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  • Stephen Jordan

Addressing Israel's Insecurity By Developing a Different Development Strategy

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

An Israeli firefighter kneels to compose himself after he and his colleagues extinguished cars set on fire by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, Israel, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

There is no justification for October 7. Israel suffered their worse day of loss since the Holocaust. The Hamas thugs killed babies, mothers, and concert goers like Shani Louk. They bear responsibility for the pain and suffering that they have caused, not just to Israel, but to their own people.

But the future cannot be like the past. To promote Israel's future security, Israel needs to invest in more resilience measures at home, and think strategically about how to put the Gaza Strip on a pathway toward sustainable development.

There will be a lot of soul-searching by the Israeli government about the intelligence failures, border security, and emergency response system in the days and years to come, but many of Israel's resilience measures are world class.

One of the key take-aways for communities here in the U.S. is that even with significant investment, detailed plans, and advanced information technology, it is very important to practice response plans, and equally important to regularly test them. No community, no matter how advanced, can afford complacency. The Israelis, quite rightly, should continuously improve their internal safety, security and response measures, but this alone will not be sufficient to guarantee future resilience.

On the flip side, community life in the Gaza Strip is unsustainable. According to the World Bank, per capita income in Israel is over $54,000, for the Palestinians, it is less than $4,000. 25% of Palestinians are unemployed, including 36% of youth. Even worse, 95% of the children living in the Gaza Strip show symptoms of anxiety, depression and trauma. Economic misery in Gaza has been a contributing factor to the unrest.

This is not just due to past Israeli retributive actions. Egypt and Jordan have both closed their borders so there is no exit for many Palestinians seeking a better life. The Hamas government has been both corrupt and inept, and UN humanitarian assistance has not been able to keep up with demand.

Here in the U.S. we have seen in our own cities how huge disparities in income, education, and access can cause violence and riots. Imagine these conditions, compounded by historic hatreds and repeated cycles of violence. That's what Israel faces.

Right now, the dominant mood in Israel is justifiably focused on justice and retribution. However, once justice is served, while it may be extremely difficult to put past strategies behind, new strategies should definitely be put on the table.

The correlation between rising standards of living and reduced crime and violence is well known. Strategies should be implemented to reduce the poverty rate and unemployment. The best thing the Palestinians can do for themselves is to build up their internal resources, capabilities and assets.

Palestinian strategies of protests and violence have not worked for fifty years. Hamas has been a plague on Palestinian development because they have amassed their power by looking backward and stoking resentment. In the meantime, they have perpetuated the weakness and impoverishment of their people. New forward-looking political leadership would change conditions considerably.

As with so many other things in life, it's crazy to think that continuing the same dynamics will yield different results in the future. There may be a significant connection between improving sustainable living conditions in the Gaza Strip and Israel's future safety and security. Even if this is only partially true, putting new strategies for development on the table has to be part of the recovery process.

In this period of Israel's response and recovery, there are many ways to provide assistance to the victims of the Israel-Hamas war. Please consider giving to support one of the many humanitarian organizations responding to the crisis.

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