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A Middle East Dividend Overlooked in the Primaries

February 25, 1996|JAMES FLANIGAN

In all those countries, people have low incomes--one-half to one-sixth those of the advanced Israelis. Opportunities are sparse.

For the present, development won't be as rapid as it has been in Asia. Koor is proceeding slowly, selling cement to Palestinian builders in the West Bank, forming joint ventures with Jordanian suppliers.

But four years after the Gulf War, there are visions of Iraq returning to the world economy, spurring expansion of the Jordanian port of Aqaba.

A Middle East where lions and lambs do business together has obvious meaning for Americans, with U.S. forces directly responsible for keeping peace in the oil-rich area.

Meanwhile, the new Israeli economy is growing at 7% a year. The vision of work and sharing that built the state--as symbolized by the now-fading kibbutz movement--remains. But the new vision of individual opportunity and world markets dominates.

It's a more abundant world. But as Americans are learning in this year's primary campaigns, even abundant economies have tensions that call for newer thinking.

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