Evangelical execs eye Israel deals as rapport with Holy Land matures

Conference for pro-Israel Christian businesspeople aims to showcase the nation’s tech, as relationship evolves from philanthropy to investment

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Executives discuss business opportunities as part of the ARISE 2018 conference in Israel (Courtesy)
Executives discuss business opportunities as part of the ARISE 2018 conference in Israel (Courtesy)

Around 650 Christian businessmen from 50 countries, including the US, Europe, China and India, are set to come to Israel early next month to learn how local technologies are impacting the world and to seek business opportunities.

Most of the participants are pro-Israel Evangelicals who run businesses ranging from small to those with billions of dollars in annual revenues, and who want to tap into the Israeli business and tech ecosystem.

The executives will attend the second annual conference on “Israeli Innovation for Humanity” held by ARISE, a nonprofit organization that aims to match Christian Israel-loving businesspeople from abroad with entrepreneurs in Israel.

The purpose of the conference is to showcase Israeli technology, innovation and startups, especially those that are impacting the quality of life of people around the world, and to expose attendees to practical solutions to current challenges in the fields of health, agriculture, education and transportation. among others.

Calev Myers, Founder and President of ARISE , a non-profit organization that aims to match Christian Israel-loving businessmen from abroad to business entrepreneurs in Israel (Courtesy)

Most of the businesspeople attending already support Israel and “stand up” for the nation, said attorney Calev Myers, founder and president of ARISE and a partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co law firm, in a phone conversation. Myers is also the founder of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. a civil rights organization, and serves on the board of the International Association for Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, a UN-recognized nonprofit devoted to promote human rights globally.

ARISE has managed to convince these visitors that the best way to support Israel is “at the business level,” Myers said.

He noted that there was a paradigm shift underway in relations between Israel-loving Christians and the Holy Land, which had traditionally been based on philanthropy; as Israel struggled to establish itself, juggling wars. waves of new immigrants and economic crises, the Evangelical community was there to support the developing nation via donations and humanitarian projects.

“That relationship is changing, because we are no longer a third world country,” Myers said. The nation faces serious socioeconomic and security challenges, he said, “but we don’t need humanitarian aid like we used to.”

Israel today is an “economic powerhouse. It is ground zero globally for innovation, for startup companies, for tech, and so how can we best leverage our relations with the Christian world? I think it needs to move from a nonprofit relationship to a for-profit relationship.”

The relationship, he said, should be based on the fact that Israel can be a “blessing to your business. We have technology that can change your world, your city, your nation, your economy. And so, by connecting to us and connecting the economies, you are going to have not only spiritual benefit but a very physical tangible benefit.”

A business or investment connection, he said, creates a much stronger bond than a one-off donation, which gives a “one-time good feeling and then you walk away.”

The 650-person delegation will include members of the International Christian Chamber of Commerce (ICCC) from 50 countries; American businessmen from the “OCEAN” network in Cincinnati, which aims to increase awareness of God in the marketplace; businessmen from the Karunya Institute of Technology and Sciences in India, which seeks to address the problems of humanity via technology; and corporate executives from the CEO Forum, a radio station in Greenwich Connecticut that helps people learn directly from top CEOs.

Among the attendees at this year’s conference will be US baseball player Albert Pujols. Pujols, 39, a native of the Dominican Republic who has spent most of his life in Los Angeles, was a founding partner of ARISE.

Myers, who has been actively fighting the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for years, said an adversarial approach to BDS “doesn’t make significant gains,” he said. “The best solution to the problem of BDS is more business for Israel.”

ARISE also wishes to open a global trading center in Jerusalem in 2022, and is “building the foundation” for a networking database of businesses owned by Christians who have faith in Israel and the Bible.

“We will be a platform of platforms, a network of networks,” he said, predicting that it would be significant for the future of Israel’s economy.

The 2019 ARISE Business Matchmaking Summit will take place on December 4, 2019, in Rishon Lezion, and will be run with the Israel Export Institute, the Israel Federation of Bi-National Chambers of Commerce, the Israel Manufacturers Association and the Israel Innovation Institute.

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