Trip Report: Israel | Большие Идеи

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Report: Israel


Trip Report: Israel

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I volunteer every year now to deliver three full days of lectures to the Israeli Defense College. That is where up and coming colonels are sent for a year to study before they get the rank of general and other leaders of the civil service who are up for promotion attend.

I feel that is my chance to make some impact on what is happening in Israel and also to test my methodology on a national scale and see how people react to my thoughts and conclusions. (In recognition, I, a sergeant during my service, was promoted to the honorary rank of Major by the Israeli Defense Forces. )

There are two Israels. The one you experience when you are there and the one you understand when you are away from Israel.

When in Israel you can not not be impressed with the might of the country, with its growth and success. The highways, the high rises, the hotels …it is impressive and there is no doubt that it is a very advanced and developed country. Visiting companies you feel you are in the epicenter of a world power. Elbit, my client from the past, is now the tenth largest military electronics company in the world. Amdocs is the leading company world wide in billing software for cellular telephones and they are going into network computing to compete with Oracle. Amdocs employs fifteen thousand employees world wide. This is a success story even without mentioning that Israel is one of the top Internet development countries in the world and one of the top countries with presence in the United States stock markets. And Israelis own the Plaza Hotel in NY and are opening the largest hotels in Las Vegas and investing in Real Estate in Moscow and on and on and on… Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Intel …all have their research entities in Israel. Some of the greatest inventions and innovations of Microsoft and Intel were developed in Israel. And Warren Buffet who for sure is not an emotional investor, invested four billion dollars by buying control of an Israeli firm. Israeli shekel is recognized now as one of the top ten stable currencies in the world and Israel’s economic growth is among the best in the world.

So how can Israel be in danger for its existence?

That you can understand only when you are away from Israel. When you are there, you get blinded by what you see. You get a sense of false security because of all this success I described above. This sense of security gets evaporated only when you leave the country and analyze it from a distance.

Israel is going to have its Arab population as a majority of the country and it will happen in our lifetime. The exact timing can not be predicted. It depends on how large will be the immigration to Israel from countries experiencing anti-Semitism. The Arabs should have been a majority already by now, according to the statistics I read when I was a student, but it was averted with the massive Jewish immigration from the former Soviet Union. To be more precise. It was not averted. It was postponed.

It is ironic that the Israeli almost welcome anti-Semitism. With a wry smile they say : “so what are they doing there. They should make aliya, ie immigrate to Israel.” While for the Jews in the Diaspora anti-Semitism is something to dread, the Israeli see it as the hope for the Jewish state to remain Jewish.

But if such a massive immigration happens, than it means that there was massive anti Semitism. I wonder how much I welcome such a solution for Israel’s existence. Having a whole country’s existence as intended be based on fear that the world will hate us at no end? Is that a sustainable solution? And even if that happens, anti Semitism does not end at the border of the country which is experiencing it. It will be tough for Israel too, one way or another. The Jews will congregate into a new getho, this time the size of a country rather the size of a quarter of the city. But still it is a getho and under attack not only by the neighbors but by many other anti semitic countries world wide. Not a pretty prospect.

If such massive immigration does not happen it is inevitable that the Arabs will become a significant majority in Israel. They are already expanding into what traditionally were Jewish settlements. Upper Nazareth which was built for the Jews because Nazareth itself was Arabic and unwelcoming Jews, parts of it are now inhabited by Arabs who are expanding fast. Carmiel, which was established to bring Jewish settlers to the Galilee is now increasingly populated by Arabs. In Jaffa, which is part of Tel Aviv, Saudi millionaires are buying land and Arabs are not selling to Jews...

So, I asked aloud in my lecture, are the Jewish Israeli building the country for the Arabs? Eventually it is going to be a Palestinian majority. The Arabs have a high reproduction rate and only the orthodox Jews have a similar reproduction rate. But they do not serve in the army and some of them are anti Zionist believing that only the messiah has the right to establish a Jewish state. The most extreme of them even cooperate with the most radical Palestinians and even attended the Iranian convention and supported the theme of the convention that the holocaust never happened. For the secular Jews this is a no win situation. Either the Palestinians or the orthodox Jews will be the majority and the secular Israeli will be the minority no matter what. Eventually their political dominance of the country is doomed to disappear. What than? What can Israel do to avoids this bleak prediction which, believe it or not, is not in the so distant future?

There are two choices to start with, as I see it. One is for Israel to start now and proactively work on changing its culture to became a co national country where the Arabs are as equal in everything to the Jews, and that means changing the flag and the anthem which are pure Jewish, and have Hebrew and Arabic be the official languages that every one has to speak fluently, something like Switzerland where French and Germans and Italians live in peace. That is what de Clerk did in South Africa and then the Jews will somehow survive with an Arab majority, if you can believe that. The second choice is to insist that Israel IS and must remain a Jewish state and in that case in order to prevent the Arabs from becoming a majority, to exchange populations and transfer all Arabs with their land and territory into the emerging Palestinian state and in exchange make the Jewish settlements from the west bank be part of Israel.

None of these solutions seems palatable. “Impossible” they said to me in Israel. Israelis will never abandon the Zionist vision of Israel as a Jewish state. It was established to be the homeland of all the Jews world wide; When they feel threatened anywhere, they have a home to go to. Also it is inconceivable to exchange territories either. Interestingly the Israeli Arabs do not want to live in Palestine. They fight that the borders of the Palestinian state that are being discussed now, not include them. Also, it means giving up the Galilee to the Palestinians. It will be impossible to democratically convince Israelis to do so. A transfer by force of the Israeli Arabs away from their land and into exile thus increasing the number of Palestinians refuges not only that it is immoral, but It will also create a world wide condemnation of Israel imposing on it sanctions and an isolation that Israel will not be able to bear.

