From People vs. Dinosaurs
From outside, Israel looks as if it’s in turmoil, largely because the entire political leadership seems to be under investigation. But Israel is a weak state with a strong civil society. The economy is exploding from the bottom up. Israel’s currency, the shekel, has appreciated nearly 30 percent against the dollar since the start of 2007.
The reason? Israel is a country that is hard-wired to compete in a flat world. It has a population drawn from 100 different countries, speaking 100 different languages, with a business culture that strongly encourages individual imagination and adaptation and where being a nonconformist is the norm. While you were sleeping, Israel has gone from oranges to software, or as they say around here, from Jaffa to Java…
..that kind of hunger explains why, in the first quarter of 2008, the top four economies after America in attracting venture capital for start-ups were: Europe $1.53 billion, China $719 million, Israel $572 million and India $99 million, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Israel, with 7 million people, attracted almost as much as China, with 1.3 billion.
Boaz Golany, who heads engineering at the Technion, Israel’s M.I.T., told me: “In the last eight months, we have had delegations from I.B.M., General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart visiting our campus. They are all looking to develop R & D centers in Israel.”..
… Iran’s economic and military clout today is largely dependent on extracting oil from the ground. Israel’s economic and military power today is entirely dependent on extracting intelligence from its people. Israel’s economic power is endlessly renewable. Iran’s is a dwindling resource based on fossil fuels made from dead dinosaurs.
So who will be here in 20 years? I’m with Buffett: I’ll bet on the people who bet on their people — not the people who bet on dead dinosaurs.
Since 9/11, we’ve looked to politics and politicians to solve our problems. As a result, everything from the Weather Channel to Rachel Ray has become politicized. We’re looking for solutions in all the wrong places. Innovators in IT and communications created successful revolutions without choosing between Obama and Hillary, global warming and global cooling, or Zionism and paisley scarves.
Although the media tries to sell the idea that politicians can be innovators, like most media marketing campaigns, it’s all fluff. Politicians are bureaucrats, and bureaucracies thrive on rules and routine. “Creative” politics is about as helpful as creative accounting. Politics creates a better society when it gets out if the way.
Like most successful nations, Israel thrives despite their politicians, not because of them.