Rene Dumont, best known for his devastating book "False Start in Africa," wrote many studies of the agronomic calamity facing mankind. One of them was "The Hungry Future," published decades ago. Dumont focused on the insistence of governments to project grand and glitzy enterprises which he foretold were bound to fail. Of course, the inevitable companion to this mindset was the neglect of tried pragmatics with scarce water supplies and encroaching deserts.  

Andrew Martin has written a desolating article in the morning Times bringing yesterday's grim prophetics up-to-date. The piece rivets on Egypt with its fixation on both grandeur and sloth, expressions, I believe (this is not Martin), of a fatalism that pervades the Arab world and much of the Muslim orbit.   

The article takes a detour that replicates Dumont, and the detour is to Israel. No, this is not me: this is Martin and Dumont.  

The Zionist revolution was also a revolution of labor, animated at first by both socialist and nationalist aims.  Now, in agriculture as in high science, it is fired by the achievements of the decades since  independence...and even before.  Of course, Israel has been riveted on the use of water to the very last drop. "Mayim, mayim, mayim" was one of the songs we sang in our youth to celebrate the water extracted from the deepest depths of the desert.

While Israel fixed on the pragmatics of living -- feeding themselves and making a market for their products -- the Arabs fixed on the Jews. Too bad.