Globe and Mail
News or Israeli disinformation?
What Patrick Martin's article may be is Israeli disinformation aimed at further strengthening the Israeli economy at no matter what cost to Russia and Ukraine. The possibility that Patrich Martin's article calls to mind is that Israel's gain is not merely the Slavic world's loss, but rather that Israel's small gain is purchased at the price of the Slavic world's devastating loss. This might be the greatest tragedy and the greatest injustice of Israel's plundering of Slavic brains — that Israel mainly allows what it has stolen to go to rot.
To say that the Patrick Martin article below exhibits all the superficiality and bias that one has come to expect of the press in its treatment of Former Soviet Union, and particularly Ukrainian, affairs may be understating the case. One might go so far as to wonder whether the article is not primarily a vehicle of Israeli propaganda:
- Does Ukraine exist?
Ukraine, and Ukrainian scientists and engineers, are never mentioned in Martin's article, possibly because he prefers to include them under the rubric "Russian." In this way, the existence of Ukraine is implicitly denied. Ukraine is withdrawn from public view. Morley Safer's image of Ukraine as a nation of superstitious peasants is not disturbed by any incongruous image of Ukrainian scientists and engineers contributing substantially to an economic boom in some foreign land.
- Whose success is it?
Patrick Martin fails to specify accurately who to credit for various successes. Aren't any of the successful scientists and engineers Ukrainian? — Well, we have already seen that Ukraine isn't so much as mentioned. And although 10 of the 13 "incubator" projects mentioned are said to be the "work of new Russian entrepreneurs," Martin relapses to crediting not individuals, but the Israeli people collectively, or the State of Israel as a whole, as in such statements as "Israelis attack problems differently...." or "The country has a well-deserved reputation for innovation...." The effect of this imprecision is to invite the reader to forget that the creativity and innovation may be Russian and Ukrainian, and is to put obstacles in the path of the reader's concluding that Russian and Ukrainian creativity and innovation could as easily have been encouraged and put to work within Russia and Ukraine as within Israel.
- Is it only Jews who emigrate to Israel?
Patrick Martin's article does not refer to the scientists and engineers who have come from Slavic lands to Israel as "Jewish" but as "Russian," which strengthens the suspicion that some of them — an undisclosed proportion — are not Jewish, and raises the further question of the degree to which the migration is motivated by economics with the migrants feeling sometimes little, and sometimes no, linguistic or cultural or religious bond to Israel. If it were the case that a substantial portion of the emigrants were not Jews, then it would be in Israel's interests to cover this up, as its disclosure might naturally suggest such questions as why the West did not prefer to support the work of those scientists and engineers in their home countries.
- Who bankrolled the plunder?
The degree to which it is the American taxpayer who funded the transfer of scientists and engineers from Russia and Ukraine to Israel, and who presently funds their employment in Israel, is never specified. It is conceivable that this transfer and employment is largely at the expense of the United States.
- Does the American taxpayer know the use to which his money is being put?
If it were the case that it was the American taxpayer who was funding this wholesale transfer of brain power, the next question to arise might be whether he was aware of it. It is possible that if the American taxpayer were informed of the use to which his money was being put, he would not approve. It is possible that the American taxpayer would not approve of his money being spent to transfer scientists and engineers from Russia and Ukraine to Israel, with the result of undermining Slavic economies and strengthening the Israeli economy.
- Did Russia and Ukraine give informed consent to being plundered?
Were Russia and Ukraine ever informed that one of the consequences of their cooperation with the West would be the plundering of their brains? Did Russian and Ukraine ever estimate that the benefits of their cooperation with the West might be outweighed by the penalties that would be levied against them? If the United States failed to anticipate the hemorrhaging of Slavic brains to such places as Israel, then the United States is incompetent and its advice is not to be relied upon. If the United States did anticipate the hemorrhaging of Slavic brains to such places as Israel, then it is acting in Israel's interests and against the interests of the Slavic world.
- Are Slavic scientists and engineers being duped?
