Blog by Katie Zarate, Director of Communications Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, traveled across the world to keynote the 2023 TAB Policy Conference in Austin. Fleur kicked off the event by emphasizing to Texans that “Peace can be achieved through economic development and economic bridges.”
Ahead of the conference, Fleur previewed her visit in the Jerusalem Post, where she explained why she was traveling to Texas in the middle of a war. As Special Envoy for Innovation, Fleur pointed to the importance of strengthening relationships with Israel’s top global trading partners, especially during times of war. She explained that Israeli tech companies are hurting due to 15% of the workforce being called to serve. As a leader in tech and AI, Texas can help address these challenges through even stronger business partnerships.
Fleur touted Israel as the Start-Up Nation that has the most innovation per capita. “Every single Israeli thinks they can save the world with some new technology,” she said, “That is embedded in our DNA.” Fleur explained that as a relatively young country, Israel’s heart for innovation was born out of necessity. Due to drought, they turned to desalination technology. Due to difficulties growing food in the desert, they adopted innovative agriculture. “Necessity is the mother of invention. We had no other choice.”
TAB Board Chairman Massey Villarreal told the Deputy Mayor that while Israel is the Start-Up Nation, Texas is the Scale-Up State. He offered Texas as a resource for helping scale Israel’s advancements and open doors for its innovators and entrepreneurs throughout the Americas. Likewise, Fleur pointed out that “Israel can serve as a gateway to the Middle East.”
As the Israel-Hamas war continues, many have asked Fleur how the Abraham Accords can move forward. She explained that the Middle East is splitting into two – divided between the countries that want peace and prosperity, versus the countries that want radicalism and destruction. Touching on the meaning of Hanukkah, Fleur expressed confidence that we can keep the light of hope going through economic development and bridge-building.
“There is no better triangulation than Israel, the Middle East, and the U.S.,” she said, “And Texas is the leading light of the United States in this triangulation.”
The Deputy Mayor expressed deep gratitude for all Texans, particularly Governor Greg Abbott, for standing with Israel amid the war. Immediately following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October, TAB Board Chairman Massey Villarreal released a statement condemning the terrorist violence against the Jewish State and affirming the Texas business community’s unequivocal support for Israel.
At the conclusion of her remarks, TAB recognized Fleur with the "Innovation Diplomacy Award" for strengthening economic ties and encouraging innovation through collaboration between the Start-Up Nation and the Scale-Up State.