Sunday, September 28, 2008
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Saturday, September 13, 2008
Israel does not have any oil. It is surrounded by Arab countries who do. It seems strange that this particular small piece of land is devoid of such a commodity. Many probably think it's not worth fighting over.
The most important resource in Israel are its people. It's the people of Israel who are making it worthwhile for Americans to support it financially. The USA felt it was important to help Russian Jews come to Israel and helped Israel finance this by helping Israel obtain loans from American banks. It has paid off.
The flood of Russians who came to Israel included many scientists, engineers and programmers. Many of them excelled in math, physics, and material sciences and medical electronics. They found others in Israel with the same interests. Close cooperation developed between medical research and industry. Now Israel is a leading country in innovations in medical technology. Religion was not allowed in Russia. If they were found to attend a synagogue, they were put in prison.
"There is no area of medicine to which Israeli devices have not made significant contributions." Considering that Israel has had to waste time fighting in about 6 wars makes me wonder how all this thinking can go on when some of the scientists were on the front fighting terrorists. Think what could have happened if they could remain in their labs.
They have contributed to areas that the United States is able to take advantage of and use, which is benefiting Americans. Cardiology, genetics, neurology and ophthalmology are just a few of the sciences that benefit from advanced Israeli technology. They are working in neonatology to gerontology (from the babies to the old people) to the latest in telemedicine. Israeli scientists, universities and companies work to benefit the entire health system. They even work on medical administrators and insurers to help the physicians and patients and try to improve all of these areas.
ESC and Laser Technologies merged into one company valued at $1 billion. Medinols cardiac stent was purchased by agreement with Boston Scientific Corp.; and Biosense Ltd. was purchased by Johnson and Johnson, each in deals closing at about $400 million.
Other medical devices and equipment pioneered in Israel are different aesthetic medicine like electro-optic medical devices that work on skin cancer, benign lesions, varicose veins, skin rejuvenation, and hair removal from ESC Medical Systems Ltd., autoclaves from Tuttnauer Co. Ltd in Jerusalem which is a world leader in steam and gas autoclaves to sterilize medical instruments, cardiology stents that are implanted in blood vessels during angioplasty. InStent with American partner, Medtroic/beStent line and the crimper, Medinol with American partner, Boston Scientific/Nir cardiac stent ine market leader, etc. Dental medicine, diagnostic cardiology, diagnostic genetics, and mammographay and neurology. The list is too long.
One thing that Israel has developed is Copaxone, which is used to alleviate M.S. symptoms.
There are people who are against Israel's successes and have websites telling people not to buy Israeli products. I wonder if among these haters, there aren't sick people who are using Israeli-developed products that are helping them to get well. Then again, there are people who keep saying, "we shouldn't be supporting Israel in any financial way." I wonder how long it will take for them to realize that investing in Israel is paying off.
Research: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Innovations in Medical Technology 1999
Some people have claimed that about 8 billion dollars per year are going to Israel. Some people think that the USA has always given Israel billions of dollars without expecting repayment. The United States and Israel are not stupid business partners.
US was giving Israel economic grants, but they ended in 1959. From then till 1984, the U.S. loaned money, which Israel repaid. The USA also had surplus commodities that Israel bought.
Israel began buying arms from the USA in 1962. They didn't receive any grant military assistance until after the 1973 Yom Kippur War. That war caused Israel to be in great debt to finance its economic development and in buying arms.
In 1972 Israel received a $50 million grant of economic assistance. Aid to Israel became grants in 1985. The amount of this economic assistance is about equal to the interest Israel has to repay on loans from earlier years (more than $1 billion annually).
The 1985 decision to become grants was based on Congress's decision that to have a strong Israel was important and war in the Middle East would happen faster without Israel's strong presence. They decided that the U.S. would have to spend more money if Israel was not strong.
In 1989 more than 400,000 Jews from Russia were allowed to emigrate. Actually, it was starting in 1980 when I made aliyah. Israel had to provide these new immigrants, including myself, food, shelter, employment and training such as schooling in Hebrew. The United States helped secure freedom for these Russian Jews. Since 1972, Congress helped with appropriated funds. Israel had figured it would cost them $50 billion. In 1990 US approved $400 million in loan guarantees. Guarantees are not grants. Not one penny of US government funds were transferred to Israel. The US just cosigned loans for Israel that allowed it to get better financing from private American banks. They have no impact on US taxpayers unless Israel were to default on its loans, something that has never happened. One has to remember that much of the money Israel borrows is spent in the United States to purchase American goods.
No US foreign assistance to Israel can be used beyond Israel's pre-1967 borders. Israel adheres strictly to these guidlines and each year give a full, detailed report on the expenditure of all US assistance.
Israel gives the US written assurances that it would not direct or settle Soviet Jews in the territories. According to a 1991 State Department report, only 1.2% of Soviet Jews chose to live there. I met a lot of these Russian Jews. Most were from large cities like Moscow and wanted the advantages of living in large cities because of music and the arts. Many that I knew decided to remain in absorption centers, which were like tiny closets to live in, to be able to find a position in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. I had gone to Israel to live and to teach English. These Russians that I met were also English teachers in Russia. Sadly, I couldn[t understand them, though they may have thought they were speaking English. They had a lot to learn.
Israel has developed many things that are now being shared with the United States. I hope that Americans can see the value of helping the fledgling state of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, if not for moral reasons, at least for monetary ones. The investment has been paying off in many ways.
Reference: Myths and Facts: a concise record of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelfarb 1992.