Monday, April 07, 2008

The Economist on Israel

I do not have time for an extended analysis of the Special Report on Israel in The Economist, but I will say that it is a 60th birthday present that the country can easily do without. Not content with a decidedly one-sided critique of Israel's security challenges, The Economist exerts itself to expose the weaknesses of Israel's economy and society, in what amounts to a rather eager prophecy of the coming end of the Zionist dream.

Take for example the following claim about the "mirage" that is Israel's "miracle":
Moreover, Israel's ability to capitalise on the internet boom was a lucky one-off. The big innovations of this century, argues Ze'ev Tadmor, of the Technion, a university in Haifa, will be in biotech, nanotech, smart materials, alternative energy and other things that the army's well-funded research units are not particularly interested in. Much of this kind of work must be done in academia, where Israel is weaker. Its seven big universities have a combined government research budget of around $100m, whereas America's Massachusetts Institute of Technology alone gets $950m from the federal government.
I'm sorry Mr./Ms Economist, but I can't think of a more misleading comparison than this one! To pretend somehow that this particular statistic exposes the mortal weakness of Israel's economy is ridiculous.


Eamonn said...

yes. you might as well say, "Israel is a much smaller country than the USA". And the teenage scribblers at the Economist actually get paid to serve up stuff like that...

Nobody said...

I am more impressed by the way they treat nationalism and religion. I am under strong impression that social and political sciences in the West no longer preoccupy themselves with the reality as such but with that sterile, i would call it even castrated, political vision of liberalism. These people have decided that the time of nation state is over because they dont like it. So it's over. It's as simple as that

:D :D

Nobody said...

You know, a huge part of Israel's success is due to its being a nation state. I can't imagine any country surviving something on the scale of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Oriental Jews like Israel did. We were supposed to end in one big Lebanon.

I would even go farther and say that not even regular nation states are necessarily capable of coping with such challenges. Jewish national identity is a special one.

Anyway, it's impossible to discuss such matters without mentioning very obvious advantages of having a nation state. In particular in a region where tribe was and remains paramount for people's sense of identity.

Why the solution should be abandonment of nation state? Just because we have a disgruntled Arab minority? But this minority is not that big and as the Economist rightly notices it's rapidly losing its demographic edge. In fact the collapse of Arab fertility is proceeding at a such rate that I won't be surprised if within the next 15-20 years the Arab sector will start shrinking relative to the Jewish sector. Let alone that we can see what's going on around us to know that this is part of the general trend.

Maybe the solution should be in locking the borders, taking additional measures to crash Arab birth rates inside Israel and unilaterally fencing off some Arab areas. It's a much more practical, safe and predictable way to treat the problem instead of treading in the footsteps of Iraq and former Yugoslavia.

When it comes to practical recommendations this media is no longer capable of relating to problems in a practical and pragmatic way. Even such a magazine as the Economist which is supposed to represent the best of political sciences, can offer surprisingly little in terms of analysis and even less in terms of practical suggestions. It's just another mouthpiece of the international movement of mahatma-gandhis.