Israel should work to lower the birth rate in the country, millionaire Benny Landa, founder of Indigo, a market leader in digital color printing systems, said Tuesday.
Landa was speaking at the Herzliya Conference held by the Institue for Policy and Strategy at Interdisciplinary Center. Landa advocated lowering the Israeli birthrate to salvage the economy.
“We are quickly marching towards becoming a third world country. Children under the age of 14 in Israel constitute 28 percent of the population, twice the average in the western world, and that puts an enormous burden on employment and the economy,” Landa said.
Landa also said that although he knew he might be called anti-Jewish and a racist, he urged leaders "to assume their leadership and take unpopular steps" to reduce the birthrate in Israel.
Landa explained that although Israel’s population was larger than that of Ireland, Denmark, and Sweden, Israel was by far the poorest of the four countries.
Among Landa's audience were numerous representatives from the Jewish Agency, devoted to bringing in immigrants from all over the world to Israel, but Landa's comments provoked no outrage in the lecture hall.
Over the past few years many European countries have shown a great interest in increasing childbirth rates and now offer incentives like government stipends for families, much like the Israeli model.
Using this existing system Landa advocates trading the stipends for significant tax breaks, in a way that will encourage employment instead of simply increasing the birthrate.
'Foreign investments an illusion'
Landa explained in his lecture that way economic strength is measured in today's world is by calculating the gross national product against the individual and that over the course of the past decade the Israeli population has grown significantly while the GNP has not.
"Contrary to popular opinion – that our economy is strong – our ranking on the table of global wealth drops every year," said Landa. Therefore, he postulates, there are two ways to maintain economic fortitude: encourage international corporations to open factories in Israel as well as limit birthrates.
Landa recently berated the state treasury and their encouragement of foreign investments as "the stupidity and penny-pinching of lowly clerks." Landa also slammed the hoopla over the sale of Iscar to Warren Buffet, saying that foreign investments were an illusion in that no new jobs were created in the process.
Benny Landa is the founder of Indigo, involved in digital photography, which in the past was purchased by computer technology giant hp in one of the largest deals in the history of Israel's economy. Landa himself immigrated to Israel from Poland in the 1970s. He now runs Indigo as an independent division of 'hp Israel'.