“Will Saudi Arabia join the Abraham Accords?” was one of the looming issues discussed during several sessions with global thought leaders participating in the NEXUS:ISRAEL 2022 Virtual Summit on March 30. The summit, hosted by American Friends of the Hebrew University, focused on sustainable solutions to global challenges.

A highlight of the NEXUS:ISRAEL Summit was the discussion between “Startup Nation” author and political advisor Dan Senor and New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman.

“One Saudi leader I spoke to said Israel is the future and Saudi Arabia wants to bet on the future in the Middle East in part to counter Iran,” Senor said. “But there is also an innovation story, and they didn’t want to have to fly to the Bay Area in order to innovate. They have a Silicon Valley in their backyard, and they want in on it.”

Friedman shared his own perspective about the Ukraine war as well as the Abraham Accords and Saudi participation. “Progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will make it much easier and much earlier for the Saudis to jump in formally. Right now, I call them informal shadow members of the alliance already.”

Later, he went on to say, “It’s the success of the startup nation that makes people want to partner with it. I believe the Abraham Accords are the beginning of reversing that hundred-year antipathy that has grown out of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

“The Impact of the Abraham Accords is not to be underestimated,” said former Ambassador Yossi Gal, who serves as HU Vice President for University Advancement and External Relations referring to the Abraham Accords in a breakout session. “I just hosted a huge delegation from one of the leading universities in Morocco and two years ago this just wasn’t happening. I’m quite optimistic judging on the statements and the atmosphere coming from Saudi Arabia.”

“Our region of the world is a climate hotspot and is warming extremely fast,” said Gideon Bromberg, who heads the EcoPeace Middle East organization in the same session. “That threatens the livelihood and the very conditions that brought prosperity to Israel and other parts of the region.”

He continued, “Israel has a commitment to be 30% renewable by 2030, and without working with our neighbors, with Jordan, and hopefully others, we’re not going to be able to meet that commitment.”

The NEXUS:ISRAEL 2022 Virtual Summit brought together many entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators from more than 45 countries and over 700 leading companies to foster conversations about the latest technological advances in sustainability emerging from Israel’s startup culture.

Among the other sustainability-focused breakout sessions were Agtech, FoodTech and Sustainable Farming, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid and Green Infrastructure, Water, Sanitation and Global Health, ESG and Corporate Leadership on Climate Change, as well as Health and Wellness.

Other featured speakers were: (Click here for full speakers list)

  • Malcolm Gladwell, Author & Podcast Host has penned seven New York Times bestsellers, including The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, Talking to Strangers, and The Bomber Mafia. He is the co-founder and president of Pushkin Industries, an audiobook and podcast production company.
  • Catherine Wood, CEO, Ark Invest is an investment adviser with more than 40 years of experience identifying and investing in innovation. She founded ARK to focus solely on disruptive innovation across sectors and geographies including Israel that involve DNA sequencing, robotics, artificial intelligence, energy storage, and blockchain.
  • Jane Goodall, DBE, UN Messenger of Peace & Founder, The Jane Goodall Institute is a world-renowned ethologist and activist known for her groundbreaking research of wild chimpanzees. In 2021, she received the Templeton Prize, which honors those who harness the power of the sciences to explore the deepest questions of the universe as well as humankind’s place and purpose within it.
  • Cori Bargmann is Head of Science at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and is an internationally recognized neurobiologist and geneticist.
  • Valerie Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer, Citi, has helped grow sustainability efforts at Citi since 2004. She oversees Citi’s Sustainability & ESG team, and is an advisor and spokesperson on sustainable finance.
  • Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur, author, philanthropist, non-profit leader, and former 2020 presidential candidate as well as a New York City Mayoral candidate.

Among the HU participants were: Prof. Yuval Noah Harari, historian and best-selling author; Prof. Dan Marom, fintech thought leader, and Prof. Yaakov Nahmias, founder of the Tyson Foods-funded Future Meat Technologies. Other speakers include: Prof. Ori Adam, HU Climate Science Center, Prof. Eran Feitelson, Department of Geography, Prof. Jonathan Huppert, Dept. of Psychology, Prof. Yael Mishael, Director, Center for Sustainability, Prof. Yehuda Newmark, Director of the Braun School of Public Health and HU President Asher Cohen.

Event sponsors were: ARK Invest; The Paul E. Singer Foundation;

Bank Leumi USA; Mayer Brown LLP; Ike, Molly & Steven Elias Foundation; Mindy and Neil Grossman; and Haddad Brands.

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American Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
About the Hebrew University of Jerusalem The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's leading academic and research institution. Serving 24,000 students from 80 countries, it produces a third of Israel’s civilian research and is ranked 12th worldwide in biotechnology patent filings and commercial development. Faculty and alumni of the Hebrew University have won eight Nobel Prizes and a Fields Medal since 2000. For more information, visit us at Hebrew University. About American Friends of the Hebrew University American Friends of the Hebrew University (AFHU) is a national, not-for-profit organization based in the United States. AFHU is headquartered in New York, and has seven regional offices working in close partnership with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. AFHU provides supporters, Hebrew University alumni, and the public with stimulating programs and events, and organizes missions to Israel. The organization’s activities support scholarly and scientific achievement at HU, create scholarships, fund new facilities, and assist the University’s efforts to recruit outstanding new faculty. For more information, please visit http://www.afhu.org/. Follow us on: Facebook | Linkedin | Twitter  | Instagram | YouTube
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