With an Iranian threat the Israelis can still work remotely and still control their land. The amazing thing about smarts, which is something I think Brooks might not have, is that you can be anywhere, through social networks (and no I don’t mean facebook and twitter, I mean real social networks like Judaism) keep you together. Israel is just about security, but even with the loss of security Jews can still innovate… and always will.
The tech boom also creates a new vulnerability. As Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic has argued, these innovators are the most mobile people on earth. To destroy Israel’s economy, Iran doesn’t actually have to lob a nuclear weapon into the country. It just has to foment enough instability so the entrepreneurs decide they had better move to Palo Alto, where many of them already have contacts and homes. American Jews used to keep a foothold in Israel in case things got bad here. Now Israelis keep a foothold in the U.S.
During a decade of grim foreboding, Israel has become an astonishing success story, but also a highly mobile one.
But it’s more likely that Israel’s economic leap forward will widen the gap between it and its neighbors. All the countries in the region talk about encouraging innovation. Some oil-rich states spend billions trying to build science centers. But places like Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv are created by a confluence of cultural forces, not money. The surrounding nations do not have the tradition of free intellectual exchange and technical creativity.
between 1980 and 2000, Egyptians registered 77 patents in the U.S. Saudis registered 171. Israelis registered 7,652.