Israel: The Unicorn Nation
By: Calev Myers
The first words of Exodus 20 are: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt” (v. 1). Here God identifies Himself as the God who brought Israel out of the land of Egypt. That phrase is repeated another 130 times in the Old and New Testaments. In fact, any time He wants to say something important to the children of Israel, He begins with that sentence. Why? Well, the miracle of the Exodus from Egypt was such a nature-defying, irrational, illogical event we might want to hear what the God who did that has to say. Right?
But after God repeatedly identifies Himself this way, He then says twice—once in Jeremiah 16:14–15 and once in Jeremiah 23:7–8—that a day is coming when He will no longer be called the God who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt but the God who brought the descendants of Israel out of the land of the north and from all the countries where He had driven them.
The current regathering of the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel is a miracle of biblical proportions. It supersedes the Exodus of Egypt to the extent that God says: “They will no longer call me the one who brought Israel out of one nation but the God who brought Israel back from the whole world.” As our first prime minister David Ben Gurion said “To be a realist in Israel, one must believe in miracles.”
Israel, the Unicorn Nation
Let’s talk about the technological and business success of Israel and why Israel is today called the “unicorn nation.” (The term “unicorn” refers to a privately held start-up company with a value of over $1 billion.) We must put it in the context of the amazing miracles that far exceed our economy. Israel is the only country with the same name, living in the same land, speaking the same language, and with the same faith it had 3,000 years ago. There’s no other country like that on earth. And the fact that none of that existed for 2,000 years should be mind-boggling. … God not only raised Jesus from the dead but an entire nation!
The miracle of Israel is so irrational, so illogical, that it defies every law of nature and history. It is the greatest miracle we can point to today to show this generation that there is a God in heaven, a God who can choose a nation and say: “This people will be in this land and be blessed.” No matter what the United Nations or the European Union says, no matter what BBC or CNN or Al Jazeera say, this will happen. God will bring His people back to Israel from the four corners of the earth.
What has kept my faith firmly grounded in the Bible and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is stepping out of my front door every day here in the Land and seeing this miracle of epic proportions that I have no way of explaining. It is a magnificent story.
Before looking at the economy, let me say a few words regarding Israel’s ecology. Many people are talking about climate change. Al Gore was not the first one to predict climate change. I would give that credit to the prophet Isaiah. Among other verses, Isaiah 35:7 says springs of water will burst forth in the wilderness, and He will give the glory of the Carmel—which is tropical and beautiful—to the Negev.
Today, the desert of Israel is indeed coming to life. Israel has the highest agricultural output per capita of any country in the world, even though we are in a desert land. Israel is the only country in the world that has more trees today than it had 100 years ago—450 million more.
British scientists who came to Israel in the 1930s estimated there was only enough water resources to provide for two million people maximum. Those same water resources today provide water to 12 million people in Israel and the Gaza Strip, even while we export water to our neighbors. We recycle and reuse 80 percent of our water, more than any country in the world, by huge margins. (Spain is in second place at 40 percent.)
Israel desalinates far more water than any other country in the world; 90 percent of the water coming from our taps is desalinated.
We also brought drip irrigation to the world. A simple kibbutznik (member of a kibbutz) was walking by a row of pine trees some 40 years ago and noticed that one was twice the height of the others. He looked down and saw a leaking pipe and thought: If we could make intentionally leaking pipes, we could excel with agriculture in arid climate. He created a company called Netafim, which produces drip irrigation that has benefitted the world. (Netafim was sold to a Mexican company for US $5 billion about five years ago.)
Science and Culture
Meanwhile in science and culture, Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees per capita of any nation in the world, the highest number of engineers and PhDs per capita by a large margin, and the highest rate of entrepreneurship among women. We have more museums and orchestras per capita than any country in the world, and we publish more books per capita, by a large margin. And this is a fun one! Beersheva has the most chess grandmasters per capita of any city in the world.
Regarding our economy, we have the most start-up companies per capita in the world—more than 2,600 start-up companies and counting. Israel has the highest amount per capita of R&D (research and development) centers in the world, and almost every serious multinational company has its R&D in Israel. Here’s a partial list of just 30 out of 250: Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Barclays, Dell, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, General Electric, General Motors, Google, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, John Deere, Johnson & Johnson, Lenovo, Marvel, Microsoft, Monsanto, Nokia, PayPal, PepsiCo, Philips, Samsung, SanDisk, Texas Instruments, and Xerox.
Opposition Leader Bibi Netanyahu says every country today wants diplomatic relations with Israel for three reasons: technology, technology, technology. And every leader of every nation wants two things for their people: economic prosperity and security. Israel is providing both: economic prosperity through innovation with the previously mentioned companies and security by sharing our excellent intelligence and preventing terrorist attacks on every continent. And that’s more important today than fossil fuels. So I expect the list of nations moving their embassies to Jerusalem to grow in the foreseeable future.
Even the big players in the Arab League are all doing business with Israel today. Businesspeople have gone before the diplomatic community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Morocco to do business with Israel, but it took five to ten years for the diplomatic community to catch up. This is why I believe that the mother of all peace agreements will probably take place sometime in the next five years because Saudi Arabia is where the UAE was five years ago.
Finally, more Israeli companies have traded on the NASDAQ in New York than in the entire European continent. Germany’s Deutsche Bank recently ranked the Israeli shekel as the world’s second-strongest currency, falling only behind the Chinese yuan.
Every start-up company wants its exit to be a “unicorn.” The year 2021 was the greatest year for Israeli fundraising for start-ups in our history—72 IPOs (initial public offerings) on the NASDAQ in New York together raised over US $71 billion. So many start-ups are reaching “unicorn” status of a $1 billion valuation that there is now a new level. A “decacorn” company is a start-up valued at $10 billion or more. There were at least two of these in Israel in 2021.
As Israel continues to lead the global innovation scene, I would say that it’s far surpassed Silicon Valley by now.
Calev Meyers is an Israeli attorney and founder of ARISE, which promotes Christian investment in Israel. This article is excerpted from his presentation at the ICEJ’s International Leadership Conference (ILC) in May 2022.