Israel: The miracle in the dessert
I. Brief Economic History
The first survey of the Dead Sea in 1911, by the Russian Jewish engineer Moshe Novomeysky, led to the establishment of Palestine Potash Ltd. in 1930, later renamed the Dead Sea Works. In 1923, Pinhas Rutenberg was granted an exclusive concession for the production and distribution of electric power. He founded the Palestine Electric Company, later the Israel Electric Corporation. In 1937, there were 86 spinning and weaving factories in Israel, employing a workforce of 1,500. Capital and technical expertise were supplied by Jewish professionals from Europe. The Ata textile plant in Kiryat Ata, which went on to become an icon of the Israeli textile industry, was established in 1934.The industry underwent rapid development during World War II, when supplies from Europe were cut off while local manufacturers were commissioned for army needs. By 1943, the number of factories had grown to 250, with a workforce of 5,630, and output increased tenfold. After independence
After statehood, Israel faced a deep economic crisis. As well as having to recover from the devastating effects of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it also had to absorb hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from the Europe and the Arab world. Israel was financially overwhelmed and faced a deep economic crisis, which led to a policy of austerity from 1949 to 1959. Unemployment was high, and foreign currency reserves were scarce. In 1952, Israel and West Germany signed an agreement stipulating that West Germany was to pay Israel for the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust, and compensate for Jewish property stolen by the Nazis. Over the next 14 years, West Germany paid Israel 3 billion marks. The reparations became a decisive part of Israel's income, comprising as high as 87.5% of Israel's income in 1956. In 1950, the Israeli government launched Israel Bonds for American and Canadian Jews to buy. In 1951, the final results of the bonds program exceeded $52 million. Additionally, many American Jews made private donations to Israel, which in 1956 were thought to amount to $100 million a year. In 1957, bond sales amounted to 35% of Israel's special development budget. Later in the century Israel became significantly reliant on economic aid from the United States, a country which also became Israel's most important source of political support internationally. The proceeds from these sources was invested in industrial and agricultural development projects, which allowed Israel to become economically self-sufficient. Among the projects made possible by the aid was the Hadera power plant, the Dead Sea Works, the National Water Carrier, port development in Haifa, Ashdod, and Eilat, desalination plants, and national infrastructure projects. After statehood, priority was given to establishing industries in areas slated for development, among them Lachish, Ashkelon, the Negev andGalilee. The expansion of Israel's textile industry was a consequence of the development of cotton growing as a profitable agricultural branch. By the late 1960s, textiles were one of the largest industrial branches in Israel, second only to the foodstuff industry. Textiles constituted about 12% of industrial exports, becoming the second-largest export branch after polished diamonds. In the 1990s, cheap East Asian labor decreased the profitability of the sector. Much of the work was subcontracted to 400 Israeli Arab sewing shops. As these closed down, Israeli firms, among them Delta, Polgat, Argeman and Kitan, began doing their sewing work in Jordan and Egypt, usually under the QIZ arrangement. In the early 2000s, Israeli companies had 30 plants in Jordan. Israeli exports reached $370 million a year, supplying such retailers and designers as Marks & Spencer, The Gap, Victoria's Secret, Wal-Mart, Sears, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Donna Karan. In its first two decades of existence, Israel's strong commitment to development...
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