The American Interest
Essays & Longer Thoughts
Published on July 2, 2012
Israel’s Emergence As Energy Superpower Making Waves


Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously lamented that Moses led the children of Israel for forty years of wandering in the desert until he found the only place in the Middle East where there wasn’t any oil.
But could Moses have been smarter than believed? Apparently the Canadians and the Russians think so, as both countries are moving to step up energy relations with a tiny nation whose total energy reserves some experts now think could rival or even surpass the fabled oil wealth of Saudi Arabia.
Actual production is still minuscule, but evidence is accumulating that the Promised Land, from a natural resource point of view, could be an El Dorado: inch for inch the most valuable and energy rich country anywhere in the world. If this turns out to be true, a lot of things are going to change, and some of those changes are already underway.
Israel and Canada have just signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and development of what, apparently, could be vast shale oil reserves beneath the Jewish state.

The prospect of huge oil reserves in Israel comes on top of the recent news about large natural gas discoveries off the coast that have been increasingly attracting attention and investor interest. The apparent gas riches have also been attracting international trouble. Lebanon disputes the undersea boundary with Israel (an act somewhat complicated by the fact that Lebanon has never actually recognized Israel’s existence), and overlapping claims from Turkey and Greece themselves plus both Greek and Turkish authorities on Cyprus further complicate matters. Yet despite these tensions, following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s surprisingly cordial visit last week, Gazprom and Israel have announced plans to cooperate on gas extraction.
This suggests at a minimum that Turkish efforts to block gas development in the region will face opposition from Russia as well as from Israel. Gazprom and other Russian companies are also likely to do well in any gas exploration deals developed with the strongly pro-Moscow (and very cash hungry) Greek Cypriot government.
The stakes are not small: the offshore Levantine Basin (which Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Israel and even Gaza will all have some claim to) is believed to have 120 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and “considerable” oil.  Drillers working in Israeli waters have already identified what look to be 5 billion barrels of recoverable oil in addition to over a trillion cubic feet of gas. (US firms were involved in these finds.) Israel’s undersea gas reserves are currently estimated at about 16 trillion cubic feet and new fields continue to be rapidly found.
The new Israeli-Russian agreement is part of a conscious strategy by the Israeli government to use its nascent energy wealth to improve its embattled political position. With Italy reeling under the impact of big wrong-way bets on Iran, Rome may also begin to appreciate the value of good ties with a closer and more dependable neighbor. Another sensible target for Israeli energy diplomacy would be India: the two countries are already close in a number of ways, including trade and military technology, and India is eager to diversify its energy sources.
Gas is one thing, but potential for huge shale oil reserves under Israel itself, however, is a new twist. According to the World Energy Council, a leading global energy forum with organizations and affiliates in some 93 countries, Israel may have the third largest shale oil reserves in the world: something like 250 billion barrels. (The US and China are both believed to have larger shale oil reserves, with the US believed to have the equivalent of well over 1 trillion barrels of potentially recoverable shale and China having perhaps one third of that amount. Canada’s Athabaskan oil sands reserves may contain the equivalent of 2 trillion of barrels conventional oil, or more than all the conventional oil known to exist in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran combined.) If the estimates of Israeli shale oil are correct, Israel’s gas and shale reserves put its total energy reserves in the Saudi class, though Israel’s energy costs more to extract.
Many obstacles exist and in a best case scenario some time must pass before the full consequences of the world’s new energy geography make themselves felt, but if production from the new sources in Israel and elsewhere develops, world politics will change. The countries along both coasts of the Persian Gulf erupted into global prominence in the 1970s when world energy shortages catapulted them into previously undreamt of wealth and political influence.  Those countries will still be rich; for the most part, their energy is cheaper to produce than the more unconventional sources in the rest of the world, including Israel.
But what they keep in money they may lose in clout. OPEC’s power to dictate world prices is likely to decline as Canadian, US, Israeli and Chinese resources come on line. In fact, the Gulf’s most powerful oil weapon going forward may be the ability of those countries to under-price rivals; expensive shale oil isn’t going to be very profitable if OPEC steps up production of its cheap stuff. (Brutal, dog-eat-dog price wars driving oil prices down to derisory levels: Via Meadia trembles at the thought.)
Nonetheless, the ability of the Arab governments to influence political opinion in Europe and the rest of the world is likely to decline as more oil and gas resources appear — and as Israel emerges as an important supplier. We could be heading toward a time when the world just doesn’t care all that much what happens around the Persian Gulf — as long as nobody gets frisky with the nukes.
Another big loser could be Turkey. For years the Kemalist, secular rulers of Turkey worked closely with Israel, and the relationship benefited both sides. Under the Islamist AK party, that relationship gradually deteriorated. Both sides were at fault: Turkish politicians were all too ready to demagogue the issue to score domestic political points, and Israelis did not respond with all possible tact.
But if Israel really does emerge as a great energy power, and a Russia-Greece-Cyprus-Israel energy consortium does in fact emerge, Turkey will feel like someone who jilted a faithful longtime girlfriend the week before she won a huge lottery jackpot. More, Turkey’s ambitions to play a larger role in the old Ottoman stomping ground of the eastern Mediterranean basin will have suffered a significant check.
If the possibility of huge Israeli energy discoveries really pans out, and if the technical and resource problems connected with them can actually be solved, the US-Israeli relationship will also change. Some of this may already be happening. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s evident lack of worry when it comes to crossing President Obama may reflect his belief that Israel has some new cards to play. An energy-rich Israel with a lot of friends and suitors is going to be less dependent on the US than it has been — and it is also going to be a more valuable ally.
The emerging new energy picture in Israel has the potential to be one of the biggest news developments of the next ten years. Potentially, the energy revolution and the change in Israel’s outlook has more geopolitical implications than the Arab Spring. Via Meadia will be following this story and trying to make sense of the geopolitical and economic shifts as they occur.
Even at this very early stage, the impact of Israel’s energy wealth is dramatic. On President Putin’s visit to Jerusalem, he donned a kippah and went to pray at the Western Wall of the ancient Temple. As one press report has it, at the close of his visit, Putin turned to one of the Russian Jews present and said

I came here to pray that the Temple should be rebuilt, and I wish that your prayers will be fulfilled.

