David Brooks has written an interesting column in the New York Times here. He discusses Jewish accomplishments in the world and notes that
“No single explanation can account for the record of Jewish achievement. The odd thing is that Israel has not traditionally been strongest where the Jews in the Diaspora were strongest. Instead of research and commerce, Israelis were forced to devote their energies to fighting and politics. Milton Friedman used to joke that Israel disproved every Jewish stereotype. People used to think Jews were good cooks, good economic managers and bad soldiers; Israel proved them wrong. But that has changed. Benjamin Netanyahu’s economic reforms, the arrival of a million Russian immigrants and the stagnation of the peace process have produced a historic shift. The most resourceful Israelis are going into technology and commerce, not politics. This has had a desultory effect on the nation’s public life, but an invigorating one on its economy.”
“Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel has more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation on earth, by far. It leads the world in civilian research-and-development spending per capita. It ranks second behind the U.S. in the number of companies listed on the Nasdaq. Israel, with seven million people, attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.”
All well and good but then Brooks over-reaches to claim that “Israel’s technological success is the fruition of the Zionist dream.”
What a limited view of the Zionist rationale for Israel, and its achievements!
One letter pointed out “While praising Jews and Israel, you seem to have missed a point that Israel drives home every day. Jews, are no longer a wandering people. We have a homeland. A place to hang our hat…. Neither kings, nor popes, caliphs, sheiks, or mullahs, can send us packing at a whim. Mere animosity and ‘divine right’ can no longer consign us to second-class citizens, dhimmi’s, or persona non-grata. Israel’s place in the world, as the only Jewish state, allows Jews a global focal point, for honor, prosperity, education, religious insight, and protection. It is our birthplace and our birthright. And no mobility or threat, will change that.”
…. Now that starts to add to Israel’s significance in a more meaningful way than can Israel’s technological achievements, however impressive and important they may be.