technology for financial institutions has to be extremely robust and that’s where Israel excels,” said Liat Aaronson, a partner in Marker, a venture capital and growth equity firm based in Herzliya and New York. “We’re far from the market and that makes it hard to do validation and proof of concept, but despite that, over the last few years, we’re seeing more and more banks and other fintech players coming here to offer open innovation projects and scouting innovation in Israel.”
Aaronson previously headed the Zell Entrepreneurship Program at IDC Herzliya, where many successful fintech entrepreneurs got their start. “I think we’re still on the cusp of something that is going to continue to grow,” she said.
Here are 18 of many Israeli fintech companies changing the finance world.
Payoneer, founded in 2005 by Israeli serial entrepreneur and investor Yuval Tal, has more than 700 employees globally across 12 offices, and recently completed a $180 million growth equity financing round. High-profile clients including Airbnb, Amazon and Getty Images use Payoneer’s cross-border payments platform to handle currency from more than 200 countries.
Headquartered in New York with a development center in Petah Tikva, Payoneer ranks in the top 100 of Inc. 5000’s Financial Services companies and has made Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 list for five straight years.
OurCrowd launched its global online crowd-investing platform in Jerusalem in 2013 and now has 110 portfolio companies and five investment funds in which $320 million has been invested. The OurCrowd app unlocks opportunities to accredited investors worldwide. Along with Payoneer, OurCrowd ranked among the 50 leading established fintech companies on KPMG’s 100 most promising companies list for 2016 and now has seven worldwide offices.
Lemonade, started by Israeli executives formerly with Fiverr and Powermat, is disrupting the way New Yorkers buy homeowners and renters insurance. The online and mobile platform uses bots and machine learning to deliver insurance and handle claims. Started in December 2015 with a $13 million investment, Lemonade raised $34 million in December 2016 and plans expansion to other U.S. states. Lemonade won Best New Startup of the Year at the 2017 Geek Awards.
FeeX was started in September of 2012 by Waze cofounder Uri Levine as a free service that finds lower-fee alternatives for IRA, 401(k), 403(b), brokerage and other investment-type retirement accounts. The company has offices in Herzliya and New York.
The BondIT intuitive software-as-a-service platform uses advanced machine-learning algorithms to construct yield/risk optimized portfolios to match a client’s risk profile. Focusing on the Asian market, the Herzliya-based startup was founded in 2012 and has an office in Hong Kong. BondIT was chosen to take part in the Accenture 2015 FinTech Innovation Lab Asia-Pacific.
Brazilian micro-credit company Avante recently acquired Sling, an Israeli startup that enables micro-merchants to tap into mobile financial technologies via “Slings” such as bracelets or stickers facilitating customer payments by credit or debit card. The company is expanding into Latin America and has established an innovation center in Israel.
Zooz provides a data-driven payment platform for enterprise merchants to connect with multiple payment and technology providers and route transactions through the entire payment process. Zooz has offices in San Francisco and Berlin, with an Israeli research and development center in Ra’anana. It has attracted $40.5 million in investments.
CreditPlace is a peer-to-peer investment platform based in Tel Aviv that enables investors to buy outstanding receivables owed by stable Israeli companies, state-owned enterprises and government ministries. This helps companies and businesses improve cash flow while creating an alternative low-risk, high-yield, short-term liquid investment for private investors. CreditPlace raised $1.6 million last September and plans expansion to other countries during 2017.
Fundbox,with offices in Tel Aviv and San Francisco, offers a cash-flow management platform for small businesses and freelancers by purchasing outstanding invoices or giving a business-purpose loan to fill the cash-flow gap between billing and payment. The company, founded in 2013, was named to the Forbes Fintech 50 for 2016 and has raised $107.5 million.
MyCheck, founded in Tel Aviv in 2011, offers an Uber-like branded mobile payment solution for hospitality merchants (mostly restaurant chains) on three continents. Users get features including faster checkout, the ability to divide a bill and add a tip, while merchants get analytics tools and increased customer engagement.
BioCatch uses behavioral biometrics to provide behavioral authentication and malware detection solutions for web and mobile banking applications. The Tel Aviv- and New York-based company won the Global Fintech Award at the 2016 MAS’ Singapore Fintech Festival.
I Know First provides daily securities, commodities and currencies forecasts based on an advanced self-learning algorithm powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, artificial neural networks and genetic algorithms. I Know First, based in Tel Aviv, is used by large financial institutions, banks, hedge funds and private investors.
TipRanks was among the winners of the 2016 Benzinga Global Fintech Awards and twice won “best of show” at Finovate. TipRanks was founded in 2012 to bring accurate and accountable financial advice to the general public from a comprehensive dataset of analysts, hedge fund managers, financial bloggers and corporate insiders.
TravelersBox offers a solution for travelers with leftover foreign currency. Automatic kiosks in airports in Canada, Georgia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Philippines and Turkey — with many more on the way — enable people to use that spare cash to redeem gift cards, add to their PayPal or Viber Out account, or make a charitable donation.