Putin had more honeyed words for his Israeli hosts. Touring the Wall, he said “Here, we see how the Jewish past is etched into the stones of Jerusalem.” This is not quite a formal recognition of Israeli claims to the Old City, but it is much more than Israelis usually hear. (Many Arabs and Palestinians insist that there is no connection between the Jews and the Western Wall, known in Arabic as the Al Buraq Wall after the mysterious heavenly steed said to have brought the Prophet Mohammed to Jerusalem on his famous Night Journey.)
The reaction from the Arab side to Putin’s statement about the historically Jewish character of Jerusalem was correspondingly furious. The Al Aqsa Institute issued the following statement:

We tell Putin and people like him that the Al-Buraq Wall is exclusive Muslim Waqf property, is an inseparable part of the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque and non-Muslims have no rights at this wall or at the blessed Al Aqsa Mosque, and all historic facts and international documents stress the fact that the Al Buraq Wall is Islamic…
We stress that every stone in the Al Aqsa Mosque and its buildings shows is evidence that it is Islamic and every stone in Al Quds is testimony to Al Quds’s Muslim and Arabic nature.

If the oil and the gas start to flow in anything like the quantities experts think now may be possible, expect many more visitors to Jerusalem to say similar things to Israelis and the Al Aqsa Institute will have to issue a lot more angry rebuttals. An Israel with vast energy endowments may be less coolly received in certain circles than it is today.
In the meantime, we wonder if there was an 11th, hitherto undiscovered commandment on those tablets at Sinai: Thou shalt drill, baby, thou shalt drill.
Photo courtesy Shutterstock.

  • http://facingzionwards.blogspot.com/ Luke Lea

    Good news. From past reading I am led to understand that the costs of production make oil shale inherently risky because it requires vast amounts of capital. Since conventional oil from wells is much cheaper to produce there is always the danger that the big producers in the Middle East will force prices down below the break even point.

    OTH, natural gas might turn out to be as cheap if not cheaper than Middle East oil. What I am getting at is the possibility of import taxes on oil coming out of countries which do not honor the norms of Western civilization — human and civil rights, the rule of law, democratic institutions in particular. We could reduce the amount of disposable income these regimes have to do mischief around the world, whether it be nuclear proliferation of the finance of Islamicist intolerance.

    A sticking point is that China might not participate. Indeed, given China’s violation of these very norms, they almost certainly would not cooperate. But then that is just an argument for punishing Chinese exports with tariffs too.

    What I am arguing for is the West using its economic muscle to foster Western civilization, which I think we need to reclaim as the only possible basis for a true world civilization based on principles of reason, justice, equality, liberty, human and civil rights, and the rule of law. Anything less is barbarism.

    I know this goes against the current consensus of multiculturalism and pluralism. But, based on a lifetime of experience, I have come to the conclusion — liberal that I am — that these are just covers for compromise with barbarism in its various forms, whether in China, Africa, or South Asia. Political correctness stands in the way, but political correctness is really thought control with origins in Marxist-Leninist-Maoist totalitarianism and extreme leftism. We forget how intellectually influential that tradition used to be in the West, back in our naive days. It’s influence continues and it threatens our civilization in my considered, humble, but well-educated opinion.

  • Ed Snyder

    This is wonderful news! :)

  • John Barker

    I am gland to learn that Mr.Putin has found faith. God works in mysterious ways.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    “Both sides were at fault: Turkish politicians were all too ready to demagogue the issue to score domestic political points, and Israelis did not respond with all possible tact.”

    Since Israel is embattled on all sides, if tact was going to protect the relationship, they would have used it. The fact is the Islamists were never going to continue the Kemalist relationship, and their dreams of Ottoman level influence required making Israel an enemy.

    “Prime Minister Netanyahu’s evident lack of worry when it comes to crossing President Obama may reflect his belief that Israel has some new cards to play.”

    No way, this was about Obama’s weakness. Take a look around, everyone in the world is ignoring Obama, he just isn’t a threat. He fails at everything, if you just ignore him he will fail again. The world’s leaders see him as a Kowtowing Pussy and they are not afraid.

  • Mrs. Davis

    The lower cost to lift Arab oil merely means they will run out of it before we run out of our higher cost shale oil. Peak Arab oil will happen. Encouraging Chinese oil utilization today will hasten the westernization of both cultures.

  • Tom Holsinger

    typo here – change shale gas to shale oil:

    “Gas is one thing, but potential for huge shale gas reserves under Israel itself, however, is a new twist.”

  • Jim.

    This is remarkably providential, coming as it does as countries decide whether their energy portfolio depends on Iranian oil.

    By the way, for those of us who enjoy neither unlimited free time nor the services of interns, could you provide a more specific link to the World Energy Council’s report on the new Israeli shale finds? News this big deserves some follow-up.

  • Fred

    It’s nice to see oil in the hands of civilized people. Anything that can help a)lower the price of oil hence reduce the flow of money to people who wish us ill and b)provide a source of supply other than from people who wish us ill is a good thing.

