Daniel Doron, the notable Israeli free market thinker and the recipient last year of The Heritage Foundation’s inaugural Steven M. Sass Economic Freedom Award, died Feb. 28 at the age of 92.

The annual Economic Freedom Award was established specifically to recognize individuals and organizations that promote free market principles.

Indeed, throughout his career of promoting policies of economic freedom and entrepreneurship, Doron had been a leading voice promoting market-oriented reform of Israel’s economy for more than 60 years.  

He founded the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress in 1983. The center, an independent, pro-market public policy think tank, has since its founding been the most influential advocate of economic freedom there.

In remarks in 2009 that are as relevant today as they were then, Doron elaborated on why he fights for economic freedom:

Since the recent financial crisis, we have heard many voices asserting that it revealed that the market economy was deeply flawed; that the “invisible hand” cannot be relied upon any longer to promote economic welfare; and that we must, therefore, resort more and more for the correction of its putative faults to the all-too-visible hand of regulation; namely, of government.

The powerful lessons we have learned in Israel run in the opposite direction. They teach that government control and regulation aggravate, rather than solve, problems.

They also point out that globalization—namely, enhanced global trade, also under attack—has been highly beneficial precisely for developing nations.

Doron further noted:

But above all we have learned in Israel that free and prosperous markets provide the most powerful incentive for peace, not just paper peace signed by politicians, but [also] a real peace between people who recognize the benefits of peace when it is based on the mutual interests of people and on the mutual cooperation that it engenders.

Over the past few decades, Israel has risen into the ranks of countries whose economies are “mostly free,” according to The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom, a policy guidebook that tracks free market policies and economic governance of nations across the globe. (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)

More specifically, Israel’s openness to global commerce has been an important factor in promoting innovation and productivity growth. The relatively sound judicial framework that sustains the rule of law and provides consistent protection for property rights has also contributed to economic stability and long-term competitiveness.

The small, but capable, Israeli economy has charted an upward trajectory of economic freedom over the past 26 years. Israel is striving to be a scale-up nation, and more market-based reforms will facilitate its progress toward greater economic freedom and entrepreneurial dynamism.

Much of that progress has stemmed from the efforts of principled free market thinkers and freedom advocates, such as Doron.

As the now-deceased Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once pointed out, “Daniel Doron has consistently been perhaps the most effective proponent of a strictly free market approach in Israel.”

Indeed, Friedman’s keen observation about Doron was well-received by many. We at The Heritage Foundation were honored to have the opportunity to recognize the remarkable achievements of Doron in his lifetime of service in the promotion of economic freedom through Heritage’s Sass Economic Freedom Award.

In a lecture at The Heritage Foundation in 1991, Doron emphasized:

Educating people to function in a market economy is a long, arduous process, but there are no shortcuts. It is the reformer’s task not to hit their opponents over their heads, but to educate them patiently, convince them that through individual freedom and free markets their yearning for a better life can be realized sooner, more peacefully, and even more justly.

Indeed, Doron’s insightful words still ring true and remain even more relevant today.

Rest in peace, Daniel Doron.

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