It is a measure of how far Lebanon has come in recent years that a new roof is being placed on the synagogue in the Beirut Central District. It is also a reflection of Lebanon’s unique multi-faith make-up and the country’s tolerance for all religions.
But tolerance alone does not make a strong state.
It is no secret that today Israeli companies are outsmarting the Arab boycott, a concept so archaic and so self-defeating it stopped having any real meaning decades ago. Israeli manufacturers are re-branding and re-labeling their products to compete in the new and vibrant Arab markets.
Furthermore, Israel has set itself up as a shop front for global manufacturing, attracting some of the world’s biggest brands to their industrial parks. The upshot is that, while the Arab world tears itself apart, Intel — to take just one example — churns out Israeli-made processors destined for a global market.
And yet while Arab regimes would deny us the right to buy those same processors, they are also denying us the chance to move forward and compete in the name of a strategic ideal they call the Arab boycott.
The real Arab boycott should be one that stops us from denying ourselves the right to take our place in the community of nations that make up the new globalized economy. It should involve us making an effort to produce and compete on an equal level.
Contrary to popular belief, the strategic goal of the Zionist state is to place an emphasis on economic dominance. It is as much economic as military or political leverage that drives Arab-Israeli negotiations. After all, the victor is the nation that can achieve economic sustainability.
The Arab world, and the countries of the Levant in particular, need to understand the essential connection between the state, the public sector and the welfare of the people. Without this economic angle, a state can never succeed; indeed it can never be a state.
Lebanon is a case in point. The private sector has the talent and it has the will. The state now needs to hitch this potential to its creaking wagon so that it can start competing with Israel at its own game. Lebanon needs to start empowering, competing and attracting foreign investment.
It is that simple.