Israeli high-tech start-ups investable through Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
For decades Israel’s high-tech start-up scene has been considered one of the most exciting and impressive in the world, on par with Silicon Valley, and producing game-changing technologies that continue to push the innovative envelope. Israel ranks #2 for venture capital availability, and is ranked #3 in the world for innovation. With over 3,500 start-ups (mostly in hi-tech), there are more start-up companies in Israel than in any country in the world per capita, and only second to the U.S. in absolute terms.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Israel is a nation that sanctifies innovation. We’ve achieved great heights, but we cannot stop now; we want to continue climbing.” 
In Israel, the publicly traded market of stocks and bonds, aka the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (or TASE), is completed separated from privately owned companies, including start-ups in their initial stages of funding. This has limited the ability for investors around the world to gain exposure to Israeli start-ups rapid growth and frequent exit successes, and at the same time prevents the flow of much needed capital into the developing start-ups. As a result, many young Israeli start-ups end up being purchased by foreign companies causing the technology, manpower, jobs and overall economic value generated from Israeli high-tech start-ups to leave the Israel market.
However, change is in the wind as Israel’s financial decision makers are formulating means to make these Israel tech start-ups investable by large and small investors alike.
The Israel Securities Authority (ISA) is in the final stages of approving new financial instruments that will benefit both investors and start-ups alike, allowing investors to gain exposure to Israeli high-tech start-ups on the one hand, and start-ups to raise more capital on the other, serving as an incentive to keep Israeli tech in Israel. One of these instruments are closed-end mutual funds that will be fully traded on the TASE and open to all investors, both institutional and private.
These hybrid funds will invest part of their assets in Israeli private start-ups pre-IPO, and part of their assets in publicly traded Israeli tech firms already traded on the TASE. This will provide wide access to the excited world of Israeli innovation, while reducing the risks and high barriers of entry currently experienced by non-accredited and smaller investors. It also offers regulatory oversight and transparencies to these start-ups, as is standard with Israeli publicly traded companies.
The ISA plans to roll out four closed-end high-tech mutual funds with a minimum of 400 million NIS per fund (approximately $115 million) towards the end of 2017 and into 2018. The TASE states that “these funds will be entitled to invest up to 30% of the capital raised in non-traded financial assets, which may be adjusted to 50% in the future should investors be granted government guarantees to mitigate investor risk. At least 5% of the sum raised will be invested by the fund manager. The funds will be able to operate as fixed-term funds limited to a life span of 15 years.”
Additionally, the State of Israel will offer loss protection for the investments in private growth companies up to 20% of the investment and will also guarantee debt raising of up to 25% of the funds size. This governmental backing signals their commitment to both the start-ups and to investors, giving a strong tailwind to the move.
Besides offering exposure to both public and private companies and gaining significant government incentives for investment, these funds will be fully liquid and transparent as with all the securities traded on the TASE.
The TASE is currently undergoing very positive structural and strategic upgrades which it estimates will “enhance competition in the capital market and attract new members from Israel and abroad. It is expected to benefit investors by rendering TASE more prominent and accessible to the public”.
Currently, investing in Israeli stocks and bonds through the TASE is the most secure and accessible way to invest in Israel, and with these upgrades coming, it will be all the more so.
 World Economic Forum, 2017-2018 Edition
This article originally appeared on Wise Money Israel, November 2, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Being passionate about both ministry and business, Stefan serves as the Executive Pastor at the vibrant Messianic-Israeli congregation Kerem-El in Haifa along with his wife Keren, an Israeli worship leader and songwriter. He serves as a Director at Wise Money Israel, the first Jewish believer-run Investment Portfolio Management firm in Israel working with individuals, ministries and organizations around the globe to invest in Israel.
