On 11 April 2013, University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Gal Raz brought Dr. Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, to the University of Virginia. In an event co-sponsored by U.Va.'s Darden, the Miller Center and the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics, Raz introduced Dr. Oren by describing the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit and his experience of taking students to his home country.
"I started an MBA course in which I take 30 of our students to Israel every year for a course focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel. The most important feature of the course is that the students conduct a four-week project with an Israeli startup company to help with their strategy to penetrate the U.S. market," said Raz. "The Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., has been very helpful in arranging the trips."
Dr. Oren provided the audience of students, faculty and community members snapshots of his time as ambassador. Each vignette demonstrated the importance of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. As an historian, Oren discussed the context of the relationship, dating back to the Puritan settlers in New England. He noted that Israel's Declaration of Independence is closely based on Thomas Jefferson's seminal document.
Oren talked about Israel's advanced technology sector and its vast number of startup companies. According to the ambassador, "Israel is a high tech giant. It has the most start-up companies in the world behind the U.S." Some of the innovations to come out of Israeli companies include intuitive searches for Internet browsers, a robotic device that allows paraplegics to walk and a special medical bandage to stem bleeding that helped save former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords' life.
The U.S.-Israeli relationship also includes trade, and Israel is a major customer of American imports. Oren says that Israel is also an outsourcer. One example is the company Sabra that recently opened its new hummus plant in Virginia.
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