• irvsafdieh

Race to the Top, Syrian Solitude, Fiverr on Fire

Israeli Elections Slated for April 9th

Breaking Israel News, December 25th 2018


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition voted unanimously to dissolve the Knesset. New elections are scheduled for April 9th 2019, six months before the previously scheduled election date.

The Context:

  • Netanyahu's coalition held a one-seat majority following Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation in November over a controversial Gaza ceasefire deal. Party leaders recognized that a one vote majority did not have the clout to pass key legislation, namely, a bill aimed at increasing the number of Orthodox Israeli citizens serving in the military which Israel’s Supreme Court had given the government a January 15th deadline to pass.

  • The Knesset will still attempt to pass legislation during the current term [2] and coalition parties announced that they would remain in the government until the election.

  • Netanyahu is in his third consecutive term and has served four terms overall. He currently faces indictment in three different cases and the Attorney General is currently considering next steps [3]. Despite the corruption investigations, Netanyahu’s popularity has not been seriously affected - his Likud party performs far better than any other in the polls. Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion [4].

  • A day after announcing new elections, Netanyahu worked to approve 2010 new settler homes in the West Bank [5] while warning that Israeli presence in the area would be “immediately reversed” if the left wins in April [6].

Conversation Points:

  • Are any of Netanyahu’s opponents, on the right or left, qualified to be Prime Minister?

  • Will Netanyahu be better positioned to face potential charges with a fresh electoral mandate?

  • Should settlers feel threatened by a left-wing government considering orders to evacuate Israeli communities beyond the Green Line over the past half a century have been given exclusively by Likud-led governments?

Benjamin Netanyahu Says U.S. Withdrawal from Syria Will Not Affect Israel

Time, December 23rd 2018


President Donald Trump caught American allies off-guard by announcing the withdrawal of 2,000 American troops from Syria. Israel will “continue to act against Iran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria.”

The Context:

  • Trump’s announcement sparked the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the global coalition fighting the Islamic State. Several Republicans accused Trump of abandoning American allies.

  • Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi expressed concern that the Islamic State would once again expand its footprint in the area. His government is considering a troop deployment to protect Iraq from threats across its borders [7].

  • Israel has carried out more than 200 strikes in Syria against Iranian bases and weapons convoys. “Even though the US was not acting directly against the Iranians, its presence there was a major obstacle,” said reserve Brigadier-General Yossi Kuperwasser [8].

  • Netanyahu stressed that Israel’s “cooperation with the US will continue in full” though Trump’s announcement caught many Israeli officials by surprise and reinforced concerns about Iran’s ability to inflict harm [9].

  • The American withdrawal benefits Russia, who is active in Syria and has provided advanced anti-aircraft systems to the regime over US and Israeli objections. Russia warned Israel to tread lightly in Syrian skies [10].

Conversation Points:

  • Is Israel more vulnerable in the wake of the American withdrawal?

  • Were Russia and Iran holding back due to the American presence in Syrian?

  • How might an increased Israeli presence in Syria affect its burgeoning relationship with Russia?

Online Freelance Service Firm Fiverr Sets Up Berlin Office

Shoshanna Solomon, Jerusalem Post, December 18th 2018


Fiverr, an Israeli startup for online freelance services, set up its first European branch in Berlin. The company, founded in 2010 by Shai Wininger and Micha Kaufman, has begun meeting with potential Wall Street underwriters for a 2019 IPO valued at $1 billion [11].

The Context:

  • Fiverr has raised $110 million in five fundraising rounds. The company employs 200 people in Israel and 100 in the US. One million freelancers use its platform to perform nearly one million jobs a month. Most freelancers are from developing countries [12].

  • When launched, Fiverr offered services at a single price of $5. Today, users set their own prices that range as high as $10,000 in which Fiverr collects a 20% commission [13].

  • In the first half of 2018 Israeli firms held just three initial public offerings, compared to eight in the first half of 2017. The amounts raised in the three IPOs were relatively modest, ranging between $11 million and $86 million [14].

Conversation Points:

  • Will services like Fiverr become a target of nationalistic governments seeking to protect its domestic workforce?


  1. Israel To Hold Early Elections in April, Al Jazeera, December 25th 2018

  2. Israel Headed for Elections: Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon Launches Own Party, Haaretz, December 25th 2018

  3. Israel To Hold Early Elections in April, Al Jazeera, December 25th 2018

  4. With Early Israel Elections, Netanyahu Banks On Strengthening Support, Isabel Kershner, New York Times, December 24th 2018

  5. Day After Election Called, Netanyahu Green Lights New Settler Homes, Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, December 25th 2018

  6. The Left Is Recruiting the Media to Oust Government, Pm Warns Settler Leaders, Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, December 24th 2018

  7. After Us Announces Pullout, Iraq Says It Might Send Troops to Syria, Times of Israel, December 24th 2018

  8. Israel Sees Iran Moving Closer as Trump Clears the Way in Syria, Michael Arnold And Jonathan Ferziger, Bloomberg, December 21st 2018

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Israeli Startup Fiverr Eyeing IPO at $1 Billion Valuation, Haaretz, August 28th 2018

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Freelance Work Marketplace Fiverr Said to Be Seeking IPO at $1 Billion Valuation Shoshanna Solomon, Jerusalem Post, August 28th 2018