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Harmony in a Land of Milk, Honey and Pucks

Posted on:
March 14, 2014
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Harmony in a Land of Milk, Honey and Pucks

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Midway through the opening period of a youth game here Sunday night, Daniel Haim Lonkry knocked in a rebound. In the second period, his teammates Fadi Haj and Adam Ayoub added goals to tie the score, 3-3.

The three teenagers play for a hockey team from northern Israel, and if that does not seem remarkable enough, consider this: Lonkry is Jewish, Haj is Christian, and Ayoub is Druse, a member of a religious group that grew out of Islam.

The players and their 21 teammates are visiting the Washington area this week as members of the Canada Israel Hockey School, which opened five years ago to help the sport expand in Israel.

Read the full story at the New York Times

PM launches negotiations to expand free trade with Israel

Posted on:
January 21, 2014
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Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, today announced the launch of negotiations to expand and modernize the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), a cornerstone of the commercial relationship between the two countries. The announcement was made during an official visit by Prime Minister Harper to Israel.

An expanded and modernized CIFTA will enhance bilateral commercial flows by reducing technical barriers, enhancing cooperation, increasing transparency in regulatory matters and reducing transaction costs for businesses. In the area of sanitary and phytosanitary measures, a modernized agreement will provide new mechanisms to increase cooperation and resolve market access irritants more expeditiously. This initiative will also create new opportunities for Canadian agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. The first round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in Israel from February 3-9, 2014.

Quick Facts

CIFTA is a cornerstone of Canada’s commercial relationship with Israel.
The Agreement came into force on January 1, 1997, and amendments were brought into force on November 1, 2003, to implement further tariff concessions on agricultural and fish and seafood products.
Since CIFTA came into force, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Israel has more than doubled.

“Our Government is committed to providing Canadian businesses with the market access they need to compete and succeed internationally. An expanded and modernized trade agreement with Israel will generate more jobs and economic growth at home and in Israel, while strengthening the clos

- See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2014/01/21/pm-launches-negotiations-expand-free-trade-israel#sthash.tuzz5uY3.dpuf

Bank of Israel Governor nominates Canadian-born economist as Bank of Israel deputy governor

Posted on:
January 19, 2014
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Bank of Israel

Appointment, subject to cabinet approval, would for first time put women in top two posts of Israel’s central bank.

The associate dean of the economics department at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya has been nominated by Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug as the central bank’s deputy governor. Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg’s nomination, which was announced Thursday, would also include her appointment as a member of the bank’s monetary committee and supervisory council. This would be the first time that both the governor and deputy governor of the Bank of Israel are women.

Her nomination is subject to approval by the government panel on senior appointments and by the cabinet. Technically, it is the prime minister that makes the actual appointment of the deputy bank governor, on the advice of the bank governor.

This would be Flug’s first appointment to the monetary committee since she herself took office last November. Flug served as deputy governor of the central bank until her elevation following the departure of former governor Stanley Fischer last June.

Most of Baudot-Trajtenberg’s professional experience has been at Bank Hapoalim, which she joined in 1987 as an economist. Between 2003 and 2009, she was head of investor relations in the bank’s financial division. Among the other posts she held at Bank Hapoalim were head of the securities research division and head of advisory and trading services for institutional investors. She was also on the faculty of Tel Aviv University, where she lectured in macroeconomics.

Montreal-born Baudot-Trajtenberg is a graduate of the University of Montreal, Oxford University and Harvard University, where she earned a Ph.D. in economics. Her doctoral adviser at Harvard was Lawrence Summers, who, from 1999 to 2001, was U.S. Treasury secretary. In the 1980s, she advised the Canadian department of finance and helped develop a reform plan for Canada’s tax structure.

Baudot-Trajtenberg is married to Manuel Trajtenberg, who chairs the planning and budgeting committee at the Council for Higher Education. He served as chairman of the government panel that was convened to suggest recommendations in response to the social justice protests of 2011. He is also the former head of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The sense among knowledgeable observers is that Flug received Netanyahu’s blessing in advance for her nomination of Baudot-Trajtenberg. Although there have been prior nominations to the post of deputy governor that have run into trouble, it is expected she will be approved.

Assuming this happens, Baudot-Trajtenberg will join the ranks of a growing number of women in positions at the helm of Israel’s economy. In addition to Flug as central bank governor, the CEOs of three of the country’s five largest banks are women. And at the Finance Ministry, Yael Andorn serves as director general, Michal Abadi-Boiangiu is the ministry’s accountant general, and Dorit Salinger is director of capital markets, insurance and savings.

As deputy bank governor, Baudot-Trajtenberg would fill in for Flug in her absence or in the event that the governor is unable to function under particular circumstances.

Flug conducted the selection process for deputy governor under a veil of secrecy. Even senior officials at the central bank were unaware of Baudot-Trajtenberg’s candidacy until it was announced to the media. It is thought that Flug’s choice was motivated by the candidate’s education, her experience in banking and the capital markets here, and recommendations from people who have worked with her.

