Monday, June 19, 2006

Israeli Anti-Terrorist Fence Increases Livelihoods

The anti-terrorist fence Israel is building will also limit livelihoods, so says a San Francisco Chronicle article. It’s strange that the article didn’t also note that the fence will increase livelihoods overall. The first and most significant way it will increase livelihoods is by saving the lives of a large number of Israelis. Each Israeli on average creates more wealth than over twenty Palestinians (Israeli per person GDP = over $20,000, Palestinian per person GDP is under $1,000 and falling steadily since the Palestinians started the Intifada). Once the anti-terrorist fence is in place, Israel can substantially reduce military expenditures while increasing investment in new businesses and business expansion.

Second, the fence will revitalize tourism, and that will substantially increase the Israeli economy. Israel already has some of the most compelling tourist attractions in the world, and the vastly improved security provided by the fence will pay back huge dividends on its costs. Looking at the fence rationally and logically, the only question about it is why Israel took so long to decide to build it.

Conversely, the Palestinians will lose many, perhaps most, of their good paying jobs in Israel at the same time their businesses are collapsing in the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinian economy, which formerly received over $400 per person per year in foreign aid, will have that income cut to almost nothing because Hamas will not renounce the destruction of Israel.

However, if current trends continue, the loss of Palestinian incomes, admittedly an extreme loss in terms of their income before the Intifada, will be more than offset by the increase to Israeli incomes, and the incalculable value of the sharp reduction in violent Israeli and Palestinian deaths. The last point is probably cold comfort to the Palestinians, whose religion and teachings glorify seeking violent deaths, but over time even they may learn to renounce the futility and waste of “martyrdom.”

Therefore, the Israeli anti-terrorism fence, instead of limiting livelihoods, will actually result in a substantial overall increase in livelihoods when measured for the region as a whole.

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