March 1, 2004

Israel is one of the major reasons why our modern world has become what it is today.Hi, my name is Roy Sasson, I am currently a senior at the University of Florida majoring in Digital Arts and Sciences. I was born in Israel, and moved to the states at the young age of six. I’ve gone back to visit several times since, however my most recent trip allowed me to look at Israel through a completely different perspective.

Over the past two weeks, I embarked on a memorable trip that has left an imprint in my life. Eighty students including myself from some of the most prestigious universities in the United States including Cornell, Penn State, Stanford, Columbia, The University of Florida (of course) and others, were invited to attend a trip to Israel to educate us in respect to the technology and business within the country. My expectation was simply ‘another free trip to Israel’. I had no idea what I was in for.

Prior to the trip, my perception was that Israel was practically a Third World country way behind its time, only a source of violence and turmoil. I saw first hand that Israel is in fact one of the major reasons as to why our modern world has become what it is today. Our trip was comprised of visits to top notch universities, biotechnology companies, an aircraft development company, the stock exchange, meetings with venture capitalists, economists, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and prestigious professors.

Some of the brightest students today had the opportunity to listen, interact, and most importantly question, some of the most amazing developments in technology. We witnessed these developments first hand, and got a chance to have them explained, not by their low level representatives, but by the actual scientists, professors, and businessmen themselves. I have to say, it was nothing short of inspiring.

Let’s just list the facts…

Muchof biotechnological developments in the entire world comes from Israel. I’m talking about technologies that will revolutionize the world. One such account was a biotechnology company who will in three months time be approved by the FDA to perform operations to remove tumors without even penetrating the skin!

Every laptop that you use from now on is powered by the new mobile centrino processor, a technology developed in Israel. A 3D face recognition technology was recently developed here (to combat terrorism) that is so sophisticated it can tell apart identical twins.

Teva Pharmaceuticals developed the most effective drug to counter Parkinsons disease. Israel is home to a pill that when taken, captures images inside of the body. File formats such as gif and zip files that you use everyday, were developed here. Smart cards for credit cards, the chips in your digital cameras.

Many of the problems that we were facing on the internet in regards to communication, bandwidth, and security, had already been implemented in the Israeli Army. The first Instant messaging software, the first firewall… the list is endless?

Huge companies such as Microsoft, HP, Intel, and IBM, establish major research and development centers in Israel looking to capitalize on the breakthroughs, genius, and talent. Over 100 Israeli companies are listed on the NASDAQ, third only to Canada.

Israel is the world leader in environmental research, high-tech, and the arts. It is in Israel where students cracked the GSM cellular phone network encryption code.

Not surprisingly, over 50% of Israel’s economy is driven by technology, and there are various reasons for this; their local market is only 6 million, and I doubt that many of their neighbors would like to do business with them, eliminating a regional market. So when they develop these companies, technologies, and advances, they are built with the hopes and aspirations of making a difference in the world. It is a country where the entrepreneur has become the hero, and making an impact on the world is not uncommon.

Israel is a country built around art and education. When an Israeli is successful it does not simply affect his household, but the entire country, bringing up the economy, honor to the country, and a strong sense of pride.

Just imagine if our capitalist society was focused on building companies and technologies to make a difference in the world, instead of making a difference in our pockets. Imagine the possibilities with an educational system enforcing the idea that you, the young and bright, can make a difference in the world, in a country where we do not have to worry about violence and terror as Israel does to maintain its survival.

One professor told of us of a story of a child who asked his father, serving in the Israeli Army “why do you fight?” His father answered, “I fight today so that your generation will have the opportunity to learn and be educated so that you may be engineers, so that the generation that follows yours may live to be poets and artists.”

I wasn’t told to write this, and I’m not exactly the most eloquent of speakers. I am writing this because I see it as my responsibility, privileged enough to have experienced these things first hand. I tell you all of this not to show you the importance of Israel from a Jewish perspective, but to show you the importance of Israel as part of the human race.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

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