Welcome to the Solidarity Trip to Israel May’24

Day 1

We are very excited to welcome you to the first day of our Solidarity trip to Israel. Here is a short update on the events that took place today during our 1st day of travelling in Israel.

Briefing from Calev Ben-David

This morning we heard from Calev Ben-David, a co-anchor on i24NEWS , who gave us insights on the current geopolitical situation, primarily focusing on Israel’s political and military landscape. Calev Ben-David, a former managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and now an anchor for I-24 News, shared his experiences and observations, offering a nuanced view of the challenges and dynamics in Israel. He touched on his transition from print journalism to television, his life in Jerusalem, and discussed his perspectives on significant events impacting Israel, such as the possibility of hostage deals and the implications of military operations in Gaza. He also spoke about his reflections on living in Israel during these tumultuous times, embodying a blend of personal anecdote and professional analysis.

He spoke about what it felt like to be sitting in his home in Jerusalem on the night that the news reported missiles have been fired from Iran and would arrive over Israel within two hours. Fortunately, as we all know there were no casualties from that attack, thanks to technology that all emanated from the Technion.

Uri Geller

During our visit to Uri Geller’s museum, we were fortunate enough to have Uri himself guide us through the fascinating collection of artefacts. As we moved from one intriguing item to another, Uri shared captivating stories behind each piece. His enthusiasm was infectious as he detailed the historical and mystical significance of items such as a Cadillac covered in bent spoons and various objects gifted by celebrities and historical figures. He pointed out spoons contributed by famous figures like John Lennon, Salvador Dalí, and Michael Jackson, each with its own unique backstory. Each story seemed to weave a narrative that blurred the lines between reality and the supernatural, inviting us to question the limits of the human mind and the mysteries of the universe. His detailed explanations left us pondering the profound connections between art, history, and psychic phenomena.

Another exhibit related to Elvis Presley deals with the time of his death. On his deathbed some of his hair turned grey and his hair dresser who was Jewish decided to colour the white hair one by one with a mascara stick which was exhibited in the museum.

Joseph Bau

In the intimate setting of Joseph Bau’s former studio, now a museum, we had the profound experience of hearing his two daughters speak about their parents. They shared touching anecdotes about Joseph and his wife, Rebecca, whose love story blossomed despite the shadows of the Holocaust. Joseph and Rebecca first met in the Plaszow concentration camp and were married in that camp, a dire backdrop that makes their enduring love even more remarkable. The studio walls, adorned with Joseph’s vibrant animations and intricate graphic art, seemed to echo with the creative spirit and resilience of their father. His daughters, with palpable reverence, recounted how their mother supported Joseph’s artistic ventures, often being his muse and critic, contributing significantly to his legacy. They also spoke of how their father used his artistic skills to forge documents, aiding fellow prisoners and playing a crucial role in their survival. This museum, they emphasised, was not just a place of art, but a sanctuary of enduring human spirit and a testament to the resilience and indomitability of love in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Joseph was forced to work for the Nazis during the period when the ghettos were created and he knew what was going to happen and decided to put a sign outside his shop but using the calligraphy and font that the Nazis were using. Of course they came and knocked on his door and demanded that he came to work for them which he did as he had no choice. Using his position he gathered information and passed it to the Jewish resistance and also used his position to forge documents for Jews to get out of the ghetto. In this way he has saved many Jews.

In 1956 they came to Israel together after having lost all of their families, they were the two remaining family members. Joseph worked for Mossad and helped create forged documents including those documents used by Mossad to capture Nazi criminals including Eichmann.

Roy – IDF Soldier

During dinner we met a soldier who has been involved in cyber security training officers in the IDF. He explained to the group how important this element of training is.

Brigadier General (Res.) Professor Jacob Nagel

During a comprehensive lecture on Israel’s national security challenges, Jacob Nagel, a former national security advisor, provided deep insights into the multifaceted aspects of security and regional politics that Israel navigates. He outlined the core pillars of Israel’s national security strategy which include technology enhancement and force buildup. Nagel emphasised the pivotal role of innovation in maintaining and advancing Israel’s defence capabilities.

