Israel’s economy soars ahead, while Palestinians squander millions

January 12, 2007

* Latest American entrepreneur to invest heavily in Israel: Bill Gates
* Mohammed Dahlan: Hamas are “a bunch of murderers and thieves”
* Abbas makes anti-Semitic comments yesterday

 

CONTENTS

1. Gaza preacher criticizes Hamas and is slain moments later
2. Dahlan: Hamas are “a bunch of murderers and thieves”
3. PA names youth soccer tournament in honor of Saddam
4. Pakistani newspaper: The “results are for everyone to see”
5. The Israeli economy expanded nearly five percent in 2006
6. Warren Buffett, Donald Trump and Bill Gates
7. Misery pays
8. “Arabs vs Israel” (The News, Pakistan, Jan. 9, 2006)
9. “Amid political upheaval, Israeli economy stays healthy” (NY Times, Dec. 31, 2006)
10. “Bill Gates participates in Israel govt. promotional video” (Globes, Dec. 24, 2006)
11. “What did the Palestinians do with their ‘Marshall Plan’?” (Ma’ariv, Jan. 5, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch mainly contains economic issues, with three other short items about Hamas and Fatah first.

GAZA PREACHER CRITICIZES HAMAS AND IS SLAIN MOMENTS LATER

Assailants gunned down Muslim preacher Adel Nasar, known for his anti-Hamas views, moments after he exited a mosque last Friday where he delivered a sermon criticizing the Islamic group’s role in a wave of Palestinian violence, reports the Boston Globe.

DAHLAN: HAMAS ARE “A BUNCH OF MURDERERS AND THIEVES”

The senior Palestinian Fatah figure in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, yesterday branded the ruling Hamas organization “a bunch of murderers and thieves.”

This is the kind of accurate language that the UN, European Union, New York Times, CNN, BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, Reuters, Associated Press, Le Monde, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Tony Blair’s wife Cherie, Rachel Corrie’s supporters, Robert Fisk, Jimmy Carter, Jeremy Bowen and many others never use about Hamas.

PA NAMES YOUTH SOCCER TOURNAMENT IN HONOR OF SADDAM

Meanwhile the first Saddam Hussein Soccer Tournament for Youth in the Palestinian Authority, has been announced in the official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (January 10, 2007 edition). It will take place in the West Bank town of Tulkarm.

In addition, Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement has announced that a double memorial stone has been erected honoring both Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat as “Shahids” (martyrs for Allah) together. Hussein and Arafat were close allies.

Most of the western media today completely ignore Palestinian leader Abbas’s call to arms and his anti-Semitic claim that Jews are “corrupting the world.” The comments were made in a speech by Abbas in Ramallah yesterday commemorating the 42nd anniversary of the founding of his Fatah party. Abbas called on Palestinian factions to put an end to weeks of infighting and instead “raise rifles against Israel.” He also used Koranic verses to claim Jews “are corrupting humanity on earth.”

PAKISTANI NEWSPAPER: THE “RESULTS ARE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE”

The first article attached below is written by Farrukh Saleem, a newspaper columnist, from Islamabad, Pakistan, who compares Israeli economic achievements with the performance of the Arab world.

Among the many examples he gives: “Israel spends $110 on scientific research per year per person while the same figure for the Arab world is $2. Knowledge makes Israel grow by 5.2 per cent a year while ‘rates of productivity’ (the average production of one worker) in Arab countries was negative to a large and increasing extent in oil-producing countries during the 1980s and 90s.”

He continues: “Six million Israelis buy 12 million books every year making them one of the highest consumers of books in the world. Israel has the highest number of university degrees per capita in the world; the Arab world has the lowest. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country (109 per 10,000 Israelis); the Arab world next to nothing.”

Saleem concludes that the “results are for everyone to see: The average per capita income in Israel is $25,000 while the average income within the League of Arab States is $5,000.”

THE ISRAELI ECONOMY EXPANDED NEARLY FIVE PERCENT IN 2006

The New York Times reports that despite a “typically tumultuous year” for Israel in 2006, “It was the country’s third straight year of strong growth, with the economy expanding nearly 5 percent. The stock market has been hitting record highs; unemployment is at a 10-year low. Israel’s central bank lowered interest rates to 4.5 percent on Jan. 1, putting them well below rates in the United States, an almost unprecedented development. The Israeli shekel is trading at 4.2 to the dollar, its strongest level in five years.”

