POWER OF THE INNOVATIVE ECONOMY
THE SPRING HILL'S SUMMERTIME Tel Aviv means Spring Hill in Hebrew. It is the tourist, technological, economical and IT hub of the Middle East.
A SALTY, SALTY PLACE The Dead Sea is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. You cannot swim in the Dead Sea unless you try to do backstroke, the salt will expel you from the water.
06 05 ARMAGEDDON IS REAL Actually Armageddon exists and it is in Israel. The modern Hebrew name is Megiddo. This is the place where the final battle between Good and Evil will occur.
EVEN THE BLIND CAN SEE MONEY
Israeli bank notes have Braille on them so even the bind people can be handy with money!
Haifaâ€™s Carmelit transport system is one of the smallest subway systems in the world, with four carriages and a track of just 1.8 km.
HOLIEST OF HOLY
The old maps did not have Greenwich-Equator crossing as the centre of the world. They always put Jerusalem, the holy city of Jews, Christians and Muslims in the very centre.
THE BAUHAUS CAPITAL Tel Aviv is a Unesco heritage site in recognition of the 4,000 Bauhaus buildings that were built in the city in the 1930s and â€™40s.
DEAD SEA SALT
The cosmetics made of Dead Sea Salt, especially the Ahava brand, are well know around the world for having miraculous effects on skin, preventing aging process.
H.E. ALONA FISHER-KAMM
Israeli Ambassador to Serbia
A QUARTER OF CENTURY OF OUR RELATIONSHIP 4
ALONG WITH GOOD BILATERAL RELATIONS SERBIA AND ISRAEL ARE FINDING BROADER ECONOMIC, ARTISTIC AND TOURIST INTERESTS, AND BUILDING SUBTLE TIES BASED ON SIMILAR MENTALITY
erbian Israeli relationship has been established a quarter a century ago, and since than carefully nourished and developed. Bilateral relations between two countries are considered excellent. However, for many years they were not accompanied by the adequate level of economic cooperation. Despite the existing gap, there are many signs of positive development in this regard. Along the real estate investments in which Israeli companies hold prominent place, business people are recently finding new venues for cooperation, notably in the IT sector as well as in agriculture and other fields. There is a growing interest among Israeli tourists to visit Serbia, and vice versa and to boost cultural ties between two nations. This year will be 25 years since Israel and Serbia re-established diplomatic ties. Which events would you like to single out as the most important for boosting the relations between the two countries? ― As part of marking the 25th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our two countries as well as the Independ-
Drug Prevention Program of the Ministry of Health, support to the Institute for Children &Youth in Sremcica and to Creative Educational Center in Belgrade and similar. In which segments can Serbia and Israel additionally improve bilateral relations? ― Our two countries share historic friendship and excellent political relations. However, there’s a gap in trade relations despite the existing awareness of potentials of both economies for cooperation. There are positive trends in bilateral trade with growth by 50% in 2016 on annual basis. Tourism sector has marked dramatic change last year with 70% growth of the Israeli tourists coming to Serbia as a result of Arkia’s and Israir’s charter flights launched last October. Segments of joint interest and potential for enhancing economic cooperation I would stress are: innovation, agriculture, clean tech and tourism along with real estate developments which became a flagship of Israeli investments in Serbia. How important is the cooperation between the two countries on security issues? ― Security issue is crucial for all countries
― I’ve noticed a huge potential of human resources in the tech area which is to be developed and transformed into the leading revenue generator. In this regard, Serbian government announced a Decade of Entrepreneurship with many activities to be implemented. Israel based its economy on the export of know how. Due to the scarcity of natural resources, after the macroecnomic crisis we faced, in the 90's, our government made a strategic decision of investing in R&D and making hi- tech the driving force behind our economy. As a second start up capital in the world, our Embassy already takes an active part in Serbian start up and tech community and will happily continue to support such initiatives. We would like to see more Israeli tech giants opening represenatative offices here and bringing their know how and broad network of contacts. Beside tech sector, our companies see potential in clean tech area as Serbia just opened chapter 27 on Environment with huge investments to be completed in the following years. There’s a growing interest of Israeli companies in waste water treatment and water management projects across the country.
SEGMENTS OF JOINT INTEREST AND POTENTIAL FOR ENHANCING ECONOMIC COOPERATION ARE INNOVATION, AGRICULTURE, CLEAN TECH AND TOURISM ALONG WITH REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENTS ence Day of Israel, the Embassy is undertaking various activities and events with different stakeholders throughout this year. We started with Smart City workshop organized in cooperation with NALED wherein municipalities were able to hear how Tel Aviv branded itself as Non Stop and Smart City and share ideas on launching similar activities in their respective cities. The next project in this regard will be Women Empowerment workshop outside Belgrade. A wide portfolio of projects to be implemented consists of donations to institutions in need together with our company Kavim in Cacak and Vranje, of support to
in the world. Due to the special geo political circumstances, Israel acquired a lot of experience, know how embodied in sophisticated technologies. We are happy to share them with friendly countries since everybody faces the same security challenges. Israel is an important player in cyber and homeland security with more than 300 active companies in the cyber market. There has been an increased interest from business communities in both countries in further developing economic cooperation. Which economic segments have the biggest untapped potential?
Agriculture remains untapped potential. This year, for the first time, the Embassy is taking part at the International Agriculture Fair in Novi Sad with the national booth presenting Israeli agrotechnology. Real Estate investments are in expansion with recently opened Big Fashion in Belgrade. Among the projects to be delivered this year are Rajiceva mall, LAID corner stones for the Duke’s gates residential project and Big Vidikovac mall along with announced start of construction for Skyline Belgrade. Figures in tourism have uprising trend in line with increased number of flights ISRAEL 2017
― The Chabad House is a gathering place for Jews and Israelis all around the world. It serves as a home for those, seeking to experience Jewish Holidays wherever they are. Only several weeks ago I took part in a huge Passover dinner organized by Chabad in Belgrade for 400 people, many of them were Israeli tourists. Yet, it is an open house also for all those who are interested in Jewish tradition and values. The Belgrade Synagogue and its Rabbi are also of an immense religious and social importance for the Jewish community and the society in whole. As in the past, the Synagogue will be opened for the visitors during this year’s Museum Night. The guests will have a chance to learn from Rabbi Asiel about the Havdalah service and other Jewish rituals. We should never stop learning about each other, about different cultures and religions, because that’s what brings us together.
of both charter airlines. However, figures related to Serbian tourists visiting Israel don’t follow this trend. As an Israeli Ambassador to Serbia, I would like for Serbs to discover Israeli cities and landscapes since it’s only three hours away. We hope local travel agencies will be able to create packages that would meet purchasing power of the population. Most of the intergovernmental treaties between Serbia and Israel, including the one regarding agriculture, were signed up until 2009. Do you think that the two countries should work on having closer institutional ties too? ― In 2016 we finalized text of the Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and it is expected to be put in power in January 2018 upon ratification in both parliaments. Beside, due to the growing number of tourists and flights, we have updated and amended Agreement on Air Transport between our two countries.
A Jewish centre called 'Chabad Serbia' was opened in Belgrade last year with the view of preserving the Jewish tradition and culture. How important are such facilities for nurturing the Jewish lifestyle and tradition?
