The Teva Crisis Can Be an Opportunity for the Periphery

                                                                                    The Teva Crisis Can Be an Opportunity for the Periphery

For the most part the periphery is considered a place with few opportunities, and rife with unemployment. The reality is different, sometimes the opposite. How can the layoffs at Teva turn the Galilee into a center of research, development and innovation?

Meirav Aharon Gutman and Roee Gutman

We are accustomed to seeing burning tires in the Periphery and hearing the claims that the Central District drains economic and social resources for its own continued development. The acrid smoke from burning tires at the entrance to Teva’s headquarters and R & D offices in Kfar Saba and Netanya, is the signal for another sort of option; rerouting these forces to strengthen a new geographic strategy. This could be a new strategy that turns the Upper Eastern Galilee into a center of knowledge and technology in the fields of agro-biotech, food, nutrition and environmental sciences.


The battle for jobs at Teva is turning into the all too familiar labor dispute: veteran workers are burning tires and as sole breadwinners are demanding the state intervene and “take responsibility”, and that the government reach deep into the public’s pockets, once again. 

 Minister of the Economy, Eli Cohen and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, please do not simply hand out more money.  We ask to illustrate how the catastrophe at Teva headquarters and R & D department is in actuality an opportunity for Kiryat Shmona and the Upper Eastern Galilee. If public funds are allotted for economic and labor solutions, they should be directed to backing the most interesting and important developments taking place in the country today, e.g., establishing the Upper Eastern Galilee as an area of innovation and expertise in environment, ecology, agro-biotech, food, and nutritional sciences.

The Eastern Galilee’s strategy for development is one of the most advanced in Israel: first comes employment, then housing. Not development from “above” but rather a vision for the region derived from the area’s strengths and advantages, not from conflicting authorities but rather a real partnership of cooperation between local authorities and regional councils who work together to develop communities of substance and significance. Not only are there blue-collar jobs, but also research and development opportunities as well. This strategy is beginning to bear fruit throughout the Galilee and the relative unavailability of a skilled labor force is a limiting factor in this process.

Much has been written and said about Center-Periphery relations in Israel. The periphery is often perceived as having limited opportunities and high unemployment. However, the reality is somewhat different, sometimes even the opposite. The situation is not a result of budget shortages (e.g., the value of tax benefits, development grants and more) or opportunities, but rather, in many instances, a shortage of skilled labor.

Now imagine that the same 170 laid-off R & D employees from Teva were to relocate to the Upper Galilee. In our understanding, this may be the critical step needed for the Eastern Galilee to realize its goal of becoming a hub of research, development and innovation.

We suggest that the current crisis be used to denote deeper adjustments in the job market, and to promote academia and advanced R & D in the Upper Eastern Galilee by broadening the direct and indirect backing of academic institutions, research institutes, startups and incubators that can absorb trained R&D personnel, including those fired by Teva. A process already exists for the integration of returning scientists, whereby the state contributes some of the salary costs for the first three years. We propose broadening this track to accommodate any former Teva employees who are ready and willing to move to the Upper Eastern Galilee.

Don’t just hand out more money. Now is the time for other options and more creative solutions. This may include disrupting the Central District’s monopoly on the advancement of R & D programs.  By offering more opportunities to PhDs in the Galilee, including minorities, to find work relevant to their talents, and creating new places for young people to express themselves professionally, we can be partners in progress.  Meanwhile, senior executives and the board of directors in the more established institutions, continue to operate on the classic structure of inequalities: age, ethnicity and gender.

Creating such a renewal in the Galilee will enable the expansion of employment prospects along with some timely social change.

The authors, Dr. Merav Aharon Gutman, a member of the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion and Dr. Roee Gutman, chair of the Department of Life Sciences at Tel-Hai College and chair of a research group at MIGAL Scientific Research Institute in the Galilee, Ltd., were born, and still reside, in the Galilee.