2012-02-17

Review “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”



Review “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”

 “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle”, released in 2009, was written by two American journalists: Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Dan Samuel Senor is a frequent contributor to Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, he worked as a chief spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq (2003-2004), Saul Singer served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. In the book “Start-up Nation” authors tried to find out the roots for uniqueness of Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit that drives country’s economy, to make it possible authors looked at the history of the state of Israel and society’s customs and cultural characteristics.
Before taking readers to the main analysis of the economic miracle in Israel, at the beginning of the book authors describe what it is so unique in Jewish culture that make others not wonder when they learn that Israel leads in number of start-ups pro capita among the OECD countries? Why Jews are seen as smart and active? According to Den Senor and Saul Singer, it is because of nature of Judaism that can be described as a culture of challenging everything. Children raised in Judaism always ask questions to their teachers because it is normal to do so. With noting this distinctive feature of Jewish culture to challenge any authority authors continue further discussion about Israel’s economy.
Another source for the distinct entrepreneurial spirit in Israel was the immigrant mentality of society. As we know, being mainly an immigrant society Israel continues to have most liberal immigrant policy in the world. According to authors of the book, first settler were from the beginning of their life in Israel risk-takers, they lived in a hostile environment. Not only Arabs created troubles to new comers, but also nature was adverse as well. First Israelis learned to survive in uneasy conditions that in turn contributed to the overall society’s mentality.
Moreover, if we look at the famous kibbutzim movement in Israel we will see how desperate these people were. There was a combination of collective and individual. People learned to live together for it was possibly the only way to survive. First Israelis learned to pursue their own goals and at the same time to contribute to the society’s wealth.
Since the begin of Israel’s existence it was clear that army would become one of the cornerstones of Israeli society. Nowadays Israeli Army is the hard school of life for almost every Israeli. In army people learn how to be best in order to protect themselves and their brothers (and sisters) in arms. Israel Defence Force has created effective system of selection of the smartest soldiers who serve not only in regular troops but also in special divisions of army. Such experts are tasked to find best solutions for existing problems during conflicts. Acquired skills of thinking quickly and taking decisions under pressure help such people after army to become successful businessmen and found their own start-ups.
In addition, according to the book, connections made during a service help to navigate in business world. It is almost impossible to develop ideas or run a business if your don’t have right friends, in Israel it is different, everyone knows everyone, that is why it is relatively easy to find right people that can contribute to your start-up or give help.
As a prove for successful experience of Israel’s economy that is driven by mass creation of start-ups authors of the book name the strongly positive image of the country in the eyes of potential investors even during armed conflicts in the region. People are sure that Israel is secure enough to keep on functioning as an effective economy that is so attractive for western venture capital companies. More interesting question for readers would be whether it is possible to repeat Israel’s experience and why despite many similarities such countries as Singapore and South Korea do not habe Israel like strong entrepreneurial spirit and do have as many start-ups as in Israel? The answer is the cultural code; it is due to specific cultural formula or mentality of people of Israel that drives Israel’s economy.
The book “Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” is an attempt to provide insight into what is the Israeli economics and what makes it so unique and successful despite all existing problems and threats, this book will be useful for those who is interested in economics and politics of the Middle East and particularly in Israel.

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