OUR TWO COUNTRIES SHARE HISTORIC FRIENDSHIP AND EXCELLENT POLITICAL RELATIONS. HOWEVER, THERE’S A GAP IN TRADE RELATIONS DESPITE THE EXISTING AWARENESS OF POTENTIALS FOR COOPERATION
How far along is the implementation of the idea of having a memorial centre for the Serbian Jews who perished during the Holocaust? ― We follow closely, with great interest, all the developments regarding the issue of the Memorial centre at the place of the former Semlin Judenlager and try to assist in finding the right character of the site, where Jews, Serbs and Roma will have their own Memorial and at the same time, the visitors will be able to learn about the comprehensive dimension of atrocities there. That important place of the Holocaust deserves to be properly marked for the sake of future generations. I truly hope that the agreement regarding the law on Sajmiste will be reached soon and that the future memorial will become a place of remembrance and education. You said in an interview that Serbia was much like Israel in many aspects – the pace of life, mentality and way in which people think. What similarities have you discovered in the meantime, since you have been an ambassador in Belgrade? ― Recently, I have started noticing the Serbian „inat“, which would be your version of the famous Jewish „chutzpa“. When used in positive connotation this, originally Yiddish word, could be use to describe a daring person, someone who is always ready to question things, who never gives up. This subtle similarity in our characters is just one among numerous which connect us and allow us having a deep understanding between our peoples. To this, I would also add creative thinking, known as thinking „out of the box“, innovation and great sense of humour.
NENAD ĐURĐEVIĆ Director of the Department for Foreign Economic Relations at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce
ISRAELI MARKET IS DIFFICULT TO BREAK INTO IN ORDER FOR SERBIAN GOODS TO FIND THEIR WAY ON THE ISRAELI MARKET, THEY NEED TO HAVE A SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND PRICE WHICH IS NOT EASY TO ACHIEVE
he main competitors come from developed countries with which Israel has signed free trade agreements. Trading between Serbia and Israel, and especially the value of Serbian export to Israel, are not on a satisfactory level and far below the potentital despite their constant growth in the last few years – says Nenad Đurđević, Director of the the Department for Foreign Economic Relations at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.
cially food and agricultural produce, does sound encouraging. In collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tel Aviv, the Serbian Chamber of Commerce has been putting together a database of Serbian companies which have sufficient potential and will to sell their products on this market. The plan is for a group of Serbian manufacturers to hold a presentation to potential importers from Israel.
Why is that so? ― The countries that Israel has concluded free trade agreements with, like the European Union and the United States of America, as well as the EFTA countries, Canada, Turkey and Mexico, have the biggest share in trading with Israel. In order for Serbian goods to find their way on the Israeli market, they need to have a satisfactory quality and price which is not easy to achieve. Still, the fact that, in the recent period, an increasing number of Israeli companies have expressed interest in importing Serbian goods, espe-
OUR GOAL IS TO ATTAIN ISRAEL'S LEVEL IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION, AND TO USE GREAT OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRADING SINCE WE DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM OF INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION HERE
Which products dominate trading between the two countries? ― According to the data collated by the State Statistical office, Serbia mostly exported the following products to Israel in 2016: processed tobacco (17.98%), base metal products (10.4%), animal food (except for wheat) (7.3%), treated timber (5.1%), tires (4.9%), non-electric engines and motors (4.8%), watches and clocks (4.3%) and others. In 2016, Serbia mostly imported the following products from Israel: unclassified goods (54.7%), special fibers and cloth (3.6%), office equipment (3.4%), insecticides, et al., intended for retail (3.1%), drugs (2.9%) , vegetable raw materials (2.9%), measuring and control instruments (2.6%), and others. What are the biggest challenges in economic cooperation and how can we overcome them? ― Generally speaking, there aren't pronounced challenges in trading with Israel. Even if we are talking about legal frame-
work, we can say that we are nearly done with preparing all of the intergovernmental treaties that are important for economic cooperation. In regard to export, there is a set procedure and conditions that need to be fulfilled, and these mainly pertain to approving of the facilities to produce Kosher food (some export-orientated companies already possess Kosher certificates). Israeli investors are very present in Serbia, particularly in its real estate sector. Could you tell us what are the biggest ongoing projects at the moment? ― Investors from Israel have recognized the potential of Serbia's real estate sector quite early on. We are talking about very serious companies that carefully assess all the relevant aspects, plan their investments in the long run, and implement them in stages. Earlier, Israeli investments were focused only in Belgrade, and now there are more and more of them in other Serbian towns too. One of the first and most important investments was the joint one implemented by Africa Israel and Tidhar Group which built Airport City in Novi Beograd. At the time, this project was declared the most successful greenfield investment in the region. Some projects are finished, some are in the planning phase, while some are in different stages of implementation. I would like to mention the retail park project implemented by Aviv Arlon Group in Pančevo and a residential complex in Zvezdara, Belgrade, then there is Big CEE with its shopping malls in Novi Sad and other towns, Plaza Centres Serbia building a hotel in Belgrade, various shopping malls in Kragujevac and Belgrade etc. Shikun & Binui Group has recently started building a residential and busi-
ness complex in Voždovac in Belgrade called 'Voždove Kapije', and this is the second project that the company has been implementing in Belgrade. Shikun & Binui Group has already won the trust of people in Serbia by building a residential and building complex called Central Garden in cooperation with Afi Europe. Also, the biggest shopping mall on the
CONSIDERING A GROWING NUMBER OF INQURIES FROM ISRAEL, THE DEPARTMENT OF BILATERAL COOPERATION AT THE SERBIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HAS BEEN CREATING A DATABASE OF SERBIAN COMPANIES WILLING TO EXPORT TO ISRAEL right bank of the Danube called Big Fashion has been opened recently in Karaburma, Belgrade. Apart from building in the US and Russia, Africa Israel and Afi Europe have been also active in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries. After building Airport City and Central Garden, Afi Europe is now preparing for the third project which is construction of Skyline Belgrade which value is estimated at 200 million EUR.
How much closer are we to connecting Serbian and Israeli IT companies, and can you cite some good cooperation examples? ― Israeli economy is based on exporting know-how. After macroeconomic crisis that broke out in the 1990s, and due to the very unique geopolitical environment and scarce natural resources, Israeli government made a strategic decision to invest in research, development and high technology, making it the driving force behind the country's economy. This became national priority, and regardless of the changes in the internal political system, investments in research and development remain unchanged. The rest is history. Bear in mind that today Israel is recognized across the world as „a startup nation“. Israel has been providing strong support to the start up community in Serbia. In the last six months, several Israeli experts gave lectures in Belgrade about how Israel promotes innovation, how is the country developing female entrepreneurship, the country's growing success in IT and entrepreneurship, the support for the Innovation Attitude Centre in organizing the conference, and many others. Although, maybe only a dozen electronic communication and IT companies have been founded with Israeli capital, the Israeli presence in IT community is much bigger than that. Slowly but surely Israel is becoming recognized worldwide for innovation in gaming industry. The Israeli company, TabTale has recognized this and has opened a branch office in Belgrade. Many international corporations have recognized Serbia as one of the best destinations for call centres. The Israeli company Smardis SR is one of them.
