Israel should capitalize on America’s financial woes to recover some of the social capital — Israeli yordim — it has lost to the United States and other Western countries in recent years, writes Aluf Benn in his column in Ha’aretz.
America’s troubles have given Israel a unique opportunity to strengthen its national resilience and growth potential. Israel’s ability to stop the brain drain and bring back the social capital it lost increases as the recession in the United States worsens and opportunities there decrease. Israel has no natural resources but the minds of its young people, many of whom have left for the United States in search of better-paying jobs. Now is the time to bring them back and benefit from the interest, as it were, in the form of the education and experience they picked up at U.S. universities and companies.
Just as immigration from the former Soviet Union brought social capital and experience to Israel and allowed the economy to flourish over the past two decades, Israel could revitalize its economy by bringing back its citizens living in Western countries. At a time when U.S. President-elect Barack Obama believes investing in public works will help to cure the recession, Israel should invest in its people as a way to push forward. It must not miss this opportunity.