Tiger (do not publish again).
(photo credit: Avi Katz)
GIVEN RECENT ECONOMIC growth numbers, Israelis might justifiably feel a need to
pinch themselves, to be sure that the blazing fast growth rate is
things happen, it is not enough just to react to developments, without careful
planning,” Rinat explains. “[Grinstein] was determined to try to change
While most advanced economies are still struggling to dig their way
out of the mess left by the global recession of 2008 and 2009, Israel’s economy
seems intent on racing ahead. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at an
annualized rate of 5.2 percent in the second quarter of last year, 4.4 percent
in the third quarter, and an astounding 7.8 percent in the fourth quarter,
driven by strong private consumption and investments.
Compare that with
an average GDP rise among OECD (the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development, essentially the developed nations) members of only 2.8 percent last
year. Israel’s growth rate outpaced that of Sweden, Japan, the US, Britain and
As cheering as the numbers are, in a dynamic global economy,
resting on one’s laurels is not a good idea. In recent years, several initiatives have sprung up,
urging the fashioning of coherent national policies with definite aims for where
the country’s economy should be taken in the years ahead.
initiated by the Reut Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit policy team based in
Tel Aviv, has been taken up by no less than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
to place Israel, within a few years, within the top 15 countries in the world,
in terms of income and quality of life. This is an ambitious target – the
International Monetary Fund currently lists Israel 28th in the world in per
capita GDP – requiring strong and sustained growth over an extended period of
“One of the reasons that the Reut Institute was created,” says Gahl
Rinat, Reut’s director of external relations, “is that its founder, Gidi
Grinstein, noticed… that there is a built-in bias against long-term professional
systemic thinking in the governmental system.” Grinstein came to this conclusion
when he served as secretary of the Israeli negotiating team with Yasser Arafat
and the Palestine Liberation Organization between 1999 and 2001.
As part of its efforts to stimulate longerterm thinking, Reut
teamed with the business daily “The Marker” in January to conduct an
international conference titled “Israel 2021,” attended by world experts in
economic development, alongside local business figures. There they rubbed
shoulders with top government officials, including Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz and Prime Minister Netanyahu. The conference included both lectures and
“round-table” discussions intended to bring together individuals with varied
expertise to discuss topics crucial to Israel’s economic future.
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