Socialism’s Biggest Failure: Israel

Unless you’re an Israel scholar, you may not know that most of the founders of the modern state of Israel were socialists. The system they put in place in 1948 was based on socialist principles, reflecting both the experience many had growing up on kibbutzim or activism in socialist organizations in Europe.

The founders created an economic system dominated by the public sector, which to a certain extent fit the needs of the nascent country at the time. By taxing private enterprise heavily, they sought to build a social infrastructure, including government buildings as well as roads and housing, hoping to handle the massive flow of immigrants into the country.

Labor unions were especially strong which meant Israel’s factories were inefficient in relation to competitors elsewhere. Food and public transportation were heavily subsidized. By the 1980s, Israel was crippled with run-away inflation, mounting national debt and a lack of foreign reserves. Socialism was a failure.

How did that society evolve into the economic miracle of today? In 1985, Prime Minister Shimon Peres, one of the heroes of the War of Independence, convinced the Labor Party to accept drastic measures including deep cuts in public spending, freezing public sector salaries, and cancelling automatic salary adjustments for unionized workers. Further, responsibility for setting interest rates was transferred from the Treasury, which used the printing press to win political support for the government to an apolitical Bank of Israel. Import duties designed to protect local businesses were slashed and Peres began to lower taxes.

In 2003, the current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, added crucial components to the transition from the failed socialist system to free market capitalism, when he reduced social spending, cut taxes, raised the pension age, and sold state assets to the private sector, even the El Al airline.

The result? Today Israel is one of, if not the fastest growing economies in the developed world. Inflation is 0.4%, unemployment is 4%, and the shekel is one of the world’s strongest currencies. Although poverty has not been eliminated, it is less than it was in 1985 and per capita income is about to pass both Britain and Japan. Israel imports more than $100 billion annually and has a trade surplus––something the U.S. has been unable to achieve for decades.

Socialist policies nearly brought about the country’s ruin. They undermined incentive and ingenuity. Today, Israel is known for its technical ingenuity. That could not have taken place under the socialist model where all property belonged to the state and personal initiative was neither encouraged nor rewarded.

Those who argue socialism can’t be judged by its implementation in places like Russia, Cuba or Venezuela, have a hard case to make that it can work anywhere given its failure in Israel where the entire leadership of the country was fully committed to it and gave it nearly forty years to work before throwing in the towel.

Anti-Religious Sentiment is Winning in the U.S.

This year’s presidential election is a test of the role religion will play in America’s future. In recent years, America’s highly secularized society has moved from tolerating people’s commitment to their religions to becoming anti-religion. The one exception is Islam, which sharia observant practitioners can confidently tell their followers will become the dominant religion in this country in this century.

What are no longer tolerated are Christian and Jewish based beliefs and values that interfere with government authority over all aspects of life––from the womb to the grave. People of faith are routinely portrayed as bigoted and as using religion as screens for their repressive conservative political beliefs.

Anti-religious teachings dominate college campuses where students learn to despise their parents and replace traditional religious values with an unquestioning adherence to the values of liberalism––faith in government and its leaders, disdain for capitalism and its bounties, disdain for America’s past in light of slavery and imperialistic dominance over third world countries, and a belief that climate change is the just reward for man’s arrogance and greed.

That this anti-religious ideology has become overtly anti-Christian can be seen on several fronts, including the failure of the Obama administration to do anything to protect the Christian sect being slaughtered in Syria by ISIS as well as documents uncovered from the Democrat Party which show the anti-Catholic, anti-Christian tendencies of its top officials. Obamacare’s running roughshod over Christian institutions with regard to birth control is another example.

The rise of anti-Semitism in American society over the past two decades is a direct reflection of the strength of this anti-religious ideology. Modern anti-Semitism, as opposed to that based on Christianity’s slanderous claim that Jews must be punished for eternity for having betrayed Jesus, reflects the view that Israel as a Jewish state is a remnant of Western colonialism, and thus is by definition repressive and undemocratic.

The entertainment industry has already well into promulgating anti-Christian and anti-Jewish stories and I predict the number and overtness of the attacks will continue to escalate.

On the agenda for those who see religions (except Islam) as inherently repressive and irrational will be an attack on first amendment grounds that prevents the state from taxing property owned by a religious institution. We won’t see a direct attempt to tax churches and synagogues, but school buildings and other property is too enticing for liberal government officials who need to keep filling their coffers to pay off constituents and donors.

Why tolerance for Islam? It fits the overall narrative. Islam is the religion of oppressed peoples. Anyone who has watched Quantico, the TV show about the FBI, has been given a taste both of anti-Israeli and pro-Islam story lines. Ironically, liberals admire Muslims’ devotion to their religion. Christianity and Judaism have been watered down so much in American society that people who have a need to commit themselves to something prefer liberalism, and they seem willing to make room for Islam because at least its followers are not wishy-washy.

It may be too late to reverse this trend and even should long-shot Donald Trump win the November election it’s unlikely he will be able to turn the tide. Conservative Supreme Court justices could engage in delaying tactics, such as preventing local governments from taxing religious property and ruling partial birth abortion unconstitutional, but secular anti-religion liberalism is America’s prevailing ideology. Better get used to it.