The article sees the purchase of Iscar for $4 billion dollars by Warren Buffett as indicative of the strong Israeli economy. For more on Buffett’s investment, see the first note in the dispatch Bon Appetite: Buffalo meat declared kosher (& Aliza Olmert’s art quadruples in value) (May 18, 2006).

WARREN BUFFETT, DONALD TRUMP AND BILL GATES

Alongside Buffett, Donald Trump is developing a 70-story luxury residential tower on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. As the third article attached below points out, another leading American entrepreneur investing in Israel is Bill Gates.

The Tel Aviv business daily, Globes, reports that “Bill Gates is one of a number of executives of top global companies that appear in a promotional film produced by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. In the film, Gates praises ‘Israel’s unique human capital’ in four languages English, French, Chinese and Spanish.”

MISERY PAYS

In contrast, the final article attached below reports on how the Palestinians have squandered, in relation to their numbers, “more aid than that provided by the Marshall Plan after World War II. Since the Oslo agreements, the Palestinians in the territories have received $5.5 billion, or $1,300 per person. By comparison, in the Marshall plan, each European enjoyed only $273 (in today’s numbers).”

The article, written by Ben-Dror Yemini, the op-ed editor of the Israeli daily Ma’ariv (and a longtime subscriber to this email list), points out that “the Palestinians have bought themselves a place of honor on the list of unfortunates in the world. A well-oiled public relations campaign has turned them into a nation of victims. Misery pays.”

The Palestinians have wasted a number of opportunities, “to achieve independence and prosperity were rejected for the ultimate goal: the removal of Israel from the map.”

I attach four articles below.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

“IF GOD WERE TO HUMILIATE A HUMAN BEING HE WOULD DENY HIM KNOWLEDGE”

Arabs vs Israel
By Farrukh Saleem
The News, Pakistan
January 9, 2006

www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=35880

Imam Ali Ibn Abi Taleb: “If God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him knowledge”

The League of Arab States has 22 members. Of the 22, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman are ‘traditional monarchies’. Of the 22, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria and Somalia are ‘Authoritarian Regimes’ (Source: www.freedomhouse.org). Of the 22, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Morocco and Somalia are among the ‘world’s most repressive regimes’ (Source: A special report to the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights). Of the 330 million Muslim men, women and children living under Arab rulers a mere 486,530 live in a democracy (0.15 per cent of the total).

A mere two hundred and fifty miles from the ‘League of Dictators’ HQ in Cairo is the only ‘parliamentary democracy’ in the region; universal suffrage, multi-party, multi-candidate, competitive elections. Israel’s 6,352,117 residents are 76 per cent Jewish and 23 per cent non-Jewish (mostly Arab).

Israel spends $110 on scientific research per year per person while the same figure for the Arab world is $2. Knowledge makes Israel grow by 5.2 per cent a year while “rates of productivity (the average production of one worker) in Arab countries were negative to a large and increasing extent in oil-producing countries during the 1980s and 90s (World Bank; Arab Development Report).”

Facts cannot be denied: The state of Israel now has six universities ranked as among the best on the face of the planet. Hebrew University Jerusalem is in the top-100. Technion Israel Institute of Technology, Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute of Science are in the top-200. Bar Ilan University and Ben Gurion University are in the top-300. The Arab League does not have a single university in the top-400 (http:// ed.sjtu.edu.cn/ranking.htm). One in two Arab women can neither read nor write (remember, “If God were to humiliate a human being He would deny him/her knowledge”).

Israel’s universities are producing knowledge. Israeli society is applying that knowledge plus diffusing knowledge produced by others. On the other hand, within the Arab League, repressive regimes have erected religious, social and cultural barriers to the production as well as diffusion of knowledge.

Look at how knowledge is abandoning the Arab world: Between 1998 and 2000 more than 15,000 Arab physicians migrated. According to the World Bank, “roughly 25 per cent of 300,000 first degree graduates from Arab universities emigrated. Roughly 23 per cent of Arab engineers, 50 per cent of Arab doctors and 15 per cent of Arab BSc holders had emigrated.”

Israel, on the other hand, has more engineers and scientists per capita than any other country (for every 10,000 Israelis there are 145 engineers or scientists). Israel ranks among the top-7 countries worldwide for patents per capita.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Israel’s pharmaceutical giant, is the world’s largest producer of antibiotics (Teva developed Copaxone, a unique immunomodulator therapy for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, the only non-interferon agent available).

