Looking at the images in this Middle Eastern conflict thousands of kilometres away is making many people sad.
Sad because of some decent people who are incapable of making the difference between being critical of the actions of the Israeli government (just like in any free society) and vile anti-antisemitism. It’s sad that the human cost of this conflict is terrible like in every other conflict. It’s destroying not only schools, houses and industries but also lives on both sides of the conflict like those of some young IDF soldiers who are doing their national service or of many small children in Gaza.
But the saddest thing is how the conflict in the Middle East seems to go against every basic economical concept. As for hummus is good with pita bread, both Israelis and Palestinians agree that the economy is a priority for them. This is one of the explanations of why a party who is focused on ”bread and butter” issues like Yesh Atid did so well in the last Israeli legislative election. But the problem is that jobs, the cost of living and the arrival of new capital both things which don’t do well without any long lasting peace and an end to economic blockade.
There is no doubt that peace will be fostered through free trade in the Middle East due to one basic fact, that you don’t bomb your neighbour who is a good trading partner to you. The other thing is that trade, which means a better quality of life both for people in Israel and the Palestinian Territories will cut the feet of extremists like the Hamas who work on their fear rhetoric in part because of the dire economic situation for people in Gaza. On the other end, having Israelis having more trade with people with Gaza and in the West Bank will only foster better links and a much more sensible prospect for a real lasting peace. The same thing could be said with Egypt closing their border with Gaza.
This is why that even if peace become more and more of a dream in the Middle East, having a pro-free trade policy could be something which could work as a win-win situation for both Israelis and Palestinians while also destroying the shallow arguments of the fear mongers like those in the Hamas who think that shooting rockets will do anything worthwhile. It’s far from being a perfect magic formula, but it could not be worse than the current situation which bring an awful situation to everybody on the field – albeit for different reasons.
Because sadly, as the French economist Frédéric Bastiat said centuries ago, ”If goods don’t cross the border, armies will”. Sadly the situation in the Middle East is a living proof that Bastiat was perhaps not wrong after all. This is perhaps having an economic blockade will make everybody poorer at the end.