  • http://ziontruth.blogspot.com Eliyahu

    encouraging stuff, Walter. What I don’t understand is why the EU has not helped Greece develop its undersea oil. As you know, Turkish threats and naval intervention have retarded Greek oil & gas extraction in Greece’s maritime economic zone. Why didn’t the EU stand up to Turkey on this matter which, if Greece could have developed its oil & gas, would have made it another source of hydrocarbon energy for the EU within the EU itself? That would also have made Greece a more solvent country which the Eurozone claims to want to foster. Instead of worrying about Greek debt, development of Greece’s undersea resources would have made it an asset to the Eurozone and the whole EU.

  • Bob N

    Not all shale deposits have the same yield per square mile and some of Israel’s deposits are offshore, but these numbers seem overstated. The Bakken formation is 200,000 square miles and Israel’s area is 8000 square miles. The highest estimate for Bakken is 24 billion barrels. So with 96% less area, Israel may have 10 times as much oil? It would be great, but I’ll wait for more data. Also, these “finds” don’t always pan out. Exxon-Mobil just pulled out of shale development in Poland.

  • RJSUSA

    Wow – file this one under Good News!! This would be amazing if it pans out. Only thing better I can think of would be that the world stops funding the Arabs in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem and they’re forced to emigrate!

  • Kris

    As per Bob@10, I’m adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Or rather, wait-and-comment. Onwards!

    Ah! So now we discover the reason for the location of the Western colonialist enterprise known as Israel! Though given recent developments, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this entire planet is one huge shale oil deposit.

    “Gazprom and Israel have announced plans to cooperate on gas extraction.”

    Turkey let loose very bellicose words regarding Israeli/Cypriot extraction plans. Gazprom’s involvement ensures that these words will remain just that.

    “Many Arabs and Palestinians insist that there is no connection between the Jews and the Western Wall, known in Arabic as the Al Buraq Wall after the mysterious heavenly steed said to have brought the Prophet Mohammed to Jerusalem on his famous Night Journey.”

    ‘Twas indeed a mysterious steed; I still haven’t figured out why it brought His PBUHness to this particular location which has absolutely nothing to do with Jews or their mythical Temple.

    But as is unfortunately (or not) all too common in that area, the Jews get on with it, while too many Muslims such as the Al Aqsa Institute specialize in heated rhetoric.

    “Thou shalt drill, baby, thou shalt drill.”

    Smite that rock!

  • memomachine

    “Under the Islamist AK party, that relationship gradually deteriorated. Both sides were at fault: Turkish politicians were all too ready to demagogue the issue to score domestic political points, and Israelis did not respond with all possible tact.”

    You are kidding me right? “tact”?? Is that how you would describe the jihadist flotilla?

  • Golda

    We here in Israel have a great natural resource – brain power. Despite a poor educational system and not enough government
    funding for research and higher ed, our high-tech sector is second only to America. The world will eventually need to move to clean sources of energy that dont contribute to global climate change – and the sooner the better. I hope we will be a major contirbuter to that effort

  • thibaud

    Let’s hope it works out. From our lips to G-d’s ears, as they used to say.

    But some of us who had similar hopes for the Poles are going to temper our enthusiasm until the reserves are proven.

    http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2012/06/18/poland-shale-exxon-exit/#axzz1zX8jV07R

    Poland shale: Exxon exit
    June 18, 2012

    “There have been no demonstrated sustained commercial hydrocarbon flow rates” in two test wells in eastern Poland, said an ExxonMobil spokesman, in a statement issued over the weekend which said the US energy major had “completed its exploration operations in Poland”.

    “The doubters point to the rapidly shrinking estimates for Poland’s shale gas deposits as geologists get a firmer grasp of exactly what may lie several kilometres below Poland’s flat green fields.

    “Just a year ago, the Polish government was brimming with enthusiasm over the prospect of the country becoming a new Norway after the US Energy Information Administration said Poland might have 5.3tn cubic metres of shale gas – the largest reserves in Europe.

    “Then, earlier this year, the Polish government’s geological institute used newer data to come up with an estimate of reserves of 346-768bn cubic metres, only about 10 per cent of the earlier guess.

    “In its two test wells, ExxonMobil found little of interest. Drilling by other firms has also been inconclusive – finding gas but with flow rates that left investors disappointed….”

  • Randy

    Dr. M,

    It gets even better. The moonbat is losing his faith. But you knew that.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/02/peak-oil-we-we-wrong

  • WigWag

    As a big supporter of Israel (I lived in Beersheba for a brief period), I hate to rain on this parade; but there is a counterargument to be made.

    As much as I don’t like Tom Friedman, he’s made an interesting point when it comes to energy resources and development. He’s suggested that the more oil a nation has, the more primitive its economy. What he’s suggested is that oil wealth might actually hinder economic development.

    Friedman cites numerous examples from Iran and Saudi Arabia to Russia and Venezuela. Each of these four nations are blessed with some of the greatest energy wealth beneath their sovereign territory of any nations on earth yet Israel, a nation that until recently had no energy wealth, has a per capita GDP that exceeds all of them.

    In fact, without extracting any energy, this year, for the first time, Israel’s per-capita GDP will exceed the per-capita GDP of the European Union as a whole. In 2010 Israel’s per capita GDP was almost double that of Russia; it was more than double that of Iran and Venezuela and it was 25 percent greater than that of Saudi Arabia.

    Friedman’s thesis may not be right; but it is at least worth contemplating whether Israel would have developed the high tech economy that it has had it discovered its energy resources earlier in its history. It is also worth contemplating whether Israel’s trajectory of economic growth might be altered in potentially negative ways by the discovery of oil and gas.

