An economic perspective

Stanley Gold: Unless Israel gives its citizens the tools to succeed, the country will suffer

In an interview with "TheMarker" business magazine, Hiddush's US Chairman says that too many Israelis are unable or unwilling to participate in Israel's economy.

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Stanley Gold, Hiddush- Freedom of Israel's Chairman and one of the earliest investors in Israel's economy, is not impressed by all the talk and little action regarding equality in sharing the burden in Israel today.

Gold, who is also the President and CEO of Shamrock Holdings, believes that Israel is not helping itself by putting off the necessary confrontation with the ultra-Orthodox politicians on these crucial issues and that the "new politicians" such as Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett are not implementing the promises that got them elected to office.

Stanley Gold has invested more than one billion dollars in Israeli companies such as Pelephone, Ahava skin products and Koor Industries. In 2009, he founded Hiddush-Freedom of Religion for Israel with Rabbi Uri Regev (who is now CEO of Hiddush).

In a recent interview with business magazine, "TheMarker" Gold outlines the direct connection he sees between his business investments, religion and state, and Jewish communities around the world.


The connection between religion and state in Israel is one of the issues that most disturbs you. Why is that?

Too many Israelis are unwilling or unable to participate in Israel's workforce. No one is preparing them with the proper education or making sure that they can acquire the skills necessary for employment. The manufacturing sector in Israel is decreasing and non-producing sector is rapidly increasing. This cannot continue forever. In the end, the only two working people here will be you and me.


What needs to happen in order to solve this situation?

 Enforce the core curriculum [in ultra-Orthodox schools]. There is already a law which says that all students in state-funding schools need to study core curriculum subjects (Math, Science, English, Civics) and it's no secret that the law is not enforced properly. When a child has no skills, there is little chance to lead a good life. Israel must stop giving money to institutions that are not teaching the core curriculum.


Israel needs to be able to compete in the modern world. In order to do so the government must ensure that every person who is capable of working, can indeed work, pay taxes, and contribute to society.

 It's easy to say that, but difficult to actually implement.

Governments cannot act out of fear of their citizens forever. If Israel doesn't do this right now, it will become a sickened society. If govermnent does not enforce the state's laws, citizens will begin to disregard the rule of law and Israeli civil society will be destroyed. The burden on the productive sector of Israeli society will become so large that people will begin to leave the country. Those people who are leaving are the professors at Columbia and University of Chicago. Those are the exact people we need in Israel.


Perhaps dialogue would be preferred over coercion?

 I am also in favor of dialogue but the law is the law. The core curriculum needs to be implemented and any other solution is just a bandage. Israel needs to be able to compete in the modern world. In order to do so the government must ensure that every person who is capable of working, can indeed work, pay taxes, and contribute to society. I am not "anti-haredi" but why should they have a monopoly on Judaism in Israel? I am just as Jewish as they are.


But why do you care so much? You live in Los Angeles.

I am convinced that my quality of life in the Diaspora is dependent on Israel's strength and health. After Israel was founded and quickly became an exemplary country, the standing of the Jewish people around the world improved. The world respected us more and there was less anti-Semitism. Should Israel fail, my children and grandchildren's lives will become worse. We are partners in Jewish peoplehood and therefore dependent on one another.


 It's not so simple to separate religion from politics overnight. This is a loaded issue.

 So don't change anything! Keep the status-quo and everyone except the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs will leave and I, and many others, will stop investing.


That’s what you think will happen?

You think that I would give up that quickly? I'm still here, investing and fighting and I'm not going anywhere!

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