It is possible that the plunder of Slavic brains is accomplished in the same way as the plunder of Slavic women — through misinformation, through false promises, and through the raising of unrealizable expectations. The Patrick Martin article provides clues that such may indeed be the case:
- How many Slavic scientists and engineers are sweeping Israeli streets?
Martin tells us that "That's where [in a converted cotton gin] you find Alexander Gurevich, who just five years ago was sweeping the streets of Tel Aviv as a low-paid municipal worker." One question that arises in connection with this revelation is whether Alexander Gurevich knew in advance of emigrating to Israel that his first work there — conducted for how many years? — would be street sweeping. Another question is how many Slavic scientists and engineers have not enjoyed Alexander Gurevich's good fortune, and are still street sweeping?
- What proportion of Slavic scientific and engineering grant applicants get Israeli research grants?
The statement that "The [incubator] system provides each entrepreneur it accepts (one out of every 20 applicants) with laboratory premises and a grant of $460,000 over two years." What sticks out in this statement is that 19 out of 20 applicants fail to receive this particular grant. This piece of information by itself is ambiguous, as it cannot be taken to mean that 19 out of 20 receive no grants whatever, or no employment in their fields whatever — in fact, it is possible that 20 out of 20 receive either some research grant or some profitable employment elsewhere. Nevertheless, that 19 out of 20 applicants do not receive this particular grant opens up the possibility that none of the 20 applicants was satisfied with what he was doing, and that the 19 out of 20 who failed to get this grant ended up with no other options than to do work of lesser quality than they had hoped to do.
- Are most brains still unaccommodated within Israel?
We read the statement, "Unable to accommodate most of the new brain power in universities, private industry or government research, the incubator program was developed to give many of them a chance to bring constructive ideas to market." This statement seems to be describing the contemporary state of affairs as one in which most of the plundered Slavic scientists and engineers have not been accommodated within Israel — meaning, one supposes, that they are not profitably employed in their professions.
- The Martin article focuses on one success story out of every thousand cases.
Let us compare two sets of numbers in the Patrick Martin article. The first has to do with the number of scientists and engineers who have come to Israel: "In the early 1990s, about 10,000 scientists and 50,000 engineers arrived from the former Soviet Union...." The second has to do with the number who are finding employment within the "incubation" project featured in Patrick Martin's article: "Of the incubator's 13 projects involving teams of three to five people, 10 are the work of new Russian entrepreneurs...." Thus, relying on these numbers alone, out of 60,000 scientists and engineers, the article addresses the success stories of 10 projects times a maximum of five individuals per project equals a maximum of 50 individuals — in other words, the article addresses the success stories of fewer than one out of a thousand cases. But what of the other 999 in that thousand? What are they doing in Israel? How many of this 999/1000 are working in laboratories, and how many are sweeping streets or on welfare? Patrick Martin does not tell us, leaving us free to wonder whether the proportion sweeping streets or on welfare may be disturbingly high. If the Israeli economy should eventually need them, perhaps they can at that time be reactivated, but until it does need them, the role that the American taxpayer assigns them is to keep their skills unused until such time as they might be called for. What effect on Russia and Ukraine of having tens of thousands of its best people sweeping streets or on American welfare in Israel? — Don't ask! The interests of Russia and Ukraine do not enter into the deliberations.
The question that Patrick Martin's article leaves us asking, then, is whether it may not be the case that Slavic scientists and engineers are being lured to Israel on the promise of economic betterment and career advancement, but after their arrival, the bulk of them are put on welfare, or put to menial labor, and it is only the small minority which finds satisfying career placement. Perhaps it is only this small minority that is featured in the Patrick Martin article, and in the press in general. Perhaps the press is just serving as a propaganda arm of the Israeli Department of Immigration to satisfy Israel's need for brainpower, whether this brainpower is put to use at once, or is asked to remain in waiting for years or decades in case of eventual need. What Patrick Martin's article may be feeding us is Israeli disinformation aimed at further strengthening the Israeli economy at no matter what cost to Russia and Ukraine. The possibility that Patrick Martin's article calls to mind is that Israel's gain is not merely the Slavic world's loss, but rather that Israel's small gain is purchased at the price of the Slavic world's devastating loss. This might be the greatest tragedy and the greatest injustice of Israel's plundering of Slavic brains — that Israel mainly allows what it has stolen to go to rot.
One piece of evidence that Israel is in fact offering disinformation to Russian and Ukrainian scientists and engineers in an effort to induce them to come to Israel is that, according to Israel Shahak, Israeli censorship of mail today primarily busies itself with "confiscating letters of new emigrants from the former USSR to their relatives which could deter the latter from immigrating to Israel."
- Weak Russian and Ukrainian economies are in Israel's interests.
If it were the case that the chief motive of scientists and engineers emigrating from Russia and Ukraine was economic self-improvement, then one may say that the weak economies of Russia and Ukraine were in Israel's interests. But what of the future? It is possible that as the economies of the Slavic lands revive, Israel's scientists and engineers will prefer to leave Israel and return to their Slavic homes. Thus, until the Slavic scientists and engineers have set down deep roots in Israel — which might not happen for decades, and might only begin to happen to any great extent in the second generation — the weak economic performance of Russia and Ukraine might continue to be in Israel's interests. As Israel has influence over American foreign policy, Russia and Ukraine might view the commitment of the United States to strengthening their economies as capable of being doubted.
- Inciting and exaggerating Slavic anti-Semitism is in Israel's interests.
A topic not touched upon in Patrick Martin's article, but which I broach here in order to provide a context in which to read his article is that another way of encouraging Jews to emigrate from Russia and Ukraine, as well as of discouraging them from going back, is to incite and to exaggerate Slavic anti-Semitism. In this way can be explained a number of Jewish actions that otherwise appear to be gratuitous, and yet mysteriously and inexplicably concerted. For example, the TIME magazine Wallowing Photograph incident; the 60 Minutes broadcast, The Ugly Face of Freedom; the indefatigable prodding by Jewish organisations of Canada's Justice Department to prosecute innocent Ukrainians for war crimes; the Jewish transformation of Bohdan Khmelnytsky from freedom fighter into the first Hitler; or the incessant attacks upon Ukraine by Simon Wiesenthal, Grand Calumniator of Ukraine. The topic of exaggerating and engineering Ukrainian anti-Semitism is further dealt with under Ukrainian anti-Semitism: Genuine or Only Apparent?
Russian brain drain fuels high-tech boom
Scientists from the former Soviet Union are taking advantage of Israel's unique "incubator" program to develop innovative new products for world markets.
By Patrick Martin
The Globe and Mail
Migdal Ha'emek, Israel
The seeds of Israel's future can be found incubating in places like the two-storey converted cotton gin that sits behind a gas station in this northern town near Nazareth.
That's where you find Alexander Gurevich, who just five years ago was sweeping the streets of Tel Aviv as a low-paid municipal worker. Today, the 50-year-old Russian-born physicist, who emigrated from Siberia in 1991, is pursuing his dream of developing a refined system of digital mammography for the early detection of breast cancer.
Israel at 50
Triumph and disaster
in the Promised Land
Last of a series
As Israel today celebrates its 50th anniversary as a state, its economic viability has never looked brighter.
Dr. Gurevich is working at one of the country's 26 technological incubators, an innovative program of publicly funded research and development centres which put the talents of many of Israel's new Russian immigrants to good use.
In the early 1990s, about 10,000 scientists and 50,000 engineers arrived from the former Soviet Union, and what was Russia's brian drain became the Jewish state's brain gain as the number of such professionals in Israel doubled.
Unable to accommodate most of the new brain power in universities, private industry or government research, the incubator program was developed to given many of them a chance to bring constructive ideas to market.
"Without the incubators, a lot of the best minds would have been lost to other countries," said Oren Sela, marketing director of Migdal Ha'emek's incubator, in operation since 1993.