RevenueStream is a Herzliya company that created an artificial intelligence-based platform to detect credit card fraud in online payments instantaneously, using a relational bridge algorithm system.
Neema offers a mobile platform for unbanked foreign workers to send money home, shop and pay bills online, and purchase cellular plans. It was started three years ago in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station to serve migrant workers in Israel. Neema recently opened a San Francisco office ahead of a U.S. launch targeting some 70 million unbanked and underbanked American residents.
Covercy has a digital system for inexpensive international money transfers in 25 currencies. Covercy recently closed a $1.5 million funding round and was licensed in the United Kingdom. A 2015 graduate of Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, Covercy was on Forbes’ list of 10 best businesses at the 2016 London Technology Week.
Rewire, launched in 2015, is a digital banking service for borderless money transfers and payments geared to Israel’s unbanked international workers. Based in Tel Aviv, Rewire has almost 1,000 deposit points across Israel and offers a web-based tool for transactions to India, the Philippines, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Russia. The company plans international expansion.
Every year, scores of innovative Israeli inventions and technologies are introduced to the market, and 2017 will be no exception.
From medical devices to clean technologies, Israeli companies will unleash a host of unique products.
Pioneering high-tech entrepreneur and investor Yossi Vardi tells ISRAEL21c that smart mobility solutions and drone technologies are two areas in which Israel will dominate this year.
“The ecosystem in mobility is led by Israeli companies such as Mobileye and a number of Israeli companies active in shared driving, like Via and Gett. In 2017, we’ll see more and many car manufacturers visiting Israel to discover our technologies for connected cars and autonomous cars,” he says.
“The interest shown around the world for Israeli technologies just continues to grow,” comments Vardi, who recently organized Israeli innovation festivals in China and London.
Augmented reality (AR) and fintech are also hot sectors for Israel, says innovation strategy marketing guru Nir Kouris. According to The Floor fintech startup hub in Tel Aviv, Israel has about 430 financial technology companies developing products for digital banking and payments, capital markets, big-data analytics, blockchain (cryptocurrency), IoT, compliance and anti-fraud.
While it’s impossible to list all the Israeli companies likely to grab headlines in 2017, here are 25 to watch in key verticals.
In addition to launching new software for its AR ski goggles in 2017, Tel Aviv-based RideOn is developing AR headsets to enhance other outdoor activities such as paintballing, scuba diving, sky diving, sailing, cycling, running and motorbike training. The wearables are planned to have a connected community feature, too.
RideOn is bringing AR headsets to a variety of sports. Photo: courtesy.
Smartglasses makers embed optical technology from Lumus of Rehovot to transmit a crisp AR image over thin transparent glass. At CES 2017 in Las Vegas, January 5-8, Lumus will introduce a display prototype with a 50 percent larger field-of-view than what’s currently on the market, enabling a more immersive AR experience. Additional improvements in optical performance and configuration will be rolled out later in 2017 to meet growing consumer AR demand.
Infinity AR has a technology to turn any device into a 3D, interactive content augmentation platform using basic stereoscopic cameras. Boosted by new investments from China and Japan, Infinity is developing its systems for applications in healthcare, training and games.
Cimagine’s AR commerce platform lets people see how objects will look in their surroundings. Photo: courtesy
Rumors that California’s Snap (parent company of Snapchat) is acquiring Cimagine are creating a new buzz around the Israeli augmented commerce platform. Cimagine, based in Kfar Yehoshua with offices in the UK, US and Australia, allows consumers to see (on any smart device) how products might look and fit in their home. B2B sales forces use it to show how products would look on premises, and retailers use it create virtual showrooms.
By 2018, nearly all new vehicles will be connected through the Internet of Things (IoT). Otonomo is ready with a “marketplace of car data” – an ecosystem of real-time shared data available to carmakers, drivers and commercial service providers for optimizing in-car services and applications. The Silicon Valley-based company’s development center is in Herzliya.
Innoviz Technologies of Kfar Saba is partnering with Canadian company Magna International to develop 3D remote sensing solutions based on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to generate a precise and constantly updating 3D map of a car’s surroundings. The system is meant to be integrated in autonomous driving features and autonomous vehicles. A demo will be showcased in Magna’s booth at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, January 5-8.
The Innoviz team. Photo: courtesy
Carmakers increasingly look to Israeli expertise to hack-proof their connected and autonomous vehicles. One of the newer players in this field is Karamba Security of Hod Hasharon, whose Carwall ECU security platform meets the goals set out in the US Department of Transportation’s guidelines for the safe deployment of autonomous cars.
Airobotics’ unmanned drone system enables large industrial facilities to collect and view aerial data to monitor, inspect, survey and secure their premises more safely and efficiently. Third parties can use the Petah Tikva-based company’s new developer program to design and develop software for use by the drone platform in next-generation smart factories and industrial IoT facilities.
Businesses, hobbyists and RC enthusiasts in many countries already use drones and drone services from Flytrex Aviation. This year, the Ukrainian postal service began testing Flytrex’s personal delivery Mule. The cloud-controlled octocopter can carry packages weighing up to 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) as far as 23 kilometers (14.3 miles) at speeds of up to 70kmh (43.5mph) before releasing them at the destination.
