This page documents the 2005 ATS Jon Hirschtick Mission to the Technion, 5-11 November. There are several related pages:
Linda's Email Diary
Steve's Shabbat in Jerusalem
Steve's Larger Trip Page
Linda Chaplik Harris,
Jon Hirschtick, and
Squatters: Gilad Peled, Steve Heller, Bob Roberman, and Scott Barron.
Click on any image to enlarge.
The mission of the mission was to bring together current and potential Technion supporters to experience Jon's high tech version of Technion and Israel. Members of the mission were invited by Jon from around the world, generally from high tech, all successful in business, with a strong SolidWorks representation. Jon and ATS were quite clear that no contribution or other quid pro quo was expected.
As the founder, ex CEO, and current Group Executive of SolidWorks,
Jon has established deep technical contacts around the world,
especially in CAD and high tech in general. The trip exposed us to
cultural, political, industrial, and educational experiences, often
with an orientation to High Tech. Our schedule was high tech and
highly scheduled, packed with opportunities for diverse experience.
Most of the group arrived on Sunday night in Jerusalem. Linda's and Steve's bags were lost, and they caught up with us one and two days later while we were still in Jerusalem. We stayed at the David Citadel Hotel for two nights (Sunday and Monday nights). It was excellent and near the Old City.
Our tour was very well organized by Da'at Travel. Gilad Peled was our tour guide, and our driver was Moshe. Born in Jerusalem, Gilad could call himself a Palestinian, but Jews with local family lines don't generally identify themselves as such. He was extremely knowledgeable, and he oozed hospitality.
On Sunday night, we went to dinner at the Olive & Fish in
Jerusalem. We met Isaac Cohen and his friend Perez, both Technion
grads and both formerly Rafael employees. Although Technion is
Israel's engineering and science powerhouse, Yeshiva U and Tel-Aviv U
were described as up and coming.
Breakfast was at 7:30. All the food on the trip was delicious. Breakfast offered fresh fruits, veggies, and breads, as well as an assortment of smoked fish, cereals, and other savory items.
Our first meeting was at 8:30.
Reuven Hazan is a Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University Political Science Department and a commentator on NPR, etc. A ninth generation Israeli, Hazan offered a succinct analysis of current politics in Israel: the government may fall and a center coalition may form, mitigating the power of extreme left and right. Sharon demonstrated that a Labor crossover can work, similar to Begin making Sinai agreements with Sadat.
For the US to be effective at its Iraqi mission and for the near term success of the various regional activities moving in the democratic direction, the US needs to stay long enough for democracy to work, which is probably ten to fifteen years. It is unlikely the US will stay that long (more likely a year or two); a power vacuum will be formed, and Iran, which is the real center for terrorism, will likely fill the void.
Can Israel exert control after disengagement? Yes. If they (Palestinians) attack us (Israel) when we're out, we can strike back. Conversely, the US cannot attack Iraq while occupying.
Disengagement was described as a demographic imperative. The
Palestinian population recently reached over 50% in "greater Israel."
Hamas has a political arm that realized there was a demographic method
to a one state (Palestinian) solution. By simply getting Israel to
accept all Palestinians as citizens, Palestinians will control any
democratic government by having more votes. The only way to maintain a
democratic and Jewish state is for Jews to remain in the
majority. Paul, Gilad, and I all expressed some concern for this sort
of reasoning, but seeing Palestinians as a "demographic problem" was a
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial, was our first cultural stop. The new museum opened earlier this year, and we also saw the Children's Memorial (photo to the left). The consensus is that the new museum was created due to competition from the museum in Washington D.C.
Generic stories, and stories of specific individuals are
told. Personal artifacts are preserved and placed in context. Nations
that acted humanely are honored. A research library of victims is
there. Yad Vashem is a powerful experience: it takes ones breath away.
We toured the Knesset, Israel's parliament building.
We saw several Chagalls created for the knesset.
We toured the Knesset, which houses Israel's parliament, and we had the opportunity to meet with Haim Ramon, a senior minister in the government, currently Minister in the Ministry of the Prime Minister's Office, in charge of all non-military issues in the Palestinian territories, with decades of previous parliamentary roles. He has chosen not to seek the Prime Minister's office (at least so far) due to quality of life issues: getting elected Prime Minister takes over your life.
