(****EDS NOTE - CORRECTION - The speaker was misnamed. He is actually Joel Bainerman) Saying he meant to shock his audience, Israeli economist Joel Bainbridge attacked many elements of Israel's economic policy -- including the necessity of American aid -- in a speech to a small group in Hillel Auditorium last night. Bainbridge, economics editor of the Jerusalem Post, sharply criticized Israel's bureaucracy, saying that the country would not need American aid if it removed government controls on production. He said creating a more open market would free $4 to $5 billion. He said the country's highly centralized economy prevents it from fulfilling its economic potential. "We're going to wind up, along with perhaps Albania, as the last stronghold of a controlled economy," he said. Bainbridge added that Israeli government bureaucracy wastes the majority of American money, given in the form of private donations and government aid. As a solution, the Canadian-born economist suggested that American investors donate directly to industries and institutions instead of using traditional means like Israeli government bonds. Bainbridge also discussed current issues including the influx of Soviet Jews into Israel, the Persian Gulf crisis, and the intifada. He said he doubted the economic feasibility of a Palestinian state. "I'm not sure the Palestinians have the ability to absorb even one refugee," Bainbridge said. "They don't have the infrastructure." In addition, he criticized the Israeli government's attempt to provide jobs for the incoming Soviet immigrants, saying that new jobs will decrease the efficiency of an already bloated economy. He recommended instead that they be given stipends. Audience members said they agreed that Bainbridge's description of Israeli economics was correct, but some felt his policy prescriptions were too harsh. "I don't agree with his political views," said College junior Alice Segal. "But I used to live in Israel, and the economic part is right on the mark." And Itai Hemeiri, a representative of the Israeli kibbutz movement who counsels students planning to travel to Israel, called Bainbridge's speech biased. "I think he's extremely one-sided," said Hameiri. "He described the economy, but he did not explain why it is that way." But College sophomore Stan Schuldiner said he thought Bainbridge's analysis demonstrated "a good understanding" of the general situation in Israel.Comments powered by Disqus
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