2016 Annual Assessment

Annual Assessment 2016

Dr. Shlomo Fischer

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Susanne Cohen-Weisz, Rémi Daniel, Chaya Ekstein, Dan Feferman, Avi Gil, Inbal Hakman, Michael Herzog, Simon Luxemburg, David Landes, Dov Maimon, Steven Popper, Uzi Rebhun, Shmuel Rosner, John Ruskay, Noah Slepkov, Shalom Solomon Wald, Einat Wilf

Barry Geltman
Rami Tal

2016 Annual Assessment

Positive Factors

  • Israel’s economy continues to follow a moderate course of growth, lower than in the recent past but still avoiding the devastating troughs that appeared elsewhere in the developed economies.
  • Indicators of Arab and Haredi participation in Israel’s work force and in skill training are modestly increasing.
  • Issues ranging from educational access, differentials in wealth, shares and pricing of mineral resources, and regulation and protection in domestic markets have become topics of active policy discussion.

Negative Factors

  • In the U.S., indicators of generational change possibly leading to large changes in philanthropy toward Jewish causes and Israel.
  • From data reported by the Bank of Israel, it emerges that the growth of the economy slowed in the past year, among other reasons, because of limits to the supply of trained personnel in the hi-tech sector. According to the report, it is quite possible that this limited supply was among the causes of the decline of Israeli exports.
  • Israel’s housing crunch puts a squeeze on the young and those in the lower and middle portions of the income distribution, with effects going beyond issues of housing alone.

Setting the gauge for this year’s Annual Assessment:  Unchanged
Within Israel, the balance of sources of wealth and its uses for domestic and Jewish people purposes remains unchanged from last year. Israel continues to be a source of innovation and punches well above its weight in educational attainments, albeit not evenly across the entire population. The Technion is opening a joint educational and research facility in China’s Guangdong province, one of the most highly productive industrial regions in the world. The national economy, while having shifted to lower levels of growth has still managed to weather the storms of the past decade in a manner that would be envied by many in the developed world. The transition of Israel’s economy to global importance was accompanied by rising inequality among economic sectors and social classes. Dealing with Israel’s long-term problems with enhancing productivity overall may put pressure on employment in low productivity sectors, which could be problematic if not accompanied by sound policy to ease this transition.

In the Jewish world as a whole, the past year saw no major transitions or events. Over the longer term, the nature of Jewish philanthropy and the sources of its wealth may be affected by several factors.  One is the generational change at the heads of some of its leading philanthropic families and foundations. There are indications that this generation may either be less attracted to Jewish people giving or more inclined to seek performance-based funding opportunities over more traditional giving patterns. It remains to be seen what effects may also attend emigration from settled Jewish communities to either Israel or the wider world due to the perception of increased anti-Semitism. Much depends on who is leaving, where they are going, and what they are able to reconstruct of their former lives in their new locales. They may find themselves forced into a lower socioeconomic standing than they formerly enjoyed or possibly less affiliation with the Jewish community in their new locale. It is an issue that Israel and the wider Jewish world should recognize and address.

Figure 1. Characterization of Key Drivers Affecting the Jewish People in the Year 2015-16
Figure 1. Characterization of Key Drivers Affecting the Jewish People in the Year 2015-16