Ramon is the architect of the "Big Bang" idea: a new central party from Likud and Labor and others that can draw most of the Israeli votes, maybe headed by Perez and Sharon.
Eighteen months ago, he could not imagine any progress with the Palestinians. Now, he can imagine a future based on a cooperative (negotiated) withdrawal from the West Bank.
Elections in Gaza are very important to successs. Disengagement
was described as risky. We have yet to see if it was worth the risk.
We visited, Proficiency a startup in the CAD/CAM space. Proficiency is headquartered in in Waltham, and the company has seventy-five employees in total. Of these, fifty are in Israel, both technology and back office. There are ten employees in Europe and fifteen in the US. We talked with Roni Or, GM & VP of Product Development, who manages the Israeli operation, and Ari, the founder (1998), a PhD in solid modeling, currently a Professor at Hebrew University.
Proficiency makes translators between CAD systems. Being in Jerusalem, they generally hire Hebrew University grads. They are driving a universal product representation, and their primary customers are in the auto, aerospace, and defense industries. They do not support SolidWorks interoperability (yet).
Openness is a company strategy. Their main competitor is manual remastering, a service based approach (Tata, GSSL, Patney).
Why is HQ in Waltham, not Detroit? The chief investor was Charles River and they explained there is good talent in the Boston area. The east coast time difference is significantly easier to manage than to the west coast.
Venture funding: in retrospect, it was easy to get the funding; it
was during the bubble. Ari wrote a plan based on academic expertise
and got an intro to Charles River. People had thought the challenge
was technically infeasable, but people thought Ari's ideas might work.
Charles River: "We've invested so far in 430 companies; only one
failed based on technology." They wanted to check out the
market. There have been four rounds of investment. The biggest
mistakes have been hiring the wrong people for various
positions. Getting the company going proceeded more slowly than people
had hoped, but now there is strong backing from the board.
We went into the Old City in Jerusalem and to the kotel (Western Wall). I had always thought the kotel was the western wall of the second temple itself, but I learned that it was the western retaining wall that supported the mound upon which the temple stood.
At the wall, Bob was given an award by Jon and ATS.
After dinner at the Taverna restaurant, we walked around the Jewish
and Armenian quarters of the Old City. We climbed to the rooftop at
the nexus of the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Moslem quarters. The
view was spectacular. Architecture in each quarter is somewhat
different, and roof tops are a key to identification. Similarly, Arab
developments are more organic than Jewish areas which tend to be more
planned. As we looked out on Jerusalem, we hummed and sang along with
Gilad as he led us in singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav
(Jerusalem of Gold, a very famous song). We ended our first very full
day in high place, on a high note, all getting pretty high on the
Breakfast Tuesday was a bit earlier at 7:00. Monday was so packed with activity that it seemed that more than one day had elapsed. We braced for another busy day with another unbeatable breakfast as we checked out of the hotel and drove out of Jerusalem.
We saw "the fence," a barrier Israel is constructing to limit the motion of terrorists. Much more than a simple fence, the barrier is typically a hundred meters wide including a fence or wall, monitoring equipment, ditches, dirt swaths that show tracks, service roads, and more. Since erecting the fence around Gaza, terrorist attacks from Gaza have been essentially eliminated, which is viewed as strong evidence for the effectiveness of the barrier.
Of course, the fence forms a de-facto border, which is a political hot potato.
Mid-day we learned that we had scored a meeting with Bibi
Netanyahu, so we ended updriving back to Jerusalem and grabbing some
falafel and swarma in the German Colony. Noone ate at the McDonalds
next door even though they offered McSwarma. A few hours extra driving
was worth the meeting.
We visited Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), a government owned corporation, the largest exporter in Israel with about 15,000 employees. Barry Schlossberg, from the commercial group made a presentation and took us to see a couple of production lines.
IAI is currently ramping up. A new model of the business jet is coming into production. IAI will be making 40 Gulfstreams a year; they have been making 20 a year. Also, IAI is a second tier contractor on the 787 (a composite material plane) producing the door surrounds and floors. 787 program ramping up, worth $50M/year to AIA.
