Trying to Stem the Brain Drain

UPDATES 9 am Israel time, Wednesday, October 9 2013:

**Residents of southern Israel near the Gaza border were startled out of their sleep at 1:05 am this morning by four to six loud “projectile” impact explosions. No sirens for incoming rockets were sounded (though often these days none are) so it remains unknown whether these projectiles were Palestinian Hamas Qassams or mortars. All of them apparently hit in an open area near the fence.

**With all the talk about Syria and Egypt, Jordan has been somewhat forgotten, yet violent unrest is always boiling just below the surface, particularly since King Abdullah instituted “reforms” in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring”. These reforms were designed to give the Muslim Brotherhood more political power in the country (a la Tunisia and Egypt).

Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Jordan, Abdullah Mansour, came under gunfire as his motorcade was heading toward the northern Jordanian city of Irbid. It is only a matter of time until Jordan, which like Syria is ruled by a minority ethnic government, begins to unravel.

**Yesh Din, the same abominable “Israeli anti-Israel” NGO that demanded that Homesh be Jew-free, issued a report yesterday which demands that Israel create a new law by which IDF soldiers can be charged with “war crimes.” The report suggests that Israel is somehow lagging behind “civilized” nations by not already having such a “war crimes” statute on the books.

**Readers of israelstreet may remember your humble servant has expressed his utter disgust that 33 members of the Knesset–under the auspices of the “Knesset Caucus to Resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict”–hosted PLO members at a caucus meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem two months ago. At that meeting, the caucus members festooned the Knesset room with Palestinian flags (click here for a picture of one of the flags in the room).

At the time, the PLO members extended an invitation to the caucus members to visit Ramallah where they promised that the Israeli flag would reciprocally be flown in honor of their visit.  

Well guess what? Two days ago the Israeli Knesset idiots traveled to Ramallah and met with the PLO representatives. And how do you think the room was decorated? With pictures of Yasser Arafat, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and Palestinian flags galore. The only thing missing was even one Israeli flag–Mahmoud Abbas apparently having put out the word that he would not be photographed with an Israeli flag.  So much for the PLO and Abbas ever recognizing the Jewish state of Israel.  

**Your humble servant has noted in several blogs over the last few weeks how the seasonal change here in Israel seems more noticeable than usual this year. Today the National Meteorological Service Climate Department reports that, so far, this is the coldest October in the last 40 years.

**Long-time readers may remember a blog on israelstreet back in December of 2011 entitled “The Methusaleh Plant”. It was a report on how a seed found at Masada was found by an archaeologist, planted, and is now a plant which has produced seeds for more plants.

Now comes the story yesterday of another botanical miracle–the return of Tamar trees to the land of Israel. Students of the Torah and Bible might know that King David named a particular species of tree “the Tamar tree” after his daughter. The tree, which flourished for centuries, was completely extinct by the end of the Roman occupation of Judea and Samaria in the 4th century CE. (the Romans literally cut down every Tamar tree)–and subsequently faded into history.

And so the situation remained until 2005 when botanical researcher Elaine Suloway, affiliated with Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, found an urn at the university which had been taken from an archaeological excavation of one of Herod’s palaces. In that urn were Tamar seeds. Suloway took one of the seeds and planted it with little expectation that it would grow. But grow it did and flower. It has now been revealed that hundreds of Tamar trees are now alive and well and growing all over Israel.

A small grove of the once-extinct Tamar tree (source:

A small grove of the once-extinct Tamar tree (source:


The news was awash yesterday about Israelis living abroad.

One of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Physics, Francois Englert, is a Belgian citizen and Holocaust survivor who holds a senior professorship at Tel Aviv University. Media outlets yesterday report that Englert is married to “an Israeli woman.”

Another story from Denmark yesterday concerned the son of “an Israeli woman” and a Muslim father who is given as an example of why the Jewish community in Denmark is dwindling into nonexistence with only 1899 “registered members” remaining. The son’s story is one of constantly being cursed as “a Jew” and spat upon as he walks the streets of Copenhagen.   

Ironically, as the above story was being reported, Yair Lapid, Israel’s Finance Minister, was appearing in New York on a television show moronically telling everyone that Jews living in New York are “safer” than Jews living in Israel. His comments dovetail with a series of outrageous programs that have appeared on Israeli TV this week touting the advantages to students and families of moving out of the country. 

All of this comes on the heels of a joint survey by the Ministry of the Economy and the Central Bureau of Statistics released yesterday indicates that 5700 Israeli scientists in the “hard sciences” have now been out of the country for more than three years–and many of them do not plan to ever return. Many thousands more in the social sciences and humanities are not even included in the above number.

Of the 5700, Israel lost 2134 scientists in the mathematics, statistics, and computer science fields; 2052 engineers; 1231 biologists; and 370 physicists. All told, 14.1% of all advanced degree recipients in the country have apparently left permanently (78% have moved to the U.S., 9% to the U.K, 8% to Canada–and the rest to other countries in the West).

The situation is terrible, but not irreversible–because it is mainly an economic problem. Most of these scientists–and others–have left the country in search of jobs, and the good news is that more and more are expressing a desire to return.

To the government’s credit, it is trying to do something about this brain drain with three conferences scheduled for later this month in the U.S. to give employment advice to any scientists interested in returning to the country. Specifically, Israel Aircraft Industries and Elbit will be conducting job search seminars.

Israel is working especially hard on its Toshav Chozer (Return of Citizens) program of late, and there is some evidence that the trend is reversing–the comments of Lapid and programs of the left-wing Israeli media notwithstanding.  Let’s hope that trend continues.





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