When we read in this week’s Torah portion that Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go,” we should immediately think and act on “Get my people to come.” Like the Exodus from Egypt 4,000 years ago that led people to the Land of Israel in search of political freedom and independence, we can now envision an exodus that will bring health and economic freedom in the Promised Land. Moses introduced the concept of political freedom. We, in the State of Israel, should be advocating for health and economic freedom. And we should get aggressive about it.
Sometime during the first quarter of 2021, Israel will hopefully have achieved herd immunity due to an extraordinarily successful vaccination program. The vaccination program was made possible by a well-organized and advanced medical system that has been gathering steam over the last 20 to 30 years and by the extraordinary efforts of Israel’s prime minister and his team to procure the vaccinations. This is a true blessing.
As some of the children of Abraham, we should be conscious of the imperative to share that blessing with others, both other members of our tribe around the world and others outside of our tribe. We should immediately start planning to offer people a one- or two-year visa to Israel that includes a free vaccination. We should implement a strategy to bring Jews, our people, and other talented people including engineers, investors and others to Israel to improve our economy, grow our future and increase the technological and economic blessing here. Bringing human capital to Israel will also help us export it to the world.
Israel should leverage our health advantage into an economic one. A country that prides itself on its innovation economy cannot stand still. We must grow our talent and capital pool as well as our demographics. To greet and accelerate the future we must internalize that demographics is destiny and innovation is the best way to get there. Demographic growth precedes and impels economic growth. Innovation is the best way to provide goods, services and food, both for our local economy and for the global economy. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to grow our economy, extend blessing and spread it to the world. We should not miss it.
We could charge for the visa or we can provide a tax amnesty for one year and just ask people to come and invest in the economy. In any event, we have tax treaties with most countries, so if people pay taxes in Israel they will not pay a second time elsewhere. I would hazard to say many would be willing to pay a few more dollars, pounds or euros for an earlier shot at a vaccine. Even though school is almost free in Israel, we can ask those who come to pay for education because they pay for it anyway in their country of origin. We can introduce them to the marvelous people of our country, to its beautiful sites, its pulsing spirit of innovation. This is both an economic opportunity and a branding opportunity. We just need to capitalize on it.
Let’s go. With respectful tribalism, doing unto other tribes as we would want done to us, and with mutual responsibility for our tribe, we can extend a health miracle and build a juggernaut of “Economic Brotherhood.” Just as Moses introduced freedom into the world, we can introduce what an exemplar nation can look like, one that in the spirit of Abraham, extends blessing on its people and the world. It will be a big economic blessing for Israel as well. Let My People Vaccinate with the #israelvaccinevisa!
Michael Eisenberg is an Israeli-American businessman, venture capitalist and author. He is the co-founder and managing partner of Aleph, a Tel-Aviv based venture capital firm and has invested in over 30 companies including WeWork, Wix.com, Shopping.com, Gigya and Lemonade.