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Historic opportunity!

Dec 09,2023 - Last updated at Dec 09,2023

I am not an investor or an expert in the fields of trade, finance and business; nor am I an economist.

Rather, I am a consumer and a close observer of the scene, and I am convinced that we do not have lesser ability or ingenuity than other producing and exporting nations because of the resources we possess, especially human resources.

It has become clearer to many now, as the tragic conditions in Gaza and the West Bank unfold, that businesses that contribute to supporting oppression, occupation and violating basic human rights are to be boycotted.

Consumers who care about human rights and human dignity no longer tolerate violation and oppression, and they do take a stand.

Many in our society are taking a stand regarding such businesses and boycotting their products which have over the years, due to our exaggerated dependence on imports, inundated our markets. 

And these products include almost everything one thinks of: drinks, foods, clothes, shoes, vehicles of all sorts, computer and electric devices, furniture, etc.

What is ironic and sad about this matter is that over more than four decades, our society’s reliance on imports has been steadily on the increase, despite calls to the opposite.

In fact, our society has, in a harmful move, abandoned the production of much of what we used to produce and turned towards importing and consuming what others produce.

Not long ago, we had a decent level of self-reliance in producing most of what we consumed. For example, our shoes, clothes and furniture were all manufactured locally, and our meals were prepared in either our homes or local restaurants.

Today, foreign merchandise dominates.

The harm in this situation has at least three dimensions. The first has to do with the prevailing impression that foreign products are unquestionably superior. Secondly, the comfort and ease of imports have hindered our society’s ability to manufacture, innovate, and create. Thirdly, and this is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the matter, the principle of our society relying on itself has almost disappeared from public discourse.

And one wonders why.

I still distinctly remember what an American friend, who was the head of a research institution in Chicago in 1987, said to me when I stayed at the institution for the summer. He invited me to lunch, and we ordered one of the well-known American soft drinks. He asked me, "What do you drink with lunch in your country?" I replied, "We drink this," pointing to what we were drinking then. He looked surprised and said, "Really? This soft drink is mostly water and sugar and doesn't require any genius to make. Why can’t you have a soft drink of your own?" I said, "I have no idea."

The point is clear. It is time for us to shift from a consumer mindset to that of a producer.

Why should we consume, among other things, foods and drinks that are unhealthy in the first place? And why should we consume products of companies that abet and support injustice?

One is not against imports in principle, as all countries import. But one is against exaggerated reliance on imports, especially from suspect businesses and when imports come at the expense of ingenuity, innovation and self-reliance.

We now have a historic investment opportunity, and a historic moment to exercise self-reliance.

Will we seize it?

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