Honorable Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, my friend, Eli Yishai,
Honorable Mayor of Jerusalem, Mr. Uri Lupoliansky,
Honorable President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, my friend, Shraga Brosh,
Gentlemen, recipients of the certificate of honor on this special event, in which the Knesset salutes Israel’s industrialists on our 60th anniversary,
Greetings to all the honorees and also the many who are not part of this singular group of honorees,
Ladies and gentlemen,
While I am tempted to say many things, because the Speaker of the Knesset also spoke about Jerusalem, I will, in the presence of Jerusalem’s successful Mayor, waive the right to speak about the specific problems of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will have a massive industry, industry which will suit the character of the city, its abilities and the opportunities it presents. Jerusalem is on the way to becoming this city. I have no doubt about it.
Israeli industry in general, the achievements of which we are so proud, reflects the human quality of Israeli society, its strengths and weaknesses, achievements and difficulties. What typifies Israeli society in general, and Israeli industry in particular, is originality, dynamism, entrepreneurship abilities, and the ability to break new paths and take risks. If you look at the Israeli industry, this is what characterizes it.
I hope no one will be angry with me if I do not take this opportunity today to gush, as we normally do (and it is okay and it is justified), over the achievements of Israeli hi-tech as an exceptional thing, because I think that we are making a mistake here and that it is time to put things in their right perspective, once and for all. When we define an industry according to its product, then it is true that we export more products which fall under the category of "hi-tech" than we do other products. A significant portion of Israeli industrial export is of products which fall under the category of hi-tech. But if we define an industry according to the sophistication which characterizes its production processes, then the overwhelming majority of Israeli industry is a hi-tech industry. If you observe the Israeli food industry and see how food is manufactured in the State of Israel, then you will see that it is manufactured with the most modern equipment, the most sophisticated control systems and the most advanced programming systems in the world. It is hi-tech, even if the product is only a food product. I think that this is what truly characterizes Israeli industry. Therefore, the traditional industries are an important and significant part of the achievements of Israeli industry, no less than the sophisticated hi-tech industries. Both contribute to the stability, strength and social and economic build-up of the State of Israel.
I know that I took a certain risk, given that the President of the Manufacturers Association, Shraga Brosh, will be one of the speakers after me. I cannot imagine that Shraga will pass up the chance to speak about the difficulties which the current reality, the currency rates, etc., cause for Israeli manufacturers and industrialists, particularly Israeli Zionists. Shraga, I can put your mind at ease. We are aware of it. We understand it. First of all, we believe, as you do, in the ability of this industry to overcome even this temporary wave of currency rate decline, which undoubtedly reduces, to a certain extent, the profitability of Israeli export. We are an export-dependent state. We are a state in which the export component is a central consideration in the build-up of the Israeli economy. We do not ignore the fact that there is a difficulty here. We only think that the right thing to do is to cope with these difficulties, as with anything else this Government does, if I might say. I try to be reserved, even though I am certainly not objective in my attitude toward this Government. We are acting with equanimity, composure and restraint, and we do not lose our calm. I believe the right thing to do is to examine these effects in a proper, balanced time frame, and take steps which will not shake our system simply because of a temporary difficulty which the stability, strength and foundations of Israeli economy can overcome.
All in all, if the State of Israel today is moving forward, it is moving forward largely thanks to the component which you bring into the Israeli economy – the entrepreneurship, innovation, ingenuity, fortitude and ability to think big. After all, Israel is a country of seven million people, a tiny dot on the map. But when you look at the achievements of the Israeli economy, you say: those who motivate it, have a vision which goes far beyond our limited boundaries, stretches out to the world at large, and ultimately leaves its mark there. The Israeli entrepreneurship, the Israeli sophistication, the Israeli creation, even in the field of traditional industries, the Israeli entrepreneurship in the field of industries which are entirely unrelated to hi-tech, breaks out to east and west, north and south, across the entire globe, because it has something which is singular and special. Ultimately, it is the great achievement which is responsible for the growth of the Israeli economy over the past few years, and by extension, also for the positive side-effects for Israeli society. I can tell you this: as a Government, we try not to interfere. I believe that in the past few years, we have succeeded in this. Do not belittle this achievement; it is not a minor achievement. A government which knows how not to interfere in the natural energies which grow from within, the dynamics of its society’s life, is a government which has a certain wisdom regarding the ability to understand how things should be done.
We are proud of you. I thank you, Madam Speaker, for convening the entire Knesset in honor of Israel’s industrialists, on this long day, which ends with this event, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell them what the Government of Israel thinks of them.
Well done, all of you. Thank you very much.