Will the Koch’s ‘shift’ include Israel?

Eli Groner, who most recently served as director general of the Israeli prime minister’s office under Benjamin Netanyahu, has joined Koch Disruptive Technologies (KDT) as their Israel-based managing director. KDT is a subsidiary of Koch Industries and is run by Charles Koch’s son Chase, whom Groner will be reporting to in his new position.

WHY IT MATTERS — Chase Koch, 41, is assuming a bigger role at Koch Industries and the well-known Koch network of top donors. According to a recent in-depth Politico story, Chase is far from the partisan his dad and uncle David are thought to be. The story describes what’s being referred to inside the Koch network as ‘the shift’ which emphasizes bipartisanship and coalition building around policy issues over partisan politics.

IS ISRAEL PART OF ‘THE SHIFT’? — Over the past several years, much has been made about the Koch’s influence in foreign policy circles. Recent pieces —include “Koch Brothers Give a Megaphone to the Anti-Israel Fringe” (Bloomberg; 2016) and “Koch Dark Money Funds Anti-Israel Darlings” (Tablet Mag; 2018) — have highlighted the Koch brothers support of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, co-authors of the 2006 book The Israel Lobby, along with Charles Freeman who is similarly focused on Israeli influence in DC.

The first deal that Koch Disruptive Technologies announced after it launched in late 2017 was a $150M Series E round for INSIGHTEC, an Israeli medical company working on MRI-guided ultrasound devices. With the addition of Groner, Israel will be the first satellite office for KDT.

Asked to comment on his hiring, Groner told Jewish Insider in an email: “This should be seen as a vote of confidence in the ingenuity of Israeli entrepreneurs. Koch Industries has built one of the largest private companies in the world with a culture of principled entrepreneurship, and I’m thrilled that the Koch leadership has made the decision that Israel will be the first satellite office of Koch Disruptive Technologies.”

It’s worth noting that other well-known donors critical of Israel have not shied away from investing in Israeli companies either. George Soros had been an investor in SodaStream, Teva and the Alrov Group, owner of the David Citadel and Mamilla Hotels. However, given the large shift — generational and political — taking place in Koch world, perhaps Chase Koch, with his annual visits to Israel, will be changing headlines about the Kochs and Israel as well.

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