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Opinion letters sent to the New York Times

Submitted 31st May 2008

Tel Aviv - The Silicon Wadi?

Tel Aviv (literally: Dumb-Hill of Spring) was plain desert at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, in the advent of her 100th year celebrations in 2009, it is the Silicon Wadi (Valley) of the Mediterranean since 1990's.

It is United States that profits from Israel, rather than the opposite. Israel gets nearly 3 billion USD from USA annually, but open brain drain is its prerequisite. Astonishing number of 25% of the Israeli researchers have moved to the United States - and this figure does not yet include the people with double citizenship. The next largest drain of researchers are 12.2% from Canada, 4.3% from Netherlands, and 4.2% from Italy.

Before the Second Intifada, there were nearly 200 Israeli companies listed in the Nasdaq, at the Intifada the count dropped to 70. (The number is still greater than from all the European countries combined). It is said that the dollars are green since the Americans pull them down from the tree raw and fresh. The start-ups are imported straight from the garage, and scaling up of production in the "conflict hotspot" has been considered impossible. But the new Millennium has brought a change in tide.

In Israel, 20% of citizens possess a higher decree from the university. Over half of the export from Israel are High tech products (32 $ billion in 2007), compared to the 25% average of the OECD countries. Israel's GDP is about $200 billion. She exhibits second highest output of new book per citizen and more patents per person than any other nation. Nobels, by definition, are awarded to the people who have made services to the whole world, and 21% of the prizes have gone to this population of less that 17 million, taking both Eretz Israel and galut (diaspora) into account.

The population of Arabs under the Israeli government increased ten-fold in only 57 years. Palestinian life expectancy increased from 48 to 72 years in 1967-95. The death rate decreased by over 2/3 in 1970-90 and the Israeli medical campaigns decreased the child death rate from a level of 60 per 1000 in 1968 to 15 per 1000 in 2000 at the Westbank. (An analogous figure was 64 in Iraq, 40 in Egypt, 23 in Jordan, and 22 in Syria in 2000). During 1967-88 the amount of comprehensive schoold and second level polytechnic institutes for the Arabs was increased by 35%. During 1970-86 the proportion of Palestinian women at the West Bank and Gaza not having gone to school decreased from 67 % to 32 %.  The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in West Bank and Gaza increased in 1968-1991 from 165 US dollars to 1715 dollars (compare with 1630$ in Turkey, 1440$ in Tunis, 1050$ in Jordan, 800$ in Syria, 600$ in Egypt. and 400$ in Yemen).

How has the United Nations reacted to such an impact especially in the field of medicine and health care? One-fourth of the judgements of the Human Rights Commission strike Israel.

There is a pious smoke screen on the industrial countries mediating peace to the Middle East. A collaboration between the Jews with their technology and science and Arabs with their oil and loyality has been a great nightmare for the Western countries. The intimate friendship between the cousin "races", as officially declared by Chaim Weizmann and Emir Feisal in Versailles peace conference, was deliberately mutilated. The Second Intifada could be called The Oslo War.

Aviv is Hebrew for "spring", symbolizing renewal, and tel is an archaeological site that reveals layers of civilization built one over the other. The Jewish population has been such a layer of native culture not only in the Palestine, and the expulsion of the native Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews from various Muslim countries since 1948 has been al nakba, catastrophe, for these societies.

Pauli Ojala
Biochemist, Finland

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