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Yaron London Photo: Yonatan Davis
Yaron London Photo: Yonatan Davis
 
 

Money is not the answer

Bolstering financial aid to Palestinians will not change their political perceptions

Yaron London
Published: 06.25.07, 16:41 / Israel Opinion

A foreign worker from the Philippines works at our home. Her fiancé works in South Korea. Once they save enough money they will return to their homeland and marry.

 

Why does South Korea attract millions of immigrant workers while the Philippines' economic situation is so dire, to such an extent that
millions emigrate in order to find work? Such a question can be directed at several countries. For example, why is Singapore as rich as West European countries despite it being located on a tiny island and lacking any natural resources, while Indonesia – Singapore's giant neighbor - is finding it difficult to rise up from the status of a third-world country? Why are Mexicans infiltrating the US and not vise versa?

 

Historians and political science experts provide learned explanations for this, yet no one can predict how and when a nation's culture will change; when tyranny will turn into democracy; aggression into calm and poverty into prosperity. Since we do not understand this, how can the prosperous world cultivate poverty-stricken nations? It appears that only one rule is valid in the majority of cases: Financial aid does not assist the culture of the country being aided.

 

This can be said with regards to the Palestinian Authority. Few tidings will emerge from the Sharm summit: One of them is that tax funds withheld from them will be handed over. The international community will shower it with substantial funds.

 

The assumption is that the funds will be instrumental in achieving prosperity, and that prosperity will moderate young Palestinians' passion for 72 virgins awaiting them in heaven. This hypothesis is premised on a mistaken assumption maintaining that improvement in living conditions can change perceptions, while in actual fact the opposite is true.

 

Donations save people from starvation and make leaders wealthy, but they do not serve to change the cultures of societies and do not drive them to success.

 

Frequently the contrary is true: The aid provided to Palestinian refugees and their offspring by UNRWA since 1948 atrophied their ability to rehabilitate themselves. Their flaccidity is one of the reasons for their political behavior; hence, it is doubtful whether increasing economic support to the PA will change anything in the Palestinian political culture.

 

Did Israel use aid properly?

Contrary to the Bush school of thought, coerced and imported democratization is unable to educate a people. Chile's economy was surprisingly strengthened during the term of Augusto Pinochet. South Korea embarked on its voyage of prosperity during the prolonged reign of Park Chung Hi. China's economy is taking giddying strides despite its police force being one of the most despicable in the world.

 

However, strange as my conjecture may sound, it is inevitable that the dark Hamastan will gain strength and improve its economic condition, whereas Fatahland, whose regime is closer to democracy, will increasingly become impoverished.

 

Judging other people's culture hints at racism; therefore, I will add something lest I am accused of arrogance. Israel, as opposed to what we are led to believe, is not a good example of a country that used the financial aid showered upon it in a positive way. It is a (somewhat) prosperous (tainted) democracy, yet the financial aid it received during its years of existence far exceeds that provided to any other country at any given time.

 

The exceptionality of Israel's economy is so extreme that it cannot be related to in order to formulate a universal rule. Since its inception to date, Israel has received some $259 billion from the US, Germany and through the generosity of Diaspora Jews. Even if we take into account the large security expenses and the cost of absorbing new immigrants, we cannot determine that this vast capital was utilized properly.

 

For comparison's sake, the Marshall Plan, which assisted Europe in rising up from the ashes in the wake of World War II, cost the American taxpayer $100 billion in real terms. 

 

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