Recovery and Resilience with Awz

by | Oct 26, 2023 | Other News

This piece was originally published Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023 in the Jerusalem Post’s special edition for the visit of President Joe Biden to Israel.

Yaron Ashkenazi
On October 7, I was awakened to a nightmare. From my house in Toronto, Canada, I saw the atrocities that were being committed against my people and my country. I knew immediately I had to come home.

I could not bear to sit and watch my roots in Israel being ripped from the ground on a television screen. I watched from afar as my partners, my team, and my beloved friends and family in Israel were under brutal attack. Zoom was not an option.

I got on the earliest flight I could find. Immediately, my team and I began mobilizing to help, as so many were already doing; providing families with food, toys, and mental health support. I felt that we also needed to further support our national efforts and so we began to leverage Awz Ventures portfolio technologies like voice and facial recognition to help identify the wounded in hospitals; and digital intelligence capabilities to help identify and locate kidnapped and missing individuals and to make sure that Hamas terrorists can never commit such a massacre again.

When I was executive director at Yad Vashem, I was constantly touched and brought to tears by the stories of survivors, like Mr. Rosenbaum’s account of hiding in a closet from the Nazis as a young child with his mother and baby brother. In an attempt to muffle his brother’s cries so as not to be captured, his mother tragically smothered the baby. “Never again,” is what we all vowed to these dehumanizing, tragic attacks on the Jewish people—6 million murdered in cold blood. But once again, 75 years later, we have seen these same atrocities in Israel. Mothers muffling their babies’ cries in closets and safe rooms; entire families slaughtered in front of their loved ones.

I always felt that my first mission in life was serving my country in the paratrooper unit of the IDF, and then as a Shin Bet officer. Later, I felt that my time at Yad Vashem was my second mission in life.

I never imagined that this war would become my third mission.

We cannot let it happen again. I cannot. So, we at Awz Ventures are helping in the way that we know best; by providing Israel—and the world—with all of the technological tools to stop these evil terrorists in their tracks.

These savages crossed our border to massacre, rape, and kidnap our people; torturing babies and elders and burning them alive on Israeli soil. It doesn’t matter what country you are in. You have to see these evil forces for what they are and understand that as Jews, Israelis, and all other walks of life, we need to fight for good against evil worldwide—for our very existence.

This is something that US President Joe Biden has exemplified in his tremendous, unwavering support for Israel during this critical time. President Biden, the leader of the world’s largest democratic superpower, immediately condemned the evil perpetrated by Hamas, was quick to offer military and diplomatic support, and is visiting Israel himself. President Biden, you struck a chord with every Jew who heard you quote Golda Meir’s comments to you 50 years ago after the Yom Kippur War:
“Don’t worry, (Senator) Biden. We have a secret weapon here in Israel” — my word this is what she said — We have no place else to go.”

We have also witnessed the incredible solidarity from governments, and communities worldwide—both Jewish and non-Jewish —who have shown their strong support for Israel this week with tens of thousands taking to the streets in cities worldwide.

At Awz Ventures, we are discovering and creating the next generation of technologies that can help Israel and the right side of the world, we are partnering with security and intelligence agencies and developing from inception the companies to help solve the problems for which we don’t yet have solutions. Solutions that will protect democracies and nations as a whole.

Israel’s recovery is dependent on two key actions: The first is unity, which has been an essential product of this war. The second is for Israel and the international community to continue partnering with the high-tech sector in Israel. This, along with the brave resilience of our soldiers, reservists, and families are our locomotives to recovery. We need to strengthen and uphold our title as Startup Nation and continue so the good guys can prevail and defend us all against the forces of evil.

We will continue to empower technologies in the name of peace. So that a mother never has to hide in a closet, muffling her child’s cries. We won’t allow it. Never again. This is my third mission in life.
Yaron Ashkenazi is the founder and managing partner of Awz—a Canadian-Israeli global, AI, deep-tech, security and intelligence dual-use technology VC. A lawyer by trade, Ashkenazi served for almost a decade in the Shin Bet. Under the special VIP Protection Division of the ISA, Ashkenazi headed the team that protected Prime Ministers and other prominent Israeli cabinet ministers; and has led dozens of security operations on a global level. Ashkenazi spent 15 years serving the Yad Vashem mission and 15 years in the high-tech and financial sectors. His father, Avraham Ashkenazi, is an active member of the Jewish community in Tidewater.
“May G-d grant strength (Awz) to his people; May G-d bless His people with peace.” ~Psalms 29:11