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How can the Palestinian economy and culture rise from its own ashes?

Reader comment on item: The Palestinian Economy in Shambles

Submitted by Charles W. Davis (United States), Dec 27, 2007 at 14:14

Pipes has a provocative thesis--not that pouring money into an economy damages the ordinary business of production and consumption (as when the rock concerts raised cash for food to be dumped in struggling parts of Africa), or that pouring money into the pockets of leaders exacerbates corruption (as the rise in the price of oil has done in the Middle East), or even that pouring money on radical politics is like adding lots of kindling and lots of paper to a small fire (ditto). Those three results are obvious downsides even to the most 'well intentioned' aid.

The surprising thesis is that the first bad effect may help cancel the third. Three problems, however, may prevent that sort of 'creative destruction' in Palestinian culture:

  1. Bad effect #2--corruption--will adversely affect the normal production of goods and services to solve problems internally; economic monopolies combined with personal power politics will likely prevent it.

  2. The on-going influence of radical politics from outside Palestine (starting in Lebanon, with Palestinian 'refugee' groups [now 60 years old] supported financially and militarily by Syria, Iran, and even Saudi Arabia) will exacerbate Bad effect #3--terrorism organized against Israel and its allies.

  3. Add newspaper and TV reports of poverty in Palestine, and you'll see sob stories generating the political motive to pour more money in, making Bad effect #1 'worser and worser,' with no end to the downward spiral in sight.

A change in culture, in the Middle East, or in Europe and the U.S., will not be easy, painless, or quick (but neither is the culture in charge now, as Pipes emphasizes.)

Dr. Charles Davis

"Power corrupts, and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely"

--Lord Acton

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