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Israeli High Tech Is Not Just A Few Startups (Int'l Edition)

International -- Readers Report

Israeli High Tech Is Not Just a Few Startups (int'l edition)

Regarding "Violence may also leave scars on Israeli high tech" (The Middle East, Nov. 13): The bulk of Israel's high-tech sector (at least in terms of sales and industrial output) comes from established companies such as Scitex, ECI Telecom, Converse, Orbotech, Tadiran, and many others. These companies supply the lion's share of employment in Israel's high-tech industry--and stimulate the economy each time a product is manufactured and exported. Unlike most of the hot startups, they are well-entrenched and not dependent on what foreign investors view each night on TV.

If, as your writer claims, "instability could divert the recent influx of foreign capital," that might be a blessing in disguise for Israeli high tech. Because of the influx of more than $5 billion in venture capital since 1993, the focus of the industry has changed. From building world-class enterprises that sell worldwide, control their own means of distribution, and contribute to the local economy, it is shifting to startups that carry astronomically high price tags, sell or produce next to nothing, and operate as if they were one step away from being acquired by a U.S. high-tech giant.

As a result, Israeli high-tech companies have given up trying to grow, prosper, and build dynamic enterprises. Why bother investing in marketing if the goal is to have a Cisco Systems Inc. or Intel Corp. buy the company for access to its leading-edge technology?

A good slap in the face for Israel's booming startup industry may be just what the doctor ordered to get Israel's science-based industries back on track and have them start serving the needs of the country rather than lining the pockets of foreign investors.

Joel Bainerman

Zichron Yaacov, IsraelReturn to top

Why Filipinos Are Behind President Estrada (int'l edition)

"A power vacuum could engulf the Philippines" (International Outlook, Oct. 30) says that President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, a former action-film star, needs a "better script" to stop a fresh clamor by his critics for him to resign--in the face of an expose on his alleged links to jueteng, an illegal numbers racket. The truth is, it is the anti-Estrada forces that must write a better script.

The latest survey by pollster Pulse Asia shows that a majority of Filipinos still support the Chief Executive and do not buy the yarn of Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson about alleged jueteng payoffs to the President. In the Senate investigation into Singson's charges, senators have found one inconsistency after another in his allegation of supposed wrongdoings.

Most business and political leaders are also seeking an end to this jueteng brouhaha, believing that it is hurting the country's economic turnaround. With strong fundamentals in place, the Philippines have rebounded from the two-year Asian crisis, as shown by robust exports, low inflation, low interest rates, a trade surplus, a healthy agricultural sector, and all-time high gross international reserves of more than $15 billion. Just recently, the International Monetary Fund expressed confidence that the Philippines can achieve its economic targets and attract more investment, particularly in the fiercely competitive electronics sector.

Such positive assessments show that opposition groups eager to grab power long before the 2004 presidential election could do the Filipino people a big favor by putting politics aside for a while and helping the government stimulate the economy instead.

Michael T. Toledo

Philippines Press Undersecretary

ManilaReturn to top

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