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Prejudices, misconceptions and the future trends that will move Israel forward

It is dangerous to drive on Israeli roads because there are many dead, the economic boycott of the BDS is hurting us badly, the health system in Israel is problematic, the taxes here are high, ultra-Orthodox women do not work, the Arabs are multiplying and soon they will be the majority, the Israeli economy is hardly growing and even the Israel Railway always late These are a lot of problems for a small country like Israel, only they don't really exist...

Tel Aviv. Do the problems that are considered facts for many Israelis actually exist? Photo: Gilad Avidan / Wikimedia.
Tel Aviv. Do the problems that are considered facts for many Israelis actually exist? Photo: Gilad Avidan / Wikimedia.

By Nega Keenan and Adam Reuter

All these "facts" as well as many other "facts", lie deep in the minds of the Israelis and are reinforced every now and then by interested parties.

In the book written by Nega Kenan and Adam Reuter, "Israel a Success Story" and recently published by Kinneret Publishing, they examined hundreds of key data on the State of Israel and compared them to the group of 34 developed countries in the world, the OECD. The results were surprising. very

how it all started

Reuter and Keenan's project that ended in the publication of the book "Israel's Success Story" began quite a few years ago, when the roots of its writing were two foundational events:

The first defining event was related to the water shortage in Israel. It started back in 2009 with the recent proposal to dry all public decency in Israel and maybe even private decency. It continues in the scary commercial that everyone remembers, of the beauty whose face is peeling due to lack of water and she suggests that we save every drop. Reuter called someone who was then an executive at IDE, desalination engineering. The company was then in the midst of massive construction of one of the largest desalination facilities in Israel, one of the largest in the world. That senior person knew the entire water sector very well. To the question concerning the shortage came a surprising answer "there is no shortage of water in Israel and soon there will be an excess". This answer was different from what the public in Israel knew and recognized at the time, when starting from the Ministers of Infrastructure and Economy to the Water Authority, everyone broadcast the opposite picture. It was disturbing, because the reality was completely different from what all Israelis thought as fact.

The economic boycott on Israel has no effect at all

The second defining event was an investigation that Reuter began conducting in 2011 about BDS, the movement for economic boycott of Israel. According to the newspapers and media of that time, it was seen as something very threatening. Reuter, director of the company Hysonim Finances, the largest financial risk management company in Israel, which helps large companies manage their risks, activated the company's array of consultants to examine the matter. An economic boycott of Israel would appear to be a major danger on the horizon, especially from the point of view of those companies.

In order to properly diagnose the risk, Reuter included interviews with senior managers whose companies were exposed to the problem, as well as the activation of the risk managers of Incines Finance, who contacted the companies they work with and asked them if they were affected by a financial boycott. A more aggressive step was taken when he even sent an email to the BDS organization and asked them for instructions on how to help impose an economic boycott on Israel (he identified himself as an Australian citizen).

As Reuter delved into the problem, he realized, to his joy, that neither bears nor forest. The economic damage to the Israeli economy was minimal, if at all. At the same time this result amazed him. He encountered real fake news that the media in Israel broadcast, in a world that did not yet know this word at all. Following this, he distributed a message to all his customers that there was no problem in fact, but at the same time, Ihsion Finances also offered a long series of practical solutions on how to deal with the problem should the XNUMXth arise.

Reuter was amazed at the time by the gap between reality and the reality as it is reflected in the Israelis in relation to this phenomenon. As a result, he felt obliged to publicize the fact that Israel has no shortage of water and is not harmed at all by the economic boycott, as well as other facts, and for that he made a presentation, which would change the mindset a little and tell the truth overall. It was then called "Optimistic Trends in the Israeli Economy" and was published once a year, usually around Passover. It has become viral over the years.

The fear of a self-fulfilling prophecy

In 2015, Nega Kinan, chairman of the CFO Forum and founder of the Forum of Heads of Companies for Growth and Employment, which brings together close to a thousand senior managers of the leading companies in Israel, was exposed to the presentation. Many things that Reuter presented corresponded to what she, who knows the Israeli society, the economy and the business world very well, researched and checked in the framework of her forums. The data from the field did not match the perception of the general public. The data from the field was much better.

Both Keenan and Reuter shared the view that the negative perception could have an impact on the ground. Investors and management of companies, fed by what they read in the media, assumed that the economic situation was less good than they knew and as a result decided to consider once again whether to invest in Israel, whether to expand factories, whether to hire workers. Parents of teenagers may educate them to leave the country to countries where the present and the future are seen as better. The willingness to invest personally and socially in the real challenges of Israel - may decrease. They realized that if the majority thinks all the time that the situation is bad, then in the end it really will be bad - a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.

This concern led them to examine in depth very large series of data, studies and statistics on the State of Israel, both in comparison to the developed countries and in comparing Israel to itself over the years. The more deeply they explored the data, the more surprising the results became. The State of Israel is in a much better situation than almost all Israelis even dared to dream. Hundreds of comparative data were mostly good and even very good than most OECD countries.

