Thursday 18 July 2002

Reason versus Emotion (The Bin Laden Phenomenon)

18th July 2002

Conflict of Cultures or Tragic Misunderstandings


This paper is prompted by the events surrounding the September 11 suicide bombings. It asks the question are the motives of the bombers and their organisations as often portrayed rooted in the Islamic culture which is irreconcilable with our Western culture or are they the results of deep seated misunderstandings of Islam by us and by those who are behind the bombers. Then it follows with an attempt to find a resolution of these misunderstandings. However it does not attempt to find political or international solutions rather merely to try to disentangle the religious aspects of the conflicts posed and provoked by the 9/11 events.

In order to get a grip on this problem we have to be open, rational and honest in our approach. In simple terms we have to call a spade a spade and leave diplomatic double talk behind. We have to recognise that we belong to different faiths. Keeping them private not out of irreverence or lack of respect would make it easier for us to debate the subject freely and not be shackled by taboos. This also makes it possible to bring into the debate secular thinking that would enable us to analyse religions as social phenomena. Unless we do that we would intensify the conflicts and block the doors of understanding and tolerance.

Culture Clash
First we have to dispose of the idea of a culture clash in the wider sense. Why don’t we have such conflict with the Chinese the Indians and certainly with the Japanese? We have far more in common with the Muslims and the Arabs than we have remotely with those peoples and their cultures. The sources of our culture were intertwined with and have in essence the same ingredients as theirs. Muslims embraced Greek philosophy and thought long before Christian Europe. Indeed it was through them that we managed to embrace Greek science and thought. And although Greek heritage was available to the West through Judaism and early Christianity it was the Muslims who took the initiative first in Baghdad then in Spain to delve into it. In those days Europe was the obscurantist and the Islamic world was the enlightened. Aristotle was translated into Latin only in the 13th century. The Arab tradition of translating and studying major works of non-Muslims started centuries before. And this trend intensified after Napoleon’ invasion of Egypt and continued to the present day. The Arab Society is not closed except for small power obsessed segments whose motivation is more political than cultural in the wider sense.
And what on the face of it should be even more uniting us together is religion. After all both Christianity and Islam sprung from the same Judaic ground. But it is this religious root which is the heart of the problem. Monotheism depicts one God. Therefore if He is with us He cannot be with you-in fact He must by definition be against you. Invoking the Divine by this simple logic is today and has been for centuries a lethal tool in the hands of various factions from time to time in their power struggles against their enemies internal and external by using it to mobilise the masses behind them. Paradoxically the spread of Democracy amongst ignorant and uneducated masses is bolstering these factions recently nourishing the struggle.

So what is the remedy? The answer in one word is "Enlightenment". There is nothing new in this. Judaism and Christianity have gone through the same process that is yet to be completed with relapses here and there. In Israel a small minority of ultra religious are still causing problems. The atrocities of the 2nd World War, the recent rise of anti-Semitism and the backlash against non whites (read non Christian) amongst the Right in Europe show that there is still a lot more for the Enlightenment to achieve. As for the Arab and Islamic world they are despite many tentative attempts almost centuries behind in this respect. This gap is the cause of the problems facing us. In order to bridge it or bridge over it we have to go back to the historical background.

The Theological Background
Amongst the three so-called monotheistic-religions Judaism found the accommodation first perhaps through the necessity and the nature of its existence in the Diaspora. It is traditionally accepted that the Jews came down from their self inflicted exile in Egypt to carve a territory to occupy and live in as they were not wanted and had nowhere else to go. (What a historical repeat!) They fought in the name of their God because He is the symbol of their cohesion and therefore belonged to them and to no other people. Remember He is termed God of active armies in the Hebrew Bible not of the hosts as politely translated. They were His chosen people and He would fight for them against other gods. And because presumably He was more powerful He and the Jews would prevail. Indeed they did. Monotheism as we came to understand it later was not clear to the Jews then and not since. (Although it is a logical concept- a Pyramid has to have an apex and the creation must have a single original mover.) If He belongs to them He can not belong to others. Every people lived happily side by side each with its own Deity. Moses wife was not Jewish and so was David partially. King Solomon revelled in marrying gentiles! Therefore when King Syrus helped the Babylonian exiles to go back to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem though no doubt politically motivated neither side found that to be wrong or unusual. The Persians had their god and the Jews theirs. So were other peoples and nations of old. The whole conflict started when one Jewish sect, the Christians under the Romans’ domination introduced the universality and asserted the concept of monotheism. (And then diluted it with the Trinity and it had to wait for Islam to restore it to its purity.) From then onwards God became the universal God. Islam followed and accepted that but claimed that only they exclusively belonged to Him. And of course so did the Christians. The Jews at a loss on the one hand not wanting and not able to claim Him exclusively any more and on the other by necessity had to coexist with both Christian and Muslim produced an intellectual compromise. Maimonides of Cordoba articulated this by saying it is not the oneness of God that is His essence. It is His uniqueness and that is beyond human understanding and comprehension. This is the compromise through which all three religions today are trying to find a consensus. It is also this that through Maimonides’ great intellectual disciple Spinoza that the doors of Enlightenment started to open.

In the meantime and for one thousand years while the Jews stood aside Muslims and Christians fought each other to assert the supremacy of their respective path to what both claim to be the one God and the only one assured path to Heaven. Their zeal to succeed against each other resulted only in almost eliminating their theological mentors. Today we have one thousand millions Christians lined up against one thousand millions Muslims smothering 12 million Jews out of existence. Jews became an endangered species. (I wish they were treated like the Bengali tigers or the Arabian leopards! How about a preservation order!) This essay however is not about Lamentations. It is that each of the three groups recently spawned a small nucleus to fight for their understanding what their faith is. To coexist they have to keep their faith private and ensure that their places of worship are not used for anything but worship. Any other activity political or nationalist should be outlawed. Jews kept to that throughout the ages. Muslim governments in their varieties banned political activities in mosques right through to the end of the Caliphate and the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. It is the western idea of freedom that is allowing this activity now to thrive in the West. In other words it is the West’s tolerance that is unwittingly encouraging intolerance. The ban on Salman Rushdie started in Bradford not in Tehran. Tolerant Europe has become the breeding ground for active terrorists.

To understand the root, the manifestation, and eventually the resolution of the 11th.September tragic phenomenon it is important to isolate, though not to ignore the Israeli-Arab conflict in order to focus on the primary causes. Since even if Israel were to disappear tomorrow the above problem will persist. It would probably become more accentuated and acute not least because Western Media would cease to be obsessed with viewing Israel as the root of all Middle East problems.

