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Bob Diener: “Israel was an Integral Part of Growing Up”

Bob Diener, Florida-based entrepreneur, President of getaroom.com and former President of Hotels.com, recalls how his youth was influenced greatly as he made regular biennial voyages to Israel to visit his grandparents who lived in Haifa. He has fond memories of his family in Miami gathering in front of the television to watch Israeli news, and how Israel being mentioned in the news brought everyone together. Attending an all-Israeli camp at the age of 10 near Ramat Gan, and eagerly anticipating his travels to see his grandparents and cousins in Israel, Bob exclaims, “Israel was an integral part of growing up.”

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Bob Diener and family tour the Old City and take in the views of Israel

Bob reminisces about how as a young boy he valued time with his cousins who were in the IDF and how he admired the great sacrifices they made to protect the Jewish state. He states, “Almost every day, relatives would visit my grandparents’ apartment and tell their stories.  Of being in a work camp, of escaping death camps, and other astonishing tales of liberation and heroism such as sneaking on a ship to Israel.  The stories were endless…being fortunate to leave Germany before it was too late, being a soldier in the underground before Israel established statehood, and being the only survivor from Hungary of a large family…everyone had a story.”

Having an uncle in the Knesset, Bob was in awe when he would visit and go with him to the dining room, where he remembers being introduced to legendary figures such as Moshe Dayan, Menachem Begin and Golda Meir. These influential meetings filled Bob with lasting memories and a deep emotional connection to the Jewish homeland. Each time his plane would touch down at Ben-Gurion Airport, he expressed the feeling of ‘coming home’ and reveals, “Tears of joy came to my eyes.” As the years went by and his passion for Israel grew deeper, Bob became exceedingly impressed with the people of Israel and their devotion to the nation. He explains, “I travel all over, but only when I go to Israel do I feel an emotional and spiritual connection.”

On the heels of Israel’s 70th anniversary and reflecting on this momentous occasion, Bob communicates the personal significance of this accomplishment, stating, “It means maturing from an agriculturally-based, humble economy to advancing to one of the world’s strongest economies and greatest contributors of innovation, health and technology. All of this in such an astoundingly short time.”
 
Bob continues to be amazed at the developments witnessed upon his recent travels to Israel, and feels the tech revolution was the catalyst that advanced Israel rapidly to becoming one of the world’s most industrialized and successful economies. He elaborates, “Despite limited natural resources, being surrounded by enemies, boycotts and huge obstacles, Israel overcame all of this through wisdom, innovation, creativity and determination.”
 
With a wealth of knowledge and strong connection to Israel and its people, Bob remembers moving back to Miami after selling his first company in his early 30s and seeking ways to give back to the Jewish nation.  He initially became connected to the New Leadership Division of Israel Bonds in Miami Beach and joined the board.  Bob’s connection deepened greatly after Howard Goldstein, the present Israel Bonds national board chair invited him to an event with Ariel Sharon. Bob’s presence at the event instilled a deeper desire to expand his involvement in New Leadership, and led him to become co-chairman of the Miami New Leadership board, along with Jerry Sokol. Bob eventually became national New Leadership chairman.
 
Bob takes great pride in investing in Israel through Israel Bond investments and having a stake in ensuring Israel’s success.  As an investor, he feels connected to Israel financially, just like owning an equity or debt investment in a company. Bob and his family are thoroughly immersed in issues surrounding Israel’s economy, growth, advancement and much more, and remain deeply committed to being a personal and financial partner with Israel.

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Bob and family explore Israel together on a recent trip to visit relatives
 
Photos courtesy of Bob Diener