IAI has a big program in converting passenger planes to freight. Freight planes fly once a day and make much more money than commercial planes.
We toured the military fighter plane upgrade line: A4, MIG 21,
K'fir. We then toured the Galaxy (commercial) assembly line including
the Gulfstream 200 executive jet. They showed us a high tech new
positioning tool that saves production time.
We visited the Armed Forces Memorial at Latrun, built on the site of a
British Police station and the site of many fierce battles including
the war of independence for control of the road to Jerusalem. Latrun
is also the world's second largest tank museum (after Fort Knox). Like
the Knesset, there is a video show displaying information about the
soldiers that died on that day, and there is a station where you can
look up additional information on the fallen. There are sill four days
in the year that none have died. Just over four thousand Israeli
soldiers have died in the service of their country, all memorialized
on this wall of names. On the wall are no ranks, just the names.
We spent an amazing hour or two with
Dr. Yossi Leshem
at the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration at
Latrun. Israel, at the nexus of Europe, Africa, and Asia, is on the
migration path of an enormous number of species, more than anywhere
else in the world; it is a birding paradise. Unfortunately, the number
of fighter planes per square kilometer is also a world record, and
therein lies a problem. Not only do planes kill birds, but a bird
hitting a fighter at high speed can destroy planes and kill pilots.
The influx of Russian immigrants brought an ex-General to Leshem's team. Using his connections, he was able to buy a surplus military Russian radar system on the cheap ($10K), that was retrofitted to track migrating birds. The general and the radar are shown here.
Leshem processes radar input every ten minutes, and passes the
information to the Israeli Airforce, which establishes no-fly
zones. Russian radar directs the paths of Israeli fighter jets to
avoid flapping birds.
Leshem's work in studying bird migration uses past observations as
well as current radar information to track migrating birds. As soon as
he began feeding information to the army, incidents at all levels
dropped 75%. This built a strong relationship with the military, and
Leshem suggested building an educational and research center at
Latrun, which would be good for everyone.
Leshem drives educational activities across cultural boundaries,
binding Israeli school children with Palestinian school children and
Jordanian school children through his project Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries.
The tracking work is being extended to other migrating mammals.
The Technion Institute for Management (TIM) was conceived and initially funded by ATS folks in Boston, who felt that management skills in Israeli industry could use additional training. They began raising money in 1986 ($40M target), and it took four years to get approval from Technion. TIM is a professional program (not degree granting). Lester Thurow, Dean Emeritus of MIT's Sloan School of Business, is the chair.
Everyone that works for TIM came from the business world. Our main presenters were Yoram Yahav, the CEO, Thali Levy, in charge of marketing and strategy, and Soshi Gal. They only train companies that operate in Israel and do business internationally, bringing in teams of five for seven months, three to four days a month. The program is six or seven years old, and seems to have more demand than they can accommodate.
There are now 39 management programs in Israel. Another one was not needed. All the programs are focussed around the manager, not the change agent. The visionary creates chaos, the manager's job is to make sense of the chaos. TIM focusses on the overlap.
TIM's staff of 16 and 45 others have trained 1099 people so far (50% of the graduates have MBAs and PhDs). They started with a senior management program, and now also run programs for single companies.
Where are they going in the next two to three years? More in house
programs, around the world. Currently only Israeli based companies,
this may branch out.
We had an opportunity to meet with Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister, and recent Minister of Finance. Netanyahu went to MIT as an undergraduate (Bachelor Of Science in Architecture, 1975) and to MIT's Sloan School of Management (Master Of Science, 1976) where he studied with Jon's friend Oded Levinger, who arranged our meeting. We met for about an hour and forty minutes at Netanyahu's office.
Netanyahu spoke clearly and eloquently. The group was not in general deeply familiar with Israeli politics and economics, so it was a bit like telling a bunch of business people that business principles are a good idea - not a very hard sell. None the less, an impressive performance.
A self described extreme capitalist, Netanyahu described Israel's economic development and his recent role. Israel is a top producer of conceptual products, as measured in US patents per year, certainly in per capita terms, and even in absolute terms. The per capita income is about $17K/capita, half of the US.