Flytrex Mule personal delivery drone flying in Ukraine. Photo via Start-Up Nation Finder
AerialGuard in Or Akiva is developing advanced autonomous navigation systems that help civilian drone manufacturers add capabilities such as sense-and-avoid and intelligent navigation.
Datos Health, a patient-generated health data management company in Tel Aviv, signed a go-to-market agreement to expedite entry of its remote IoT solution in the US early in 2017. Datos automatically manages and validates relevant data from wearables and personal medical devices for clinical decision support without need for a monitoring call center. Four pilot programs in Israel are using Datos to monitor diabetes, high blood pressure, long-term and post-acute care.
Oxitone, based in Kfar Saba, expects to launch sales in 2017 of its wrist-worn pulse oximeter for continuous blood oxygen monitoring to track and manage chronic disease. The platform, connected via Bluetooth to smartphone and cloud, collects data from a pool of sensors and sends alerts to possible complications.
Tempdrop wearable device tracks changes in a woman’s basal temperature to help predict ovulation. While she sleeps, the device collects thousands of data points on body temperature and motion. When removed, it automatically syncs with any smartphone fertility app. The company, based in Ra’anana, is making its first shipments shortly.
ContinUse Biometrics is gaining traction in the medical arena for its single-sensor platform that detects nanoscale movements in fully dressed people at any angle, enabling non-contact measurement of heartbeat, blood pressure, breathing pace, glucose level, oxygen saturation and blood-alcohol levels. Newborn intensive care units, sleep labs and telemedicine providers are among those interested in the platform. The first products from this Tel Aviv company are going to market by the second half of 2017.
An innovative, eco-friendly pooper-scooperfrom Tel Aviv-based Paulee CleanTec will be commercialized in 2017 through a licensing deal with OurPets in the United States. The portable system converts droppings into pathogen-free, odor-free fertilizer granules in less than a minute.
Flux is shipping the first commercial beta units of its Eddy IoT devices for app-controlled, socially connected, home hydroponic gardening using environmental sensing and finely tuned lighting and nutrients. Register on the website to get the final product in spring 2017.Based in Dallas with R&D in Tel Aviv, Flux is the founding member of Mars Farm, an international consortium building the world’s first sustainable farm for outer space.
BrighTap smart water meter from Jerusalem-based BwareIT will launch in US and European markets next March or April, enabling households to monitor water quality and consumption. The device fits onto faucets, pipes or hoses to display water use parameters in real time to increase awareness, and connects to a data website and app to help users analyze results and potential savings. The company is among 10 finalists in the Global Entrepreneurship Networks’ Startup Open contest on January 5.
TSD (Tethys Solar Desalination) of Tel Aviv plans to disrupt the desalination industry with a low-cost, off-grid, scalable and environmentally friendly module using onlysolar power. The first TSD pilot site will be established in Israel by mid-2017, followed by possible pilots in countries including China and the United States.
TSD’s proposed pilot system. Photo: courtesy
CartiHeal of Kfar Saba stands ready to revolutionize cartilage and bone regeneration in knees, ankles and big toes with its Agili-C biodegradable scaffold. Already having European Union CE approval, in 2017 the company will enroll 250 US patients in a multicenter two-year pivotal study toward US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for broad indications including focal cartilage defects and osteoarthritis.
Medasenseis soon to receive the CE Mark to begin sales in Europe Union countries of its novel NOL (Nociception Level), a continuous, non-invasive pain-monitoring device. NOL is the first clinically accepted tool to objectively monitor changes in pain level, even when patients cannot describe their pain because they are sedated, demented or too young to talk.
In a world first, Teva and Syqe Medicalannounced an agreement in November to market medical cannabis in Israel via an inhaler — allowing doctors to prescribe an optimal dose of cannabis to alleviate symptoms and minimize psychoactive effects. Keep an eye on Syqe Medical as it transforms cannabis and other botanicals into standard prescription medicines.
Sling equips “micro merchants” (such as flea-market vendors, home businesses, caregivers and tutors) with wristbands, tags, pins and stickers that customers can scan with a smartphone app to make a mobile payment within seconds. Acquired by Brazilian micro-credit company Avante last July, Sling is set for global growth in 2017, particularly in South America, Africa and India.
Sling enables cashless, credit-card-free payments to micro merchants. Photo: courtesy
TipRanks uses machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to build a dataset of online analysts, hedge-fund managers, financial bloggers and corporate insiders. Available by subscription, the tool helps members choose reliable and accurate financial advice. A mobile app is in the works, according to the Tel Aviv-based company.
Peer-to-peer insurance company Lemonade, founded in 2015 by Israeli executives formerly with Fiverr and Powermat, is disrupting the way New Yorkers buy homeowners and renters insurance. The online and mobile platform, powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics, uses bots and machine learning to deliver insurance and handle claims. A flat fee is charged and unclaimed funds are donated to charity. Lemonade will expand to other US states in 2017.