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To the lost sheep of Israel
As Yeshua sent out the twelve disciples to proclaim the good news, He limited their field of ministry to working among the Jewish people. He told them not to go among the Gentiles, or even “in the way of the Gentiles,” and he told them not to enter any Samaritan towns:
These twelve Yeshua sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6)
Yeshua Himself had previously ministered among the Samaritans, so His instructions did not intend an absolute rejection of Gentiles and Samaritans. Rather, He wanted His disciples for that present period of time to stay focused only on the Jewish people. For the present time, He considered Himself to be on an urgent rescue mission, calling the nation to repentance in order to avert the coming calamity of exile.
Only after His resurrection did He expand the mission to the Gentile world. At that time, He told them to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19), and He told them, “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Even after the Gentile mission had been under way for years, the apostles continued to prioritize the Jewish people, and they summarized that order of priority with a saying which expressed the Master’s policy: “To the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
Why did He feel it necessary to warn the disciples against going on the road to the Gentiles? Were the disciples, at that early time, already considering taking the kingdom message out to the Gentile world? No, but the land of Israel contained several Gentile cities and populations such as Decapolis cities like Hippus and Scythopolis and Roman cities like Caesarea. Each of those predominantly Gentile cities contained Jewish populations as well. The Master told His disciples to stay in Jewish venues speaking to Jewish people and to stay off the roads that led to the Gentile cities.
Still speaking in the language of sheep and shepherding from Matthew 9:36, He told His disciples to go to the “lost sheep of Israel.” Who were the lost sheep of Israel? They were the sinners, tax-collectors, harlots, and backslidden among the Jewish people—the “secular Jews” of the day who had abandoned Torah and the religion of their fathers. For Yeshua “did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion and reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.
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Are we making progress?
Today the term “progressive” is used to describe the process of social and economic leveling. However, up until recently, there was a narrative of progress – rooted in the Bible – that inspired the development of Western civilization. Unfortunately, it is now largely rejected in academia. This understanding of progress provided a unifying narrative, which greatly influenced many countries including the modern state of Israel.
The Loss of the Western Narrative of Progress
The narrative of progress was part of British and American education from the 18th century until the 1960s. The development of Western Civilization was understood to be a long and difficult process which ultimately led to greater freedom, respect for each individual, and systems of government that would protect citizens from abuse. Along the way, there were many set backs and counter directions, like segregation in the United States and South Africa.
In the ’60s, the radical left rejected this narrative and sought to deconstruct it. For many, it was more than rejection; it was disdain. Today people with such views have taken over the levers of culture formation in our society. In previous generations most culture purveyors saw things differently. We see this in film-maker Cecil B. DeMille’s personal presentation of his film The Ten Commandments. He framed the biblical exodus story as release from oppression into freedom, and compared it to the difference between the tyranny of Communist regimes as opposed to the liberty in democratic nations.
One historical milestone for progress was the US Declaration of Independence which declared that “all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Modern ideas of freedom had their origins in Scripture, not in the anti-God, anti-Bible orientation of today’s libertarians.
The Bible teaches that every person is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26) and is therefore deserving of individual respect and honor. This Biblical norm was expressed in the Ten Commandments and the teaching of Yeshua, in what became known as the Golden Rule, to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (see Leviticus 19:18). This was also expressed in Jewish rabbinical tradition by Hillel as: “Do not do something to others that would be hateful to you.” The Bible details standards for fair courts of justice in Deuteronomy 16:20, Leviticus 19:36.
Liberty and a Brief History of Western Progress
The disintegration of the Roman Empire led to fragmentation and ignorance throughout Europe. The Feudal system was often oppressive. The Catholic Church and the authorities in the West became superstitious and fostered a stratified culture that fixed people in their social status.
Two of the first great strides towards limiting the power of tyrants were the agreements struck between the English nobles and their kings – in the year 1014 CE and then in the Magna Carta of 1215 CE in which governmental checks and balances were established.
The Renaissance and Reformation fostered ideas of greater liberty in Europe from the 14th to the 17th century. The former developed the ideas of human potential, and the latter embraced the centrality of literacy based on the importance of everyone reading the Bible for themselves. The printing press was a key to making books available, and fostered a culture of literacy. The Reformers’ emphasis on Bible translations in the vernacular and their view of the importance of individual conscience before God sowed the seeds that eventually led to a harvest of religious liberty. This acceptance of liberty and tolerance was the lesson learned from the pain of Europe’s religious wars, where Catholics and Protestants opposed one another with enormous loss of life.