Israel was described in relationship to fast growing economies such as Ireland and Cypress. Why has Ireland zoomed past Israel, and how has Cypress pulled even (poised to pass)? Why is China growing? The free market eliminates barriers to competition. Israel's GDP was shrinking 1% in absolute terms (more in relative terms) for the years before Netanyahu was Prime minister (2001 and 2002), which some blamed on the stock market crash and the antifadah. Yet during his administration, the economy grew.
Netanyahu described a drill the army puts it's recruits through
called the elephant race. Everyone lines up, and every other person
caries the next one in a race. Some are similar sized; some being
carried are smaller, and some being carried are larger. Little
carrying big has no chance against big carrying little. This
is Netanyahu's analogy for the economy. The private sector supports
the public sector. In Israel, the public sector had grown
large. Netanyahu, as the Minister of Finance, found Israel close to
collapse (Brazil). He severely cut public spending by cutting wages to
public employees and severely cutting welfare. He also cut taxes.
Netanyahu drew a "poverty triangle" labeling the bottom left welfare, the bottom right monopolies, and the top taxes. Between 1992 and 1994, the population of Israel grew forty percent, mainly due to Russian immigration. During the same period however, welfare grew at fifteen times the population growth. There was widespread abuse of the system. As the cost of welfare rose, taxes rose to support the system. At the same time, monopolistic labor practices (ie unions) conducted a record number of strikes, making the economy very inefficient and making Israel an unreliable partner for business. Netanyahu was faced with a four month strike in the ports, and he won.
Netanyahu addressed what he considered to be the most hemmoraging part of the welfare problem by privatizing the pension funds and increasing the retirement age. He is privatizing the economy, and the economy is growing, now at 5.5%, the fastest growing economy of any nation over $10K/capita income. Netanyahu's goal is to pass all Western European countries in per capita income in the next ten years, reaching number one in the world in fifteen years.
Netanyahu is not a shy man. He described how predictions in his two books have come true (eg, terrorists attacking the World Trade Center). What will your next book be about? Probably the fat man and thin man analogy.
If the fat man cuts too many calories, he can get sick, no? You need to pump money back in where it is needed, for example, to support the elderly. But, if you can work, you must work. Also, education cannot be average costed. An engineering education costs more than Tibetian poetry. The academic union (tenure) must be broken.
Greenspan looks at two things: 1) Is the stock market rising? and 2) Are long term government bond rates falling? Both of these are true in Israel. The Bank of Israel interest rate is now lower than the Fed.
Netanyahu then made three observations.
What can the US do? Cut government (and taxes) by outsourcing government (privatization). Healthcare is the hardest; Netanyahu knows of no successful model to imitate.
Netanyahu established forty reforms, and would enact forty more starting with land reform: privatize land ownership. Ninety three percent of Israeli land is owned by the government.
We arrived in Haifa and checked into the Dan Carmel Hotel rather
late (after 11), another packed day.
In Haifa we stayed at the Dan Carmel Hotel (Tuesday and Wednesday nights), which was not as fancy as the Citadel, but again very nice.
We met at 7:00 for breakfast with another ATS group, where Mark
Hefter, ATS director of planned giving, made a presentation.
Wednesday was Technion day. Einstein was a founder of Technion as
part of the German Technion Society. Technion opened in 1924, but planning began a decade earlier, and opening was delayed by war. At the time, some argued that roads and houses needed to be built first, but education was among the top priorities: first engineering, then art. Hebrew University opened in 1925. In 2005, Technion has 13,500 students with 8000 undergrads.
Professor Emil Zolotoyabko, Dean of the Department of Materials Engineering gave us an intro to the nano technology at Technion. Nano-technology research has sixteen faculty members, eight senior research staff, fourteen research assistants, with sixty in all. Two degrees are available: materials/physics and materials/chemistry (both double degrees). There are 300 students majors, and they service another 600 students.
Professor Zolotoyabko stands in the middle of the group, and our
morning undergrad tour guide Miriam is on the left.
Dr. Gitti Frey, a Weitzman grad, post docced in Cambridge. She runs the largest nano lab at Technion. She explained that at nano scale (10E-9 meters) structures are formed in materials. Atoms are 100 times smaller, but organize at nano scale. Gitti works on how nano structures control emitting light. The wetting or runoff of water on a flower leaf is controlled at the nano scale. A synthetic chemist, she said that she plays with Lego all day.
