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Human Rights Watch report appropriates “apartheid” in political Antisemitic attack on Israel:
An interview with Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
by Jerry Gordon
On April 27, 2021 Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 213 page controversial report, A Threshold Crossed; Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution. It accused Israel of “apartheid”, “crimes against humanity” and “persecution” of Palestinians. The HRW report set off alarms in Jerusalem and Washington criticizing the human rights organization for conducting “disingenuous” politically motivated antisemitic attacks against the Jewish nation state of Israel.
Dan Diker, Director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in this wide-ranging-interview cited the report for being “based on falsehoods, fiction, and fantasy. Diker noted that HRW has had a tradition of politicizing its research specifically against Israel. The charge of apartheid is not a normal charge. It is one of the two most heinous crimes against humanity of the 20th century: Nazism being the first and apartheid being the second”.
Diker points out that the author of the HRW report Omar Shakir, the former director of HRW’s “Palestine and Israel desk”, is a Stanford Law School graduate and lawyer and a Palestinian activist who was deported from Israel following a rare decision of Israel's internationally celebrated Supreme Court. He was actively working towards the dismantling of the State of Israel. He advocates BDS warfare and other delegitimization of Israel in the name of human rights as a senior member of Human Rights Watch. So much for the objective credibility of Human Rights Watch”.
Prof Eugene Kontorovich
Professor Eugene Kontorovich director of international law at The Kohelet Policy Forum criticized the appropriation of “apartheid” saying: “Why say it’s apartheid? Why not just say Israel has some discriminatory policies that we don’t like?” he said. “Because for discriminatory policies, what do you do? You change the policies…. What do you do with an apartheid regime? You have to replace it.”
Avi Bell, an associate senior fellow at The Kohelet Policy Reform characterized the HRW report, noting:
“The report doesn’t suffice with whitewashing Palestinian terrorism and related crimes. HRW actually distorts international law to the point where it became a basis for a Palestinian legal right to join and be active in terrorist organizations”.
Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post questioned the motivation of the HRW suggesting that it was “pushing for a One State solution, effectively arguing for the destruction of the only liberal democratic regime in the Middle East”. He noted:
“Reports slamming Israel for “apartheid” have been driven by a desire to reset the definition of apartheid and redefine Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as one state. This attempt to shoehorn several different areas, run by three different authorities, into one place is at the heart of [this] new human rights report about Israel”.
“This appears timed for the new Biden administration, which came into office in January. The message to Israel is also clear: Even if the Jewish state withdraws from the West Bank, as it did from Gaza, it will still be defined as “apartheid” by these groups”.
Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May, President of the Washington, DC- based Foundation for Defense of Democracy in a Washington Times op ed , while commending the Biden Administration for criticizing the HRW report said:
“HRW has arrogated to itself the authority to act as prosecutor, judge and jury. They will leave to others the task of acting as executioners”.
“That’s not hyperbolic. Apartheid regimes are illegitimate. Illegitimate regimes should be abolished. HRW is therefore providing justification for those whose goal is the abolition of the world’s only Jewish-majority state, the refuge for Jews persecuted in or expelled from Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere”.
“Israel is already a majority-rule nation. The 20 percent of Israeli citizens who identify as Palestinians or Israeli Arabs vote, run for office, hold seats in the Israeli parliament, serve as judges, including on Israel’s Supreme Court, work as doctors in (not segregated) hospitals, attend (not segregated) universities, eat-in (not segregated) restaurants and relax on (not segregated) beaches. The same is true for Israeli Druze, Christians, Bedouins, Circassians and other minorities about which HRW appears ignorant”.
“To call that apartheid requires twisting the meaning of the word beyond recognition—which HRW does. And it cannot have escaped HRW’s notice that in no other countries of the broader Middle East do ethnic and religious minorities enjoy similar rights and freedoms. Which means that the activists at HRW have chosen to apply a separate and unequal standard to Israel. That alone constitutes Anti-Semitism”.
