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224 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Pryce Jones on The Israel Test
[...]

The Vitality of Israel

George Gilder was one of the speakers on the recent National Review cruise round the Mediterranean, and he gave me a copy of his new book The Israel Test -- there, I've declared an interest. He can be relied on to say striking and original things. At the moment, Israel is treated as a pariah among the nations, blamed for...
Published on July 24, 2009 by Richard Vigilante

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53 of 88 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Welcome But Flawed
Israel needs all the defenders it can get, so one hesitates to quibble. Mr. Gilder's account of the technology boom in Israel is fresh, fascinating, well reported, and full of both scientific and personal detail.

But for all its formidable strengths, this account also has some flaws. Mr. Gilder attempts to give the credit for the Israel technology boom to...
Published on July 23, 2009 by Ira E. Stoll


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224 of 247 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Pryce Jones on The Israel Test, July 24, 2009
This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
[...]

The Vitality of Israel

George Gilder was one of the speakers on the recent National Review cruise round the Mediterranean, and he gave me a copy of his new book The Israel Test -- there, I've declared an interest. He can be relied on to say striking and original things. At the moment, Israel is treated as a pariah among the nations, blamed for defending itself against the various Arab and Muslim states or terrorist groups trying to destroy it. To support the Arabs and Muslims in this endeavor has become a moral imperative for the Left everywhere. So figureheads like Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have revived and updated anti-Semitism: That is their contribution to the world we live in.

Nobody but Gilder could have written this book. Israel of course has its defenders, but they use arguments based on nationalism, territory, ethnicity, defence of minorities, rights, historicism, and so on. Gilder sees Jews since their emancipation as the vanguard of human achievement. They may be few in numbers, but their creativity has brought prosperity to themselves and those around them, and that prosperity in turn has brought freedom. Thus Jews spearhead capitalism and the democracy indispensable to its proper functioning. Marxists, Nazis, and now Muslims and their apologists envy Jews because they cannot emulate them, and so set out to destroy the success that shows up their failure. The attitude you take towards Israel and Jews decides whether you love or hate freedom, and beyond that, mankind -- that's the test he is proposing in the book's title. And just in case the reader risks failing this test by jumping to a false conclusion, Gilder has a portrait of his very non-Jewish ancestry, saying, "We were classic WASPS all."

To go to Israel even for a brief visit is to be struck by the vitality of the country. Everyone seems to be in a whirl of fulfilment, grabbing life with both hands. The middle part of this book is an account of some prominent Israeli inventors in computer science and physics, fascinating personalities at least the equal of their great Jewish forebears like Heinrich Hertz, Robert Oppenheimer, or John von Neumann, the latter a particular hero of Gilder's. An essential aspect of the test he thinks we all face when it comes to taking a position about Israel and Jews is to value the exceptional individual because, as he puts it, "the good fortune of others is also one's own" -- simple, brilliant, and true! These rare people, he thinks, will see Israel safely through whatever trials lie ahead, and they are also benefactors of us all. An attack on Israel is a blow against the entire West. And alas for the Arabs and Muslims, stuck in their hate and envy when they are lucky enough to be so close to Israel that they could join in its success. By the time they get the point of this book a bright future may have passed them by.
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101 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence versus Envy, August 4, 2009
This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
Gilder argues that the root cause of the Middle East conflict is not land or religion but essentially psychological, arising from resentment of success. Anti-Zionism is driven by the same phenomena that have always promoted antisemitism: ignorance of economics and envy. This emotion manifests in the hatred of traders, entrepreneurs, bankers and other wealth creators that exists wherever a minority economically distinguishes itself. One of many examples is the Chinese community in Southeast Asia. Helmut Schoeck's Envy: A Theory of Social Behaviour provides an in-depth analysis. Ordinary people do not normally harbor this resentment; the intelligentsia does and often manages to spread it to society at large through the notions that poverty results from 'exploitation,' that resources are limited and that therefore the wealth of some is the cause of others' poverty.

That's why Israel divides the world. Its opponents in the West, concentrated at the UN, transnational bodies and the humanities departments of academia, are those who consider capitalism as a zero-sum game in which success is attained at the expense of the poor & the environment. On the other side are those who admire success and recognize that everyone benefits by the accomplishments of achievers. Antisemitism is similarly a zero-sum delusion. Collectivists and their apologists envy Jews since they're unable to emulate them; they therefore attempt to destroy that which accentuates their own failure. The author shows how Jewish entrepreneurs and scientists like Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, Heinrich Hertz, John von Neumann and Richard Feynman helped to bring about the IT-revolution that provides the matrix of our modern prosperity.

