Best-selling author addresses Israel’s technological and economic success

Dan Senor, co-author of The New York Times bestseller “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle,” addressed the continuing economic success of Israel in the world of high technology during a speech Wednesday night as part of a two-day conference hosted on the UC Berkeley campus.

Senor spoke about collaborations between high-tech companies in Israel and America, the factors of massive immigration to Israel and military service in the success of Israeli startups and the stability of the Israeli economy in the face of war.

“Regardless of your opinions on the day-to-day headlines that make up that part of the world, sometimes you have to check that at the door and look at what else is going on (in Israel),” Senor said. “There are more Israeli countries listed on the NASDAQ than any foreign country outside of China. The world needs innovation, and Israel’s got it.”

Senor also addressed the role of young people in the success of Israel’s economy, suggesting that the implementation of a civilian public service program between high school and college might furnish young people with a “maturation process” similar to the experience many Israeli youth gain through military service.

“Nothing against Berkeley, but they spend four years taking cool classes, drinking and having fun, but not a whole lot of growth happens,” Senor said. “The Israeli military experience emphasizes improvisation. It’s a baptism by fire.”

The Israel Through the High Tech Lens conference — sponsored by the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law, Economy and Society — marks the institute’s one-year anniversary. The conference focused on what institute faculty director Kenneth Bamberger called “the trillion-dollar question” — whether or not Israel can remain a high-tech leader in the next generation.

According to Bamberger, one of the goals of the conference is to utilize UC Berkeley’s position as an innovative school to encourage thought about the issues of high-tech Israel.

The conference will continue Thursday at the UC Berkeley School of Law.