Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Israel: A solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

For thousands of years, Jews and Arabs have been unable to live peacefully side by side. How naive for the United Nations to have placed Israel so it is surrounded by the massively larger Arab world. (Israel is the tiny yellow sliver in the map's center.)

The Israelis, from Day One, aspired to be a modern, largely secular democracy, while much of the surrounding Arab/Muslim world lives much like it did the Dark Ages, for example, with extreme fundamentalism required on penalty of death, with women in burkas, where children are taught they will get to have sex with 41 virgins if they strap dynamite to themselves and blow up a Jewish cafe and all the people in it.

Can we be optimistic that these two peoples will live side-by-side in enduring peace? In a world in which the surrounding countries, far larger, receive worldwide acceptance of being completely Muslim states but Israel is told it cannot, with its tiny sliver of desert, have a Jewish state, an island of safety from the millennia of attempts at the destruction of the Jewish people: from Ancient Rome through the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and, from the moment the United Nations gave Israel that sliver of desert, continued bombardment from Arab and other Muslim entities?

And the trend is accelerating. The Palestinian people made their intentions toward Israel loud and clear when it elected Hamas to be its government, a terrorist group whose very charter calls for the destruction of Israel. And the president of nuclear Iran calls for Israel's obliteration.

I believe the best solution to the Palestinian/Israeli crisis is for another country with ample unused land such as the U.S., Canada, or Australia to offer an Israel-sized sliver of low-value land as the New Israel.

A reasonable choice would be a piece of the low-cost forest land 50 to 100 miles north of New York City, the city with the largest concentration of Jews, and a country in which antisemitism is relatively low. Countries set aside much larger swaths merely to protect trees or wildlife, so it is reasonable to assume that at least one country would offer a sliver to protect humans. That is especially likely because the donor country would become an instant worldwide hero for solving the age-old Arab-Israeli conflict, thereby reducing the global threat of Islamic terrorism. Plus, New Israel would become that country’s deeply indebted ally. That is significant because Israel, for example, is an acknowledged world leader in how to defend against terrorism, something, alas, of ever increasing importance.

Of course, it’s possible that no country would give that sliver to the Israelis. After all, Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused even to accept a ship of Holocaust victims during World War II. But I believe the chances of a country donating that sliver are far greater than the chances of the Palestinians and Israelis peacefully living side-by-side.

All Israeli citizens would be given the option to move to New Israel. Low-income people could apply for help with moving expenses. The World Bank, G-8, or other consortium would fund that. Of course, some Israelis would elect to remain in Israel, but over time, many would emigrate to New Israel or other countries. That would peaceably transition the current Israel/Palestine into a Palestinian-run state with too few Jews to engender significant conflict.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, I, better than many, understand that many Israelis would find it difficult to trade their historical homeland for a new one, but to save lives and ensure ongoing peace, I believe it is a compromise worth making.

I attended a Passover Seder last night. During the discussion, consensus was that further dialogue is the best path to peace. We've had dialogue for 60 years, indeed 3,000 years--the result has been an increase in enmity. And time is the Israelis' enemy. The Palestinian birthrate is much greater than the Israelis' and while Israeli schoolchildren are being educated in the importance of peace, Palestinian children are educated in the wisdom of becoming suicide bombers.

I'd much sooner bet on New Israel as a path to peace than trying to resolve a 3,000-year-long enmity.


Anonymous said...

Marty, this good as an exercise in fantasy (the reality is that in practical terms it would work). But the UN must have thought about this back when they installed the Jewish state right smack in the Middle East.

The US government and people, while much less anti-Semitic than most countries, would never allow itself to become an umbrella for another nation in a non-emergency situation, even if that nation is Israel.

Hell, we couldn't even bring over some Haitians who lost everything without some libertarians spewing the bile about immigration! You think the nation, or any nation, would be ready to acommodate the Jewish population from Israel and call itself the New Israel in US ground? You know better than that.

It's a good exercise in thought, but no more than that. If it wasn't offered to the Israelis back in the day, less probabilities of that ever happening now.

