By Adena Schutzman, UCLA *
Think of the most significant technological innovations that have made an impact on your life: computers, the Internet, and cell phones.
While these items may tout Japanese, American, or European logos, and their packaging often reads, “Made in China,” these inventions are in fact the product of Israel’s burgeoning hi-tech industry.
The average consumer might be amazed to learn that Israel, despite its relative youth, diminutive size, and strained existence, boasts an enviable record of modern technological developments. Essential innovations such as AIM, ICQ, Windows, Pentium, and cellular phone technology all hail from Israeli plants working under large international corporations, including AOL-Time Warner, Microsoft, and Motorola.
But cell phones and computer chips are not the only significant contributions Israel’s intellectual capital has made. Equally impressive are Israel’s homegrown industries, such as Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries, Ltd. Though lacking name recognition, this pharmaceutical company is one of the largest suppliers of generic drugs in the world, a remarkable achievement from one of the world’s smallest countries.
Israel stands out for its progressive medical research as well, and has made significant headway in tackling disease and sickness. Instead of invasive colonoscopy procedures, Israeli researchers have created a pill-size video transmitter to allow doctors to attain clear video footage of the human digestive system. Patients suffering from paralysis have found new hope in electrical contraptions designed by Israeli engineers to restore motion. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research in Israel is charting new grounds, bringing the world many steps forward in the race to finding a cure.
When considering the economic and intellectual vigor of the United States, Canada, Europe, and parts of Asia, Israel’s progress seems quite surprising. However, demographically speaking, Israel’s success is not at all unexpected. Israel awards university degrees and patents to more of its citizens than any other country. The country also hosts the second-highest number of hi-tech industries in the world, after the United States.
Unfortunately, Israel’s contribution to the advancement of science faces serious challenges. Brain drain and divestment campaigns stand not only to stifle scientific progress, but also to deliberately weaken Israel’s economy and reputation. Many like to point fingers at Israel and accuse it of being a backward country that has nothing to contribute to our modern world. The opposite is in fact true; Israel’s technological innovations have shaped and defined our modern world.
In addition, many college professors seeking to vilify Israel for political or ideological reasons often completely ignore the important contributions it has made to the world. Our lives are inextricably linked to a multitude of Israel’s products and innovations. Divestment from Israel’s companies therefore does not only hurt Israel; it hurts the entire world.
Now, as Israel is making unprecedented concessions for “peace,” it is important that we renew our commitment not just to the Land of Israel, but to the flourishing, vibrant and forward-looking country it has become. Supporting Israeli industries by purchasing their products is as valuable as our prayers and donations. But most of all, we must share with the world this rarely seen view of Israel—as a leader and active global partner, instead of the aggressor that she is so often portrayed as in the press and by her detractors.
* Adena Schutzman is in her second year at the University of California, Los Angeles, anda is a Political Science major.