The Silent Death of the Israeli Left

From Israel’s creation in 1948 until Menachem Begin’s 1977 electoral victory, the Jewish state was governed by the Labor party in its various incarnations, and its leaders thought it would ever be thus. For several decades thereafter, it remained one of two dominant parties. The most recent election, however, heralded Labor’s final collapse into irrelevance. Matti Friedman reflects:

When the dust settled after Israel’s last national election in February, the Labor party had a mere three members of Knesset out of 120. But that’s rosy compared to what it just got in a poll on April 13: zero. Just like that, the party of David Ben-Gurion and Yitzḥak Rabin no longer mattered. Because Israeli news coverage has been preoccupied with pandemic panic, almost no one noticed.

As Friedman notes, Labor’s end has been a long time coming:

By [1972], voters from the actual Jewish working class, who tended to come from Islamic countries like Morocco, had been alienated by Labor and were showing a clear preference for the right. The next year, 1973, came the earthquake of the Yom Kippur War, a surprise attack by Egypt and Syria which killed more than 2,500 Israeli soldiers. That led to fury at the Labor elite over its failure to adequately prepare the army, and four years later came the party’s first election loss to Likud after three uninterrupted decades in power. After that war, the old collective style lost ground to individualism. Israeli songs stopped using the socialist accordion and the word “we.”

But the kibbutz, [an institution central to Labor’s vision], like the country it helped found, is still very much alive, even if neither ended up following the path [their founders expected of them]. After the members [of Kibbutz Ma’aleh ha-Ḥamishah] dropped socialism, 100 families moved into the new neighborhood where the orchards used to be. Most were kibbutz kids who’d left. . . . They were drawn not by ideology but by life in a place that’s beautiful and good for commuters, near the highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The population has more than doubled in fifteen years. The ideas went away, but the kindergartens are full.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Israeli politics, Kibbutz movement, Labor Party, Labor Zionism

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