’Tis the Treason?
Israeli NGO watchdog needs to heal itself
Ronen Shoval emerged as a political supernova in Israel last year when the organization he heads, “Im Tirzu,” investigated the funding sources of human rights organizations and subsequently accused several left-leaning institutions of being aided and abetted by Israel’s enemies. But Shoval himself, we learn this morning, may have concrete ties to Israel’s worst enemy, Iran: Prior to embarking on his political career, Shoval was an executive in his father’s high tech company, whose business partners, Ynet discovered, are doing brisk business with Tehran.
The company is question is Accells, which develops technology for online and cellular-phone-based commerce. The company is run by Eduardo Shoval, and Ronen Shoval was its manager of marketing strategy until six months ago. This week, Accells signed an agreement with a South African company called Fundamo, according to which both companies would share key components of their technologies. And Fundamo, it seems, is big in the Middle East: In 2009, Fundamo’s CEO, Hannes Van Rensburg, boasted that the company had “customers in Afghanistan, in Iran, in Iraq, in Liberia, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” Last February, another Fundamo official, Richard Bailey, told another blogger that the company did business with Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria.
“We are especially excited to bring the benefits of our contactless network to emerging markets,” Eduardo Shoval said of the deal in a statement. “Fundamo’s strong, established presence in these markets makes them an ideal partner for us in the launch of our services. We are pleased to have won Fundamo’s confidence in pursuit of this large and growing opportunity.”
Iran, granted, is very much a developing market, and very much of a business opportunity. It is also currently subject to sweeping trade sanctions. But Israelis needn’t be afraid: With men like Ronen Shoval staunchly defending its national interests, it needn’t worry that the ripest of its intellectual fruit will fall into the hands of its enemies.