Lebanon

Capitalist Dybbuk Weakens Israel?

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According to the Wall Street Journal ($), some Israelis are blaming the country's lackluster performance in last year's war with Lebanon on the dissipation of socialist solidarity and the rapid expansion of an "entrepreneurial economy":

The makeover shows how Israel has flourished beyond the wildest dreams of the ardent socialists who founded the Jewish state. Powered by high-tech exports, the Israeli economy grew 6.3% in the first quarter this year, with a 28% jump in personal consumption of durable goods, such as cars and refrigerators. Sales ofPorsches doubled in 2006 from 2004, and last year Lexus opened shop in the Jewish state.

Yet prosperity has not brought security. As Israelis begin another summer fraught with regional instability, some are pondering a troubling question: Is the idea of an advanced consumer society, with its attendant individualism, compatible with the solidarity and focus required to defend a small state bordered by hostile neighbors? And could the growing gap between poor and wealthy Israelis undermine its national drive to protect itself?

In recent years, the socialist ideals of the founding Zionists have given way to one of the most successful entrepreneurial economies on earth. In place of solidarity, some Israelis argue, there is a growing gap between haves and have-nots. Rates of poverty are high among the country's 20% Arab population, but are also growing among Israeli Jews. Though the average Israeli salary has risen steadily, to more than $22,000 a year currently, one in four families live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate among children is 35%.

There are many reasonable explanations for the outcome of last summer's war in Lebanon, though "materialism" is likely low on the list. For an interesting dissection of the IDF's manifold military failures during last summer's (as of yet unnamed) war, check out Efraim Inbar's post-mortem here.

And it's easy to forget, but Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the soldier whose capture precipitated the IDF invasion, is still being held by Hamas. Yesterday, his captors released an audiotape of Shalit calling on the Israeli government to release Palestinian prisoners. Story here.

NEXT: Toward a More Humble Modesty

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  1. Gilad Shalit, Wendy Shalit, Gene Shalit. What’s the connection?

  2. oh man, i wonder if grand chalupa will talk about how getting a tooth drilled made him take a solemn vow that he’d never sell out israel to palestinian terrorists.

  3. … Israelis are blaming the country’s lackluster performance in last year’s war with Lebanon on the dissipation of socialist solidarity and the rapid expansion of an “entrepreneurial economy”

    Well, it’s a lovely thought anyway.

  4. It’s much simpler than either the WSJ column or Efraim Inbar have it modeled.

    Sending soldiers to invade/occupy another nation’s territory is a bad play which almost always results in painful losses, little or no upside, and is rife w/ unintended consequences.

    In the 21st century, it is more important than ever to keep your troops inside your own borders.

  5. Further to what Hands with a Hammer said, I’ve actually seen an analysis of what happened last summer calling the ultimate result a victory for Israel precisely because they engaged in a limited, relatively surgical campaign, and pulled out afterward, not getting bogged down in a fullscale land war in Southern (or even all of) Lebanon. I don’t know if I buy it, but it’s an interesting take…

  6. I don’t agree with the socialist angle, but it is a real question whether prosperous, capitalist societies are willing to act viciously enough to defend themselves. Israel could solve the Palestinian problem tomorrow if it were willing to act brutally enough in the territories. I’m not saying I favor such a thing, but the long-term viability of Israel may depend on it, given the continuing refusal of so many Palestinians to recognize the legitimacy of Israel under any borders.

  7. “Gilad Shalit, Wendy Shalit, Gene Shalit. What’s the connection?”

    Wow, Pro Libertate. That post was like school on a Saturday.

    No class.

  8. They mean the Israeli economy grew at a 6.3% annual rate during that quarter, right? Israel’s GDP can’t possibly be growing at a 25% rate per year!

    Is the idea of an advanced consumer society, with its attendant individualism, compatible with the solidarity and focus required to defend a small state bordered by hostile neighbors?

    Defend? Sure. Had Israel limited its actions in Lebanon to defense, hot pursuit, and the like, they would certainly have achieved a modest victory, rather than a medium-sized defeat.

  9. WTF?

    The previous Hit & Run posting referred to Wendy Shalit. This one mentions Gilad. I threw in Gene for fun. What is classless about that? It’s a coincidence; I marked it.

  10. The only way to defend yourself from aggressors is to either kill the aggressors or convince them to leave you alone. Otherwise they’ll just keep attacking you. I don’t see how Israel can possibly kill their enemies without invading other countries and causing all kinds of collateral damage and earning them international scorn. I can’t imagine their attackers deciding to give up, either – any concessions Israel makes are interpreted as weakness. Their pullouts from the gaza strip and southern lebanon have been been rewarded with renewed rocket attacks.

    I have no idea what they’re going to do, long term. Nothing they do will pacify their enemies, and the world will not accept the lengths to which Israel would have to go to kill them.

  11. The prosperity made the weak government using bad calls during the war in Lebanon. Since the state of un-leadership is still the same. The prosperity in Israel did not make the public weaker, seeking for peace. If you walk down the streets of Israel, people feel the need for another conflict to recover the weak importation and bring back our men.

  12. “[o]ne in four [israeli] families live below the official poverty line. The poverty rate among children is 35%.”

    I would guess that both ultra-orthodox jews and palestinians are over-represented in the poverty stats. The U-O because they reject modernity and don’t really participate in secular society (ie, don’t hold wealth-creating jobs). The palestinians because they’re discriminated against and are effectively excluded from anything but service-industry jobs.

  13. Way to go, ProGLib!
    Such a jerk, you are.

    Jerk!

    Just digging yourself a deeper hole, like a jerk.

    WHAT

    A

    JERK!

    Jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk.
    Jerkity jerkity jerk!
    Jerk jerk jerk jerk jerk!

  14. I feel the jerkiness flowing through me. Good thing I didn’t throw in an insensitive shallot joke. I considered it.

    I’m trying to figure out how noticing that it’s Shalit Tuesday is offensive. Was it supposed to be a secret? I dunno.

  15. Pro Lib,

    Remember, one man’s humor is another’s opportunity for self-righteous chest puffing. I’m curious to see whether a “ProLib is a dick” thread goes up at grylliade… 😉

  16. Want some chicken with that JERK sauce?

    Were you Chicago Tom’s college roommate? You know, the one he walked in on while he was JERKing off?

    What’s your favorite Steve Martin movie?
    Mine is The Jerk!

  17. I have no idea what they’re going to do, long term. Nothing they do will pacify their enemies, and the world will not accept the lengths to which Israel would have to go to kill them.

    I wouldn’t assume that. The USA is the only country that has any real leverage over Israel. If we ever adopted a hands-off attitude, what would the French/Germans/Brits/Russians/Chinese really do about it? Only the Russians and Chinese have actual functioning militaries anymore, and I doubt they’d really sacrifice much for a bunch of Palestinians.

  18. Can’t we all just get along?

  19. ProL,
    I have no insider knowledge of jkp’s thought processes but he may have been under the impression that you were making an obscure anti-semitic remark (as in, the connection is they are all JOOS!!). For what it’s worth, it never crossed my mind.

  20. You’re kidding. I mean, if I’d just thrown together three different Jewish names, maybe I could see it. But when the names are all the same?

    For the record, I’m not anti-Semitic. Except that, in my opinion, Carthage must be destroyed.

  21. I have no idea. I was just throwing out my best guess. jkp? you still out there? Perhaps you could clarify before ProL starts sending money to Palestinian suicide bombers.

  22. ProGLib,

    I have been wanting for a while to pick a day to gang up on some innocent, innocuous commenter for the whole day. Someone who never offends anyone else or gets pissy with anybody. Maybe jkp had the same idea.
    I’m thinking it would be fun to do to someone like Jake Boone or de stijl. They don’t seem too controversial. We can act like everything they say is deeply offensive to us for various reasons. Attack them like one of the crazy trolls who cruise by. I can’t decide which would be more fun: attacking repeatedly under various aliases or letting them wonder why folks they thought they “knew” suddenly turned on them.
    Well, it’s probably too mean to properly execute, and I’m tipping my hand here, so it will probably never happen.

  23. You just revealed yourself, Highnumber. I am so disappointed. That is incredibly insulting. HOW DARE YOU. Mein Gott.

    Why on earth would you say that? What did they ever do to you? How about a little tolerance?

    That makes me sick.

    Just forget it. Some people will just never get it.

  24. highnumber,

    It’ll never work. Of course, there’s always the vehicle of the Urkobold, who is capable of anything.

  25. Yeah, like that!

    To an innocent party, it would be way too mean. It’s a bad idea. I’m sorry I even put it out there. Never mind. Bad, bad idea.

  26. /takes Noam and trods off, dejected.

  27. Of course, highnumber, there is another option along those lines. Join in praise of a troll in some thread. Agree vehemently with everything that he says. Over and over again. See if you can’t get everyone else to join in, without actually making explicit your wishes.

  28. Say, Pro Libertate, when you feel like chewing on a highly-cured meat-substance that one commonly finds on the counter at a convenience store, do you choose the Slim Jims?

    They hell you do!

  29. I love that idea.

    And at the end, compliment the troll for the laser-sharp sense of irony necessary to work the name of the magazine into his comment.

  30. joe,

    ?

    That took me a minute, I confess.

  31. Like Jesus, we’ll overwhelm the troll with love.

    Nah, we’ll just subtly abuse him.

  32. ProGLib – what’s the diff?

  33. I always found it strange how Washington never had a problem in the past with Israel being socialist.

  34. Not that kind of love, VM.

  35. Remember Soap?
    The one brother was going be so nice to his gangster’s daughter girlfriend that she went nuts. Then he really fell for her and she was kidnapped or killed or something.

    Anyway, that, and Bert could make himself invisible. Good stuff. That Chester was something else, too. Him & Benson – ha!

  36. Soap was brilliant. I liked the possessed baby bit best.

  37. I always found it strange how Washington never had a problem in the past with Israel being socialist.

    As long as they weren’t alied (strategically or ideologically) with the Soviet block, the US government had no reason to worry about that. Strategic pragmatism gets priority over shared views on economic policy any day of the week. The US had (and probably still has) plenty of allies with countries ruled or governed by “socialist”* parties.

    * – In some cases, these parties aren’t full scale, Eugene-V-Debs-style, socilists; but favor somewhat more government control over the economy than a typical democrat.

  38. edit: “allies with countries” should be “alliances with countries”.

  39. Pro Libertate,

    Jesus didn’t always have a loving touch or a kind tongue.

  40. Jesus didn’t always have a loving touch or a kind tongue.

    SEE!

    Tolja, ProGlib.

  41. highnumber,

    How is the lake today?

  42. Oh, uh, Hi!
    How are you, de stijl?
    Heh, heh, we were, uh, just, uh, talking about you.
    How have you been?
    Uh, gotta go!

    BTW, the Urkobold’s still pissed at you.

  43. Chances are most of that 25% under the poverty line are Orthodox, They see their primary mission in life as praying for Israel, whose government subsidizes their large families. I happened to visit Lakewood NJ and was curious about the large number of adult Hasidim men on the street, I commented that it must be a holiday for them, My friend turned to me smiling and said they don’t work, they’re on welfare. Couldn’t even find a decent bagel, very strange.

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