Steve and Leonid are enjoying Gitti's "Lego" demo: a nano thin-film
climbing the walls of the container.
We met with another professor with a nano lab using
lasers to form a galvanametric mirror to measure the curvature of the
surface before and after the deposition of thin films in the
fabrication process. Also he measures distortion during heating and
cooling cycles and studies process improvements that mitigate
distortion. Process improvements allow elevated temperature operation,
decreasing the need for cooling.
Prof. Menahem Kaftory, the head, and Mr. Shmuel Dotan, the Director, described the prep program. At Technion, all classes are in Hebrew. Technion assists the transition from the army as well as for students from outlying areas and immigrants. There is an Ulpan (intense Hebrew training) for a six months, and then few weeks additional Hebrew training before the prep courses.
We heard from four PUC and one other student.
Steve encouraged Hamad with a story about his dad, a holocaust survivor, who started with nothing and bootstrapped himself through an undergraduate education at Temple University. Even then, finding that he did not have the skills he needed to succeed, he started over at MIT as an undergrad. It worked.
Gilad helped us understand the Druse puzzle. The Druse are culturally Arab. Hamad comes from a village in the Golan that was part of Syria until 1967. It is conceivable that his village will go back to the Arabs, and anyone who accepted Israeli citizenship may be punished. As a result, some have no citizenship.
Gilad also explained a bit about secrecy in the Druse culture. Even their own people are told the "secrets" of their culture slowly over many years in an attempt to keep their society closed and their secrets safe.
There is an enrichment program for Ethiopian kids, and the parents participate for a day to help get their buy in to encourage their kids. They look for kids in the sixth grade and try to build up their opportunities and confidence.
The army supports these programs as long as students study areas the army needs, especially science and engineering. In the sixth year of the army program, Technion has 600 students, and the program has 1100 students across the country. The Atedim program is a full ride. There is an application and interview process; one-third of the applications are selected. You must have studied math, English, and physics in high school.
The Army found that it was hard to attract enough smart people from
the cities, but they could find plenty of promising kids in poor rural
areas. By testing and offering early guidance and scholarships, they
both provide opportunities for kids that would be very unlikely to end
up at Technion, and they get excellent recruits. Promising kids are
brought into the program, but they have to prove themselves with test
results before they are awarded their scholarships.
Lunch was hosted by Prof. Peretz Lavie, former dean of the Technion medical school and a well regarded sleep researcher, now the Technion VP of Resource Development & External Relations. We were joined by several students supported by scholarships funded by ATS members: Dmitry, a grad student in Physics (Raiz Fellowship), Natalie, an undergrad in Electrical Engineering (Samuel Roberman scholarship), Ilya, an undergrad in Computer Science (Raiz Scholarship). We were also joined by CS professor Raphi Rom, and Technion booster Ken Shostack.
Lavie has developed two medical devices (sensors): finger sleep and finger
heart attack. The heart sensor clips to your finger and measures the
elasticity of your arteries, which is highly correlated to heart
health. He talked about a new Parkinson's' drug. He is pushing
distance medicine. He mentioned that Gatorade was developed at
university of Florida. Lavie has opened several sleep clinics around
the world including the one I use in Newton.
Lavie noted that the Israeli government's policies support research
and development. He credits Israel's success in high tech to:
The Jon and Melissa Hirschtick Software Technology Floor was
dedicated with appropriate fanfare. Professor Lavie aplolgized that
the President of Technion could not be present at the dedication. He
was in Malta at a conference of Arab and European University
presidents and Nobel Lauriates looking for ways to use science to move
toward peace. Jon gave a heart-felt speech about the importance of the
people over the bricks.
Yaron Valler, VP of Business Development
established 1991: fourteen zero-stage companies. They look for innovative technologies.
Recently, a partnership between Technion and four VC funds: Vertex Venture Capitol (access to Asian market), ProSeed Venture Capital Fund, Shalom Equity Fund, Vitalife Partners
Selected as Israel's leading incubator by the office or the chief scientist four of the last seven years; over $20M in incubator sales in 2004. %50 in follow on investments.
64 startups: 30 completed incubator and continue, 25 closed
Last six investments:
What were most common causes for failure? Key cause: not finding
the right people, not technology.
