Recently, we’ve seen Israel’s partnership with the United States begin to deteriorate.  Senator John McCain has lamented that the relationship has never been worse.  As the Prime Minister of Israel prepares to speak in front of a joint session of Congress, the relationship with Israel has, for the first time, divided America along partisan lines.  Bibi’s last speech in front of congress was a tour de force in public speaking.  But speeches, no matter how masterful, cannot save Israel.

Only we can save ourselves, and here’s how: we need less partners and more customers.  Allow me to explain.

Partners vs. Customers

Israel is the Start-up Nation.  Ask any start-up which they prefer: partners or customers? The answer 100 times out of 100 is customers and here’s why: as a company you rely on partners, but customers, on the other hand, rely on you.

Early stage businesses are often forced, out of necessity, to partner with bigger companies to increase their bottom line.  Israel, still a young country by any standard, is no different than a start-up.  For the sake of its own survival, Israel has been forced to partner with bigger governments like the United States.  But, as we’re learning, partners can be fickle, irrational and unpredictable.  It is time to grow up.

How is it possible that Israel is the only country that seems to be offending President Obama? Other countries like Iran can thumb their noses at the President, and it has zero effect.  Israel and the United States share values and a common vision e.g. democracy, freedom of the press, freedom from tyranny, freedom of religion and tolerance for those with different lifestyles.  Saudi Arabia and Qatar flog bloggers, bully women and persecute homosexuals.

Why, then, do the Obamas show up to mourn the death of the great Saudi “reformer?” The answer should be obvious by now: America is Saudi Arabia’s customer.  The Saudis like so many other Middle Eastern countries produce a commodity (oil) that America needs and, no matter how awful they are as human beings, America depends on them.

So where does this leave us?

Here’s my call to action for Israelis: keep building great products and services.  Let’s become indispensable.  Here’s the good news: Israel kicked off this year to a jaw dropping January of funding and exits and February is no different with Tel Aviv based Taboola today announcing $117M in new funding.  Investors from Russia and East Asia are lining up to invest in Israeli companies.

Partnerships are all well and good for brand new companies and governments, but it’s time for us to grow up, and stop relying on partners.  Only this way will we ever change the power structure and gain back our respect and dignity.