Israel has nevertheless become in the eyes of the Arab World a symbol of a Western implant and a propaganda tool exploited in many ways. Opposition to Israel helped to mould the Palestinians into a recognised nation. It was also instrumental in creating a second national identity - Jordan. Arab corrupt regimes and rulers use Israel to divert the wrath of their streets away from them. Recently bashing Israel is helping Europe to placate the Arabs and curry favour with their wealthy investors and export markets. More crucial however is that Israel or rather the Jewish people were used by the Muslim fundamentalists in their struggle against the West by invoking the imitation of the life of Muhammad who in his days perceived to have fought and overcome Jewish opposition to him and to his message.

Notwithstanding all that, the Arab ruling governments and classes in contrast to Europe and European media understand where the real fundamentalist danger lies. This is why recently they began to want to resolve the Israeli conflict out of sheer self-preservation and protection not from tiny Israel but from their own streets and masses. They hate the Israelis and the Palestinians equally-except that they fear the latter more than the former. But they cannot spell this out in public. It is a convention to support automatically any anti West voice or grievance in the Arab Street. The Arab leaders understand that and discount their own vocal support. The only side who takes it seriously is either the European Media out of ignorance or their governments out of self-serving interests. America recently has woken up to the real root of the problem.

It is against this background that we should analyse the Bin Laden phenomenon and the 11th of September.
Bin Laden – A Presumed New Caliph? Faced with their impotence in fighting foreign domination and following their failures first in the wars against Israel and then in the Gulf war the Arabs turned to those leaders who were using religion as weapon of last resort. Radicals were using it against their corrupt leaders for almost a century. No doubt some of these radicals must have thought out the grand design. However the majority support came and still coming from sincere believers. The climax presented itself when the American military were stationed in Saudi Arabia. To some devout Muslims it was analogous to replanting idolatry in the Kaaba. To appeal to the masses and the streets the golden epoch of the Prophet and his struggle against the infidels is invoked. They started to believe that they have to relive those wonderful days. This is not as outlandish as it sounds. Fundamentalists of all religions think of the universe, time and history in a circular way. Most of us in the west whose thinking is influenced by the Enlightenment our daily lives are pervaded by science and our religion is privatised. We tend to think of history as succession of events in the world in a linear way. To the fundamentalists history repeats itself. To us every day is an ever-new link in the succession of time. To them time can be recreated and relived.

Conditions and circumstances set the scene for re-enacting the times of the Prophet. Almost every detail fitted. And who better than Bin Laden to take the central role. He looks and acts the part. May be not a Prophet but certainly a Caliph is born. To understand the above we have to embark on a comparative account of both Muhammad and Bin Laden and their lives and times.

Life and Times of Mohammed
The story here is based on the Koran and history as taught in the Arab world. It exaggerates the central role of the message of Islam in its subsequent conquests and ignores the weakening of Persia and Byzantium prior to the advent of Islam. It also paints a hopeless picture of chaos ignorance and strife amongst the Arab tribes and belittles the deep penetration of the Jewish faith and culture both in north and south of Arabia. The historical truth is of course different. The Arabs swept their surrounding countries in a military conquest not unlike that of Alexander before them or the Mongols after them. To the Arabs and curiously enough even to most historians it was the Message of Islam that conquered the world. However in the context of our story what is important is what the average Muslim today believes what happened not what in actual fact happened historically.
While the Old Testament was shrouded in mythology and the New Testament was shaped and codified by a political conference convened by a Roman Emperor the story of the rise of Islam is based mostly on written historical material irrespective of its accuracy. That is why it can be accepted as more credible and appealing certainly to Muslims. It is not based on blind faith in mythology and rituals. That is why it is easier for enlightened Muslim leaders if they need to steer the fanatic masses towards rational interpretation of Islam than it is the case with fanatic Jews or Christians.

The rational basis of Islam enabled at least some of its scholars to deal freely and even to absorb Greek philosophy so easily in the early centuries of the last Millennium and so managed to accommodate it with Islam. This same accommodation helped Maimonides influenced by both Greek and Islamic philosophy to reform Judaism and paved the way to the creation of different Jewish religious movements existing side by side peacefully today. To understand this we have to refer to his Guide and to the writings of the great Muslim theologians from Al Farabi and Al Ashaari right to Ibn Rushd (Averroes) Ibn Bajja and others.
Mohammed’s life is a beautiful and attractive story. It is a great shame that it is caricatured by The Satanic Verses. It could be made into a best selling sensitive and dramatic film. His father died before he was born. His mother died when he was six. He had to fend for himself under the care of his grand father who died soon after and Muhammad found himself supported by his uncle, the father of Ali. (The subsequent 4th Caliph whose murder and that of his son Hussein split Islam into Shi’a and Sunna) He was lonely and lost and had to work for a wealthy Meccan widow to look after her trade with Damascus. She trusted and eventually married him. He was 25 she was 40. Thus he suddenly became wealthy with a status in his community and plenty of time and wealth on his hand. But his personal upbringing made him contemplative and introvert. He came in contact with the Christians on his travels to Syria. More importantly he was intimately in touch with the huge Jewish tribes in Mecca, Medina, Khyber and other towns in Arabia. He absorbed a lot of their teachings and culture. He admired them and felt affinity with them belonging, as he was to a movement the Hanafi, which believed in One God.

It was during one of Mohammed's contemplative retreats in a cave outside Mecca that he felt the Divine was inspiring him in the same way that Ezekiel did before him and almost in a carbon copy manner. Bewildered at first but later convinced that he was destined to be yet another Jewish Prophet. Initially the Jews themselves thought that he must be the awaited Messiah. Later on, when their Rabbis discovered his little understanding of their complicated theology and Talmud they disowned him thus repeating the same mistake that separated them five centuries back from Christianity. Muhammad fought them and defeated them. Did he connive or condone the massacres that followed is a matter for historians to continue to debate. Suffice us to say that it would have been out of character to do so. He was upright genuine and sincere and never even presumed direct personal contact with God. He never presumed to be divine or immortal and as a prophet in the best Judaic tradition he did not appoint a successor. He did not claim to be the last messenger in the sense of sealing the Prophecy. That would have contradicted his belief that God decides whatever He wants. It was not he but his second successor Caliph Omar who eventually drove God’s beloved Jews out of that part of Arabia. During Uthman Ibn Affan’s Caliphate the Koran was codified and all sorts of new traditions were initiated. However it was Omar who was the first political leader of Islam to shape the Caliphate that emerged later. This is the background for the Koran as it was handed down to future generations.

Muhammad was illiterate which was nothing unusual in those days. People learnt by heart poetry and recitations of events. The Koran came to him by way of remembering and commenting on what he knew of the Old Testament. He would go in a trance and recite these commentaries. Mystics and hypnotised individuals can behave similarly even today. After his trances professional storytellers would listen to the Prophet repeating them and they in turn would recount and recite them. The main thrust of the Koran is taking issue with the Jews who rejected him. The message is not different from those of Hebrew prophets Isaiah Jeremiah and especially Ezekiel.