I see no solution. The solution that is being applied here I believe is to do nothing that is really strategic and adapt to the situation the best you can. I call it the frog syndrome.

How do you boil a frog? If you put it in boiling water it will jump right out. But if you put it in cold water and slowly heat it up, it will adapt to the increasing heat and end up dying in boiling water.

Israel, like the frog, is not making any painful choice. It can not. None of them seems either possible or acceptable to the majority of the Israelis. Israel is a democratic country where any decision requires a majority of the parliament. Thus, there is no solution one can see that is being designed to solve the problem much less followed and implemented. Instead, Israel is adapting itself to live with the increasing problems it faces. How can they do that?

One of the characteristic of the Jewish people is that they adapt. To anything and fast. This is their biggest asset to which I attribute their survival in spite of all the disaster that came their way. They adapted even to Auschwitz. They survive under any conditions. But now this asset is becoming a liability. They adapt to the increasingly boiling water and one wonders if they will ever jump out or stay adapting till it is too late.

The Israeli are conscious that their ‘political model,” using the analogy of a business model, does not work. They can not survive in the long run as a Jewish state, not just because it is surrounded by millions of hostile Arabs but because of having a significant Arab minority which is going to be a majority soon. True, another solution is to stop being a democratic state and use apartheid as an official political system. But that will be so disgusting to many Israelis that there will be heavy emigration out of Israel and I do not have to elaborate what will be the international repercussions. If Israeli occupation of the West bank is being used as an excuse by anti semites to spread their hate of Israel and of Jews in general wherever they are, just imagine what will happen if Israel adapts, even not formally, but in reality, apartheid.

There is even a much worse scenario: A nuclear device exploding in Israel!!! A nuclear holocaust… True, Israel can, and they already announced it formally that they will have a massive retaliation which everyone understand it to be a nuclear one too, but such a retaliation will cause a world wide war between Muslims and Christians. The hope, I was told by a top Israeli civil servant, is that the leadership of Teheran is still rational and will not do anything so stupid to attack Israel and evoke a nuclear retaliation. But who says that political leaders are always rational? I believe this is wishful thinking at its best. I would not bank on it.

Another scenario which is not a doomsday scenario of a nuclear holocaust but still a unwelcomed disaster is that the Hamas and the Hezbolah with other Arab armies and supported by countries that developed a strong anti Israeli sentiment, might eventually win a war. How can that be?

When you have a diseases that calls for antibiotic remedies, the doctor will tell you to use the whole dosage. If you stop too early you might make the microbes of the disease stronger and immune to the medicine. The microbes, or whatever they are, become more dangerous. You might have solved one problem but made the next one more difficult to solve, till you might have no immunities left.

Israel is not using the “whole medicine” which means annihilating every one and the last of the enemy. Can not be done and should not be done. It will be ethnic cleansing. But the repercussion is that Israel is making the Hamas and the Hezbollah stronger and stronger with each battle or war. The enemy is learning from each battle. And they are becoming stronger while the Israeli are becoming weaker. The Israeli are tired. They want to be a normal country. They have tasted the taste of success, making their economy a first class one. The number of Lexus cars or Jaguars and Mercedes cars you see driving around is comparable to any major developed country. Part of the Israeli population lives as good if not better than the average or even the well to do American.

Who wants to die anymore? Who wants a war anymore?. Millions of Israelis are calling for “Peace Now.” High percentage of high school graduates find a way not to enroll in the military and serve the country. The Israeli are tired... Deadly tired of fighting and dying.

Not so the Palestinians. They developed a whole philosophy based on religion of why dying is good: You go to heaven and are served by seventy virgins. Not bad for a guy living in poverty, unnemployed and desperate without a future. And Palestinian mothers celebrate the heroic death of their sons that fought for Palestine. In comparison, have you ever seen a Jewish mother celebrating the death of her child? Ever? Jews sanctify life. Arabs - death.

So we have an imbalance here: the Palestinians are willing to die more than the Israeli do. It was not always like this. In ninety forty eight, the Jews were willing to die to have a country. The Palestinians were not willing to die. They left the country to avoid the fighting.

It is hundred and eighty degree the reverse now. Tell me who is more committed to die for the cause and I will tell you who might win. Eventually.

So one way or another Israel is in deep trouble. And the people know it. There is a certain gloom as you talk to Israelis calmly. People know what they have does not work. And they know that there is no solution they can embrace. So there is gloom as if they are waiting for the disaster to happen. As one professor friend of mine said: “I hope it happens after I die.” And he was serious. He did not argue with any of my scenarios. He just hoped that he will live long enough and still not live to see it.

So why people do not leave? At least for their children.

Why they did not leave Germany as the Nazis were coming to power? All the signs were there that it was not going to be good, The answer I have is that Jews believe in miracles. They believe that they will somehow survive. They did survive for two thousand years in spite of all the pogroms and expulsions and gas chambers. So they believe they will survive this disaster too. They hope that the right leader will come and solve the problem. So they attribute the lack of solution to a lack of leadership which is the wrong diagnosis in my opinion. There is simply no possible solution that the significant majority of Israelis will agree to. Period. Regardless of who is the leader.

Furthermore, life is good in Israel now. I would say it is one of the best places to live. Festivals, music, art, restaurants of any ethic food you can ask for, …It is alive and interesting and exciting to live in Israel so who would leave such a place not to mention that that is where the Jews really feel at home. So as long as the knife is not at the throat, you keep going. You adapt and you keep hope that Al tidag. Yihye beseder ("Do not worry. Everything will be ok").

By the way I thought of a solution. It is truly out of the box thinking. Very out of the box. But I will share it only with those of you who write me and ask for it.