On the one hand, Israel is on the verge of a positive development whose importance is hard to underplay. As Caroline Glick described it,
This weekend Israel reportedly conducted its first successful test pumping of natural gas from the offshore Leviathan natural gas field. In the next four years, Israel will become a major natural gas exporter and will make great strides in developing its recently discovered shale oil deposits. Israel’s emergence as an energy exporter will have a transformational impact on Israel’s economic independence and long-term viability. [my emphasis]
But on the other hand, the security challenges Israel faces today from Iran, Hizballah, Egypt, Hamas, etc. have never been greater. The international delegitimization campaign against it, led by the UN and financed to a great extent by the European Union continues to gather steam. Jew-hatred and anti-Zionism have merged, with the former gaining cover from the latter, creating the least favorable social climate for the Jewish people since WWII. Academia is almost universally hostile, and Israel (and Jewish students) are attacked more viciously on college campuses than ever.
So how can Israel’s new energy resources be given a “transformational impact” on these problems? Here are a few ideas:
First, Israel should make mutually beneficial agreements with the major transnational energy companies. It should be made clear that these deals are contingent on their support for Israel’s political goals. It certainly worked for the Arabs — I remember Exxon Corporation publicly calling for a more “even-handed” approach to the Middle East immediately after the war in 1973. I have often speculated that the influence of these companies has been responsible for the irrational but unswerving US policy to try to reverse the outcome of the 1967 war.
Second, Israel should give generous gifts of its soon-to-be-available gas and oil dollars to major universities in Europe and the US, to establish departments of Jewish and Israel studies. These departments should be staffed by academics who do not hate Israel and the Jewish people (I’m sure they can be found, especially when there are endowed chairs for them to sit in).
Third, Israel should build a massive satellite TV/radio/Internet channel, broadcasting in multiple languages to all parts of the world. This channel should present entertainment, news and cultural programming attractive to as wide a range of viewers/listeners as possible. Again, media people who who have positive attitudes will appear when the opportunities for employment do.
Fourth, Israel should create independent think-tanks and scientific institutes in major democratic countries which will produce papers and articles — academic and popular — on important topics. Some proportion of the jobs in these institutes should be reserved for retired politicians.
Fifth, Israel should award international prizes for achievement in scientific and cultural fields.
Sixth, Israel should establish an institute for technical training where promising students from developing nations can come and study at no cost.
And seventh, despite all this, Israel must maintain and improve its military capabilities to deter aggression and terrorism.