Disruption and the Future of the Middle East

Ben Packer,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Ben Packer
Originally from Petersburg, Virginia, Ben Packer moved to Israel in 1999, where he served in the IDF's Givati Brigade in the Gaza Strip. Ben served as a Rabbi on campus at Univ. of North Carolina and at Duke Univ. Ben now serves as Director of the Jerusalem Heritage House (www.heritagehouse.org.il) and Co-Director of Young Jewish Conservatives (www.youngjewishconservatives.org). He lives in the Old City of Jerusalem with his wife and 6 children....

Disruption and the Future of the Middle East

When I was in high school, I played on the baseball team. We weren't very good. We didn't pitch well, bat well, play defense well. We probably could have outrun any other team in a race, but that's not so helpful to winning baseball games. Before the game, each team would warm up: throw the ball around, practice some defense. Already by then, it would become painfully obvious who was the better team.

During those depressing moments, I would always hope for some kind of a disruption. Maybe some light rain (too much would get the game cancelled) or a problem with the field. Anything that could possibly "disrupt" the clearly better abilities of the other team and even the playing field. In my mind, that was the only chance we had of victory.

These hopes were soon invariably ruthlessly dashed. Often there would be some kind of discernible disruption. However, contrary to my previous wishful thinking, it would only make things worse for our team. The other team would handle the disruption much better than us. What could have been a simple defeat would often become an embarrassing spectacle.

How does this relate to the future of the Middle East? We are currently still in the midst of the Coronavirus disruption. Its disrupted quite alot. Some would argue unnecessarily, but it it what it is. What can we expect going forward and how should we plan for the day after Corona?

We already have historic moment now - the price of oil had fallen to its lowest EVER! Clearly, this is not great news for the Arabs. As is well known, oil has made them all the wealth they currently possess. This is true for both the Sunni and Shiite Muslim countries. And who is not negatively affect by this at all? Israel of course. However, what is in tremendous demand right now as the result of Corona? Medical research and high-tech - Israel's specialty.

News is coming out of the Far East that the leader of North Korea has serious medical issues. If true, this would potentially be another long-time supporter of Israel's enemies that is removed from the equation - much to Israel's benefit.
Massive food shortages are predicted, as well as shortages of essential products and services around the world.

After Corona, we should likely expect radical changes in the conflicts in Yemen, Libya, Syria, Iraq and who knows where else!

How should Israel be ready?

Using our high school baseball analogy, Israel is in a very good position to capitalize on all this disruption. Israel is by far the better "baseball" team in the Middle East. However, the way disruption works in the business world, little guys can creep in and take advantage. This can happen in the geo-political world as well, if we are not careful, but also if we are lethargic. Now is the time to be aggressive! Things that seems impossible just a short time ago, are now very realistic and we should not miss these opportunities.

Some initial suggestions:

1) Apply Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and elsewhere
2) Unfreeze/advance building plans in E1, E2, Kidmat Tzion, the Old City of Jerusalem
3) Return permanent Jewish presence to Chomesh and Sa-Nur
4) Reclaim important religious sites, such as Joseph's Tomb in Shechem and the ancient synagogues of Jericho