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Survival of the State of Israel? Survival of the State of Israel?
by Joseph Gatt
2021-11-19 08:14:33
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Recently, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made what I thought was a surprising statement by saying that Israel had been destroyed twice before in the past, alluding to the destruction of the First and Second Temple, and that surviving the 80th anniversary of the creation of Israel should not be taken for granted.

A bit of a historical reminder. Judea was a kingdom where a good chunk of the population were shepherds. So lots of sheep (because that's pretty much what you can do in the desert) and the sheep were herded and sold to neighboring kingdoms (Egypt, Babylonia, Persia, Arabia, Axium, Greece, Rome and so on).

isr00001_400Now remember sheep is not just meat. It's also wool and leather and those were luxuries back in the day. Then Judea had lots of wine, and lots of salt but that's pretty much all we produced and exported. No wheat, no grain, little or no produce.

So Judeans depended heavily on exports, and when neighboring countries struggled to find the gold and silver to purchase our sheep and wine and salt, the Judeans had a rough time.

The destruction of both Temples (in 586 BCE and in 70 CE) was the result of neighboring empires becoming very strong economically, while the Judean economy stagnated. In 586, it was the Babylonians and the Persians who had robust economies, and they came to us, destroyed our temple, and exiled us to Babylon, before Persian King Darius the Great allowed the Judeans back to Judea. Judea became a Persian protectorate; the Temple was rebuilt in 510 BCE, with the blessings of King Darius the Great of Persia.

The fall of the second Temple was the same combination of events, but to the West. Rome became very strong under Cesar, Egypt under Cleopatra, and the Greeks had a very robust economy, and they no longer needed our sheep and our wine. So they came to us and destroyed our Temple, and the Judeans were exiled East and West.

Now where could a threat come from in 2021 CE? Israel's economy is diverse and diversified, and there are no neighboring economic powerhouses who would be self-sufficient enough not to purchase Israeli goods. Plus, this is an era of nation-states where the world order technically does not allow invasions.

There are threats like terrorism and ideological threats, but most nations tend to agree that Israel is a necessity, although that was not a given 20 years ago.

Today's Israel is not only self-sufficient, but is also helping other nations become self-sufficient by sharing skills, technology and economic intelligence.

But... to survive, Israel will have to remain self-sufficient, on par with neighboring nations. That is, if Europe grows, Israel has to grow at the same pace. If the Middle East grows, Israel will have to grow at the same pace. Israel can not afford to be out-competed by its neighboring countries or regions economically.

Now, in Judea, the reason there was no real economic growth, besides the fact that Judea was and still is a desert, is that the Judeans were very competent in history and law, but not so competent in science and technology and economic planning.

In today's Israel, we have three and four-star generals in the government, experts at security issues and at fighting terrorism and other existential threats, but I don't see a lot of economic planning or philosophy, parallel to Israel's security threats.

So today's Israel's going to have to find steady sources of income and revenue to survive. Building a competent high-tech industry is one source of income, selling knowledge and expertise and data is another source of income.

But more importantly, Israel's going to have to be self-sufficient, in addition to its exports revenue. Because what destroyed Judea was Judea's dependence on all goods that were not sheep or wine or salt. That is, Judea had to import its grains.

Today's Israel's going to have to find ways to produce its own grain, and to make sure that the grain is of good quality and does not spoil when stored in warehouses and granaries.

So, self-sufficiency and exports should be part of the deal, in addition to security concerns. An economy that works for all Israelis and an economy where Israel won't have to depend on neighboring countries or allies for survival. That's my personal opinion.

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