Nagel also detailed the complex geopolitical landscape surrounding Israel. He discussed the critical importance of US/Israel relations, especially in the context of upcoming elections, and the impact these have on bilateral strategies. The Iranian threat was a major focus, with discussions on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the potential for a multi-front conflagration that could involve various regional actors.

The dynamics with Gulf nations, including the Saudis and other moderate Sunni states, were highlighted as pivotal, especially in the wake of recent peace deals and normalisation agreements. The challenges posed by Syria and Lebanon, particularly concerning precision-guided munitions (PGM), the enforcement of red lines, and the interactions with Iranian and Russian influences in these areas, were also analysed.

Nagel didn’t overlook the internal and neighbouring challenges from Hamas in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, and the ongoing security concerns with Egypt and Jordan. Each of these relationships and areas, he noted, required careful, strategic consideration to maintain stability and security.

Additionally, Nagel spoke about the Advanced Defence Research Institute (ADRI) at TECHNION, describing innovative projects such as the Multi Autonomous Swarm Searching Targets (MASST), which aims to enhance autonomous capabilities in surveillance and targeting. The Technion Underground Infrastructure System (TUIS) project seeks to develop solutions for challenges posed by underground warfare environments. Another groundbreaking project he discussed was the Brain-Machine Interface for K9 Operations, which aims to revolutionise how military working dogs are used in the field.

Through his detailed presentation, Jacob Nagel painted a picture of a nation deeply embedded in a complex security environment, continually pushing the boundaries of technology and strategy to safeguard its future.

Holocaust memorial ceremony

At the end of the evening the group joined together for short holocaust memorial ceremony to finish the day.

Day 1 Album

Day 2

Here is a short update on the events that took place today during the 2nd day of our Solidarity trip to Israel.

Sha’ar HaGai Museum

The first part of our tour focused on the history of the road to Jerusalem during the 1948 War of Independence. We were told how Sha’ar HaGai was a significant location during the conflict and the remnants of military bunkers and the old British police station, whose walls still bear the scars of past battles.

The Sha’ar HaGai Museum, also known as the Khan Sha’ar Hagai Museum and Heritage Center, focuses on the pivotal role of the Sha’ar HaGai area in Israel’s 1947–1948 War of Independence. Located on the historical route to Jerusalem, this site was a crucial battleground where Jewish convoys faced intense ambushes from Arab forces controlling the surrounding hills.

The museum’s exhibitions are designed to be immersive and interactive, aiming to transport visitors back to the critical battles that occurred at this strategic location. We heard personal stories from the fighters, interactive displays, and historical artefacts that include armoured vehicles and other military equipment used during the conflicts.

The Sha’ar HaGai Museum not only highlights the military and historical significance of the area but also serves as a memorial to the courage and sacrifices of those who fought to keep Jerusalem accessible during the war. The exhibits and the setting itself offer a deep, emotional insight into the struggles and triumphs of the period, making it a poignant destination for understanding a key chapter in Israeli history.

David Horovitz

In the video transcript, David Horovitz provides an extensive update on the Times of Israel’s readership and the grave challenges Israel faces in the current geopolitical landscape. He mentions that the news site was read by 10 million people last year and experienced a significant increase in traffic during October and November, attributing this surge to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding an escalation in regional tensions. This spike in readership reflects the global interest in Israel’s complex situation, particularly during periods of increased conflict.

David discusses the tragic events of October 7th in detail, describing them as the worst tragedy in modern Israeli history. He criticises the Israeli government and military for their handling of the situation, pointing out significant failures in intelligence and security that allowed the tragedy to occur. According to him, these oversights led to a catastrophic breach of national security, resulting in extensive loss of life and further destabilising the region. He expresses a deep frustration with the state’s response and the subsequent political and military discourse, which he feels fails to acknowledge the severity and the root causes of the October 7th events adequately.

Furthermore, Horovitz delves into the implications of these events on public perception and media coverage. He critiques the Israeli military’s public relations efforts and the government’s overall strategy in communicating with both the national and international community. The failure to provide clear and timely information, he argues, has not only hampered effective journalism but has also contributed to a skewed international understanding of Israel’s security challenges and responses. His discussion underscores the crucial role of transparent and responsible journalism in times of crisis and the need for a more strategic approach to public diplomacy and media relations by the Israeli government.