For example, it turned out, very surprisingly, that the number of people killed in road accidents in Israel for every 100 inhabitants is one of the lowest in the world. The health system in Israel is considered one of the best in the world. There is no "demographic demon" because the natural proliferation of Israeli Arabs has been in dramatic decline since the beginning of the 21st century and their participation in education and the workforce has increased. The participation of ultra-Orthodox women in the labor force in Israel has jumped dramatically from 40% a decade ago to 72%, higher than the general participation rate of Israeli women which stands at 58% and therefore offsets part of the problem of ultra-Orthodox men's participation in the labor force. Even among ultra-Orthodox men, the increase in labor force participation jumped from 32% in 2005 to 51% in 2016. The number of ultra-Orthodox students studying professions required in the economy - grew exponentially. It turned out, very surprisingly, that Israel's railways are now considered one of the most accurate in the world and that the Israeli economy has been growing since the 2008 crisis at rates far exceeding those of all but one of the OECD countries, as well as many other things.

Four relative advantages and three revolutions on the way

Later Keenan and Reuter also formed an understanding concerning, in their opinion, the reasons for the success. This understanding is based on four relative advantages that Israel has over other OECD countries. As far as the future is concerned, they base themselves on three revolutions that are on the way. The four relative advantages they point to: the global advantage, the entrepreneurial advantage, the technological-scientific advantage and the demographic advantage.

The technological-scientific advantage is clear and well-known. The entrepreneurial advantage exists because Israel has, according to various indicators, the most developed entrepreneurial culture in the world, in almost all fields. The global advantage is related to the fact that Israel is built on a society of immigrants who came from all over the world and has extensive knowledge of cultures and languages, there is openness and dense global connectivity due to family ties to Jews and Israelis who are in almost every country. In addition, the country has tax treaties and R&D agreements with all countries of the developed world and many of the third world countries. Even countries that do not have relations with Israel receive help with advanced agricultural and medical technologies, and rescue missions are frequently sent to disaster-stricken areas, something that few countries do.

The demographic advantage is related to the fact that Israel has the youngest population in the OECD. According to the existing birth rates, this gap will increase as the developed world ages and does not give birth to children. A young population has a huge impact on the ability of farms to generate economic growth and while the OECD countries are having a very difficult problem in this area, Israel will be able to grow at higher rates in the future as well. Israel also has the third most educated population in the world after Russia and Canada.

Surprisingly here too, since the beginning of the 21st century there has been a 10% increase in the number of births among seculars compared to a 15% decrease in the birth rate among ultra-Orthodox and a 16% decrease in births among Israeli Arabs.

Furthermore, the demographic advantage is based on the existence of two populations, the ultra-Orthodox and the Arabs, who are at the beginning of the stages of massive participation in education and work. Once the process is completed, these populations will lead to further growth.

According to Reuter and Keenan, the three revolutions, some of which are already having an impact and will have an even greater impact in the future, are the water revolution, which means breaking away from dependence on rainwater and the level of the Sea of ​​Galilee and an 8% surplus of water to the point of being able to export water to thirsty Arab countries. The energy revolution following the huge gas discoveries in "Tamar" and "Levitan" which makes Israel independent in terms of energy and within a few years from an importer to an exporter of energy and the infrastructure and transportation revolution which is now in the first stages of change, and which will improve the connectivity and efficiency of seaports (two new ones are being built) , airports (Batmana airport) and land transportation when more roads, interchanges, bridges and railways will be added.

In a special episode, Reuter and Keenan review the challenges that remain to be addressed, which are quite a few, from too high real estate prices, through government regulation and bureaucracy that stifle the business sector, too high security expenses to wage gaps. At the same time, both are optimistic. The Israelis have solved more difficult challenges than these.

9 תגובות

  1. As someone who has lived here for quite a few years and sees the decrease and the progress and the increase in the standard of living on the one hand and the steams and catogries that are increasing in the same way, I am really happy about this article.
    We need to find out what the sources of these negative myths are, and publicize them and the internet users who are behind them.
    Usually this is a press that wants to discredit the country's leadership and is supported by the opposition.
    Today, in the situation of a right-wing government and a left-wing press, this is quite clear.
    However, in the case of Israel drying up - this was a myth that was reinforced by the various governments because of their own interests.
    For the average person, I suggest to exercise common sense, and less to believe the news media and the service/propaganda broadcasts of the various authorities and governments and the politicians in Israel and not in the world. (I don't believe a word they say)
    What did the person who said "fake news" say?

  2. To Elijah:
    Before gas was discovered, we bought fuels from abroad - and this weakened the shekel = supported exports, and the industry benefited from this.

    Today that the gas is sold abroad, few people profit from it, but they buy little fuel from abroad - and there is nothing that will weaken the shekel, and the industry is hurt by this.
    So yes there is a problem - and that is why the Bank of Israel is trying without much success to weaken the shekel.

    The sentence "Problems of priorities that do not match your opinion - are usually solved when the acute problems are solved." I did not understand.

