It may not be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but we may be in the midst of Israel’s Golden Era. If you work in Israel’s burgeoning high tech industry, you may already know this.
Let’s start with the obvious – Israel is not lacking in challenges. We don’t live in a country club neighborhood and things can change overnight. Netanyahu’s relations with President Obama are far from perfect and who knows where the Iran deal will go.
Those of us working in high tech have every reason to be proud and thankful. My generation in Israel has career-building opportunities that are unheard of throughout most of the world. Every other week I read about “yet another” 8-9 digit Israeli tech exit. Not only do the employees get stock options, they earn the right to add an item to their resumes that will be worth a small fortune over the course their careers.
Yes, we earn less than our Silicon Valley counterparts. Israel is at the peak (I hope!) of real estate values while the US is recovering from the bursted bubble. In real money terms, we spend a lot more of our salaries on rent and mortgages than our American and European counterparts. The Hebrew language media is full of cynical stories about Israelis who have moved to Europe and are doing well. As long as they’re a part of the 89% of Europeans who have jobs, they’ll do fine! How bad can things be if the Hebrew press has so much time and space to write about the personal lives of our entertainers?
When I dare tell my sabra friends that “this is Israel’s golden era,” they laugh. The sentence sounds absurd in Hebrew, but I’m convinced. When I moved to Israel in 1989, unemployment here was 8.9% compared to 5.3% in the US. It was all about Zionism in those days. Jump to 2013 and our unemployment rate is at 5.9%. Compare that to 7.3% in the US, 26-27% for Spain and Greece (fellow Club Med nations) or anywhere else in Europe and we look good. Today, I have practical reasons for living here. I never dreamed that Israel’s unemployment would be less than that of the US. (And I wish them a speedy economic recovery.)
If this is Israel’s Golden Era, the natives (my term of endearment for sabras) won’t notice it until it passes. It usually takes a war or two before they realize how good the past was. I miss Key West, but my burger in paradise is in Israel.