Anonymous said...

The UN was barely moving at the time of the creation of Israel, and I don't think they thought about this at all.

Modern Israel was put in motion by the British and French in the '20s as part of the process of dividing spoils of WWI. The UN formalized what was already, to use the modern term, a fact on the ground.

The presentation in Lawrence of Arabia of how few people in the Middle East were actually consulted about the Anglo-French plans is fairly accurate. Israel was conceived as a nice way to do voluntary apartheid (get Jews to leave Europe) and finish off unsettled Crusades business.

There has always been a European blindness to who lives outside of Europe and what their lands mean to them. This is obvious in the history of the US and in the shapes of the borders of some African countries (the long, straight, topography-and-history ignoring borders in many places - this was folks at a table in Paris with a straightedge.)

Anonymous said...

Even if there were a "New Israel", Iran would still want to wipe it off the face of the planet with nuclear weapons. There still would be terrorism and anti-semitism.

The lineage of the Jewish people and the land in dispute is intertwined. You cannot separate the two. If there is a "New Israel", would Passover be cancelled? Would the accounts of Exodus have to be adjusted to reflect the "New Israel"?

The only place safe for Jews is Israel. A new wave of anti-semitism is rising and no one wants to stop it. America is exiting the world stage with neither the will nor the ability to fight for Israel. Europe is stained with the blood of millions of Jews and has learned nothing from history. China has no interest in defending the Jews. Russia is tied in with the Arabs and Africans in their relentess pursuit of the destruction of Israel.

We have learned nothing from the past and that is our problem.

Shawn said...

Why don't wealthy Jews get together (Jews represent 139 people out of 400 on the Fortune 400 despite being 2% of the US population) and buy a bunch of private land in South America, Madagascar, or anywhere in a so-called "third-world" area. This land would be relatively cheap and theland usually has a lot of nice natural resources to utilize. This private land could be purchased with the understanding that a nation-state would be constructed. Because Ashkenazi Jewish people usually do extremely well on standardized tests, they would be able to build a "first-world" community quick quickly.

Interested in what you think...

Marty Nemko said...

Fine idea, Shawn. Thanks. I think I prefer New Israel being under in the U.S. but what you propose feels better to me than keeping Israel where it is.

Anonymous said...

Shawn's proposal essentially rehashes what Theodore Herzl tried to do. I have a hard time coming up with a place that would sell off a chunk of itself for the creation of a brand-new country - especially a brand-new country which would be wealthy, powerful and nuclear armed.

Another possibility to consider as a thought experiment: for some time now there have been Libertarian suggestions that a large number of like-minded people move to New Hampshire in order to dominate the political process there. (The Free State Project.)

I am not sure how many Israeli citizens and residents have United States citizenship, but for the sake of argument let's assume it is more than 100,000.

If 1/5th of those folks moved to New Hampshire, they would comprise a voting bloc the size of which the Free State Project thinks would be needed to begin making dramatic changes in state law and attitudes.

Obviously this would not in itself make New Hampshire a New Israel, but it would certainly be enough to change the political dynamics of a small (1.3 M population) state dramatically.

If, twenty years after the initial returnees moved to New Hampshire, they, their children and others who came to join comprised a majority of the New Hampshire electorate and voted to secede in order that New Hampshire law could be changed to formally implement Jewish law, etc. -- what would the response of the United States be?

Dave said...

"The lineage of the Jewish people and the land in dispute is intertwined. You cannot separate the two."


Although I think Dr. Nemko's solution is the best one, I understand the point Anonymous is making. The Jewish people have a historical and spiritual claim to that land. Unfortunately, as long as the Jews are occupying it, the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world will never let them live in peace. The withdrawal from Gaza and southern Lebanon has emboldened Israel's enemies, and Obama's decision to drive the Israelis back behind indefensible borders -- the Armistice Line/pre-'67 borders -- is clearly detrimental to Israel's security and will endanger the lives of many more Israeli citizens.

If I lived in Israel, I would want to leave.

I believe it was Stalin who first floated the Madagascar proposal.

