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’ĂȘtre 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