Why they don’t want you to know Arabic


Education Minister Shay Piron doesn’t want school kids to learn Arabic. Of course, he doesn’t say this out loud, and if he is asked about it, not only would he not deny it, but he would also pratter on about how important it is to speak Arabic and how learning the language would serve as a cultural bridge and blah, blah, blah, just like the minister knows how to do.

In practice, though, he doesn’t want us to learn Arabic. He wants Arabic studies to last no longer than three years so that he could slash the budgets allocated to teaching the language.

Could this reform be part of the new policy introduced recently by the Education Ministry, which seems to be encouraging kids towards ignorance while teaching them a whole lot of nothing? At the same time, it is worth wondering whether there is anything special about learning Arabic.

It appears that there is. Whoever knows Arabic is likely to listen to Arab news media, surf Palestinian websites, and read Arabic newspapers. Then they are likely to discover the truth: the other side is awash with such a virulent stream of anti-Semitic racism that all talk of peace here is delusional.

The party to which the education minister belongs is entrenched firmly in what is inexplicably referred to as “the peace camp.” Knowing the Arabic language is anathema to this camp. The more Arab-language speakers there are, the less supporters.

Thus spake Abu Mazen

“The woman known as ‘the Maiden of Ludmir,’ Hannah Rachel Verbermacher, who became famous because of her outstanding studiousness and her becoming the only female rebbe in the history of the Hasidic movement, was, of course, a Palestinian.”

(Mahmoud Abbas, a doctor in history, from his book “How the Palestinians Created the World”)

Segmenting society

Polls in Israel consistently show that most Mizrahi Jews are on the Right side of the political spectrum, while a large chunk of Ashkenazim lean toward the Left. There are sociologists who have nurtured ridiculous theories in order to explain this state of affairs. The only thing they overlook is the most basic fact: a large chunk of Mizrahim speak Arabic.

Now, perhaps, just perhaps, that this is what lies beneath one of John Kerry’s bluffs, the one that says that a peace deal with the Palestinians would include monetary compensation for Jews kicked out of Muslim countries.

This is a bold-faced lie, and Kerry knows it. The agreement on which he is working, if it is ever signed, will be between Israel and the Palestinians. It won’t be with Iraq. It won’t be with Egypt. it won’t be with Syria or with Yemen. They won’t be party to the agreement, and they won’t pay billions. This conflict isn’t theirs.

Let us assume for a moment that they persuaded Syria to pay compensation. Where would the money come from? From hemorrhaging Yemen? An Iraq in ruins? Will it come from Egypt, where tens of millions of their citizens don’t know from where they’re going to get their next dry slice of bread?

Kerry knows that in the best case scenario, it’s a media fabrication for purposes of spin. In the worst case scenario, it’s a bluff. So why did he say it? Here’s a wild guess, which is certainly not true but in any case is worth mentioning just so that it’s clear what didn’t happen.

One day, one of Kerry’s advisers walked into his room and explained to him how Israeli society was structured and which of our various groupings are on the political right. “Jews love money. Should we try to buy them?” he asked one of his aides.

Again, we should emphasize that it is inconceivable for this to be a motivating factor in creating this compensation bluff.

Abu Mazen strikes again

“Three-thousand years prior to the Israelis, the Palestinians had already given the world the Patrick Kim pulp fiction series of books and they had documented the first-ever prescription for a congealed leg.”

(Abu Mazen, from his book “The Dawn of Humanity”)

Questions that will never be asked

Achinoam Nini, if you refuse to go on stage alongside a person who can’t stand homosexuals, then how is it that you performed in front of the pope?

Yisrael Shiran and Esti Brand, two individuals who were fired from the Education Ministry because of harboring right-wing views, will you agree to have your photo taken for the front-page of Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth?

Dear Sudanese migrant, if Israel is such a racist country, why are you fighting to stay here?

John Kerry, could you ask Mr. Obama what he would think about a proposal that would ban blacks from living in eastern Washington, DC? What about Jews in east Jerusalem?