    Many nations with oil and gas wealth handle these resources in a more than adequate manner; the United States, Canada and Norway come to mind.

    My only point is that Israel’s discovery of energy resources might be a double-edged sword that has drawbacks as well as advantages.

  • Kris

    WigWag@17:

    It does you credit to credit Friedman, but he’s hardly the originator of this thesis. (I was reminded of this quote from one of the founders of OPEC: “Ten years from now, twenty years from now, you will see: oil will bring us ruin … Oil is the Devil’s excrement.”)

    Regarding Israel’s per-capita GDP, it is even more astonishing given its substantial unproductive population and its off-the-books sector (Ultra-Orthodox and Arabs).

    I agree that Israel’s economic trajectory would likely have been different; remember that for its first decades, Israel was a somewhat socialistic country.

    IF it were to come into carbon-wealth now? From Fiddler on the Roof:

    Perchik: Money is the world’s curse.
    Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover.

  • WigWag

    “Regarding Israel’s per-capita GDP, it is even more astonishing given its substantial unproductive population and its off-the-books sector (Ultra-Orthodox and Arabs).” (Kris)

    That is a very good point, although it’s probably only fair to point out that Israel’s Arab population probably contributes more to Israel’s GDP than the Ultra Orthodox do.

  • thibaud

    Wig – good points about the “oil curse,” but fwiw, I think those nations that had strong democracies and traditions of effective governance – such as Norway and Canada – prior to discovery of their oil windfalls have managed to avoid the curse.

    I’d guess that Israel, having strong democratic traditions and reasonably effective governance, could avoid the curse. Also, as technology development is the handmaiden of military advancement, I’d expect that the IDF would have incubated nearly as many entrepreneurs even if there had been an Israeli version of Gazprom or Pemex.

    OTOH, the high degree of corruption in Israeli politics would seem to make oil wealth into a tar baby, as it were.

  • valwayne

    I suppose Israel is dealing with Russia instead of U.S. companies because of Obama’s open hostility to Israel. Another success of “The Amateur”!

  • Bill

    This may never materialize, but it is worth thinking through. Some things worth speculating on:

    1. Can Israel end the conflict with the Palestinians by just buying them out the way that other countries have made substantial land purchases? Sure the Palestinians would try to drive the price above fair market value based on current use, but they do need the money.

    2. The emergence of green anti-Semitism. When Israel becomes an oil exporter, watch the ethnic caricatures fly.

    3. A last ditch Arab regional attempt to seize resources they cannot buy.

    4. Utilization of proceeds. Will tax revenues be placed in the types of trusts that Norway and Canada have or will some of the smaller parties find the feed trough?

  • Ted James

    In regards to post #1, well done. You covered a lot of ground but the point I like the most is placing tariffs on OPEC oil to protect shale oil producers in liberal countries.

    In regards to post #17, the logic employed by Mr. Friedman seems flawed but you recognize that. I don’t think Israel will devolve into a autocratic regime because of their new found wealth. However there may be second and third order of consequences they suffer because of it. I’m sure the anti-semites in the region will use this to feed their hatred. That may in turn hasten a conflict between Israel and its neighbors, especially if the region unites as a caliphate. Then the disputed claims that one country has with Israel can be used as additional reasoning to attack Israel under one flag from many directions (Iran’s Hamas/Hezbollah from North and East, Muslim Bros from the South and East if they take Eygpt, which is likely, and if they take Syria, which is possible).

    This confrontation is probably inevitable, which makes it imperative that Israel develop these resources because of the new friends they will gain because of them. The Indians seem like natural beneficiaries for Israeli energy. The Europeans would change their tune on Israel if they could rely upon Israeli energy instead of having to rely upon Russia and OPEC.

    Also, getting the Russians on board is a smart move by the Israelis. The Russians exert control over their neighbors and sell them most of their military assets. In a conflict with Israel, the hypothetical Arab, Persian, and other Islamic forces would rely upon Russia for replenishment of their militaries. If Russia has a large interest in Israeli energy, I don’t think they will be interested in supplying the forces that would take that interest away from them.

  • happy

    Good news, for a good people.

    Maybe one day other peoples will mature enough to realize Israel already has.

  • neill

    thibaud says:
    July 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I agree. Undeveloped and corrupt societies tend to squander their oil wealth without developing sustainable economic infrastructure. Take away the oil etc and they don’t have much going for them.

    Israel has built by far the most dynamic economy in the middle east, without oil riches. While they will need to be more vigilant in regard to the corruption, this would seem to a super turbocharger for an already dynamic economy.

    That the leader of Russia (infamous for its pogroms) would make comments for public consumption like these, met with predictable arab/muslim rage, is game-changingly huge.

  • John Nelson

    Liberals (and their islamo-fascist friends) do not look forward to the day when the West can give it’s middle finger to the 7th century theocrats and leftist tyrants who dominate the muslim world.

  • Chris Mallory

    If Israel comes up with oil shale, can the U.S. stop shoveling them billions of borrowed dollars every year and get a refund of the billions we have given them over the past 40 years? If Israel has oil, can we finally get some American politicians who will put America first?

