Like much about the modern Jewish State, the Israeli economy is an improbable, fascinating, and precarious mix of great achievements and looming challenges. The legacy of its socialist past persists in many sectors of the economy and in the provision of many social services. And yet, Israel has emerged as one of the most dynamic, creative, entrepreneurial start-up economies in the world. Amid the recent economic downturn, the Israeli economy has fared well by comparison to most other advanced democracies. And yet, some of the pro-growth reforms of the recent past are under increasing political pressure. And for all the dynamism of is entrepreneurial class, the fastest growing sectors of Israeli society—the Haredim and the Arabs—are comparatively not well-trained and not fully integrated into the work-force.
For the Jewish State, economic success is a strategic—indeed, an existential—issue. Like all modern nations, Israel and its people yearn for a better life: more opportunity, more meaningful work, greater wealth for oneself and one’s family. And like all decent societies, Israel seeks an economy that serves and reflects the moral aspirations of its citizens, balancing a safety net for those in need and a culture of economic independence and initiative. But Israel is also different: economic stagnation would make it impossible to sustain the national power necessary to deter and confront its enemies, while exacerbating social tensions and fault lines between the various sectors of Israeli society.
This course will examine the various dimensions of the modern Israeli economy, with a view to defining a strategy for promoting economic growth, strengthening the social fabric, and sustaining Israeli power and Jewish sovereignty. Led by prominent public intellectual, investor, and “Start-Up Nation” co-author Dan Senor and Start-Up Nation Central policy director and former Israeli budget department official Ohad Reifen, this course will explore both a series of fiscal policy ideas, as well as the sources of Israeli entrepreneurship. It will include discussions with prominent Israeli political leaders and high-tech entrepreneurs, looking back and looking ahead at how economic vitality can help sustain the Zionist project.