Facts are hard to deny: Most members of the Arab League grant Muslim women fewer rights with regards to marriage, divorce, dress code, civil rights, legal status and education. Israel does not. Spain translates more books in a year than has the Arab world in the past thousand years (since the reign of Caliph Mamoun; Abbasid, caliph 813-833).

Six million Israelis buy 12 million books every year making them one of the highest consumers of books in the world. Israel has the highest number of university degrees per capita in the world; the Arab world has the lowest. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other country (109 per 10,000 Israelis); the Arab world next to nothing.

Results are for everyone to see: The average per capita income in Israel is $25,000 while the average income within the League of Arab States is $5,000.

 

2006 WAS ISRAEL’S THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR OF STRONG GROWTH

Amid political upheaval, Israeli economy stays healthy
By Greg Myre
The New York Times
December 31, 2006

For Israel, it has been a typically tumultuous year: Ariel Sharon, then the prime minister, collapsed into a coma on Jan. 4, the radical Islamic group Hamas won Palestinian elections later that month, and Israel fought a month long war in Lebanon this summer.

It was the country’s third straight year of strong growth, with the economy expanding nearly 5 percent. The stock market has been hitting record highs; unemployment is at a 10-year low. Israel’s central bank is lowering interest rates to 4.5 percent on Jan. 1, putting them well below rates in the United States, an almost unprecedented development. The Israeli shekel is trading at 4.2 to the dollar, its strongest level in five years.

Further, Warren E. Buffett, the billionaire investor, paid $4 billion for an Israeli company, and Donald Trump is developing a 70-story luxury residential tower on the outskirts of Tel Aviv.

“Israelis look at the economy, and they’ve essentially been through these disturbances in the past, and they know the economy is pretty robust and it tends to come back,” said Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel. “Things that happen here have a smaller impact on markets than I think they would abroad.”

While the Israeli economy has been thriving, the Palestinian economy has moved in the opposite direction, contracting by an estimated 10 to 15 percent this year, according to the Palestine Monetary Authority.

For Israel, the business that best illustrates the economy’s resilience this year is the company Mr. Buffett bought, Iscar Metalworking Company, a global leader in the manufacture of precision metal-cutting tools.

In May, Mr. Buffet bought 80 percent of the company, which has its headquarters on an isolated hilltop in northern Israel that offers a panoramic view of the nearby border with Lebanon.

Barely two months later, a cross-border raid by Hezbollah guerrillas ignited 34 days of fighting that pushed Israeli troops into Lebanon and drew heavy rocket barrages against northern Israel.

One rocket slammed into the Tefen Industrial Park, where Iscar is situated, causing minor damage to a building belonging to another company. Many more rockets crashed nearby during the weeks of war.

Many Iscar workers moved their families away from the border region, but the company maintained production, with only occasional slowdowns.

“It took us a brief time to adjust, but we didn’t miss a single shipment,” said Eitan Wertheimer, Iscar’s chairman. “For our customers around the world, there was no war.”

The northern city of Haifa came under almost daily rocket attacks, and ships stopped entering Haifa’s port, the country’s largest. Some exporters shipped their goods by air at much higher expense in order to meet deadlines.

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which has been setting records throughout the year, seemingly shrugged off the war; it was slightly higher at the end of the conflict in August than before it started in July.

At the beginning of the year, Israel’s economy was forecast to grow at around 5.5 percent, and will come in at about 4.8 percent, according to Mr. Fischer, who attributed the dip to the war.

The Palestinian economy, meanwhile, has been devastated. During the peace talks of the 1990s, the Israelis and Palestinians increased cooperation, and by 2000, both sides were growing rapidly and nearly 150,000 Palestinians entered Israel daily. Most were workers who accounted for a large slice of the Palestinian economy.

When the Palestinian uprising began in September of that year, both sides took an immediate economic hit, but for the Palestinians, the downward spiral has yet to end.

Israeli security forces greatly increased the web of restrictions in the Palestinian areas to prevent attacks, and the measures have also imposed great hardships on Palestinian economic life. The Palestinians grew increasingly dependent on aid as their access to Israel’s economy dwindled. The problems worsened into crisis this year after Hamas came to power, and Israel began withholding Palestinian tax revenues and Western countries cut off direct aid to the Palestinian government.

