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Eureka: Q & A on Israel
by Jay Gutman
2018-01-24 12:01:23
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Contemporary Israel in question and answer format.

Q: First thing that comes to mind when you say Israel is the conflict with the Palestinians. The PA has recently decided it no longer recognizes the State of Israel. Why?

A: Well, as a fifth generation Israeli I do have my biases. But I can read between Palestinian lines. They see Mecca, they see all the money that can be generated from religious tourism. They see potential for hundreds of millions of Muslim visitors to the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock and Jerusalem under full Islamic control. That's their main motivation.

telaviv01_400_01Q: Any end in sight to the conflict?

A: I don't see Palestinians trying to give up their dream of making Jerusalem the other Mecca and putting signs on roads by Jericho leading to Jerusalem saying non-Muslims should make a U-turn like those they have in Mecca. I can't see them stopping to imagine pilgrims from the Muslim world praying and shopping and the source of revenue that would bring. That's why dialogue is often impossible, or very difficult. There's nothing esoteric about the conflict.

Q: Any possibility of reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis?

A: Palestinians think they have too much to lose. So it takes a lot of subtle diplomacy, the rest of the world recognizing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel is a good start. That helps the Palestinian dream gradually fade. If a majority of the world's countries recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, then there can be realistic talks.

Q: What future lies within Israel?

A: Israel has scarce natural resources and no surrounding giant economies. Singapore has China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea or even Australia that helps the country become a transportation and financial hub. The same could not be said about Israel. So what Israel tries to do is find out what people want and need and try to give it to them. Need water? Israel has solutions. Need better agriculture? Israel has solutions. Need better software to manage your business? Israel has solutions. Israel tries to provide services or solutions that people don't need to come directly to Israel to get, Israel goes to them and provides the service.

Q: What kind of services? Why this focus on services?

There are practical reasons and more philosophical reasons. The practical reasons are that unlike Singapore or Hong Kong, Israel can't make a living off the financial management of the assets of economic giants. Otherwise that would have been an easy way to make a living. You don't see Egyptians or Jordanians bring their money to Israel for financial services. So Israel is stuck with providing any service that can be provided at a distance, either online or simple solutions that can easily be transported around the world, like technology in agriculture, in medicine or perhaps even renewable energy resources and the like.

To put things more in context, the world adds a billion people to its population every 13 or 14 years. So Israel is working on finding solutions that can catch up with this demographic trend, like more efficient agriculture, energy use or health services. The rest is more practical web services including security and cyber security, or anything that has to do with automation.

Q: Israel is often called the “startup nation.” What's the secret to the success of Israeli startups when in most countries startups are synonymous with huge loans, huge projects that end up blowing up within months.

A: Some of it is cultural and some of it is just practical. Israel doesn't have the luxury some countries have to just throw money into dreams that have nothing concrete. Israelis are young, tend to be reliable and will go the extra mile to get the job done. This is because titles or pomp isn't what Israelis tend to look for, they just want to get the job done. Practical as in Israelis know who to ask if they need to get the job done. Go to any Israeli startup and you don't see a lineup of pale-skin dark-eyed dark-curly-haired men lined up by order of rank obsessively typing on their computers like you see in some countries. You see people moving around, and people come from everywhere, people discuss problems, find solutions. If you have the right resume, regardless of your country of origin or passport, Israelis will come get you.

Q: How do Palestinians fit into this economic model?

A: As long as they don't want the Jews out of Jerusalem or pushed back to the Mediterranean, they're welcome to join the party.

Q: Final question. How do you deal with Iran?

A: Iran is trying to become what the Bolsheviks were to the Soviet Union. Iran is trying to build a number of satellite states including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and of course Palestine where they want the Jews out. You had the Bolsheviks uniting the Soviet republics under Communism, Iran's trying the same. Then they would have the oil reserves, access to several seas including the Mediterranean, and of course the Islamic tourism that goes with Jerusalem. They could then compete with Saudi Arabia in a Shia vs. Sunni prozelitising match. You would think such schemes are medieval, but they exist in 2018.  

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