Dear justice minister, as part of the campaign pushed by your ministry against racism and discrimination, will you also demand that Jews be permitted to pray on Temple Mount?

A reminder from Abu Mazen

“The Palestinian immigrants drained the swamps by planting eucalyptus trees. In short time, clashes erupted between the Palestinian pioneers and the clerks of Hebron.”

(Abu Mazen, from his book, “The Palestinian Pioneers”)

Trouble at home

On the order of the grand rebbe of Satmar, this Hassidic dynasty has begun a campaign against the Whatsapp application. They have a catchy slogan for their campaign: Press 1 for destroying the house.

It’s interesting to note that until now I was certain that Ariel Sharon destroyed more houses.

Just a minute, Abu Mazen is talking

“The Palestinians sat alone in the dark for at least 1800 years before the Poles.”

(Abu Mazen, from his book, “The Palestinians in the Krakow Ghetto”)

On the other hand

A photographer from another newspaper told me that Achinoam Nini asked him one time not to photograph her from the left, but to only get her right side. That’s because her left is the less photogenic side.

By chance, Achinoam Nini showed off her left side this week. She’s right. It really doesn’t look all that great.

Abu Mazen is just getting started

“Even Mordechai the Jew, Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, Hershele Ostropoler, and The Flying Matchmaker were all Palestinians.”

(Dr. Abu Mazen, from his book, “Gideon Levy Reveals”)

What do they want?

Last year, two ultra-Orthodox members of Knesset threatened that if this “wicked government” continued in its ways, they will not agree to accept budgets from the state. This week, the High Court of Justice took them up on their offer. What exactly is wrong with this?

One more

“The Palestinians arrived on the scene 2,000 years before the Palestinians.”

(Abu Mazen, from his book, “Conversations with Ilan Lukach”)

The Power 1000 – London’s most influential people 2013: Tech stars


The Power 1000 – London’s most influential people 2013: Tech stars

The digital buzz is no longer just around Silicon Roundabout in east London — now everyone from teenage schoolboys to taxi drivers wants to create an app or launch a start-up. Recent rows over online trolling and international tax avoidance show just how much technology matters in our lives

Stunning achievement: Nick d’Aloisio, tech entrepreneur, sold his news app Summly to Yahoo for $30 million in March

Published: 19 September 2013

Updated: 14:12, 20 September 2013

Nick d’Aloisio
Tech entrepreneur
★ Twitter star ★
Nick sold his news app Summly, which summarised news headlines, to Yahoo for $30 million in March — a stunning achievement for a Wimbledon schoolboy aged 17. Picked as one of the Generation Next names to watch in last year’s The 1000, his mentors include Apple’s Sir Jonathan Ive and Stephen Fry. D’Aloisio is juggling his studies with work as he criss-crosses the Atlantic for Yahoo.

Nicola Mendelsohn
Facebook, vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa
Manchester-born Mendelsohn calls herself “a proper Northern lass”, and oversees a team of nearly 1,000 across the region for the world’s biggest social media site, including about 150 in its Covent Garden office. Said to celebrate every big account win by buying a pair of Christian Louboutin heels and insisted on working a four-day week in her previous role chairing ad agency Karmarama.

Social media success: Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook Vice-President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (Picture: Rebecca Reid)Joanna Shields
Tech City Investment Organisation, chief executive
The woman tasked with looking after Tech City, the Government’s often controversial initiative to promote east London as a technology hub. She previously worked at Google and ranAndy Stevenson, helping sell it for close to $850 million, and is believed to have been a big winner in Facebook’s flotation. Married to Force India Formula 1 team manager Andy Stevenson.

Matt Brittin
Google, Northern Europe vice-president
He was the public face of Google during its tax avoidance row and the man whom MPs grilled on the subject during two difficult Commons appearances. A former Trinity Mirror executive and ex-Cambridge and Olympic rower, he is a master of lobbying in a firm that is closer to the UK Government than almost any other tech giant. Lists his hobbies in Debrett’s as “cycling to work in the rain”. Spot him breakfasting at The Wolseley.