Gilder profiles contemporary Israeli scientists and entrepreneurs, especially those in physics and information technology. They are the minds behind Israel's gifts to the world, some of which are highlighted in the book Israel in the World: Changing Lives Through Innovation by Helen and Douglas Davis. Israel in fact leads the world in per-capita innovation as proved by a 2008 Deloitte & Touche survey indicating that the Jewish State outperformed all but the United States in software, telecoms, microchips, biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and clean energy. The country's growth since the 1990s is primarily due to (a) immigration of freedom-loving people from the former Soviet Union (b) immigration from the USA of people with business acumen and entrepreneurial skills (c) economic reforms that reduced taxes, regulations and state ownership, for which Benjamin Netanyahu deserves much credit. The author holds the current prime minister in high esteem, viewing him as the right leader for our times.

After the 6-day war of 1967 Israelis started settling in the Territories, establishing an infrastructure of education, electricity, water & medical care. During Israeli rule, the economy in these areas surged by about 25% annually; growth surpassed that of Israel itself which was still shackled by statist thought. Palestinian life expectancy increased significantly as did their numbers, while the median income tripled. All of this came to a halt when the West and the United Nations forced the return of Arafat and his terrorists. The Palestinian Authority became the globe's prime per capita consumer of foreign aid as billions of dollars were squandered on maintaining a culture of corruption, blame, victimhood and dependency.

The reader is reminded that peace necessitates the imposition of penalties on aggression. Those who justify terrorism against a democracy that respects the rule of law and then condemn the inevitable retaliatory defense are supporters of barbarism and tyranny. There's a link between European antisemitism and Palestinianism as document by Chuck Morse and others. Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, was an ally of the Nazis and a participant in the Shoah/Holocaust. Unsurprisingly, Arafat was an ardent promoter of Mein Kampf. In addition, antisemitic stereotypes disgrace the Arab media whilst the Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah openly proclaim their genocidal goals.

Gilder has identified the core issue and its consequences, revealing why Israel separates the free-market USA from statist Western Europe, individualists from collectivists and those who oppose high taxes from those in favor of big government. This line of demarcation broadly corresponds with the ideological divide between statism and classical liberalism. In psychological terms the book illuminates two opposing world-views, two incompatible mentalities -- the mind which considers resources as finite & limited, versus the mind that engages reality in an endless creative process. Meticulously researched and well-written, The Israel Test is a work of outstanding discernment and clarity.
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95 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome Addition To The Israel Debate, July 27, 2009
By 
Allen Roth (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
Leave it to George Gilder to take the debate over Israel to a whole new level. Gilder convincingly argues that every freedom loving people and every American should enthusiatically support the State of Israel. He deposits the criticisms of Israel into the trash heap of history. He piles on the evidence that the criticism of Israel is based on envy and anti-semitism. He marshals the facts that prove that Israel is the best thing that has happened to the Palestinians.

Throughout this book, Gilder's arguments, his prose,and his clarity are complimented by important but little known facts. His analysis of Hitler's Mein Kampf (where Hitler admits the Jewish people are superior to Aryans)is worth the price of this book, but there is much much more. Gilder's potrait of Prime Mininster Benjamin Netanyahu presents a picture of Israel's leader that is right on the mark.

Much of this book will be enlightening to people who care about the Israel conflict with the Plestinians and those interested in solving the problems. It will also interest people who want to learn about Jewish history and Jewish personalities that are largely forgotten. Gilder has a keen eye for the facts that tell the story.

This book has already started more than one controversy. It goes against the political correctness of Israeli doves, the Obama Administartion, the leaders of the European Union, and Israel's sworn enemies. You can listen to Gilder talk to bloggers about the book here [..]
I highly recommend The Israel Test for people who agree or disagree with Gilder's thesis. It is one of those rare books that will surprise and educadate the initiatied and the uninitiated. Bravo Mr. Gilder.

I hope The Israel Test will do for Israel what Gilder's Wealth and Poverty did for supply side economics.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Israel is a symbol of the fight against barbarism, September 11, 2009
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
The essence of this book is not about Israel; it's about a choice we all need to make: Do we live in envy of others who are smarter and richer, or do we instead appreciate them, work with and learn from them and thereby enhance our own lives. It's a choice we make on an individual level and essentially the same choice is made at a national level. Do we allow the forces of envy (most egregiously dominant in the Arab world, but also seen in the west) destroy the state of Israel, or do we help support a shining star of human achievement: the Jewish nation and the Jewish people.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing and educational, October 18, 2009
By 
Geoff Puterbaugh (Chiang Mai, T. Suthep, A. Muang Thailand) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
This book opens up with a didactic, even polemic, point of view: that everyone in America --- indeed, everyone on the planet --- is being tested right now by Israel. Not physically or politically tested, but morally tested. As it happens, I'm on Gilder's side, and so with me he's preaching to the choir.

