Foundation Will Counter BDS by Promoting Israeli High-tech

Start-Up Nation Central is funded by U.S. Jewish billionaire Paul Singer and headed by Eugene Kandel, former head of the Israeli National Economic Council.

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Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister's Office.
Economist Eugene Kandel, who will head Start-Up Nation Central.Credit: Emil Salman

American Jewish hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer has established a non-profit organization to lure international investment to Israel and counter the efforts of the anti-Israel boycott movement, Bloomberg reports.

The new foundation is called Start-Up Nation Central, a reference to the 2009 bestseller “Start-Up Nation,” which extolled the dynamism of Israel's high-tech sector and traced its roots to the military and the prevalence of immigrants in the country.

Dan Senor, co-writer of the book, works for Singer. He said the key goal of the foundation is to strengthen Israel's economy and get people to interact with it beyond the prism of conflict.

 “One could make the argument that the ultimate antidote to delegitimization, isolation, and divestment is legitimization, integration, and investment,” he said.

Singer, who runs the hedge fund Elliott Management, has invested $20 million in the foundation, according to Bloomberg. It will be headed by Eugene Kandel, an Israeli economist who was head of the Israeli National Economic Council under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until recently.

Both Senor and Singer have said in interviews that while fighting a boycott is not what drove them to start the organization, boosting Israel’s economic ties with the world serves to counteract the forces behind it.

The foundation, which sees itself as the main address for governments and businesses seeking to deepen their relationship with Israel’s tech industry, will occupy three floors in a new Tel Aviv office tower that also houses Facebook.

“We want to help advance projects where one company or one government ministry wouldn’t necessarily have the scope or vision to execute on that,” Kandel told Bloomberg.

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