  • Emes

    # 22 Pt 4: Israel already has ongoing reviews re projected state Med/ gas revenues, and seems likely to adapt the Norway trust funds structure. PM B. Netanyahu months ago declared much of those funds will be used for “Education,education, and education” About 1/2 will be used for education,research,health care,social projects,and some limited infrastructure projects.Other 1/2 of projected gas revenues from Mediterranean gas for future generations use of that invested interest income.The shale gas lies under around 2/3 of Israel including Negev and Arava deserts.Test shale fields underway for several months in Israel using new tech developed by ex Shell research chief which is far less environmentally-& less costly

  • Emes

    # 22 Pt 4: Israel already has ongoing reviews re projected state Med. gas revenues, and seems likely to adapt the Norway trust funds structure. PM B. Netanyahu months ago declared much of those funds will be used for “Education,education, and education” About 1/2 will be used for education,research,health care,social projects,and some limited infrastructure projects.Other 1/2 of projected gas revenues from Mediterranean gas for future generations use of that invested interest income.The shale gas lies under around 2/3 of Israel including Negev and Arava deserts.Test shale drill fields exist now in Israel using new technology developed by ex Shell Oil research chief which is far less environmentally damaging-& much less costly

  • Buck O’Fama

    “Though given recent developments, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that this entire planet is one huge shale oil deposit.”
    It is. The old theory that OIL( Organic Industrial Lubricant) is composed of dead dinosaurs is pretty much dead itself.
    The new theory is that Hydrocarbons are formed by the crust of the Earth sliding over the molten interior core. It is the lubricant the earth depends on to keep from seizing up. The new theory explains why there are huge lakes of OIL on various other solar bodies. The dead dino theory doesn’t cover that. So basically, drill down anywhere and you will find hydrocarbons. The issue is ‘how deep’.

  • Kris

    Bill@22: “The emergence of green anti-Semitism. When Israel becomes an oil exporter, watch the ethnic caricatures fly.”

    True ‘dat.

    Buck@30: “Hydrocarbons are formed by the crust of the Earth sliding over the molten interior core. It is the lubricant the earth depends on to keep from seizing up.”

    OMG! You malignant despoilers of the Earth are recklessly using up this lubricant! Earth will seize up! We’re all gonna die!!11!!!1

    [/sarc]

  • http://www.ulyssessrant.com Ulysses S. Rant

    J-Libertarian@4 is right – if Israel could have done anything to maintain its relationship with Turkey, it would have. Netanyahu and Co. can’t change the fact that the AK Party is becoming increasingly militant in both its domestic and foreign policies.

    That being said, this is fascinating news. I completely agree with Professor Mead that the vast oil reserves being discovered in the West will undermine OPEC in years to come. It’ll be interesting to see how this works out for the Israelis.

  • Mgrinch

    Interesting analysis.  Israel cozying up to Russia?  Not so far fetched. 

    First,  Russia has influence in Iran, and the US has none.  If Netanyahu is going to send a message to Iran, it’s got to be through Putin.

    Second, Russia is on Israel’s doorstep in Syria, without a peep of protest from Obama.  Does Israel have a choice?  Why would the Israelis choose otherwise?  Playing nice with the Big Power in the area has a long history to the Jews, going back to the days of the Kingdom of David.

  • doc feelgood

    good news?
    Well very relative as usual for all sort of egocentrically based statements. It depends on what sort of goals mankind as a whole is trying to achieve.

    We are far from reaching a solution to that “tumor” like problem with the resurgence of grandiose feelings of so called superiority.

    The world needs a great deal of humility instead of that kind ethnocentric/religious/industrial babble on old stones and economic power, That´s diving deeper into darkness than ever.

  • ala schechter

    That’s what Israel really needs. Cheap gasoline so that even more and bigger cars can further clog the highways\

  • Fred Scherlinder

    The Hebrew word for ‘truth’ connotes “the big picture” — emet connotes “aleph to taf”, first-and-last-and-everything-between. So it’s remarkable that this otehrwise excellent and hope-inducing article (and discussion thread) never once raised the truly ‘big picture’ regarding long-term oil trends: climate change.

    Not only is a carbon-based economy truly a dinosaur, but it’s also leading us in the same direction — to project decades more of massive drilling (especially of shale oil which is even more carbon-intensive than the regular stuff) is to consign our children to a denuded future.

    There’s an ethical component here for the damage done to the world’s poorest people and most endangered species. There’s also a short-signed element for Israel itself: as the US Department of Defense already recognizes, extreme weather and droughts and refugees driven by climate change are a major and growing security threat — and nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Middle East.

    Israel can buy a short-term economic and political boon at the cost of its long-term security and its moral compass. Or, it can embrace the stewardship ethic of the Book at the center of the people(s) of Israel — and be a light unto the nations by pursuing its abundant solar and wind and geothermal resources rather than its unsustainable carbon deposits.

  • Albin

    Cheap energy is good for the global economy but not necessarily for producers – the simultaneous development of so many shale oil fields could easily lead to a glut of the kind natural gas is facing in the USA. Two other things: the map here:

    http://www.greenprophet.com/2010/11/israel-jordan-oil-shale/

    Shows much of the onshore local shale is under Palestinian land, and of course in a water-starved place the water table may be at risks that

  • John

    Huh? According to your map almost none of it is in Palestinian areas. In fact if you read stories about this almost zero is in areas claimed by th PA

  • Eyal Fuhrer

    ברוך השם

  • crypticguise

    This is indeed wonderful news for Israel and the world. Muslims will simply have to grit their teeth and continue their hateful rants.

    Israel will continue to be an Oasis of Freedom and modern economic growth in a Sea of Islamic Intolerance and 7th Century Backwardness.

  • crypticguise

    @FredSherlinder, regarding your worship of the Green Idol – I suggest you pick up a book on Science and stop the nonsensical search for a magical wind and sun delivery of energy.

    Ultimately, fission will be delivering unlimited energy for Israel, the United States and those Nations that have not been inundated with the Islamic hordes.

  • SamC

    Golda, you are correct. Israel needs to improve its educational system. Proof positive – people like you think that mankind, even if tried its best, could change the climate if it wanted to.

