The fifth book by Avi Jorisch carves out a distinct place in the oeuvre of non-fiction exposing and explaining the prowess, global impact, and bouquet of life enhancing and life saving innovations flowing from of Israel. Jorisch adds a twist revealed in the title.
Thou Shall Innovate: How Israeli Ingenuity Repairs the World, does not add much to what we already know from other sources about Israel’s prodigious STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) innovations. But Jorisch finds spiritual meaning, or “higher purpose,” as a secular man prefers, in them. Jorisch surmises there is an eternal message beyond the fun and intriguing stories behind the innovations he unmasks.
Jorisch sounds a bit sappy at times, but his credentials are impressive. Jorisch is a businessman, writer, and Senior Fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. He believes it is no accident nor happenstance that Israel’s innovations are curing the sick, feeding the hungry, protecting the weak, and, in the “Jewish prophetic tradition—whether consciously or unconsciously—has created a remarkable culture of innovation that is being marshaled in large part to solve the world’s most formidable problems…Our purpose as human beings, Judaism argues, is to gather as many sparks as possible, to restore God’s broken vessels and make the world a better place.” Especially read the chapter, “The Lame Shall Walk.”
Jorisch deftly weaves the stories into a silk web of religious and political justifications for the State. He uses Israel’s ingenuity in STEM to gin up the generally woeful hasbarah (a struggling effort to justify and explain Israel’s existence through public diplomacy and public relations). Israel is having a world-changing impact because of its innovations “on agriculture, medicine, water, and defense…making life better for billions of people around the world.” I agree wholeheartedly with Jorisch.
I was thinking about Jorisch’s vision while reading about the drought in Iran. It defines the perfect scenario for a partnership between adversarial nations tethered by strong religious faith that will exemplify the value of the technologies’ higher purposes.
For example, from my experience, in 70 short years, Israel morphed from a dust bowl to an exporting agricultural powerhouse designing, engineering and applying biotech and high technology that grow abundant foodstuffs in desert sands. Israelis perfected “The Perfect Drip” to feed exponentially growing populations and remediate environmental barriers forefending water and food shortages. But after the technology comes to market, it is up to thousands of Israeli NGOs like Sivan Ya’ari’s Innovation: Africa to share solar, agricultural and water technologies with rural African villages and others around the world.
Ripped from the headlines, I share a story about Iranian farmers protesting a lack of water threatening their livelihoods and national food supplies in July 2018. There is a devastating drought in the Middle East. Their crops used to feed the nation’s 100M people. I was thinking about Jorisch’s vision while reading about the drought. It defines the perfect scenario for a partnership between adversarial nations tethered by strong religious faith that will exemplify the value of the technologies’ higher purposes. By the way, Jorisch is an internationally recognized and go-to expert about Iran.
The outro of Thou Shall Innovate is not about STEM and brilliant scientists. The final chapter’s title is, Be a Mensch. “Making the world a better place.” The subject is technical in a lot of books, but Jorisch makes the stories and wondrous achievements feel personal like the reader is watching it unfold on camera in real time.
There are 33 pages of footnotes, 23 pages of Bibliography, and a comprehensive Index. The architecture of the book goes far beyond that of other books on the subject in my experience. It gives confidence Jorisch undertook assiduous research and his reporting is trustworthy. The message I got from Jorisch: scientific innovations are less meaningful without purposefulness, and that message makes this a must read for start-up innovators, researchers, students, and entrepreneurs. They must never lose sight of why they are meant for success.
Dr. Goldmeier is a public speaker and writer. He teaches international university students in Tel Aviv. Goldmeier worked in government, is an entrepreneur and consultant on business, social and public policy matters.