Wednesday, January 24, 2007

World Economic Forum: Searingly blunt advice from Davos

Sever Plocker is chief economics editor and deputy editor-in chief of Yedioth Abaronot, Israel's largest Hebrew daily newspaper and he gives searingly blunt advice to his compatriots.

"My advice to those planning to attend the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at the prestigious Swiss ski resort of Davos is, I beg you, to stay away if you haven't yet boarded the plane. Please don't come, because it's no great honor being an Israeli this year at Davos. In fact, it’s humiliating," Plocker writes.

Plocker says Israel is no longer viewed as a thriving, high tech superpower or even as a brutal occupation power. It is viewed in a completely different light:

It's seen as a declining and dysfunctional country whose president is about to face charges of rape, whose prime minister will be interrogated on suspicion of advancing his associates' interests, whose finance minister will be ousted from his post due to an affair involving finances and non-profit organizations, whose army chief already resigned due to the failures of the war, and whose defense minister will soon be forced to follow suit.

This is the state of affairs in Israel in the winter of 2007 as seen by the world's surprised economic, political and academic elites, arriving in Davos for four days of sessions focusing on the fate of humanity.

A dark shadow has fallen on Israel's image worldwide. Until we remove it, these honorable people will hesitate to shake our hands, identify with us and invest in Israel. They are already hesitating.

Plocker says our long term friends, veterans of the Davos conferences, are pulling me aside and asking me in an embarrassing whisper: "What's happened to you Israelis? How did you get this way? Are you a country full of rapists and corrupt people?"

"The bitter and embarrassing truth of the matter is that Israel's image in Davos – a prism of the world's elite – has reached its nadir.

It's very unpleasant being an Israeli at Davos 2007; it's unpleasant but we deserve it," Sever Plocker concludes.

There is no spin or gloss when it comes to Plocker. He delivers tough medicine indeed.