With all of the daily political happenings surrounding Israel, it’s quite easy to overlook Israel’s booming economy. And while the great book “Start-up Nation” has rightfully received tremendous accolades as no discussion about Israel today can be complete without recognizing Israel’s great economic accomplishments, it must not be overlooked that indeed the nationalist camp, and the ideology of Ze’ev Jabotinsky are to thank for Israel’s economy.
Recently, Facebook announced it was buying Face.com, the Israeli company that now provides facial-recognition technology used by the world’s largest social network to help users identify and tag photos. The transaction is believed to be close to $100 million. The same day, in this tiny nation Google chairman Eric Schmidt said that the company’s development centers in Israel are among the company’s most efficient and that Google is constantly expanding them. Schmidt said that the quality of Israel’s engineers is very high, said local salespeople are among the best in the world – and to loud applause proclaimed, “We love Israel.”
A country of 7.1 million, only 64 years old, surrounded by enemies, in a constant state of war since its founding, with no natural resources – produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations. In the past 10 years, Israel’s stock market produced better risk adjusted returns than all other developed stock markets in the past decade. The Tel Aviv TA-25 returned 161 percent, including dividends, over the past 10 years. What a beautiful Israel public relations success story.
It must not be overlooked that it is precisely because the nationalist camp is in power that the economy has thrived – as the ideological leader of the right, Ze’ev Jabotinsky had clear support for economic freedom. Jabotinsky believed “every individual is a king” and the state should not impair his freedom. He noted that freedom of speech and assembly, majority rule, equality for all – are ideals that socialism combats. Practically, he advocated an end to the Histadrut’s monopoly over labor in Eretz Israel, which was preventing non-socialists from getting work.
Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote that the Bible is full of social protest, but not socialism. Its economic and social policy is one of freedom; rather than forbid or control economic activity, it deals with any negative results by means of institutions such as the Sabbath, tithing, the gleanings and corners of the field that were left for the poor, and the Jubilee.
Jabotinsky believed in a competitive market and explicitly wrote that Israel’s economy must be a free market – could one imagine the catastrophe Israel would have today been facing if the socialist unions and left-wing controlled the State? Israel is a remarkably resilient country and while naturally the nationalist camp is best for the security of the Jewish people, its also best for the pockets of the Jewish people — and the world.
So when you hear Eric Schmidt of Google say “We love Israel,” all of Israel should proclaim, “We love Ze’ev Jabotinsky.”
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