Diker, who has published reports[i] and been interviewed by us on normalization of relations between Israelis and Arabs both in Israel, and the disputed Areas of Judea and Samaria notes what happened in the March 23, Knesset elections: the emergence of an Arab Party leader, Mahsoud Abbas of Ra’am who has become somewhat of a kingmaker in forming a ruling coalition with Jewish Zionist parties. Diker calls that the “Abraham ‘effect” within Israel stemming from the Abraham Accords reached in late 2020 with the aid of the former Trump Administration with major countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. Mahmoud Abbas, the embattled PA President, who was elected for a four-year term in 2005, now serving in his 16th has cancelled elections isolating himself. Diker notes these reasons for PA Mahmoud Abbas canceling the scheduled May 23rd elections.
“The Palestinian polls showed last month that two-thirds of Palestinians want him out and they want a new leader. Not because he is too moderate, but because he is not delivering basic socio-economic benefits to his own constituency, that he has been in power too long and is far too corrupt. There are no checks and balances in Palestinian society. It is not a democracy. The former Trump administration, called out the Palestinian Authority for being a terrorist kleptocracy. In 2020 alone, they set aside 500 million shekels for the direct stipends and pensions for young Palestinian Arabs who commit terror atrocities against Jewish civilians”.
Our interview with Diker revealed the resiliency of Israel against the backdrop of threats by the Iranian regime and its proxy Hezbollah seeking regional hegemony and Iran’s relentless drive for a nuclear weapons and delivery capability. Diker suggests that possible renewal of the bankrupt JCPOA by the Biden Administration lifting the former Administration “crushing sanctions” poses an “existential threat”. Despite this, Israel respects President Biden’s friendship. It is the advisers around him that most concerns senior Israel officials.
Evidence of Israel’s resilience Diker says is reflected in embattled Prime Minister Netanyahu timely “premium purchase” of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines and conduct of a “military- like” operation to vaccinate nearly 75% of Israel’s population achieving herd immunity. The other welcome news is the arrival of Israel in the Group of the Top 20 countries by rank of Per Capita GDP. That he attributes to the growth of high and mid tech companies, a reflection of Israel’s “Start Up Nation” culture, good credit controls, low labor costs and the blessings of offshore gas development creating an export market to Europe and the East.
Against this background, what follows is our interview with Dan Diker.
Jerry Gordon: This is Jerry Gordon. I am a senior editor at The New English Review and producer/co-host of Israel News Talk Radio-Beyond the Matrix, I am here with Dan Diker who is Director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Dan, thanks for making time available in your hectic travel schedule.
Dan Diker: Good to be here.
Jerry Gordon: Let us deal with a whole bunch of issues related to current political warfare against the State of Israel. Some of that was kicked off by a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, A Threshold Crossed Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, that came out recently accusing Israel of “crimes against humanity”, “apartheid” and “persecution”. Why did HRW release this report?
Dan Diker: Human Rights Watch released a damning report. Regretfully, the HRW report is anchored in falsehoods, fiction, and fantasy. HRW has suffered a longstanding tradition of politicizing its research specifically against Israel. Let us be clear: The charge of apartheid is not a normal charge. It is one of the two most heinous crimes against humanity of the 20th century.: Nazism being the most heinous and apartheid coming in a close second. Apartheid is such a wicked crime against humanity that the term has not been used even to characterize the vilest regimes on the planet. HRW has not charged the world’s worst regimes like Iran, China, North Korea, Bashar Assad’s Syria, and the former Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq as Apartheid even though all these regimes persecuted and even murdered minority populations. Again, what HRW has never done other than in the Israeli case, is to charge these racist, terror supporting and human rights violating regimes with the charge of apartheid. That charge HRW reserved only for the one liberal democracy in the Middle East region, the State of Israel.
For HRW to accuse Israel the only middle Eastern country that guarantees equality and freedom by law for all its citizens, including the nearly 2 million Israeli citizens of Arab, mostly Muslim descent, is simply absurd. I think that Human Rights Watch should pay a price. It should be delegitimized over this report. To emphasize the point, there are 10 countries in the world that are engaging in modern slavery beginning with Iran and Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and egregious human rights violators such as China that is systematically torturing it is Uyghur minority. Apartheid is only mentioned regarding the one democratic state in the region, Israel, that has faced a terrible political and security- terror challenge in the West Bank and Gaza, over its northern border with Iran armed to the teeth with rockets and missiles in Lebanon and Syria, and an uncertain security situation to the east.
Jerry Gordon: What was the reaction in Washington to the HRW account by Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken?
