A few years back, I put together this piece which looked at hard numbers regarding the growth of the Israeli economy and exports, both of which doubled during the BDS decade. And while I don’t have the time to update that analysis for 2014, it is worth looking at an aspect of the Startup Nation story that demonstrates an interesting dialectic regarding Israel’s economy and its security situation.
One would think that a nation routinely subjected to heavy missile bombardment would be the very place investors would flee, given the instability such a military situation implies. But in the case of Israel, the opposite seems to be the case as investment continues to pour into the country as if months of attacks from Gaza never took place.
The best example of this phenomenon is Intel’s decision to invest six billion dollars (that’s “billion” with a “B”) into updating its Israeli chip plant – the biggest investment ever made into the Jewish state – a decision which was announced in September, that is AFTER the country spent the summer on the receiving end of endless rocket fire.
Intel plays a key role in unlocking the reason behind such an unprecedented (and counter-intuitive) business dynamic. For it was in 1991, well before Israel became the Startup Nation darling of the international M&A and investment communities, that keeping promises while under fire first demonstrated the mettle of Israel and the people who live and work there.
If you recall, that was the year Israel was first subjected to random missile fire, this time from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq which hoped to provoke Israel into joining (and thus “Zionizing”) a conflict begun when Iraq invaded, annexed and looted Kuwait. As American and allied forces began shoving Iraqi troops back across their own border, Saddam decided to point his Scuds towards one of the few nations not arrayed against him, socking Israel with waves of rockets that many feared were armed with the same chemical weapons the ex (as in now ex-ecuted) Iraqi dictator used against his own people in the 1980s.
Israel never rose to that bait, but while coalition forces were demonstrating the paper nature of the Iraqi tiger, executives at the Intel Corporation who managed a plant in Israel that was turning out the company’s most valuable chips had different concerns: how to get their Israeli employees to stay home and safe, rather than show up for work.
Apparently, the Israelis who worked the chip factory had no intention of letting a tyrant living (and killing) miles away to disrupt their lives. And if they had to defy their own government (which was urging people to stay indoors near shelters until the threat lifted), they certainly weren’t going to let some distant executives tell them what to do.
And so they showed up to work, keeping the factory firing on all cylinders, and delivering on every promise made to those Intel executives with regard to deliveries and deadlines.
It was this incident, more than any other, which demonstrated that the Jewish economy included something more than innovative inventors and programmers and a budding entrepreneurial culture that was shaking loose the vestiges of a planned economy. For those Intel-employed Israelis were demonstrating tenacity, nerve, defiance and an unwillingness to not keep to their word even (or, should I say, especially) under fire.
So the minor impact of the Gaza campaign on the Israeli economy followed by a seemingly positive impact it had on that economy once the guns fell silent has an explanation: the continued demonstration of Israel’s ability to do remarkable work and get the job done, regardless of how harrowing the circumstances might be.
This should come as no surprise to those who understand that a citizenry brought up to defend itself, one which has lived on the precipice for most of its existence, is not about to let a little thing like rocket fire from death-worshiping maniacs get in the way of carrying on a normal life. And those who recognize this reality are ready to vote for Israel with their wallets, which is why Israel continues to receive the highest grade for investment – even as the rest of the region tumbles into self-imposed chaos.
This should provide another bit of perspective with regard to our old friends in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions “movement.” For the BDS project is predicated on the notion that economic pressure deriving from their activities will so weaken the Jewish state that it will agree to capitulate to demands of those seeking its ultimate destruction. But if weeks of direct military attack has only increased the nation’s defiant resolve, resolve rewarded by the very people the BDSers are asking to shun the Jewish state, then what is BDS left as other than a transmission belt for propaganda dedicated to ensuring that the millions of corpses being generated by #AlHamIsis across the Middle East never get noticed, much less mentioned.