  3. An important and wonderfully written article.
    I really enjoyed reading.

    I did not fully understand the expected transportation revolution.
    On the face of it, it seems very clear to me - even without the help of the media - that the public transport here, at least in the big cities, is horrible compared to Europe for example.
    Where is the revolution supposed to put us in relation to the developed countries?

  4. For all those who are worried, the article is not sponsored. I was among the interviewees for the book and of course in the field I cover (science) we are good, I did not refer to other fields.

  5. To "Loram Ipsum":
    Both railways and its construction suffer from the same problem: the whole issue of planning in Israel has lasted a decade or more beyond what is reasonable.
    The urban planning seemed insanely short-sighted, stemming from the acceptance of a basic assumption that the birth and immigration to Israel would be slowed down. A changed baseline.
    However - the subway and the welcome change in the master plan is only a minimal step.
    What is needed is to adopt an East Asian model (which turns out that Gush Dan is already as dense as a dense metropolis like Hong Kong and Singapore), according to which the construction is very dense, and relies on proximity to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    To Noam:
    A problem with a strong shekel is not a problem. If the gas is exported - a "problem" is created of accelerated imports from abroad and a high standard of living.
    If you don't export - there is actually no problem. The shekel is strong because the economy is strong and growth is fast.
    The problem of real estate prices is the acute problem, it includes a difficult planning problem, and terrible planning centralization.
    Problems of priorities that do not match your opinion - are usually solved when the acute problems are solved.

  6. Looks like an advertisement for a dubious book.
    "The health system in Israel is considered one of the best in the world". ("Public spending on health in Israel - among the lowest in the OECD") ynet ("Israel vs. OECD countries: fewer hospital beds, fewer nurses - life expectancy on the rise") and the OECD itself are lying or is the health system a deadly conspiracy?
    The number of non-Zionist births (Orthedim and Arabs, and for the sake of it, as it implies, "unnecessary parasites" since we are dealing with an economic success story) is decreasing, but the fact that Israel lives in symbiosis (with 2.7 million Palestinians in the West Bank alone) is being forgotten, perhaps one day it will become a binational state....I don't know, But I'm afraid the celebration is too early...

  7. The train is definitely late. The fast line to Jerusalem is a decade late (at least, depending on when you start counting). It is also late in the electrification plan by at least a decade. It is late to add a fourth rail to Ayalon (when six rails are needed, yes?) and they still don't know exactly how to carry out the monumental task (Aalek). It was many years late in doubling the track to Be'er Sheva (until Yitzhak Harel arrived at the railroad's CEOs and managed to pull it out of the mud).

    Is the train punctual? Only if we agree to accept the ridiculous algorithm they use to calculate the delay statistics. A train from Haifa to Modi'in via Tel Aviv can be late for many passengers upon arrival in Tel Aviv, but you will be able to reduce it by traveling to Modi'in station under the auspices of the free track and the generous schedules and you will not be late at all.

    We should also point out that the light rail in Tel Aviv is many decades late, and in general there should have been a real subway, and the light rail in Jerusalem feeds its residents with bitterness (and it is also late in the work plans which is unbelievable).

    If we have already reached this point, we should also note that the urban planning in Israel is on the face, so that all the new neighborhoods and cities in general cannot maintain adequate public transportation and are prone, by their very design, to the use of intensive private transportation and endless traffic jams.

  8. Another sponsored article whose real purpose is to present fake news as if it were not fake news.
    And for illustration:
    1) The problem in the health system is not its inability to address the health problems of the citizens of the country, but rather the unwillingness of the health system to address the problem of inequality between wealthy populations who receive quick, high-quality care through money and needy populations of low socioeconomic status who have to wait 8 months for a CT scan or 18 Months for an MRI ……
    pay attention:
    The title of the article says:
    It is dangerous to drive on Israeli roads because there are many dead, the economic boycott of the BDS is hurting us badly, the health system in Israel is problematic, the taxes here are high, ultra-Orthodox women do not work, the Arabs are multiplying and soon they will be the majority, the Israeli economy is hardly growing and even the Israel Railway always late These are a lot of problems for a small country like Israel, only they don't really exist...

    Has anyone seen even one word about taxes in this entire article?
    It is clear to you that there is no intelligent person in the country who thinks that as far as the issue of taxes in Israel is concerned, we are in the most taxed country in the world.

    In this matter the anonymous reporter (we said sponsored) has no say.

  9. "The huge gas discoveries in "Tamar" and "Leviathan" which make Israel independent in terms of energy" - but change the balance of payments and therefore create a problem of a strong shekel.

    "..the challenges that remain to be addressed, which are not few, starting with real estate prices that are too high.. at the same time, both are optimistic. The Israelis have solved more difficult challenges than these"
    The Israelis have solved technological/logistical problems at a high level, but they have not particularly excelled in solving problems whose solution requires a struggle with pressure groups and/or a demonstration of solidarity at a national level, which is accompanied by a government that puts these problems at the forefront of its eyes.

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