David vs. Goliath Redux

by | Nov 19, 2023 | Middle East & Israel

The new Israeli-Hamas war is David vs. Goliath all over again.

The new Israeli-Hamas war is David vs. Goliath all over again. The Biblical story recounts an attack on Israel by the Philistines. Their hero was Goliath, a giant warrior, who came from Greece and lived in the City of Gath, which is now part of Gaza. King Saul appointed a shepherd, David, as Goliath’s much smaller opponent and David won. This saved Israel from immediate destruction. But it did not save Israel forever.

Over the centuries Jews have been persecuted over and over again. The Jews were dispersed among various countries, where they never had equal rights with the rest of the population. The Nazis tried, but failed, to totally exterminate the entire race during World War II.

Israel became a recognized country in 1948. At this time, it had a population of only 650,000. But this did not bring peace. It was surrounded by enemies. Since 1948 it has had to fight numerous wars of survival initiated by such countries as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen alone or in combination. It won them all.

Gazans have attacked more than once. The latest attack was another failure. David’s sling has been replaced by Israel’s advanced weapons systems with some American help. The Gazans have been supported by Iran who gave them money and weapons but not nearly enough to match Israel’s arsenal.

Further, Israel is continually assailed in the United Nations. It is notable that the U. N., despite having individual rights as part of its charter, includes countries about 40% of which are authoritarian (i.e., dictatorships.). These countries do not have freedom of speech or the press, more than one (real), political party, separation of powers, genuine property rights, no trials for political offenses (e. g, criticizing the government or the approved religion). The most obvious U.N. hypocrisy is allowing these countries to be members in the first place, and/or not kicking them out. An especially ludicrous expression of U.N. “neutrality” is to allow representatives of some of the worst countries to serve on their “human rights” committees.

Despite the endless attacks, Israel has prospered. Its population is now 8.9 million. This represents only 2% of the population of the Middle East and 0.11% of the world population. In square miles it covers only 2% of all Middle East territory.

With respect to the economy Israel went from a per capita income of $5,000 in 1948 to $54,658 in 2022. This is the highest GDP of any country in the Middle East and North Africa.

How did Israel do it? Mainly by investments in high-technology and the life sciences. There are more than 8,000 high-technology, including cybersecurity, companies currently active. in addition, they have made new oil discoveries and have welcomed many thousands of immigrants who have little trouble finding jobs.

But what is the cause of these results? Despite the fact that Jewish culture has its own religion, not all Jews practice it and there is freedom of religion (though there is some reason to fear that the religious element may be becoming far too dominant today). Fundamentally Israel is a country of the Enlightenment. Reason and rights are fundamental, and Jews have always been passionate about education including science and engineering. They are greatly over-represented in fields requiring high intellectual ability.

Contrast this with Islam which totally dominates the Middle East. All Islamic countries are authoritarian. One fundamental point will explain a lot. Islam does not believe in natural law. For example, gravity works because God wills it, but he could change his mind anytime he wants. Faith, belief in the absence of evidence, supersedes reason. Imagine the consequences of this view for social, political, economic, and scientific progress? It also accounts for the widespread belief in fatalism among Islamists.

What about the widespread claims about the injustice of “Islamophobia”? Two important points have to be made here.

First, no religion in the world can rationally claim immunity from criticism. All religions are based on faith, that is, belief in the absence of evidence. America’s Founding Fathers knew from studying history that religious wars were ubiquitous and had always been a danger to peace and freedom. Thus, they prohibited any state religion while allowing freedom of religion.

Second, Islamists who emigrate to say, the U.S. and other free countries because they want religious freedom, deserve praise. But if their goal in emigrating is to take over a free country by force or commit terrorist acts, as is sometimes the case, then there is good reason to fear them—and to arrest anyone who acts to impose their views by force.

Edwin A. Locke is Dean's Professor of Leadership and Motivation Emeritus at the R.H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the American Psychological Association, the Society for Industrial & Organizational Behavior, and the Academy of Management. He is the recipient of the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award (Society for I/O Psychology), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Management (OB Division), the J. M. Cattell Award (APS) and the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Academy of Management. He, with Gary Latham, has spent over 50 years developing Goal Setting Theory, ranked No. 1 in importance among 73 management theories. He has published over 320 chapters, articles, reviews and notes, and has authored or edited 13 books including (w. Kenner) The Selfish Path to Romance, (w. Latham) New Directions in Goal Setting and Task Performance, and The Prime Movers: Traits of the Great Wealth Creators. He is internationally known for his research on motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and other topics. His website is: EdwinLocke.com

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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