NY mayor admires drones, slurps vegan honey in Israel tech tour
From greeting startup founders at a Tel Aviv cocktail party to tasting lab-grown steaks in Jerusalem, Mayor Eric Adams seeks to strengthen bonds
Israel Government Press Office
JERUSALEM – New York City Mayor Eric Adams got a crash course in Israel’s startup scene with his three-day tour last week tailored to the former police captain’s interests in surveillance drones, crowd control and vegan cuisine.
During a demonstration at Israel’s National Police Academy, Adams showed particular interest in the symbiosis between leather-jacketed motorcycle cops and the crowd-surveillance drones flying above them. He challenged the New York police brass with whom he traveled to figure out how such methods could be adopted back home. The mayor was less enthusiastic about face-recognition technology that has been criticized by some over concerns about privacy.
“Some methods we may not use, but there are other methods that they use that are really humane in nature,” Adams told reporters later in an online video briefing. “And, as when we had a similar incident in our city, how do we do it in the correct way? And they’ve learned how to do it correctly. And we walked away with some of those tactics.”
The New York metropolitan area has the largest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel with an estimated 1.5 million Jews. Adams has close ties to the Jewish community, and his trip was hosted and paid for by UJA-Federation of New York and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.
The mayor came to Israel at an especially fraught time of protests and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as several activists from the protest movement. Adams stressed that he met people with differing viewpoints and did not take a side on the government’s efforts to reform the judicial system. “I listened. I didn’t weigh in,” he said.
He was more outspoken when it came to Israeli foodtech. Adams is almost completely vegan for health reasons and he spoke from personal interest with executives of the Israeli food tech companies that came to Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem to display their wares. Adams tasted vegan honey made by Bee-IO Ltd., lab-grown cultured steak made by Aleph Farms Ltd. and an assortment of other vegetarian meat substitutes.
“We were able to see a production of honey that does not need bees at all,” Adams said after he and Netanyahu slurped samples with wooden dippers. “It was good-tasting honey.”
Hundreds of Israeli startups have offices in New York City and the country ranks second to China in the number of its companies that trade on the Nasdaq. More than 200 founders and executives from Israeli firms met the mayor at a rooftop cocktail party in Tel Aviv.
“Don’t stop believing, Israel,” Adams told the crowd. “That is the potent secret weapon. All of you who are start-ups, you believed in something. The original start-ups were your parents and grandparents, they believed in something. Israel is a unicorn because of them. Don’t abandon what they built.”
Michael Granoff, managing partner of venture capital firm Maniv Mobility, reminded Adams at the party that he had recently cut the ribbon when Revel Rideshare, one of Granoff’s portfolio companies, opened a fast-charge facility for its electric vehicles in New York.
“I was impressed with his understanding of how much interaction there is between the tech communities in Israel and New York and how much potential there is for more,” Granoff told The Circuit.
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who escorted Adams around Israel’s capital, told The Circuit that he was looking to create new partnerships between the two cities. Adams visited Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion’s office before roaming around the Machane Yehuda market and drinking beer at a pub. Several tourists from New York recognized the mayor and asked for selfies.
“He was excited to get more acquainted with the innovation ecosystem in Israel,” Hassan-Nahoum said. “He was especially interested in personal security, smart transport solutions and sustainability innovation.”
Adams, who is a practicing Christian and Black, also met with leaders of Israel’s Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities at an event sponsored by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement.
“His understanding of the complexity of Israel is very unique,” Sacha Roytman Dratwa, the nonprofit organization’s CEO, told The Circuit. “He understands the struggle of a minority, from his own background and his personal story. He is fighting to protect the multifaith community in New York.”