Israelis Getting More Recognition for Brain than their Brawn

tangyauhoongOften in direct cooperation with their Jewish cousins in terms of innovation and business prowess in the 20th and 21st century, Israeli Jews are often thought of as the stronger, tougher, less respectful cousins of the American Jew.  But facts change, and so do stereotypes.

Seeing no borders, Daniel “Danny” Shechtman made his award winning discovery of quasi-crystals while working at the U.S. National Bureau of Standards.  He is a graduate of the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and currently divides his time teaching and researching at Iowa State, U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames, and the Technion.

Danny has become the 6th Israeli to win the Nobel prize in a scientific field since the year 2002, and the 10th Israeli to win a Nobel Prize overall. Israelis have accumulated four Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, and two in Economics since 2002.  For you trivia geeks: Israeli scientists have been involved with 25% of Nobel Prize’s in Chemisty since the year 2000.  They have been a part of 15% of Nobel Prize’s in Economics.  The Israeli population stands at just over one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population.

Israeli Jews have a mountain to climb until they reach their American Jewish counterparts in overall number of Nobel prizes, they are making very fast progress.  Don’t forget that young Israelis, unlike their American Jewish cousins, are called up to serve 2-3 years in the military; relatively few Israelis skip this duty.  Often times, outstanding high school and university students spend even more time in the IDF doing advanced research and applications for a variety of military needs.  Israelis are also limited in the variety of academic programs they can pursue in Israel as undergraduates, graduates, and doctorates.

This 10th Nobel Prize is a boon for the Israeli economy and anyone who has considered investing in Israel.  It shows that the undercurrent of Israeli intellectual success is strong; it is being expressed in many different ways than just academic prizes: global R&D centers, biotech discoveries, funded startups, and public companies.

Benjamin Bakhshi