Posted tagged ‘Israel economy’

Israel’s 69th Independence Day: Remarkable Achievements, Continuing Dangers

May 2, 2017

Israel’s 69th Independence Day: Remarkable Achievements, Continuing Dangers, PJ MediaP. David Hornik, May 2, 2017

Israeli youths wave national flags as they enter Jerusalem’s Old City through Damascus Gate during a march celebrating Jerusalem Day, Sunday, May 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel’s growth is not, of course, merely quantitative; today it punches far above its weight in a wide range of fields. It was recently ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world. Compared to Israel’s 8.7 million people, the seven countries ranked above it have populations of: United States, 324 million; China, 1.37 billion; Japan, 127 million; Russia, 142 million; Germany, 81 million; India, 1.27 billion; Iran, 83 million.

Israel shines its light to the nations from a dark region, and its emergence as an incubator of optimism, vitality, and creativity is one of the great stories of our time.

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Today, Israel marks its 69th Independence Day. The country is a success beyond what anyone could have dreamed when independence was declared on May 14, 1948. (Today is May 2; Israeli holidays are guided by the Hebrew calendar.)

Around this time of year, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics publishes its annual data. Some of this year’s highlights:

Israel’s current population of 8.7 million is almost eleven times its population of 800,000 when it was established. Back then, 6 percent of the world’s Jews lived in Israel; now it’s home to 43 percent of world Jewry.

Since last Independence Day, the country’s overall population — Jews and non-Jews — has grown by 159,000: 174,000 births, 44,000 deaths, 30,000 new immigrants. Estimates show the population will reach 15 million by 2048; by then the Jewish portion of it should, by current trends, constitute a considerable majority of world Jewry.

In 1948, the “ingathering of the exiles” was a Zionist slogan. Today it’s a statistically demonstrable fact.

Since that era, large numbers of Jewish immigrants have come to Israel — particularly from post-Holocaust Europe, the Middle East, the Soviet Union, and the post-Soviet nations. At a time when Western countries’ fertility rates are falling perilously, Israel’s fertility rate keeps growing — and is far beyond that of any other Western country.

Israel’s growth is not, of course, merely quantitative; today it punches far above its weight in a wide range of fields. It was recently ranked the eighth most powerful country in the world. Compared to Israel’s 8.7 million people, the seven countries ranked above it have populations of: United States, 324 million; China, 1.37 billion; Japan, 127 million; Russia, 142 million; Germany, 81 million; India, 1.27 billion; Iran, 83 million.

How does Israel do it? By having incredible capabilities to offer in various domains.

Just some examples: Only the United States and China have more companies listed on the NASDAQ. Last year, a top Google official ranked Israel’s tech sector as second only to Silicon Valley for innovation. Israel also has “one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed” and “the 2nd highest publication of new books per capita.”

In the crucial field of desalination and water management, tiny Israel is the world’s leader. It’s also a “powerhouse in medical innovation.” And it’s a leader in disaster relief; last year the UN – which is generally hostile to Israel — ranked its army’s emergency medical team as “No. 1 in the world.” Israeli agriculture, too, is exceptionally innovative, and feeds a considerable part of the planet’s population.

Because of its circumstances, Israel has had to excel not only in saving and sustaining life but also in protecting it. It has the world’s most technologically advanced army and is “rapidly becoming the world leader” in cybersecurity. The prowess of its intelligence agencies, particularly the Mossad, has an almost mythological status.

When you’re so good at so many things, others want to benefit from it. The past few decades have seen a dramatic increase in the number of countries having diplomatic ties with Israel. From a pariah status in the 1970s, as of last year Israel had diplomatic relations with 158 of the world’s 193 countries. Apart from Arab and Muslim countries that still — at least officially — boycott Israel, that means almost all of the world’s countries.

That trend has included, perhaps most dramatically, rapidly growing ties with the world’s two largest countries, China and India. Both were formerly hostile to Israel, but are now — despite their size — eager to gain from what it can offer.

For all that, the world’s per capita most innovative, productive, beneficent country remains, almost seven decades after its birth, the only country specially marked for annihilation in some quarters.

Whereas decades ago Arab states led the push to eradicate the world’s only Jewish state, today the dubious mantle has passed to the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies. Second only to that axis is the worldwide BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement, which uses the Goebbels big-lie technique to spread canards about “Israeli Apartheid” and the like — particularly on Western campuses where minds are being formed.

But after almost seven decades at the front line of civilization, danger and hostility are not new to Israel. Despite the pressures, the aggressions, and the losses, Israel ranks — perhaps surprisingly — high in yet another, more subjective domain. This year’s UN Happiness Index ranked Israel 11th in the world; other surveys have placed it in the top 10.