David focused on how important it is for the Israeli government and the army to respond immediately when the news items are announce in the international media. Too often, Israel feels that it must wait in order to verify certain facts which is very noble, however this allows the international press to simple publish information received from those who wish Israel ill without anyone having the ability to put forward counter information.

For our lunch we stopped off at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel near Jerusalem for a delicious lunch. This kibbutz has now developed and become a community centre with incredible sports facilities restaurants and shops.

President’s residence – Isaac Herzog

During our visit to the Israeli President’s residence in Jerusalem, our guide Sharon offered an enriching narrative that vividly brought the significance of this historic site to life. One of the highlights was the Shraga Weil Doorway, an artistically significant entry that symbolises the dual roles of the President. Sharon explained that the outer metal part of the doorway represents the President’s duty to protect the nation, while the inner wooden part signifies the warmth and welcoming nature of the presidency, embodying the sanctuary and support the office provides to the Israeli people.

Sharon described the presidency as the “fourth unofficial branch of government,” emphasising the President’s unique role in listening and responding to the concerns of the citizens. She recounted a touching story that underscored this point: a 40-year-old man, previously ineligible for military service due to a past accident which left him without a driver’s license, was pardoned by the President. This act allowed him to fulfil his duty and report to the army, highlighting the President’s role in directly affecting the lives of individuals.

Furthermore, we learned about an annual tradition where the President awards 120 students who have shown exemplary achievements and contributions to society. This ceremony, held during Independence Day, showcases the President’s commitment to fostering leadership and excellence among the youth.

Visitors to the President’s residence are not only treated to these stories but are also given insights into the roles and responsibilities of the Israeli presidency. The residence itself, located in the heart of Jerusalem, serves not just as a home but as a venue for significant state functions and a symbol of the Israeli state’s stability and continuity. Through these narratives and the rich symbolism embodied in places like the Shraga Weil Doorway, the visit to the President’s residence becomes a deeply informative and memorable experience.

Kotel & Chain of Generations

Today, we embarked on an enriching exploration of two of Jerusalem’s historical gems, beginning with the Kotel, also known as the Western Wall. This relic of antiquity is tucked in the heart of the city, standing tall as an emblem of Jewish perseverance and faith. Its limestone blocks are imbued with millennia of history, prayers, and dreams, leaving us in awe of its enduring strength and symbolism. We reverently placed our handwritten prayers into the wall’s cracks, just as countless pilgrims have done before us, and the solemn silence of the area only amplified the spiritual resonance of the act. The Kotel offered an unforgettable window into the ancient past, presenting us with tangible evidence of Jerusalem’s enduring role in Jewish heritage.

Following our visit to the Kotel, we ventured to The Chain of Generations Center, a mesmerisingly modern and innovative contrast to the ancient wall we’d just visited. Located in the Western Wall Tunnels, this museum masterfully interweaves glass art with a vivid narration of Jewish history. We journeyed through centuries, tracing the path of Jewish generations from Abraham and Sarah down to the modern era. The surreal glass sculptures, representing different periods and important events, beautifully mirrored the continuity and resilience of Jewish tradition and culture. Each sculpture, accompanied by engaging and informative audio-visual elements, brought stories to life, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the unbroken chain of Jewish history and heritage.

Jeremy Langford – Chain of Generations

At the Chain of Generations museum we were met by the artist who created all of the glass artwork of the museum. He gave a briefing to the group about the concept of the museum and its artwork. His name is Jeremy Langford and we were very fortunate as he does not usually meet any groups so this was a special treat. He gave a short talk to the group and then accompanied us through the museum until the end.

Mickey Rosenfeld

During our time in Jerusalem, we were privileged to receive a comprehensive briefing from Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld. His credentials, including his role as the former Israel Police National Spokesman to the foreign media, a combat officer in the Yamam counter-terrorism unit, and his current position as the Head of International Cooperation Israel National Police, made his perspective invaluable. Born in the UK and having moved to Israel at the age of 24, Micky possesses an international viewpoint that uniquely qualifies him to establish and maintain the Israeli Police force’s international relations.

