NEW YORK - Notes and impressions on the economics of war and peace,
after a swing through Europe and the Middle East:
Ora Namir, a Labor member of the Israeli Parliament and a leader
of the Peace Now movement, fears that the Israeli economy's heavy
dependence on the military could bar the way to peace.
""The industry of Israel is over 70 percent dependent on national
security,'' she said. ""And that makes us heavily dependent on the
United States - and on arms shipments to many countries around the
Also, she is afraid that cutting the military would aggravate
""From an economic, moral, human point of view,'' she added,
""this situation is so dangerous.''
Namir, who says she believes in a strong defense - she fought in
the Israeli Army as a young girl during the war of independence -
also believes that Israeli security ultimately will require
negotiating with the Arab countries and extending equal rights within
Israel to its Arab population.
""We live in an atmosphere of constant war,'' she said. ""If
there is no peace, our young people will think our strength is
physical strength. Many do not trust the Arabs, nor accept them as
Prime Minister Shimon Peres appears to support the idea that
Israel's security ultimately rests on reaching an accommodation with
the Arabs. A significant sign was the appointment of Prof. Michael
Bruno, a founder of Peace Now, as head of the Bank of Israel, the
country's central bank.
However, Israel seems split down the middle between ""doves'' and
""hawks'' - though few Israeli doves are pacifists; they are only
too aware of the dangers on their borders. ing the American airstrike
against Libya as a blow against terrorism.
She responded with equal warmth, saying that no one who had been
to Vad Yashem, the memorial to the Jews who died in the Holocaust,
could ever doubt the special urgency to Israel of security. Yet she
too talked of the impact of economics on efforts to get the peace
process going again.
Thatcher said many Middle Eastern states were in economic
difficulties, and that could help get peaceful negotiations going.
Syria, the principal immediate threat to Israel, is in grave trouble.
A two-year drought has ruined crops, and the fall in oil revenues
of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait has forced them to cut their aid to Syria.
Thatcher saw a chance for using economic aid from the West asa means
of helping the peace process along, but she did not overstate it.
Economic aid, she said, is no substitute for the willingness to
accept Israel's right to exist, and to cease terrorism, but could be
a useful supplement. …