Muhammad was shunned by his fellow Meccans and found refuge first with the Jews and later on with other supporters in Medina. When the Jews disowned and turned away from him and then others who embraced him first joined the Jews and the Meccans against him these two groups became the targets of his admonition. The Koran opens with a short stanza modelled on the opening lines of the Psalms. Then it goes on to castigate those who incurred the wrath of God (i.e. Jews and Christians lumped together) and those who have gone astray (i.e. the non Jews in Medina and Mecca who initially accepted Mohammed’s message and then reneged.)
The rest of the Koran is primarily one long polemic with the Jews, or the people of the Scriptures and a variety of Rules and Regulations. The second chapter named "The Cow", is referred to by scholars as mini Koran and contains the gist of the whole work. It states that God loved the Jews. He chose them as His own people and they turned away from him and although he forgave them time and time again they continued to rebel against his teachings and his message. They are argumentative and not prepared to accept without questioning God’s faith and straightforward messages. They made so much fuss about the Red Cow (hence the name of the chapter) instead of just obeying His wishes to sacrifice it without questioning. And as a last straw they were not listening to his latest messenger Mohammed. The rest of the Koran is a compilation of rules and regulations adapted with allusions to the words of God as revealed in the Old Testament. And just to complete the story the Koran accepts the Christians as believers while rejecting absolutely the concept of Trinity but curiously leave the door open for the Immaculate Conception. God after all created the world out of nothing why can’t He order the creation of a baby without the normal human contact.

It is interesting that the Koran by criticising the Jews pays them indirectly the greatest compliment. Jewish tradition is argumentative and reflective. Maimonides repeats and confirms this tradition which boldly asserts that they carry out the tenets of Judaism but they reserve afterwards the right gifted them by God to try to understand why. Briefly and succinctly: “we do first and we listen after.” It is this tradition that made the Greeks dub them the philosophising people. It may very well have contributed to their survival.

The power of the Koran is less in its contents. These are disjointed and their allusions and quotations of the Old Testament are often contradictory. Its power lies more in its poetic prose and musical quality that is most effective when read allowed. When properly recited it is mesmerising. Translation can never do it justice in fact it destroys it. Once compiled after Mohammed’s death it kept its present arrangement and form even though Muslims admit that it is haphazard in its chronology and coherence.

As important as the Koran is the life of the Prophet. It is told and repeated to every child in school and at home. Muslims are expected to follow and imitate his conduct (Sunna) and recall his deliberations (Hadith) and relate them to the appropriate passages from the Koran to provide them with authority and context. In this respect there is more similarity with the Christian attitude to the life of Christ. Jews never have such personality cults. When a child is blessed you would say " may he follow in the ways of Abraham Isaac and Jacob"-curiously not that of Moses or David or any Prophet.

Life and Times of Bin Laden (compared with Muhammad)
It is easy to discern a parallel of the two lives if you are intent on finding it. Like Mohammed, Bin Laden travelled the world and came in touch with those who lost their faith in God and questioned His existence. (Cf.Byzantium and Damascus) He made money and he could have lived a life of luxury. (Mohammed's. marriage to Khadija). He decided to fight the infidels, the Russians. (Cf. the Meccan Idolaters) helped by the Americans (Medina Jews and supporters) who then turned against the Muslims in the Gulf (the Meccans’s hostility and Medina’s renegades) then the American army is stationed in Saudi Arabia.(the enemy in Mecca) So he goes to Afghanistan (Medina) where he could lead them to repossess Arabian lands (back to Mecca). Like Mohammed bin Laden likes to think and contemplates in isolated caves. He will destroy the heathen images and symbols and idols like the Buddas and the arts and the museums. (The heathen idols in the Kaaba) He will declare one Islamic State and one Islamic society (the Ummah) by abolishing the name of Afghanistan changing even its radio to become Sharia Radio. He is helped by leading followers like Sheikh Omar, Al-Zuwahiri etc to establish the rule of Islam in Afghanistan. (Cf. Abu Baker, Ali, Omar Alkhattab etc setting a new state in Medina) He will have fighters from other Arab and Islamic countries (Al Ansar in Medina) and so on and so forth. How can any Muslim deny this messenger of God and his ambition to drive the infidels, those who "incurred God’s wrath" and those "who have gone astray" in the lands of Islam. (Dar-El-Islam.) To Bin Laden the West became the house of War to be destroyed. (Dar-El-Harb).

Once you see this comparison and follow it in details you understand what is happening today amongst large segments of Muslim communities and how easy it is to recruit naïve and innocent Muslims to this new cause. These recruits will find comfort in this cause from their anguish and frustration whether in their alienated lives in the West or living under the oppression of their corrupt leaders at home or under occupation in Israel. Bin Laden fits the image and embodies the renewed divine message. Driving Bin Ladin from and changing the regime in Afghanistan does not even begin the solution. To those who follow Bin Laden it is only a setback in their eyes the same way that Mohammed had his setbacks. The danger to the world today comes from the enormous body of converts to the new cause. They may be naïve and simple but nevertheless are sincere innocent believers. We have to find the way to their minds and hearts and not confine our efforts to eradicate the evil few who are inflicting terror on them and on the entire world.

So where do we look for a solution to this complex problem? The West has been experimenting by juggling stick and carrot with the Muslim countries but without success. The trouble of course is that the rulers and the peoples of most of these countries are caught in vicious circles. With the lack of real democracy they have become hostages of each other. The corrupt rulers are becoming hostages of their streets and the streets are hostages of these rulers. A twin track path towards democracy and complete separation of state and religion could ideally solve the problem. But these countries are marching in the opposite direction. And anyway can we say that we have really achieved such an ideal state in the West?

Some commentators on the other hand find the root in the jealousy and envy of the wealthy West. This may very well be the case. But it is an unrealistic pipe dream to think that a semblance of redress of inequality can be achieved in a foreseeable future. These and other factors are no doubt the breeding ground for the terror recruits. They may be the dynamites but the switch is in the hand of those the like of Bin Laden who is using Islam to ignite them.

How to counter this misuse of Islam as an evil tool? The simple answer is what both Judaism and Christianity have in their own ways discovered. And that is Enlightenment. But in order to be convincing and effective only Muslims can lead Muslims on the road to Enlightenment.

The question is where to find these leaders who can initiate and start to steer the Muslim world towards this goal. The answer is mainly in the West and may in some Islamic countries where Muslims enjoy free speech. And yes funny as it may sound amongst the Israeli Arabs. There would also be those Muslim academics, religious scholars and publicists of independent means. Only Muslims can influence Muslims. They should be encouraged and made aware of their responsibility to do that. Our mistake has been that we sought tolerance from those who by definition are intolerant. It is counterproductive to appeal to Muslim Mullahs and clerics. And to expect leaders of other religions to help is illogical and would only encourage hypocrisy. However to ask them all to join together to highlight their common moral values and show how similar these values are can be very positive and helpful.

