Ah, Erie! That Emerald Isle where Guinness stout flows like a bubbling stream and people still come from everywhere to kiss the Blarney Stone (photo) . Ireland has a lot to offer those who come to visit there, as well as work, in the new economic climate that has resulted in this country now being touted as the number one place to live, so far as quality of life goes. That this ‘miracle’ has happened to a country with one of the worst climates (it rains there a wee bit), and from where millions once fled as a result of famine and political unrest, is a miracle into itself. The Irish Republic now boasts one of the fastest growing economies and favorable investment climates in the world. Not only are people not running away from its shores; many descendents of disenfranchised ‘Finians’ from “the famine” are now returning to live there once again.
Why can’t we in Israel learn from such a country insofar as improving ourselves like the Irish did? A Channel 2 magazine program ran a half hour documentary recently, comparing various attributes in the new Ireland to their ‘equivalents’ in Israel, if you want to call them that. As a result, the only thing that both countries seem to have in common is that the dark brown, bitter tasting brew is sold regularly in both lands. Otherwise, that’s about it. Ireland, for example, has not only made an abrupt turnaround in its economy; the government there has introduced a number of new laws and social policies that we living in Israel should definitely take note of.
For one thing, a law was recently passed in Ireland forbidding smoking in pubs, restaurants, and other public places. Although many people there who smoke are not happy with this law, those who do not puff the cancer causing weed are grateful. Ireland for years has also had a law requiring pubs to close at a certain night time hour, which has resulted in less traffic accidents as well as alcohol related crimes. Israel tried to do this, but intense opposition on the part of pub and bar owners resulted in this ordinance not being passed. Another recently passed law in the Emerald Isle forbids loud talking or screaming in public. I’d like to see how far the passing of this kind of law would get in Israel.
And finally, all Irish children will soon be able to obtain free college education, if they meet certain entrance criteria. This benefit assures that country’s future; giving students a chance at a better life due to a higher education. Israeli young people have to pay for higher education themselves, with little assistance from the government.
While it can be said that Ireland doesn’t need a large defense budget, and that their army, such as it is, is all volunteer, Israeli governments can still better appropriate our country’s annual operating budgets, with more attention to social needs, especially education. The way that the Republic of Ireland is changing should be an example for everyone, especially people living in Israel. We certainly can change our social system, despite our security needs. And, once this is accomplished, perhaps we can become more like the Irish; at least in these positive aspects.