After a three year accession process, Israel yesterday became the newest member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). At a signing ceremony in Paris, Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurría praised the country’s success in ‘extracting itself from huge macroeconomic problems of hyperinflation and massive public debt’ in the 1980s and 1990s as well as its general ‘valuable perspective on promoting innovation, science and technology.’
OECD membership will provide unprecedented benefits for the Israeli economy in the coming years. It has already forced the country to streamline its administration and crack down on corruption. The nation can look forward to greater global integration as well as vastly increased foreign investment. An upgraded credit rating will do much to improve the country’s image and ease the burden of defense expenditure. The timeless maxim advocated by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1930s, Neville Chamberlain, that the economy is the critical fourth arm of defense, has never been more relevant than in today’s Middle East.
Nevertheless, Israel’s accession to the OECD is long overdue. This week’s signing was the culmination of two decades of Israeli efforts to have their contribution to the global economy recognized. The country is something of an economic miracle: no other has transformed itself from a proto-Socialist slither of desert into a regional power in less than half a century whilst under the peril of incessant existential conflict. Today, Israel attracts 30 times more Venture Capital investment per capita than Europe and lists more companies on the NASDAQ than the continent, along with India, China, and Japan combined. Israel has warranted urgent OECD membership more than many longstanding members.
Those appalled and concerned by the recent, all too hasty condemnations of Israel by various bodies and heads of state in response to the Gaza flotilla crisis, as well as the failure of most media outlets worldwide to maintain professional coverage of the affair as the evidence unfolded, can take solace in the proof that, in some respects, Israel is far from becoming the isolated pariah state which it seemed it would some weeks ago, and which its enemies might want the world to believe. Representatives of OECD member states voted unanimously to accept Israel as the group’s 32nd member, a symbol of long-awaited, genuine mainstream recognition that the country deserves, as a focal point of international business, industry, and research.