Israel’s Culture and Demography Make It Less Vulnerable to Epidemics—and to Terrorism—than Europe

According to the World Health Organization, Europe has replaced China as the center of the coronavirus epidemic. By contrast, Israel seems thus far to have been more successful at containing its spread. Eyal Zisser ascribes the differences to two factors: the much larger proportion of the European population that is elderly (and thus more vulnerable to disease) and Israel’s swifter and more aggressive response:

There is a distinct connection between these two factors: . . . the European ideal of living for today and preferring a certain quality of life and prosperity over having and raising children is . . . at the root of Europe’s low birth rates. These low birthrates have led to severe shortages of workers and the flooding of the continent with labor migrants from across the globe, mainly from Africa and the Arab world.

The challenges facing Europe were evident as early as ten years ago when the threat of Islamic terror intensified. At the root of this threat were the Muslim immigrants across the continent who failed to assimilate. The European response to this challenge was denial. Unlike Israel, instead of dealing with the threat, the Europeans opted to tolerate terroristic motivations and avoided implementing measures to protect themselves—all in the name of preserving the rights of the individual and concerns over lowering the quality of life.

The Europeans have grown accustomed to criticizing and preaching to the Jewish state, but it appears that tiny Israel has some things to teach Europe. . . . [T]he Israeli way of doing things provides a model of how a modern Western country can be capable of rallying society and state institutions toward a singular purpose, while also maintaining dynamism, growth, openness—and yes, a positive natural growth rate as well.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Coronavirus, Demography, Europe, Israeli society

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood