Wednesday, January 31, 2007

GAZA & SINGAPORE: why is only one prosperous?

The Belmont Club describes the nascent Palestinian State this way:
Statesmen all over the world have paid homage to it. It's leadership has been praised and defended by Jimmy Carter. Charities have been established to support it. Fund raising in its name takes place every day. It has been provided with security training and weaponry by the International Community. If any country deserves to be called the proud creation of enlightened diplomacy and peacemaking, this is is it.
And then he points to Caroline Glick's thoughtful and heart-rending essay, "Welcome to Palestine." This is part of what she has to say:

And so it is that as statesmen and activists worldwide loudly proclaim their commitment to establishing the sovereign State of Palestine, they miss the fact that Palestine exists. And it is a nightmare.

In the State of Palestine 88 percent of the public feels insecure. Perhaps the other 12 percent are members of the multitude of regular and irregular militias. For in the State of Palestine the ratio of police/militiamen/men-under-arms to civilians is higher than in any other country on earth.

In the State of Palestine, two-year-olds are killed and no one cares. Children are woken up in the middle of the night and murdered in front of their parents. Worshipers in mosques are gunned down by terrorists who attend competing mosques. And no one cares. No international human rights groups publish reports calling for an end to the slaughter. No UN body condemns anyone or sends a fact-finding mission to investigate the murders.

In the State of Palestine, women are stripped naked and forced to march in the streets to humiliate their husbands. Ambulances are stopped on the way to hospitals and wounded are shot in cold blood. Terrorists enter operating rooms in hospitals and unplug patients from life-support machines.

In the State of Palestine, people are kidnapped from their homes in broad daylight and in front of the television cameras. This is the case because the kidnappers themselves are cameramen. Indeed, their commanders often run television stations. And because terror commanders run television stations in the State of Palestine, it should not be surprising that they bomb the competition's television stations.


Wretchard also links to a 2006 essay by Spengler, in the Asia Times, who argues that the Palestinian State has no possible economic basis, other than extortion:
No peace agreement ever will emerge between Israel and the Palestinians, I believe, because economics should have dispersed the Palestinian population more than half a century ago. Mechanization of agriculture, rather than Zionist political aims, began displacing the rural Arab population in the 1930s, I observed in another location. The Zionist agency bought farms from absentee landlords, displaced the fellaheen engaged in near-subsistence agriculture, and made the land profitable and productive. From an economic standpoint, that is, the Palestinians were Okies, but with no California to go to. This led to the 1936-39 Arab uprising against the British Mandate and Jewish settlement.

Rather than disperse gradually like other agrarian populations, the Palestinian Arabs became wards of the United Nations after the 1947-48 War of Independence. Their numbers surged because of better medical care and nutrition than they previously enjoyed as well as child subsidies. That is why the 700,000 Arabs who fled or were driven from Israel grew into the 4 million "refugees" registered with the UN in 2002. I place the term "refugees" in quotation marks because in no other case has the third generation following a population transfer retained official refugee status.

Despite the best intentions of Shimon Peres and the Israeli socialists, it seems delusional to imagine that any combination of light industry and tourism will provide a livelihood for a Palestine with 5 million inhabitants (including the non-refugee West Bank population). The Palestinian entity cannot exist without subsidies, and it cannot extract subsidies from the West or from the Muslim world without constituting a military threat. The existential choices for Palestinians come down to dispersal or perpetual war.
Spengler is always interesting, but I think he is wrong to think that the West Bank and Gaza are not capable of providing a living to millions of people.

In fact, I think that the territory of Gaza alone would make a handsome state if its inhabitants would pull up their socks and devote themselves to building it up. Let's just compare Gaza and Singapore, and see if that isn't the case.

When the predominantly Chinese population of Singapore seceded from the Malaysian Federation in 1963, many voices predicted that the tiny island nation would never make it. How could it?

But the Singaporeans showed that they could make it, becoming one of the great Asian economic tigers. The citizens of Gaza could do the same thing.

Let's use the data in the CIA's World Fact Book to make a comparison.

The land area of The Gaza Strip is 360 square kilometers; Singapore's land area is 683 square kilometers. So Singapore is bigger.