Israel shines its light to the nations from a dark region, and its emergence as an incubator of optimism, vitality, and creativity is one of the great stories of our time.

Sean Hannity Full One-on-One Interview with Donald Trump (2/18/2016)

February 19, 2016

Sean Hannity Full One-on-One Interview with Donald Trump (2/18/2016), Fox News via You Tube, February 18, 2016

(Trump discusses the Israel – “Palestine” situation and the mess Obama has made beginning at 11:05 during the interview. The rest is very good too. — DM)

Turkey and Israel: A Rickety Handshake

December 23, 2015

Turkey and Israel: A Rickety Handshake, Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, December 23, 2015

(What benefit beyond oil sales to Turkey — a minor one that Turkey could extinguish at its pleasure — would Israel receive? — DM)

♦ It would be truly embarrassing if a Turkey-Israel normalization results in new arms shipments into Gaza and rockets over Israeli skies — with the only achievement being a temporary peace with Turkey’s Islamists, who never hide their ideological kinship with Hamas.

♦ The future Turkish and Israeli ambassadors would always have to keep their bags packed, ready to return to their own capitals at the first dispute – which could be caused by Israeli retaliation against Arab terrorism or anything that may make Erdogan roar in front of cameras.

♦ How do you shake hands with a man whom you know ideologically hates you and wishes to mess up things at his earliest convenience?

None of this happened half a century ago; the timeline here covers only a span of a year and a half: A Turkish-Kurdish pop star wrote on her Twitter account, “May God bless Hitler. He did far less [than he should have done to Jews].” The mayor of Ankara replied: “I applaud you!” Hundreds of angry Turks, hurling rocks, tried to break into the Israeli diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul. The mayor of Ankara said: “We will conquer the consulate of the despicable murderers.” He blamed the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris on Israel’s Mossad. Islamist columnists close to the government suggested imposing a “wealth tax” on Turkish Jews (who are full citizens). A governor threatened to suspend restoration work at a synagogue. And a credible research group at the Kadir Has University in Istanbul found in a poll that Turks view Israel as the top threat to Turkey.

Against such a background, Turkish and Israeli diplomats are negotiating a historical deal that will, in theory, end Turkey’s hostility toward the Jewish state and normalize diplomatic ties between Ankara and Jerusalem.

In 2010, a Turkish flotilla, led by the Mavi Marmara with hundreds of jihadists and anti-Israeli “intellectuals” aboard, sailed toward the coast of Gaza, aiming to break Israel’s naval blockade of the Hamas-run strip. Israel’s naval blockade aims to prevent weapons such as rockets being smuggled into Gaza. To stop the flotilla, naval commandos of the Israel Defense Forces boarded the vessel and, during clashes, killed nine aboard.

1080The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara, which took part in the 2010 “Gaza flotilla” that attempted to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. (Image source: “Free Gaza movement”/Flickr)

Since the incident, Turkey’s Islamist leaders have pledged to isolate Israel internationally and have downgraded diplomatic ties with Jerusalem. They have put forward three conditions before any normalization could take place: an Israeli apology, compensation for the families of the victims and the removal of the naval blockade on Gaza.

After President Barack Obama’s intervention, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013 apologized for “any error that may have led to the loss of life.” Turkey’s two other conditions remain unfulfilled. But diplomatic teams from Ankara and Jerusalem are apparently working on a deal. There are good reasons why an accord may or may not be possible.

Since the nearest Turkish election is four years from now, neither Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan nor his prime minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has any reason to cultivate further anti-Semitism at election rallies in order harvest votes from conservative masses who are deeply hostile to Israel and Jews. These are days when Turkey’s leaders need not practice their usual anti-Israeli rhetoric.

There is another reason related to “timing” that makes a deal attainable. After pledging to isolate Israel, Turkey has become the most isolated country in the region, especially after the recent crisis with Russia that emerged after two Turkish F-16 fighters shot down a Russian SU-24 aircraft along Turkey’s Syrian border on Nov. 24.

In its region, Turkey does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus and Armenia. It has downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel and Egypt. It is confronted by Shiite and Shiite-dominated regimes in Iran and Iraq, respectively. On top of all that, an angry Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, curses and threatens every day to punish Turkey. Turkey buys over half of its natural gas and 10% of its oil from Russia.

Therefore, a third incentive could be a mutually beneficial future deal for Turkey to buy natural gas from Israel. If the two countries build an underwater pipeline, Turkey can compensate for the potential loss of Russian gas supplies, starting in 2019. For Israel, a pipeline to Turkey would be the most commercially feasible route to export its gas to Turkey and other potential buyers beyond.

A Turkish-Israeli handshake would also be music to ears in Washington. Deep hostility and occasional tensions between its two allies in the Middle East have always been unnerving for the U.S. administration.

