Domestic Political Controversies Haven’t Harmed Israeli High-Tech

When Israel’s controversy over judicial reform reached its peak earlier this year, there were dire predictions—some almost indistinguishable from threats—that an attempt to return to the constitutional status quo ante 1995 would send technology companies fleeing the country, and possibly tank the Israeli economy. Yet, although a judicial-reform compromise might still emerge, the country’s high-tech sector seems to be doing fine, notwithstanding some bruising from a worldwide downturn. Jonah Mandel reports:

The global economic slowdown and domestic political turmoil have not impaired the long-term prospects of Israel’s vaunted high-tech industry, officials and insiders say, despite a recent decline in hiring in the sector. Nearly 18 percent of Israel’s gross domestic product comes from the tech sector, which employs 12 percent of the workforce, generates nearly a third of its income tax, and constitutes half of exports, official figures show.

Worldwide inflation and climbing interest rates had caused a drop-off in Israeli tech jobs in 2022, with the number of hirings in the sector dipping 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2023—its first fall since 2008, said a newly issued report. The “stagnation” in tech hiring, however, had yet to have a negative impact on Israel’s GDP or exports, said Dror Bin, director of the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) which compiled the report together with the Start-Up Nation Policy Institute (SNPI).

IIA’s Bin noted the data indicated no immediate effect of the legal crisis on Israel’s economy. “I don’t see companies taking the operations outside of Israel,” he said. “We do see a trend of more entrepreneurs deciding to establish their legal entity outside of Israel, but the operation remains in Israel.”

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli economy, Israeli Judicial Reform, Israeli technology

 

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy