Howard Epstein – THE END OF THE SPURIOUS GRANDEUR – NOW LET’S MAKE THE DESERT BOOM – II
WF21CC and the YUMIs
First, a confession. At Obama’s inauguration, which I watched live on TV, I was as choked as the next guy at the promise that appeared to be held out for the world by this telegenic, upright, articulate, educated and inspiring African-American. A new Kennedy, perhaps? (The Nobel committee must have already been caught up in the same euphoria.)
Then came the disappointments, any one of which would have (to coin a Pascal term) sufficed us:-
The omission of Israel from the first Middle East tour – Dayenu! The disastrous Cairo University speech – Dayenu! The Backing of Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood – Dayenu! The abandonment of Al-Sisi and the link with Egypt, allowing Russia to enter the Middle East again – Dayenu! The failure to act over Libya – Dayenu! The failure to speak out in favour of the anti-government demonstrations in Iran – Dayenu! The whole Iran enterprise from the failure merely to tighten the sanctions, through the release of the first $150 billion, to the disastrous JCPOA (surely an acronym in some obscure language for “The Route to a Disastrous War with Iran”) – Dayenu! The abandonment of Israel and Saudi Arabia (together!) – Dayenu! The failure to act on the crossing of Obama’s own WMD red line in Syria, thus providing the void that Putin comprehensively filled, whilst providing an object lesson on how to support your traditional allies (in his case the loathsome Bashir Assad) – Dayenu!
And all that golf, even as America burned and the lot of the African-American inexorably deteriorated!
What was the man thinking? Was the man thinking? Does he feel? (“Do you feel me, bro?” as they say in the projects and in Ferguson, Missouri, and the vast parts of Rust Belt America that are more reminiscent of the Third World than of Georgetown.)
You do not have to be a Right-wing Republican to make these observations of irrefutable fact. You merely need to be left as disappointed as I.
So, the spurious grandeur of the presidential wastrel that was Obama is all but over and, you may think, he can do little harm in the future. Given that the great Targeted-Killer in Chief reportedly despatched thousands in Death by Drone sorties expressly sanctioned by him (according to reliable sources such as The Atlantic and The Guardian), it would be comforting to know that his capacity for destruction, even of a less terminal and bloody variety, will, on January 20, be at an end.
Not so fast! Time to re-read some of my previous blogs in which I recounted that the Nobel anointed Man of Peace is a disciple of Saul Alinsky (described as a communist and Marxist fellow traveller), who, in his Rules for Radicals, wrote,
“[t]he job of the organizer is to maneuver and bait the establishment …” [My emphasis]
Better still, read the redoubtable Melanie Philips on the same subject in last week’s Times (of London), now at: http://melaniephillips.com/will-obama-become-agitator-chief/.
I share Ms Phillips’ fear that all that Obama sanctimonious pontificating (whilst presiding over the weekly non-judicial executions) is to be replaced with a creepy and ominous baiting of the American (and Trumpesque) establishment, to work for a Trump failure, over an American success, that too many Americans seem to prefer.
How I should love to be proved wrong! How I should be delighted to find at any and every future stage that Obama is not become the two-headed beast, Alinsky-Carter, a double-barrelled shotgun of negativity and nihilism. One is all too mindful of the sinister and uni-cameral mind of another failed president, Jimmy Carter, who appears to exist now only to bait Israel.
But hopes are not high. Each of them, Obama and Carter, suffers from the delusion that he achieved something; yet all Carter will ever be remembered for is losing Iran and the resultant hostage crisis; and, so far as concerns Obama (and his would-have-been protégé, Clinton), it could be a long time before anyone black (or female) is trusted with a run at the White House again. After all, if you were African American, would you feel uplifted by the last eight years? (At the news that Clinton might run as mayor of New York, one can only groan, and wonder at the naked greed for power on any basis.)
