Tuesday, October 05, 2004


As free as the Koreans

The prospect of another Netanyahu term as Prime Minister is not something that I have really thought about, but given the political divisions within Likud, Netanyahu is seen by many as the leader of the opposition to Sharon and, if Sharon falls, is undoubtedly the face of Likud after Sharon. Given this, Avirama Golan breaks down the possibility of Netanyahu as Prime Minister, specifically referencing an interview with Yedi'ot Aharonot in which Netanyahu said the following:
A diplomatic agreement [with the Palestinians] is not necessary. South Korea, for instance, has developed without peace with North Korea, but with a separation fence, a strong army and a free economy.
Golan takes exception with the analogy, perhaps hoping for something better for Israel than South Korea.
The comparison is, of course, false, and perhaps even maliciously false. The conflict between the two Koreas stems from the Cold War. The north was the spearhead of the former Soviet Union and the south was America's well-tended garden. The north, which President Bush included in his "axis of evil" and which, according to media reports, has recently been conducting chemical experiments on human beings, is one of the darkest corners of the earth. Is Netanyahu comparing the Palestinians to the North Koreans? Or Yasser Arafat to the murderous tyrant Kim Il Sung? It could be. After all, he himself described Arafat as "worse than Bin Laden."

And what "free economy" is he talking about? The best economists in the world define Korea as a "developing nation," whose dominant leadership defined its breakthrough into Western markets as a national economic goal and for this purpose increased government intervention in the economy to the brink of danger, including giving loans to private companies on the verge of collapse. Israel was once a country just like that, during the period of finance ministers Eshkol and Sapir and through the mid-1970s, including in its investments in labor-intensive industries. Samsung enjoys the same backing that Solel Boneh and Koor did in their day.
It is nice to see such a strongly reasoned refutation of such a false analogy, and only wish that this were more often the case (especially in the United States). And next time some politician offers all the freedoms of the Koreans, it's time to think again.

So many blogs and only 10 numbers to rate them. I'll have to give you a 8 because you have good content.

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