The Palestinian per capita gross domestic product, which was about $1,800 annually at the beginning of the uprising, plummeted to $1,200 last year and continues to fall.

For Israelis, per capita gross domestic product has risen over the last six years from a little over $15,000 a year to around $18,000, according to government figures.

Israel turned the corner on a two-year recession in 2003, and for the past three years the economy has expanded at 4.4 percent to 5.2 percent annually, with a similar forecast for next year. The growth comes from technology, service and other modern industries, and trade mostly with the United States, Europe and East Asia.

Plagued by hyperinflation in the 1980s, Israel has an inflation rate hovering around zero percent this year, and it has been averaging less than 1 percent annually for the past five years.

The economic tide is not lifting every Israeli boat, however. Despite the economic growth, the number of Israelis living below the poverty level has been edging up, from 18 percent in 2002 to more than 20 percent last year, according to the government’s National Insurance Institute.

Critics say this is because Israelis who are struggling economically have seen their benefits fall sharply, while they remain unemployed. The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in a decade, but still relatively high at 8.4 percent.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who as finance minister pushed aggressive open-market policies from 2003 to 2005, was also widely criticized for cutting social programs in a country where couples often have many children and depend heavily on such subsidies.

“The basic problem is that economic growth has been very uneven,” said Shlomo Swirski, the academic director of Adva, a research institute that focuses on the poor.

Job growth, he said, has been concentrated in sectors that require a high level of education. Economic growth has been greatest in Tel Aviv and surrounding areas, the economic hub of the country, while the less developed Galilee in the north and Negev Desert in the south have seen much less progress, Mr. Swirski added.

“We’re looking at growth that is highly concentrated geographically, economically and socially,” he said.

Economists note that many of the poor come from two groups, Israeli Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews, that have large families and low participation rates in the work force. Among Israeli Arabs, few women have formal jobs. Among the ultra-Orthodox, many men do not work.

“We still see a strong debate over income distribution,” said David Levhari, an economics professor at Hebrew University. “But overall, I think we’re looking at an economy that should continue to do pretty well.”

 

BILL GATES PRAISES “ISRAEL’S UNIQUE HUMAN CAPITAL”

Bill Gates participates in Israel government promotional video
Also taking part in the video are representatives from Intel, Oracle, and HP.
By Hadas Manor
Globes
December 24, 2006

www.globes.co.il/serveen/

Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates is one of a number of executives of top global companies that appear in a promotional film produced by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. In the film, Gates praises “Israel’s unique human capital” in four languages English, French, Chinese and Spanish.

The Ministry has pinned considerable hopes on the promotional film, which it is distributing to the country’s commercial attaches across the globe. Also taking part in the video are senior executives from Intel, Oracle, and HP, Cisco, General Electric and other companies, who talk about their success of their investments in Israel.

 

SQUANDERED MILLIONS

What did the Palestinians do with their “Marshall Plan”?
By Ben-Dror Yemini
Ma’ariv (Hebrew)
January 5, 2006

The Palestinians have bought themselves a place of honor on the list of unfortunates in the world. A well-oiled public relations campaign has turned them into a nation of victims. Misery pays. One of the countries hated by the Palestinians the most, the United States, has since 1993 helped them more than any other nation in the world, according to World Bank figures. From 1994 to 2004, the U.S. provided the Palestinians with $1.3 billion, the EU $1.1 billion, and Japan $530 million. In addition to direct aid, the U.S. is also the largest contributor to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

In 1992, the Palestinian per capita GDP was $2,683 per person. If there had not been terror, the Palestinian economy could have grown during the 1990s into one of the leaders in the Middle East. The money was used for three major purposes: perpetuation of the refugees as victims, purchase of weapons and explosives, and corruption. Opportunities to achieve independence and prosperity were rejected for the ultimate goal: the removal of Israel from the map.

In relation to their numbers, the Palestinians have received more aid than provided by the Marshall Plan after World War II. Since the Oslo agreements, the Palestinians in the territories have received $5.5 billion, or $1,300 per person. By comparison, in the Marshall plan, each European enjoyed only $273 (in today’s numbers). Above all, the guilt lies with those who gave these huge sums without having the Palestinians undergo a period of recovery from their futile dreams of the destruction of Israel. The result is, primarily, the continued destruction of Palestinian society.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.