Fischer: Israel Not Doing Enough to Find Peace

The highly respected former governor of the Bank of Israel, Stanley Fischer, told a New York audience the Netanyahu government is not doing enough to make peace with the Palestinians.

Israel is not seeking peace “to the extent that it should” and that it is “divided between those who want to settle the West Bank and those who seek peace,” Fischer told the forum on “Israel: the View from the Inside Out,” at NYU Law School’s Center on Law and Security, Chemi Shalev reported in Haaretz .

The recently retired Fischer, who has dual US-Israeli citizenship and was born in what is now Zambia, returned to the states this fall and may be in line for a major post in Washington.  President Obama is reportedly planning to nominate him to succeed Janet Yellin as vice chair of the Federal Reserve Bank after she is confirmed for the top post by the Senate, which is expected later this week.

UPDATE: In its rush to get out of town, the Senate postponed until January 6th the confirmation vote on Janet Yellin to head the Fed.  

Yellin would become the third successive Jew to chair the U.S. central bank when she succeeds Ben Shalom Bernanke, who in turn followed Alan Greenspan.  Bernanke was a doctoral student and protégé of Fischer, who has been called the Yoda of central banking. Bernanke is due to leave office January 31. 

Fischer, currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the forum about “Israel: the View from the Inside Out”

 “[T]he miracle of Israel it its normalcy, which is maintained thanks to the Israel Defense Forces. But there are always more threats and there are always more reasons to spend on defense – and Israel is at a moment when it wants to spend more on defense….

 “The approach that we have to be strong because if we’re not strong we will be defeated is absolutely correct but it is not the only the part of national strategy. The other part is the need to look for peace, and that part is not happening to the extent that it should.”

Israeli taxpayers support four separate and unequal school systems – secular, modern Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox and Arab – that perpetuate the nation’s social divisions. “The rest of the world is investing more in universities and schools, but Israel is not,” Fischer said.

Over the next 45 years, ultra-Orthodox and Arabs, currently the least productive sector of the economy, will be a majority of the country, and unless their rate of participation in the national work force dramatically improves, “it will be very problematic from an economic viewpoint,” he warned.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.