Monday, July 5, 2010

Economic Peace Redux

Bassim Khoury, the former Economics Minister of the Palestinian Authority, and the CEO of Pharmacare (whose generic drugs meet German import standards), answers in the current Foreign Policy those who would have us believe that economic development in the West Bank is either impressively robust or can continue irrespective of political change. In fact, as Salaam Fayyad insisted in his meeting with Ehud Barak today, the crimping of Palestine's economy, owing to the occupation of East Jerusalem and Area C, is among the status quo's most dangerous realities. (Check out, as Khoury did, this sobering report by the IMF team in East Jerusalem, led by the indomitable Oussama Kanaan.)

Incidentally, I once invited Bassim Khoury to participate in a panel at the Van Leer Institute, and when it was over, and we were walking out onto Jabotinsky Street, he looked across the way, to the house at the far corner, and said: "You know, my grandfather planted that tree." Khoury is making no claims to his family's old house in Talbiyeh, which is more than we can expect from the disturbed settlers in Sheikh Jarrah. If living well is really the best revenge, would not helping the Palestinians live well be our own best therapy?

11 comments:

Y. Ben-David said...

"Occupation" is not necessarily an impediment to economic development. Hong Kong was under 150 years of British occupation, that didn't stop them from developing a thriving economy. Germany and Japan built their economic miracles during a period of strict Allied military occupation. Germany and Japan, to this day, have foreign military forces stationed on their soil. The Palestinian territories had one of the highest economic growth rates in the world in the 1970's and 80's under Israeli occupation, with a tremendous growth in the people's standard of living.

The reason for the problems with economic development in recent years is not because of "occupation", but because the Palestinians decided to use the "peace process" NOT to develop their economy....millions of dollars of aid were pocketed by corrupt Palestinian Authority figures (including Arafat, Abbas and many others on downwards), but rather to make a terror war on Israel. That is the reason the security wall was built and the roadblocks erected. Because the Palestinians wanted and still want a long-term war of attrition against Israel. That is their priority, not benefitting their people.

BTW-Bernie, how do you know Khoury doesn't want the house back? Why did he mention the tree in the first place? I haven't heard that Abu Mazen has given up demands for the Palestinian "right of return" . Maybe Khoury is reminding you that YOU are a "settler", too, no less than the Jews of Sheikh Jarrah? After all, both you and I immigrated to Israel based on "ancient land claims" no different than the Jews returned to Sheikh Jarrah. What does Khoury think of that?

Potter said...

Excellent Khoury article (linked above) apparently Ben David did not bother to read never mind absorb.

The British and the Allies (including Americans) helped, did not hinder, economic development each during their very different occupations, with very different goals from that of israel's hindrance politically and economically of a Palestinian State,.

The British after the long "age of colonization", respected modern international law, decolonized, leaving behind a lot of development, infrastructure,including a language ( English) that is now essential for trade relations, that helps to make Hong Kong, for instance, economically strong, ready to compete globally. The British colonial period aid to the development of a global Hong Kong (one example) was phenomenal.

The Americans were not interested in keeping land for settlers or security, neither a Japanese colony, nor a German one. Allied responsibilities were taken seriously : combating hunger, disease, and crime, re-establishing industry and utilities, housing, education, newspapers, elections, and dealing with displaced persons etc. Allied occupation of Germany postwar lasted 4 years.

Ben-David you should be loathe to bring your comparisons up, a bogus case for the nefarious dream of a "status quo". The differences from those examples you being up put Israel's occupation to shame while they make Israel insecure.

(If Bernard Avishai migrated to Israel after 1948, to the legitimate State of israel, which I believe he did, then it must not have been about "ancient land claims" though there is plenty of evidence of Jewish presence in the state of israel, but from what I read here, rather a desire to help build a normal modern state,where Jews, but also Arabs ,have a place, in compliance with international law, and, from a higher moral sensiblity that what we see now, a vision as to what that means in practical terms.

The point of the Khoury anecdote, as I read it, is acceptance, moving forward -not greed and ancient claims.

Peter Schwartz said...

Though I'm of Potter's persuasion, I have to admit that YBD has a point about "all of Israel" being occupied territory...in principle.

This is one of the reasons this conflict is so complex and discussions seem to lead down sinuous pathways if not in circles.

The Nakbha, which is the Palestinians' starting point, refers to the whole of Israel, AFAIK, not just the occupied territories. It may even refer to the much smaller section that was allotted to it by the UN originally.

The Arabs, AFAIK, didn't want the Jews to have any of it for a state and didn't accept the legitimacy of any of it.

In discussions such as this, when it's mentioned by the "pro Israeli side," if I can use that term, that the UN put forth a partition plan that the Jews accepted and the Arabs didn't but chose war instead, it's frequently countered that, well, the Arabs weren't a part of the UN at that time and, in any case, their objections were simply ignored by the world body--even though it was "Arab land" and presumably theirs to dispose of according to their own lights.

So, whereas the zillion UN resolutions condemning Israel are treated as dispositive of Israel's crimes against humanity and its overall no-goodnik-keit, the ORIGINAL UN resolution is treated as a fraud. "Of course, the Arabs rejected this colonial enterprise. Of course, they took up arms against it. Wouldn't you?" ... is the refrain one hears.

