Israel is the “Start-Up Nation,” and as such has attracted a lot of foreign investment, especially from investment firms and venture capital funds in America’s so-called “Silicon Valley.”
So the sudden collapse on Friday of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), a major player in high-tech investments around the world, was immediate cause for concern in the Jewish state.
In a statement issued from Rome, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to ease any feelings of doubt:
“I am closely following the collapse of the American investment bank SVB, which is creating a deep crisis in the high-tech world. I held talks from Rome with high-tech officials in Israel, and upon my return to Israel I will discuss the extent of the crisis with the ministers of finance and economy and the governor of the Bank of Israel.
“If necessary, out of responsibility for the companies and employees of high-tech in Israel, we will take steps that will help Israeli companies, whose operations are centered in Israel, to overcome the cash flow crisis that has arisen for them due to the upheaval. Israel’s economy is strong and stable, and this is again reflected in this crisis as well.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted that he was establishing a special team to monitor the fallout of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse and to aid any Israeli or Israel-based high-tech companies impacted by hit.
Smotrich was scheduled to fly to the US on Sunday to address a financial conference and meet with local Jewish leaders. The most pressing matter on his agenda might now be evaluating the impact of SVB’s demise on the Israeli economy.
Hundreds of Israeli tech firms and startups had accounts at SVB, which had a branch in Tel Aviv.
Smotrich said, “Faced with the shock of the collapse of the American investment bank SVB, the Ministry of Finance under my leadership has been working since [Saturday] evening to formulate a situational picture and solutions. We stand by the Israeli hi-tech companies and will accompany them even in moments of crisis.”
The US State Department debated whether or not to even allow Smotrich into the country given his far-right and religious views and policies. Earlier in the month, he quipped that Israel should “wipe out” the Palestinian village of Huwara given the number of anti-Jewish terrorist attacks that occur there. Upon taking up his current position, Smotrich said the Bible would be his guide in managing Israel’s economy.
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