Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why The Euro Crisis Has Implications for Israel & Jews Worldwide

Israel, despite some publicly expressed aspirations a few years ago, is not part of The European Union, and therefore not part of the Eurozone (for which we are all very grateful!). The Israeli currency is the Shekel, and is remarkably strong against other currencies, reflecting the vibrant & dynamic nature of the Israeli economy, which is performing extremely well for a tiny country in the midst of a global economic crisis. Few here express more than passing interest and little concern for the Euro Crisis, which threatens the economic stability of not only the 17 Euro countries but the entire 27 states who make up the European Union. Such a massive trading block facing economic disaster has an impact on the entire world economy, and as significant trading partner for Israel, this should obviously be of concern.

However, there are hidden issues of particular concern for Israelis and Jews worldwide: countries across Europe including Ireland, Greece, The UK, Italy, and Spain are putting into place tough (or in the case of Greece draconian) austerity measures. The danger is that as the population of these places face unemployment, & rising cost of living and they start to lose hope, we will see the rise of political extremism. Nobody needs to tell Jews what extremism in Europe can lead to, and we are already seeing blatant antisemitic attacks increasing in these countries and rightist parties gaining voter support. In the UK (by no means the most effected country in the Euro crisis) for example, unemployment amongst school leavers and graduates is at record highs.

There is also the added concern in many countries, because of the large and growing Muslim community, which has it's own brand of extremism and feelings of exclusion. These Islamic fascists will look to exploit the economic and social woes and we can expect more politicized young Muslims, more anger against 'Zionism' and sadly more violence.

Aliyah (Heb. immigration to Israel) from Europe, especially France, has been on the increase in recent years, and the next few months could well see a swelling of numbers from Southern Europe, & France. Waves of aliyah, although unquestionably a good thing, place short-term pressure on the Israeli economy. Israel has experienced social unrest over cost of living issues and recently over African refugees. The economy may be in growth, but the Israeli people feel under pressure from high taxes, and consumer prices.

The Herzl and the other fathers of the modern Zionist movement understood that the Jewish future lay not in Europe, but rather in an independent Jewish State of Israel. They knew that the ingenuity of the Jewish people, that had seen them succeed and contribute immeasurably in Europe, despite being hated & persecuted, would see them succeed in Israel. They have been proven right many times over, and if Israel is to continue it's success amidst Europe's economic demise, it will need once again to rely on it's greatest resource - The Jewish people.

Reducing our dependance on oil through groundbreaking projects like Betterplace Electric cars, becoming net energy producers thru our finds of vast fields of gas in our waters, ending our water crises via water reclamation on a scale never seen before and of course our technical innovations, sought after by the entire world, are our future. Israel has the potential to emerge from this crisis as one of the strongest small economic machines in the world, and as Jews outside of Israel are once again reminded that they are not that welcome in their countries of birth, Israel will continue the zionist dream of the ingathering of the Jewish people.

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