The road ahead has its problems. Turkey’s second condition for normalization, compensation, is not too difficult to overcome. But the third condition, that Israel should remove the naval blockade of Gaza — and risk weapons being smuggled into the hands of Hamas (or other terrorist groups) — could be an unsafe move for Israel.

It would be truly embarrassing if a Turkey-Israel normalization results in new arms shipments into Gaza and rockets over Israeli skies — with the only achievement being a temporary peace with Turkey’s Islamists, who never hide their ideological kinship with Hamas.

If Netanyahu decides to take risks and go for a deal, he must make sure that however the naval blockade of Gaza would be eased, it does not expose Israel to the risk of new acts of terror.

Another risk is the potential psychological domino effect any deal could cause. It is certain that Turkish Islamists will portray any deal as a success story — that they were able to “bring Israel to its knees.” This message, relayed through a systematic propaganda machine, could set a dangerous precedent and potentially encourage Arab Islamists to consider more assertive policies toward Israel in the future.

The future Turkish and Israeli ambassadors would always have to keep their bags packed, ready to return to their own capitals at the first dispute – which could be caused by Israeli retaliation against Arab terrorism or anything that may make Erdogan roar in front of cameras, “Our Palestinian brothers … Those murderer Jews again … Go back to your pre-1967 borders or you’ll suffer the consequences!”

Netanyahu’s problem is that he does not trust Erdogan in the least. He is right not to trust Erdogan. But then how do you shake hands with a man whom you know ideologically hates you and wishes to mess up things at his earliest convenience?

Putin’s offer to shield & develop Israel’s gas fields predated Russia’s military buildup in Syria

September 13, 2015

Putin’s offer to shield & develop Israel’s gas fields predated Russia’s military buildup in Syria, DEBKAfile, September 13, 2015

(Nice little gas field you have there. It would be a shame if something happened to it. — DM)

 

Leviathan480

More than a fortnight ago, Russian President Vladimir put a proposition to Israel for Moscow to undertake responsibility for guarding Israel’s Mediterranean gas fields, along with the offer of a Russian investment of $7-10 billion for developing Leviathan, the largest well, and building a pipeline to Turkey for exporting the gas to Europe, DEBKAfile reports. The offer was made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in confidential phone conversations and through quiet envoys.

At the time, Putin did not share with Netanyahu his plans for an imminent buildup of marines, air force units, warships and missiles in Syria, although the plan had been worked out in detail with Tehran in late July. The Russian ruler put it this way: Leviathan abuts on the fringes of Lebanon’s economic water zone and is therefore vulnerable to potential sabotage by Iran, Syria or Hizballah, whether by commando or rocket attack.

A multibillion Russian investment in the field would make it a Russian project which neither Syria nor Hizballah would dare attack, even though it belongs to Israel.

But now the situation has assumed a different face. Russian forces are streaming to Latakia, and Moscow has declared the area from Tartous, Syria up to Cyprus closed to shipping and air traffic from Sept. 15 to Oct. 7 in view of a “military exercise including test firings of guided missiles” from Russian warships.

When he offered a shield for Israeli gas fields in late August, The Russian ruler knew that implementation would rest with Russian military forces on the spot, rather than Iranian and Syrian reluctance to harm Russian interests.

Then, on Aug. 30, Netanyahu discussed the new Russian proposition with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi when they met in Florence, in the context of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s involvement in Middle Eastern and European energy business and his close ties with Putin.

Berlusconi and Netanyahu are also good friends.

The Israeli prime minister never explicitly confirmed to Putin that he would consider the Russian transaction.

He hesitated because he sensed that a deal with Moscow for gas projects would be unacceptable to Washington and Noble Energy of Texas, which holds a 39.66 percent share in the consortium controlling Leviathan, as well as stakes in the smaller Tanin and Tamar gas wells.

Meanwhile, two Israeli ministers, Moshe Kahlon, finance, and Arye Deri, economy, consistently obstructed the final government go-ahead for gas production, tactics which also held Netanyahu back from his reply to Putin.

But when the fresh influx of Russian troops and hardware to Syria became known (first revealed by DEBKAfile on Sept.1), Netanyahu began to appreciate that, not only had Israel’s military and strategic situation with regard to Syria and the eastern Mediterranean been stood on its head, so too had foreign investment prospects for development projects in Israeli gas.

Israel’s strategic landscape had in fact changed radically in four respects:

1.  Its government can no longer accept as a working hypothesis (which never, incidentally, held up) the short term expectancy of the Assad regime. The injection of Russian military might, combined with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces, have given Assad a substantial lease of life.

The Israel Defense Forces must therefore revamp its posture on the Syrian front, and reassess its sponsorship of the select rebel groups which are holding the line in southern Syria against hostile Iranian or Hizballah cross-border attacks on northern Israel.