IN ORDER FOR SERBIAN GOODS TO FIND THEIR WAY ON THE ISRAELI MARKET, THEY NEED TO HAVE A SATISFACTORY QUALITY AND PRICE WHICH IS NOT EASY TO ACHIEVE ISRAEL 2017
The Israeli Business Association was opened in June 2015. How much did the establishment of this and other business association contribute to better cooperation between our two countries? ― Networking and grouping of business people from multiple sides contributes to better exchange of information. And when you have quantity, quality will follow, or rather more frequent the communication between business communities from the two countries, bigger the chances of having concrete results, establishing cooperation and forging partnerships. It's been eight years since Serbia and Israel have signed an agricultural treaty. How much did this document contribute to better cooperation in this segment? ― Arable land in Serbia is an important but untapped natural resource. Hence the Israelis, who turned every inch of desert into arable land whenever possible and thus set global standards in new technology, are potentially our most representative partner in agriculture. Our goal is to attain Israel's level in agricultural production, and to use great opportunities for trading since we don't have
AGRICULTURAL SURPLUS The total agricultural and food trade between the Republic of Serbia and Israel in 2016 amounted to 10.3 million USD with the export valued at 8.7 million USD, and import at 1.6 million USD. In 2016, Serbia recorded a surplus in trading in agricultural products with Israel in the amount of 7.1 million USD.
INVESTORS FROM ISRAEL HAVE RECOGNIZED THE POTENTIAL OF SERBIA'S REAL ESTATE SECTOR QUITE EARLY ON
a problem of international competition here. We grow different products which can only enrich the supply in both countries. The importance of the signed treaty on cooperation in agriculture lies in the fact that it has facilitated better relations between the two countries in all segments of agricultural cooperation. How can the Serbian Chamber of Commerce help with boosting the trading between the two countries? ― As I have mentioned earlier, and considering a growing number of inquries from Israel, the Department of Bilateral Cooperation at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce has been creating a database of Serbian companies willing to export to Israel. With the great help from our embassy in Tel Aviv, the Israeli Embassy in Serbia, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and other business associations in Israel, we have been trying to connect Serbian companies to adequate partners in Israel. So far, we have ten or so companies from Serbia contacting us, and these are mostly agricultural and food companies which cooperation offers have already been forwarded to potential partners in Israel.
SHARON LANDES FISCHER Head of Tourist Services for the City of Tel Aviv
MAGIC IS SOMETHING YOU CREATE YOURSELF TEL AVIV HAS BEEN RECOGNIZED AS ONE THE WORLD'S SMARTEST CITY, TAKING ADVANTAGE OF ITS FLOURISHING STARTUP ECOSYSTEM TO IMPROVE THE OVERALL TOURISM EXPERIENCE
e spoke with Mrs Sharon Landes-Fischer Head of Tourist Services for the City of Tel Aviv about the ubiquitous charm of the city and lessons Belgrade can learn from Israeli experience in attracting tourists playing on modernity, youth, and its IT potentials. Despite the instability in the region, Israel and Tel Aviv have been recorded a constant growth in the number of tourists. What is the secret? ― From its foundation over 100 years ago, the City of Tel Aviv has seen itself as a "Lighthouse" of free thought and speech, tolerance, and an overall globally-open character. The city has an open atmosphere and warmly embraces everyone – Muslims, Christians and Jews, secular and religious, young and old. Today, Tel Aviv-Yafo is the business, financial and commercial hub of Israel's economy and the heart of its booming
high-tech industry. Its most unique economic phenomenon is the large concentration of startup companies – more than 1450 – making it the world renowned "start-up city". Dubbed the Startup City of the Startup Nation, Tel Aviv has evolved into one of the world's leading hubs for technology and innovation. With its mere 52sqkm, the city has over 85 accelerators, more than
BELGRADE IS A BEAUTIFUL AND LIVELY CITY, I COULD RECOMMEND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT AND TO ENCOURAGE INCLUSION OF BELGRADIANS IN THE TOURISM ECONOMY
any European city. The startup ecosystem is continuing to grow and many multinationals have been opening innovation and R&D centers in Tel Aviv, understanding that Tel Aviv is the best place to set up shop. In addition, Tel Aviv-Yafo is also Israel's center of art, entertainment, gastronomy, design and architecture. It is home to the Israel Philharmonic, the Israel Opera, The Bat Sheva Dance Troupe, and numerous theatres. The City of Tel Aviv also organizes major annual events, such as the Marathon in February, the White Night and the Tel Aviv Pride in June and the DLD Innovation Festival in September; these annual events enhance the city’s profile and shapes the image of Tel Aviv as a hub of technology, tolerance and culture, attracting diverse kinds of tourists all year round. Unlike Jerusalem, Tel Aviv portrays a totally different picture of Israel. What does it really mean to be “the Mediter-
ranean Capital of Cool” in the words of the New York Times? ― Tel Aviv is the image and mirror of the people who live and create in the city; artists, entrepreneurs, makers, and all those who choose to live in a city that lives nonstop. It enjoys 318 days of sunshine a year, 14 kilometers of white sandy beaches, one of the world's most vibrant nightlife scenes, and an extremely young population: 1 of every 3 Tel Avivians is between the ages of 18 -35. Tel Aviv-Yafo offers a warm home to many cultural institutions, and to artists and creators, which are nurtured by the city and feed its pulse. Tel Aviv-Yafo is a muse and source of inspiration for widespread and diverse cultural undertakings, and is open to any display of original thinking. Furthermore, Tel Aviv is home to 1,748 bars, cafes and nightclubs. That is 1 for every 231 residents; Tel Aviv also has the 2nd highest concentration of sushi restaurants in the world. The city is also considered a paradise for vegans, 150 restaurants in Tel Aviv are Vegan-Friendly. In July 2003, UNESCO declared Tel Aviv's "White City" – a historic and unique urban fabric – a global heritage site. The city center has the largest architectural concentration in the world of buildings designed in the International Style (better known as Bauhaus architecture), giving Tel Aviv-Yafo its special standing in the architectural heritage of the contemporary period. Since then, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has marked UNESCO's declaration every year through a series of White Night events, an all-night celebration of Tel Aviv's unique culture that incorporate another value of the city: the fact that Tel Aviv-Yafo is the "Nonstop City". All these attributes led The New York Times to declare the city "The
Capital of Mediterranean Cool. Belgrade is slowly but surely starting to position itself on the world tourism map. What would you recommend Belgrade to do in order to become a magnet for tourists? ― Belgrade is a beautiful and lively city, I could recommend civic engagement and to encourage inclusion of Belgradians in the tourism economy. These days tourists
IN JULY 2003, UNESCO DECLARED TEL AVIV'S "WHITE CITY" – A HISTORIC AND UNIQUE URBAN FABRIC – A GLOBAL HERITAGE SITE search for the authentic local experience and are curious to meet the residents of the destination. Technology today enables tourist to buy services from local residents through various applications. These Smart City principles can enhance Belgrade’s tourism tools and infrastructures. Tel Aviv has been recognized as one the world's smartest city, taking advantage of its flourishing Startup Ecosystem to improve its residents' quality of life as well as the overall tourism experience. One example is our free Wi-Fi distribution across the city, making it easier for tourists to access information about the city while they explore. More than 100 zones have already been deployed around the city: at the beach, on
the boulevards and streets, in the city squares and public gardens and more installations are underway. Another initiative of the city in the field of tourism services is the support of digital travel: the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality encourages entrepreneurship in the creation of tourism apps that serve the visitors of the city. For example: location based app providing information in various languages, transportation apps, and apps that customizes fashion and shopping routes. Cities around the world are beginning to understand the potential of smart tourism. Belgrade has a lot to offer to tourists visiting the city, and leveraging the cities assets with smart tourism tools will only enhance the visitor’s experience, making the city more tourist-friendly and attract more international visitors. The Belgrade-Tel Aviv flight route has become a very busy one following the recent establishment of charter flights between the two cities. Does this contribute to more tourists from Serbia coming to Tel Aviv? ― As anticipated, the establishment of direct flight routes between the two cities have resulted in a rapid increase of tourists from Serbia to Tel Aviv, in fact we have noticed an 80% increase in the number of visitors from Serbia in the past 3 months compared to that same time last year. These figures are exciting, and I’m sure that Mediterranean climate, combined with the city’s sandy beaches, cultural events, bustling nightlife scene and cosmopolitan vibe will appeal to a large number of tourists from Serbia, from families with young children, business travel, students and solo travelers, and organized groups.