Danger comes from the simplistic and adversarial methods of the Media and misinformed policies of the majority of Western Democracies. The main thrust of their argument is that all religions are either militant or intolerant and none more so than Islam. On the other side of the spectrum you have naïve religious leaders who seek to gloss over the exclusivity of religions. It is no use saying that the Testaments, Old and New, or the Koran preach messages of peace. They don’t. And where you cherry pick those phrases or interpretations to prove such good intentions you end up losing credibility. But while the majority of Christians and Jews have learnt during the last two centuries to privatise their faiths only a tiny minority of Muslims have. They can coexist with the rest of the world only if they do. Jews and Christians seem to coexist even if in some countries just. And so do the peoples and religions of the Far East. There is no reason why the Muslims should exclude themselves from this process.
Political preaching should be literally outlawed in places of worship. For centuries Islamic states did just that. Western tolerance is breeding Muslim intolerance. Loudspeakers on top of the mosques in the West must be banned. Those who find it important to remind themselves of the times of daily prayers can use “Pagers” or watch-alarms. Loudspeakers emphasise foreignness and alienate Muslims from other communities. State-sponsored or aided faith schools must be banned not encouraged. Sharia laws (or Jewish laws or Church laws) can be applied voluntarily to regulate relationships between members of certain communities if so desired by those individuals but only if always to be overridden by the democratic laws of the countries in which they exist. Unless such measures are taken and explained and accepted the future of our children, irrespective of their persuasion is bleak.

Aharon Nathan, July 2002

Friday 28 June 2002

Israel Arab Conflict (President Bush Speech)

Q&A in the Wake of President Bush's Speech

Should the President’s speech on 24th June 2002 alter our views and our proposals on the problems outlined above?
No. The President gave us support and time to implement what we should be doing ourselves. The speech just extended the time limit for us to put our house and our affairs in order. It is like the President throwing to us a plank to enable us to swim to a safe shore. However, the time afforded to us is limited and I guess that it is not the eighteen months that is envisaged in his speech but rather the five month period leading up to the US elections in November. By that time the atmosphere in Washington may change and the President may be pushed to modify his staunch support for Israel. The speech is clearly thought out carefully. We must believe the President when he said later on that he was concerned about the survival of Israel. Of course he has other considerations. But not since Harry Truman did we hear a Western Leader speak about us with so much moral conviction and passion. We exasperated Truman then by over-pressurising him. Read his daughter’s account. Bush today has even more outside pressures. We must use the time he gave us and follow his road map in all details. We must help him to help us.
The media by picking up on the problem of Arafat in the speech blurred its other more positive aspects. The media in Europe, which is hell bent on its anti-American stance in every respect and on every possible occasion, caught the opportunity to try to criticise the President on this part of it rather than concentrate on its positive aspects.
It is interesting to note that no pro-western Arab leader has rejected the Bush vision. We have to remember that it was released after intensive consultation with the leaders of Egypt Saudi Arabia Jordan and even with Nabil Shath, the Palestinian Authority minister (PA) in charge of foreign affairs who stayed two weeks in Washington for that purpose. That is why even Yasser Arafat himself did not reject it. Only European media did so with alacrity.
Viewed from the Arab viewpoint Bush vision is a program for the establishment of their coveted State with American declared blessing and pledge for future help. We should not kid ourselves that it is tailored for a Sharon plan. The Arabs so adept lately in their PR portrayed it as such to score on PR hoping to squeeze more concessions in due course. From our viewpoint it asserts American support for our demand for security thus giving notice to the Arabs that violent tactics and homicide bombing will get them nowhere. It also put a stop to UN and Europe justifications for such tactics.
So in the midst of our general euphoria we seem to forget that now we cannot procrastinate any longer. The President set a time limit for us. This not a Sharon Plan. Bush advisors believe that they need a strong right winger to back their plan. That is an important ingredient in their support for Sharon. They declare that there will be a Palestine and we have to co-operate with this new State. We have now no alternative but to accept the World diktat on the borders in accordance with 242 and 338 albeit with some modifications. So we have to act very quickly to establish within this framework fait accompli markers on the ground for our future security. Hunting homicide bombers in the territories like finding needles in haystacks and demolishing buildings in countless incursions are only sapping our strength killing our boys, dividing our own people weakening our economy and alienating what is left of sympathy for our cause. Instead we should walk out of what we envisage to be future Palestine fortify and close our new conceived borders for the time being and let the Palestinians fight it out amongst themselves to choose how they want to live in a future coexistence with Israel. Believing that we can build for them a sophisticated security infrastructure friendly towards us is tragic naivety. Did we succeed in Iran, in Lebanon, in some African countries?
A very interesting sentence in the President’s speech seems to escape attention. When he spoke about a final settlement between the two countries, Israel and Palestine, he said something along the lines that such settlement should be helped or connected with Egypt and Jordan. Can we cash in on this when talking about economic links of Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan? May be we should exploit this line of thinking.

How to proceed now?
We have to solve the three problems outlined many times before i.e.
1. To establish on the ground secure and defendable borders which clearly separate Israel from Palestine to include only defendable settlements. We proceed urgently with building the border walls including Jerusalem and including a wall rising on the Temple Mount separating the Mosque and the Kothel wall. Once we establish these borders the struggle to have them accepted by the other side will follow through negotiation. Then we have to attend simultaneously to solving the other two problems. We have no time to waste. Bush has defined the time- table. Palestine is coming into being irrespective of whom in Israel is for or against. Bush Plan is not Sharon Plan. Bush has given time for Sharon to pave the way for Israel to accommodate the creation of Palestine. We must engage ourselves in defending the inside of Israel and not waste our strength on targeting few individual terrorists and blow up buildings. The people of Israel are numb with their tragedies and mourning. They are understandingly reacting with their emotions often in different directions. It is the responsibility of the leaders to think with cool and rational heads for long term solutions.
2. The internal political division in Israel caused so much harms to our cause during the last 2 years that we should feel ourselves as much responsible for the spilt Jewish blood as the homicide bombers. What chance have we got when Sharon and Peres undermine each other? They are old. They belong to yesterday’s world. They have to unite and speak with one voice for the sake of our future survival. Bush and his advisors are exasperated. While America was blocking a UN enquiry into the Jennin operation Peres rushed to scupper that by declaring that he had no objection because we had nothing to hide. Indeed we have none. But before he spoke he had to understand the legal and political implications not only for Israel but also for American stand on the international surrounding the principles involved. And now while bush is trying so hard to convince the G8 leaders that Arafat cannot be a partner for peace Peres comes on BBC Newsnight stating that if and if and if then he can negotiate with Arafat. Why volunteer such opinion at this juncture even if it is sound? What a nightmare! Frankly Israel is desperate for political statesmen who can unite to address the world with one voice. Unfortunately Israel can only speak with one voice if its political structure is modified to produce a strong representative government, which speaks for a truly democratic and representative majority of the country. Now that the direct elections for the office of the Prime Minister is abolished the only other method is to adopt the proposed electoral reform which combines constituency and proportional representation. Such system has to be put in place before the next general elections in two years time. This question is as urgent and as vital as dealing with homicide bombers. Only such electoral reform can produce a strong government that can speak for the whole of Israel with one voice. (See the paper on Electoral Reform in Israel.)
3. The third problem facing Israel and indeed world Jewry is the need to retell and keep explaining the historical background which necessitated the creation of Israel. An organised and aggressive assault on World public opinion is needed (outlined in a previous synopsis) to remind the world of the Holocaust and the cleansing of the Jews from Arab countries to Israel. Otherwise we will not be able to negotiate a proper settlement with the Palestinians with regard to the future of Gaza, the security of our borders and specifically the question of the Palestinian Refugees. It is not the Arabs I fear. They are predictable. It is world public opinion led by anti-Semitic European media recently bolstered by misguided Jewish do-gooders and may be some even self-haters.