But the population of Singapore ( 4,492,150) is also bigger than the population of Gaza (1,428,757), so that the population density is similar. The median age in Singapore is 37, however, while the median age in Gaza is only 15. That does mean more children, who are less able to contribute economically.

Interestingly enough, the economies of Gaza and Singapore have similar overall structures. Singapore's economy is 34% industrial, and 66% service; Gaza's economy is 8% agricultural, 18% industrial, and 74% service.

Of course, Singapore's economy is larger, with a per capita income of $30,900, while Gaza's per capita income is only $1,500.

That's quite a difference. The unemployment rate in Gaza is 31%, ten times as high as in Singapore, and 80% of Gazans are in poverty.

The population of Singapore exhibits much more ethnic and cultural diversity ( Chinese 76.8%, Malay 13.9%, Indian 7.9%, other 1.4%) than the population of Gaza (Arab 99.4%), but both populations are literate: the literacy rate in Singapore is 92.5% (96.6% male, 88.6% female) whereas in Gaza, the literacy rate is 91.9% (96.3% male, 87.4% female),

And with 349,000 land lines and 1,095,000 cell phones, it seems that everyone in Gaza is connected. In Singapore, the numbers are equivalent, with 1,848,000 land lines and 4,385,000 cell phones.

The big difference seems to be that Singaporeans do not expect the rest of the world to support them, but actually do economic work.

But Gaza has enough population and enough resources to make an economic go of it - if they really wanted to. For example, the $15,000,000 worth of high-tech agricultural greenhouses that Bill Gates paid for, so that the Israelis who built them and ran them would leave them behind when they were expelled from Gaza, would have provided jobs and income -- if the Palestinians had not looted and trashed them as soon as they could.

Gaza also has Mediterranean beaches. With some investment and a lot of sweat equity, they could probably form the basis for a lovely and competitive resort. There are surely archaeological sites that could be developed as tourist attractions. Hotels and other tourist attractions would provide the cash flow needed to make investments in light industry, and a seaport might enable Gaza to serve as a transit hub for, among other things, oil that could be piped in from Arabia.

A desalination plant would enable a wide variety of agricultural businesses to thrive. High profit crops such as cut flowers and exotic fruits would surely be welcomed in the world market.

Light manufacturing might include clothing, books and magazines, electronics, and a wide variety of household goods.

And that's only Gaza. The resources of Judea and Samaria are much greater, particularly in terms of archaeological and historic sites that should be able to attract vast numbers of Christian tourists, in particular.

It is thus a great misfortune for the Arab people of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, that the world has allowed gangsters and terrorists to declare themselves their leaders, spokesmen, and governors. That is what is keeping the Palestinians in poverty.

The Jordanian administration in the West Bank (1948-1967) allowed the economy to stagnate, and did not build a single university. During the pre-Oslo Israeli administration (1967-1990), the per capita income of the West Bank doubled and it was higher than per capita income in Jordan or Egypt (the West Bank had one of the fastest growing economies in the world) -- and several universities were founded.

With an honest, non-gangster, non-terrorist, non-jihadist administration, that would give up its cherished dream of massacring all the Jews in Israel, either the Gaza Strip alone or the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could become a thriving economy.

It's as simple as that.


Reliapundit said...

This is brilliantly argued. GREAT!

You prove that the stark differences between singapore and gaza have nothing to do with natural or human resources or over-crowding, but are based on the fact that the palestinians have adopted an ideology which is incompatible with human prosperity - because it denies liberty and transparency.

Gaza is just another thugocracy woith a poisonous anti-humane ideology - unlike Mugabe's and Castro's and Moa's and Kim's and Stalin's (which're socialist), gaza's is a religious one: jihadism. Before Oslo ceded gaza to Arafat and his gang, it was a prosperous place getting more prosperous each year.

the stark contrast between gaza and Singapore is not unlike that between north and south korea or between taiwan and red china (before 1980).

in each case state run by ideologies which deny liberty are state that become poorer and less huimane.

Jihad - like socialism - IS THE ROAD TO SERFDOM.

Reliapundit said...

here's another important point which this set of facts prove: jihadism isn't a RESPONSE to poverty - in places like gaza; it is the primary cause of it.