Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

an Francisco journalist Warren Hinkle once remarked, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade!" The State of Israel, under continuous attack since its inception in 1948 have done just that! As a nation in a constant state of war, not because it is an aggressor, but because it exercises its right to "individual or collective self-defense," under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Israel has been forced to develop its technologies for the defense of its citizens. In a different scenario, where Israel was at peace, such technologies likely would have taken a different direction, such as dominance in advanced computer systems and software for scientific research, or medical research applications. Given the fact that Israel has developed extensive experience in defense technology applications out of necessity and that in a post 9/11 world, there is a markedly increased demand for such technologies, it is only logical that Israel would actively and assertively participate in that market. Hamas has rejected the possibility of peace with Israel and suffered the consequences of that decision. Fatah is willing to extend peace for land and statehood and Israel must reach out and extend the hand of peace to them. Perhaps when the time comes when Hamas is willing to end its isolation and accept the existence of Israel as part of a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the benefits of advanced technologies could be extended to all Palestinians and the objectives of technology shifted to non-defense needs.

Mike Woloshin

Tower Lakes, IL

Sep 29 2007 - 2:47am

Web Letter

Actually, Israel is the second largest arms dealer to China. Number one is Russia. They play with the big boys in the arms trade. It has maintenance contracts to repair weapons systems with China and Turkey. They have already sold other drones to China, along with air Defense systems. They got into big trouble with the US Defense Department for selling American Defense Technology to China. look on the web under China and Israel, or combine the search Israel with any non-Arab country, except Iran, and a lot more deals will pop up.

I read the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on the web every day, and you can get all kinds of information from it. It is the best news source on the US, because it is constantly taking our temperture to see if we are being politically correct about Israel.

Read the blogs too. You can pick up little bits of information from some of them. It is a good paper.

Looking at the Israel economy from the viewpoint of ordinary people, one of the best writers in English is Ruth Sinai, with the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz. You might be able to get some back issues of the paper with her articles. Free trade and its effects come up in her articles. I recommend Ha'aretz because it reports everything without the safety net of a Bill Of Rights. Being an Israeli is not easy, and living for sixty years under the threat of death is not a success story. Its a survival story, but not a success story.

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Aug 8 2007 - 4:53pm

Web Letter

While Naomi Klein may have failed to put the $3.4 billion in context with Israel's $43 billion export economy, she did clear up a nagging question I've had for the last year and a half. Why does Israeli and US foreign policy seem bent on stirring up violence around the world?

When Hamas won a majority in the "fair and free" elections of January 2006, the US and Israel (and, to be fair, the EU, UN, and Russian Federation) decided to cut off all aid, making it impossible for Palestine's government to pay its lowliest civil servant. As we all know from famous past words, "it's the economy, stupid." People tend to get desperate when they can't feed their children. And a desperate people is a dangerous people.

Israel and the US made certain it choked the life out of any Hamas-led government and now acts surprised when violence erupts. Follow the money, as Klein has done, and we might begin to unravel the reason neither government has hopes for peace.

Barbara Scott

Taos, NM

Jun 19 2007 - 12:27am

Web Letter

While Naomi Klein notes that Israel exported $3.4 billion in defense products in 2006, she failed to put that number in perspective by giving the total of Israeli exports in 2006 of $43 billion. The fact that defense products only account for 8 percent of Israeli exports undermines her thesis that the success of the Israeli economy can be attributable primarily to defense exports.

While the conflict does result in giving Israel an advantage in developing weapons technology, the benefits to the economy have to be more than outweighed by the disadvantages to the economy from the conflict. The conflict harms the tourism industry, reduces foreign investment, closes markets for Israeli goods that are the closest geographically, and hence have the least shipping costs, and reduce the global appeal of its products, even in many countries with which it does trade. It is hard to imagine that these disadvantages are outweighed by the benefits of $3.4 billion in defense exports. Thus, it is accurate to state that the success of Israel’s economy is in spite of, not because of the conflict.

It is a common left-wing mindset, which views foreign policy as driven by rapacious capitalists, eager to profit from conflict. But, when one looks at the data in this instance, it is clearly not the case.

Solomon Rubin

New York, NY

Jun 17 2007 - 10:49am

Web Letter

Is Israel being faulted for using high tech to defend itself from the constant onslaught of attacks against its citizens? Is the implication that Israel is somehow profiting from some unsavory business it shouldn't be in? I applaud the technologies that have helped abort not hundreds but thousands of attacks over the last few years. Israel has very real enemies that seek its destructions, or at least the murder of as many of its citizens as possible. This fact is undeniable. How is a country to be faulted for responding to this threat? Klein also falsely suggests that Israel's innovations are limited to the security industry. Odds are that your cell phone, or at least some of its componenets, are a product of Israel's high-tech industry, as is the microprocessor in your computer. Israel's contributions to medicine include major advances in stem cell research, cardiac research and trauma care (or is Israel to be somehow faulted for caring for its wounded?). I'm with Friedman. Israel encourages innovation and education, no wonder they're succeeding. Their enemies teach Jihad and are wallowing in the squalor of Gaza.

Ari Melmed

Denver, CO

Jun 16 2007 - 11:01pm

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