Max Fisher writes: For decades, educated and talented Jews from around the world and particularly Europe have migrated to Israel, contributing to an Israeli economic boom that began in the late 1980s and has continued since. In recent years, though, some Israelis have been going the other direction, migrating back to Europe or to the United States. That development has sparked particular concern in Israel about losing some of its highly educated, entrepreneurial citizens – the sort who helped drive the economic miracle.
That anxiety was crystallized for Israel with this year’s list of Nobel Prize laureates. The chemistry prize went to three Americans, two of whom were born in Israel but had immigrated to the United States. It’s felt like a reversal of the natural order for Israel, which prides itself on attracting other countries’ talent. The Nobel was a symbol of that: Of Israel’s 11 Nobel laureates, six had been born in other countries before immigrating.
These two chemists, of course, don’t definitively prove anything about Israel’s trajectory. But this was a live debate in Israel long before the Nobel announcement, which the Associated Press says has “touched a raw nerve about an exodus of scientists, academics and business leaders over the years, and fueled an anguished debate about whether the country can do more to retain its best talent.”
A recent study by the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel found that, since just 2008, a little over one in five faculty members at Israeli universities have left the country to work at American universities. Another study found that one in four Israeli scientists had left the country. [Continue reading…]