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Let my people vaccinate: Israel should issue a ‘vaccine visa’

By offering a visa that includes a free vaccination, Israel can leverage its global health advantage to become an economic juggernaut #israelvaccinevisa

When we read in this week’s Torah portion that Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go,” we should immediately think and act on “Get my people to come.” Like the Exodus from Egypt 4000 years ago that led people to the Land of Israel in search of political freedom and independence, we can now envision an exodus that will bring economic and health freedom in the Promised Land. Moses introduced the concept of political freedom.  We, in the State of Israel, should be advocating for health and economic freedom. And we should get aggressive about it. 

Sometime during the first quarter of 2021, Israel will hopefully have achieved herd immunity due to an extraordinarily successful vaccination program. The vaccination program was made possible by a well-organized and advanced medical system that has been gathering steam over the last 20 to 30 years and by the extraordinary efforts of Israel’s Prime Minister and his team to procure the vaccinations. This is a true blessing.

As some of the children of Abraham, we should be conscious of the imperative to share that blessing with others, both other members of our tribe around the world and others outside of our tribe. We should immediately start planning to offer people a one- or two-year visa to Israel that includes a free vaccination. We should implement a strategy to bring Jews, our people, and other talented people including engineers, investors, and others to Israel to improve our economy, grow our future and increase the technological and economic blessing here. Bringing human capital to Israel will also help us export it to the world. 

Israel should leverage our health advantage into an economic one. A country that prides itself on its innovation economy cannot stand still. We must grow our talent and capital pool as well as our demographics. To greet and accelerate the future we must internalize that demographics is destiny and innovation is the best way to get there. Demographic growth precedes and impels economic growth. Innovation is the best way to provide goods, services and food, both for our local economy and for the global economy. This is a once in a century opportunity to grow our economy, extend blessing and spread it to the world. We should not miss it. 

We could charge for the visa or we can provide a tax amnesty for one year and just ask people to come and invest in the economy. In any event, we have tax treaties with most countries so if they pay taxes in Israel they will not pay a second time elsewhere. I would hazard to say many would be willing to pay a few more dollars, pounds or euros for an earlier shot at a vaccine. Even though school is almost free in Israel, we can ask those who come to pay for education because they pay for it anyway in their country of origin. We can introduce them to the marvelous people of our country, to its beautiful sites, its pulsing spirit of innovation. This is both an economic opportunity and a branding opportunity. We just need to capitalize on it.

Let’s go. With respectful tribalism, doing unto other tribes as we would want done to us and with mutual responsibility for our tribe we can extend a health miracle and build a juggernaut of “Economic Brotherhood.” Just as Moses introduced freedom into the world, we can introduce what an exemplar nation can look like, one that in the spirit of Abraham, extends blessing on its people and the world. It will be a big economic blessing for Israel as well. Let My People Vaccinate with the #israelvaccinevisa!

About the Author
Michael Eisenberg is a General Partner at Aleph, an early stage venture capital fund and equal partnership with over $500M under management. Aleph focuses on partnering with great Israeli entrepreneurs to build large, meaningful companies and impactful global brands. Since its founding in 2013, Aleph has invested in more than 25 companies including Lemonade (NYSE LMND), JoyTunes, Healthy.io, Melio, Fabric, Bringg and Nexar. Prior to Aleph, Michael was a General Partner at Benchmark Capital, which he joined in July 2005. Michael has focused on internet and software-enabled service investments since 1995. He has invested in and served on the boards of some of Israel’s leading companies. Since 2006, Michael has been writing the blog “Six Kids and a Full Time Job,” on topics ranging from politics to technology, Judaism and macroeconomics. Michael is the author of the “Hummus Manifesto,” the seminal piece on Israel’s innovation scene and he has also published four books, The Vanishing Jew, Ben Barukh, The Tree of Life and Prosperity, and Everyone can be Moses. He lectures frequently on venture capital, Israel and entrepreneurship. He serves on the boards of the non-profit organizations The Shomer Hachadash and Yeshivat Har Etzion. Michael lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.
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