STDog said...

The people in Israel will not move to another place. The name isn't important, it's the physical land.

They would never leave the land that Moses led them too. They will never leave the location of David's city and Solomon's Temple.

Anonymous said...

I have heard this idea once before, and I admit that I really don't know the history very well. I can't help but think that if leaving and going somewhere else was that simple, more people would have done it and New Israel or its equivalent would be reality by now.

Shawn said...

With liberal groups like the SPLC up in arms when groups of people self-segregate by choice, I can only imagine their reaction to a New Israel in the USA. Since Israel was set up as an explicitly Jewish homeland, I assume the same would be the case under New Israel. The idea that it would be a Jews only (or majority) ethnostate would drive the liberal types up the wall, especially since American money would be supporting the state within the American state, a state that supports segregation. (Can you imagine CNN's reaction?) The benefit of New Israel in America would be that Israel would be under America's protective shield, but I just have a tough time believing in the likelihood of New Israel being created in the US.

Anonymous said...

I think the only problem with this idea is that, wherever New Israel is set up, the Israelis will outperform the natives, at least on intellectual work. In today's world, IQ matters a lot more than brawn, and would likely lead to increased desperation for people on the left half of the bell curve.

This might produce a lot of resentment among the natives, as they watch their children work their butts off and get nowhere, while the Israeli kids get more prestigious jobs, due to their higher native ability.

I know that the Dominican Republic was one of only two countries who actively recruited Jews in the decade between Hitler's swearing-in and the Holocaust. The other was China. Maybe there's some area of Asia (Laos? Cambodia?) which would be willing to house a New Israel.

Anonymous said...

Nemko has a point, especially having the perspective of parents who survived the Holocaust. To people who went through that, the only point is survival as a people now matter where you go.You have to start questioning whether it's more important to have a piece of land than it is to exist as a people. I don't think many Israelis look at this way because of the domination of their politics by right-wing elements that would never entertain such an idea. It would also seem like a failure, to some in a secular sense and others in a religious sense. But sentiments aside, it is the kindest choice for a persecuted minority. Hopefully the Roma people might get a deal too.

Anonymous said...

Please please please learn your high school history. Oh wait, the education in this country is so bad that you probably never learned about the middle east, eh?

Jews and Arabs have never had any problems living side by side until after world war I. During muslim control of spain, jews were considered much more trustworthy than the christians who lived there. Jews also lived in palestine for years, speaking arabic but practicing judaism, and there never was a problem.

You want somebody to blame for the bullshit going on in the middle east? Someone to blame for the anger felt by every single arab man and woman?
Blame the british for their callousness and greed after the first world war. The british, who lied to the arabs who were key to winning the war–destroying the hejaz railroad, therefore stopping the ottoman forces from joining up with the german forces stationed in northern africa, who would have then taken the suez canal and halted all british expeditions to their colonies–by promising them independence after they finished their revolt against the ottomans. Instead, the ancient arab lands were divided up between the french and the british.

Why are the countries so strange, with their jagged and artificial boundaries? blame the british, who had no clue as to how arab culture functioned.

The easy migration for jews to palestine (especially after hitler gained power) instigated the violence that is still there today. Tell me, if 40,000 mexicans suddenly came to your pretty californian hometown in just one year, you would be angry too?

I'm not gonna tell you any more. You ought to know this. You're educated–don't resort to sensationalism and misinformed rants.

Anonymous said...

And yes, I'm Jewish. Do I think that the jews should be kicked out? or all the arabs should be kicked out? no. But nothing in this world functions like that. It's once you understand the situation, the causes and the REAL problems, that you can try to find a solutions.

Anonymous said...

Stalin tried that.
For some reason Jews did not like it.

owaish said...

israel will be end up from map one day .the day is very near to destrioy and attack by iran and all jewish will be killed as well as us no longer safe

Anonymous said...

Palestine is a spiritual homeland of Jews, not necessarily genetic for most of them, as per Arthur Koestler and many other Jewish and Gentile historians (Shlomo Sand in particular):