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Israel's national leadership established a socialist economy when Israel gained independence in 1948. The purpose of this approach was to establish economic self-sufficiency, particularly agriculturally, in the face of hostile neighbors and to provide jobs for a population rapidly expanding through immigration. The socialist nature of the economy created a great deal of inefficiency which the government was able to offset through foreign aid, first in the form of West German Holocaust reparations then through direct aid, primarily from western nations.
Following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War Israeli defense spending rose dramatically, exposing the weaknesses of the state-run economy. The result was rampant inflation that led Israel to recall the lira in 1980 and issue the sheqel. This move did not sufficiently curb inflation and consequently the sheqel was recalled in 1985 in favor for the Israeli new sheqel. Israel had also undertaken a privatization effort beginning in the late 1970s. The economy received a boost in the early 1990s with the arrival of several hundred thousand immigrants form the former Soviet Union. As a significant number of the immigrants were highly educated, Israel accelerated its privatization in order to encourage the high-skilled workers to stay. The new high-skill labor also attracted a lot of foreign direct investment. Israel's growth over the past decade has been commensurate with western developed nations.