Are all Israelis innovating?
Recently, I went to visit Israel with about thirty friends who run companies. This really moved me. Typically, we would visit during the day, and talk about our perceptions in the evening. I asked the following question: in this so-called ‘innovative nation’, what actual new things have we observed?
有人说，所有犹太人的门上都有一个装置（里头装了希伯来圣经里头的一段话）。我说，这种东西国内一些地方也有，那是信教家庭的一个吉祥物，不信教当然没那个东西了，何况早就有了的。还有人说，进以色列海关不要求填表（不填入关表）。那么一个敏感地区，VISA审查很严格，但只要盖到VISA以后，入关手续极简单. This shows they have trust in their own IT and security technology systems.
Apart from this, was anything else new? When we took the bus in Israel, did we feel that the driver was different? When we looked at the small traders in the streets of the old city, did we notice any difference with Chinese cities? Weren’t they just also yelling all day, waiting for passers-by to buy something? The hotels of Tel Aviv, did they have anything special? Although they were more simple than our hotels (not so luxurious), we couldn’t really speak of innovation. Finally, when we boiled down the conversation, we didn’t notice any particular new things in Israel. From direct observation, it seems the vast majority of Israelis are just doing what they’re doing.
Israel’s population today is less than eight million people, only one-third of the population of Shanghai, and yet the country has thirty-eight thousand scientists! Its land area is smaller than Beijing. But if you look at the high-tech sector, it contributes ten percent of total employment, fifteen percent of the economy, and fifty percent of exports. R&D expenditures amount to 4.2% of GDP, and rank highest in the world. Other measures, such as the number of start ups, venture capital firms, and NASDAQ ranked companies, also place the country among the first in the world. The most impressive thing is, no matter what scientific or technological organisation you visit, everybody will proudly come up with a list of ‘technologies that can change the world’ and that were developed in Israel.
Therefore, the path towards the interests of the country is to create the conditions to encourage innovation, and particularly, bring together the elements required for innovation. At the same time, ensure that the results of innovation feed back into the national economy. And finally, everyone to dip in together, even the barbers and sweepers.
Israelis’ capacity for innovation stems from education
Israeli education is completely different from that of all other countries, particularly China. We went to IDC (a business school), where a studying rabbi (that is, a ‘wise man’, most often missionary elders) gave a lecture. His topic was: how education shaped the history of Israel. With just a few slides, he put the point across very clearly.
He first said that all jews, from a young age, had to receive education from two books: one is the Hebrew Bible, the other is called the Talmud. The latter is a collection of the thoughts of generations and generations of outstanding rabbi on the interpretation of the Bible over 200 years (with a total of 2.5 million words, it is a very thick book indeed), and the book also includes a lot of folk wisdom and folk tales.
The Rabbi explained that all jews encounter the two books from childhood, and repeatedly read them all over their lives. He said that the first responsibility of all Jewish mothers is to educate their children. Grandmothers also educate their grandchildren – education is the most important duty of Jewish women. Education starts from a very young age, and comes from the older generations. How do you educate a one-year old? By starting to tell him the stories from these two books. When Jewish children reach the age of five, they’ve heard all of the fundamental stories. They can then start their formal learning with the rabbi. The rabbis have some interesting traditions in their schools. On the first day of school, children must wear new clothes, to signify that learning is a happy thing. Everyone warmly applauds the new students when they come. On the first class, when the children are taught the alphabet, they write with honey on a clean slate, so that when they’re finished, the children can ‘lick’ the word clean; or they give the children a piece of candy, and they start learning when everybody’s had one – so that the children can feel that learning is a very sweet thing.
The Israeli army as an innovative system
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Source : Aisixiang