In the 1970s, a huge quantity of oil was found in Norway.
Norway was then an unsophisticated fishing country with a fairly modest economy. A number of courageous Norwegian MPs looked out for the general public and managed to make sure that the oil did not leak from the country’s pockets into the pockets of money sharks. They knew that the quantity of oil was limited, and that the moment after it was all pumped, Norway would again live on salmon.
But that was not enough for them: they wanted to safeguard the underground treasure not only for this generation, but for the next generations growing up in Norway. That is why they decided that all the money made from the oil would be put into a large investment fund, which would invest ethically and commercially and whose fruits would be used to strengthen the welfare, education and health budgets. Thus, generations upon generations of Norwegians will benefit from the oil treasure that is sitting in a fund and earning profits.
Thanks to this decision, Norway was transformed from being a mediocre country into a progressive welfare state, with one of the best health and education systems in the world.
A similar miracle has now happened to us-a large gas treasure has been found. Will we be wise enough to learn from the Norwegian example? Are we even capable of thinking of the coming generations? Does the fact that our voices were silent when the Dead Sea shrank to the size of a salt shaker show that we have long since given up on our land for the sake of a comfortable sofa and private interests?
Is the wish to cancel the position of “the commissioner of the next generations” a symptom of a country afflicted by now-ism and which is incapable of looking into the distant future-a future that could be really really good?
Have the media succeeded, by using a mix of frightening news items and cooking shows, to turn us into alarmed and starved subjects, incapable of thinking beyond the plate of mixed nuts on the coffee table?
We can, of course, do what we always do, act as if there is no tomorrow, and let this gas leak into private hands. We can continue to behave as if we have no future in this land and let the businessmen of this generation erode the benefits to our children and grandchildren. On the other hand, we can also surprise and act responsibly and wisely and create, out of this treasure on our doorstep, superb education, a fair medicine basket and true welfare for the generations of Israelis who will grow up here. This gigantic thing is happening to us right now, and we don’t seem to be realizing that at stake are billions of dollars a year-dollars that could put right our lives and the lives of our children and our children’s children.
This is the time to get up from the sofa, to go out into the street and into virtual space and show that we are not indifferent to our future.
We must prove that we are aware of the enormity of the hour, we must prove that hours upon hours of “eat and drink because tomorrow we die” programs haven’t managed to stupefy us entirely. We will not let our beloved country turn into the contractor to strip the people of Israel of its assets.
“When there is no vision, the people cast off restraint” (Proverbs, 29, 18). The time has come to think about the long term, to devote thought and a responsible approach also to the generations that are on the way. We’ve reached an important juncture: let us ensure that this natural resource that has fallen to our lot does not leak into cold hands, let us guard it ourselves, so that it is shared by all Israelis of all generations