The book then veers off into totally unexpected territory, recounting the career of John von Neumann, and this titanic genius's involvement with "just about everything important" in the science of his time, from the Manhattan Project through the invention of the computer. We are treated to a new retelling of this history, which brings out and emphasizes the Jewish contribution to winning World War II and paving the road for the future Silicon Valley.

The book then veers off into another unexpected place: the history of Israel, with emphasis on the past two decades. This stuff is absolutely fascinating: how the huge influx of Russian Jews suddenly brought sleepy Israel out of a somewhat dopey-dreamy socialism (you can probably imagine how fond the Russian Jews were of anything resembling Communism!) and turned the country into a high-tech frontier almost overnight (in historical time reference). Even though I spent my working life in the Silicon Valley, I missed this very important story, and if you are at all interested in high-tech and the future of information handling, you won't want to miss this.

By the time you have read these "digressions," it becomes clear why Gilder made them. Everyone in America needs to realize that Israel is no longer a "needy friend," if indeed it ever was. Modern defense has become drenched in high-tech, and in that regard alone Israel is a very valuable ally. The jihadis have this fixed idea about destroying both Israel and America, and we need to pay attention to this.

Just last week I somehow managed to wind up having dinner next to an Australian who confidently told me that Israel "could use a few bombs dropped on it." An Australian! And his favorite country was apparently....Iran...because it had a good birth-control policy, or something. I'm quite sure that this creepy man viewed himself as a "progressive" and maybe even a "peace-lover," but he struck me as The Mad Bomber, and one more piece of evidence that anti-Semitism is scarily on the rise in our times.

I hope you don't flunk the Israel test as badly as my erstwhile dinner companion. Reading this new book by George Gilder does wonders in clarifying a lot of issues which sinister people are trying to make murky. And when I say "sinister people," I mean people like Ahmedinejad, who is a very real and very sinister person indeed.

If you are interested in whether or not the current Administration passes "The Israel Test," you may find the following of interest: Obama's Betrayal of Israel (Encounter Broadsides).
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gilder, September 1, 2009
By 
Steve Waite (Shelton, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
George Gilder has been a constant source of inspiration to me over the years. Not only is he a first-rate writer, but his research skills are superb and his insights, penetrating. What I admire above all is George's work ethic and his rigorous approach to research. Put simply, he does his homework. In a way, he reminds me of the great physicist and Nobel Laureate, Richard Feynman. Feynman preferred not to take the conventional path to solving a problems or pursuing opportunities. He chose, instead, to approach them from the ground up in unique and innovative ways. Working in such a fashion, Feynman could see things that others had difficulty seeing. The same can be said of Gilder's approach. You may not agree with everything George says, but he will make you think long and hard about any subject he tackles.

And so it is with his latest book, The Israel Test. The book deals with a very important, sensitive, and politically-charged topic, and it does so in a refreshing and innovative way, reminiscent of Feynman. Gilder weaves a radiant tapestry that illuminates the importance of Israel and those of Jewish descent, to science, technology, capitalism, and the world at large. If you have enjoyed George's previous books, then I highly recommend reading The Israel Test. It is classic Gilder.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, August 27, 2009
By 
CJK (Falls Church, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
Other reviewers have described the book, I just wanted to add that this is a stunning book. I'm not a Jew, I don't live in Israel and have never read Gilder's books before, but this was a wonderful, amazing, eye-opening read. I would hope all Jewish people, especially Israelis, read this book and stop trying to apologize to the world for their existence. Gilder's analysis is so clear and obvious that anyone in the US State Department, foreign policy community, media, etc would be rendered simply speechless if they dared to read this book and consider its implications.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Manna for thought, September 22, 2009
By 
Christopher Barat (Owings Mills, MD, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
In recent years, the main locus of anti-Semitism has swung, slowly but perceptibly, from right to left. In this purposefully provocative book, Gilder, the author of WEALTH AND POVERTY and several other modern conservative classics, lays a finger on one potential reason why: Jews, by their success in all manner of fields -- in particular, by their success in turning Israel into a miniature technological dynamo -- have provoked envy and resentment in those less adept in straddling the cutting edge of change. Gilder's "test" posits that how one feels about Israel mirrors how one feels about exceptional individuals in any walk of life. Do you resent their success, or do you subscribe to Gilder's "golden rule of capitalism," that "the good fortune of others is also one's own"? By a logical extension, one's attitude toward Israel reflects how one regards human freedom. In the years after World War II, many liberals supported the establishment of Israel because of the fresh memories of the Holocaust, which cast Jews as victims. Now, the left has found other victims to succor, and a thriving Israel has become one of the "haves," and, therefore, a target.

