I’ve been asked the question why I don’t invest in Israeli companies, given my connections to Israel: Half my family is there, my father was born there, I have an Israeli passport, I lived there, I speak very bad Hebrew. And I think that it’s not that I don’t or would never invest in Israel, but Israel doesn’t meet many of the criteria that I have for a country to be investable for me.
It starts with the language. Although I enjoy trying to read Hebrew, it’s not a native language to me, and I can’t say that I can go through the accounts of a company happily and easily if those accounts were produced in Hebrew. And I think that thee are a lot of nuances that one can get when one is able to read the accounts in one’s native language. In my case, my native language is English, although I can read French and German, for example, far better than I can read Hebrew.
There’s also the geographic location of the country. Although there is no longer an Arab boycott, the country is not in a stable neighbourhood, and it’s a small country. And so I don’t have to invest in Israel. I can invest in the United States or in Western Europe. I have a number of investors from Israel, and to the extent that all I’m doing is recycling their savings back into Israel, that is also not optimal risk management for them.
So one could ask, what would be the circumstances in which I would invest in Israel? And I think that if the company produces its accounts in English and it’s a participant in a global industry, which does not wear Israel as less of a market for whatever product or service the company provides, but is more the home base of the management team, and in the event of a calamity of some kind, the location of the management team is not critical to the survival of the company. Then that would be that would take away many of those questions.
Perhaps one can say that Israel is closer in nature to Taiwan – than, say the United Kingdom. Taiwan has a very different system to China but it’s very close. China could exert enormous influence on the way events unfold in Taiwan. Similarly, Israel is a western system, but it is very proximate to a whole bunch of countries that don’t have a western system, and that environment could exert an enormous influence on how things in Israel unfold.
So there is the explanation. I don’t have a bias either towards or against Israel. It’s just the application of some general principles and ways of going about doing things that are that those that’s how they apply to Israel. I hope that that’s helpful.