The changing attitude was suggested in views heard in the last couple of days from top Israeli security officials, who now say that leaving Assad in office might be the better option, after all.

2.  The new Russian ground, air and sea buildup taking shape in Syria provides a shield not just for the Assad regime but also Hizballah. This too calls for changes in Israel’s military posture.

3.  The Russian military presence in Syria seriously inhibits Israel’s flexibility for launching military action against Iranian or Hizballah targets when needed.

4. Three aspects of the new situation stand out prominently:

a)  The Russian air force and navy are the strongest foreign military force in the eastern Mediterranean. The US deplloys [sic] nothing comparable.

b)  Israel’s military strength is substantial but no one is looking for a military clash with the Russians, although this did occur four decades ago, when Israel was fighting for its life against Russian-backed Arab invasions.

c)  In view of the prevalence of the Russian military presence in the eastern Mediterranean, it is hard to see any foreign investor coming forward to sink billions of dollars in Israeli gas.

d)  Although Russia called Saturday, Sept. 12, for “military-to-military cooperation with the United States” to avert “unintended incidents” amid its naval “exercises” off the coast of Syria, the tone of the call was cynical. It is more than likely that Moscow may revert to the original Putin offer of a Russian defense shield for Israeli gas fields. But with such strong Russian cards in place in Syria, he may well stiffen his terms for this deal.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khameni publishes book on how to eliminate Israel

August 2, 2015

Iran’s Supreme Leader Khameni publishes book on how to eliminate Israel, American ThinkerThomas Lifson, August 2, 2015

Ayatollah Ali Khameni has published his version of Mein Kampf, a 416 page book outlining his strategy to eliminate Israel, which he describes as  “a cancerous tumor.” Although it is currently available only in Iran, an Arabic translation is underway, and sooner or later it will achieve wide readership in the Muslim world. The Obama administration is no doubt hoping it will achieve no notice in the United States until after the Iran deal is voted upon, because the plan advocated will be immensely aided by its implementation.

Amir Taheri of the New York Post obtained a copy from Iran:

Khamenei makes his position clear from the start: Israel has no right to exist as a state.

He uses three words. One is “nabudi” which means “annihilation.” The other is “imha” which means “fading out,” and, finally, there is “zaval” meaning “effacement.”

Khameni does not call for wiping out Israel with a nuclear bomb. He states that one of his fondest desires is to pray in Jerusalem. Instead, his plan is one of terrorism and pressure, keeping Israel from fighting back against Iran, the sponsor of terror, with the implicit threat of nuclear retaliation.

 What he recommends is a long period of low-intensity warfare designed to make life unpleasant if not impossible for a majority of Israeli Jews so that they leave the country.

His calculation is based on the assumption that large numbers of Israelis have double-nationality and would prefer emigration to the United States and Europe to daily threats of death.

Iran has many allies in this effort, including the BDS movement in the United States. Cripple Israel economically, and her economically productive people will leave. Make the political cost of supporting Israel high. That will pave the way for an internationally-sponsored plebiscite engineered to produce a Muslim state:

Under Khamenei’s scheme, Israel, plus the West Bank and Gaza, would revert to a United Nations mandate for a brief period during which a referendum is held to create the new state of Palestine.

All Palestinians and their descendants, wherever they are, would be able to vote, while Jews “who have come from other places” would be excluded.

Double standards are inherent in Islamic thinking. Any land that once fell under Muslim control belongs to Muslims by right. So Israelis who only boast a few generations in Israel are excluded, while Arabs whose families once lived in Israel generations ago are automatically qualified.

Khamenei does not mention any figures for possible voters in his dream referendum. But studies by the Islamic Foreign Ministry in Tehran suggest that at least eight million Palestinians across the globe would be able to vote against 2.2 million Jews “acceptable” as future second-class citizens of new Palestine. Thus, the “Supreme Guide” is certain of the results of his proposed referendum.

With a $150 billion war chest, thanks to the Obama deal, and the prospect of oil exploration and other business expansion in Iran, there will be plenty of money available to subsidize Hezb’allah, Hamas, and other terror attacks against Israelis and Jews (such as the attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires).

Khamenei boasts about the success of his plans to make life impossible for Israelis through terror attacks from Lebanon and Gaza. His latest scheme is to recruit “fighters” in the West Bank to set up Hezbollah-style units.

“We have intervened in anti-Israel matters, and it brought victory in the 33-day war by Hezbollah against Israel in 2006 and in the 22-day war between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip,” he boasts.

Far from a spittle-flecked madman, Khameni is coldly calculating, and explains a plan that is already underway with considerable success. And he has many allies in this country, some of them in high places.