Michael Acton Smith
Mind Candy, founder
★ Twitter star ★
Known as “Mr Moshi”, Acton Smith is the poster boy for Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout after creating hit kids’ site Moshi Monsters. Known for his unruly hair and penchant for blazers and badges, bubbly Acton Smith is one of the capital’s “superconnectors” — even running a music festival in his Soho flat to bring people together. His firm continues to grow — he’s always tweeting from around the world — and has done an astonishing variety of licensing deals as Moshi goes from digital to physical products.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee
Internet pioneer
After his starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony when he sent a tweet from his iPhone, the creator of the world wide web was one of five internet and web pioneers awarded the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. He is a passionate believer in the openness of the internet and a director of the Open Data Institute in Shoreditch, which aims to “catalyse an open data culture”.

Daniel Ek
Spotify, founder
Beginning his entrepreneurial career at 14, Swedish music-lover Ek’s Spotify service has been the biggest thing to happen to online music since iTunes, despite claims from some musicians that the firm does not pay artists enough. The Arsenal fan spends a lot of time in London, and also plays guitar — although it’s believed he is yet to get any of his own music on the service.

Robin Grant
We Are Social, co-founder
From personalised cans of Heinz soup to online X Factor voting and a secret club for Marmite lovers, the easy-going PR firm boss has taken full advantage of social media for clients. Launched in the depths of recession in 2008, Grant’s Farringdon-based company has been doubling in size every year and boasts offices across the globe.

Brent Hoberman
PROfounders Capital, investment partner
★Twitter star ★
Still best known as the former boss of lastminute.com, he has fingers in many pies. He is a partner in investment firm PROfounders Capital as well as setting up Founders Forum, a high-powered private network for 3000 entrepreneurs and leaders in tech and media. In addition, he chairs designer furniture site made.com and is a UK business trade ambassador. He is also as a non-executive director of Guardian Media Group and TalkTalk and on the board of mobile app Shazam. Tweets top business stories to his nearly 30,000 followers.

Jonnie Goodwin
Founders Forum, co-founder
Ultra-connected former media banker who runs his own advisory boutique, Lepe Partners, and heads Founders Forum, a networking club for digital entrepreneurs. Led a big UK trade mission to Los Angeles in February, when David Cameron took part by webcast, and hosted a dinner at Windsor Castle with Prince Andrew.

David Rowan
Wired, UK editor
He relaunched Wired in the UK with a remit that ranges from science to business and has expanded it with conferences and even a consulting arm. The former Evening Standard media interviewer is also in demand as a public speaker and it seems no tech conference can happen without Rowan moderating.

Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia, founder
★ Twitter star ★
The outspoken American creator of the world’s greatest free online encyclopaedia now spends most of his time in London, after marrying Tony Blair’s former diary secretary Kate Garvey. Remains utterly committed to Wikipedia’s open, honest ethos and has no compunction about exposing companies or individuals that secretly try to censor or edit the site.

Chris Gorell Barnes
Adjust Your Set, founder
With a penchant for colourful trousers, Gorell Barnes is helping big brands become publishers in their own right by making films, rather than adverts, with innovative technology that allows customers to buy in real time while watching. He began his business life promoting club nights at Ministry of Sound and his long-term partner is lastminute.com founder Baroness Lane-Fox.

Helping hand: Chris Gorell Barnes (Picture: Rebecca ReidMartin Clarke
MailOnline, publisher
Under hard-driving Clarke, the online version of the Daily Mail just keeps growing, with the hoopla surrounding William and Kate’s baby setting a new record of more than 10 million visitors in a day. Feared and admired by employees and the rest of the industry, he has brought British journalism to a worldwide audience, with aggressive expansion plans around the globe, led by the site’s notorious “sidebar of shame” of celebrity stories.

