WASHINGTON - Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz arrived in Boston on Monday in hopes of bringing "Israeli brains" homes. In a rare meeting, the finance minister asked to discuss ideas on how to get back the many Israelis that have completed their doctorates in law and medicine, as well as professors and graduate students at Harvard Business School and MIT.
Over 150 academics, half of which study life sciences, attended the meeting at the Israeli Consulate in Boston, Massachusetts, which was put together in cooperation with the BioAbroad organization, which works to help Israeli academics return.
Participants said the finance minister was surprised by the large number of people who attended the meeting.
Speaking briefly, Steinitz explained how Israel had managed to emerge from the global economic crisis relatively unharmed, preached Zionism to his audience, and told them that part of the growth in the Israeli market would come from them.
During the meeting, it became clear to Steinitz that the Israeli academics do not need encouragement to come back, but are in need of suitable workplaces upon their return.
Finance minister with Israeli academics (Photo: Nir Landau)
They expressed to him their frustration with the lack of jobs in the field of life sciences and the lack of coordination with workplaces that demand they fly to Israel on short notice for a job interview.
Steinitz vowed to send employment fairs abroad in hopes of solving this problem.
The finance minister then listened to ideas and suggestions from the participants on how to bring them home. He plans to return to Israel and work to create the right conditions to bring the academics back.
Steinitz also said he would send the Finance Ministry's Director General Haim Shani for another meeting in April, during his scheduled visit to the United States.
The prestigious universities in the Boston area attract many talented Israeli students. The Israeli Consul General Nadav Tamir has been cooperating with the BioAbroad organization for the past three years to help Israeli academics.
According to Tamir, "When we started the work to create a database of Israelis in academia here, we could only dream that the finance minister himself would come and hear them out and examine what the government can do."
The BioAbroad website connects Israeli academics abroad with employers in Israel, and provides information on job openings, scholarships, business initiatives and the return to Israel.