    Climate change is natural. That is a lesson that needs to be added to the lessons.

  • http://www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/ Patrick Armstrong

    By the way, John Barker, Putin is a believing Christian
    watch this
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3d_yxJhmjk

    As to “surprisingly cordial visit”, Mr Meade, Russia and Israel have quite good relations.

    I wish conservatives would stop believing what they read in the NYT, WaPost, Economist et al.

  • CR

    “As to “surprisingly cordial visit”, Mr Meade, Russia and Israel have quite good relations.”

    Well, there ARE about 1.5 million recent immigrants from the former Soviet republics and their children living in the country. Most of whom still have cordial relations with the communities they left behind and many travel back on a regular basis.

  • teapartydoc

    I also think that oil is not just dead dinosaurs. If it was, I think we would have run out long ago. I think it is the result of placing high organic content rock under extreme pressure. In other words: it is a combination of organic waste and plate tectonics.

  • cubanbob

    Chris Mallory says:
    July 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm
    If Israel comes up with oil shale, can the U.S. stop shoveling them billions of borrowed dollars every year and get a refund of the billions we have given them over the past 40 years? If Israel has oil, can we finally get some American politicians who will put America first?

    Agreed but why stop there? Lets also demand that the Saudi’s and the Gulf Arabs do the same along with the Japanese, South Koreans and the NATO countries also.

    Fred when you invent a car that runs on unicorn flatulence, I will be the first to buy it. Until then, lets stick to what is known to work and not waste time and money on fantasies.

    In the meantime while new oil and gas discoveries, especially in friendly countries are always welcome, cheap energy being the single greatest way to eliminate world poverty, lets not get to excited until enough wells are drilled and a realistic production estimate can be arrived at.

    If this does turn out to be true, I hope the Israeli’s are wise enough to learn from the other energy produces and learn from their mistakes.

  • Roger Zimmerman

    I am hopeful about the positives here, but worry that Israel’s quasi-socialist (more properly, “cronyist”) economic system will kill this goose in its crib. The possibilities for corruption and interference are great.

    The best way to develop these resources would be for the government to get out of the way as quickly as possible and let the ingenuity and drive of individual Israelis take over. To the extent that reserves exist on government “owned” land, they should be auctioned off in reasonably-size tracts. Then, the government’s role would be to enforce private property rights, and nothing else. The ambitious entrepreneurs of Israel would take care of the rest.

  • bsl

    Re: Destructive effect of oil on economies

    The actual picture is a bit more complicated.
    Essentially, the distinction is between countries which have working economies and political systems when they discover major petroleum deposits and those which don’t.
    The former generally exploit their resources without destroying their economies or preventing them from developing. For the latter, oil is generally destructive of everything else.

    It’s not a difference in honesty. Major oil draws corruption like manure draws flies. But, well developed systems can weather a degree of corruption without falling apart where more primitive systems are crushed.

    Israel has a robust economy and a stable political and economic system in place.
    Large scale oil development will create tensions and corruption. It will not cause more trouble inside Israel than it has in the US or Norway or Canada. There are any number of remarkable, sometimes amazing stories of corruption even murder around American oil development. Didn’t trash the American economy or destroy American politics on the macro scale. So it will turn out for Israel.

    The real dangers to Israel from oil are external, from jealous neighbors and ambitious competitors.

  • http://ProgressinIsraelwebsite Paul

    Progress in Israel web site

    http://iei-energy.com/

  • Freedomlover

    Perhaps Israel will finally be able to convince US and EU that in order for there to be a safe and durable peace, the so-called “moderate” Palestinians needs to subsitute their jihadist ideology for an ecumenical one.

    Encouragement and justification for murdering Jews is one leg of the official, four-legged narrative of the so-called “moderate” PA/PLO/Fatah/Abbas//Erekat The three others are: terror worship and adulation of terrorists, promise of endless war, never peace with Israel, delegitimization of Israel by lying about the region’s history and any and all Jewish connection to ANY part of Israel – even Haifa is taught to be rightly “Palestinian”. This is NOT the exception to the rule. This IS the rule. There is NO ecumenical counter narrative.

    For more on what the so-called “moderate” Palestinian leadership advocates, what it tells its own people vs what it tells the US/West, see Palestinian Media Watch online. PMW principal, Itamar Marcus, has made presentations to US Congress and Parliaments around the world. http://www.palwatch.org

  • Freedomlover

    Perhaps Israel will finally be able to convince US and EU to adopt the only policies that will lead to a true peace and not just a piece of paper peace: The Policy of the Four No’s.

    NO direct or indirect funding of any Palestinian faction and NO negotiations until every Palestinian faction abandons its supremacist ideology in word and deed, recognizes Israel as the Jewish State and makes a 180 degree change in its curriculum and political/media rhetoric.

    NO Palestinian Authority mission in Washington D.C. The current mission is to be closed because PA’s goal of Israel elimination, its curriculum and political/media rhetoric is the same as Hamas’.

    NO discussion of ever dividing Jerusalem. No part of Jerusalem has EVER in history been the capitol of ANY Arab/Islamic/Palestinian entity. Even discussing the possibility of dividing Jerusalem is an act of appeasing Arab irredentism and a reward for Arab ethnic cleansing of Jews residing in East Jerusalem during illegal Jordanian rule 1948 – 1968. The US is to initiate move of our Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem forthwith, with all Euro Zone nations following quickly behind.

  • Freedomlover

    Turkey needs to apologize to Israel for the 2010 flotilla-hate-illa event. Turkey collaborated with IHH, the al-Qaeda offshoot responsible for the attack, in every way possible including giving it permission to plot and plan in, and depart from, Turkey.

