Professor Paul Eidelberg makes the cogent argument that focusing on the economy, as Kerry is, is completely meaningless.
During this period when the West Bank and Gaza were run by Israel, the territories received little foreign aid. [Nevertheless] the economy boomed, and the Palestinians increased their business activity and their standard of living rose dramatically. Here is George Gilder’s assessment:
“At the inception of the occupation, conditions in the territories were quite dire. Life expectancy was low; malnutrition, infectious diseases, child mortality were rife; fewer than 60 percent of all male adults had been employed, with unemployment among refugees running as high as 83 percent. Within a brief period after the war, Israeli occupation had led to dramatic improvements…improvements …[The number of Palestinians working in Israel rose from zero in 1967 … 109 thousand by 1968, accounting for 35 percent of the employed population of the West Bank and 45 percent in Gaza. Close to two thousand industrial plants employing almost half the work force, were established in the territories under Israeli rule.
"During the 1970s, the West Bank and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest growing economy in the world … with per capita GDP expanding tenfold between 1968 and 1991… Life expectancy rose more than 48 years in 1967 to 72 in 2000.…By 1986, 92.8 percent of the population … had electricity around the clock, as compared to 20.5 percent in 1967… (Similar advances occurred in hygiene, child mortality, immunizations, and communications, which all rose to levels equal or exceeding other Middle Eastern countries]. The number of school children … grew by 102 percent … Even more dramatic was the progress in higher education. [From zero in 1967] by the early 1990s, there were even [universities] boasting some 16,500 students.”
I don’t agree that the economic issues are meaningless in this conflict. They just don’t work the way that the Western model of a rising tide floats all boats expects it to.
1. The conflict has made the creation of controlled alternative economy based around monopolies, whether it is the Palestinian Authority’s monopoly on cigarettes or Hamas’ monopoly on smuggling tunnels, possible.
These monopolies are one more reason to perpetuate the conflict in order to prevent free trade. Hamas wants an Israeli blockade. The Palestinian Authority wants constant economic insecurity.
… and this is an important one
2. Christians and Jews out-compete Muslims economically in every country. That’s why the Muslim Brotherhood with its network of businesses wants to drive Coptic Christians out of Egypt.
Muslims invariably have lower levels of education, skill and employment than their non-Muslim counterparts. They only win, as they always have, by killing their competitors or reducing them to second-class status.
Israel has 1.2 Muslims inside the Green Line who account for 52 percent of its social benefits. Israel’s national unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The Arab unemployment rate is 27 percent. Only 59 percent of Muslim men and only 19 percent of Muslim women are officially part of the workforce. That’s compared to 56 percent of Jewish women and 52 percent of Christian women.
The average Israeli family has double the monthly income of the average Arab family. Half the Arab sector officially lives in poverty. The Israeli Jewish GDP is nearly three times higher than the Arab-Israeli GDP.
Israel within the Green Line only has about 150,000 Christians and about as many Druze, and both groups perform better economically. Christian Arabs have a higher employment rate and a better rate of higher education than Muslims.
You can see the same numbers when you compare Muslims to Buddhists or Hindus. Islam is hostile to education and competence. Its theocracy strives to keep its followers backward.
Muslims do better economically in non-Muslim countries. Muslim countries with non-Muslim minorities perform better than 100 percent Muslim countries.
The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are Malaysia and Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also have sizable non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of Lebanon and only 60 percent of Malaysia. No Muslim country without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim country with sizable Christian or Buddhist minorities.
Within India, Muslims are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Their per capita GDP is lower, their literacy rate is lower and they perform worse than Hindus. And yet the average Indian Muslim annual income at 513 dollars is still higher than the average annual income in Pakistan at 420 dollars. This remains consistent with the higher Arab-Israeli income and lower Jordanian Arab income model meaning that Muslims in non-Muslim countries will earn less than the majority, but more than they would in a majority Muslim country.
Now if you think rationally, this is a reason for Muslims to keep non-Muslims around. But if you think tribally, the only way that Muslims can get ahead is by getting rid of the non-Muslims.
You can’t fix Muslim economic inequality without fixing Islam. And you can’t fix Muslim violence without fixing Islam. And you can’t fix Islam.
The economic issues are certainly there, but they derive from a religious problem.