Many business leader’s Israel’s high tech sector – known as Startup Nation – has taken a leading part in their country’s growing protest movement against Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s proposed judicial reforms. Business figures like Erez Shachar, managing partner at Qumra Capital, have issued statements against the reform plan and venture capital firm TLV Partners even went so far as to offer free transportation for its people to travel to Jerusalem to take part in demonstrations in their country’s capitol against the reform plans.
Also, many Israel firms are taking their money out of the country out of concerns that the reforms could harm Israel’s economy. Many experts have said that should the judicial reforms pass then the world would lose faith in Israel’s democratic stability and so investors would not be as likely to invest there. This has been stated by major American financial firms like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
Just the other day it was reported that a number of private high-tech companies with an aggregate value of $40 billion may be refraining from transferring a total amount of wealth reaching as much as $2.2 billion into the country. At the same time, companies have pulled $780 million in funds from Israeli banks.
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Erez Shachar called on all the high-tech CEOs to allow workers to strike . He said in a statement, “Dear CEOs, the time has come for action. The government continues to gallop towards speedy legislation to undermine Israel democracy. We, as members of the high-tech industry, who share values of inclusion, transparency, excellence, and freedom, must take a clear position. This is not a political position, it is a values position, and this is also a war on the future of our industry here in Israel. There is no future for the high-tech industry in Israel the day after the legislation, and it is our duty to ourselves, our employees, our shareholders, our families, and our country not to allow this to happen. I call on all of you, CEOs and entrepreneurs of Israeli high-tech companies, to actively join the strike on Monday.”
Erel Margalit, chairman of VC firm Jerusalem Venture Partners and Margalit Startup City, personally led a protest in Jerusalem on Sunday/ He said, “You are seeing millions of Israelis rise up in a clear demonstration, because they are saying NO to the attempt of Netanyahu and his gang to change the system of this government from democracy to something that looks much more like a dictatorship.”
“Over the last 25 years, we built the innovation economy of this country,” he added. “We reached not only Tel Aviv, but also Secular and Ultra-orthodox, Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem; we brought together the Kibbutzim and the city in the Galilee with the Foodtech Center; Beer Sheva in the south with the thriving Cyber Center; and Haifa – where we brought Jews and Arabs together around the theme of digital health.”
“But as much as we are builders – we know how to fight back. And this battle is the battle for democracy which is the most important battle of our lives.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government’s proposed judicial reforms would greatly limit the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court and its attorney general, leading the country’s opposition leaders to accuse Netanyahu of moving to harm Israel’s democracy. This has led many, including the governor of the Bank of Israel, to say that the reforms could harm Israel’s economy.
And opposition leaders claim that this would harm Israel’s democracy by taking away the court’s ability to review the legality of government actions.