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Beyond coexistence: confronting conflict with shared success in the Middle East

Nizar Mishael and Zohar Gendler, co-managers, NGT3 VC in Nazareth show us all how fragile the shared life of Arabs and Jews is here in Israel.

L-R Zohar Gendler and Nizar Mishael of NGT3 VC

By Nizar Mishael and Zohar Gendler, co-managers, NGT3 VC in Nazareth

The recent events in the Middle East have shown us all how fragile the shared life of Arabs and Jews is here in Israel.
However, it is important to remember that, on the ground, there is another reality that must continue to exist, evolve, and involve us all. Each of us encounters this other reality at almost every point in our lives together. It is stronger than the “reality” that extremist and terrorist elements try to impose on us, targeting the weak links in the interwoven Arab-Jewish fabric that is our society.

This other reality to which we are referring is beyond mere coexistence.

From our personal point of view, as co-managers who have worked together for many years at NGT VC in Nazareth, it’s important to embrace something much bigger.

We’ve built a natural daily routine in which people work together for a common goal, and religion is not a factor in it. In the race to advance the global medical innovation industry, we have also stated a social goal to leverage medical entrepreneurship in the Arab society. In this spirit, our investors also represent different religions and cultures, with some coming from the Arab society, some are Jewish, and some are foreign investors from all over the world.

In our community, which includes 23 young startups, 30% of employees are Arabs (compared to 3% in the Israeli high-tech industry) and over 18% of the technology and management roles are run by Arab women (compared to 0.1% in Israeli high-tech at large).

Our daily routine consists of research and development tasks, discussions with leading worldwide physicians, conducting clinical trials, obtaining regulatory approvals, raising capital, and more. All of us, women and men from all parts of the country, Jews – religious and secular, Arabs – Christians and Muslims, and Druze, work together to improve and save human lives, through the development of groundbreaking medical technologies.

NGT, our VC firm, is located in the city of Nazareth, close to the Old City. Every day, we gather in our offices to hold meetings in both Arabic and Hebrew. In our laboratories and offices sit Jews and Arabs together, excellent people with extraordinary abilities and ideas in the fields of chemistry, biology, physics, biotechnology, and engineering. They are doctors, entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and others who have already experienced at least one or two things in their lives when it comes to the Arab-Jewish conflict. Still, what unites them and sets their agenda is the desire to overcome and solve problems concerning human life, regardless of religion, race, gender, or nationality.

This is our reality. This is the norm here at NGT and we know with great confidence and in-depth familiarity with the issue that there’s a strong desire throughout the country to work together in other ways and in other places, too… in the streets and neighborhoods, all the way up to the level of industries.

We’re not trying to present an ideal situation. We hold different opinions and perceptions, we face different cultural and social challenges, and each of us carries his or her own beliefs and narrative. But what we all had in common in the recent period are the feelings of frustration, disappointment, and pain caused from the horror of what has happened in the cities and roads of our country, events which have made us feel besieged in our homes. No doubt these feelings stem from the fear of seeing all that we’ve built, as a society and a people, collapsing before our eyes. But, still, we do not feel helpless, because there is a lot to be done!

The difficult events we all experienced recently will pass, but will no doubt leave their mark on large sections of the population. It is hoped that the government of Israel will have the foresight to formulate, as soon as possible, a recovery plan that will include investment and extensive support for projects and infrastructure that will promote entrepreneurship and technology in Arab society in Israel, provide hopeful educational and employment outcomes, and promote cooperation between Jews and Arabs.

Furthermore, in the world of medical innovation where Arab entrepreneurs are typically living in the periphery of the country, funding for infrastructure needs to be supported and increased.

All of these investments in infrastructure, education, entrepreneurship, and more, as well as the belief in our ability to recover from the current crisis, will provide us all with the best path forward as we navigate through the conflicts toward a better world for us all.

NGT3 is an Israeli VC focused exclusively on early‐stage life-science technologies, located in Nazareth, Israel’s largest Arab city in Israel.

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