Love, love, love, love, love

There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done. There’s nothing you can sing that can’t be sung.

Nothing you can say but you Learn how to play the game.

It’s easy.

 

Love may be all you need, but don’t turn your gaze toward Israel to get it. T’u B’Av has been more about scandal than snogging this year. The lovers have lost the day to the politicians, and the politicians have lost the love of those looked to be fixed up.

With each presidential election, a new suitor comes calling, treating Israel as if it were Penelope’s empty bed, needy and yearning, waiting desperately to be filled by exactly the right, deserving man. Promises, declarations of affection, whispers of sweet nothings into the ears of a nation. But rather than being the belle of the ball the past few campaigns, Israel has been reduced to lifting it’s skirt for any sweet talker promising long term commitment and happiness. It’s a method half as old as time. But this time around no one is swooning over the the two suitors from America, outdoing each other at every turn to win fair Israel’s affections. Every rose has it’s thorn, but so too does every campaign stop to the Holy Land.

 

Ooh I need your love babe, Guess you know it true.

Hope you need my love babe, Just like I need you.

 

Mitt Romney went to Israel to make his pitch on how he is the far worthier choice for Israel’s love than a sitting President who is in more of an “its complicated” relationship with the Jewish State. Talking warmly where Obama has shown himself cool, and clear where the President is vague, Romney showered Israel with a certain praise which found himself on the wrong end of a racism charge from the Palestinian side, or the other sister as it were, the one the Romney was not there to call on. Not prudent considering Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned

The way Romney see’s it, praise for Israel and reproach for the Palestinians just comes down to a cultural outlook. With regard to the dissimilarities he saw during his visit, he suggested that “the choices a society makes about its culture play a role in creating prosperity and that the significant disparity between Israeli and Palestinian living standards was powerfully influenced by it.” Had Mitt gone to Ramallah and seen the other sister, surly he would have seen how untrue this is. Surly. It was suggested that a first hand look at the vibrant business sector Salaam Fayyad has built, despite the constant undermining from within the Palestinian Authority, Romney would never made such a statement. After all, what does Romney the venture capitalist from America know first hand, about Palestinian and Arab culture and how it relates to political economy? Probably a bit more than you and I, and undoubtedly less than the experts in the field. But luckily for Romney, one such expert, his foreign policy adviser Dan Senor, has plenty of experience and a unique insight into this polemic. What Romney did, was simply pull a page out his aid’s book, quite literally in fact. Senor is the co-author of Start Up Nation, the book which chronicles Israel’s economic success story, and explains how because of Israeli culture, its economy continues to soar while the economies of it’s Arab neighbors struggle and lag behind. And his insight is far greater on the subject than any of the cleptocrats in the Palestinian Authority.

 

Victim of love I see a broken heart, You’ve got your stories to tell.

Victim of love, it’s such an easy part,

And you know how to play it so well.

 

To show the world how blind and wrong Romney was, the head of the Palestine Development and Investment company Munib Masri, opined in the New York Times how culture has no role to play in this imbalance, but rather Israel’s occupation is to blame for economic stagnation. “It’s hard to succeed Mr. Romney when roadblocks, checkpoints, and draconian restrictions on the movement of goods and people suffocate our business environment.” It is certainly not easy, but why then has Israel managed to succeeded in it’s own infancy despite similar circumstances imposed by the British, restrictions on certain goods from Europe and the America, (which Palestinians have no problem in securing today it should be noted) and above all else, Israel managed economic prosperity without access to regional markets due to the Arab boycott. But despite this, you can just ask Shimon Peres how hard it is to smuggle innovation into a country successfully, despite draconian restrictions.

Fayyad did not fail to build a future Palestine’s infrastructure because he is subjugated, but rather he is succeeding incrementally by showing Israeli style determination and ingenuity. What is really suffocating is not the occupation as was suggested above, but the discouraging facts unearthed in Senor’s book, which Romney has certainly been briefed on. For example; While oil rich economies with very small populations such as Qatar, with a population of 1million people enjoys a per capita GDP of $73,100 while Egypt, a country with no natural resources to speak of, has an unmanageable population of nearly 80 million people and a per capita GDP of $1700. What Israeli oppression is responsible for Egypt’s lack of growth? Another indicator is the amount of patents registered from 1980 to 2000 in the Arab world. In Saudi Arabia 171 were registered during the tech boom. The figures go down hill from there. 77 patents were registered in Egypt, 52 in the Emirates, 32 for Syria and 20 in Jordan, compared to 7652 in Israel. This is precisely the kind of discrepancy Romney was alluding to.

The Arab world also boasts the worlds highest illiteracy rates, and has the smallest amount of women participating in its workforce and industry. Their Student to teacher ratio is 12-1, where OECD countries are at 17-1. Israel has 4 universities in the top 150 worldwide, and aside from the American Universities in Beirut and Cairo, there are not too many institutions for higher learning drawing in students from overseas. So again, I don’t see where Israel’s army factors into any of these trends.

Romney, like Senor, was articulating the role culture has in industry. Emphasizing the distinction between Israel’s start ups and ventures, built and expanded from Israel’s reflexive need for self-sufficiency, and the Arab world’s way of doing things, which ultimately is based on patronage in one form or another. One is an ever-evolving development project, the other is a highfalutin souk. One innovates, the other simply trades. And if culture has absolutely nothing to do with it, consider this warning from Dubai’s Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Makhtoum on the inability of the Arab states to innovate. “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.” So when Mitt Romney’s observations illicit a “collective yawn” from the Palestinian street, perhaps then, it is time to put a stop to their lethargy all together.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love