Has the Israeli-Palestinian peace process received new wind in its sails at the Annapolis Conference in November? How much success can we expect from the recent visit of Vice President Dick Cheney to Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas?
There exists a grim view, not only regarding the establishment of peace and harmony in the Middle East, but also in regard of the longevity of the State of Israel as a Jewish homeland. There is little secret why the Bush Administration has waited seven years before making its first attempt to act as peacemaker: The futility of any such attempt was obvious as all previous efforts have ended in failure and there were and still are no new strategies known to heal that conflict.
During the past six decades – the lifetime of Israel – we have witnessed seven wars, beginning with the Palestine War of 1948/9 and ending in the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. In addition, there was a continuous chain of armed exchanges, filling in the interwar periods and often running one on top of the other. We know them all, the cross-border gunfights, raids, suicide bombings, retaliatory missile attacks, drawn-out intifadas and so much more. The bitter belligerence spread across their borders, if you remember the OPEC oil embargo, hijackings, the Lebanese Civil War of 1975/6, or the Hezbollah bombings of American, French, and Italian troops in Beirut in 1983. To the extent that my survey was accurate, only a single year, 1961, was free of any armed exchange and was truly peaceful. That would be one year out of sixty.
During the same six decades, there have occurred over fifty international attempts of peacemaking such as United Nations Security resolutions, armistices, peace treaties and blue-helmeted UN soldiers occupying buffer zones. In spite of this plethora of such goodwill interventions by the major powers and other countries, the appalling level of mutual rancor has not diminished one iota. There is no conflict in the world that has received as much international attention as this one – over fifty in sixty years – nor has any country been subjected to uninterrupted hostility for such a time period.
It sounds cynical to say this but it is merely a logical conclusion: The way things stand and with the methods used so far, the conflict will neither be resolved in another twenty years, nor in fifty.
In addition, we are confronted with the all-too obvious demographic problem. The higher birthrate of the Israeli Arabs over that of the Jewish Israelis, even if we disregard the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza, forecasts a time in the not too distant future when the Jews will be a minority in their own country. Expressed politely, that ominous evolution puts the permanence of the Jewish homeland in the land of Zion in undeniable doubt.
You may wonder why, despite our loyalty to the Israelis, I paint the devil on the wall in such a seemingly cynical manner. One reason is that it never pays off to fool oneself. Ignoring the facts will never eliminate the problem. But I have a much more important reason. I have come upon a possible solution, one – if good fortune stands by our side – which would resuscitate our failing endeavors with unimaginable vigor. It is an intervention that is most extraordinary and that to a degree where many people would look at it as totally unrealistic, yet instead it does becomes very realistic, once we have accepted the grim view of Israel’s future as described above. In effect, it says that the only way to cure the State of Israel’s maladies and to save it for a permanent and happy future, after all previous treatments have failed, is for it to undergo a surgical operation. The name of that operation is the transplantation of the State of Israel to the shores of the Baltic Sea.
Yes, I did say it is extraordinary. It is unheard of. It almost sounds politically incorrect. Many will call it preposterous and absurd. But it is thinking outside the box and that’s what we do when confronting an unacceptable alternative. I have described it, and the reasoning behind it, in a short book entitled Quo Vadis, Israel? It is best to read it adopting the attitude of a patient who is informed by his physician that his disease is incurable and that in the end it will be fatal. Once faced by such a prognosis, it is common for us to eagerly consider even radical cures. The way it looks at present, such a major undertaking would be highly successful with few risks and offering the promise of a permanent cure. Its execution could be launched without delay if it weren’t its extraordinariness. As described in the book, nothing can commence until the incredulity of the Israelis and the Russians has been overcome and the concept has undergone thorough discussion.
I won’t give the secret away, for you would not enjoy the book unless you are truly concerned about Israel’s future and have been searching for a possible solution yourself. But if you actually were to read it and do so with earnest interest, you might recognize a promising light at the end of a frightening tunnel.
H. Peter Nennhaus, a retired surgeon and Illinois resident, was raised in Berlin and became a U.S. citizen in 1961. He is the author of Boyhood, the 1930s and World War II, Memories, Comments and Views from the Other Side. Among his various interests, the study of the history of the 20th century, the Holocaust, and anti-Semitism has been a persistent focus. You can visit him on the web at http://outskirtpress.com/quovadisisrael