We had dinner at the Dolphin restaurant in Haifa with Technion related guests: Prof. Eddy Karnieli, Director, Institute Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, Mr. Benjamin Soffer, Manager of the Technology Transfer Office, Mr. Arik Peretz, Executive Director & Founder of the Technion Business Plan Competition BizTEC, Mr. Dan Grotsky and Mr. Yaron Barac BizTEC.
Karnieli, who does diabetes research,
mentioned that technology for non-invasively measuring blood glucose
was being brought to market by several companies, including (I
believe) Medisense and Abbot. This will enable insulin pumps with
closed loop feedback, which is not currently possible. Currently
insulin pumps simply provide continuous delivery, but have no
feedback. He also mentioned a recent article in the New England
Journal of Medicine on testing glucose and measuring BMI.
We had breakfast with a few Technion students that are involved in a Technion/MIT program called HIBUR (Technion HIBUR page & MIT HIBUR page): Ruthy, a grad student in Mechanical Engineering, Marina, and undergrad in Chemical Engineering, and Michael, an undergrad in Computer Science.
Jon, Linda, and Steve talked with Ruthy, who is completing her
research in assistive technology. She preforms signal processing on
brain waves of impaired people to facilitate communication. Her
research has yielded positive results.
Ruthie was unhappy with the previous day's election, and said she may
move to the US where she can make a lot more money and have a life
without a government led by someone she could never respect or
We visited the Rafael Armament Development Authority at their Jon
described Rafael as a cross between Raytheon and Bell Labs of old.) We
got an overview of various missles and a tour of the assembly by Yoav
Weksler, the Chief Engineer.
Rafael develops and manufactures all sorts of military and some
non-militarfy technology including the following.
This photo was taken at Technion where most Rafael engineers were trained.
We visited the 100th recon squadron: flying camels. Thirty minutes
after a mission, a pilot briefed us. "When you read about something,
we were probably there. If you don't read about something, we were
definitely there." From 35,000 feet, they can make out faces and cigarettes.
The pilots and crews all have non-flight
responsibilities; there is not much additional staff. The mechanics
were held in very high esteem.
We went to Tel Aviv to meet with Retired Major General Amos Horev. Jon described him as a "founder" of Israel, and that was not mere hype. We probably experienced one of the most special experiences. It lasted nearly two hours, and we hung on every word of the octogenarian who was born in Jerusalem in 1924 or so, fought in the War of Independence in 1948, was the head of the Israeli Defense Force's Weapons Development, led mobile artillery for the Sinai and 1967 Six Day Wars, was Chairman of the Board of Rafael, and was President of Technion University. And this is not a complete list of his accomplishments! It was unbelievable. The man is barely five feet tall today, but his wisdom was truly overpowering.
He spoke at length about the fight for independence and how Israel learned from that experience that "self reliance" was required if Israel was to survive. He had no college degree at that time but was able to retrofit junk machinery that Israel could get its hands on to make needed tanks and guns. He has great disdain for politics, noting that "politics is something horrible" and claims that politicians, not academicians, are the ones in an ivory tower. He stated that "excellence for Israel is a matter of existence". He believes that technology and science are Israel's life line and that unlike the reality of politics, technology and science mandate processes, investment and long range planning.
Amos received his formal education at MIT, a Bachelor's and a Master's in two years (both in 1952 in Mechanical Engineering - he failed to mention that he also went back to MIT for his Engineer's Degree in 1964 - amazing what is listed in alum records - I won't publish his home phone number :-). He talked of how amazing it is to see Israel today when he knew it over 50 yrs ago. He marvels over every aspect of Israeli development - even the fact that Hebrew - a biblical language - is now spoken by more people than people who speak Norwegian.
We talked about Israel's relationship with America. While he readily acknowledges that the U.S. is Israel's greatest ally, he worries about the day when its interests differ from those of Israel. And he believes that that day will come. Kissinger recently told Israel "don't get too used to America's economic aid". In fact, Amos claims that Israeli companies are often disadvantaged when competing with U.S. companies for sales to Europe because the U.S. pulls out the "we give you aid, so back off" card.