DUBBED THE STARTUP CITY OF THE STARTUP NATION, TEL AVIV HAS EVOLVED INTO ONE OF THE WORLD'S LEADING HUBS FOR TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION ISRAEL 2017
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INCREASE IN TRADING IN GOODS 14
ALTHOUGH TRADING BETWEEN ISRAEL AND SERBIA IS BELOW BOTH COUNTRY'S POTENTIAL, THE ECONOMIC COOPERATION HAS PICKED UP PACE IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, AS HAVE ISRAELI INVESTMENTS PRIMARILY IN THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR
he trade between Serbia and Israel is relatively modest with an increase in the volume over the last few years and a relatively big deficit on the Serbian side. According to the data collated by the State Stasticial Office for 2016, the total trading in goods between the two countries amounted to 66.1 million USD. The total exports to Israel in 2016 amounted to 22.8 million USD which is a 19.3% hike. Israel occupies the 40th place on the list of countries that Serbia exports to with a 0.2% share in total exports. On the other hand, Serbia imported 43.3 million USD worth of goods from Israel which puts this country in the
45th place on the countries that Serbia mostly imports from. The share that Israel has in total Serbian imports is also 0.2%. The export to import ratio is 52.7%, and Serbia has been recording negative balance in trading with Israel for years. Serbia's deficit in trading with Israel was highest in 2009 when it stood at 42 million USD. Serbia mostly exported the following products to Israel in 2016: processed tobacco (17.98%), base metals (10.4%), animal food (except the wheat grain) (7.3%), treated wood (5.1%), car tires (4.9%), non-electric engines (4.8%), watches and clocks (4.3%) and other.
SERBIA IMPORTED 43.3 MILLION USD WORTH OF GOODS FROM ISRAEL WHICH PUTS THIS COUNTRY IN THE 45TH PLACE ON THE COUNTRIES THAT SERBIA MOSTLY IMPORTS FROM
Serbia mostly imported the following products from Israel in 2016: unclassified goods (54.7%), special fibers and cloth (3.6%), office equipment (3.4%), insecticides, et al. for retail sale (3.1%), drugs (2.9%), raw vegetable matter (2.9%), measuring and control instruments (2.6%), and other. According to the data from the National Bank of Serbia (NBS) collated in line with the methodology that was applied up until late 2013, the net investmetns by Israeli resi-
SINCE MAJORITY OF ISRAELI REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS ARE HEADQUARTERED IN THE NETHERLANDS, THE UNOFFICIAL FIGURE OF ISRAELI INVESTMENTS IS MUCH HIGHER AND GOES BEYOND 1 BILLION EUR SINCE 2000 dents in Serbia in the period from 2007 to 2013 amounted to 32.4 million USD which puts Israel in the 29th place on the list of the countries that have made the biggest non-resident investments in Serbia in the mentioned period. It is important to mention that the National Bank of Serbia gets its data from business banks which means that the data is classified per country of payment, and not the investor country, and it largely depends on the country in which the investor has a bank account in that is used for payments or investments. Since majority of Israeli real estate developers are headquartered
in the Netherlands, the unofficial figure of Israeli investments is much higher and goes beyond 1 billion EUR since 2000. The National Bank of Serbia data is the only official data about FDIs in Serbia. The central bank publishes aggregated data about FDIs as per investor country and investment sectors, while the official investment data per individual investor companies is not available. In line with the IMF guidelines, in early 2014, the National Bank of Serbia started to implement a new FDI calculation methodology as a part of the EU accession process. Under this new methodology, the net foreign direct investment is calculated as the difference between the net increase in financial assets (net outbound investment, or inflows and outflows arising from residents' investments abroad) and a net increase in financial liabilities (net inbound investments and inflows and outflows of investment by non-residents in Serbia) and include investments in money, goods, conversion of debt to equity, intercompany loans and reinvested profit. In the period from 2014 to 2016, Israel made around 12.3 million USD worth of investments in Serbia. The following renowned companies have invested in Serbia - Africa Israel, Aviv Arlon, Big Cee, Mivne Group, Ashtrom International and Plaza Group. The Strauss Adriatic Company has been operating in Serbia for years now following the acquisition of Doncafe. Another renowned Israeli investor is Foundry of Precise Castings â€“ LPO Ada which proprietor is Shemesh Engines. Israeli company Kavim has privatized four Serbian companies that are engaged in bus transportation in Central Serbia and are now operating under Kavim Serbia Group.
MOST IMPORTANT INTERGOVERNMENTAL TREATIES
Serbia and Israel have signed several important intergovernmental treaties including the Treaty on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Government of the State of Israel concluded in Belgrade in September 2006 which came into force in June 2009. In 2004, the two countries also signed the Treaty on Mutual Promotion and Protection of Investments. This treaty came into force in February 2006. In September 2009, Serbia and Israel signed the Treaty on Abolishion of Visas between the two countries. This treaty came into force in September 2010. In October 2009, the two countries signed the Treaty on Cooperation in Agriculture, and have also prepared the Double Taxation Treaty.
SERBIA MOSTLY EXPORTED TO ISRAEL PROCESSED TOBACCO, BASE METALS, ANIMAL FOOD, TREATED WOOD, CAR TIRES, NON-ELECTRIC ENGINES, WATCHES AND CLOCKS AND OTHER 16
CORP ORAT E
ALEKSANDAR MIŠKOVIĆ Director of Livnica Preciznih Odlivaka d.o.o. (LPO)
SURVIVAL IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT CONSTANT DEVELOPMENT In the 15 years since the company's privatization, LPO has been constantly developing both in accomplished financial results and technological development without which it would not have been able to survive in the global market game
rivatization of the Precision Casting Foundry (LPO) has been a successful one. The company is now facing a next challenging stage with the doubling of the foundry's capacity mid-next year – says Director of LPO, Aleksandar Mišković. This exceptionally successful companies has been constantly investing in its development, expansion of existing capacity, and implementation of new technology and standards.
Next year it will be 15 years since the foundry's privatization. What benefits did the partnership with the Israeli proprietor bring to you? — First and foremost, we have stopped further devastation of the company, after which we have started with preparing to break into the international aviation industry with the help of investments, employee training and certification. This happened in the first two years after the privatization. After we received first orders, we have continued to develop year-on-year, we started
implementing new technology, employed younger people, and expanded to other fields like mechanical and thermal treatments. Of course, all of this was accompanied by constant and careful investing. Today, LPO has 93 employees of the average age of 35. We have 13 employees with a university degree, including 9 mechanical engineers. Also, we always have a need to hire
OUR CASTINGS ARE USED IN ENGINES THAT ARE INSTALLED IN AIRBUS 319, 320 AND 380, BOMBARDIER C SERIES, MITSUBISHI MRJ, CESSNA CITATION SOVEREIGN AND IN MANY OTHER AIRPLANES
more professionals. All in all, the partnership with our Israeli friends created an opportunity for us to work in a company that is close by, with our own products, technology, organization and business philosophy, but as a part of an exclusive club that comprises of companies in aviation industry.