The term of office for the deputy governor is five years, renewable for one additional term. The salary for the post is about 57,000 shekels a month ($16,300) and is set at 90 percent of that of the governor of the Bank of Israel.

In an interview with TheMarker three years ago, when she was appointed associate dean of the economics department at the IDC in Herzliya, Baudot-Trajtenberg spoke of the importance of providing financial aid to university students in Israel so that tuition costs would not provide a barrier for capable students. She suggested that the aid be conditioned on repayment once the students are earning a living and can begin paying it back. “It’s social solidarity in which the strong help out the less strong,” she said. “As I see it, it’s a step that the Education Ministry, together with the Finance Ministry, can carry out relatively easily.”

Source: Haaretz.com

Israel naming visitor center after Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Posted on:
January 7, 2014
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The center, established by the Jewish National Fund, will be built from funds collected in Canada at a fundraising event that Harper attended. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to accompany Harper during his visit.

Source: JNS.org

Canadian prime minister to address Israeli Parliament

Posted on:
December 26, 2013
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Harper Israel

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will become the second world leader to address the current Knesset on January 20, following a speech last month by French President Francois Holland.

Harper will lead a delegation to Israel of 200 Canadians. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called Harper “a true, courageous friend of Israel” and said he was sure the visit would further strengthen ties between the two countries.

Source: Jpost.com

Canadian, Israeli entrepreneurs win Google startup competition for interactive pet communicators

Posted on:
December 24, 2013
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A team of young Canadians and Israelis hopes to ensure that during a long day at work, or even a vacation abroad, pet owners can stay virtually connected to their furry friends.

A team of young Canadians and Israelis hopes to ensure that during a long day at work, or even a vacation abroad, pet owners can stay virtually connected to their furry friends.

The developers of an electronic toy and mobile-application control system, called Pawly, won the grand prize on Thursday of the Global Startup Battle, an initiative sponsored by Google.

By scoring first place in the entrepreneurial challenge, the team members have won $20,000 in matching funds, assuming they can raise the same amount in an Indiegogo campaign, as well as an “inspirational visit” to the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley.

The goal of the system, according to its designer, is to take “the guilt away from leaving your pet at home.”

The Pawly system centers around a robot-like mechanism that takes videos in real time and allows owners to speak to and hear from their pets. Four wheels on the flatbed system always touch the floor, so owners can virtually move around and interact with the pet, and a treat dispenser enables further interaction, the team members said. A modular rubber case protects the rolling device from chewing, water and other shock and is both antibacterial and nontoxic, the team members said. For the human user, the mobile app provides remote control over the system.

Prior to winning the Global Startup Battle, the Pawly team came in second place at the Toronto Startup Weekend Maker Edition event, which allowed them to enter the larger contest, the team members said. After rigorously campaigning and attending tech events across Toronto, the team eventually made its way to the final top 15 in the battle – and then to first place on Thursday.

“We are in a very exciting time in which the overall landscape in tech has been changing, especially with design becoming an integral part of many startups,” said Shiera Aryev, CEO and cofounder of Pawly. “We think that with bringing together great design and the latest robotic technology, only incredible things are bound to happen. And in a $55 billion pet industry in North America alone, we’re so excited to be given an opportunity to make it a reality.”

In addition to Aryev, who was born in Haifa but grew up in Toronto, a second Israeli on the team of 10 cofounders is Mayer Elharar, the group’s business strategist. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Elharar left Israel after completing his IDF service to attend university in Canada.

Other members of the team include mechanical engineer Alejandro Rovillard, civil engineer Gordon Dri, robotics engineer Robbie Edwards and industrial engineer Long Gao. Also on the team are full-stack developer Yunan Zhao, a computer engineer; software developer Josh Allen, designer Muriel Schvartzman and business development head Robin Kwan.

Aryev, Mayer and Rovillard will be taking the trip to Google in January and will network with other startup ventures while they are on the West Coast, Aryev told The Jerusalem Post. Meanwhile, the rest of the group will be flying to San Francisco for the Launch Festival in February to demonstrate their concept, at which time Aryev said she hopes they will have a full prototype.

Thus far, the team members only have tested their system on dogs. But they hope to see soon that cats can enjoy the virtual communication system as well.

“As soon as the dogs heard the owners’ voice and they saw treats coming out they were receptive,” Aryev said.

The Pawly entrepreneurs are testing different types of materials to line the robot’s exterior to make the system customizable for animals of different sizes and desires, she added.

Although they intend to launch the Indiegogo campaign sometime in the near future, Aryev and her colleagues emphasized that they are also researching additional opportunities.

“Our intentions are to do a crowd-funding campaign, and we’re taking all the steps necessary to make sure that we create a successful company,” Aryev said.

Source: Jpost.com