Micky’s updates on the current security situation and foreign affairs in Jerusalem were enlightening, providing a firsthand look into the complexities of the city’s dynamics. He provided invaluable insights that significantly augmented our understanding of the geopolitical intricacies at play. His knowledge and expertise, accumulated from years of experience on the ground, helped to contextualise our experiences in the city. The briefing was both educational and informative, equipping us with a more nuanced understanding of the city’s current status. Our day in Jerusalem, therefore, proved to be profoundly enriching, setting a solid foundation for the rest of our journey. Hearing from seasoned professionals like Micky Rosenfeld provided an invaluable dimension to our group, offering us a deeper understanding of the city’s rich history, complex present, and promising future.

Mount Herzl

Upon arrival at Mountt Herzl we were greeted by the head of education of the Herzl Centre who explained many things about the mountain and how special it is. She explained that it’s really called the mountain of remembrance and the most soldiers who have fallen during Israel’s wars are buried there including Herzl himself and all of Israel’s leaders such as prime ministers and presidents.

We went to visit the cemetery of all the soldiers who have fallen since the war began on October 7. The group visited the graves and we recited a special prayer which is called  El Male Rachamim. We had a short tour of parts of Mount Herzl and then enjoyed a late dinner before travelling back to Tel Aviv.

Day 2 Album

Day 3

Here is a short update on the events that took place today during the 3rd day of our Solidarity trip to Israel.

Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman

This morning we received a briefing by Maayan Jaffee who is the outgoing deputy CEO of the Jerusalem Post and a former news editor of that paper. She started by explaining to the group how important the taking control of the Rafa crossing was two days ago. It was explained that this is where a lot of the smuggling of various items take place that are currently not allowed to pass through and then continued to talk about the situation relating to the hostages, given that it has now been seven months. It is widely believed that only around 30 hostages are left out of the original 240. In addition it does not look like the government will accept the current deal on the table.

Last night there was a significant poll taken, the question was whether the prime minister is more interested in bringing back the hostages Dead or Alive or his political career 56% said that is is more about his political career 37% that he is interested in the hostages and the remainder did not know. These are quite scary statistics.

The current deal means that the end of the war would be part of the deal over a period of time which is some months and that all the hostages alive or dead would be released.

Other parts of the deal on the table which is the only deal and not a good one for israel is that Hamas would receive huge humanitarian aid and there would be three phases of the deal, each phase of the deal would last 42 days. During each phase a number of political prisoners mainly women and young offenders would be released for each released hostage alive or dead 30 prisoners would be released to Hamas. Furthermore the deal includes the IDF completely pulling out of Gaza and a deal to rebuild Gaza over a period of five years  this would include money and assistance from other countries including some Arab nations.

Public opinion in Israel would want this deal to be accepted even though it is not a good deal because a high level of importance is placed on bringing back the bodies even if they are not alive.

She discussed the Hamas propaganda machine and said that just yesterday Hamas released information about a female hostage that just died because of actions that Israel had taken however it is widely believed in Israel in all quarters that she has been dead for a long time.

She ended the briefing on a more positive note that in Israel today there’s never been more unity amongst the nation but not only that there’s never been more unity with the global Jewish community sadly because of the current situation.

Aleph Farms – Lab grown meat (Startup)

In today’s presentation by Galia and Gary at Aleph Farm, co-founded by Professor Shulamit Levenberg, one of the deans from the Technion, we gained insights into the pioneering work in the field of cultivated meat. Aleph Farm, guided by Professor Levenberg as the Chief Scientific Adviser, has developed a robust portfolio with 16 patent groups, focusing on overcoming multiple challenges in the cultivated meat industry.

The key issues they are addressing include the regulatory complexities associated with this new form of meat production, high production costs, and logistical hurdles in scaling operations across key markets such as Singapore, Europe, and the US. Unlike traditional meat, which typically takes 15-30 months to produce, Aleph Farm’s technology enables them to grow meat cells in just 4 weeks, after which the cells are assembled onto a scaffolding system to form meat.

Galia and Garry also discussed their collaboration with renowned chefs like Eyal Shani, aiming to craft unique dishes that highlight the quality and versatility of cultivated meat. The technology originated from a single cell taken from a cow named Lucy, and this cell line can now be replicated indefinitely, meaning no further cells need to be harvested from animals.

Nutritionallyd, the meat produced by Aleph Farm matches conventional beef in terms of calories and nutrients, offering a sustainable alternative without compromising dietary preferences. The company has set a goal to become profitable within the next five years and is exploring future possibilities such as cultivating lamb meat from sheep cells.

