His relatively brief career in national politics proved to Erel Margalit, the founder and executive chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners, that being a highly successful businessman and social entrepreneur does not necessarily mean that one can also do well in the political arena.
Margalit was frustrated time and again in his political ambitions and finally decided to go back to what he does best. This week, he officially launched his International Cyber Center on Broadway in New York. Toward the end of 2018, JVP was selected by New York City Development Corporation to be its partner in the creation of an international cybersecurity center.
Other partners in the venture include Columbia, New York and Cornell universities. Margalit has publicly stated in various forums in Israel and the US that New York is the business hub of the world, and it is therefore important for New York to become the cybersecurity hub of the world, with strong cooperation from the cybersecurity hubs in the Negev and Jerusalem.
■ ANOTHER HIGHLY successful Jerusalem-based venture capitalist, Jon Medved, the founder and CEO of OurCrowd, is getting ready to welcome thousands of investors and potential investors in Israeli start-up companies at the annual OurCrowd Global Investment Summit, which opens on February 13 at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.
This year will be particularly exciting because speakers include Jason Greenblatt, the former US Middle East envoy, who was so instrumental in helping to formulate US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” which since its recent unveiling has caused considerable controversy. Greenblatt will hopefully shed more light on the subject when he speaks at the summit.
■ FORMER JERUSALEM mayor and current Likud MK Nir Barkat, one of Israel’s hi-tech millionaires and reportedly the wealthiest member of Knesset, has made no secret of the fact that if and when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu steps down from the Likud leadership, he would like to take his place. As a first-time contender in the Likud primaries, he did well, ending up in the ninth slot on the Knesset list.
But anything can happen in the interim, as was seen when Gideon Sa’ar, who came in fourth, contested Netanyahu for the Likud leadership and suffered a humiliating defeat, which could be reflected in future elections. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who came second on the list, suffered waning popularity over the issue of Netanyahu’s immunity, before the prime minister withdrew his immunity request. Even before that, Edelstein decided not to conduct any meeting on immunity and to leave that to two of his deputies, which was a means of insuring his political survival. The only thing one can say with certainty about Israeli politics is be prepared for the unexpected. Just look at all the faulty forecasts by political pundits.
In an interview with Calcalist, the financial supplement of Yediot Aharonot, Barkat said if Likud wins the elections and Netanyahu succeeds in forming a government, Barkat would like to get the Finance Ministry portfolio. Current Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has already announced that he is stepping down from politics, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the field is clear for Barkat, who has been one of Netanyahu’s consistently loyal supporters.
If he does get to be finance minister, it will be interesting to see whether Jerusalem will derive benefit. As mayor, Barkat was frequently at loggerheads with the Finance Ministry over allocations to the capital. Mayor Moshe Lion has also complained that Jerusalem does not get the allocations befitting a capital city. Then again, as most politicians who reach high office and change their priorities will tell you, “what you see from here, you don’t see from there.”
CORRECTION: In last Friday’s Grapevine, there was an item about the three-generation Goldsmith family of runners. The item erroneously stated that they were running on behalf of AKIM when in fact they were running on behalf of the Afikim Family Enrichment Association.
Both organizations are worthy causes. Afikim supports children from economically disadvantaged homes and operates after-school programs to help such children reach their potential. AKIM, which aims for inclusiveness, helps people with intellectual disabilities to integrate into mainstream society.