What’s behind Israel’s tremendous success in the tech sector? In their book Start-Up Nation, which came out yesterday, Dan Senor, a former foreign policy adviser to President George W. Bush, and Saul Singer, a Jerusalem Post columnist, argue that a culture of innovation has grown from the relatively non-hierarchical structure of the IDF—unusual among militaries. It’s “the fact that when you’re being promoted in the Israeli military, your subordinates have input, or can have input, in those decisions,” Senor said in an interview with Atlantic correspondent Jeff Goldberg. “It’s a very entrepreneurial, start-up military. There are very few bosses.” That’s allowed for an economy dominated by small, creative businesses rather than huge, top-heavy ones—exactly the kind of economy, Singer argues, that survives best in a recession, and one that should be copied by developing economies around the world.
Indeed, even (or especially) Arab businessmen are getting curious, Singer said: “Whenever I go to the Gulf, it’s all they want to talk about, they’re so intrigued by the Israeli model. But everything about the economic strategy of these Gulf countries is about spending money.” American Jews, too, are starting to catch on. “For the longest time, American Jews would not invest in Israeli start-ups. They would give to UJA and they’d give to all these philanthropic organizations, but they kept a firewall up between their business activities and their philanthropic activities. I think for the last three to five years you are, for the first time, really seeing American Jewish investors investing in Israel.”
The Origins of Israel’s Tech Miracle [Atlantic]
Ari M. Brostoff is Culture Editor at Jewish Currents.