Business focus of Newsom’s trip to Israel

Mayor Gavin Newsom is heading to Israel on Wednesday to tour the area with local business leaders.

Organized by the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation’s Business Leadership Council, the trip has been partially funded by private donations, according to the organization. Newsom’s representatives would not comment on the cost of the trip, or from where the remainder of the funding wascoming.

The mayor will travel with 107 others to network and consider business opportunities with Israeli entrepreneurs and businessman in the biotechnology, green technology, clean technology and bio-fuels, according to Jewish Community Foundation President John Pritzker.

Traveling with Newsom will be Robert Blum, the president and CEO of biopharmaceutical company Cytokinetics, and Bobby Lent, the chairman of Traiana Inc., a New York-based software company.

Pritzger said an Israeli initiative to make all cars electric piqued the mayor’s interest.

Newsom will take part in a clean-tech event to learn about the Middle Eastern country’s efforts on alternative energy and bio-fuels. He will meet with the mayor of sister city Haifa.

Newsom will also meet with the mayor of Tel Aviv and receive a briefing from a senior Israeli foreign ministry official, according to the Jewish organization.

In Tel Aviv, Newsom will visit the site of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination and tour the Holocaust Memorial MuseumYad Vashem.

Graeme Boushey, a politics professor at San Francisco State University, said the trip could bear political fruit for Newsom, who is considering a run for governor — but more from the technology side than perhaps the pro-Israel lobby.

“He’s more interested in the Silicon Valley tech money,” Boushey said. “It’s symbolic. He’s playing governor.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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