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Foreign Aid Should Be Used to Help the Palestinian Economy, Not to Line Pockets

The Palestinian Authority (PA) receives billions of dollars in foreign aid every year, much of it from the United States. Yet economic conditions in Gaza and the West Bank have been steadily deteriorating. Blaming the PA’s “corruption, inefficiency, and lack of transparency” for the fact that these funds have done little to improve the lives of Palestinians, Shimon Shapira and Jacques Neriah call on the U.S. to see to it that its money be used more wisely, and suggest a number of ways this can be accomplished:

[T]he PA suffers from underdevelopment, virulent poverty, pandemic housing problems, unemployment, lack of adequate medical care, inadequate educational institutions, a catastrophic infrastructure, and ecological and environmental hazards stemming from the pollution of water sources and aquifers—all of which became ammunition for radical Islamic organizations, which have taken advantage of the plight of much of the population to incite against Israel, the Jews, and foreign powers associated with the Jewish state, mainly the United States. . . .

[I]t is of the utmost importance that the U.S. propose an improved economic recovery plan to the Palestinians that will generate a situation in which Palestinians will not allow the extremists to rule their lives. The recovery must not be another cash handout to the Palestinians, but rather a program aimed at improving Palestinian infrastructure. . . . [To this end], the U.S. will have to present a package deal to be disbursed over the next few years to create growth, employment, prosperity, and recovery. All projects would be implemented by U.S. firms working with local sub-contractors. . . .

[For instance], Palestinian cities are a city planner’s nightmare. Reorganizing the cities/refugee camps to best serve their citizens should be a priority. The Gaza Strip is one of the densest areas in the world. The only way to survive the demographic outburst is . . . by dismantling the existing refugee camps and building instead a modern complex of high-rise towers together with the required infrastructure (kindergartens, schools, playgrounds, clinics/hospitals, and municipal services). In the new political situation, it is inconceivable that a condition can be allowed to exist in which a Palestinian refugee living in his own state will still be considered a refugee.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian economy, U.S. Foreign policy

Israel’s Success Has Surprised Everyone

April 20 2018

On the eve of Israel’s decision to declare statehood, 70 years ago, the CIA estimated that a Jewish state couldn’t hold off its Arab enemies for more than two years, while the famed Haganah commander Yigael Yadin told David Ben-Gurion that their chances of victory were fifty-fifty. Daniel Gordis describes just how wildly the country has managed to outpace expectations:

In 1948, there were some 650,000 Jews in Israel, who represented about 5 percent of the world’s Jews. Today, Israel’s Jewish population has grown ten-fold and stands at about 6.8 million people. Some 43 percent of the world’s Jews live in Israel; this population overtook American Jews several years ago and is now the world’s largest Jewish community. . . .

Beyond mere survival, the other challenge that the young Jewish state faced was feeding and housing the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were flocking to its borders. At times, financial collapse seemed imminent. Food was rationed and black markets developed. Israel had virtually no heavy machinery for building the infrastructure that it desperately needed. Until Germany paid Holocaust reparations, the young state’s financial condition was perilous.

Today, that worry also feels like a relic from another time. Israel is not only a significant military power, but also a formidable economic machine. A worldwide center for technology that has more companies listed on the Nasdaq than any country other than the U.S., Israel’s economy barely hiccupped in 2008. The shekel, its currency, is strong. Like other countries, Israel has a worrisome income gap between rich and poor, but fears of an economic collapse have vanished.

Israel has become an important cultural center, vastly disproportionately for a country whose population approximates that of New York City. When the five finalists for the Man Booker literary prize were announced last year, two were Israelis who write in Hebrew: David Grossman and Amos Oz. Grossman won. . . . Today, Americans and Europeans alike wait hungrily for new episodes of Israeli shows like Fauda, while others (like Homeland and The A-Word) have been remade into American and British series.

On the occasion of Independence Day, Israelis are fully conscious—and deeply proud—of the fact that their country has exceeded the ambitions of the men and women who founded it seven decades ago.

Read more at Bloomberg

More about: David Ben-Gurion, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Israeli Independence Day, Israeli literature, Israeli society