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The "Top 15" Vision



By: YOSEF TASTASSA  
Published: January 20th 2011
in Economics » Israel

Gidi Grinstein

The "Reut" Institute

 

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting with Mr. Gidi Grinstein, President and Founder of the Israeli Reut Institute. Grinstein became a familiar public figure in Israeli after participating in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks eleven years ago where he was the youngest member in the Israeli delegation to the talks.

 

Like many bright, young Israelis, Grinstein has the "Chuzpa" to claim that he can see the future and understands what changes Israel needs to implement in order to survive and prosper. Unlike many of the other bright, young Israelis, Grinstein is probably right.

 

Grinstein established the Reut (visibility) Institute in 2004 as a nonprofit organization. The main goal of Reut is to support the strategic thinking of the State of Israel in fields that are vital to its future, security and prosperity.

 

The "Top 15" vision

 

Grinstein believes that Israel can be one of the leading fifteen countries in the world in quality of life. According to his philosophy, Israel should look at its current situation through social and economic "binoculars". If Israel will do that effectively, it will be able to significant jump in a relatively short period of time and reach its goals.

 

In order to do that, the Reut Institute has published guidelines which the State of Israel should follow: Leapfrog policy, Effective governance, The public Sphere, Leapfrog Institutions, Leapfrog leadership, Competitive approach, Unique assets, Human capital, Strategic plans and Economic integration of the Arab population.

 

Highlights in details

 

As someone who lived in Israel for more than forty years, I will focus on three major issues that are an obstacle for Israel's long term goals.

 

Governance

 

One of Israel’s major problems is its political system. America, 43 times the population of Israel, was established over 200 years and it has two major political parties. Israel, established only 62 years ago, has over fifteen parties in the Knesset (Israel’s House of Representatives). In order to be Prime Minister, the leader of the biggest party (usually) has to establish a coalition in which he is being supported by his partners.

 

To achieve that coalition the future PM has to maneuver between ideologies, desires, greed and ego. That is an impossible task for many. The criticism with the system is that the PM deals more with the survivor of his government than with the national needs of the State of Israel. The current Knesset is 18th party voted in, meaning that most Israeli governments did not survive the full four year mandate they were given.

 

Education

 

Israel is currently flourishing due to the achievements of the previous generation. In international tests, Israel’s results are deteriorating and if this trend continues the country will lose its relative advantage and the ability to compete with the rest of the world.

 

A bothering phenomenon is the "Brain Drain". Many educated, bright Israelis with advanced academic degrees are leaving Israel to find better opportunities across the ocean. The unofficial figures are 1 in 25 scholars. Add that to the fact that the government's budget for research and development has been cut significantly and you will find it difficult to see a bright future.

 

Economic integration of the Arab population

 

This is not the place to discuss the Jewish-Arab social relationships in Israel. The fact is that the Arab population is 20 per cent of Israel's population and their participation in the labor market is low, especially for Arab woman.

 

A full economic integration of the Arab population in the labor market may contribute to an additional $10 billion to the local GDP. In terms of percentage, it’s around 5 per cent and can significantly support the goals of Grinstein "Top 15" vision.

 

Summary

 

Despite the problems and the challenges, there is definite optimism that Israel is facing its problems, discussing them and finding solutions. Some say that a country the size of Israel has already exceeded its potential, but for those who understand, Israel still has a long way to go before reaching its goals.



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