Despite the promising technology, the impact of Aleph Farm on the global meat market is currently small, with the entire cultivated meat sector only representing a few billion dollars in a market worth trillions. However, interest is growing, a survey conducted in the UK across various age groups and overall 60% of the people surveyed were very open to the concept of cultivated meat being introduced to the UK. We were told that next year the cultivated meat will be available on sale in restaurants in Israel.

Unfortunately, recent global events, specifically the war, have impacted Aleph Farm by causing delays in product launches due to employees being redrafted into the army. On a positive note, the cultivated meat process introduces built-in food security benefits, mitigating some traditional risks associated with livestock farming.

Overall, the presentation painted a picture of a forward-thinking company poised to make significant contributions to the meat industry, offering sustainable alternatives that could potentially transform our food system.

Mana.bio – AI based drug delivery (Startup)

In a compelling presentation today, Yogev Debbi, the CEO and co-founder of Mana.bio and a Technion graduate, introduced us to their innovative approach to drug delivery using artificial intelligence. He also took a moment to acknowledge the significant contributions of Professor Avi Schroeder and Professor Kira Radinsky both from the Technion, who are pivotal as scientific co-founders of the venture.

Mana.bio began its journey in 2021 after four months of ideation, during which Yogev met with Avi and Kira. The core idea behind Mana.bio is to leverage AI to enhance RNA delivery, a method that holds potential for transforming how drugs are administered to target diseases effectively.

The company has already secured 3 patents in the drug delivery industry and focuses on directing drugs to specific organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys, and brains. Their tests on mice and monkeys have shown impressive results, positioning them as a promising player in medical research.

Mana has raised US$14.9 million seed funding. Now they will go out for their second round of funding in about 18 months. They are estimating to raise about US$50 million.

Mana.bio’s current research efforts are concentrated on refining their technology to target specific tissues more accurately, which would significantly improve the efficacy of drug delivery. One of the most innovative aspects of their operation involves the use of AI to navigate the complex landscape of existing patents. Mana has trained AI systems to understand patents within the industry, enabling the creation of novel drug delivery solutions that do not infringe on existing patents.

Their business model is strategically designed to develop these drug delivery systems and then offer the platform as a service to other pharmaceutical companies for delivering their drugs. This collaboration strategy could make Mana.bio a central hub in the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to innovate more effective treatment methods.

A significant achievement highlighted was their success in achieving a 100 times optimisation in drug delivery to the lungs using their AI-enhanced platform.

However, the recent war in Israel has posed challenges, with 25% of Mana.bio’s staff being recalled to the army from reserve duty, which has impacted their operations and progress. Despite these setbacks, Mana.bio continues to push the boundaries of medical science and technology, driven by a mission to revolutionise healthcare through precision drug delivery.

Ben Myers – Deputy Head of Mission in Israel

Ben Myers, the Deputy Head of Mission in Israel, provided an update on the relationship between Israel and the United Kingdom following the attacks by Hamas on October 7th. He detailed the diplomatic interactions and the support the UK has offered to Israel in the aftermath. The UK, recognising Hamas as a terrorist organisation, condemned the attacks and reiterated its commitment to Israel’s security. In response to the events, the UK engaged in several diplomatic initiatives aimed at supporting peace and stability in the region. This includes discussions at various international forums to address the immediate impacts of the conflict and to promote long-term peace efforts.

Ben Myers has been in the foreign office of the UK for 15 years. He has served in the UK initially in the foreign office and subsequently in Mexico and Panama. Ben was appointed deputy British ambassador in Israel nearly one and a half year ago. He commented on the fact that the British foreign office still advises against travel to Israel from the UK and chuckled at the fact that the entire Technion UK group had decided this advise.

Lior Akerman – former Brig General in the I.S.A.

Lior Akerman, with his extensive background as a former Brigadier General in the Israel Security Agency, offered a detailed analysis of Israel’s current security landscape and the broader geopolitical dynamics at play. He emphasised the persistent threat posed by Hamas and other terrorist organisations, discussing how these groups influence Israel’s security policies and its relationships with neighbouring countries.

