Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rich man, poor man

Israel’s accession to OECD membership on Monday may be seen as a defeat for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It lobbied hard to prevent Israel’s entry. If nothing else, it demonstrates the importance of picking those battles that are winnable. That the OECD member states were largely silent in the months before the decision was ominous.

At the same time, Israel’s diplomatic victory may be double-edged. Alongside it were also the successful candidacies of Slovenia and Estonia on the same day. To these three may be added that of Chile, which joined earlier in the year. This may do much to downplay that success.

Although both Slovenia and Israel may have similarly high levels of per capita income (around $24,000 – although the Israeli one may not be entirely accurate given the exclusion of the full West Bank population), the same cannot be said for Estonia and Chile. Both these two countries are middle-income countries, with per capita levels of around $14,000 and $9000 respectively.

In other words, the inclusion of middle-income countries may well undermine the status of the OECD as the ‘rich countries’ club – and therefore make membership much less desirable. As a suggestion then, the BDS might consider reversing its opposition to Israeli membership and instead campaign for the entry of other middle-income countries as well.

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