Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's not all bad

Perhaps, because of the selected emphasis of this blog, I have created an overly negative impression of events in Israel. So, on order to set the record straight, let's take note of a few additional facts:

1. The economy is continuing to grow at a healthy pace of 5-6% per year. A recent report by the IMF rates Israel's per capita income, at $31,767, placing it number 18 of the developed countries, on par with France, Germany and Italy. This is a remarkable acheivement, given Israel's challenges. About a month ago I attended a lecture by Dr. Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel, who is optimistic about Israel's economy. The interest rates here are lower than the US, the currency is strong with low inflation, we have large foreign currency reserves, a trade surplus, a balanced national budget, decreasing national debt and declining unemployment. All of these are basic indicators of a healthy economy. Liberalization and privatization in various sectors in the economy continues unabated

2. Israel has learned the lessons of the failures of the last war in Lebanon. Ground forces have undergone extensive additional training, and an effective short range rocket interception system is currently in the advanced stages of development. Despite the foulups of the last war, no country in the region is in a mood for a bruising fight with Israel, despite the rhetoric. The main cost of the war was an erosion of the Arab's sense that we can't be defeated, thus delaying the eventual realization that they have no choice but to make peace with us. Undoubtedly Israel faces new challenges with the potential of a nuclearized Iran, but I think that we are up to the challenge.

3. Israel has an excellent nationalized health care system based on rational allocation of resources and accessibility to all. It's not perfect, but on par with good systems in Europe. Nothing like the system presented in "Sicko".

Just to keep things in perspective...

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