Statement of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney in support of H. Res. 1391
Sixty-two years ago, Israelis began the difficult process of creating a country from nothing. For more than a thousand years, the territory that is now Israel had been ruled by a series of far-off empires. It had no infrastructure, no history of self-rule, no major industrial base and very few large enterprises.
After Israel’s establishment in 1948, Israelis created their own institutions from scratch. Israel has grown from an impoverished backwater colony to an economic powerhouse in the region. And although it has fewer natural resources than most nations of the world, it has made the most of what is has, investing in knowledge, development, innovation and medicine. Today, Israel is a center of scientific, medical and technological innovation, a leader in agriculture, water purification, alternative energy and public health.
Israel is a flourishing democracy, with a strong free press, a free and independent judiciary and a strong banking system that protects the safety and soundness of its financial institutions. The World Bank ranks Israel among the 30 countries in which it is easiest to do business. It is tied for fourth in ease of getting credit and tied for fifth in protecting investors. Similarly, the World Economic Forum rated Israel fifth of 133 nations on the Forum’s legal rights index and 15th in judicial independence and 15th in financial market sophistication.
Israel’s founders wanted to create an agricultural Garden of Eden – and since much of its territory consists of desert, its farmers developed techniques for growing crops in arid ground, using very little water. These techniques are now being marketed and used in developing nations across the globe. As part of its acceptance into OECD, Israel has agreed to increase its aid to underdeveloped nations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. As part of that promise, Israel will be sending hundreds of experts in agriculture, water, and irrigation to impoverished areas, as well as experts in alternative energy, public health, education, and internal security. By sharing its knowledge, Israel will be helping its neighbors and improving relationships with developing countries. Even before OECD acceptance, Israel astounded the world by arriving in Haiti with a high tech field hospital that was able to perform sophisticated procedures and save lives.
With oil producing nations hostile to it, and very little oil or gas of its own, Israel learned to become energy efficient, using solar power and other alternative fuels. With little land and few natural resources, Israel positioned itself at the cutting edge of technological innovation. Many of the technological innovations we take for granted, including instant messaging, security firewalls, artificial stents, wireless computer chips, were developed in Israel. In 2010, the World Economic Forum ranked Israel 27th out of 133 countries in its Growth Competitiveness Index. Israel ranked third in quality of scientific research institutions, fourth in utility patents, seventh in life expectancy, ninth in innovation, 15th in availability of the latest technologies. Israel leads the world in the number of high-technology start-up companies, scientific publications, and research and development spending per capita.
Acceptance in the OECD is a mark of member nations' respect for Israel's economic progress, and it will help Israel attract foreign investors and develop its markets. Membership will enhance Israel’s status in the world and will enhance its participation in other international bodies. It is no secret that the Palestinian Authority tried hard to deny Israel membership in the OECD precisely because they were concerned that OECD membership would enhance Israel’s reputation in the world and strengthen its ties with other nations around the globe.
Madam Speaker, Israel’s accession to the OECD is a remarkable achievement. I am pleased to join my colleagues in saluting Israel’s success and in expressing appreciation to the OECD members for their unanimous decision to accept Israel as a member. For all of the foregoing reasons, I urge my colleagues to support H. Res. 1391.