October 17, 2023

With workers called to battle, Israeli firms rally support

While struggling to function with fewer employees due to reserve callup, many Israeli companies pitch in for those who are suffering.

My neighbor’s son works for Mobileye in Jerusalem. Although his wife gave birth to their third child only two weeks ago, he is among 400,000 reservists called up to defend Israel during the Swords of Iron war.

The massive military callup leaves many young parents struggling to cope without their partners. And it leaves many businesses struggling to cope without a full staff. As many as 10-15% of Israeli tech employees are serving in the reserves.

Yet just as communities across Israel are rallying around families of soldiers, companies large and small are rallying around employees and the country at large.

Mobileye is an example of one of the larger ones, with approximately 3,500 employees.

“Mobileye stands with the people of Israel and will support employees and their families touched by the conflict,” the company stated in an announcement of its donation of 5 million shekels (about $1.3 million) to nonprofits helping victims in the country’s south. The company also is setting up a dedicated fund for relief efforts in affected areas of Israel.

On the small side, five of the 27 employees in the Israel office of precision oncology startup OncoHost — in Binyamina, a town in the Haifa region — were called up to the reserves, including CEO Dr. Ofer Sharon, who is serving in the medical corps.

Other OncoHost employees lost friends and family members in the Hamas massacres of October 7.

“The fact that we have a US-based team [of 13] helps us greatly, but here in Israel we have taken a decision to continue with our mission — between the sirens and rockets, and despite the atrocities we are seeing and hearing about every day,” said Sharon.

“This is not a business decision, but a moral one. We prevail and grow by creating lifesaving technologies while evil tries to take and destroy lives.”

OncoHost Director of R&D Ben Yellin, center, receiving a care package from fellow employees at his base, organized by Oshrit Regev Rokach, head of HR. Photo courtesy of OncoHost
OncoHost Director of R&D Ben Yellin, center, receiving a care package from fellow employees at his base, organized by Oshrit Regev Rokach, head of HR. Photo courtesy of OncoHost

Below is a sampling of other supportive initiatives coming from Israel’s business community.

IsraelTechGuards, a group of more than 500 programmers, product experts and systems engineers in the Israeli tech sector, is putting its expertise behind a collection of projects: FaceWatch, identifying faces of missing persons from videos; Last Seen, using advanced image processing and 3D modeling techniques to help locate and potentially rescue abducted individuals; Words of Iron, generating source-based content in response to hateful media; and more.

Crypto Aid Israel, a group of local leaders in the crypto space, established a special wallet for cryptocurrency donations, to be managed by Fireblocks. The donations will be distributed to displaced citizens in partnership with government agencies and a leading Israeli bank. CryptoJungle CEO Ben Samocha said: “We hope to raise the necessary funds to provide food and shelter for families who lost their homes. We are also hoping to provide hygiene and medical products for the bombarded Israeli civilian populace and to raise awareness for the horrors the Israeli people are facing right now.”

Monday.com, a globally popular online project management and collaboration platform for workplaces, is offering its support in creating and operating platforms for  operations and management of volunteers, resource distribution, data coordination for hospitality for evacuees, and any other efficient system management that may needed during the crisis.

Mindspace is opening its seven Israeli coworking spaces to volunteer-led initiatives and to displaced residents lacking a place to work. Many of Mindspace’s sites have been transformed into pickup points for donations and supplies for soldiers, families, residents of the south and others affected by the war.

Vibe Venture Studio, a collaborative of entrepreneurs, philosophers and creators, created a virtual community of more than 500 volunteer therapists and other professionals ready to help Israelis deal with psychological trauma. Over 1,000 people took part in immersive virtual meetings on the SpatialChat platform in the first 24 hours alone. The initiative is led by Adi Karmon Scope, an independent blockchain and crypto economics specialist, and Ronen Gafni, founder of FreshBiz Global game-based corporate training company.

The Israeli High-Tech Association is collecting laptops, iPads and tablets from hundreds of member companies, as well as non-member companies, for distribution through partner organizations to displaced children from the Gaza border communities.

The Discount Group, encompassing nearly 200 Discount and Mercantile banks, established a 50 million shekel ($12.6 million) aid fund for children and teenagers affected directly by the war. The Heznek Le’Atid Association, which works with Discount to promote education in the periphery, will coordinate the fund in cooperation with the Israel Trauma Coalition and its resilience centers in the Gaza border area. Discount Group also is arranging lodging and purchase of food and equipment for residents and security personnel.

AnD Ventures in Herzliya reports raising millions of dollars from its investors and related entities for war victims. The funds are being distributed through Brothers and Sisters for Israel, the largest civilian aid organization at the forefront providing immediate support to civilians and soldiers (meals, clothing and accommodations), in full coordination with the Israeli military.

Consumer healthcare company CTS donated thousands of units of soap, toothpaste, multi-purpose cream, anti-chafing cream and anti-mosquito products to IDF soldiers on the frontlines, distributed through the Brothers in Arms organization.

Gitam BBDO, Israel’s largest marketing communications agency, opened a 24/7 operations room, CyberHQ, staffed by volunteer veterans of army intelligence units, developers, cyber experts, creative experts, and content creators. They collect information about missing and abducted Israelis from dozens of sources and developed proprietary software to map Gaza by neighborhood and street. CyberHQ has so far pinpointed the whereabouts of more than 600 missing persons and shared that information with authorities. The volunteers also created dozens of videos with celebrities and global opinion leaders that have been viewed millions of times in different languages.

Bazan Group, an oil refining and petrochemicals company in Haifa, has prepared an aid package of about $375,000 allocated to mental health, housing, and other forms of assistance and activities for people affected by the war. This includes, among other things, donations to NATAL and ERAN, which provide emotional support; and the funding of hotel accommodations for the displaced.

Tipalti, a global finance automation platform, has raised and donated funds for humanitarian relief efforts for those displaced and impacted by the war. Five Israeli charitable organizations will collectively receive donations totaling 2.5 million shekels (about $620,000) based on contributions from Tipalti and its employees and investors and through its online fundraising efforts.

Cybersecurity company Varonis opened its four-story office within 24 hours to families forced to leave their homes in the south or north over the past 10 days. About 250 people are now staying there. The company purchased and equipped the offices with food, clothing, mattresses, bedding, baby carriages and cribs and offers equipped showers, a nursing and changing room and a synagogue. Physical and mental health care is provided along with supervised activities for children.

Fiverr and Hibob joined with the Lev Echad (One Heart) Civilian Assistance at Times of Emergency organization to establish an AI-powered volunteering and fundraising system that efficiently triages and responds to requests for equipment and food; assisting grieving families, the injured and evacuees; visiting the wounded; supporting the fighters and their families, and more.