Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Israel: An LED Light Unto the Nations

Israel: An LED Light Unto the Nations

By Angela Hasek

Israel has many awe-inspiring qualities.  Its people are tenacious and brave.  Its history is unmatched in depth and significance.  And its society reflects the values upon which Western civilization is built.  But discussions of the Jewish State tend to surround its battle for survival – this is a mistake.  We should remember that there is a great deal more to this country and that we have all benefited from its existence. 

Israel is a democracy, a strong ally of the United States, and the Middle East’s one true oasis of religious liberty.  I saw all of these qualities during my recent trip there with Christians United for Israel.  But I saw one more that my generation in particular has embraced.

Since our founding, American culture has been closely associated with the entrepreneurial spirit.  That is in many ways the underpinning of the American dream, and that spirit is growing.  In fact, a September 2013 Rasmussen poll revealed that 60% of Millennials want to work for themselves.  Not simply at one point in their lives, but within the next two years. 

I have studied entrepreneurship throughout the world and, save America, no nation celebrates that spirit more than Israel -- and the world is better for it.  From advancements in medicine to the technology behind instant messaging services and cell phones, Israel has improved the quality of life for billions -- many of whom may not even know it.  Israel is credited with creating one of the first SanDisk portable storage devices.  They are responsible for an invention called the MobileEye that detects pedestrians and keeps my family members safer on the road.  In the medical field, one specific company Given Imaging, has created a variety of patient-friendly mechanisms that detect disorders of the GI tract.

I have seen firsthand what Israel is doing to make my individual life and the world a better place.  And that progress is driven by Israel’s open entrepreneurial spirit.  Israel feeds the hungry not just by giving them a basket of food but by teaching the world how to make the desert bloom.  Israeli entrepreneurs have developed an app that can dramatically decrease the response times of fire and rescue personnel -- not benefitting just themselves, but everyone. 

Tragically this innovation is threatened.  There is a loud movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.  This movement pays no heed to the human toll such actions -- if they were ever successful -- would take.  While I would not argue that respect for innovation alone should drive Zionism, those who are seeking to economically harm Israel should acknowledge the progress they seek to stymie.  But they do not.  In fact, Israel’s detractors go so far as to use Israeli technology to advance boycotts of Israeli companies.

Those who seek to destroy Israel, whether through bombs or boycotts, are effectively seeking to extinguish a flame that has brought a light unto the nations of the world. 

Instead of working to boycott Israeli academic institutions, universities should strongly encourage every college business student to read Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  Instead of working to put Palestinians and Israelis out of a job by boycotting companies like Israel’s Soda-Stream, peace activists should sit down and take notes about how two peoples from two different communities have been brought together by the Israeli entrepreneurial spirit.

Whether we are guided by the Bible, our conscience, or our national security interests, America should stand with the Jewish state.  But regardless of one’s political attitude towards the Arab-Israeli conflict, we should never forget how much the world has benefited from this tiny nation’s massive entrepreneurial spirit.

Angela Hasek is a junior majoring in Entrepreneurship at the University of St Thomas in St.  Paul, MN.