A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
April 23, 2012-Egypt Cancels Gas Sale- Israelis Happy People
Last night the Egyptians announced they will cancel their gas agreement with Israel. They will no longer supply Israel with natural gas, which is used to power Israel's electric power plants (note: all but one has a oil backup). Politicians on both side of the border were quick to say that it was only a commercial dispute and had no political importance. As much as it would be nice to believe that, it's simply not true. On one hand, no commercial company would take such action without a green light from the Egyptian government. More importantly, every one of the candidates for Egyptian President has called for the cancellation of this agreement.
Unfortunately, we have to look forward to the situation with Egypt getting worse for the foreseeable future. The success of the Islamists in Egypt and elsewhere does not bode well. One of the most destructive developments over the past twenty years has been the increasing conversion of our conflict with the Palestinians into a religious, as opposed to, a nationalist dispute. Part of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute has always been religious, but that aspects has grown dramatically over the past twenty years, both our side and theirs. And religion rarely condones compromise– certainly not recently, regardless of which religion it is.
The results of an international poll show Israelis to be the 14th happiest people on earth--- much to the surprise of most Israelis. It's hard to see how a people who are always complaining, forced to do extended military service, and who may be faced with existential threats could be so happy. One theory I heard recently states that Israelis tend to maintain extended families, and there are few places in Israel that are too far for the family to get together for Shabbat dinner. That may be part of it, but I believe there is something else at work here. There is a connectedness that exists here that exists in very few places. In Israel there is a since of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. In my opinion, it is that connectedness, coupled with a sense of greater purpose that is the secret to Israeli happiness.