How technologically advanced and developed is Israel

Four reasons : How Israel became a high-tech superpower

What a coup! Last Monday, the FBI let the world know that they had managed to crack the encryption of the iPhone with the support of an "external partner". So far, the US investigative authorities have kept silent about the helper's name.

But a few hours after the success report was published, rumors began to circulate that the investigators had received a tip from the Israeli company Cellebrite. An official statement from the Israelis is still pending, but should they actually have been involved in the decryption, that would be anything but a surprise.

Because the state of Israel may have significantly fewer inhabitants than Bavaria - but when it comes to security technologies, the country's companies have been in the top league for years. Four reasons why the bitterly poor agricultural state on the Mediterranean has become a leading business location.


Check Point, FST Biometrics and Palo Alto Networks have two things in common. On the one hand, they are among the global market leaders in software applications for network and data security. On the other hand, all entrepreneurs who had previously served in the Israeli army were involved in its creation.

More precisely: in the legendary 8200 elite unit for telecommunications and electronic reconnaissance. "There is virtually no leading tech company in Israel that does not have a former soldier from Unit 8200 or who was involved in starting the company," said Yair Cohen, a former unit commander.

The Israeli armed forces recognized decades ago that wars could no longer be won with soldiers and weapons - and therefore invested a lot of money and manpower in digital armament. “We live in a world where cyberspace has become the greatest battleground. 500 million cyberattacks are carried out every minute - every day. ”This is forcing the world's armies to rethink. “Israeli fighter jets incapacitated all enemy air forces within three hours in the Six Day War,” he says.

"Today we can assume that in future wars something similar will be possible with a single push of a button and the use of cyber weapons."

But not only among the soldiers of this elite unit, but also in many other areas of the army, technical knowledge and analytical skills are specifically promoted, says Ester Levanon, the former head of the Israeli stock exchange TASE. “Military service gives many Israelis the chance to prove themselves in large technology projects at a young age,” she says. "Once they have completed their military service, many use the knowledge they have acquired to start their own business."


The first head of government of the Jewish state, Golda Meir, maintained an ambivalent relationship with the Jewish prophet Moses: "He dragged us through the desert for 40 years to bring us to the only place in the Middle East where there is no oil" she complained once.

In the meantime, impressive natural gas reserves were discovered off the Israeli coast a few years ago and Meir's grudge against Moses seems unfounded. Nevertheless, the raw material for Israel's development into a high-tech location was neither gas nor oil, but education.

For years, the Jewish state has regularly been in first place in international comparisons. According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), spending on education in 2015 based on gross domestic product was 6.5 percent, Germany was 5.4 percent, and the average for the OECD countries was 5.2 percent.

And these investments are paying off. Almost half of Israelis between the ages of 25 and 65 have a university degree, according to OECD data - far more than the average for the OECD countries (35 percent). The international economy has long since become aware of this potential.

No matter whether Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Siemens or Intel: All of the world's major tech companies are now represented with their own research centers in Israel.

Politicians, however, did not stop at high spending on education, but also created incentive systems to closely link industry and research. All threads come together in the office of the so-called Chief Scientist, an extended arm of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Funding programs, for example, are coordinated centrally and funding is awarded, where many in Germany are responsible.

"In Israel there is a very close connection between start-ups and research institutions, but above all industry," says Florian Nöll, head of the Federal Association of German Start-ups, describing the decisive success factor of the Israeli economy.


Those who come to Jerusalem can toast the Russian President with a glass of vodka in the “Bar Putin”, and those who end up in Ashdod will discover pelmeni, borscht and other Russian specialties on every corner. It is no coincidence that the small coastal town is also known as "Little Moscow" among Israelis.

The State of Israel has seen many waves of immigration in the seven decades of its existence, but few have shaped it as much as immigration from Eastern Europe. No wonder: more than a million people have immigrated to Israel from Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union since the end of the Cold War - a population increase of a good 15 percent.

The integration of the newcomers initially presented the small country with a mammoth economic task: in the 1990s alone, the influx of people of working age increased the population by 15 percent. The unemployment rate among the newcomers was therefore initially high, with more than every second migrant in 1990 without an income of their own.

Resolute action by the government, language courses and numerous other public integration programs made it possible to cope with the onslaught of new citizens. As early as 1992, the employment rate of Russian migrants and the population born in Israel was almost identical.

The integration efforts of the politicians were made easier by the high level of education of the immigrants. Tens of thousands of doctors and engineers have made Israel their new home over the past 30 years and helped transform the country into a world-leading technology location.

According to figures from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, products from technology-related industries now account for around half of all Israeli exports. At the same time, 20 percent of those employed in this sector are immigrants from states of the former Soviet Union, according to data from the Israeli Ministry for the Reception of Immigrants.


Last but not least, it is also the mentality of the people that made the Israeli high-tech miracle possible. At least the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Dan Shechtman is convinced of this. In addition to his basic academic research, he has also been teaching and advising students on how to set up companies for three decades. “We Israelis are a fearless people,” he says. “That is why we are successful in science and that is why so many companies are being founded in this country. The fear of failure, the fear of being a shame for oneself and one's family, does not exist with us. ”Anyone who messes up in Israel, says Shechtman, is a little smarter and starts all over again. "That's exactly what I've been teaching my students for years."

Shechtman seems to have been successful with his teachings. "In the past, Jewish mothers wanted their daughters and sons to become doctors or lawyers." But that has changed. Today the Israeli mother hopes that the offspring will show up at the trade office soon after the umbilical cord has been cut. "Anyone who stands at an Israeli supermarket checkout today hears proud mothers report that their children are busy starting a business."

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