Gilder's book breaks into three parts. The middle portion, with its lengthy description of how Israel shook up its slumbering socialist economy and encouraged venture capital to invest in the country, can be skimmed over by those not overly interested in contemporary technological developments. Even if "Israel Inside" doesn't interest you, you should still read the historical matter covering such important figures as John von Neumann and Albert Einstein. Parts one and three lay out the lineaments of Gilder's "test" in measured but straightforward language. I happen to believe that Gilder's argument holds water for the most part, though making it stick "on the ground" in the Middle East would be difficult; so many interests have a stake in the rather squalid status quo, and ethnic and religious disputes far predate the development of modern capitalism. Granted that its relentless focus on the importance of economic development leaves many other issues unexplored, Gilder's thesis is sound enough to be taken seriously by anyone interested in the maintenance and extension of political and economic freedom.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Israel: Gilder Gets It, September 22, 2009
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
A tour de force, even against the very high bar Gilder has set for himself by his earlier writings. Gilder doesn't just think outside the box; he creates a brand new box and then fills it to the brim with completely original insight and understanding. And as always, it's unmistakeably Gilder in the same way that the Jupiter Symphony is unmistakeably Mozart: a sublime product of a singular, remarkable voice.

You cannot openmindedly read any Gilder book without changing the way you look at the world, whether you agree with Gilder or not. The Israel Test is the most cogent explanation I have ever read of why the middle east is as it is. More important, it's a blueprint for what could be--a brilliant future for Israel AND its neighbors---that could only have been written by an incurable optimist with deep human feeling and an unparallelled grasp of economics.

GG pulls no punches, leaves no canard paddling. If you're uncomfortable with political incorrectness, you may as well just buy "Goodnight Moon" instead and save yourself six or seven dollars. Gilder's treatment of Dershowitz' concession of the premises of the discussion to the opponents of Israel---and how that renders nugatory Dershowitz' sophisticated lawyerly defenses---is alone worth the price of admission. And The Israel Test is a page-turner---spare prose, not a wasted word---right up there with the best James Patterson, so try not to get too much sand in the binding.

The Gilder Telecosm Conference will feature Gilder and many of the companies that appear in the book. [...]
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well thought and provocative (definately not mind-candy), August 3, 2009
By 
Edward Kless "Ed" (Allen, Texas, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Israel Test (Hardcover)
Even the thought of summarizing the premise of George Gilder's new book, The Israel Test, causes my mind to reel.

To attempt: The cause of the conflict between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries is not religion (although there are certainly elements) nor racism (although there are certainly elements), but rather it is caused by envy. Israel, in the 60 plus years of its existence, has been extraordinarily successful and the perception is that it has done so by taking from the Palestinians. In short, the conflict is about the zero-sum thinking of demand economics versus positive-sum thinking of supply-side economics. It is about the jealousy felt against people who have attained success and the belief that the only way they could have attained that success is by taking from others.

"The real issue is between the rule of law and the rule of leveler egalitarianism, between creative excellence and covetous `fairness',' between admiration of achievement versus envy and resentment of it," Gilder says.

In Part One, Zerizus, Gilder, in his best and most brilliant prose since Wealth & Poverty, develops this premise and destroys any and all arguments against it. He posits his Golden Rule of Capitalism - The good fortune of others is also one's own. One of the troubles with government, indeed with even democracy, is that government (transfers of wealth) and democracy (elections) are zero-sum, while the economic system, capitalism is positive-sum. This influences the thinking of all leaders in democracies that they need to create an equity of outcomes, not just an equality of opportunity. He terms these people, "handi-capitalists!"

In Part Two, Israel Inside, Gilder introduces us to Jewish and Israel scientists and entrepreneurs who have had a profound influence on the world as we know it and a few, who he believes, are about to have even great influence. Intel's latest microprocessors, they are coming from Israel; Petaflop networking, from Israel; Wireless high-definition interface standards, from Israel; Algorithms which map the human genome, Israel.

In Part Three, The Paradox of Peace, Gilder puts forth his by far most controversial and thought provoking postulate - the Peace Now movement inside and outside Israel, condemn themselves to Peace Never. Gilder quotes Nobel Laureate Robert Aumann, "If you want peace now, you may well never get peace. But if you have time - if you can wait - that changes the whole picture; then you might get peace now." Gilder states, "Peace requires the imposition of penalties on aggression."

Simply said, The Israel Test is not a easy read, but it is absolutely a must-read.
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The Israel Test
The Israel Test by George Gilder (Hardcover - July 22, 2009)
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