    Below, THE report on IHH from The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a must read for anyone still “confused” about where responsiblity for ine incident lies. As we condemned the Taliban for giving al Qaida refuge, we must condemn Turkey for giving refuge to IHH.

    IHH’s Deep, Longstanding Terror Ties
    IPT News
    June 9, 2010

    http://www.investigativeproject.org/1998/ihhs-deep-longstanding-terror-ties

    The Turkish-based charity that helped drive last week’s deadly confrontation with Israeli commandos has deep ties to Hamas and other terrorist groups. The Hamas ties are not in question. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and IHH officials simply do not acknowledge that Hamas is a terrorist group.

    IHH’s web site is filled with stories and pictures showing its support of Hamas. The coffins of the dead flotilla members were covered by both the flags of Turkey and of Hamas. On Monday, the NEFA Foundation published a picture showing IHH officials, along with former British MP George Galloway, who leads a similar organization that partners with the Turkish group, at a memorial for Hamas leader Mohammad Said Seyam that was sponsored by IHH.

    U.S. officials have expressed concern over the fact that “IHH representatives have met with senior Hamas officials in Turkey, Syria, and Gaza over the past three years,” but IHH is not a designated terrorist organization in the United States.

    It’s fair to ask, why not?

    Coffins from those killed on the Mavi Marmara bear the flags of Turkey and Hamas.

    Hamas is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S. and the Department of Justice spent years of investigation and millions of dollars to successfully prosecute a Texas-based charity that sent millions of dollars to it anyway.

    The U.S. Treasury has designated an umbrella organization of which IHH is part due to its fund-raising activities on behalf of Hamas and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza. The Union of Good is a collection of charities run by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

    And IHH has had operations in the United States. According to a Turkish news article, IHH spent up to 10 weeks delivering relief supplies in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. In doing so, Yildirim was harshly critical of the U.S. In a news release by IHH, President Bulent Yildirim said his organization was partnering with the Islamic Center of Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University, despite the evils of the American government:

    “We distinguish between the occupier American administration and the people. Our aid is being distributed among the Blacks, the poor and the Muslims who are being discriminated against by the Bush administration.”

    In addition, this report from Global Terror Alert indicates that an Illinois charity called the Zakat Foundation of America coordinated with IHH on two convoys sent to Iraq. Before the war, Yildirim and his charity organized mass demonstrations that included the burning of American flags. Later, Yildirim “lobbied hard to prevent Turkish troops from joining the renewed coalition against the Baathist regime in Baghdad.”

    Fox News’ Ben Evansky reported last week that IHH has been a United Nations-accredited non-governmental organization since 2004. That status gives IHH “access to U.N. diplomats and enables them to speak at sessions of a number of U.N. bodies that are streamed online around the world and translated into six languages.”

    This continues despite the findings of independent investigations from the 1990s and 2006. They found that IHH, or İnsani Yardım Vakf, engaged in arms dealing with militant groups and communicated with an Al-Qaida guesthouse in 1996. Evidence emerging from the flotilla also indicates that the group deliberately instigated the confrontation with Israeli commandos by recruiting a special corps of fighters who snuck knives and other weapons on board the Mavi Marama.

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this week, asking that IHH’s terrorist connections be investigated:

    “I believe it is crucial that the State Department attempt to determine which organizations are dedicated to providing humanitarian aid and which groups are providing support to terrorist organizations. The distinction should be clear and unambiguous and if there is any reason to believe that an NGO is providing support to terrorist organizations, then appropriate measures should be taken.”

    A Washington Post editorial noted that all nine men killed on the Mavi Marmara were IHH members or volunteers. A subsequent Israeli military report claimed a number of flotilla activists had ties to terrorist movements. The statement offered no details to substantiate the claims. As noted, however, previous aid trips by IHH, some in tandem with the UK-based Viva Palestina, resulted in supplies and money given directly to Hamas officials.

    According to a report by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which has close ties to the Israeli military, the violence was planned by “a hard core of 40 IHH operatives” briefed in advance by IHH chief Bulent Yildirim. The report is based on statements flotilla participants later gave to Israeli security officials. One ship’s officer said crew members were told to ensure no weapons were brought on board. However, the 40 IHH activists skipped the security check before boarding.

    Some passengers on the Mavi Marmara were found with “exceptionally large sums of money” on them, which the report said were “meant to be transferred to Hamas (the passengers claimed the money was for their own personal use).”

    The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) cites a Hamas newspaper report that the grandson of Abdullah Azzam, a mentor to Osama bin Laden and an icon to Hamas, was aboard the ship.

    Erdogan’s Close Ties

    The confrontation with Israel was the flotilla’s true objective, the Intelligence Center report said, and it indicated that the mission was blessed by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

    Erdogan owes his position to IHH, the report said. Computer files found on board reinforce the connection between IHH and Erdogan’s government. Turkey is likely the only NATO member that does not view Hamas as a terrorist organization. Hamas is not a “terrorist movement,” Erdogan said, but instead is a resistance group defending its land.

    IHH and Erdogan receive continuous support from Galloway and Viva Palestina, particularly after VP partnered with IHH during its last convoy to Gaza in January.

    “The IHH organization was founded by the Turkish leader and hero of the Islamic world, Tayyip Erdogan,” Galloway said during a fundraiser in Brooklyn May 21. Turkish writers indicate this is not true, but Galloway seems intent on heaping praise on the Turkish leader:

    “How I wished, as we entered the Arab world, that the Arab countries had a leader like Erdogan. What a difference the Muslim world would be in if they were all led by Erdogans! I have never forgotten the performance at Davos, where in the face of the killer Peres, Erdogan called him a child killer, told him how good he was at killing children, and stood up, unhooked his microphone, and began to walk off the stage.”