And nothing in the subsequent history--including facts on the ground as Israel established herself--is thought to disqualify this argument in principle. Israel stole 98% of her land to begin with, and she's just gone on stealing.

Even the land Jews bought is not considered to be legitimately theirs because it was bought, largely, from absentee landlords without consulting its true owners, the fela who lived there and farmed it.

Now, as a matter of facts on the ground, most people accept that no one is going to remove 6 million Jews from Israel. But the foundational illegitimacy of all of Israel hovers behind these arguments and is pulled out whenever needed to counter this or that Israeli claim (like the original UN resolution). Message? "Don't push it, son, you're a bastard and you're lucky we're letting you stay." Crudely put, I know, but kinda the point.

This is why Israel is still frequently described as a colonial enterprise even though other ME states, notably Saudi Arabia, favor certain ethnic and religious groups, but are considered "legitimate" if repressive. Nothing stirs the juices of indignation like I.S.R.A.E.L.

I think it's one of the reasons Israelis are reluctant to give way, even on small points.

Potter said...

Now, as a matter of facts on the ground, most people accept that no one is going to remove 6 million Jews from Israel. But the foundational illegitimacy of all of Israel hovers behind these arguments and is pulled out whenever needed to counter this or that Israeli claim (like the original UN resolution). Message? "Don't push it, son, you're a bastard and you're lucky we're letting you stay." Crudely put, I know, but kinda the point.

Peter you are talking about history. How do we move forward? Arabs have come a long way- "in principle" they accept, are willing to accept Israel, they say they will accept Israel as soon as there is a justice, a compromise, in accordance with international law. They have proposed their Arab Initiative ( of 2002) which is at the very least a good start if not entirely satisfactory to some. Yet there has been no response from Israel that I know of. Yet every peace-minded commentator/advocate mentions this opening. Arabs, especially Palestinians, are willing to be reasonable it seems. They need to be put to the test. Instead we hear focus on hardliners as though there are no Israeli hardliners to match.

Israel should agree to the borders that it had, that the world accepted, after Independence ( 1948)- the green line-basically, with a few exchanges as both sides require. The problem is that this argument that Ben David makes constantly- that all of Israel is illegitimate- is a barrier that the Ben-David's put up to avoid compromise at all, thinking, I don't know what, that force force and more force will make Israel prevail?? They consign their kids, all Israeli kids to emigrating abroad to find peace and security or to living in a warrior state- not much of a homeland.

The Ben-Davids like to avoid acknowledging that there was an injustice in the forming of Israel. Tell me that this is a progressive or leftist argument to avoid the truth. Arabs, "the enemy" that Israel must make peace with require this recognition. And they should have it. It does not diminish Israel, on the contrary. Israel needs this for Israel's own sake morally. There was an injustice- and there were displaced and dispossessed masses as a result. This is not to say that the formation of Israel was not necessary either, nor does this recognition prove that.

The argument that giving in to what is in fact international law and consensus to actually gain a firmer legitimacy, will in fact lead to the destruction of Israel, makes no sense to me. It's, to me, irrational, fearful,cowardly actually, and it has Israel fighting a battle in place of a peace, a battle that it can never win, that will really destroy the country.

Peter Schwartz said...

Potter, I can't disagree with what you say so eloquently.

I'm only reflecting the arguments I hear on the progressive blogs.

These arguments don't "count" in the grand scheme of things; only what the parties to the conflict say and do.

So your point is well-taken, and I accept it.

Your phrase "This is not to say that the formation of Israel was not necessary either..." is something that might help in the mutual recognition department. I seldom hear it on the liberal blogs.

Y. Ben-David said...

Potter-In the Middle East it's ALL about history. The most important things are religion, culture, clan and family. Do you remember how when Pope Paul II visited Israel, the Muslim representatives wanted him to apologize for the Crusades. That was 900 years ago. During the first Gulf War, Saddam kept saying the war would be like "the mother of all battles". Every Arab schoolchild knows that is referring to a battle that took place over 1000 years ago. Just yesterday dozens of Shi'ite pilgrims were slaughtered by a Sunni suicide bomber in Iraq which was at least partly motivated by a religious split in Islam that happened 1300 years ago.
Just like you said "that's history", in Israel that expression means that it is useless trivia. Shimon Peres took a leaf from Henry Ford and said something to the effect that "History is more or less bunk". THAT IS A PARTICULARLY AMERICAN ATTITUDE. It is NOT typical of most of the world. Just because "progressives" think everybody in the world is like them and has the same values as them doesn't mean it's true. If you yourself say that the creation of Israel was unjust, how can you expect the Arab/Muslim world to "get over it"? You think it can be dismissmed by Israeli signing a piece of paper acknowledging their crime and pay some compensation to the refugees. But it wont work. The refugee problem is NOT viewed by the Arabs as a "humanitarian problem" to be dealt with on an individual level. It is a political weapon to be held ENDLESSLY over Israel so that the Arabs can tell the world even should there be an agreement where Israel accept the Palestinian "right of return" in principle...."you see they themselves admit they created a criminal state-keep up the pressure on them!" I suggest you go see what the Arab media says to its own people in Arabic...they don't talk about peace with Israel, they endlessly talk about historic grievances.....for example the 40+ part television series first shown on Egyptian state television a few years ago purporting to show that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true.

