Warren Buffett’s acquisition of the Israeli company Iscar Metalworking in 2006 may have raised many eyebrows at the time.
Mr. Buffett, not known for making many acquisitions outside the United States, bought Iscar, a privately held company and a global leader in the production of metal-cutting tools.
Many may have questioned the wisdom of investing in the Middle East but Mr. Buffett undoubtedly saw the potential of a country with a highly skilled labor force, great management and the only democracy in the region.
Iscar’s takeover received substantial media coverage, mostly because of the caliber of the investor.
However, Israeli companies are no strangers to foreign investment. Many managers of investment funds, venture capitalists, as well as high–tech companies have been putting funds or taking over Israeli companies for the last few decades.
Israel, after Canada, is the foreign country with the second-most listings in the U.S. markets.
Large numbers of Israeli high-tech and bio–techs are listed on the Nasdaq as well as pharmaceutical, financial, defense and other companies on the NYSE.
A country which until recently had virtually no natural resources, surrounded by hostile neighbors, succeeded in a short period to evolve from a developing country to a developed one. It probably mirrors Singapore as it focuses on innovative technologies and a market economy to propel itself forward.
The country didn’t suffer as much as other economies in the recent recession as its banks avoided toxic debt and is diversified. It is also leading globally in various sectors such as solar energy, pharmaceuticals and manufactured goods (from defense to diamonds).
In addition, there has been a shift to increasingly export more to Asia, Latin America, Russia, the new economies in Eastern Europe and be less dependent on the United States and Europe.
Many of its companies are well-established, innovative and experience high growth. The export-oriented approaches of many of these companies ensure growth and stability even during periods of war and conflict.
President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East has resulted in a change in Israel’s economic strategy.
Whereas for many decades the United States was the largest trading partner of Israel by a wide margin, it seems that China is fast catching up.
Brazil is also rapidly increasing its trade with Israel.
President Ronald Reagan had a spiritual bond with Israel and was fundamental in improving security and economic links while President George H.W. Bush also understood these special relations as well the biblical role of the only democracy in the Middle East.
Israel is the only place in the Middle East which offers Christians full freedom of worship and Jerusalem is open to all religions.
It is crucial to understand that a good partnership between these two democracies – Israel and the United States – is economically beneficial not only to Israel but also to the United States. Israel is one of the United States’ largest importers of defense systems.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his speech at AIPAC in Washington, D.C., said “Israel companies invested more than $50 billion in the U.S. in recent years.”
Supporting Israel can be both fulfilling and profitable with the local stock exchange and the local currency being one of the best performing in recent years.
It has a highly educated work force, a democratic and business friendly government, plus a potential from benefiting from becoming a “normal peaceful” country.
Imagine that its Arab neighbors would recognize Israel’s existence — this would dramatically increase its business and trading opportunities.
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