The Building in Shanghai That Became a Home to Jewish Refugees During World War II

Shanghai’s Embankment House was once the largest apartment building in Asia, and it remains an impressive feature of the city’s skyline. Writing from one of its apartments, Eleanor Goodman reflects on its history:

In the late 1930s, as the United States and many other countries were closing their doors and denying visas to Jewish applicants, . . . Shanghai was one of the few places where Jews could flee without any paperwork. It was a long journey from Germany, but once they arrived, they would be welcomed into an established community [consisting] largely of Russian and Baghdadi Jews. After Kristallnacht [in November 1938], nearly 20,000 Jews made it to safety in Shanghai. When they landed in the ports, many of them were taken here to Embankment House, where Victor Sassoon—the developer and owner, himself of Baghdadi Jewish origin—had converted the first several floors of the 1936 building, originally seven stories, into a receiving hall for refugees.

They were fed, registered, and given safe haven until they could find more permanent lodgings, often in the nearby Jewish quarter, where they were helped in myriad ways by the local population. Sassoon worked in concert with the Shanghai city government, aided by diplomats like He Fengshan, who issued visas to Jews in Austria—these allowed them not to enter Shanghai (it was an open port), but to leave their home country. For many of the lucky ones who made it out, Embankment House offered them their first sanctuary.

Read more at Paris Review

More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Refugees, Shanghai Ghetto, World War II

Despite the Toll of War at Home and Rising Hostility Abroad, Investors Are Still Choosing Israel

When I first saw news that Google wasn’t going through with its acquisition of the tech startup Wiz, I was afraid hesitancy over its Israeli founders and close ties with the Jewish state might have something to do with it. I couldn’t have been more wrong: the deal is off not because of Google’s hesitancy, but because Wiz feared the FTC would slow down the process with uncertain results. The company is instead planning an initial public offering. In the wake of the CrowdStrike debacle, companies like Wiz have every reason to be optimistic, as Sophie Shulman explains:

For the Israeli cyber sector, CrowdStrike’s troubles are an opportunity. CrowdStrike is a major competitor to Palo Alto Networks, and both companies aim to provide comprehensive cyber defense platforms. The specific issue that caused the global Windows computer shutdown is related to their endpoint protection product, an area where they compete with Palo Alto’s Cortex products developed in Israel and the SentinelOne platform.

Friday’s drop in CrowdStrike shares reflects investor frustration and the expectation that potential customers will now turn to competitors, strengthening the position of Israeli companies. This situation may renew interest in smaller startups and local procurement in Israel, given how many institutions were affected by the CrowdStrike debacle.

Indeed, it seems that votes of confidence in Israeli technology are coming from many directions, despite the drop in the Tel Aviv stock exchange following the attack from Yemen, and despite the fact that some 46,000 Israeli businesses have closed their doors since October 7. Tel Aviv-based Cyabra, which creates software that identifies fake news, plans a $70 million IPO on Nasdaq. The American firm Applied Systems announced that it will be buying a different Israeli tech startup and opening a research-and-development center in Israel. And yet another cybersecurity startup, founded by veterans of the IDF’s elite 8200 unit, came on the scene with $33 million in funding. And those are the stories from this week alone.

But it’s not only the high-tech sector that’s attracting foreign investment. The UK-based firm Energean plans to put approximately $1.2 billion into developing a so-far untapped natural-gas field in Israel’s coastal waters. Money speaks much louder than words, and it seems Western businesses don’t expect Israel to become a global pariah, or to collapse in the face of its enemies, anytime soon.

Read more at Calcalist

More about: cybersecurity, Israeli economy, Israeli gas, Israeli technology, Start-up nation