What is the link between Gaza and the Holocaust?
It is to do with the future security nay survival of Israel. Our comparative military strength today will not last forever. When we negotiate the future status of Gaza we must explain and emphasise our future fears to gain support for our plan. The evil axis of Gaza/Hebron will always threaten Israel dividing it in a pincer link or exposing its belly to bombers or missiles from both sides. There was a time even recently when we could have negotiated a settlement which could have in time diluted Gaza of its refugees leaving it a demilitarised municipality linked to Israel economically retaining Palestinian sovereignty. Our obsession with Judea and Samaria blinded us from hard realities. It is too late now. So what is the solution?
a) Under no circumstances should we agree to any bridge or tunnel or even a jointly policed corridor linking Gaza to the West Bank. Any link has to be a visa/passport-based arrangement for going in and out of the two territories. Israel should not be made to enter into any special long-term final status treaty in this respect. You never know when the conflict restarts irrespective of treaties and guarantees. Let us cast our mind to the pre not post Six-Day War situation of Israel.
b) Gaza and the West Bank can be two states or two countries or two entities linked together in a federation or confederation or any type of agreed union. They can of course also be two constituent parts of a single State. It is not up to Israel to decide or even be party to such decision. UN 242 and 338 ordered a reversion to the status quo anti which prevailed before the 1967 War. Gaza then belonged to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. Both have to be parties to the negotiations to restore the status quo anti. Israel will join in to negotiate adjustments to its borders for its security and the settlement of the Jerusalem question. Is that why Bush linked the names of Egypt and Jordan to the final negotiations for a Palestinian State? I wonder. If not, we should bring this up. Our objective should be to see evolving at least economic links of Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan making the two parts of Palestine gravitating towards these two countries away from Israel. Any future demographic pressure will thus not fall on Israel provoking renewal of conflict. This idea may sound far-fetched to some but it is of such obvious importance to our future security and survival that we must not dismiss it out of hand. Some people in Israel may resist this line of action because of the need for Arab labour. The answer is to negotiate labour employment with the future State of Palestine on ad hoc basis and not as part of the structure of the final status agreement under the Bush plan or vision. There is a real big danger facing us right now. The US expects us to open our borders to the territories to ameliorate the economic conditions in preparation for the proposed elections for the PA in six months’ time. We have to resist vehemently otherwise we will prejudice and jeopardise our future negotiations. We should help in any other way but not in opening doors that we definitely will not be able to close in future emergencies.
c) We have to insist on the demilitarising of Gaza.
d) We must negotiate Israel’s some rights to the sea adjoining the shoreline of Gaza to enable Israel’s navy to monitor shipping activities.

Is not this like giving the Palestinians two states for the price of one?
They already have two states Jordan and Palestine. They may as well end with three. Our consolation is that these will be three weak entities that in time will develop diverse identities and vested interests. We have provided this stage for them because we did not foresee beyond our arrogance for years after the Six-Day War. Then we compounded our mistakes by signing peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan releasing them of their troubles with the Palestinians to their ever relief and delight. And all this happened because we were fighting between ourselves. We are still doing this today and it is time to wake up and rectify some past mistakes. In the present atmosphere of terror we can be seen justified in using our economic card. We just say in view of the constant infiltration of homicide bombers we have to close our borders until the peace process is completed and the borders clearly defined and agreed.

In Conclusion
We are facing momentous decisions. The world and now the USA have decided to impose on us a Palestine based on almost all the territories. It is up to us to make the best of this bad job. Time is not working for us. Unless we respond quickly to establish facts on the ground we end up losing our future security and any hope of creating a situation of co-existence with our future neighbours. Both are essential for the survival of Israel.

Aharon Nathan, 28th June 2002

Monday 20 May 2002

Israel Arab Conflict (Consequences of Defensive Shield)

In the Aftermath of Defensive Shield - Q & A

Soon after my talk on 5th May 2002 analysing the three problems in Israel and following Operation Defensive Shield by Israel Army in the West Bank, many friends asked me for my reaction and specifically in what way this Operation has changed the dynamics of the conflict and affected the three problems facing Israel outlined by my talk on how to right the wrong in Israel.
Defensive Shield accentuated all the three problems(Borders Security, Government instability and Negative Image) brought them into focus and made their solutions even more urgent. Otherwise Defensive Shield did not change anything. What it did was to give Israel time-very limited time - to solve all the above three problems. Defensive Shield coupled with external circumstances created a window of opportunity that we have to use while still open. It may not be wide open for long.

What are these external factors or circumstances?
Initial reaction to Sept.11th was negative for Israel. The Arabs and specially the Palestinian radicals were emboldened. Many voices in the west and mainly in Europe sought to placate the Muslim world on the expense of Israel. Europe continues to do that. However the President’s decisive condemnation of terror and countries harbouring it, the American response and success in Afghanistan and the lack of clear support by the Arabs for that response restored American almost consensual support for Israel by the American Presidency, State Department, Congress and Media. This consensus may not last beyond the November elections for Congress. World media through Arab money and influence and under pressure from Europe is slowly changing tune and under State Department pressure may gain ascendancy.