The so-called "Arab Initiative" is a joke that was promulgated by Saudi Arabia in the wake of the anti-Saudi atmosphere created by 9/11. What are they doing to sell it to Israel? NOTHING. It was never meant to be taken seriously. If they did really want it they would be selling it to the Israel people similar to the way Sadat convince Israelis to give up the Sinai.

Y. Ben-David said...

Potter-In the Middle East it's ALL about history. The most important things are religion, culture, clan and family. Do you remember how when Pope Paul II visited Israel, the Muslim representatives wanted him to apologize for the Crusades. That was 900 years ago. During the first Gulf War, Saddam kept saying the war would be like "the mother of all battles". Every Arab schoolchild knows that is referring to a battle that took place over 1000 years ago. Just yesterday dozens of Shi'ite pilgrims were slaughtered by a Sunni suicide bomber in Iraq which was at least partly motivated by a religious split in Islam that happened 1300 years ago.
Just like you said "that's history", in Israel that expression means that it is useless trivia. Shimon Peres took a leaf from Henry Ford and said something to the effect that "History is more or less bunk". THAT IS A PARTICULARLY AMERICAN ATTITUDE. It is NOT typical of most of the world. Just because "progressives" think everybody in the world is like them and has the same values as them doesn't mean it's true. If you yourself say that the creation of Israel was unjust, how can you expect the Arab/Muslim world to "get over it"? You think it can be dismissmed by Israeli signing a piece of paper acknowledging their crime and pay some compensation to the refugees. But it wont work. The refugee problem is NOT viewed by the Arabs as a "humanitarian problem" to be dealt with on an individual level. It is a political weapon to be held ENDLESSLY over Israel so that the Arabs can tell the world even should there be an agreement where Israel accept the Palestinian "right of return" in principle...."you see they themselves admit they created a criminal state-keep up the pressure on them!" I suggest you go see what the Arab media says to its own people in Arabic...they don't talk about peace with Israel, they endlessly talk about historic grievances.....for example the 40+ part television series first shown on Egyptian state television a few years ago purporting to show that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are true.

The so-called "Arab Initiative" is a joke that was promulgated by Saudi Arabia in the wake of the anti-Saudi atmosphere created by 9/11. What are they doing to sell it to Israel? NOTHING. It was never meant to be taken seriously. If they did really want it they would be selling it to the Israel people similar to the way Sadat convince Israelis to give up the Sinai.

Potter said...

Ben- David: We don't forget history. And we should learn the other side's as well, as we wish them to know ours. But we might learn something, not continue to repeat the same bloody mistakes. Let the Arabs work out what they learn from their history- you learn from yours.

The fact that there has been a relative peace lately escapes you here. You have to go searching for your examples in Iraq (and they are racist- point out Jewish violence.- All Arabs.)

I did not say the creation of Israel was unjust. that's your twisting. I said the creation of israel caused an injustice. ... that the creation of Israel was necessary. If you run over someone trying to get somewhere, if you are not a hit and run outlaw but a mensch, you have to atone for that, admit it, be sorry, pay the price. If this civility be "progressive" then yours is a callous barbarism that I fear ready to take over Israel, and at that as you say repeats endlessly the madness of history

The Arab Initiative, regardless of your assessment, is there. If it is a bluff, then Israel CALL it, don't ignore it. Talk about Arab missed opportunities.. this is Israel's missed opportunity."The Arab world" (if there ever was such a unity- Israel would perhaps be long gone or not come into being) needs to answer for it's own reactions to a fair peace agreement. The true peace, of course comes after when the mental walls gradually come down. But in your mental wall you already know the future- that everyone wants all out war to destroy Israel and themselves in the process. I think it's a sickness that is rampant, that threatens the health of the country Project THEIR extreme reaction, to cover your own FEARS. This is what I mean by cowardly:

It is a political weapon to be held ENDLESSLY over Israel so that the Arabs can tell the world even should there be an agreement where Israel accept the Palestinian "right of return" in principle...."you see they themselves admit they created a criminal state-keep up the pressure on them!" I suggest you go see what the Arab media says to its own people in Arabic...they don't talk about peace with Israel, they endlessly talk about historic grievances.....

"Arabs can tell the world"..... . "Arabs" which who? "The world" at the moment, does not want to see Israel destroyed. The world is watching a Shakespean tragedy. Point to individuals that want to see israel destroyed, including disgusted Jews, increasingly, given what they see and hear from israel over the recent years. Israel gives them what to hate, what to want to dissociate from.

BUT even if all you say is true- all the more reason for Israel to be smart about it ...eliminate the LEGITIMATE grievances for all "the world" believes it must happen. Even if what you say is true, and especially if what you say is true, then Israel needs all the support it can get from "the world". Until Israel does the right thing by the Palestinians, it will keep losing.

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