By Tesfazion Gerhelase
(August 19, 2019 / JNS) The Arab states of the Middle East have badly failed to create effective institutions.
The Gulf monarchies, especially Saudi Arabia, have failed to diversify their economies and as a result are suffering from high unemployment and corruption.
Jordan remains heavily dependent on foreign aid, and it is in a deep political, economic and tribal crisis.
According to Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics, despite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s large investment projects, the percentage of Egyptian citizens living below the poverty line increased from 27.9 percent in 2015 to 32.5 percent in 2018. In other words, 32.5 percent of Egyptian earn less than $43 a month, or $519 a year.
By way of comparison, in 2016, the poverty line for a couple in Israel was NIS 5,216 per month, or $1,482. For a couple with two children, the poverty line was NIS 8,345 ($2,371).
Indeed, Israel is one of only two countries in the region to have created successful institutions, the Islamic republic of Iran being the other.
Unfortunately, however, the similarities between the two countries end there.
While Iran has been working tirelessly to destabilize the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait, by financing Shi’ite and Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated movements and armed groups, the Jewish state is a stabilizing force, despite violent Arab animosity.
Iran is the primary actor fanning the flames of war in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
The State of Israel is assisting Egypt with its fight against Islamic State in the Sinai, providing political and diplomatic support; a destabilized Egypt could destabilize the whole region.
Israel has also been providing military, security, diplomatic and political support for the region’s Arab states, without which these countries would be overrun by ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran.
Indeed, without Israel, the Middle East would be in chaos, and not only because of Iran.
The Middle Eastern Muslim and Arab countries of the region are headed toward the same fate as that of the failed or dysfunctional African countries, because like them the Arab countries also failed to create national economies capable of offering citizens dignity and opportunity.
These countries’ only hope to create such a national economy is Israel, via the transfer of technology, science and modern management know-how.
For example, the Arab world contains around one-third of the world’s deserts. Most Arab countries have insufficient water resources, and poor water management, making the region especially vulnerable to desertification and drought. Israeli agricultural and water technology can resolve this problem.
However, the problem is that Arabs hearts are full of conspiracy theories and Jew-hatred. According to the latest Pew research center study, 100 percent of Jordanians, 99 percent of Lebanese and 98 percent of Egyptians hate Jews.
This hatred is blinding Arabs to Israel’s contribution to the security of their countries, and potential contribution to their economies. But then, the rest of the world has failed to see this as well.
Although Israel certainly needs to set out its case to the world, the world also needs to recognize the contribution Israel is already making in the Middle East, and open its eyes to the much larger potential. Israel on its own cannot do much to change Arab public opinion.
In conclusion, Israeli policy should not be defined by the narrow Jewish-Palestinian conflict, but mainly by the economic and security future of the wider Middle East, particularly Jordan, Syria and Egypt.
What would the situation be today if the Golan Heights were in Syrian control? What would have happened to the security of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, etc., if Iran had established proxy militias in the Israeli Golan Heights? Another terrorist group like Hamas and Hezbollah?
Above all Israel needs to see and think, remain strong and make sure that the Jordan Valley remains part and parcel of the Jewish state, indeed becoming its economic center and highly populated. The Middle East needs a strong Israel.
Tesfazion Gerhelase is a British-Eritrean citizen, a Tigrigna nationalist and Zionist. He is the founder of Agaiazian Media and Education Center, which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism and BDS delegitimization of Israel.