by Jonathan Rosenblum
The first natural gas has begun to flow from the offshore Tamir field to the Ashdod processing plant. The Tamar field and the even larger Leviathan field are estimated to hold enough natural gas to supply Israel's energy needs for many decades to come, and to turn Israel into an energy exporter.
In addition to the offshore finds of natural gas, Israel is estimated to have shale oil reserves equal in volume to the known oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. Besides enriching Israel, the new found energy resources hold out the hope of lessening Israel's diplomatic isolation. Western dependence on Arab oil has always been a crucial factor behind the propensity of many Western governments to curry favor with Arab states by adopting a diplomatic stance hostile to Israel.
So much, then, for the old jokes about Moses having discovered one of the few strips of land in the Middle East without vast natural resources. The belated of discovery of huge energy sources, however, is another aspect of Divine benevolence.
Because of its lack of natural resources, Israel had to develop its human resources to a very high level. Despite a defense burden borne by no other country and despite – or perhaps because of – Israel's unique level of government support for Torah learning, Israel today has one of the fastest growing and most stable economies in the developed world and exercises a level of fiscal discipline that would be the envy of almost every European country. Revenues from the newly discovered energy resources are icing on the cake, not the basis of Israeli prosperity.
By contrast, the enormous oil reserves of Arab states, like Saudi Arabia, made the development of human resources unnecessary. Labor is disdained by Saudi men. Saudis import slaves to do the manual work and hire foreign experts to do the brainy work. When the oil is used up by Arab countries whose economies are wholly based on their energy wealth, their people will revert to being nomadic tent dwellers just as they were before the discovery of oil.
Sometimes late is not just better than never; its better than earlier.
The above is excerpted from Jonathan Rosenblum's 2-part article for this week. The first article is entitled Where Politics and Religion Should Never Mix.
Read more articles by Jonathan Rosenblum at Jewish Media Resources.
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