Ian Hogarth
Songkick, co-founder
With a Masters in machine learning from Cambridge, Mandarin speaker Hogarth has managed to create a smart way to track the music you listen to and tell you when your favourite bands are playing live. Taking a slice of ticket sales, it has proved a worldwide success, and is one of the most visible app firms to emerge from Silicon Roundabout.

Paula Byrne
Amazon digital media development centre, managing director
One of the leaders of Amazon’s worldwide push into interactive TV, Byrne is the British boss of Amazon’s eight-floor technology centre in east London which houses development teams from streaming website LoveFilm and TV app developer Pushbutton (which she sold to Amazon). As every tech giant turns its attention to the TV market, Liverpudlian Byrne says London could be the key to innovations that finally put the living room online.

Danny Rimer
Index Ventures, founder
A key member of the venture capital company Index, one of the biggest investors in tech companies in Europe with a string of successful investments such as Mind Candy. After setting up the London office, Rimer has sung the praises of the capital, frequently in Silicon Valley, calling London a “turbocharged microcosm of the US”. Influential as a non-executive director of BSkyB.

Errol Damelin
Wonga, chief executive
Wonga hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby attacked payday lenders for charging high interest rates, so it would be easy to forget that Damelin has built that rare thing — a successful homegrown British tech business. “We believe we are a powerful force for good in the financial world,” says the South African-born ex-banker, who argues Wonga is filling a gap left by banks.

Rohan Silva
Index Ventures, adviser
Long-term Tory aide who is credited with being the driving force behind the creation of Tech City in east London. His influence showed at his leaving do at No 10, attended by David Cameron and Google’s Eric Schmidt. Moved this summer to a new, loosely defined role as entrepreneur in residence at top venture capital firm Index Ventures but intends to launch his own digital education start-up.

Driving force: Rohan Silva (Picture: Lucy Young)Alan Hely
Apple, European communications director
Long-serving Scottish PR supremo who masterminds Apple’s PR strategy across Europe, Hely’s imposing presence is never far away at key times. A keen cyclist and tennis player, straight-talking Hely also shepherds Sir Jonathan Ive on his frequent visits to London.

Bruce Daisley
Twitter, UK manager
A former executive at magazines group Bauer and YouTube, he joined last year and has just been promoted to the top job in the UK after Tony Wang returned to America. Twitter has never been more popular, but Daisley must also win back trust after “trolls” sent abusive tweets and even death threats to female users. Twitter has introduced an alert system to prevent the abuse.

Baroness Lane-Fox
UK digital champion
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, to use her full title, this year became the youngest female member of the House of Lords. A poster girl for the first dotcom bubble who has gone on to boardroom positions at Channel 4 (she left last year) and Marks & Spencer — despite a car accident that left lifelong injuries. Also chairs hot start-up MakieLab which makes 3D printed toy dolls. She is instrumental in bringing the internet to everyone in Britain through Go On UK and, rumour has it, is also an enthusiastic regular at the Soho karaoke bar Lucky Voice, which she founded.

Eben Upton
Raspberry Pi, founder
The man many believe is helping teach the next generation to write computer code, Upton and his team developed a £16 computer that is used in schools and homes after notching more than one million sales. Now Upton and his team are taking their invention global.

Eze Vidra
Google Campus, head
The Argentinian Israeli heads up Campus, Google’s start-up space in east London, which runs regular events and gives a home to entrepreneurs. A keen cyclist, Vidra also runs techbikers, a charity cycling club for tech workers.

Russell Hall
Hailo, co-founder
One of three licensed London cab drivers who founded this hot taxi-booking app in 2010. Bromley-based Hall, a driver himself for over 30 years, likes to say Hailo was “developed with cabbies for cabbies”. He had long seen the potential of technology to improve the taxi industry and previously founded web-booking service Taxilight. Now Hailo is expanding around the world, with venture-capital backing from Wellington Partners and Atomico Partners.

