Experts optimistic about Israel's future

Ross cites hi-tech; Dershowitz says many threats will have been "blunted."

dershowitz 224  (photo credit: AP)
dershowitz 224
(photo credit: AP)
In 2018, Israel will be a world-renowned hi-tech economy moving toward peace and coexistence with its neighbors, according to former US diplomat and Middle East policy-maker Dennis Ross. Ross's predictions on the shape of Israeli society in 10 years' time were among many optimistic forecasts made to The Jerusalem Post last week by some of the high-profile participants in the 2008 Presidential Conference "Facing Tomorrow." "I don't think [Israel] will have a warm peace [in 10 years] with its neighbors," Ross said. "[Israel and its neighbors] may not yet have a peace of reconciliation, but they'll be moving towards what I'll call a period of coexistence," said the Middle East expert, who served as both a plenary session moderator and a speaker at the conference. In his opening speech at the conference last Tuesday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert raised the question of what Israel would look like in 10 years by relating the story of a young boy who asked him that question. While Olmert used the question as the launch point for a fairly conventional speech, attendees like Ross shared more concrete predictions about Israel in 10 years. "I think in 10 years the radical Islamists will have also passed their high point, and they'll be more on the decline," he said. "There will be a gradual adjustment to greater coexistence." Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, a noted commentator on the challenges faced by democracies fighting terrorism, said Israel's security situation a decade from now would be better. "I think [Israel] will have blunted many of the threats that currently face it," he said. Although Israel could use its allies' help in the future, it would have to be prepared to defend itself unilaterally, Dershowitz said. "I think Israel almost always has to work alone and with friends, but it can't rely on friends; it has to always be prepared to protect itself," he said. "I think the greatest threat Israel faces today is from Iran," Dershowitz said, "and it will hopefully, with support from the world community, be able to deal with that. But if not, it will have to deal with it in its own way." Both Dershowitz and Ross told the Post Israel's developing hi-tech economy would increase its international standing and economic strength over the coming decade. "[Israel] will be recognized by the world as a technological leader that exports life-saving and environmentally-saving technology," Dershowitz said. "I see Israel thriving economically, because I think Israel will take advantage of its knowledge-based society," Ross said. World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder, a former US ambassador to Austria, said Israel's ability to enjoy regional peace in the next decade would be tied into its ability to cooperate with its regional neighbors. "I believe Israel in 10 years will be a major country in the Middle East," he said. "It all depends on their ability to convince their neighbors that they gain more with Israel than without Israel." Lauder tempered his prediction of regional peace through cooperation by acknowledging the lack of an existing conduit for such collaboration. "I know that many countries in the Middle East who I've spoken with realize the importance of what they can gain working with Israel; they just need a vehicle by which to do it," he said. "I've been here for the 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, [and] 60th [anniversaries of the state of Israel]", Dershowitz said, "and I want to be here for the 70th. I'm going to go out and do some exercise to keep in shape for the 70th."