How to proceed?
On the 1st problem that of our future security we have to define clear demarcation of the ultimate borders of Israel (not what is desired but what is possible) and to effect complete separation of the two states of Israel and future Palestine along these borders. Israel has to act unilaterally by walking out of Gaza and the West Bank leaving within the borders of Israel only those settlements, which are linked uninterruptedly to Israel and therefore easily defendable. Proposals by Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon although come from different directions in actual fact seem to point the same way as far as creating the basis for separate and clearly defined borders with future Palestine. What is imperative is to implement them without waiting or negotiating. In this way we can consolidate the American support and may regain some of the support we have completely lost in Europe. The words “occupation” and “humiliation” in the new jargon of TV spin proved to be the most lethal weapons in the hands of our enemies in the Middle East and in Europe. It is no use talking about right or wrong. We have lost the propaganda war and we need to assert and reassume our moral high ground. We can only achieve this by boldly and openly declaring our acceptance of a State of Palestine. Protracted interim arrangements will work against us by depriving us of any sympathy or support of most of the countries in the world.
Let us also not commit the same mistake again of organising and arming the new state. It is none of our business. We cannot prevent any future state from arming itself having failed to prevent such arming to take place under the Palestine Authority when under agreement with them at least we had the power to do that. Treaties in the hands of terrorists and dictators are merely pieces of paper. We need to establish hard defendable borders on the ground. The utmost we can ask for now is to demilitarise Gaza retaining sovereignty over the sea bordering it. Once we have proper borders with a proper sovereign neighbouring State of Palestine we can regulate the flow of economic workers from there to suit us. This is a real and tangible and effective weapon. That entails visas, work permits, pre-entry research etc. I believe a new situation of good secure fences will bring about support from progressive elements within the new state to seek the assistance of Israel. In fact the new situation will have far reaching consequences both on our relations in the region and our internal relationship with our own Arab Citizens.
Suicidal bombers have introduced a new dimension to the conflict. Post Sept. 11th gives a new definition to what security entails. The balance of casualties, the number game, has swung in the Palestinians favour hugely impacting on their confidence and psychology. They now believe rightly or wrongly that time is on their side. The hurried manner of our withdrawal from Lebanon has encouraged them. We have to remember that the Arab radicals believed and to a degree rightly so that their terror created the internal pressure in Israel which compelled us to withdraw from Lebanon. They are trying to repeat the same tactics and will intensify its use by sending their homicide bombers from all surrounding countries. It is now embedded in their mythology that they have kicked us out of Lebanon and it is only a question of time to kick us first out of the territories followed eventually and over a time by the whole of Israel a la Crusades fashion. Internal pressure in Israel is building up and few concerted suicide bombings co-ordinated simultaneously will cause it to implode and fulfil Arab expectations. We have to act before this happens since if it does it will confirm the efficacy of their strategy and make it impossible to build a peaceful co-existence in the future.
The consequences of Defensive Shield have generated hatred and mistrust on both sides that will take generations to heal. The do-gooders amongst us who rely on goodwill, morality and equity to reach the basis of a settlement with few like-minded individuals on the other side are misreading the mood and the psyche of the streets on both sides. Reading the London Guardian and meeting each other’s counterpart in comfortable English or Norwegian countryside may draw few individuals together but that is a long, long way from solving the problems, pain and hurt of ordinary people. Only clear separate borders can in time rekindle trust between these two peoples of two proud countries through trade, tourism, cultural exchanges and the like. Forget about similarities with other situations. We are not in Northern Ireland and anyway who are the Catholics and who are the Protestants in our conflict. Comparisons are dangerous and misleading. They may be good only for patching up tools in the hands of self-serving mediators. Please beware!

How can we just walk out? What about our economic interests? What about Arab workers whom we need in Israel and the Palestinians need of employment for their livelihood?
We have to decide our priorities. Closing our borders is a double-edged sword. But economic hardship on both sides is preferable to mutual slaughter. Moreover as it hits all the population it can concentrate the mind on solutions. First things first. We define our ultimate borders then we set out to strengthen and fortify them. And having declared and publicly explained our position and intention to recognise the new state we proceed to close the borders and hand over the territories except for Hebron to the present Palestine Authority reformed or corrupt. It is only then that we engage with them in bilateral negotiations for a series of treaties.
At the start of the negotiation whenever it happens the first and most urgent will be agreeing the borders which Israel would have established unilaterally on the ground. Our starting stage will be the status of Gaza. We insist that any agreement to reopen the borders here will be contingent on declaring Gaza a demilitarised entity with pre verifiable conditions. That will be our starting stage in the bilateral negotiation. Our weapon will be the pressure of closed borders.

This sounds crazy almost giving up what even some Arabs are not contemplating. Is this a solution for Israel or for the Palestinians?
Any solution has to be good for both sides in the long run. However my proposal is only concerned with the security present and future of Israel. I believe that we are standing at a crossroad with regard not only of the safety of Israel but also with the future survival of our Jewish heritage that is dependent and intertwined with the future of Israel. The recent manifestations of the hostile attitudes of Europe, governments and peoples (U.K. and Denmark excepted) is far more disturbing than that of the Arabs who of course should be predicted. Once we reach a settlement with the Palestinians we would be amazed to find them far more reliable friends than the Europeans especially if we treat them and the Arabs of Israel with dignity as genuine and equal friends. I believe that the Palestinians have over the last twenty years learnt far more about us and about their so-called Arab brothers in the Arab countries than we realise and understand. They have particularly seen how much Jordan had gained in contrast to Syria by being supportive of America and neutral towards Israel. Once peace is established the progressive Palestinians will find more in common with democratic modern western orientated Israel than they have with the dictators and the corrupt regimes of almost every Arab country.

Where do the Arabs of Israel fit into this picture?
In the same way that we should not lump the Palestinians with other Arabs living elsewhere we should not lump the Arabs of Israel with others. They are content where they are and would like to identify with Israel if given the chance. We must be careful not to see them as the simple villagers of the pre-1948 era. They have progressed since as we have done. We should treat them sensibly honourably and as equal citizens the way Jews and other ethnic groups are treated in, for example, tolerant “Christian” Britain. We should enlist them in the IDF but avoid taking them into sensitive units and the Air Force on account of the understandable justification of avoiding them having to fight their own relatives across the border. Modern Armies depend increasingly on specialised units that can be restricted to Jews. As for their social and political integration the proposed electoral system will help in that direction. Even today given the chance they would have been of immense value if a number of them were to be assigned to our key embassies in the West. They would have been proud to parade themselves as Israelis. I believe they could in time constitute our bridge to the neighbouring Palestinians and to the wider Arab world.

What about the rest of the Arab world?
Once Israel withdraws from the territories the sting will go out of the propaganda venom of the Arabs and their supporters in Europe. They will try to sabotage any bilateral agreement with the Palestinians. They are not going to like losing the Palestinian card and the Israel bogey to divert the attention of their peoples and their streets away from their corrupt regimes and hopeless governments. We have to counter this by exposing their weaknesses. And of course each country has its own problems so there is no “fix fits all” in our treatment of our future relations with them. For the sake of continuing to receive financial aid from the West at least Egypt and Jordan will heat up their cold peace with Israel. Others will follow which may leave isolated Syria to seek settlement.

