Whether it is building a country out of sand, winning defensive wars while being vastly outnumbered, or creating technologies that are revolutionizing the world. It all happens in Israel. The world should be grateful for what and how they contribute
“Here is our objective. Here are the available tools. Figure out a way to make it happen.”
The world knows that this is how Israel, the so-called “Startup Nation,” approaches a problem – whether it is building a country out of sand, winning defensive wars while being vastly outnumbered, or creating technologies that are revolutionizing the world. It all happens in Israel. The world should be grateful for what and how they contribute.
War is terrible, but I believe that you can always find positive effects of every negative act. So, let’s look at how war made Israel the most technologically-innovative country in the world. I don’t promote war and believe that there should always be peaceful resolutions to problems, but war has always been part of the world’s history.
Right now, the attention of the world is on “Operation Protective Edge” – Israel’s efforts to stop Iranian-funded Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip and West Bank from firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Following the abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June, Jewish extremists unfortunately responded by allegedly murdering an innocent Palestinian teenage boy shortly after the funeral. Then, riots erupted in the West Bank and Arab towns in Israel and Hamas began firing missiles into Israel – reaching Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, just south of Haifa, and for the first time in Maale Adumim. According to the Jerusalem Post, more than 320 rockets have been fired into Israel in three days.
But forget about the ongoing war for the moment. The real news is how the Startup Nation has responded in innovative ways to the “situation” over the years. As a country with few natural resources, Israel has come to depend on the brains of its people. According to the authors of “Start-Up Nation,” here are a few of the ways that the country does so:
- Government per-capita spending on civilian R&D is 4.5% of GDP – double the percentage of the United States, Germany, and South Korea
- Per-capita venture-capital investment is 2.5 times that of the United States, six times that of the United Kingdom, thirty times that of Europe, eighty times that of India, and 300 times that of China
- Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any other non-U.S. country (Canada is second)
- The arrival of a large number of highly-educated immigrants from throughout the world in recent years, starting with the millions who left the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s
- Mandatory military-service after high school in which the best recruits are assigned to technology-oriented units and then trained extensively
- The Jewish personality-trait of “chutzpah,” in which “from the age of zero, [people] are educated to challenge the obvious, ask questions, debate everything, [and] innovate.”
- “Adversity of all kinds, such as being under attack, small, isolated, and lacking resources, have forced Israelis to be resourceful, to do more with less, to innovate, and to be global from day one.”
Here is a closer look at some of the innovations Israelis have made:
Such investment has produced countless inventions, innovations, and advances in numerous fields. (For examples, see here, here, and here.) If you want to boycott Israeli products but not be a hypocrite, then you have to stop using all of them.
War, unfortunately, is what makes Israel so innovative. The best technological minds of the Israeli military often work in startups and other companies following their military service. Israeli companies use and help to develop technologies that are produced by the military.
One of them is Windward, a Tel Aviv startup that has received funding from VC firm Aleph and tracks all ships in the ocean and alerts users whenever ships engaged in illegal fishing, smuggling, or piracy are detected. Israel is still working on creating an electric car that will rid of the world of its dependence on fossil fuels (despite the bankruptcy of its first major effort, Better Place). As I mentioned before, everything happens for a reason. So, if Better Place could not get the car to market, someone else will. The cell phone, artificial heart, ICQ (AOL’s messaging platform), and almost everything you touch today has come from Israeli innovation. I could go on and on.
Today, Israelis under fire are relying on the “Color Red” mobile app, which sends an alert whenever a rocket has been fired towards their locations. And it was developed by a 13-year-old Israeli child! The April Fool’s Day joke app “Yo!” was retooled by its Israeli creators to do something similar.
War has made Israelis the best entrepreneurs. They fall down and fail, then they get back up and start the next Israeli public company. Nothing fazes them. I am proud to hold Israeli citizenship in addition to my U.S. one.
Hamas directly targets Israeli civilians. Israel goes out of its way to try to avoid harming civilians while targeting rocket-launch sites. Rather than criticize Israel for defending itself from terrorist attacks on innocent civilians, the world should help to protect the country. While it is sad that war is the reason for Israel’s innovations, the entire world benefits from those discoveries.