Of the incubator's 13 projects involving teams of three to five people, 10 are the work of new Russian entrepreneurs, and three are the ideas of older Israelis. Almost all the teams' scientific and engineering assistants are recent Russian immigrants.
The system provides each entrepreneur it accepts (one out of every 20 applicants) with laboratory premises and a grant of $460,000 over two years. That covers 85 per cent of salaries and expenses for the team initiator and assistants.
The entrepreneur must come up with a further $86,000 to cover the rest. Dr. Gurevich made up the difference by convincing one of Israel's many new venture-capital funds to invest in his project.
Typically, each team is expected to produce a prototype within the two years and be ready for marketing.
Despite all the good ideas, "the biggest stumbling blocks in Israel is in marketing," Mr. Sela said.
Migdal Ha'emek uses the services of the University of Michigan Business School, which sends its MBA students to Israel to develop worldwide marketing plans for several of the projects.
Dr. Gurevich whose work involves high-resolution digital imagery, hopes to interest France's General Electric in his venture. "They have spent $150-million (U.S.) trying to develop a similar system, but we are closer to success," he said. Dr. Gurevich has applied for two patents on his process.
Incubator projects range from a new kind of agricultural plow to advances in medical diagnostics, with several focusing on the expanding field of software and high-tech electronics.
Success is measured by commercial viability rather than scientific advances, said Israeli science official Rina Pridor, who developed the program in 1991. "We are looking for a rapid pay-back," she said.
The program has now invested more than $230.2-million in the high-risk ventures. Remarkably, of more than 300 projects that have finished their incubation, more than 40 per cent have attracted private investment from capitalists and industrialists, with 23 per cent already selling their products in earnest. Another 16 per cent of the projects have continued on their own steam, still hoping to attract investors. A further 200 projects are still in incubation.
"It's a real success story," said one senior researcher at Intel, who wa involved with one of the software projects. "I don't know any other country that helps develop projects quite so thoroughly."
The program has nicely complemented Israel's rise as a high-tech powerhouse.
Lacking oil or any other major natural resource, Israel has never developed much heavy industry. But, blessed with a highly educated population, an innovative military research capability and scientifically advanced immigrants, the country has become the Silicon Valley of the Middle East.
The government reports that high tech now accounts for almost one-third of the country's $46-billion worth of exports (a far cry from the early days of the state, when agriculture accounted for most of its $43-million in exports), and there are close to 3,000 high-tech start-ups and research-and-development projects under way, second only to the United States in number of start-ups.
Led by electronic, software and computer firms, 120 Israeli companies are now listed on the New York Stock Exchange, making Israel second only to Canada among outside countries on the exchange.
The country has a well-deserved reputation for innovation: When the U.S. government recently tested the reliability of a powerful new system for encrypting secret financial transactions, an Israeli cryptographer working at the Technion research institution in Haifa found a hidden flaw.
Seeking to take advantage of these innovation skills, several international high-tech giants — including Intel, Motorola, Microsoft, and IBM — have located plants and R & D facilities in Israel.
Intel has 2,300 employees [in] Israel and plans to add another 2,000 when a new semi-conductor plant opens next year. The company's latest Pentium processor was developed at its research unit in Haifa, the only such full-fledged facility Intel operates outside the United States.
"Israelis attack problems differently," said Ami Naveh, an Israeli-born biotechnology specialist and manager of a project developing a new system for measuring lithium levels in patients taking the drug.
"They like to take shortcuts. They have no patience for trying the usual drawn-out methods," he said, "whether in driving, in the army or in science."
The result is often chaos — Israelis call in balagan — in science as well as society. "But from chaos, sometimes things fall together in ways you never considered," Dr. Naveh said.
"Our circuit board [for the lithium testing] is simple but no one thought of putting it together this way before."
The caption to a photograph — not reproduced here — of two men at a laboratory table is:
Dr. Alexander Gurevich, left, works with Boris Volfson in a lab at Migdal Ha'emek in northern Israel. Dr. Gurevich is working on an imaging process for use in treating breast cancer. (HEIDI LEVINE/The Globe and Mail)|