Dan Diker: Well, you raise an interesting question. So-called human rights organizations have largely become political organizations in the last 20 years. Their reports are used as constituent pieces of evidence, in court, not to mention the media and the international diplomatic class to score political points. I use that as a preface to say that the American administration read or recorded the HRW report, and obviously expressed concern. If you go online and look at Human Rights Watch on this 223-page screed against Israel, you will see that the report was picked up by almost every major newspaper and media outlet in the world. That is the trouble that we have now with what is called “Human Rights law-fare”, which is the weaponization of human rights, the cynical political exploitation of human rights, which it can result in this type of atrocious and even racist report that we saw here. Nonetheless, we did see that Gilad Erdan, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, and the United Nations -the former Minister for Strategic Affairs - is very aware of this type of cynical approach to human rights. Obviously, he issued a condemnation as did some of the leading international legal authorities like Professor Eugene Kontorovich. He wrote a damning repost to this report at the Kohelet Policy Forum, which is worth looking at.
Jerry Gordon: Senior Israeli journalist Hirsh Goodman, a former South African, on the political left, considers this report to be “disingenuous”. What was he referring to?
Dan Diker: Yes, that is right. You are quoting him well, he used the word "disingenuous," and in a very well-authored reply. Hirsh Goodman left South Africa because of the former apartheid regime and came to Israel. He has been an outspoken, liberal critic of Israelis' housing start policies East of the '67 lines. When he said "disingenuous," he meant among other things that Israel is a free country regardless of race and that Israeli institutions, hospitals, companies, housing, private sector are not limited by race. Hirsch also meant that the Human Rights Watch account conflates the Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza with Israel’s nearly two million citizens mostly of Arab Muslim descent. HRW refers to all of them as the “Palestinians”. It refers to all of them simply as Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. It is a ridiculous argument to claim that Israel can be considered an apartheid regime because a near majority of Palestinian Arabs populate the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli Arabs, other non-Jews like Druze and Circassians have different identities and affiliations and do not constitute a monolithic Palestinian bloc. Israeli Arabs have nothing to do with the Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank or Palestinian Arabs living under Hamas’s domination in the Gaza strip. You cannot simply add them all up and say there are more Arabs and Jews living in that area. That is a racist argument. All Arab Muslims are not the same. Israeli Arabs are Israelis not Arab West Bankers. Arab West Bankers are not the same as Gazan Palestinian Arabs. They are different cultures, different identities. if you want to make that reductionist argument, you can say there are 350 million Arabs living in 22 Muslim Arab countries in the Middle East, and there are only 7 million Jews. I think that would be a lot better way of looking at the imbalance, 350 million Arabs living in 22 Arab states plus the Palestinian Authority, which is a proto-state in the West Bank, plus a Hamas dominated proto-state in Gaza. That is essentially 24 Arab states and one mini-Jewish state. That is a better way to look at the demographics.
Jerry Gordon: Seth Frantzman at The Jerusalem Post suggested that perhaps what the Human Rights Watch was doing was pressing on a devastating solution, a one-state solution to the impasse between the Palestinians and Israel. What are your views?
Dan Diker: I think you raised something interesting here, Jerry. Omar Shakir is the author of this HRW report. He is a Stanford University Law graduate and Palestinian activist who was deported from Israel following a rare decision of Israel's internationally celebrated Supreme Court that he was actively advocating for dismantling of the State of Israel. He advocates BDS warfare and other delegitimization of Israel in the name of human rights as a senior member of Human Rights Watch. So much n for the objective credibility of Human Rights Watch. The reason I bring that up in discussing this important question that you raised, is that the discourse in the United States, especially in progressive human rights circles which HRW represents and even leads, dictates that Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people should not exist. In other words, historically we have moved from a Palestinian Israeli territorial dispute that human rights organizations had weighed in on for decades saying, well, there should be what they call a two-state solution. Right?
