Opinion

Israel's Brain Drain Is the Flight of the Left

FILE Photo: 'High-tech park' in Ra'anana, Israel.
Tomer Appelbaum

The brains and the money of the left are abandoning Israel. That isn’t just a feeling, those are the facts. Benjamin Netanyahu’s supporters, who call leftists “sourpusses,” like to boast of the decline in emigration from Israel in the past several years. But when it comes to leftists, the exit numbers are worse than ever. The leftists are fleeing. It’s called brain drain. In Israel, brains and leftists are one and the same.

According to a new study by Prof. Dan Ben-David, published by the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, the most educated Israelis with the most vital skills for the success of the economy are moving abroad at an increasing rate. How do we know that they are leftists? They belong to the highest-income deciles, and in Israel the highest earners vote for the left. They are the left’s electoral base.

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The situation Ben-David describes could be called “The State of Tel Aviv is abandoning the State of Judea.” Leaving it in the lurch. As we know, the Israeli left is a shrinking minority. It’s very strong economically, however. It is Israel’s economic foundation. Fewer than 130,000 Israelis are physicians, academic researchers or high-tech workers, but according to Ben-David’s study, they are also the base of Israel’s qualitative advantage. The right has quantity, the left has quality. “The fragile size of this group means that emigration by a critical mass out of the total – even if only numbering several tens of thousands – could generate catastrophic consequences for the entire country,” Ben-David writes.

He cites low wages, the high cost of living and the income tax burden on the top two deciles as the causes of this emigration. In other words, pure economic and professional reasons. But in the same breath he says that Israel is “falling further and further behind the leading developed” countries.

It stands to reason that these leftists realize that in a few decades, the majority of Israel’s population will be ultra-Orthodox Jews and that this group is not taught a core curriculum of math, science and English, that many of them lack the skills to compete in a modern labor market and, in any event, do not work and are incapable of supporting themselves without the taxes paid by the educated leftists from the top income deciles.

The vast majority of educated Israelis with critical skills vote for parties that are against annexing the territories and maintaining the occupation and the settlement enterprise. They are also probably alienated from Israel for purely ideological reasons that translate into a growing emotionaldetachment. Ben-David’s study seems to support the contention that liberal Israelis are fed up with underwriting the settlements, the Haredim and the Haredi-fascist-messianic agenda that views them as enemies and seeks to eliminate them.

This is the real self-destruction of the Haredi-rightist coalition, which pays for implementing its vision through taxes on the left, while at the same time, accusing the left of treason, attempting to silence it and, through its actions, causing leftists to flee the country, as the study proves.

The leftists are tired of being suckers and of paying for their own destruction. The calls of the right and the Haredim for “unity” are nothing but an attempt to prevent the left from calling it quits and fleeing, with their money and their wits — the money and the wits without which the Haredi-rightist state will collapse into poverty and backwardness.

The right and the Haredim must stop dismissing and start taking the flight of the left — that is, the brains — seriously. The right must recognize the implications of the left’s enormous qualitative advantage and the fact that the right cannot live without the leftists’ brains and money.

The left is losing in the political arena but winning in the economic one. In the end only the right will remain, and it will implode.