Considering that you make castings for aviation industry, what bearing does that have on your production programme and further training? — In our case, improvement means survival, and stagnation means decline. Anyone who has seen what we have been doing in the past 15 years can testify that every year we had something new built, a new piece of equipment installed, or new young professionals employed. Our production programme has expanded to include castings that are installed into the latest generation of airplane engines that are used in Airbus 319, 320 and 380, Bombardier C Series, Mitsubishi MRJ, Cessna Citation Sovereign and in many other airplanes. Every new product brought a novelty into our company, and opened the door to further progress, primarily for our employees.
How satisfied are you with your foreign operations and demand? — Today, LPO is a very profitable company that has launched a very ambitious investment plan this year worth over 1.6 million USD. This is our own money; the company has no debt and doesn't owe anything to banks. At the same time,
what lies ahead of us is a very tasking business period which entails doubling the foundry's capacity mid-next year. Anybody who knows anything about production, and especially the production of parts for turbo jet engines for commercial airplanes, can tell you how complex such endeavour is, primarily from the standpoint of employee train-
TODAY, LPO IS A PROFITABLE COMPANY WHICH, THIS YEAR ALONE, HAS MANAGED TO LAUNCH AN AMBITIOUS INVESTMENT PLAN WORTH 1.6 MILLION USD WHICH IS THE COMPANY'S OWN MONEY ing and business organization. This also speaks volumes about the high demand for our products, and in general, a high demand for quality castings on the global market today.
Have you managed to find enough good workforce? — This is probably one of the most delicate issues for us today, especially because we live in the part of Serbia from
which people constantly emigrate. I believe that it is possible to find good workforce for our foundry because our technology is very unique and is not taught at schools. So, LPO simply has to conduct additional training and work daily with its employees on building them up. Of course, there is a constant demand for mechanical engineers and this is one of the issues that our management will focus on in the following period. I think we have a great idea how to attract and keep young professionals, but we'll talk about that at a more opportune time. Despite this, there is a problem with finding good workforce for the mechanical treatment segment, particularly CNC machine operators. For several years now, LPO has been collaborating with the local technical high school where we have been trying to encourage young and trained operators to work locally by ensuring work practice and engagement. But this is not easy. The demand is high, and mechanical treatment is a segment that has been rapidly developing in Ada and the surrounding areas. As I said before, the number of people leaving for abroad in this area is quite worrisome. However, considering that LPO's privatization was successful and knowing what troubles we had to overcome to be where we are today which wouldn't have been possible withouth quality workforce, I am confident that the continuation of our cooperation with the school will yield expected results. I have no doubt about that because I believe in our people.
ISRAELI ECONOMIC MIRACLE FROM SAND TO START-UP, BY WIT ALONE — Text —
srael is one of the few nations in the world that can boast about its ability to create something out of nothing, by sheer wit and ingenuity. This is one characteristic that everyone should study and, presumably and hopefully, copy to the greatest extent possible in their local conditions. It is not strange that Israelis produce salt from the Dead Sea or oranges from the desert, but we are not talking about a resource-based economy; we are talking about a crucial feature of the Israeli economy, which is “something from nothing”. Israel is frequently called “the Startup Nation”, due to the huge number of newly created companies emerging out of Israel. And there’s no wonder it is hap-
pening here in particular. As there have been countless cases of persecutions and pogroms in Jewish history around the world, the only thing a Jew has been able to count on is his own wit and education, idea or brain, call it what you will. If they burn your house and expel you, what gold can you bring with you other than that contained inside your mind? And, contrary to popular belief, the main Jewish wealth is not the material kind, but the kind in their minds. Being ready to start again from scratch in a new place, that is what characterises Jews more than any other ethnic group in the world. And it is no wonder that their newly established homeland got the glory.
THE STARTUP NATION
The very name “Start-up (or Startup) Nation” comes from a recent book, appropriately entitled “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle”, which was published in 2009 and tells the story of the economy of Israel in the words of Dan Senor and Saul Singer. It examines how Israel, a 60-year-old nation with a population of just 7.1 million, was able to achieve such economic growth that “at the start of 2009, some 63 Israeli companies were listed on the NASDAQ, more than any other foreign country”, as the authors note. The Council on Foreign Relations states in its publisher’s blurb for Start-up Nation that the book addresses the question: “How
is it that Israel—a country of 7.1 million people, only sixty years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources— produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the United Kingdom?” The Economist magazine also wondered about this, noting that “Israel now has more high-tech start-ups and a larger venture capital industry per capita than any other country in the world”. And there must be some reason for that, right? Apart from the one I mentioned, Senor and Singer discard the idea that it might come from some ethnic or religious background, since that would represent exceptionalism and therefore be unrealistic. They cite two major factors, both of which are largely forgotten or dismissed in the rest of the developed world. Those are mandatory military service and immigration.
DISCIPLINE AND SQUARE ONE
Senor and Singer claim that the major driver behind the Israeli economy is mandatory military service and the widespread culture of respecting and serving in the IDF (Israel Defence Forces). These two or three years of service is not time lost, but rather provides a possibility to develop skills and contacts, and to develop resilience. The authors also argue that “IDF service provides experience exerting responsibility in a relatively un-hierarchical environment, where creativity and intelligence are highly valued”, adding that “IDF soldiers have minimal guidance from the top and are expected to improvise, even if this means breaking some rules. If you're a junior officer, you call your higher-ups by their first names, and if you see them doing something wrong, you say so”. This is itself, however, deeply connected with the Jewish religion, since in Judaism you argue with God if there is something you disagree with, while in Christianity
God is a bit further away, with Christ and his Disciples on Earth, and in Islam a lot is about destiny and Allah’s will. But Jews can quarrel with any authority, even the divine. The authors add that egalitarianism is crucial, since it enables one to develop the idea that you can advance and do something with. “Neither rank nor age matters much when taxi drivers can command millionaires and 23-year-olds can train their uncles. And Israeli forces regularly vote to oust their unit leaders.” It could easily be true that the lack of resilience in Serbian society, with a shying away from possibilities to express oneself out loud, comes from the absence of mandatory military service in recent years. The Israelis are not spoilt, and can say anything aloud.
