Interview with Dan Senor, Author of Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

When AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) held a meeting at Standard Country Club on March 9 with author Dan Senor as its featured speaker, the organization made it clear that everything said there that night was off the record, even though the event drew a large crowd.

After the event, however, Senor gave Community a brief interview.

Senor and Saul Singer co-authored Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

Often, stories about Israel that appear in the media focus on the Jewish State’s difficult relations with its neighbors. The stories in the news this week about Israel’s announcement of the next level of approval for some long-planned apartments in east Jerusalem that was made during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to the Middle East in the latest U.S. bid to restart peace talks – this time known as proximity talks – between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Senor focuses instead on Israel’s economic success. In Start-Up Nation, “we look at what Israel has accomplished. It has the highest density of start ups, more venture capital and more companies listed on the NASDAQ” than any country outside of the United States, he said. The book looks at “what Israel has accomplished and how it accomplished it and tries to make sense of Israel as a model of innovation as America tries to regain its position in the global economy.”

He points to a number of reasons for Israel’s economic success.

With constant threats to Israel’s physical survival, Israelis strive for growth rather than survival in business. That growth is fueled by a dynamic immigrant culture and the highest percentage of investment in research and development spending of any economy in the world.

The fact that almost all of Israel’s young people serve in the military immediately after high school also contributes to this economic success. Senor points out the in the service, Israelis “learn to lead, manage and be entrepreneurial.” As they have this experience and are also older than many of their peers around the world when they enter college, their maturity impacts what they get out of the college experience.

This entrepreneurialism and innovation ensure “Israel’s place among the nations as a contributor and not a victim,” he stated. This is reinforced by the investments many large high tech companies are making in Israel.

AIPAC gave copies of Senor’s book to all those in attendance that evening. It also frequently distributes it to world leaders and members of Congress to educate them about Israel.

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