In the Colonies of the New World, Pilgrims and Puritans undertook the difficult journey to foster a new society based on Biblical norms and religious liberty.
During this period the enlightenment sought to spread knowledge and science. Modern scholars recognize that science progressed in societies that embraced the Bible, since the universe was created by a God of law whose laws of nature could be studied and understood by his image bearers.
I believe that the historical meta-narrative of progress is largely true, and that the loss of confidence in this narrative is a grave danger to Western societies.
This article originally appeared in Israel’s Restoration newsletter, November 2017, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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The road to Hell is paved with good intentions
I found it alarming on October 24th, when I received an email from IMRA, the Independent Media Review, that the, “US Consul General Launches campaign to attract Palestinian students to United States.”
Is this really in the realm of good intentions when Palestinians are raised cradle to the grave on hatred of Israelis and Jews, and currently American college campuses are ground zero for the growing American anti-Israel and anti-Jew movements? This is not just my perception but backed up by a ‘Devastating’ survey shows huge loss of Israel support among Jewish college students as “Brand Israel Group raises the alarm on a widening gap in the US between older supporters and the increasingly pro-Palestinian next generation” – a June 21, 2017 headline from the Times of Israel.
First, off, let’s note that US Consul General Donald Blome who launched the campaign in Ramallah to encourage more Palestinian students to study in the United States, is a 2015 Obama-appointment who is known to cater to West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians with consular services and assistance while ignoring Jews who live in the same area.
According to the IMRA report, the #PalStudyUSA2018 campaign “will include social media outreach to identify Palestinian participants for an elite ‘boot camp’ examining all aspects of study in the U.S., a series of week-long information sessions with Amideast at American Spaces in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Salfeet, Nablus, and Gaza; and a series of television, print, and social media stories by Palestinian journalists on Palestinian students studying in the United States which will air later this year. The sessions, for potential students and their parents, will focus on admissions, testing, and financial aid, highlighting the ongoing educational advising services provided by the Consulate’s partner Amideast.”
It should be noted that Amideast is an outgrowth of an anti-Zionist organization called the “American Friends of the Middle East”. It is also the recipient of funding from George Soros (as documented by NGO Monitor).
IMRA continues, “Consul General Blome announced a number of new higher education cooperation initiatives at the event, including a $1 million project funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative to support cooperation between Notre Dame and Palestinian university partners to build a shared research hub; a $400,000 project between Palestine Polytechnic University and University of Michigan to promote critical thinking and entrepreneurship; and a $100,000 Tech Camp with the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs and Partners for Sustainable Development to build teams of university students that will tackle problems provided by Palestinian businesses.”
Do we need MORE Palestinians on US college campuses/ We are importing even more anti-Israel voices into the already dire environment? This should be prayed against and challenged, because it will not produce a more stable Palestinian economic situation because it does not address the anti-Israeli/anti-Jew indoctrination that is rampant in Palestinian society.
According to the co-founder of Brand Israel Group Fern Oppenheim, on college campuses, “We are allowing Israel to be defined by its detractors.” There is no longer nuance in campus conversations about Israel, she said. Instead, the “atmosphere is oppressor versus victim. Israel is just another symbol of this.”
The Brand Israel Group survey discovered that 31% of Jewish students reported experiencing anti-Semitism and 59% of them linked the incidents as being linked to anti-Israel attitudes. The incidents, however, did not sway their general opinions of Israel. In fact, between the 2010 and the 2016 surveys, Jewish college students dropped 27 percentage points on the question of whether they lean towards the Israeli side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This is a real problem in the US, not just among the Jews on college campuses, but in general among the Christians everywhere. Young Christians generally dismiss the support of older Christians toward Israel as unenlightened old think. That is happening on several levels from views of homosexuality, racial issues and the subject of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like the lady said, we are allowing those issues to be defined humanistic values rather than Biblical values.
