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Thou Shalt Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World by Avi Jorisch, Gefen Publishing House, US $27.00, Pp 284, March 2018, ISBN 978-9652299345

The mention of Israel may evoke the intense feeling of love or hate, depending who you are. The reason is Israel is largely known for its conflict with its Arab neighbors. Most people outside Israel have little knowledge of the country that is playing an important role in changing the world for the better. This is particularly true for those who hate the only Jewish state in the world because they are ignorant about how the only Jewish state was born.

In Thou Shalt Innovate, Avi Jorisch tells the story of Israeli innovators who are making a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world. They are helping to feed the hungry, help the sick, protect the defenseless and develop the under-developed countries. Israel is a small country but it is playing a disproportionate role in helping solve problems in the developing countries. In other words, Israel is playing its role to make this world a better place. Avi Jorisch is an entrepreneur and writer. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Avi Jorisch argues that Israel’s innovative success stems from a number of factors, including creating a culture that encourages its citizens to challenge authority, ask the next question, and defy the obvious. Various factors such as chutzpah, obligatory military service, renowned universities, smart big business, a dearth of natural resources, and diversity come together as national characteristics to explain how tiny Israel became a technological powerhouse. But rather than simply enriching people or making our lives more convenient, many Israeli tech companies also wind up making the world a far better place.

For many in the Jewish community, repairing the world has meant doing good, saving the environment, and engaging in social activism. Avi Jorisch says that just as the Protestant work ethic that took root among the early settlers in the United States is now ingrained in American culture, the words and vision of Israel’s founding fathers – and their historical forbears – have deeply affected the country’s multiethnic society. The Israelis featured in Thou Shalt Innovate – who include doctors, scientists, agronomists, botanists, and engineers of a variety of faiths including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – believe that repairing the world define them and their country. Israel’s betterment of the world is a mosaic of one person at a time with one innovation at a time.

Israelis’ good work is not restricted within the Israeli border. They have carried the good works to all the continents. Avi Jorisch says that, during the 1950s and 1960s, fifteenth thousands of people from 90 countries around the world regularly came to Israel for training. He quotes historian Moshe Decter, who estimated that Israel had developed one of the most extensive technical programs in the world. A major reason was the Haifa-based Mount Carmel Training Center, which Golda Meir founded in 1961, along with Swedish diplomat Inga Thorsson and Israel’s Mina Ben-Zvi, who later became the center’s founding director. The center became part of MASHAV but focused for many years on empowering women from the developing world through training programs, including teaching techniques, nutrition, entrepreneurship, and other forms of social welfare. The training programs and assistance helped improve Israel’s image in Africa.

Thou Shalt Innovate gives a deep insight in the role Israeli scientists, engineers, doctors and other leaders are playing in the lives of not only Israeli citizens but also improving the living standards across the developing world. Avi Jorisch has done a commendable job in highlighting the work of these great Israeli innovators. Thou Shalt Innovate is packed with inspiring and revealing stories of Israeli leaders who are changing the world for the better. It is a must-read to understand the Israeli society and where it is headed.

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