Israeli President Shimon Peres visits Facebook HQ

March 6, 2012 9:24:00 PM PST
The president of Israel is in the Bay Area spending most of the day in Silicon Valley. He hopes to use social media to advance a mission for peace. ABC7 looks into what President Shimon Peres hopes to accomplish.

The Israeli president started his day at Facebook's new Menlo Park campus. He sat down for a discussion with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg where he embraced social media as an agent for change.

"I think governments are out of business. They cannot give orders anymore. People are today affecting the governments more than the other way around," said Peres.

Peres then launched his own Facebook page Tuesday morning, which he hopes will become a springboard for a peace dialogue. He sees a hunger, especially in the Arab world, for freedom of expression.

"To express yourself, your hidden talents, your great potential, your quest for freedom, that's the great revolution," said Peres.

Within hours, more than 700 people from around the world posted comments on the president's wall, wishing him peace. Then Peres sat down with 19 Silicon Valley venture capitalists, organized by long-time friend Joe Schoendorf, a partner at Accel in Palo Alto. The media were allowed in only for the first few minutes.

"Everybody who's here today already cares about Israel because it's one of the great sources of innovation in the world, and so the people we invited all have direct business interests in the brilliance that is Israel, but they also care more deeply about the world that we live in," said Schoendorf.

Israeli start-up's last year attracted $2 billion in venture capital. Many of them specialize in the kinds of technology the U.S. needs in this era of counter-terrorism.

"They're really good at intelligence technologies, security, as many of their entrepreneurs are technically trained inside the military or the intelligence community. They have a unique problem of defending their borders against a group of hostile countries surrounding them," said Stewart Alsop from Alsop Louie Partners.

I should point out, I have no connection to Stewart Alsop's company, Alsop Louie Partners.

The Israeli president's tech tour continues on Wednesday with an appearance and conference on innovation and start-up's. On Thursday, he'll visit Google.

Peres' visit is not without controversy. A crowd of protesters demonstrated outside Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco where he spoke Tuesday night.


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