Akerman explained the delicate balance Israel must maintain with its neighbours, some of whom have formal peace agreements with Israel while others remain hostile. He highlighted the significant role the United States plays in the Middle East, both as a mediator and a strategic ally of Israel, and how this relationship influences regional politics.

Further, he delved into the complexities introduced by the diverse religious contexts within the region, which often amplify geopolitical tensions. This mix of religious and nationalistic fervour, according to Akerman, complicates diplomatic efforts and peace processes.

On Israel’s future security, Akerman provided an assessment that, while cautiously optimistic about the effectiveness of Israel’s current security measures, acknowledged the ongoing need for vigilance and adaptation in response to emerging threats. He stressed that Israel’s security strategy must continually evolve to address the complexities of regional instability, technological advancements in warfare, and shifting alliances within the Middle East.

Lior spoke about the importance of Shin Bet and how they foiled 500 terror attacks per year. This was the number prior 2003. Subsequently the number of foiled attacks went up to 700 per year. And now in 2024 after just 4 months they have already been more than 500 foiled attacks. Which is an unprecedented number. Lior spoke about the fact that countries around the world come to Israel to meet with the Shin Bet to gain advice about how they can replicate their methods.

He spoke at length about the difference between Shiite and Sunni Arabs. And the fact that they hate each other. Hesbola is Shiite and they fought against ISIS who are Sunni. He went on to explain how the real war in the Middle East is not between Israelis and Arabs but it is between shiites??? and sunnis. Interestingly, the only thing that unites them is to have Israel as their common enemy.

He spoke about Iran and how they have reached a level of uranium enrichment of 60%. However, if they mange to each 80% which is feasible within a few months of even a year, they would have nuclear capabilities. However, even if they managed to reach this level, Israel would still not be at threat of annihilation, quite the reverse, Israel could easily wipe out Iran in response.

Lior gave a synopsis on each of Israel’s neighbouring countries, which was illuminating. He spoke about October 7th and all the mistakes that Israel made and commented that Hamas had 15 years relatively undisturbed to prepare for its attack. Hamas is part of the Muslim brotherhood. And its sole aim is to take over all of the Middle East, not just Israel. Hamas says that it is doing this in the name of Islam but this is a big lie.

Wine tasting and Evening party in a private villa in Herzliya

Adam Montefiore

As dusk settled in, overlooking the golden landscape of the Israeli vineyards, we were treated to an evening of indulgence by none other than Adam Montefiore, a luminary in the world of Israeli wine. With an engaging, affable demeanour, Adam guided us through the historical journey of Israeli wines, sharing fascinating anecdotes about their evolution. His profound knowledge of the subject was reflected in his eloquent delivery, as he deftly explained the unique wine-making process, terroir, and microclimates that lend Israeli wines their distinct character. Each glass we held was not just filled with wine but the rich history and passion of generations of vintners.

The night progressed under a canopy of stars, and the villa came alive with a symphony of savours and smells as we partook in a meticulously curated wine and cheese pairing. The Israeli cheeses, a perfect match to the wines, took our gastronomic experience to new heights. With each sip and bite, the group’s conversations grew more animated, smiles widened, and the shared experience drew us closer. Our collective appreciation for Adam’s craft was palpable. He had not only served us a taste of Israeli wine and cheese; he had woven an unforgettable evening filled with stories, camaraderie, and a shared love for good wine.

Day 3 Album

Day 4

Here is a short update on the events that took place today during the 4th day of our Solidarity trip to Israel.

Benjamin – IDF Soldier

Benjamin provided a comprehensive update on the workings of the IDF’s media branch and its role in public communication, especially in the context of the ongoing conflict following the attacks on October 7th. He outlined the IDF’s immediate responses to the terror attacks spreading across Israel and how these are communicated to the public.

Regarding the home front, Benjamin mentioned the drafting of 300,000 reservists in the aftermath of October 7th and the displacement of 61,000 residents from areas close to Israel’s borders due to the war.

He detailed the operational challenges faced by the IDF, including dealing with deception tactics, the handling of hostages, and the complexity of combating militants embedded within civilian areas. He also noted the extensive tunnel networks built by Hamas.

Benjamin discussed Israel’s efforts to maintain humanitarian channels amid the conflict. A significant development is the ongoing work with the US to establish a floating mobile pier to facilitate the receipt of humanitarian aid.