I, however, was elevated by two further Times snippets last week:-
- “The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet” was a quotation from American writer and blogger Sam Harris. OK, so he has a Jewish mother, but the quotation was repeated in The Times by columnist, Tim Montgomerie, whose own antecedents seem, nominally at least, otherwise. Perhaps, in the UK, they (the nicht unserer) are catching on: Israel has merely been the laboratory for anti-western violence. But don’t hold your breath regarding the Europeans’ grasp on reality. As Oscar Wilde had it: We are all of us in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars, a claim that could not properly be made by the EU funders, from the very outset, of the Palestinian terrorism that has made what is occurring today, with everything to hand from Kalashnikovs and Semtex to bread-knives and trucks, from Orland to Sydney, into the New Normal. How is the tuches, Europe? It is your “investment” that has been biting you there – repeatedly. And there is no end in sight (pun not intended); and
- “Britain Has World’s Top Economy” ran a headline on Friday. My joy was two-fold. Firstly, that Britain’s “economy grew by 2.2 per cent last year — more than the six other leading nations, including the US, Germany and Japan”. (Pleased for them. They wish us no ill, apart from the recent damning resolution in the UNSC, that was a naked betrayal of the PM’s fine words about Israel not a week before.) But, second, I knew that Israel’s GDP growth for the same period is expected to be 3.8%! (I make that a tad under 75% higher.) And here is the icing on the apple strudel: unlike Britain, Israel achieves a yearly balance of payments surplus. Oh, and here is the cherry on the icing: that is so despite the fact that Israel’s currency is still the world’s strongest, and has been so for the longest of any normal (ie diversified, non-Gulf) economy. Note also that:-
- Israel has not printed money to maintain liquidity;
- unlike the QE (that is, quantitively-merely-eased and not cured) economies of the USA, the UK and the Eurozone, Israel does not have Mickey Mouse money that at any time could run a reprise of Disney’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, with hyperinflation flowing voluminously through every fiscal orifice; and therefore
- there could be no better way of, or time for, Israel planning to invest the well-gotten gains of its financial success than in pursuing this plan: having made the desert bloom, now let’s make it boom.
Now Let’s Make the Desert Boom – II
Which brings me to episode two of my suggestion that, to relieve the stifling overcrowding of Tel Aviv and the Sharon region, the center of gravity of the country be moved to where we have space – and geo-political depth (for there is none in the eight mile (15k) Kfar Sabah-Ra’anana-Herzlia-Pituach corridor). Apart from improving the quality of life in the Center, the scheme would provide for the possibility, however remote (which it may not be) that up to half a million European and Ukrainian Jews might seek the sanctuary of Israel within (perhaps well within) a generation.
Israel should start planning now the World’s First Twenty-First Century City (“WF21CC”) at Paran, around a hundred kilometers north of Eilat, that would be (thanks to high-speed train (“HST”) travel) well under an hour’s commute (see last week’s piece) from central Tel Aviv.
A Prophetic Voice from the Past
In 1962, as a student on my first visit to Israel, sitting on a lawn at the Weitzman Institute, I internalized the words of early Israeli futurist: “With unlimited power, we could settle six million Jews in the Negev”. As you see, unlike the seer’s name, his words have never left me. (It was then less than two decades since the world had learned that that very number of Jews had been massacred by Europeans – down to the last child and baby within reach.)
On the fundamental issue of the power, or energy, that would be required for our WF21CC, my thunder was cruelly stolen by reality last Thursday (since I had researched the technology six months ago), when it was reported (see it now at: http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-harnessing-sunshine-with-worlds-tallest-solar-tower/) that the world’s tallest solar tower is to be built in the Negev, which will provide clean, continuous and renewable energy for 130,000 Israeli households. The director of the department of economy and environment at the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, a non-governmental organization, was quoted as saying: “Israel has a potential to be a sunshine superpower.” (You don’t say? You mean we have a super-abundance of light and heat in the Negev? Who knew?)
Well, at last, serious steps are being taken – here, for whom do you think it was developing all that solar energy technology in the Mojave Desert for the best part of the last decade? That’s right. An Israeli company, BrightSource Energy. Welcome home, guys. Your time has come.
“Israeli Grand Schemes Fail” – Allegedly
Reaction to my first episode on the subject of a super city in the Negev included:
“we have a track record of failure of grand schemes”.: I know that the 2006 Globes Negev Development Conference initiated by the Ministry of Negev and Galilee Development came to nothing, but the grandest scheme of all – the establishment and the survival of, and then regional domination by, Israel – has been and will continue to be a splendid success; and
why not in the Galil? to which I say, please re-read the first episode: the future is in the East (and possibly in the Gulf, too).
Stay with me on this, folks. It is supremely doable and should be done first by Israel.
So imagine it: as the European life-style – the elegant boulevardier life, where the urbane can languorously sip l’espresse and pick at a croissant – is crushed under the weight of unceasing immigration from the Middle East and Africa, so that only one European-style Boulevard – Rothschild in Tel Aviv – will faithfully maintain that panache and elegance, so we could be replicating it well under an hour away at our WF21CC in Paran, where there will be boulevards aplenty. Young Upwardly Mobile Israelis (YUMIs) need that as a minimum to entice them away from Tel Aviv? What else might they expect? All of the following:-
- lakes/reservoirs, beaches, amenities • sports stadiums, concert halls and shopping malls • factories and service centers • banks, insurance companies and the civil service • institutions, universities and R&D facilities • concert halls and theaters • hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and nightclubs • conferences, festivals • infrastructure – and jobs; and then homes.
