Would you pass it? Kathryn Jean Lopez sat down with George Gilder, author of The Israel Test, and asked him a few questions about Israel.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What’s the Israel Test and who is administering it?
GEORGE GILDER: Do you admire and emulate excellence and accomplishment, even if it excels your own? Or do you envy and resent it? And try to tear it down?
That’s the Israel Test and it is administered by cosmic law — the law of capitalist success: The good fortune of others is also one’s own. The people who admire and emulate excellence thrive. Those who resent and envy it gnash their teeth and tear their hair and never accomplish anything worthwhile.
You can see the Israel Test play out in the Middle East and in Washington.
Why is Israel itself so important?
GILDER: Israel, per capita, is the most creative and innovative country on the face of the earth.
Since 1991, venture capital in Israel has increased sixtyfold. Israel has become an extension of Silicon Valley that is excelling its source. It is a paragon of defense-technology innovation. In 2008, a study by Deloitte and Touche showed that Israel has become the world’s chief fount of innovation outside the U.S. in such fields as microchips, telecom, software, biotech, medical devices, and cleantech. Only Germany is close, and they are ten times larger.
Israel epitomizes the excellence and accomplishment of Jewish culture. It is hated by anti-Semites not because of any flaws or legal infractions but because of its unique virtues, which show up and shame the forces of mediocrity everywhere.
LOPEZ: How does defending Israel defend capitalism?
GILDER: Under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is the world’s ascendant capitalist country. While the U.S. is immersed in a slough of increasing taxes and regulations, Israel has been privatizing its companies and deregulating its financial institutions. They are reducing tax rates and preserving the key capitalist assets of the West while the U.S. is trying to cap and trade capitalism, suppress energy production, and raise tax rates on everything. As rates rise above 50 percent, entrepreneurs have a greater incentive to shuffle and hide existing wealth than to create new wealth.
LOPEZ: Can Israel save Western civilization? The way you write about technology and medicine, among other things, I am beginning to wonder.
GILDER: Western civilization, in part, originated in Israel. Now Israel is a crucial source of invention, military intelligence, and entrepreneurial creativity that may yet save the West. I believe Netanyahu is a Churchillian figure emerging at the perfect time to confront the jihad.
LOPEZ: Can evangelicals save Israel?
GILDER: I believe that facing the most critical Israel Test are my fellow evangelicals, who are inclined to support Israel as the heart of their religion but who also can be gullible about the so-called oppression of the Palestinian Arabs. This is just stupid, because the Palestinian Arabs have benefited more from Israel than any other people — by far.
LOPEZ: What do you mean these wretched refugees benefited from Israel?
GILDER: The key period was between 1967 and 1987 when the Israelis administered the territories after Arabs refused all negotiations with their famous three “nos.” The Arabs were adamant against trading “land for peace” following their defeat in the ’67 war, so Israel inherited the territories.