Shakil Khan
Entrepreneur and über-fixer who has fingers in many start-ups. He was an early investor in Spotify, is an adviser to Path and mentored Summly wunderkind Nick d’Aloisio. Known as Shak, he ran away from home on his 16th birthday. He is a leading supporter of charity: water, a philanthropic venture backed by the tech industry to bring clean drinking water to developing countries. He even has a town in Ethiopia, Shaktown, named after him.

Oli Barrett
Start-up Britain, co-founder
The man who has made it his mission in life to make others think about becoming entrepreneurs, Barrett is behind several schemes including Start-up Britain and a series of UK missions to places such as Silicon Valley and Brazil to foster innovation. Impossible to dislike, Barrett is almost as well known in tech circles for his absolutely terrible jokes as his endless enthusiasm for inspiring others — which was rewarded this year with an MBE.

Azmat Yusuf
Previously a Googler, Yusuf capitalised on a gap in the market for a “do everything” transport app with Citymapper, loved by users for its simplicity, particularly the innovative “get me home” button which can work out the best route and show you options ranging from Boris bikes to buses — all on one screen.

Reshma Sohoni
Seedcamp, co-founder
A former executive at Vodafone and private equity firm 3i, she has brought corporate savvy to the London tech scene by setting up Seedcamp, something akin to the “accelerator” programmes that churn out start-ups by the dozen in Silicon Valley and now one of the most important “first stops” for entrepreneurs across Europe. She has backed tech firms including Mobclix and Zoombu. Spends her spare time doing “seasonal adrenalised sports”.

Saul Klein
★ Twitter star ★
Cambridge-educated multi-tasking tech investor who has been involved in LoveFilm, Skype and Last.fm. Holds influential roles with Index Ventures and with SeedCamp, an investment and entrepreneurial mentoring service which aims to encourage talent, and with the Accelerator Group, which invests in early stage firms, and counts Tweetdeck as one of its biggest successes. 25,000 followers on Twitter underline his influence.

Rytis Vitkauskas
Yplan, founder
Previously a venture capitalist, Vitkauskas quit his job to become an entrepreneur and set up Yplan, an innovative going-out app that offers cheap last-minute tickets to events in the next 48 hours. The Lithuanian began his tech fascination early, fixing computers as his first business. Now Yplan is set to open in New York with a host of backers, including actor Ashton Kutcher, and ambitious expansion plans.

Two Misplaced Debates In Business Strategy


Two Misplaced Debates In Business Strategy

Moscow International Business CenterMoscow International Business Center (Photo credit: Alexander Kachkaev)

Of all debates in international business strategy, two stand out: The first debate revolves around the nature of world market environment, whether world markets are global, multinational or semiglobal. The second debate revolves around the dilemma of global vis-a-vis local strategy, that is, the trade-off between global standardization and local customization. The way that an international business addresses these debates can make the difference between superior and inferior performance. Both debates are misplaced, and create pseudo dilemmas that lead to the wrong business strategy.

The debate regarding the nature of the world market environment is misplaced because it views multinationalization, globalization, and semiglobalization as universal and mutually exclusive trends that create a unique world market environment, rather than non-universal, non-mutually exclusive trends that create diverse world market environments. The debate regarding the trade-off between a global and a local strategy is misplaced because it views value propositions crossing national borders as products per se rather than as bundles of global and local characteristics. Within the later framework, business strategy begins with consumers’ preferences for global and local product characteristics in world markets, and the appropriate response to address them.

An international business faced with a pure global market environment where consumers derive value from global characteristics only must pursue a cost leadership strategy. An international business faced with a pure multinational environment where consumers derive value from multiple local characteristics must pursue a localization leadership strategy. An international business faced with a semiglobal market environment where consumers derive value from a bundle of global and local product characteristics must harmonize its strategy. This means that an international business must pursue a globalization and a localization leadership at the same time, a globalization leadership for the global characteristics of the bundle and a localization leadership for the local characteristics of its bundle.