Why in that order? OK, they will be built in parallel, but no-one will move there on a promise. Much will have to be provided up-front – say one of each from the longer list before the first housing is opened up for habitation, then a second tranche and so on.
Can it be done? Has anything like it been done before? Look at Brasilia (or, Google for yourself Canberra (Australia), Astana (Kazakhstan) or even the recently-proclaimed New Cairo).
Brasilia – City of Lakes
In Brazil, a competition was held, which sparked the imaginations of over 5,000 architectural teams world-wide, to satisfy an 1827 proposal to move the capital from Rio de Janeiro to the center of the country. Building started in 1956 and, within four years, the city was officially inaugurated as Brazil’s capital.
Lying on a tropical plain almost one thousand kilometers from Rio – and at an elevation of over 1,000 meters (3,600 feet) – over ten times the altitude of Paran – by 2011 Brasilia was home to some 2.5 million people, in a city of nearly 6,000 kms2 (or 2,316 mls2). That blesses Brasilia with a population density of 480/km2 (1,245/mile2) – about one fifth of the density under which Tel Aviv presently labors.
Clearly, despite its remoteness, on numbers alone Brazil made a success of Brasilia. How had it been achieved? Whilst close to the center of what would be the new city there were already two natural lakes, it was decided to build a third, artificial, lake to provide increased water supply and humidity. By 2015, the Paranoá Lake, with a circumference of some 80 km (50 mi), boasted many water-sports facilities and Brazil’s second largest marina.
Alongside our new HST rail line from TA to the south, next to the gas and oil transit pipes that will no doubt be required for our exports to the East, at little extra cost, there should be laid piping to feed water from the Mediterranean southward. Some pumping will be required for the extra elevation over sea level until the artificial lake(s) at Paran are filled, but the long southern journey (with some branch-routes to below-sea-level reservoirs) will provide a permanent hydro-electricity bonus. Established Israeli desalinisation technology en route will ensure that the lakes and reservoirs will contain sweet water. Whole eco-systems for bio-diversity and education will be created.
A lake, of an area of some 35 square kilometers, stretching from the projected city center 10 kilometers to the west and widening to 5 kilometers would be enhanced with several bridges to connect the north and south sides of the city.
Given all these water amenities, not only the YUMIs but most other sectors of Israeli society (other than the yachtsmen and surfers) will clamour for the better life-style that Paran will offer (just as Palm Springs has many “refugees” from LA.) But there is to be much, much more.
Sun and Air
I appreciate that the desert sun is a problem but think of the absence of humidity and compare that with TA. And I have not yet got to the domes.
For its Millennium celebrations, the UK built in London a dome 365 meters in diameter and 95 meters high. Providing, as it does, an area of some 105,000 square meters, it forms today the UK’s second largest indoor space (similar in land-take to Madison Square Gardens). The Ramat Gan stadium (built in 1951) would fit in there three times over. Placing such domes around Paran will give, in step with the growth of the city, climate-controlled environments for all kinds of sports and activities (although this is just a taster, with more detail to follow).
Mention of the bonus of the absence of humidity reminds us of the supreme health bonus: the desert air is pure and, for once, the advent of man will not spoil its natural pristine condition, for there will be an almost complete absence of any gasoline or diesel powered vehicle. All vehicles will be powered by electricity or hydrogen fuel-cell (whose waste product is H2O). In fact, the chances of any family owning (read: having to afford) their own car, will be remote. Cars will be summoned as and when required for short trips and long, “Uber”-style by App. They will also be autonomous vehicles, so safety will improve (fewer Israeli drivers – more Israeli programming) and the numbers of emergency vehicles (police, fire, ambulance) required thereby reduced. (Uber is rolling out its third-generation self-driving test vehicles in Arizona even now. Long before the first foundation stone in our WF21CC is laid, this technology will be trite. Tel Aviv will also improve but there will be a long-tail effect as the cars of today are only gradually phased out and replaced.)
A rarely-, if ever-, stated human right is to pure air. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, that is what everyone enjoyed. Israel should build its WF21CC to return city dwellers to absolutely pure air – and another Israeli first.
Next week: harnessing modern technologies for our dwellings and amenities.
© January 2017 – Howard Epstein
Howard Epstein is a political commentator and the author of Guns, Traumas and Exceptionalism: America in the Twenty-First Century, published by Amazon and on Kindle. He writes:-
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