Saw a Reuters newswire release on Intel (INTC) and how their engineers are continuing to work in Haifa even though the city is being periodically hit with Hizbollah (Syrian? Lebanese? Whose?) rockets.
The Intel article on wi-fi bomb shelters, while a surprise to some, was not a surprise to me. It reminded me of the time I first visited Israel for business, February 25th, 1998.
I was scheduled to meet with ECI, a small startup called Chromatis (3 guys in a one room office, later bought by Lucent for a Gazillion Billion Dollars), and other companies that escape my memory.
That evening, I landed in Israel at Tel Aviv aboard an Alitalia flight from Rome. As we passed though customs, the Israeli agent informed me that my government (the USA) had, while in the air, issued a statement advising all Americans to leave Israel immediately. Saddam Hussein was threatening to rain scud missiles down upon Israel for reasons that I no longer remember. I spoke with the Vitesse employee I was traveling with, and we both decided to stay.
Although my country had advised me that staying in Israel was a hazard, you would not have known it by walking and talking to the people who lived there. Life went on, regardless of the threat of high explosives (or worse) landing at any moment. We had dinner one night in Jaffa, an old harbor area of Tel Aviv and the restaurants were packed.
Customers were particularly surprised to see us. The fact that we were there even though the travel advisory was issued really broke the ice. Meetings seemed charged with energy, people were passionate (a good word to describe argumentative) and you felt very alive. I always left meetings with a clear idea of where I stood and what the customer needed. No crystal ball is needed when doing business in Israel.
I remember waking up early in my hotel one morning (a wedding party was blown up there several years later), walking the beach at Herzliya, and seeing the IDF jet fighters streaking over the Med. The three days I was there were a little surreal.
I always enjoyed returning to Israel for business. Their life during wartime attitude persisted regardless of current events. It’s part of their culture. And I like it.