In spite of the New Zealand government’s apparently cool stance towards Israel, the friendship between the two countries on a people-to-people level continues. The histories of Jews and Kiwis are intertwined through the shared battle for freedom, particularly in World War One and our current hope to push ahead as an innovative nation undergirds the present momentum in developing business relationships.
Historical connections remembered
An ANZAC commemoration was held at the Jerusalem War Cemetery to honour New Zealand and Australia’s fallen. Joey Sacharow of the NZ Israel Innovation Hub attended the event and wrote,
‘It was an especially poignant ANZAC Day this year in Israel, as it coincided with Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day). The ANZACs laid to rest at the commonwealth cemeteries across Israel — those servicemen who stood alongside Britain in World War 1 and who lost their lives in the liberation of the Holy Land — paved the way for Israel’s eventual independence. Today on ANZAC Day and Yom HaZikaron, the response to “lest we forget” is not only a remembrance of the sacrifices of the past but also a recognition of the losses that are still a tragic part of Israel’s reality’.
Sacharow laid a wreath on behalf of NZIIH, as did peacekeeper Capt. Sam Groot of the New Zealand Defense Force, Yitzhak Treister of the Israel New Zealand Friendship Association INZFA, and Warren Dawson, a New Zealand delegate of the Silver Fern Sculpture Project.
After years of effort, the INZFA has reached its goal of erecting a memorial to commemorate the contribution of New Zealand soldiers to the liberation of Land of Israel from Ottoman rule in World War I. The 4.5-metre silver fern sculpture was unveiled in a ceremony at Moshav Gan Sorek on 30 April, attended by New Zealand Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Zoe Coulson-Sinclair.
Recently Joshua Brown of the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub organised networking events in Wellington and Auckland events to build ties across New Zealand’s tech ecosystem and promote mutually beneficial areas for partnership with Israel. Brown argued for the merits of an improved economic relationship between NZ and Israel and used the opportunity to offer a vision of New Zealand as the “Startup Nation of the South Pacific.”
CropX is one example of the success of a New Zealand-Israeli partnership. Seen as a digital agronomic farm management leader, CropX has pursued growth through both innovation and acquisitions and is achieving phenomenal results.
For those keen to learn more about innovation in the context of environmental issues, an online session will be held on 18 May, entitled, ‘How to take on the climate crisis as an innovation nation’. Two world-renowned Israeli experts will share their ideas for how small advanced economies can powerfully, and profitably, take on the climate crisis.
Daniel Rosenfeld is a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute of Earth Sciences. He is lead author in the UN’s 2021 climate change report. Daniel’s recent groundbreaking work has focused on the degree to which aerosol particles cool the earth.
Yosef Abramovitz is a solar energy entrepreneur and evangelist. Nominated by 12 African countries for the Nobel Peace Prize, Yosef Abramowitz was named by CNN as one of the planet’s leading Green Pioneers. He serves as CEO of climate impact investment platform Gigawatt Global and on Israeli President Herzog’s Climate Forum. He can be followed @KaptainSunshine
In spite of Israel’s challenges, tourists are still flocking to the land, including hundreds of Kiwis. Visitor Arrivals recorded 248,902 persons in Jan 2023, and 347,816 persons in the previous month. New Zealanders continue to be drawn to a land of ancient history, spiritual significance, cultural fascination and culinary delights.