Out of the box

This letter appeared in the Jerusalem Post on 20 June, 2012:

Sir: I have a modest proposal for the Israeli Government that could kill two birds with one stone. Instead of the African immigrants settling in Tel Aviv, which is so grossly overcrowded that we don’t want more Jewish immigrants to settle there, why not instead settle the Africans on the West Bank. Israel has the legitimate right to build there and who could complain about allowing Black immigrants, most of whom are refugees fleeing war and poverty, from settling there. This way they could have their own communities, yet benefit Israel by being on the West Bank. Why would the Palestinians complain about this, they would be helping suffering humanity and most of the Africans are Muslims anyway. Why not have the UN support this, surely UNRWA could afford to do so from the billions of dollars it gets in aid, to provide some support for these African refugees. By thinking out of the box we could solve two problems in one go.  Sincerely, Jack Cohen, Netanya

I offer this idea as one that is “out of the box” and therefore not likely to be taken up by any Government agency of official. Here is another idea, instead of demolishing buildings built on private Arab land, why not offer them at a discounted price to Arab residents. This would build goodwill and compensate the owner of the land. It is considered illegal for Israel to build on private Arab land without agreement or payment. But, most of the land on the West Bank was government-controlled land during the British Mandate and passed to Israel when it became the sovereign (although some do not recognize that transfer). Therefore, Israel can build on the large tracts of government-owned land, where all the major settlements are located. The six buildings to be demolished in the Ulpana outpost, will be rebuilt at the adjacent settlement of Beit El and all the families will be relocated there. They have accepted this deal and no conflict is expected when they are required to move.

Another idea is for Israel to subsidize the development of solar farms to produce electricity that can be fed into the national grid after local uses are satisfied. These solar farms will be needed to reduce dependence on imports of carbon dioxide-producing fuels such as coal and oil. There is no end of out-of-the-box ideas if one puts one’s mind to it.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.