Dan Diker: That territorial solution is what Oslo was about. However, what we have seen, in the last decade, is a move by HRW and other so-called progressive organizations towards, what they call a one-state solution which is not really a one-state solution. Rather, it is a one state dissolution of Israel. That is why they accuse Israel of being an Apartheid state to delegitimize it as a nation state. It is really the destruction of the State of Israel, shrouded in this diplo-speak to make it sound something positive and potentially fruitful; it is certainly anything but that. It really talks about destroying the one democratic nation state of the Jewish people with the Jewish majority character, in the name of human rights. That is how cynical this discourse has become. There is no one-state solution according to this narrative. There are some people, by the way, on the other conservative nationalist side who believe that you can have a solution whereby Israel applies its sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria in the West Bank where Jewish communities-exist. Jews do not live in all the territory because there is already a territorial division that was agreed upon in Oslo peace accords 25 years ago, which even people on the hawkish right in Israel respect. So, it looks like this progressive suggestion that there be a one-state solution, meaning the dissolution of the State of Israel is really a pretext for mass destruction of Sovereign Jews.
Jerry Gordon: You referred to progressive groups in the United States. Probably one of the most redolent examples is J Street that provided a virtual platform to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who espoused the same line. In addition, you had another leftist Jewish American, Peter Beinart, suggesting that it is now time for Israel to "normalize relations with Hamas" during renewal of rocket wars and a charter seeking the destruction of the Jewish State. How myopic and dangerous is that for American Jews and Israel?
Dan Diker: JStreet poses a great challenge to American Jewry. Its founder and director Jeremy Ben-Ami, who claims to be pro-Israel, really uses Orwellian doublespeak. His version of being pro-Israel is to support the recent HRW report and others, including his own organization that undertakes actions, that undermines the State of Israel's democratic decisions and its national consensus on key issues related to Israel’s national security. JStreet’s political agenda collides with what 85% of Israelis demand from a security point of view. JStreet’s constant condemnations of Israel also distance American Jews from Israel. They also drive a wedge between Israel and the United States government. They lobby Congress to link aid to Israel in line with J Street’s political demands that Israel stop its presence on its own homeland territories east of the 1967 lines that are legally sanctioned by Israel’s Judicial system
and its profound understanding and compliance with international law. JStreet readily opposes the decisions supported by most Israelis from the center, center-left, and center-right that include a United Jerusalem, maintaining control over the Jordan Valley, and the application of Israeli law over the Golan Heights. Those three national security consensus positions are abhorrent to J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami. He would rather hug and kiss Mahmoud Abbas, who calls for a jihad in Jerusalem, shedding the blood of martyrs, to destroy Israel then replace it with a 23rd Arab State. J Street does not hold the Palestinian side accountable. They only hold Israel accountable because they see Israel as “the strong horse”. As you know, on the political left, it is a question of the perception of strength that makes you wrong. Strong is wrong and weak is right. I think they do a great disservice to the highly assimilated, especially young Jews in America, who are looking for some connection, and J Street appears to be a convenient connection. However, in my view as the former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, I would submit to you that J Street-undermines the Jewish identity of young Jews rather than strengthening it.
Jerry Gordon: Speaking of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, he just effectively canceled Palestinian elections, originally scheduled for later this month, on May 23rd. How long has he been serving in office? He was elected for a term of four years, has been serving for 16 years to present time?
Dan Diker: Correct. He has been serving as PA Chairman for 16 years of an original 4-year term from 2005 to 2009. I think he was quite confident that he would lose to Hamas if he were to have these elections now. The Palestinian polls showed last month that two-thirds of Palestinians want him out and they want a new leader. Not because he is too moderate, but because he is not delivering the basic socio-economic benefits to his own constituency, that he has been in power too long and he is far too corrupt. There are no checks and balances in Palestinian society. It is not a democracy. The former Trump administration, called out the Palestinian Authority for being a terrorist kleptocracy. In 2020 alone, they set aside 500 million shekels for the direct stipends and pensions for young Palestinian Arabs who commit terror atrocities against Jewish civilians. The previous US administration had the policy right. The Biden administration, unfortunately, is reversing that policy. The United States is rewarding Abbas by restoring the PA office in Washington, and reflexively restoring aid, while the PA pays and incentivizes terrorists and even when his own Palestinian public wants to replace him. Bolstering and “relegitimizing” Abbas deepens the Palestinian Israeli conflict instead of resolving it.
Jerry Gordon: The Biden administration announced a renewal of funding for UNRWA. At the same time, the EU is criticizing UNRWA for basically propaganda, hatred, education of children in their schools Why is there a disconnect between DC and the EU on UNWRA, Dan?