ISRAEL WILL ALWAYS BE A COUNTRY FOR BUSINESS INNOVATIONS. AND IN THIS EVER-CHANGING WORLD THAT IS CRUCIAL The second factor cited by the authors is immigration. All other countries are now closing their borders, with the only exceptions being Canada and Germany, frightened that newcomers will “spoil” something. But these two theoreticians say the opposite. Since nobody is an old-Israeli, nobody is a newcomer. Everyone came from somewhere and started from scratch, so you can too. We quote: “Immigrants are not averse to start from scratch. They are by definition risk-takers. A nation of immigrants is a nation of entrepreneurs. From survivors of the Holocaust to Soviet refuseniks through the Ethiopian Jews, the State of Israel never ceased to be a land of immi-
INSPIRATION Is it worth wondering if we can also do it? Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reportedly keeps a copy of Start-up Nation on his desk, as a source of inspiration for the West Bank’s own burgeoning technology industry. Enough said.
gration: 9 out of 10 Jewish Israelis today are immigrants or descendants of first or second generation immigrants. This specific demographic, causing the fragmentation of communities that still continues in the country, is nevertheless a great incentive to try their luck and to take risks, because immigrants have nothing to lose.” Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks, since Israeli start-ups almost never become household names and big players. Israel still lacks its own gigantic corporations, like IBM, Samsung or Nokia, two of which also came from formerly underdeveloped countries in South Korea and Finland. The authors of the book claim that the Israeli start-ups are usually bought at a early stage by giants from abroad, but there is a more serious claim that Israel did not develop the kind of mature management culture needed to run such companies. Anyway, with such companies as Viber, or Gett (Uber rival for car driving) becoming unicorns easily, it is no wonder that Israel will always be a country for business innovations. And in this ever-changing world that is crucial, as the Novi Sad IT cluster has shown in Serbia.
ISRAEL NOW HAS MORE HIGH-TECH START-UPS AND A LARGER VENTURE CAPITAL INDUSTRY PER CAPITA THAN ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN THE WORLD ISRAEL 2017
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SPIRIT OF ISRAEL
NEVER GIVE UP YOUR DREAM AND ONE DAY YOU WILL BE IN JERUSALEM
— Text —
here are many nations in the world that remain stateless: Rusyns, Sorbians, Vlachs, Aromanians, Meglens, and that’s only in Europe! Slowly, no matter how they fight, they become members of some other nation. But that never happened to the Jews. Others became more or less assimilated, coping for their mere existence, but the Jews, despite being killed and persecuted, kept saying “Next year in Jerusalem”, and then one day they were. There is a joke among Jews, and it goes like this: A Jew talks to God and asks: “Hey, My Lord, is it true that we are the Chosen People?” “Yes, my son,” God answers, “I love you the most among all nations and therefore I chose you.” “Please, please, God, can you chose someone else next time?” This goes to show just how harsh the history of the Jews has been.
EQUALITY AND SOLIDARITY
And as one can never knew what bad luck can strike one in the head, the Jews formed their own specific spirit of solidarity. Even today, richer Jews in Israel who buy, for instance, new furniture, take their old
DIRECTNESS, OPENNESS AND WARMTH ARE THE NORM HERE, A RARE TRAIT IN A POLITICALLY CORRECT WORLD dition, charity (represented by tzedakah) is a matter of religious obligation rather than benevolence. Contemporary charity is regarded as a continuation of the Biblical Maaser Ani, or poor-tithe, as well as Biblical practises like permitting the poor
most of agriculture, industry and healthcare. However, in the past few decades, Histadrut's power has been diluted as the country has adopted more capitalist policies. Kibbutzim are also part of the socialist idea of collective farming and living. Jews knew that they couldn’t count on anyone but themselves, so they kept together and maintained solidarity. All of that lead to malicious comments like “They are all connected!” Well, sorry, why aren’t you connected? Why are you estranged?
STUBBORN AND ALWAYS “RIGHT”
When we were in primary school there was a mandatory history lesson about the Communist Party of Yugoslavia prior to World War II. They said that the Yugo-
DISCUSSION AND ENDLESS DIALOGUE, EVEN WITH GOD (LIKE IN THE CASE OF THE FIFTH MOUNTAIN BY PAULO COELHO, TO BE BLATANTLY COMMERCIAL) IS EVER-PRESENT AMONG JEWS furniture out into the street to be collected by newlyweds, newcomers, immigrants or simply those less fortunate financially. Jews had the first “social security” system, though of course it was called charity in those days. And that was later adopted by Christianity and Islam when these two religions emerged. Namely, in Jewish tra-
to work the corners of a field and harvest during the Shmita (Sabbatical year). Voluntary charity, along with prayer and repentance, is believed to ameliorate the consequences of bad acts. Israel’s economy was originally based on a socialist model, in which the Histadrut Trade Union was the most powerful organisation, controlling
slavs were so notorious in forming factions and quarrelling that there was a proverb “Two Yugoslavs, three factions”. The same proverb exists in Israel nowadays, saying “Two Israelis, three parties” or “Two Jews, three opinions”. Discussion and endless dialogue, even with God (like in the case of The Fifth Mountain by ISRAEL 2017
Paulo Coelho, to be blatantly commercial) is ever-present among Jews. And being the first nation in the world to recognise one and only God, instead of many gods, well that was a pioneering job. Marguerite Yoursenar in her “Memoirs of Hadrian” explains the situation when the Emperor Hadrian was unable to grasp the idea of a monotheistic religion, saying: “Okay, no problem, they have this god, Yahve, just bring his statues into a Roman temple, one more, one less, who cares?” Then there was the time when Romans came to a Jewish temple and the officer said “Break the statues of their God!” only to receive the response “but, sir, their God is invisible, there are no statues”, to which the officer uttered “How can you possibly defeat a nation whose God is invisible?” Indeed, how? And it is not easy to live a life being always right: the idea of monotheism prevailed, but still many don’t respect the nation who came up with the concept, and the nation that gave Christians their Messiah and Muslims one of their prophets. However, all of that only makes Israelis that little bit more stubborn and determined to live through all of their misfortunes.
WARM AND HONEST
Israelis are often considered brusque or even rude by Western visitors, but this is customary rather than deliberate, while honesty, directness, openness and warmth are the norm here. Israelis tell it like it is - a rare trait in a politically correct world. Hospitability is commonplace and locals delight in sharing their beloved country with visitors. Remember, it’s only technically been an independent country for 50 or so years, so almost everyone that lives in Israel moved there by choice. You may be
invited to share a meal in an Israeli home and find yourself presented with huge quantities of food. Getting drunk is considered impolite, as is backing away from an Israeli during a conversation – they are close talkers by Western standards. Well, Jews are and have always been Mediterranean people. And the Israeli Arabs are equally warm, brusque and direct, with the Middle Eastern soul openly shown, regardless of whether they are Christians or Muslims.
WEIRD AND ALWAYS AN OUTSIDER
It is not only endless dialogue between people that is constant among Jews, nor their talks with God, but also talking to oneself. Remember Woody Allen and his endless
YOU MAY BE INVITED TO SHARE A MEAL IN AN ISRAELI HOME AND FIND YOURSELF PRESENTED WITH HUGE QUANTITIES OF FOOD mumbling, analysing the tiniest details? Well that is a very Jewish, and hence very Israeli, trait. David Schwimmer embodied one such character in Friends when he played the role of Dr Ross Geller, who is always in doubt. And this outsider's point of view has always been good for thinkers, and for balance… and for humour. Israeli and Jewish humour is well known, from New York to Odessa, from Ephraim Kishon to contemporary Israeli films, which feature self-mockery and irony connected with love-hate issues. The best
comedies nowadays are perhaps from Israel. Band’s Visit? Hilarious in its silence of Negev. Zero Motivation? The life of female soldiers in the middle of (again!) the Negev Desert. A Week and a Day? Facing the darkness of loss with a smile.