Some international businesses have been quick to adopt this new mind-set. P&G (NYSE:PG), for instance, has designed value propositions that promote product characteristics, such as shampoo and dental paste branding and chemical components global, while localized product packaging.   Yum! Brands (NYSE:YUM) have designed Pizza Hut and KFC menus that include both a global and a local component. Beverage maker Diageo mixes global drinks with local drinks and liquors to create product offerings that cater to local markets. Diageo’s (NYSE:DEO) Gordon Edge, a mix of gin and lemon is catered to the UK market, while Safari Luna, a mixed of fruit and liquor, is catered to the Netherlands. Allied Domecq’s Presidente brandy and cola mix is catered to the Mexican market, while TG, a mix of Scotch and guanana is catered to the Brazilian market. Campari’s Mixx, a mix of grapefruit and Campari is catered to the Italian and Switzerlandmarket. Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) bundle together hardware and professional consulting services to offer customized solutions to their customers around the world. Other companies have been slow to adapt to this new mind-set, caught in pseudo dilemmas, swinging between a global and a local leadership strategy. In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, Coca Cola (NYSE:KO) switched from a globalization to a localization strategy that localized the wrong product characteristics like branding.

The bottom line: The world market is a collection of pure global, pure multinational, and semiglobal markets. Pure global markets should be addressed with universal value propositions that include the “core” or global characteristics of the product; multinational markets should be addressed with customized value propositions that include, in addition to globalized product characteristics, localized product characteristics that cater to different national and local markets; semiglobal markets should be addressed with hybrid value propositions.

Why A Labor Shortage Is Good News For The Chinese Economy


Why A Labor Shortage Is Good News For The Chinese Economy

English: "Thousands of workers in this fa...

English: “Thousands of workers in this factory assembling and testing fiber optic systems. In many places of the Chinese economy, human labor replaces automation (in contrast to Japan, for example).” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

China may be turning from a labor surplus to a labor shortage economy.

According to data released by the Chinese National Bureau ofStatistics over the weekend, population of working age (15-59) was 937.27 million in 2012, a decrease of 3.45 million over the previous year.

While this decline is negligible in percent terms, it comes at a bad time, with the Chinese economy growing at a rate close to 8 percent. That’s where the labor shortage arises.

According to China observer Shaun Rein, the country is already in a labor shortage, which began during the Great Recession, as many American and European companies stepped up investment in China to offset a sales slow-down in their home markets.

“Technology companies such as MicrosoftIntel, and Google—even after it stopped offering its search engine in China—have embarked on huge hiring sprees or have set up research and development centers there,” writes Rein. “Citigroup announced it would triple its head count on the mainland within three years to 10,000, not for back office needs but to cater to local clients. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and Disney all have announced multibillion-dollar investments. Investment banks like Goldman Sachs are increasing their business in China even as they pare their ranks in New York and London.”

In the short-term, a labor shortage is bad news for the Chinese economy, for two reasons. First, it is expected to push wages and inflation higher, and may eventually force the country’s central bank to raise interest rates, hampering the country’s economic recovery.

Second, higher wages will undermine China’s competitive advantage in the Asian region, as domestic companies are forced to cope with competition from low-wage countries like Vietnam.

In the long-term, a labor shortage is good news for the Chinese economy, as it will induce Chinese companies to innovate.

As I discuss in China Against Herself, which I co-authored with Yuko Arayama, labor shortages create the urgency for labor-raising techniques – and that raises labor productivity and living standards, stimulating innovation at the same time.

That’s what has happened in Great Britain, the United States and Japan during periods of labor shortages – the rise of labor-saving techniques and innovations — and without substantial social friction.

The bottom line: Labor shortages may be bad for the Chinese economy in the short-run, but they are good for the long-run. They provide the impetus for the country to make a Great Leap Forward, from imitation to innovation, as Great Britain, the US, and Japan have done in the past.