The Churchill of the Modern Era
I’m writing to you from Tel Aviv, where I’m participating in a 10 day Holy Land Tour with the Discovery Institute and Michael Medved, the polymathic talk show host. Every day I will be posting my observations from Israel.
Iranian rockets are falling on Ashdod to the South of Tel Aviv.
Looks as if the Gazans are not going to be opening their beaches soon as a new Palestinian Riviera, as I wrote hopefully in a recent prophecy.
Announcing a new deal with President Trump, incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is riding high in the polls for the September 17 election.
The Labor Party socialists seem to be going down to 9% of the Knesset. All the left parties together will get around 25% of the vote.
John Bolton is out as Trump’s National Security Advisor, fired in a presidential tweet at 8:58am in DC. According to the tweet, his “services are no longer needed.”
Bolton apparently diverged from Trump on the desirability of inviting Taliban terrorists to Camp David for a deal and on bringing the Russians back to the G7 trade meetings.
General H. R. McMaster may be back in as Advisor. Trump “misses him.”
And flawlessly juggling all these breaking stories at once is talk show paladin Michael Medved, on the air at 10pm Tel Aviv time, to be live in Seattle at 4pm as usual for his millions of listeners in the United States.
Breaking Through the Noise
“Is the President’s national security team a ‘mess’?” bursts in White House correspondent Jim Acosta, confronting Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on an airport ramp.
“The most ridiculous question I’ve ever heard,” retorts Mnuchin indignantly.
“No,” chimes in Pompeo, “the President’s team consists of me, and the Treasury Secretary and many others… The President has the right to have the advisors he wants.”
After attending my speech on The Israel Test at the Royal Beach Hotel, Medved goes on the air and reminds us that Bolton was Medved’s classmate both as undergrad and grad student at the University of Pennsylvania.
He summons his brother, leading Israeli Venture Capitalist Jonathan Medved, on the air to comment on Bolton. “What does he think of his ferocious handlebar mustache?”
“Hey,” says Jon, “that’s way above my pay grade. But I’ll tell you about the elections. The redo of the elections is boring us to tears.”
“Netanyahu is keeping the country safe,” observes Jonathan, while he conducts a nearly secret but successful war against Iran with Trump’s support.
“Don’t worry about the rockets in Ashtod. They’re 50 miles away!” Jonathan shrugs.
“What would victory look like?” asks Michael.
“Regime change,” says Jonathan smoothly. “The end of the Ayatollah’s regime.
“Trump’s sanctions are working. The unemployment rate is 40% in Iran. The Saudis and other civilized parties in the Middle East are supporting Israel. Even the Russians are moving away from Iran.”
“Did you say 40% unemployment?” interrupts Michael. “What’s unemployment in Israel?”
“Under 4%,” replies Jonathan, “with an economic growth rate of near 5%.”
Israel’s Meteoric Rise in the Economic Ranks
Per capita, Israel is far leading the world in innovation, startups, and new technologies. It is way ahead of the Europeans. And unlike other politicians claiming credit for their economies, Netanyahu actually deserves the credit for Israel’s success after some three decades of dauntless efforts to emancipate Israel’s economy from socialism.
As I said in my speech earlier in the evening, “In the mid-1980s, Israel was the Venezuela of the Middle East. It had come to the end of the line, with 400% inflation on track to 1,000%.
“It had the government owning four large banks and 200 major corporations. The private sector was largely under the control of Histadrut, a big socialist labor union.”
In this Venezuela of the Mid East, tax rates were as high as 56%, nearly leading the world.
As I wrote in The Israel Test, Jewish socialists had created a country nearly as inhospitable to Jewish geniuses and entrepreneurs as the European anti-Semite regimes they had fled.
After a unity government was elected in 1985, Netanyahu returned from the United States where he had been ambassador. As prime minister in the mid-1990s and as Finance Minister between 2003 and 2005 under Ariel Sharon, Netanyahu acted boldly and tenaciously. He used his supply side ideas from the Boston Consulting Group and his friend Jack Kemp to remove the “heavy man of government from the shoulders of Israel’s then diminutive private sector.”
The results are history. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Israel absorbed a million Soviet refugees and launched a technological miracle.
With Netanyahu’s reforms between 1991 and 2000, Israel’s venture capital outlays rose some 60-fold; VC companies launched soared from 100 to 800; and Israel ranked first in the world in the share of growth attributable to high-tech ventures.
All the left has to offer, said Jonathan, is to return the country to its previous socialist solidarity of equally distributed poverty. Many Israelis on the left, like many Americans, would like that.
But as Medved said, “I don’t care about Gini coefficients [measures of inequality]. I’m a proud capitalist.”
And so is Bibi Netanyahu. But he will win the election not so much for the economy as for keeping the Israeli’s safe for almost 30 years as one of the world’s leading experts on how to suppress terrorism.
Bibi wrote the book – three books, actually – and heavily influenced American as well as Israeli politicians on how to suppress suicide bombers and the intifada.
John Bolton was one of his more devout students and Bolton may deserve much credit if the Iranian mullahs fall as Jonathan Medved predicts.
But my view is that for all his successes in the United Nations and elsewhere, Bolton was too much a universal hawk. Especially with the US at last withdrawing support from the UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees).
“The Courage to Continue”
The U.S. has to choose its battles carefully.
Trump has chosen to take on China – in my view the wrong battle to choose.
Bolton wants to take on everybody. This is a failure of his “Israel Test” as much as Obama’s refusal to take on anyone except Libya.
For Netanyahu’s success, he is hated by much of the world. But he is revered by people who know him as the Churchill of the modern era.
As Churchill himself once said, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Editor, Gilder’s Daily Prophecy