From the Columbus Dispatch
Ohio's greatest newspaper
Diplomacy is Israel’s only survival hope
Friday, September 01, 2006
In C.P. Snow’s 1958 novel The Conscience of the Rich, set in England between the two World Wars, a wealthy, Jewish man says, "I wish the Jews would stop being news," and is embarrassed by it sounding like a jingle.
The defeat of Adolf Hitler and the end of the Holocaust seemed the right time for the Jews to stop being news. After 2,000 years of persecution by Romans, medieval Christians and Cossacks, the defeat of the Nazis seemed as if it could and should mark the end of all this.
But it was not to be. There has been nearly constant war, terrorism and reprisal between Israelis and Arabs since Israel’s founding in May 1948, and there is no end in sight because each side is certain that God and the truth are with them.
Arabs say Israel was created against their will on Arab land, that 600,000 Palestinian Arabs fled or were expelled and that Israel has seized more land by planting settlements in occupied territories after the 1967 war.
Israelis say Israel is their historic homeland, and it is believed by many Jews (and, amazingly, by even more American evangelical Christians) to be promised to the Jews by God, and, after 2,000 years, they are not about to lose the Land of Israel again.
The quality of Hezbollah’s most recent fighting in southern Lebanon, the Israeli government’s indecisiveness and the failure to quickly evacuate civilians in range of Hezbollah rockets — all this is ominous because the Arabs got a morale boost, and they are likely to fight at least as well next time.
I hink it was a mistake to create Israel. Much better would have been to invite all the Jewish refugees from Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust to the United States, where they would have become good Americans, prospered, supported philanthropic causes and would not have had divided loyalties. Those who wished to live in Palestine under British or Arab rule most likely could have done so, as Jews did long before 1948.
But, alas, we cannot crank the universe back 60 years. They weren’t invited to America, Israel exists, and if it is to continue to exist beyond the short term, we all have to start thinking differently. It amazes me that Israel’s leaders don’t look at the future with icy clarity because time is not on Israel’s side. Israelis are overwhelmingly outnumbered by Arabs; the Palestinians, including Israeli Palestinians, are having far more babies than are Israelis.
Without a political solution, Israel will continue as a garrison state and it eventually will be destroyed. Or only the toughest will remain, and Israel will become another tragic chapter in the history of the Jewish people. This will reinforce the prejudice that the Jews are a marked people who are perpetual trouble and who never will cease being news.
Do the Israelis really want this to go on indefinitely and simply not think that a horrible weapon will be sneaked or lobbed into Tel Aviv? Do they think the Arabs will tire of tit-for-tat reprisals and stop attacking Israel?
The Arabs are getting stronger and they, too, have ideals and principles that outweigh practicalities, common sense and life itself.
The only hope for Israel is a political settlement involving the United States, Europe, the United Nations and moderate Arab governments, including Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
If Israel gives up all or nearly all the land it captured in the 1967 war, if moderate Arab governments, with enticements and assistance from Europe and the United Nations, use their intelligence services to suppress their own fanatics and terrorists and intercept or expose those from other countries, then Israel might still be there in 2048.
It is pointless to try to negotiate with fanatics and terrorists, but not with moderate governments. It is in their interests to have peace with Israel and America because they want trade, economic and technical assistance, tourism and prosperity. Egypt, for example, cannot draw the tourists it wishes if occasional tourist buses are blown up.
Israel must rely on agreements, peacekeeping troops and European and American security guarantees, instead of reprisals, Berlin-style walls and seizing strategic territory.
The United States cannot escape this. Most Arabs and a great many other Muslims hate America and the reason is mindlessly simple. One can float bad reasons, such as envy, radical Islam’s intolerance and rigidity, anger and chagrin, at their glorious past and second-rate present, and nonsense reasons such as "hating freedom." But it’s Israel. Arabs didn’t hate America before the creation of Israel.
All this can and must stop, for the sake of America, Israel and Jews everywhere. Otherwise, terrorism will continue, and America will continue to be despised by much of the world.
Andrew Oldenquist is professor emeritus of philosophy at Ohio State University.
Copyright © 2006, The Columbus Dispatch
Professor Oldenquist wishes all Jews would have moved to the USA and he would now be proposing the Final Solution.