    IHH has an office in Gaza, headed by part, Mohammed Kaya, who works with Hamas. According to a separate Intelligence Center report, IHH transfers money to Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza, including the Islamic Charitable Society in Hebron and the Al-Tadhamun Charity Society in Nablus.

    Federal prosecutors in the U.S. say the Islamic Charitable Society of Hebron was “part of the HAMAS’ social infrastructure in Israel and the Palestinian territories.” That assessment came in the successful prosecution of five former Holy Land Foundation officials for illegally routing more than $12 million to Hamas. It was based, in part, on the presence of Hamas propaganda discovered inside the charity’s office and from this internal HLF report detailing Hamas control of various Palestinian charities.

    During Viva Palestina’s third convoy to Gaza that ended in January, IHH gave keys to 145 vehicles to local authorities, including Ahmad al-Kurd, Hamas minister of social affairs. The U.S. Treasury designated al-Kurd as a terrorist in 2007, noting his longstanding leadership in Hamas. Al-Kurd now is the Hamas point man in refusing to allow the IHH aid into Gaza after Israeli officials searched it for banned material.

    In February 2009, Yildirim gave a speech at a Hamas rally held in Gaza. “From here, I call upon all the leaders of the Islamic world, and upon all the peoples…Anyone who does not stand alongside Palestine – his throne will be toppled,” he said.

    Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, in turn, has heaped praise on IHH. According to IHH’s website, Haniyeh discussed IHH’s support in early 2010:

    “The IHH has particularly delivered substantial amount of aid to the people of Gaza. IHH President Bulent Yıldırım offered help and stood beside our side during the war. This is an example of Islamic fraternity, an indication that we are all parts of the same umma [nation]. Muslims are like walls reinforcing each other. Welcome. Gaza is proud of you. I pray to Allah that we will pray together in al-Quds freely one day.”

    More than Hamas

    IHH’s work in support of terrorists already was known by the time it set up shop in Louisiana.

    A 2006 report from the Danish Institute for International Studies on terror recruiting by Islamic charities cited a Turkish investigation from the late 1990s which found guns and bomb-making manuals in IHH offices and concluded IHH members were preparing to fight in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya:

    “An examination of IHH’s phone records in Istanbul showed repeated telephone calls in 1996 to an Al-Qaida guesthouse in Milan and various Algerian terrorist operatives active elsewhere in Europe – including the notorious Abu el-Ma’ali, who has been subsequently termed by U.S. officials as a “junior Osama Bin Laden.”

    Meanwhile, a French judge is sticking to his assessment that IHH played an “important role” in the Al-Qaeda planned Millennium bomb plot. Jean-Louis Bruguiere participated in a 1998 raid on IHH headquarters in Istanbul. There, investigators found evidence the charity was “a facade for moving funds, weapons and mujahedeen to and from Bosnia and Afghanistan.”

    Testifying in the 2001 trial of Millennium bomb suspect Ahmed Ressam, Bruguiere said:

    “The IHH is an NGO, but it was kind of a type of cover-up in order to obtain forged documents and also to obtain different forms of infiltration for Mujahideen in combat. And also to go and gather these Mujahideens. And finally, one of the last responsibilities that they had was also to be implicated or involved in weapons trafficking.”

    In an interview last week, Bruguiere stood by his original assessment. “They were basically helping al-Qaida when (Osama) bin Laden started to want to target U.S. soil,” he told the Associated Press.

    It’s worth repeating that the Mavi Marmara was one of six ships in the flotilla. A seventh, the Rachel Corrie, was intercepted June 4. Yet violence broke out only on the one ship in an orchestrated attack by IHH, which knew it would not be allowed to land in Gaza.

    Following the incident, Egypt has opened its border and there is talk Israel has eased some of the restrictions on goods flowing in.

    Yet the “Freedom Flotilla” will not be the last of IHH’s efforts to enter Gaza. Galloway, after engaging in an “extensive discussion in Istanbul,” announced to thousands of protestors in London on Saturday his plans for a land and sea convoy to Gaza in September.

  • Saul

    The first commenter discussing the ethis of oil producers may find this Canadian website interesting

    http://www.ethicaloil.org/

  • kent hytken

    This is great news for Israel that Canada will be engaging in Israel’s oil and gas development.” Israel and Canada have just signed an agreement to cooperate on the exploration and development of what, apparently, could be vast shale oil reserves beneath the Jewish state.” Canada has a lot of expertise to develop heavy oil and oil sands and the technology and expertise will be a huge benefit for the extraction of the vast shale oil in the Negev Desert.

  • David

    This is all very nice, but have we forgotten climate change? We need to get off the dirty fuels!

  • http://blog.kwiqly.com/ James Ferguson (@kWIQly)

    We have discovered accessible reserves of fossil fuels, that far exceed what we “intend” to exploit if we offer any credence to COP and IPCC underpinnings.

    It seems either that industrial superpowers are completely naive or that they have no intention of stopping.

    It appears we must stop ourselves.

  • Stormy

    I am really happy that Israel may become not only self sufficient with oil and gas reserves, but hopefully they will become an exporter. I do fear that sudden interest in Israel from Russia and other countries may very well be self serving, but time will tell. I have come to wonder is this oil and gas will not be the hook in the jaws that Ezekiel 38 & 39 tells about. Russia, Iran, and Turkey are mentioned specifically to be involved in the attack.

  • Yitzhak

    That even Gaza will have some claim to? Excuse me?