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PM Bennett: Palestinians “untapped pool” of cyber talent

“I will use every tool on earth to protect Israel. Period,” said the Israeli Prime Minister at Cybertech Global TLV

PM Naftali Bennett. Photo by Gilad Kavalerchik
PM Naftali Bennett. Photo by Gilad Kavalerchik

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett attended Cybertech Global TLV this morning (Thursday) to talk about Israeli innovation, global cooperation and future challenges.

Acknowledging the situation in Ukraine at the top, Bennett said that “Wars are easy to start and very difficult to finish. Things are looking bad on the ground now but it’s important to understand that if world leaders don’t act quickly – it can get much worse. I’m talking about loss of lives, total destruction of Ukraine, millions of refugees…”

The prime minister called on the major global power to act. “It is the responsibility of the major powers of the world to get the two sides out of the battle field and to the negotiations table.

Bennett was joined on state by Michal Tsur the Co-Founder and President of Kaltura. In 1999, Tsur and Bennett co-founded (together with two additional partners) Cyota – which was top payment security provider for financial institutions.

Tsur asked the Prime Minister what Israel needs to do to continue evolving in the cybersphere, to which he replied: “The Israeli government doesn’t need to invest more money in the hi-tech arena. It can do two things: first and foremost – don’t harm it. If we don’t do dumb stuff, legislate bad laws that make life more difficult for companies – then we’ve done a lot.”

Jokingly, Bennett shared with the audience that he regularly consults with his former hi-tech associates on whether the government has done “anything dumb”, which might harm the industry.

“The second thing we need is people. We’re hungry for talent,” continued the Prime Minister. “We’ve exhausted the main pool and there is a bunch of other pools of new talent to tap on. The first pool is the periphery, boys and girls from Sderot and Kiriyat Shnona.

“The second group is the Haredim, and this is fulfilling my dream,” said Bennett. “Letting them

off the hook of the army for a few years so they can enter the workforce. That’s the right thing to do. We’re about to complete this legislation.”

The third untapped pool is the Arab sector. “We’ve got lots of talented young Arab men and women who are joining hi-tech, but it could happen much more rapidly,” said the Prime Minister.

“And another potential pool is the Palestinians, primarily in Ramallah. My instruction to the government is to make it smooth so they can work in Israeli hi-tech,” announced the Prime Minister. “If it works it can be amazing, I’m certainly interested in trying.”

When asked by Tsur about international collaboration, the Prime Minister called it vital. “It’s not a kumbaya cliché. Israel is now signing deals with other countries where we share real-time, potential malicious activities – this means we have a much higher chance of saying in real-time something is malicious, not just noise.”

Bennett also discussed the future of war, and said he believes it will be hybrid – a combination of cyber and physical. “100 years ago it was tanks, and the past few decades we’ve seen a tremendous amount of cyber-to-cyber.

PM Bennett interviewed by Tsur. Photo by Gilad Kavalerchik
PM Bennett interviewed by Tsur. Photo by Gilad Kavalerchik

"Now we’re seeing much more C-to-P – cyber that creates a physical impact – influencing sewage, changing the amount of chlorine in the water – it can have real life effect.” To illustrate the example of the opposite, P-to-C attacks, the Prime Minister provided the example of tanks that might try to capture and destroy data centers.

Asked on Israel’s global responsibility in the cyber sphere, the Prime Minister replied that “Israel is a world leader in cybersecurity in defense and offense – and with capability comes responsibility. We need to work out the guidelines of how to do that.

“I do not agree that per se theses are bad weapons – is a rifle good or bad? It’s a tool, the question is how you use it and what for. Cyber is a new dimension. I know for a fact that Israel is very thoughtful about all of this, but my responsibility as PM is first and foremost to protect the people and state against bad folks who want to destroy us.

“I will use every tool on earth to protect Israel. Period.”

Bennett concluded by turning to entrepreneurs. “I would be wildly happy id former entrepreneurs build businesses that make a meaningful impact on the world. The world is heating up, we know the technologies that are necessary to prevent or slow down global warming – they don’t exist yet.

“Here’s my message to entrepreneurs: do your thing, do your first exist, and then do meaningful stuff. Israel has to take a leading role in fighting global warming. Israel and Israeli talented entrepreneurs have to work to save the world.

Watch the full talk:

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