SPORTY, SPORTY! Physical fitness has been a strong part of Jewish culture since ancient times, due to its usefulness in preventing illness, and the country holds its own ‘Olympics’ every four years – the Maccabiah Games, which is restricted to Israeli athletes. Israelis are also known for being particularly fit because they are all, both male and female, required to serve two years in the army prior to attending college. So it is no wonder that they are a sporting superpower in many areas, and are particularly good basketball players. Clothes mean something Among Israeli Jews, clothing is often an indication of religious or political affiliation. Men wear yarmulkes, or skullcaps, for prayer; while more pious men wear them at all times. Conservative Jewish men can be distinguished by their black hats, whereas liberal Jews wear white crocheted caps. In the strictest Orthodox communities, men dress all in black and wear peyes, long side locks. Women keep their heads covered; traditionally, after marriage, they shave their heads and wear wigs. Secular or less conservative Jews, who comprise the majority of the population, wear Western-style clothes. Many Arabs wear traditional Muslim garb, which for men means a turban or other headdress and long robes, and for women means a long robe that covers the head and the entire body.
ISRAELIS ARE OFTEN CONSIDERED BRUSQUE OR EVEN RUDE BY WESTERN VISITORS, BUT THIS IS CUSTOMARY RATHER THAN DELIBERATE, WHILE HONESTY, DIRECTNESS, OPENNESS AND WARMTH ARE THE NORM HERE 26
— Text —
Palestinian Muslim reading The Holy Qur'an in Al-Aqsa mosque
ONE DELICATE NATION AMONG MANY
HOME FOR MANY, DESPITE THE SHAKY PEACE AND ALL ANTAGONISMS
nce upon a time there was a Chosen People elected by Yahve and a Promised Land called Eretz Yisrael. The name “Israel” that is derived from this story is not to be taken lightly. That is why the new country was not called “Palestine” (as it was named during the British rule – that name was gradually taken by Arabs) nor Judea (although it has a close connection with the name “Jew”). This has been a crucial, sacred concept to the Jewish people since Biblical times, as the Torah states that God promised the land to his nomadic people during the Iron Age, some four millennia ago. And 4,000 years is no joke at all.
ALIYAH MADE THE COUNTRY
Despite its resemblance, the name Aliyah is not a Muslim man’s name, but rather a concept that is very much alive in the minds of Jews. It is the process of “Return” to the
TRENDS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE ACCEPTED WITH ENTHUSIASM AND INTEGRATED INTO THE COUNTRY’S RICH HERITAGE
ancient homeland of Jews, Eretz Israel, later just Israel. It has essentially shaped the culture of this country, since the motley crew of the people called Israelis today originate from Jews returning from the Diaspora. The diverse and rich culture is a kind of mosaic of all possible traditions brought from the countries where they lived for 2000+ years, often in isolated and persecuted exile, mainly spent in shtetls (towns) and gated ghettos, with Judenhuts and other marks of their non-Christianity. Free at last, they returned to the Levant, but they all brought with them their traditions from their former lands, as well as languages, cuisines and customs. ISRAEL 2017
Now being an Israeli could mean that you are called Igor Semionov, Zvi Abrahami, David Stein or Alberto Alcalá, depending on your country of origin. That is why the Jews themselves are sometimes sharply divided into Ladino-speaking Sefardim, Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazim, Middle Eastern Mizrahim, as well as many others, even including the exotic Bukharan Jews or Ethiopian Jews, who are black. Not to mention the last influx of largely secular Jews from the former Soviet Union, who speak predominantly Russian and have no affiliation to the Middle East whatsoever, sometimes being blonde, wearing both the Star of David and crosses, and showing less understanding for the Arab
TRENDS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE ACCEPTED WITH ENTHUSIASM AND INTEGRATED INTO THE COUNTRY’S RICH HERITAGE neighbours than the Mizrahim, who have lived around Muslims for centuries. At the same time, unique and varied Jewish religious traditions are linked to the nationalist Zionism, which was born as a reaction to anti-Semitism during the Diaspora years. Contrasts are huge here, from the secular culture of modern Tel Aviv to the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects of ancient Jerusalem. Sometimes secular Jews don’t obey or particularly like the harsh Orthodox Jewish laws and commands, just like many people in Serbia do not fast before Christmas or Easter, while others do. But this gap is somehow deeper in Israel: some obser-
NOW BEING AN ISRAELI COULD MEAN THAT YOU ARE CALLED IGOR SEMIONOV, ZVI ABRAHAMI, DAVID STEIN OR ALBERTO ALCALÁ, DEPENDING ON YOUR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN 30
vant Jews would object to you taking a taxi and going to a neighbouring town or beach during the Sabbath, Shabbat, while really Orthodox Jews even object to traffic itself, which is why public transport stops at dusk on the evening of Shabbat and starts again a day later. If you ask Secular Jews why the State of Israel cannot find enough Christian or Muslim drivers for buses, coaches and trains to maintain public transport (intercity trains, for example), as is the case in Dubai, you will receive the answer that it would enrage the Orthodox Jews, so... better not touch that subject. But the shift is not that great. Rooted in the religious and secular traditions of millennia, as well as in the history of the Diaspora and the ideological Zionist movement, the flexibility of Israeli culture in embracing modern-day changes reflects the country’s unique spirit. Trends from all over the world are accepted with enthusiasm and integrated into the country’s rich heritage. However, differences do exist. In the beginning, Jews tended to emphasise knowledge of Hebrew and shun Ladino and Yiddish, as “these were the languages when we were slaves”. Now the younger generations have again fallen in love with their old traditions, with old Yiddish or Ladino songs, stories, plays and books. The days of slavery and the Holocaust are now long ago, enough to stop forgetting the beautiful and rich traditions of the “old lands”, no matter how inimical they could be towards Jews. But in the early days it was Hebrew only. As new immigrants arrived, Hebrew language instruction was important. Learning Hebrew became a national goal, employing the slogan “Yehudi, daber Ivrit” (“Jew - speak Hebrew”). Special schools for Hebrew language learning, ulpanim, were set up all
While Zionism became a supplement for Judaism in the first years of Israel, and Ben-Gurion advocated the melting pot under Hebrew language and names, this is now somehow obsolete as an ideology. Israeli society has gradually become more pluralistic, with the 'melting pot' simmering over the years. Today cultural diversity is celebrated; many people speak several languages, continue to eat food from their countries of cultural origin and have mixed outlooks. You can see Arabic, Hebrew and Russian posters in every street and you can feel fine. Everyone can be at home here, now, despite the shaky peace and all antagonisms.
over the country. Even Hebraising family names was common in the pre-state period, and became even more widespread in the 1950s. The prime minister, David Ben-Gurion (born David Grün), urged anyone who represented the state in a formal capacity to adopt a Hebrew surname. There is a famous anecdote where he nervously urged a diplomat named Lifschitz (a typical Ashkenazi surname) to change his name to a “proper Jewish” name, to which Lifschitz wittily responded: “I will change my name if you can find me one non-Jew named Lifschitz”. Indeed, there are none.
