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Economic development by itself will not get Israel accepted

Reader comment on item: Harvard Debates Islam

Submitted by Ian Mordant (United Kingdom), Dec 30, 2005 at 13:52

Dr Pipes observes that numerous American publicists such as Thomas Friedman claim that economic development alone will make Israel acceptable to Palestinians, and other Arab countries. No, its much more complex than that.

The best book on this subject is probably that of Barrington Moore, 'Social Origins of Dictatorship, 1966. Dr Moore observes how vital it was that England go through its capitalist revolution, 1640-1660, for free-speech democracy to develop there, whilst a country like japan, which by 1940 had massive economic development, but had been through such a revolution, allied itself to two other countries with the same form of economci growth, Germany and Italy.

Mussolini in particular is the dominant model for most leaders in West Asia, as the so-called Middle East, should be called. Eg the late Mr Arafat.

In the 1960's and 70's Americans like Mr Friedman also argued that mere economic development would cause apartheid to wither away, but it needed instead sanctions. In that regard, Arab oil plays in the world economy that same role that apartheid gold once played, a crucial similarity between the apartheid and Arab economies, not shared by Israel. It was only when Mr Nixon moved the US off the gold standard in 1971, that sanctions against apartheid gold became thinkable. We've not yet reached that stage with Arab oil - just try imagining advocating sanctions today against Saudi Arabia! We need cheap renewable energy to do that.

Ian Mordant
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