One of the most interesting things this wise and experienced man said had to do with the disengagement. He said (and this is a quote) "Ruling over people - even if they want it - is a corrupt policy". Amos so admired Sharon for the guts to disengage and in this respect compared his courage to that of Ben Gurion (though he thinks that Sharon is very flawed in other respects). According to Amos, Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank as well, but pursuant to Israel's desired borders (which means retaining the critically strategic land in the Jordan River valley that lies between the Palestinians and Jordan). In Amos' view, Israel will do better with in terms of borders if it unilaterally withdraws than it will with a negotiated withdrawal. It was so interesting.
The meeting with Amos ended when Steve began singing a Hebrew song he had learned as a child in a Jewish youth group. When Steve started singing, I was taken by surprise (to put it mildly), but within seconds, Amos grinned and robustly joined Steve in the song - which it turns out was the Israeli army's marching song during the 1948 War of Independence. Awesome moment!
Moshe drove us from to Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv, back and forth, with knowledge and style. On the bus and off the bus we had many interesting discussions. There are still so many stories to tell.
I hope this section continues to collect stories - send your stories to Steve to have them included.
This fellow told us a joke in the old city.
Tuesday afternoon: On the bus, Gilad, gave a terrific counterpoint to Netanyahu. Israel was founded on socialist principles, and Netanayhu is steering hard the other way. He cut welfare drastically, leaving many more poor without state support. Gilad concedes that there was abuse of welfare, but there are now hungry people. (There is no homelessness in Israel.) Later in the trip a Technion student (Ruthy) lamented the cut of a pension that had gone to Holocaust survivors; the total cost is minimal as they don't have long to live.
Scott recalls walking with Gilad and talking about the Palestinians and how difficult it is for them to cross the checkpoints to work. It just so happened that there was trash out at the side of the road, and Gilad pointed out that there are plenty of Palestinians willing to do unpopular yet essential jobs such as garbage collection. Gilad asked, "How many Jews do you know who want to be garbagemen?" Point taken.
We saw a lot of planes. Probably after visiting IAI (on Tuesday), Joel told this joke: An Israeli general went to the US to raise money for a new plane. He appealed to the collected potential sponsors, "You must each give twenty-five thousand dollars for this program." A man at the back of the room called out, "It'll never fly!" The general ignored him and focussed on the security needs of Israel, again appealing for support, "You must each give twenty-five thousand dollars for this program." The same follow called out again, "It'll never fly!" The general addressed the fellow, "Are you some sort of MIT Aerospace PhD?" "No," he replied. "I'm a tailor. Let me tell you, with all the plaques you're going to have to put on that plane, it'll never fly!
Late Wednesday night: On our last night in Haifa after visiting the B'Hai Temple, Gilad and Ken had a quarrel of sorts. Gilad advised us, as we were about to disembark the bus sometime after midnight (having begun the day at 7), that we were meeting for breakfast at 7 again. Ken, who was about to go to a business meeting and then to bed, quickly calculated that he'd have about four hrs sleep and presumably concluded that he'd be more tired with four hrs sleep than none. So he brilliantly and immediately suggested an override of Gilad's direction and shouted (those of you who were sleeping may not remember this), "No, let's meet at 4:30 a.m. so that we can see the sun rise before breakfast." Ken's nimble thinking and quick calculation of the benefits of sleep deprivation tickled Linda and provided one of the best laughs on the trip. Of course, laughing so hard woke Linda up, caused her adrenalin to keep her up on her blackberry for three hours, and resulted in her getting all of three hours sleep. But it was so worth it.
Thursday: We lunched with Jon's cousin who had been
conducting geneological research and had contacted Jon recently over
the internet. Cool. After lunch, Paul and Ken took their leave after eafter expressing their wonder about the experience and appreciation to Jon and the group. Paul headed off to meet his (grown up) daughter, and wondered how long it would take her to notice that he had changed.
Thursday: As the evening arrived, we visited the Tel (hill) at the old city of Jaffa. We shared words of appreciation as we wrapped our arms around each other's shoulders in a big group hug. We sang together: Hinay Ma-tov Umanayim (This is what is good (in life), being together as a family) & Oseh Shalom Bimramov (Peace, please!). That's the wrap. We felt like family (with each other and with the land), and we cried for peace.