What about Jerusalem and Hebron ?
We separate Jerusalem from East Jerusalem and start to call it Al-Quds. Then again just hand over to the Palestinian Authority those parts which we are prepared to give up as last resort even before any negotiations. These must include the Mosque. Meantime we must literally while it is in our hand erect a wall, a battlement wall in the middle of the courtyard of the Mosque to protect the Kothel-Wall and the Jewish worshippers below. We must assert and declare our sovereignty of this battlement structure and the area on our side of it. This is possible today but will not be so later on. This time let us use the cards we hold. The world would understand us and accept our action in today’s atmosphere of terror and homicide bombers. They will not tolerate this action tomorrow in quieter times.
As for Hebron we declare now that once an arrangement can be made with the new State of Palestine to ensure the safety of the settlers as Israeli citizens living in Palestine as Foreign Residents Israel IDF will withdraw after an agreed period of say one or two years. Only a clear declaration now can diffuse the perilous situation of the settlers, avoid more slaughter, and gain the sympathy of the outside world.

But the Palestinians or Yasser Arafat would not agree to play ball?
The principle of this scenario is to act unilaterally. Establish facts on the ground as our ultimate concessions and negotiate the details of a treaty with Palestine afterwards. An urgent action is needed while we have the support of the President and Congress. You never know what may happen tomorrow. Let us deploy our army to seal our borders and secure the lives of our people inside those borders instead of using it to demolish few buildings which will be better designed and rebuilt by Western money. And let us do that while discredited Yasser Arafat is there. We will be under far more pressure if say an articulate Saeb Erekat or a moderate replaces him. Let us concentrate on rebuilding our shattered economy. We must abandon the idea of reorganising the Palestine Authority. The dream that Palestinian police or security organ will defend our borders from suicide or rocket bombing is naïve to the point of tragic misunderstanding of the present mood in the “occupied” territories. We will never have security that way. The aftermath of Oslo and later on of Clinton should have taught us some lessons. Let the factions in the territories fight it out between themselves. Eventually they will settle down and they may very well settle down in a confederation with Jordan. While we are interfering we are preventing the progressive elements amongst them from gaining power. Let us keep out of it. In the new scenario they will need Israel. And those in the West who want to help them will need Israel’s goodwill as a neighbour for economic not political reasons. I believe that ultimately our best friends after the Americans will be the Palestinians themselves and certainly not Europe. It will dawn on the Palestinians that their best friend is their western neighbour. We shall both see Europe for what it is and what it is showing itself to be nowadays i.e. anti-Semitic and racist. In this respect at least we have something in common with the Arabs. Jews in Europe should make this common ground to be felt both by Europe and by the many Arabs living there. Let us get to the hearts of the Arabs through co-operation in this area and not through arming or organising the security arms of the new State. We must remember that the enemies of the people in all Arab countries are their own secret services and their armies. We do not want to be associated with them in the eyes of their people in the way for example we did in Iran and lost so much as a consequence. Let us not be the tool of Western interests. We are not even helping anybody that way certainly not our American friends.

What about the refugees and their right of return?
This is the one question that we should be clear and adamant about. We have taken more Jewish refugees from Arab countries than Palestinian refugees left what today is Israel. We must make this clear and keep saying it. Whatever are the circumstances of refugee movements on both sides we have to deal with the outcome and not talk of reversing it. For the sake of the ultimate success of any future negotiation and the future survival of Israel we must declare that this is the one question which is out of the question. Anybody in Israel who is prepared to negotiate this subject must have his head examined.
There are some comfortable Jews outside Israel and more importantly there are Israeli Jews who believe Israel should become a secular country of its inhabitants. Let us not volunteer to be the first. Let us follow others may be in 25th century! when may be the Arab and Islamic countries and even Europe not excluding the U.K become secular or at least not identified with any religion. We have to remain the Jewish State that is the refuge of last resort of persecuted Jews. We must not allow Israel to be diluted further. Tolerant Israel yes, un-Jewish Israel no. We must stop being ashamed of our heritage and our identity. Therefore we must resist any further Jewish dilution.

What about the problem of electoral reform and the stability of Israeli Governments i.e. no. 2 problem outlined in the referred discussion?
This is becoming even more urgent and our divided front vis-à-vis the outside world during Defensive Shield made a change absolutely imperative. The present coalition with its backbone of Shraron/Peres/Ben-Eliezer have 18 months to introduce the new system. It will be a case of historical criminal negligence committed against the Jewish people by Likud/Labour if they do nothing about it. This is a case of putting the country nay the Jewish future survival before party politics. Enough is enough. Our incessant division and political in fighting are exasperating our friends and making us the laughing stock of our enemies. We ask Yasser Arafat to reform his political structure. What about him asking us to do the same to make any peace enduring!? What shall we say to him if he simply ask us the startling question: what is the difference between SheikhYassin in Gaza and Chief Rabbi Ovadiah in Jerusalem!! The case for electoral reform may not sound that urgent or important when viewed against pressing daily dangers facing Israel. In fact it has as much relevance as any outside danger facing us. It is rotting our socio-political structure and driving our best talent away from the Kenesset and government. The new proposals will force future politicians to seek their support in the regions and amongst the people away from the chatty cafes of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

What about the third problem highlighted in the synopsis i.e. that of our appalling public relations.
This is probably the saddest part. Here we are the people who produced the fathers of propaganda and P.R. namely Durkheim Freud and Bernays have failed abysmally in defending Israel’s case before and especially during Defensive Shield. Even now we have not recovered from all the faux pas we have stumbled in or failed to avoid. The only two persons who made any impact were Peres for substance and Nethanyahu for form. Unfortunately Peres was out of place in New York and Nethanyahu was out of place in Trafalgar Square! We could not even get the juxtaposition right! We really should spend time and resources in this area. May be we should find out who the Palestinians are employing and try to hire them! We need urgently to address this problem and highlight the points outlined in the discussion. Let us use the weapons of the Holocaust and the Arab cleansing of their Jews from their countries. We have paid so dearly for these two weapons and they are rusting away.

