Helping Israel’s Economy

Don’t buy Israeli products just because you love Israel.

There’s a better reason, says Eli Groner, minister of economic affairs at Israel’s embassy in Washington, D.C.

“People want to give business to their friends and to their neighborhood,” he says, “and Israel is part of the Jewish neighborhood. But most buyers are interested in quality, and Israeli products are high in quality.”

The United States is Israel’s largest individual trading partner, accounting for 24 percent of Israel’s exports and bringing in about $14 billion to the Israeli economy every year.

“Our campaign to encourage purchases of Israeli goods relates to the fact that Israel is an export economy,” says Yaron Sideman, consul general of Israel in Philadelphia.

“Its economic success and growth depends on being able to be competitive in a global environment. Although Israel is a small country, it is recognized around the world as being in the forefront of high-tech innovation. Furthermore, that is a status it attained thanks to a very highly educated and creative workforce and a sound infrastructure. Israel today is home to some of the world’s leading companies in several industries.”

Mention Israeli products and most people can easily name Elite chocolate, Tnuva dairy products, Osem food items, Ahava skin products, Naot shoes, Sabra hummus, Dorot garlics and herbs and, of course, the iconic Jaffa orange.

But while not as well known, many Israeli innovations these days are not for consumer goods bearing a “Made in Israel” stamp, Groner says. A lot are what he calls “inside products. They’re not consumer-facing products. They’re components of a pharmaceutical drug or the components of a computer. It’s hard to look out for these.”

Groner says he’s purchased products without knowing they were made in Israel. “You buy a wipe for the computer screen and it was made in Israel, or stone for the kitchen or bathroom floor, and it was made in Israel.”

Israeli manufacturers struggle over the commercial advantages and disadvantages of identifying their products as made in Israel, he says. The result of this ambivalence is “it makes it harder to be on the lookout for made in Israel.”

One of the reasons for this reluctance to identify is the movement to boycott Israeli products.

“Israeli companies would be very comfortable saying, ‘Don’t buy because I’m Israeli and don’t boycott because I’m Israeli,’” Groner says, adding, “Buy Israeli products because they tend to be of superior value.”

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