How The Small State Of Israel Is Becoming A High-Tech Superpower
With the exception of the U.S., Israel–a country of a mere 8 million people–leads the world in high tech, an astonishing feat.
In this interview Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talks about the big, exciting things that are happening in the high-tech powerhouse center emerging in Beersheba–and much else, including why Israeli milk cows are the world’s most productive and how this desert nation solved its water crisis (California, take note).
Steve Forbes: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. We’re meeting here in Beersheba. By all accounts Israel is now one of the top two or three high-tech powers in the world–ahead of the European Union, with its 500 million people. You’ve done this with 8 million people. How? And how do you maintain your leadership with only 8 million?
Benjamin Netanyahu: Well, you have to have deep roots. We’re in Beersheba. It’s a new town. Abraham came here 3,800 years ago, and we sort of rebuilt it with the founding of the state. But the new thing is this: We decided here, in the middle of the Negev Desert, to bring in our special information units of the Israeli Army and put them right next to Ben-Gurion University. And right next to that—all within 100 yards–to build a cyber industrial park to bring in the leading companies of the world. And they’re here. We have this interaction between our finest military and cyber-security minds and the finest at the university and the nearby businesses.
This is a hub, and it’s exploding. You’ve been here for just a few hours, but you can see this; I mean, it’s literally going through the roof. And I’m delighted with this. It’s–I hate this word, but I’ll use it anyway—it’s this “synergy,” you know? It’s this, this…
BN: It’s the brainstorming, the culture, the minds. It’s these fantastic minds that bring a lot of experience from military intelligence and our other special units joining with natural entrepreneurs. Many become entrepreneurs. Foreign companies, international companies realize that it’s all in the brains, in the ability to solve problems, foresee future problems and address the questions that will determine a lot of the world’s future. How do we protect the Internet? How do we protect cyber security? How do we protect our bank accounts? How do we protect our privacy? How do we protect our electric grids? How do we protect our traffic systems? How do we protect our airline safety? How do we protect anything? Water flows? Everything is governed by digital motors, digital transport. And cyber can be either the traffic cop or the robber. We want to be on the good side, and we want to help others be on the good side.
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