Friday, December 31, 2010

Optimism, Israeli Style; Negativity on Israel, Western Style

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By Barry Rubin

Israelis are known for being gloomy about the political situation. In fact, they generally enjoy criticizing things (themselves above all). As a result, Israel's enemies often make the mistake of underestimating the country's ability to endure, struggle, and prevail.

A typical example came in a recent Arab newspaper article that claims the serious fire in northern Israel was a sign of the country's collapse. Not so fast!

So when very positive economic figures are released for 2010, Haaretz, the left-wing newspaper, has to put its own spin on them.

Actually, the numbers are really impressive: Israel's economy did better than predicted. It grew by about 4.5 percent in 2010 compared to only 2.7 percent for all of the other OECD (the club of developed) nations. While living standards went down in most of the West, in Israel they rose by 2.7 percent.

Pretty good, right?

So naturally, at the bottom of this article, Haaretz had to have the following:

"More on this topic: Researchers: Israel's economy is headed for disaster."

Why? Because of some rather questionable projections that the Arab and Haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") population will continue to grow until they compose three-quarters of the country's population.

Now, the quiz for the day: Which story received major coverage in the New York Times? Israel is doing very well economically (based on facts) or the prediction of doom (based on, well, not based on facts)? No prizes for this one. Too predictable! LOL

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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