Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Be Sweet with Elite to the IDF

The news today is far from sweet – no disarmament (let alone defeat) of Hezbollah in sight.
As usual, the Forces Outside are ganging up again against us, Israel, once again.
Well, we are used to it – we have been blamed for everything under the sun, including the death of Princess Diana.

I agree, the UN accident was unfortunate, but weren’t they supposed to keep the peace? And not move from their location?
And Mr. Anan, before you trash us again in global media court, could you please wait for the investigation to end?
BTW, aren’t you and your son under investigation for fraud?
Or are you hiding behind “innocent until proven guilty?”
You have a flexible yardstick, don’t you Kofi Dear?

Going back to the sweet issue at hand, Israeli chocolate maker Elite has launched a great campaign.
Together with the Heritage Affinity Services credit card, they created a special webpage where you can click to send a personal message of support and a chocolate bar to an Israeli soldier for free.
It will take 24-hours for your message to appear on the website – Cyberterrorism of our Arab cousins and other anti-Semite ignorani is rampant.

Please be a mensch and send a chocolate bar and your personal message – it’s only a mouse click away!

Monday, July 24, 2006

How Isrealis try to claim war damages compensation from Lebanon

The current conflict (as the news channels phrase it - from where I am sitting, it's more like a three-front war) raging in the Middle East, has taken a legal dimension.

Israel blames Lebanon for not complying with the UN resolutions and dismantling Hezbollah, the initiator of all the present violence.
And what is an effective way to make a government pay?
Yep, a lawsuit!

Israeli attorneys Yehudah Talmon, Yoram Danziger, and Nitzah Libai are presenting a symbolic lawsuit to against Lebanese government in a US civil court.
They are suing for compensation to be paid to Israeli businesses and citizens for war damages.
More specifically, the claim states that the Lebanese government is responsible for damages caused to residents of Israel since it didn't prevent Hezbollah from acting from its territory to harm Israeli citizens, thus violating the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.

The legal team of lawyers and accountants include the former Chief Administrator of the Courts and judge, Dan Arbel, Attorneys Yoram Danziger, Nitzah Libay and the office of Ziv Haft Public Accountants.
The team has been swamped with petitions from tens of citizens, most of them business owners, who want to participate in the lawsuit.
There is no fear that they will forfeit other legal options.

Although by law, a civilian who is suing the state for compensation claims is not allowed to sue other bodies, the current claim is a complementary one, intended to recover money to people that the Israeli government will not recover.
The demand for compensation will be for loss of clientele, damage to sales, and damage to manufacturing capability – the things the government does not compensate for.

What are the chances of winning the lawsuit?
Better then it might look at prima facie, since there is a precedent.
A few years ago, a similar claim was submitted in the United States against the Iranian government for damaging property belonging to American citizens.
The prosecutors won.

Thus, Lebanon, as a sovereign state, was violating international law by permitting Hezbollah to hurt Israelis from its land.
The lawyers are confident that once they win, the Lebanese government will recognize the claim and pay the money.
They base this on the fact that the Lebanese government conducts business with the US and maintains property in the United States.

Therefore, it is possible to collect money from Lebanon without its consent.
For sure, this is a lawsuit to watch – who knows, the pen might be mightier than the sword……

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Coming to America – the Israeli coffee chain Aroma

Israel is a coffee loving nation.

There are several chains of cozy and trendy coffee shops (of the caffeine kind, not the leafy ones), where you can sit, chat and enjoy a wide variety of coffees, salads, sandwiches and cakes.

For impatient types like me, there is the coffee-to-go aka Israel’s answer to Starbucks.
Starbucks tried to enter the Israeli market, but left at the same time the US invaded Iraq.
(No, I am not making a political point here – I blame Bush for many things but not for Starbucks pulling out of the Israeli market).

One of the successful chains in Israel is “Aroma”, which I patronize frequently.
The chain opened its first small espresso bar-style café based in Jerusalem in 1994.
It was the brainchild of two young brothers, Yariv and Sahar Shefa, who wanted to offer us coffee lovers inexpensive but top-quality coffee-to-go.

Nowadays, the chain has a national coverage of 72 branches and is going global.
The ambitious Shefa brothers want to add 40 branches in the USA (California and Florida for starters) and Canada (starting with Toronto).

They just opened their first foreign branch in NYC near Houston Street in Manhattan’s posh SoHo district.
The NY flagship branch will have the distinct Aroma branding of red-black-white color scheme and spaceship-like design.
The menu will be an adapted one – both in taste and in names.
To be PC, the famous Iraqi sandwich will be offered as the “Grilled Vegetable Mediterranean Sandwich”, and burekas will be sold as “treat burka”.

Will Aroma make it in the Big Apple?
Quite likely.
The prices are reasonable: USD 3 for a cup of coffee, USD 5-11 per sandwich, USD 4 for a Burekas, and USD 9 for a salad bowl.
Aroma prepares the food in its own kitchen, in contrast to Starbucks.
They are first targeting Israelis living in New York and New Yorkers familiar with Aroma Israel.
Aroma USA is positioning itself as a US brand, so don’t expect menus, newspapers and TV channels in Hebrew.
The ordering system will be different from the Israeli one as well – your name will not be announced over the speaker when your order is ready, and the Israeli “What would you like to order?” will be replaced with “Welcome to Aroma”.

If you are in Manhattan and want a taste of Aroma’s traditional sandwiches or just an Aroma coffee that is warm (not piping hot) served with a complimentary chocolate, visit Aroma's SoHo branch.
It's not kosher, but its made-to-order low fat salads, soups and muesli, can be enjoyed 24/7.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A great Israeli success story is ICQ.
The name is a
oronym (wordplay) on the phrase “I seek you”.

In case you are interested, ICQ is an instant messaging computer program that allows allows the sending of text messages with offline support, URLs, multi-user character-by-character chats, resumable file transfers, SMSes, greeting cards and more.
Other features included a searchable user directory and POP3 email support.

In 1996, four young Israelis Arik Vardi, Yair Goldfinger, Sefi Vigiser and Amnon Amir started a company called Mirabilis with ICQ as their flagship product.
Yossi Vardi, the father of founder Arik Vardi funded Mirabilis when no others would touch it.
He travelled frequently promoting Mirabilis and was known for publicly stating the
company's revenue goal was zero.
This was intentionally - the company’s CEO often stated that the company did not have a plan for revenue, since large revenues would come later in the form of advertising revenues, upgraded services and back-end selling.

Their marketing concept was unique:
viral marketing.
Mirabilis depended on the users to spread the word about the product.
This way, friends would encourage their friends to join so they could communicate to each other. This established a powerful network effect as prospective users strongly preferred the system where their friends were likely to be.

Mirabilis made sure that it was very easy to spread the word.
For example, they used standard e-mail to invite friends to join, but also software instructed to scan address books for sending all recipients invitation letters.
In contrast to competitor
MCI, Mirabilis stayed away from telemarketing and never contacted a potential user during dinnertime.
As a result, they were the first mover into the market and gained a large market share rapidly and at a low cost.
This lead to the ultimate dream – they were bought up by
AOL for $200 million.
AOL keeps the viral marketing philosophy going.

To quote
Ted Leonsis of AOL in Newsweek:
The less you do, the more it grows”.