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JERUSALEM: THE HOLIEST OF THE HOLY — Text —
THE FOUR QUARTERS
THE WORLD’S HOLIEST CITY, SO SACRED TO ALL THREE MAJOR MONOTHEISTIC RELIGIONS, AND A CITY THAT HAS BEEN A SYMBOL OF DISCORD OVER THE CENTURIES, IS THE DISPUTED CAPITAL OF ISRAEL, JERUSALEM; A CITY LOADED WITH HOLY SITES
he heart of the Middle East is composed of several cities, and standing out the most among them are those with names carried by ancient poetry: Damascus, Jaffa, Baghdad and, of course, the most sacred and most coveted of all, Jerusalem. Jerusalem was divided immediately after the British withdrawal: East Jerusalem belonged to Jordan, while West Jerusalem went to Israel. The Old City and the Mount of Olives became part of Jordan and a visit to Jerusalem meant a visit to two countries. Since 1967, however, Jerusalem has been again unified under Israeli rule. The colours, smell, tastes and sounds of the city are something that cannot be easily forgotten, as it was right here that almost all of the main prophets were born and died, resurrected and ascended skywards. Jerusalem is a serious metropolis with modern roads, the Calatrava Bridge, modern trams and all the other wonders of the modern world. It is located at a site where the sky is close, and from there, in the
desert, it is easiest to think about eternity. That’s perhaps why Jerusalem has been the “most productive city” for religious thought since time immemorial. There are also older cities, and those with longer artistic or military tradition and impressive buildings, but this is undoubtedly the planet’s most magical city. Jerusalem, whose
JERUSALEM HAS BEEN THE “MOST PRODUCTIVE CITY” FOR RELIGIOUS THOUGHT SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL name in Hebrew (Yershalayim) means “city of peace”, has always been condemned to live completely contrary to its name: tensions around it continue to this day. Historically, Jerusalem has been the spiritual centre of Judaism since 1000 B.C.,
The old city of Jerusalem is divided into four quarters: Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian. The Muslim quarter is the most populous and most colourful, and extends from Lion’s Gate to Damascus Gate. It’s full of colourful alleys and streets where you can enjoy the Orient. The Christian district stretches from Jaffa Gate, while the Armenian quarter is the smallest and contains shrines of the Monophysite Armenian church, which has stubbornly survived as an independent church.
when King David established the capital of the United Kingdom of Israel right here. This Jewish city gained even more meaning when David’s son, Solomon, built the most sacred temple dedicated to Yahweh, today known as the “First Temple”. However, as the torture and execution of Christ also happened here, the city also became sacred for Christians, with its many holy site of striking beauty. To complicate matters even further, Muslims also consider this as being their holy city, the third most important after Mecca and Medina, mentioned in the Quran as the place of the “Farthest Mosque”. The farthest mosque was built
THE MUSLIM QUARTER WAS IMMEDIATELY RECOGNISABLE BY THE CROWD, THE AROMAS OF SPICES, TASTES, AND SOMEWHAT MORE AGILE TRADERS WHO WERE MORE PREPARED TO BARGAIN ISRAEL 2017
THERE IS ALSO THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE, WHERE CHRIST WAS ARRESTED. ACROSS THE STREET IS THE LION’S GATE, THROUGH WHICH, ACCORDING TO THE JEWS, THE TRUE MESSIAH WILL PASS
on the site from which the prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven, precisely on the site of the Temple Mount. Throughout its history, the city’s administration has changed hands as many as 44 times. For the Jews, who were the first to declare this city as being sacred, the most important location is the Western Wall, which is located on Zion Hill and also marks the site of the tomb of King David. Here is also the place where Abraham (Ibrahim for Muslims) started executing his son Isaac (as a sacrifice) following Yahweh’s command, but God prevented him from doing that and sent an angel to stay his hand, satisfied with his fidelity. It was here that King David made the sacred Ark of the Covenant. According to legend, it was here that the world separated from chaos during Genesis... King Solomon built the First Temple here, but it was destroyed by Babylonian King Ne-
buchadnezzar in 586BC. The temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great and renamed the Second Temple. A Jewish uprising resulted in the Romans destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, and on the same site they erected – at the time of Emperor Hadrian – a pagan city called Aelia Capitolina and a temple dedicated to the their god, Jupiter (it is interesting that Hadrian first introduced the name “Palaestina” for this region). Only the west wall of the great Jewish temple remained. This wall, due to the tragic history of the Jews and the building itself, is today known as the Wailing Wall. The most popular form of prayer today is to write wishes on pieces of paper and insert them into the cracks in the wall, while it is also possible to send a letter addressed “God, the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel,” which will be neatly tucked into the wall by a postman! After a while, pieces
of paper and letters are sent to the Cemetery of Desires. Just as all Muslim places of worship face Mecca, so all the world’s synagogues (at least their altars) face the Wailing Wall. The mosque known as the Temple on the Wall was built in 692AD, when the Muslims snatched Syria from the Byzantines in a violent rush. The mosque, which is also the oldest standing Islamic building in the world, has a gold-plated dome. It represents the iconic symbol of the city, as the central point of most panoramic images and postcards. At its heart is a stone foundation, a large wall at the base of the building, which in the Jewish concept of the world is considered the navel of the world. Muslims also believe that the stone foundation traces the hooves of Muhammad’s winged horse, Buraq, who had a woman's face and the body of a peacock, and on which the Prophet
THE HOLOCAUST MUSEUM YAD VASHEM IS AN INEXPLICABLE EXPERIENCE, BUT ARCHITECTURALLY INTERESTING 36
JAFFA GATE IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PART OF JERUSALEM – THE HUGE MARKET BEHIND THE GATE IS THE MOST POPULAR PLACE FOR TOURISTS ascended to heaven, straight to Jennet, i.e. Paradise, after his night journey from Mecca. Close to the mosque, which is an excellent example of the Byzantine influence on early Muslim art, there is another mosque, Al-Aqsa. It, together with the nearby turquoise shrine, composes the unified holy place of Hassan ash-Sharif. And finally is the most hidden and most mystical part of the city, the Christian part. Jerusalem is the place where Jesus was killed and rose from the dead. Before he died on Golgotha Hill, he traversed the city through Via Dolorosa or the Street of Pain. Today the Via Dolorosa is an impressive street in the old part of the city, through which Jesus carried his cross, and there are 14 places where Jesus succumbed, fell, was addressed etc. It is believed that nine such places are “proven” by the Gospel, while five may have been
JERUSALEM HAS BEEN THE SPIRITUAL CENTRE OF JUDAISM SINCE 1000 B.C., WHEN KING DAVID ESTABLISHED THE CAPITAL OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF ISRAEL RIGHT HERE
created later through stories. The most sacred site for Christians is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Golgotha Hill, where Jesus is believed to have been crucified. Then there was the cave in which Christ was laid after his mortal demise on Good Friday, and from where he was resurrected on Easter Sunday. The church was erected by the Holy Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine – the Roman leader who formalised the Edict of Milan in 313AD and proclaimed religious tolerance for Christians, after having seen a sign of the baptism that brought him victory on the battlefield. Interestingly, the church is divided among Greek, Coptic, Georgian, Armenian Monophysite, Roman Catholic, Syrian and Ethiopian churches, while the tomb can only be entered simultaneously by three pilgrims, with everyone able to stay only for
three minutes, due to the large number of visitors. This period is enough for meditation, they say. The place where Jesus taught his disciples is perhaps the calmest and most beautiful in Jerusalem: this is the Mount of Olives. It is where Christ, following the resurrection, summoned his followers and ascended to heaven as his last act on Earth. There is also the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christ was arrested. Across the street is the Golden Gate, through which, according to the Jews, the true Messiah will pass. The Christians say that will be Christ during his Second Coming, while the Muslims say that he will not come, because there are no prophets after Muhammad, but they chose to brick up the Golden Gate anyway, just in case. Christians and Jews laughed at this, saying that the Messiah can demolish a wall in a single motion... when he comes.