The primary reason for my course of study in Tel Aviv is to take a step away from Media and Data Analytics, and pursue an Innovation and Entrepreneurship track in Israel. The entrepreneurial track in Israel has been one of not only courses across both NYU Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv University, but also an internship at the main entrepreneurship center in Israel, StarTAU. As I study this field in both an academic and professional setting, I have found that two spaces have stamped their place in this nation and affected the entrepreneurship scene like no other. The first would be the unparalleled culture of informality, risk-taking and straightforward communication. The second would be the political culture and its relations to the army service within Israel.
Like the United States, Israel is legally recognized as a democracy with three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. However, Israel has defined itself as both a Jewish and a democratic state, as of the Declaration of Independence from 1948. There are also an endless series of parties in Israel, the more prominent of which are the Likud and the Zionist Union. While there seems to be a similar background within United States government and the Israeli government, there is also a lack of balance. For example, the Knesset in Israel has a lot of power in their ability to pass laws, elect the President and head many governmental initiatives. In addition, the fact that Israel has been identified as a Jewish state leads to many political issues and points for conflict. The three branches of government, while intended to provide a checks and balances system in the United States, may not necessarily have the same backbone in Israel.
Amongst the conflicts in Israel includes the tension between Israel and Palestine or Jews and Arabs. It also would extend to the various religious movements across Christianity, Judaism and Islam. While the initial intention of studying away in Israel was to study the entrepreneurship space, it quickly became clear that if one can understand the roots and depth of the conflict in the Jewish state, one may better understand how conflict is dealt with in the realm of any business or establishment.
It is the notion of conflict and political turmoil that has advanced Israel in the space of startup research and development. Firstly, the government of Israel requires that all Israeli citizens serve in the army at the age of 18, with two years of continued service for females and around three years for males. These young adults are entrusted with a large military weapon to guard their nation, enabling not only widespread nationalism but also a boost of leadership skills. While they are in the army, these young adults of Israel are also welcomed to spend their free time working with the technology devices available, creating new uses for the military technology on the side and often times challenging their superior with cutting-edge ideas for tech improvement. Not only this, but the government of Israel is also the second in the world to contribute the most monetary value as a percentage of GDP to entrepreneurs in need of research and development funding, following South Korea. Because of the ways in which the government invites young adults to stay involved in protecting the nation, Israelis have an established pathway to build the soft and hard skills essential to developing hi-tech solutions globally. With a better understanding of the political state of Israel, one may even better understand what environment is most suitable to launch a company in.
- Army Service in Israel: Tablet Mag