Some may say that there seem to be so many contradictions and inconsistency in the above arguments i.e. We are enemies and friends of the Arabs. We are strong and we are weak. We want to keep what we can of the territories and we should give up most of it. Are we with Sharon/Ben-Eliezer or with Sarid/Beilin or worse are we the new defeatists?
We are none of the above. There is no inconsistency. There may be poor presentation of the argument. I concede that but we must be careful not to mix form and content. My point of departure is the future survival of Israel that I believe is synonymous with that of the Jewish People and Jewish heritage. Israel today is facing unprecedented danger. To overcome it we have to think with our heads not our hearts. We have to see the realities of our situation not the wishful thinking of our ambitions. The Palestinians have changed the rules of engagement and the world is unconcerned. They don’t need a huge army any more. They need few daring and punch drunk fanatics not necessarily to carry bombs that we may or may not intercept in time. Biological and chemical weapons can be easily carried in small tubes by beautiful and innocent looking teenagers. The world has not yet experienced this horror yet. Unfortunately innovations seem always to be tried on Israel first – aeroplane hijacking, suicidal bombing and tomorrow biological or chemical warfare. Our urgent response now must be two pronged: close the borders properly and seek an acceptable peace that can prepare the ground for neighbourly friendship. There is no alternative. And remember we have become an endangered species of 12 million squeezed between one thousand million Muslims and similar number of Christians. We cannot afford to play the number game with the Arabs when one suicide bomber kills tens and maims hundreds. This is a game too far.
This is a program based on hard and harsh realities not on ideals and aspirations.

Aharon Nathan, May 2002

Tuesday 5 March 2002

Israel Arab Conflict (Three Problems in Israel)

Solutions to Border Security, Political Stability and Negative Image

The daily news from Israel is getting more and more alarming. It is only natural that we Jews would react emotionally and angrily and try to search for a quick fix. However such quick fixes in the past proved to be short lived and made future permanent solutions more difficult. Successive Israeli Governments worked on the assumption that time was on their side. Recent development, from Oslo onwards, the opposite became true. The Arabs feel today that they have discovered the recipe for success i.e. guerrilla warfare coupled with propaganda onslaught on Western TV’s.

Since the 6-day war Israel has achieved wonders in building a strong economy, an up-to-date technology, an invincible army and above all a real haven in time of need for the Jewish People. Tragically these achievements are being eroded now day by day owing mainly to three dangers which are corroding the future survival and viability of a Jewish State. These are:

Problem No. 1: Security of Borders
In the heart of this problem of the security of Israel’s borders is the cancer of Gaza which sits on the geographical belly of Israel and together with Hebron forms an axis of evil which divides the country in two halves. The fate of the isolated settlements on the West Bank looks precarious and untenable. The heart of Israel becomes vulnerable to attacks by suicide bombers or long distant rockets. A rational solution to resolve these problems has to be perceived and seen by both sides to be logical and in their mutual interest. And above all it has to look to the outside world to be fair in the circumstances.

The solution lies in moving the Capital and therefore the centre of gravity of the new State of Palestine to the West Bank (Ramallah or East-Jerusalem) and endeavour to resettle the refugees living now in the Gaza Refugee Camps outside leaving a demilitarised Gaza with its original inhabitants. All this is to be part of the overall settlement with the Palestinians. And together with realistic arrangements for the Hebron enclave becoming a community of Palestinian Jews or Israeli Residents within and subject to the sovereignty of Palestine and with similar status for some of the existing Settlements will end up with reasonably defendable borders.

Problem No. 2: Reform of the Electoral System
The present electoral system of Israel based on pure proportional representation has over the years pulverised the Jewish population and prevented it from integrating its big Arab minority into the body politic causing the latter to be the fifth column that it is virtually today. More importantly it rendered a stable Government of the country almost impossible. Israeli Jews are nowadays divided culturally and politically. They are diametrically opposed to each other even in their attitudes to security and foreign policy matters. No wonder the Government itself is speaking in so many voices giving mixed messages to friend and foe. The Arabs are taking advantage of this situation and Europe exploits it for their regional interests while venting their pent-up anti-Semitic impulses in the bargain.

The Solution is a new electoral system based on a combined Proportional Representation and Constituency system, which is easy to operate and can be acceptable to the two big Parties:Likud and Labour. With Labour Peres and Likud Sharon co-operating in the present government it will be possible to advocate it. In fact it is an opportunity which may be lost unless introduced in this Kennesset ready for the next general election.

The proposed system is based on dividing the country into 120 constituencies that elect 120 members of the Kenesset. And in addition another 30 members are elected by adding the votes cast for the unsuccessful candidates and allocating them on a proportional basis amongst the political parties out of their pre-announced lists of their candidates in the constituencies. Details of this proposal can show that it is simple to operate and practical. This is a completely new and innovative system, which Israel can pioneer and it can be, adapted in other democratic countries e.g. the U.K. where a change of electoral system in the opposite direction is called for. This system can over time cause to integrate the Arabs of Israel into its political life.

Problem No. 3: Israel’s World Image
This is the poor almost pathetic way which Israel’s information organs are presenting and advancing Israel’s case throwing away the two main underlying raisons d’être for the very existence of Israel: i.e. the persecution of the Jews in Europe culminating in the Holocaust and the treatment of the Jews in the Arab countries and the ethnic cleansing by them to Israel. Not only the world has forgotten this because they don’t want to remember but also because we ourselves don’t remind them. So we are left with Israel the aggressor the dispossessing and inhumane. And not only Arabs say this today but almost the whole of Europe and worst of all many Jewish "intellectuals" both inside Israel and outside. Any TV viewer can contrast the articulate and vocal Palestinian spokesmen with the Israeli halting apologetic defensive and almost lost for words in their responses.

The Solution is an offensive on a large scale to take on Arab propaganda European hypocrisy and above all the emerging Jewish intellectualism trying to curry favour in the West disdaining their heritage following their counter-parts in Germany in the twenties and thirties who thought that Goethe and Beethoven could take care of Anti Semitism and Nazism. We should not be abashed or ashamed in reminding the world of what happened to necessitate the existence of Israel. In modern days of spin and emotional appeals we cannot afford in our responses to be the gentle the clinically pure the refined. All Nations know and certainly the Arabs have realised the potency of the propaganda war. Unfortunately for the Jewish People we don’t even need propaganda. We just need to tell historical truths without inhibition or fear. We are at war.
To the Arabs we say: You ethnically-cleansed your old Jewish communities who preceded you in your countries. Why can Arabs live in Israel but not one single Jew can even visit any part of Arabia Iraq Syria let alone contemplate living as a foreign resident even in Jordan or Egypt. The Arabs have succeeded in making their appalling ethnic and religious prejudices acceptable even to the most enlightened and tolerant segments of society in the West. It is shocking how these views are taken for granted. The world forgot or did not know that the number of Jewish refugees taken by Israel far exceeds the Palestinian refugees.

To Europe we say: Please don’t lecture us on morality and human behaviour. You have caused the emergence of Israel. And the best way to help is to try to be friends to both sides, not to sit in judgement on Israel. You cannot choose to be neutral. You were party to the problem. The world and not least the Jews living in security and comfort for the time being in Europe have to know that the Israelis cannot afford to let Israel to be a big Ghetto or a concentration camp waiting for a Final Solution. These are harsh words but they have to be said loud and clear otherwise we may have only ourselves to blame in 10/20 years time.

Aharon Nathan, June 2001