Furthermore, Benjamin highlighted the misuse of civilian humanitarian supplies by Hamas, accusing them of exploiting civilian suffering for media warfare. He noted the strategic focus on Rafah, beginning with the evacuation of civilians and expanding the humanitarian safe zone there.

He elaborated on Israel’s broader security challenges, referencing a multi-arena conflict involving Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iranian-backed terror groups in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, and issues in Judea & Samaria. Additionally, he mentioned an attack from Iran on April 13th, where 350 ballistic missiles, UAVs, and cruise missiles were fired towards Israel.

Benjamin concluded with the IDF’s current objectives: ensuring that an event like October 7th never recurs, working to bring home all hostages held by Hamas, and securing all of Israel’s borders.

Technion Visitor Centre with our guide Haifa

Haifa was our friendly and knowledgeable guide for our tour of the Technion Visitor Centre. From the moment we arrived, her enthusiasm for the institute was infectious, making the tour not only informative but also engaging. She seamlessly navigated us through the state-of-the-art facility, detailing the history and achievements of the Technion with an evident passion. Her in-depth knowledge of the institute’s contributions to science, technology, and society was impressive, effortlessly answering our myriad of questions. Haifa made sure to personalise the tour to our interests, diving deeper into areas that intrigued us. Her deep understanding of the subject matter transformed the tour into an unforgettable experience, leaving us with a profound appreciation for the Technion.

Shlomo Maital and Rafi Nave

We had the privilege of hearing from Shlomo Maital and Rafi Nave today, two influential figures renowned for their insights into innovation and entrepreneurship. Both are fellows of the Shalom Neaman Institute. Shlomo Maital, a leading professor emeritus at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is an expert in the fields of economics and management. Over his extensive career, he has made substantial contributions to the academic understanding of business innovation. Rafi Nave, known for his pioneering work in the tech industry, serves as the Director of the Bronica Entrepreneurship Center at the Technion. His efforts have significantly bolstered the entrepreneurial ecosystem, facilitating the birth and growth of numerous startups.

Maital and Nave have recently collaborated to pen the book, “Aspiration, Inspiration and Perspiration.” The book presents a unique framework for understanding and navigating the journey of entrepreneurship, leveraging their combined expertise. They argue that successful entrepreneurship is a blend of these three elements – the aspiration to reach for ambitious goals, inspiration to develop innovative ideas, and perspiration, representing the hard work and determination required to transform those ideas into reality. This unique perspective offers fresh insights for anyone involved in entrepreneurial pursuits.

During their talk today, Maital and Nave expounded on the themes encapsulated in their book, emphasising the importance of robust aspiration, continuous inspiration, and relentless perspiration in achieving entrepreneurial success. Their insights resonated with our group, providing valuable lessons and practical guidance for the road ahead. Hearing directly from these two thought leaders offered an invaluable opportunity to learn from their vast knowledge and experience in the realm of entrepreneurship.

Shlomo shared incredible and inspiring story of Israeli secondary school children winning world competition on robotics as part of ‘FIRST Robotics competition 2024’. FIRST is a program throughout Israel for high school children to be encouraged to be interested in studying tech subjects at university. It is an extremely successful program and was started by the Technion and is still a Technion project. This project is part sponsored by Technion UK. 

At the end of the talk, Shalom and Rafi gave everyone in the group a signed copy of their book.

Meeting Technion students

The final element of our visit to the Technion was to meet some of the brilliant students. There are 20,000 students in total and 5,000 of them live on campus. This is the largest number of students living on an Israeli campus. First we met the two presidents of the student union Itay and Alice, they explained how things work on campus and what the role of the student union is. They spoke about how politics are not allowed to be expressed publicly in terms of demonstrations for example. All students are allowed to hold whatever views they want and talk to each other about them. However, it is not allowed to publicly try to influence other students’ views. After that we met two more students, Jeries, an Arab-Israeli student from Nazareth who is in his 4th year, who is in the Technion chamber orchestra playing the violin and Wasim, a Druze student who explained how Druze students come to the Technion on a special program which is in partnership with the IDF, which enables them to study at the Technion and then later do their army service. Both students explained a little bit about the challenges of studying and being accepted into, such a high level university.