Dan Diker: There has always been a perception of a deep need to keep financing UN offices in Palestinian areas, especially in Gaza. I think the evidence has become stark over the misuse of UN funds by Hamas because Hamas comprises the local UNRWA representatives on the ground. That is creating a lot of tension now between stakeholders in the West. I think this is one of the reasons that the former US Administration stopped funding UNRWA. Its arguments were that we need to have accountability and alternative mechanisms that do not allow the situation to devolve on the ground, strengthened and financed Hamas' tyranny. That disenfranchises and threatens civil society and the average Palestinian Arab, especially in Gaza. UNRWA is basically a corrupt bank account, and it must be changed.
Jerry Gordon: Israel had a fourth election that has resulted in a stalemate. However, there has emerged another Abbas, Mansour Abbas, the leader of the Israeli-Arab party Ra'am, who emerged as an ironic kingmaker for creating a possible ruling coalition. You and your colleague, Abu Khaled Toameh published a recent JCPA report, Mansour Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Abraham Effect, presenting evidence of increasing normalization of the Arabic Israeli minority. What are your views?
Dan Diker: Thank you for pointing that out. Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh and I co-authored a JCPA report comparing Mansour Abbas, who is the Chairman of the United Arab List Ra'am party, which is a party representing the Southern Islamic Movement in Israel, the more moderate branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel as opposed to the Northern Islamic Movement, which is far more militarized and radical. In Israel, a dramatic event took place in the March 23, 2021 elections, and even before that. In the March 23rd elections, Mansour Abbas won four seats for his Ra'am party and expressed willingness to join a Netanyahu-led coalition or any other Jewish-Zionist coalition from the center-right or the center-left. This is a dramatic development. For the first time, an Arab party, and particularly a conservative Arab Islamist party, expressed readiness to work closely, to integrate, to cooperate with a right-wing or conservative Jewish Zionist party. This is nothing short of a real slap in the face to the Human Rights Watch report because it completely undermines their central thesis about Israel being an illegitimate entity, engaging in all this nonsense they say amounts to “apartheid and persecution”. For the first time in history an Israeli-Arab party is reaching out to Jewish counterparts saying, "We'd like to work with you’. This Mansour Abbas phenomenon reflects what I would call the “Abraham effect” in Israel, the internal impact in Israel of the Abraham Accords that had been signed in September 2020 between four very substantial Arab states and the State of Israel. This, by the way, further, shows you how absurd the HRW position is. I would urge the viewers of this program to go to the JCPA website and download our report. It is quite stunning, including the increasing number of conversations in Arabic between Jewish members of Knesset from the political right and Mansour Abbas and his colleagues. This is the type of ethnic normalization going on in Israel. I would also mention also that my wife, Ofira, pointed out to me that the neighboring Arab towns next to Meron in the North of Israel were offering hospitality to the families of the victims of the Meron tragedy and others who could not get back to their homes for Shabbat. They were opening their homes in Arab towns in Israel to these ultra-orthodox Jews. This is a stunning development. It is an extension of our discussion in this interview about the political normalization going on in Israel with Israel’s Arab neighbors as opposed to the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank that has been isolating itself. Its hardline anti-Israel delegitimization messages have continued to recast it as “a bastard child” of the Middle East, not only with respect to Israel, but also with respect to other Arab Muslim majority states that are making peace with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas has an awful lot of work to do at the ripe old age of 86, if he decides to continue into a 17th year of a four-year term that ended in 2009. Because the Palestinian-Arab future hangs in the balance.
Jerry Gordon: A lot of meetings were held very recently in Washington, DC between Israeli officials, including the Mossad Director, concerned about the Biden administration's push for renewal of the JCPOA agreement that the Trump administration basically scuppered by executive order. How shaky is the special relationship between the two allies, the United States and Israel over this matter?
Dan: I think many know that the relationship between the United States and Israel is a profound and unique one on so many different levels. On the level of values, on the level of strategic interests, on the level of intelligence, commercial and trade, research, and development and diplomacy. I do not think that the relationship would ever be existentially endangered. We certainly can and have had political differences and even deep disagreements with the current Administration as Israel had with the Obama Administration and others in the past. Many in Israel, from the Prime Minister on down recognize that President Joe Biden is a friend of Israel. However, there are. people in his Administration who are unfriendly to Israel. The kind of policy decisions that we see being reconsidered by the Biden Administration create concern in Israel particularly over the JCPOA not to mention reports that they may pay billions of dollars to return some American and British hostages from Iran. That they are going to do an “Obama 3.0” version reverting to the same dangerous deal that was agreed on in 2015. That is a deal that is completely unacceptable as it represents an existential threat to Israel.
