Avi Nofech
Avi Nofech
"democracy and free trade are the only way to peace"

Israeli Conservative Party

This blog is about something that Israel does not have yet – the Israeli Conservative Party.
Canada, the UK, Australia have it. America has the Republicans. But Israel has the Right and the Left.

Conservatives are not the same as the Right. Israeli Rightists are nationalists. But Conservatives believe in something else. They believe in individual freedoms, in free market economy, and in free trade.

I can hear the offended voices: “but we already have individual freedoms and free market in Israel!”

Not so fast. There is a law in Israel that says: people can live outside the boundaries of a yishuv (city, town, kibbutz, moshav) only if they prove that they are farmers.

Because of this law, and because land is owned by the government, developers cannot buy tracts of land outside of city limits and build neighborhoods of single family homes, the way they do it in English speaking countries.

This is why most Israelis live in apartment buildings, not in single family homes. If this law was repealed, Israelis could buy land and build single family neighborhoods in the Negev, which is now mostly empty. They could easily commute to work in Beer Sheva because the drive is not too long. There is vast open space right outside of Beer Sheva that could be full of houses with trees.

So the land stays empty, and city apartments are overpriced. This is the cost of limits on individual freedom.

As for free trade, how come there is no Walmart? Shopping is so easy when one can buy everything in one big store with lots of parking. One does not need to go to different stores for groceries, clothes, hardware, lighting, furniture, appliances, bicycles – they are all in one place, with guaranteed low prices.

But in Israel, instead of Walmart, there are thousands of little stores that do not even display the prices and rip off customers. Even worse, some sell second rate goods as if they were first rate.

Long time ago there were stores like this in Western countries too. But they went out of business because one stop shopping is so much easier.

Free trade does more than make consumers’ lives easy. It also brings peace.

Close to the end of Second World War in 1945, Truman’s advisors made plans for the peaceful post-war world. They realised that Germany, Italy and Japan would prosper if they could sell their goods to other countries. The result was an amazing success – in just a few years the former Axis countries became friends and allies of Americans and the British.

This is what Dwight Eisenhower said about free trade: “Our foreign policy will recognize the importance of profitable and equitable world trade…World trade helps to lay the groundwork for peace by making all free nations of the world stronger and more self-reliant.”

Israel could use this idea in dealing with the Palestinians. If Palestinian employers could freely export their goods to Israel they and their workers would prosper and become interested in good relations with Israel.

Of course there would be resistance to free trade, from people interested in protectionism. Protectionism lost in the West, but is still strong in Israel.

The European Common Market was a victory over protectionism and resulted in more than 70 years of peace in Europe.

Time for Israel to join the winners! With free trade, Israel’s per capita GDP would go up and up, closer to that of Australia and the US.

This is what Boris Johnson wants, new trade agreements that would raise the living standards in the UK.

Where is Israel’s Boris Johnson?

About the Author
I was a lecturer in mathematics in Israel and in Canada and now teach part time at Grant MacEwan University.