Dinner on the roof of Carlton Hotel

As tonight is the final night and the tour will finish tomorrow afternoon, we decided to have a farewell dinner on the roof of the hotel and invited the manager of this amazing hotel, Mr Yossi Navi, to speak to the group and say a little bit about the challenges of running a tourist hotel during these challenging times. Technion UK always uses the Carlton Tel Aviv as its main hotel in Israel.

Day 4 Album

Day 5 – Last day

Here is a short update for our last day of the Solidarity trip to Israel.

Eylon Levy

How did support for Israel go down so much?

Today Biden stated that if Israel goes into Rafa America will stop sending weapons, so what exactly happened with the relationship with America, this is a very serious situation.

There are many repercussions and ramifications to statements like this from America for example Hezbollah will see this as a message that Israel does not have the same level of support from America that it had previously and this is a dangerous situation to be in. Even about the Hostage situation America’s statement regarding Rafa has taken away from Israel its best chances of, getting its hostages back.

This one has been very unusual and will be studied in future years by many countries who want to manage to do what Israel did without more casualties. Despite the fact that various people are pointing the finger against Israel the actual number of casualties has been incredibly low. It is a war situation and of course, there will be casualties during a war.

Israel has been trying its very best to apply international law in an environment where international law simply does not exist.

The United Nations has supported, from the beginning and in particular, UNRWA has been responsible for covering up some of the worst actions of Hamas.

One thing that has come out of this situation has been the incredible resilience and spirit of Israeli civilian society. On October 7 people woke up and realised that no one was coming to help so people took matters into their own hands, if they had not done this many more would’ve been killed. At the time all the demonstrations that had been going on against the Israeli government stopped and all attention and efforts were directed towards going to help people in this country. 

Although Biden’s statements in the last couple of days have shocked Israel, since the beginning of the war he has stuck his neck out a lot.

One of the group asked how can Israel improve its PR, this is a question that has been asked many times. He replied by saying that what Israel needs is a fleet of spokespeople who can speak every language  One person should be assigned to be the spokesperson to deliver the correct message in his or her language and this unit should operate like an elite IDF unit. This group needs to operate in real time demanding retractions from the media when necessary and holding them to account but also thinking two steps ahead in terms of its strategy. In addition, there is a huge potential to create a big force within the diaspora to mobilise them to become spokespeople for as well and Eylon is trying to set up such a platform.

Someone asked about Trump and his suitability as a US president to partner with Israel. There is no doubt that he has shown incredible support towards Israel in the past however he is erratic and unpredictable and it may not be in Israel’s interest to partner with such an internationally unpopular figure.

In Israel there is no necessity to have elections until 2026 however it is clear from his behaviour that Bibi is already in election mode. In terms of other candidates, Gantz looks like he currently could reach 40 seats. He would support a hostage deal, even one that is not very attractive and he would deal with Hamas at a later date. Lapid is not doing as well but is still a contender. Eylon mentioned that there will be some new players who will enter the political forum in the near future.

He commented that during the war many people shifted towards the right and that people who were already right-wing or now angry towards the ultra-orthodox community who do not need to do army duty and have been given this exemption by the government.

Peres Centre for Peace

We visited this amazing museum on our last day and were fortunate to have Tina as our guide she explained that the name was originally the Centre of Peace but then it changed to the Centre for Peace and Innovation. Shimon Peres was 91 when he died and throughout his life, he was a stalwart supporter advocate and activist for peace between Israeli Arabs and Israelis Jewish people. One of the main reasons that he supported publicising Israeli innovation and using Israeli innovation was because he felt that it was a vehicle to promote peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel

The Peres Centre is a nonprofit organisation that exists to build relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. They run many projects and the whole centre is built around a museum with Various Stories of how Israel became a country of innovation. At the moment there is a temporary exhibition of photos called October 7 and on one of the floors of the museum, there is a tech centre devoted to displaying 44 start-ups of Israel and celebrating some of the incredible innovation that comes out of Israel. Typically around the world only 2% of start-ups succeed but in Israel, this percentage is 4-5%, the reason being that in Israel when an entrepreneur fails with his or her first start-up, generally speaking, they try again and succeed on the second or third or fourth time. This once again, is an example of the resilience of the Israeli people.

Day 5 – Last day album

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