The younger generations are being greatly swayed by social justice issues which lean strongly toward the Palestinian narrative that Israel is the aggressor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only that, but young Christians are not being taught God’s exciting vision of the one new man in Messiah of Ephesian 2:14-17 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one…so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross.
As long as the Church cannot see the full vision of what God is doing which heavily includes Israel, those who are most influencing the younger generation of Christians will play a part in the deterioration of Israel support in the American public.
We must pray for Christian young people to begin to understand Biblical social justice, and to catch the vision of the one new man with the body of Christ. Many of the mega churches in America are full of excited young Christians and almost none of them have a vision for the salvation of Israel even on their radar. This must change and we must address it.
This article originally appeared on Israel Watcher, October 30, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Donna Diorio is an American Christian who returned to her childhood faith in 1981 and looking around the church said, "This is great! but where are all the Jews?" That question was answered ten years later when she discovered a Messianic congregation in Dallas. Since 2001, her focus has been to provide a weekly summary of prayer requests from Israeli ministries via a subscription email list to prayer leaders on many continents.
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Martin Luther, Israel, and the Jewish people
Luther is famous for propelling the Protestant Reformation into action, and also, less illustriously, for penning such scathing anti-Semitic writings that they inspired Hitler. So, was he a champion of faith? Or a vile anti-Semite?
Five hundred years ago today, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, no longer able to endure what had become a very twisted church doctrine. His “95 Theses,” put forward two central beliefs—that the Bible should be the primary religious authority and that salvation can be obtained by faith alone, not by deeds. He railed against the wicked practice of “indulgences” which essentially sold forgiveness for money. He also criticised the greed rampant in the Catholic church at the time:
“Why does not the pope” asked Luther, “whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with his own money rather than with the money of poor believers?”
Good question, Luther. So far, so good.
Inspiring Christians to study the Bible
The Reformation in 1517 brought a revolution to the body of Messiah around the world in a very positive way. One of the blessings that arose was that (also thanks in part to the invention of the printing press and Bible translation which occurred around the same time) people started reading their Bibles for themselves. They could see in the pages of their own Bibles, in their own language, that there were many promises that Israel would be regathered to the land once more before Yeshua’s return. This led to a great awakening in eschatological interest and study of Biblical prophecy, particularly in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. As a result, many Christians and churches adopted a renewed interest in Israel, and in sharing the gospel with Jewish people both in Israel and abroad.
The Restorationist Movement (that eventually helped bring about the restoration of Israel) may not have developed or gained the traction the way it did had it not been for Luther’s radical actions, which led many to study the Bible for themselves. By bucking slavish adherence to church tradition and doctrine he showed that, rather than being de facto dangerous, studying the Bible with a willingness to question assumptions was a good and right thing to do.
Initially, Luther encouraged Christians to honor the Jewish people
Luther felt certain that the reason Jewish people hadn’t been accepting Yeshua as Messiah was due to the failure of the church to present the truth adequately. In 1523 he wrote the book, “That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew”, encouraging Christians to adopt a kinder attitude towards their Jewish brethren:
“They have dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings; they have done little else than deride them and seize their property…. I hope that if one deals in a kindly way with the Jews and instructs them carefully from Holy Scripture, many of them will become genuine Christians and turn again to the faith of their fathers, the prophets and patriarchs. They will only be frightened further away from it if their Judaism is so utterly rejected that nothing is allowed to remain, and they are treated only with arrogance and scorn.”
“If the apostles, who also were Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles. Since they dealt with us Gentiles in such brotherly fashion, we in our turn ought to treat the Jews in a brotherly manner in order that we might convert some of them. For even we ourselves are not yet all very far along, not to speak of having arrived.”
