Israel Today Series kicks off with discussion of the strong U.S.-Israel commercial relationship

by | Dec 4, 2015 | Other News

Bobby Copeland, Adi Abramov, Andrew Nusbaum (standing), Royi Abramov, Betty Ann Levin, Jay Klebanoff, and Heather Alexander.

Bobby Copeland, Adi Abramov, Andrew Nusbaum (standing), Royi Abramov, Betty Ann Levin, Jay Klebanoff, and Heather Alexander.

The kick off for the Community Relations Council’s 5th Annual Israel Today Series was a whirlwind spectacular, with Josh Kram not wasting one minute of his day in Tidewater.

Kram landed in Norfolk and hit the ground running. First he was brought to the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus for the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Leadership Lunch. A panel moderated by Danny Rubin, included Josh Kram, director of Turkey and Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, executive director of the Middle East Commercial Center, and director of the Chamber’s U.S.-Israel Business initiative; Ralph Robbins, executive director for the Virginia Israel Advisory Board out of the Office of the Governor of Virginia; and Lea Bogatch-Genossar, vice president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. for Canada, the Caribbean, Central America and Trades.

New member of the Virginia House of Delegates Jason Miyares left the luncheon optimistic for what the future holds. “The panel just confirms that Israel today is a dynamic and thriving economy with some of the leading global entrepreneurs. It’s great to know that Virginia is one of the leaders in fostering economic partnerships with Israeli companies in a variety of technology, bio medical and research fields. I look forward to future opportunities to learn through the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the CRC’s new partnership,” he said.

Following the lunch, Kram met with more than 100 Cape Henry Collegiate students. Joining him on the stage were Bogatch-Genossar and Robbins. The students left the session enlightened on the benefits of a strong U.S.-Israel commercial relationship, and inspired by the current innovative Israeli companies and technologies contributing to the global economy.

In the evening, Danny Rubin and Josh Kram were back on the stage at the Sandler Family Campus to reveal a more in-depth look into the recent developments between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their Israeli counterparts and others in the region. Kram covered many topics including the discovery of natural gas in Israel and how the state has greatly explored the possibilities and ways to make the most of the find. It was refreshing to hear Israeli commercial development being discussed within terms of social awareness. Kram touched on how Israel’s profitable innovations and commercial developments are something that should really make its way into the Palestinian territories. Once commercial footing is established, a more peaceful coexistence could emerge. During the Q&A segment, Kram was asked about his thoughts on the BDS movement. Kram managed to highlight the many ways that Israeli innovation and productivity is overpowering this movement fueled by isolationism.

Kram’s insider knowledge on the U.S.- Israel commercial relationship provided a positive, insightful, and engaging opportunity for the Tidewater community. CBN’s Joel Palser said, “Josh Kram is a breath of fresh air…. He provides a valuable perspective from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And, beyond commanding the facts and figures on a pro-Israel commercial relationship, Josh clearly explained the key sectors where we should engage…. His warmth, wit, and invitation to join him in this “can do” business relationship with Israel simply overwhelmed the “doom/gloom” of the BDS rhetoric that gets so much media attention. Kudos to Danny Rubin for the straightforward moderation— he drew out the salient points we came to get—and, let Kram showcase the strategic Middle East vantage point of his expertise.”

The next Israel Today events will feature Olga Meshoe on March 2 and Matti Friedman on May 11. Both will take place on the Sandler Family Campus. More information on the Israel Today series, including a full list of community partners, can be found at or by emailing

by Gaby Grune