As of today, December 2006, Israel's GNP stands at USD 150 billion, a rise from last year's USD 132 billion. This is an impressive achievement by any standards. What is the GNP of the Palestinian Authority, with whom we sought a unified economy without borders? USD three billion.
Therefore, we are not just speaking about two completely different economies, but rather, about a clear distinction between the destitution of the third world and the achievements of the first world; between the marginal and the central; between those rejected by globalization and those who are warmly embraced by it.
What is Jordan's GNP? It is USD 15 billion compared to USD 13 billion last year, with the same population as Israel. Lebanon's USD 19 billion GNP increased to USD 24 billion. That's it.
Egypt's GNP is on the rise: From USD 73 two years ago it increased to USD 103 last year and to USD 116 billion this year. However, Egypt's future is bleak. With a population of 77 million, coupled with a population growth of one million new babies every ten months, how is it possible to achieve economic growth?
True, figures are on the rise due to the increase in oil prices - and Egypt produces oil. However, the Egyptian economy is still faltering between socialism and capitalism, and a rise in the cost of bread could make millions of enraged citizens flock to the streets in protest.
What can be learned from these figures? That if the economies of all our neighboring countries are put together, they almost amount to Israel's level of GNP, and this is while we have one hand tied behind our backs after six years of Intifada.
The per capita GNP is even more incredible: In Israel it totaled USD 20,870 this year, a nice rise from last year's USD 18,540. But what is the per capita GNP in the countries around us? In the Palestinian Authority it is less than USD 1,000.
In Egypt a little over USD 1,000; in Jordan it totals USD 2,480 per capita; in Lebanon is it relatively high due to a smaller population – USD 6,440. In destitute Iraq, a country with enormous potential, the per capita GNP is just USD 1,190; in Iran it is USD 3, 560 and even in the wealthy Saudi Arabia it only reaches USD 14,250 despite the substantial income from its oil reserves.
Arabs reject cooperation
This year Israel recorded the best economic year in its history. Investors come here with bright eyes to purchase and to invest. This is indeed commendable. However, our neighbors are slowly withering, and this can't be good.
We can't really be held responsible for this outcome. In the 1990s, Israel proposed that the Arab world join it on an incredible marathon, which could have transformed the Middle East into one of the world's financial and technological centers in a grand renaissance of prosperity and renewal.
The Arabs rejected the vision and a new Middle East didn't materialize. On the contrary, the vision only led to the rise of Islamic defiance that found itself threatened by it, and thus led to a rise in radicalism and resistance as a way of life. The vision led to an anti-vision and to an escape to the past.
Israel sincerely wanted to advance a joint economy with the Palestinians and Jordan, and in so doing to also legitimize itself in this part of the world. What’s wrong with that? The Arab states could have benefited from Zionist activism.
Alas, the Arab nations and their leaders refused. They preferred doing it alone. And Israel is doing it alone. Zionism has remained a shameful word in the region and activism is deemed a foreign phenomena.
The economic results are clearly evident in the data presented in The Economist. And the figures, as we know, don't lie.