Jerry Gordon: Given spikes in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and the EU, can we expect a growing Aliyah to Israel in the COVID-19 post-pandemic era?
Dan Diker: I do not know what the Aliyah numbers have been over the last year. because the process of immigration has really become exceedingly difficult due to the pandemic. I would say that in Europe, and in the United States, immigration to Israel may be impacted by other economic factors. The Administration is looking at implementing unprecedented tax hikes for many Americans arising from capital gains. Immigration is also influenced by an upsurge in right-wing and especially radical left-wing Antisemitism which has targeted Israel as an excuse for attacking individual Jews in the West. I think that unfortunately, the discourse in the West has not recognized that the major threat to Jews stems from the left’s opposition, delegitimization and demonization of the Jewish State. Rejection of the Jewish state masquerades in the American discourse as “political criticism”. It is not defined as Antisemitism. You can find the argument over the new updated International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of Antisemitism and the so-called “progressive” and even “radical” refusal to accept that definition. That is proof in certain circles on the far left, they do not accept the definition of Antisemitism of former Princeton University Professor Bernard Lewis, perhaps the greatest Western authority on Islam and the near East. He called it “political Antisemitism”. That is the discussion, Jerry, that we should have as to why this “new Antisemitism is “Israelophobia” like “Judeophobia”, the counterpart to “Islamophobia”, and why it must be considered as the collective form of Antisemitism. Until that happens, things will get far worse before they have a chance of getting better.
Jerry Gordon: How would you rate Israel's attack on the COVID-19 pandemic against other industrialized countries?
Dan Diker: Prime Minister Netanyahu made a strategic decision to pay a premium to vaccinate all 9 1/2 million Israelis, Jews, Arabs, Christians, everyone together equally. Almost 75% of the entire country is now vaccinated. This has allowed Israel’s economy to revive itself. This is the best result of all countries in the West. I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu understood that Israel was really an R&D case study for Pfizer. That is one of the reasons that we went very quickly into a very well-managed virtual military operation to get every man, woman, and child over the age of 12 vaccinated. Countries like the United States that have federal systems have a built-in difficulty because of the different local, state, and federal power centers that compete for public policy authority to make decisions. Israel did not really have that problem. Central decisions were made by the national government and they were implemented. I think we did quite well, notwithstanding the terrible coalition government we had, which was dysfunctional. This was after a difficult year, not only for us, but for the entire world. If you look at it from here, at the endpoint going backwards, I think ultimately, we get probably a possible 8 1/2 or 9 out of 10. If you had asked me eight months ago, it would have been a 6 1/2 out of 10.
Jerry Gordon: One final question. This past week it was announced that Israel is now part of the group of 20 nations, with significant per-capita gross domestic product. How was that achieved? What remains to be done in terms of fostering normalization activities for employment, education, in minority Jewish, Arab, and other groups in Israel?
Dan Diker: I think one of the successes Israel has is clearly, in the high-tech sector, which is intellectual property, high and medium technology, which has really boosted our GDP tremendously. The number of companies that have merged or sold out, obtained financing, and gone public, with exceptionally low cost of goods, has been instrumental in causing Israel’s GDP per-capita income to rises substantially, over the last five years. I think that one of the successful fiscal policies has been its limits on consumer credit that have protected Israel’s economy very well especially during crisis times. We still have a long way to go to keep it growing. In addition to the high technology, Israel developed gas fields offshore. Israel is becoming a gas exporter to Europe and to the East. This is also something truly fortunate for us. Our labor costs are lower than Western Europe and the United States. You put all that together with the ingenuity of a Start-up Nation approach to business, and we should keep growing, God willing, assuming there are no more black swan events.
Jerry Gordon: I want to thank you, Dan, for this on-the-road interview, and we will be back to you with other matters of importance. Thank you again for this interview.
Dan: Thank you ever so much, Jerry. Yes, please pardon the on-the-road, conversation. It was an on-the-road discussion, but remarkably interesting. Thank you for these penetrating questions and look forward to being on your program again soon.
Watch this Netivonline video of the interview with Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.