The IBC exhibition opens every year on a Friday and continues throughout the weekend until Tuesday, including during holidays (barring Yom Kippur). This year, it will take place on September 11-15, with September 12 falling on a Saturday, and September 14-15 falling on Rosh HaShana.
Last Thursday, a week before the opening of the exhibition, the Economy Ministry updated the Israeli companies presenting their products at the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute's pavilion that it will only be open for two of the five days of the exhibition – Friday and Sunday. In addition, the Israeli businessmen could only hold meetings with the potential clients invited to the exhibition during those two days.
This is the biggest international exhibition for electronic media and entertainment, and there is a significant presence of Israeli high-tech companies there every year. Over the years, the Israeli pavilion has attracted clients looking for technological innovation in the field.
This year, in addition to the economic damage caused to the 18 Israeli companies, that do their main sales and marketing push during this exhibition, Israel's image as the "Startup Nation" will also suffer a blow when clients find its pavilion in one of the main halls of the exhibition closed.
Welfare Minister Haim Katz slammed the decision of Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, saying he intends to turn to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demand he interferes.
"It is inconceivable that a decision so significant is made by the economy minister alone. This is a violation of the status quo and a serious violation of the freedom of freedom of occupation," Katz said, noting the decision "sends Israel light years back."
Vibe Israel CEO Joanna Landau sent Deri a letter, calling on him to go back his decision. "This is a pitiful decision that would cause serious damage to the State of Israel's business community, and to Israel's image," she wrote, warning such damage would be irreversible.
These decisions, she wrote "show without a shadow of a doubt that the State of Israel's image is not a top priority for the Israeli government. The indifference to our international status shows a basic lack of understand of the few positive things Israel still has in light of the increasing wave of hate against us," she added.
The Economy Minister said in response: "Economy Minister Aryeh Deri was briefed on the details of the exhibition in the Netherlands and made aware of the fact it is supposed to operate on Saturday and holidays, only five days ago.
“Minister Deri instructed that activity in the Israeli pavilion will be done on Friday and Sunday in full, but not on Saturday and during Rosh HaShana. The minister stated that while it is true that coordination for the exhibition was done 10 months ago, before he was appointed to the ministry, since it is taking place on holy days and on Shabbat, which are sacred to the people of Israel and during which there is no official Israeli state activity, Israel's pavilion will not be operating on these days.
“After examining the issue with the companies presenting in the exhibition, it was agreed that those that suffer damages will be compensated."