Martin Luther, “That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew”, 1523
Luther at this point displays a great respect for the Jewish people, and encourages fellow Christians to follow suit. He notes the place of honour given to the Jewish people in the Bible:
“When we are inclined to boast of our position we should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are of the lineage of Christ. We are aliens and in-laws; they are blood relatives, cousins, and brothers of our Lord. Therefore, if one is to boast of flesh and blood, the Jews are actually nearer to Christ than we are, as St. Paul says in Romans 9[:5]. God has also demonstrated this by his acts, for to no nation among the Gentiles has he granted so high an honor as he has to the Jews. For from among the Gentiles there have been raised up no patriarchs, no apostles, no prophets, indeed, very few genuine Christians either. And although the gospel has been proclaimed to all the world, yet He committed the Holy Scriptures, that is, the law and the prophets, to no nation except the Jews, as Paul says in Romans 3[:2] and Psalm 147[:19-20], “He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; nor revealed his ordinances to them.”…
“Therefore, I would request and advise that one deal gently with them and instruct them from Scripture; then some of them may come along. Instead of this we are trying only to drive them by force, slandering them, accusing them of having Christian blood if they don’t stink, and I know not what other foolishness. So long as we thus treat them like dogs, how can we expect to work any good among them?”
He was eager to start a new chapter of church history in which Christians would respect Jewish people as their “older brother”, saying that if he had been Jewish, seeing the way the church had been treating the Jews, he’d rather become a pig than a Christian. So, basically good, right?
From hater of corruption to a corrupted hater
But as the decades passed and it became clear to Luther that the spiritual blindness of the Jewish people was not merely due to abuse at the hands of the church, his attitude changed. As many have noted, Luther was a passionate and tempestuous man, prone to moods and depressions, and his state of mind towards the latter end of his life was not good. In his frustration, Luther wrote “Concerning the Jews and their Lies” in 1543, in which he advised the German princes to destroy synagogues, to burn their books and raze their houses. He wanted to forbid Jewish practice and teaching, and considered Jewish people to be “just devils and nothing more”. He wrote,
“Verily, a hopeless, wicked, venomous and devilish thing is the existence of these Jews who for fourteen hundred years have been, and still are, our torment and misfortune… Know, Christian, that next to the devil, thou has no enemy more cruel, more venomous and violent than a true Jew”.
Martin Luther, “The Jews and their Lies”, 1543
This contemptible book is eye-wateringly anti-Semitic, to the degree that even at the time many rejected it. Many Lutherans ignored it, choosing the approach of his earlier book over the scalding hatred of his latter work, and even his Latin translator modified it, but Adolf Hitler landed upon it and considered Luther a genius.
As we follow the evil progress of the Nazis and the steps against the Jewish people, burning synagogues and destroying homes, it is hard to ignore the fact that Hitler was following the advice Luther had given the German princes all those years ago to a tee. Hitler used Luther’s words to justify his actions as “Christian”, and declared Luther the greatest warner of the German people against the Jews.
What is Luther’s legacy?
The Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, catalogues the descent into hell from propaganda to extermination camps. It creates a journey through the horrific realities of history and leads out to a panoramic view of modern Jerusalem. Luther sadly had a part to play in the Holocaust, but he also also encouraged Christians to read their Bible afresh and think for themselves, which led to many realising that God had in no way finished with Israel. The numerous prophecies about God’s intention to restore the people to the land became evident to many influential Christians, without whose help Israel may not have been reestablished.
Perhaps instead of trying to assign Luther either to the good books or the trashcan, we should soberly note the human capacity – even among believers – for both good and evil.
It is God who will have to sort through all this at the end of time, not you or I. It is hard to say that Luther was “not a real Christian”. He was. Yet he was deeply flawed. We all are. From the story of Luther, we can see the profound effect one life can make, for good or for bad. We can see how our words carry power and influence that may go way beyond what we could ever imagine. I wonder what Luther himself would make of the outworkings of history, if he could trace the impact his words had had on the church, on the people of Israel, and on the world.
 History.com, Martin Luther and the 95 Theses
 Martin Luther, “That Jesus Christ was Born a Jew”, 1523, excerpts
 See Romans 11, particularly verses 25 onwards
 Martin Luther “The Jews and their Lies”, 1543, excerpts
This article originally appeared on One for Israel and reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.